Best New Releases 2012 – Cloud Nothings, Porcelain Raft, The Big Pink, Big Deal, First Aid Kit, Chairlift, Nada Surf

There have been so many notable new releases that dropped in the past week that music lovers have plenty of great, new music to keep them busy, and which explains partly why we’re late with this post (this week’s releases will be posted soon, but first the really good stuff).  The quantity and quality of releases over the past couple of weeks, plus the releases that drop tomorrow, Jan. 31st, are helping to kick 2012 off to a pretty good start music-wise. 

The new albums and singles profiled in this playlist post include Cloud Nothings, Porcelain Raft, Cardinal, Rodrigo y Gabriela, First Aid Kit, Nada Surf, and many others. This post features 20 MP3s from these new releases. For more releases, plus links to band sites, see the end of this post.

Fans of Cleveland indie band Cloud Nothings are likely to be baffled by the bands’ choice to release the track “No Future/No Past” as the first lead single from their new, and highly anticipated, album (Pitchfork’s first “Best New Music” designation of 2012). Officially released last week, Attack of Memory is the band’s third album since they became an indie rock sensation in 2009 with the single, “Hey Cool Kid.”

“No Future/No Past “ Cloud Nothings from Attack on Memory

Actually, the seedling of Cloud Nothings started with Dylan Baldi‘s recording of the track on his computer in the basement of his home in Westlake, Ohio, while he was attending Case Western Reserve University. The track went viral on the web and within weeks, “Hey Cool Kid,” was as close to a hit record as a DIY indie track could be. When a concert promoter in New York City asked Baldi to play a gig in the city in December of 2009, Baldi hurriedly put together a band together and it just snowballed from there.

Cloud Nothing’s first album, Turning On (exclusive MP3 album) was really more of a compilation, but in January of 2011, the band released their first proper, self-titled album with the help of Baltimore producer Chester Gwazda. It was a huge success. By the time the band entered the studio to record their new album, they were one of the biggest fresh indie rock bands in the world. While Attack of Memory is significantly different – it’s a heavier, darker, harder than the catchy melodic tracks of the previous albums. The twee poppers will just have to love or leave it – and if they leave it, then they don’t deserve to be a fan of the band anyways. We know who you are.

For a limited time, you can get the MP3 album of Attack on Memory from Amazon for only $5.99

Double-shot: “Stay Useless” Cloud Nothings from Attack on Memory

Bonus Track (via Pitchfork): “So Sentiment” Cloud Nothings from Attack on Memory

The Big Pink Drop Follow-Up Album Album to Stunning 2009 Debut

British synth rock duo The Big Pink took the indie music world by the horns in 2009 when they released their spectacular debut LP, A Brief History of Love (only $6.99 via Amazon), which was easily one of the best debut albums that year, and arguably one of the best overall albums of 2009 – a year that was full of impressive releases from bands like Phoenix, Animal Collective, The xx, The Flaming Lips, Grizzly Bear, Grils, Real Estate, Neon Indian, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bon Iver, Neko Case, Yo La Tengo, and so on.

Last week, The Big Pink released their long-awaited follow-up sophomore album, Future This. One of the things that we realized after hearing the album a couple of times is that it will not reach the fame that their debut did. There is a sense that the band are perhaps trying too hard to replicate their debut success, and for the most part, they fall short of the target. Future This is packed with electronica synth rock that fans have come to expect from the duo, heavy bass lines and lyrics that, in many places, show less imagination and creativity than its predecessor. But it’s more uptempo and sunnier than A Brief History of Love.

That said, it’s incredibly difficult for a band to follow-up the success of a widely acclaimed debut, and that’s what The Big Pink are, in part, up against. Still, the first official single, “Stay Gold,” that was originally released back in November as a 7-inch, is worth adding to your MP3 player if you’re a fan, and another track, “Hit The Ground Superman,” is also worth mentioning. Ultimately, no matter what the critics and bloggers say – whether they love it, or are indifferent – it’s the fans’ call, and we think it’s worth purchasing (Get Future This as a 320kbps download via Amazon for only $7.99).

“Stay Gold”The Big Pink from Future This


The Big Pink – “Hit The Ground (Superman)”

The Big Pink’s cover song of The Cure‘s “Love Song” via PrettyMuchAmazing

Mauro Remiddi is also known as Porcelain Raft, a Brooklyn recording artist. Photo by Emusic

New IRC Artist to Watch, Porcelain Raft, Releases Brilliant Debut LP

Brooklyn music prodigy Mauro Remiddi, really has a lot of people talking in the cafe about his just-released debut album as Porcelain Raft, the 10-track LP, Strange Weekend. In fact, Porcelain Raft is easily one of our first ‘new’ Artists to Watch in 2012, thanks not only to the two singles featured below, but, more extensively, the amazing and talented artistry of Remiddi’s brilliant musicianship, from the opening track, “Drifting In and Out” to the last track, “The Way In.”

If you love the synth-soaked lo-fi, you’re going to enjoy, perhaps cherish, this album. Don’t just take our word for it; the thumbs up reviews of Strange Weekend are popping all over the web. From Drowned in Sound and Consequence of Sound to NME and All Music Guide, the consensus is pretty much the same. In our opinion, it’s a must-have album, and will probably be on many year-end ‘best albums’ lists for 2012.

Strange Weekend is the kind of album that gets played and played and played; it’s so rich, enticing, and caked with layers of instruments, sounds and choruses that you’ll hear different elements and lyrics stand out each time it’s spun. KEXP, the popular Seattle radio station, wrote on its blog: “[Porcelain Raft is] psych-tinged electro-pop, with a woozy, reverb-drenched sound combining trippy synth textures, glitchy beats, shoegazerish electric guitars and strummed acoustics with Remiddi’s high, layered vocals and dreamy pop melodies.”

Perhaps as interesting as his musical past is the life experiences Remiddi has had. From CMJ: “…Remiddi traveled from his native Italy to London, Berlin, North Korea, and finally New York. Along the way, he caravanned with the Berlin Youth Circus performing gypsy Klezmer music, created reinterpretations of traditional North Korean folk songs and played piano for an Off-Broadway tap show. He hasn’t even had his 30th birthday yet, but Remiddi has more musical experiences under his belt than many artists attain in the length of an entire career.”


The first single, “Put Me to Sleep” is not really the dreamy, mellow track the title suggests, but instead it’s a song with a big sound and a lot going on: dripping with hazy, melodic synthesized pop, strong, regular drum beats and reverb-laden, high-pitched vocals, among other sonic elements, and just one of the album’s numerous highlights. On “Unless You Speak From Your Heart,” there are swirling synths, steady, hard beats crashing together with cymbals and tambourines that blend with angelic-like choruses. We’d love to hear what you guys think, either via the Comments section below, or on Twitter or Facebook.

Get the MP3 album via Amazon, or the vinyl edition – the latter is strongly recommended for vinyl lovers because you just cannot get the same level of nuisances with an album like this as you can in MP3 format.

“Put Me to Sleep”Porcelain Raft from Strange Weekend

Double-shot: “Unless You Speak From Your Heart”Porcelain Raft from Strange Weekend

Unsung Pop Heroes Return with Sophomore Album After 18-Year Hiatus; First Aid Kit and Nada Surf

We are so thrilled with the surprise return of the little known duo, Cardinal, the unsung chamber pop heroes of the mid-1990’s, that we created a separate post to review their sophomore album, Hymns, arriving nearly 18 years after their stunning 1994 self-titled debut. Click here to read about Cardinal’s latest release and hear some tracks from their now legendary debut.

First Aid Kit   The Lions Roar

Swedish sister act First Aid Kit are back with The Lion’s Roar, the title track from their forthcoming record. Slightly more country-influenced than their previous work, The Lion’s Roar features the band’s trademark vulnerable-yet-world-weary vocals, a reminder of just how young this obscenely talented pair are. Perfect for fans of Fleet Foxes and Laura Marling, The Lion’s Roar [was first] available [as a MP3] download November 8 [2011]. via

“The Lion’s Roar”First Aid Kit from The Lion’s Roar

“When I Was Young” Nada Surf from The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy

Fresh Tracks from New Albums by Rodrigo y Gabriela, Chairlift. Pop. 1280, Laura Gibson and Others

The following tracks are also great singles from new albums out this week from artists like Rodrigo y Gabriela, Chairlift. Pop. 1280, Laura Gibson, Big Deal, Dana Falconberry, Cheyenne Marie Mize,

“Juan Loco (feat. CUBA)”Rodrigo y Gabriela from Area 52

“Amanaemonesia”Chairlift from Something

“Bodies in the Dunes”Pop. 1280 (via Pitchfork) from The Horror

“La Grande”Laura Gibson from La Grande

“Chair”Big Deal from Lights Out

“Petoskey Stone”Dana Falconberry from Though I Didn’t Call It Came EP

“Wishing Well “Cheyenne Marie Mize from We Don’t Need EP

From Belfast, Ireland, indie rock band Unquiet Nights sent us a couple of tracks from their new album, 21st Century Redemption Songs. In 2011 they enjoyed considerable national radio airtime in the UK  on Absolute/Virgin Radio, Amazing and the BBC, and opened for popular bands like Bloc Party in London, Toploader and The Answer. The band names among their top musical influences Tom Petty, The Hold Steady!, Gaslight Anthem, Springsteen, Rolling Stones, The Verve, Bobby Womack, Roy Orbison.

“We Were The Ones”Unquiet Nights from 21st Century Redemption Songs

“Someone’s Love on Drugs”Unquiet Nights from 21st Century Redemption Songs

Miscellaneous Singles from New Releases Dropped Jan. 24 – Jan. 30

This section of Best New Releases contains tracks from new releases that we are either on the fence about, indifferent to, or just not “feeling it,” however, we are including them anyways because it’s ultimately up to the individual listeners to decide.

“Gimme A Kiss”Madi Diaz from Plastic Moon

“Berlin Heart”Brokaw from Interiors

“Josie”The Darcys (via Rolling Stone) from AJA

“Honolulu Blues”Craig Finn from Clear Heart Full Eyes

“Heir Looms”Imbogodom from And They Turned Not When They Went

Jan. 24 – Jan. 30th New Releases and Band Links

Al Jardine (Beach Boys) – A Postcard from California

Big DealLights Out
Chuck ProphetTemple Beautiful
First Aid KitThe Lion’s Roar
Jay Farrar – TBA
Jim James
Will Johnson
Anders ParkerWoody Guthrie Tribute
Joe CockerHard Knocks
Laura GibsonLa Grande
Madi DiazPlastic Moon
Nada SurfThe Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy
Sean O’ConnellFree at First Light

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