March 2020, At A Glance

Top 5 Albums:

  1. Deap Lips – s/t
  2. Human Impact – s/t
  3. Clem Snide – Forever Just Beyond
  4. Brian Fallon – Local Honey
  5. Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

Good, But Forgettable

  • Pearl Jam – Gigaton
  • Rachael Sage – Character
  • The Frights – Everything Seems Like Yesterday
  • Rookie – s/t
  • God Damn – s/t
  • Sufjan Stevens – Aporia
  • Vanessa Carlton – Love Is An Art
  • Half Waif – The Caretaker

Sorry, But…No

  • Thick – 5 Years Behind
  • Waltari – Global Rock
  • David Clayton-Thomas – Say Something
  • In This Moment – Mother
  • 5 Seconds of Summer – Calm

March 27, 2020

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real – Naked Garden (Fantasy)

How often does it happen that an artist produces a studio album that owns up to mistakes? For Naked Garden, Promise of the Real decided to make good on what their name suggests: reality. Throughout this album, you’ll hear some guitar tuning issues, vocal inconsistencies, and even some behind-the-scenes gaffs. There is a live performance presentation here that adds a certain connection to the material.

As for the sound and style…I mean, really?

This is Willie Nelson‘s kid. Sometimes acorns fall away from the oak, but a lot of the time, gravity does precisely what is expected. At times, Lukas‘s voice bears an uncanny resemblance to his dad’s. ’70s rock influence shows up to color the classic country and folk with an energy that belies the softness of Nelson‘s tone. He rises to the occasion, though, making this a pleasure of a ride. There’s even a moment where we get to hear what it might sound like if Willie was a member of the Von Trapp Family Singers (“The Way You Say Goodbye”).

FFO: Willie Nelson, Blitzen Trapper, Cordovas

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March 20, 2020

Hyborian – Volume II (Season of Mist)

What should you expect of a group that named themselves after a fictional human era in Conan the Cimmerian? I’ll tell you what: Crom worshiping powerhouses of the highest order, that’s what.

This 3-piece act out of Kansas City, MO is a paragon, the embodiment of what modern hard rock should aspire to be. With a style that combines elements of thrash and stoner metal, Hyborian is upbeat, melodic, riff-heavy, and as powerful as any record I have heard recently. Volume II is fresh and original sounding, but careful to pay proper respect the roots of stoner rock laid down by Black Sabbath.

I found myself not able to listen just once. Beginning to end it is a fist-pounding, tooth-grinding, head-spinning monolith of loud. The riffs are simultaneously sludgy and groovy, with soaring highs and crushing lows. The vocals are volatile without losing melody. The rhythm section is driving, but not overpowering. It is truly hard to believe that a band comprised of just three people can sound so full and intense.

For Fans Of: High on Fire, Planet of the 8s, Helmet, Crowbar

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March 13, 2020

Human Impact – s/t  (Ipecac)

March saw the debut effort from a new supergroup of sorts, featuring members of SwansCop Shoot Cop, and Unsane in a riotous, chaotic trip into the dark recesses of New York City. It paints a picture of turmoil and uncertainty, drawn into stark realization through shrieking samples and ethereal, sharp guitar chording. The aggressiveness of this record is more felt than heard, punctuated by abrupt starts and stops, leaving you as quickly as it arrived. 

Ipecac Records is knows for flooding record store shelves and alternative/underground radio with absurdity, angst, whimsy, and Melvins albums. This falls into all of those categories (except the Melvins) and exceeds the summation of those descriptors. The raw power of ’80s and ’90s post-punk rock and hardcore are combined with a more mature desire for content. 

For Fans Of: Milemarker, Jesus Lizard, Unsane

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March 6, 2020

Caroline Rose – Superstar (New West)

This is an interesting album for me to review. Writing this feels like an obligation, like I’m being coaxed into liking Superstar.

That doesn’t mean that I DON’T enjoy it. Actually, while it’s on, I like it quite a bit. The issue I have has something to do with a trick that the record is playing on my brain. I have listened to it 3 times, front to back, and I cannot seem to pick a favorite song…

…or a favorite hook…

…or really even remember it at all.

I know it’s groovy and sarcastic, light-hearted and biting, with vague similarities to Kate Nash, Kimbra, and Lana Del Rey. I get the sense that pop radio might clamor for this style of disengaged, uneventful, non-genre-specific artistry. But they would have to remember that they heard it.

I am actually curious to know if any of you have this same experience with the record. Am I losing it? Getting old? Or is Superstar an enigma?

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