With such a fast-moving tool as the Internet, the modern musicphile now has access to way more music than they have time to listen to. And if this tells us anything, then out of all the post-apocalyptic future films, Minority Report probably got it down the best. So here's a way to keep up with the hyperspeedy listening habits of information-age music junkies: review albums before they're even released, based on the cover art. We give it a shot with new records from Kanye West, Iron and Wine, Akron/Family, and others after the jump.
Akron/Family - S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT: Um...what? Very clearly, a psychedelic folk-jam band plus volcano equals The Land Before Time on acid. But the title of the album, and its artsy promo video, indicates something much more spiritual than absurd. Anyone who writes their music in a cabin built into the side of an active volcano in Japan better have a damn profound reason for it. So in anticipation, I will be taking my annual vow of silence, fasting, and sensory deprivation-marathon from now until this album is released.
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Anticipated Rating: 7
British Sea Power - Valhalla Dancehall: Who cares to dance with the stars when you could be dancing with a horse? And a rather sexy-looking one at that. This is onne of the most majestic looking horses, or animals I've seen in a long time. I'm no animal lover (even though I will take every possible opportunity to show that song to anyone) but animal symbolism is pretty fascinating. British Sea Power once stuck a bear on one of their album covers, and in Native American animal symbology, bears represent level-headed, pragmatic, humble, and methodical personalities. But the horse, due to the way that it has worked with humans for agriculture and transportation, has come to stand for progress, power, freedom, and nobility. So maybe there's a progression in store for British Sea Power -- although given that the band is five albums into its career without releasing much that could be described better than reliably underwhelming, probably not.
Release Date: January 10, 2011
Anticipated Rating: 6
The Cave Singers - No Witch: I'm eerily reminded of the opening scene of Apocalypse Now, except instead of Martin Sheen, we've got Devendra Banhart. The face is blocked just enough so that it could be any bearded man who looked like Jesus at one point in his life. Perhaps this yoga is what The Cave Singers undergo before recording their lo-fi Northwestern folk-guitar workouts. I imagine every band of this type who comes from either Seattle, Olympia, or Portland probably attends the same Pagan church, and prays to the forest gods for their soothing, nature-channeling, atmospheric skills. The Cave Singers are pretty consistent, but this is their first album with a cover that steps away from a direct reference to their hippie aesthetic (look at those groovy fonts!) and into more ambiguous territory. Signs of experimentation to come perhaps?
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Anticipated Rating: 8
Iron and Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean: Check out those white eyes. It's like staring into a white void of nothing but introspective and profound-sounding mental goo. Sam Beam is lovingly seducing me with his thoughts. In all seriousness, remember the moment at the end of The Matrix when Neo stands up, sees the world made entirely out of information, and realizes he's the one? The cover of Iron and Wine's new album suggests Sam Beam has now finally realized how much of an all-knowing, divine being his wise angel's voice makes him made him sound like. Instead of the jagged, rapidly fluctuating numbers that tell Neo exactly how to best kick ass, Sam Beam sees the external world in peaceful waves of energy. The world of The Matrix is harsh and unforgiving -- a computer code to be solved -- but Sam Beam sees the world as having a natural flow. That's probably why Iron and Wine albums continue to get more developed, and Keanu Reeves films get stupider and stupider. When you think you've solved the code of the world, you stop progressing, but the universe of infinite nature and beauty that Sam Beam lives in is continually being mined for deeper and more beautiful territory, from his confessional debut, The Creek Drank The Cradle to the densely-packed jam sessions on The Shepherd's Dog.
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Anticipated Rating: 9
Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: All the buildup and compelling pre-release hype indicates that Kanye West's new album may be a companion masterpiece to Late Registration. So what's up with the album's cover art? A five-year old stumbling upon his father's porn stash and reinterpreting it through the lens of Fern gully hardly fills me with the awe that Kanye seems to want to inspire. It's certainly a big step down from his ridiculously over-the-top music video for "Power." But I'm pretty sure all the last-minute sabotaging that West may be trying to do to with this cover won't make the album any less mind-blowingly awesome.
Release Date: November 22, 2010
Anticipated Rating: 2 or 10.
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