Friday, January 20, 2017

Black Friday

A few hours ago, a completely incompetent, arrogant, and dangerous man was sworn in the be the leader of the Free World. Ironic considering he was granted that position through a campaign of exclusion, belittling, and information suppression. Anybody who is not concerned about what a Trump administration might do is naive at best. The dangers are very real and the consequences are far-reaching. Despite this, I will say that I hope that he does a fantastic job. I hope he doesn't necessarily believe the things he's said. I hope a few months on the job will humble him. I hope, I hope, I hope...though I have little faith.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Weekend Music Roundup

The second weekend roundup of the new year has come and it brings you some interesting releases. Most of the albums on are from artists that are new to me. Though most were released sometime last year, I always like to take this time, typically a lull in new releases, to check out some things that I might have missed in the previous year. As always, I found a few nice surprise...and a few that I could take it or leave it. Hopefully you'll find something here worth checking out. Enjoy. 

All Them Witches - Sleeping Through the War: The Nashville band's fourth album is the second 2017 release that I listened to and it's another solid one. I wasn't all that familiar with these guys before jumping in and it was a nice surprise to hear their brand of psychedelic rock. It has a harder edge than most, but doesn't really fit into heavy psych. "Alabaster," "Don't Bring Me Coffee," and "Cowboy Kirk" were my personal favorites. 

Ryley Walker and Charles Rumback - Cannots: Over the past three years, Ryley Walker has become one of my favorite artists. This is an instrumental album he made last year with Charles Rumback. It's sort of dark and moody album, the kind of free folk that I love. The title track is amazing as is "Oft Rift." These are the kind of soundtrack songs that are great for creative work and I'm glad I was able to finally track this down.

The Doors - London Fog 1966: Released just before Christmas is this archival recording of The Doors in London before the release of their debut. It's far more bluesy than The Doors would come to be known for, while still containing the raw energy that they were known for. The performance is electric. It is the earliest known live recording of the band, making it a must for fans. 

Courtney Marie Andrews - Honest Life: The sixth album from the Phoenix based singer songwriter was released late last summer. This is folk music in the old Gram Parsons, Kath Bloom style, in that it is mixed with a true country flavor, not a twangy one, but a roots one. As the title would suggest, this is an honest sounding album that I enjoyed. It's nothing earth shattering, but it's a good listen. "Table for One" is my personal favorite. 

Hyde - The Seeds of Doom: The self-released doom metal debut from the Belgium band is an interesting album. It takes vocals that could easily be The Cranberries and pairs it with melodic metal. This is something that has been going on for several years now, and while I like the mixture, I'm still waiting for the album that puts it all together perfectly. This is a decent listen, but it's not that album. There were moments where it all came together, but they were too infrequent for me.

The Powder Room - Lucky: This is the second album from the Athens, GA noise rock band. It came out last fall, and I admit to only giving it a go because I was attracted the cover. This reminds me of the heavier noise rock outfits of the '90s such Jesus Lizard and Tad, but with vocals closer to Helmet's In the Meantime. "Deep Dish," "That's No Way to Live," "Black Dress," and "The Elitist" are standout tracks on a solid album.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Rabbit Strikes Again

A little late for this, but needed to be reported. For the third year in a row, I managed to say "Rabbit Rabbit" upon waking up on the first day of the year. Over the past several years, I've come to see this as the ultimate controller of luck. This will be the fourth year that I've managed to do this in the last five, and the previous three were good ones, with luck showing up in strange and mysterious ways.  The traditional way that "Saying Rabbits" works is to say it every first of the month, but I only do it on the first of the year, which makes it extremely challenging, and especially potent. I give thanks to all the rabbit gods, those mysterious keepers of time, and wish you all the best of luck in the New Year.   (For More of My Thoughts on the Superstition, check here.)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Weekend Music Roundup

Welcome to the first weekend of the new year. I always try to get at least one release from the new year in the first Roundup and once again, I've succeeded...and once again, it's a good one. There are also a few last minute 2016 reviews, including two that made my best of list. Beyond that, there are a few older albums that I picked up with Christmas money. All in all, I'm starting the year off right. I've always believed that everything good starts with good tunes, so hopefully you will all start of 2017 feeling groovy. Enjoy.

Ryan Adams - Prisoner:  The first 2017 release that I listened to and it's a good one. The rocker's 15th solo album is his first in nearly three years and his best in over a decade. His Taylor Swift cover album saw him get in touch with his 80s rock sound, a sound which he also did quite well in the singles leading up to his last album, but which failed to show on there. This is 80s rock guitar at its best. "Shiver and Shake," "Breakdown," "Doomsday," and the title track are standouts on a remarkable album.

Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today: Originally released in 2007, this was re-issued on RSD in 2010 and I finally tracked down a copy in my browsing. The British stoner metal band is among the best in the genre and I've been collecting their releases on vinyl for the the past half-decade or so. This is another gem in their catalog. Deep, dark grooves and heavy psych flair, this is another must have for fans.

John Coltrane - A Love Supreme: Along with Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, this is considered the ultimate jazz album. Though I've long been familiar with it, both digitally and on CD, I recently found a beautiful used copy on vinyl and purchased it with Christmas money. This is the golden era of jazz and a record that captures emotions in sound. A flawless album that everybody should have, even those who claim not to like jazz. 
Matt Pond PA - Winter Lives: Originally from Philly, the Brooklyn based indie band's 11th album in their nearly 20 years of existence is actually the first of theirs that I own, though I have been familiar with them to some extent. This was a late entry into my best of 2016 list. It fits in with indie singer songwriter stuff like Josh Ritter and Josh Rouse, but is void of some of the cheesier moments that I often find in those two. There's something deeply honest about this record without wallowing in depressive sentiment.

Shana Falana - Here Comes the Wave: This is the fourth album from the dream pop indie artist who is a local from my parts, and another late edition to my Best of 2016 list. The local radio has been playing a few of her songs quite a lot and I received the album for Christmas and have been really into the allusion to a 90's sound that hides in the recesses of these songs. Though it's technically "dream pop" it definitely has a darker feel. Not nightmarish, but certainly upsetting dreams, like Marianne Faithfull.

Blodwyn Pig - Getting To This: Mick Abrahams, the original guitarist of Jethro Tull, left the band in '68 because he wanted the band to be more blues based. He left and formed Blodwyn Pig who released two albums in '69 and '70 that are essentially blues based Tull. The first album is fantastic, and so it this one, the second and last one for twenty five years. This is a must for fans of the '60s heavy blues.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Star Wars: Rogue One

With the extra day off, I was finally able to get to the movies to see Star Wars: Rogue One. I'd planned to see it just before Christmas, but other obligations prevented me from making it. So when an opportunity presented itself last night, I jumped on it. 

Going into the theater, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was fairly certain that I would enjoy it. I've been a huge Star Wars fan since childhood. I have a rather large figure collection to this day. I enjoyed the prequels. I loved Clone Wars. I'm even a fan of the Ewok Adventure movies, the Ewok cartoon, and Droids. so there was no way that I wasn't going to enjoy it. The question was, would I appreciate it beyond the simple fact that it was an addition to the Star Wars universe, which is kind of how I felt about The Force Awakens

I have to admit that I like the fact that Rogue One doesn't fit directly into the trilogies. I like that it fills in a gap. It's like how they made three-part episodes of the Clone Wars, telling a short story that applies to the entire galaxy. It doesn't necessarily add story, it enriches story. This did a fantastic job of that. And they did a fantastic job of weaving it in with A New Hope. There is certainly the chance to do the same for period between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi...maybe on Cloud City? 

It was also nice to get away from the traditional Star Wars narrative. The dialogue broke from the typical stiffness of some of the other films. The story was darker (and far more violent). This was a delight, and a movie that can be watched again without feeling the need to watch seven other parts before or after.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017!


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Weekend Music Roundup BEST OF 2016!

The year is over and I know a lot of people out there aren't going to miss 2016. It was a rough year for music as far as legends passing away. But it was also a great year for music with so many wonderful albums being released. I listened to over 500 releases from this year, which is about my average. I never understand when people say music died in some year or other. The music in any given year is as good as any previous year, you just have to know where to look. Here are my favorites of the year in no real particular order, except my absolute favorites are at the top. Enjoy.

Honorable Mentions:
Wolf Parade - EP 4
Alcest - Kodama
Band of Skulls - By Default
Black Rainbows - Stellar Prophecy
David Bowie - Black Star
Brian Jonestown Massacre - Third World Pyramid
Castle - Welcome to the Graveyard
The Cave Singers - Banshee
Dinosaur Jr. - Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
Eye - Vision and Ageless Light
Shana Falana - Here Comes the Wave
Guided by Voices - Please Be Honest
Kings of Leon - Walls
Merlin - Electric Children
Psychic Ills - Inner Journey Out
The Sore Losers - Skydogs
The Strokes - Future Present Past EP
Wall of Death - Loveland
The Warlocks - Songs from the Pale Eclipse
Wilco - Schmilco
Neil Young - Peace Trail
Rob Zombie - The Electric Warlock Acid Witch...
Richard Aschcroft - These People

Compilations- There were also a few compilations put out by favorite artists of mine that I don't consider new albums, and therefore don't qualify for the list, but these three were among my favorites of the year, so they get a special shout out.