Monday, 23 November 2020

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Nov 2020 Vol. II

THE LOUDER STUFF

BLOOD FROM THE SOUL – DSM-5

Experimental sci-fi themed metal/hardcore supergroup led by Napalm Death’s Shane Embury and featuring members of Converge, Megadeth and Nasum sounds more like Voivod than any of the aforementioned. (7)

JESU – Terminus

Justin Broadrick (Godflesh) on some great guitar-oriented droning rock. Quite shoegaze-y, rather different from previous Jesu works. (8)

JUCIFER – نظم (Nazm)

…And the WTF Album Of The Month Award goes to this sludge/stoner metal band that just released an album of what sounds like traditional Pakistani trance music. (?)

KATATONIA – Dead Air
They released one of the best metal albums of the year but weren’t able to tour for it so here’s a lockdown live show, featuring 20 fan-chosen songs. (8)

KILLER BE KILLED – Reluctant Hero

Supergroup including members of Soulfly, Mastodon, Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge on second album of heavy metal goodness. Fans of all the aforementioned bands and/or High On Fire will love this. (8)

LITURGY – Origin Of The Alimonies

This band was controversial even before the leader came out as transgender, which I don’t have a problem with. What I do have a problem with is all the pretentious bullshit messing up what would be an otherwise pretty decent experimental album trying to bridge Mayhem with La Monte Young. And I miss Greg Fox’s drumming. (6)

MY DYING BRIDE – Macabre Cabaret

Stuck at home and unable to tour, gothic doom veterans release EP just a few months after their latest full-length and it’s depressing as hell, in a good way I mean. (7)

REFUSED – The Malignant Fire

Influential hardcore band made the List last year, follow up that great album with an equally great EP. (8)

WARRIOR SOUL – Cocaine And Other Good Stuff

An interesting set of covers. Some expected choices (Hendrix, Kiss, Van Halen, Motorhead, Alice Cooper, Grand Funk Railroad, Judas Priest), some welcome surprises (Cars, JJ Cale, KC & the Sunshine Band), Kory Clarke still sounds like Marianne Faithfull on her deathbed. (7)


THE OTHER STUFF

NICK CAVE – Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone At Alexandra Palace

22 career-spanning classics (including one new track) performed live in an empty concert hall, just Cave and his piano. Hauntingly beautiful. (9)

CHRIS CONNELLY – Graveyard Sex

Industrial God Connelly (The Damage Manual, Die Warzau, Finitribe, KMFDM, Ministry, Murder Inc., Pigface, Revolting Cocks) has a new album and it’s his most Goth work yet, probably a tribute to his fallen comrade Bill Rieflin. (7)

LARKIN POE – Kindred Spirits

Blues rock siblings released a fantastic proper album with a full band earlier this year but have also been known to do great stripped-down covers on their Youtube channel, and this lockdown album is based on that concept: Songs by Lenny Kravitz, Neil Young, Phil Collins, Moody Blues, Allman Brothers, Elton John etc. get the sisters treatment. (8)
 
GWENIFER RAYMOND – Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain

If you thought you knew what an acoustic guitar can do, check out this John Fahey-influenced Welsh player and prepare to have your mind blown. (8)

CHRIS STAPLETON – Starting Over

Another excellent album from Stapleton combining his country, rock, and soul influences into a no-filler set of killer tunes. What a voice! (8)

THE WAR ON DRUGS – Live Drugs

A nice reminder of what we love about a good live show, even for people like me who are not the greatest fans of this particular fashionable band’s “Dire Straits Meet The Waterboys” style. (7)

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Nov 2020

THE LOUDER STUFF

AC/DC – Power Up

A solid effort, recognizably AC/DC even with Malcolm gone. (8)

DAVID BOWIE – Metrobolist

Quite probably my favorite album of all time, certainly Bowie’s heaviest by far, remastered and re-released with its original title and alternative album cover. (11)

CARCASS – Despicable

An EP serving as an appetizer for the next full-length album, this is prime quality melodic death metal from the folks who invented this stuff. (8)

FATES WARNING – Long Day Good Night

Writing this after only two spins and as a lifelong fan – a very good prog metal album, but not the instant classic masterpiece that 2016’s “Memories Of Flight” was. That being said this is Fates Warning, so it might still click on a much deeper level and devastate the soul a couple dozen listens down the road. (8)

MELVINS – Hostile Ambient Besides

A very fun set of covers (Mott The Hoople, Gun Club, Alice Cooper, Ramones…), consisting of B-sides from singles originally released in 2002-2003. (8)

MR. BUNGLE – The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo

Mr. Bungle core trio of Mike Patton / Trevor Dunn / Trey Spruance recruit thrash totems Dave Lombardo and Scott Ian to re-record their largely unknown original demo from 1986 and have as much fun as humanly possible while doing it. This record has nothing to do with the weirdness Mr. Bungle is known for, it’s pure old-school thrash/crossover (including nods to S.O.D. and C.O.C.), but IT KICKS SO MUCH ASS! Simply put, this is the best violent moshing fun you’ll have for months to come. (9)

PUSCIFER – Existential Reckoning

Recommended if you can’t wait 13 years for the next Tool album to listen to Keenan. (7)

SOLSTAFIR – Endless Twilight of Codependent Love

If you were quarantined in Iceland, not able to get out of the house during half the year when there are 21 hours of sunlight every day, you’d play depressing music like this too. (8)


THE OTHER STUFF

CORDOVAS – Destiny Hotel

Americana/roots rock sounds reminiscent of the Grateful Dead, but less jammy. (7)

FATBOY SLIM – Back To Mine

The “Back To Mine” series is based on a simple premise: Invite a musician or DJ to create a chill-out mix album based on what they would listen at home after a night out. Vol. 31 features Fatboy Slim’s selections, and I’d rather chill-out with the Faithless and Talvin Singh volumes. (6)

SAM ROBERTS BAND – All Of Us

Arena rock made in Canada, sort of like a cross between Bruce Springsteen and U2. (7)

SKYWAY MAN – The World Only Ends When You Die

A cosmic country rock opera. (7)

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Oct 2020 Vol. II

 THE LOUDER STUFF

ARMORED SAINT – Punching The Sky

Heavy fucking metal. (8)

ASCENSION OF THE WATCHERS – Apocrypha

Burton C. Bell quits Fear Factory and does post-punk/semi-goth. Lots to like here for Killing Joke fans, but the Deftones crowd should also appreciate. (7)

JELLO BIAFRA & THE GUANTANAMO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE – Tea Party Revenge Porn

The timing is perfect for a new Jello album featuring songs like “Satan’s Combover” and “Taliban USA”, which I figure the Trump campaign won’t be using anytime soon. (8)

DEAD LORD – Surrender

Shameless Thin Lizzy worship. We like that. (7)

FUZZ – III

They call themselves FUZZ for chrissakes, what do you think this sounds like? (7)

PALLBEARER – Forgotten Days

The best doom metal album of the year, probably. (8)

PUP – This Place Sucks Ass

Leftovers from the 2019 sessions for one of last year’s best albums, plus one new track, from Canadian pop-punks. (8)

ZEAL & ARDOR – Wake Of A Nation

Moving further away from black metal and getting more political, less satanic. Still interesting. (8)


THE OTHER STUFF

CLIPPING. – Visions Of Bodies Being Burned

The Yin to Run The Jewels’ Yang. (8)

FAITHLESS – All Blessed

I was listening to these guys in 1995. We were ALL listening to these guys in 1995. And I stopped listening to these guys around 2004, and a new Faithless album in 2020 when the idea of a rave or a big club night seems preposterous for all kinds of different reasons makes me feel really fucking old. But if you were even into the whole 90’s UK dance/post-trance scene, these guys were the cream of the crop back in the day and still deliver, even without Maxi Jazz. (8)

FUZZTONES – NYC

Garage rock revivalists celebrate their 40th anniversary with a tribute to their hometown covering the Ramones, New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Cramps, Blue Oyster Cult and, of course, Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”. Fun as a novelty, but there are better Fuzztones albums out there. (6)

STURGILL SIMPSON – Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1

After being declared the Savior of Country Music he released a WTF synth-rock album, and now he does bluegrass versions of his songs. Obviously, this guy has zero fucks left to give. (7)

SONGHOY BLUES – Optimisme

Africa’s best band rocks like Tinariwen on steroids on spectacular third album. (8)

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – Letter To You

Recorded live in the studio with the E Street Band over just 5 days, this feels urgent and sounds epic and it’s his best album since 1984’s “Born In The USA”, if not since 1980’s “The River”: A true late-career masterpiece. (9)

THIS IS THE KIT – Off Off On

Kate Stables’ strong fifth album is one of the better folk-infused albums to come out of the UK in the past few years. She brings to mind a strange time-warp combination of Sand Denny fronting a bearded Brooklyn-based indie rock band. (8)

FRANK TURNER & JON SNODGRASS – Buddies II: Still Buddies

Musician buddies kill some time during quarantine on distance collaboration album. Written in just one day and sounds like it. (6)

LAURA VEIRS – My Echo

Produced by her (now ex-) husband and this midst of them growing apart, Veirs’ new album can be read in multiple ways but every time it’s still a strong modern folk record, with rich, expansive strings adding texture to her storytelling. (8)

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Oct 2020


THE LOUDER STUFF

DEFTONES – Ohms

They’ve never made a bad album and “Ohms” is actually their best since “Diamond Eyes”. Heavy, chaotic but beautiful. (8)

ENSLAVED – Utgard

Pink Floyd with distortion pedals. In Viking costumes. (8)

LAURA JANE GRACE – Stay Alive

Songs originally intended (pre-Coronavirus) to be the next Against Me! album but recorded solo out of necessity, with just one guitar, over four days in Steve Albini’s studio. Basically sketches of punk rock anthems, I can’t wait to hear these fleshed out, with a full band. (7)

ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF – All Thoughts Fly

Instrumental album played exclusively on a church organ reinforces her status as the new Queen of Goths. (7)

BOB MOULD – Blue Hearts

A perfect amalgam of Mould’s career, “Blue Hearts” combines Husker Du’s ferocity with Sugar’s pop sensibilities and “Black Sheets Of Rain”’s anger/pessimism. (8)

THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE – Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic / Cenozoic

If you add a hint of Toolishness to some Isis karaoke, you end up with the new Ocean album which feels like it’s only slightly shorter than the 200 million-year period it’s named after. (6)

GREG PUCIATO – Child Soldier: Creator of God

First solo album by Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato, plays all instruments except drums himself, sounds like Trent Reznor raping Mike Patton. (7)

COREY TAYLOR – CMFT

What’s recorded in Vegas, sounds like Vegas: Slipknot/Stone Sour frontman’s party rock record. (7)
 

THE OTHER STUFF

DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS – The New OK

Southern rockers can’t tour so here’s a second album in 2020. Some leftovers from the great “Unraveling”, some new stuff, as good as they’ve ever been. (8)

FLEET FOXES – Shore

A nice folk-ish rock record, but comparisons with ex-Fleet Fox Father John Misty are unavoidable and these guys lose. (7)

PJ HARVEY – To Bring You My Love: Demos

Polly Jean’s demos for one of the best albums of the last 30 years. Rawer without the strings and the pianos, it leaves more room for the lyrics to hit harder and makes for a chilling listen. A must-hear for all fans of the proper album. (9)

HEN OGLEDD – Free Humans

Second album by Richard Dawson side project, more indie-electropop oriented but still very weird and very English. (7)

DIANA JONES – Song To A Refugee

US folk singer releases touching song cycle dedicated to refugees around the world, inspired by a friendship with actress/activist Emma Thompson and a speech by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Guests include other left-leaning folkies like Richard Thomspon, Steve Earle and Peggy Seeger. (8)

LYDIA LOVELESS – Daughter

Four years, one divorce, one new record deal, one move from Ohio to North Carolina, and one occasion of coming forward with accusations of sexual harassment later, it’s no surprise her new album sounds very different: A bit more polished, a bit more mature, a bit more lived-in, a bit closer to Jason Isbell territory. (8)

MARC RIBOT’S CERAMIC DOG – What I Did On My Long Vacation

Ribot is Tom Waits’ guitarist from “Rain Dogs” onwards and he is also a regular John Zorn collaborator so he’s obviously not afraid to go to weird places, and his own band is a Venn diagram where no wave, free jazz, funk and noise rock overlap. (7)

SQUIRREL NUT ZIPPERS – Lost Songs Of Doc Souchon

New Orleans vintage jazz/swing/big band blues revivalists on fun new album combining covers and originals. (7)

RICHARD & LINDA THOMPSON – Hard Luck Stories 1972–1982

Practically everything that Britain’s Royal Folk-Rock Couple ever recorded before falling apart. 8-CD box set including one true masterpiece (“I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight”), three more really good albums, two duds, and a whole bunch of rare/unreleased tracks. A valuable addition to any record collection. (9)

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Sep. 2020 Vol. II

THE LOUDER STUFF

EN MINOR – When The Cold Truth Has Worn Its Miserable Welcome Out

Phil Anselmo goes American Gothic and sings clean but so low he makes Leonard Cohen sound like Cyndi Lauper. RYIL Nick Cave, Mark Lanegan, slashing your wrists in a bathtub filled with warm water. (7)

EXPANDER – Neuropunk Boostergang

If you were wondering what would happen if you put Power Trip, Voivod, Jesus Lizard and Lightning Bolt in a blender then look no further. With Kurt Ballou seal of approval. (8)

ACE FREHLEY – Origins, Vol. 2

Ace covers Led Zep, Deep Purple, the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks, Jimi, and others. He still plays a mean guitar, he still can’t sing to save his life. (6)

IHSAHN – Pharos

2nd EP this year by the Emperor dude, slightly better than the previous one, focusing on his mellower side and occasionally sounding like Opeth sounding like Porcupine Tree. Includes covers of A-Ha (thankfully not THAT song again) and Portishead. (8)

MARILYN MANSON – We Are Chaos

This is his Bowie album and it’s as good as the great “Pale Emperor”, certainly better than the Manson-By-Numbers of 2017’s “Heaven Upside Down”. (8)

MASTODON – Medium Rarities

A mixed bag of rare tracks, live recordings, covers and one new unreleased song. Some exciting stuff for completists in here, but the (many) instrumentals are mostly forgettable. (7)

SUMAC – May You Be Held

The two improvisational albums they recorded with Japanese avant-garde experimentalist/noisemonger Keiji Haino obviously rubbed off on them, since they’re not even pretending to be a post-metal band anymore. File Under “Uneasy Listening”. (7)


THE OTHER STUFF

SARAH DAVACHI – Cantus, Descant

80+ minutes of minimalist drone organ music. Not a party record exactly, but great for meditation. (7)

RICHARD DAWSON – Republic of Geordieland

Lockdown home recording of instrumentals, acapella vocal pieces, and outtakes by Geordie folk weirdo who released last year’s third-best album. (7)

CRAIG FINN – All These Perfect Crosses

Collection of demos, outtakes, and acoustic versions of songs from The Hold Steady frontman’s solo albums, a treat for fans. (8)

THE EMPTY HEARTS – The Second Album

Power-pop/garage rock supergroup made up of guys from The Cars, Blondie, the Romantics, and the Chesterfield Kings on second album of catchy, jangly, 60’s-influenced goodness. Ringo Starr plays on it too. (8)

THE FLAMING LIPS – American Head

A sort-of-concept album reimagining the Flaming Lips as an early 70’s druggy rock band hanging out and jamming with a pre-fame Tom Petty in Oklahoma, “American Head” sounds like a return to the mellow psychedelic orchestral pop sounds of their most commercially successful phase (1999-2002). Country star Kacey Musgraves guests. (8)

TIGRAN HAMASYAN – The Call Within

A piano-led virtuoso jazz trio that feels more like a prog-metal juggernaut. (8)

THE LEMON TWIGS – Songs For The General Public

Wildly ambitious, a bit all over the place, and filled with more hooks than a fisherman’s shoulder bag, this power-pop/glam rock pastiche sounds like the perfect tribute to 70’s American radio. (8)

RICHARD THOMPSON – Bloody Noses
Lockdown acoustic EP by legendary guitarist who still sounds like Bob Mould’s folkie dad. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Angelheaded Hipster: The Songs Of Marc Bolan & T. Rex

When it comes to putting together multi-artist tribute albums, producer Hal Willner (RIP) was in a league of his own. Willner’s swan song is this double album featuring a wildly eclectic bunch of people (Kesha, Nick Cave, Joan Jett, Peaches, U2 feat. Elton John, Father John Misty, Perry Farrell, Marc Almond to name just a few) paying tribute to glam rock’s first superstar and sounding, for the most part, very little like glam rock. (8)

Monday, 7 September 2020

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, September 2020

THE LOUDER STUFF

THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX – Scorpio

After a few line-up changes the Atomic Bitchwax today is essentially Monster Magnet minus Dave Wyndorf, and that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about this album. (7)

BLUES PILLS – Holy Moly!

She’s got a nice voice. (6)

KING BUZZO WITH TREVOR DUNN – Gift Of Sacrifice

Weird but great acoustic stuff by Melvins/Mr. Bungle/Fantomas-related supergroup (superduo?). (8)

METALLICA & THE SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY – S&M 2

Just like the first collaboration with the San Fran Symphony, the only thing this pretentious horseshit (worse than “Lulu” BTW) achieves is to take the edge off some of the best heavy metal songs ever written and reaffirm how poorly Lars rates as a musician vs. real musicians. (6)

NAPALM DEATH – Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism

Name one more metal band whose 16th album is among their 3-4 best. One. (9)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – NWOBHM Thunder: New Wave Of British Heavy Metal 1978-1986

Excellent 3-CD compilation, sequel to another compilation released in 2018. You get the stuff you’d expect (Saxon, Venom, Diamond Head, Tygers, Raven, Blitzkrieg, Samson, Demon, Girlschool…) plus a lot of forgotten gems. (9)


THE OTHER STUFF

KATHLEEN EDWARDS – Total Freedom

Canadian folk-rock singer/songwriter returns eight years after calling it quits, and the opening song on her brilliant new album includes the lyric “We bought a rock and roll dream, it was total crap”. Just so you know what you’re getting into. (8)

FANTASTIC NEGRITO – Have You Lost Your Mind Yet

If you’re going to play Blues Rock in the 21st century, you’re better off going Fantastic Negrito’s iconoclastic way rather than following Blues Pills’ shallow traditionalism. (8)

JERRY JOSEPH – The Beautiful Madness

Veteran roots rocker, virtually unknown but idolized by people like Patterson Hood (Drive-By Truckers) and Jason Isbell, tries to reach a wider audience. Hood produces, his DBT act as backing band, and former Trucker Isbell also shows up on a track or two. Recommended if you like, well, DBT and Jason Isbell. (8)

THE MAVERICKS – En Espanol

Genre-bending/blending Tex-Mex mariachi country rock, this time sung in Spanish. A good record. (7)

NEW MOON JELLY ROLL FREEDOM ROCKERS – Vol. 1

Ad-hoc roots rock supergroup – basically a bunch of guys who were touring together back in 2007 and just sat down in the studio of one of the guys (Jim Dickinson’s  Zebra Ranch), had a few drinks, and improvised a set of blues standards, a couple of originals, and some Jimi Hendrix. Recorded live, no rehearsals, no overdubs, collected dust on a studio shelf for several years and released now. A bit messy but fun. (7)

MARIA SCHNEIDER ORCHESTRA – Data Lords

Most of us jazz ignoramuses (ignorami???) were superficially introduced to Maria Schneider through her 2014 collaboration with David Bowie so I’m not familiar with her previous work, but “Data Lords” sounds like a revolution in big band music that stands on the shoulders of giants like Gil Evans and Stan Kenton. Most intriguing jazz release I’ve come across since Kamasi’s “The Epic”. (9)

STICK IN THE WHEEL – Hold Fast

English folk revisionists try too hard to sound “modern”. (6)

GILLIAN WELCH & DAVID RAWLINGS – All The Good Times

Home-recorded acoustic covers Americana album by partners in life and art is like sitting on their porch. (8)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Willie Nile Uncovered: 40 Years of Music

A tribute album to Nile was only a matter of time – the guy is in his 70’s, virtually unknown but widely respected by every single singer/songwriter who’s ever listened to his stuff and the quintessential NYC troubadour. Elliot Murphy, Graham Parker, Nils Lofgren, Emily Duff and a bunch of others pay their respects on this honest but uneven collection. (7)

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, August 2020


THE LOUDER STUFF

BLACK CROWN INITIATE – Violent Portraits Of Doomed Escape

This album is to “Blackwater Park”-era Opeth what Mikael Akerfeldt’s “clean” stuff is to Steven Wilson. (8)

CREEPER – Sex, Death & The Infinite Void

British horror punks move away from their AFI/Misfits-derived shtick and try to approach the ambition of My Chemical Romance’s “The Black Parade”, almost get there. BTW the album intro features Patricia Morrison who used to play in The Sisters Of Mercy and later married The Damned’s Dave Vanian, if you’re into semiotics. (8)

ENUFF Z’NUFF – Brainwashed Generation

Another strong power pop/hard rock album from the Chicagoan veterans, sort of like a Cheap Trick/ELO hybrid. Special guests include Mike Portnoy and Ace Frehley. (7)

HUNTSMEN – Mandala Of Fear

The general idea of blending Mastodon-style modern progressive metal with psychedelic Americana elements is interesting, but at 84 minutes long this could certainly use a haircut, or at least a trim. (7)

INTER ARMA – Garbers Days Revisited

Covers albums really only make sense if they mess with the originals and this metal band does good, not only adding extra crunch to songs by some of the band’s heavier influences (Ministry, NIN, Husker Du, Venom, Cro Mags), but also totally re-imagining non-metal tracks (Tom Petty, Prince, Neil Young). (7)

ALAIN JOHANNES – Hum

A deeply personal piece of work, born from pain and loss but sounding cathartic, from the quintessential musician’s musician. (8)

NOFX & FRANK TURNER – West Coast Vs. Wessex

Fun split album with the two acts covering each other’s songs. (8)

STEVE VON TILL – No Wilderness Deep Enough

Neurosis guy (the one with the bigger beard) on new solo album sounds like Nick Cave’s 2010’s electronic soundscape stuff. (7)

THE STOOGES – Live At Goose Lake: August 8th, 1970

Soundboard recording of legendary, very loud, and extremely messy “Fun House”-era concert unearthed half a century later and officially released. Priceless for the converted, too obnoxious for newbies who’d be better off starting with the studio albums. (-)

JOHN ZORN – Baphomet

40-minute long Zorn composition played by Simulacrum, the Hammond-led power trio he put together to blend death metal and jazz in ways that will blow your mind. (8)


THE OTHER STUFF

THE CHICKS – Gaslighter

Star country pop female group The Dixie Chicks change their name in light of current events, recruit AAA-list contributors (uber-producer Jack Antonoff, St. Vincent’s Anne Clark) and come out of a 14-year hiatus with an album that will appeal to Taylor Swift fans who can get past the heavy, divorce-related lyrical content. (8)

SHIRLEY COLLINS – Heart’s Ease

The Grande Dame of English folk is back. She’s 85 and sounds about twice as old and I mean that in the best possible way. (7)

RAY WYLIE HUBBARD – Co-Starring

Guest star-studded album from outlaw country’s could-have-been 70-something features people like Ringo Starr, Don Was, Joe Walsh, Chris Robinson, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Ashley McBryde, Larkin Poe etc. and kicks some serious ass. Don’t know if this qualifies as country music, it sure sounds more like swampy southern rock to my ears. (8)

LANA DEL REY – Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass

Not a proper album but an audiobook of poetry set to music, it’s influenced by the Beats (Ginsberg, Kerouac) and fits quite nicely into the Del Rey canon. (7)

MY MORNING JACKET – The Waterfall II

Better than 2015’s “The Waterfall”, an album it doesn’t sound very much like. I’ve always compared MMJ to the Grateful Dead because of their jam band-ness, but this time around they’re doing more of a Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev thing. (8)

MARGO PRICE – That’s How Rumors Get Started

Country’s rising star goes Rock and discovers her inner Stevie Nicks on fantastic, Sturgill Simpson-produced third album. (8)

TAYLOR SWIFT – Folklore

First she goes from country whiz kid to pop superdiva, and now she goes after the hipster/beardo crowd by surprise-dropping a gorgeous indie goth folk album with a cover that looks like a Norwegian black metal demo, produced by that guy from The National and including a duet with that guy from Bon Iver. (8)