Sunday, February 28, 2016

Weekend Music Roundup

This was another week of discovery as I pushed myself to listen to some bands that I hadn't heard before. Of course, that needed to be balanced out with tried and true artists to make everything hunky dory. I was pleasantly surprised by quite a few of these new bands. None of them were disappointing, and some were actually very good. There was also a record that stands a good chance of sticking around for my best of the year list, or certainly best half-year list. It's why I always stick to the idea that music is something you need to continue to stretch your interests, it's the only way to find new sounds. Enjoy.

Thelonious Monk - The London Collection Volume Two: Recorded in 1971, long after the jazz era had ended and club scene had died away, the music still lived on. Recently re-released on 180gram clear vinyl, this record is delightful in every way. Thelonious' piano playing on here feels intimate and personal. There a joyful sadness that comes through the keys that is both somber and beautiful. "I Mean You," is a wonderful be-bop jazz piece, balanced with "Ruby, My Dear" on the flip side which is almost heartbreaking. And naturally, "Hackensack" is always a delight.

Wall of Death - Loveland: Out last month was the second album from the French psychedelic band. Using shoegaze and indie pop elements in the heavier psychedelic sound that shades their music, this album is one of those ethereal soundscapes that is never boring, the way Pink Floyd managed to be in the period where they were trying to find their sound. In a way, they remind me of the Japanese band Ghost, which is quite a compliment in my book. Moments of perfection abound, such as "Blow The Cloud," "All Mighty," "For a Lover," and "Chainless Man" make this a must album to check out for this year.

DeWolf - Roux-Ga-Roux: Released earlier this month, this is the sixth album from the Dutch psychedelic blues band, but my first encounter with them. Obvious students of late '60s psych blues, these guys create a fantastic sound that would fit in with the giants of the genre. With groovy guitar, heavy rhythm, and soulful singing, they got all the right ingredients and put it together in a great way. Like The Black Keys, but a much fuller sound. "Sugar Moon," "Baby's Got a Temper," and "Tired of Loving You" are standout tracks.

The Strypes - Little Victories: The second album from the Irish indie band came out last summer and is the follow-up to their surprising 2013 debut. These are four young lads who have developed a sound that beyond their years while clearly inspired by the past. They are definitely the first of what is likely to become many, children of the Arctic Monkeys. They have the same sense of balancing catchy with rough edges. As with all of their previous releases, including their EPs, this is just a fun, easy to listen to indie rock album that easy to like and kind of impossible to hate. Lots of great tracks, and the deluxe edition includes seven additional songs that are certainly worth it.
The Frights - You Are Going to Hate This: The second album from San Diego indie garage band was released last week, and the title jumped out at me. I really enjoyed this album. It has an upbeat Misfits vibe, like "Teenagers From Mars" meets Cali sunshine indie pop. Reminds me of harder edge Growlers. They are certainly in the same vein as other Cali fuzz rockers Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall, but bring enough of their own '90s indie inspired sound to the genre to make it a worthwhile addition. "Growing Up," "All I Need," "Puppy Knuckles," and "You or Me" are my personal favorites.

Aunt Mary - Aunt Mary: The 1970 debut from the Norwegian hard rock band is part Beatles "Abby Road" and part Jethro Tull "Stand Up", creating an interesting sound, not to mention containing a great graphic cover. Not without flaws, this is still a solid album of the genre and one that should probably be heard more. "Whispering Farewell," and "Did You Notice?" are two real gems. Recommended, though not essential.

Lemon Sky - Dos: The second album from the Cincinnati heavy psych came out this month and is available from their Bandcamp site. It's an interesting album with '80s thrash metal influences blended in with more traditional stoner psych elements. Vocals remind me a bit of Klaus Mine of Scorpions. A solid okay, but nothing groundbreaking. "Guillotine," "Submarine," and "Ash and Bone," are my favorites.

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