Saturday, October 18, 2014

Weekend Music Roundup

And so goes another week, gone to the past and never to be seen again. With more time on my hands this week, I managed to explore a wider range of music than I've been able to in recent weeks. My listening was all of the map this time around. Though focused almost exclusively on new releases with one notable exception, there's a lot of new albums by old artists on here. I found myself gravitating towards seeing what these people were up to these days. For the most part, I was digging what they were up to and therefore was quite glad I bothered to look in. This is a rock list for the most part, for which you can blame the unseasonably warm weather. Enjoy.

Mark Lanegan Band - Phantom Radio: Once upon a time in the days of my youth, Mark Lanegan was the singer of the mid-level grunge band Screaming Trees. After a handful of solo records he had his breakthrough in 2004 and had been transformed into a modern Tom Waits. And while I love that turn he made, I'm actually glad this album sounds more like the Screaming Trees in some ways. It's a little more ethereal, an element they always managed to incorporate into heavier rock music. "Harvest Home," "The Wild People," "Judgement Time" and "The Killing Season" are standouts for me.

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger - Long Gone EP: Following up the stellar release of their second LP earlier this year, Sean Lennon's revamped band released this five song EP last month. I really love their heavier psychedelic sound, now incorporated with a full band. When I saw them live last Fall, they played the title track of this EP, an epic heavy psych cover of the Syd Barrett tune. If that were the only song on here, it would be worth buying, but luckily there are four others. Their remake of their own "Dark Matter" brilliantly illustrates the band's progression in the last four years. "Early Worm" is a fun Beatles-esque piece of Far East influenced psychedelic pop. "Delilah" has that classic Sean Lennon feel which could've been on 2006's Friendly Fire and "Brand New World Order" fits right in with GOASTT dreamy sound from their first album. So in many ways, this EP is like a mini-composite of the band's career; past, present, and future.

Thurston Moore - The Best Day: The Sonic Youth frontman is set to release his new album next week and it's a blockbuster of goodness. It opens with two lengthy songs which are among his best solo efforts since 1995's Psychic ♥♥♥'s. He's always been able to find the space that exists within a song, stretch it out, and reveal hidden moments that you never knew existed. As much as I love these noodling, drone type creations of his, I also love the short quick rock songs and this album has a good number of those, the title track being among the best. A really great album, refreshing and familiar at the same time. 

Nikki Sudden - Fred Beethoven: This set of songs from Swell Maps founder, was released this summer, eight years after the singer's untimely death. Inspired by old school rock n' roll, this is a pretty fun album that reminds me of early punks covering '50s rock songs. It has the same playfulness about it, and the guitar work is brilliant. Nikki's voice isn't in the best of shape here, but that was never his thing. It's the energy and the vibe that carry this record. Probably only for fans, but for those fans, it's an interesting enough listen. "Debris," "Looking at You," and "It's Gonna Be Alright" were standouts for me.

Bass Drum of Death - Rip This: The garage rock band's third album came a few weeks ago. This is a by-the-numbers garage rock record, complete with steady drum beat, fuzzy guitars, and lo-fi noise. That's not to say it isn't enjoyable. In fact, it's quite enjoyable. It's just not anything you've never heard before. A two piece band, guitar and drums, they follow the format of The White Stripes and Black Keys, but manage not sound like either of those bands. If anything, they remind me more of The Strokes in their early days, only a little looser and frayed around the edges. "Black Don't Glow," "Lose My Mind," "Electric" and "Better Days" are standout tracks.

George Harrison - Wonderwall Music: The Dark Horse has always been my favorite post-Beatles Beatle, yet I'd never managed to get my hands on his first solo project, this instrumental album from 1968. Recorded during the Beatles later heyday, this album shows the bands growing interest in music from India, and their burgeoning journey into psychedelic music. Given that this is a film score, for the film Wonderwall, it feels understandably disjointed as the music is meant to illustrate unconnected scenes. Most of the tracks are too short to judge as honest songs, but a few of them are wonderful. "In the Park," "Drilling a Home," and "Ski-ing" are brilliant tracks in album otherwise best left as a curiosity piece.

Marianne Faithfull - Give My Love to London: Nearly forty years after her debut, the British contemporary folk icon released her first album in three years last month. On this album she sounds her bloozey best, like some character out of a Cabaret fiction with a powerful and ever present voice that can be hypnotic. There are some great songs on here, and the album manages to maintain an atmosphere throughout. A nice listen for creating a lounge like environment. "Mother Wolf," "I Get Along Without You Very Well," "Late Victorian Holocaust," and the title track are my personal favorites.

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