Saturday, March 19, 2016

Weekend Music Roundup

Sorry for missing the weekend last week, and even sorrier if nobody noticed. Most of this was done before I jetted off to L.A. for a few days, but it wasn't complete and I wasn't about to do anything while out there. A nice mixture of new releases and some older curiosities to make up this final list of Winter. Next week will feature more than a few of the 20 or so albums I bought while on the west coast, along with a few new releases that I'll be delving into. Hopefully there's something on here of interest and worthy of a week long wait. Enjoy.

Andrew Bird - Are You Serious: This is the first album in two years from Chamber Folk singer songwriter and his strongest since 2012's "Break It Yourself." While this is clearly a Andrew Bird album, that's not to say his sound isn't still evolving. The melodies seem to grow in complexity with each new venture, and there is a maturing that has taken place, securing his place among the best songwriters of his generation. Could easily be one that I'll find on my year end favorites.

Nik Turner - Space Fusion Odyssey: The newest album from one of Hawkwind's founding members was released last year and is the follow-up to 2013's brilliant "Space Gypsy" record. This is one of the albums that I eagerly sought last year but was unable to get until recently. While "Space Gypsy" was a true return to the glory days of Hawkwind, this album is far more experimental, playing not only with space rock, but also prog and jazz fusion. For all intents and purposes, this is an instrumental album that takes listeners on a journey, even if it through space Turner has explored before. Very enjoyable, but not necessarily essential. 

Madrugada - Live in Berlin: This bootleg, recorded in 2001 is one of the rare released live shows from this brilliant Oslo band which I had the good fortune to see before they disbanded in 2008.  It opens with the rare B-Side, "The Big Sleep" and from there tears into a brilliantly moody set of early material, mostly songs from there then upcoming Nightly Disease, which turned out to be one of the best albums of the decade. It also includes a number of rare songs that were only ever on EPs, making this a must-have for fans.

Lissie - My Wild West: The Midwestern singer songwriter's third album came out last month and shows a lot of maturity and growth, not only in her songwriting, but also in the emotion that comes through in her voice. This album reminds me of Tina Dico, crossed with a little of the best of part of Taylor Swift. It's not necessarily a revolutionary album, but it's strikingly honest and appealing. Ojai," "Stay," "Hollywood," "Together or Apart," and "Sun Keeps Risin'" are my personal favorites. Definitely worth checking out.

The Oak Ridge Boys - Y'all Come Back Saloon: By 1977, the boys from Knoxville had established themselves as one of the biggest acts in pop country. I recently picked this up from a 99¢ bin on a vinyl shopping spree and it's most certainly money well spent. There is a great mix of traditional country with bluegrass and soft rock. In some ways, it's a bit like John Denver but with Southern cred to their country roads. I love going through $1 bins when I have time, there are always things worth discovering.

Legendary Pink Dots - Chemical Playschool 1 & 2: The 1981 double album debut from the British experimental psych group was only ever released on cassette. Though far more simple than what their sound would develop into, this is still clearly a LPD release, filled with twisted and strange imagery and quirky sounds that make contemporary Cure recordings sound mainstream. One the four disc set, there are only handful of actual songs that are interspersed between many short experimental sound compositions. It can be an uncomfortable listen at times, which I suppose can be said for all of their albums, but this one is much more raw and grating. I would recommend this only to fans. It's more of a curiosity at this point than anything else.

Violent Femmes - We Can Do Anything: I had high hopes for this record, the legendary folk punk band's first studio album in 15 years. Especially after the wonderful EP they put out last year, I was expecting great things. And while this is an enjoyable listen, I wouldn't go so far as to call it great. The band has always had a playful side, but that playfulness was shrouded in darkness. There was always a harsh and brutal undertone to their work that made the playful side seem less comical and more sinister. There is quite a bit of playfulness here, but on this album it seems simply playful and I found myself missing the darkness. Certainly worth a listen for fans. "What You Really Mean" is the real gem on here.

JPT Scare Band - Acid Acetate Excursion: This album was originally recorded in 1974-76 by the Kansas City heavy psych band wasn't officially released until 1994. Consisting of four long jams, this is pure heavy blues at its core with flourishes of psych elements. Definitely ahead of it's time, this album creates sounds that were probably not accessible to listeners until it's release two decades later. It can almost be viewed as one of the earliest stoner metal records, especially the stellar last track, "King Rat." 

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