Music to Your Ears – Dream Wife, First Aid Kit and AWOLNATION

This week we have new albums from England, Sweden, California and….the forest? Well, superstar Justin Timberlake, hot off the Super Bowl halftime show is proud to present his latest production, a re-imagining with his worst Kris Kristofferson impression. This and all the tracks I’ve been listening to in the past week:

Dream Wife – Dream Wife

This is a pretty good fucking album, just trust me. I had a better way of expressing it, and had written a lengthy enough review to be satisfied, but WordPress lost it all on me, and that’s left me plenty pissed. You know who else sounds pissed? Dream Wife, on this whole record. Not sure who they’re pissed at, but it’s a brilliant anger to rock along to and let that anger diffuse out of you. This Brighton outfit by way of Iceland sounds a bit like Wolf Alice by way of Ida Maria, and that suits me just fine. Hard-hitting Hey Heartbreaker will hoist you up and let you know exactly where you’re going with this debut album, a sleigh 35 minutes of pure adrenaline. Take their word for it, they don’t really need me to scream their virtue from the rooftops – they’ll do that with these eleven tracks.

Key Tracks: Love Without Reason / F.U.U. / Somebody

First Aid Kit – Ruins

You like Eisley? This reminds me of Eisley, but with a bit of a twang in their step. The first few songs off the album could easily have been from early Eisley stuff, and strangely enough, the two bands had a concurrent trajectory. I’m a bit sad I missed out on the group’s earlier efforts, and promise to look into them for future articles, but for now you can settle in and comfort yourself with some folksy ballads with smart lyrics that will sooth any problems away…singer-songwriter sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg have been doing this since 2007, but I wager that this is the album that will push them into the stratosphere.

Key Tracks: It’s a Shame / To Live a Life / Fireworks

Justin Timberlake – Man of the Woods

This is rough, folks, and not in the way you’d expect from such a ‘rugged’ title. Given that this is the same man that asked us to cry him a river, what did we truly expect? There’s  something to be said for a pop artist that attempts to shoehorn himself into a certain style that was never inherently his, and it shows, terribly. I believe, when I first listened to his solo work back in 2007, I was blinded by my surroundings. A friend had me listen to ‘Sexy Back’ while I stood in front of the Jan Hus monument in the center of Prague, very possibly my favorite spot on Earth. So I apologize if I was ignorant of what was really less of a boy-bander breaking free of his bonds and more of a pop star appropriating some culture from around him. Unfortunately, beyond all the hubbub behind the scenes, it’s rapidly forgettable. When the Neptunes produced tracks pop up, there’s a small perk, but it largely reminded me of when listening to November’s Taylor Swift album Reputation, and really only liking any of the Jack Antonoff written tracks. It just made me want to listen to his own album Gone Now. This makes me long for a true Neptunes album, rather than a lackluster N*E*R*D release or solo contributions. I can’t see this having the legs that his first three albums had, and with the backlash around his personal decisions (working with notorious directors, etc.) it may be that he has a lot of work to do to redeem himself. Maybe he can take a cue from Janet Jackson on how to do so.

Key Tracks: Midnight Summer Jam / Montana / Higher, Higher

AWOLNATION – Here Come the Runts

Vocalist Aaron Bruno has a knack for picking out the best songs from each release to present as a single – and this is no different. ‘Handyman’ is the clear frontrunner on an album full of pretty basic tunes, albeit if you’ve always loved him this will suit you fine. The album starts strangely, a repetitive title hook that goes nowhere. Luckily he gets back to his old habits on the next track, ‘Passion’ and smoothly transitions from one electro-funk sensation to the next. Not a classic by any means, but it will definitely stretch us down the road to the end of winter.

Key Tracks: Miracle Man / Seven Sticks of Dynamite / Handyman

Well that’s it for now folks. Next we have the very (my) anticipated return of Franz Ferdinand, as well as old-school emo crooners Dashboard Confessional and electro-alternative rockers MGMT. Join in the nostalgia fest!


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