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3 New Albums You Should Try

October 12, 2011

When the Adams and I were originally brainstorming for Singular Spectrum, we tossed around the idea of having slightly more structured roles as to what type of content we would post.  As the resident story junkie, I was slated to be a sort of culture critic and offer reccomendations and reviews of books, movies, music, and the like that I really loved and wanted to let people know about.  (Yes, I ended that sentence in a preposition.  Sometimes it just makes stylistic sense; deal with it.)  Anyway, as you may have guessed we didn’t stick to that structure, but I still do love books, movies, music, and the like, and when something truly remarkable comes along, I’ll take the opportunity to rave about it here.  Without further ado, my first such rave: three brand-new albums that deserve a place in your ears.

1. The Reckoning by Needtobreathe.  Whereas The Heat, Needtobreathe’s sophomore album, toyed with the theme of restlessness and their next album, The Outsiders explored the thrill and ache of life in process, the folk-rock group’s latest effort, The Reckoning, finds them standing still and looking back at everything that they’ve moved through and left behind.  From the quirky and catchy opener, “Oohs and Aahs” to the serene final track, “Learn to Love”, The Reckoning is a near-flawless album.  Some of my favorite songs are “Keep Your Eyes Open”, an anthemic powerhouse of a tune coupled to some of Needtobreathe’s most inspiring lyrics, “Slumber”, a cry for action in our overwhelmingly apathetic world, and “Wanted Man”, a simple, joyful, memorable love song, but every one of the tracks is well worth a listen.

2. Vice Verses by Switchfoot.  Switchfoot has yet to write a song that I don’t enjoy, but even as such this album is a stand-out.  Jon Foreman is a masterful lyricist, and if anything his skills have sharpened even further since he wrote Hello Hurricane, but perhaps the most fascinating and exciting part of this album is how much Switchfoot experimented with their sound musically – and how great it all still sounds.  Songs like “Selling the News”, an almost rap-like tune with a razor-sharp, undeniably relevant exposure of our culture’s profit-over-truth morality, and “The Original”, a snappy, offbeat firecracker of a song that celebrates each life as valuable, truly highlight both Switchfoot’s musical versatility and their unceasing dedication to pure lyrical genius.  As with “The Reckoning”, every track on this album is a gem, but if I had to highlight two as my favorites, they’d be the title track, “Vice Verses”, for its haunting beauty in both instrumentation and poetry, and “Souvenirs” for its poignant and unforgettable glimpse at the fragile beauty of our time-bound lives.  In case you couldn’t tell by the volumes of florid prose in this review, I am a huge Switchfoot fanboy, but that doesn’t make my admittedly biased endorsement any less valid – I really think you’re going to enjoy this album.

3. Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay.  Coldplay’s latest album isn’t actually out yet (only 12 more days!), but I’m already almost entirely sure that it has my endorsement.  The incredibly talented British pop/rock outfit has already released five or so of the songs from Mylo Xyloto in various formats, and each one has swept me off my feet.  There’s the first single they let slip months ago, “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall”, which is impossibly catchy and undeniably uplifting, the pre-order-incentive single “Paradise”, which delivers more pure driving energy than a locomotive and several thousand times as much inspiration, and the YouTube-only live recording of “Charlie Brown”, which I can already tell is going to be my favorite track due to its unbeatable perkiness.  I rarely get this excited for an album before I’ve even heard the whole thing, but knowing how excellent Coldplay’s past work has been and how equally stupendous the samples are, I can’t help but get a little pumped.  Be sure to have a listen when the album drops on the 24th!

(Also, as a sort of postscript, Casting Crowns’ new album, Come to the Well, releases next Tuesday.  I am looking forward to it, I’ve even preordered a copy, but since they’ve only released one single I’m not quite as uncontrollably geeked for it as I am for Mylo Xyloto, so I didn’t give it its own place in the post.  Nevertheless, it’s coming, and they’re a great band, so you should probably check that out, too.)

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