Thursday, February 22, 2018

Happy Birthday to the Following Albums (5)

The following albums all have significant birthdays this year.

Happy 5th Birthday, Arcade Fire's Reflektor!

Happy 10th Birthday, The Roots' Rising Down!

Happy 20th Birthday, Mansun's Six!

Happy 25th Birthday, Nirvana's In Utero!

Happy 30th Birthday, The Church's Starfish!

Happy 40th Birthday, Wire's Chairs Missing!

Happy 50th Birthday, The Jimi Hendrix Experience's Axis: Bold As Love!

Friday, January 26, 2018

RIP Mark E. Smith-uh

RIP Mark Edward Smith
5 March 1957 - 24 January 2018

"If it's me and your granny on bongos, then it's a Fall gig."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Top 30 Albums of 2017

30. METZ - Strange Peace

29. No Joy - Creep EP

28. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Sketches of Brunswick East

27. Nathan Oliver - Head in the Sand EP

26. Guided By Voices - August By Cake

25. Beck - Colors

24. David Bowie - No Plan EP

23. Xiu Xiu - Forget

22. J. Zunz - Silente

21. Boris - Dear

20. St. Vincent - Masseduction

19. Iron &Wine - Beast Epic

18. Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn - Echo in the Valley

17. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Flying Microtonal Banana

16. Queens of the Stone Age - Villains

15. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Gumboot Soup

14. Guided By Voices - How Do You Spell Heaven

13. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.

12. Total Control - Laughing At the System EP

11. Waxahatchee - Out in the Storm

10. Benjamin Booker - Witness

9. Pond - The Weather

8. Spoon - Hot Thoughts

7. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Murder of the Universe

6. Mogwai - Every Country's Sun

5. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Polygondwanaland

4. Torres - Three Futures

3. Slowdive - Slowdive

                                    2. Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 3 (I know it was fucking released 24 December 2016)

1. LCD Soundsystem - American Dream

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Queens of the Stone Age - Villains

Queens of the Stone Age have carved out a comfortable position as elder statesmen of rock. Nobody expects them to flip their sound on its head at every turn. They could, if they wanted, give it just enough of a  perfunctory tweak to avoid being accused of repeating themselves, but of course they don't want to do that. Josh Homme is a songwriter's songwriter, always seeking new approaches even after having worked within his idiom with one band or another for nearly 30 years. The knee-jerk reaction is to call Villains QOTSA's pop album, given that Mark Ronson is producer, but if that's the case, they've arrived at it on their own terms. The album is full of the serpentine twists that have become the band's stock in trade, and the more floor-ready beats recontextualise familiar QOTSA tropes without compromising the muscularity of Homme's riffs. The result is less "Uptown Funk" than decadent disco. Villains forgoes the band's tradition of inviting high profile guests, which is not a decision that the first and so far only band to unite Trent Reznor and Elton John in the studio would make lightly. It shows they don't need a lot of help to pull off stylistic shifts such as this one - not that there's any reason to doubt it.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn - Echo in the Valley

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn's personal r elationship goes back a decade and their professional relationship almost as far, but they hadn't recorded as a duo until 2014's self-titled album. Strictly a dual banjo and voice affair, it was more a showcase of their musical interplay than songwriting as they navigated how to work in that context, and it settled the question of whether Washburn, an excellent banjoist and Fleck, a virtuoso, could work as a duo. That's not to diminish its value as a fine collection of songs, but the point was occasionally a bit laboured - I personally didn't need a four and a half minute rendition of "Railroad" ("I've been working on the railroad...)".

Echo in the Valley builds on what the duo learnt the first time around and brings their songwriting to the fore. The first time around, Fleck and Washburn both wrote the bulk of the album, but did so separately on all but two songs; on Echo in the Valley, it's a collaborative effort all over. There's less reliance on both traditional material and traditional influences in general, but the album evokes a bygone era in less tangible ways.

Sex, War & Robots