Out This Week 5/14

While we’re all waiting for the warm weather to officially take hold (we’ve been given an enticingly cruel taste of it here in Northwest), Vampire Weekend has created the perfect summer album to fuel your anticipation. At times wistfully nostalgic, percolatingly peppy and even fiercely energetic, Modern Vampires of the City is undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year so far. KEXP Music Director, Don Yates, calls the NYC band’s third album their “most mature and musically adventurous release to date” with its “impressive variety of beautifully crafted, intricately detailed songs with imaginative arrangements featuring colorful instrumentation, tricky time signatures, odd vocal effects, heavenly choirs and more, with typically smart, often dark lyrics about love and mortality that also carry more emotional resonance than before.”

Modern Vampires of the City is a contemporary masterpiece and available today at your favorite record store, where you’ll find other excellent new releases out this week, from bands like LA production duo Classixx, whose debut full-length, Hanging Gardens, Don Yates calls “an intoxicating set of breezy electro-pop steeped in funk, disco, house and Prince, combining propulsive grooves, sparkling synths, sunny yacht-rock melodies and occasional special guest vocalists”; Brooklyn band Small Black, whose sophomore effort “finds them moving away from their hazy chillwave beginnings with a more polished and cleaner-sounding set of wistful, ‘80s-steeped electro-pop, featuring dreamy, subtly rendered songs with lush synths and occasional live instrumentation”; and New York duo MS MR, who believe it or not, are only just now releasing their debut LP, and it’s “a strong set of moody, goth-tinged pop with a dark, beautifully produced sound combining synths, piano, strings, brass, martial-influenced rhythms, Lizzy Plapinger’s powerful, slightly husky vocals and lots of potent song hooks.”

Other interesting new albums out this week come from John Grant, former front man for The Czars, whose new album was recorded in Iceland with Biggi Viera of GusGus producing (you might recall, both bands were on KEXP’s broadcast from Iceland Airwaves in 2011) and which “dramatically expands his sound by injecting his ‘70s-inspired pop-rock balladry with large doses of chilly synth-pop... and Grant’s sonorous baritone croon and ruthlessly honest lyrics of lost love, shame and regret, delivered with a fair amount of dark humor and self-lacerating wit.” British producer Bibio offers his seventh album, a “dreamy, mostly gentle blend of ambient folk and summery electro-pop with delicate guitars, atmospheric synth textures and occasional vocals,” while New York based, Vermont born Sam Amidon continues to rework folk ballads with his distinctively “spare, atmospheric sound combining delicate finger-picking guitar and other acoustic instrumentation with occasional bursts of dissonant electric guitars and other avant-garde touches accompanying his haunting vocals.” Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner joins producer Jon Ehrens on new project Dungeonesse, whose self-titled debut is ‘a breezy set of modern R&B dance-pop with sparkling synths and hip hop-influenced rhythms accompanying Wasner’s breathy, elastic vocals.” LA-based duo Kisses return with a second album that’s “a darker, more melancholy take on their smooth, ‘80s-steeped electro-pop, combining atmospheric synths and ‘80s freestyle R&B rhythms with wistful melodies and lyrics exploring the emptiness behind the glittering facade of Southern California’s more affluent youth.”

And there’s more from The Features, Wild Nothing, Eluvium, The Handsome Family and too many others to list, plus the 30th album (!!!) by The Fall, a kids album by Les Savy Fav’s Tim Harrington (???) and big-time anniversary editions of Huey Lewis and The News‘s Sports and R.E.M.‘s Green -- all available online and in record stores today. Check out samples from some of the highlights here:

ADULT. - Idle (Second Thoughts)
from The Way Things Fall on Ghostly International

Sam Amidon - My Old Friend
from Bright Sunny South on Nonesuch Records

Bibio - À tout à l’heure
from Silver Wilkinson on Warp Records

The Blank Tapes - Coast to Coast
from Vacation on Antenna Farm Records

Classixx - Holding On
from Hanging Gardens on Innovative Leisure

Dungeonesse - Shucks
from Dungeonesse on Secretly Canadian

Eluvium - Envenom Mettle
from Nightmare Ending on Temporary Residence Ltd

The Fall - Sir William Wray
from Re-Mit on Cherry Red Records

The Features - With Every Beat
from The Features on Serpents and Snakes/BMG

John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts
from Pale Green Ghosts on Partisan Records

The Handsome Family - Spider
from Wilderness on Carrot Top Records

Tim Harrington - This Little Piggy (MP3)
from This Little Piggy on Harper Collins Childrens

Kisses - The Hardest Part
from Kids in LA on Cascine

Huey Lewis and The News - “Do You Like...”
from Sports (30th Anniversary Edition) on Capitol/UMe

MS MR - Hurricane
from Secondhand Rapture on Columbia Records

Okta Logue - Transit
from Transit EP on Columbia

The Phoenix Foundation - The Captain
from Fandango on Memphis Industries

Pure X - Things in My Head (MP3)
from Crawling Up the Stairs on Acephale Records

The Quick & Easy Boys - Hey Hey Hey (MP3)
from Make It Easy (self-released)

R.E.M. - World Leader Pretend (live)
from Green: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition on Rhino

Saltland - ICA (MP3)
from I Thought It Was Us but It Was All of Us on Constellation Records

Small Black - Free At Dawn (MP3)
from Limits of Desire on Jagjaguwar

Marques Toliver - Magic Look (MP3)
from Land of CanAan on Bella Union

Vampire Weekend - Diane Young
from Modern Vampires of the City on XL Recordings

Wampire - Trains
from Curiosity on Polyvinyl Records

Wild Nothing - A Dancing Shell
from Empty Estate on Captured Tracks

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