Saturday, July 1, 2017

Weekend Music Roundup

The weekend has arrived and I've returned from my journey across the pond to bring you some ponderings on music that I've been listening to. This week features the most anticipated album of the year for me, as well as a few other new releases and a couple of relatively recent vinyl purchases. There's a mix of rock and prog on here, which are mainstay genres in my listening habits. Hopefully there's something here that will make you curious enough to pick up. Enjoy. 

Portugal. The Man - Woodstock: My most anticipated album of the year came out in the middle of June and while it certainly didn't disappoint, it didn't exactly live up to my expectations. I will grant that it would've been nearly impossible to live up to my expectations given how much I loved the last record, and the first single off this album. This album veers farther into the mainstream than their previous releases, which isn't a bad thing, but the big production of it just feels wrong. I recently saw them in concert and they were selling a T-Shirt that said "I Liked Portugal the Man Before They Sold Out" and now I get it, because a lot of fans are going to say that about this record. Still a very good album.

Big Hogg - Gargoyles: The new album from the Glasgow band is their second and sounds as if it were transported out of the height of the Canterbury Scene of the '70s. Clearly inspired by bands like Caravan and Soft Machine, they blend prog elements into their folk rock sound. This is one of those records that traditionalist will love because of the authentic nature of a style that nobody makes anymore. Non-musical enthusiasts will find the infusion of jazz a nice switch from the over-exposed indie pop sound that has been going around. Worthwhile listening.

John Cougar - The Kid Inside: Though this wasn't released until 1983, after the success of his American Fool album, this was originally John's second album that sat on the shelf for five years. It's clearly the work of a younger artist, showing a rebellious side that isn't present on his later work. Though it's pretty much hated, I have to admit that I quite enjoy it. There's a rawness that is nice and there are some great tracks on here, including the title track, the epic "Too Young to Live" and "Survive."

Horrors of the Black Museum - Gold From the Sea: The 2008 debut, and currently only album, from the Paris doom metal band is one I picked up strictly because the title of the band and the strangeness of the cover. In the world of everything comes back around, this has a lot in common with Christian Death's early work, a gothic work of metal that is interesting enough to hold the attention of the listener. "Hiding Mask" is the real stand-out of the four lengthy tracks.

Family - It's Only a Movie: The UK psych/prog band released eight albums in their five years of existence, with this being the last one. Released in '73, this sees the band moving more into the prog realm than their earlier stuff, but still they never abandoned their taste for psychedelic rock. They get a little mellow on this album, and while not their best, still a nice addition to their wonderful and unheralded catalog.

Gentle Giant - The Missing Piece: By '77 the prog art rock band had released nine albums in seven years. By this point, some of the magic from their earlier work has started to fade a little bit as they move more into a sound that would become an '80s jazz rock sound, but there are still moments where they flash their Pink Floyd inspired psych rock, especially on "Memories of Old Times." Not their best work, and not essential, but still something fans might appreciate. I picked it up for $1 and for that price, it's a fine addition to the collection. 

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