Yet another slow week for new releases, which gave me time to catch up on albums in the queue. I did manage to make good on my promise last week to listen to bands I'd never heard before. There are two 2014 releases from bands I'd previously never listened to. Both turned out to be enjoyable, which is an encouraging sign for me. I also listened to albums from bands that I'd only previously known from a few songs, so my attempts to broaden my horizons could be considered successful. This week's list is half new stuff and half old stuff, which pretty much represents my collection. Hopefully there's something on here that you find interesting. Enjoy.
Golden Animals - Hear Eye Go: Released last fall, this is the second album from Brooklyn indie psychedelic band, coming five years after their wonderful debut. Though I've had this in my iTunes for nearly seven months, it got totally lost. I loaded it, but never listened to it until this week, and I've been loving it ever since. This is the perfect blend of indie rock and psychedelic blues. It's uptempo, catchy, but just this side of weird to keep it interesting. It reminds me a bit of the new The Ghost of the Sabre Tooth Tiger, but also a bit like Dolly Rocker Movement and The Black Angels. Every song on here is pretty great, but my favorites are "All Your Life," "Never Was Her Name," "Most of My Time," and "You Don't Hear Me Now." This is one of those records that should have been on my best of list for last year.
Motion Sickness of Time Travel - Ballade for a Strawberry Moon: Rachel Evans has released 36 ambient drone albums under the Motion Sickness of Time Travel name since 2009. This is her seventh album of 2014 and it came out last month, and has already been followed up with another release, yet another album in the "Moon Series" which began last winter and already includes 11 albums. Needless to say, it's hard not to think that perhaps the output is't too ambitious, but drone is the one genre where output is understandable. The album consists of one hour long track, which builds nicely as it progresses. There's a fairy tale forest ambiance to it that I find intriguing, and suitable for listening to while writing. Not sure I'll delve into the entire "Moon Series" but I'll certainly check out a few more.
The Orwells - Disgraceland: The second album from the Chicago area garage rock band came out last month and has been getting a decent amount of attention and doing quite well on the College charts. There's a rough unpolished sound to this record that I've been digging. It reminds me early records by The Go but with a Midwestern punk vibe. "Who Needs Love," "Let It Burn," "Gotta Get Down," and "The Righteous Ones" are the standout tracks in my opinion. Overall a solid album for fans of garage rock.
The Grass Roots - The Complete Original Dunhill/ABC Hit Singles: Though the late '60s L.A. folk rock group never reached the heights of some of their contemporaries, they did manage to record a handful of unforgettable songs. I rarely go for greatest hits compilations, but for some bands it really makes sense, especially for bands that existed in the era of singles rather than albums. There's a racy side to their lyrics that easily show their link to The Doors, while their focus on melody shows their relation to Buffalo Springfield. Beyond the amazing "Let's Live For Today," there a couple of other wonderful songs, like their cover of Dylan's "Ballad of a Thin Man," "Wake Up, Wake Up," "I'd Wait a Million Years," and of course, "Midnight Confessions." Quickly becoming a forgotten group, so definitely worth checking out.
Saxon - Denim and Leather: The fourth album from one of the pivotal bands in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal is considered a landmark of the genre. Not as crucial as their "Wheels of Steel" album released a year earlier, but taken together their first four albums, all released in their first three years, are pretty incredible. More blues influenced than Judas Priest, the band would end up having a bigger influence on American metal in the coming decade. This album has a lot in common with Bon Scott era AC/DC which just fine by me. It's blistering rock 'n roll that screams to be played loud. "Midnight Rider," "Rough and Ready," "Never Surrender," and "Play it Loud" are my personal favorites.
Golden Earring - Moontan: Formed in 1961, the Dutch rock band is still releasing music today, but it was in the early '70s that they hit their peak. This 1973 album contains their one big hit, "Radar Love," a rare thing for an album of progressive rock to contain a radio hit such as that. Beyond that song, this is a quite good bluesy progressive rock album. "Are You Receiving Me" is a nine minute plus trip and perhaps the best song on here besides the hit. "Candy's Going Bad" is another quality tune, though more hard rock than prog rock. Some other songs miss their mark in my opinion, but overall this is still a worthwhile record.