Saturday, 19 November 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Nov 2016 Vol.II

ANTAEUS – Condemnation
In-your-face, relentless blastbeaten black/death metal, no trendy shit, no holds barred, only for the sick. (8)


Danceable Jewish/Eastern European/dub musical hybrid by Firewater & Gogol Bordello musical collaborators. (7)

CHELLE ROSE – Blue Ridge Blood

You don’t mess around with this tough Tennessee chick, she sounds like she’s actually chewing you right now and is about to spit you out. (7)


Writes a couple of decent tunes but ruins them with that fucking Auto-Tune shit all over the vocals, adds some filler, makes hipster critics go ecstatic for some reason. (6)

METALLICA – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct

For a band that knows it passed the point where its past will always be more important than its future 20+ years ago, this is a fine album. (8)

MIRANDA LAMBERT – The Weight Of These Wings

Ambitious double album by Lambert, arguably country music’s biggest contemporary female star since Taylor Swift went pop. It’s her break-up record and it’s beautiful. (8)

NAIM AMOR & JOHN CONVERTINO – The Western Suite And The Siesta Songs

Not so much actual songs but more like musical vignettes with a distinctly spaghetti western flavor, from Calexico drummer and French-born Calexico friend. (7)

OTROS AIRES – Perfect Tango

I first discovered this band on a trip to Argentina in the 00’s when electrotango was all the rage and I quite liked them back in the day, but their sound hasn’t aged well. (6)

SOLANGE – A Seat At The Table

The younger Knowles releases stunning, brave R&B album addressing issues of race, gender and empowerment with aural nods to classic 70’s soul. This is not “Beyonce’s kid sister”, this is Solange. This is better than Frank Ocean’s album. (8)


Doom metal. The best riffs ever. Really annoying vocals. (7)

SUPERJOINT – Caught Up In The Gears Of Application

Competent, aggressive sludgy hardcore from Anselmo’s other other band. (7)

THE HOLD STEADY – Almost Killed Me/Separation Sunday (Remastered Deluxe Editions)

I’ve said it again and again that this is the greatest rock band of their generation. If you missed them the first time around, their first two albums were just re-released with bonus tracks. (8) / (8)

THE PACK A.D. – Positive Thinking

Canadian female garage rock duo blend White Stripes-style enthusiasm with Nirvanaesque melodies. (7)


Prog band has fun with mashup album blending Radiohead with Beck and Phil Collins, Metallica with Gorillaz, Motorhead with Ween, Ted Nugent with the Beastie Boys etc. And it works! (8) 

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions Of Iron Maiden

It’s funny for about two songs. (5)

Friday, 4 November 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Nov 2016



I played this back-to-back with a compilation titled “I’m A Freak Baby: A Journey Through British Heavy Psych And Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-72”, and couldn’t tell the difference. (8)

CROWBAR – The Serpent Only Lies

Crushingly heavy sludge/doom, no surprises. (7)

DEATHSPELL OMEGA – The Synarchy Of Molten Bones

The sound of demons unleashed from the fiery depths of hell ripping your flesh to shreds. (8)

KORN – The Serenity Of Suffering

Maybe it’s a generational thing but I never managed to fully appreciate what these guys do. That being said, this is probably the heaviest Korn record ever and it’s actually listenable. (7)

MOBY & THE VOID PACIFIC CHOIR – These Systems Are Failing

20 years after “Animal Rights” Moby revisits his punk rock side with an album chock-full of relentless drum machine beat programming, distorted guitars, old-school synths and gang vocals. (7)

PELANDER – Time (6)

TESTAMENT – Brotherhood Of The Snake

With Hoglan-DiGiorgio-Skolnick in the fold Testament have completed the circle to become THE sanctuary for unemployed thrash metal virtuosos and with their best line-up ever they release another high-class album. (8)

ULCERATE – Shrines Of Paralysis

Cataclysmic, dissonant technical death metal makes for truly uneasy listening. (7)

Ψ.Χ. – Το Φως Το Αληθινό

Part of the appeal is trying to figure out if this is funny or scary. (7)


ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO – Burn Something Beautiful

What is this guy? Is he alternative rock? Is he country/americana? He’s collaborated with Ryan Adams, Tony Visconti and Chuck Prophet, he’s Sheila E.’s uncle, his backing band on this album includes REM’s Peter Buck and assorted members of the Young Fresh Fellows, the Decemberists and the Fastbacks. Oh yeah, and this rules. (8)

DEFUNKT – Live At Channel Zero

Underground sexagenarian jazz/funk/punk heroes and major influence on the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Living Colour still kick it on live album. (7)

KACEY MUSGRAVES – A Very Kacey Christmas

The only Christmas album you’ll need this year is by country music’s nerdy semi-star Musgraves – some standards wonderfully executed, some originals that deserve to become standards, some fun weird cover choices (Alvin & the Chipmunks, Gayla Peevey’s 1953 novelty track “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”), and a reggae duet with Willie Nelson. (8)

LEONARD COHEN – You Want It Darker

He’s 82 and he sounds like he’s saying goodbye, with his best album in decades no less. (9)

MAVERICKS – All Night Live Vol. 1

Picture the best poolside party ever – you’re in Miami and there’s an awesome live band playing a kind of wild, kick-ass rockabilly/country/latin/ska hybrid, it’s 1:00am and you’re drinking margaritas and dancing the night away with a gorgeous Mexican girl who whispers in your ear that she likes you. The Mavericks are that band. (8)

MIKE DOUGHTY – The Heart Watches While the Brain Burns

Soul Coughing mainman moves from New York to Memphis and this reflects on his sound, now more singery-songwritery than hipstery. (7)


Gritty kick-ass desert funk from Mauritanian songstress on what is possibly the World Music album of the year. (8)


Sardinian trumpeter Fresu is obviously a Miles Davis disciple but seasons his jazz with a distinctly Mediterranean twist. “Eros” is a collaboration with Cuban pianist Sosa and a nice after-hours soundtrack. The centerpiece of the album is a fantastic cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” featuring Natacha Atlas. (7)

SARAH McLACHLAN – Wonderland

 Sorry Sarah, I love you but Kacey’s Christmas album is much better than this sentimental fodder. (6)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Lazarus (Original Cast Recording)

 Bowie classics re-imagined as Broadway musical and sung by theater pros for a sequel to “The Man Who Fell To Earth”. Also includes the master’s own last recordings, three unreleased tracks from the “Blackstar” sessions. (8)

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Oct 2016


BRANT BJORK – Tao Of The Devil

Warning: This album will cause your bong to spontaneously combust. (7)

CANDIRIA – While They Were Sleeping

An offspring of New York’s early 90’s hardcore scene and best known for flawlessly incorporating free jazz elements into their sonic mayhem, Candiria return with fascinating proggy concept album. Frontman Carley Coma is particularly impressive on this one, showcasing a vocal range to rival Mike Patton’s. (8)


DEP say farewell with another strong effort, a schizo album mapping out their progress from “Calculating Infinity” onwards and pushing metal’s technical limits to the extreme. (8)


Metalcore veterans sound chaotic and fun as usual. One for the mosh pit. (8)

GREEN DAY – Revolution Radio

Green Day’s in top form on this one, an explosive pop-punk gem that manages to channel The Who via the usual suspects Ramones/Clash/Buzzcocks. (8)

KHEMMIS – Hunted

Second album by solid traditional epic doom metal band firmly rooted in the Candlemass tradition. (8)

MESHUGGAH – The Violent Sleep of Reason

If metal was a high-security prison, every djent band would be Meshuggah’s bitch. (8)

OPETH – Sorceress

Adding quite a bit of British psych-folk to their post-2010 progressive rock sound and allowing the metal to slowly creep back in, Opeth come up with a strong album. I still sort of miss the growls though. (8)

PALLBEARER – Fear And Fury

Short and sweet EP featuring one new song and a couple of covers (Black Sabbath’s “Over And Over” and Type O Negative’s “Love You To Death”, both duly nailed). (8)

TEMPLE OF THE DOG – Temple Of The Dog (25th Anniversary Reissue)

Legendary, hard to find one-off album by Seattle supergroup (call them Pearl Garden or Soundjam) re-released with extra goodies. It’s fucking awesome. (10)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – I’m A Freak Baby: A Journey Through The British Heavy Psych And Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-72

The title of this 3-CD set is self-explanatory. Fantastic edition, great booklet, basically what you get is a handful of hits (Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, “Brontosaurus”, “Race With The Devil”, the original “Green Manalishi”) plus a whole bunch of bands you’ve never heard before or you’d forgotten they ever existed, including but not limited to Hellmet (not Helmet), The Kult (not The Cult), Skid Row (not “the” Skid Row) and The Iron Maiden (not the The-less Iron Maiden). (10)

WATCHTOWER – Concepts Of Math Book One

Christ, it’s been 27 years since “Control And Resistance”? Any of those who bought that one (i.e. practically nobody) still alive will love this EP. For the rest of you youngsters let’s just say if you like Protest The Hero and/or Dillinger Escape Plan then you should probably check this one out. (8)


BON IVER – 22, A Million

Just when you decide you don’t get this pretentious bearded pop futurism hipster shit, a song like “8 (Circle)” comes along and makes you seriously reconsider. (8)

BRENT COBB – Shine On Rainy Day

He’s the cousin of Nashville producer du jour Dave Cobb (who lends a helping hand here) but sounds like the long lost son of Kris Kristofferson. (8)

DANNY BROWN – Atrocity Exhibition

Quite possibly the best rap album of the year, and as dark and claustrophobic as you’d expect from an album named after a Joy Division song. (8)


Exactly what an American band should sound like, at least one from a southern state. (9)

GOAT – Requiem

This is Goat’s “folk” album, i.e. they’ve added pan flutes to the expected afrobeat/krautrock/Funkadelic freakout madness. Fucking pan flutes. (7)


UK psychedelic pop studio masters release highly enjoyable fourth album. By the way one of these guys has also been playing with the likes of Ulver and SunnO)))) for the past 6-7 years. (8)


Country rock as re-imagined by someone like Van Morrison. (8)


Marissa still does her gothic folk chanteuse thing on companion EP to album released earlier this year. (7)

NORAH JONES – Day Breaks

Jones returns to her jazz roots, records with Wayne Shorter and John Patitucci, creates what is quite possibly her strongest record to date. (8)

TODD SNIDER – Eastside Bulldog

Ten fun throwaway rock ‘n’ roll tunes flying by in 26 minutes. Great party album but you’re probably better off checking out Snider’s Hard Working Americans album, also out in 2016. (7)

Friday, 23 September 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Sep. 2016 Vol. 2

AGAINST ME! – Shape Shift With Me
Probably their catchiest album to date “Shape Shift With Me” completes the band’s transformation to pop-punk juggernaut but lacks its predecessor’s sense of urgency. (7)

BEACH SLANG – A Loud Bash 0f Teenage Feelings

Y'all know I’m an Against Me! fan but THIS is the superior punk record of the month. (8)


The best live band in the universe releases covers EP, probably a good idea since their own material has been a bit hit-and-miss after losing genius songwriter Tony Fate. Explosive versions of tunes by Cheap Trick, AC/DC, Led Zep, The Seeds, Black Sabbath and Stevie Wonder. (8)


An audio companion to Springsteen’s autobiography chronicling his career from 1966 garage bands to 2012’s “Wrecking Ball”, it sounds more personal than a “greatest hits”-type thing and includes 5 unreleased early tracks. (8)


Supergroup including members of Mastodon, Dillinger Escape Plan, Alice In Chains and the Mars Volta. Don’t get too excited. (7)

GHOST – Popestar

Swedish saviors of heavy metal explore their inner (desmond) child on lead track, fill the rest of EP with predictably provocative covers of songs by Echo & The Bunnymen, Eurythmics etc. (8)


Husband and wife duo best known for providing the theme song to True Detective’s Season 1 return with 10th album. Nice, not great. (7)

MOMUS – Public Intellectual: An Anthology, 1986-2016

At this point I could tell you a story about a certain strange week of my life that had Momus as its soundtrack, but the statute of limitations hasn’t expired yet. So instead I recommend you get this excellent 3-CD compilation of quirky songs by the smartest, most literate, most British pop artist you’ve never heard of. The liner notes by Momus himself are a delight too. (9)

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE – The Black Parade: Living With Ghosts

10th anniversary edition including demos, rarities and outtakes. The extra stuff is not particularly impressive but if you don’t already have the proper album, what are you waiting for? (10)

NEUROSIS – Fires Within Fires

Theoretically a doom metal band but coming across much more like Swans than Black Sabbath, Neurosis unleash yet another apocalyptic tsunami of heaviness. (8)

THE SWORD – Low Country

Not too exciting acoustic version of their “High Country” album. (6)

TEEBEE – TeeBee Archives

Norwegian drum & bass producer compiles 13 of his hard-to-find tracks from 2000-2005. This is excellent, dark stuff and if you like this then you should check out his turn-of-the century masterpiece album “Black Science Labs”. (8)


Unnecessary remake of 4 songs from “Polaris” re-imagined as Steven Wilson outtakes. (6)

VARIOUS – Rock Sound Presents: The Black Parade Tribute

The obvious choices for a My Chemical Romance tribute (Escape The Fate, Crown The Empire, Against The Current, Asking Alexandria etc.) cover you-know-which album in its entirety, slightly embarrass themselves. (5)

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Angry Young Men With Skinny Ties

Αν σου πω "70's - μουσική!", τι θα σκεφτείς; Αναλόγως του ποιος είσαι η ενστικτώδης απάντησή σου μάλλον θα είναι κάτι σχετικό με progressive rock, disco, punk ή hard rock, σίγουρα πάντως δεν θα είναι "nerds με σακάκια και στενές γραβάτες". Και όμως, φίλε αναγνώστη, εκεί γύρω στο 1978-79, άντε 1980, ένα μάτσο τύποι που έμοιαζαν στον φύτουλα που ήταν απουσιολόγος στη Β' Λυκείου και που μια φορά μετά από bullying έπαθε βίαιη υστερική κρίση κι έσπασε το κεφάλι του νταή της τάξης με μια καρέκλα στέλνοντάς τον στο νοσοκομείο, έφτιαχναν μερικές από τις πιο συναρπαστικές μουσικές του 20ου αιώνα.

Δεν είμαι καν σίγουρος αν μπορεί να τους γκρουπάρει κάποιος κάτω από την ίδια ταμπέλα όλους αυτούς παρά τα κοινά ηχητικά και στυλιστικά χαρακτηριστικά τους, θα κάνω όμως μια προσπάθεια κι ελπίζω να καταλάβετε για τι πράγμα μιλάω. Στη χειρότερη περίπτωση απλά αγνοείστε τις μπούρδες που γράφω και δείτε τα βιντεάκια, πιστεύω πως θα εκτιμήσετε τις τραγουδάρες.

Υποθέτω ότι οι ρίζες αυτού του ήχου που έχω στο μυαλό μου βρίσκονται στο Βρετανικό pub rock και σε μπάντες όπως οι Dr. Feelgood που προηγήθηκαν του punk και του έδωσαν τα φώτα. Οι Dr. Feelgood λοιπόν του μακαρίτη Lee Brilleaux και του σχεδόν μακαρίτη Wilko Johnson από το 1974 κιόλας ξεχώριζαν σαν τη μύγα μες το γάλα από τους μακρυμάλληδες μετα-hippies παίζοντας με πρωτοφανές νεύρο και μοιάζοντας με τύπους τους οποίους δεν θα ήθελες να συναντήσεις μεθυσμένους πίσω από την pub. Πιθανότατα ΗΤΑΝ τύποι τους οποίους δεν θα ήθελες να συναντήσεις μεθυσμένους πίσω από την pub.

To pub rock λοιπόν έδωσε στο punk την ενέργεια, την αμεσότητα, και... τον Joe Strummer; Ναι, ο Strummer πριν τους Clash έπαιζε στο pub rock σχήμα των 101ers και με τη συνολική του προσφορά αποτέλεσε πρότυπο για τους angry young men with skinny ties.

 Όπως και ο Graham Parker άλλωστε, o αρχετυπικός post-punk angry young man with skinny tie. O ήχος του Parker ήταν βασικά ευθύ, χορευτικό, στακάτο rock 'n' roll μπολιασμένο με την ενέργεια που το punk είχε δανειστεί από το pub rock και τώρα την επέστρεφε ως αντιδάνειο σε μία νέα γενιά καλλιτεχνών. 

Και αν οι παραπάνω βγήκαν μέσα από τα λαϊκά στρώματα και τις pubs, αρκετοί άλλοι από τους angry young men with skinny ties βγήκαν μέσα από τα ωδεία με σοβαρές σπουδές μουσικής θεωρίας. Η επίδραση των conservatoires έγινε εμφανής στις μεταγενέστερες, πιο ώριμες και φιλόδοξες δουλειές τους, τα πρώτα τους βήματα όμως είχαν ΑΥΤΟ τον ήχο. Και ΑΥΤΑ τα ρούχα. Δείτε ας πούμε τον Elvis Costello:

Ή τον Joe Jackson - ο άνθρωπος είχε σπουδάσει μουσική σύνθεση στο Royal Academy of Music του Λονδίνου με υποτροφία αλλά το 1978 φορούσε στενή μαύρη γραβάτα και προσπαθούσε να σώσει το rock 'n' roll. Σχεδόν τα κατάφερε.

Ακόμα και παλιές καραβάνες δεν είχαν ανοσία απέναντι στο σύνδρομο της στενής γραβάτας που σάρωνε τα πάντα στο περασμά του για τα περίπου 15 λεπτά ανάμεσα στον κυκλώνα του πανκ και τη μουσική έρημο των 80's. Η μεταμόρφωση του Billy Joel στο "Glass Houses" άλμπουμ ας πούμε ήταν απόλυτα αψυχολόγητη αλλά απολαυστικά μνημειώδης.

Θα μπορούσα να ακούω τέτοια κομμάτια όλο το βράδυ. Για την ακρίβεια, αυτό ακριβώς σκοπεύω να κάνω τώρα. Πάω να σκάψω στη ντουλάπα, κάπου θα βρω ελπίζω τη στενή μαύρη δερμάτινη γραβάτα που είχα αγοράσει (με 4-5 χρόνια καθυστέρηση) στην Τρίτη Γυμνασίου.

Bonus track:

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Sep 2016 - Back To School

Country band unleashes their inner Led Zeppelin and comes up with solid straight-up southern rock album. Fantastic facial hair. (8)

DIVINE COMEDY – Foreverland

The album sticks to Hannon’s well-tested formula of funny, intelligent chamber pop. The deluxe edition’s second disc is a studio recording of Hannon and Frank Alva Buecheler’s opera “In May” which explores the relationship between a dying son and his absent father through a series of letters and will fuck you up for good. (8)


Definitely not an album for short attention spans, “Blonde” demands multiple, careful, deep listens to reveal its beauty and certainly lives up to its hype as the most anticipated R&B album of the year. (8)

HORSEBACK – Dead Ringers

Jencks Miller goes krautrock. I liked him more when he sounded like Earth. (7)


During the course of her career Lydia has effortlessly moved from punk to country to rock and now to pop to dress her confessional/confrontational lyrics and she always excels. “Real” sometimes sounds like Taylor Swift doing a Stevie Nicks tribute album but more, you know, real. (8)

M.I.A. – Aim

Antifa ethno-pop. At 17 tracks it takes longer than the revolution’s coming, or at least feels like it does. (6)

MYRKUR – Mausoleum

Much subtler than her studio work and recorded live inside a mausoleum (duh) for that extra gothic touch it features just Myrkur’s soprano voice, a piano and a girls’ choir replacing the screeching guitars. (7)


It’s quite sad when you realize that one of your all-time most important musical heroes has nothing truly relevant to offer you anymore. (6)


I’m speechless. (9)


Cave & longtime collaborator Ellis score Western movie, great tracks by Townes Van Zandt, Waylon Jennings, Chris Stapleton etc. perfectly complement the duo’s own haunting Southern Gothic compositions. This guy’s on a roll! (9)

OK I’m done, I’ve played the Nick Cave, the Divine Comedy bonus CD and the Wovenhand today already, I just can’t take any more depression. I’m taking this off now and blasting some Van Halen. (7)

PROPHETS OF RAGE – The Party’s Over

Basically a totally unnecessary rap Audioslave, with three members of Rage Against The Machine plus Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Cypress Hill’s B-Real on vocals. (6)


Criminally underrated, amped-up power pop quartet slays it live. Too bad there’s no version here of “She’s Got A Way” which is, like, the best song ever written by anyone, anywhere. (8)

SUBROSA – For This We Fought the Battle of Ages

Back in the late 80’s I was in a band called SubRosa, really. We weren’t as heavy as these guys since we wanted to be Bon Jovi, not Neurosis, and we weren’t nearly as good as this SubRosa. (8)

TARDIVE DYSKINESIA – Harmonic Confusion

Djenty modern progressive metal for fans of the Ocean, Mastodon and Textures by a Greek band that’s been maturing in leaps and bounds. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Running the Voodoo Down: Explorations in Psychrockfunksouljazz 1967-1980

Miles Davis, Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix, George Clinton and their cross-racial offspring in the best compilation of the year featuring awesome sounds, groovy artwork and excellent liner notes. (10)

WOVENHAND – Star Treatment

He still sounds like he hasn’t had a laugh in the last one thousand years. Dude, will you lighten up already? (7)

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, August 2016


Pop-punk veterans still love to pogo. (7)

DESCENDENTS – Hypercaffium Spazzinate
These guys  are not pop-punk veterans – they’d have to be 15 years younger to be called veterans. But 34 years after their debut they still sound fun, silly, and wild, you can’t help but feel like a teenager listening to this. (8)

DUNSMUIR – Dunsmuir
Featuring Clutch’s Neil Fallon and Black Sabbath’s Vinnie Appice this sounds just like Fallon fronting Dio-era Sabbath and it’s so good that everytime I play it it makes me alternate between laughing maniacally and crying. (8)

Thin Lizzy-influenced NWOBHM riffs, Deep Purplish keyboards, just a touch of prog, a 19th century folk song, and a fantastic bunch of songs by Cobbett & Co. Good stuff! (8)

PERIPHERY – Periphery III: Select Difficulty
Kicking off the album with a couple of their heaviest tracks ever Periphery display an affection for Slipknot this time around but as the album progresses they settle into their usual djent style with more prominent keyboards. The clean vocals are pretty weak and sort of ruin a good thing. (7)

If you can’t dig these lunatics and their combination of Clutch riff-o-rama, Rollins Band aggression and “Powerage”-era AC/DC-esque attitude then you’re a lost cause for rock ‘n’ roll, give it up now. (8)


AUGUSTINES – This Is Your Life
Brooklynite indie-rockers go all U2 on your ass with bombastic production, huge drums, keyboard flourishes and arena-ready anthemic choruses. (7)

ELOUISE – Deep Water
Elouise Walker and her band call their music “blackgrass” – it’s supposed to be a dark, cinematic subgenre of bluegrass but to my ears this sounds like the Geraldine Fibbers unplugged. Nobody under 40 will get that last reference. Now that I think about it neither will anybody over 40. (7)

JONAH TOLCHIN – Thousand Mile Night
Whether you call this folk blues or Americana, it all boils down to stripped-down roots music that makes for cool summer evening listening. (7)


Yet another good folk/nu-bluegrass band. Great songwriting, virtuoso playing on acoustic instruments, interesting vocal harmonies. If you’re into the Avett Brothers, Nickel Creek etc. you’ll certainly enjoy this. (7)

Scotland’s favorite jangly indie rockers return with a new set of low-key, Big Star-inspired tunes. (7)

VARIOUS – Back In Blue: A Blues Tribute To AC/DC
It’s fun the first time you play it. (6)