I spent most of this week listening to any number of the albums I've acquired in recent weeks. There's been so many fantastic releases lately that I must admit to having trouble keeping up with them all. I don't really like listening to music in a disposable way. I prefer to listen to an album until it becomes familiar, which can take several listens. Luckily, there is still a wealth of music in my catalog to be reviewed, allowing me to share with you a selection of mostly 2013 releases, with a few 2012 leftovers worthy of note. Enjoy.
Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction: This debut album from the southern stoner metal band was released last year and got a lot of praise. I picked it up after seeing it on some best-of lists. Musically, it's definitely compelling. There is a certain drone/doom quality to it that makes it easy to listen to. Vocally, it's average at best, but wisely chooses to keep the vocals tuned down so that they get lost in the music. For me, this album fell somewhere in between. I wished it would have either been heavier on the drone, or sped up. Not a bad album, just not a great one. I look forward to their next effort.
Adam Ant - Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter: The new wave pioneer returns with his first album of new material since 1990, and depending on your expectations, it's surprisingly good...for the most part. This is an incredibly uneven album, containing 17 songs. There are some shockingly compelling songs on here, like "Cool Zombie, "Stay in the Game," and "Shrink." There are also some painfully awful songs such as "Punkyoungirl," "Sausage," and "Who's a Goofy Bunny?" that perhaps never should have seen the light of day, except as a possible B-Side. Edited down to the quality tunes, this is definite a welcomed return and certainly worth checking out.
Wiz Khalifa - Taylor Allderice: Hailing from Pittsburgh, Wiz has been everywhere since 2006, building his reputation as one of the best rappers to emerge in the last decade. In addition to his endless list of guest appearances and four studio albums, he has released a number of mix tapes, including this one that dates back to last year. One of the reasons why he's so good is because of how versatile he is. His roots are definitely in the style of New York rappers like Nas, but he also slips easily into that laid back Cali sound or the erratic chaos of southern rap. This album features a little of each, along with some great spaced-out beats. (Available for free download at datpiff.com)
Blackmail - II: Though this German rock band has been around since 1997, I hadn't heard of them until this album, their eighth, was released last month. This is a moody rock album, with obvious 90's alternative influences, most notably mid-era Radiohead. However, it's much more conventional and less experimental. It reminds me a lot of one of my favorite underrated bands, Medal, and early I Am Kloot. Nothing really groundbreaking, but certainly a quality indie rock album that captures the feeling of a cloudy day.
Woodpigeon - Thumbtacks and Glue: Released last month, this is the new album from the Calgary based indie folk outfit. The arrangements are slightly more complicated than most indie folk these days, incorporating a lot of different instruments and harmonies. There is an aching beauty to the vocals that really pulls the album along. "Red Rover, Red Rover," is simply amazing. A really good album that stands-out from a lot of other releases in this genre.
Psychic Ills - One Track Mind: The new album from the Brooklyn neo-psychedelic rock band is their seventh. It follows 2011's brilliant Hazed Dream with a similar fuzzy beauty comparable to Spiritualized but with more of garage sound. There's a fantastic groove that runs through this record. Some stand out tracks include, "Might Take A While," "FBI," and "City Sun." The sun-washed vibe of this record will be perfect come summertime, but even in the meantime, it's quite fantastic.
Cancer Bats - Bat Sabbath: Bastards of Reality: A few weeks back I reviewed an album from this Canadian hardcore band and had mixed feelings. Then last week, this showed up and there was no way I could resist. There are five Black Sabbath covers on this EP; "Children of the Grave," "Into the Void," "Iron Man," "N.I.B.," and "War Pigs." While they stay true to the original versions, they bring their trademark energy to the songs, transforming them into slightly heavier tracks that flat out rock. Of course, I have a weak spot for covers, but this was fantastic.