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.
Posted by KB on 4/18/2018
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
More Info: Ty Segall
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.
Posted by KB on 4/11/2018
Favorite Songs: Once in My Life, Starwatcher, Everything Is Awful, We All Die Young
Find It: The Decemberists- I'll Be Your Girl
More Info: The Decemberists
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!
Posted by KB on 3/31/2018
Favorite Songs: Really Nice Guys, You Tubular, Emotional Impact For Sale
Find It: Ron Gallo- Really Nice Guys
More Info: Ron Gallo
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.
Posted by KB on 3/23/2018
Favorite Songs: Killing Someone
Find It: The Men- Drift
More Info: The Men
"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.
Posted by KB on 3/22/2018
Favorite Songs: Mannish Boy, Hear My Train A Comin', Jungle, Georgia Blues
Find It: Jimi Hendrix- Both Sides of the Sky
More Info: Jimi Hendrix
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")
Posted by KB on 3/21/2018
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
More Info: The Lovely Eggs
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.
Posted by KB on 3/20/2018
Favorite Songs:Real Thing, I Don't Wanna Be Blind, High Pressure, Right To Be
Find It: Turnstile- Time & Space
More Info: Turnstile
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.
Posted by KB on 3/20/2018
Favorite Songs: All Be Gone, Freckles, The Only Living Boy In New York
Find It: Buffalo Tom- Quiet and Peace
More Info: Buffalo Tom
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.
Posted by KB on 2/28/2018
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
More Info: Ezra Furman
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.
Posted by KB on 2/27/2018
Favorite Songs: Let's just say the whole damn album.
Find It: Superchunk- What A Time To Be Alive
More Info: Superchunk
"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.
Posted by KB on 2/23/2018
Favorite Songs: Natalie's Party, Beautiful, Comedy
Find It: Shack- H.M.S Fable
More Info: Shack
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.
Posted by KB on 2/19/2018
Favorite Songs:Burn It All Out, Human, Waiting, Punch
Find It: All We Are- Sunny Hills
More Info: All We Are
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...
Posted by KB on 2/9/2018
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.
Posted by KB on 1/30/2018
Favorite Songs: The Act, Johanna Beach, Mondo Primo, Suzuki Samurai, Birds and Bees, MTV
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.
Posted by KB on 1/26/2018
Favorite Songs: Diluted Brains, Livid, Green Gusher, Ascension
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.
Posted by KB on 1/23/2018
Favorite Songs: Get Up, Summer, Peaceful Easy Feeling, Dark Cold Magic
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.
Posted by KB on 1/22/2018
Favorite Songs: Little Thing Gone Wild, Question of Faith, Spook, Echo
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.
Posted by kb on 1/15/2018
Favorite Songs: Bag of Weed, Hit 'em Up Julie, Taos, You Can't Turn Around, Moving On
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.
Posted by KB on 12/31/2017
Favorite Songs: Get Over, No Pepper For the Dustman, Walking Against the Greenlight, Empty Kicks
"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.
Posted by KB on 12/31/2017