Sunday, February 10, 2013

Weekend Music Roundup

It's been a little while since I've contributed to the endless stream of internet ramblings. I have no excuse other than trying to focus my energy elsewhere, most notably on finishing the second draft of my novel. But alas, I have returned. And what more fitting way is there to jump back into the swing than with a fresh round of album reviews. As I have not been keeping up, I had a whole mess of albums to choose from for today's list. I decided on a little of this and a little of that, but basically these have been the albums I've been listening to over the past few weeks. Enjoy.

The xx - Coexist: Released in September, this is the London based dream pop band's long awaited follow-up to their breakout 2009 self-titled debut. Now I must confess that while I enjoyed the first album and thought there were a number of amazing songs on it, I wasn't completely won over the way many people were. So when this album came out, I didn't have the huge expectations of some. Perhaps that's why I found myself taken by surprise by what a complete voyage this album takes the listener on. None of it is unexpected, but that doesn't make it any less beautiful. There is something of a Massive Attack infused with the gentleness of Mazzy Star to this band that just really clicks. "Tides" is a real stand-out track.

Proud Mary - The Same Old Blues: This Manchester band was discovered by Noel Gallagher and the first signed to Oasis's Sour Mash label back in 2001. Noel went on to produce this album and it's downright lost classic. The opening track "Give a Little Love" is simply wonderful and the album never really lets up from there. Like Oasis, they wear their influences on their sleeve. From the Stones, to Creedence, they are steeped in 60's blues rock, but as with any great album, they bring something new to it. This is one of those albums I can't believe I missed for so long. Easily my find of the year so far.

Godfathers - Birth, School, Work, Death: This is the London garage rock band's second album, released in 1988, more than decade into the British Empire's economic woes. From the title and the title track, it's obvious this album espouses the traditional working class angst, railing against the system. Like all good garage rock, its power stems from its ability to drive a message home with hard hitting directness. There's definite influences of the punk movement that swept through a decade before, but equally influenced by the burgeoning indie rock of the time. A solid album with some memorable songs. Definitely worth checking out.

L.A. Guns - Hollywood Forever: One of the most under appreciated glam bands, L.A. Guns' 1988 debut ranks up there among my favorite of the era. I've continued to follow the band through their many line-up changes and they managed to record a few decent albums at the end of the '90s and early '00s. This is their first album of new material in ten years, and though founding member Tracii Guns is sorely missed, the record still pretty much rocks. The title track is great and Phil Lewis still sounds amazing. Nothing ground breaking here, but quality hard rock is a rarity these days. Worthwhile for fans of the genre.

Clinic - Free Reign: The four lads from Liverpool return with their first album in two years. The band continues to exist in the neo-psychedelic realms of their creation. It's one of the things that I've always enjoyed about them. Like Joy Division or even The Coral, their music belongs to some strange Interzone reality that survives only between the beginning and the end of the songs. This is a very enjoyable album and quite accessible even to those outside the psychedelic comfort zone. 

Goat - World Music: This is the debut album from the Swedish heavy psych band, released last summer. As the album title suggests, there are so many varied influences on this record. It pulls from all sorts of different music and miraculously, it all comes together into something quite wonderful. This is really one of those modern albums, something that couldn't have existed even 15 years ago. It's the kind of inclusive vibe that Cornershop was going for way back when but never managed to truly capture. This nearly made it onto my best of list for last year, and perhaps given more time, it might have.

Pop Levi - Medicine: I included this in my best of the year list without ever giving it a proper review, so I'm including it here again. This is the psychedelic pop rocker's third solo album, and first in four years. I've always enjoyed the way he fuses chaos with glam rock beats and was excited to finally hear this one. This is probably his most complete album. Every song captures the essence of what he's all about. A super fun freak out of an album. A real modern day Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

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