Welcome to the first of what will most likely be many random lists of albums that I'll be listening to in the new year. In that spirit, I've made sure at least the first album on here is an actual 2011 release. However, most of the albums on here are older as I'm still awash in a mass of records that I was generously given for the holidays, many of which I want to share my enthusiasm for. A few quick notes on the Weekend Roundup before I dive in, though. First, I think I'm going to drop down to reviewing eight albums a week rather than ten, unless a week calls for it. That's because I no longer plan on reviewing albums that I seriously didn't like except in rare cases where it was album I'd been anticipating. I just feel the world is too full of people putting down other people's creative efforts, that I don't need to add to it. I'd rather share with you music that I truly enjoy.
earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1: This is the new album from the long time Seattle stoner drone band. I've been a fan of earth for over a decade and half, back in the days when they were palling around with Kurt Cobain and introducing me to the whole concept of drone rock. Earth III was one of those eye-opening albums in my early years. In the last few years, this band has released some of it's most brilliant work and this album is among them. The album is such a mood piece, full of dark soundscapes but with a keen ear for melody as well that keeps it from ever getting boring. Somewhat along the lines of the soundtrack work Nick Cave has been doing of late. Truly, a really great album.
The Duckworth Lewis Method: This 2009 album is a side project offering from The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon, a concept album which uses cricket stories as a metaphor for life. Anyone familiar with the eccentricities of The Divine Comedy won't think that sounds surprising at all. What is really surprising however is how unbelievably catchy this album is. Simply a fantastic piece of Baroque pop.
Admiral James T. - I see the pirates yellin' at their foes: A Zurich based artist, the Admiral's sound is a hard one to pin down. It ranges from garage rock to a much bigger pop rock spectrum, but never really fails to deliver. This is the second album, released in 2008, and it expands on the Kinks-y sound of the fist. In some ways it reminds me of Harry Nilsson's Pandemonium Shadow Show, drawing openly on many influences and rearranging them into something unique. It sounds something like Bowie meeting the Beatles.
Big Blood - Sew Your Wild Days Tour Vol. I and Vol. II: This has been the band that's really been blowing my mind this past week. A Portland, Maine based freak folk collective that's been battering around for the past five years, I finally crossed passed with their music this week and was instantly pulled in by it. An old-timey feel, in the same sense that Tom Waits is sometimes old-timey, but with an Elephant 6 jumble of sound to go along with it with a dash of O'Death style death folk tossed in. I've listened to both of these albums every day this week and continue to hear something new in them every time. This is kind of what I always wanted Animal Collective to sound like, but they never did.
Atomic Rooster - In Hearing Atomic Rooster: Born from the ashes of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster is one of the pioneers of the '70s hard rock sound. This, their third album, was released in 1971 and is pretty decent heavy blues album. This is the kind of album that if it came on in a bar, people would be rockin' to it for sure. "Head in the Sky" is the best track on here in my opinion.
Bronco - Country Home: The 1970 debut album from UK stoner folk rock outfit Bronco is a solid example of the genre. This is a band that was definitely inspired by American rock bands and it would honestly be hard to place them as British by listening to them. They sort of fall into the early '70s California folk rock sound but truly stand out with the track "Well Anyhow", an epic on par with other great epics such as 'Freebird'.
Elvis Presley - Elvis Country: This 1971 album is often considered the King's last great LP. The title is misleading though, as there is nothing 'country' sounding about this album for the most part. It's really an example of Elvis's comeback years where he was just cranking out fiery rock and roll. The version of 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On' flat out wails and sounds contemporary. Perhaps the oddest thing about this album is the inclusion of the song "I'm 10,000 Years Old" which appears on my vinyl as a broken track, meaning a snippet of it is played at the conclusion of each track, but never as whole. I dug around and found out this was a short-lived trend in record releases around that time. Honestly, it's most puzzling concept I've ever heard. It really comes off sounding kind of insane, but certainly adds to my enjoyment of adding this to my collection.
Babe Ruth - Babe Ruth: This UK hard rock band's first album, First Base, is one of my favorites of the period. It's a ferocious Jefferson Airplane meets Zeppelin classic from 1972. This album, the band's third, came out three years later and is the sound of a band in turmoil. There's some decent tracks on here, but as a whole, it's an inconsistent album. The dangerous edge from that first album has dulled and you can almost hear the band not getting along in the sound of the songs. But sometimes imperfect albums make for good listens and this is one of those instances. For fans only, but I certainly recommend First Base to any fan of '70s rock.