Sunday, February 21, 2016

Weekend Music Roundup

Another interesting week of music in my world this past week. I've been pulled in equal parts to looking to the past and contemplating the present. It's also a week of artists primarily on the fringes of my likes, meaning that though I like these bands, I wouldn't consider any of these artists to be among my favorites, though collectively, they've made some pretty solid records. Some of these are vinyl finds of my last shopping spree, while the new releases are pure digital. Definitely an enjoyable week of sound exploration. Hopefully there's something you might want to check out. Enjoy.

The Cave Singers - Banshee:  It's been three years since the last album from the Seattle folk rock band, but finally the drought ended this week with the release of their fifth album. The opening track grabs you immediately, hearkening back to their earlier days with a classic back beat indie rock sound. There's a campfire feel to the album, which is what I loved so much about 2011's "No Witch" but which was missing from the follow-up. A nice '70s Van Morrison vibe flows through it as well, and with each song, the impact of the record grows. "Strip Mine," "Lost in the Tide," "That's Why," and "The Swimmer" are excellent tracks on an excellent album.

Kanye West - The Life of Pablo: Three years removed from Yeezus the iconic rapper released his new album on Valentine's Day. Despite all the hate out there, and the chaos that surrounds Ye, there's no denying his artistic brilliance. He continues to stretch the limits of hip hop and push the artistic nature of the genre on each album and this one is no different. Though not quite as strong as his previous two masterpieces, this is still quite stellar. There are a bit too many auto-tune songs that remind me of 808s & Heartbreak but when he's on, it's fantastic. "No More Parties in L.A.," "Famous," "Facts," and "Feedback" are my personal favorites. 

Waylon Jennings - I've Always Been Crazy: One of the titans of country music, this 1978 album captures Waylon in full outlaw persona. The kind of album that is how I picture classic country, to be played in a half-filled smokey bar as Waylon talks about drinking his troubles away while strumming a mean guitar. There's a great medley on here of Buddy Holly tunes, done with Buddy's band The Crickets. Waylon had worked with Buddy and his death is partially responsible for Waylon becoming the 'outlaw' musician that he became. Quality stuff. Waylon is right up there with Hank and Cash as classic country legends.

Animal Collective - Painting With: Over their nearly two decade career, I've followed this psychedelic folk band on and off with never having truly connected to any of their material. I know many people who swear by them, so when this album came out last week, their first in four years, I decided to give them another try.  This album sees them move much farther into the psychedelic pop area and away from folk, and it actually seems to work for them, somehow giving their songs more structure makes them less irritating. This isn't the record that will turn me into a fan, but it's not the one that will turn me off of them forever, so I suppose that is something. "Golden Gal" is the one song I truly loved.

Blodwyn Pig - Ahead Rings Out: In 1968, Mick Abrahams left his guitar duties in Jethro Tull to form this band because he wanted to go into more of blues rock direction while Tull ventured into prog folk. The result was this 1969 debut, which unsurprisingly sounds like what Tull would've made if they were playing blues rock. Perhaps not as innovative as the course Ian Anderson took, but still a pretty jamming album. "Walk On the Water," "Summer Day," "Ain't Ya Comin' Home," "See My Way," and "Dear Jill" are standout tracks.

Arlo Guthrie - Last of the Brooklyn Cowboys: This 1973 album continues the string of fine releases to start off the career of Woody's son and Dylan's protegee. What Arlo does best is take Bob's style and fuse it with a sound that is just slightly easier to digest. He's kind of like a mainstream radio version of Dylan, though remaining true to the folk ideals and outsider perspective that embody the music. This is another great addition to my collection of his work leading up to this one. "Rambling 'Round" and "Miss the Mississippi and You"are my personal favorites.

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