Wednesday, 11 December 2019

20 Albums Για Το 2019

Άλλη μία χρονιά φτάνει στο τέλος της, άλλη μία ψυχαναγκαστική καταγραφή των μουσικών πεπραγμένων από τον Music Geek.

Πρώτα απ’ όλα όμως κάποιες σκέψεις: Ανήκω σε μια γενιά που μεγάλωσε μέσα στα δισκάδικα, οπότε με στενοχωρεί το ότι
  1. Υπάρχουν πλέον ελάχιστα δισκάδικα, και
  2. Μπαίνω μέσα στο Virgin Megastore στο Ντουμπάϊ π.χ. και βλέπω προς πώληση στα ράφια λιγότερα άλμπουμ απ’ όσα έχω στο σπίτι μου (δεν έχω τόσα όσα φαντάζεστε): CDs μόνο από megastars τύπου Adele και Taylor Swift ή συλλογές τύπου “Now That’s What I Call Music”, και βινύλια classics περασμένων δεκαετιών –  ό,τι αφορά δηλαδή τον ελάχιστο κοινό παρονομαστή: Από τα 20 άλμπουμ του 2019 που παρουσιάζω παρακάτω, ίσως 6 ή 7 είναι διαθέσιμα σε physical format σε μία πόλη 4 εκατομμυρίων κατοίκων.
Παρόλα αυτά το 2019 ήταν άλλη μια εξαιρετική χρονιά από πλευράς καλλιτεχνικής παραγωγής, επιβεβαιώνοντας ότι αυτό που έχει πεθάνει είναι ένα συγκεκριμένο business model, όχι η ανάγκη του ανθρώπου να εκφραστεί μέσα από τη μουσική. Και όσο και αν το νέο business model που στηρίζεται στο streaming λειτουργεί υπέρ του single και κατά του άλμπουμ, οι περισσότεροι καλλιτέχνες επιμένουν να δημιουργούν ολοκληρωμένα έργα.

Ακολουθούν λοιπόν λίγο παρακάτω τα 20 ολοκληρωμένα έργα που άκουσα περισσότερο μέσα στη χρονιά, πρώτα όμως οφείλουμε να δούμε την «εναλλακτική» εικοσάδα – κάποιους από τους καλλιτέχνες που θα δείτε σε πολλές άλλες λίστες φέτος, αλλά όχι σε αυτή του Music Geek:
  • ANGEL OLSEN διότι για λόγους που δεν μπορώ να εξήγησω, απλώς αποφάσισα ότι δεν θέλω ούτε καν να το ακούσω.
  • BIG THIEF διότι overrated.
  • BILL CALLAHAN διότι δεν φθονώ την σεξουαλική του προϊστορία όπως οι περισσότεροι άρρενες μουσικοκριτικοί fanboys.
  • BILLIE EILISH διότι ποιός είναι αυτός ο Billie Eilish;
  • BLOOD INCANTATION διότι μάλλον δεν είμαι πλέον χεβιμεταλλάς.
  • BRITTANY HOWARD διότι πολύ ωραίος δίσκος αλλά όχι για top-20, ίσως για top-30.
  • FKA TWIGS διότι δεν το πιάνω, είμαι υποκουλτουρικός.
  • FONTAINES D.C. διότι με το hype είμαι πάντα καχύποπτος (εκτός αν το δημιουργγώ εγώ).
  • LINGUA IGNOTA διότι εντυπωσιακό άλμπουμ για τη στιγμή που κυκλοφόρησε, αλλά δε νομίζω ότι θα το ακούω πολύ συχνά στο μέλλον.
  • MICHAEL KIWANUKA διότι δεν καταλαβαίνω τι του βρίσκετε.
  • NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS διότι μου έπεσε πολύ βαρύ.
  • PURPLE MOUNTAINS διότι παρόλο που η προσωπική ιστορία του τύπου με άγγιξε, η σύνδεσή της με το κύκνειο άσμα του δεν με ώθησε στο να ακούσω το δίσκο τόσο πολύ όσο π.χ. το “You Want It Darker” ή το “Blackstar”.
  • SHARON VAN ETTEN διότι την προτιμώ με κιθάρες παρά με synths.
  • SLEAFORD MODS διότι δεν είμαι Εγγλέζος που γράφει στο NME.
  • SOLANGE διότι είναι μάλλον κατώτερο του προηγούμενού της.
  • STURGILL SIMPSON διότι παρόλο που εκτιμώ ιδιαίτερα το απρόβλεπτο στοιχείο της καριέρας του και τη διάθεσή του να εξελίσσεται διαρκώς προβοκάροντας το κοινό του, θεωρώ πως το γενναίο φετεινό του πείραμα δεν ήταν 100% επιτυχημένο.
  • SWANS διότι βαρέθηκα να τους βάζω στη λίστα κάθε φορά που βγάζουν δίσκο. Στην πραγματικότητα θα μπορούσαν να αντικαταστήσουν στο top-20 μου οποιονδήποτε από τις θέσεις 17-20 παρακάτω.
  • TYLER, THE CREATOR διότι τελικά δεν σκαμπάζω από hip hop.
  • WEYES BLOOD διότι η φετεινή λίστα είναι γεμάτη σημαντικές γυναίκες δημιουργούς και δεν χωρούσε άλλη μία.
  • WILCO διότι έτσι.
ΟΚ; Πάμε τώρα να δούμε και τους 20 αγαπημένους μου δίσκους για το 2019. Spread the Word, Share the Love:

20. PUP – Morbid Stuff
Μεγάλη κουβέντα θα ξεστομίσω, αλλά στο “Morbid Stuff” οι PUP ακούγονται σαν μια τέλεια πάνκικη εκδοχή ενός γάμου ανάμεσα στους My Chemical Romance και τους The Hold Steady: Έχουν τα υμνικά, larger-than-life ρεφρέν των πρώτων σε συνδυασμό με την ιδεαλιστικά μποέμικη ευφράδεια των τελευταίων, και όλο αυτό μπολιασμένο με μια γνήσια punk οργή. Αν δεν σου αρέσει αυτό το άλμπουμ, δεν είσαι φίλος μου.


19. RODNEY CROWELL – TEXAS
Έβγαλε ο Crowell τον καλύτερο δίσκο της χρονιάς; Πιθανότατα όχι. Έβγαλε όμως έναν από τους πιο διασκεδαστικούς, ένα από εκείνα τα άλμπουμ που βάζεις να παίζει πολύ συχνότερα από τα «αριστουργήματα», που θέλεις να ακούς στο αυτοκίνητο την ώρα που οδηγάς μόνος βράδυ στην εθνική οδό, που μήνες μετά την κυκλοφορία του θυμάσαι κάθε ρεφρέν; Αναμφισβήτητα. Με ένα χαλαρό concept γύρω από πράγματα, ανθρώπους και καταστάσεις του Texas από το οποίο κατάγεται, ο Crowell επισκέπτεται όλα τα μουσικά ιδιώματα για τα οποία φημίζεται η περιοχή (country, blues, rock, tex-mex...), καλεί κι ένα μάτσο Τεξανούς special guests (π.χ. Billy Gibbons, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, και ο επίτιμος Τεξανός Ringo Starr) και όλα μαζί τα γερόντια τα σπάνε.

18. JADE JACKSON – Wilderness
Αν δεν σου αρέσουν country rock γυναίκες singer-songwriters σαν την Jade Jackson τότε μάλλον δεν σου αρέσει να ακούς τραγούδια. Τι παραπάνω χρειάζεσαι δηλαδή από μια κιθάρα, ένα rhythm section, μια ωραία φωνή και τρία, άντε τέσσερα ακόρντα; Ίσως μόνο τον Mike Ness (Social Distortion) σε ρόλο μέντορα/παραγωγού και είσαι κομπλέ.




17. TITUS ANDRONICUS – An Obelisk
Πάλαι ποτέ μόνιμη παρουσία σε trendy end-year lists ως κορυφαίοι εκπρόσωποι του zeitgeist των αρχών της δεκαετίας που τώρα φεύγει, κυκλοφόρησαν φέτος ένα άλμπουμ που δεν θα δείτε σε καμία trendy λίστα. Κακώς. Η επιστροφή των Titus Andronicus στις πανκ ρίζες τους είναι ολοκληρωτική και απόλυτα επιτυχημένη – το “An Obelisk” είναι 38 λεπτά ΤΕΛΕΙΟΥ Clash-ικού ροκ. Και μια που οι ίδιοι στο βίντεο μιλάνε για signifiers, αναφέρουμε ότι την παραγωγή του δίσκου επιμελήθηκε ο Bob Mould στο στούντιο του Steve Albini.
(YES! Κατάφερα να χρησιμοποιήσω τις λέξεις “zeitgeist” και “signifier” στην ίδια παράγραφο! Όνειρο ζωής.)

16. REFUSED – War Music
Αν ο Μαρξισμός ως θεωρία, φιλοσοφία και πολιτικό σύστημα έχει χρεωκοπήσει, φαίνεται πως κανείς δεν έχει στείλει το σχετικό memo στους Refused καθώς οι Σουηδοί σύντροφοι συνεχίζουν αμέριμνοι το χαβά τους παίζοντας το ΓΑΜΑΤΟ επιμεταλλωμένο punk rock τους φωνάζοντας συνθήματα κατά του καπιταλισμού και του ιμπεριαλισμού, αποτελώντας φυσική κατάληξη μια νοητής γραμμής που ξεκινά από τους MC5 και περνάει από τους Rage Against The Machine. Και καλά κάνουν – τι κι αν δηλώνεις συντηρητικός, φιλελεύθερος, σοσιαλδημοκράτης ή αναρχοτρότσκας, μέσα στο moshpit είμαστε όλοι αδέλφια.

15. ROSALIE CUNNINGHAM – Rosalie Cunningham
Ο τύπος ντυμένος αρκούδα που πρωταγωνιστεί στο ψυχεδελικό video clip από το παρθενικό solo album της πρώην frontwoman των Purson μου έφερε αυτόματα στο μυαλό αυτό το έπος, μην αφήσετε όμως αυτό το γεγονός να σας αποθαρρύνει: Η Cunningham κυκλοφόρησε έναν πραγματικά υπέροχο δίσκο που ξεφεύγει από τα περιοριστικά όρια του occult rock, αγκαλιάζοντας μια ευρύτερη Βρετανίλα που καλύπτει με χαρακτηριστική άνεση την απόσταση ανάμεσα στον απλοϊκό “Hammer Horror” σατανισμό των Black Widow και τις πιο εκκεντρικές music hall στιγμές των Queen.

14. THE WHO – Who
Υπάρχει μια σκηνή στο “The Irishman” όπου ο De Niro έχει ρίξει στο έδαφος έναν μαγαζάτορα που προσέβαλε την κόρη του και τον κλωτσάει. Η CGI τεχνολογία που στη συγκεκριμένη σκηνή έχει κόψει καμιά σαρανταριά χρόνια από τον De Niro δεν μπορεί να κρύψει το γεγονός ότι στην πραγματικότητα ο τύπος που ρίχνει τις κλωτσιές είναι 75 ετών, και ο Scorcese πίσω από την κάμερα δεν δείχνει να νοιάζεται ιδιαίτερα για αυτό. Οι Townshend και Daltrey, πάνω-κάτω συνομήλικοι με τον De Niro και τον Scorcese, μόλις κυκλοφόρησαν έναν δίσκο όπου παριστάνουν ότι είναι καμιά σαρανταριά χρόνια νεώτεροι παρόλο που ξέρουν ότι δεν είναι, ξέρεις ότι δεν είναι, και ξέρουν ότι ξέρεις ότι δεν είναι. Το “The Irishman” είναι εξαιρετική ταινία.

13. RHIANNON GIDDENS (WITH FRANCESCO TURRISI) – There Is No Other
Η Giddens είναι folk μουσικός με κλασική παιδεία. Ο Turrisi είναι jazz μουσικός με βαθιές ρίζες τόσο στο μπαρόκ όσο και στους ήχους της Μεσογείου. Η ένωση των δυνάμεών τους είχε φέτος ως αποτέλεσμα ένα εξαιρετικό άλμπουμ, ένα ηχητικό ταξίδι ανά την υφήλιο προς αναζήτηση ενός αρχέγονου μα ταυτόχρονα καινοτόμου ήχου. Ηχογραφημένο μέσα σε πέντε μόλις μέρες, κατά κύριο λόγο first takes, είναι σαφώς μία από τις κορυφαίες κυκλοφορίες της χρονιάς και δεν είναι καν το καλύτερο φετεινό άλμπουμ που φέρει τη σφραγίδα της Giddens αφού λίγους μήνες νωρίτερα είχαμε και το αριστούργημα των Our Native Daughters.

12. LIZZO – Cuz I Love You
Τα περισσότερα αποθεωτικά άρθρα για τη Lizzo επικεντρώνονται στο έργο που επιτελεί ως ακτιβίστρια του κινήματος “body positivity” υπέρ της κοινωνικής αποδοχής των “plus size” ατόμων και κατά του body shaming. Έχω σοβαρά θέματα με όλο αυτό: Το body shaming σαφώς είναι πολύ κακό πράγμα, αλλά η απόσταση από αυτού του τύπου bullying μέχρι το να πρέπει να θεωρούμε φυσιολογική την κορμοστασιά ενός δημοσίου προσώπου όπως η Lizzo, με όποια αρνητική επίδραση μπορεί να έχει κάτι τέτοιο στο πώς (δεν) αντιμετωπίζουν το σοβαρότατο πρόβλημα της παχυσαρκίας/υγείας τους χιλιάδες παιδιά κι έφηβοι, είναι μεγάλη. Εν πάση περιπτώσει, ας συμφωνήσουμε τουλάχιστον ότι η ποιότητα ενός καλλιτέχνη δεν εξαρτάται από την εξωτερική του εμφάνιση, και η Lizzo με το φετεινό της album αναδεικνύεται σε σπουδαία καλλιτέχνη με ένα εθιστικό, βρώμικο κράμα φανκ, ραπ και ροκ που θυμίζει μια σύγχρονη εκδοχή του Prince.

11. MIRANDA LAMBERT – Wildcard
Η Lambert είναι σταρ στο χώρο της country, είτε solo είτε με το συγκρότημα των Pistol Annies, και όλοι οι δίσκοι που έχει κυκλοφορήσει είναι από πολύ καλοί ως εξαιρετικοί. Φέτος όμως με το έβδομο προσωπικό της άλμπουμ κάνει την υπέρβαση, ξεφεύγει από τα στενά όρια της country ενσωματώνοντας άφθονα ποπ και ροκ στοιχεία στον ήχο της, και με το σήμα-κατατεθέν white trash χιούμορ της φέρνει τούμπα όλα τα στιχουργικά κλισέ του genre προσφέροντάς μας ίσως το καλύτερο ίσως πακέτο τραγουδιών που έχει δημιουργήσει ως σήμερα.

10. THE HOLD STEADY – Thrashing Through The Passion
Το λέω και το εννοώ – οι Hold Steady ήταν το καλύτερο ροκ συγκρότημα των 00’s, με διαφορά. Επίσης ο Craig Finn παραμένει ο καλύτερος ροκ στιχουργός του 21ου αιώνα, με διαφορά. Η επιστροφή στη μπάντα του ασώτου υιού Franz Nikolay (διαβάστε το βιβλίο του, σοβαρά!) σηματοδοτεί μια επιστροφή στον ήχο της περιόδου 2005-2008, της καλύτερης δηλαδή περιόδου της μπάντας και παρόλο που το “Thrashing Through The Passion” δεν φτάνει τις κορυφές του “Boys And Girls In America” (ΤΙΠΟΤΑ δεν φτάνει τις κορυφές του “Boys And Girls In America”), όπως τραγουδάει εδώ ο ίδιος ο Finn, “It doesn’t have to be pure / It doesn’t have to be perfect / Just sort of has to be worth it”.

9. SLIPKNOT – We Are Not Your Kind
Θάνατοι, αποχωρήσεις, μηνύσεις, διαζύγια, η κατάσταση στο στρατόπεδο των Slipknot τα τελευταία (αρκετά) χρόνια θυμίζει περισσότερο σαπουνόπερα παρά συγκρότημα. Το γεγονός αυτό όμως δεν είναι παρά απλώς απόδειξη ότι πρόκεται για τεράστιo όνομα αφού σαπουνόπερα δεν γίνονται οι Hold Steady όσο σπουδαίους δίσκους και αν βγάζουν: Σαπουνόπερα γίνονται οι Metallica, οι Rolling Stones, η Taylor Swift. Και οι Slipknot. Όπως και να’χει το γεγονός ότι μέσα από όλα αυτά κατάφεραν να βγουν δυνατοί κυκλοφορώντας ένα φανταστικό album είναι ασύλληπτο – δεν ξέρω αν το “We Are Not Your Kind” είναι ο καλύτερος δίσκος των Slipknot, είναι σίγουρα όμως ο πιο τολμηρός, o πιο «καλλιτεχνικός», και αναμβισβήτητα ένα από metal highlights της χρονιάς.

8. PATTY GRIFFIN – Patty Griffin
Το δέκατο άλμπουμ της, τέσσερα χρόνια και μια επιτυχημένη μάχη με τον καρκίνο του μαστού μετά το προηγούμενο, αποδεικνύει για άλλη μία φορά πως η Griffin είναι μια από τις κορυφαίες τραγουδοποιούς της Αμερικής σήμερα (έχει ξαναχτυπήσει εικοσάδα άλλωστε). Παντρεύοντας τη folk με την jazz, τα blues και με στοιχεία world music (υπέροχα κελτικά και ισπανικά στοιχεία στις κιθάρες) και με τον πρώην αγαπημένο της Griffin, Robert Plant, να παρέχει διακριτικά δεύτερα φωνητικά σε δύο τραγούδια, το “Patty Griffin” είναι μία ακόμα μεγάλη στιγμή σε μία σπουδαία καριέρα.

7. JESCA HOOP – Stonechild
Μια σύντομη βιογραφία της Hoop ίσως βοηθήσει: Μεγάλωσε σε βαθιά θρησκευόμενη οικογένεια μορμόνων τραγουδώντας παραδοσιακά folk τραγούδια σε 4-part harmony με την υπόλοιπη οικογένεια. Στα 16 της το έσκασε από την οικογένεια και τη θρησκεία και έζησε, κυριολεκτικά, μόνη στην έρημο μέχρι τα 20. Στη συνέχεια μετακόμισε στο Los Angeles κι έπιασε δουλειά ως νταντά των παιδιών του Tom Waits. Πλέον ζει στην Αγγλία και την παραγωγή αυτού του άλμπουμ έχει κάνει ο John Parish, ο στενότερος συνεργάτης της PJ Harvey. Αν τα παραπάνω δεν σας έχουν δώσει ακόμα εικόνα του πώς ακούγεται το διαμάντι που τιτλοφορείται “Stonechild”, ας αφήσουμε τον πρώην εργοδότη και μέντορά της Tom Waits να περιγράψει την Hoop: «Είναι σαν ένα νόμισμα με τέσσερις πλευρές. Είναι αρχαία ψυχή, σαν μαύρο μαργαριτάρι, σαν καλή μάγισσα ή κόκκινο φεγγάρι. Η μουσική της είναι σαν να κολυμπάς σε λίμνη βράδυ.»

6. BARONESS – Gold & Grey
O ηγέτης της μπάντας, John Baizley, εκτός από μουσικός είναι και εξαιρετικός graphic artist. Πιθανότατα είναι συναισθητικός, κάτι που εξηγεί τους χρωματικούς τίτλους που δίνει στους δίσκους του δένοντάς τους με το εκάστοτε εξώφυλλο που δημιουργεί, και παρόλο που εκ πρώτης όψεως όσοι υποστηρίζουν ότι αυτός είναι ο «πορτοκαλί» δίσκος των Baroness φαίνεται να έχουν κάποιο δίκιο, μπορώ να καταλάβω γιατί ο Baizley επέλεξε να τον βαφτίσει «χρυσό και γκρι»: Το πορτοκαλί είναι χρώμα εξωστρεφές, νεανικό, αυθόρμητο, ενθουσιώδες. Από την άλλη πλευρά το χρυσό είναι το χρώμα του θριάμβου και το γκρι ένα κομψό, ώριμο χρώμα που αιωρείται ανάμεσα σε δύο μη-χρώματα (το άσπρο και το μαύρο), και το “Gold & Grey” είναι ακριβώς αυτό – ένας καλλιτεχνικός θρίαμβος που αρνείται να κατηγοριοποιηθεί, στέκοντας περήφανα ανάμεσα στο μέταλ και το εναλλακτικό ροκ.

5. EZRA FURMAN – Twelve Nudes
O Furman ήταν και πέρσι στη Λίστα του Music Geek, αλλά το φετεινό του “Twelve Nudes” είναι εντελώς διαφορετικό πλάσμα – ένα οργισμένο πανκ ξέσπασμα, ένα άλμπουμ διαμαρτυρίας για όσα συμβαίνουν γύρω του στην Αμερική του 2019. Οι καλές προθέσεις όμως δεν θα ήταν αρκετές αν ο Furman δεν είχε ως συνθέτης τα chops να τις υποστηρίξει, και τα ΤΡΑΓΟΥΔΙΑ εδώ διατηρούν τον πρωταγωνιστικό ρόλο, έντεκα (όχι δώδεκα) ύμνοι που ανεβάζουν το δίσκο στο στάτους του καλύτερου-ίσως-πανκ-δίσκου-από-το-Transgender-Dysphoria-Blues-κι-έπειτα.

4. TOOL – Fear Inoculum
Ο Keenan είναι προφανώς αυτός που τραβάει τα φώτα της δημοσιότητας ως η φωνή του συγκροτήματος και ο πιο δραστήριος μουσικά από τους τέσσερις Tool στα 13 (!) χρόνια που τους πήρε να ολοκληρώσουν αυτό το άλμπουμ, κυκλοφορώντας ενδιάμεσα τρεις δίσκους με τους Puscifer κι άλλον έναν με τους A Perfect Circle. Η ψυχή του “Fear Inoculum” ωστόσο είναι ο Danny Carey – τα ντραμς σε αυτό το άλμπουμ είναι πραγματικά από άλλο πλανήτη. Όσο για τις συνθέσεις; Τα riffs είναι φανταστικά, οι μελωδίες καθηλωτικές, και οι ρυθμοί θα σας στραμπουλήξουν τον εγκέφαλο (μεγάλο μέρος του album είναι γραμμένο σε 7/4) σε ένα πραγματικό prog όργιο.

3. RICHARD DAWSON – 2020
Ιδιαίτερη περίπτωση μουσικού ο Dawson, ένας avant- τροβαδούρος που ξεκινά με αφετηρία τη folk βγάζοντας μια πολύ έντονη Βρετανίλα, για την ακρίβεια Αγγλίλα, την οποία όμως διαστρεβλώνει, ξεκουρδίζει ελαφρώς και ηλεκτροδοτεί καταλήγοντας να ακούγεται σαν μια διασταύρωση Captain Beefheart και Richard Thompson, εμπλουτίζοντας στο “2020” τον ήχο του με ιδιοσυγκρατικά keyboards και το περιστασιακό πιασάρικο ρεφρέν. Ακόμα κι αν δεν θα μπορείτε να βγάλετε κάποιες από αυτές τις μελωδίες από το κεφάλι σας πάντως το μεγάλο ατού του Dawson είναι η ικανότητά του να σκαρφίζεται ασυνήθιστες ιστορίες συνηθισμένων ανθρώπων, με τρόπο δραματικό και ταυτόχρονα πολύ αστείο. 

2. OUR NATIVE DAUGHTERS – Songs Of Our Native Daughters
Δεν έχω κάτι να πω.


1. LANA DEL REY – Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Εκατομμύρια λέξεις, αμέτρητα άρθρα και blogs έχουν γραφτεί για τη Lana Del Rey από τότε που η Lizzy Grant ντεμπούταρε με αυτό το stage name, με τους haters να αποτελούν ισχυρή μειοψηφία απέναντι στους πορωμένους fans που θεωρούν κάθε δουλειά της αριστούργημα. Όπως συχνά σε αυτές τις περιπτώσεις βέβαια η αλήθεια βρισκόταν κάπου στη μέση – μέχρι το 2019: Τα προηγούμενα άλμπουμ της Del Rey ήταν ενδιαφέροντα μα άνισα, με τα προσεκτικά επιλεγμένα singles να είναι κατά κανόνα εξαιρετικά αλλά και με μπόλικα fillers. Στο Normal Fucking Rockwell! όμως τα πάντα είναι ακριβώς όπως πρέπει, η κινηματογραφική noir ατμόσφαιρα που εξαρχής την έκανε να ξεχωρίζει έχει τελειοποιηθεί, οι συνθέσεις είναι όλες από το πάνω ράφι, οι στίχοι της έχουν αποκτήσει βάθος και επιδέχονται πολλαπλές αναγνώσεις. Είναι πλέον αδύνατο να ξεχωρίσεις την Grant από την περσόνα της, αν ήταν ποτέ περσόνα η Del Rey δηλαδή (η ίδια το αρνείται), όπως επίσης είναι αδύνατο να μην αγαπήσεις αυτό τον δίσκο που, ναι, είναι αριστούργημα.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Nov 2019 Vol. II - Last One Before The List, Probably

AZIZA BRAHIM – Sahari
Serious candidate for World Music album of the year by a Western Saharan refugee/expat residing in Barcelona, blending her unique voice with Tinariwen-like desert blues and subtle electronica touches. The result is pure magic. (8)

BLACKBERRY SMOKE – Homecoming: Live In Atlanta

Like all the best southern rock bands, Blackberry Smoke kick some serious ass on stage. Here’s the proof, playing on home turf. (8)

CLIPPING. – There Existed An Addiction To Blood

Experimental hip hop trio trying horrorcore. RIYL Dalek, Death Grips, John Carpenter soundtracks. (7)

LEONARD COHEN – Thanks For The Dance

Posthumous release consisting mainly of an 82-year old Cohen reciting poems fleshed out into songs by his son, producer Adam Cohen, with significant contributions from people like Beck, Jennifer Warnes and that guy from The National. Recommended if You Want It Even Darker. (8)

MAMIFFER – The Brilliant Tabernacle

Post-rock royalty husband/wife team of Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner release fifth album and move further away from the darkness of their early work, towards the light. (7)

MUSTASCH – Killing It For Life

This is killer, the most metal-sounding Mustasch album in ages and totally early 80’s, so RIYL “Blackout”-era Scorpions, “Bark At The Moon”-era Ozzy, that sort of thing. (8)

PAUL KELLY – Songs From The South: Greatest Hits 1985-2019

Exactly zero people outside Australia have ever heard of Kelly which is a crime because the guy writes amazing songs, many of which are collected on this double album. Imagine a (VERY Australian) pub rocker who’s got Elvis Costello’s sense of melody and Phil Lynott’s way with words and you’re halfway there. Me, I’ve got a new favorite artist. (9)

WILLIE NILE – Beautiful Wreck Of The World (Remastered)

Willie is the rock world’s best kept secret, the quintessential NYC troubadour (think a funkier-folk-punk Lou Reed) and a songwriter’s songwriter who releases consistently strong, catchy albums even if in some cases it took him a decade to do so. This is his fourth album from 1999 remastered for its 20th anniversary, and it’s one of his best including his crowning achievement of a song, the Jeff Buckley tribute “On The Road To Calvary”. (8)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Come On Up To The House: Women Sing Waits

Top-tier female artists (Aimee Mann, Allison Moorer & Shelby Lynne, Rosanne Cash…) pay tribute to Tom Waits, and with his junkyard dog bark of a voice replaced by these heavenly pipes his songs rise above the hobo/boho persona to glow in all their beauty. Patty Griffin’s version of “Ruby’s Arms” brings tears to my eyes. (9)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – If You're Going To The City: A Sweet Relief Tribute To Mose Allison

Tribute to a great jazz/blues outsider and social satirist featuring interpretations of his songs by artists as diverse as Taj Mahal and Iggy Pop. Fiona Apple in particular contributes 101 outstanding seconds of music with “Your Molecular Structure”, Richard Thompson slays “Parchman Farm” and Elvis Costello’s duet with Allison’s daughter on “Monsters Of The Id” is totally bonkers. (8) 

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, November 2019



KANYE WEST – Jesus Is King
What the fuck is this shit. (4)

KINKY FRIEDMAN – Resurrection

Kinky’s a hell of a guy. He’s also a country singer/songwriter who, just like his pal Willie Nelson, can make you LOL with one song and cry with the next one, as this album (probably his best one) demonstrates. (8)

LITURGY – H.A.Q.Q.

Surprise release by controversial Brooklyn black metal band is an interesting experiment in genre-hopping cacophony that works more often than it doesn’t. The Autechre-like “CD skipping” effect is really annoying, but almost everything they do is annoying to a lot of people anyway so that’s OK. (7)

LOREENA McKENNITT – Live at the Royal Albert Hall

You either love McKennitt in which case you’ll enjoy this live album immensely, or you think she’s just new age horseshit in which case you can go back to drawing animal figures on the walls of your cave or hunting mammoths or whatever it is you Neanderthals do. (8)

MAVERICKS – Play The Hits

One of the best party bands on the planet, these Latino country rockers celebrate their 30th anniversary with a great covers album of songs originally by Waylon Jennings, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley etc. given the royal Mavericks treatment. (8)

MIRANDA LAMBERT – Wildcard

Lambert keeps getting better with every album and on “Wildcard”, without cutting off her country roots, she clearly ventures into rock territory. Great songwriting on par with peak-career Sheryl Crow, great lyrics, great everything. (8)

NILE – Vile Nilotic Rites

Another slab of Middle Eastern-flavored sonic violence from Morbid Angel’s top disciples. It’s been promoted as a comeback and a return to form but, really, if you like one Nile album you like them all. (8)

SCHAMMASCH – Hearts of No Light

What started out as a competent yet straightforward black/death metal band a-la Behemoth has now completed its transformation into a totally unpredictable prog-avant monster which, in 2019, will probably be as divisive as their compatriots Celtic Frost were back in 1987. And that’s a very, very good thing. (8)

SUDAN ARCHIVES – Athena

Somewhere between Solange, whom I love, and FKA Twigs, whom I don’t get, but a bit more Afrocentric. (7)

TINDERSTICKS – No Treasure But Hope

Moving to Ithaca, Greece must have had some serious effects on Tindersticks mainman Stuart Staples' state of mind – a couple of songs on their new album, including first single “Pinky In The Daylight”, sound more like Manos Hatzidakis than like Tindersticks. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – I'm A Freak 2 Baby: A Further Journey Through The British Heavy Psych And Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-73

A sequel to a great compilation released three years ago, this 3-CD collection with the self-explanatory title includes a few names you’ll recognize (Budgie, Jeff Beck, The Move, Atomic Rooster, Edgar Broughton Band, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown...), a lot of total unknown proto-metal acts you’ll be thrilled to discover, and more cowbell than a 100-acre pasture on the Swiss Alps. (10)

Friday, 25 October 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, October 2019, Vol. 2




DESERT SESSIONS – Vols. 11 & 12
Josh Homme’s jam sessions return 16 years after Vols. 9 & 10. Guests this time are more mainstream than usual, whatever that signifies for Homme’s current status in the rock world, including Billy Gibbons, Les Claypool, the guy from Scissor Sisters etc. Not their best, still an enjoyable ride through the desert. (7)

FLOATING POINTS – Crush

I’m not an electronica expert but I loved this guy’s instalment of the “Late Night Tales” compilation series so I decided to give his own album a chance, and I’m in two minds about it: On one hand I love the dancefloor/techno stuff like the magnificent single “LesAlpx”, but on the other hand I don’t have the patience for his more glitchy stuff. (8/6)

MARK LANEGAN BAND – Somebody’s Knocking

Lanegan’s transformation into Electro-Goth King has now been completed, “Somebody’s Knocking" sounds like a cross between early New Order and mid-period Sisters Of Mercy. (7)

MAYHEM – Daemon

First album post-“Lords Of Chaos” (the movie), “Daemon” proves that these black metal veterans can still sound ferocious but are no longer the pioneers of extremity they once were, having been surpassed by younger bands from France and North America. (7)

RAY ALDER – What The Water Wants

Alder goes for a mellower vibe than that of his day job in Fates Warning, sticks to his mid-range, writes some good stuff, ends up with an excellent melodic hard rock album with discreet prog overtones. If you’re one of those who cream their pants thinking about “Parallels”/”Inside Out”, this is closer to that than Fates Warning will ever get again (even with the mid-range singing) (8)

REFUSED – War Music

Everyone’s favorite extreme-left punks and true heirs to the MC5 legacy are back with a second post-reunion gem. (8)

ROB HALFORD WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS – Celestial

Judas Priest frontman releases album of Christmas carols with his brother on drums, his nephew on bass etc. No offense to the Metal God but this is a bit ridiculous. (5)

SCREAMING FEMALES – Singles Too

A collection of rarities and covers that also serves as a chronicle of the band’s development from sloppy indie rockers in 2006 to one of the world’s best punk bands today, even making The List last year. (7)

SUNNO))) – Pyroclasts

A companion album to ¨Life Metal” that was released earlier this year, “Pyroclasts” includes 4 improvisations, each 11 minutes long, recorded during the same sessions, which take the term “drone” to extreme levels. (∞)

SWANS – Leaving Meaning

Nowadays Swans are more like an artist collective than a band per se with Gira joined here by former band members as well as guests like Australian avant-jazz combo The Necks, experimentalist Ben Frost, goth royalty siblings Anna & Maria Von Hausswolff and others, but it still sounds like post-2010 Swans, i.e. loud, grim, disturbing, and great. (8)

THE BARRENCE WHITFIELD SOUL SAVAGE ARKESTRA – Songs From The Sun Ra Cosmos

Barrence Whitfield is one of the Music Geek’s all-time favorite singers/screamers and this time he goes way, way off his beaten soul/garage rock path, all the way to Saturn where Sun Ra’s out-there jazz came from, Funkadelicizing some of this weirdo’s better known compositions. This is pretty great, actually. (8)

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, October 2019

AEROSMITH – Rocks (Remastered)
It’s one of the 10 best hard rock albums of all time so if you don’t already own it, get it NOW. Good remaster, you can taste the sleaze when this version is playing. (10)

ART ALEXAKIS – Sun Songs

Everclear leader, recovering junkie and recently-gone-public-about-it-MS-patient Alexakis releases solo acoustic album and it basically sounds like a so-so Everclear album without electric guitars. (6)

DANNY BROWN – Uknowhatimsayin

More streamlined than the experimental, claustrophobic “Atrocity Exhibition” which made The List back in 2016 it’s also much-much funnier, with Brown delivering killer lines with the razor-sharp precision of a world-class standup comic over some classic hip-hop beats. (8)

KEFAYA & ELAHA SOROOR – Songs of Our Mothers

Traditional folk songs from Afghanistan given the jazztronica treatment from a bunch of London-based multi-culti expats. Very interesting. (8)

LIFE OF AGONY – The Sound Of Scars

“River Runs Red” means so much to so many people (yours truly included) that recording a sequel 25 years later is a high-risk move, especially since the band moved away from the old-school NYHC roots that fueled “RRR” almost immediately after releasing it. Nevertheless, this is a great “alt-metal” album on par with all LOA albums that followed the legendary debut. “RRR” it’s not, but it will do. (8)

LIGHTNING BOLT – Sonic Citadel

Lightning Bolt are one of the great mysteries of life: Two dudes creating such loud obnoxious noise with unintelligible vocals on top isn’t supposed to sound so awesome, especially on the seventh album and 20 years after the debut. And yet here we are, ”Sonic Citadel” is fun and catchy and, you know, loud and obnoxious and noisy. (8)

MENZINGERS – Hello Exile

Is “Punk Rock That Sounds Like Springsteen” a genre? In any case, if you like the Hold Steady or the Gaslight Anthem then you’ll certainly like these guys too, even though I doubt they’ll ever top 2012’s “On The Impossible Past”. (7)

NATACHA ATLAS – Strange Days

A bold move into pure jazz territory from Atlas, who fronts a killer backing band with her trademark Middle Eastern vocal acrobatics. (7)

NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS – Ghosteen

We all know that alongside a handful of others (Neil Young and Bob Dylan, most notably) this guy has total immunity and anything he releases will always be immediately hailed as a masterpiece, but I’m not yet sure that “Ghosteen” is really a masterpiece because I haven’t listened to it enough, and the reason I haven’t listened to it enough is because I find another album about the loss of a child incredibly difficult to listen to. (-)

NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE DEAD THINK – No One Knows What The Dead Think

2/3 of Discordance Axis are on this so you know what you’re getting: Ultraviolent, fast and furious, chaotic grindcore. Fans of the genre will love this, even if it doesn’t exceed the highs reached by Gridlink (same vocalist) which made The List back in 2014. (7)

RICHARD DAWSON – 2020

It’s impossible to pin down Dawson, but I will compare him to Bob Dylan even though he sounds nothing like Dylan – it’s just that they are both world-class wordsmiths rooted in the folk tradition, who write great songs they try to sing themselves despite having voices that are (to be polite about it) an acquired taste. “2020” is Dawson’s hookiest, most pop album to date, if you dare call “pop” something as weird and twisted and abrasive as this. (9)

OPETH – In Cauda Venenum

I liked this more than I liked any Opeth album in over a decade. I still liked them more when they had death growls. (8)

STURGILL SIMPSON – Sound & Fury

The WTF album of the month comes from country music’s savior who just released an album containing exactly 0% country music: “Sound & Fury” is synth-rock that for the most part sounds like LCD Soundsystem covering ZZ Top’s “Eliminator”. (7)

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, September 2019 Vol. II


ALICE COOPER – Breadcrumbs EP
Alice pays tribute to his hometown Detroit with a couple of songs of his own (“Go Man Go” rules!) plus some covers (Bob Seger, MC5, Suzi Quatro, Mitch Ryder). It sounds very Detroit and it’s Alice at his rawest and best in decades. (8)

BRITTANY HOWARD – Jaime

Alabama Shakes leader goes solo and expands her sonic palette beyond her band’s vintage soul-rock, experimenting with Prince-like funk and D’Angelo neo-soul. The result is a minor triumph. (8)

CHELSEA WOLFE – Birth Of Violence

Contemporary goth icon Wolfe moves away from her metal influences and focuses on her folky side this time around. Still RYIL black clothes, black nail polish, dyed black hair, black metal, black mood. (7)

EXHORDER – Mourn The Southern Skies

A third studio album comes 27 years after the second one and who would’ve thought, it’s probably the best thrash metal album of the year. (8)

GHOST – Seven Inches Of Satanic Panic

Single including two new songs with a distinctly late-60’s non-metal flavor, courtesy of a Farfisa organ sound. (7)

HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER – Terms Of Surrender

If your definition of “Americana” is a melting pot of folk, country, soul and soft rock, then this album’s for you. (7)

LAST CRACK – The Up Rising

A third studio album comes 28 years after the second one and who would’ve thought, it’s probably the best prog metal album of the year (Tool are not prog metal, they are their own genre). (8)

MIKE PATTON & JEAN-CLAUDE VANNIER – Corpse Flower

Two very creative provocateurs from different eras collaborate on this album which could justifiably be described as Mr. Bungle meets Serge Gainsbourg (Vannier made a number of albums with Gainsbourg in the 70’s). It’s really fun in a very disturbing way. (8)

NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS – Up And Rolling

Rock royalty brothers Luther & Cody Dickinson are known for their competent southern blues rock and their tenth album doesn’t sonically deviate from the formula, even though it’s a concept album of sorts. Guests include Jason Isbell, Mavis Staples etc. (7)

RUBINOOS – From Home

A smart album by tier-2 power-pop veterans. You know the drill: Jangly guitars, sweet vocal harmonies and a bit of a rock bite, what people often call “Beatlesque”. Lyrics are better than expected, literate and often entertaining. (7)

THE HU – The Gereg

The main reason I decided to give this Mongolian metal band that uses traditional instruments a listen is for an opportunity to say how disappointed I am that they didn’t call their album “The Hu Sell Out”, or “The Hu by Numbers”, or “Hu Are You”, or (even better!) “Quadrophenia”. Oh well, they can still salvage this by calling the follow-up “Hu’s Next”. (7)

Monday, 9 September 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, September 2019


AARON LEE TASJAN – Karma For Cheap, Reincarnated
Exactly one year after releasing “Karma For Cheap” Tasjan re-records the whole album acoustically, including one brand-new song. An interesting companion to the original. (7)

BLANCK MASS – Animated Violence Mild

Great, intense 90s-style industrial dance music from the Fuck Buttons guy. RYIL My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, KMFDM, NIN’s debut, that sort of thing. (8)

BON IVER – i,i

A certain kind of hipster music fan would lay his life down for this guy’s mix of soft rock, indie folk and R&B but really, take the studio wizardry away from “i,i” and there’s not much left. (6)

EZRA FURMAN – Twelve Nudes

The gay Jewish Bruce Springsteen goes punk rock with stunning results. (8)

FRANK TURNER – No Man’s Land

The British press really slaughtered Turner for “No Man’s Land” but I think this has more to do with his politics than with the actual songs which aren’t bad. That being said, and this coming from a big fan, I feel that after 2013's excellent “Tape Deck Heart” England’s most popular folkie punk hasn’t really hit his stride again. (7)

HERE LIES MAN – No Ground To Walk Upon

In case you missed out on the first couple of albums, HLM play a hybrid of fuzzed-out proto-metal and afrobeat. The only difference this time around is that there are no creepy kids on the album cover. (7)

JESSE MALIN – Sunset Kids

Anyone remember 90’s NYC glam-punks D Generation? Malin used to front that band, then spent the 21st century to date doing a pretty good Lou Reed impression. His new album however has less of an urban flavor, probably because Americana goddess Lucinda Williams helps out with songwriting and production. (7)

JOAN SHELLEY – Like The River Loves The Sea

Kentuckian folkie goes fully acoustic this time, writes and sings enchanting songs that flow from her like fresh mountain water flows from the spring. (8)

KAYO DOT – Blasphemy

You never know what to expect from these guys except the unexpected, every album’s completely different from the previous one and this is probably their most “rock” album. You’ll still see them categorized under “progressive metal” though. (7)

LANA DEL REY – Norman Fucking Rockwell!

She finally did it! After four good but uneven albums each featuring equal measures of great songs and filler, NFR! is Del Rey’s masterpiece – smart, funny, political, and no filler in sight. A perfect amalgam of all things American, from the Beach Boys to Walt Whitman to George Gershwin to Laurel Canyon to Leonard Cohen to, well, Norman fucking Rockwell. (9)

REDD KROSS – Beyond The Door

Power-pop cult heroes the McDonald brothers release first album after 7 years and it’s just great fun, with a strong 60’s garage punk flavor to it. Their bassist also currently plays for the Melvins and they return the favor – Dale Crover is now Redd Kross’ official drummer, and Buzz guests too. (8)

ROBERT RANDOLPH & THE FAMILY BAND – Brighter Days

So you thought church music was boring? Well, time to meet the Eddie Van Halen of gospel, a pedal steel guitarist who plays his instrument like a demented cross between Stevie Ray Vaughan and Duane Allman and rocks like a motherfucker (even though he’s religious and wouldn’t approve of my language). (8)

RODNEY CROWELL – TEXAS

Country, blues, rock, tex-mex and everything in between with special Texan guests Billy Gibbons, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and Steve Earle, on the most FUN album in a month of stellar album releases. Doesn’t get any more Texas than this. Also features honorary Texan Ringo Starr. (8)

SHERYL CROW – Threads

It’s not about the impressive guestlist that looks like a Grammy awards ceremony (St. Vincent, Sting, Jason Isbell, Chuck D, Joe Walsh, James Taylor, Stevie Nicks, Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples, Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark Jr., Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and a zillion others), it’s about the songwriting: Haters will call her mom rock, but this is Americana superstar Crow in good form. (7)

SIROM – A Universe That Roasts Blossoms For A Horse

Dissonant avant-garde from Slovenia that sounds like freaked-out folk music. A bit too weird, even for me. (6)

SLIPKNOT – We Are Not Your Kind

The Geek’s verdict on this one is about a month late and it doesn’t really matter anymore because your attention span is shorter than a goldfish’s and now you’re all talking about the new Tool album, right? In any case, it rules. (9)

TAYLOR SWIFT – Lover

Her best album since “Red” is a pure pop delight, plus it includes the best (and saddest) song she’s ever written (“Soon You’ll Get Better”), coincidentally (?) her first time revisiting country music in ages. (8)

THE HIGHWOMEN – The Highwomen

All-female country supergroup (Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris and Natalie Hemby), modeled on The Highwaymen but coming across like the Pistol Annies, are on a mission to get more women artists on the radio and the charts. This album certainly has the chops for it. Famous friends (Jason Isbell, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow, Dave Cobb etc.) chip in. (8)

THE HOLD STEADY – Thrashing Through The Passion

It takes a certain kind of person to like The Hold Steady, you need to be hopelessly romantic about rock ‘n’ roll and have a soft spot for underachievers and prefer boilermakers to mojitos and read lots of books. This one’s for the fans, a collection of previously released Bandcamp singles with a few new tracks thrown in for good measure. (8)

TINARIWEN – Amadjar

Desert blues pioneers record an album IN THE ACTUAL FUCKING DESERT, playing live to an audience of scorpions. Special guests adding the occasional overdub include Warren Ellis, Noura Mint Seymali, Micah Nelson, Cass McCombs and STEPHEN FUCKING O’MALLEY. (8)

TOOL – Fear Inoculum

Can an album be worth a 13-year wait? Apparently yes. (9)

YEAR OF THE GOAT – Novis Orbis Terrarum Ordinis

Solid songwriting, but occult rock is better when it’s either tongue in cheek (Ghost) or deadly serious (The Devil’s Blood). (7)

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, August 2019 - Summer Holiday Edition


THE HEAVIER STUFF

GORILLA – Treecreeper

Under-the-radar Brit fuzz/psych/stone rockers sharing a frontman with the slightly better known Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell return with their first full-length after 12 years. RYIL Blue Cheer and Motorhead, and you should definitely check out their 2001 debut, it rules. (7)

HIGH ON FIRE – Bat Salad EP

Record Store Day 2019 release featuring one new instrumental track plus Celtic Frost and Bad Brains covers, now available on streaming services. Now that I think of it, “Celtic Frost meets Bad Brains” is as good a description of High On Fire as any. (8)

LINGUA IGNOTA – Caligula

This is really fucked up, like Diamanda Galas fronting an unholy amalgam of Current 93 and Godflesh. Hard to listen to, yet essential. (8)

ROSALIE CUNNINGHAM – Rosalie Cunningham

Purson frontwoman releases stunning debut solo album and makes the competition (Jex Thoth, Jess & The Ancient Ones, Uncle Acid, Sabbath Assembly etc.) sound like clueless hippies. (8)

SLIPKNOT – We Are Not Your Kind

You’ll have to wait until the next batch of reviews, I haven’t had a chance to listen to it properly yet. (-)

SOUNDGARDEN – Live From The Artist’s Den

One of very few 90’s heroes I regret never getting to see live. I miss that guy. (8)

TORCHE – Admission

One of the most interesting metal bands around, combining sludgy riffs with sunny vocal melodies. Their fifth album sounds simultaneously heavier/harder and richer/warmer than previous efforts, no mean feat. (8)

VOLBEAT – Rewind, Replay, Rebound

Emphasis on the arena rock with a few jokey rockabilly interludes. The Neil Fallon duet “Die To Live” is the best thing here, because Neil Fallon. (7)


THE OTHER STUFF

CHRIS GANTRY – Nashtlantis
Outlaw country singer/songwriter in his 70’s you’ve probably never heard of as he disappeared from Nashville 40 years ago. This comeback album is just him and his guitar and the occasional flourish of cello or synth, but boy can this guy write a song! A must-hear if you enjoy listening to master storytellers. (8)

FASTBALL – All The Pain Money Can Buy (20th Anniversary Edition)

It’s been 20 years since the best pop song of the last 20 years was released, you should hear this album if it’s just for “The Way”. (8 for the album, 11 for the single)

KYLE CRAFT – Showboat Honey

Southern boy influenced by 70’s British glam rock on his third, strong album. RYIL Mott The Hoople, Be Bop Deluxe, Ziggy-era Bowie. (8)

PARTCH – Sonata Dementia

An otherworldly orchestra performing music composed by legendary cult figure Harry Partch, a major influence on latter day Tom Waits, played on weird instruments created by Partch himself, some of which utilize his own 43-tone scale. Listen to this only if you think “Trout Mask Replica” is the best album of all time. (7)

PURPLE MOUNTAINS – Purple Mountains

Indie-rock recluse behind Gen X cult icons Silver Jews returns after a long silence, creates an album about fucking up everything you’ve ever started, gets great reviews, then dies just before going out on tour to support it. Oh, the irony. (8)

THE BIRD AND THE BEE – Interpreting The Masters, Volume 2: A Tribute To Van Halen

The idea of a guitarless Van Halen tribute album sounds ludicrous, especially since it includes a cover of “Eruption” (for piano!), but this is simply poptastic! (8)

TYLER CHILDERS – Country Squire

A great collection of honky-tonk country tunes by Sturgill Simpson protégé. (8)

TY SEGALL – First Taste

Modern-day guitar hero releases guitarless album, and it doesn’t suck. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Hallelujah: The Songs of Leonard Cohen

Tribute album collecting previously released covers of Cohen songs, so you’ve probably already heard the most iconic versions included herein (e.g. Jeff Buckley totally owning “Hallelujah”, Nina Simone’s “Suzanne”…). Everyone has their favorites of course and you can’t please everyone, but personally I’d have included Concrete Blonde’s “Everybody Knows” over Barb Jungr’s version, REM’s “First We Take Manhattan” over Joe Cocker’s version and so on. (8)

Friday, 5 July 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, July 2019


ANATOLIAN WEAPONS FEAT. SEIRIOS SAVVAIDIS – To The Mother Of Gods
Aggelos Baltas blends his sample-based psychedelia/krautrock with the traditional Greek folk sounds of Savvaidis and the results are awesome. (8)

BEASTWARS – IV

Doom/sludge heroes from New Zealand return after the singer’s battle with cancer, and the album is about that experience. Heavy stuff, in more than one sense of the word. (8)

BEDOUINE – Birdsongs Of A Killjoy

Syrian-American folkie’s second album is a very L.A. affair, sunny and warm and lush. (7)

BLACK KEYS – “Let’s Rock”

The Black Keys return in full-on classic rock mode, ripping off everyone from ZZ Top (“Lo/Hi”) to “Stuck In The Middle With You” (“Sit Around And Miss You”) and having tons of fun doing it. Let’s rock, indeed. (8)

BLACK PUMAS – Black Pumas

New band playing competent old-school soul using Curtis Mayfield as the template. (7)

DRIVIN N CRYIN – Live The Love Beautiful

Legendary, underrated band at the crossroads between southern rock and power pop return after a decade-long absence with a fantastic album. Aaron Lee Tasjan produces and does a splendid job at it. (8)

JADE JACKSON – Wilderness

A great punky country rock album by this young lady, produced by Social Distortion’s Mike Ness. People compare her to Lucinda Williams but sticking to her own generation I’d say she’s more of a kindred spirit to Lydia Loveless. (8)

JESCA HOOP – Stonechild

If you thought folk music is just fingerpicked acoustic guitars and gentle melodies, Hoop’s album will blow your mind with its totally bonkers songwriting and hallucinatory imagery. This is one of the weirdest, sexiest, most adventurous albums of the year. (9)

LUKAS NELSON & PROMISE OF THE REAL – Turn Off The News (Build A Garden)

After making a name backing Neil Young and Bradley Cooper’s character in “A Star Is Born”, Willie’s son and his band release a wonderful Wilburys/Petty-esque album. Guests include dad, Young, Sheryl Crow and Kesha. (8)

MELVINS & FLIPPER – Hot Fish EP

Melvins influenced every grunge and sludge band, and Flipper influenced Melvins, and this collaborative EP by two of America’s cultest cult bands is out on Amphetamine Reptile Records – a triple guarantee of quality when it comes to obnoxious noise. (7)

RACONTEURS – Help Us Stranger

The most fun/classic rock record Jack White has been involved with in a very long time. (8)

WILLIE NELSON – Ride Me Back Home

The guy’s almost 90 and he’s still releasing good albums, his voice is in top form and his guitar playing remains impressive. By the way, have you seen his guitar? It looks even older than he does. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – The Virtues (Television Series Soundtrack)

Dark soundtrack for a new British TV drama series featuring 6 new PJ Harvey tracks as well as contributions by Aphex Twin, Mono etc. (7)

Friday, 21 June 2019

Aw mom, you're just jealous, it's the Beastie Boys Book

Trust me, you've never read anything like it.

There's thousands of band/artist autobiographies out there and sometimes it feels like I've read them all, but this book is truly one of kind. Close to 600 pages long, it's not just the fascinating story of a truly unique band - it's also the story of New York City at the end of punk and the beginning of hip hop, a story of growing up in public, a story about artistic integrity and navigating the trappings of fame and, most of all, a story about friendship.

Chock-full of hilarious anecdotes and touching reminiscences, mostly written by Adam Horowitz and Michael Diamond but with the ghost of Adam Yauch floating over every page, it also features many guest contributors associated with the band in various ways: Author Jonathan Lethem, the band's original and ousted drummer Kate Schellenbach (later of Luscious Jackson), directors Spike Jonze and Wes Anderson, comedian Amy Poehler and others offer their own take on aspects of the Beastie Boys' career. There are many laugh-out-loud moments here, my favorite one probably being a prank Yauch played on Horowitz that started in 1992 with the punchline delivered 15 years later. Oh, and their 2007 gig in Athens gets its own chapter, thanks to the assholes who ruined that year's Ejekt Festival and set fire to the band's dressing room.

Read this book now. Or, alternatively, buy the audiobook where Horowitz and Diamond are joined by the voices of Snoop Dogg, Kim Gordon, Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, Jon Stewart, Ben Stiller, Bette Midler, Rosie Perez, Will Farrell, Bobby Cannavale, Reverend Run and dozens of others.

If you're a fan, this book is everything you've ever wanted. If your relationship with the Beasties is limited to the basics, you'll still enjoy it immensely. Right now, it's my favorite book ever.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, June 2019

BARONESS – Gold & Grey
Their magnum opus and one of the best metal albums you’ll hear this year. (9)

BILL CALLAHAN – Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest

Ex-Smog mainman and legendary indie rock Casanova (he has dated Joanna Newsom, Cat Power and a bunch of other high-profile female musicians) on low-key, quiet songs about settling down, sung in his trademark baritone voice. It’s OK, not great, but will get 9/10 and above from nerdy music critics with no romantic life of their own. (7)

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – Western Stars

The boss replaces the E-Street Band with strings and goes for a Burt Bacharach/Glen Campbell vibe. Solid songwriting and top-notch storytelling, as always. (8)

CALEXICO & IRON AND WINE – Years To Burn

14 years since they released an EP together, Americana heroes collaborate again for a new album. Fans of both acts will enjoy. (8)

EAGLES OF DEATH METAL – EODM Presents Boots Electric: Performing The Best Songs We Never Wrote

A bunch of cover versions even sillier than the band’s name. (6)

ELENI MANDELL – Wake Up Again

Having Chuck E. Weiss as a mentor must have been a VERY interesting way to enter the music business but Eleni has always had her own voice, and after 11 albums it has evolved into a strange but interesting hybrid of folk, pop, jazz and slowcore. (7)

JAKE XERXES FUSSELL – Out Of Sight

American folklorist unearths and modernizes a bunch of traditional tunes on his third album. (7)

JAMBINAI – Onda

This South Korean band plays the exact opposite of K-pop – a thrilling, epic mix of post-rock and metal with traditional Korean instruments that ends up halfway between Godspeed You! Black Emperor and, well, Emperor. (8)

THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG – New Organon

Celtic-tinged traditional metal without being Thin Lizzy karaoke. Better than the Bible Of The Devil album by the way, just saying since the two bands are linked in more ways than one. (8)

TITUS ANDRONICUS – An Obelisk

Their first album sort of sucked, the second ruled. Their third album sort of sucked, the fourth ruled. Their fifth album sort of sucked, this is the sixth and of course it rules – a true return to epic punk rock form. (8)

WARRIOR SOUL – Rock ’N’ Roll Disease

The band still rocks like a motherfucker but decades of debauchery have taken their toll on Kory Clarke’s voice – he used to sound like a punk Marianne Faithfull, now he sounds like a punk Marianne Faithfull being choked to death while suffering from bronchitis. (7)

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, May 2019 Vol. 2


CAVE IN – Final Transmission
Featuring bassist Caleb Scofield’s final recordings before his tragic death in 2018 this is a fitting epilogue to a great, great band. A big chunk of the album’s proceeds will go to Scofield’s young family so don’t be a dick, buy this. (8)

DEATHSPELL OMEGA – The Furnaces of Palingenesia

Chaotic, dissonant black metal might not be everyone’s cup of tea but Deathspell Omega excel at it. (8)

EARTH – Full Upon Her Burning Lips

Sabbath mixtape? Check. Pack of Rizlas? Check. Fridge full of Heinekens? Check. OK, I'm ready! (7)

HOT WATER MUSIC – A Flight And A Crash/Caution (Remastered)

The band’s fourth and fifth albums from the early 00’s remastered and reissued on vinyl. If you missed out on one of the best punk bands of the last 20 years the first time around, not unlikely as they were sometimes found under the unattractive and inaccurate “emo” label, now’s the time to repent and do something about it. (8)/(9)

HOT WATER MUSIC – Shake Up The Shadows

5-song EP does not deviate from the HWM canon of melodic, passionate punk rock. It’s out on Epitaph, their 2001-2004 label, if this signifies something to the fans. (8)

IFRIQIYYA ELECTRIQUE – Laylet El Booree

A fascinating amalgam of ritualistic trance music from the Southern Tunisian desert and industrial post-punk. (8)

LAST POETS – Transcending Toxic Times

Spoken word/proto-hip hop pioneers return less than a year after their last album following a long hiatus. Whereas 2018’s “Understand What Black Is” was reggae-flavored, this one’s funkier. Some of the poems have appeared on previous albums with a different instrumentation. (7)

LISA MORGENSTERN – Chameleon

Ethereal Goth nymph cosplays 4AD circa 1985. (7)

LONE JUSTICE – Live At The Palomino 1983

Unearthed and previously unreleased live performance. Don’t expect hi-fidelity on a two-track recording, to paraphrase Tom Waits this is music with the rinds and the seeds and the pulp left in, but after starting the set with a deceptively mellow ballad the band explodes into a frenzy of manic cow-punk that’ll leave you breathless, led by a frontwoman who’s nothing short of a force of nature. (8)

MAVIS STAPLES – We Get By

Legendary gospel/blues/soul singer turns 80 and still releases excellent albums, this time with some help from Ben Harper. (8)

PAICE ASHTON LORD – Malice In Wonderland (Remastered)

Reissue of 1977 minor classic from the extended Deep Purple family. “Ghost Story” is a timeless hit but the whole album is top-notch funk rock. (8)

RAMMSTEIN – Rammstein

When they bring on the Metal they sound pretty epic, on the more dancefloor-friendly tracks like “Auslander” they sound a bit Eurovision-y, but in a good way. The videos are pretty awesome. (8)

SAINT VITUS – Saint Vitus

Saint Vitus always sounded dirtier and moldier than their American Doom peers in Pentagram and Trouble, and the new album is VERY dirty and moldy, like it has just been dug up after twelve years in the tomb. And, having started out playing with Black Flag in the early 80’s, they come full circle and close the album with a real hardcore punk song. (7)

SHOW ME THE BODY – Dog Whistle

Third album by NYC band specializing in angular noise rock. I’ve read comparisons to Fugazi, At The Drive In and Death Grips, but to me they sound totally 1990 Jesus Lizard/Amphetamine Reptile. Check it out if you’re into that stuff. (8)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Jobcentre Rejects: Ultra Rare NWOBHM 1978-1982

Great compilation of rare recordings by obscure bands such as Baseline, Predatur, Frenzy, Die Laughing, Static, Metal Mirror etc., the only relatively known but long forgotten one being Spider. There’s nothing game-changing here like Iron Maiden or Diamond Head, just lots of good-time beer-soaked songs that in some cases are more Status Quo boogie rather than pure heavy metal, but in any case probably deserved better than a privately issued small-run 45 release. (8)

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, May 2019

THE HEAVIER STUFF

ARCH/MATHEOS – Winter Ethereal

Even though I’m a huge Matheos/Fates Warning fan I have to say this one sounds a bit forced – almost as if the main purpose of the occasional weird prog-metal time signature is to accommodate Arch’s verbosity and awkward phrasing. (7)

BAD RELIGION – Age Of Unreason

I love Bad Religion, one of my favorite punk bands ever, but this is not one of their best albums – it starts out really strong but somewhat deflates towards the end. They can still kick the ass of 99% of all other punk bands though. (7)

BIBLE OF THE DEVIL – Feel It

No surprises, just the expected Maiden/Lizzy worship with slightly off-key vocals. (6)

DUB TRIO – The Shape Of Dub To Come

Best known as frequent Mike Patton collaborators Dub Trio return with their first album in eight years, a metal/dub-reggae hybrid featuring special guest vocalists Buzz (Melvins), Troy (Mastodon) and Meshell Ndegeocello. (7)

ENFORCER – Zenith

They’ve got the hooks, they’ve got the mustache, all they need now is a stupid “human pyramid with mouths open” promo photoshoot and the metamorphosis into “Blackout”-era Scorpions will be complete. (7)

GRAND MAGUS – Wolf God

Heavy metal the way it should be, epic and catchy at the same time in the time-honored tradition of 80’s Manowar and Dio. (8)

L7 – Scatter The Rats

Grunge runners-up return after a 19-year hiatus. “Scatter The Rats” is OK for a brief nostalgia trip if you were there in the 90’s, but will be totally forgotten within a couple of months. (6)

MARISSA NADLER & STEPHEN BRODSKY – Droneflower

Gothic folk chanteuse teams up with hardcore/metal guitarist. Includes a cover of Guns’n’Roses’ “Estranged” because, apparently, Nadler likes dolphins. Recommended if you like black clothes and tons of reverb. And dolphins. (7)

PELICAN – Nighttime Stories

Do you remember post-metal? Do you remember Hydra Head? Do you miss that stuff? (7)

SABBATH ASSEMBLY – A Letter Of Red

Prog/occult rockers return with their most “pop” album to date, i.e. with shorter songs and catchier melodies, trying to recreate the 70’s but ending up with a very 2011 sound. (7)

VAURA – Sables

Members of Kayo Dot, Gorguts, Dysrhythmia, Tombs etc. explore their inner Depeche Mode/The Cure. I fucking hate Depeche Mode and the Cure. (6)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Brown Acid: the Eighth Trip

This is a great compilation series if you’re into obscure late 60’s / early 70’s hard rock and proto-metal, and its eighth instalment will introduce you to painstakingly discovered total unknowns like White Rock, Luke & the Apostles, Bartos Brothers Band and Moloch. (6 for the actual music, 11 for the concept and the effort)


THE OTHER STUFF

ALTIN GUN – Gece

What this Dutch/Turkish combo plays is supposed to be a tribute to the Turkish psychedelia of the early 70’s (yes, early 70’s Turkish psychedelia was a thing). I’m sorry, but to my ears it sounds too much like the Greek skyladika I grew up to hate. (5)

BIG THIEF – U.F.O.F.

It’s a charming little folk record but come on Pitchfork, 9.2/10? No way. (7.7)

BILLY JOEL – Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2

Sony Music re-releases, re-masters, re-packages etc. this one every few years, they just did it again and for good reason, if you need a masterclass in PERFECT songwriting then look no further. (10)

CAROLINE SPENCE – Mint Condition

An excellent country album by a very talented young woman who sounds like Dolly Parton, Sheryl Crow, Tom Petty and various Pistol Annies all rolled into one. (8)

CRAIG FINN – I Need A New War

The Hold Steady totally owned the 00’s. This is their leader’s fourth, and best, solo album – more subdued and quiet than his band’s output, but his storytelling just keeps getting better and better with each song packing more punch than a Bukowski novel. Seriously, if you can’t get into these songs you have no heart. (8)

DREAM SYNDICATE – These Times

Reimagined for the 21st Century, Steve Wynn’s band release their second post-reunion album and it sounds nothing like the previous one, so it’s exactly what you’d expect from the Dream Syndicate. Psychedelic and motorik at times, Beatles-y and REM-y and jangly at others, it’s a pure delight. (8)

FELICE BROTHERS – Undress

American rootsy folk rock quartet enhances its sound and goes political. Some of these tunes wouldn’t feel out of place on a Springsteen set. (7)

JOSH RITTER – Fever Breaks

With Jason Isbell at the helm as producer and Isbell’s band The 400 Unit providing the back-up, comparisons will be inevitable. (7)

MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO – Opaque Couche

Electronic music pioneers and important influence to everyone from Massive Attack to Nine Inch Nails return with a strong album titled after the world’s ugliest color and sounding quite 90’s-ish. (7)

LILA DOWNS – Al Chile

Mexican singer with otherworldly voice capabilities covers Manu Chao, invites guests like Norah Jones, and sings about immigration, injustice, politics, and cooking. Not her best album, still really good. (7)

LIZZO – Cuz I Love You

She can sing, she can rap, she can dance, she can even play the flute, and she can certainly join Janelle Monae and a couple of other multitalented black female artists on the list of possible heirs to Prince’s throne. (8)

RHIANNON GIDDENS WITH FRANCESCO TURRISI – There Is No Other

After releasing a magnificent album with folk supergroup Our Native Daughters, Giddens returns just two months later with a Mediterranean-flavored masterpiece working with Italian multi-instrumentalist Turrisi, and it looks like she might end up having two spots on 2019’s end-year List. (9)

VINTAGE TROUBLE – Chapter II, EP II

A further move towards a smoother sound, still influenced by their 60’s heroes like Otis Redding but with some of the dirt cleaned up. (7)

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, April 2019


THE HEAVIER STUFF

BIG BUSINESS – The Beast You Are

Heavy metal heretics are back to the two-piece format, and they sound fucking epic. (8)

DALEK – Respect To The Authors

Dense, suffocating hip hop/industrial hybrid on a tour-exclusive vinyl EP, from a group that’s much better than Death Grips if you ask me. (8)

DANIEL O’SULLIVAN – Folly

This is not “the heavier stuff”, to be precise it’s the exact opposite of heavy stuff, but since the guy also plays with Ulver and SunnO))) we thought we’d list him here. This is a fantastic and very English album that defies categorization but if you like Nick Drake AND Neil Young AND Soft Machine AND Current 93, you will love this. Check it out and then go out and discover Mothlite, the least known band O’Sullivan’s been involved with but arguably the best. (8)

DEVIN TOWNSEND – Empath

This is his 24th album I think, and it sounds like all 23 previous ones playing simultaneously. Surely the kitchen sink was left out by mistake? Totally bonkers, but in a good way. (7)

DRASTUS – La Croix De Sang

Epicus Blackus Metallicus. (8)

KULTUR SHOCK – D.R.E.A.M.

Gypsy punks return and blow the roof off the sucker. (8)

MANOWAR – The Final Battle I EP

Four tracks: A faux Hollywood instrumental, a sub-Judas Priest rip-off, a Celtic ballad counting on keyboards for the “epicness”, and one good song ruined by DeMaio’s decision to “sing” it himself. Time to go home boys. (5)

PUP – Morbid Stuff

Best punk rock album of the year so far. (8)

SUNN O))) – Life Metal

Majestic, hauntingly beautiful and FUCKING HEAVY. Not for the faint of heart though. (8)

SWANS – What Is This?

Weird acoustic tracks that seem to be a teaser/demo/foundation for the next proper album, which will apparently be recorded with a new line-up including Bill Rieflin (Ministry, King Crimson) and Anna Von Hausswolff. (7)

VLTIMAS – Something Wicked Marches In

Extreme metal supergroup featuring David Vincent (Morbid Angel), Blasphemer (Mayhem) and Flo Mounier (Cryptopsy), this is skull-crushing death metal at its best. Much better than anything either Morbid Angel or Mayhem have come up since 2000. (9)


THE OTHER STUFF

AMON TOBIN – Fear In A Handful Of Dust

Electronica pioneer returns after a long hiatus with one of his strangest records to date – no sign of the twisted sampled breakbeats that characterized his most popular work, but with a captivating icy atmosphere. (7)

ANDERSON .PAAK – Ventura

Less rap, more soul-funk this time around. Not bad, but he’s no Smokey Robinson even though Smokey guests here. (7)

BETH GIBBONS & THE POLISH NATIONAL RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA – Henryk Górecki: Symphony No. 3 (Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs)

Live recording from 2014 finally released, with Portishead vocalist discovering her inner soprano and singing in Polish. (7)

BHI BHIMAN – Peace Of Mind

Releasing the album as a podcast is an interesting experiment on music distribution, and the political sentiments expressed here are admirable. As for the music itself, I’ve previously called this guy “the Sri Lankan Ben Harper”, and I’ll stand by that. (7)

BUDOS BAND – V

Soul/funk/afrojazz/psychedelic rock band kills it with 10 instrumentals featuring fuzz-drenched guitar riffs, awesome horns and a drummer who wants to be John Bonham. Fun! (8)

JIMBO MATHUS – Incinerator

Introspective and more country than rock this time around, Mathus stays true to his Southern roots with another excellent set of songs. (8)

NORAH JONES – Begin Again

Refusing to be pigeonholed simply to cash in, Jones adds electronica and country flourishes to her jazz-pop, and from a purely artistic point of view it mostly works. (7)

LAST POETS – Understand What Dub Is

Dub version of last year’s “Understand What Black Is” album, which was reggae-based anyway so this works just fine. Light up a spliff and enjoy the poetry. (7)

PJ HARVEY – All About Eve

Original score for a new stage adaptation of a classic play. Lead actresses Lily James and Gillian Anderson both contribute vocals. It doesn’t sound like a PJ Harvey album and it’s hard to judge its effectiveness as a soundtrack without having seen the play, but of course Polly Jean fans will have to hear it, it’s a matter of principle. (-)

SHOVELS & ROPE – By Blood

Husband and wife team on homebrewed folk rock ditties. And no, their actual names are not Peter Shovels and Jennifer Rope or something along those lines, and this is probably the right time to admit that, for decades, I was under the impression that Barclay James Harvest was a trio of dudes called Barclay, James and Harvest. (7)

THIRD EAR BAND – Elements 1970-71 (expanded edition)

Obscure underground prog/freak-folk “classic” rediscovered, remastered and expanded to 3 CDs. Proves it had deservedly fallen into obscurity because it’s utter shite and for the most part sounds like a classical orchestra comprised of stoned amateur hippies (which I’m sure is what they were) unsuccessfully trying to tune their instruments before rehearsing together for the first time. (1)

TODD SNIDER – Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3

Solo acoustic album from Todd, basically just guitar and vocals and a bunch of witty songs recorded in Johnny Cash’s studio, with some help on backing vocals from his buddies Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires. (7)

WEYES BLOOD – Titanic Rising

Natalie Mering has just created some classic 70’s-style AM radio pop that brings to mind what the Carpenters and various assorted solo Beatles used to do, or what Father John Misty is currently doing. (8)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Late Night Tales: Floating Points

I love LNT, a chill-out compilation series built around the idea of making the perfect late night mix and the latest instalment, curated by electronica musician Sam Shepherd (AKA Floating Points), doesn’t disappoint – I’ve previously heard only one of the jazz, soul and ambient artists featured here but these beautiful rarities blend seamlessly into each other. (8)

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, March 2019


THE HARDER STUFF

EX HEX – It's Real

Female trio featuring Helium’s Mary Timony plays power pop halfway between Cheap Trick hard rock riffage and Buzzcocks angsty wit. (7)

O.R.K. – Ramagehead

Prog rock/metal supergroup featuring members of King Crimson and Porcupine Tree and an Italian singer who sounds creepily Chris Cornell-ish. SOAD’s Serj Tankian guests on one song. Impressive on the first listen but wears out quickly. (6)

SOEN – Lotus

I was going to describe this as a really good cross between Katatonia and Opeth, but then I realized that Opeth is already a really good cross between Katatonia and Opeth. (8)

TESLA – Shock

Produced by Def Leppard’s Phil Collen, it's no shock that “Shock” is a rather polished, poppy affair. Not bad, but I prefer my Tesla a bit dirtier. (7)

THE TREATMENT – Power Crazy

It’s almost as good as a bad AC/DC album, so it’s pretty good. (7)


THE OTHER STUFF

CACTUS BLOSSOMS – Easy Way

Another group of siblings goes for that Everly Brothers vibe, and to a large extent succeeds. (7)

CINEMATIC ORCHESTRA – To Believe

A new slice of downtempo jazzy semi-electronica from the masters. Gorgeous, essential nighttime listening. (8)

KEL ASSOUF – Black Tenere

Tuareg music might have originated in Africa, but Kel Assouf make it sound like it’s much closer related to Led Zeppelin than to Salif Keita or Ali Farka Toure. (7)

PATTY GRIFFIN – Patty Griffin

One of the best albums of the year by criminally underrated Americana singer/songwriter, this time incorporating some jazz elements into her folk/blues. Ex-boyfriend Robert Plant provides backing vocals on a couple of tracks. (9)

SOLANGE – When I Get Home

More experimental than its excellent predecessor “A Seat At The Table” and that’s not a bad thing by itself, but in this case it’s a bit all over the place and a hit-or-miss affair. (7)

STRAND OF OAKS – Eraserland

Timothy Showalter rocks a bit harder than his trademark Americana this time around, with studio help from Jason Isbell and 4/5’s of My Morning Jacket (who apparently brought their reverb unit along). Minus one point for the boring 17-minute experiment that closes the album. (7)

TOM RUSSELL – October In The Railroad Earth

Russell had made the List two albums back, in 2015. This time he settles for doing his best Johnny Cash impression. (7)

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, February 2019 Pt. II


ADIA VICTORIA – Silences
Her 2016 debut was one of that year’s hidden gems, and with an impressive second effort that builds up on her swampy blues/gothic Americana/garage punk hybrid Victoria firmly establishes her position as someone to watch. (8)

BLANK RANGE – In Unison

Somewhere between Americana and power pop you’ll find Nashville’s Blank Range with a solid sophomore effort. “Change Your Look” is such a great song! (7)

DIE KLUTE – Planet Fear

Industrial metal supergroup of sorts featuring members of Die Krupps and Klute (duh) plus Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares on guitar. Lots of repetitive drum machines, lots of synthbass, and not enough Cazares on a total 90’s throwback that sounds rather dated. RYIL “Metal Machine Music” (the 1992 Die Krupps single, not the 1975 Lou Reed monstrosity). (6)

DREAM THEATER – Distance Over Time

It’s around 70 minutes shorter than 2016’s double behemoth “The Astonishing”, but feels like it's two days longer. (6)

GALACTIC – Already Ready Already

A cross between jam band extravaganza and Meters-like hot NOLA funk. (7)

JESSICA PRATT – Quiet Signs

This time a Jessica Pratt album did not coincide with a Natalie Prass album so we’ll avoid the confusion. Indie folkie Pratt (not Prass) builds a more textured soundscape this time around with a set of beautiful songs that feel like you’re snuggly wrapped inside a soft fluffy blanket on a cold winter evening. (8)

OUR NATIVE DAUGHTERS – Songs Of Our Native Daughters

If the idea of a blues/folk supergroup consisting of four black female banjo players doing an album about racism, slavery and misogyny turns you off, you’ll miss out on the best album released in the first two months of 2019. It might help if we mention that one of the four is Rhiannon Giddens. (9)

R. STEVIE MOORE – Afterlife

Lo-fi/DIY pioneer releases what is probably his 400th album of homemade pop songs. (7)

ROTTING CHRIST – The Heretics

Some metalheads like 90’s RC, others prefer 00’s RC, and another bunch thinks 10’s RC is the best. This reviewer belongs in the latter category. (8)

RYAN BINGHAM – American Love Song

Californian roots rocker calls out the idiot orange-colored President, but even apolitical listeners will have a blast with the hard blues-gospel-country-rock rhythms and kick-ass guitars driving this album. (7)

SLEAFORD MODS – Eaton Alive

Americans do this political hip-hop/post-punk hybrid thing better, but they probably can’t come up with a line like "Graham Coxon looks like a left-wing Boris Johnson." (7)

THE BANGLES, THE DREAM SYNDICATE, THE RAIN PARADE & THE THREE O’CLOCK – 3 x 4

Each of the four main Paisley Underground bands covers songs by the other three. Fun project, especially hearing the Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn sing “The Hero Takes A Fall” which the Bangles, allegedly, wrote about him. (7)

THE CLAYPOOL LENNON DELIRIUM – South of Reality

Primus mainman and John’s more talented son join forces on weird technicolor prog-psychedelic album. Much better than their debut. (8)