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

Music Trend Gripes (Part 1)

Posted by KB on 5/8/2019 to Opinions & Thoughts
Lately there have been 'trends' eating at me in regards to the music industry. From recording, managing, marketing and the business that is the music industry. These 'trends' may or may not strike a nerve with anyone else but to me they are worth considering and in no way comprehensive. My Part 1 deals with the actual recording, engineering, mixing ...etc of an album. Note: not all bands and artists do the below but I've notice that these are poking their heads out more frequently. Curious if any other agree or disagree or have other gripes (Part 2 to come)... click read more below to continue

Nick Waterhouse- S/T (2019)

Posted by KB on 5/1/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Mr. Waterhouse has a sound that is way beyond his years. His fourth self titled release of retro-hip, early 60's rhythm and blues is just as strong as his 2012 debut "Times All Gone" without feeling passe or contrived. The sound is tight, sax punchy, the vocals cool, guitar bright, and mix straight out of the era he so loves. The songs lope, shuffle and shake just like you are moving while listening driven by the front loaded snare drum. Waterhouse's creates this past snap shot of sound with it feeling fresh and inventive. Get this. Put it on. Pump in some smoke, open a good bourbon, turn down the lights and groove.

Favorite Songs: By Heart, I Feel An Urge Coming On, Black Glass, Man Leaves Town, El Viv

nick waterhouse

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Nick Waterhouse- S/T

Steve Adamyk Band- Paradise (2019)

Posted by KB on 4/30/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Big guitar power-pop-punk sound- a la Green Day with a smattering of Ramones- from Canada. Their songs don't linger on as the longest one clocks in at 3:20 and the whole 12 song release is 29 minutes, but that adds to their charm. Catchy, mosh pit worthy with a full sound that whacks you on the forehead. True to summer party rock with banged out power chords, rat-a-tat drums and layered vocals. The songs are constructed so well that it doesn't really matter that there have been countless bands prior to SAB creating basically the same type of music.

Favorite Songs: Paradise, When I Was Gone, No Help, The Letter


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Steve Adamyk Band- Paradise

Adia Victoria- Silences (2019)

Posted by KB on 4/29/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Adia is not a singer/songwriter easily classified. Parts chanteuse, pop, avant-garde, burlesque and rock with dashes of R&B. On "Silences" she pings from ambient electro-pop to big beat arena songs and everything in between singing about internal devils and self justification. Her songs are dramatic and don't end the way they start. They build, add reeds or horns, change the beat or vocal delivery- not drastically, but enough to keep you invested. Songs that would work in any size venue. Adia Victoria is the female artist we need on the radio, but sadly she is too smart and creative for the masses, like St. Vincent. Condescending comment, absolutely but tell me I'm wrong.

Favorite Songs: Pacolet Road, Different Kind of Love, Heathen, Nice Folks, Get Lonely


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Adia Victoria- Silences

Spiral Stairs- We Wanna Be Hypnotized (2019)

Posted by KB on 4/24/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Two years ago Spiral Stairs released the excellent "Doris and the Dagger" and they follow that up with an equally great album "We Wanna Be Hypnotized". The strength of a Spiral Stairs is in the variety of the writing. Nary a song sounds like the one previous. They go from 4/4 guitar rock to pop to borderline Americana then they'll throw in some horn punch. And each song is an enjoyable trip with its' own identity. You're always left curious as to what is coming next. Scott Kannberg (who is listed as Spiral Stairs) is the perpetrator of the creativeness and he adds relevant, smart, non-preachy social commentary. Give this two listens and you will be adding this to your regular play list. Guaranteed.

Favorite Songs: Not a weak one on album


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Spiral Stairs- We Wanna Be Hypnotized

Ex Hex- It's Real (2019)

Posted by KB on 4/24/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Straight ahead, driving, riot grrl, power pop with a toe in punk. In Ex Hex the Bangles, Go-Gos, L7 and even Bananarama are syphoned from with songs that could find a home on any one of their albums. They may rock a little more that those bands (maybe not L7) but they don't reach the horny punkiness of the Donnas. You won't pop this one on for it's lyrical genius and it loses some steam mid way through, but it's a good summer bar background when you're ending a day of basking in the sun. "It's Real" won't offend and will provide nominal head bobbing while adding a dash of feeling a bit hip.

Favorite Songs: Tough Enough, Good Times, Diamond Drive, Radiate

its real

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Ex Hex- It's Real

Fanclub and Angie McMahon EPs (2019)

Posted by KB on 4/17/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Fanclub- All the Same (EP) (2019)

Nice poppy 80's synth pop with wistful vocals backed by easy loping strummed guitar. It's not earth shattering as there is little variation between songs, but it is a sunny day, sit around the pool listen.

Favorite Songs: Stranger


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Angie McMahon- A Couple of Songs (EP) (2019)

It's damn frustrating that there are only two songs available, because these two songs are so good. Immediate comparisons to fellow Aussie Courtney Barnett with a voice a blend of Fiona Apple and Chrissie Hynde. These songs rock and they are earnest, which isn't easy to do. Let's hope there is a lot more to come.

Favorite Songs: Pasta, Keeping Time


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Angie McMahon- A Couple of Songs (EP)

The Coathangers- The Devil You Know (2019)

Posted by KB on 4/17/2019 to Reviews In Brief
The Coathangers would have felt comfortable snuggled into the mid-80's alternative, post-punk, alt-rock scene. Their songs don't truly fit into any specific genre or style and neither does their temperament- they can be angry or thoughtful. There is minimalist riffing, Cure-ish pop, Breeders meet Sonic Youth embellishments sometimes all within one song. They also know when they have taken an idea far enough keeping the songs succinct. It makes for a pretty interesting listen- though not for everyone. Those wishing for tight perfectionism will probably run for the hills. Those who can see the beauty in the imperfection will embrace The Devil You Know. Topically The Coathangers address not being your 'one', greed, social fears and they don't straddle fences- they are straightforward. TDYK is a true, honest, current alternative album and one that deserves you give it a chance.

Favorite Songs: F the NRA, Bimbo, 5 Farms, Crimson Telephone, Hey Buddy


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The Coathangers- The Devil You Know

Convoy- Black Licorice (2001)

Posted by KB on 4/4/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Convoy's "Black Licorice" is an album, that I would go out on a limb to say, has not been heard by many. But those who have would most likely agree that it's one damn fine album. I dusted this off recently and it feels just how I remember it. Rolling Stones meets Matthew Sweet with a dash of James Gang and Jayhawks. Hard strummed chords with excellently blended harmonies. A blend of bluesy Americana but not solely. There are tinges of the heavy rhythmic band the core of Convoy became; Louis XIV (Caught Up In You, Eleventeen). Though Convoy wasn't as sexually explicit as Louis XIV was to be (Convoy weren't nuns either in their songs).

"Black Licorice" was almost destined to not be heard because at the time of it's release, more experimental and edgy rock in vogue (Radiohead, White Stripes, Gorillaz) and the next wave of overplayed, dance R&B was controlling the airwaves, which pushed straightforward guitar driven pop-rock bands off radio. Sound familiar? Anyway, this band and this album deserved better, and it still sounds fresh, ringing and energetic. If you are lucky enough to have a copy, do as I did and find it and play it.

Favorite Songs: Gone So Quick Tomorrow, Alice, Loosen It Up, Anytime She Wants It, California Girls


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Convoy- Black Licorice

I Was A King- Slow Century (2019)

Posted by KB on 4/3/2019 to Reviews In Brief
It's pretty hard to dislike "Slow Century". It's a simple, light, poppy and jangly group of songs that sound as optimistic as they are meant to be. Not surprising to learn that IWAK are Norwegian since Norway recently was noted as the happiest country in world (let's just push aside the black metal scene for now) because their songs exude that vibe. Even when the go slightly gritty it's with cheer. Their songs are concise and once you are totally invested in it, it ends, which makes you want more or wish they gave you more. That is a small grievance when the songs are constructed so artfully. Does Slow Century break barriers? No. It's just a nice album to remind us that not everything is dour.

Favorite Songs: Hatchet, Clouds, No Way Out, Egersound


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I Was A King- Slow Century

Israel Nash- Lifted (2018)

Posted by KB on 3/29/2019 to Reviews In Brief
You would be hard pressed to find a better album to be the background on a spring sunny day. "Lifted" has a 70's vibe and would have fit in nicely on AM radio. It's uplifting, airy, ethereal, symphonic, anthemic- you can add your similar adjective now. Nash's easy delivery feels completely natural and the music, while simple, doesn't feel trite. Think of Band of Horses before they became mundane or Neil Young in his "Harvest" mode. Nash's layered vocals add lushness and lyrically he seems like a real positive dude. "Lifted" will not necessarily make you smile, but it will put you at peace.

Favorite Songs: Rolling On, Northwest Stars, Hillsides, The Widow


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Israel Nash- Lifted

Wohl- En Vida (2017)

Posted by KB on 3/29/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Wohl's asset could also be their detractor; their similarity to Mogwai. If someone told you "En Vida" was a Mogwai release you would easily believe it. The primary difference between the two bands is that while both build songs from lows to highs remarkably well, Mogwai is more nuanced in the build where Wohl is more presto (fast notes) with the drums and guitar inter playing off each other. "En Vida" can drift from relaxed, purposeful noodling toward prog rock to full out metal freak out, and they are adept at all three styles. Biggest surprise to me was to learn that they hail from Mexico and that this was a 2017 release. Here's hoping there is more coming down the pike soon from this outfit.

Favorite Songs: Luciérnagas, Cuando Todo Comenz√≥, 6


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Wohl- En Vida

Matthew Logan Vasquez- Light'n Up (2019)

Posted by KB on 3/26/2019 to Reviews In Brief
One thing you can bank on is that a Matthew Logan Vasquez release will cover multiple genres and styles. MLV on "Light'n Up" follows this format by touching folk, rock, blues and Americana without repeating himself. And whatever delivery style he decides on for a song he goes all in. A folk song (I Love My Boy) is a folk song. A rock song (Trailer Park) crunches like a rock song. The strength of his songwriting is that his songs always have interesting rhythms and punch, rarely a dull song. "Light'n Up" appears to be auto-biographical about current and past situations. Some serious, but as his title might suggest, not handled dourly or gloomily. Instead he chooses to use a matter-of-fact way of portraying whatever is mentally ailing him without sugar coating the issue. Like the other two MLV solo releases, "Light'n Up" will have songs jump at you but won't win you over in its entirety until you give it ample listens. This is not a slight because appreciation sometimes takes time.

Favorite Songs: Ballad In My Bed, Ghostwriters, Ball Pit

Light'n Up

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Matthew Logan Vasquez- Light'n Up

Better Oblivion Commerce Center- Better Oblivion Commerce Center (2019)

Posted by KB on 3/22/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Better Oblivion Commerce Center is Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridges and have put out a unexpectedly good, introspective, self thinking album. Full disclosure, I have never been on the Conor Oberst fan bus so that is why I used 'unexpectedly' earlier. The music bobs and weaves around honest and believable lyrical ideas about self worth and awareness and Oberst and Bridges vocal combination is as natural as the air around you. The feel is not dire or inspiring. It's genuine and sincere. A perfect album to wear headphones to and lie, eyes closed, in the sun and bask in it's warmth.

Favorite Songs: Dylan Thomas, Sleepwalkin', Chesapeake

Better Oblivion Commerce Center

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Better Oblivion Commerce Center

Telekinesis- Effluxion (2019)

Posted by KB on 3/21/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Ef-flux-ion: Def- the elapsing of time leading to an expiration of an agreement. In this case it feels the expiration of carefree youth or a relationship or both. Telekinesis (AKA Michael Benjamin Lerner) delivers his sad (?) revelations with an airiness that betrays his sentiment. The melodies are intricate and floating and instrumentation loose but exact in pop or rock punch. While he is coming to terms with aging or possibly losing a friend there is a sense that everything will be okay for him. "Effluxion" is sorrowful in subject but enlightening and hopeful in structure and packaging. Basically saying while things end we necessarily don't. Maybe we thrive.

Favorite Songs: Cut the Quick, A Place In the Sun, Set a Course, Suburban Streetlight Drunk


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Telekinesis- Effluxion

Flat Worms- Into the Iris (2019)

Posted by KB on 3/5/2019 to Reviews In Brief
If Interpol, Gang of Four and Purling Hiss decided to share DNA and create a new being (band), that being (band) would be Flat Worms. Flat Worms' new 6 song EP, "Into the Iris", is quirky, noisy and punky enough to not appeal to the masses but with enough groove to not off put everyone. Understand? "Into the Iris" is edgy and barks at you with noisy guitar embellishments to add abrasive interest, but it's not just noisy. It has melody and riffs rat-a-tat propulsion and cryptically understandable lyrics . As noted, this will not appeal to many but for those who like to live outside the MOR box it could be a nice, caustically refreshing change

Favorite Songs: Into the Iris, At the Citadel, Surreal New Year

Into the Iris

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Flat Worms- Into the Iris

SWMRS- Berkeley's On Fire (2019)

Posted by KB on 3/1/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Indie-pop rock with tentacles that wrap around and hold you. SWMRS could pass as a Brit-pop-punk outfit but alas they are Cali boys who are brooding about relationships, aging and getting hurt. They appear slightly disenfranchised but with insight and thoughtfulness and they are so damn fun. Musically it's encouraging that they are not a one lane highway. Their songs vary from punk to pop to ska to ballads and BOF is well paced to blend these styles cohesively. If you try BOF and like it, might I suggest you dig back to an earlier release "Drive North".

Favorite Songs: Lose Lose Lose, Trashbag Baby, Lonely Ghosts, Bad Allergies

Berkeleys On Fire

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SWMRS- Berkeleys On Fire

The Dandy Warhols- Why Are You So Crazy (2019)

Posted by KB on 2/13/2019 to Reviews In Brief
"Why Are You So Crazy" requires a little effort. I'm a fan, finally seeing them live after 25 years in the spring, but my first listen left me perplexed. As any band that has longevity, you expect there to be some evolution and the Dandy's sure followed that expectation over the years. Subsequent listens were more palatable but not fully sating. The Dandy's continue to be trippy but not as 3 chord guitar driven with synth accessorizing as they were when they started out in '94. They have relied more on vocal effects, electronics and 'sounds'. On WAYSC the first side (for you LP buyers or songs 2 through 7 on CD/download) is the stronger with songs that sound like the Dandy's when they are in a psyche-country tinged-groove. Not as funky as their hey day but enough to be fun. The remainder sounds like unfinished ideas or noodling culminating the sprawling, self indulgent Ondine- that I still haven't gotten to the end of. Tread carefully on this one and lets dream the Dandy's find their original roots.

Favorite Songs: Terrorform, Highlife, Be Alright, Sins Are Forgiven

almost free

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The Dandy Warhols- Why Are You So Crazy