fredag 25. september 2015

25092015 - Kurt Vile "B'lieve I'm Goin Down"

Kurt Vile is cool. Way cool! Listen to the first song here, and if you don't like it, we don't have anything else to talk about. If you do, you'll love all of this album and the rest of Vile's output too. He keeps referencing other artists both lyrically and musically, but this still sounds completely non-derivative.

torsdag 24. september 2015

24092015 - Gonga "Concrescence"

These Bristolians (Bristolites? Bristons?) first caught my attention through a pretty cool cover version of Black Sabbath's song "Black Sabbath" with fellow Bristol person Beth Gibbons on vocals. And if you think that name sounds familiar, albeit not the first name that would spring to mind when you think potential Sabbath-coverers, you're probably right. That's indeed the Beth Gibbons of Portishead (and brilliant solo album) fame. I guess Bristol is one of those places where all musicians are buddies 'n shit. And you know what they did? They called it "Black Sabbeth". Clever, eh? Well, I think so anyway. And their cover is (in case you didn't get it the first time) pretty cool, even if they don't really do anything with the song apart from adding a female voice, and one not really associated with the heavy metal at that. Soooo... An album by the band, sans Ms Gibbons and without any vocals whatsoever, how's that gonna sound? Starting off relatively decent, this unfortunately veers off into stoner rock wallpaper after a short while. Imagine Karma To Burn or even Kyuss as elevator music and you're pretty much there. That would obviously be the coolest elevator ever, but apart from the fuzz pedals they use this has more in common with Ozric Tentacles than anything really heavy. And when I want to hear something that sounds likke Ozric Tentacles, I listen to the originals.

onsdag 23. september 2015

23092015 - Vectom "Speed Revolution"

Vectom, man! I never heard this album when it came out, but I remember seeing the album cover in an ad for a music mail order company when it was new. Equal parts cool and kinda scary, the scary part making it even more intriguing. The record itself was nowhere to be seen in the shelves of the record stores I used to visit though, so it took me all of 30 years before I finally heard this 1985 gem today! There's not much information to be found about this German band or their members, but this was their debut album, and in 1986 they released another, "Rules of Mystery", before pretty much disappearing. It would seem that Vectom kept going as a band until 1993, but they never released anything else, and apart from their original bass player (who joined a band that released one demo) none of the members seem to have done anything else since. Too bad, as this is pretty cool stuff! Not original or (sorry, but this pun is compulsory) revolutionary, but hey, it was 1985! The song titles "Loudness and Speed" and "Too Fast for Hell" tells you all you need to know, and highlights like "Open the Coffin", "Black Viper", "Satan's Colours" and the title track still sound great. With the new wave of speed metal/traditional metal revival movement happening these days it's long overdue for a Vectom reunion. Hey, I bet they would get more festival jobs in just one summer now than they ever did in the eighties...

tirsdag 22. september 2015

22092015 - The Tower "Hic Abundant Leones"

So I'm really looking forward to the Flight album, and while waiting for that one to drop I'm checking out some other talent from the same label: the wonderful Bad Omen Records. Now, Satan's Satyrs and Amulet I already know, but I hadn't heard The Tower before. These Swedes are an acquaintance I'm happy to make though, as their slow, mystical and bluesy hard rock with hints of groove, droplets of doom and a whole lotta lovely psychedelia is just the kind of acid laced sugar papa likes! Throughout the record they make lyrical references to The Beatles, but musically it's got more of a Black Sabbath vibe, without being derivative. The long and brooding title track is nothing short of addictive, and I do believe I have a new favorite band. Just check them out!

mandag 21. september 2015

21092015 - Charlie Haden Quartet West "Sophisticated Ladies"

Sometimes all you want is music that you know will soothe your ears, your heart and your brain. Not mindless background noise or mind-numbing elevator music, but proper stuff done by great musicians. When he played the mellow stuff Charlie Haden was happy to be that kind of musician; skilled, but not boasting, content to let the music allow for air. On this album, released in 2010 after a recording hiatus of 11 years, he also invited six wonderful and, well, sophisticated ladies to sing on a standard each, with the remaining half of the tracks left as instrumentals for Haden and his three fellow musicians to play and be playful. And even though the six singers in question are none others than Melody Gardot, Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson, Ruth Cameron, Renée Fleming and Diana Krall, they never even come close to stealing the spotlight from the band. This is jazz the way you want it to sound late at night in a smoky club, alone in your car driving around the big city streets after midnight or in front of the fire on a cold night with that special someone.

søndag 20. september 2015

20092015 - The Monster Women "Murmaids From Mars"

How could I resist checking out an album called "Murmaids From Mars"? I couldn't. Is it any good though? Not really. I must admit I thought this was going to be either surf or garage rock, but although this seems to be done with the best intentions and all the right inspiration (The Shangri-Las and The B-52's are both mentioned on their facebook site), the sound is so tinny, the vocals so bland and the songwriting so poor that it all just sounds completely amateurish. This album is 49 minutes long, which is 50 minutes too much, and feels like ten times as long. The only thing I can imagine worse than listening to the record would be knowing these people and seeing them live. You know that feeling when you see a friend's band and they really suck and you have to stay for the entire gig, knowing that they are going to be really pleased afterwards, and then they ask what you thought, and you try to sound convincing as you murmur some half-assed compliment about how they were "really great!"? Yeah, at least I don't have to do that. 

lørdag 19. september 2015

19092015 - Nicolette Larson "All Dressed Up & No Place To Go"

Nicolette Larson will probably remain most famous for not becoming famous, after never being able to follow up her 1978 debut album "Nicolette", which featured her hit single "Lotta Love". Her legacy will always be that song plus a lot of memorable work as a session vocalist for bigger stars. This was her fourth album, released in 1982, and I really like what I hear. Her voice is great, the songs are pure soul massage and the probably least impressive track here is her version of the chestnut "I Only Want to Be With You", which was chosen as the only single from the album - go figure. Her association with Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Neil Young should have gotten her further, but apparently it was never meant to be. This ended up as her lowest charting album, and after this she turned country for a couple of albums before effectively disappearing from people's minds as a solo artist even though she released one more mainstream record and - years later - another with children's songs. I must admit that this album lacks slightly in songs that could have been classics, or even big hits at the time, but as an album I really enjoy this, and will definitely come back for seconds!

fredag 18. september 2015

18092015 - Scorpions "Lonesome Crow"

The Scorpions are celebrating their 50 year anniversary this year, which seems like as good an excuse as any to give their earliest albums a listen. And whether you know them for "Rock You Like a Hurricane" or "Wind of Change", this is something completely different altogether. Released back in 1972, "Lonesome Crow" is more similar to bands like Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Black Sabbath or even early Fleetwood Mac, Santana (without the latin bits) and other early jammy psych rock bands. There are some good songs here, but there's really nothing on here to indicate what the band would sound like later on. No big riffs or choruses, more moods and experimenting. Not bad, but a novelty compared to the rest of their catalogue.

torsdag 17. september 2015

17092015 - Heatwave "Too Hot to Handle"

Heatwave? Ring a bell? No? I'll save you the trouble. The song you have heard before is "Boogie Nights", and that's the song you've heard. That goes for most of us, anyway. It's their biggest hit, and one of those songs a lot of people recognize without necessarily knowing who's playing. And yes, I'm guilty as charged myself, as I thought for years that the song was by Earth, Wind & Fire. The rest of this 1976 album is not bad at all, and if funk/disco with some sweet'n'soft soul ballads is your thing you could do a lot worse. This was Heatwave's debut album, and they would go on to release five more records, with Keith Wilder - one of the band's two vocalists - the only member still in the group for their final release in 1988. Keyboardist Rod Temperton, who wrote all the music on "Too Hot to Handle", stayed on for the next Heatwave record, and would go on to write for other artists, including three of the songs on Michael Jackson's "Thriller", making him filthy stinking rich today. Meanwhile, bass player Mario Mantese also played on the band's second album, released in 1978, and would later that year get stabbed in the heart by his girlfriend after leaving a party. After being clinically dead for six minutes he was reanimated, operated and spent months in a coma before he woke up, blind, mute and completely paralyzed. Today he sees, walks and talks again, and is still in touch with the woman who stabbed him... With whom he also has a child. Bass players, eh?

onsdag 16. september 2015

16092015 - Slim Twig "Thank You for Stickin' with Twig"

Dangerous Minds just claimed that this is the second best album so far this year, and that certainly got my attention. Now, I like both the name Slim Twig (even though his real name - Max Turnbull - is also cool), the album title, the cover photo and Mr. Twig's hairdo + 'tache. But do I like the album? What kind of question is that? Oh yeah, a perfectly valid one. Well... I'm just not sure. There's a lot to take in here, and it's pretty obvious that judging this beast on the very first listen just won't do. There's a whole lot of stuff crammed together here, and it seems that every review I read has the writer's own take on what's in the pot. David Bowie is one of the obvious ones, as he's eclectic enough to be 5 different artists on his one, and so, I guess, is Frank Zappa. I suppose the verdict is out, and I'm gonna have to get back to you on this album after listening some more. I definitely don't hate it, but I seriously doubt that it will make my top list of 2015.

tirsdag 15. september 2015

15092015 - Flo Morrissey "Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful"

Very pretty folk pop that sometimes reminds me of First Aid Kit without the harmonies, but also Mazzy Star, Kate Bush and even Lana Del Rey. I do find myself drifting though, so perhaps it's just a little bit too pretty, while lacking ever so slightly in depth? This is definitely beautiful background music, but I don't see myself actively playing this album again, even though I wouldn't object to hearing these songs on the radio, in a café or in someone else's home. Or, even better, at a summer festival, lying in the grass with the sun shining down on me as I drift off...

mandag 14. september 2015

14092015 - The Chameleons "Strange Times"

Love the cover. Dig the opening track. Lost interest in The Chameleons' dated British post punk with slightly goth-y undertones from track two. Cant be bothered to

søndag 13. september 2015

13092015 - The Steve Miller Band "Sailor"

There's a lot of things I didn't know. Like the fact that Boz Scaggs was once in The Steve Miller Band or that the SMB song "Gangster of Love", which Miller so cleverly references in the lyrics of "The Joker" five years on from this release, is actually a song by Johnny "Guitar" Watson. Or even that the band released their first two albums already back in 1968, this being the second of the two. I do really enjoy the slightly psychedelic blues rock here though, and will definitely delve further into the vaults of this band. To be continued...

lørdag 12. september 2015

12092015 - The Housemartins "London 0 Hull 4"

This is the album that didn't have "Caravan of Love" on it, but the first album by Norman Cook, Paul Heaton and the other two is still full of very charming VERY british pop music. Originally released back in 1986, this record has stood the test of time and then some, and that's definitely not just the four singles, but the entire thing. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have liked this back when it was released, especially not the vocals, but that was then...

fredag 11. september 2015

11092015 - Aphrodite's Child "666"

Equal parts fun and weirdness on this Greek psychedelic/progressive concept album from 1972. The music is composed by Vangelis Papathanassiou, with vocals done by Demis Rossous, actress Irene Papas and others. Although there are several songs here that bear repeated listens, it's all a bit much after a while, seeing as this is a double album and almost 80 minutes long - which is at least 30 minutes too much! Of course you gotta love the album title, as well as the fact that the album's concept centers around the Biblical Apocalypse, and just imagining these Greek hippie stoners coming up with this thing is pretty cool, but some heavy editing is needed (that's skipping some of the more "experimental" tracks plus the 19 minute long song towards the end to you and me) to make this something you want to sit through more than a couple of times...

torsdag 10. september 2015

10092015 - Blue Angel "Blue Angel"

Cutie-patootie pop with a slight 50's rockabilly light tinge from this band that featured Cyndi Lauper as their singer before she went solo. This album was released in 1980, and features the immensely successful hit single "I'm Gonna Be Strong", which reached #37. In Netherlands. Go figure. Apart from her voice, there's nothing here to suggest that Ms. Lauper would go on to achieve domination just a few years later, and although there's not really anything in particular bad about this album it's pretty forgettable.

onsdag 9. september 2015

09092015 - Good Rats "From Rats to Riches"

Good Rats are one of those bands whose name I have seen a lot, but before now I hadn't heard any of their songs. They were part of the same Long Island, New York club scene as Twisted Sister, but arrived already in the mid 60's. Their first album was released in 1969, and this is their fourth, from 1978. Without having heard the previous three records (maybe later...), so not knowing if they started out sounding different, I will say that this seems to be a good place to start listening. From the first track, "Taking it to Detroit", we're talking soulful yet gritty hard rock and blues that should sit well with fans of Grand Funk, Free, early Aerosmith or Stretch. The songwriting is solid, if not exceptional, and there are lots of memorable hooks here, but what makes the band stand out is the fantastic voice of vocalist Peppi Marchello, who rasps along with the best of 'em with a whole lotta heart and soul. Yup, I will definitely be back for more!

tirsdag 8. september 2015

08092015 - Savage Steel "Begins With a Nightmare"

I remember this album cover from the ads by a mail order company that used to advertise on the back page of OKEJ back in the 80's. This album came out in 1987, but I never got around to checking it out at the time. Now, of course, it's available to stream, and let me say that the record really lives up to its album cover: raw, simple and to the point, with just the right amount of charming amateurish feel. The production is as expected, which means that the album sounds like it was recorded in a cardboard box, and the songs are pure Canadian heavy metal with hints of thrash and power metal. The vocals are perhaps the weakest link, and personally I prefer them when the singer goes full falsetto. All in all a nice little piece of metal nostalgia, but far from anything I would call classic.

mandag 7. september 2015

07092015 - Predator/Prey "Prey"

I just had to follow up from yesterday's post and check out the second of the two Predator/Prey records as well. And for the record, I have chosen to ignore the entire concept of each song being written from the perspective of an animal, as that it just too artsy-fartsy, hippy-dippy and pretentious for me and my masculine side, and am solely focusing on the music. Before playing this album I went back to "Predator", which did indeed grow on me, showing sides that remind me of both Fleet Foxes (the harmonies) and mostly forgotten favorites of mine My Latest Novel. According to the only review I have been able to find of these albums, "Prey" is supposed to be more acoustic based than "Predator", but I don't se that at all. If anything, "Prey" seems slightly darker at first listen, and again we're dealing with a bunch of songs that seem to promise a greater reward upon repeated listenings. And again I'm really not completely certain that I will spend that time on these pieces of music, as I had more moments of "Ah, I see what they tried to do here" than "Oooh, I like what they did there!" throughout. At least they kept me interested enough to check out two albums in a row, so I guess they are alright if not amazing.

søndag 6. september 2015

06092015 - Predator/Prey "Predator"

Another band I accidentally stumbled across while searching for something else, and ended up bookmarking just because I liked the album cover. I also dig the fact that they apparently released this album in February last year and the follow-up, "Prey", the next day, making this a twin album, not a double album. According to their facebook page this falls under the category "indie, alternative, experimental", and with song titles like "Unkindness of Ravens", "Skulk of Foxes" and "Priory of Panther" you can sense a kind of concept going on here (The songs on "Prey" are similarly titled "Plump of Grouse", "Run of Rabbits", "Piteousness of Doves" etc). And yes, their website lets us know that each song is written from the perspective of a different Canadian animal. So at least they are from Canada. I must admit that at first listen I'm not all that impressed. I can sense that there might be more beneath the surface here, and further listens might reveal a record with plenty to offer, but their twee-ish take on progressive indie rock is not what I crave right now, and I'm an impatient man. I should probably also listen to the accompanying album, which apparently is more acoustic where "Predator" boasts plenty of electric guitars, synths and general loud noises. I must also admit that the album is growing on me as I write this, gaining my interest more as it progresses, so how about you just watch this space...?

lørdag 5. september 2015

05092015 - Ane Brun "When I'm Free"

You wanna hear something really boring? Then read on and get yet another writer's rave ramblings about one more Ane Brun album. You wanna hear something really beautiful? Then stop reading right now and just listen to "When I'm Free". Over the course of six albums Ane has become one of those artists that you almost want to release something at least mediocre, just to mix things up a bit. Nobody can keep on surpassing themselves again and again, can they? Yes, she can. I don't know how she does it, but for every new album she raises the bar and still she manages to outdo herself each time. Her music has developed over the years, and the charming yet commanding naïveté of her first album now seems like a tuft of spring flowers in the blossoming garden that has become her combined output, and "When I'm Free" is a bed of delicate orchids - beautiful and timeless. Her voice is of course the main instrument, and where it always used to give me goosebumps it now also nearly drives me to sweet joyful tears. I could go on and on and on, but there are no words to describe how much I love these songs. And by the way, why are you still reading this? You should be listening to the album instead!

fredag 4. september 2015

04092015 - Undergrünnen "Undergrunnen"

Oh, that good ol' innernet, eh? Today saw the release of this album, and several friends have bragged about it, peppering my facebook feed with not just praise, but also comparisons to a lot of bands that I like. Like MC5 meets Afro rock or Mali meets Can. Junglekraut is their own word for this, and it's a description I like. So colour me intrigued, but do they have the stuff? The "it"? Are all those fine words justified? To me the fact that they sing in Norwegian, and a dialect to boot, is neither a plus or a minus. As long as the music is good, they should do whatever works for them. And yes, I hear both the Kraut and the Afro influences, and they do fit well together on this album without sounding forced. Mostly. Personally I prefer the bits where they set the controls for the heart of the Kraut-space, and could have done with less Vampire Weekend noodlings, but I guess you can at least say that they have found a niche that wasn't already taken. Good for them. However, this means that a song like "Tennene i no stort" doesn't really do it for me, while the closing duo of "Garpaskjær zulujive" and "Dommedag i E" are pretty much total brilliance in my ears. At 9 minutes, the former is the album's longest track, and letting the songs stretch out really becomes them. Personally I would have recommended even more jamming and space-effects, but that's just the Hawkwind fan in me. Definitely a band I want to see again, and probably an album I will play again.

torsdag 3. september 2015

03092015 - The Naysayer "Heaven, Hell or Houston"

No prizes for guessing what song I was looking for when this album turned up on my streaming player. So I check it out, and what comes out of my speakers is a voice slightly similar to early Sinéad O'Connor (in those moments when she sounded more annoyed than angelic), Sophie Moleta or early Liz Phair. There's folk in here, but also hints of Throwing Muses and their like. The songs might display a bit more attitude than catchiness, but there's a raw nerve here that keeps the listener interested. The Naysayer is (was?) the vehicle of singer/songwriter Anna Padgett, who on this album from 2002 was joined by Cynthia Nelson and Tara Jane O'Neill, none of whom I'm the least familiar with. If sparsely arranged songs that try (and sometimes succeed) to pierce your soul is your cup of blood, you could do a lot worse than checking out these songs.

onsdag 2. september 2015

02092015 - Two Fingers of Firewater "Two Fingers of Firewater"

I have no idea how I stumbled across this album, but how can anyone not want to check out a band called Two Fingers of Firewater? I haven't been able to find much information about these very American sounding Brits, but it would seem that this is their first of two albums, released in 2008. A year or so after their sophomore effort, "Songs to Listen to" from 2011, there's a suspicious lack of updates on their Facebook page, suggesting that they have split up. Which is a shame really, as these country-tinged Jayhawks-meets-Teenage Fanclub-y songs with just a slight touch of psych rock are charming enough and possess the right amount of personality to show a promise of brighter things that apparently never came to be. Fans of The Byrds and The International Tussler Society alike should do themselves a favor and check out this album, perhaps along with two fingers of firewater on the rocks to put them in the right kind of mood.

tirsdag 1. september 2015

01092015 - Yo La Tengo "Stuff Like That There"

Since November last year, when my web writings went into hiatus, I never stopped listening to at least one new album a day. That was something I had done for a couple of years before I started this blog, and I have continued doing just that. Every day I have been checking out an album I have never heard before. It's easy, anyone can do it and everybody should. Actually I have probably been averaging two or three new albums a day the last 8-10 months. However, most of these have been releases that weren't out just yet, and that will not do for this project. I want to share the joy, and it wouldn't be fair to you guys if I only wrote about records that you couldn't hear for a month or three. Nor would it be very interesting in the long run. Sure, I've checked out several albums that were already out as well, but, you know, I have been SO busy! I'm gonna try to do this thing again though, because I've really missed it. Hope you have missed me a little too...

Enough about me, let's talk about the new Yo La Tengo album. I was never a diehard YLT fan, and I don't believe I own any of their albums. So this is probably the wrong place to start, but what the heck. This is their 30 years anniversary release, and includes reworkings of their own songs (that I don't know) as well as a neat bunch of covers (some of which I do know, but definitely not all of them). I would call this very pleasant, in a very non-dangerous way, and their versions of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" (which has been covered better before) and "Friday I'm In Love" (which really shoudn't be covered) really don't give me anything. It's cozy acoustic stuff that your aunt would enjoy. Wasn't this band supposed to be an indie rock icon? To me the biggest surprise is their cover of Sun Ra's "Somebody's In Love", because I really didn't know that was a Sun Ra original nor that Sun Ra ever sounded like that. (Note to self - Sun Ra needs checking out for future posts.)

fredag 27. februar 2015

27022015 - Elder "Lore"

When I first heard Elder's 2011 album, "Dead Roots Stirring" it felt like rediscovering heavy music. Just like when I discovered Motorpsycho or The God Machine. I have spent so much time pushing that Elder album onto friends, acquaintances and random music lovers in general that I never gave any thought to the fact that they would eventually record another album, and that my expectations by then would be too high no matter what they did. Nevertheless, here that album is, and I need to tell the world how I feel. As on "DRS" there's all of five songs on "Lore",  and from the first song, "Compendium", which was the first taster, by now already embedded in my brain - I get the impression that Elder have gotten more progressive this time around. Thankfully this has not made them less heavy, doomy or riff-loving. Although there seems to be no planet-building majestic moments like on "III" from "Dead Roots Stirring", there's still enough heaviosity to make this more than a worthy follow-up. I must say that even after the fifth listen (remember - this blog is me listening to an album I have not heard before today, so no second day impressions are allowed!) this record doesn't surpass its predecessor, but that, however, was never expected. A brilliant follower is more than good enough for the time being. Ask me again if this album is better than "Dead Roots Stirring" in a year's time, because that's when I'll know. Until then, I'm happy to have a record that at least more than lives up to my very modest expectations. And kudos for bringing in strings that remind me of Motorpsycho on "Trust Us"!

Oh - here's the entire album, by the way. I Give it 11 points out of 10!

torsdag 26. februar 2015

26022015 - Timber Timbre "Timber Timbre"

The first episode of Modern Family, season 5, is called "Suddenly, Last Summer", which is a brilliant song by The Motels. That song was not (as far as I could hear, anyway), featured in the actual episode. It is, however, featured on a WiMP playlist with music from Breaking Bad that I stumbled over for inspiration (there's so much cool music in that series!), and so is this band. And this is just lovely, in the same way that George Ezra, Sam Amidon or The Walkmen are. A warm, soulful voice - and just that ONE voice - accompanied by low key guitars, strings, some keys and slight percussion is mostly all it takes for them to create a folk noir vibe that will captivate your senses.

onsdag 25. februar 2015

25022015 - Emile Haynie "We Fall"

What the hell? And Why? And how did this happen? OK, so this is a producer who all of a sudden decided to release his own album featuring people he's produced and probably some people he hasn't as well. I couldn't care less, and spending time to do more research is giving this album more effort than it deserves. "We Fall" includes people like Lana Del Rey, Lykke Li, Randy Newman and Rufus Wainwright, which is why I checked it out in the first place. I mean, hey - when you get this crowd on your album you gotta have something special, right? RIGHT? Wrong. What he's done is try to make new tailor-made songs for his featured artists that just sounds like cast offs from their own releases, and so this record has no identity. The exact second this went from uninteresting to downright shitty was when he got that punch-me-in-the-throat vocalist from one of the most annoying bands on the face of the planet - Fun (no, I refuse to spell it like they do!) - on a song that sounds exactly like them! AAAAARGHHHH! I'm off to play some Venom now…

fredag 13. februar 2015

13022015 - Mass "Metal Fighter"

Mass, where were you when I started listening to hard rock? I would have loved you! This might look pretty damn METAL, and song titles like "Metal Man", "Fire From Hell" and "Night of Steel" could trick you into thinking this is a lot harder and heavier than it is, but although being released in 1983 it's far from the speed metal of the Venoms and Metallicas of the time. Now think Accept, Saxon, Priest or even AC/DC, and you're getting close. Oh, and feel free to add some Van Halen, UFO and early Manowar as well. No points for originality I guess, but as long as you have great songs, who cares? They even manage to cover "Born to Be Wild" without sounding pedestrian, and that is no mean feat! By the way, this is the German band Mass. We'll deal with the American Mass some other time...

torsdag 12. februar 2015

12022014 - Peace "Happy People"

This British band is called Peace, and the description I find of their music is "breezy and atmospheric indie rock". Now, before we get into that, I need to address the fact that there seems to be a whole lotta Peaces out there in various genres, including what seems to be a christian rap rock group, a Canadian post-punk act, an instrumental jazzy troupe, a house act, some new age stuff that goes by real slowly and has pan pipes in it and shit plus guaranteed a lot more. But this is the Peace that just released an album, and what I do is give Peace a chance. So - the music… Breezy? Check. Atmospheric? Definitely not. Catchy? Sort of. Original? NAY! Worth spending a lot of time listening to? Oh, definitely not! I would list a bunch of bands you could compare them to, but frankly I can't be bothered. Just pick a random bunch of Brit indie bands from the crossroads where indie rock meets indie pop, and you're there.

onsdag 11. februar 2015

11022015 - Rumer "Into Colour"

Funny. Yesterday's album was called "Blackbirds", and the intro track to this album is called "Return of Blackbird". Some coincidence, eh? For some reason I had thought that Rumer was another Dido-esque yawnstress, but the disco-light groove of opening track "Dangerous" gives me more of a Rita Coolidge vibe - light, breezy, catchy and cool. The next song has more of a Carpenters ballad-y feel, so I guess we're dealing with a modern day Olivia Newton-John, which is fine by me. She even ventures off into Sade territory from time to time, and I have no problem with that either. This is background music, though. Even after three listens in a row I fail to get hooked on anything here, apart from that first song. It's really very pleasant once I stop concentrating on the music and let it drift off into the background and then, all of a sudden, find myself nodding along. However, once I start trying to focus on the music, it's impossible to find anything to grab onto. It's like one of those pictures that just seem blurry when you look straight at it, but once you let your focus slip you get the point. My conclusion is that while Rumer is nowhere near as good as her influences, she's far from bad, but this is an album for when you just want a pillow, not for when you want to concentrate on the actual music. Is that good or bad? You decide.

tirsdag 10. februar 2015

10022015 - Gretchen Peters "Blackbirds"

There's a great line in the third song on this album, where Gretchen Peters sings "When All You Got Is a Hammer, everything looks like a nail". The song is called "When All You Got Is a Hammer", and deals with the treatment American soldiers get - or, rather, don't get - upon returning from serving in war areas. That song might be the best on this album, but the rest of the record is well worth your time. Peters is one of those artists whose voice would warm your heart even if she sang about strangling you to death with your own intestines (probably the first time that sentence has ever been used in a Gretchen Peters album review) or just uttered unintelligible noises. So when you get lovely tunes like the ever so slightly "Only Women Bleed"-reminiscent "Pretty Things" or "Jubilee", one of the prettiest songs this side of Maria McKee, there's nothing to do but fall in love with this album.

mandag 9. februar 2015

09022015 - Gaz Coombes "Matador"

How many frontmen of really good rock bands make equally good solo albums? Not a lot, I would say. Paul Stanley, Jack White, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Westerberg and, for a while, David Lee Roth are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. It's easier to list the bad and - even worse - the forgettable ones. Andrew Stockdale, Gene Simmons, Julian Casablancas, Chris Cornell and even Bruce Dickinson have made solo albums that you really wouldn't listen to. And now Gaz Coombes from Supergrass can be added to the list of yawn inducers. Now I haven't heard his first solo effort, but on his second it is clear that he has traded in the ballsy chorus-and-hook heavy fun rock of "Pumping On Your Stereo" and "Richard III" for faceless tunes that are probably meant to be more artistic, soulful and whatnot, but fail utterly to ignite even the tiniest spark of joy in my heart. Matador? More like Mata-bore!


søndag 8. februar 2015

08022015 - Chicago "Chicago 16"

I was never much into Chicago back in the day. I was aware of them, knew the hits and that was just about it. Over the years I have softened, or rather broadened my horizons, so I was curious to see how a whole album by Peter Cetera, Bill Champlin and the rest of the band, greatly helped by producer/arranger/keyboardist David Foster as well as no less than four Toto (a band I really enjoy) members would sit with me today. Now, although I no longer break out in hives at monster ballad "Hard to Say I'm Sorry", my younger self would be happy to know that this is still a bit to polished for my taste. The diehards will of course scoff at my complaints, but my first impression remains a bland victory on this album of arrangement over songwriting. Style over substance, as it were. Not bad at all, but I choose to claim hipster cred by preferring their older stuff.

lørdag 7. februar 2015

07022015 - Gal Costa "Índia"

Gal Costa is one of the most important voices of the Brazilian Tropicalia movement, and this album, released in the legendary year of 1973, is one of her most legendary releases. It's as cool as it is smoking hot, and her vocal delivery on most of the material is the aural equivalent to a cool drink on a tropical day. At least that goes for the laid-back songs, like the title track or the brilliant "Volta", but when she picks up the tempo, like on "Relance", she shamelessly turns up the heat! Thankfully she finishes with a just gorgeous rendition of the Tom Jobim chestnut "Desafinado", which finishes this lovely record with a light and soothing breeze.

fredag 6. februar 2015

06022015 - Ranger "Where Evil Dwells"

You want METAL? These Fins will give you METAL! This album will not be released until the middle of March, so it's probably a bit unfair to write too much here, but I will let you know this: if you have a need for speed metal or a bloodlust for old fashioned fist pumping, siren screaming, riff roaring heavy metal that fires on all cylinders, uses all the tricks in the book yet retain a little something called identity (a good enough substitute for originality any day), Ranger is your band! Check out their recent compilation of everything they have ever recorded while you wait for this shiny and sharp piece of steel to be unleashed!

torsdag 5. februar 2015

05022015 - Finno-Balkan Voices "Finno-Balkan Voices"

This ensemble does exactly what you would expect from the name. You get a Bulgarian and a Finnish-Estonian female vocal group meeting up, and the result is simply stunning! If you ever heard the sounds of Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares or Trio Bulgarka - either on their own or with Kate Bush - you will have some idea of what to expect from the Bulgarian part, and the rest is equally haunting and beautiful. No instruments, just voices that captivate from start to Finnish!

onsdag 4. februar 2015

04022015 - Butch Walker "Afraid of Ghosts"

I had never heard of this guy before. Apparently he's had "major-label success" in the 80's and 90's, including hit singles with the bands SouthGang and Marvelous 3, both of whom I also missed out on. Lately he's worked as a songwriter and producer for people like Avril Lavigne and Katy Perry, and in my book that's far from a guarantee for greatness. At the same time he's worked with The Donnas, Hot Hot Heat, Sevendust, Weezer and several other poppy noiseniks, so to say there's several sides to him would be fair. Now to his latest album, released this week. The main reason I got interested is because he's got a song called "Chrissie Hynde" on it, which is pretty cool. The songs, however, are far from uptempo rock, but have more of a melancholy Tom McRae/Jesse Malin vibe to them. Which is nice. It will probably take a handful of listens for these songs to really sink in, but my first impression is that it will be worth it.

tirsdag 3. februar 2015

03022015 - Triggerfinger "By Absence of the Sun"

I was led to believe this Belgian band's music was a mix of Led Zeppelin and Queens of the Stone Age. It is not. It's more similar to The Black Keys, as well as a plethora of other bands, and although not entirely bad they do not excite me. This is mostly due to a clinical sound that has none of the grit a band like this should have. Even the fuzz guitars sound polished and thought out, like the perfect designer holes on the knees of too expensive jeans. They try a lot of things, including a grungy groove, college rock, blatantly poppish melodies and some semi-funky stuff, and all in all we have a band that tries way too hard to please everybody and end up being interesting to none. When they finish off with a track that features Method Man and sounds like an entirely different band altogether, my indifference turns to disgust. This is merely a product, and to this product we say "NO!"

mandag 2. februar 2015

02022015 - Jim White vs. The Packway Handle Band "Take It Like A Man"

I dig Jim White. And having had the pleasure of working with him, I will also have you know that he is one of the nicest, most pleasant people yo could ever hope to meet. Now, I have never heard about Athens, Georgia troupe The Packway Handle Band before, but judging by the most uplifting music they lay down on this here record I have no other option than to check out their stuff without Mr. White as well. Call it bluegrass, newgrass, hole-in-my-wandering-shoegrass or whatever you like, but this is one banjo plucking, mandolin wielding happy pill of an album! with songwriting credits split evenly between White and TPHB (5 songs each + one co-write), this is still a solidly consistent album, and you really couldn't tell that the writing was split like that or who have written what. Mostly. Like many other fun albums, the laughs that have been had occasionally make for songs that are forgotten as soon as the record is over - not that there's anything wrong with that. After all, not all bluegrass project albums were meant to be legendary, and if putting smiles on the listeners' faces is wrong, who cares about being right?

søndag 1. februar 2015

01022015 - Vic Godard & Subway Sect "1979 NOW!"

Hi again, it's good to be back! After hitting a brick wall a while back I put the blog on hold, but I never stopped checking out AT LEAST one album that I have never heard before every day. I believe I have averaged three new albums a day in January, and finally it's time to put the virtual pen to the electronic paper yet again. This album, from punk hero Vic Godard & Subway Sect would seem to be the thematic follow up to the Subway Sect album "1978 Now", released in 2007, which consisted og new recordings of songs originally written for Subway Sect's debut album back in - you guessed it - 1978. This album was released in October last year, and is - you guessed it again - new recordings of songs that Subway Sect would play in 1979. Confused? Whatever. What matters is that these songs sound fresh and vibrant in all their Northern soulfulness, not least thanks to the help of Edwyn Collins, who produced this record. It's 1979, but it's NOW, y'know… You know?