Old Crow Medicine Show- Volunteer (2018)

Posted by KB on 5/18/2018 to Reviews
These boys write and record down home, shit-kickin', back woods Appalachian music that rocks, twangs and doesn't sound hokey- but remains traditional. "Volunteer" is the back yard barbecue hootenanny album of the year. Its a sing-along, happy blast. Hard not to kick it up and have a smile while this one is rolling. It stumbles just a bit at the end, but that first side. Glad that Old Crow won't be remembered as the group that gave Darius Rucker his biggest hit. Get the spoons out and play along.

Favorite Songs: Child of the Mississippi, Dixie Avenue, Shout Mountain Music, Flicker & Shine

Find It: Old Crow Medicine Show- Volunteer

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Okkervil River- In the Rainbow Rain (2018)

Posted by KB on 5/2/2018 to Reviews
Was reading about Okkervil's new release and it stated that this is the most non-Okkervil sounding album they've made. Most of the time this gets me all a titter since I like it when established artists/bands try something new instead of rehashing what they've been doing. So I appreciate Will and the gang did just that. Put out a MOR, poppy, non-alt-folk-rock album. But that's where my doting ends. IMHO, I don't feel it works. It's muted, soft and indistinct. Okkervil has always been a warts and all band where the emotion supersedes perfection. ITRR has their warts burned off which, to me, loses their essence. To the point where I didn't even bother to listen in on the songs lyrics (which Sheff excels at and is a highlight of their albums). Glad they ventured, but I hope they inch their way back to "Black Sheep Boy" territory.

Favorite Songs: Pulled Up the Ribbon

Find It: Okkervil River- In the Rainbow Rain

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Car Seat Headrest- Twin Fantasy (2018)

Posted by KB on 4/27/2018 to Reviews
Car Seat's "Teens of Denial" was my favorite album of 2016. It was touching, intelligent, socially aware, musically dynamic- basically brilliant. "Twin Fantasy" doesn't reach the same pinnacle, though there are some glints of greatness within the sprawling, sometimes unfocused, re-engineering of a past CSH recording. This makes sense since TF was released 5 years prior to Denial. In those 5 years Will Toledo has shown tremendous growth as a songwriter. While he still utilizes spoken phrases they are now not as prevalent as in the past and they fit better within his songs which I felt made TF slog or sound preachy at times. His use of soft to loud and deliberate noise is also currently more fluid. This is not an awful release, there are songs and parts of his songs that show the path to where he ended up on Denial. It's just not first or the second I'll reach for when needing a CSH fix. I'm looking forward to the next true actual release of new material to see if CSH continues their positive evolution.

Favorite Songs: Bodys, Cute Thing, High to Death (up til 1:24 left in song)

Find It: Car Seat Headrest- Twin Fantasy

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Ty Segall- Freedom's Goblin (2018)

Posted by KB on 4/18/2018 to Reviews
I'm coming late to the Ty Segall party having not been on board with his version of freak out rock until his last self titled release in 2017 and "Fuzz II". But this generation's Robert Pollard (don't believe me, just look up his discography) has just released his most accessible and melodic album to date- without losing his indie rock integrity. The songs on "Freedom's Goblin" vary from straight up rockers to blues to funk to ballads and nary a one sounds like another. Which is saying something since there are 19 tracks on FG. There is nothing formulaic about his writing. Each song sounds like they just spring up in his head and he spits them out in one take. They are properly loose but not meandering. Some songs crescendo, some do 180s and some stay the course. "Freedom's Goblin" is one of my favorites so far in 2018 and it could be the entrance ramp for a whole new set of ears.

Favorite Songs: Fanny Dog, Every 1's a Winner, Shoot You Up, She, My Lady's On Fire, And Goodnight

Find It: Ty Segall- Freedom's Goblin

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Decemberists- I'll Be Your Girl (2018)

Posted by KB on 4/11/2018 to Reviews
The Decemberists are an ever evolving group. They began as intellectual story tellers making their albums basically novels. On "The King Is Dead" they opted to put out songs- not necessarily a cogent concept. It worked and has allowed them to continue their growth. "I'll Be Your Girl" is their most pop (dare I say dance?) album with more electronics and beats but they retain the Decemberist's intelligence (last time you heard the word 'petard' in a song was..), creative song structure and interesting instrumentation that is expected. Rarely do bands mutate, while maintaining a signature sound and continue to be excellent, and arguably better. Currently one of the best releases of the year and the vinyl is stellar.

Favorite Songs: Once in My Life, Starwatcher, Everything Is Awful, We All Die Young

Find It: The Decemberists- I'll Be Your Girl

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Ron Gallo-Really Nice Guys (2017)

Posted by KB on 3/31/2018 to Reviews
So I guess the $3.53 price tag should have been at least a yellow flag. I saw RNG on Gallo's Bandcamp site and immediately got a little agog- "already a new release!" Well yes and no. RNG is more a satirical statement about the music biz, with a couple of decent songs intermingled. Lots of idle chatter about some of the banality of a musicians life. I'll allow you to parse and analyze the rest of the underlying messages yourselves- it's kind of self explanatory, and very true. Glad to see that irony ain't dead and that younger artists get it. But dang, don't dupe me like that again!

Favorite Songs: Really Nice Guys, You Tubular, Emotional Impact For Sale

Find It: Ron Gallo- Really Nice Guys

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The Men- Drift (2018)

Posted by KB on 3/23/2018 to Reviews
For me, The Men hit their high water mark with "New Moon" in 2013. The following year they added horns and released the solid "Tomorrow's Hits". They have loud, chaotic structure to their songs and their performances, and for these albums it just worked. The songs felt like they were one offed in a garage and recorded perfectly. On "Drift" it seems like this batch of songs, while one can hear their potential, needed a little more kneading. "Drift" almost sounds like the last demo run before the real deal. Vocals sound pitchy and harmonies not tuned. The guitars, gloriously crazy on "New Moon", are crazy but out of sync. One moment they loosely sound like VU, the next The Dead, the next Moody Blues. I am a fan so I will keep the faith. But in the end, I think "Drift" was self explanatory and needed direction.

Favorite Songs: Killing Someone

Find It: The Men- Drift

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Jimi Hendrix- Both Sides of the Sky (2018)

Posted by KB on 3/22/2018 to Reviews
"Both Sides of the Sky" is the third release of studio of official recordings from the Hendrix vault by the Hendrix family. Those who are avid Hendrix fans are going to devour this and dissect it and dream of what could have been. There is some great material here and there is some filler (most of side 4 if you have vinyl). What is most interesting, in my opinion, is the experimentation with sitar and other instruments, like demonstrated on "People, Hell & Angels", and rhythm noodling. The jamming with Stephen Stills is also interesting as is the beginning of formation of the Band of Gypsies. The recording quality is stellar showcasing his guitar prowess and if you do decide to dive into this consider the vinyl. It's an excellent pressing.

Favorite Songs: Mannish Boy, Hear My Train A Comin', Jungle, Georgia Blues

Find It: Jimi Hendrix- Both Sides of the Sky

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The Lovely Eggs- This Is Eggland (2018)

Posted by KB on 3/21/2018 to Reviews
Let's unfurl this year's freak-flag for The Lovely Eggs. Quirky, alt-punk rock where there is little in message but lot of noise. Good noise that loose and messy but somehow altogether. The drumming is the driving force and sounds like logs are used for sticks. The vocals and lyrics are easy to sing (um yell) with and the guitar is spasmodic and loud like White Hills. Listen closely and you can hear 60's garage rock interlaced with Kid Congo. The year is young, but this English import may be the most fun album of the year. (See their opinion of "fake encores")

Favorite Songs: Hello I Am Your Sun, Dickhead, I'm With You, I Shouldn't Have Said That

Find It: The Lovely Eggs- This Is Eggland

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Turnstile- Time & Space (2018)

Posted by KB on 3/20/2018 to Reviews
Punk is still alive and well. "Time & Space" is a good solid punch in the teeth. It's aggressive and angry, but with nuances that keep it from being monotonous like some punk can be. It's a succinct 13 power chord raging songs in 26 minutes that will help coping with a day that requires more motivation. T&S includes unique short instrumental interludes that keeps you off balance and breaks up the jet engine blast that's bombarding you. Similar to what the Beastie Boys would do on occasion. Those looking for noisy attitude this is your album. Just don't pop it on during date night.

Favorite Songs:
Real Thing, I Don't Wanna Be Blind, High Pressure, Right To Be

Find It: Turnstile- Time & Space

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Turnstile

Buffalo Tom- Quiet and Peace (2018)

Posted by KB on 3/20/2018 to Reviews
In the late 80's through the late 90's there were few bands that banged out consistent, steady alt-rock, power pop than Buffalo Tom. They had a big, full sound that wrapped around you and carried you to wherever their song went. It's with pleasure to state that "Quiet and Peace" has those qualities. The big chords and layered vocals are present and accounted for and they virtually sound like they did in day -though Janovitz sounds a bit more like Jacob Dylan, but that's no swipe. The album is solid, with one possible toss off, See High the Hemlock Grows. Like a favorite, comfortable pair of worn sneakers, sometimes its good if things don't change.

Favorite Songs:
All Be Gone, Freckles, The Only Living Boy In New York

Find It: Buffalo Tom- Quiet and Peace

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Ezra Furman- Transangelic Exodus (2018)

Posted by KB on 2/28/2018 to Reviews
There will be no release this year as dramatic as Furman's "Transangelic Exodus". The music is big like a modern Broadway musical, his aggressive vocal delivery demands you to listen and the lyrical context of relationships is angry, tender, irreverent, doubting, self actualizing- basically just like a relationship. The songs appear to become more fluid as the album progresses and maybe this is a metaphor of his getting a grip on his own situation (guessing here). Furman is known for his energy and there is no lack of it here. He sounds like he is bouncing of the studio walls to deliver his performance. The music is unpredictable and impossible to pigeon hole and just as you are settling in deliberately veers to make you feel uneasy- again, just like a relationship. So as in a relationship, pop this on and enjoy the challenge it brings.

Favorite Songs: Suck the Blood From My Wound, No Place, Love You So Bad, Come Here Get Away From Me, I Lost My Innocence

Find It: Ezra Furman- Transangelic Exodus

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Ezra Furman

Superchunk- What A Time To Be Alive (2018)

Posted by KB on 2/27/2018 to Reviews
Every then and then that angry album comes out. The one that is inspired, on point venom spewing (like Black Flag "Damaged", Nirvana "In Utero", NSW "Straight Outta Compton", Rage Against the Machine- S/T- plus many more). Superchunk has just released this one for this generation. A complete tirade on the (only year old) Trump regime, Mac McCaughan and gang rip through songs describing their disappointment in our POTUS and those who made him POTUS. No punches pulled, no sugar on the rice cake but lots of salt in the wounds. By the way, did I say it's angry? WTTBA rocks and should be the soundtrack for those who wish to piss and moan while we return our country back to sanity.

Favorite Songs: Let's just say the whole damn album.

Find It: Superchunk- What A Time To Be Alive

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Superchunk

Shack- H.M.S. Fable (1999)

Posted by KB on 2/23/2018 to Reviews
"H.M.S. Fable" jumped out of my collection begging me to put it on, because it has been awhile. Shack would have to be described as a wispy, full sound, poppy REM lite. That's not a jab because it works, for the most part. It works when it leans toward pop and fades a bit when it leans toward English folk. The songs have a big sound but not a loud sound. Picture a CD you would put on while sitting by an outdoor, night fire. This release is right in the middle of their discography and to be honest, I haven't ventured to their other releases. But I am never disappointed when I occasionally pop this one on.

Favorite Songs: Natalie's Party, Beautiful, Comedy

Find It: Shack- H.M.S Fable

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Shack

All We Are- Sunny Hills (2017)

Posted by KB on 2/19/2018 to Reviews
Was introduced to this one late last year. This is a band that wears its 80s new wave pop on it's sleeve, and they wear it well. All We Are doesn't sound retro, or dated. It's a refresher of that synth, big beat sound with added guitar edge. The dual vocals work well with Guro Gikling's being the punch and power. Close your eyes and you can almost see the bad hair and equally bad (but fun) videos of the time. Flock of Seagulls, Kate Bush, New Order, Human League.... you'll hear a little of each plus many more nods.

Favorite Songs:Burn It All Out, Human, Waiting, Punch

Find It: All We Are- Sunny Hills

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All We Are

Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention- We're Only In It For the Money (1968)

Posted by KB on 2/9/2018 to Reviews
Every couple of years I revisit early Frank Zappa releases. Being a fan of his genius and guitar playing on his 70's and 80's albums I tend to forget where he got started. So out came "Freak Out!", "Absolutely Free" and "We're Only In It For the Money". It's easy to dismiss some of the material as un-listenable or non-music if you take it just as it is ignoring the social commentary...


Hawaii Mud Bombers- Mondo Primo (2004)

Posted by KB on 1/30/2018 to Reviews
I really thought I was up on my Swedish pop punk surf guitar groups, but somehow this one snuck by. If the words "Swedish pop punk surf guitar" didn't intrigue then there is no hope for you. Okay, in all seriousness this was great stumble upon find. It is power pop with surf undertones at a punk speed splashed with gallons of fun. There is nothing deep here, and that is absolutely fine. Oh did I say there is also dixieland rock song? So, if gallons of fun sounds like something you would like jump into, find this and get your twist going.

Favorite Songs: The Act, Johanna Beach, Mondo Primo, Suzuki Samurai, Birds and Bees, MTV

REZZ- Mass Manipulation (2017)

Posted by KB on 1/26/2018 to Reviews
It would be a fib if I didn't disclose that EDM (all striations) is a bit out of my sweet spot. Lately I have had outside influences slowly guiding me into this realm. Some is just hip retail store background music and other, like REZZ's "Mass Manipulation", is actually something I can get behind. The electronic beats are simple but driving with a bit of aggressive abrasiveness that makes keeps each song fresh. Many electronic artists have a sound and beat that they don't venture from but REZZ meanders all over the place. You can move to it, you can chill to it or you can listen and just think to it. Those who rarely dip their toes into this genre, but welcome something new, I suggest giving this go.

Favorite Songs: Diluted Brains, Livid, Green Gusher, Ascension

The Blow- Brand New Abyss (2017)

Posted by KB on 1/23/2018 to Reviews
The Blow are a two woman band that play sparse, deeply personal synth music. The pair sing about longing, lost love, wanted love, pissy attitude and they do it where you can actually connect with their feelings. The music at first sounds like semi-structured noodling until you realize that it fittingly envelopes their lyrics. They will drift to be a little poppy or a little dance-y when they want to, but it's on their terms. Their one misstep is the more experimental The Woman You Want Her To Be. They also cover a classic Eagles tune by not really covering it at all. This won't be for everyone, only those who like very stripped down introspective songs.

Favorite Songs: Get Up, Summer, Peaceful Easy Feeling, Dark Cold Magic

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club- Wrong Creatures (2018)

Posted by KB on 1/22/2018 to Reviews
Still black light trippy but with fewer inspired riffs and grooves as in the past. There is a slowness to the album and a lacking of the big beat throbbing guitar rock they are known for. While a couple songs attempt to build and grow, some feel like they take to long and others just don't get there. Luckily there are a few solid entries like Little Thing Gone Wild, which hearkens to BRMC's expected drone/riff rock and Echo, a slower wafty pop ballad. This is by far not a horrible release, just a tad disappointing and as one who owns BRMC's discography it pains me not be all in.

Favorite Songs: Little Thing Gone Wild, Question of Faith, Spook, Echo