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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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

Grayson Capps- Scarlet Roses (2017)

Posted by kb on 1/15/2018 to Reviews
The KISS principal  works in music as it does in most situations. Grayson Capps keeps it simple, stupid on "Scarlet Roses" and it works divinely. Capps' Americana is not daring or unique but instead an easy listen with just enough edge and to keep it from being mundane. His voice is world weary and he floats from sincere backwoods crooning to country soul to all out southern rock. He has a definite arena sing sing-a-long in Bag Of Weed and an epic wailer Taos. This would have been in my tops of the year if I stumbled upon in earlier. But it's better to find it then never to find it. So go out and find this.

Favorite Songs: Bag of Weed, Hit 'em Up Julie, Taos, You Can't Turn Around, Moving On

2. Kelley Stoltz- Que Aura

Posted by KB on 12/31/2017 to Reviews
Late release to come across my plate and praise be that it did. "Que Aura" is the best 80's release in years. It has the muddy drums, whispered lyrics, synths and echoes with hooks galore. His arrangements are layered but still sparse. Think of an 80's pop or goth act (big or small) and I bet you'll find it somewhere. Stoltz does this without losing his own identity. He's not in a time warp, he takes this retro sound and creates a palette of red and purple lights and his songs build more than those back in day he wades in. Those who grew up in the era will undoubtedly understand what I am saying. Those who didn't will hear something poppy that is fun and just a bit different.

Favorite Songs: Get Over, No Pepper For the Dustman, Walking Against the Greenlight, Empty Kicks

1. Dude York- Sincerely

Posted by KB on 12/31/2017 to Reviews
"Sincerely" is my most listened to album of 2017. They're indie rough but with enough polish to make them accessible to the novice listener. DY pretty much rock out but they do exhibit millennial emotion lyrically. My review in March would be considerably different today (Sincerely review). I liked it then, I love it now. Do an informal search of best ofs and you will see this album scattered in many. Most likely if you have heard this you will be in agreement on some level. If you haven't, please do yourself a favor and give this a go.

3. Dollyrots- Whiplash Splash

Posted by KB on 12/30/2017 to Reviews

Musical Pot Pourri for 2017

Posted by KB on 12/30/2017 to Reviews
Other 2017 releases worth being noted for certain reasons.

5. Spoon- Hot Thoughts

Posted by KB on 12/29/2017 to Reviews
Few bands can create consistently interesting albums like Spoon. Their sparse minimalist funk rock grooves at a start stop pace layering rhythms and sounds that almost feel like they're duct taped together (the songs Hot Thoughts as an example). Daniels' vocals interplay with the music as another instrument. "Hot Thoughts" only hiccup is the last jazzy number (Us) that can be easily skipped which helps keep this release feel cohesive and solid. Spoon is on a golden streak that doesn't feel like it will subside soon, unless they opt to go down that jazz path.

Favorite Songs: Hot Thoughts, Do I Have to Talk You Into It, Can I Sit Next to You, Shotgun

4. Black Angels- Death Song

Posted by KB on 12/29/2017 to Reviews

7. Charly Bliss- Guppy

Posted by KB on 12/28/2017 to Reviews

6. T.S.O.L.- The Trigger Complex

Posted by KB on 12/28/2017 to Reviews

9. GospelbeacH- Another Summer of Love

Posted by KB on 12/27/2017 to Reviews

8. Spiral Stairs- Doris and the Daggers

Posted by KB on 12/27/2017 to Reviews

10. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever- The French Press

Posted by KB on 12/24/2017 to Reviews
Jangly, wispy guitar pop that grows and builds to a full on guitar attack. Not as in crazy solos but as in multiple guitars inter-playing off each other creating layered textures. RBCF would have fit in just fine in the mid 80's REM period but they don't sound as if they are attempting to do that. They have pulled off two excellent EPs here is hoping for a full on LP release soon.

Favorite Songs: Julie's Place, Sick Bud, Fountain of Good Fortune

11. !!!- Shake the Shudder

Posted by KB on 12/23/2017 to Reviews