Friday, September 30, 2016

Wye Oak - Tween (Merge, 2016)

Wye Oak

Rating: 8.5 squid landmines out of 10

All of the sudden, with little to no fanfare, Wye Oak put out a new record called "Tween."  If you were listening closely when I found this out you might have heard me squeak with excitement, because I've been all about some Wye Oak for the last couple of years.  A small part of it might be that I'm in love with singer/multi-instrumentalist Jenn Wasner, but it's mostly because they have such good damn songs (which certainly is one of the factors that makes me love Jenn so much SHHH NO ONE TELL HER I WOULD BE SO EMBARRASSED YOU GUYS).  

Anyways...good record overall, possibly great.  I don't love it as much as "Civilian" or "Shriek" yet, but I would not be surprised if it matched those two classics with more listens.  After burying her guitars under a pile of keyboards and basses on "Shriek," Jenn seemingly rediscovered a love for them here - though still not at the level of shredding you hear in "Civilian."  The best songs for my money are "Better (For Esther)," with it's badass synthy guitar solo, and "If You Should See," which sounds like a modern Cocteau Twins song, but better.

Definitely one of the best albums of the year, the only question is how high it will finish.  Right now I would guess top 5, minimum. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth (Atlantic, 2016)

Sturgill Simpson
A Sailor's Guide to Earth

Rating: 7 empty bottles out of 10

On "A Sailor's Guide to Earth," there is a song called "Sea Stories" that really turned my ear - "Maybe get high, play a little GoldenEye on that old 64."  It might seem like a somewhat minor line, and definitely reminds me of college, but to me it's another pebble on the mountain of evidence that Sturgill Simpson is running in a different direction from typical modern country.  The fact that the very next song is a cover of Nirvana's "In Bloom" is even further proof.  He countrifies the cover up so well though that if you weren't familiar with the original (I'm assuming these people exist somewhere, mostly very young or only recently revived from a coma) you'd think it just another of his songs - songs that sound mainstream, or at least what should be mainstream if modern country wasn't just regular pop music with an occasional slide guitar.  The best track, "All Around You," features a horn section (the Dap Kings!, and they're actually on a number of songs here) and is as much a soul song as it is country.  This is a good record, worthy of your attention, especially if you have any interest in non-pop country at all. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Konvoi - Konvoi (Snot, 2016)


Rating: 7.5 soft rubber lids out of 10

Konvoi is from Boone, North Carolina.  For any non-locals reading this, Boone is a hippy town in the mountains, and absolutely nothing good ever comes out of there (I say this as someone who grew up right down the road).  Apparently Konvoi didn't get this message, and instead decided to release this blast of post punk snarl that sounds like the Fall, early Whatever Brains, and maybe Ex-Cult all blended together.  I even hear a little bit of Strokes-style garage-pop catchiness to a couple of their songs, but there's a good chance no one else will agree with me on that one.  This is a great record (or actually, tape only much to my chagrin) on any level, but locally it might be the best thing this year and is definitely my favorite "new" local band/release of the last few years.   Nice job for once, Boone, keep up the good work. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Big Business - Command Your Weather (Joyful Noise, 2016)

Big Business
Command Your Weather
Joyful Noise

Rating: 6.5 shining lenses out of 10

Having seen them live so many times and being a huge fan of their performances, it's hard to know what to say about a Big Business record.  First and foremost, they're almost nothing alike - the recordings are melodic, well-produced, shit there are even vocal harmonies!  You get none of that live - live, it's just pummeling, sludgy noise metal, and I love it even if I can rarely tell one song from another.  You can listen to their records all you want, when you see them play the songs in front of you and that wall of amps is blasting your face and laughing at your ear plugs you're likely not going to know what the fuck they're playing, and you're also likely not to care - or at least I don't.  Because of this, I don't think about their recordings very much to be honest - recordings that are totally fine, though not particularly spectacular.  I may or may not listen to this album very much, but you can be damn sure I'll be at the show the next time they come through town.