Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, November 2019

KANYE WEST – Jesus Is King
What the fuck is this shit. (4)

KINKY FRIEDMAN – Resurrection

Kinky’s a hell of a guy. He’s also a country singer/songwriter who, just like his pal Willie Nelson, can make you LOL with one song and cry with the next one, as this album (probably his best one) demonstrates. (8)


Surprise release by controversial Brooklyn black metal band is an interesting experiment in genre-hopping cacophony that works more often than it doesn’t. The Autechre-like “CD skipping” effect is really annoying, but almost everything they do is annoying to a lot of people anyway so that’s OK. (7)

LOREENA McKENNITT – Live at the Royal Albert Hall

You either love McKennitt in which case you’ll enjoy this live album immensely, or you think she’s just new age horseshit in which case you can go back to drawing animal figures on the walls of your cave or hunting mammoths or whatever it is you Neanderthals do. (8)

MAVERICKS – Play The Hits

One of the best party bands on the planet, these Latino country rockers celebrate their 30th anniversary with a great covers album of songs originally by Waylon Jennings, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley etc. given the royal Mavericks treatment. (8)


Lambert keeps getting better with every album and on “Wildcard”, without cutting off her country roots, she clearly ventures into rock territory. Great songwriting on par with peak-career Sheryl Crow, great lyrics, great everything. (8)

NILE – Vile Nilotic Rites

Another slab of Middle Eastern-flavored sonic violence from Morbid Angel’s top disciples. It’s been promoted as a comeback and a return to form but, really, if you like one Nile album you like them all. (8)

SCHAMMASCH – Hearts of No Light

What started out as a competent yet straightforward black/death metal band a-la Behemoth has now completed its transformation into a totally unpredictable prog-avant monster which, in 2019, will probably be as divisive as their compatriots Celtic Frost were back in 1987. And that’s a very, very good thing. (8)


Somewhere between Solange, whom I love, and FKA Twigs, whom I don’t get, but a bit more Afrocentric. (7)

TINDERSTICKS – No Treasure But Hope

Moving to Ithaca, Greece must have had some serious effects on Tindersticks mainman Stuart Staples' state of mind – a couple of songs on their new album, including first single “Pinky In The Daylight”, sound more like Manos Hatzidakis than like Tindersticks. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – I'm A Freak 2 Baby: A Further Journey Through The British Heavy Psych And Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-73

A sequel to a great compilation released three years ago, this 3-CD collection with the self-explanatory title includes a few names you’ll recognize (Budgie, Jeff Beck, The Move, Atomic Rooster, Edgar Broughton Band, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown...), a lot of total unknown proto-metal acts you’ll be thrilled to discover, and more cowbell than a 100-acre pasture on the Swiss Alps. (10)

Friday, 25 October 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, October 2019, Vol. 2

DESERT SESSIONS – Vols. 11 & 12
Josh Homme’s jam sessions return 16 years after Vols. 9 & 10. Guests this time are more mainstream than usual, whatever that signifies for Homme’s current status in the rock world, including Billy Gibbons, Les Claypool, the guy from Scissor Sisters etc. Not their best, still an enjoyable ride through the desert. (7)


I’m not an electronica expert but I loved this guy’s instalment of the “Late Night Tales” compilation series so I decided to give his own album a chance, and I’m in two minds about it: On one hand I love the dancefloor/techno stuff like the magnificent single “LesAlpx”, but on the other hand I don’t have the patience for his more glitchy stuff. (8/6)

MARK LANEGAN BAND – Somebody’s Knocking

Lanegan’s transformation into Electro-Goth King has now been completed, “Somebody’s Knocking" sounds like a cross between early New Order and mid-period Sisters Of Mercy. (7)

MAYHEM – Daemon

First album post-“Lords Of Chaos” (the movie), “Daemon” proves that these black metal veterans can still sound ferocious but are no longer the pioneers of extremity they once were, having been surpassed by younger bands from France and North America. (7)

RAY ALDER – What The Water Wants

Alder goes for a mellower vibe than that of his day job in Fates Warning, sticks to his mid-range, writes some good stuff, ends up with an excellent melodic hard rock album with discreet prog overtones. If you’re one of those who cream their pants thinking about “Parallels”/”Inside Out”, this is closer to that than Fates Warning will ever get again (even with the mid-range singing) (8)

REFUSED – War Music

Everyone’s favorite extreme-left punks and true heirs to the MC5 legacy are back with a second post-reunion gem. (8)


Judas Priest frontman releases album of Christmas carols with his brother on drums, his nephew on bass etc. No offense to the Metal God but this is a bit ridiculous. (5)


A collection of rarities and covers that also serves as a chronicle of the band’s development from sloppy indie rockers in 2006 to one of the world’s best punk bands today, even making The List last year. (7)

SUNNO))) – Pyroclasts

A companion album to ¨Life Metal” that was released earlier this year, “Pyroclasts” includes 4 improvisations, each 11 minutes long, recorded during the same sessions, which take the term “drone” to extreme levels. (∞)

SWANS – Leaving Meaning

Nowadays Swans are more like an artist collective than a band per se with Gira joined here by former band members as well as guests like Australian avant-jazz combo The Necks, experimentalist Ben Frost, goth royalty siblings Anna & Maria Von Hausswolff and others, but it still sounds like post-2010 Swans, i.e. loud, grim, disturbing, and great. (8)


Barrence Whitfield is one of the Music Geek’s all-time favorite singers/screamers and this time he goes way, way off his beaten soul/garage rock path, all the way to Saturn where Sun Ra’s out-there jazz came from, Funkadelicizing some of this weirdo’s better known compositions. This is pretty great, actually. (8)

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, October 2019

AEROSMITH – Rocks (Remastered)
It’s one of the 10 best hard rock albums of all time so if you don’t already own it, get it NOW. Good remaster, you can taste the sleaze when this version is playing. (10)


Everclear leader, recovering junkie and recently-gone-public-about-it-MS-patient Alexakis releases solo acoustic album and it basically sounds like a so-so Everclear album without electric guitars. (6)

DANNY BROWN – Uknowhatimsayin

More streamlined than the experimental, claustrophobic “Atrocity Exhibition” which made The List back in 2016 it’s also much-much funnier, with Brown delivering killer lines with the razor-sharp precision of a world-class standup comic over some classic hip-hop beats. (8)

KEFAYA & ELAHA SOROOR – Songs of Our Mothers

Traditional folk songs from Afghanistan given the jazztronica treatment from a bunch of London-based multi-culti expats. Very interesting. (8)

LIFE OF AGONY – The Sound Of Scars

“River Runs Red” means so much to so many people (yours truly included) that recording a sequel 25 years later is a high-risk move, especially since the band moved away from the old-school NYHC roots that fueled “RRR” almost immediately after releasing it. Nevertheless, this is a great “alt-metal” album on par with all LOA albums that followed the legendary debut. “RRR” it’s not, but it will do. (8)

LIGHTNING BOLT – Sonic Citadel

Lightning Bolt are one of the great mysteries of life: Two dudes creating such loud obnoxious noise with unintelligible vocals on top isn’t supposed to sound so awesome, especially on the seventh album and 20 years after the debut. And yet here we are, ”Sonic Citadel” is fun and catchy and, you know, loud and obnoxious and noisy. (8)

MENZINGERS – Hello Exile

Is “Punk Rock That Sounds Like Springsteen” a genre? In any case, if you like the Hold Steady or the Gaslight Anthem then you’ll certainly like these guys too, even though I doubt they’ll ever top 2012’s “On The Impossible Past”. (7)

NATACHA ATLAS – Strange Days

A bold move into pure jazz territory from Atlas, who fronts a killer backing band with her trademark Middle Eastern vocal acrobatics. (7)


We all know that alongside a handful of others (Neil Young and Bob Dylan, most notably) this guy has total immunity and anything he releases will always be immediately hailed as a masterpiece, but I’m not yet sure that “Ghosteen” is really a masterpiece because I haven’t listened to it enough, and the reason I haven’t listened to it enough is because I find another album about the loss of a child incredibly difficult to listen to. (-)

NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE DEAD THINK – No One Knows What The Dead Think

2/3 of Discordance Axis are on this so you know what you’re getting: Ultraviolent, fast and furious, chaotic grindcore. Fans of the genre will love this, even if it doesn’t exceed the highs reached by Gridlink (same vocalist) which made The List back in 2014. (7)


It’s impossible to pin down Dawson, but I will compare him to Bob Dylan even though he sounds nothing like Dylan – it’s just that they are both world-class wordsmiths rooted in the folk tradition, who write great songs they try to sing themselves despite having voices that are (to be polite about it) an acquired taste. “2020” is Dawson’s hookiest, most pop album to date, if you dare call “pop” something as weird and twisted and abrasive as this. (9)

OPETH – In Cauda Venenum

I liked this more than I liked any Opeth album in over a decade. I still liked them more when they had death growls. (8)


The WTF album of the month comes from country music’s savior who just released an album containing exactly 0% country music: “Sound & Fury” is synth-rock that for the most part sounds like LCD Soundsystem covering ZZ Top’s “Eliminator”. (7)

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, September 2019 Vol. II

ALICE COOPER – Breadcrumbs EP
Alice pays tribute to his hometown Detroit with a couple of songs of his own (“Go Man Go” rules!) plus some covers (Bob Seger, MC5, Suzi Quatro, Mitch Ryder). It sounds very Detroit and it’s Alice at his rawest and best in decades. (8)


Alabama Shakes leader goes solo and expands her sonic palette beyond her band’s vintage soul-rock, experimenting with Prince-like funk and D’Angelo neo-soul. The result is a minor triumph. (8)

CHELSEA WOLFE – Birth Of Violence

Contemporary goth icon Wolfe moves away from her metal influences and focuses on her folky side this time around. Still RYIL black clothes, black nail polish, dyed black hair, black metal, black mood. (7)

EXHORDER – Mourn The Southern Skies

A third studio album comes 27 years after the second one and who would’ve thought, it’s probably the best thrash metal album of the year. (8)

GHOST – Seven Inches Of Satanic Panic

Single including two new songs with a distinctly late-60’s non-metal flavor, courtesy of a Farfisa organ sound. (7)


If your definition of “Americana” is a melting pot of folk, country, soul and soft rock, then this album’s for you. (7)

LAST CRACK – The Up Rising

A third studio album comes 28 years after the second one and who would’ve thought, it’s probably the best prog metal album of the year (Tool are not prog metal, they are their own genre). (8)


Two very creative provocateurs from different eras collaborate on this album which could justifiably be described as Mr. Bungle meets Serge Gainsbourg (Vannier made a number of albums with Gainsbourg in the 70’s). It’s really fun in a very disturbing way. (8)


Rock royalty brothers Luther & Cody Dickinson are known for their competent southern blues rock and their tenth album doesn’t sonically deviate from the formula, even though it’s a concept album of sorts. Guests include Jason Isbell, Mavis Staples etc. (7)

RUBINOOS – From Home

A smart album by tier-2 power-pop veterans. You know the drill: Jangly guitars, sweet vocal harmonies and a bit of a rock bite, what people often call “Beatlesque”. Lyrics are better than expected, literate and often entertaining. (7)

THE HU – The Gereg

The main reason I decided to give this Mongolian metal band that uses traditional instruments a listen is for an opportunity to say how disappointed I am that they didn’t call their album “The Hu Sell Out”, or “The Hu by Numbers”, or “Hu Are You”, or (even better!) “Quadrophenia”. Oh well, they can still salvage this by calling the follow-up “Hu’s Next”. (7)

Monday, 9 September 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, September 2019

AARON LEE TASJAN – Karma For Cheap, Reincarnated
Exactly one year after releasing “Karma For Cheap” Tasjan re-records the whole album acoustically, including one brand-new song. An interesting companion to the original. (7)

BLANCK MASS – Animated Violence Mild

Great, intense 90s-style industrial dance music from the Fuck Buttons guy. RYIL My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, KMFDM, NIN’s debut, that sort of thing. (8)

BON IVER – i,i

A certain kind of hipster music fan would lay his life down for this guy’s mix of soft rock, indie folk and R&B but really, take the studio wizardry away from “i,i” and there’s not much left. (6)

EZRA FURMAN – Twelve Nudes

The gay Jewish Bruce Springsteen goes punk rock with stunning results. (8)

FRANK TURNER – No Man’s Land

The British press really slaughtered Turner for “No Man’s Land” but I think this has more to do with his politics than with the actual songs which aren’t bad. That being said, and this coming from a big fan, I feel that after 2013's excellent “Tape Deck Heart” England’s most popular folkie punk hasn’t really hit his stride again. (7)

HERE LIES MAN – No Ground To Walk Upon

In case you missed out on the first couple of albums, HLM play a hybrid of fuzzed-out proto-metal and afrobeat. The only difference this time around is that there are no creepy kids on the album cover. (7)

JESSE MALIN – Sunset Kids

Anyone remember 90’s NYC glam-punks D Generation? Malin used to front that band, then spent the 21st century to date doing a pretty good Lou Reed impression. His new album however has less of an urban flavor, probably because Americana goddess Lucinda Williams helps out with songwriting and production. (7)

JOAN SHELLEY – Like The River Loves The Sea

Kentuckian folkie goes fully acoustic this time, writes and sings enchanting songs that flow from her like fresh mountain water flows from the spring. (8)

KAYO DOT – Blasphemy

You never know what to expect from these guys except the unexpected, every album’s completely different from the previous one and this is probably their most “rock” album. You’ll still see them categorized under “progressive metal” though. (7)

LANA DEL REY – Norman Fucking Rockwell!

She finally did it! After four good but uneven albums each featuring equal measures of great songs and filler, NFR! is Del Rey’s masterpiece – smart, funny, political, and no filler in sight. A perfect amalgam of all things American, from the Beach Boys to Walt Whitman to George Gershwin to Laurel Canyon to Leonard Cohen to, well, Norman fucking Rockwell. (9)

REDD KROSS – Beyond The Door

Power-pop cult heroes the McDonald brothers release first album after 7 years and it’s just great fun, with a strong 60’s garage punk flavor to it. Their bassist also currently plays for the Melvins and they return the favor – Dale Crover is now Redd Kross’ official drummer, and Buzz guests too. (8)


So you thought church music was boring? Well, time to meet the Eddie Van Halen of gospel, a pedal steel guitarist who plays his instrument like a demented cross between Stevie Ray Vaughan and Duane Allman and rocks like a motherfucker (even though he’s religious and wouldn’t approve of my language). (8)


Country, blues, rock, tex-mex and everything in between with special Texan guests Billy Gibbons, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and Steve Earle, on the most FUN album in a month of stellar album releases. Doesn’t get any more Texas than this. Also features honorary Texan Ringo Starr. (8)


It’s not about the impressive guestlist that looks like a Grammy awards ceremony (St. Vincent, Sting, Jason Isbell, Chuck D, Joe Walsh, James Taylor, Stevie Nicks, Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples, Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark Jr., Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and a zillion others), it’s about the songwriting: Haters will call her mom rock, but this is Americana superstar Crow in good form. (7)

SIROM – A Universe That Roasts Blossoms For A Horse

Dissonant avant-garde from Slovenia that sounds like freaked-out folk music. A bit too weird, even for me. (6)

SLIPKNOT – We Are Not Your Kind

The Geek’s verdict on this one is about a month late and it doesn’t really matter anymore because your attention span is shorter than a goldfish’s and now you’re all talking about the new Tool album, right? In any case, it rules. (9)


Her best album since “Red” is a pure pop delight, plus it includes the best (and saddest) song she’s ever written (“Soon You’ll Get Better”), coincidentally (?) her first time revisiting country music in ages. (8)

THE HIGHWOMEN – The Highwomen

All-female country supergroup (Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris and Natalie Hemby), modeled on The Highwaymen but coming across like the Pistol Annies, are on a mission to get more women artists on the radio and the charts. This album certainly has the chops for it. Famous friends (Jason Isbell, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow, Dave Cobb etc.) chip in. (8)

THE HOLD STEADY – Thrashing Through The Passion

It takes a certain kind of person to like The Hold Steady, you need to be hopelessly romantic about rock ‘n’ roll and have a soft spot for underachievers and prefer boilermakers to mojitos and read lots of books. This one’s for the fans, a collection of previously released Bandcamp singles with a few new tracks thrown in for good measure. (8)


Desert blues pioneers record an album IN THE ACTUAL FUCKING DESERT, playing live to an audience of scorpions. Special guests adding the occasional overdub include Warren Ellis, Noura Mint Seymali, Micah Nelson, Cass McCombs and STEPHEN FUCKING O’MALLEY. (8)

TOOL – Fear Inoculum

Can an album be worth a 13-year wait? Apparently yes. (9)

YEAR OF THE GOAT – Novis Orbis Terrarum Ordinis

Solid songwriting, but occult rock is better when it’s either tongue in cheek (Ghost) or deadly serious (The Devil’s Blood). (7)

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, August 2019 - Summer Holiday Edition


GORILLA – Treecreeper

Under-the-radar Brit fuzz/psych/stone rockers sharing a frontman with the slightly better known Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell return with their first full-length after 12 years. RYIL Blue Cheer and Motorhead, and you should definitely check out their 2001 debut, it rules. (7)


Record Store Day 2019 release featuring one new instrumental track plus Celtic Frost and Bad Brains covers, now available on streaming services. Now that I think of it, “Celtic Frost meets Bad Brains” is as good a description of High On Fire as any. (8)


This is really fucked up, like Diamanda Galas fronting an unholy amalgam of Current 93 and Godflesh. Hard to listen to, yet essential. (8)

ROSALIE CUNNINGHAM – Rosalie Cunningham

Purson frontwoman releases stunning debut solo album and makes the competition (Jex Thoth, Jess & The Ancient Ones, Uncle Acid, Sabbath Assembly etc.) sound like clueless hippies. (8)

SLIPKNOT – We Are Not Your Kind

You’ll have to wait until the next batch of reviews, I haven’t had a chance to listen to it properly yet. (-)

SOUNDGARDEN – Live From The Artist’s Den

One of very few 90’s heroes I regret never getting to see live. I miss that guy. (8)

TORCHE – Admission

One of the most interesting metal bands around, combining sludgy riffs with sunny vocal melodies. Their fifth album sounds simultaneously heavier/harder and richer/warmer than previous efforts, no mean feat. (8)

VOLBEAT – Rewind, Replay, Rebound

Emphasis on the arena rock with a few jokey rockabilly interludes. The Neil Fallon duet “Die To Live” is the best thing here, because Neil Fallon. (7)


CHRIS GANTRY – Nashtlantis
Outlaw country singer/songwriter in his 70’s you’ve probably never heard of as he disappeared from Nashville 40 years ago. This comeback album is just him and his guitar and the occasional flourish of cello or synth, but boy can this guy write a song! A must-hear if you enjoy listening to master storytellers. (8)

FASTBALL – All The Pain Money Can Buy (20th Anniversary Edition)

It’s been 20 years since the best pop song of the last 20 years was released, you should hear this album if it’s just for “The Way”. (8 for the album, 11 for the single)

KYLE CRAFT – Showboat Honey

Southern boy influenced by 70’s British glam rock on his third, strong album. RYIL Mott The Hoople, Be Bop Deluxe, Ziggy-era Bowie. (8)

PARTCH – Sonata Dementia

An otherworldly orchestra performing music composed by legendary cult figure Harry Partch, a major influence on latter day Tom Waits, played on weird instruments created by Partch himself, some of which utilize his own 43-tone scale. Listen to this only if you think “Trout Mask Replica” is the best album of all time. (7)

PURPLE MOUNTAINS – Purple Mountains

Indie-rock recluse behind Gen X cult icons Silver Jews returns after a long silence, creates an album about fucking up everything you’ve ever started, gets great reviews, then dies just before going out on tour to support it. Oh, the irony. (8)

THE BIRD AND THE BEE – Interpreting The Masters, Volume 2: A Tribute To Van Halen

The idea of a guitarless Van Halen tribute album sounds ludicrous, especially since it includes a cover of “Eruption” (for piano!), but this is simply poptastic! (8)

TYLER CHILDERS – Country Squire

A great collection of honky-tonk country tunes by Sturgill Simpson protégé. (8)

TY SEGALL – First Taste

Modern-day guitar hero releases guitarless album, and it doesn’t suck. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Hallelujah: The Songs of Leonard Cohen

Tribute album collecting previously released covers of Cohen songs, so you’ve probably already heard the most iconic versions included herein (e.g. Jeff Buckley totally owning “Hallelujah”, Nina Simone’s “Suzanne”…). Everyone has their favorites of course and you can’t please everyone, but personally I’d have included Concrete Blonde’s “Everybody Knows” over Barb Jungr’s version, REM’s “First We Take Manhattan” over Joe Cocker’s version and so on. (8)

Friday, 5 July 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, July 2019

Aggelos Baltas blends his sample-based psychedelia/krautrock with the traditional Greek folk sounds of Savvaidis and the results are awesome. (8)


Doom/sludge heroes from New Zealand return after the singer’s battle with cancer, and the album is about that experience. Heavy stuff, in more than one sense of the word. (8)

BEDOUINE – Birdsongs Of A Killjoy

Syrian-American folkie’s second album is a very L.A. affair, sunny and warm and lush. (7)

BLACK KEYS – “Let’s Rock”

The Black Keys return in full-on classic rock mode, ripping off everyone from ZZ Top (“Lo/Hi”) to “Stuck In The Middle With You” (“Sit Around And Miss You”) and having tons of fun doing it. Let’s rock, indeed. (8)

BLACK PUMAS – Black Pumas

New band playing competent old-school soul using Curtis Mayfield as the template. (7)

DRIVIN N CRYIN – Live The Love Beautiful

Legendary, underrated band at the crossroads between southern rock and power pop return after a decade-long absence with a fantastic album. Aaron Lee Tasjan produces and does a splendid job at it. (8)

JADE JACKSON – Wilderness

A great punky country rock album by this young lady, produced by Social Distortion’s Mike Ness. People compare her to Lucinda Williams but sticking to her own generation I’d say she’s more of a kindred spirit to Lydia Loveless. (8)

JESCA HOOP – Stonechild

If you thought folk music is just fingerpicked acoustic guitars and gentle melodies, Hoop’s album will blow your mind with its totally bonkers songwriting and hallucinatory imagery. This is one of the weirdest, sexiest, most adventurous albums of the year. (9)

LUKAS NELSON & PROMISE OF THE REAL – Turn Off The News (Build A Garden)

After making a name backing Neil Young and Bradley Cooper’s character in “A Star Is Born”, Willie’s son and his band release a wonderful Wilburys/Petty-esque album. Guests include dad, Young, Sheryl Crow and Kesha. (8)


Melvins influenced every grunge and sludge band, and Flipper influenced Melvins, and this collaborative EP by two of America’s cultest cult bands is out on Amphetamine Reptile Records – a triple guarantee of quality when it comes to obnoxious noise. (7)

RACONTEURS – Help Us Stranger

The most fun/classic rock record Jack White has been involved with in a very long time. (8)

WILLIE NELSON – Ride Me Back Home

The guy’s almost 90 and he’s still releasing good albums, his voice is in top form and his guitar playing remains impressive. By the way, have you seen his guitar? It looks even older than he does. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – The Virtues (Television Series Soundtrack)

Dark soundtrack for a new British TV drama series featuring 6 new PJ Harvey tracks as well as contributions by Aphex Twin, Mono etc. (7)