Saturday, August 31, 2013
OK, the last time I came across No Age I thought my CD player was going to fall apart. This was a band so chaotic and so destructive I felt lucky to have survived listening to them. But, on their new album An Object, something's changed. While previous efforts were darn near deadly, this record is not as aggressive, noisy, or catastrophic; it was such a change that it made me do a double take.
Sure there's lots of atonal noise and angularity going on here but there are surprising attempts at harmonies and melodies; it's quite shocking! Nonetheless, An Object is still a great record that veers in to aggression and craziness occasionally but has no problems down shifting into something else. I guess you could say that while An Object isn't as aggressive as previous efforts it is weirder than their other records. Within this album there are moody riffs and almost atmospheric sections and passages that will leave you stunned. It's all rather intriguing and is a rather uncharted development for this band but it works and works pretty well.
No Age aren't like many other bands. They seemingly seem to shift between chaos, dissonance, weirdness, and harmony with ease. An Object is all of these things in measured doses and while other records may have made you fear for your own safety this one will have you doubting your own safety. Simply put, weird noise has never sounded so cool. There's truly no age that you can put No Age in and I suspect that's the way they want it.
Hawaii’s very own reggae stars are back; mixing Hawaii pride with Kingston vibes The Green embrace island culture with a bear hug. Their latest album Hawai'i 13 is a living testament to that pride and musical heritage and continues to see this band developing into something that's a mixture of their physical and spiritual home.
Positive and upbeat, the songs here are modern and energetic. Hawai'i 13 is influenced by rock and roll as much as traditional reggae, dub, R&B, and even Hawaiian music. It's enjoyable stuff that's catchy, groovy, and laid back. In other words, it's darn near the perfect reggae album and if you throw their positivity and thoughtfulness these guys are a rapidly approaching musical Nirvana.
Truly proving music is a universal language and reggae is about one love, The Green demonstrate that it doesn't matter where you come from or who you are but what's in your heart that matters and isn't that the message Mr. Marley sang about years ago?
With their latest album, It's Alive, Seattle's La Luz have cemented Link Wray's legacy as one of the most important guitarists ever. The simple fact is that without him, La Luz would not exist. Featuring riff upon riff of awesome garagey surf rock the album sound as if it was recorded using Wray's guitars, in Wray's studio, using leftover Wray riffs. The album is overflowing with twangy and jangly melodic tunes that sound as if Wray silently lent a hand on each one. It's magnificent stuff that reminds me of La Sera records lost in a sweater box underneath her bed or an old album found in a rotting VW Vanagong used during the filming of Endless Summer.
With organs, those guitars, multi-part harmonies, rawness and purity It's Alive is an honest to goodness rock and roll record steeped in history and tradition. The whole thing and especially those twangy surf rocking guitars, with gorgeous melodies and sparkly riffs, is simply amazing. It's Alive is a fantastic record that's about love, heartbreak, and simply being different; it's nothing complicated and doesn't need to be for you to fall in love with it. It's all a bit quirky and a bit retrotastic but it's a treat to just sit and lose yourself in.
As summer turns into fall, La Luz reminds us of the joys of the sun and sand, summer romances, and days lost to doing nothing in particular. It's Alive is an awesome record that's in love with the past but retroactively looking forward to the future. With harmonies that seem like they're from a dream, songs that are uncomplicated and catchy, and a sound that reeks of classicism what's there not to like? La Luz truly are alive and It's Alive proves it.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Coastwest Unrest are yet another folky band that attempt to offer up something a little different. Their album High Times on Lowly Streets is a rustic, woodsy, folk, jam band kind of record that alternates between being something like Arcade Fire and the Dave Matthews Band. A strange combination, I know, but it's just got this hippified pseudo-bohemian feel to it that both frat boys and hipsters would seemingly enjoy.
With awesome baritone vocals that sound like Ric Ocasek lost in the mountains, Coastwest Unrest take all this Northwest log cabin-ish atmosphere and channel it into traditional arrangements and folky instrumentation. The results are songs that have a dramatic deep woods feel. Songs are laden with strings and deep vocal overtones and you can almost feel the foggy coldness and smell the hot coffee as this album progresses. It's all very rustic, arty and sweeping but still still feels intimate and emotional.
High Times on Lowly Streets conjures pastoral images and and a simple life. Wrapped in flannel and given depth with cello and violin Coastwest Unrest have created a homespun brand of folk music that's easy to latch on to. Their ability to weave jam band and arty pop elements into songs give them a widespread appeal that's bound to benefit them. High Times on Lowly Streets might be more suited for a woodsy environment than on lowly streets but that's OK.
I have to admit, Cherry Bluestorms didn't make an impressive first impression with me when I received their album, Bad Penny Opera. I mean look at that cover. It's horrible. It ranks up there with Cancer's To The Gory End as worst album covers ever. So with that image securely tucked away in my brain this band already had one strike against them.
Musically, they kind of swung and missed as well. While not completely folky, the band have this sort of slightly theatrical version of folk music that's not amazing, but not too bad either. What's weird about all this is that the first track on the album, “Bad Penny Overture,” is an impressive instrumental set up. Unfortunately, the album falls off a cliff soon after. Bad Penny Opera is a middle of the road kind of thing that's pretty mediocre. It' just of kind of plods along with an almost singer songwriter feel about it. I want to say that this is loosely some sort of concept album, but I wouldn't guarantee that.
Anyway, despite it's overwhelming sense of just existing there are a few good moments on this record. “Wear Your Love Like Heaven,” is a stomping, horn laden pop tune that's a thrilling rush in a sea of mediocrity. Bad Penny Opera clearly has potential and is on the cusp of something better it just never gets there. The Cherry Bluestorms have great tunes within them, they just struggle to set them free. Hopefully, they can let this Bad Penny Opera go and crank out a true opus.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Miami's own garage indie rockers have finally released their self-titled debut album and it's a killer. Having dug through their parents Jesus and Mary Chain records and milked them for all their worth the Jacuzzi Boys have harnessed a sound that feels like the Reid Brothers leading The Drums in a rioutous. noisy, raucous tour of pop music.
Jacuzzi Boys is a chaotic, feedbacky, rough, and ragged record that is redonkulously catchy. These guys have a brilliant appreciation for what makes a great tune and they slather that appreciation all over the songs here. Catchy choruses, simple riffs that drill themselves into your skull, fuzzy walls of guitar noise that overwhelm you and an undoubtedly cool aura all contribute to this record being amazing. There's nothing complicated here and it's all pretty basic stuff but there doesn't need to be anything over the top because what these guys have done with their songs and their guitars is so pure and honest they don't need to bury themselves in those ideals.
When I lived in Miami a band like this could have never existed; it just wasn't possible.. because it wasn't Miami-bass influenced. So, It's amazing to see and hear a band like this doing well not only in the 305 but nationally. Jacuzzi Boys is a fantastic record that's got to be one of my favorites this year and the fact that it's from a bunch of local dudes made good is even better.
The Garifuna Collective are a group from Central America who create music that reflect the culture of the Afro-Amerindian Garifuna community. Their album Ayo is filled with hints of African and Caribbean influences throughout and despite being from Central America this collective has more in common with those influences then their geographical location would lead you to believe. Ayo is an intriguing record simply because of that struggle between location and influence and the songs reflect that constant conflict in a positive light.
Having lost the band's leader suddenly soon after their debut album the band was left without a direction. And while the easy thing would have been to just stop being a collective, the group picked up the pieces and emotions and channeled it all into a new album he would be proud of. Ayo is a soul stirring record steeped in in tradition but thoroughly modern in it's approach and creation. The record has plenty of authenticity and sounds but still finds time to occasionally be funky or groovy. Those occasional glimpses into the bands energy and emotions really give Ayo a sense of freedom that would undoubtedly make their former leader proud.
Steeped with history, tradition, and emotion The Garifuna Collective have found a way to take it all in and craft something beautiful. Ayo is a great record of laid back grooves, traditional sounds and a bit of funk for good measure. They may have lost their spiritual leader but The Garifuna Collective are in good hands here and Ayo is well worth a listen.