Sharon Van Etten - Serpents
You know those bands that you let slip by because the name doesn’t sound like it could possibly yield anything worthy of your acute sense of music? Well, Sharon Van Etten has, for the past few years, been my slippery artist. Perhaps being from a predominantly Dutch community where “Van-somethingorother” took up half the phonebook and therefore never promised to result in anything that extraordinary can explain my wariness to give her a fair shot. But, after listening to the single off of her upcoming album, I’m willing to set aside my skepticism and give this particular “Van-somethingorother” a chance. (You’re next, Chad VanGaalen.) The repeated musical strand is both haunting and familiar, and Van Etten’s vocals only augment the song’s overall ambience. While this particular track doesn’t boast any musical progressivity or eclecticness that would set it apart as a potential Top Album of the Year (even January isn’t too early to start nominating), I look forward to what the full album will bring.Tramp will be released on February 7 via Jagjaguwar. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears perked, people.
First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar
Back in the summer of 2010 I was interning at a music promotions company out of New York City and got the chance to check out a little band known as First Aid Kit. The band’s first full-length album,The Big Black and Blue, was one that I had devoted a couple of listens to, but never really earned a place on my “OMGIfuckinglovethis” list. But, a free show is a free show, so I hopped aboard the subway to Brooklyn to catch this Swedish sister duo in the act, and I’m so glad that I did. First Aid Kit is one of those rare groups that sounds even better live than through the speakers, and the amount of heart that they put into their performance solidified their place on my “Top Albums” list as the Most Underrated Album of 2010. At the show, they previewed “The Lion’s Roar” for a verey enthusiastic audience. It’s hard to say whether the exclamation of a lone Brooklynite (“You should record this!”) ensured that it would wind up being the title track of the sophomore album, but I like to think that it had something to do with it. Either way, this band is one to watch, and they do not disappoint.