Saturday, 8 December 2018

20 Albums Για Το 2018


Όπως κάθε χρόνο, έτσι και φέτος ο Music Geek παρακολούθησε με προσοχή τα μουσικά τεκταινόμενα με σκοπό τη δημιουργία της Απόλυτης Λίστας: Οι 20 καλύτεροι δίσκοι της χρονιάς, ανεξαρτήτως ιδιώματος, εκτός φυσικά από τα ιδιώματα που δεν μου αρέσουν.

Επίσης όπως κάθε χρόνο, πριν δούμε τη Λίστα ας ρίξουμε μια ματιά στην «άλλη» λίστα: Τα άλμπουμ που δεν θα βρείτε στη Λίστα, και γιατί όχι.

ΑΥΤΑ ΠΟΥ ΘΑ ΔΕΙΤΕ ΣΕ ΑΛΛΕΣ ΛΙΣΤΕΣ ΑΛΛΑ ΟΧΙ ΕΔΩ:
  • KAMASI WASHINGTON διότι καλός, εξαιρετικός, αλλά δεν είναι ανάγκη να βγάζουμε τριπλό άλμπουμ κάθε φορά έτσι; Ξεκίνησα να το ακούω τον Ιούνιο που κυκλοφόρησε και ολοκλήρωσα την πρώτη ακρόαση τον Οκτώβριο.
  • JEFF ROSENSTOCK παρόλο που κυκλοφόρησε την 1/1/2018 και για περίπου 24 ώρες ήταν το καλύτερο άλμπουμ της χρονιάς
  • LOW διότι μοιάζει με Radiohead από το “Kid A” και μετά, κι εμένα οι Radiohead μου αρέσουν από το “OK Computer” και πίσω.
  • SPIRITUALIZED διότι ουσιαστικά είναι το “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space” με άλλο τίτλο και μικρότερο budget.
ΑΥΤΑ ΠΟΥ ΔΕΝ ΘΑ ΔΕΙΤΕ ΣΕ ΑΛΛΕΣ ΛΙΣΤΕΣ, ΟΥΤΕ ΕΔΩ:
  • AARON LEE TASJAN – KYLE CRAFT – JOHN GRANT – JULIA HOLTER – TITUS ANDRONICUS διότι τα φετεινά τους άλμπουμ μάλλον διέψευσαν τις μεγάλες προσδοκίες που είχαν δημιουργήσει με τα αμέσως προηγούμενα.
  • BEYONCE & JAY-Z διότι πέρασε και δεν ακούμπησε.
  • JACK WHITE διότι το παράκανε με τον πειραματισμό κι έχασε την ουσία.
  • ARCTIC MONKEYS διότι είναι απαίσιο.
  • KANYE WEST διότι ο τύπος έχει χάσει το δρόμο του.
ΑΥΤΑ ΠΟΥ ΜΠΟΡΕΙ ΚΑΙ ΝΑ ΒΛΕΠΑΤΕ ΕΔΩ:
  • RYLEY WALKER αλλά έμεινε απ’ έξω παρά τρίχα. Αν δεν είχαμε τον φασισμό του δεκαδικού συστήματος και η λίστα αποτελείτο π.χ. από 23 δίσκους, θα ήταν μέσα.
  • KACEY MUSGRAVES αλλά παρομοίως με τον παραπάνω κύριο.
  • ASHLEY MONROE αλλά βάλαμε Pistol Annies και θα ήταν πλεονασμός.
  • FUCKED UP – SUPERSUCKERS – ALKALINE TRIO – DWARVES – THRICE αλλά όσο κι αν αγαπώ το punk και τα παράγωγά του και λάτρεψα αυτά τα άλμπουμ, φέτος είχαμε και Laura Jane και Screaming Females και δεν γινόταν η μισή λίστα να είναι punk.
Κατά τα άλλα, τρεις γενικές παρατηρήσεις για το μουσικό 2018:
  1. Οι ταμπέλες έχουν πεθάνει οριστικά και όλα είναι ροκ: Στη παρακάτω λίστα θα βρείτε jazz συγκρότημα να παίζει ροκ, folk υπερήλικα να παίζει ροκ, cult country φιγούρα να παίζει ροκ, μπλακμεταλλάδες να παίζουν ροκ. Τελικά μόνο με τους Judas Priest ξέρεις πού πατάς και πού βαδίζεις.
  2. Οι γέροι παίζουν καλύτερη μουσική: Χονδρικά το 1/3 της Λίστας έχει περάσει το όριο συνταξιοδότησης.
  3. Η κυριαρχία του straight white male στο χώρο αμφισβητείται: Η λίστα των 20 κορυφαίων δημιουργών της χρονιάς περιλαμβάνει 8 γυναίκες ή συγκροτήματα των οποίων ηγούνται γυναίκες, 4 μη Καυκάσιους και 5 που είναι ανοικτά gay/bi/trans (οι κρυφοί μπορεί να ανεβάζουν το ποσοστό ακόμα περισσότερο).
Αυτά. Ουφ. Πάμε τώρα στη Λίστα. Spread the word, share the love:

20. ESPERANZA SPALDING – 12 Little Spells
Το τρομερό “Emily’s D+Evolution” του 2016 ήταν ένα jazz-rock αριστούργημα. Με το φετεινό “12 Little Spells” η Spalding βαδίζει σε ελαφρώς διαφορετικά μονοπάτια, πάντα με βάση τη jazz πηγαίνει περισσότερο προς ένα prog ύφος ενώ οι αλλόκοτες συγχορδίες που επιλέγει προσωπικά μου θυμίζουν περισσότερο Kurt Weill παρά οποιονδήποτε σύγχρονο jazz, rock ή soul δημιουργό. Το σίγουρο πάντως είναι ότι κανείς δεν παίζει μπάσο, δεν τραγουδάει, δεν συνθέτει, και γενικώς δεν ακούγεται σαν αυτήν.


19. JANELLE MONAE – Dirty Computer
H μουσική της Monae πάντα είχε μια δυνατή pop φλέβα, με το φετεινό άλμπουμ της όμως οι προθέσεις είναι ξεκάθαρες: Πρόκειται για έναν POP δίσκο, έτσι, με κεφαλαία, από αυτούς που με μαστοριά έφτιαχνε ο μέντοράς της ο Prince όταν ήταν ακόμα στα ντουζένια του, ο οποίος πραγματεύεται θέματα καθόλου σύνηθη στην pop: Ακόμα και όταν τραγουδάει για sex, η οπτική γωνία είναι πολύ πιο σύνθετη από το τυπικό “ooh baby” της pop.

18. CLUTCH – Book Of Bad Decisions
Βάζουμε στην άκρη το γεγονός ότι ο Neil Fallon φυσιογνωμικά μοιάζει με ένα υβρίδιο Μπάμπη Στόκα/Πάνου Μουζουράκη κι επικεντρωνόμαστε στο εξής: Κανείς δεν παίζει ROCK σήμερα σαν τους Clutch. Κανείς. Υπάρχουν χιλιάδες μπάντες εκεί έξω που παίζουν fuzz-αριστό bluesy υλικό με βάσεις στα 70’s, καμία όμως δεν έχει ΑΥΤΟ το groove και ΑΥΤΗ τη βρώμικη funk-ιά, σε συνδυασμό με ΑΥΤΟΥΣ τους στίχους που παντρεύουν τη beat ποίηση με το σουρεαλιστικό χιούμορ, προϊόν προφανώς ενός ΠΟΛΥ διαβασμένου μυαλού. Κακό studio album οι Clutch δεν έχουν βγάλει ποτέ έτσι κι αλλιώς, αξίζει πάντως να σημειωθεί πως από τα 12 που έχουν κυκλοφορήσει στην καριέρα τους το “Book Of Bad Decisions” χτυπάει πεντάδα χαλάρα.

17. THE NECKS – Body
Εφόσον οι ίδιοι οι δημιουργοί του “Body” παρουσιάζουν το έργο ως μία ενιαία σύνθεση διάρκειας 57 λεπτών και επέλεξαν να μην το χωρίσουν σε κομμάτια, κινήσεις, ενότητες, ο,τιδήποτε, οφείλουμε να το αντιμετωπίσουμε κι εμείς ως μια ενιαία σύνθεση, οπότε δεν έχω κανένα δικαίωμα να κάνω αυτό που θα κάνω. Όμως: ΡΕ ΠΟΣΟ ΓΑΜΑΕΙ ΑΥΤΟ ΑΠΟ ΤΟ 24:45 ΜΕΧΡΙ ΤΟ 39:42;;; Τότε που από το πουθενά το Αυστραλέζικο μινιμαλιστικό τζαζ τρίο ανακαλύπτει τα rock ‘n’ roll ενστικτά του, πιάνει ένα riff και το κοπανάει επί ένα τέταρτο λες και είναι οι Swans μέχρι να γίνει σκόνη, τόσο το riff όσο και η μούρη μας; Μην πέσετε στην παγίδα πάντως να ακούσετε μόνο τα εν λόγω 15 λεπτά – η αποτελεσματικότητά τους αυξάνεται λογαριθμικά από τη νηνεμία που προηγείται και από αυτήν που ακολουθεί.

16. FATHER JOHN MISTY – God’s Favorite Customer
Τελικά το κατά πόσο ακούς Josh Tillman εξαρτάται λιγότερο από το αν σου αρέσουν αυτά τα τραγούδια, που είναι αδύνατο να μην σου αρέσουν, και περισσότερο από το αν ανέχεσαι τη ναρκισσιστική του προσωπικότητα (ή έστω την περσόνα, αν μπορούμε να ξεχωρίσουμε τον Tillman από τον Father John Misty, που νομίζω ότι δεν). Προσωπικά, γνωρίζοντας δύο-τρία πράγματα για τις ναρκισσιστικές προσωπικότητες (αχέμ), είμαι ΟΚ με τον τρόπο και τον λόγο που την εξωτερικεύει μέσω της τέχνης του. Κατά τα άλλα το “God’s Favorite Customer” είναι soft rock παγκόσμιας κλάσης με συνθέσεις ενός επιπέδου που ο Elton John έχει να πιάσει εδώ και 35 χρόνια, και πολύ πιο άμεσο/πιασάρικο από το επίσης εξαιρετικό αλλά δύστροπο περσινό “Pure Comedy”.

15. JUDAS PRIEST – Firepower
Αν μου έλεγε κάποιος στην αρχή του 2018 ότι οι Judas Priest θα κυκλοφορούσαν ένα από τα 20 καλύτερα άλμπουμ της χρονιάς (όχι τα 20 καλύτερα metal άλμπουμ της χρονιάς, τα 20 καλύτερα γενικώς), μάλλον θα γελούσα στα μούτρα του: Μιλάμε για μια παρέα από γερόντια που ξεκίνησε πριν από 49 χρόνια, που είχε να κυκλοφορήσει world-class δουλειά 28 χρόνια, και που έχει πλέον χάσει και τους δύο εμβληματικούς κιθαρίστες της. Και όμως, το “Firepower” είναι σπουδαίο, γεμάτο ΥΜΝΟΥΣ και ξεχειλίζει από χεβιμεταλλική ΚΑΒΛΑ. Who’s laughing now?

14. LAURA JANE GRACE & THE DEVOURING MOTHERS – Bought to Rot
Καθώς η Laura Jane Grace αποτελεί το μοναδικό σταθερό μέλος των Against Me! και οι Devouring Mothers αποτελούνται από την ίδια, τον τωρινό ντράμερ των Against Me! και τον παραγωγό των Against Me! σε ρόλο μπασίστα, δυσκολεύομαι να βρω τους λόγους γιατί το “Bought To Rot” δεν είναι άλμπουμ των Against Me! Αυτό δεν σημαίνει βεβαίως πως δεν πρόκειται για έναν εξαιρετικό δίσκο που συνδυάζει το punk με στοιχεία glam rock και power pop, με ρεφρέν που τα ακούς μία φορά και δεν τα ξεχνάς ΠΟΤΕ, με θυμό και πόνο αλλά και με μια γενναία δόση χιούμορ – το “I Hate Chicago”, ας πούμε, σίγουρα θα σας κάνει να γελάσετε, ώσπου να συνειδητοποιήσετε γιατί ακριβώς she hates Chicago και να σας διαλύσει.

13. RICHARD THOMPSON – 13 Rivers
Από το Bo Diddley beat του εναρκτήριου “The Storm Won’t Come” στο θορυβώδες “The Rattle Within” με το εμπρηστικό solo, από το post-punk του “Bones Of Gilead” στο σκοτάδι του “Trying”, o Thompson φέτος στα 69 του αποφάσισε να κάνει στην άκρη τις folk καταβολές του (από τους Fairport Convention ξεκίνησε το 1967, μην ξεχνιόμαστε) και να ροκάρει like a motherfucker, που λένε και στο χωριό μου. O σκληρότερος του δίσκος σε μισό αιώνα καριέρας, ίσως ο καλύτερός του εδώ και καμιά εικοσαριά χρόνια τουλάχιστον, και μακράν οι καλύτερες κιθάρες που θα ακούσετε φέτος.

12. EZRA FURMAN – Transangelic Exodus
...Car wash waiting room outside Pasadena…
…I grip the steering wheel and picture my angel…
…If we can make it across the state line then baby we're golden…
…Wrap half the money in your hospital garment / We’ll stash the rest inside the red Camaro's secret compartment…
…They'll never find us if we turn off our phones / We're off the grid, we're off our meds / We're finally out on our own…
…To them you know we'll always be freaks…
…And then we're back on the road before the sun's even up…
…Και είμαστε ακόμα στο πρώτο τραγούδι του άλμπουμ. Ένας gay Εβραίος Bruce Springsteen μόλις κυκλοφόρησε το δικό του “Born To Run”.

11. FANTASTIC NEGRITO – Please Don’t Be Dead
Με το προηγούμενο άλμπουμ του υπό το θρασύ όνομα Fantastic Negrito ο Σομαλικής καταγωγής Καλιφορνέζος Xavier Dphrepaulezz είχε κερδίσει το Grammy Καλύτερου Σύγχρονου Blues Δίσκου. Ε λοιπόν, το νέο του άλμπουμ είναι πολύ-πολύ καλύτερο. Για την ακρίβεια, αν αφήσουμε στην άκρη φορμαλισμούς και επικεντρωθούμε στο περιεχόμενο, αν κοιτάξουμε βαθιά μέσα στην ψυχή του “Please Don’t Be Dead”, διαπιστώνουμε ότι είναι ο πιο blues δίσκος των τελευταίων (πολλών) ετών. Κι ας μην ακούγεται σαν καθαρόαιμο blues, αφού πολλά σημεία θα σας θυμίσουν από Zeppelin και Beatles μέχρι Parliament/Funkadelic. Φανταστικό.

10. GRETCHEN PETERS – Dancing With The Beast
Λέγεται ότι ο (εξαιρετικός, λατρεμένος) Jason Isbell είναι ο καλύτερος στιχουργός/storyteller που κυκλοφορεί στην ευρύτερη country/Americana πιάτσα αυτή τη στιγμή. Πιθανότατα όμως ο Isbell δεν είναι καν ο καλύτερος στιχουργός/storyteller στην ίδια του την οικογένεια αφού είναι παντρεμένος με την Amanda Shires, και η ίδια η Shires πιθανότατα θα παραδεχόταν πως ως στιχουργός/storyteller δεν είναι ικανή ούτε να πλύνει τα πόδια της Peters. Ακούστε το “Wichita” από αυτό το late-career αριστούργημα της 61χρονης Peters και θα καταλάβετε τι εννοώ – η δύναμη του συνδυασμού πένας-μελωδίας-φωνής της είναι τέτοια που, χωρίς υπερβολή, δακρύζω κάθε φορά που το ακούω. Και δεν είναι το μόνο highlight του δίσκου, η Peters εδώ υποδύεται διαφορετικούς γυναικείους χαρακτήρες σε κάθε τραγούδι, διηγούμενη τις καθημερινές ιστορίες τους με τρόπο σκοτεινά ελεγειακό.

9. ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO – The Crossing
Τεξανός Μεξικανικής καταγωγής ο ίδιος, ο Escovedo καταπιάνεται με το επίκαιρο, καυτό θέμα της μετανάστευσης σε ένα πραγματικά εξαιρετικό concept άλμπουμ. Κατά καιρούς έχει παίξει alternative country με τους Rank & File και τους Whiskeytown του Ryan Adams, hard rock με τους Buick MacKane, ο αδελφός του ηγείτο του θρυλικού πανκ συγκροτήματος The Zeros, η Sheila E. είναι ανηψιά του κι εδώ ο Escovedo με έναν μαγικό τρόπο καταφέρνει να παντρέψει αρμονικά όλες αυτές τις αποτυπωμένες στο DNA ετερόκλητες μουσικές που ρέουν στο αίμα του. Συμμετέχουν αρκετοί guests, μεταξύ των οποίων και ο Wayne Kramer των MC5 ο οποίος δένει την κιθάρα κόμπο στο “Sonica USA”.

8. DEAFHEAVEN – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
Στο “Ordinary Corrupt Human Love” το συγκρότημα στέκει υπεράνω οποιασδήποτε κατηγοριοποίησης. Πέραν του ότι οι Deafheaven ανέκαθεν όφειλαν στους Slowdive και στον ήχο της Temporary Residence Limited (Explosions In The Sky, Sonna, Black Heart Procession κλπ.) όσα και στο black metal, στο τέταρτο (και καλύτερο) άλμπουμ τους θα ακούσει κανείς και περάσματα που θυμίζουν Queen, και solos που παραπέμπουν στο arena rock των Foo Fighters, κι ενώ όλα αυτά θα μπορούσαν κάλλιστα να οδηγήσουν σε μία άνοστη σαλάτα οι Deafheaven κατορθώνουν να τα συνδυάσουν σε ένα ενιαίο, ομοιογενές σύνολο που δεν μπορεί να συγκριθεί με τίποτα άλλο. Μια βαθιά, ανείπωτη θλίψη υποβόσκει σε κάθε γύρισμα του δίσκου, ακόμα και στις (πολλές) ματζόρε στιγμές του – παραδόξως, ιδιαίτερα σε αυτές. Α, επίσης, ο McCoy είναι ο καλύτερος κιθαρίστας της χρονιάς (κάτω των 69 ετών).

7. SCREAMING FEMALES – All At Once
Έπρεπε να φτάσουν στo έβδομο full-length για να πιάσουν επιτέλους το 100% των δυνατοτήτων τους και να παίξουν στο Champions League του σύγχρονου punk rock. Στην εποχή του attention deficit disorder και της απόλυτης κυριαρχίας του single, το trio από το New Jersey μας προσφέρει ένα ολοκληρωμένο ΑΛΜΠΟΥΜ που θα σας κάνει να θυμηθείτε τους Fugazi (των οποίων ο Brendan Canty συμμετέχει εδώ ως guest) και τους Sleater-Kinney (όχι μόνο διότι η Marissa Paternoster που κρατάει το πηδάλιο των Screaming Females είναι out of the closet), ενώ η παραγωγή του Matt Bayles (Isis, Botch, Mastodon, είπατε τίποτα;) δίνει στο “All At Once” ήχο ΤΕΡΑΣΤΙΟ.

6. PISTOL ANNIES – Interstate Gospel
Οι τρεις καλύτεροι άνδρες singer-songwriters σήμερα θεωρούνται country χωρίς να είναι – o Stapleton είναι soul τραγουδιστής, ο Isbell είναι βασικά rocker, και ο Simpson είναι αλλού – και δεν δισκογραφούν παρέα. Από την άλλη, οι τρεις καλύτερες γυναίκες singer-songwriters σήμερα ηχητικά έχουν ξεκάθαρο country προσανατολισμό και επιλέγουν από καιρού εις καιρόν να ενώνουν τις δυνάμεις τους στις Pistol Annies. Αυτό, το τρίτο τους συλλογικό album είναι όχι απλά το καλύτερό τους, αλλά και καλύτερο από όλα τα solo albums της Lambert, της Monroe και της Presley (και μιλάμε για κάποια από τα καλύτερα country albums του 21ου αιώνα, έτσι;). με υπέροχα τραγούδια, φοβερές γυναικείες ιστορίες, σκοτεινό χιούμορ κι έναν καλώς εννοούμενο φεμινισμό. Αν νομίζετε ότι δεν σας αρέσει η country, είναι επειδή δεν έχετε ακούσει το “Interstate Gospel”.

5. LARKIN POE – Venom & Faith
Είμαι σίγουρος πως οι αδελφές Lovell έχουν φοβερή δισκοθήκη. Ναι μεν οι ρίζες τους είναι στα αρχαία blues αλλά βάζω στοίχημα πως δίπλα στον Son House και τον Robert Johnson θα βρεις εκεί και Allman Brothers, και τους συμπολίτες τους Black Crowes, και τον άλλο συμπολίτη τους τον Childish Gambino, αλλά και Black Sabbath και AC/DC. Βασικά, όπως και ο προαναφερθείς Fantastic Negrito, οι Larkin Poe δίνουν μια γερή κλωτσιά στον κώλο των blues και τα τραβάνε σέρνοντας από τα μαλλιά στον 21ο αιώνα. Παικταρούδες, φωνάρες, συνθετάρες κι επειδή ξέρω ότι σας αρέσουν τα trivia, αν αναρωτιέστε το όνομα του συγκροτήματος το πήραν από τον προ-προ-προπάππου τους ο οποίος ήταν πρωτοξάδερφος του Edgar Allan Poe.

4. GHOST – Prequelle
Ως βλαμμένος μουσικόφιλος έχω ξοδέψει τη μισή μου ζωή σε ηλίθιες συζητήσεις γύρω από το Χ ή το Ψ συγκρότημα, αν ο Α δίσκος είναι καλύτερος από τον Β, ποια η διαφορά ανάμεσα σε rock και rock ‘n’ roll (και αν υπάρχει καν1), ποιος θα κερδίσει σε έναν υποθετικό αγώνα πυγμαχίας ανάμεσα στον Elton John και τον Billy Joel2 κλπ., όμως στη φετινή συζήτηση γύρω από τους Ghost δεν μπήκα στον κόπο να συμμετάσχω, ούτε καν για να τρολάρω – η κουβέντα παραήταν ηλίθια ακόμα και για το δικό μου χαμηλό πήχυ: Όλοι εσείς που σκοτωθήκατε για το αν οι Ghost είναι metal ή όχι3, αν το hype είναι καλό ή κακό πράγμα4 και αν η αμφίεση του Cardinal Copia είναι καλύτερη ή χειρότερη αυτής του «προκατόχου» του5, ακούσατε τα σπουδαία ΤΡΑΓΟΥΔΙΑ; Δώσατε καμία βάση στους ε-ξ-α-ι-ρ-ε-τ-ι-κ-ο-ύ-ς στίχους και στο τι αλληγορίες μπορεί να κρύβονται πίσω από το Μεσαιωνικό concept; Όχι ε; Εσείς χάνετε. Metal ή όχι, με hype ή χωρίς, ο δίσκος γαμάει στεγνά. 
          1. Υπάρχει.
          2. Ο Billy Joel φυσικά.
          3. Είναι.
          4. Εξαρτάται.
          5. Στα παπάρια μας.

3. MARIANNE FAITHFULL – Negative Capability
Pop star στα 17. Σύμβολο του σεξ, σύντροφος του Mick Jagger και πέτρα σκανδάλου στα 20. Ανορεκτική junkie και παρ’ ολίγον αυτόχειρας στα 24. Τουλάχιστον τρεις φορές, αν όχι περισσότερες, θεωρήθηκε «καμένο χαρτί» από τη μουσική βιομηχανία αλλά πέτυχε comebacks. 72 ετών σήμερα κυκλοφορεί το 21o της άλμπουμ, ποζάρει στο εξώφυλλο ως grande dame κρατώντας μπαστούνι (ελέω αρθρίτιδας), συν-συνθέτει με τους Nick Cave, Mark Lanegan και Ed Harcourt, διασκευάζει Dylan, Pretty Things αλλά και τον εαυτό της, και τραγουδάει για τον θάνατο με τρόπο μοναδικό. Αν ήμουν ο Χάρος πάντως θα έμενα μακριά από τη Faithfull, με τέτοιες γυναίκες δεν παίζεις.

2. TY SEGALL – Freedom's Goblin
75 λεπτά που περνάνε σαν μάθημα της ιστορίας του rock ‘n’ roll: Ο Segall εδώ είναι πραγματικά ασυγκράτητος περνώντας σα σίφουνας από το garage rock στη soul, από το punk στο hard rock, από το funk στην pop και από το space rock στο glam, γι’ αυτόν η απόσταση από τους Crazy Horse στον Prince και από κει στους Who και μετά στον Marc Bolan εκμηδενίζεται. H φοβερή fuzz-αριστή κιθάρα του σε πρώτο πλάνο και από πίσω σαξόφωνα, εξωτικά κρουστά-drum machines-cowbells, Fender Rhodes, Moog, γυναικεία φωνητικά, της Παναγιάς τα μάτια, κανένα όριο, όλα χύμα, όλα μέσα και κυρίως όλα στην υπηρεσία του fun – ναι, αυτός είναι ο πιο fun δίσκος του 2018.

1. WILLIE NILE – Children Of Paradise
Πιθανότατα η μοναδική λίστα παγκοσμίως που έχει το συγκεκριμένο άλμπουμ στο #1 αλλά κάτι μου έκανε κλικ και σίγουρα είναι ο δίσκος που άκουσα περισσότερες φορές φέτος, με διαφορά. Ένας εβδομηντάχρονος Νεοϋορκέζος cult ήρωας διδάσκει σε όλους τους πιτσιρικάδες πώς πρέπει να παίζεται το ροκ το σωστό, το πρόστυχο: Uptempo ύμνοι για υψωμένες στον αέρα γροθιές (“Seeds Of A Revolution”). Ποίηση του δρόμου στα πρότυπα των Reed/Springsteen (“All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go”). Απλοϊκά σλόγκαν που, τοποθετημένα πάνω σε οργισμένα punk-rocking riffs, φαντάζουν τη στιγμή της ροκάδικης γκάβλας σου από Μαρκούζε και πάνω (“Don’t”). Κι όσο για τον στίχο “I love you more than anything, even more than rock ‘n’ roll”: η ζωή μου όλη σε δώδεκα λέξεις.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Before The List Edition


ANDERSON .PAAK – Oxnard
Dr. Dre executive produces, Kendrick Lamar guests, so .Paak is officially G-Funk/hip-hop royalty now. (7)

CHRIS CORNELL – Chris Cornell

Comprehensive posthumous 4-disc box set featuring tracks by Soundgarden, Temple Of The Dog, Audioslave, his solo career, rarities and 11 unreleased tracks proving that this guy’s voice was the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll weapon. A must-have even if you already own most of this stuff. (9)

CONCEPTION – My Dark Symphony

Well we don’t really have Queensryche anymore, do we? (7)

DAN REED NETWORK – Origins

Four new songs and four old hits re-recorded live in the studio by a band once described as “Bon Jovi meets Prince”, but here sounds more like “Chic meets King’s X”. (7)

JD McPHERSON – Socks

Fun Christmas-themed rockabilly originals by McPherson will surely bring a smile to your face. (7)

LARKIN POE – Venom & Faith

This is not your father’s blues record, it’s a wild stomp through the muddy banks of the Mississippi river with Dr Martens on. (9)

LAURA JANE GRACE & THE DEVOURING MOTHERS – Bought to Rot

Against Me! leader’s side project releases fantastic album combining her day’s job’s emotional punk with 70’s Bowie/Reed glam rock elements and her complicated personal life. Funny and devastating at the same time. (8)

MUSE – Simulation Theory

In case you ever wondered what would’ve happened if Giorgio Moroder had produced a Queen album between “The Game” and “Hot Space”. (7)

NEMANJA RADULOVIC – Baika

Classical music for people who don’t listen to classical music, Serbian star violinist takes us on a wonderful Eastern-flavored journey featuring compositions by Khachaturian, Rimsky-Korsakov etc. (8)

REO SPEEDWAGON – The Early Years 1971-1977

I have a soft spot for these guys and this 8-disc box set is a treasure for all classic rock fans – the band’s first 6 studio albums, some of them hard to find, plus 1977’s double live. Forget the 80’s ballads, this is the meat ‘n’ potatoes rock you cannot not love. (8)

SMITHEREENS – Covers

Vastly underrated and presumably sadly missed since Pat DiNizio’s death, The Smithereens’ likely swan song has the power-pop quartet covering its favorite songs. Previously available on iTunes, first time on CD, plays like the coolest jukebox ever. (8)

Monday, 5 November 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, November 2018


BLACKBERRY SMOKE – The Southern Ground Sessions
Acoustic versions of five songs off their last album “Find A Light”, plus a cover of Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky”. Amanda Shires guests. Fans will love this. (7)

DEAD CAN DANCE – Dionysus

A worthy addition to this great band’s discography, closer to 1998’s “Spiritchaser” than to any of their other albums. Oh, and it’s a concept album. (8)

DR. FEELGOOD – Live At The BBC

Legendary pub rockers in early-career live recording that just saw the light of day. It does capture their manic on-stage energy but if you’re a Dr. Feelgood newbie you’re probably better off checking out “Stupidity” first, their legendary hit live album recorded a couple of years down the road in 1976. (7) 

JULIA HOLTER – Aviary

The beautiful orchestral chamber pop of 2015’s excellent “Have You In My Wilderness” gives way to an impressionistic, complex, cacophonous 90-minute epic representation of the chaotic world we live in. An album much easier to admire than to actually enjoy. (7)

MARIANNE FAITHFULL – Negative Capability

She’s lived the fullest life possible and now at 71 she releases an album of meditations on death, eerily reminiscent of Leonard Cohen’s swan song. It’s fantastic, but the main reason I’m reviewing it is to point out that Warrior Soul’s Kory Clarke has always sounded EXACTLY like Faithfull. (8)

MAVERICKS – Hey! It’s Christmas!

Eight originals and a couple of covers on a very happy-sounding Christmas album blending country, swing, rockabilly and latin music, this will definitely put you in a festive mood. (7)

PISTOL ANNIES – Interstate Gospel

Top-notch songwriting, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes both at the same time. These ladies just released the finest country record of 2018. (9)

RODNEY CROWELL – Christmas Everywhere

This is not a happy Christmas album like the one by the Mavericks. This is a realistic Christmas album by one of country music’s lesser known true heroes, starring dysfunctional couples, depressed loners and drunken idiot relatives. (7)

STEVEN WILSON – Home Invasion: In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall

145 minutes of Steven Wilson live with a great track listing and amazing sound quality from the guy who, whether you like it or not, singlehandedly keeps progressive rock alive in the 21st century. (8)

THE OCEAN – Phanerozoic I: Paleozoic

Like a prog Neurosis but with a degree in Paleontology and less facial hair. (7)

TY SEGALL – Fudge Sandwich

Garage rocker covers an eclectic bunch of his favorite songs (War, Spencer Davis Group, John Lennon, Funkadelic, Neil Young, Gong, Amon Duul II etc.) and truly makes them his own. (8)

WARREL DANE – Shadow Work

Closer to the Nevermore sound than anyone would’ve hope for but it’s not the same without Jeff Loomis, is it? (7)

WHITEY MORGAN & THE 78’S – Hard Times And White Lines

Whitey Morgan sounds like he was born in a roadhouse, or at least like he'll die in one. (7)

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, October 2018


THE HARDER STUFF

BEHEMOTH – I Loved You At Your Darkest

Probably the most despicably evil-sounding thing you’ll hear all year. (8)

DISTURBED – Evolution

David Draiman said that this is their own “Black Album” and I guess he means there’s ballads this time around. The heavier songs on “Evolution” are solid but the aforementioned ballads sort of suck, and unfortunately there’s too many of ‘em. (6)

HIGH ON FIRE – Electric Messiah

If you like Motorhead, Black Sabbath, Slayer, and smoking dope, then your favorite album for 2018 has just been released. (8)

SACRAL RAGE – Beyond Celestial Echoes

Excellent second effort from Greek tech-speed metal quartet, sort of a cross between Watchtower and Helstar that ends up sounding like Annihilator but better than Annihilator has sounded in 25 years. (8)

SATAN’S SATYRS – The Lucky Ones

Some ties to Electric Wizard but sounding more like Fu Manchu on this one. (7)

SHINING – Animal

WTF moment of the month is when you put on an album by an artist you know really well and love, and within seconds you wonder if this is a different band that just happens to have the same name. Saxophone gone, brutal vocals gone, experimental blackjazz gone, this is basically a party rock record. And a good one too. (8)

STEVE PERRY – Traces

Legendary Journey frontman returns a quarter of a century after falling off the face of the planet, but the songwriting simply does not deliver. Good to see however that the apostrophes in the song titles are still in place (Erasin’, Cryin’, Somethin’ etc.) (6)

THE BLACK QUEEN – Infinite Games

Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato in Depeche Mode cosplay. (6)

TOM MORELLO – The Atlas Underground

RATM guitarist ventures out of his comfort zone with a strange EDM/rock hybrid featuring gazillions of guests from DJ Steve Aoki to Marcus Mumford to Gary Clark Jr. to Killer Mike. It works, sometimes. (7)

TOURNIQUET – Gazing At Medusa

Self-described as “Beethoven meets Frankenstein”, this Christian prog-thrash band has deservedly earned a rabid cult following and releases another great album. (8)

UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS - Wasteland

Everything is vastly improved on the occult/vintage hard rock band’s new album, their best, except the guy’s vocals and the crap production which are just as annoying as ever. Nods to early Maiden welcome. (7)


THE OTHER STUFF


ARETHA FRANKLIN – The Atlantic Singles Collection 1967-1970
(10)

BOTTLE ROCKETS – Bit Logic

Best southern/country rock band around at the moment alongside Blackberry Smoke. (8)

COLIN STETSON – The First: Original Soundtrack Vol. 1

On the heels of “Hereditary”, yet another excellent soundtrack work from avant-garde saxophonist Colin Stetson – this time for a new TV series developed by the team behind “House Of Cards” and starring Sean Penn. (8)

ELVIS COSTELLO & THE IMPOSTERS – Look Now

A mostly welcome return to the chamber pop sound of 1982’s “Imperial Bedroom”. (7)

ERIC CHURCH – Desperate Man

A country star who grew up on rock ‘n’ roll, Church releases throwback to 70’s country rock from the Allman Brothers to Jackson Browne and it’s probably his best album to date. (8)

ESPERANZA SPALDING – 12 Little Spells

I’ve previously said that Esperanza Spalding is like Kate Bush and Jaco Pastorius rolled into one. Well, you can add Kurt Weill and Prince into that equation. Wow. (9)

JOHN GRANT – Love Is Magic

Grant goes full-on electropop and most of the time sounds like he’s taking the piss. Certainly less satisfying than 2015’s excellent “Grey Tickles, Black Pressure”. (6)

MARISSA NADLER – For My Crimes

You’ll like Marissa Nadler if you like Sharon Van Etten, but probably not as much. (7)

NENEH CHERRY – Broken Politics

Cherry goes political, singing about gun violence and the global refugee crisis over a soundtrack of mostly ambient electronic beats that sound like a cross between Massive Attack (whose 3D collaborates here) and Four Tet (whose Kieran Hebden produces). (7)

PHOSPHORESCENT – C’Est La Vie

You’ll like Phosphorescent if you like The War On Drugs, but probably not as much. (7)

SAM PHILLIPS – World On Sticks

You’ve heard Sam Phillips even if you don’t know it as her music is all over the best TV series ever. Her “Martinis & Bikinis” album is a Desert Island Disc for this writer, and her new one is another delightful slice of Americana. Oh, and “Different Shades Of Light” is the best song you’ll hear this year. (8)

THE CRYSTAL METHOD – The Trip Home

Very late-90’s sounding electronica, RYIL the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim etc. (7)

THE NECKS – Body

Ambient jazz trio discover their inner rockers on their 20th studio album consisting of one 57-minute long piece. Listening to the whole thing, feel the tension build up until the glorious motorik post-rock orgasm comes somewhere around the middle. (8)

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews: Back To School 2018-19


AARON LEE TASJAN – Karma For Cheap
His previous album, 2016’s Gram Parsons-informed “Silver Tears”, might as well be my favorite record of the last 5 years. “Karma For Cheap” rocks a bit harder in Tom Petty mode, and it’s a solid effort compared to practically anything except its predecessor. (8)

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO – The Crossing

A fantastic concept album about immigrants in the USA. Now 67, Escovedo manages to release what is probably the best album in his distinguished, long career, coming across as a Tex-Mex Springsteen. Guests include Joe Ely and Wayne Kramer. (8)

EMINEM – Kamikaze

When did everyone start to hate this guy? I think he’s OK and in any case his flow is flawless. (7)

FUCKED UP – Dose Your Dreams

Ridiculously ambitious double concept album featuring strings, saxophones, choirs and J. Mascis. The verdict’s still out on this one as I need a few more spins, but it’s certainly bonkers. (anything from 6 to 9)

JOAN SHELLEY – Rivers And Vessels

One of the most interesting folkies currently around covers Nick Drake, J.J. Cale, Dolly Parton etc. on this EP also featuring guest duets with Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Julia Purcell. (7)

MARC RIBOT – Songs Of Resistance 1942-2018

Adventurous journeyman guitarist plus guest vocalists attack Trump through protest songs from the US Civil Rights Movement, anti-fascist WWII tunes etc., also some originals. Tom Waits sings “Bella Ciao”. (8)

MARK LANEGAN & DUKE GARWOOD – With Animals

Mark Lanegan once released an album titled “Blues Funeral”. I’m officially launching an Internet campaign to demand that all Mark Lanegan albums are retitled “Blues Funeral”, it works for every single one including this one. (7)

ODETTA HARTMAN – Old Rockhounds Never Die

Plenty of artists today are trying to push the boundaries of Americana with production experiments but none is as out there as Hartman, whose songs manage to maintain a hypnotic quality while often sounding like snippets of genius ideas rather than finished tracks. (7)

PAUL SIMON – In The Blue Light

Simon revisits/reimagines 10 overlooked deep cuts from his back catalogue to coincide with his farewell tour. Fans will love this. (8)

RICHARD THOMPSON – 13 Rivers

An extraordinarily impressive return to his rock persona, on “13 Rivers” Thompson sounds more like Bob Mould’s twice-as-talented dad (and you know I’m a huge Bob Mould fan) than like Fairport Convention’s guitarist. A fantastic set of songs. (9)

SPIRITUALIZED – And Nothing Hurt

Sounds like a middle-aged version of “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space” but that’s not a bad thing for a middle-aged reviewer such as yours truly. Space rocker Jason Pierce fought death and came out triumphant, and if this is (as rumored) his last album then it’s a perfect epilogue to his career. (8)

SUPERSUCKERS – Suck It

Not even cancer can stop Eddie Spaghetti – the Supersuckers are back with another excellent Motorhead-meets-Steve Earle rock ‘n’ roll juggernaut. Very funny lyrics too. (8)

SUSANA BACA & ARGELIA FRAGOSO – Quiereme

Peruvian Latin music diva meets Cuban Latin music diva on wonderful jazz-tinged easy listening album. I could listen to this on repeat for hours. (8)

THE DEVIL MAKES THREE – Chains Are Broken

Yee-haw! The Devil makes four, actually, now that they have a full-time drummer on board, and their rockabilly-flavored Americana has never been as fun as it is on this album. (8)

THE LEMON TWIGS – Go To School

WTF rock musical about a chimpanzee raised by humans. Features Todd Rundgren as the chimp’s father, Jody Stephens from Big Star on drums, and a couple of jokes about bananas. (7)

THRICE – Palms

Album #10 by post-hardcore Californians shifts the sound towards a more melodic approach. Can you imagine a cross between the Deftones and Hot Water Music? (7)

Friday, 14 September 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Heavy Edition


ALICE IN CHAINS – Rainier Fog
Grunge by proxy, metalheads deep down, on new release that will keep the fanbase happy. (7)

ALKALINE TRIO – Is This Thing Cursed

Pop-punk veterans still in pretty good shape. (7)

AUTHOR & PUNISHER – Beastland

One-man industrial metal band Author & Punisher and his handmade robot noisemakers return with yet another skull-crushing collection of Godflesh-meets-NIN tracks. (7)

CLUTCH – Book Of Bad Decisions

Textbook definition of what hard rock should sound like. A couple of songs too long though. (8)

ENUFF ZNUFF – Diamond Boy

Cult power-pop heroes erroneously marketed as glam metal back in the day provide another set of catchy Cheap Trick-esque ditties. Guitarist Chip also assumes vocal duties as singer Donnie is M.I.A. Not bad, but do yourself a favor and listen to their fantastic 1989-2003 albums. (7)

NASHVILLE PUSSY – Pleased To Eat You

It’s a Nashville Pussy album so what did you expect? Of course it’s about dope, guns, and fucking in the streets. (7)

PRIMITIVE MAN & UNEARTHLY TRANCE – Split

Imagine someone drilling a hole in your cranium with a Black+Decker but instead of, say, a normal speed of 1000 RPM, this drill operates at 4 RPM. (666)

SATAN – Cruel Magic

A combination of great guitar work and piss-poor production gives this album an air of NWOBHM authenticity, not that they need it. Jump right in if you’re into old-school heavy metal. (7)

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES – Still Cyco Punk After All These Years

I wonder what Dave Lombardo’s salary is, if Mike Muir is using him as the only selling point for rehashing old material. (6)

SUMAC – Love In Shadow

Crushingly heavy yet strangely melodic this will certainly appeal to fans of previous bands these guys have been in, the most prominent of which was Isis. (8)

Thursday, 9 August 2018

10 Χρόνια Κομμάτια

Από εδώ ξεκίνησαν όλα.

Είμαστε οι πρώτοι κι ακολουθάνε αναστημένοι χίλιοι νεκροί / Νέοι καιροί ξημερώνουνε πάλι, να η φωτιά, να η ζωή

1977. Είμαι 9 ετών, η οικογένεια ετοιμάζεται να μεταναστεύσει, από τη Λευκωσία στο West Lafayette της Indiana. Ο πατέρας μου ζητάει από το δισκοπώλη της γωνίας να του γράψει σε κασέτες κάποιους δίσκους για να πάρει μαζί του στις ΗΠΑ, εγώ αναλαμβάνω να μεταφέρω τις παραγγελιές στο δισκοπώλη και να παραλάβω τις αντιγραμμένες κασέτες.

Ο μπαμπάς Ελληνικά ακούει αλλά δεν είναι του λαϊκού, μέχρι Ξαρχάκο φτάνει. Θυμάμαι εκείνες τις κασέτες: Σπανός με Αλέκα Κανελλίδου. Χατζηνάσιος με Μπέσυ-Πασχάλη-Ουίλλιαμς-Μαριάννα Τόλη (LP χτισμένο γύρω από το Γιουροβιζιονικό σουξέ "Μάθημα Σολφέζ"). Και το "10 Χρόνια Κομμάτια" του Διονύση Σαββόπουλου.

Στα γήπεδα η Ελλάδα αναστενάζει, στα καφενεία μπιλιάρδο, καλαμπούρι και χαρτί

Δύσκολες μέρες στις ΗΠΑ. Μόλις έχω αρχίσει να μαθαίνω Αγγλικά αλλά είμαι αναγκασμένος να πάω Δ' Δημοτικού σε Αγγλόφωνο σχολείο, μοναδικός non-native speaker στην τάξη. Στο διάλειμμα τα παιδιά παίζουν softball και american football που δεν ξέρω ούτε καν τους κανόνες, όχι ποδόσφαιρο ή μακριά γαϊδούρα. Όλοι οι συμμαθητές μου έχουν έγχρωμη τηλεόραση εκτός από εμένα, εμείς μόνο μια μικρή ασπρόμαυρη μπορούσαμε να πάρουμε. Bullying. Όλα μου φαίνονται ξένα κι εχθρικά, κάθε μέρα γυρνάω από το σχολείο και αποσύρομαι μπροστά σε ένα φτηνό κασετόφωνο, δική μου μουσική δεν έχω ακόμα αλλά οι Ελληνικές κασέτες του μπαμπά είναι η διέξοδός μου, μια χωροχρονική σκουλικότρυπα που με γυρίζει μερικούς μήνες πίσω σε ένα μέρος πιο γνώριμο και ζεστό, πιο ασφαλές. Αγαπημένη μου από όλες, αυτή του Σαββόπουλου.

Η ζωή μου έχει γεμίσει μυστικά, στους διαδρόμους ψευδομάρτυρες καπνίζουν / Και οι φίλοι με κερνούν ναρκωτικά, και το κόμμα με τραβάει απ' το μανίκι.

Μεγαλώνοντας στην Κύπρο χούντα δεν έζησα, και ειδικά στην ηλικία των 9 είναι φυσικά αδύνατο να συλλάβω τα βαθύτερα πολιτικά νοήματα μέσα σε αυτά τα τραγούδια, ή να καταλάβω σε τι στο διάολο αναφέρεται ο Σαββόπουλος στα μικρά λογύδρια ανάμεσα στα τραγούδια όταν μιλάει για τη συγκέντρωση της ΕΦΕΕ ή για νεκροζώντανους στο Κύτταρο και σκηνές ροκ. Ξέρω όμως ότι αυτά τα τραγούδια είναι πολύ διαφορετικά από ο,τιδήποτε άλλο στη μικρή δισκοθήκη του πατέρα μου στο West Lafayette, αναγνωρίζω ότι έχουν βάθος και μιλούν για πράγματα ΣΗΜΑΝΤΙΚΑ (κι ας μην έχω ιδέα ποια είναι αυτά) και δεν μπορώ να σταματήσω να τα ακούω.

Επί δώδεκα μήνες το '77-'78 πρέπει να άκουσα το "10 Χρόνια Κομμάτια" γύρω στις 500 φορές, κάθε μέρα, κάποιες μέρες δυο και τρεις φορές. Ο Σαββόπουλος ήταν ο φάρος και το σωσίβιό μου το 1977, ο Σαββόπουλος με έκανε να αγαπήσω τη μουσική, ήταν η πρώτη μου επαφή με το ροκ όχι μόνο ως ήχο αλλά και ως φιλοσοφία. Ο Σαββόπουλος μου άλλαξε τη ζωή. Ίσως και να μου την έσωσε.



Friday, 3 August 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Summer Holiday Edition


AMANDA SHIRES – To The Sunset
Long before becoming Jason Isbell’s wife, muse and savior, Shires was already an established musician in her own right and this is probably her most inspired solo album. Isbell holds a supporting role playing guitar and uber-producer Dave Cobb plays the bass but this is definitely a rock band Shires leads here, not a country band. (8)

DARON MALAKIAN & SCARS ON BROADWAY – Dictator
Daron tries really hard but without you-know-who this ends up sounding like a somewhat incomplete version of the “Hypnotize/Mesmerize” SOAD follow-up that never was. (7)

JEFFREY FOUCAULT – Blood Brothers
Country rock troubadour delivers an album decidedly more subdued than his previous couple of releases, chock-full of wonderful melodies and introspective lyrics. Americana fans please take note. (7)

LUCERO – Among The Ghosts
The diversity of artists bunched up under the “Americana” label is so vast that’s it’s impossible to define the genre, so let’s just say that this falls more towards the Tom Petty end of the spectrum rather than the Alison Krauss one. (7)

MIKE PATTON – 1922 (OST)
Soundtrack for Netflix adaptation of a Stephen King novella. Haven’t read the story or seen the movie, but the music sounds like John Carpenter fucking Angelo Badalamenti in the ass. (7)

PUNCH BROTHERS – All Ashore
Progressive bluegrass (prograss? Avant grass? Post-grass?). Strange band, strange album, sometimes beautiful but also a bit cold and distant in its acoustic string instrument virtuosity. (7)

SCREAMING JETS – Gotcha Covered
The world’s third best band with a name starting with the word “Screaming” covers other Aussie bands (Easybeats, Radiators, Men At Work, Hoodoo Gurus, Radio Birdman, Angels, INXS, Dragon, AC/DC of course…) and provides ultimate proof that Aussie rock is the world’s third best rock. (8)

THE RECORD COMPANY – All Of This Life
Rocking like a harder-edged Black Keys and occasionally venturing into Foghat/Five Horse Johnson boogie territory with some monster slide guitar, these guys will certainly shake your booty. (8)

ULTRAPHONIX – Original Human Music
Soulful, bluesy hard rock by the unlikely combination of George Lynch (Dokken) and Corey Glover (Living Colour) plus a kick-ass rhythm section. (7)

WILLIE NILE – Children Of Paradise
Can’t believe this guy just turned 70, he sounds like a young Joe Strummer doing a “Born To Run”-era Springsteen impression. This is truly a kick-ass album, probably the best batch of pure rock ‘n’ roll songs you’ll hear all year, definitely the best soundtrack to your summer holiday. (9)

Friday, 13 July 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, July 2018

THE HARDER STUFF

CONVERGE – Beautiful Ruin

Surprise EP, 4 songs, 7 minutes. Obviously left off the band’s last album for being much punkier and not fitting that tracklisting. It will melt your face off. (7)

DEAFHEAVEN – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

You can talk about “hipster metal” all you want but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a fuckin’ monster of an album, emotionally reaching deep and hitting home in so many different ways. Perhaps even better than “Sunbather” – don’t even bother with the “yes but is it metal?” debate, just open your ears and LISTEN for a change. (9)

FATES WARNING – Live Over Europe

Half this blog’s readers are metalheads, for a minute there I felt the need to justify this album’s score for the other half’s benefit but decided not to. (10)

LUCIFER – II

This time around Gaz Jennings (Cathedral) has been replaced by Johanna Sadonis’s beau, Nicke Andersson, so naturally the sound on “II” doesn’t just rock like on the debut, it rolls too. (8)

THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA – Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough

Less guitars, more keyboards, a touch of disco this time around. The songwriting remains top-notch and you’re unlikely to hear a better AOR record this year, but I prefer the previous, harder-edged albums. (7)


THE OTHER STUFF

CHARLES LLOYD & THE MARVELS FEATURING LUCINDA WILLIAMS – Vanished Gardens

Wow. Essentially a jazz combo but one that instills its bebop with southern roots rock brings respected singer/songwriter along for the ride. This is beautiful. (8)

COWBOY JUNKIES – All That Reckoning

A band responsible for a whole genre – Americana was born when the Cowboy Junkies decided to take country music’s roots and kick ’em in the butt by throwing some Leonard Cohen and Velvet Underground into the mix. And 30 years down the road, they release one of their best albums. (8)

JIM JAMES – Uniform Distortion

Solo album by My Morning Jacket mainman is a straightforward rock ‘n’ roll affair, the fuzzy way Neil Young goes straightforward rock ‘n’ roll sometimes. (7)

KAMASI WASHINGTON – The Choice

Bonus EP hidden in the center gatefold of physical vinyl copies of last month’s release “Heaven And Earth”, now available on streaming services as well. Same maximalistic approach to jazz, plus a lovely cover of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”. (8)

KINKY FRIEDMAN – Circus Of Life

Kinky’s certainly an interesting character and a very funny guy. He’s also a competent songwriter, if you’re into the Willie Nelson School of country music. (7)

THE END – Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen

Definitely uneasy listening, this is a noise/jazz/rock hybrid featuring two baritone saxophones and avant-garde singer Sofia Jernberg. If John Zorn had married Diamanda Galas, the band formed by their kids would probably sound something like this. (7)

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, June 2018 Part II


BEYONCE & JAY-Z (THE CARTERS) – Everything Is Love
The surprise album drop thing is getting a bit tired and so is their idea of turning their marriage into a reality show and mending it publicly through their albums: Beyonce’s “Lemonade” accusation was great, Jay-Z’s “4:44” apology was OK, but third time around I’ve got very few fucks left to give about this “we’re fine now” joint effort. (6)

DEATH GRIPS – Year Of The Snitch

This is Death Grips’ “Kid A”, too weird for me. (6)

FANTASTIC NEGRITO – Please Don’t Be Dead

From the Led Zep-infused “Plastic Hamburgers” to the “Come Together”-isms of “Bad Guy Necessity”, from “A Boy Named Andrew”’s exotic hook to the chilling “A Cold November Street” and the funky “Bullshit Anthem”, this guy’s singlehandedly dragging the blues kicking and screaming into the 21st century. (8)

HERE LIES MAN – You Will Know Nothing

Afrobeat meets superfuzzed, bigmuffed proto-metal. (7)

HOWLIN’ RAIN – The Alligator Bride

Bandleader Ethan Miller has described this album as “Neil Cassady rock” and I say he’s spot on. RYIL Ethan Johns and Ethan Hawke. (8)

KAMASI WASHINGTON – Heaven & Earth

I don’t know much about jazz but I know what sounds good, and this sounds GREAT. More than a jazz saxophonist, Washington is a genius arranger/bandleader who’s not afraid to venture into Stevie Wonder/Isaac Hayes soul/pop territory as he’s more about solid songwriting rather than just technical dexterity. (8)

KHEMMIS – Desolation

The yin to Pallbearer’s yang in leading the U.S. doom metal resurgence, these guys go full-on Epic (with a capital “E”) metal on their third album. Great guitars, much improved clean vocals, highly recommended. (8)

NINE INCH NAILS – Bad Witch

Most likely it’s an existential thing but somehow I can never give Trent Reznor anything less than a (7)

ORANGE GOBLIN – The Wolf Bites Back

Not sure why they’re still stuck with the “stoner” label (which they seem to be perfectly happy with, BTW) since, really, these are the children of Motorhead. (7)

WILKO JOHNSON – Blow Your Mind

Wilko didn’t die, he’s back to kick some ass and he sounds VERY alive. His guitar playing remains awesome, his band is rockin’, too bad he can’t really sing so minus one point. (7)

Friday, 8 June 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, June 2018


THE HARDER STUFF

GHOST – Prequelle

It’s so refreshing to find a metal musician with a brain inside his head that I want to give him a 10 just for that, let alone the tunes being catchier than the Black Plague he sings about. (9)

GRAVEYARD – Peace

If this album is any indication there was no reason for the band’s break-up, they just seem to have picked it up from where they had left it, only the drummer’s different. Apart from that, it’s the same competent retro pseudo-70’s boogie/garage rock. (7)

PANEGYRIST – Hierurgy

Devoutly Christian black metal (!?) with epic undertones sounds surprisingly better than expected, sort of like a cross between Arcturus and Bathory. (7)

REFUSED – Servants Of Death

2016 Record Store Day EP from an all-time great punk band now available to all on streaming services. Includes live tracks and a rare B-side. (8)

YOB – Our Raw Heart

Skull-crushing doom metal, dense, cathartic. (8)

ZEAL & ARDOR – Stranger Fruit

When the debut came out in 2016 we expressed the opinion that if he skipped the DIY and got a real drummer he’d be capable of greatness. So he went out and hired Kurt Ballou and a real drummer and he came up with greatness, not straying from his unique satanic black metal/gospel mash-up style but more, well, satanic. (8)


THE OTHER STUFF


COLIN STETSON – Hereditary (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Scary sounds for this year’s scariest movie. (8)

FATHER JOHN MISTY – God’s Favorite Customer

Officially released more than a month after being leaked, this still sounds pretty great a month later and it's a lot poppier than his previous one. Play it for the songs, not for the hype. (8)

JOHN PARISH – Bird Dog Dante

Adventurous guitarist, producer extraordinaire and long-time PJ Harvey collaborator returns with first solo album in a very long time. Polly Jean guests of course, and so does Aldous Harding. Very different from PJ’s own stuff but somehow appealing to the same ears. (7)

KANYE WEST – Ye

He’s lost it. Let’s hope he gets it back. (6)

LUMP – Lump

Beloved indie-folk star Laura Marling partners with producer Mike Lindsay for a series of dreamlike improvisations. Nice. (7)

NATALIE PRASS – The Future And The Past

On her better 2015 debut she sounded like she wanted to be the indie-rock Dusty Springfield, this time around she sounds like she wants to be the indie-rock Grace Jones doing theme songs for Disney soundtracks or something. (6)

NEKO CASE – Hell-On

Case is very different from every other female singer-songwriter out there and cannot be compared to anyone else. It’s not “Americana”, it’s not rock, it’s not country or folk, I really don’t know how to label this but I know these songs go deep and demand multiple listens. Mark Lanegan, k.d. lang and a whole bunch of others guest. (7)

THE LAST POETS – Understand What Black Is

Forefathers of rap return 50 years after the group’s inception and 21 years since their last studio album, and they’ve got plenty to say on this spoken word/reggae/jazz hybrid. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Late Night Tales: Agnes Obel

I love this artist-curated compilation series, and Obel’s “mixtape” is among the most eclectic of the bunch with tracks by Henry Mancini, Lee Hazlewood, Yello, Lena Platonos, Ray Davies, Can etc. blending seamlessly into a beautiful collection of music. (8)

Friday, 18 May 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, May 2018 Vol. II


AMENT – Heaven / Hell
Pearl Jam bassist releases solo album, and this sounds EXACTLY like what you’d expect a solo album by a prominent Seattle grunge figure now in his 50’s to sound like. (7)

ARCTIC MONKEYS – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

“Tranquility Base” is the name of the spot on the Moon where the Apollo 11 landed in 1969. This album sounds just about as lively as a Hotel & Casino located there. (5)

AT THE GATES – To Drink From The Night Itself

A much stronger album than 2014’s “At War With Reality”, this is At The Gates REALLY showing their metalcore offspring how to do the brutal/melodic thing right. (8)

BEACH SLANG – Everything Matters But No One Is Listening

Both proper Beach Slang albums have made the Music Geek’s indisputably awesome year-end Lists in 2015 and 2016 respectively, so I guess that makes me a mega-fan. This collection of acoustic re-workings of older songs, however, heavily reliant on piano and cello and released under the moniker Quiet Slang, is interesting but sort of defeats the purpose by getting rid of the loud guitars and punk energy that made the band so great in the first place. (6)

BURN THE PRIEST – Legion XX

This is basically Lamb Of God revisiting their roots and releasing their own “Undisputed Attitude”. Includes covers of songs originally recorded by The Accused, Melvins, Big Black, S.O.D., Bad Brains, Sliang Laos, Ministry, Agnostic Front, Quicksand and Cro-Mags. If you’re a fan, you need this. (8)

CARLA BOZULICH – Quieter

Bozulich must be a very unhappy person, she’s been making some rather disturbing music since the Geraldine Fibbers days but this one reaches misery levels on par with Lou Reed’s “Berlin”. (6)

GRETCHEN PETERS – Dancing With The Beast

Peters releases one of the best country albums of the year: Top-notch songwriting, killer storytelling, subtle rock overtones, this is on par with Kris Kristofferson’s best work and anything Jason Isbell has released in the last five years. (8)

JESS WILLIAMSON – Cosmic Wink

Sort of like Patti Smith being in love and doing a Dusty Springfield tribute. (7)

LOREENA McKENNITT – Lost Souls

Not sure if it’s cool to like McKennitt and her somewhat cheesy new age Celtic folk but I do, she always manages to melt the cynicism away from my cold black heart. (8)

RY COODER – The Prodigal Son

Now in his 70’s and better known as producer of the Buena Vista Social Club and for his soundtrack work (e.g. “Paris, Texas”), Cooder here proves that he’s still one of the world’s top slide guitarists, delivering an excellent blues/gospel record with a strong political message. (8)

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, May 2018

DYLAN CARLSON – Conquistador
Evoking cinematic images of tumbleweeds blowing across the desert and scorpions silently crawling out of dead coyote skulls, this not only fits neatly into the Earth/Carlson canon but is, simply put, epic! (8)

ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER – Rebound

Fact: The album took its title from a goth club in Athens that apparently left an impression on Friedberger. I haven’t been to Rebound in almost 30 years because I always felt miserable in there (but maybe that’s the whole point of goth clubs), the problem is I didn’t have much of a better time listening to this album. (6)

FATHER JOHN MISTY – God’s Favorite Customer

The hipster’s hipster decided that he wants to be Elton John. That’s not a bad thing. Leaked a month ahead of the release date, we might have to revisit this one. (8)

FRANK TURNER – Be More Kind

Turner’s most accessible production and a bunch of great songs oscillating between the political and the personal, sometimes poppy, sometimes punky, sometimes folky. I really love this guy. (8)

IHSAHN – Amr

Prog rock with a black metal heart and a healthy sprinkling of Carpenteresque synthesizers. (8)

JANELLE MONAE – Dirty Computer

The true heir to Prince’s throne as the most prominent figure in Afro-futuristic sex funk is a woman. Features special guests from the mythical (Brian Wilson) to the super-popular (Pharrell Williams). (8)

LOVE – Forever Changes (50th Anniversary Edition)
(10+)

PARKER MILLSAP – Other Arrangements

4th album by baby-faced Oklahoman with gruffy tenor voice and solid guitar chops, this one rocks a bit harder than his previous albums. RYIL either Johnny Cougar or John Mellencamp. (7)

RIOT V – Armor Of Light

I love heavy metal and Riot has always been one of my favorite heavy metal bands but going on without Mark Reale just doesn’t feel right, the production work on the constant in-your-face double-bass drumming here gets annoying after a while, and releasing the “Thundersteel” album with a different title for the fourth time doesn’t help things either. (6)

WILLIE NELSON – Last Man Standing

Yes he is, he’s 86 and this is his 67th studio album, it’s bittersweet and funny and an all-around great country record mostly about death, but actually he’s never sounded more alive than he does here. (8)

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews April 2018 Vol. II


THE HARDER STUFF

A PERFECT CIRCLE – Eat The Elephant

Third release 14 years after the second one marks a stylistic change, with the piano and keyboards being much more prominent on a solid prog album. The vocals act as methadone for all the Tool junkies who’ll wait another 10,000 days for an album by Keenan’s main band. (7)

BLACKBERRY SMOKE – Find A Light

This time they go full-on southern rock, channeling everyone from the Allman Brothers to the Black Crowes to the Georgia Satellites. (7)

MELVINS – Pinkus Abortion Technician

The grunge/sludge weirdos keep it fresh with another line-up twist – two bass players this time around, adding Jeff Pinkus from the Butthole Surfers to the mix. They also cover a couple of Surfers tunes on this one, hence the album title, and play a few originals as well, but what they’ve done to The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” is the top reason to listen to this. (7)

MUSTASCH – Silent Killer

People call them “stoner”. Dunno, this sounds like straight-up HEAVY METAL to me. (7)

SLEEP – The Sciences

Load the bong, roll the back-up joints, put FIFA 18 on the PlayStation, open a Pornhub tab and make sure there’s ice cream for the munchies in the fridge. All set! (7)

SPIDERS – Killer Machine

From Sweden but with a sound channeling Detroit punk through Sydney (MC5 / Radio Birdman), Spiders set themselves apart from the rest of their vintage-sounding compatriots as the true heirs to The Hellacopters’ throne. (8)

TESSERACT – Sonder

Probably the best TesseracT album to date musically, still not fond of the slick sissy vocals – when you’re grabbed by the throat with the a-la Fates Warning monster opening riff/groove of “Luminary”, the thin teenage Justin Timberlake voice that follows is a bit of a letdown. Nevertheless, for musicianship and songwriting: (7)

THE DAMNED – Evil Spirits

Dave Vanian & Captain Sensible still kicking it 40 years after their peers The Sex Pistols broke up and 36 years after the last good Clash record. “Evil Spirits” doesn’t sound very punk rock, it’s closer to their goth period with some 60’s garage psychedelia thrown in for good measure, but it’s competent and fun and produced by none other than Tony Visconti. (7)

THE WONDER YEARS – Sister Cities

A few years ago we might’ve called this emo or pop-punk. In 2018 I’ll just say that this is full of great rock songs and it’s the type of album a teenager can fall in unconditional love with and not be embarrassed about the fact 20 years down the road. (8)

THE OTHER STUFF

ASHLEY MONROE – Sparrow

“Produced by Dave Cobb” is a guarantee of top quality in country music today even though, as opposed to his more rootsy recent work with Chris Stapleton/Jason Isbell/Sturgill Simpson, Cobb takes Monroe the countrypolitan way with lush strings and smooth yacht-rocky orchestration. Songwriting and playing is top-notch all-around. (8)

BRAZILIAN GIRLS – Let’s Make Love

The very definition of sophisticated urban pop music and a welcome return after a decade AWOL. (7)

JOSH T. PEARSON – The Straight Hits!

Lift To Experience mainman/cult hero shaves off the beard and tries to create a straight rock record. Thank God he fails miserably at making straight rock because the guy’s brain is wired in a way that can only come up with weird shit, and I love this weird shit. Fun fact: The album’s titled “The Straight Hits!” because all songs feature the word “Straight” in the title, except “The Dire Straits Of Love”. Get it? (8)

LAURA VEIRS – The Lookout

A singer/songwriter’s singer/songwriter, Veirs delivers a nice set of intimate songs (let’s call it “Americana” for lack of a better term) on her 10th solo album. Special guests include Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Sufjan Stevens. (7)

OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW – Volunteer

Yet another Dave Cobb production – the guy’s becoming the Rick Rubin of Americana. But no big changes here, OCMS just keep on doing what they do best – play joyous old-time bluegrass music. (7)

SARAH SHOOK & THE DISARMERS – Years
If you like Lydia Loveless as much as I do, especially 2013-14 Lydia Loveless, then you’ll love Sarah Shook’s country-punk sound and “dangerous broad” attitude. (8)

SIMONE FELICE – The Projector

A stunning piece of work by one of the top lyricists around, a collection of haunting, dark songs that go head to head with Nick Cave’s best work and anything on Springsteen’s “Nebraska”. A revelation. (9)

THIEVERY CORPORATION – Treasures From the Temple

It’s a Thievery Corporation album, you know what it sounds like. (7)

TRAMPLED BY TURTLES – Life Is Good On The Open Road

A good month for bluegrass fans apparently – it’s not only the Old Crow Medicine Show who return with a new album, but also the Minnesota band with the best band name ever. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Johnny Cash: Forever Words

Based on Cash’s book “Forever Words”, his friends, relatives and fans put the Man In Black’s letters and poems to music of their own. Country stars Kacey Musgraves, Brad Paisley, Carlene Carter, Rosanne Cash etc. meet rockers like Chris Cornell, John Mellencamp and Elvis Costello. Touching. (7)

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)