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?