First Listen: Laura Gibson – “La Grande”

Our friends over at NPR have just posted Laura Gibson’s forthcoming album – La Grande – in their First Listen series.  I’ve been eagerly awaiting this release, Gibson’s third, and can honestly say that it has been worth the wait.  In many ways, this is a more complicated, confident affair than her previous efforts.  For me, La Grande is the sound of an artist who has found her feet, and now wants to fly.  Indeed, as Stephen Thompson writes:

It’s the sound of a confident artist stretching her own limits, without losing sight of the warmth, richness, subtlety and haunted beauty that made her worth celebrating in the first place.

La Grande is out on 1/24 on Barsuk Records.  Have a listen over at NPR’s First Listen Series.

First Listen: R.E.M. – Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982–2011

I’ve been pretty quiet on the subject of R.E.M.’s final album: the forty-track, quasi-greatest-hits compilation Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011.  At first, I didn’t really want to deal with the fact that this beloved band of mine was splitting.  They have been the direct line through my musical history, and I honestly still feel pretty weird about contemplating a future without new R.E.M. in it.

But for the moment, we’ve got NPR to thank for a preview of the forthcoming release.  You can hear the whole thing, including new tracks “A Month of Saturdays,” “We All Go Back To Where We Belong,” and “Hallelujah,” over at their First Listen series site.  For my own part, I’ve made a video mix of some of my favorite moments in R.E.M. history, and you can find that below:

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First Listen: Björk – Biophilia

Björk‘s new album – Biophilia – is now available for your listening pleasure via NPR’s First Listen series.  The album, which is also available in the form of an interactive iPad/iPod app, is perhaps the artist’s most experimental work to date.  Not known for her shyness in the face of technology, Björk has created an immersive multimedia experience for Biophilia.

Here’s how the folks at NPR describe the album’s background: “Björk’s latest and most ambitious project yet, began as a collection of songs written around themes of nature, science and humanity’s relationships to both. For most artists, that’d be a lofty enough concept on its own. But Björk heavily researched astrophysics, string theory, neurology, biology and other areas where science and music meet.”

With a description like that, and a personality like Björk, there can be no doubt that you’re in for a treat.  So, head on over to NPR and have a listenBiophilia will be released on October 11th.

First Listen: St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

One of the most anticipated albums of the Fall – St. Vincent‘s Strange Mercy – is now available for your listening pleasure via the fine folks at NPR Music.  The album, which is due out on Sept. 13th, will be streaming on NPR until release.  So, head on over, and have a listen!

First Listen: Bon Iver, Marissa Nadler

Thanks to NPR, we’ve got two great albums this week!  First up is one of the most highly-anticipated releases of the year: Bon Iver’s Bon Iver.  It’s certainly a change in tone from 2008’s For Emma, Forever Ago, featuring a more complicated, textured set of musical arrangements.  I’ve been looking forward to this all year, and I encourage you to join me in visiting NPR to hear Bon Iver.

Also, this week, we get to hear another eponymous album: Marissa Nadler’s kickstarter-funder Marissa Nadler.  Marissa is definitely one of the most exciting artists to come out of Boston in a while – drawing comparisons to Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen, and Kate Bush (how’s that for a mix?) – I encourage you to have a listen here.