Saturday, October 4, 2014

Weekend Music Roundup

The weekend is upon us, and so recaps a strange week of listening in my world. It felt as though I was running around most of the week, and had to catch up on my music hobby in spurts. As a result, in addition to a handful of welcomed new releases, I found myself picking and choosing from acquired albums that I'd been waiting to here for some time. There is no theme this week, as I've returned to an array of rock, folk, and weirdness. Some were a little more interesting than others, while a few felt sort of disappointing, but I'm hoping they are simply albums that need time to grow on me. However, I try to keep my thoughts focused on the positive aspects of everything, so hopefully you'll be inspired to check them out and make your own judgments. Enjoy.

Lonely Kamel - Shit City: The Oslo stoner metal band released their fourth album at the end of August, following up three well-received previous records. This follows the established formula for heavy stoner rock; driving riffs, steady pounding rhythm, and Led Zeppelin meets Black Sabbath vocals. There's been a wave these bands emerging from Scandinavia over the past decade, and Lonely Kamel definitely belongs with the best of them. Though there's nothing remarkably groundbreaking here, the vibe and effect are undeniable. "Nightjar," "White Lines," "Falling Down," and the title track are my current favorites.

The Wooden Sky - Let's Be Ready: The first album in two years from the Toronto folk rock band was released last month. This is the band's fourth album, and their previous three are among my favorites of the last decade. This album has a similar alt country feel to their other albums, with perhaps more emphasis on the rock aspect. Like the new Ryan Adams record, this takes its cues from 80's radio rock influences, but manages never to feel retro or derivative. Definitely their most mainstream sounding record, this album should appeal to most fans of the current folk rock movement. "Baby, Hold On," "Shake for Me," and "Saturday Night" are my personal favorites.

Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Blank Generation: It's almost embarrassing that it's taken me 38 years to finally acquire this landmark NYC punk album from 1977. Like other New York bands from that era, it defines punk rock, while being so much more than just punk rock. Like Television, New York Dolls, and The Ramones, the roots of this album is old style rock n roll played with hyper energy. In this album, you can also hear the birth of the No-Wave movement. This is a dynamic record that manages to still feel exciting almost forty years after its release. The title track is one of the best songs of the era and should be heard by everyone. Other standout tracks are "Who Says? (It's Good to Be Alive)," "I'm Your Man," and "New Pleasure".

Efterklang - Kids Open Ends: The Danish post-rock band released this 7" over the summer, their first new material in two years. It consists of two moderate length experimental mood pieces. While it's an interesting little object, the band is capable of better. It sort of feels aimless, but perhaps it was just one of those moments where they felt they needed to get something out, and let's be honest, quite a lot of 7" releases are for "fans only". Still, there are moments in each song where they're Floyd shines through, and for those moments, it's worth a listen.

Secret Colours - Positive Distractions: The Chicago based neo psychedelia band put out their third album this past spring, following up on last year's wonderful "Peach." Released in two parts, this album takes even more inspiration from 60's psychedelic garage rock. Great hooks and catchy rhythms commingle with dreamier moments, creating a spectacle of enjoyment. Later, it was released as one album, but I like to view it as two, with the Part I being a little more psychedelic garage and Part II a bit more polished psychedelic pop. There isn't a bad song on here, but my favorites would have to be "It Can't Be Simple," "City Slicker," "Get To the Sun" and the title track.

Sol Invictus - Once Upon a Time: Last week, the London neofolk band released their 15th album since their 1990 debut. Though I'd tangentially heard about them over the years, this is the first one of their records I've heard. I was drawn to the gothic country sound of it which reminded me of Those Poor Bastards but far more intricate. In some ways it feels like Legendary Pink Dots weighted down with a heavy darkness. One of those albums that really needs to be listened to in one sitting. At times it's quite remarkable, but at other moments it didn't stir me. "Our Father," "Mr. Cruel," and "The Villa" were my favorite songs. 

Royal Blood - Royal Blood: After their fantastic debut EP this past spring, I'd been looking forward to the UK rock band's debut album. Released at the end of August, this is a heavy blues rock album that shares some qualities with Antemasque, and their previous At The Drive-In incarnation. There's a mixture of garage and blues that gives the songs an exciting rock quality that, while not exactly new, is very well executed. Easily one of the more impressive new rock bands this year. My only complaint is that 3 of the 10 songs were on the EP, but the seven remaining are all just as good.

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