Sunday, April 3, 2016

Weekend Music Roundup

As I roundup the week, I sit at my window watching how spring has turned once again to winter. But despite the weather, the calendar keeps turning and Spring music releases are in full swing as we gear up for Record Store Day in a couple of weeks. This was one of those weeks that I went for quality on my list, choosing to spend more time on less albums. There were two new releases that I'd been looking forward to, along with a few L.A. holdovers. There are more new albums lined up for next week, so don't fret. Hopefully there's something here you might want to check out. Enjoy.

The Last Shadow Puppets - Everything You've Come to Expect: The long-awaited follow-up to Alex Turner and Miles Kane's 2008 collaborative effort is finally out, eight years after the original. This album clearly shows the growth that has come through in Alex's style, already apparent on the last Arctic Monkeys record. The first album was good, but felt like a lot of theater was involved. In a way, that was the appeal, but as he grows more confident, there seems to be less need to create an image. As a result, the music speaks for itself and doesn't attempt to confine itself into being this or that. Definitely in the same vibe as AM, so if you liked that, definitely look into this. 

Yeasayer - Amen & Goodbye: The fourth album from the Brooklyn neo-psych band is their first in four years, and the time off has served them extremely well. I loved their debut and the follow-up, but by the third album, they had grown somewhat stale. This album sees them take new directions, with a variety of new influences clearly represented in the upbeat sound. While catchy, and at times even dance worthy, it never veers away from their psychedelic roots. There are Pink Floyd moments on here, Flaming Lips moments, and some Hot Chip moments, making for an interesting record. "Cold Night," "Half Asleep," "Gerson's Whistle," and "I Am Chemistry" are standout tracks on this terrific release.

Dead Child - Dead Child: The 2007 debut EP from the short-lived metal band containing members of Slint and Tortoise. I've had their only full-length on CD since it came out in 2008 and have always enjoyed it. On my recent trip to L.A., I came across this rarity on vinyl and snatched it up. Combining various metal and hard rock elements from the '80s, they manage to play some kick-ass metal. Screeching vocals, pounding beats and steady riffs define each song. "Never Bet the Devil Your Head," which also appears on their album, is pretty flawless. Worth checking out if you like bands like Enforcer.

The Struts - Everybody Wants: Since it's release in 2014, the Derby glam band's debut has seen a steady and straight rise in popularity. It's one of those rare things in the music world these days, the slow build through touring and word of mouth allowing an album to continue to find new audience without the hype machine working overtime It was the exact opposite for The Darkness band these guys emulate in a way. That band was so hyped that they never really could live up to the expectations and crashed and burned. These guys are more solid band, with more substance and better song crafting. They are at their best when they are channeling Queen and '80s glam, but too often they fall into a contempo rock radio hole and come out sounding like Fall Out Boy.

Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die: One the great psychedelic blues bands of the late '60s, highlighted by the talents of Steve Winwood and Dave Mason, Traffic recorded some of the most memorable songs of the era. This is the one album from their heyday in which Mason does not appear, which is probably why it features guitar far less and leans more on progressive folk. Certainly not their best, but still quite good and worth picking up if just to hear another side of the band. 

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