Saturday, October 20, 2018

Weekend Music Roundup

As promised, this weekend the Roundup returns to its usual format of random ramblings about music that I've been listening to recently. There a few new releases from bands that I've long loved, as well as a new debut record that I'm really into. There's two older albums that I recently discovered on vinyl, both of which I really like. So all in all, lots of love on this week's list. Hopefully you will all find something to love as well. Enjoy.

Basement Revolver - Heavy Eyes: This is the debut album from the Canadian indie band. It has a decidedly 90's indie rock feel, reminding me of little known, but much liked, bands Enormous and Helium. But it's also very much of today, reminding me of Best Coast and others. The female vocals work great with the music. "Words," "Wait," "Johnny," "Johnny Pt. 2," and "Dancing" are standout tracks for me. 

Duke Ellington - Ellington Uptown: Released in 1953, when jazz was in full swing and drifting in many directions, this record is a bit of an artifact of that shift. The first side of the album is Ellington's Big Band sound that he'd done for years prior, while the second side sees the move into Hard Bop. I love Duke's blend of Big Band, but I really gravitate toward the second side, with two great tracks, "A Tone Parallel to Harlem," and "Perdido." Not to mention, that I love this cover.

The Coral - Move Through the Dawn: The ninth album from the UK indie band is their first in two years. This is a band I've been following since their debut 16 years ago, and this is a return to the more upbeat sound of their early years. Though I love the darker, quieter sound of their last album, it's nice to hear their bluesy Beatles-esque sound once again. Some of my favorites are "Stormbreaker," "Sweet Release," "Strangers in the Hollow," and "Eyes of the Moon." 

Erase Errata - Other Animals: The 2001 debut record from the No-Wave, noise rock outfit from San Fran was one I was lucky enough to find used on vinyl a ways back. My wife has known the bass player forever, long before the band existed, so it has a lot of personal significance for us. Oddly, this band emerged around the same time as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and have a similar feel in their debuts, except this is much more NYC sounding, ironically as the other band is from NYC. This takes the no-wave sound of the 80s, and improves it with the addition of some melody and structure. This is the kind of record that is not for everyone, or for all times, but when your in the mood, it's wonderful. "Tongue Tied," "Delivery," "1 Minute," and "Fault List" are my personal favorites.  

Suede - The Blue Hour: This is the ninth album in the London band's 25 year career, and their first in two years. I've followed this band since the mid-90's and like a lot of bands, there certainly isn't any comparing their early work with their contemporary work. In fact, I'm not really sure it's fair to try because the sensibilities of one in their 20s is different than it is in their 40s. Brett Anderson shouldn't be held to creating the revolutionary BritPop glam rock of three decades ago. That said, this is still a Suede record and it does feel like Suede. There is an eerie mood in the celebration of the fringes of the world in the tales told, as there always has been.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The End of the F***king World

I haven't watched much TV of late, but devoured this British series (on Netflix) over the past two weeks. Based on a graphic novel by Charles Forsman, this series is about two teenagers who brought together, not so much by fate, but more by chance. Both James and Alyssa have family problems and tough family histories and their shared misery brings them together...after James decides not to murder her, of course.

This plays out like a quirky Natural Born Killers with teens, and with characters that more realistic and identifiable. Told in alternating perspectives from Alyssa and James, the viewer gets to know and care about both characters in a way that makes them both relatable and likable, despite their worst flaws. I also loved how such a tragic love story is infused with so much humor. 

A very quick watch and I highly recommend it.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Weekend Music Roundup

Welcome to the weekend. This week, the theme is straight out of the garage. This is a list composed entirely of garage rock from the 60's, 80's and today. The genre has been going strong for over 40 years despite little change in the format or the sound. It's also a genre that I've been really into for most of my life and thought it was a good idea to group up a lot of the recent new discoveries I've made. If you don't like garage rock, don't worry, next week we'll return to our regularly scheduled ramblings. Enjoy.

The Creation Factory - The Creation Factory: The debut album from the Mystic Braves side project is a similar 60's inspired mod garage revival record. Fronted by Mystic Braves' Neil Soiland, this is a band that taps into the early Kinks energy to create wonderful tracks that sound straight out of time. Sure, there are people that will feel it's too derivative to be relevant, but I disagree. If you love that music, why not love a new record of that music. It's like finding an artifact from the past and it rocks. "Girl You're Out of Time," "I Don't Know What to Do," and "Without You" are my favorite tracks.  

The Cynics - Blue Train Station: This is the 1986 debut, from Pittsburgh garage rock revival band. It has the fury and chaotic energy of classic garage rock bands like The Sonics but also the complexitity of garage rock bands that followed, like Dead Moon. I was relatively unaware that this scene existed in the 80's and was pretty much blown away by this record. Sure, it's garage rock and all garage rock sounds like garage rock, but each period has it's own style. "On the Run," "Waste of Time," "No Friend of Mine," "Hold Me Right," "Why You Left Me," and "I Want Love" are amazing tracks on this amazing record.

Ty Segall and White Fence - Joy: This is a collaboration album with the Cali psychedelic garage band and the most prolific psychedelic garage rocker around. This is Ty's second album of the year (a third one is set for release later this year). It doesn't stray from the sound he's established over the years and is another great example of his talent. White Fence's contribution gives his sound a little more space to exist within, but this is very much a Ty album. "Please Don't Leave This Town," "Good Boy," and "My Friend" are my personal favorites. 

The Remains - The Remains (Deluxe Mono Edition): The Boston garage rock band released one album back in 1966. I recently came across them thanks to a new Live album that was just released. I came across the 2009 Mono reissue on Sundazed Records at the local shop and quickly snatched it up. This band had the energy and edge of The Rolling Stones and the same affinity for interpreting the old blues sound into rock. Along with other gems like Sonics Boom and The Ugly Ducklings this is one of those lost treasures that is worth picking up if you ever come across it. "Lonely Week-end," "Don't Look Back," "You Got a Hard Time Coming," "Time of Day," "I Can't Get Away From You," "Baby, I Believe in You," and "All Good Things" are my personal favorites. 

Bass Drum of Death - Just Business: The fourth album from the Oxford, Mississippi garage rock band is pretty much what one might expect from the band. Not much has changed in the four years since their last record. This is still straight up garage rock. If anything, it's a little less gritty than previous records, as is typically the case for a garage band that's been around 10 years or more. "Third Coast Dreaming," "Failing Up," "I Don't Wanna Know," and "Leaving" are my personal favorites.

The Vipers - Outta the Nest: The 1984 debut from the New York City garage rock band was a recent pick up. As I mentioned on a recent review of The Cynics, I was unaware of the 80s garage rock revival and feel as though I missed a whole genre of great music. This has an L.A. garage rock feel, with psychedelic joy mixed in with the grit. "Nothings From Today," "Now I Remember," and "Cheated and Lied" are my personal favorites. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Juliet, Naked

This past weekend, I went to see Juliet, Naked with the Missus. It's a movie based on a novel by Nick Hornby, best known for High Fidelity. Like that story, this one is a sort of doomed love story rooted in a plot about music. What I love about his brand of love stories is how they are informed by the fact that love is often an intense form of friendship, and that real love can't exist without friendship.

The cast was wonderful in this movie. Ethan Hawke as the 90's indie songwriter that gave everything up and walked away, was brilliant. He was funny, yet moving when the reason for his walking away was revealed. Chris O'Dowd was hilarious, as always. But the real center of the movie is Rose Byrne who portrays a character's dissatisfaction with her current life, and the difficulties one faces in trying to change that situation. 

This is one of those movies that is probably not that memorable. The kind that years later, you might not remember the plot. But it's the kind of movie that affects you as you watch it, and those thoughts will stay with you even when the lights fade. I really enjoyed it and recommend it.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Weekend Music Roundup

 The weekend is here and you all know what that means....more ramblings about music that I've been grooving to lately. This week features all new, and newish releases, from bands that are both new to me, as well as some old favorites. There's a wide range of tastes on here, from dance rock to hip-hop, to stoner metal and garage punk. You know what that means there is definitely something on here that would be worth your time to check out. Enjoy.

The Kooks - Let's Go Sunshine: The first album in four years from the UK indie rock band is another solid effort. Their fifth studio album, this maintains the dance-rock sound they've worked hard to cultivate during their nearly ten years of production. Though not quite as unique or gripping as their last album was, this is still another quality record. "Kids," "Believe," "Chicken Bone," "Swing Low," and "Weight of the World" are standouts for me on this one. 

Armand Hammer - Paraffin: The third album from the Queens hip-hop duo is my first introduction to them and it's pretty amazing. It's roots are clearly in 90's NYC hardcore hip-hop, but they revolutionize that sound with dark beats, muffled vocals, and the inclusion of jazz beats used sparingly, but expertly. This is an album that shouldn't be missed. "Sweet Mickey," "Rehearse with Ornette," "Hunter," "Vindaloo," and "Bob Barker" are standouts on the best hip hop album of the year for me.  

Mac Bolan - Home Demos Volume 2: Tramp King of the City: This is part of an upcoming archival release of home recordings from the T.Rex frontman. Over the past two years, Bolan has become on of my favorite performers. Though I'd been listening to T.Rex for over 20 years, it wasn't until recently that I fully realized Bolan's genius and have been infatuated with his work ever since. These recordings are the kind that I've really been into, these scaled back demos that highlight his talent. Every song on here is fantastic, but some standouts for me are "Slider Blues," "Sunken Rags," "Telegram Sam," "Is It True What They Say," and "Take Me Down to Birmingham."

Chastity - Death Lust: The debut album from the one-man band out of Canada is a churning ocean of fuzz. Parts shoegaze, parts noise rock, and parts post-hardcore, this is a record that's hard to define but appealing in its chaos. Though it's lack of any real melody is sometimes frustrating, it didn't take away from my enjoyment so much that I wouldn't recommend it. "Scary," "Heaven Hell Anywhere Else," "Chains," and "Come" are my personal favorites. 

Motorowl - Atlas: This is the second album by the German stoner rock band and after last years surprise awesomeness of the band Motorgun, I had to take a chance on this one. The riffs on this record are pretty great and everything comes together in all the right ways. Fast and heavy, but it does seem to lack that intangible 'something' that would make me love it, but I certainly like it. "To Give," "To Take," "Infinite Logbook" and "Norma Jean" are my personal favorites. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Supreme Chaos

Before I start to talk about what happened yesterday during the re-opened Judicial Committee hearings, I would like to remind everyone that this is all happening because the Republicans changed the Senate rules two years ago to ram through another justice by getting rid of the filibuster, which essentially required justices to have 60 yea votes to get confirmed. That rule meant that justices typically needed support from both sides in order to get their lifetime appointment. Once that rule was destroyed, we were pretty much guaranteed to get the kind of circus we've had this past week. By taking away any ground for a minority party to stand on, the result was destined to be desperate measures and obstructionism.

As for yesterday, let me start by saying the Dr. Ford was completely believable. She came off as honest, intelligent, and full of integrity. Having been a victim of sexual assault myself, at the age of 12, I know how difficult it is to tell anyone. I didn't reveal it to anybody for 16 years, and then only after I wrote a novel based on those experiences and felt compelled to tell those closet to me. It's still not something I like to talk about, and to see Dr. Ford tell her story to the world, was moving. Those who attack her for not saying anything sooner are simply clueless as to how all of this works in the life of the victim. If nothing else comes of this (which sadly it looks as though nothing else will come of this), I hope she gave others the courage to speak up.

On the other side, I found Judge Kavanaugh to be overly defensive and combative, which in my personal experience are traits of someone who is not telling the truth. He repeatedly side-stepped answering the question of whether or not he would support an FBI investigation, which, as he said over and over, would not provide conclusions, but would allow trained investigators to follow-up on the sworn statements provided by other witnesses. As a judge, I was surprised that he would take a sworn statement at face value, and I strongly doubt he would feel same in his own courtroom. Guess what, Judge, people lie in sworn statements.

Now I agree with those who are saying the actions of someone at the age of 16, 17, or 18 shouldn't define a person's entire life. We've all done things as teenagers that we probably are not proud of. However, in order for others to accept that, the first step is admitting to those things, apologizing for those actions, and only then is forgiveness an option. After yesterday, I'm left believing what Dr. Ford alleges happened actually happened. And had Judge Kavanaugh admitted that it may have happened (even if he didn't recall because of drinking, which he also seems to want to downplay), the conversation would be different. But if you're lying, you are essentially calling her a liar and thereby assaulting her all over again. I believe that a person can change and that he very well could be a different person today, but the act of lying about it tells me that you are not a different man today and that you still don't believe it was wrong, or if it was wrong, somehow you are entitled to those actions and that the experiences of the victims don't count.

I will also say that I think it's shameful the way both parties are politicizing sexual assault for their own gain, either by attacking accusers or by using them as tools. It's not that I don't believe the Democrats are sincere, I think they are. However, the whole way this unfolded showed that they were playing politics with the life of a real person, and that is not right either. But again, I blame the change in the rules for forcing them into that position. The rest of us are left with a government so divided and so mean spirited, that it will do nothing for the American people, only for the base of one party or the other.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Weekend Music Roundup

Welcome the first Roundup of the Fall! The weather is true to the calendar this weekend, gifting us with perfect early autumn weather, my favorite weather for listening to music. This week I take a look at some new releases that I'm excited about, as well as an old favorite. There's a mix of music on here, and a few lesser known artists. Hopefully you'll have some time to find something new to check out. Enjoy.

Emma Ruth Rundle - On Dark Horses: This is the L.A. based singer songwriter's follow-up to 2016's fantastic "Marked For Death," one of my favorite albums from that year. This record channels the same gloomy vibe as the previous, with incredibly crafted songs of sadness. Verging almost on Dark Wave, this is a bleak folk record that is nearly perfect for grey days. "Control," "Dead Set Eyes," and "Light Song" are my favorites on this stellar album. 

Murder By Death - The Other Shore: This is the ninth album from the gothic country outfit out of Indiana, and their first in three years. I've been a fan of this band for fifteen years, since their second album from 20003. Over the past several years, they sort of fell into a lull, but I'm happy to say this album sees them coming out of that, with this strongest effort in ten years. "True Dark," "Stone," "I Have Arrived," and "Last Night on Earth" are my personal favorites. 

John Lennon - The John Lennon Collection: Released two years after his death, this was meant to be a greatest collection of Lennon's solo work, though I would argue a bit with the track listing (nothing from Plastic Ono Band? really?). Despite that, this is a wonderful collection of Lennon's second life after the disbanding of that outfit he got his start with. Usually, I avoid collections like this, but this album was given to me by a friend, and it's a welcome addition my Lennon collection, though it should never be a sole stand-in for his work. 

Older Sun - Older Sun: The debut album from the San Fran heavy rock band is heavily inspired by early 70's and late 60's heavy psych. Being that I love that genre, I was naturally looking forward to hearing this record. It's pretty standard hard blues rock with minimal psych elements. My biggest problem with this record was that the singer doesn't really have the chops to deliver the soulful vocals that the album is going for. It's not that he can't sing, it's just that it felt a little flat for the power of the music. "Sometimes" was my favorite track where I think the sound all came together the best.

The Internet - Hive Mind: This is the fourth album from the L.A. neo-soul outfit, but my first encounter with them. This is one of those genre mash-up kind of albums that reminds me of efforts in the '90s to mix soul, R&B, and hip hop. This feels like a cross between trip-hop bands like Morcheeba crossed with Brand New Heavies. This is a great groove record that keeps the vibe going throughout. "Come Together," "Stay the Night," and "Look What U Started" are my personal favorites on this album that is totally L.A. all the way.