Spring has finally arrived here in the foothills of the Catskill mountains and to celebrate, I've been rocking out this week. And whenever I think of rock, somehow L.A. always creeps into my thoughts. It comes as no surprise then that there are three L.A. bands on this week's round up. I also took some time to track down a couple records that I'd wanted for some time, and pulled one out from back in the day to give it a review just in time for the band's induction into the Hall of Fame. For the first time in months, there is no folk on this week's roundup. You can blame that on the weather. Hopefully there's something you'll like. Enjoy.
John Frusciante - Enclosure: Continuing in the synth/glitch style of his last album, 2012's PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone, comes the newest record from one of my favorite songwriters of all time. Though the style is similar, he does infuse a bit more of his traditional acoustic rock melodies into the vocal parts, making this a more accessible album. "Sleep," "Run," "Stage," "Fanfare," and "Zone" are all amazing tracks. Like his early work, this is one of those records that can take a few listens to completely appreciate, but also like those works, it's quite brilliant.
Royal Blood - Out of the Black: Released two weeks ago, this is the debut EP from UK noise rockers out of Brighton. Four tracks that show a ton of promise, this is heavy noise rock with garage rock undertones. This is the kind of high energy rock that has become rare these days and I've been loving every minute of it for the past week. It reminds a lot of Icarus Line, one of my favorite bands. As of now there is not an album scheduled for release, but hopefully that will quickly change. Definitely worth checking out.
Mobb Deep - The Infamous Mobb Deep: Nearly 20 years after the release of their groundbreaking album The Infamous, the Queens natives have decided to revisit the source of their greatest success. Coming five years after their disappointing last album, this was a welcomed return to form. It's clear they got a bit of their swagger back for this album and it's pretty tight throughout. "Check the Credits," "Say Something," and "Taking You Off Here" are some of their best tracks in over a decade. It also includes a second disc with re-recorded and alternate versions of The Infamous. It's nice to have them back and this should get plenty of play come summer time.
Christian Death - The Decomposition of Violets: Coming out of L.A. in the early 80's, Christian Death is a bit of oddity. Sounding like their British gothic post punk contemporaries, the band shunned the glam metal scene that ruled their city at the time. This 1985 live album, recorded in Hollywood, captures the band at their peak. It has all the darkness and eerie guitar work that a great gothic album should. It would be the perfect soundtrack to those long ago goth clubs that I ventured into while in High School, but unlike a lot of music that intrigued me at that age, this stands the test of time, managing to remain haunting after all of these years. "As Evening Falls," "Electra Descending," "Face," and "The Drowning" are among my favorites.
Tweak Birk - Under Cover Crops: This week I'd been listening to this psychedelic L.A. band's first ep again when I learned they had one that came out in 2012 that I'd completely missed. Having loved all their previous work, I quickly sought it out. They create stoner rock with incredible catchy hooks, something like Tame Impala but with the oddness of The Flaming Lips. Like their other albums, this one is heavy, fun, and completely rocks. "People," "Psychorain," and "Weight" are among my favorites. Great stuff.
KISS - Alive: This week I've been reading the Kiss cover article in Rolling Stone and it made me want to dig out this classic 1975 album. In true rock 'n' roll fashion, I stole this double CD from Tower Records back in 1993, though I'm sure the corporate mind of Kiss wouldn't approve. This is the album that really launched the NYC glam rock band into the mainstream. After mediocre success with their first three studio albums, the label decided they needed something that could capture the energy of their live shows, and the natural conclusion was to release a live album. From the blistering guitar opening on "Deuce" the album launches into a hard rocking evening. Ace Frehley stands out on this album, his guitar work is amazing. Peter Criss plays the drums with a swing rhythm that is captivating. Paul sounds great. And Gene's bass is as evil as ever. With songs like "Black Diamond," "Parasite" and "Strutter," it becomes clear how these pioneers assisted in saving rock from it's first declared death.