Sunday, March 1, 2015

Weekend Music Roundup

The bitter cold returned this week, but this time it was kind enough to bring with it a whole host of records that I hadn't been expecting. If I had known most of these were coming out, needless to say, they would have been highly anticipated. Three complete surprises in one week is a lot, and three from some of my favorite artists is a rare treat. The first one, and the first album on the Roundup, sort of set the tone for my musical taste for the week. The cold weather, and my current writing project, led me back to the strange comfort of psychedelic folk. I figured it was a good week for it, besides, I need to get it out of my system before spring comes and wipes the slate clean. Hopefully you'll be just as excited to see these as I was. Enjoy.

Big Blood - Double Days I & Double Days II: Over the past half decade or so, this psychedelic folk duo has become one of my favorite bands, blessing the world with one stellar release after the other. Following up last year's two exceptional albums, they've released this two part album last week. It seems with each release, they just keep managing to get better and better. Their music always transports me to a world that somehow seems to match the universe inside my mind. "Double Day," "Babies Looking Weird," "Go See Boats," and "Endless Peace" are standouts. Also, there is an amazing cover of The Cure's "Disintegration" and Black Sabbath's "Planet Caravan" that are brilliant. But perhaps the most brilliant song is "You're Crushing My Heart" which is sung by a child. Easily a contender for best albums of the year.

Elvis Perkins - I Aubade: In the "Holy Shit! I didn't know this was coming out" category this week is the new record from one of my favorite songwriters. This is his first release since 2009, and his third full length album. Here, he scales back his folk style into a skeletal psychedelic folk that reminds me a little of Tim Buckley. The music is so beautiful and spiritual that it nearly feels holy. What it lacks in campfire singalong qualities, which his previous work did so well, it gains in artistic purity. "My 2$," "The Passage of the Black Gene," "All Today," "My Kind" and "I Came for Fire" are my personal favorites. Another album that is sure to be there at the end of the year for my Best Of List. 

Stoned Jesus - The Harvest: Due out this month is the fourth album from Ukrainian stoner metal band. Naturally, I was drawn to this by the cover and the band's name, both of which are brilliant. Heavy drums and guitar dominant this album, giving it a driving pulse that keeps it moving forward in ways that some stoner rock records forget to do. While it doesn't push the genre as far as say Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats or Electric Wizard, they still manage to deliver an electric set that satisfies. They have a dynamic sound, sounding a bit like Black Sabbath as times, such as the opening minutes of "Silkworm Confessions," but then changing into something more akin to Kyuss. A very solid album and a nice contribution to the collection. "Rituals of the Sun" is a must-hear track. 

Robert Wyatt - '68: This archival recording was released back in 2013, and chronicles the Soft Machine leader's creative burst that helped guide the band's first three albums between '68 and '70. This four song album includes two roughly 20 minute long tracks, one which would appear on the band's second album and the other on the third. They demonstrate the band's movement from the Canterbury Scene and into the jazz prog-rock arena. These versions are a little less polished, but also a bit more honest sounding. A really enjoyable listen. "Chelsa" is a gem and this version of "Moon in June" is fantastic.

Bill Ryder-Jones - Home Recordings Jan/Feb 2015: As the title makes clear, this is a set consisting entirely of covers that the Coral guitarist recorded over the past two months and released on his bandcamp page. This is his second such album, the other one covers recordings from the previous two years and is also available on his site. He chooses excellent songs, all of which fit his style perfectly. Rather than making them sound new or different, this is just a fan playing his favorite songs and enjoying it. Some of my all time favorite songs are on here, like "Baby Lemonade" and "Riverman," and every one is done in a scaled down acoustic version with just Bill's voice and guitar. A fantastic album of covers.

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