Friday, 18 May 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, May 2018 Vol. II


AMENT – Heaven / Hell
Pearl Jam bassist releases solo album, and this sounds EXACTLY like what you’d expect a solo album by a prominent Seattle grunge figure now in his 50’s to sound like. (7)

ARCTIC MONKEYS – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

“Tranquility Base” is the name of the spot on the Moon where the Apollo 11 landed in 1969. This album sounds just about as lively as a Hotel & Casino located there. (5)

AT THE GATES – To Drink From The Night Itself

A much stronger album than 2014’s “At War With Reality”, this is At The Gates REALLY showing their metalcore offspring how to do the brutal/melodic thing right. (8)

BEACH SLANG – Everything Matters But No One Is Listening

Both proper Beach Slang albums have made the Music Geek’s indisputably awesome year-end Lists in 2015 and 2016 respectively, so I guess that makes me a mega-fan. This collection of acoustic re-workings of older songs, however, heavily reliant on piano and cello and released under the moniker Quiet Slang, is interesting but sort of defeats the purpose by getting rid of the loud guitars and punk energy that made the band so great in the first place. (6)

BURN THE PRIEST – Legion XX

This is basically Lamb Of God revisiting their roots and releasing their own “Undisputed Attitude”. Includes covers of songs originally recorded by The Accused, Melvins, Big Black, S.O.D., Bad Brains, Sliang Laos, Ministry, Agnostic Front, Quicksand and Cro-Mags. If you’re a fan, you need this. (8)

CARLA BOZULICH – Quieter

Bozulich must be a very unhappy person, she’s been making some rather disturbing music since the Geraldine Fibbers days but this one reaches misery levels on par with Lou Reed’s “Berlin”. (6)

GRETCHEN PETERS – Dancing With The Beast

Peters releases one of the best country albums of the year: Top-notch songwriting, killer storytelling, subtle rock overtones, this is on par with Kris Kristofferson’s best work and anything Jason Isbell has released in the last five years. (8)

JESS WILLIAMSON – Cosmic Wink

Sort of like Patti Smith being in love and doing a Dusty Springfield tribute. (7)

LOREENA McKENNITT – Lost Souls

Not sure if it’s cool to like McKennitt and her somewhat cheesy new age Celtic folk but I do, she always manages to melt the cynicism away from my cold black heart. (8)

RY COODER – The Prodigal Son

Now in his 70’s and better known as producer of the Buena Vista Social Club and for his soundtrack work (e.g. “Paris, Texas”), Cooder here proves that he’s still one of the world’s top slide guitarists, delivering an excellent blues/gospel record with a strong political message. (8)

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, May 2018

DYLAN CARLSON – Conquistador
Evoking cinematic images of tumbleweeds blowing across the desert and scorpions silently crawling out of dead coyote skulls, this not only fits neatly into the Earth/Carlson canon but is, simply put, epic! (8)

ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER – Rebound

Fact: The album took its title from a goth club in Athens that apparently left an impression on Friedberger. I haven’t been to Rebound in almost 30 years because I always felt miserable in there (but maybe that’s the whole point of goth clubs), the problem is I didn’t have much of a better time listening to this album. (6)

FATHER JOHN MISTY – God’s Favorite Customer

The hipster’s hipster decided that he wants to be Elton John. That’s not a bad thing. Leaked a month ahead of the release date, we might have to revisit this one. (8)

FRANK TURNER – Be More Kind

Turner’s most accessible production and a bunch of great songs oscillating between the political and the personal, sometimes poppy, sometimes punky, sometimes folky. I really love this guy. (8)

IHSAHN – Amr

Prog rock with a black metal heart and a healthy sprinkling of Carpenteresque synthesizers. (8)

JANELLE MONAE – Dirty Computer

The true heir to Prince’s throne as the most prominent figure in Afro-futuristic sex funk is a woman. Features special guests from the mythical (Brian Wilson) to the super-popular (Pharrell Williams). (8)

LOVE – Forever Changes (50th Anniversary Edition)
(10+)

PARKER MILLSAP – Other Arrangements

4th album by baby-faced Oklahoman with gruffy tenor voice and solid guitar chops, this one rocks a bit harder than his previous albums. RYIL either Johnny Cougar or John Mellencamp. (7)

RIOT V – Armor Of Light

I love heavy metal and Riot has always been one of my favorite heavy metal bands but going on without Mark Reale just doesn’t feel right, the production work on the constant in-your-face double-bass drumming here gets annoying after a while, and releasing the “Thundersteel” album with a different title for the fourth time doesn’t help things either. (6)

WILLIE NELSON – Last Man Standing

Yes he is, he’s 86 and this is his 67th studio album, it’s bittersweet and funny and an all-around great country record mostly about death, but actually he’s never sounded more alive than he does here. (8)

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews April 2018 Vol. II


THE HARDER STUFF

A PERFECT CIRCLE – Eat The Elephant

Third release 14 years after the second one marks a stylistic change, with the piano and keyboards being much more prominent on a solid prog album. The vocals act as methadone for all the Tool junkies who’ll wait another 10,000 days for an album by Keenan’s main band. (7)

BLACKBERRY SMOKE – Find A Light

This time they go full-on southern rock, channeling everyone from the Allman Brothers to the Black Crowes to the Georgia Satellites. (7)

MELVINS – Pinkus Abortion Technician

The grunge/sludge weirdos keep it fresh with another line-up twist – two bass players this time around, adding Jeff Pinkus from the Butthole Surfers to the mix. They also cover a couple of Surfers tunes on this one, hence the album title, and play a few originals as well, but what they’ve done to The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” is the top reason to listen to this. (7)

MUSTASCH – Silent Killer

People call them “stoner”. Dunno, this sounds like straight-up HEAVY METAL to me. (7)

SLEEP – The Sciences

Load the bong, roll the back-up joints, put FIFA 18 on the PlayStation, open a Pornhub tab and make sure there’s ice cream for the munchies in the fridge. All set! (7)

SPIDERS – Killer Machine

From Sweden but with a sound channeling Detroit punk through Sydney (MC5 / Radio Birdman), Spiders set themselves apart from the rest of their vintage-sounding compatriots as the true heirs to The Hellacopters’ throne. (8)

TESSERACT – Sonder

Probably the best TesseracT album to date musically, still not fond of the slick sissy vocals – when you’re grabbed by the throat with the a-la Fates Warning monster opening riff/groove of “Luminary”, the thin teenage Justin Timberlake voice that follows is a bit of a letdown. Nevertheless, for musicianship and songwriting: (7)

THE DAMNED – Evil Spirits

Dave Vanian & Captain Sensible still kicking it 40 years after their peers The Sex Pistols broke up and 36 years after the last good Clash record. “Evil Spirits” doesn’t sound very punk rock, it’s closer to their goth period with some 60’s garage psychedelia thrown in for good measure, but it’s competent and fun and produced by none other than Tony Visconti. (7)

THE WONDER YEARS – Sister Cities

A few years ago we might’ve called this emo or pop-punk. In 2018 I’ll just say that this is full of great rock songs and it’s the type of album a teenager can fall in unconditional love with and not be embarrassed about the fact 20 years down the road. (8)

THE OTHER STUFF

ASHLEY MONROE – Sparrow

“Produced by Dave Cobb” is a guarantee of top quality in country music today even though, as opposed to his more rootsy recent work with Chris Stapleton/Jason Isbell/Sturgill Simpson, Cobb takes Monroe the countrypolitan way with lush strings and smooth yacht-rocky orchestration. Songwriting and playing is top-notch all-around. (8)

BRAZILIAN GIRLS – Let’s Make Love

The very definition of sophisticated urban pop music and a welcome return after a decade AWOL. (7)

JOSH T. PEARSON – The Straight Hits!

Lift To Experience mainman/cult hero shaves off the beard and tries to create a straight rock record. Thank God he fails miserably at making straight rock because the guy’s brain is wired in a way that can only come up with weird shit, and I love this weird shit. Fun fact: The album’s titled “The Straight Hits!” because all songs feature the word “Straight” in the title, except “The Dire Straits Of Love”. Get it? (8)

LAURA VEIRS – The Lookout

A singer/songwriter’s singer/songwriter, Veirs delivers a nice set of intimate songs (let’s call it “Americana” for lack of a better term) on her 10th solo album. Special guests include Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Sufjan Stevens. (7)

OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW – Volunteer

Yet another Dave Cobb production – the guy’s becoming the Rick Rubin of Americana. But no big changes here, OCMS just keep on doing what they do best – play joyous old-time bluegrass music. (7)

SARAH SHOOK & THE DISARMERS – Years
If you like Lydia Loveless as much as I do, especially 2013-14 Lydia Loveless, then you’ll love Sarah Shook’s country-punk sound and “dangerous broad” attitude. (8)

SIMONE FELICE – The Projector

A stunning piece of work by one of the top lyricists around, a collection of haunting, dark songs that go head to head with Nick Cave’s best work and anything on Springsteen’s “Nebraska”. A revelation. (9)

THIEVERY CORPORATION – Treasures From the Temple

It’s a Thievery Corporation album, you know what it sounds like. (7)

TRAMPLED BY TURTLES – Life Is Good On The Open Road

A good month for bluegrass fans apparently – it’s not only the Old Crow Medicine Show who return with a new album, but also the Minnesota band with the best band name ever. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Johnny Cash: Forever Words

Based on Cash’s book “Forever Words”, his friends, relatives and fans put the Man In Black’s letters and poems to music of their own. Country stars Kacey Musgraves, Brad Paisley, Carlene Carter, Rosanne Cash etc. meet rockers like Chris Cornell, John Mellencamp and Elvis Costello. Touching. (7)

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, April 2018

THE HARDER STUFF

77 – Bright Gloom
Spanish (sorry, Catalan) AC/DC clones diversify into cloning other 70’s bands. (6)

GOZU – Equilibrium

If your record collection is arranged in alphabetical order, this will sit comfortably between Goatsnake and Gruntruck. (7)

GREYSTONE CANYON – While The Wheels Still Turn

These Aussies should decide where they want to go since the album’s a bit all over the place with evident traces of Maiden, prog-metal, Megadeth, AC/DC and Ozzy’s solo albums topped by southern rock vocals. But at least they can write good songs. (7)

MAUDLIN – Sassuma Arnaa

Most reviewers say that this is a combination of prog, psychedelia and doom in a silly attempt to avoid using the term “post-metal” but really, this is post-metal we’re talking about and pretty good one at that. RIYL Isis, Pelican, The Ocean etc. (7)

NAPALM DEATH – Coded Smears And More Uncommon Slurs

31 B-sides, outtakes, covers and rarities over two discs from the world’s most uncompromising extreme metal band’s last 14 years. (8)

PRIMORDIAL – Exile Amongst The Ruins

Some fans are complaining about “Exile…” but that’s because they really have short attention spans – the album’s a grower and a worthy addition to the discography of one of the greatest metal bands around. (8)


THE OTHER STUFF

BETTYE LA VETTE – Things Have Changed

Legendary soul singer tackles a dozen Dylan songs and does a remarkable job of bringing them back to life, especially considering that half the originals are from Dylan’s crap 1979-89 period. (8)

KACEY MUSGRAVES – Golden Hour

For a few minutes in 2013 before Sturgill-Chris-Jason took over, Musgraves was the Savior of country music, even topping the Music Geek’s List for that year. This time she goes full-on crossover, sounding like Rumors-era Fleetwood Mac with a dash of Daft Punk robot disco-rock. Country purists will cringe, but “Golden Hour” is a minor pop triumph. (8)

LINDI ORTEGA – Liberty

Lindi’s not your typical country singer as she’s been known to share a stage with Social Distortion, and this is not your typical country release as it’s a cinematic concept album with a strong Ennio Morricone/Quentin Tarantino flavor. you.will.love.this. (💙) 

SLOAN – 12

Canadian critic darlings release their 12th power-pop gem that will be ignored by the general public, for the 12th time. (8)

Friday, 23 March 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, March 2018 Vol. II


CREEP SHOW – Mr. Dynamite
Experimental electronic music supergroup featuring John Grant and Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder among others just have some fun in the studio, end up sounding like Yello doing a Kraftwerk tribute. (6)

DAVID BYRNE – American Utopia

An OK album by someone who has previously been responsible for creating masterpieces is not OK. (6)

JACK WHITE – Boarding House Reach

This guy usually knows what he’s doing but this time WTF? Ambitious but messy, maximalistic in an everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink way, sometimes venturing into R&B, this is the sound of White finally biting off more than he can chew. (6)

MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO – Ventriloquism

Bassist/singer/rapper Ndegeocello has been credited with giving birth to the neo-soul genre with her excellent, sexy 90’s debut “Plantation Lullabies”. On her fantastic 12th album she uniquely re-imagines soul and funk radio hits from 1982-95 by Prince, TLC, George Clinton, Janet Jackson, Tina Turner, Sade etc., giving them a new breath of life. (8)

MONSTER MAGNET – Mindfucker

Look. You know me, Monster Magnet is one of my favorite bands of all time. I’ve repeatedly stated that Monster Magnet albums are like blowjobs (even bad ones are pretty good) and that I can never be objective about this band. (11)

NATHANIEL RATELIFF & THE NIGHT SWEATS – Tearing at the Seams

Somewhere between a male Sharon Jones with less religion and a good Van Morrison karaoke. (7)

RYLEY WALKER – Deafman Glance

This album won’t be officially released before May but trust me, when it does, you’re gonna see a whole bunch of five-star reviews from all the media that matter – Walker transforms from acoustic folk guy to electropsychedelic weirdo and totally pulls it off. (8)

SQUIRREL NUT ZIPPERS – Beasts of Burgundy

My man Jimbo Mathus does it again, putting his old band back together – SNZ revive old-time swing/jazz with a punk rock attitude. You cannot not dance to this. (8)

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES – Get Your Fight On!

Great EP featuring alternate versions, re-recordings of Cyco Miko songs, some new stuff, a Stooges cover and Dave Lombardo on the drums. (8)

THE FRATELLIS – In Your Own Sweet Time

The Music Geek has a soft spot for the Fratellis’ brand of shiny happy pop-rock and this is a welcome addition to their catalogue. RIYL the theme song to “Friends”. (7)

THE SWORD – Used Future

If you’re a fan of “Technical Ecstasy”/”Never Say Die”-era Sabbath you’ll love this. But of all Sabbath eras, why the fuck are you a fan of the “Technical Ecstasy”/”Never Say Die” era? (7)

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, March 2018

THE HARDER STUFF

BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME – Automata 1

Just can’t make up my mind about these guys – I really like the albums when they come out, but then never play them again after about a week of repeated listens and don’t remember a single note and I’m pretty sure this is exactly what's going to happen with this one as well. But it’s not them, it’s me – if you don’t mind the occasional brutal vocal with your prog metal, you should definitely check it out. (7)

CARPENTER BRUT – Leather Teeth

The metal parts are OK but the drum machine and lack of dynamics (everything’s on 11, all the time) make them sound like a demo. Then you’ve got the bad Depeche Mode parts, and I hate even good Depeche Mode. (6)

CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX – Horrific Honorifics

Band led by ex-Iron Monkey multi-instrumentalist Justin Greaves release mini-album featuring a NoMeansNo cover. In addition to having great taste in covers and despite being called everything from prog to neo-psychedelia but mainly post-rock, to my ears they sound mostly like a modern-day version of the mighty and sorely missed The God Machine. (8)

JUDAS PRIEST – Firepower

Only the 10th best Judas Priest album but still their best in 27 years AND the best heavy metal release of 2018 to date. (8)

OCEANS OF SLUMBER – The Banished Heart

More gothic metal than progressive metal this time around. Not an easy one, it takes a few listens to get into, but it’s actually pretty good and the lady can really sing. (7)

PAINTED DOLL – Painted Doll

Power-pop/psychedelic-lite project featuring a death metal drummer (Chris Reifert). Very pleasant to listen to but a bit derivative – one song sounds like “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” which sounds like The Byrds, another sounds like “Love”-era The Cult which sound like a post-punk version of The Byrds, another sounds like the Kinks which sound nothing like The Byrds but still. (7)

SCREAMING FEMALES – All At Once

Great songs, great lyrics, great production, best punk rock album of the year so far. (8)

SOLSTICE – White Horse Hill

True metalheads have waited 20 years for this album, and true metalheads will understand. Non-metalheads will be left scratching their non-metal heads. (8)

THE BELLRAYS – Punk Funk Rock Soul, Vol. 2

I’m a big BellRays fan and I still think they’re one of the best live bands in the world but I have to admit that ever since guitarist/songwriter Tony Fate dropped out, their recorded output has lost some of the Punk. (7)


THE OTHER STUFF

BARRENCE WHITFIELD & THE SAVAGES – Soul Flowers Of Titan

Savage, primitive garage rock ‘n’ soul from the best live band to come out of Boston since the J. Geils Band. More punk than the latest BellRays, actually. (8)

CHRIS CONNELLY – The Tide Stripped Bare

I have a confession to make: Sometime around 1992 I wanted to be Chris Connelly, at the time when he was a prominent figure in industrial circles. I got over it. This sounds like Connelly himself never got over wanting to be David Bowie. (7)

HALEY HEYNDERICKX – I Need to Start a Garden

A stunningly beautiful, mostly acoustic debut album by this singer/songwriter/guitarist from the Pacific Northwest. No idea if this is her real name or a tribute to Jimi but her playing really does sound like Hendrix if he was a female folkie without the Marshalls, while the vocals are reminiscent of Sharon Van Etten. (8)

IMARHAN – Temet

A great Tuareg desert blues band, like a funkier version of Tinariwen. (8)

J.D. WILKES – Fire Dream

Legendary Shack Shakers leader releases excellent solo album with a strong “Rain Dogs”-era Tom Waits influence. My man Jimbo Mathus co-produces. (8)

MELISSA LAVEAUX – Radyo Siwel

Canadian singer-songwriter explores her Creole/Haitian roots and comes up with a serious candidate for world music/pop crossover album of the year. (8)

THE HANGING STARS – Songs For Somewhere Else

It’s a bunch of Englishmen playing Americana, what do you call this, Britaniana? In 2018 they sound like they came from 1968. (7)

TITUS ANDRONICUS – A Productive Cough

2015’s “The Most Lamentable Tragedy”, a punk rock opera about bipolar disorder, was a masterpiece and made that year’s List. Βut this one’s a misstep – it’s fine to outgrow punk rock, but it’s not fine if you end up sounding like a Bob Dylan cover band consisting of drunken fratboys. (6)

Friday, 16 February 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews February 2018, Vol. II


ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF – Dead Magic
As I’ve previously said, born with a name like that the poor girl had no option but to become a goth. (7)

BRIAN FALLON – Sleepwalkers

Started out with The Gaslight Anthem as a strong Springsteen wannabe, seems to have lost his mojo somewhere along the way. (6)

BRIGID MAE POWER – The Two Worlds

Folk musician that feels much more suited to tour with Earth or Grails rather than with Joan Baez or Fleet Foxes. (8)

DWARVES – Take Back The Night

17 songs in 25 minutes evenly split between So-Cal melodic pop-punk anthems sung by Blag Dahlia and hardcore splatterfests screamed by Rex Everything (AKA Nick Oliveri). (8)

EZRA FURMAN – Transangelic Exodus

A gay Springsteen just created the queer “Born To Run”. (8)

GIANTS IN THE TREES – Giants In The Trees

Krist Novoselic’s new band sounds interesting, a post-grunge Americana amalgam of folk, indie rock and psychedelia with multi-layered sounds supporting Jillian Raye’s unique vocals. Produced by Jack Endino. (7)

HC McENTIRE – Lionheart

Lesbian punk assisted by friends like the legendary riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill) releases this year’s best country record to date. (8)

JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN – Damned Devotion Read

If you think you’d enjoy the female version of a Prince/Leonard Cohen hybrid then you should definitely check this out. (7)

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE – Man Of The Woods

He’s a millionaire married to Jessica Biel, does it really matter what you or I think of his new album? (6)

KYLE CRAFT – Full Circle Nightmare

His debut album made the List in 2016, and this is a strong follow-up in the same “Redneck Ziggy” style. But if he really wants to be Bowie then he needs to come up with something else next time. (8)

LEGEND OF THE SEAGULLMEN – Legend Of The Seagullmen

Really fun nautically-themed concept album by heavy metal supergroup featuring Brett Hinds (Mastodon) and Danny Carey (Tool) among others, sounds like a cross between King Diamond (but with listenable vocals) and Primus (but with listenable vocals). (8)

THE SWORD – Used Future

If you’re a fan of “Technical Ecstasy”/”Never Say Die”-era Sabbath you’ll love this. But of all Sabbath eras, why the fuck are you a fan of the “Technical Ecstasy”/”Never Say Die” era? (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Black Panther: The Album

Impressive hip-hop collection curated by and heavily featuring Kendrick Lamar plus a bunch of guests (SZA, Vince Staples, Anderson Paak, James Blake, the Weeknd etc.). Stands alone without the movie just fine. (8)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Boom-A-Lay & Chug-A-Lug: Exotic Blues & Rhythm, Vol. 7 & 8

The “Exotic Blues & Rhythm” series was originally issued on 10” vinyl and it’s out for the first time on CD, a crazy collection of tittyshakers from the late 50’s/early 60’s. Put this on = instant party! (10)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Northern Soul: The Ultimate Collection

Fantastic 5-CD Northern Soul compilation, if you need more stuff for that instant party we were just talking about. (9)