Sunday, March 11, 2012

Weekend Music Roundup

This week's list comes mostly courtesy of a record shopping trip I took on Wednesday. I still haven't gotten to listen to the entire plunder, but several of the albums I bought were rebuys of CD's I own. I try not to rebuy too much, but there is a rather extensive list of records that I will if I see them. Some of those are reviewed below. I've also been able to include those new releases that were not yet ready for review last weekend. And my viewing of Metal Evolution also continued this week, which means there is touch of that thrown in, with much more to come in the next several weeks. Enjoy.
Mars Volta - Noctourniquet: Thankfully I didn't have to wait long between the first single and the full-length. The band's first album in three years is just as expansive and complex as one would come to expect from the true heroes of the new progressive rock movement. It's slightly more focused however than their previous album, with shorter, more aggressive songs. All in all, another excellent album and worth the wait.
The Wooden Sky - Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun: A few weeks back, I reviewed the EP that preceded this full length album from the Toronto alt-folk band. This has been a favorite band of mine over the past five years, and with this, their third album, they've done nothing to lessen their standing. The songs are well-crafted and affecting. Sung with a mid-western twang, the songs have a country feel that serves them well. "Angelina," "Take Me Down," and "City of Light" are real standouts on a terrific album.
The Rolling Stones - Goats Head Soup: This is the first Stone's album I ever bought way back in 1996 and it has remained one of my favorites of theirs ever since. Released in 1973, it really marks the end of the Stones' peak period and sees them at their grimiest. This week I found an original US pressing vinyl for $10 (complete with the goats head soup insert) and had to have it. From the killer opening of "Dancing with Mr. D" to the sleaze groove of "Heartbreaker" and heartache of "Angie," Side 1 is one of the best sides of any record.
Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating in Space: I first purchased this on CD when it came in 1997 and it was easily a watershed moment in my listening development. Along with OK Computer, which came out the same year, this was a revolutionary album in the combining an electronica elements into rock. This week I picked up the re-release on vinyl and it sounds fantastic.
Abner Jay - True Story of Abner Jay: Little known blues pioneer Abner Jay played an electric six-string banjo to give his songs their unique sound. I got one of his albums a few years ago and was blown away by the rawness of it. This compilation was put together in 2009 and released on vinyl and when I came across it the other day, needless to say I was pretty excited. The album opens with the amazing "I'm So Depressed," truly one of the most affecting blues songs one will ever hear. The brutal honesty with which Abner addressed drug dependency is rare in the blues format and really makes his work stand out as a tale of one been down before.
Grateful Dead - American Beauty: This 1970 album was one of the last of the band's high period that I still needed on vinyl and I finally found a reasonably priced copy the other day. The band is truly perfecting their more country rock sound during this period and consequently put out their best work. Along with "Workingman's Dead" and "Wake of the Flood," this makes up the holy trilogy of their studio work in my opinion. You can really hear their influence starting to creep into the indie folk revival these days and that's a good thing in my opinion...freeing this band's legacy from the corny movement created by silly fans.
Thor - Only the Strong: Though this 1985 album is technically the band's second, it's really the first to feature the power metal sound that the band became known for. Born from the style of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, the power metal genre arose in the mid 80s and this album is full throttle power metal. Big riffs, high vocals and a pounding drum beat. Quite a good example of the genre despite the cartoonish look of the band. It hits all the right notes and rocks straight through.

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