Morrissey- I Am Not a Dog On a Chain (2020)

Posted by on 4/2/2020 to Reviews In Brief
I have a love/hate listening relationship with Morrissey, even when with the Smiths. One moment he's brilliant with melodic pitch perfect gloom and disdain the next he's cliched and dull as a one note chant. Happy to say that "I Am Not a Dog On a Chain" is the prior. Bass driven cantankerous songs about not caring or wanting to deal with yours or anyone's bull-shit. Morrissey, as always, throws in a few borderline show tunes that work well within the shell of a very current sounding production. His slate of musicians are top notch and tight with a killer cameo by Thelma Houston ("Bobby, Don't You Think They Know?") and the arrangements ranging from pop, low burn rock and EDM are spot on. There are really only two Morrissey camps; the idolizers and the haters with very few like myself in the middle. The idolizers will love this. The haters will not.

Favorite Songs: Jim Jim Falls, Love Is On Its Way Out, What Kind of People Live in These Houses?, Darling I Hug a Pillow

I am not a dog on a chain

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Ratboys- Printer's Devil (2020)

Posted by KB on 3/31/2020 to Reviews In Brief
When Ratboys, on "Printer's Devil", play their upbeat, easy gait indie rock (what used to be college rock) they are a pleasant, though slightly indistinguishable, listen. The semi-jangle guitars and double kick rhythms are straight out of the indie DIY manual. It's when they soften it up and lean toward Mazzy Star brooding they lose steam and it's easy to drift off. Blend Giant Drag with Charly Bliss and a dash of Juliana Hatfield and you have Ratboys' general vibe. A vibe that can be totally enjoyable within the right environment and with the right pacing.

Favorite Songs: Alien With a Mask On, Looks Too

printers devil

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An Invitation For Musical Discourse

Posted by KB on 3/26/2020 to General Stuff
For awhile now I have been doing YKEEP's Reviews in Brief to offer my thoughts on releases, both new and older, but mostly newer. I normally post about albums I like, or that I feel need to be heard and given a chance. A means to offer up something a little different for a few. Most of my reviews are positive. Why trash and artist or bands' creativity just because I may not like it. I will occasionally list albums I think are subpar, but they are usually from artists I have historically liked, or respected, on some level. The 'younger' me would have said "that sucks and you are inferior by listening to it"; the 'older' me now says "I'm glad that brings you pleasure but I still think it sucks and this is why". There is truly no such thing as bad music. Only bad music to our individual ears.

So, in a long winded, roundabout way, I am looking for those of you opinionated music freaks to provide input on my thoughts- in a positive, fun way. A little noodling- sure, but no crass holier than thou bitching. No using the word stupid-head.

Hopefully a few of you took the time to read this and a few of you will join me with this discourse. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for new posts.

Thanks for your time and I hope to hear from some of you soon.

Chime in now at YBLOG- Reviews in Brief.

Soccer Mommy- Color Theory (2020)

Posted by KB on 3/25/2020 to Reviews In Brief
This is the first Soccer Mommy release that completely grabbed me. Maybe it's the sadness that is betrayed by a light bounding backing track. Maybe it's the forlorn lyrics and melancholy vocals. Maybe it's the personal desperation that is delivered honestly. The common thread is the fact that this is brutal introspection and I believe we have all been there. Sophie Allison isn't playing these songs to sell to Gen Zs with faux pain in staged videos. She's truly feeling what she is singing and she is asking you to listen to her and take the journey with her. As noted, musically, with the lush arrangements, swirling guitars and drums front and center, you might miss the sadness but I think that is by design to serve as a mask. A mask you should take a peek under. Time I revisit their past discography again.

Favorite Songs: Bloodstream, Royal Screw Up, Crawling in My Skin

color theory

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Holy Fuck- Deleter (2020)

Posted by KB on 3/24/2020 to Reviews In Brief
The band name is probably something you might exclaim after listening to "Deleter", an album that meshes EDM, 80s rock, alternative DIY, psychedelia and sips and nips of jazz. Many bands have tried this amalgamation but most don't execute it half as well as HF. Each song has it's own genetic design and leaves one in anticipation as to what the next species may be. The opener Luxe slowly builds using all the aforementioned styles, Deleters a modern dance romp, Endless an early Tame Impala like psyche-mantra... you get the idea. Not every song will resonate with every listener, but if you disregard "Deleter" over one particular entry you are most likely missing out on the good of the whole. Give this a spin if you are looking for something unique and adventurous with good meat on its bones.

Favorite Songs: Deleters, Moment, Luxe, Near Mint


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Green Day- Father of All... (2020)

Posted by KB on 3/23/2020 to Reviews In Brief
This is a polarizing release. There is the faction that wanted a more serious album with acerbic social commentary and then there is the other side (moi included) who is quite enjoying the no frills, straightforward, dumb-fun "Father Of All" is. I personally thought "American Idiot" was brilliant and "21st Century Breakdown" was just a rehash of the AI and then the "Uno", "Dos" and "Tre" releases were self indulgently dull. So having the boys get elbow deep into the nitty-gritty was fine by me. Think Foxboro Hot Tubs with more cursing. Embrace the garage rock fun or go sit in the corner and come out when we are done.

Favorite Songs: Fire Ready Aim, Meet Me On the Roof, I Was a Teenage Teenager, Sugar Youth, Take the Money and Crawl


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Supersuckers- Play That Rock N Roll (2020)

Posted by KB on 3/20/2020 to Reviews In Brief
Sometimes an album's appeal is in it's simplicity. "Play That Rock N Roll" fits that mold by being unapologetically bottom-of-your-boot crude, loud and brash. The Supersuckers reach 11 and never let up from the second you place the needle to vinyl. The guitars crunch, the drums timpani grade boom and the vocals drip with American twang 'tude. PTRNR is pure testosterone, not that there aren't a few ladies who will bang heads to this, but my guess that this is mostly a sausage hang release. And, they do a dynamite version of Warren Zevon's A Certain Girl. We all need a little shit kickin' in our lives and the Supersuckers have released 2020's edition.

Favorite Songs: Unless you are looking for cuddle music, nothing will disappoint

play that rock n roll

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Gladie - Safe Sins (2020)

Posted by KB on 3/19/2020 to Reviews In Brief
Gladie is essentially 90's female fronted alt-rock. Augusta Koch (formally of Cayetana) is that front, and main song writer of existential and internal inspection indie songs. Her pleading warble straddles emphatic and whining but she always get your attention. The simple familiarity of the songs create earworms that rattle in your brain for days for their catchy-ness and/or in you trying to figure out what the familiarity is. Though they have a distinct sound, Gladie is pliable and has a freshness from song to song. I think live they would be similar to Luna where songs build tremendously. "Safe Sins" won't immediately knock your socks off. It will demand that you play it again and again and then it will knock your socks off.

Favorite Songs: A Place Far Different, Twenty Twenty, Paper Bags, Cosmic Joke

safe sins

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Beach Bunny- Honey Moon (2020)

Posted by KB on 3/2/2020 to Reviews In Brief
Beach Bunny starts off sounding like the typical millenial, female voiced, singer songwriter fodder- for about 8 seconds- then they flex their pop-punk muscle. Sure they sing about the usual young angst about self doubt, love, jealousy and the possibility of being perpetually solo, but it's done with melodic interest and strong hooks. It's a sunny, optimistic melancholy where the music betrays the message and gives you hope that all will be perfectly fine. "Honey Moon" is what you should be spinning when you're feeling down. It will make everything perfectly fine.

Favorite Songs: Cuffing Season, Rearview, Colorblind, Dream Boy,Cloud 9

honey moon

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Say Hi- Diamonds & Donuts (2020)

Posted by KB on 2/19/2020 to Reviews In Brief
Say Hi (used to be Say Hi To Your Mom) has a unmistakable sound. Layered nasally vocals, double kicked beats and coda hooks that could land a whale shark. Even their cover art is immediately identifiable. While they remain in a certain realm they (they is actually Eric Elbogen) always add a little nuance to each album that allows Say Hi to meander into new realms. "Diamonds & Donuts" adds a tittering of electronics to their big beats as an example. The album has a melodramatic sunny aura that stitches personal unhappiness with a pat on the back. Fans of Say Hi don't even need to pre-listen- just go and add this to your collection. Not a fan? "Diamonds & Donuts" is a good introduction.

Favorite Songs: Confetti Xerox (Let's Go Team), A MacBook Pro To A Nineties Dell, Tiger Unicorn, Grey As A Ghost

diamonds donuts

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Nada Surf- Never Not Together (2020)

Posted by KB on 2/17/2020 to Reviews In Brief
It's hard to punch holes in Nada Surf's breadth of work. Pretty darn solid release after release. So when I say that "Never Not Together" could arguably be their best release to date its quite a bold statement. Melodic, smart with punch and the patented Nada Surf lilting, floating sound. Caws still provides pointed philosophical introspection, now with middle aged experience and wisdom, that's not preachy but thoughtful. This was worth the 4 year wait. It's early in 2020 but we already have the best album of the year. Again quite bold.

Favorite Songs: So Much Love, Just Wait, Looking For You, Mathilda, Ride In the Unknown

never not together

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Pup- Morbid Stuff (2019)

Posted by KB on 2/13/2020 to Reviews In Brief
The last of my late 2019 finds, "Morbid Stuff", would have been easily a major top 20 contender, with their Martha punk vibe, Hold Steady delivery, generational angst and creative energy. Pup blends EMO, metal, punk, pop into an exhausting thumping. But one that you will enjoy provided you're into screaming guitars, drums-a-bashing, in your face vocals and attitude. Lots of attitude.

Favorite Songs: Kids, Bloody Mary Kate and Ashley, Sibling Rivalry, Morbid Stuff

morbid stuff

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Drive By Truckers- The Unraveling (2020)

Posted by KB on 2/12/2020 to Reviews In Brief
The Drive By Truckers have one of those discographies that are a rarity in that they always have a few killer cuts and they incite discussion. "The Unraveling" in unrepentant in its political views. It's hard to determine were some the songs written specifically to rant on issues or did the songs boil under their skin and had to come out. Some feel quite deliberate but most are articulate and dripping with realism. Either way, politics aside, it is another strong set of songs. It hearkens back to their "Gangstabilly" sound occasionally but there is no questioning that this is a DBT release with their gravelly twang. It's nice to have a band stay true to themselves, grow and provide a message without sounding like retreads.

Favorite Songs: Heroin Again, Slow Ride Argument, Babies In Cages, Armageddon's Back In Town

the unraveling

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Royal Republic- Club Majesty (2019)

Posted by KB on 1/24/2020 to Reviews In Brief
The easy review is to say file under Electric Six, because this is definitely in that vein. Dance beats with thumping rock and fun, sarcastic and irreverent lyrics. Basically, if you don't get it I would seriously question your sense of humor and commitment to enjoying your days. In all seriousness, "Club Majesty" starts off like a dance-floor on fire and doesn't slow down while meandering through all the cool new steps down at the disco-club. Just think how ripping a show they must put on- especially if we could get them to tour with Electric Six.

Favorite Songs: Fireman & Dancer, Can't Fight the Disco, Blunt Force Trauma, Fortune Favors, Stop Movin'

club majesty

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Woolworm- Awe (2019)

Posted by KB on 1/21/2020 to Reviews In Brief
I stumbled upon this beauty at the end of last year and if I did earlier it would have bulleted into my top 20. Woolworm possesses a full, pulsating sound that fills all gaps. They are heavy and progressive without being long winded singing about the good around us and that it isn't totally awful if you look at things from the correct perspective. Their music vertically bounds driven by the bass and if you listen carefully you might catch the Morrissey vocal delivery. Let's hope Canada gives us more of this in the future.

Favorite Songs: Honestly not a weak song on the album.


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

Posted by KB on 1/1/2020 to Reviews In Brief

2. Telekinesis- Effluxion (2019)

Posted by KB on 1/1/2020 to Reviews In Brief

3. Olivia Jean- Night Owl (2019)

Posted by KB on 12/31/2019 to Reviews In Brief
Anyone who predicted that "Night Owl" would be my #3, let alone in my top 20, wins a prize or is lieing. This Third Man Records produced gem kept showing me new things upon each listen. Ankle deep in nostalgic, retro, back room, roller derby rock Jean molds songs that have muscle while being quite hummable. Just the right amount of rockabilly, echo and AM pop riffs fronted with a soulful warble. "Night Owl" won't knock your leather jacket off upon first listen but it will slowly remove it as you 'get' each song eventually.

Favorite Songs: Brushfire, Night Owl, The Hunt, Jaan Pehechaan Ho

night owl

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4. SWMRS- Berkeley's On Fire (2019)

Posted by KB on 12/31/2019 to Reviews In Brief
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