Dude York- Falling (2019)

Posted by KB on 8/22/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Dude York's "Falling" doesn't hit the heights of 2017's "Sincerely" but it does follow the same formula and comes close with a couple songs that feel like clones of the past. There are quite a few good pop-punk gems, with rousing guitars and catchy melodies. The noisier and crunchier songs tend to be the stronger and more engrossing with the guitar a bit more front and center. Both Peter Richards' and Claire England's vocals are getting better on each release. A bit tighter without losing their urgency and authenticity, but England's leads still shine a tad brighter. While "Sincerely" was more about finding someone, "Falling is more about losing someone- deliberately. The album retains the power one expects from DY and a little dabbling in new territory which bodes well for further band growth.

Favorite Songs: Box, Unexpected, Falling, Doesn't Matter, Let Down


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Dude York- Falling

Honeyblood- In Plain Sight (2019)

Posted by KB on 8/19/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Honeyblood went from a duo to a solo act with Scotland's Stina Tweeddale as the upholder of the band name. Her "In Plain Sight" is a pop-rock release that attempts to wade into alt-rock edginess with the use of echo and 80's-ish new wave angularity, that is successful when its muscular and pounding (Touch). The remaining efforts could easily be blended into an iHeart playlist, accessible to the masses but unquestionably better than most of what is on the radio. Dashes of Raveonettes, The Kills, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Missing Persons can be heard throughout. "In Plain Sight" is solid and hummable, but not extraordinary. You'll enjoy it while its on but probably not crave it later.

Favorite Songs: She's A Nightmare, A Kiss From the Devil, Touch, Glimmer

in plain sight

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Angie McMahon- Salt

Angie McMahon- Salt (2019)

Posted by KB on 8/15/2019 to Reviews In Brief
There are songs that have beautiful, sad melodies and those that have beautiful sad lyrics, but to accomplish both consistently is a feat. Aussie Angie McMahon does this on "Salt", her first full LP. The heartbreak and anger is real. The longing is real. The realization of self doubt and knowing that the same slacker mistakes will occur are real. Her songs are not all ballads/dirges, she does let loose, with the same sentiments that are punched with folk-punk attitude. She gets the most out of her voice, electric guitar and emotion. The only min-gripe I have is with elocution. McMahon leans more toward making you feel the melody instead of hearing all it's meaning- but you still get it anyway. When she powers her voice up she conjures up a little Chrissie Hynde. All in all "Salt" is an excellent first effort of well constructed, emotive, enrapturing songs that need to be heard.

Favorite Songs: Keeping Time, Pasta, Slow Mover, Missing Me, Play the Game


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Angie McMahon- Salt

Versing- 10000 (2019)

Posted by KB on 8/13/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Versing is a melodic drone rock crew. They aren't drone as in monotone monotony since they employ song structure with choruses and vocal melodies, but the foundation of their songs trudge along in a close to shoegaze exuberance (deliberate oxymoron). The listener is forced to take heed to get the most out 10000 and not spoon-fed. My Bloody Valentine, "Disintegration" Cure, Jesus and the Mary Chain among other gazers can be felt in their delivery- which I might add- has Pavement dressings as well. 10000 is an album whose enjoyment will depend on your current state of mind or what you are doing. Raving party and fired up- probably not. Long drive alone and brooding- could be. So I'd file this under songs for particular moments.

Favorite Songs: Vestibule, Sated, Renew


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Versing- 10000

Ty Segal + Freedom Band- Deforming Lobes (2019)

Posted by KB on 7/18/2019 to Reviews In Brief
The anti-live live album. Recorded live in LA, Segall and his Freedom Band played brand new songs to a mostly quiet audience. Neat idea to catch the rawness and energy of new songs with minimal cleaning up. Segall, this generation's Robert Pollard in his prolificacy, churns out another batch of rockers that are part bat-shit crazy and part art metal with a full, open wall of noise. Honestly, I am not a fan of all his work but to me his recent releases - Freedom Goblin and Ty Segall- he's gotten more intriguing, engrossing and accessible by maintaining his super-charged solos and lessening, but not eliminating, his quick intra-song veers. If you like loud and unexpected then try this one on.

Favorite Songs: Squealer, Breakfast Eggs, The Crawler

deforming lobes

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Ty Segal + Freedom Band- Deforming Lobes

The Resonars- No Exit (2019)

Posted by KB on 7/17/2019 to Reviews In Brief
No it's not 1964. It's not the British Invasion but this sounds a hell of a lot like it. Name the British bands that landed in the early 60's and you can hear virtually every one of them- most notably the Who, Dave Clark 5 and Hollies (more currently Len Price 3). Jangly upbeat guitars, rat-a-tat drum fills, vocal harmonies and simple, but not stupid, lyrics. Only difference is that they employ engineering that is better than then and the guitar solos more explosive and technical-and really, really good. Best part of "No Exit" is that is doesn't feel dated. It doesn't try too hard either. The Resonars sound natural and airy in their 60's reset like they were there when it happened and are proprietors of this sound.

Favorite Songs: Gone Is the Road, Who's Gonna Believe You Now?, Before You're Gone, Attention Here, Beagle Theory

no exit

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The Resonars- No Exit

Cash Box Kings- Hail To the Kings! (2019)

Posted by KB on 7/16/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Sometimes you just need something fun to pop on during a warm sunny summer day. That's "Hail To the Kings!". Old school 50's styled Chicago blues that's tight, and grooving with loping, walking rhythms and soulful harmonica. These guys can play and they make it so sound so easy. This is not your down in the dumps blues so it's not aching and personal, it's fun- as noted above- and unassuming. There are a few cuts that could be pared from the middle that slow HTTK's momentum, but it ends on a high note and overall is just a good time. Cash Box Kings have been bopping away for over 17 years and here's to the next 17.

Favorite Songs: Ain't No Fun, Take Anything I Can, The Wrong Number

hail to the kings

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Cash Box Kings- Hail To the Kings!

Dreamers- Launch Fly Land (2019)

Posted by KB on 7/15/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Dreamers play top-40ish pop-rock. They straddle that too poppy line where it can be a little saccharine, but when they drift into Kooks or Quiet Company territory it works. There is no new ground being broken but the songs are well constructed with solid bridge hooks and are varied enough to keep the album interesting. They deftly use all the current tricks to make their songs probably good live, especially for the festival circuit, and the young ladies. Will this find its place on the best of lists at the end of the year? Doubtful. Though I could see this as a summer guilty pleasure.

Favorite Songs: Dizzy, Die Happy, Vampire In the Sun, Someway Somehow

Launch Fly Land

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Dreamers- Launch Fly Land

Dommengang- No Keys (2019)

Posted by KB on 7/11/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Dommengang has a 70's-let's-wail hard rock feel but with fresh interpretations. In between their guitar flaying metal riffing one could parse out of the complex, expressive soloing dabs of shoe-gaze (Blues Rot and the vocal delivery),Ted Nugent (Sunny Day Flooding, Stir the Sea), Ritchie Blackmore (Wild Wash), Tony Iommi (the apex of most solos), Jerry Garcia (Arcularius- Burke) and even some Eric Clapton (no joke listen to Kudzu). I even hear a bit of their contemporaries Black Mountain in the song structure. The drums are embellished precision flailing around steady bass lines adding to the interest. Lyrically, who knows what they are getting at but with such stellar musicianship, who cares. One imagines that any of these cuts could be seriously expanded live. Long live rock!

Favorite Songs: Wild Wash, Stir the Sea, Jerusalem Cricket, Sunny Day Flooding

no keys

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Dommengang- No Keys

Black Mountain- Destroyer (2019)

Posted by KB on 7/2/2019 to Reviews In Brief
"Destroyer" could arguably be Black Mountain's best release to date. It's a fine mix of crunch, riff, stoner, phsyche and 70's art rock. Unlike in their past, there are less self indulgences. They still create songs that are constructed of unique parts, but there are no 18 minute dronings. They blend keyboard and synth accents and big back beats with full blown epic guitar. For Black Mountain, this is a concise, to the point rock album and one with no weak links. Lyrically they are open to interpretation with dashes of free love and man's impending doom with probably more doom than love. "Destroyer" is capable of satisfying the need to hear Genesis, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Cure and Bowie in one sitting (FD'72 the latter two).

Favorite Songs: Future Shade, Boogie Lover, High Rise, Pretty Little Lazies


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Black Mountain- Destroyer

The National- I Am Easy To Find (2019)

Posted by KB on 6/28/2019 to Reviews In Brief
This is a tough one for me. I am a fan of The National, but "I Am Easy To Find" will be my least reached for National album. It feel artsy for the sake of being artsy and over thought. I appreciate when a band takes a different direction and I do try to support those twists and turns, but in this case the I found myself trying to stay interested in the songs. Few engrossed me. The drumming and percussion were distracting, the choral pieces added little and while Matt Beringer's vocals are still stunningly subdued, emotional and sullen the delivery seemed repetitive. IAETF is not a completely horrible album, it's just not on the same plane as expectations were. And maybe that is part of the problem- when a band you like drifts from where you want them- is it my problem or their fault. I don't have the answer. I will continue to look forward to future National releases but until then I will reach for "High Violet" or "Boxer" first.

Favorite Songs: Theme From Daddy Long Legs, Pink Lemonade, Celaphine, Be Gone, Back Door Fool

i am easy to find

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The National- I Am Easy To Find

Daddy Long Legs- Lowdown Ways (2019)

Posted by KB on 6/21/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Back woods traveling medicine blues- I think that's how I'd classify Daddy Long Legs. You could find them under a ratty tent or in a ramshackle barn just reeling and rocking their guttural fuzzed revival music. Music that thumps along and almost feels as if it might break down at any time. The guitar is chunky, the harmonica railroad bluesy and washboard drums sounding like rattling train tracks. "Lowdown Ways" is a manageable 38 minutes leaving you wanting an encore. While listening throw out a few whoops and hollers. You'll be glad you did.

Favorite Songs: Theme From Daddy Long Legs, Pink Lemonade, Celaphine, Be Gone, Back Door Fool

lowdown ways

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Daddy Long Legs- Lowdown Ways

Amyl and the Sniffers - S/T (2019)

Posted by KB on 6/20/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Apparently I must be on a punk kick or maybe its that there is some pretty good punk being released. Amyl and the Sniffers are loud, yappy and full of FU attitude. Dec Martens' guitars crunch and wailing solos echoing Billy Duffy, the drums pound with cymbal accents and the bass hits you in the chest- and hard. And Amy Taylor's vocals are as feminine as Wendy O'Williams was feminine, but her Beastie Boys like barking fits in perfectly. They spew pissed off antidotes about bad relationships but show some cloaked love too. Sadly there is no CBGB around for them beat the hell out of young (and old like moi) auditory vestibular nerves. Steer away if you're looking for cuddle music and not mosh music- but you'll be missing out.

Favorite Songs: Gacked On Anger, GFY, Control, Some Mutts (Can't Be Muzzled)


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Amyl and the Sniffers - S/T

Shame- Songs of Praise (2018)

Posted by KB on 6/18/2019 to Reviews In Brief
This one eluded me last year and if it wasn't for their set at Boston Calling this year I would have never found them. Their set was easily the most energetic, for both the crowd and the band, of the festival. Within 30 seconds the audience was theirs. Shame proves that punk with attitude is not dead. "Song of Praise"- their debut effort- spits, barks and pierces within a well structured, pounding and melodic framework. They aren't thrashy they are hard driving. While not for everyone, if you are 'one' that gets it, you will bob your upper body with eyes half open and a slight sneer (if you don't know what I mean you probably won't be one who gets it). Shame conjures up the Sex Pistols, Clash, TSOL and edgier Blur. SOP translated live fluidly in energy and flow. Keep an eye on these London young-uns.

Favorite Songs: Concrete, One Rizla, Tasteless, Gold Hole

songs of praise

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Shame- Songs of Praise

Vandoliers- Forever (2019)

Posted by KB on 6/11/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Not sure if there is a alt-country-punk music category, but if there is, the Vandoliers are without question stalwarts in that category. The Vandoliers, on "Forever", pound through their songs with unabashed, gravelly vocalled, verve and pepper them with fiddle flourishes, twangy Strat solos, mariachi horns and white-country soul (the good kind). But you know at any moment they could unleash a straight on rocker, and probably want to. In a better world this is what pop-country would be, but for now we'll have to create playlists around them and just pretend.

Favorite Songs: Sixteen Years, Bottom Dollar Boy, Cigarettes In the Rain


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Vandoliers- Forever

Jenny Lewis-On The Line (2019)

Posted by KB on 6/10/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Jenny Lewis is an artist who can take personal experiences and inner thoughts and make the listener care. The songs are genuine and the subjects real. You can hear her disappointment, anger, satisfaction or bile in her voice and her melodies, tone and rhythms frame the mood but never take away from her voices' prominence. Lewis is aging oh so gracefully, continuing to put out strong and thoughtful albums. Each with her signature over all sound without sounding like retreads and each being just a bit better than the previous one. "On the Line" could arguably be her best to date, so here's to here looking forward to her next because it'll probably raise the bar yet again.

Favorite Songs: Red Bull & Hennessy, Hollywood Lawn, Rabbit Hole, Wasted Youth, Heads Are Gonna Roll

on the line

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Jenny Lewis-On The Line

Charly Bliss- Young Enough (2019)

Posted by KB on 6/6/2019 to Reviews In Brief
"Young Enough" doesn't grab you like their last, high energy release "Guppy" did. Charly Bliss still allow their pop-punk to emerge but there is a little less of it and more introspective self realizations (just read any Eva Hendricks interview or album review for more in depth detail), more subtlety and more synths. YE requires a few more listens to fully pull you in, but if you invest just a little time you will appreciate the band's growth. And having seen them multiple times live, I can report that YE's songs translate well to the stage. Charly Bliss know their way around a power pop melody and, in my opinion, will be around for awhile - provided their increase in popularity doesn't ruin them. Fingers crossed.

Favorite Songs: Under You, Chatroom, Hurt Me, Hard To Believe

Young Enough

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Charly Bliss- Young Enough

Sleeper- The Modern Age (2019)

Posted by KB on 5/29/2019 to Reviews In Brief
I'll be honest, I didn't realize that this band had some success in the mid-90s taking a hiatus from 1998 until 2017. It doesn't take away from my thoughts on "The Modern Age", but it does redefine their sound from cool retro to authentic alt-rock. A mix tape (dating myself) could easily have Sleeper blended with Elastica, Veruca Salt and Lush, which would actually be a pretty damn good tape. TMA is pop guitar driven with mini synth/keyboard flourishes and solid vocals that are breathy but confident. Their songs have good bones, while a bit formulaic, they aren't mundane being catchy enough to hold a listener's interest. For those of you who were active at the time, this would have easily been a part of the original alt-rock scene, that has now become my kids' classic rock. It's nice to hear a band that took so much time off to do other activities get back together and appear to not miss a beat. I predict festival gigs for them in the future....

Favorite Songs: Paradise Waiting, The Sun Also Rises, The Modern Age, More That I Do

modern age

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Sleeper- The Modern Age

Martha- Love Keeps Kicking (2019)

Posted by KB on 5/15/2019 to Opinions & Thoughts
There are never any real surprises from north England's Martha. There is always high energy melodic punk-pop with upper range, bordering yelping, vocals about relationships and Gen Y/Z life problems. But they do it so well. Some bands sound stale when they stick to a formula and luckily Martha is not one of them. "Loves Keeps Kicking" clocks in at 38 minutes packing 11 frenetic songs with strong hooks and build-ups so there is little time to lose interest, but who could. If there is any deviation from the past it is that there appears to more guitar solo parts- other than that it is another banging solid release from Martha.

Favorite Songs: Into This, Mini Was A Preteen Arsonist Love Keeps Kicking

love keeps kicking

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Martha- Love Keeps Kicking

Hayes Carll- What It Is (2019)

Posted by KB on 5/13/2019 to Reviews In Brief
"What It Is" is Carll's strongest release since KMAG YOYO, but since he takes his time between releases, that means only one requires skipping. WII is diverse and challenges his country folk classification. Yes there are shit-kickers (Times Like These) and Texas twang (If I May Be So Bold) along with some R&B (Things You Don't Want To Know) and straight on rockers (Beautiful Thing). Which mirrors the layout of KMAG. Carll has an easy to listen ever so slight drawl and is at his best when he's cleverly rattling off the cuff about day to day situations. And personally, I prefer his country thumpers, that to me, sound the most genuine but all of WII is honest and not faux country.

Favorite Songs: Times Like These, Beautiful Thing, What It Is

what it is

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Hayes Carll- What It Is
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