Flat Worms- Into the Iris (2019)

Posted by KB on 3/5/2019 to Reviews
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

For More Info: Flat Worms

SWMRS- Berkeley's On Fire (2019)

Posted by KB on 3/1/2019 to Reviews
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

For More Info: SWMRS

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

Posted by KB on 2/13/2019 to Reviews
"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

For More Info: Dandy Warhols

Fidlar- Almost Free (2019)

Posted by KB on 2/12/2019 to Reviews
There are few surprises on Fidlar's third release. The boys are still yelling about partying, sex and being just plain stupid, with a slight nod to social indignities. While the majority of "Almost Free" is unabashedly loud, messy and screechy, Fidlar tosses in some polish (Scam Likely) and funkiness (Can't You See, By Myself). They are a band you will either get the joke or be annoyed beyond belief. That will of course be dictated by your tolerance of noisy garage punk. Purging the too short and useless Nuke and the opener, a Beastie Boys rip-off Get Off My Rock, would have increased the overall utility of "Almost Free". Still worth some attention for those beer soaked sex nights, or dreams of.

Favorite Songs: Can't You See, Alcohol, Almost Free, Kick, Thought. Mouth.

For More Info: Fidlar

Maggie Rogers- Heard In a Past Life (2019)

Posted by KB on 2/8/2019
Female dance pop is rarely in my radar unless it's smart, not deliberately trying to be hip or gimmicky. Ms Rogers ticks the boxes for me, and I say it proud expecting a rebuke or two from my cronies. I find most pop divas all sound the same. Its hard decipher one twenty-something from the next, but this 24 year old's delivery and tone is natural and uncomplicated. There are no over the top histrionics, goofy effects or language or ear-worm tedium. Just simple, breezy singing over loping, uplifting beats about relationships. Some treading close to R&B. She does sound older than her years, and that could also be an allure for me. For those of us who normally have two feet planted firmly in the Indie Rock scene, it would be easy to dismiss "Heard In A Past Life" as just another of the many indistinct young pop lasses battling for Spotify or radio play-on-repeat. Give it the chance and I think you may look upon it differently.

Favorite Songs: Give A Little, Overnight, Light On, Fallingwater, Retrograde, Back In My Body

For More Info: Maggie Rogers

Kasey Chambers- Campfire (2018)

Posted by KB on 2/7/2019 to Reviews
Full disclosure, Kasey Chambers is my favorite female country singer- albeit from Australia. She has comfortably snugged her way into the John Hiatt, Richard Thompson, Willie Nelson club of always putting out a good album. Not always great but always decent. "Campfire" fits into the good realm. It's acoustic, harmonious, churchy (not preachy) and nostalgic. Mostly quiet and pretty without the grimy backwoods riffs that normally pepper her songs. It doesn't mean there isn't a bit of romp on "Campfire" (Goliath is Dead, This Little Chicken, Junkyard Man) but the majority of songs here are socially or personally thoughtful. What is commendable is that Chambers doesn't remain stagnant putting out the same template album. She is always morphing and brimming with new ideas. Less a couple of draggers near the end (Now That You've Gone, Fox & the Bird) this is another good release from KC keeping this guy still interested.

Favorite Songs: Goliath is Dead, Early Grave, Big Fish, This Little Chicken, Happy

For More Info: Kasey Chambers

Dude York- Happy In the Meantime (2019)

Posted by KB on 1/30/2019 to Reviews
Dude York's new EP "Happy In the Meantime" is exactly how I feel after giving this good multiple listens- 'I'll be happy in the meantime until a better next one comes out'. As a fan I felt like this was an EP of leftovers and experiments (which I condone). Run and No One In My Life Can Hear Me Scream sound like scrapped "Sincerely" (YK Review) tunes and What Would You Do If You Had Some Money Now is their Decemberists attempt (loosely). Moon is the catchy standout keeping the punky DY essence without feeling like residue. I'm glad I supported this young band by downloading, but in the meantime, I'll wait for the next, most likely great, release.

Favorite Songs: Moon

More Info: Dude York

Couple of Late 2018 Finds

Posted by KB on 1/28/2019 to Reviews
Every year our little circle of music nerds share our favorite releases for the year. In early January I go through these and other year end lists (which are ingratiating) to see if I missed anything or just didn't give something a good, fair chance. So far I fell deeper in love with Say Hi, Muncie Girls and Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats where I went back a scoffed up their catalogues (scroll down this page to learn a little more). I also felt there were 3 others worth noting... click read more if interested.

Licensed To Ill- Beastie Boys (1986)

Posted by KB on 1/23/2019 to Reviews
In the throes of reading the Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond (Mike D) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock), which I do strongly suggest, and am at the point where they were recording "Licensed to Ill" so I decided to re-visit the album. Looking back 33 years upon the album I would bet that none of us fully understood who the Beastie Boys were. Three, white, middle class kids from NYC, who as teens, loved hardcore punk and drifted to rap and hip hop when it was in its infancy. They had a hardcore band and decided that they wanted to do rap instead, enlisting a young DJ Double R (Rick Ruben) to be their DJ and producer and teaching themselves to be MCs (I am simplifying the story quite a bit).... click read more to continue

Genres Useful or Stifling?

Posted by KB on 1/10/2019 to Opinions & Thoughts
Had a discussion with my son in regards to music genres. He felt that genres were constricting. That once an artist was dubbed a certain style it was hard for them to shake it. Once trip hop always trip hop. I tend to agree and would go a step further saying that there are way too many genre striations for our own good and everyone's definition of each is personal. If you like Punk, do you like Post-Punk, Neo-Core, Straight Edge, Hardcore, Anarcho... maybe? So do we just accept it or is there a way to make it better for the consumer and artist?

Click Read More to continue

1. Ruen Brothers- All My Shades of Blue (2018)

Posted by KB on 12/31/2018 to Reviews

2. Superchunk- What A Time To Be Alive (2018)

Posted by KB on 12/30/2018

3. Say Hi- Caterpillar Centipede (2018)

Posted by KB on 12/29/2018 to Reviews

4. The Lovely Eggs- This Is Eggland (2018)

Posted by KB on 12/29/2018 to Reviews

Other Considerations for 2018

Posted by KB on 12/28/2018 to Reviews
My top 20 is solely determined by my taste. Lists from other critics or publications are not considered. I am not looking for what's hot, trendy nor do I care if I am ahead of the curve. I listen to quite a bit of music over the year and what I listen to the most tends to make my list. Simple.  I still feel that many lists aren't totally genuine and have ulterior motives. Many try to be obscure for coolness, jump on bandwagon to keep up with others, follow hype to not fall behind, stick with whats the genre of the year or play catch up for missing a band's earlier release. There is little emotional connection.

I would prefer to see a list from a person, or group, where you know what their sweet spot is. A group of Folk fans may not provide a list with any EDM on it for example. So if I'm an EDM fan this list is probably useless to me. But a Folk fan would benefit from this list AND, if it did indeed had an EDM release on on they may check it out since "their" people suggested it.

Anyway.... my list is just what I like based on this year solely. I've provided 16 so far with the last four coming in the next three days. Click Read More below for some releases that just didn't have enough to crack my top 20, but are worthy of listen because YOU may disagree with me and think they deserve more love.

5. Nude Party- Nude Party (2018)

Posted by KB on 12/28/2018 to Reviews

6. Remember Sports- Slow Buzz (2018)

Posted by KB on 12/28/2018 to Reviews

7. Muncie Girls- Fixed Ideals (2018)

Posted by KB on 12/27/2018 to Reviews

8. Connections- Foreign Affairs (2018)

Posted by KB on 12/27/2018 to Reviews

9. Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats- Wasteland (2018)

Posted by KB on 12/26/2018 to Reviews