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 a Conor Oberst, Bright Eyes fan 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 beautifully perfect album to wear headphones to and lay, 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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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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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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