Saturday, 23 June 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, June 2018 Part II


BEYONCE & JAY-Z (THE CARTERS) – Everything Is Love
The surprise album drop thing is getting a bit tired and so is their idea of turning their marriage into a reality show and mending it publicly through their albums: Beyonce’s “Lemonade” accusation was great, Jay-Z’s “4:44” apology was OK, but third time around I’ve got very few fucks left to give about this “we’re fine now” joint effort. (6)

DEATH GRIPS – Year Of The Snitch

This is Death Grips’ “Kid A”, too weird for me. (6)

FANTASTIC NEGRITO – Please Don’t Be Dead

From the Led Zep-infused “Plastic Hamburgers” to the “Come Together”-isms of “Bad Guy Necessity”, from “A Boy Named Andrew”’s exotic hook to the chilling “A Cold November Street” and the funky “Bullshit Anthem”, this guy’s singlehandedly dragging the blues kicking and screaming into the 21st century. (8)

HERE LIES MAN – You Will Know Nothing

Afrobeat meets superfuzzed, bigmuffed proto-metal. (7)

HOWLIN’ RAIN – The Alligator Bride

Bandleader Ethan Miller has described this album as “Neil Cassady rock” and I say he’s spot on. RYIL Ethan Johns and Ethan Hawke. (8)

KAMASI WASHINGTON – Heaven & Earth

I don’t know much about jazz but I know what sounds good, and this sounds GREAT. More than a jazz saxophonist, Washington is a genius arranger/bandleader who’s not afraid to venture into Stevie Wonder/Isaac Hayes soul/pop territory as he’s more about solid songwriting rather than just technical dexterity. (8)

KHEMMIS – Desolation

The yin to Pallbearer’s yang in leading the U.S. doom metal resurgence, these guys go full-on Epic (with a capital “E”) metal on their third album. Great guitars, much improved clean vocals, highly recommended. (8)

NINE INCH NAILS – Bad Witch

Most likely it’s an existential thing but somehow I can never give Trent Reznor anything less than a (7)

ORANGE GOBLIN – The Wolf Bites Back

Not sure why they’re still stuck with the “stoner” label (which they seem to be perfectly happy with, BTW) since, really, these are the children of Motorhead. (7)

WILKO JOHNSON – Blow Your Mind

Wilko didn’t die, he’s back to kick some ass and he sounds VERY alive. His guitar playing remains awesome, his band is rockin’, too bad he can’t really sing so minus one point. (7)

Friday, 8 June 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, June 2018


THE HARDER STUFF

GHOST – Prequelle

It’s so refreshing to find a metal musician with a brain inside his head that I want to give him a 10 just for that, let alone the tunes being catchier than the Black Plague he sings about. (9)

GRAVEYARD – Peace

If this album is any indication there was no reason for the band’s break-up, they just seem to have picked it up from where they had left it, only the drummer’s different. Apart from that, it’s the same competent retro pseudo-70’s boogie/garage rock. (7)

PANEGYRIST – Hierurgy

Devoutly Christian black metal (!?) with epic undertones sounds surprisingly better than expected, sort of like a cross between Arcturus and Bathory. (7)

REFUSED – Servants Of Death

2016 Record Store Day EP from an all-time great punk band now available to all on streaming services. Includes live tracks and a rare B-side. (8)

YOB – Our Raw Heart

Skull-crushing doom metal, dense, cathartic. (8)

ZEAL & ARDOR – Stranger Fruit

When the debut came out in 2016 we expressed the opinion that if he skipped the DIY and got a real drummer he’d be capable of greatness. So he went out and hired Kurt Ballou and a real drummer and he came up with greatness, not straying from his unique satanic black metal/gospel mash-up style but more, well, satanic. (8)


THE OTHER STUFF


COLIN STETSON – Hereditary (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Scary sounds for this year’s scariest movie. (8)

FATHER JOHN MISTY – God’s Favorite Customer

Officially released more than a month after being leaked, this still sounds pretty great a month later and it's a lot poppier than his previous one. Play it for the songs, not for the hype. (8)

JOHN PARISH – Bird Dog Dante

Adventurous guitarist, producer extraordinaire and long-time PJ Harvey collaborator returns with first solo album in a very long time. Polly Jean guests of course, and so does Aldous Harding. Very different from PJ’s own stuff but somehow appealing to the same ears. (7)

KANYE WEST – Ye

He’s lost it. Let’s hope he gets it back. (6)

LUMP – Lump

Beloved indie-folk star Laura Marling partners with producer Mike Lindsay for a series of dreamlike improvisations. Nice. (7)

NATALIE PRASS – The Future And The Past

On her better 2015 debut she sounded like she wanted to be the indie-rock Dusty Springfield, this time around she sounds like she wants to be the indie-rock Grace Jones doing theme songs for Disney soundtracks or something. (6)

NEKO CASE – Hell-On

Case is very different from every other female singer-songwriter out there and cannot be compared to anyone else. It’s not “Americana”, it’s not rock, it’s not country or folk, I really don’t know how to label this but I know these songs go deep and demand multiple listens. Mark Lanegan, k.d. lang and a whole bunch of others guest. (7)

THE LAST POETS – Understand What Black Is

Forefathers of rap return 50 years after the group’s inception and 21 years since their last studio album, and they’ve got plenty to say on this spoken word/reggae/jazz hybrid. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Late Night Tales: Agnes Obel

I love this artist-curated compilation series, and Obel’s “mixtape” is among the most eclectic of the bunch with tracks by Henry Mancini, Lee Hazlewood, Yello, Lena Platonos, Ray Davies, Can etc. blending seamlessly into a beautiful collection of music. (8)

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)