Cloud Nothings- Last Building Burning (2018)

Posted by KB on 11/29/2018 to Reviews
Cloud Nothings are not for the feint of heart. They are melodically machine gun abrasive somewhere between punk, hardcore and metal. Not cuddle music. But they are damn tight with hooks thick enough to carry a side of beef (get it- meat hooks). This Ohio outfit, led by Dylan Baldi, has a signature sound but one that has evolved to where they do sing instead of just scream their lyrics and, between the hooks, undulate between straight tuneful rock to full throttle sonic explosions. As to the lyrics, they are hard to decipher at times, but a quick on line search will display their distrust and angry broken hearts. But really, when your pulled into their aggression you can feel the angst and the lyrics become unimportant. Cloud Nothings' songs have always had an anthem feel to them and on LBB that's what you'll find culminating in the 10:51 Dissolution. This is not for everyone, but for those who can hike through the briars an award awaits.

Favorite Songs: Leave Him Now, Offer An End, Dissolution, Another Way of Life

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Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats- Wasteland (2018)

Posted by KB on 11/28/2018 to Reviews
Read their name then the album title. This album sounds exactly like it should. Loud psychedelia with fuzz, otherworldly riffs and stratospheric solos. But with a message about how we are getting a little too connected to tech/games/social media and losing our ability to be connected personally with each other until we are captive society held by digital forces. It widens the complexity of "Wasteland" and is pretty damning and easily missed unless you listen for it. The music isn't a one lane highway either. There are blends of Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Zeppelin and 60s garage throughout with smidge of audio effects. One complaint is that the engineering could use some serious de-muddling as the mixing doesn't allow you to hear each part crisply- but maybe that's by design. Still, this is one of my faves so far. Crank it up and think seriously about how addicted you, or your kids, are to the smart phone.

Favorite Songs: I See Through You, No Return, Wasteland, Exodus

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Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers- Bought to Rot (2018)

Posted by KB on 11/27/2018 to Reviews
Angry, disturbed, resentment, lost, need, adversarial are words that could be used to describe "Bought to Rot", Laura Jane's inaugural solo release. While there are moments of old school Against Me, LJ shows glints of country and folk- electrified of course. But make no mistake this is an aggressive record. LJ has stuff to scream about and she is doing just that whether it's about a withering relationship, being f'd over or the lack of self love. BTR starts vitriolic and angry but by the end she comes to terms with everything careening around in her head. It's not a perfect record but its nice to have someone pissed off and not mincing words- which can help you release on those off days... especially if you're having a bad day in Chicago....

Favorite Songs: Born In Black, The Airplane Song, Reality Bites, Manic Depression, Apocapypse Now (& Later)

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J Mascis- Elastic Days (2018)

Posted by KB on 11/19/2018 to Reviews
To the untrained ear it could be easy to mistake "Elastic Days" as a Dinosaur Jr record because of J Mascis' distinct warbled aloof vocals and full tonal guitar solos. Those with a trained ear will note a kinder, folksier Mascis with crisp acoustic guitar accented by carefully placed dramatic sonic flourishes- which are also a Dino Jr characteristic though with less bombast but the same impact. Mascis also employs his patented mid-song change of tempo but just a tad gentler. He wants you hear his vulnerability and the sadness in his voice about loneliness and lost companionship. While there are no new directions being traveled on "Elastic Days" it's nice to hear an artist put out material that doesn't sound like leftovers or rehash of what he does with his main band (Lou Barlow does the same with Sebadoh and his solo work too). Fans of Dino Jr will enjoy this record and note the differences.

Favorite Songs: See You At the Movies, I Went Dust, Drop Me

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Say Hi- Caterpillar Centipede (2018)

Posted by KB on 11/16/2018 to Reviews
Well shame on me for not be aware of this band (primarily Eric Elbogen) for the past 15 years. "Caterpillar Centipede" embodies what well-crafted indie rock should sound like. Crisp, but imperfect, design with energy and pop sensibilities without the sugar. What I would have called college rock back in my day. Besides Elbogen's layered, throaty voice there is no deliberate signature on his songs or his sound. The songs are creative and varied using muddied guitar, accent keyboards and 80's styled drums and occasional effect. They feel natural and organic as if they just <poof!> appeared on the vinyl one day. Hopefully in, the near future we get the young-uns back into the indie scene where albums like this out weigh the umpteenth re-mix.

Favorite Songs: Every Gauge Is on Empty, Mathematicians, Green With Envy, Makin' Faces Like (You Ate a Lemon), Dreaming the Day Away

More Info: Say Hi

All Them Witches- ATW (2018)

Posted by KB on 11/15/2018 to Reviews
All Them Witches keep their ascend intact with "ATW". The Witches flip from big sound bombasts to slow cooking seethers that are as loose as they are precise. Their riff driven songs ramble close to jam band status just to be reeled in by unexpected structure but that doesn't mean that they appear afraid to roll their eyes into their heads and just let it rip. Cream, Zeppelin, Allman Brothers with a sprinkle of Phish all get a nod and sometimes within the same song (Harvest Feast). They recently went from a four piece to a three piece so it's curious to see how that effects their delivery, in any case, "ATW" is another step forward.

Favorite Songs: Fishbelly 86 Onions, Harvest Feast, Rob's Dream

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John Hiatt- The Eclipse Sessions (2018)

Posted by KB on 11/15/2018 to Reviews
John Hiatt (full disclosure I am career fan) is a singer-song writer who, for the better part of 30+ years, has released consistent, solid albums. Not always perfect but always listenable with a gem or two. "The Eclipse Sessions" is not just consistent it's excellent and probably his best overall release in 10 years. His voice is showing it's wisdom and his lyrics are exploiting his sage which creates the life worn, self deprecating charm of "Eclipse". Unlike many of his contemporaries, Hiatt isn't drifting along in ballad mode. There are a few well crafted, heartfelt songs but he back road chugs and rocks along in troubadour form as well. John Hiatt, as expected, is like a warm cuppa tea.

Favorite Songs: Cry To Me, All the Way to the River, Poor Imitation of God, Over the Hill, Outrunning My Soul


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Billy F Gibbons- The Big Bad Blues (2018)

Posted by KB on 10/16/2018 to Reviews
Though the title is trite, it's hard not like this blues romp from one of the ZZ's. It's heavy, traditional and fun. There is an unforgiving honesty in Gibbons' delivery. He's not trying to create a new blues/rock but instead embracing what he's been doing for over 40 years and saying take it or leave it. Personally, I'll take it since every song is party and none of them overstay their welcome with bloated solos. They instead leave you imagining how they could be extended. He blends KC, Chicago, Memphis styles to prove his chops and throws in a little calypso-like, 50s doo wop for good measure. "The Big Bad Blues" is big, it's bad and it's definitely blues. Good ol' smoky bar blues.

Favorite Songs: Just drop the needle anywhere.

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Muncie Girls- Fixed Ideals (2018)

Posted by KB on 10/10/2018 to Reviews
Some the best indie pop bands are drifting our way from the UK, including the power-punk-pop Muncie Girls. The Muncie Girls are another solid female (Lande Hekt) fronted band with a big power chord sound. Don't let their poppiness fool you on "Fixed Ideals", it only masks that they rock about being angry over getting F'd over, scared about their present situation and desperate about what is to come. Oh, then they throw in Laugh Again to show they do wish for happiness for some. 13 songs and while they don't blaze new paths they don't feel trite. Its great to hear a no strings attached, straightforward rock album in this age of EDM and rap. So I hope this UK breeze keeps blowing bands like this our direction.

Favorite Songs: Jeremy, Picture of Health, Bubble Bath, Fig Tree, In Between Bands, Laugh Again

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Sauna Youth- Deaths (2018)

Posted by KB on 10/5/2018 to Reviews
Snotty, attitudinal, raucous, thrashing punk is evidently alive and well in London. Sauna Youth call to mind the Buzzcocks and Wire primarily on SY's power strumming, minor chord changes, minimalist riffs and barking vocals with a splash of avant garde artiness and flailing guitar solos. There is a little repetitiveness, possibly by design, but not enough to label this a mono-stylistic effort. SY implore you to listen to their gripes, personal issues and abasements and it's hard not to abide.

Favorite Songs: Distracted, Unreal City, No Personal Space, Leisure Time

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Devil Makes Three- Chains Are Broken (2018)

Posted by KB on 10/2/2018 to Reviews
Devil Makes Three are a hillbilly alt-country-folk-rock band that sing about living on the edge of the straight and narrow and the abyss of hell. Or at least they think about it a lot. This follow up to "Redemption & Ruin" isn't as obvious about this tightrope but you can hear it in their smooth twangy tunes on calling someone out or making a bad decision. DMT excels when they are grittier and falling toward the aforementioned abyss trying to justified something maybe not so justifiable. "Chains Are Broken" is three quarters a great varied American roots album that has a couple of songs, that are well constructed, but get lost in MOR sentiment.

Favorite Songs: Chains Are Broken, Need To Lose, Deep Down, Pray For Rain

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Beechwood- Inside the Flesh Hotel (2018)

Posted by KB on 9/17/2018 to Reviews
"Inside the Flesh Hotel" is that album that when songs come on while on shuffle you think why don't I listen to this more, but you never do. The breathy, layered vocals and poppier Velvet Underground melodies pique the interest of the hipster in you, but after 3 songs you're appetite has been sated. It might be the echo mix where the guitar bleeds all over the well crafted and varied songs making all but the high note piano flourishes indistinguishable. It's not that endearing lo-fi sound which charms a listener and it's not slickly produced which might bring out the individual instruments. Anyhow, this is just an album that you are glad you have but you just won't have a yen to scramble put it on.

Favorite Songs: Amy, Bigot In My Bedroom, Sucker, Ram

Find It: Beechwood- Inside the Flesh Hotel

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Matthew Logan Vasquez- Texas Murder Ballads (2018)

Posted by KB on 9/5/2018 to Reviews
MLV's chugging rock is full of dust and sweat. He tells his stories of lost love and betrayal through mid tempo burners, straight out rockers and slightly bluesy funk riffs. His songs are big and have whirlwhind effect where you feel as if you are in a desert setting at the beginning of a sand storm. Dramatic, yes but it fits MLV's dramatic delivery . If you listen to and like this one I suggest going back one year to his " Does What He Wants" release.

Favorite Songs: No weak songs on this EP

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Nude Party- Nude Party (2018)

Posted by KB on 7/20/2018 to Reviews
It appears that we in the midst of a retro renaissance and the Nude Party are right in the thick of it. Nude Party meander throughout the 60's musical alt-culture. At once sounding like the Velvet Underground, but with tighter musicians, to rough strewn garage jam to psychedelia freak outs to Dylanesque stream of conscious rockabilly. There is even some country rock sing-a-long chuggers. All with funky, minimalist farfisa organ riffs, slight echo chamber and twist (or watusi) worthy grooves. Even their name screams 60s (think Hair). Totally fun, but not listen to once fun. Keep this one nearby for the remainder of the summer. Easily one of the best "sunny day, hanging out on the patio while throwing back a few" releases in quite some time.

Favorite Songs: Chevrolet Van, Live Like Me, Gringo Che, Water On Mars, Feels Alright

Find It: Nude Party- Nude Party

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever- Hope Downs (2018)

Posted by KB on 7/18/2018 to Reviews
Technically this is their first LP, after releasing 2 EPs, but in my opinion it's essentially their third release. Actually, "Hope Downs" could be their first, second or third release. Little separates the three from each other. The up tempo 80's beat, reverb jangly guitars, fast spoken lyrics about daily life in Australia, chorus hooks supported by roaming riffs in airy songs that increase in energy culminating in rousing guitar solos. Is it a problem? Not really because RBCF are quite good within this formula. The drawback is that you feel like you you've heard this one before. Nothing juts out as a wow moment. But upon multiple listens of this RBCF incarnation their formula still grows on you. If this is your first foray in RBCF, go back and get the other two, if you have the other two just get this one. Remember they are interchangeable.

Favorite Songs: Talking Straight, Mainland, Bellarine, Exclusive Grave

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Pinegrove- Cardinal (2016)

Posted by KB on 7/5/2018 to Reviews
A couple of years ago "Cardinal" came out and basically landed on every best of list. It was in my consideration too but fell just short. Having just purchased the vinyl, I revisited the album and found it's wistful, back porch delivery endearing and refreshing. It slides in and out of alt-country, Americana, alt-folk with moments of rock. The songs build around their simple hooks and faraway drums with banjo hints. Evan Stephens Hall (main architect) sings his songs as if they were music standards with a loose-who-cares-if-I-crack confidence. Though from 2016 it is worth your effort to find. Best listened and dusk thinking about old and new friends.

Favorite Songs: Old Friends, Aphasia, Waveform, Size of the Moon, New Friends

Find It: Pinegrove- Cardinal

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Ruen Brothers- All My Shades of Blues (2018)

Posted by KB on 7/2/2018 to Reviews
It's 1969 and you got your favorite AM station blaring and you're listening to the latest hit by the Ruen Brothers, that duo filling the K-Tel compilations every year.... If it was 1969 this wouldn't be too out there except the Ruen's weren't born yet. "All My Shades of Blues" is the best AM pop rock released in 2018, maybe in the 21st century. The songs are big, poppy, dramatic, melodic, catchy and so deliciously retro. The lyrics and the arrangements are perfectly simple, and you just wait for the Roy Orbison high notes to crackle and fail- but they never do. The Ruens utilize every late 60's and early 70's summer pop hook trick without it feeling retreaded. This is a hard release not to like, if not love. Get this. Play it. Sing along.

Favorite Songs: Walk Like a Man, All My Shades of Blue, Finer Things, Motor City, Aces

Find It: Ruen Brothers- All My Shades of Blue

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Kyle Craft- Full Circle Nightmare (2018)

Posted by KB on 6/28/2018 to Reviews
When the term singer-songwriter is used the first thoughts that come to mind are that of brooding, introspective with a little self indulgence (this is not an absolute). Craft has the self indulgence but employs drama, energy and a big glam sound along with smart lyrics and songs that would feel right in a smokey piano bar, club or Broadway. It doesn't mean that Craft doesn't rock it just demonstrate how versatile his songs are. His full sound could be pared down and his ballads could be crescendo-ed without losing their validity due to his emphatic vocals that make his songs feel important or urgent. "Full Circle Nightmare" defies easy categorization which is why it is such an interesting listen.

Favorite Songs: Belmont (One Trick Pony), Fake Magic Angel, Fever Dream Girl, Full Circle Nightmare

Find It: Kyle Craft- Full Circle Nightmare

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Remember Sports- Slow Buzz (2018)

Posted by KB on 6/11/2018 to Reviews
This Philly based four piece bang out muddy college rock bordering on punk about breakups, being disheartened and loss but in an oddly uplifting way. Their songs are energetic with boatload of ear-worm hooks. You know where the song is going and you are so glad that it actually got there. Remember Sports doesn't roam far from earlier LPs, and who would care since they do DIY lo-fi so well. "Slow Buzz", like all their releases, is easy to listen to over and over again which brings about the only negative. It forces you to neglect the rest of your collection.

Favorite Songs: Up From Below, Nothing's Coming Out, No Going Back, Dripping, You Can Have Alonetime When You're Dead

Las Rosas- Shadows By Your Side (2018)

Posted by KB on 6/7/2018 to Reviews
Las Rosas is an indie trio from Brooklyn whose output is 60s-ish era garage rock. If you told me you found them on an old Rhino compilation disc, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised. Their songs are raggedly melodic with twists and turns and energetic build ups. There is nothing tricky here but the beauty of good retro-rock is having hooks that feel familiar but don't sound re-hashed. It's easy to hear how Las Rosas might get into solid jamming live giving their songs a whole new identity. I hear Diamond Rugs, Fidlar and Palma Violets blended throughout SBYS. It's nice to hear another straight forward unrefined rock band putting out catchy, fun to listen to rock music.

Favorite Songs: The Ghost, Tax Man, Christa, Dinner For One, Flood This House

Find It: Las Rosas- Shadow By Your Side

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