Sunday, February 7, 2016

Weekend Music Roundup

Well it may be SuperBowl weekend, but for me the weekend is still first and foremost about music. This was a week where much of what I was listening to won't end up on the list because it is vinyl purchases of things I'd already heard digitally and reviewed here. But it's also a week where I returned to Bandcamp to engage in more unheard bands. I also caught up with releases from favorite artists that I hadn't yet heard. There's a few 2016 releases on here, and lots of genres. Hopefully you will all find something worth checking out. Enjoy.

Mars Red Sky - Providence: The new EP from the French stoner rock band follows 2014's terrific album, Stranded in Arcadia. The three new songs on here are less heavy than the ones on previous album, but that's not really a bad thing. They seem to be exploring their sound, and it's serving them well. Though there remains a heavy back beat, it is sort of used to keep the the pace of the swirling sounds that swim throughout the tracks. The last song is an acoustic, Floydian soundscape that is perhaps the most intricate and beautiful track to date. The new full length album comes out later this year and I can't wait to hear where they go with it.

Guided By Voices - Do the Collapse: Typical of the Ohio lo-fi legends' albums, this 1999 record is packed with short songs, full of intrigue and power chords. I picked this one up on orange vinyl last weekend and it's yet another gem. Perhaps their most accessible album, it's more mainstream indie rock sounding than the glimmering brilliance of Bee Thousand. Still it's not devoid of their trademark quirkiness and drifts into near literary psychedelic poetry. "Hold On Hope," "Optical Hopscotch," "In Stitches," and "Mushroom Art" are among my favorites. 

The Legendary Pink Dots - The Maria Dimension: The band's landmark 1991 release is often considered their masterpiece, and for good reason. As frequent followers are aware, I've been obsessed with this band for the past year or so, but have been coming at their catalog from all angles rather than in any progressive chronological order. This is the easiest album to define as psychedelic space rock with ambient overtones, but even so, it is still indescribably unique.  "A Space Between," "The Ocean Cried 'Blue Murder'," "The Grain Kings," and "Expresso Noir," are exceptional tracks and what might be their most accessible nightmare.

Bevis Frond - Ear Song: I've been a fan of the Frond for two decades and was thrilled to find a vinyl copy of this 1990 EP this past weekend. The title track and "Olde World" are much more punk infused that most of their stuff, and is sounds great. It's almost punk-blues sounding, unlike most everything I've ever heard. It's rare to hear some that sound different. The second side is a short live set. Lots of energy in their playing. A must have for fans. 

Drug Cabin - Wiggle Room: The 2014 debut album from the L.A. indie band is pure pop inspired indie rock with psychedelic overtones. Drawing on early to mid-sixties sounds, it reminds me of some of the Elephant 6 bands like early Apples in Stereo, The Minders, and Ladybug Transistor. There's a deceptive simplicity to the music that hides the complexities that exist just below the surface. "Ruby" and "Wonderful" are standouts for me. Definitely check them out on Bandcamp if you're into this kind of thing. 

Sunflower Bean - Human Ceremony: Out this week is the debut album from the latest hype band to come out of Brooklyn. I'd read about this record and it sounded interesting, supposedly psychedelic indie rock. Having listened to it, it's not psyche at all, and is more indie pop than anything else. The strange thing about bands that are really hyped is that they rarely sound like anything new, and that's the case here. Sunflower Bean are sort of a mix of a dozen other bands from the past 20 years. It sort of weaves in and out of genres of rock, sort of like Band of Skulls. It's a solid OK, but not deserving of the attention. "Wall Watcher," "I Was Home," and the title track are standouts.  

BigBee of the Whitetree - North American Nomad: Released in December, this lo-fi folk album from the Boston singer songwriter is one of those beautiful desolate winter albums. It reminds me a bit of Jose Gonzalez, especially his early work. Simple and sparse, and incredibly moving. This is definitely worth checking out on his Bandcamp site. "Pine Root" and "Redwood Dust" are great tunes on this perfect winter afternoon album. 

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