Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weekend Music Roundup

It's the weekend again, one day after my favorite music related Saturday of the year. That's right, yesterday was Record Store Day! And while there weren't really any special releases that I was coveting, I always make it a point to visit at least one store on that day to show my support, and splurge a little bit on some gifts for myself. Because I'd recently bought a bunch of new releases, I decided to visit the nearby used vinyl store this time around. I hadn't been there in a while, and was curious to see what they had. I found some pieces that I'd been looking for, most I probably won't review as they were re-buys of albums I have on CD, but needless to say, it was a good day. It's also been a good week for new releases and I've actually had some time to listen to them. Hopefully you'll find something here to seek out on your next record store day. Enjoy.

Built to Spill - Untethered Moon: Due out this Tuesday is the eighth album from the indie rock legends, their first in six years. Always one of the most consistent indie bands since the late '90s, they've always created intelligent and interesting music, and this record is no different. From the opening nostalgic affirmation anthem, it is clear that this isn't the work of a band trying to capitalize on the summer festival reunion/comeback circuit. This is the sound of an artistic band that still something to say. "All Our Songs," "C.R.E.B.," "Living Zoo," and "Never be the Same" are among my personal favorites.

Trickfinger - Trickfinger: Released last week, this is John Frusciante's first full length release under his acid house name. Given his ever increasing interest in glitch pop and experimental music, this is a natural progression for him to make. Definitely more listenable than some of his other recent side projects. This basically amounts to a DJ set, only with original music. As with everything John does, the quality is high and there's an attention to groove, which is maintained throughout. Definitely worth a listen for fans.

The White Stripes - Under Amazonian Lights: As part of Jack White's on-going Third Man Records vault releases, this famous 2005 concert in Brazil was released last month in a vinyl box set to fan club members. The first rock band to play in the historic Opera house, this show was groundbreaking, and the band was in rare form, partially due to Jack's recent marriage and high spirits. The recording quality is brilliant. One night of a band at their peak, when they were the biggest rock band on the planet, forever captured in all its glory. A must have, but the limited edition assures the set comes with a hefty price tag.

Cancer Bats - Searching for Zero: Released last month, the Toronto punk band's fifth album is perhaps their most accessible to date. That's not to say it is any less heavy than their previous records, but there is definitely more attention to rhythm. It reminds me of the change Fugazi made with their fourth album, turning away from hardcore and toward indie rock. This has a Death From Above dance punk feel that suits them well, though it's much more metal leaning than anything Death From Above has done. "True Zero," "Buds," and "No More Bull Shit" are standout tracks for me.

Josh Rouse - The Embers of Time: The native Nebraskan singer songwriter's eleventh solo record was released earlier this month. Though I'd listened to him in the early days of his career, about a decade ago, I didn't ever follow his work too closely. Then last weekend, he was doing a radio show on the Woodstock station and played a few tracks from the record that made me take notice, including the stunning "New Young," a brilliant lament about how he, and the current folk singer crop, will never be as iconic as the likes of Neil Young, and yet somehow that song seems just as good as any of the "classics". For most of the album, Josh sounds more like Paul Simon than Neil Young. There's a beautiful simplicity to his melodies and a clarity to his voice that makes this feel like an old familiar record. Besides the previously mentioned "New Young," "Ex-Pat Blues," and "Time" are outstanding tracks on a very good album.

Kath Bloom - Pass Through Here: For nearly 30 years, Kath Bloom has been recording her unique style of folk music. In a way, she reminds me of Marianne Faithful translated into American roots folk. She has a similar tragedy to her voice that makes it unforgettable and beautiful. Though it definitely should be noted that she has one of those "love or hate" voices. "Criminal Side," "Bubble Bath," and "Pacify Me" are my personal favorites. Definitely something to check out if you are tired of all the folk-pop crowding the market today.

Cinderella - Night Songs: The '86 debut from the Philly rockers is an album from my youth that I'd been really into lately, and on Record Store Day yesterday, I found a copy on vinyl and quickly snatched it up. This is a blues soaked shot of east coast glam that never quits. I've always felt they were an underrated band of the era. Their best songs rank up there with any rock group of the time. Tom's vocals, and their deep rooted blues style, combined with genre perfect bass and drums make this a solid record. "Somebody Save Me," "Nothin' for Nothin'," "Shake Me," and the perfect "Nobody's Fool" are essential tracks of '80s rock.

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