Saturday, October 10, 2015

Weekend Music Roundup

Last weekend, I went crate digging at the local vinyl store in search for some great deals, and I walked away with an armful of great finds. I spent most of my week digesting those, while also making room for a few anticipated releases. It turned out to be mostly a week surrounded by classics. The later half of the week, I indulged in my current Lennon obsession and celebrated his 75th birthday with a heavy dose of solo work. I'll be taking next weekend off, making a trip across the northern border with the missus and the little one. Will be back with lots more to share. Enjoy.

Silversun Pickups - Better Nature: Two weeks ago, the L.A. indie band released it's fourth album, continuing their trend of three years between releases. This record feels closer to their 2009 breakout Swoon than the previous album, with more focus on uptempo dance rock and less on shoegaze. It opens with the stellar title track and never really lets up, delivering one catchy track after the next. It slows down a bit on the second half, becoming more moody, but never really losing focus. A solid album with the kind of wide-range appeal as Smashing Pumpkins' "Siamese Dream".

The Doors - The Doors: The 1967 self-titled debut from the L.A. psychedelic blues rock band stands as one of the most groundbreaking debuts of the era. Despite the level of cliche the band has reached, having not heard this in a long time, it totally blew me away when I picked it up on vinyl and listened to it again. It's hard to imagine just how original and dangerous this would have sounded when it came out, but I'm sure it was a sensation with wild opening of "Break on Through" and epic closing of "The End." Essential for any collection.

The Bevis Frond - Example 22: The twenty second album from the British neo-psychedlic icon is yet another choice example of his talent and genius. A master at guitar riffs, Nick Saloman is a bridge between classic '70s rock and contemporary psyche artists like Kurt Vile. He's always felt like a British Thurston Moore to me, but with more emphasis on blues based melody. There are heavier moments on here, like "Second Son" which may be the heaviest he's ever sounded. This ranks right up there with his other releases of the last decade, and after 30 years, he's still at the top of his game.

Jackson Browne - The Pretender: The '70s were first golden era of singer songwriters. There was something about that decade that appreciated the artistic vision of the singular artist. Jackson Browne has always belonged to that group soft rock, folky artists with Paul Simon and Elton John. Having backed up Tim Buckley and Nico before breaking out as a solo artist, Jackson developed an artistic sense that carries through in his lyrics and music. "Here Come Those Tears Again," "The Only Child," A great relaxing album with lots of depth.

Work Drugs - Louisa: The prolific Philly indie pop band's tenth album in five years came out back in August and is one of those electro-rock summer indie fun albums that seem all over the place these days. This is pure indie pop, loaded with catchy 80's synth style tracks that are nostalgic while still never seeming dated. At times it's a little too pop for me, especially in the chorus sections, but overall not a bad listen. Worth checking out if your a fan of Future Islands. "My Billie Jean," "Minor Flaws,"

John Lennon - The Complete Lost Lennon Tapes Volume 8: With what would have been his 75th birthday, it's easy to ponder what might have been had his vision not been cut short by the crazed actions of a disturbed young man. But while it's interesting to dwell on what music or art may have come, John Lennon left a lifetime of great work behind for us to enjoy. His message is still powerful and inspiring. This volume of the bootleg series once again features work that spans his career with demo and alternate versions of songs like "How Do You Sleep," "Oh, Yoko," and "Just Like Starting Over." It also features a few sketches which highlight his playful side. The highlights on here for me are the rare "John Henry," and "Pill."

John Cougar - American Fool: This was exactly the type of album I was looking for in the $1 bins on my trip to the local record store last weekend, something that I would never pay more for, but that would far out-value the price. The heartland rocker's 1982 breakthrough album is Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA a year earlier. I grew up with these songs in my formative music listening years, and then quietly forgot about them, but from the moment I put the needle down, it all came rushing back. The hits are here were hits for a reason and are dynamite examples of 80's pop rock. "Hurts So Good" just, well, hurts so good.

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