I've been playing a little catch-up this week with some music that I've been wanting to spend a little more time with before reviewing. I know I've mentioned this many times before, but for some reason the seasons really effect the kind of music that I'm really digging at the time. It's probably all conditioned from childhood, but regardless, autumn always seems to be dominated by a bit of comfort listening. By that, I mean that a lot of what I listen to falls into the folk category, but it also means listening to a lot of bands that I always return to. This list seems to represent that quite well.
Manic Street Preachers - Postcards from a Young Man: The new album from one my favorite bands of all time (and easily one of the most ignored bands in the States) finds the Welsh trio returning to their massive sound of such albums as This Is My Truth.... and the more recent Send Away the Tigers after last year's Journal for Plague Lovers saw them revisiting the more 'manic' sound of previous releases The Holy Bible and Everything Must Go. Though I prefer the later, I'm still a big fan of the Manic's bigger arena sound ('an attempt at mass communication' as Nicky Wire describes it). This is another solid album from the band, with a number of very strong tracks that will inevitably go down with the band's best work. That said, it's not as innovative or powerful as their last album and far from my favorite of theirs...but considering they have 3 albums in my Top 100 of all time, that's not really saying anything. All in all though, another stellar addition to their catalog. "Golden Platitudes" with it's stings and choirs is an instant Manic's classic. Viva La Manics!
The Rainy Daze - That Acapulco Gold: This 1967 album is the only one released by the Denver psychedelic garage outfit. It's brand of mellow psyche rock is certainly nothing I haven't heard before but that doesn't make it any less listenable. It has a distinct '67 San Fran scene mood to it and like a lot of albums from that time, more than few good cover versions of popular songs. Their cover of "Baby I Need Your Loving" is possibly the best track, along side "For What It's Worth" and "Try A Little Harder." The one original track worth checking out is "In My Mind Lives a Forest", a little lost gem of fuzzed out psychedelic rock bliss.
The Bray Brothers with Red Cravens - Prairie Bluegrass: This is a collection of various radio broadcasts from '61 and '62 performed on local stations. The band plays a whole host of bluegrass standards that sound wonderful. These are top quality musicians playing timeless music. There's also a whole heap of amazing pickin' going on. Good stuff.
The Stands - All Years Leaving: This Liverpool band was born from the ashes of The Big Kids (some members later joining The Zutons). This, their debut album, was released in 2004 but I didn't discover until this week when listening to an Oasis compilation of collaborative tracks (Noel plays guitar on the track 'Some Weekend Night'). Wow, was I ever missing something! A combination of The Beatles divine melodies and Dylan's intensity, this is truly a stellar album. It reminds me a lot The Rosewood Thieves, a band I've raved about recently here. They have a second album released a year later that I will certainly be checking out sooner rather than later. Check out the great track "Outside Your Door."
Leon Russell - Leon Russell: The 1970 debut album for blues rock legend Leon Russell is like a darker, edgier version of early Elton John. His rich voice fits beautifully with possibly the best piano work in hard rock. The two amazing tracks "A Song For You" and "Hummingbird" are unforgettable. Well worth the $1 that I paid for this on vinyl.
Scorpions - Tokyo Tapes: If all you know about this German band is the comical "Rock You Like a Hurricane" than you are missing one of the most phenomenal '70s metal bands around. During that decade, with guitar legend Uli Roth in the band, Scorpions released some of the most amazing albums you'll ever hear (I'm talking about you 'Virgin Killer'). I had my eye on this double vinyl all summer long at the local record shop, putting off my purchase, secure in the knowledge that nobody else in my town would want this. Their loss. This concert album captures the band shortly before Uli Roth's departure (and the band's subsequent fall from relevance). All of the 'Virgin Killer' tracks are naturally amazing, along with "In Trance" and the Hawkwind-esque speed metal gem "We'll Burn the Sky." Phenomenal.
Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs - Medicine County: This new album by the dark alt-country pairing was released last spring. I loved their previous album so much that I ventured to buy this one on vinyl and was rewarded when I opened it to discover it was marble colored vinyl (yes, I'm music collecting geek and things like that make me happy). This album is quite remarkable, reminding of The Rolling Stones more honky tonk moments on Exile On Main Street.
Thin Lizzy - Shades of a Blue Orphanage: The Dublin band's second album from 1972 is very different than the band's later and more famous style. More of a soulful blues folk, Shades of a Blue Orphanage is varied in the way only albums from the early '70s can be. At times it reminds me of the early solo efforts of David Crosby or Graham Nash. The six minute plus title track is brilliant along with "Brought Down" which seems to foreshadow the band's later material. One of those albums that sets a great mood for writing.
The Enemy - We'll live and die in these Towns: A group of young lads from West Midlands play a British Pub-Punk sound in the style of Dogs or even very early Manic Street Preachers. The songs are standard, but sincere, anthems of working class outrage and rebellion. There's nothing really original on this 2007 album, but it's an okay entry into the genre. Attitude can only take you so far after all.
Grateful Dead - Wake of the Flood: This is a band I'd long discounted for one reason or other, but last winter my opinion started to change with a listen to their first live album. I started to grow curious about the band and wanted to hear more. After all, I'm a big fan of all the bands they hung out with and recorded with and figured it was possible that my opinion was a case of a band's later caricature of itself hampering my judgement. I bought this 1973 album (the first release on their own record label) on vinyl and must confess to listening to it just about every other day since. It's mellow San Fran groove rock sounds simply fantastic. The only down side is that now I have yet another band whose HUGE catalog I'll have to sift through.