Album Reviews 24/07/18

Phish, Evolve (JEMP Records)

If you’ve ever read this column for comprehension, you know that I detest fedora-hat bands in general and jam bands in particular, but I’ve had a change of heart of late. This happened after I discovered that my favorite acid-jazz-fusion wingnuts Weather Report took in a lot of guys from Frank Zappa’s bands, which caused me to reassess my prejudgments about Zappa (most of which were based on listening experiences). No, I’m not saying the Mothers or Weather Report were jam bands, but they incorporated extended stretches of improvisation in their tunes, and since I’m looking to expand my listening sphere I figured I’d see what’s going on right now with this Vermont crew of Grateful Dead lampreys (no, I will never give the Dead another chance, no worries). In brief: This LP is, of course, about white-guy groove, pseudo-funk in desperate need of a jolt from cardiac paddles. “Hey Stranger,” for starters, is a politely bouncing, listenable-enough thing that had me going “OK, OK, I get it” 30 seconds into its uneventful five minutes (the drum sound is good, at least). “Everything’s Right” is 12-count-’em minutes of (I swear) the same tiresome ’70s-blaxploitation beat as “Hey Stranger,” and that’s where I gave up. There’s some decent noodling from guitarist Trey Anastasio, which I’m sure seems highly impressive to people who have no guitar player friends who insist on giving impromptu living room concerts to their unhappily captive audiences. B

IDRIS & Una Rams, “Go Deeper” (Defected Records)

Wow, I’ve been unplugged from the velvet-rope circuit for so long (no thanks to my local Manchvegas music scene — will we ever get a proper dance club in this town or what?) that I wasn’t aware that actor Idris Elba was a DJ of significant note. In fact, his music is, I’m told, dominating the scene, which is just another notch in the belt for the guy, who was voted People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2018 and starred in such movies as Pacific Rim and Prometheus. OK, granted, anyone, even the sexiest guy in the world, could futz with ProTools and make a dance beat, so what’s so special about this, his latest track? Well, it’s the authenticity, really. Maybe you’re already used to the tribal house of DJs like Oscar G and whatnot, a sound that kept me interested in covering the beachside club beat for a couple of years, but this is definitely a step beyond that. Rams, Elba’s accomplice here, is a Grammy-winner from Makwarela, South Africa, and he adds some thick vocalizing to a track that would have been a bit pedestrian without it. As is, it’s otherworldly and completely immersive. A+


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Like a relentless tsunami of cultural inertia, a fresh storm of music-albums will bum-rush our cockeyed zeitgeist on July 19, scrabbling and shrieking for attention from a citizenry that’s no longer paying any attention whatsoever to “what’s hot” in the milieu, since the only thing that’s generated any mainstream rock ’n’ roll headline activity for months has been people arguing on social media over whether or not Taylor Swift’s last album, Whatever-its-name-who-cares, is a good thing. The weighing-in continues unabated; the other week, Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters told insinuated during a concert that Taylor lip-synchs during her shows, according to assorted media.

Past all that, like I said, there are new albums to deal with this week, including one from mummified ’70s arena-rock band Deep Purple, which uses an actual church organ in their heavy metal tuneage for some reason, don’t ask me why. The title of this new album is =1, which is funny, because =1 has never been recognized as an official internet emoticon like 🙂 or =^). I can guarantee you it’s not, because I asked Google’s “artificial intelligence” if =1 is an emoticon and it told me to go jump in the lake. But whatever, let’s keep in mind that the fellas in Deep Purple are all in their 80s and thus probably all have Earthlink email addresses; let’s just proceed to listen to “Portable Door,” the band’s hot new single! Wow, drummer Ian Paice, bassist Roger Glover and singer Ian Gillan are still here! Ha ha, Gillan looks like Bill Murray does today, but belay all that, ya swabs, this isn’t a bad song at all if you ever liked Deep Purple, like, the main riff does have a pulse. I give it a =) emoticon reaction and want to remind you that Ritchie Blackmore hasn’t been in the band for decades now because he is literally one of the worst people ever born.

• Rapper Childish Gambino initially earned his fame for his tertiary role on the endlessly irritating TV show 30 Rock, do any of you people even remember when network television was relevant, do I really even have to talk about this dude? Fine, whatever, his new album, Bando Stone & The New World, is the soundtrack to an upcoming same-named film. It is the final Childish Gambino album, because Donald Glover (his real name) is as sick of the joke as everyone else and hence he’s retiring the moniker. I don’t know, the movie trailer seems fine, it’s an apocalyptic comedy that I’d watch, and his joke hip-hop songs aren’t any worse than recent serious ones.

Los Campesinos! (remember 15 years ago when indie bands used dumb punctuation in their band names?) are back, with a new LP, All Hell. The single, “kms,” sounds like a drunk Aubrey Plaza singing with Pavement. Yes, it’s literally that awful.

• Finally we have Glass Animals, an English indie band whose 2020 boyband-chillout single “Heat Waves” went viral on TikTok. The guys’ new album I Love You So F***ing Much features the wistful “Creatures in Heaven,” which reads like an Imagine Dragons arena-ballad, not that I’m trying to discourage you.

Album Reviews 24/07/11

The Mystery Lights, Purgatory (Daptone Records)

This Salinas, California,-based band aims for a mid-’60s Kinks and Easybeats-inspired sound, which is evident from the start of this, their fourth album. They’ve been around the block many times, first with a few independently released EPs, and then a single on Daptone’s rock imprint, Wick, in 2015, and that should suffice for the inside baseball nonsense; the upshot is that they could certainly give Black Lips a run for their money, given that they incorporate Howlin’ Wolf, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and (of course) Creedence Clearwater Revival into their unabashedly ’60s-rock chi. Their brains are in their pants, which is admirable these days, at least in my book, starting with album opener “Mighty Fine & All Mine,” with its bouncy and boneheaded two-chord shuffle, just what the doctor ordered. “In The Streets” fuses Gang Of Four angularity with Bon Scott-era AC/DC transgressiveness’ “Sorry I Forgot Your Name” is prehistoric rockabilly the way the Pixies would have built it. Obviously very fun stuff. A

Matt Wilson’s Good Trouble, Good Trouble (Palmetto Records)

Whole lot of fun, this album from jazz drummer Wilson’s new quintet, which features players who, unless I’m mistaken, have all been featured on this page as bandleaders. Wilson likes swing, but it’s also obvious he’s spent a good amount of time digging on more proggy groups like Pat Metheny and whatnot; a lot goes on here. Tia Fuller’s alto sax holds down the upper-middle end of the mix in glorious style, while Dawn Clement’s piano stands just to the right of it, alternately doodling and bonking at the right moments — OK, what I’m saying is that the mix is exquisite and expansive. We’ve talked about clarinetist Jeff Lederer here before of course; here he adds a lot to the complicated but relatable twists and turns, thickening them out in unique and friendly fashion. On “Be That As It May,” Clement adds a vocal that far surpasses the phoned-in performances I hear constantly within this genre. A great one for summer drives. A+


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• July 12 is approaching, like a cat in the night, preparing to steal off with half the summer, we’re already halfway done with it before the winter comes, guys! Adding to my misery is the fact that I need to talk about one album in particular that’s streeting on that date, specifically a new album of caterwauling nonsense from 1990s annoyance Ani DiFranco, titled Unprecedented Sh!t (yes, that’s her actual clever censoring of the title, so much for freedom of speech, folks!). If you can’t tell yet, I am not a fan of Ms. DiFranco, which makes me sort of normal, given that I’m not the only person to have written about her super-annoying music; I could cite articles from Reddit, MetaFilter, ilXor and dozens of others that support my position, but you either already know all about it or you only enjoying listening to annoying music, which means you might like her. She is a nepo baby of sorts, born to a couple of rich MIT grads, but the little ingrate hated being told what to do by her parents, so much so that she left her mom’s apartment in 1985 to become an emancipated child at age 15, does anyone remember that hilarious ’80s trend? Anyhow, despite her being an unemployed teenager, she was somehow able to sell enough Girl Scout cookies to start her own record company, Righteous Babe Records, through which she’s released all of her “art,” including this new album. Oh, well, at least she uses some of her riches to back various grassroots cultural and political organizations, supporting causes ranging from abortion rights to gay visibility, like, at least we know she’s not just another Gwyneth Paltrow or Ghengis Khan. So, if possible, let’s belay all the hating for the moment and go check out the first tune from this album, “Spinning Room,” so we can just move past all this. It’s a gently rolling number, led by a monotonously bonking piano, the beat waxing Beatlesque. A lot of people might actually like this, and I have no control over that.

• El Paso, Texas, is home to dream-pop band Cigarettes After Sex, whose singer, Greg Gonzalez, has a very androgynous voice. The band’s new album, X’s, is on the way to your Soundclouds and whatnot, and I heartily recommend it if you like Portishead, because that’s what the leadoff single “Baby Blue Movie” kind of sounds like, although it’s even more squishy and dream-poppy. Others have used words like “ethereal” and “limerent” to describe this band, so today I learned that “limerent” means holding “romantic feelings for another person, and typically includes intrusive, melancholic thoughts, or tragic concerns for the object of one’s affection.” Usually I just say “hopelessly hormonal,” but you do you.

Cassandra Jenkins is an ambient/folk-pop singing lady from Brooklyn, N.Y. Her new album is My Light, My Destroyer, sounds a bit conflicted, wouldn’t you say? In 2022 she opened for Mitski in a few U.K. shows, which is encouraging; her dooming habit is that she takes way too long between albums. This is only her third in eight years, but forget that, music is more about quality than quantity; the single “Delphinium Blue” is like a cross between Enya and Goldfrapp, anyone who’s normal would probably like it.

• We’ll end the week with a look at an artiste who was talented enough to get on TV. In 2014, while she was a senior in high school, Palo Alto, California,-born singer Remi Wolf appeared as a contestant on American Idol but didn’t win. Her second album, Big Ideas, is slated for a Friday release, and the LP’s first song, “Toro,” is pretty neat, combining Janet Jackson with Ke$ha. It’s OK!

Album Reviews 24/07/04

Category 7, Category 7 (Metal Blade Records)

I’ve mostly avoided covering albums released through the Metal Blade imprint owing to their long history of not paying their bands, but in this case I’ll make an exception, as I assume the members of this group have been around the block enough times to avoid the usual contractual traps. Here we have the first album from this all-star band of thrash oldschoolers, featuring John Bush (Anthrax), Mike Orlando (Adrenaline Mob), Phil Demmel (Machine Head), Jack Gibson (Exodus) and Jason Bittner (Overkill), a group that has its act together for sure in the area of production (this is major-label-level stuff). In the area of tuneage, though, it’s assuredly not anything new. If you’ve heard any of the above-cited bands you know what you’ll be hearing, although the intensity level does get pretty high on songs like “Land I Used To Love” and “Exhausted,” which are both pretty, well, enthusiastic. It’s likable enough. B-

Dye, “Dirt” (Metal Blade Records)

This Los Angeles-based nonbinary singer has accumulated international love from BBC Radio1’s Rock Show w/ Daniel Carter, Australian radio station Triple j, and loads of editorial love at Spotify and Apple. This is their latest goth-pop/shoegaze single, intended for fans of (naturally) Cocteau Twins (their voice is reminiscent of Elizabeth Fraser, point of order); by melding both genres, it’s both full of yearning and sonically epic. But wait, there’s more; the tune is also informed by Nirvana grunge, Nine Inch nails goth and dark orchestral flourishes reminiscent of My Chemical Romance, Smashing Pumpkins and such. The sounds sit atop a familiar but innovative New Wave drum beat you’ve heard on hits from artists ranging from Flock Of Seagulls to The Kid Laroi, tabling lyrics “about accepting that not everything broken needs repairing, sometimes it’s best to throw it away.” Cool stuff. A


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Yikes, wait a second, it’s totally, irrevocably summer already, how did this even happen, I’d been anticipating some sort of normal segue, like one last snow-blizzard in May just to remind us all who’s really in charge of all this “New England weather” nonsense! It is summer, definitely, so my drive-time music-listening habits have gone into summer mode with a vengeance: If I have to drive somewhere fast and dangerously, I’ll crank old Kiss albums or Foghat Live, but if I’m just being an old semi-retired dude who’s constantly getting honked at by younglings waiting for me to get the hell out of their way so they can get to their fifth work-shift of the day at Burger King, I’m listening to big-band albums from the 1920s. Those always put me in a good mood, and quite frankly I think our country would be in a lot better shape if those younglings would just get off my lawn and go listen to Ray Noble singing about freckle-faced girls who grew into smokin’ hot babes all the boys wanted to (very respectfully) smooch. But alas, that is not to be, because the only music today’s younglings want to hear is songs about twerking and beefs and being awkward. Sigh, so let’s go look at the list of albums coming out on Friday, July 5, and just try to forget that music was once a good and wholesome thing, with nothing but songs about freckle-faced girls and not about [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] and [TOTALLY 100% DITTO]. Wow fam, not a lot of new albums, because it’s the Fourth of July vacation week, and the record companies know that everyone will be spending all their discretionary funds on fireworks and alcohol instead of albums, which is wise, I’d say. We’ll start this week with Fink, a 51-year-old songwriter/DJ/something-something from England, whose real name is Fin Greenall! Among other career highlights, he co-wrote the song “Half Time” with Amy Winehouse, which is on her posthumous 2011 album Lioness: Hidden Treasures. His new album, Beauty In Your Wake, opens with “So We Find Ourselves,” a slow, pensive tune whose vibe evokes floating around aimlessly on a raft with a freckle-faced girl while her grandpa lazily croons about awkwardness or something. I think it’s relevant to the zeitgeist but I’m not 100 percent sure.

• Hm, look at that, it’s another album by a British act, because the Fourth of July means nothing to those transgressive colonizers, as we ’muricans all know. Yes, it’s none other than former interesting band Kasabian, with their new one, Happenings. The first time I heard them was years ago and I liked them very much, as you may recall from past columns, in this space, but now, I don’t know, maybe not so much. This “slab” opens with “Coming Back To Me Good,” a sunny, peppy, happy-ish mid-tempo jaunt that tells me they’ve been listening to a lot of M83, nothing like the stuff they used to do when they were trying to do hard rock or whatever it was.

• Also on Friday, Kiasmos, a Faroese-Icelandic minimal/experimental techno duo, will release their second LP, mysteriously titled II. This is very listenable stuff, bloopy techno reminiscent of Orbital and that sort of thing

• Finally it’s Kokoko!, an experimental electronic music collective based in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their trip is playing homemade instruments, so of course it’s cool and interesting. Their new album, BUTU, includes a single titled “Mokili,” a ’90s-sounding tune that’s like an Afrobeat-infused Technotronic. It’s pretty fun.

Album Reviews 24/06/27

Potion Seller, When They Get Old (PNWK Records)

This was proffered to me as an EP from a Grand Rapids, Michigan,-based “alt-rock/post-emo/pop-punk band,” so I immediately went into snark mode in preparation for listening to this stuff, expecting it to evoke Good Charlotte and all those way-overdone sounds. But wait a minute, this isn’t your typical nerd-rock band, there’s actual old-school emo here, not just wishy-washy Dashboard Confessional obeisance and over-processed guitars. No, there are some organics here, not to mention some subtlety and even silence; there are spots during “Faster” when I almost expected to hear someone drop a coffee cup in the background. Yeah, the louder moments are cookie-cutter for the genre, but even those aren’t simply wall-of-sound bleatings; in fact — and I know these guys are too young to even know who they are — it’s actually reminiscent of Gin Blossoms or Skynyrd in spots. All told, the band’s first release for this imprint offers a very workable blend of Aughts-era pop-punk and modern emo. A+

Inter Arma, New Heaven (Relapse Records)

OK, cool story time, bros and gals, this was originally going to be a quick review of a different LP from my old friends at Relapse, but the link to the “advance album” was hopelessly mixed in with a bunch of different links, none of which pointed to the actual album in question, and so I’m doing this one instead, which is now two months old. The moral: overeducated PR reps, please make your emails make sense if you’re trying to push a new album to us lowly music journos, that’d be great. Anyhow (grrrrr), this Richmond, Virginia,-based metal act is known for eschewing structure in their rabid noise-scapes, but this is a departure in that the songs are more, well, song-like than what you may be accustomed to from these guys, if you are at all. The tldr is that the tunes are loud and aggressive in an unusual vein, combining sounds and hamster-wheel speeds native to both Cannibal Corpse and Bathory, i.e., the vocals fluctuate between Quorthon and Cookie Monster, but there’s a lot of clangy discordance. Not my cup of tea, but have at it. B-


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• June 28 is a Friday and, thus spake the record companies, there will be many new albums presented for your entertainment and ridicule, on that day! We’ll start out with wildly popular children’s bouncy house party band Imagine Dragons, whose new album, Loom, is, you know, looming over my head (see what I did there?), demanding that I talk about it, because all the young children love this arena-pop band of balloon-animal-crafting circus clowns. Wow, this is so nice of Imagine Dragons, the entire album is on YouTube, and I’m listening to the new single, “Nice to Meet You,” this will definitely rule! Ack, this is Justin Timberlake-level cultural appropriation, the singer is trying to pick up a girl at a bar where everyone is gorgeous (except the band, of course, as always) and the tune is sort of like 1970s-soul mixed with LMFAO. I don’t know any child that would like this at all, although I imagine a fourth-grader who loves everything about (the great) Imagine Dragons would force themself to like it. Anyway, Imagine Dragons, everyone.

• Renowned for twerking so vigorously that she occasionally takes flight and soars up to 20,000 feet above sea level, Megan Thee Stallion proves that she hasn’t reached her Vegas-has-been stage yet by releasing her third album, Megan, on June 28! There is music on this album, but don’t be silly, you just want to know about the beefs that are explored in its grooves, because what else is music about, if not beefs? In the single, “Hiss,” she disses Drake, who expressed public support for Tory Lanez, who was found guilty of shooting Megan in 2020. Her boss Kendrick Lamar has also besmirched Drake, so there’s trouble ahead in hip-hop land, get your popcorn. We’ll have more wrestling news after these messages!

• Oh come on already, another Guided by Voices album, so soon, how is this even news; they (meaning songwriting addict Robert Pollard) released one in November, already! Whatever, let’s get it over with, Strut Of Kings is the title, and the single is “Serene King,” a Neil Young-type mid-tempo rawker (again). Pollard sounds like Ozzy in “sinister serpent god” mode (again) in this instantly recyclable classic!

• We’ll wrap up the week with St. Louis-based folkie-whatever Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats andhis new LP, South Of Here! The album includes “David and Goliath,” a Nilsson-meets-Ben Folds quirk-a-thon that’s actually well-written.

Album Reviews 24/20/06

J.M. Clifford, Trains, Thinkin’ and Drinkin’ (Brooklyn Basement Records)

You know, a lot of people think they don’t like any country music, but they’re usually thinking of a specific subgenre. If you’re like me and hate WWE wrestling-intro country-metal but like Appalachia-tinged bluegrass purism, you’ll like this one, which is from a Brooklyn-based artist and educator, who hatted out to Nashville so he could recruit such renowned session players as Seth Taylor, Jeff Partin, Jeff Picker and Bronwyn Keith-Hynes into this fold. By day, Clifford is a New York City elementary school music teacher, so there’s no NSFW element to it, but innovation does abound (he won a spot as a showcase artist at the 2023 IBMA Business Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina). With titles like “Old Brown Shoes” and “Billy Goose,” you can smell the unplugged, organic moonshine from the get-go. It’s assuredly a curveball, influenced by Norman Blake, Gillian Welch, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Tony Rice, which doesn’t mean it’s not instantly accessible and addictive. It’s simply good, honest stuff that instantly sticks. A+

Blackwater Railroad Company, A Lovely Place to Die (self-released)

Love it when this space can stick to one subject. In this case it’s deeply rootsy stuff; whereas J.M. Clifford’s new record (elsewhere here) is reliant on a sparser sound, this irresistibly folky LP tends to teeter between country, rock, soul and balladic folk, but with real purpose. Reportedly that’s a new development for this band, which recently added drums and saxophone to extend their lineup to five (I wasn’t crazy about the sax sound, which is a bit raw, but some people like it that way, you know, more like a Clarence Clemons type of vibe). Singer Tyson T. Davis has a picket-fence-toothed flavor to him that’s remindful of the dude from Primus; matter of fact, that’s the source of much of the charm here, but oh, did I tell you these guys are from Alaska? Aside: It’d be super cool if our local New Hampshire bands would be less fedora-hat and more like this (my OG readers have seen all the complaints I’ve lodged against bands like Truffle; give me a bunch of crazy rednecks from wayyy up north any day over those guys). A-


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Friday, June 21, will bring to us many new albums, try to calm yourselves, frantic fam, but first, a retraction, because for the first time in the 20 years I’ve been your favorite Best Of NH award-winning local music journalist, accept no substitutes, I have made an actual mistake! OK, I’m kidding; misremembering or carelessly bungling something is mother’s milk to me as you well know, but this time someone felt besmirched and expressed hesitance to buy my new book (order it from your local bookseller right away if you haven’t) if I didn’t fix the situation pronto please! Yes yes, in the June 6 issue I talked about The Concrete Jangle, the new album from Steve Conte, and in my abject stupidity I said that he’d only been with the New York Dolls for a very short time. That, I must confess, was FAKE NEWS, because I’d read Wikipedia’s totally incorrect timeline entry for the Dolls instead of digging further into the matter. Anywhatever, Steve messaged me on my cursed Facebook and told me “My actual timeline in the Dolls was this: In 2004 I joined the Dolls with [David] Johansen, Sylvain, Kane & made the live album & DVD, Morrissey Presents The Return Of The New York Dolls: Live From Royal Festival Hall. Then Kane died, was replaced by Sami Yaffa, and in 2005 we began the world tour (which lasted until 2010). In 2006 we made the studio album, One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This produced by Jack Douglas, in 2008 we made Live At The Fillmore East and in 2009, we made the Todd Rundren-produced studio album, Cause I Sez So. In 2010 I left the band after 6 years to join up with Michael Monroe (Sami, who was in Hanoi Rocks with Monroe, pulled me in) and that was the end.” Anyway, that’s important, and you should buy this new music album from Steve Conte, because he is awesome and writes great songs; you can buy it from that obscure little boutique online shop, Amazon-dot-something, same as my book, that’d be great.

• Holy black holes, Batman, I have no idea who any of these artists are, this week, so I will learn about them now, just like you! Let’s see, blah blah blah, first we have indie pop songstress Gracie Abrams, a new nepo baby whose dad is Hollywood super-producer J.J. Abrams; it must have been such a struggle for the poor thing to get a rock ’n’ roll recording contract (sad emoji)! The Secret Of Us is the album, and now I shall sally forth to listen to the single, “Close To You.” Oh boy, now we’re cooking with some serious contrivance, it’s a bloopy, foggy slow tune and she’s trying to sound like Billie Eilish, why didn’t she just buy the T-shirt instead of forcing me and whoever else gets stuck reviewing this stupid thing (someone from Nylon or whatever) to listen to this for content? Can you even stand these nepo babies (eyeroll emoji), #JustBuyTheTeeShirt, let’s make that hashtag happen on the double, eh?

• British singer-songwriter Lola Young cites Joni Mitchell and Prince as influences, so maybe her new album, This Wasn’t Meant For You Anyway, will be good, I don’t know at this juncture! Right, so in the video for the single “Messy” she’s dressed like a unicorn/elf cheerleader and she sounds vaguely like Tina Turner in chill-down mode. There are annoying samples in the beat, but this is actually a good song, go figure.

• Lastly it’s another English indie lady singer, Kate Nash, with her fifth studio album, 9 Sad Symphonies. The LP opens with “Change,” a glitch-pop thingamajig that strikes me as a joke song, what with her dunderheaded, vaguely Bjork-ish vocal approach. It’s weird, if you like that sort of thing in your disposable pop songs.

Album Reviews 24/13/06

CHVE, Kalvarie (Wicked Cool Records)

Meanwhile on Neptune, we have this one from the vocalist of Belgian post-metal collective Amenra, one Colin H. van Eeckhout, who’s into spiritual gobbledegook and weird old instruments. I was informed this EP was influenced by gloom-metal bands like Neurosis, but what I’m hearing is more like Ianai, more of a monk-like chanting trip meant to, as the artiste claims, heal the soul. In other words it’s New Age stuff that aims to be mind-altering, as van Eekhouts jams out his droning, repetitive patterns on a hurdy gurdy and adds various percussions and effects, which meld nicely with his soft, mid-toned voice throughout a single 15-minute track titled “Eternit.” I repeat, this is an EP, so it’s not reliable backgrounding if you’re holding a yoga class, but it’s certainly atmospheric if a bit long. More meditative than anything else, and there’s really nothing metal about it, which is fine by me. A+

Belly, 96 Miles From Bethlehem (Salxco Records)

This Palestinian-Canadian rapper-singer-songwriter presents this new LP, an ode to his homeland, which is, well, having its calamities. Known for his clever, poetic, and powerful lyrics, Belly delivers searing, emotionally charged performances in this one, outcries that explore the feelings he’s experienced while the catastrophe in his homeland has dragged on, seemingly without end. “God watches while the angels weep,” spat over a woozy, siren-like loop is one of the more measured sentiments on board here. The featured guests in attendance are also Palestinian artists, such as Elyanna, Saint Levant, Ibrahim Maalouf and MC Abdul; the production is from DaHeala (The Weeknd) with traditional instrumentalists. To say the least it’s a profound and heartfelt narrative. All profits from this album will go to organizations supporting various Palestinian relief efforts. A+


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Friday, June 14, will be a special day of albums, isn’t it great to be alive, folks? The first album up for discussion this week is a new one from The Decemberists, titled As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again, which is very exciting to hear if you like that band, or have a squirrel costume you like wearing to edgy bars full of people dressed in tiger and kitten costumes! Oh well, as they say, to every person their taste, that’s how these things go, like, some people like 1970s music because that’s what they listened to when Millard Fillmore was president, and some people like really bad music because they want to get on my nerves, but some people just like The Decemberists because they’re sort of a cross between Lynyrd Skynyrd (no, people have actually said that) and Crosby Stills Nash & Young except without anything technically complicated going on, for example The Decemberists only know three chords but those notes usually sound pretty good together every time they rearrange them! Oh come on, let’s stop kidding around, I’m just like you and everybody else, like, I only have one Dememberists album that I actually listen to, and in my case it’s Hazards of Love, from the turn of the decade or whenever it was, like only human squirrels know all the words to any Decemberists album, just stop the nonsense, can’t we all just get along? Right, so I haven’t listened to any of this album yet, but I’ll bet the whole thing is available on YouTube for preview, let’s go see, grab your Roblox backpacks and let’s do a rock ’n’ roll music column, whattaya say, gang? Yep, told ya, the whole thing is available for pirating, right there, and it opens with a song called “Oh No!” Well, this is a weird one; it starts out with a mariachi/Ennio Morricone trumpet part, and then it goes into a Roy Orbison (but lively) thing that actually sounds like REM, if you’re old enough to remember bands from the late 1800s. As always it is cool and hip and catchy but not something I will pirate for my drivetime listening pleasure, because as you know I have my required Decemberists album, there is no need for me to experiment further.

Cola is an art-punk band from Montreal, Canada, so you already know what I’m going to say, like, I am already annoyed that it’ll be too much like every other indie band from Canada and will thus have to censor the first five drafts of this mini-review so that the editors won’t yell at me. But instead of just pretending to listen to it and going to and looking up synonyms for “offal” and “dross,” I will indeed subject myself to the band’s new album, The Gloss, and its single, “Pallor Tricks,” see what they did there, rock fans? Ack, ack, someone get me my medication, this disgusting mess is like a cross between Blur and Pavement, comprising an angular but badly played guitar line and a fake-drunk pub-rock vocal. Why would someone do this?

• Yikes, look guys, the original debut self-titled album from Monsters of Folk is coming out this week as a deluxe edition! The band is defunct now, because Jim James, M. Ward, Conor Oberst and the dude from Bright Eyes couldn’t fit their egos in the same tour bus, but either way, if you like their loud-jangly-loud sound, this expanded version includes five unreleased studio tracks from 2012, intended for that second album that never happened. OK!

• And lastly we have modern art-poppers Walt Disco, from Scotland, with their new LP, The Warping! The single, “You Make Me Feel So Dumb,” is piano-driven chillout that sounds like mid-career David Bowie if you’re so inclined.

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