Saturday, March 26, 2016

Weekend Music Roundup

Welcome to the first Roundup of Spring where I spew my opinions on albums listened to this week, as I did in winter, summer, and every season for the past few years. I'd been hoping to get in a few more new releases this week, but only managed to listen to one, but it was one that I'd been anticipating for years. I also had a lot of records from L.A. to absorb, but next week will certainly see a higher number of new releases. In the meantime you'll have make due with more of my curiosities and collection extensions. Hopefully there's something here that you'll want to discover. Enjoy.

Black Mountain - IV: It's been six years since the Vancouver band's last album, a wait that is far too long for a band that is this good. As the title would lead you to believe, this is the hard rock band's fourth full length album. I've been a fan since their epic self-titled debut 11 years ago. The new album opens with the wonderful "Mothers of the Sun," which shows the band's growth as well as their movement into more psychedelic rock which carries throughout the album. This might be my favorite album of theirs since the first, and with time, could become my favorite. "(Over and Over) The Chain," "Defector," "Cemetery Breeding," and "You Can Dream" are stand outs, in addition to the previous mentioned opening track.

Colosseum - The Grass is Greener: From '69 to '71, this London band was at the forefront of prog rock, combining blues with jazz and hard rock. Several of the members played with John Mayall (a master at finding talent) on his "Bare Wires" album, one of the strongest. I didn't know much about this album before stumbling across a copy in the record store, but it's quite fantastic. "Lost Angeles" is epic, and "Butty's Blues" owes a lot to Mayall. Hearing this album, it's sort of amazing that they were never as big as Led Zeppelin because they are just as talented.

Ryley Walker & Bill Mackay - Land of Plenty: I discovered Ryley Walker's music last year and he quickly rose in the ranks of my favorite singer songwriters. I just learned about this collaborative album which came out at the end of last summer, and the planned second one that is supposed to come out next month. This is an instrumental album that draws of traditional folk elements, but also feels very improvised, which creates something magical and beautiful. Definitely the kind of album to listen to in dim light while relaxing, it will take you to interesting places.

Orchid - The Mouths of Madness: Released in 2013, this the second album from the San Fran metal band. I came across this double LP in a store in L.A. that specialized in metal, and knowing nothing about it, I took a chance and I'm sure glad I did. As with most metal acts today, there are obvious references to Black Sabbath in their music, but vocally, it owes more to 80's Thrash Metal, and the combination makes for a dynamite record. There's not a bad track on here, making it a definite for fans of stoner metal.

Jefferson Airplane - Bark: I've been a fan of the Airplane since I was 19 and have an extensive Airplane collection. This 1971 album was the only one I didn't have until my visit trip to L.A. where I found an exceptional copy for $4. Perhaps because this was the first post-Marty Balin album, I had bypassed it for so long. The band's second to last album before morphing into the far-inferior Jefferson Starship, this album is a Paul Kantner/ Grace Slick record and features some of Paul's best guitar playing. Certainly not one of their classic albums, but still solid from start to finish and certainly one for fans.

Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees: The 1976 album from pop rock star is certainly his biggest and most successful, scoring him the most hits of his career. Recently he was playing in my town, and the commercial on the radio was on all the time, playing clips of songs (all from this album) that I remembered fondly from growing up. So when I found this for 99¢ in a store, I had to grab it. There are many familiar tracks on here, many that would be right at home on an Elton John or Billy Joel album from the era. Some great tunes on here, especially "Lowdown," "Lido Shuffle," and "It's Over."

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