Saturday, August 8, 2015

Weekend Music Roundup

The week has passed us by once more, easing into another warm summer weekend and a time to reflect on the importance of music heard these past seven days. It has been another week split between new releases and re-discoveries. Back in November when I was reorganizing my bloated CD collection, I loaded a ton of discs into the fuzzy warble drive on my computer and I'm still going through those and bringing them back into the light of day. There were a few pleasant surprises this time around, and a few nice new albums to write about. These are all pretty solidly summer albums in my opinion, except for the first one which can transcend easily into the gloom of winter. Enjoy.

The Machine - Offblast: The Dutch stoner rock band's sixth LP was released in the beginning of summer and it's a pretty epic album. The guitar work is clearly inspired by Jimi Hendrix, using the same organic flow that few have been able to repeat, and translating it into something heavy. Vocally it shares kinship with Layne Staley, another favorite of mine. "Gamma," "Coda Sun," and "Chrysalis" are standout tracks. Definitely worth checking out.

Cold War Kids - Five Quick Cuts: This special 10" was a Record Store Day release this year and features five new songs from the Cali indie band. This is one of those bands that I've been following since they came out and continue to listen to each new release. Their career has been quietly impressive, with only one misstep in the middle of their five album span. These tracks represent a slightly bigger sound for them, a little more rocking, and quite good. If this is a hint at their new album, consider me excited.
Harry Nilsson - Pussy Cats: Another one from my vaults, this is the 1974 album that Nilsson made with John Lennon during John's "Lost Weekend". Back in the mid-to-late '90s when I was on a Nilsson and Lennon kick, I purchased this CD thinking it would be mind blowing. I never connected with it, and hadn't listened to it in years until this past week. I've been listening to a lot of radio recently and they've been playing a lot of later Lennon stuff that I've been digging, so I thought this would be a good time. And though it's not mind blowing, I definitely connect with it more now. The cover of "Subterranean Homesick Blues" is fantastic, as is "Many Rivers to Cross."

Tame Impala - Currents: The Australian neo-psyche band's third album was released last month and is their first in 3 years. In that time they've expanded their audience and entered the fringes of mainstream. I was really hoping this would be a monster of an album. The stars all seemed aligned for a breakthrough psychedelic rock record, but that's not what this is. Clearly inspired by 80's commercial pop, this was an extremely disappointing album for me. Too much Billy Ocean/ Michael McDonald/ New Edition moments for my taste. "The Less I Know, The Better" and "Yes I'm Changing" were really the only two songs I'll be keeping.

Pagoda - Dearly Departed: This 2004 album is another CD that I've had for years and decided to put it back in rotation. I always remember liking it, and this time around was no different. A perfect summer time album, this is fine blend of psychedelic pop reminiscent of Sunshine Fix mixed with Skygreen Leopards. Dreamy and ethereal, this is the kind of album to play on those lazy sunny days that seem to be few and far between these days. "Ham on White," and "Superbreakout" are my personal favorites.

Jean Grae - iSweatergawd: The newest EP from the Brooklyn rapper has an old-school feel to it, giving me a bit of a updated Blowout Comb vibe, but not as political or serious. Once again she proves to be one of the most intelligent and creative lyricists around on these six songs. It lacks that one knockout song, the one that would put her on top of the throne, though it's consistent throughout. "38 Special" and "Looking Free" are standout tracks for me.

Marion - This World and Body: The 1996 debut from the UK indie band is one of the lesser known gems to be released at the tail end of the Britpop boom. Perhaps it remains slightly unknown because it is decidedly more rock than pop, fitting more in with bands like Placebo and early Radiohead rather than Oasis. Having put this one back into the rotation, I instantly remembered how much I enjoy this record. "The Only Way," "All for Love," "Your Body Lies," and "Fallen Through" are standout tracks.

The Sonics - Fire & Ice II: The Lost Tapes: Seattle's '60s garage rock kings were short lived, not very famous, but extremely influential. During the late '90s garage rock revival, I was way into The Sonics and purchased this rare disc. This is a strange collection of songs that feel nothing like their explosive, best-known singles "Psycho" or "Strychnine". These are more '60s era love songs in the spirit of the early Beatles. There are some great tunes on here, but mostly mediocre ones. I recommend "Anyway the Wind Blows," "Good Hard Rock," and "Lost Love."

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