Archive for the ‘ALBUMS’ Category

On one hand, Phoebe Bridgers’ debut album features desperately downcast lyrics like “Jesus Christ, I’m so blue all the time / And that’s just how I feel / Always have and always will.” On the other, the singer-songwriter’s website resides at phoebefuckingbridgers.com, and the title of Stranger In The Alps is a nod to the ludicrously edited-for-TV version of The Big Lebowski. Maybe these glimpses of humor are just Bridges trying to let the world know that she’s actually okay. Because listening to this mortally sad, yet frequently magical debut, you might be led to believe she’s irretrievably despondent.

But Bridgers’ melancholy is her truest artistic friend, and she taps that deep well for some incredibly strong songs that are presented gracefully whether she’s keeping things austere or adding orchestral color. Stranger starts with an unstoppable pair of singles in the swirling “Smoke Signals” and the album’s most upbeat moment, “Motion Sickness.” The former indicates an album that could’ve gone a much different way: Two clicks slicker and a bit of a dance beat, and it might be a mainstream hit ballad for someone like Ellie Goulding. But Bridgers keeps it intimate, complete with references to dead heroes—Bowie, Lemmy—and songs about loneliness (specifically The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now”). “Motion Sickness,” meanwhile, offers the album’s only real hopping pulse and singalong chorus.

After that, it’s on to a trio of songs that will receive inevitable, justified, and flattering comparisons to another sad L.A. troubadour, Elliott Smith. “Funeral,” “Demi Moore,” and “Scott Street” are all clearly indebted to Smith—particularly that last one, which begins with a line that’s almost a direct tribute: “Walking Scott Street feeling like a stranger / with an open heart, open container.” Even though it’s close, it’s not slavish, and Bridgers pulls off the rare trick of emulating someone so singular and delicate without losing the emotion. “Killer” might even be more brutally beautiful than some of Smith’s best; on it, Bridgers is joined by X frontman John Doe, whom she asks to “kiss my rotten head and pull the plug.”

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If this all sounds like a depressing slog, it’s actually quite the opposite: Like the best sad-bastard music, Stranger In The Alps alchemizes sorrow into redemptive beauty. It’s never about wallowing, but about slowly moving through it. That difference, played out over some incredible, wise-beyond-her-years songwriting, makes it one of the best albums of the year.

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So many songs have taken on new meaning over the past nine months or so. Ask Van William about his song “Revolution” and he’ll tell you that it “started as a song about the anxieties of being in a relationship, where both people want to fix its broken parts, but disagree on the means,” but “became something else during and after the 2016 election.”

However, that original inspiration was the video’s guiding force, Van William . “Something simple and stark that followed a linear progression into the madness found in the waning days of a romantic relationship. I wanted the video to show the claustrophobic feeling that can form by sharing too much of each other’s lives and being unable to repair the damage from inside the walls of what was built together.” It’s an idea, he says, that came while binge-watching Ingmar Bergman films.

Director Grant James wrote to tell me that “‘Revolution’ is an emotional performance delivered by Van, as well as First Aid Kit’s Klara and Johanna Söderberg, within the confines of a black void. The focus was to compose moving portraits of the artists that express the meaning behind the lyrics of the song as the musicians go through an emotional journey individually and together. The result delivers a variety of raw and striking imagery that balances the fine line between high-fashion cinematography and keeping our subjects grounded in their own natural aesthetic and realism.”

When Van William was listening to a version of his song in the studio, it was clear to him that he wanted the duo First Aid Kit to add their sibling voices to his song. “We have all known each other for almost ten years, when they opened for my old band Port O’Brien on a European tour. Life and the Atlantic Ocean separated us from continuing a real friendship for many years, but we reconnected at a mutual friend’s house party in L.A. early last year. We rekindled our connection into one of the most important friendships I’ve ever had, and tracked this together before they went back to Stockholm. When the three of us are together, it feels like family in the best possible way.”

The Revolution EP is the solo debut for Van William having been in previous bands Waters and Port O’Brien

The Revolution / Cosmic Sign (Demo) 7″ is out today at indie retailers. Go support your local record store.

 

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“Waking Bullets At Breakneck Speed” is the first volume of Blitzen Trapper’s ongoing “Unreleased Recordings” series. In the vaults for over 10 years, the album was recorded at the Telegraph Building in Portland, OR during Blitzen Trapper’s “Wild Mountain Nation” and “Furr” album sessions circa 2006.

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Band Members
Eric Earley
Brian Koch
Marty Marquis
Michael VanPelt
Erik Menteer

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On the off chance there were any doubters of the songwriting gifts of Portland’s Mo Troper following his 2016 debut, Beloved, those suspicions ought to be dashed, scattered and abandoned after a listen to his follow-up, “Exposure & Response”.  A harmonic choir intro opens the record on the satirical “Rock And Roll Will Change The World,” a pessimistic shout-down to those who still believe in the transformative power of art. The rub, of course, is how gorgeously Troper masks his ironies, winking at his audience even as he attempts to break down their comfort zones. The subsequent “Your Brand” continues his admonishment of the social media generation, which Troper can most certainly count himself a member of, with a guitar-rock onslaught.

Shades of Brian Wilson melodics shine through Exposure & Response, especially on “Big School,” where the minutiae of daily struggles are given grandiose treatment within a “Don’t Worry Baby” pop structure. Troper’s vocal range is frequently given to elastic fits, stretching the thinness of his voice to notes that you can hear him struggling beautifully to attain. That element of Troper’s musical alchemy is central to the power of his songs; as fun and punchy as the music has the potential to be on its own, it’s Mo Troper’s snarky lyrical charms that truly take center stage.

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“A human in the wilderness/Is a scary thing to be,” warns June Jones, opening her second album at the helm of Melbourne based folk rock Two Steps on the Water. That’s just over a year since the opening line of her previous LP: “I’m a little bit scared.” It’s a fear that never really goes away, but at least Jones and co. are now better prepared to take it on. With lush three-part harmony and a particularly-beautiful detour prior to its closing chorus, Two Steps On The Water continue to assert their place among the best Australian bands currently working in any capacity.

Band Members
June, Sienna, Jonathan, and Ellah

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The title of Alex Lahey’s single from her debut LP. certainly if every day was indeed the weekend, there’d be no week to end. But who needs logical paradoxes when you’ve got an index-finger waving, pop-punk-friendly chorus? “Weekend” bustles with a sense of urgency that wasn’t nearly as present on B-Grade University – however excellent it was. The click-clack of the snare rim drives the verses, while Lahey herself boisterously recounts the days of the week through a megaphone over the bridge. Someone call a doctor: Alex Lahey’s got Saturday night fever.

 

MEW – ” 85 Videos “

Posted: December 18, 2017 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , ,

+ -  (Double Heavyweight Vinyl Gatefold LP) Double Heavyweight LP

There’s no middle ground or fence-sitting when it comes to Denmark dream-pop devotees Mew. Either you think we’re talking about a Pokémon right now or you’ve already queued up your favourite deep-cuts from A Triumph of Man. Regardless, Mew continue to present their cult fan-base with new reasons to sing in their best higher-range vibralto – and that’s where “85 Videos” comes into play. Its warm blast of horns and its percussive undercurrent fall gently onto a waterbed of synth layering; once again welcoming long-serving fans back into their private paradise. Here’s to 85 more in the next 20 years.

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The Aerosmith frontman’s debut solo album, something which is startling in itself. Then again, One of “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Bands” seem to have been a little argumentative in recent years, so maybe this was always going to be inevitable, after all, most well established rock vocalists eventually feel the need to “say something personal” at some point, so in Tyler’s case, it wasn’t so much going to be matter of if he was going to unleash a solo album, but when.

On We’re All Somebody From Somewhere, Tyler has worked with some heavyweight names, most notably T Bone Burnett it certainly benefits from a terrific production job throughout. Tyler himself is in fine voice, his vocal chords sounding suitably lived in and emotive.

The thing is, We’re All Somebody From Somewhere is a little puzzling. There’s little escaping the fact that We’re All Somebody From Somewhere reeks of vanity project. While in recent decades Aerosmith have nodded to their blues roots and even flirted from afar with bluegrass, on his solo debut Tyler has become pre-occupied with combining pop-rock with flag-waving contemporary country rock. As good as the production is, and as committed as Tyler is throughout the album, it’s painfully obvious that he only makes his best music as part of Aerosmith.

I’ve no doubt that Tyler enjoyed the experience of working without his bandmates of 45 years, and I’ve no doubt he also appreciated the increased artistic freedom a solo album offered (otherwise what was the point?), but We’re All Somebody From Somewhere fails to hit the mark. Sure, everyone performs well enough, care has been taken with making everyone involved sound good, and doubtless Tyler felt invigorated and inspired, but it’s difficult to imagine any Aerosmith fan regularly listening to this album beyond the initial first few spins out of sheer curiosity.

On the positive side, We’re All Somebody From Somewhere isn’t a disaster. Tyler’s voice remains instantly recognisable and he can still hit some of the more ambitious notes when he feels the need to. He’s also collaborated with exactly the right people to ensure that the album doesn’t sound hackneyed or forced.

Image of Macseal- Yeah, No, I Know

The phrase “yeah, no, I know” crams two opposite thoughts together out of indecision, surrender, or both. As the title of Macseal’s second EP, it’s clear that the New York five-piece may volley between two close corners of the indie-rock universe with syrupy pop-punk and serpentine emo , At least that way it’s neither a sugar rush nor a comedown, but an eager introduction to a set of songs thrumming excitedly in the interim.

As the first release recorded with an outside party Jake Ewald of Modern Baseball“Yeah, No, I Know” is given more creative space to breathe outside the DIY chamber. (In fact, the set’s slowest cut, “These Things Happen,” found Cole Szilagyi’s yelp recorded,

Macseal are 1 of the bands that I think are doing the best. Their EP, Yeah, No, I Know, is still bringing something exciting and interesting to the table. Their back and forth vocals, twinkly guitars, and emotional screams keep me coming back again .

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Macseal is: 
Ryan Bartlett
Justin Canavaciol
Greg Feltman
Francesca Impastato
Cole Szilagyi

Recorded at The Metal Shop in Philadelphia, PA

Whatever the frightening, smoldering, horned beast bursting out of its home on this record’s front cover is supposed to be, it looks like an animalistic manifestation of Full Body’s sound. With bristly riffs and pointy rhythms, the Rochester, NY quartet rip up the floorboards of indie rock on these eight songs. It’s a welcomed fracas, though, as these old buildings need to be torn down and reassembled in order to appeal to new renters. Not that Full Body are finished renovating an entire genre after their debut record, a construction job like that takes time and outside assistance. But it’s a project that Full Body and their Upstate New York colleagues in Total Yuppies, Jouska and Bruiser & Bicycle seems to be making headway on together, and within the next few years it might have some serious curb appeal. That’s what’s good.

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released September 22nd, 2017
The Band:
Jack Chaffer: drums
Zach “Joe Smoke” Hallenbeck: vocals, bass
Jacob Kotler: guitar
Dylan Vaisey: vocals, guitar

Released on Sad Cactus Records