Sunday, December 6, 2015

Weekend Music Roundup

Though I'd hoped to spend this week getting caught up with remaining 2015 releases, it didn't turn out that way. Instead, I spent the week drinking in some old favorites recently purchased on wax. Then there was the passing of yet another figure influential to my early artistic formations and perspectives on life and I decided to revisit his music out of respect. But this coming week I'll have to try and roundup the last of the 2015 albums that I've been dying to hear so that I can concentrate on presenting my favorites of the year in the coming weeks. Until then, hopefully there's something here that might grab your interest and make your wishlist. Enjoy.

Ryley Walker - All Kinds of You: With the Illinois singer songwriter's newest album, Primrose Green, currently near the top of my favorite albums of the year, when I saw his previous album at the store this past weekend, I had to snatch it up. It's equally as beautiful as the other. His style of folk reminds of me Astral Weeks and Jackson C. Frank, with a bit of Nick Drake thrown in for good measure. This is one of those perfect rainy autumn day records. "Blessings," "The West Wind," and "On The Rise" are standouts on a fantastic album.

Böse - Böse's Art of Zen: One of the prolific Polish stoner rock band's more than twenty albums this year alone, this is, as one might expect, one long jam. But it manages to keep it's grove despite their seemingly endless output. Admittedly, this is my first intro to them, so who knows, perhaps all twenty plus albums, and an equal number in 2014, will quickly start to sound alike. I can't say. What I can say is that this is an enjoyable listen, taking me to places frequently visited to while listening to Led Zeppelin or early space rock bands. The nearly hour long title track is definitely worth a listen.

Guided By Voices - bee thousand: This is one of my all time favorites and it was finally re-released on vinyl last year for it's 20th Anniversary. I picked it up at the shop this past weekend and have been listening to almost every day since. These brilliant song fragments weave together into an experience that is unlike any other. These songs have been stuck in my head all week, and I'm thankful for that. Anyone who doesn't know this record should immediately listen to it. Lo-Fi genius at its absolute best.

Pink Floyd - 1965 Their First Recordings: Just released is this vinyl only EP of the legendary band's earliest sessions. Syd Barrett is clearly the star here, his guitar is crisp, unlike later years when his condition caused his musical contributions to be weaned out, before he was eventually weaned out of the band. There's more of blues sound on here, like early Rolling Stones, than on any of their other work. While some of these tracks, like "Lucy Leave" and "I'm a King Bee" have turned on up on bootlegs, a good number of these tracks are songs I've never heard, making this a wonderful surprise. Syd resembles Mick Jagger on these songs, especially on "Remember Me" and "Double O Bo." "Walk with me Sydney" and "Butterfly" have a lot of the quirks that later Syd work has, making this a true gem for fans.

The Decemberists - The Tain/ 5 Songs: Two of the Portland band's finest EPs were released as on long play vinyl and though I have them both on CD, I couldn't resist. 5 Songs is the band's first release and every song on there is amazing. The Tain is a concept EP divided into five parts. Surprisingly, the two go together nicely, though they represent different aspects of the band. Over the last decade and a half, they have become one of my favorite bands, and these two more obscure releases are a crucial and necessary part of their catalog. This is a great way to get both, and the only way to get either on vinyl these days. 

Porcupine Tree - Up the Downstair: The 1993 album from Steven Wilson, the fourth, is the first one where the sound that would define the band for the next decade was first fully successful. Throughout the '90s, they made albums as lush and internal as Pink Floyd's pre-Dark Side years. I picked this up on vinyl a few years back, but since I was already familiar with it digitally, I didn't get around to listening to it much until now. While the next album would eventually eclipse this one, this is still an exceptional piece in their catalog.

Stone Temple Pilots - Purple: With the sudden passing of Scott Weiland this week, I pulled this CD off the shelf. This 1994 album is the band's crowning achievement, along with No. 4. Inspired by GnR, the California band brought a different sound to the "grunge" era, one that was more classic rock than Nirvana and less metal than Alice in Chains. But as with those two groups, the songs were filled with a sadness and disillusionment that we all felt at that time, and which has also found it's way into the world again. This is stellar album of the time, one that has held up with the passing of years. R.I.P. Scott, and thank you for the music you left behind.

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