Sunday, December 13, 2015

Weekend Music Roundup

Welcome to the beginning of the end in what is known as the year in music 2015. As promised last Roundup, I'm currently going through all of the 2015 releases that I've been meaning to hear, in hopes of finding that gem I may have missed while also making sure I'm confident that my best of list properly reflects the year. There's a lot of bands on here that I'm checking out for the first time, as well as a few old favorites that put out new stuff. I'm not sure anything on here will make my favorites of the year, but a number of them certainly make my Top 50 of the year, so you might definitely want to check some of them out. Enjoy.

Beirut - No No No: It's been four years since the Brooklyn based indie folk band's last album, and it seems not much has changed. They are still making quirky pop folk that is both interesting and uniquely pleasing. I've been following them since their 2006 debut and they've always been consistently good. They add a chamber pop quality to their folk, somewhat like Andrew Bird, yet grander in some ways. "Gibraltar," "Fener," "So Allowed" and the title track are my personal favorites on another strong album.

Bill Ryder-Jones - West Kirby County Primary: The former guitarist for The Coral has been very busy the past few years creating his neo-classical pieces, but in the last year or so, he's been returning to the indie sound that appeared on his first unreleased solo songs. While his classical work is fantastic, this is certainly more my kind of thing. There's a bit of a Velvet Underground feel, like their early demos, but with a decidedly British garage folk feeling. "Let's Get Away From Here," "Satellites," "Two To Birkenhead," and "Catharine and Huskisson" are my personal favorites. 

Mystic Braves - Days of Yesteryear: The third album from the L.A. garage rock band is one of those brilliant records that harkens back to late '60s era psychedelic pop while still managing to remain fresh and keep from being too derivative. This album reminded me of The Dolly Rocker Movement's wonderful 2006 album, "Electric Sunshine." It also feels a little like The Growlers but with more of retro vibe. Either way, I really enjoyed this album, especially "Corazon," "No Trash," "Now That You're Gone," "To Myself," and "Great Company." The vinyl will be available in February from their Bandcamp site, and I plan on getting a copy.

Shine - Weednight: The debut EP from the Polish sludge metal band is full of fuzzy riffs and heavy stoner metal vibes. Consisting of three longish tracks, it's more diverse than it might seem. The 7 minute title track has a great Melvins kind of riff that repeats in a drone like way, while the drums keep moving in the background and the singer delivers Electric Wizard style mumbles. But it changes things up every time it threatens to get repetitive. The 12 minute "Hare Grave" reminds me of Sleep only less metal and more stoner. Definitely worth checking out. It's free hear, or download on their Bandcamp site.

Ruby the Hatchet - Valley of the Snake: The second full length album from the Philly stoner metal band has been on my to-hear list for quite some time, and now that I've heard it, I'm angry that it took so long. In the spirit of other contemporary heavy psych bands like Uncle Acid and Electric Wizard, they take a bit of Black Sabbath and dose it with groovy creepiness. The first three songs on here are fantastic, probably the best side of a record I've heard in a long time. It falls off slightly after that, but not enough to take away from the album. The last song is a bit of question mark. It doesn't seem to fit, but again, not enough to take away from a great heavy record.

Bobby Long - Ode to Thinking: The newest album from the UK singer songwriter, his fourth, shows a clear progression from 2013's Wishbone. While that album felt like any number of performers could have made it, this one sees him developing his own sound. It's still very much a folk sounding singer songwriter record, but one with some great moments. "The Dark Won't Get Darker," "Ode to Thinking," "The Song the Kids Sing," "1985," and the song I've heard frequently on the local indie radio, "I'm Not Going Out Tonight" are very strong tracks and worth checking out.

Josh Pyke - But For All These Shrinking Hearts: This is the Australian singer songwriter's fifth album, and my introduction to his work. Though there's nothing groundbreaking to his sound, fitting into a long line of indie folk pop artists of the last decade, there is an honesty to his songs, which is always the measuring stick for folk. There is something in his songs that has an 80's FM radio feel that I find intriguing, especially on songs like "Be Your Boy" and "There's A Line." At other moments, there are some great down tempo songs like "Someone to Rust With" and "Momentary Glow." A quality singer songwriter album that's worth checking out.

Luke Haines - Adventures in Dementia: The art punk pioneer put out three short albums this year, including this one back in February. Picking up where he left off last year, these short are electropop campfire songs that contain his particular brand of weird. Like 2013's Rock and Roll Animals this is Luke at his best, challenging the listener with a combination of abrasive and melodic. Not his best work, that remains his '90s Baader Meinhof project, but this is certainly something that fans should check out.

The World is a Beautiful Place... - Harmlessness: The second album from the impossibly titled band, this follows 2013's well received debut. This Connecticut band's sound is very '90s post hardcore like Built to Spill, while also sort of being like many borderline emo bands like early Brand New. I was not a huge fan of the first album, but this one seems far more complete and interesting. It still tends to drift a little too far away from indie into straight into emo, at least for my taste. "We Need More Skulls," and "Mental Health" are my personal favorites.

Kurt Vile / Steve Gunn - Parallelogram: One of the current kings of psychedelic folk released this split with Steve Gunn. Very much in the "just for fun" category, this album features a few covers, including a fascinating cover of Randy Newman's "Pretty Boy" which takes Kurt out of his comfort zone and shows another side of him. I was unfamiliar with Steve Gunn's work. He borrows more from old time folk music. His cover of Nico's "60/40" is quite good, and more listenable than her original version. Nice, but not essential.

No comments:

Post a Comment