As we all know by now, new releases hit record store shelves and digital download services each Tuesday. That’s why self-titled presents the following every week: a new release you’d be stupid not to own (Buy It), one worth checking out if you’re the curious type (Burn It) and something you should avoid at all costs (Skip It). Simple, ain’t it?
Beach Fossils, Beach Fossils (Captured Tracks)
Yep, it’s another ‘beach band’, here to remind us of how summer lovin’ happens so fast with such truth-in-advertising tracks as “Lazy Day,” “Daydream” and “Vacation.” Here’s the thing, though: as familiar as Dustin Payseur’s songs are, Beach Fossils’ first full-length is full of simple pleasures and subtly addictive details like its lean, Peter Hook-like bass lines, skeleton crew beats and pond-skipping chords.
Simply put, if you’re one of those people who think the Drums are too gay (in both senses of the word), these top-down tracks are for you.
Karen Elson, The Ghost Who Walks (XL)
Damn you, Jack White. Not only are you the new King of Nashville and the most widely-known member of three major rock bands (The Raconteurs, The White Stripes, The Dead Weather); your china doll wife can actually carry a melancholy tune, like she just swept the final round of America’s Next Neko Case or something. Disproving the precedent set by such tone-deaf models as Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, Elson seizes her alt-country roots by the spurs with a spooky murder ballad (the title track), subtle White Stripes nods (“The Truth Is In the Dirt”), and a saloon tune that’s a couple scratchy effects away from sounding like a century-old 78. While it’s not gonna bring the goose bumps out like the first time you heard “Deep Red Bells,” The Ghost Who Walks easily proves that Elson has a backup plan if she ever gets sick of ad spreads and fashion mag flash bulbs.
Marina and the Diamonds, The Family Jewels (Atlantic)
The major label meeting that led to Marina and the Diamonds’ debut must have went something like this…Let’s give her a name that’s a lot like Florence and the Machine so people think she’s ‘edgy’. And the kids sure like electro, so how about a little bit of that here and there? Don’t Pro Tools the life out of her voice, though; let’s make sure it references Regina Spektor, Tori Amos and, well, Florence and the Machine, at different points in every single song. Hell, a song that explicitly states “guess what?/I’m not a robot” wouldn’t hurt, either. After all, this girl isn’t Lady Gaga. If anything, her cockney-addled voice is closer to Lady Sovereign.
Identity crisis aside, The Family Jewels isn’t awful or anything. It’s just missing the innate sense of melodrama that makes Marina’s creepier, kookier contemporaries believable.