Dusting Off Oldies
Before I lost my streaming services, I continued to tell myself I would revisit most of what’s below at least one more time—and many of them I did as they reside in my iTunes queue. But after revisiting my notes on various records, there were plenty I decided weren’t worth the forty-to-sixty minutes of time it would take to reconsider, and considering there’s only one record here threatening to become an A-, the possible grade fluxing was only a matter of one or two stars, or possibly a drop into Lemons. So here’s a decent chunk of what was residing in my back catalog.
THE MAVERICKS – In Time (Valory): Country rock band from Miami, first album in ten years, a band who either was never that great or wildly unappreciated because I’d never heard of them. The ‘country rock’ tag sits funny—this reminds me far more of Roy Orbison with an occasional Tex-Mex (with a heavier dose of Mex) tinge—but the subtle blues influences and subject matter (girl leaves guy, guy’s upset) lend credibility. Good album. (“Lies,” “Born to Be Blue”) ***
MADELEINE PEYROUX – The Blue Room (Decca): Jazz singer cops enough from Charles’ Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music you’d think she was trying to create a contemporary version, Moderner Sounds. ***
MOUNT MORIAH – Miracle Temple (Merge): Alt-country group from Chapel Hill. Starts off nice—hints of Allman Bros. and such, slows down into a swirl I stop following around halfway through. **
LOW – The Invisible Way (Sub Pop): Thought they were a rock band, but awfully slow for that. Must revisit ‘11’s C’mon. (“Plastic Cup,” “So Blue”) **
HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS – Welcome Oblivion (Columbia): Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and wife churn out the usual industrial computer synth beats. I feel like he would’ve been perfect to score the Perfect Dark video game series. A lesser version of Year Zero, though more enjoyable than their EP from what I recall—as a friend put it, an imagining of Year Zero were it a ballad. Weighed down at the end by six-to-seven-minute cuts whose meandering reminds one of Reznor’s not too long ago soundtrack scoring days. (“How Long”) **
INSPECTAH DECK AND 7L & ESOTERIC – Czarface (Brick): Wu-Tang member and Boston underground hip-hop duo invite multiple guests for comic book boom-bap carnival, samples from Eminem (“Cement 3’s”) to Doom (“Savagely Attack”). (“Air ‘Em Out,” “Rock Beast”) **
CHELSEA LIGHT MOVING – Chelsea Light Moving (Matador): Metal-lite with drone to spare, occasional dips into Patti Smith poetry-telling. Why anyone ever thought that was a good idea on a rock record is beyond me. **
THE STROKES – Comedown Machine (RCA): Proof to anyone who ever entertained the idea they were the next Television that they for too long suffered an identity crisis to continue wearing that garb forever. Those who hated Angles will find more to hate. *
JOHNNY MARR – The Messenger (New Voodoo): Ex-Smiths dude rolls out generic rock not nearly as depressing as his 80’s shtick. *
THE DB’S – Falling Off the Sky (Bar/None ’12): 70’s/80’s loud pop group (first album titled Stands for Decibels) whose members hail from North Carolina but formed in New York. First studio album in twenty-five years. Because I’ve never heard anything from them before I can’t make any comparisons except their silliness reminds me either of The Magnetic Fields or They Might Be Giants. A few catchy tunes, like the opener, and worth coming back to. *
ERIC CLAPTON – Old Sock (Bushbranch): Finally an album title appropriate to its maker. A long set of mostly covers, the originals not written by Clapton, serves as such a good sedative I spin it when going down for a siesta. (“Further On Down the Road”) *
EXITMUSIC – Passage (Secretly Canadian ’12): Brooklyn duo, Aleska Palladino and Devon Church, debut album. Slow, sad, dirge-like synths and echoing drums, Palladino’s shaky, huskier Beth Gibbons/Sharon Van Etten vocals indecipherable, but probably incomprehensible anyway. *
MONOSWEZI – The Village (Riverboat/New World Music): Scandanavian jazz occasionally mixed with traditional African rhythms and vocals. Subdued, nothing surprising. *
PERE UBU – Lady From Shanghai (Fire Records): Thought Ubu’s records from the late 70’s were weird. Here it’s like he’s taking cues from David Lynch’s Crazy Clown Time. *
TORRES – Torres (self-released): Some girl with some songs. From Nashville, not that the music would tip you off. *
KARL BARTOS – Off the Record (Bureau B): Kraftwerk member gone solo, recordings cobbled together not to make something coherent but sounds like a slapdash hodgepodge. *
TORO Y MOI – Anything In Return (Carpark): Inoffensive elevator electro-pop by South Carolinian Chazwick Bundick ID’d as ‘chillwave.’ *
THE STEELDRIVERS – Hammer Down (New Rounder): Nashville country/bluegrass quintet, third album, first after the departure of two original members replaced by Gary Nichols (guitar, vocals) and Brent Truitt. At least Old Crow Medicine Show had something in their sound that distinguished them from myriad others; not so here. *
AMOR DE DIAS – The House at Sea (Merge): Heard their 2011 debut, confused them with Austra. Both are allergic to melody or hook and whisper so much they must know what they’re saying is asinine. Sure as hell not going to strain to listen.
SALLIE FORD & THE SOUND OUTSIDE – Untamed Beast (Partisan): Lead woman was born in Asheville, formed her band in Portland—out of the hipster frying pan and into the other. Friends with the Avett Brothers, which is where this ‘freak-folk’ quartet draws influence.
FRIGHTENED RABBIT – Pedestrian Verse (Atlantic/Warner): Mumford & Sons impersonator ramps up the emo guitar hero theatrics, scores an 85 on Metacritic.
JAMIE LIDELL – Jamie Lidell (Warp): British singer/producer’s fifth, a lighter, less funkier version of Prince, at his worst moments Rick James. And he’s white.
PISSED JEANS – Honeys (Sub Pop): Punk/metal Philly outfit finds frontman Matt Korvette lamenting the aging process of the male body, speeds it up by rocking loud and shouting louder.