Saturday, September 3, 2016

Weekend Music Roundup

Having the house to myself this week, it was one of those times of digesting things that I'd been meaning to check out for a long time...things that the Missus wouldn't necessarily dig on. That means this list, and next week's, are going to be heavy on hard psych. But I didn't want to leave out some new releases and some other recent finds. All in all, it's good week for stuff that's not easily digestible. These are albums that require attentive listening, which thankfully is my favorite kind of listening. Hopefully you'll find something to spend some time with. Enjoy.

The Divine Comedy - Foreverland: Neil Hannon has decided to return with his most well-known project for the band's first album in six years. This album is a return to the Baroque Pop sound that made the Dublin band famous in the '90s, a sound I think he found again with his other project, The Duckworth Lewis Method. While I've always been more a fan of the indie sound he does on other Divine Comedy albums like "Regeneration", I certainly appreciate the lavishness of this sound. These songs play out like well constructed showtunes for a show that I would actually want to see. 

Sir Lord Baltimore - Kingdom Come/ Sir Lord Baltimore: The cult heavy rock band from NYC released two albums in '70 and '71. Those two albums were later released on this one album set. On a record group I belong to, a lot of people had been talking about this band so I sought it out and it's fantastic. By far the heaviest thing made at the time, their sound is still being imitated today. It's amazing how quickly music rock progressed from the mid-60's to the early '70s. This is one of those lost gems that more people need to hear.

John Mayall - Empty Rooms: I've been Mayall fan since I was 19 years old, and though I've dug his traditional take on blues and his innovation of British Blues, I'd never got around to listening to this 1970 recording. Perhaps that's due to the fact that it was rarely available on CD, my format of choice when I was really exploring his work. I cam across a beautiful vinyl copy of this album for the nice price of $3 and couldn't resist. It was my Sunday morning music with coffee this past week, and it was PERFECT. This is his ode to loneliness and it mellow and fantastic. The minimalism of his blues on this record is unique for him and has quickly become one of my favorites of his. 

Essra Mohawk - Essra: This is Essra's (aka Sandy Hurvitz) fourth album and was supposed to be the one that would launch her into superstardom. Released in 1976, this album combines the cultish singer songwriter style of her previous work with the rhythm of disco, which sounds weird, but works. "I Wanna Feel Ya" is a perfect example of her disco genius, while "Summersong" is classic Essra singer songwriter, and they appear back-to-back and it effect is amazing. Signed to the same label as Blondie at the time, these were to be their next breakout artists. Well, we know which one it worked for and which one it didn't. It's a shame too, but all of her work is fantastic, personal, and beautiful. Someone sold their Essra collection to one of the local record shops by me, and I've been buying them one at a time, after having searched for them for years. This is another gem and and Essra continues to be a must have for any collection.

Highway Robbery - For Love or Money: The only album from this short-lived heavy blues band was released in 1972. As with every hard rock from this period, it's hard not to compare them to Led Zeppelin. These guys are no different. Like Zep they take a traditional blues base and turn it into hard rock. But more like Captain Beyond, there is a psych element here that makes it interesting. Some great tunes, excellent heavy guitar, but overall it's nothing terribly exceptional. Still, a lost album that many people would dig. "Fifteen," "Lazy Woman," and "Ain't Gonna Take No More" are stand outs to me. 

Legendary Pink Dots - Come Out From the Shadows: This digital release came out back in 2013 and is a bit more experimental than most LPD releases, which is saying a lot considering their history of strangeness. There are times when this one wanders a bit too much, but at other times, it's classic. The opening track and closing track are fantastic.

Argent - In Deep: This is one of those hard progressive rock bands that I'd been meaning to check out for years and finally came across this '72 LP, their fourth, in a $1 bin and couldn't let it pass me by. After listening to it, I can see why this band has a cult following. They have a heavy blues sound that is excellently mixed with early prog. It reminds a bit of The Soft Machine's first record, crossed with Blue Oyster Cult. Side A plays like one continuous track, epic and fantastic throughout. Side B mellows out a bit, tapping into an early Elton vibe, and also fantastic. One of the best dollars I've ever spent.

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