Best New Releases – Phantogram, Surfer Blood, Woodsman, Wet Illustrated, Deer Tick, Bear Lake, A Classic Education, The Beets


Surfer Blood return with their first release since 2010’s sensational debut LP, Astro Coast, an album that made them a huge hit in the indie circuits for the past two years. One of our favorite songs so far this autumn is “Don’t Move” from Phantogram; it’s simply a fantastic track that you just can’t but help to move to – even though the song title says not to move. When we featured the song in one of the recent Fresh Tracks mixes, people downloaded and streamed it like crazy. It only makes sense to kick-off this edition of Best New Releases with the hot, new single from Phantogram. (We recommend listening first to last week’s BNR mixtape, which we were late in delivering.)

Following Phantogram is a double-shot from Woodsman‘s new album, featuring two songs that are masterfully arranged and executed. “In Circles,” and especially, “Specdrum,” highlight the band’s raw talent for combining elements of rock, pop, post-punk, electronic, and particularly, in the case of the two tracks below, their capabilities in creating pure jam psychedelic tunes, with impressive results.

Don’t MovePhantogram from Nightlife

“Miranda”Surfer Blood from Tarot Classics EP

In CirclesWoodsman from Mystic Places EP

Double-shot: “Specdrum”Woodsman from Mystic Places EP

Gypsy TownWet Illustrated from 1x1x1

Deer Tick returns with a bit more rock in their sound as is apparent with the lead track “Main Street,” that reminds us a lot of the sound of Paul Westernberg and The Replacements, whether on purpose or just as some subliminal influence. This is a nice new maturation for Deer Tick.

“Main Street”Deer Tick from Divine Providence

It seemed only fitting to follow-up Deer Tick with the new single from Bear Lake (another animal-named band) who just self-released their new album, If You Were Me. Italy’s 2010 breakout band A Classic Education return with their sophomore album and the lead track “Forever Boy,” is a sentimental, slow rock track marked by heavily melodic vocals and choruses, Wavves-style guitar licks and percussion, and an obviously better overall produced sound throughout the album then their 2010 U.S. debut.

“Only War”Bear Lake from If You Were Me (self-released)

Double-shot: “Scissors”Bear Lake from If You Were Me (self-released)

Forever BoyA Classic Education from Call It Blazing (stream album)

thebeetsthebandJust like other great surprises this week, another new-to-us band, The Beets, add more credibility to the garage rock pop sound of bands like The Vaselines with their new track, “Doing As I Do” from The Beets’ new album, Let The Poison Out, on Hardly Art Records. Even better, we were lucky to find another track from the album, “Friends of Friends,” thanks to Pitchfork.

“Doing As I Do”The Beets from Let the Poison Out

Double-shot: “Friends of Friends”The Beets from Let the Poison Out

Incorporating electronic beat pop styling with underlying cinematic, even psychedelic, rock infusions, woven with synth sound effects, violin and guitar riffs, and an assortment of wood blocks and cowbells, the eclectic musicians of the Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble really shine on the track, “Pretend,” where they are clearly not pretending at all – the track is as real as it gets, and an incredibly complex arrangement at that.

Next, another new-to-us band, The Through & Through Gospel Review, offer one of the most memorable tracks of the week – the enchanting, almost carnival-like influenced song, “I Firmly Believe” from their self-titled, debut album. As with other bands in this week’s Best New Releases, this is yet another pleasant surprise, and surely a band that we will keep our ears out for. In fact, we received a complimentary copy of the debut LP, and look forward to listening to it more in-depth later on; it’s just another album added with the dozens and dozens of others in our “To Listen To” playlist in iTunes.

“Pretend”Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble from Mr. Machine

“I Firmly Believe”The Through & Through Gospel Review from The Through & Through Gospel Review

“An Arcade From The Warm Rain That Falls”Comet Gain from Howl of the Lonely Crowd

Although we generally do not post about remastered albums, the fact that Dntel‘s remastered (with bonus tracks)  LP, Life Is Full of Possibilities, is out this week, and features Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie, Postal Service) on vocals for the lead track below, definitely makes it a LP to consider repurchasing, and if you’ve never owned it before, that track, and many others, is reason alone to grab a copy.

“(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan”Dntel from Life Is Full of Possibilities (remastered with bonus tracks)

The problem is, the sound quality of the track itself. It’s ironic that it is a remastered track but is filled with what sounds like static, and we can only hope it is not intentional, because that would make no sense. We’ve been unable to find any information about why this terrific ‘remastered’ track has static on it. We also tried to hunt down the originally released track, but without any luck. If anyone knows why the track has static on it – especially towards the end – we’d love to hear from you.

Next up is another band name that does not fit at all with the band’s sound and style. Another new-to-us band, Gospel Music, present this semi-quirky track, “This Town Doesn’t Have Enough Bars for Both of Us” that has a clear percussive influence from The Violent Femme’s “Blister In The Sun,” whether on purpose or not.

Perhaps the only blues track in this mix, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, deliver the upbeat, and oddly optimistic, “Everything Will Be Fine,” with plenty of gusto and some steller musicianship – especially amongst the guitarist, bass player and drummer. The vocals are clearly influenced by B.B. King’s singing style.

“Black Clouds”The Gang Violets from Black Clouds

“This Town Doesn’t Have Enough Bars for Both of Us”Gospel Music from How To Get To Heaven From Jacksonville, FL

“Everything Will Be Fine”JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound from Want More

Other Tracks Worth A Spin

We add this section to some of the Best New Releases mixtape playlists as a way to indicate that we are not necessarily endorsing the following tracks, but at the same time, we’re also trying to indicate that they are worthy of inclusion. For example the band The Migrant mix New Orleans jazz influences with folk, pop and rock to the appropriately thematic track, “The Hurricane.”  Plus, check out other tracks, including Peggy Sue‘s “Cut My Teeth”; and Russian Circles‘ “Mladek”.

“The Hurricane”The Migrant from Amerika (self-released)

“Cut My Teeth”Peggy Sue from Acrobats (stream album)

“Mladek”Russian Circles from Empros

“Me and You”The Strange Boys from Live Music

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  1. I bought the Dntel album back in the fall of 2005. It has static. Is meant to have static. And goes with the experience of the song lyrics. Good song. Embrace the static.

  2. I have no idea where I found the original (this is) the dream of evan and chan, but I’ve had it for at least three years now, and the static starts off that track too. Apparently it’s some deliberate stylistic device, and not an issue with the quality. Although the static is a little more prominent in the remastered mp3 on your site.

  3. How hard is it to develop taste for music which is other language, there is some good Arabic music but you don’t understand. But still i like to listen to the tunes.

  4. Nice post. There are some really good bands in there. I just started listening to the new Russian Circles album, I like it so far, just a little harder than their old stuff. My favorite song on this post is definitely Phantogram- “Dont Move”, that song is just plain amazing.

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