Sunday, 1 April 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, April 2018

THE HARDER STUFF

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

GOZU – Equilibrium

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

GREYSTONE CANYON – While The Wheels Still Turn

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

MAUDLIN – Sassuma Arnaa

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

NAPALM DEATH – Coded Smears And More Uncommon Slurs

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

PRIMORDIAL – Exile Amongst The Ruins

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


THE OTHER STUFF

BETTYE LA VETTE – Things Have Changed

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

KACEY MUSGRAVES – Golden Hour

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

LINDI ORTEGA – Liberty

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

SLOAN – 12

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

Friday, 23 March 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, March 2018 Vol. II


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

DAVID BYRNE – American Utopia

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

JACK WHITE – Boarding House Reach

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

MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO – Ventriloquism

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

MONSTER MAGNET – Mindfucker

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

NATHANIEL RATELIFF & THE NIGHT SWEATS – Tearing at the Seams

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

RYLEY WALKER – Deafman Glance

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

SQUIRREL NUT ZIPPERS – Beasts of Burgundy

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

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES – Get Your Fight On!

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

THE FRATELLIS – In Your Own Sweet Time

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

THE SWORD – Used Future

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

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, March 2018

THE HARDER STUFF

BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME – Automata 1

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

CARPENTER BRUT – Leather Teeth

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

CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX – Horrific Honorifics

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

JUDAS PRIEST – Firepower

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

OCEANS OF SLUMBER – The Banished Heart

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

PAINTED DOLL – Painted Doll

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

SCREAMING FEMALES – All At Once

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

SOLSTICE – White Horse Hill

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

THE BELLRAYS – Punk Funk Rock Soul, Vol. 2

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


THE OTHER STUFF

BARRENCE WHITFIELD & THE SAVAGES – Soul Flowers Of Titan

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

CHRIS CONNELLY – The Tide Stripped Bare

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

HALEY HEYNDERICKX – I Need to Start a Garden

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

IMARHAN – Temet

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

J.D. WILKES – Fire Dream

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

MELISSA LAVEAUX – Radyo Siwel

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

THE HANGING STARS – Songs For Somewhere Else

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

TITUS ANDRONICUS – A Productive Cough

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

Friday, 16 February 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews February 2018, Vol. II


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

BRIAN FALLON – Sleepwalkers

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

BRIGID MAE POWER – The Two Worlds

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

DWARVES – Take Back The Night

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

EZRA FURMAN – Transangelic Exodus

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

GIANTS IN THE TREES – Giants In The Trees

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

HC McENTIRE – Lionheart

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

JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN – Damned Devotion Read

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

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE – Man Of The Woods

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

KYLE CRAFT – Full Circle Nightmare

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

LEGEND OF THE SEAGULLMEN – Legend Of The Seagullmen

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

THE SWORD – Used Future

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

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Black Panther: The Album

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

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

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

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Northern Soul: The Ultimate Collection

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

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, February 2018


THE HARDER STUFF

CANE HILL – Too Far Gone

Nu Wave Of American Nu Metal for fans of Slipknot & Korn. Funny how people who hated nu metal back in the day now think Cane Hill is da shit. (7)

FIRE! – The Hands

An interesting spin on the power trio format with sax instead of guitar, combining the metallic heaviness of Black Sabbath with Albert Ayler-like free jazz skronk. (8)

MACHINE HEAD – Catharsis

It’s not as bad as you’ve been led to believe but, speaking of nu metal – what the fuck was Robb Flynn thinking? (7)

MAGICK TOUCH – Blades Chains Whips & Fire

With THIS name, THIS album title and THIS album cover you’d be forgiven for passing on this as either run-of-the-mill epic metal or occult bullshit rock, but in reality you’d be missing out on some pretty decent retro-melodic hard rock a-la Night Flight Orchestra, Audrey Horne and Dokken. (7)

PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS –Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue

Pantera meets Morbid Angel meets the Dillinger Escape Plan in terms of heaviness, but not quite in terms of songwriting skills. (7)

WALKING PAPERS – WP2

You might’ve heard of Duff McKagan from his other band and the rhythm section (also featuring ex-Screaming Tree Barrett Martin) is a major selling point for this Jack Endino-produced Seattle quartet that plays 70’s melodic hard rock as reimagined in the 90’s. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Dr. Demento Covered In Punk

Really fun compilation tribute to Dr. Demento, featuring lots of punk rock and lots of comedy. Highlights include William Shatner covering The Cramps, “Weird” Al Yankovic covering The Ramones, and Brak covering The Suicidal Tendencies. Good for the moshpit, even better for laughs. (9)


THE OTHER STUFF

CALEXICO – The Thread That Keeps Us

Louder and less polished than their previous albums and not as catchy, this is Calexico going full-on “indie rock”. (7)

FALL OUT BOY – M A N I A

They were nothing special back when they were a pop-punk/emo band, but incorporating EDM elements into their sound just makes them annoying. (5)

FIRST AID KIT – Ruins

Avoided these sisters to date because “Swedish Americana” sounds almost as unappealing a genre as “Chinese Rebetika” but turns out they’re pretty good, combining top-notch songwriting with telepathically perfect harmony singing. (8)

MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO – Impossible Star

Electronic music veterans strike a good balance between abstract ambient soundscapes and heavy beats. (7)

STICK IN THE WHEEL – Follow Them True

Exciting new band that will singlehandedly revitalize the UK folk scene. Not all their experiments work, for example I could live without the Auto-Tuned vocals on the title track, but by the time the haunting “As I Roved Out” closes the album all is forgiven. (8)

TY SEGALL – Freedom's Goblin

The first truly great album of 2018 – Segall takes garage rock to new anthemic levels, often throwing a brass section on top of the guitar fuzz for 75 minutes of pure, unadulterated, messy rawk ‘n’ roll fun. (9)

Monday, 15 January 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, January 2018


AT THE DRIVE IN – Diamante EP
3-song EP, quite possibly “In•ter a•li•a” leftovers but still pretty good. (7)

AUDREY HORNE – Blackout

With nods to Deep Purple added to the Thin Lizzy references this time around, Audrey Horne continue on their 70’s hard rock worshipping path. Fun, but I still prefer the Night Flight Orchestra. (7)

CHEAP TRICK – Christmas Christmas

This came to our attention after the holidays but we’ll keep it in mind for next year’s festivities – we certainly prefer listening to Cheap Trick covering Christmas songs by Wizzard, Slade, Ramones and the Kinks rather than the elevator muzak blasting from everywhere during the season. (7)

CORROSION OF COMFORMITY – No Cross No Crown

Pepper Keenan’s back and so are the Sabbath/Lizzy/Skynyrd touches. I really missed these guys and this is probably their best since “Deliverance”. Added bonus: Queen cover. (8)

DANIEL ROMANO – Nerveless / Human Touch

Canadian singer-songwriter who I’ve been convinced has a masterpiece inside of him releases two new albums simultaneously. The power-pop oriented “Nerveless” once again fails to deliver the fuckin’ masterpiece but the acoustic, naked “Human Touch” comes pretty damn close. (7) / (8)

HARAM – بس ربحت, خسرت When You Have Won, You Have Lost

The New York band’s Arab vocalist, Nader Habibi, utilizes his mother tongue’s idiosyncrasies to give an entirely new twist to hardcore punk. Any way you look at it, an impressive debut. (8)

JEFF ROSENSTOCK – POST-

Released on new year’s day and given away for free (or for as much money as you like) through Rosenstock’s Bandcamp, this is a thoroughly enjoyable power-pop-punk album, sometimes reminiscent of Weezer’s and Ted Leo’s finest moments. (8)

KEIJI HAINO & SUMAC – American Dollar Bill: Keep Facing Sideways, You’re Too Hideous To Look At Face On

Unrehearsed noise improvisations, this sounds scary as hell. (666)

NO AGE – Snares Like A Haircut

A slight departure from their signature lo-fi art-punk towards a fuller sound, at points reminiscent of a weird Dinosaur Jr./Japandroids crossover. (8)

SORCERER – The Crowning Of The Fire King

Missed out on this when it came out a few months ago, sorry! Great epic doom metal in the Solitude Aeternus/Candlemass tradition with huge vocals and lots of neoclassical guitar shredding. You'll love it if you’re into this sort of thing. (8)

THE HOOTEN HALLERS – The Hooten Hallers

Gothic Americana rock ‘n’ roll with gritty vocals and grittier sax for fans of The Legendary Shack Shakers, Reverend Horton Heat, Five Horse Johnson, “Heartattack & Vine”-era Tom Waits. (7)

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Year-End Special: Cleaning Out The Closet


THE NEW STUFF

EMINEM – Revival

This is getting mixed reviews but he’s slamming Trump and sampling “Earache My Eye” so I like it. (7)

ESPERANZA SPALDING – Exposure/Undeveloped

Spalding, one of jazz’s greatest and most media-savvy contemporaries, entered the studio with no songs but with the mission to write, produce and record a whole album in 77 hours, livestreaming the whole process to the world. “Exposure” is the end result and it obviously sounds a bit raw compared to 2016’s “Emily’s D+Evolution” but it’s beautiful nevertheless. It comes with “Undeveloped”, 38 minutes of Spalding practicing pre-“Exposure”. (8)

LHASA DE SELA – Lhasa Live In Reykjavik

Lhasa died too young but managed to record this in time after being diagnosed with cancer. It is the saddest, most beautiful music I’ve heard in a long time, featuring her unique folky world music and material from all three of her studio albums. (9)

LINDI ORTEGA – Til The Goin’ Gets Gone EP

❤ (includes a chilling cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Waiting ‘Round To Die”). (8)

MARVIN PONTIAC – The Asylum Tapes

John Lurie’s inside joke/music industry-trolling fictional character (Google it) returns with a new afro-blues record, supposedly created in an insane asylum on an anonymously donated four-track recorder. (7)

 

2017 STUFF I MISSED

JLIN – Black Origami

Futuristic percussive electronica-based soundsculpting that defies traditional songwriting but is certainly much more engaging than Bjork’s latest, for example. (8)

LORDE – Melodrama

Lots of people write pop songs about heartbreak and being a teenager in love but Lorde does it better than most, and now that everyone hates Taylor Swift I think she’ll be the Next Big Thing. (8)

POWER TRIP – Nightmare Logic

Fun metal thrashing madness, at times tight like Exodus and at others injecting a welcome punk-ish sloppiness. (8)

RAINER MARIA – Rainer Maria

Reformed emo band returns with new album more than a decade after their last sidelining the emo in favor of a harder approach, sometimes sounding like Hole trying to emulate Led Zeppelin. (7)

TRAVIS MEADOWS – First Cigarette

If you’re from Nashville, lost your right leg at 14, became an alcoholic, went into rehab, and had your girlfriend diagnosed with breast cancer AND your three-legged dog Larry go missing within weeks of each other, then you have no other option in life but to be a country singer, but 50-something songwriter’s songwriter Meadows also evokes the American heartland here, from Springsteen to Bob Seger. (8)