Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, July 2016

THE LOUDER STUFF

BIG BUSINESS – Command Your Weather

Anthemic and absolutely epic heavy rock from everyone’s favorite power duo. (8)

HEART – Beautiful Broken

A solid combination of new songs and reworkings of older ones proving that the Wilson sisters remain relevant. Features a duet with James Hetfield on the title track. (7)

KAYO DOT – Plastic House On Base Of Sky

The guy says his influences are Gorguts, Bjork, The Cure and Scott Walker and I think that’s a fairly accurate description. (6)

LORD VICAR – Gates Of Flesh

The expected Black Sabbath worship. (7)

PLANET OF ZEUS – Loyal To The Pack

As the only Greek to have never seen the Athenian leaders of the stoner rock pack play live, I admit I’m not among the ranks of the converted as their previous albums sounded sort of derivative. On this one however they’ve kicked their songwriting up a notch or three. (8)

SCHAMMASCH – Triangle

Ambitious triple album by Swiss extreme metal band, a bit too long for its own good. Disc 1 sounds like a dissonant Behemoth, disc 2 sounds like Celtic Frost doing Pink Floyd in the style of My Dying Bride, disc 3 sounds like SunnO))) on acid. (7)


THE OTHER STUFF


AVETT BROTHERS – True Sadness
Rick Rubin-produced folk rock band experiments with a “modern” sound, which thankfully doesn’t always get in the way of their great songwriting. (7)

BRIGID MAE POWER – Brigid Mae Power

Cinematic, sparse orchestration with ethereal vocals, sort of like Grails does 4AD. (8)

CHANTAL KREVIAZUK – Hard Sail

Look, everybody has their guilty pleasures and it’s time to get out of the closet. I don’t usually listen to Adult Contemporary stuff so I’m either no adult or not contemporary but I do love Chantal, she’ll always remind me of “Dawson’s Creek” which I also loved in the closet, “Colour Moving And Still” is a desert island disc, and now she’s got a new album. (7)

CODY DICKINSON – Leeway For The Freeway

North Mississippi Allstars drummer and son of late great producer Jim Dickinson releases solo album with guests such as his brother Luther, John Medeski, Duane Betts and Robert Randolph. The problem is, Cody’s singing is worse than my cat's drumming. (5)

SARA WATKINS – Young In All The Wrong Ways

Nickel Creek violinist/singer/bluegrass icon lays her soul bare on post-break up album. (7)

SARAH JAROSZ – Undercurrent

Dark Americana blues from a talented multi-instrumentalist and singer. (7)

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, June 2016 Vol. II

THE LOUDER STUFF

BLAAK HEAT – Shifting Mirrors

Rooted in metal but with a strong Middle Eastern flavour and healthy doses of everything from spaghetti western to surf, this French-American power trio delivers an album that’s intriguing, exciting and above all fun. (7)

FATES WARNING – Theories Of Flight

I just can’t get over how good this is. Best prog-metal album of the 21st century. (10)

GOJIRA – Magma

Another excellent effort from the French masters of “modern” metal. (8)

I SEE STARS – Treehouse

Just a super-compressed, ultra-triggered, auto-tuned piece of plastic (or bandwidth). They call this “electronicore” but basically it’s Linkin Park with all traces of testosterone removed. (4) 

LETLIVE. – If I’m The Devil

Music for young people. It’s aggressive and melodic and catchy and a bit too emo for my taste and age. (7)

RIVAL SONS – Hollow Bones

The expected Led Zep worship. (7)

SWANS – The Glowing Man

Classic latter-day Swans, meaning it’s three weeks long featuring a bunch of tracks that last a couple of days each. It’s droning and repetitive and loud and scary and beautiful and forget all the hipster post-rock crap you’ve been listening to, this is the real thing. (8)

VIRUS – Memento Collider

Carl-Michael Eide is one sick puppy and “Memento Collider” sounds just like a sick puppy’s soul throwing up. Compelling but not necessarily pleasurable listening. (7)

ZEAL & ARDOR – The Devil Is Fine

A DIY, homebrewed hybrid of gospel singing, black metal blastbeats, Godflesh heaviness, Μiddle Εastern chants, hip hop beats, children’s lullabies, even some “Rain Dogs”-era Tom Waits guitar skronk, a bit all over the place but I’ll take this over Virus for kicks any day of the week. (8)


THE OTHER STUFF

BRANDY CLARK – Big Day In A Small Town

She writes songs for Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert and keeps some of the better stuff for her solo records. Subject matter: Former beauty queens stuck in dead-end marriages, cheating husbands in one-horse towns, substance abuse, odes to deceased loved ones, the usual happy country fare. (8)

ELI PAPERBOY REED – My Way Home

Soul/blues shouter goes down ‘n’ dirty with a pure 60’s southern juke joint sound. By the way, the guy’s so white he makes Zooey Deschanel look like Oprah Winfrey but listening to this album you’d never believe it. (7)

ELISABETH COOK – Exodus Of Venus

Swampy country rock from a Nashville renegade. There’s been divorce, death of close ones, mental illness, substance abuse and rehab in Cook’s life and this album reflects the pain and darkness. (8)

FANTASTIC NEGRITO – The Last Days Of Oakland

THIS is what the blues should sound like in the 21st century: Angry, wild and funky. (8)

MAREN MORRIS – Hero

If you’re into that whole Taylor Swift/Kacey Musgraves pop/country hybrid you’ll love Morris, plus she says “shit” a lot and I like girls who cuss. (8)

NEKO CASE, K.D. LANG, LAURA VEIRS – Case/Lang/Veirs

All-star Americana female singer/songwriter team comes up with some beautiful, smart songs to light up your breezy summer evenings. (8)

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – The Getaway

First time in 25 years without Rick Rubin at the helm and RHCP sounds like a totally different band, much more laid back and refined and focused on the melodies. Just goes to show how important the choice of producer is. (7)

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, June 2016




THE LOUDER STUFF

ARCHITECTS – All Our Gods Have Abandonded Us

For post-Meshuggah chugga-chugga this is actually pretty decent. (7)

FATES WARNING – Theories Of Flight

Either you get it or you don’t. (10)

JORN – Heavy Rock Radio

Great track selection, plays like Wisconsin’s coolest jukebox in 1986 or the most drunken karaoke night ever. (7)

KATATONIA – The Fall Of Hearts

Turn off the lights, turn up the volume and let the darkness engulf you. Fuckin’ Katatonia. (9)

MELVINS – Basses Loaded

The usual Melvins wackiness with a twist: Rotating bass players – Krist Novoselic, Trevor Dunn, Jared Warren, Jeff Pinkus, Steve MacDonald and Dave Crover handle the low end on two tracks each. Did I mention it’s heavy as hell? (7)

NO SINNER – Old Habits Die Hard

Second album by blues rock band elevated above mediocrity only thanks to Colleen Rennison’s powerhouse voice. (6)

SKYCLAD – A Bellyful Of Emptiness: The Very Best Of The Noise Years 1991-1995

I’m going to be revisionist about this: They always were a bit of a one-trick pony even by heavy metal standards and Walkyier’s clever wordplay often lost out to his weak, barked delivery and a flat production that has certainly not withstood the test of time. Right, bring on the torches and the pitchforks. (7) 

SUMAC – What One Becomes

I got a headache, but it’s a good headache. (7)

THE CLAYPOOL LENNON DELIRIUM – Monolith of Phobos

Psych-pop duo consisting of Primus mainman Les Claypool and Sean Lennon whose abstract guitar playing is more Yoko than John. (7)

THE LIVING END – Shift

Semi-hard rock the Aussie way, tough and catchy just the way I like it. (7)

THE SO SO GLOS – Kamikaze

Old school punk rock that owes quite a bit to the Clash. (7)

THRICE – To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere

This is much better that any melodic post-hardcore band’s ninth album has any right to be. (8)

 

THE OTHER STUFF

AUSTIN LUCAS – Between The Moon And The Midwest

This is top-notch country music that rocks with the best of ‘em by a guy who started out as a punk rocker. The great Lydia Loveless makes a cameo here. (8)

BOMBINO – Azel

Yet another Tuareg bringing the Sahara’s desert blues to the west, this one’s a guitar virtuoso and significantly more upbeat compared to the Tinariwen benchmark. (8)

CAR SEAT HEADREST – Teens Of Denial

This guy wasn’t even born when Pavement, Guided By Voices and the Pixies ruled college radio, but he does an excellent job capturing that era’s spirit. (8)

DANIEL ROMANO – Mosey

Romano goes way beyond countrypolitan for his third album and writes some gorgeous 60’s-influenced pop hooks, then shoots himself in the foot with the cheesy cheapo synthbrass orchestration. If he’d been born 50 years earlier and had Lee Hazlewood’s studio budget, “Mosey” might have been a masterpiece. (7)

ERIC CLAPTON – I Still Do

It’s an Eric Clapton record in 2016, what did you expect? (6)

HARD WORKING AMERICANS – Rest In Chaos

Back in 1994 I saw Todd Snider live and called him “the future of rock ‘n’ roll” but he turned out to be a world champion underachiever instead. That being said, his new band –a meat ‘n’ potatoes rock supergroup of sorts featuring a couple of Widespread Panic members– just released a stunner. (8)

MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD – Soulrocker

A kind of pop-reggae/EDM hybrid with a strong spiritual message. I liked Franti more when he was a Gil Scott-Heron-inspired angsto-political activist. (6)

NATACHA ATLAS – Myriad Road

Atlas throws jazz into her multi-culti western/middle eastern mix and ends up with an album that makes for wonderful late night listening. (8)

PAUL SIMON – Stranger To Stranger

Simon’s in top form here, both as a composer and as a storyteller. (8)

ROBERT ELLIS – Robert Ellis

This is so weird, I listened to this back-to-back with the new Paul Simon album and it turns out it sounds exactly as if a younger Paul Simon did a country album. (8)

THE HIGHWAYMEN – The Very Best Of

Sometimes the sum is lesser than its parts. (7)

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

8 Λόγοι που το "The Number οf the Beast" Είναι ο Καλύτερος Δίσκος Όλων των Εποχών

  1. Invaders
  2. Children Of The Damned
  3. The Prisoner
  4. 22 Acacia Avenue
  5. The Number Of The Beast
  6. Run To The Hills
  7. Gangland
  8. Hallowed Be Thy Name

Υ.Γ. Καλά σοβαρά μιλάς τώρα; Τη δική μου γνώμη περίμενες για αυτό το τοτεμικό άλμπουμ; Χρειάζεσαι τη γνώμη οποιουδήποτε, αυτάκια δεν έχεις;

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, May 2016 Vol. II

THE LOUDER STUFF

DEATH GRIPS – Bottomless Pit

Dear hipsters, FYI Dalek was doing this rap/industrial thing better than Death Grips 20 years ago. (6)

GOO GOO DOLLS – Boxes

I remember these guys from the early 90’s as a really cool punk band on Metal Blade Records. What the fuck happened? This sappy shit is like a soccer mom’s idea of edgy rock music. (4)

KVELERTAK – Nattesferd

What do you get when you crossbreed black metal with cock rock? I’ll give you the answer before any smartass says “black cock” – you get “Nattesferd”. (8)

PURSON – Desire’s Magic Theatre

More fun that this year’s Blood Ceremony and Witchcraft albums, if you’re into the whole vintage psychedelic/occult thing. (8)

VEKTOR – Terminal Redux

With their most ambitious album to date Vektor take thrash and twist it into weird four-dimentional shapes not of this world. If a better metal record is released in 2016 I’ll be very surprised. (9)

WRONG – Wrong

Helmet from Lidl. (6)


THE OTHER STUFF

ANOHNI – Hopelesness

The artist formerly known as Antony (& The Johnsons) lyrically attacks everything and everyone in sight, also goes full-on electronica. I guess you’ll like this sound if you enjoy FKA Twigs and the weirder Bjork and Radiohead stuff, I’m a Billy Squier fan. (6)

IMARHAN – Imarhan

Another interesting Tuareg desert blues band – it seems that Tinariwen’s success has created (or unearthed) a huge scene down there on the Algeria/Mali border. This one’s a bit funkier. (7)

JEAN-MICHEL JARRE – Electronica 2: The Heart Of Noise

Another collaboration album, this time featuring the Pet Shop Boys, Julia Holter, Primal Scream, Gary Numan, Hans Zimmer, Peaches, Sebastien Tellier, The Orb, Yello, Cyndi Lauper and others. Just as meh as the first one. (6)

JIMBO MATHUS – Band Of Storms

9-song, 23-minute EP of Jimbo taking another trip into all things Southern: Dr. John-type stompers, honky tonk tear-jerkers, swampy blues, American gothic devil tales. Fantastic. (8)

MARISSA NADLER – Strangers

Not bad but after Lana Del Rey, Sharon Van Etten, Eleanor Friedberger, Lera Lynn and a couple of dozen others I really can’t take any more tortured gothic hipster chanteuses. (7)  

RADIOHEAD – A Moon Shaped Pool

Not a stone cold proper rock masterpiece like “The Bends” or “OK Computer”, not a WTF avant garde whatchamacallit that you admire rather than enjoy like everything they released since the turn of the century, but somewhere in between and still light years ahead from the competition. (8)

Monday, 25 April 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, May 2016 Preview

ACE FREHLEY – Origins Vol. 1
Frehley ruins some of my favorite songs by Cream, Steppenwolf, Thin Lizzy etc. because he can’t sing to save his life. (5)

BEASTWARS – The Death Of All Things

Mostly sounds like Jesus Lizard buttfucking High On Fire, and that’s a good thing. (7)

BEYONCE – Lemonade

Beyonce takes the pop world by surprise – again. And, even putting speculation about the state of her own marriage aside, this is still a brave record, touching upon subject matter that other artists of her stature wouldn’t dare go near. (8)

GRAND MAGUS – Sword Songs

Heavy fucking metal, plain and simple. (8)

JOHN ZORN – Painted Bird

Another instrumental jazz-metal album, the 4th in 12 months by Zorn’s latest ensemble. If you liked the previous three you’ll like this one too. (7)

KYLE CRAFT – Dolls Of Highland

Oh! This is so great! Imagine a redneck version of Ziggy Stardust bringing some glam rock extravaganza to the swamps of Louisiana, if you don’t like this you’re an idiot. (8)

LERA LYNN – Resistor

After portaying the only watchable character on True Detective’s second season, Lynn returns with her highly enjoyable third album which sounds like Sharon Van Etten paying tribute to Sheryl Crow (or vice versa). (8)

PJ HARVEY – The Hope Six Demolition Project

All PJ Harvey albums by default get an 8, minimum. But her most political one is disappointing as it puts too much emphasis on the message and too little on the medium, i.e. the songs. (6) but (8)

POSIES – Solid States

Too many synthesizers for a Posies record. (6)

SERJ TANKIAN – 1915

Soundtrack to a movie referring to the Armenian genocide. Sounds nothing like SOAD, in case you were wondering. Features a number of Greek musicians for some reason. (7)

SONICS – Live At Easy Street

Seattle septuagenarian garage rockers show their youngster guests like Eddie Vedder how to do this right. (8)

STRUMBELLAS – Hope

Do NOT listen to the lead single, “Spirits” – you’ll never be able to get that epic chorus with the unison vocals out of your head and you’ll end up becoming an indie rock fan with a big beard. You have been warned. (7)

STURGILL SIMPSON – A Sailor's Guide to Earth

This is not country music, you can no longer stick that label on Simpson. This is the genius of Otis Redding and Roy Orbison viewed through a Nashville prism, and it’s gorgeous. (9)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Brown Acid: The Second Trip

Vol. II of this fantastic compilation series featuring totally obscure American proto-metal bands. Appropriately released on 4/20. (8)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Why The Mountains Are Black: Primeval Greek Village Music 1907 – 1960

Look, I can see that Third Man Records put a lot of painstaking research into creating a compilation of Kalamatiana, Hasapika and Tsamika that non-Greeks might find interesting, but I’m a Greek who grew up on rock ‘n’ roll and it’s Orthodox Easter and this stuff is negatively charged to an impossible degree so fuck you and your klarina, Jack White. Just… fuck you. (-)

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, April 2016


CHEAP TRICK – Bang, Zoom, Crazy... Hello
They’ve been called heavy metal, the American Beatles and everything in between, but they’re just a great rock ‘n’ roll band and 40 years after their debut they still deliver. (8)

DALEK – Asphalt For Eden

A welcome return after a 7-year hiatus, Dalek once again blends hip-hop and industrial noise in this dark, moody monster of an album. (8)

DEFTONES – Gore

Thank God for the 90’s. (8)

KAADA & MIKE PATTON – Bacteria Cult

Norwegian classical/avant-garde composer teams up with workaholic lunatic for another album filled with playful cinematic soundscapes. (7)

KEL ASSOUF – Tikounen

With one foot in the Sahara and the other in the urban jungle, Kel Assouf take Tinariwen’s Tuareg blues and turn the heaviness up a couple of notches. (7)

LINCOLN DURHAM – Revelations of a Mind Unravelling

This is a guy who describes himself as a “Southern gothic punk gospel revival one-man-band” and you know what, I think he nailed it. (8)

LOW FLYING HAWKS – Kofuku

Sludgy doom metal from Mexico featuring the drummer from the Melvins and some rather off-key vocals. (6)

MAMIFFER – The World Unseen

Husband/wife team of Faith Coloccia (Pyramids) and Aaron Turner (Isis) sounds like Hydrahead pretending to be 4AD. (7)

PETER WOLF – A Cure For Loneliness

I axiomatically declare that J. Geils Band is the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band that ever existed and this is a pretty decent solo album by their frontman. Includes a bluegrass version of “Love Stinks”. (7)

PROTEST THE HERO – Pacific Myth

Canadian progressive metal band explores new business model, releases subscription-based series of 6 singles though Bandcamp which, combined, make up this EP. It’s pretty great, just like everything PTH has released from “Fortress” onwards. (8)

ROBBIE FULKS – Upland Stories

Country/folk underdog releases yet another album full of compelling characters and interesting stories about his homeland. (7)

SAM BEAM & JESCA HOOP – Love Letter For Fire

Iron & Wine’s Beam and wonderful Californian songstress Hoop create collaborative duets album. This is pop songwriting at its best and the backing band features some of the best players in the world, like bassist Sebastian Steinberg (Soul Coughing, Fiona Apple) and violinist Eyvind Kang. (8)

TIM HECKER – Love Streams

I always fall for this, I read a bunch of glowing reviews by Brooklyn hipsters giving 8’s and 9’s to some ambient minimalist avant-garde electronica shit and then spend valuable hours listening to it trying to figure out what the fuck they like so much about it. (6)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Dust On The Nettles: A Journey Through The British Underground Folk Scene 1967-72

Fascinating 3-CD collection chronicling the UK’s acid folk scene. You get the stars (Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span), you get the cult heroes (Comus, Vashti Bunyan), you get the obscurities, you even get a psychedelic cover version of “Ena Nero Kyra Vaggelio” retitled “Glass Of Water”. (9)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Southern Family

Hotshot Nashville producer Dave Cobb brings together some top country & Americana stars (Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown, Brandy Clark etc.) and compiles excellent concept album about life in the American South. (8)

WILLIE NILE – World War Willie

Try to imagine Bruce Springsteen having never made it big – oh wait, that’s Southside Johnny. OK then, try to imagine Lou Reed being less of an asshole and having a better sense of humor, or The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn still holding steady 20 years from now – basically, Willie Nile distills the very essence of rock ‘n’ roll storytelling and you need this album. (8)