The next couple of weeks find a glut of new releases, many from some of my favorite groups. The National and The Hold Steady albums will definitely be contenders for album of the year. Next week will also see a remastered re-release of Exile On Main Street, which I think is one of the best albums ever made. A lot to keep track of.
The National - High Violet
The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever
Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame
Local Natives - Gorilla Manor
Horse Feathers - Thistled Spring
Josh Ritter - So Runs the World Away
As for Josh Ritter, the new album is a little bit of a letdown. It's still quite good but even after quite a few listens, it doesn't seem to have the three or four fantastic songs that his previous two albums had. I went down to Baltimore to see him live last Monday, and even in the live format, where his material often sounds better, most of the new songs feel a little disappointing ('Change of Time' and 'Rattling Locks' the two biggest exceptions). I still like the album quite a bit but it seems like it was bound to suffer from letdown syndrome. As for the crowd, it was quite different from what I experience up here in Central New York. Almost no chatter through quiet material and a good majority of the crowd knew all of Josh's material. It could be that Ritter is a cult act with a devoted following (part true) or that people down there actually know how to behave at a concert (part true also). Anyway, it was one of the better concert experiences of the year.