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Get Ready for Record Store Day, Saturday April 23/Spring Music Roundup

Get Ready for Record Store Day, Saturday April 23/Spring Music Roundup

Greetings music fans and Paradise Found Records shoppers! Record Store Day is Saturday, April 23rd. We'll be opening early at 7 am ready to help our customers find their desired releases, with coffee and pastries for those intrepid enough to get in line early. For the full list of albums out that day, look here. For some of the highlights, check last month's blog and our Instagram feed. Please remember, stock is not guaranteed and the more desirable releases will go fast. Feel free to check in with us at (303) 444-1760 in the days leading up to RSD to make sure we have copies of whatever you're looking for (no holds, sorry). I'll be back next month with highlights from the second round of RSD drops coming on Saturday, June 18.

2022 is off to an amazing start in terms of new music. Here are my favorite releases from the past few months:

Wet Leg -- Wet Leg

Intense buzz for debut albums doesn't happen very often. Wet Leg's debut is probably the most anticipated premiere since the Arctic Monkeys came out of nowhere in 2006. From the tiny Isle of Wight in the UK, the band is led by late-twenty-somethings Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, and first drew attention with 2021's irresistible "Chaise Longue." Each song they've released since has continued to hint at greatness, and their just-released debut is that rare album that meets and exceeds the hype.

Simply put, Wet Leg is ear candy for rock lovers of all ages. Smart, funny and intensely infectious, the group emerged from the ennui of the pandemic. Teasdale and Chambers were old friends that were struggling individually to make it as folk artists, so for fun they turned to punky power-pop with an extra helping of sexual innuendo and late millennial angst that doesn't take itself too seriously. Wet Leg delivers on all fronts, from the radio-friendly call-and-response of "Chaise Longue" and "Wet Dream" to the screaming, addictive guitar riffs of "Angelica" and "UR Mom." They even throw in a Bowie homage on "I Don't Want To Go Out," which lovingly recalls "The Man Who Sold The World." The album reminds me of The Breeders' Last Splash from 1993, but whatever your point of reference is, Wet Leg is well on the road to global domination and should be headlining festivals by this time next year. (Highlights: "Chaise Longue" "Too Late Now"

Big Thief -- Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

Big Thief, the quartet of Berklee College of Music grads led by former husband-and-wife team Adrianne Lenker and Buck Meek, released four excellent records starting in 2016. This creative burst culminated with two strong efforts within a six-month period in 2019, Two Hands and U.F.O.F. The lockdown brought their considerable momentum to a standstill (Lenker released 2020’s plaintive, quiet Songs and Instrumentals in the interim), but now they’re back with their first double-album, a varied, deeply-layered effort that takes them to surprising new heights.

Big Thief might best be described as indie folk-rock, but prior albums weren’t afraid to rock hard or wallow in distortion-drenched soundscapes. Nothing that came before, however, suggested the impressive breadth of Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You. It's an intoxicating, beguiling mix that looks to Gillian Welch and the Grateful Dead for inspiration without being afraid to throw in wild cards like a hypnotic beat-heavy song that sounds like a lost Portishead track.

Recorded at four separate studios over five months in 2020 in Telluride, Topanga Canyon, Tucson and upstate New York, part of the fun here is looking for themes in the selections recorded at each location, although the band sounds cohesive across all of the sessions. The Dead influence speaks most clearly on the extended jams (“Little Things,” “Love Love Love”) and the beautiful, singalong celebrations of melody (“Certainty,” “No Reason,” “Blue Lightning”). “Time Escaping,” the first single, repurposes the rhythm from Shakedown Street's “Fire on the Mountain.” Elsewhere, “Spud Infinity,” “Red Moon” and “Dried Roses”--all recorded in Arizona–channel a more rocking version of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, swapping out that couple's rootsy simplicity for a more free-wheeling intensity. The end result is simply stunning: twenty captivating songs over eighty minutes without a dud.

The album reaches a few breathtaking pinnacles. “Blurred View,” unlike the rest of the Topanga material, weaves a powerful loop and a repeated verse into something more industrial than folk. “Wake Me Up To Drive” begins with an aggressive drum loop before resolving into an evocative, sleepy paean to driving across a barren landscape late at night. The title track, recorded in Telluride, is a shimmering acoustic masterpiece that would fit nicely on any Nick Drake album.

Has Big Thief made the best album of 2022? Check back in December, but for now Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You sets the standard for the rest of the year. (Highlights: "Spud Infinity" "No Reason") (at The Mission Ballroom 4/29)

Hurray for the Riff Raff -- Life on Earth

New Orleans' Alynda Segarra aka Hurray for the Riff Raff made an album for the ages with 2017’s The Navigator. That LP came with a faux Playbill and focused powerfully on the plight of immigrants striving to blend into the musical and cultural melting pot of New York City. “Pa’lante” wasn’t just an inspiring conclusion–it was an anthem for anyone striving for assimilation without abandoning heritage.

Life on Earth, Hurray for the Riff Raff’s ninth studio release and first on Nonesuch Records, isn't as ambitious as its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean Segarra has holstered her lyrical and musical talents. Folk-rock is still at the core of her sound, but here she builds on and layers her melodies, accentuating her always passionate vocals with world beats that speak to her multicultural experience and focus. “Pierced Arrows” and “Rhododendron” (the latter cowritten with My Morning Jacket's Jim James) are as radio-friendly as anything she’s done to date and function as strong introductions to her unique artistry. Life on Earth reaches its peak on “Precious Cargo,” where Segarra uses audio from a detainee interview to illuminate the plight of migrants at an unfeeling ICE Detention Center, and on the title track, where she conveys the triumph of enduring and appreciating an existence where, for many, “spirit is blinded by despair.” (Highlights: "Wolves" "Precious Cargo") (Opening for Bright Eyes at The Mission Ballroom 6/30)

Mitski -- Laurel Hell

Mitski’s Be The Cowboy deservedly topped a lot of 2018 lists with its unique art pop. The culmination of a six-year, five-album climb towards critical and indie success, the singer and multi-instrumentalist hinted at retirement during her final show of 2019. Of course, three years is an eternity (or a blink of an eye) in popular culture. During her hiatus, Be The Cowboy’s biggest hit, “Nobody” became the soundtrack to a million TikTok videos, her followers started skewing to a younger age, and Mitski decamped to Nashville to reinvent herself. Laurel Hell, the resulting effort, finds her transcending her indie roots and successfully striving for a new level of pop divahood.

Laurel Hell is by far the most accessible music Mitski’s made to date. Highlights include a bonafide, Flashdance meets ABBA disco track (“The Only Heartbreaker”) and a Motown beat (“Should’ve Been Me”) that would've sounded out of place on earlier efforts. “Love Me More” is an anthemic appeal for acceptance, while “Heat Lightning” and “Stay Soft” add new layers of shimmering pop grandiosity to her dramatic pleas for understanding. Mitski has always made music that sounded great on college radio; with Laurel Hell she’s crafted a more commercial record that skillfully retains her distinctive style. (Highlights: "Stay Soft" "Heat Lightning")

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay Tuned

More info coming this spring.