Anna B Savage – EP

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Anna B Savage is a London-based singer-songwriter whose songs are filled with intimate confessions that are more likely to make the listener cringe than to sway. The painful honesty of Anna’s lyrics weigh heavily on the somber tones that she chooses to carry her words. Often, the songs’ melodies buckle under the shear heaviness of Anna’s intimate thoughts she conveys, forcing the listener to construct a mental bridge that ultimately links Anna’s lyrical content to the music. This is a good thing. It’s songs like Anna’s that make a music lover an active listener. She deliberately asks us to appreciate the nuisances of her rather husky voice and the space she gives each song to reside in.

In her debut EP simply titled EP, Anna has given us four solid songs that showcase her inherent talent to make us wince and sigh, groove and contemplate.

The opening track “I” takes us into a bedroom, placing us front and center into an intimate, anxiety-ridden position many of us can relate to: “He’s left the lights on / so I’ve kept my shirt on.” Later on in the composition Anna admits, “And they haven’t all been good / Like they said they would…/ But Jesus, he came off smarter than that / to grab an inch of stomach and say ‘fat’.” Before the song meanders towards a musical crescendo, Anna tells us that she’d “like to be strong”, reassuring the listener that her desires are more than just skin deep.

On the second track, “II”, Anna doesn’t allow us to emotionally rebound from the previous song. She begins by cathartically announcing: “I will never amount to anything / Skipping showers every other day.” A nervous guitar riff accompanied by a jittery drum beat quickly cuts up the silence of the song, throwing the listener into an unbalanced fit to hold on to Anna’s wrought words. The much appreciated reprieve doesn’t last too long, and we’re thrown back into the oppressive pit of despair Anna seems to be singing from. We’re right there next to her in some unlit hole, digging our way out to feel light on our faces.

Track three “III” recounts the uncomfortable tale of a suicidal friend who could only sleep with the image of a gun between her teeth. It’s a melodramatic, slow-burning number that captures the range of Anna’s welcoming voice, a voice that seems to be constructed of bits of PJ Harvey, Marianne Faithfull, and that one outstanding performer at your local coffee shop’s open-mic night.

The EP ends, of course, on a somber note, an emotional farewell to a fantastic debut. “IV” builds upon a sparse yet dramatic instrumental, punctuated by the passionate plea of “please forgive him.” A warm and much appreciated male voice eventually joins Anna to tell us that “ignorance is bliss.” The sentiment isn’t lost in the bromide. We hear you, Anna.

These are four amazing tunes that need to be appreciated. There’s a stark yet concise vulnerability about Anna that I love. I can’t wait to see what Anna does within the confines of a full album. I get the feeling that she’d answer a lot of questions this listener has. For example, I want to know why Anna feels the need to skip showers. How did she reach such an unhygienic point in her existence?

AnnaBSavage

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June 3, 2015. Tags: , . Albums. 2 comments.

Sabbath Blaath – Self-Titled

ImageSabbath Blaath’s self-titled release is an interesting sort of Appropriation art. I know, mix ups, mash ups, or whatever, have been around for some time, but this doesn’t feel like a composition of multiple songs delicately spliced together to create a larger, novelty-type of track. What we have here are ten Black Sabbath tracks, eight taken from the band’s third album, Master of Reality, while two come from the self-titled debut release, that have been abstracted, or chopped up, from their original contexts and associations and then amassed back together so the familiar songs have been decontextualized to a point where they are fresh, original compositions.

When these classic tracks are divorced from the canonical heavy metal records, qualities like Tony Iommi’s oppressive riffs and the poetic echoes of Ozzy’s voice provoke countless associations unrelated to the band and they’re historical contributions to music and pop culture. On a lighter note, it’s much like Family Guy appropriating Kool-Aid Man for comedic purposes, which the creators have done on six different occasions. When Kool-Aid Man is taken from an advertisement and made to do something silly in an animated sitcom, the character becomes something larger. At this point, most people born after 1990 probably associate the Kool-Aid Man with Peter and Stewie than they do with artificially flavored sugar water. I’m getting away from the music.

Imagine cutting up your cocaine on the back of your Master of Reality compact disc and inserting it into your player—this is what Sabbath Blaath’s compositions recall. Tracks like “lordoff” (“Lord of this World”), “sweet” (“Sweet Leaf”), and “foreverafterforever” (“After Forever”) showcase the whole my brother-scratched-my-disc-to-fuck quality that is annoyingly pleasant in this instance. These borrowed sounds build upon the idea that music is, in all reality, just noise.

There are moments like on the opening track “void” (“Into the Void”) or on “emembryo” (“Embryo”) where the music is broken down into accessible sound bites where it’s easy to hear the riffs and sounds thousands of bands have ripped off over a period of forty years. Further yet, a neutered Sabbath surprisingly builds upon the spooky, for lack of better words, quality of their sound and image.

The final track “wizaard” (“The Wizard”) sounds beautiful in its truncated form. It’s an excellent bookend to the album. Like all good art, it left me wanting more. I was also left wondering why the artist didn’t try to rearrange the beautiful gem “Solitude.” Did he/she feel intimidated to hack up and rework such a beautiful song? I use the word “hack” in a complimentary way.

Anyway, the art of music Appropriation is as powerful as it is annoying, especially if you’re a true Sabbath fan, or Sharon Osbourne and her lawyers. Sabbath Blaath has created something special that is currently getting lost on Bandcamp. I would love to hear the artist’s take on most of Zeppelin’s albums, especially Led Zeppelin III and Houses of the Holy. Hail, Satan!

July 2, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Albums, The Best of Bandcamp. Leave a comment.

Prisonaires – Baby Please b/w Just Walkin’ in the Rain

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Jack White has done it again. The vinyl pusher has joined forces with Sun Records to begin releasing a series of reissues from their legendary back catalog on his Third Man Records label. White has promised that this will be an ongoing partnership between the two labels. One of the three initial releases is the Prisonaires 45rpm 7” single “Baby Please” b/w “Just Walkin’ in the Rain.”

The Prisonaires were an African-American group consisting of five members, all prisoners of the Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville, hence the band name. It’s been said that the felonious fivesome were greatly admired by Elvis, leading the King to even cover their hit single.

Originally released in 1953, “Just Walkin’ in the Rain” was Sun’s first real hit, and the short-lived band’s only success. Written by band/cellmates Johnny Bragg and Robert Riley, the somber, slow jangling doo-wop driven tune recalls a simpler time where a broken heart left one to wander the streets in the rain while reminiscing of a lost love. It’s a beautifully arranged composition that is held together by a bluesy guitar waltz, but it’s the rising and falling of the various vocal harmonies that carries the song. Johnnie Ray recorded a more upbeat version of the single in 1956 and it pales in comparison to the Prisonaires, further emphasizing the beauty of the inmates’ command of their vocal palette.

The A-side of the single, “Baby Please,” penned by Riley, is a more lively love song kicked off by a somewhat aggressive guitar riff and a half-hearted yelp. Johnny Bragg confesses in the chorus, “I love you so, so, so much / my world is nothing without your touch.” The sweet sentiments are accentuated by the group’s doo-wop harmonizing, creating a romantic backdrop for Bragg’s vocals to flourish.

Johnny Bragg, John Drue, Marcel Sanders, William Stewart, and Ed Thurman, the five fellows who formed the Prisonaires, enjoyed an extremely brief singing career that allowed them to escape the penitentiary for a brief time to perform at the governor’s mansion and an elementary school. Wow, times have changed! White chose a good place to begin with his Sun Records reissue series. He’s given us a quick glimpse into a fairly obscure group, allowing us a moment to enjoy the simple sounds of a vocal group with a dubious origin. It’s a wonderful piece of vinyl. Keep up the good work, Jack.

On a quick note, it looks as though a documentary about the Prisonaires has been completed and is soon to be released. Exciting times.

May 25, 2013. Tags: , , , , , . Albums. Leave a comment.

Lowpines – Give Me a Horse EP

ImageLowpines are a cool co-ed duo hailing from west London. Behind the somber sounding band name are Oli Deakin and Lyla Foy, partners in the sublime. The talented two have released a minimalist masterpiece, Give Me a Horse, via EardrumsPop.

Teasing us with only three songs, Lowpines open up the EP with the title track, a slow moving lo-fi acoustic waltz that meets somewhere between Bonnie Prince Billy and Smog. Deakin interjects some Bill Callahan/Jandek type of lyrics: “Give me a horse and I’ll give it grass to feed on the winter long / Give me a horse and I’ll keep it strong for you to ride on.” Much like Callahan, I’m sure the horse is metaphorical for the aching desire to be in a loving relationship. Foy’s convincing voice, along with a somber electric guitar enters to bring the song to a sweet climax. Quite frankly, “Give Me a Horse” is an excellent single.

Opening with a softly cutting and climbing guitar lightly washed with effects, “Heavy Hander” is haunting in its efficient construction and pleasing in its economical use of vocals and instrumentation. Deakin and Foy magically meet in the chorus when they plead, “Come away heavy-hander / Give me back my summer sun.” It’s interesting how the duo can make the song simultaneously sound anxious and relaxing.

The EP ends with “It’s Not Happening,” a cover of the Vancouver-based band The Be Good Tanyas. Though Deakin takes the lead on the vocals, this is the first time we hear Foy flex her vocal power without harmonizing with her band mate. Maybe I’m a bit too enamored with the Lowpines, but their version of the song is more heartfelt and emotional than the original. At the same time, I would’ve liked to have seen the band give the listener another original composition instead of a cover tune.

I’m pleasantly surprised by Lowpines. I want more. I want more songs. I want a physical release of the EP to hold in my hands and wave around. I want to see them in concert. Heck, I even want a t-shirt and poster. The Lowpines have real talent. They aren’t just studio smoke and mirrors. Make sure you check out their fairly recent Daytrotter sessions where they give a beautiful performance of their few tracks. Oh, and I love the cover art. It fits the mood of the EP. Great job, guys. Write more songs!

March 12, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Albums. 2 comments.

Elizabeth Veldon – A Soul with No Footprint

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Elizabeth Veldon is a found noise merchant hailing from a small town outside of Glasgow, Scotland. She spends much of her time creating very large and obtuse soundscapes that are well grounded in feminist and political theory. Veldon is recognized as one of the most prolific noise artist working today; she has created well over one hundred albums of deeply dense sounds. Her newest release, A Soul with No Footprint, is a two-song album that has the noisy noisemaker pushing newer boundaries with her art.

The opening track, sharing its name with the album title, is a forty-two minute dust-up of repeated loops of sound often repeated. Veldon leaves the listener on an anti-climatic edge of sound that never quite reaches a satisfying end. The noise is constant, consistent, and cathartic. There isn’t a wasted note within this heavily textured composition. It’s obvious that Veldon is reminding the listener of the inherent power of sound. Be careful when listening to this track. It’s easy to get lost in the swell of it all.

Clocking in at just over thirty minutes, “Folk Music as a Parasitic Expression” is, for the most part, quite a different track. There are layers and layers of feedback tones undulating beneath the soft shell of surreal sound. The song is fragile and familiar in its attempt to intertwine the underlying warmth of the found sound loops. Where the opening song left the listener unfulfilled in its promise, “Folk Music as a Parasitic Expression” fulfils one with promise. This is not an easy accomplishment.

At times, when these compositions meander past the twenty or twenty-five minute mark, the listener becomes suspicious. The noise can become fraudulent and forced. In other words, pretentiousness can begin to seep in. There is a concern for this from this listener. Is it necessary for these soundtracks to carry on to such great lengths? Rhetorical speaking, what’s Veldon trying to say? How would the listener respond to this album if it were abbreviated—neutered a bit? Do soundscapes only work when they are close to an hour long? I suppose that the answer to this is dependant on Veldon’s goal with this album. Concurrently, maybe I shouldn’t be asking these questions? I don’t know.

Nevertheless, Veldon has given us another thought-provoking work that leaves us with more questions than answers. And maybe I shouldn’t look for these answers? I don’t know. Maybe I should just get lost in the sound of it all. On a serious side note, if you are prone to fits of madness or susceptible to seizures, it is best to approach this album with caution. Veldon’s soundscapes are unforgiving in attitude and scale.

February 24, 2013. Tags: , , , . Albums, Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Bentcousin – Everybody’s Got One EP

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Twin siblings Amelia and Pat Innit are bentcousin, a London-based duo who have released their debut EP, Everybody’s Got One, on Conor Oberst’s Team Love Records. Okay, they have some songs and a hip label to shop them, so one would think, not a bad place to start for such a young group. Right?

Right.

The EP begins with “bentpaperboy,” a gentle singsong sort of track that is oddly reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy),” mixed with a B-side to a Belle and Sebastian single. Amelia’s vocals are covered with a sweetness that draws the listeners in, but, concurrently, the lyrical content repeals us and pushes us away. With lines like “I like the cut of her gib / I like the cut of her soul / I like the cut of her underwear,” Amelia has undermined the flirty feel inherent in the composition. Does anyone outside of a retired Navy recruiter use the nautically inclined term,“gib”? In the next line, Amelia rhymes “hobby” with “origami,” further adding to the listener’s frustration. In all actuality, it’s not that bad of a track, but it’s too brief, and it abruptly ends without completing the bentpaperboy’s journey.

Pat takes over the vocals on “Slade,” a track that sounds too similar to Sugar’s “If I Can’t Change Your Mind.” While Pat is more energetic and sped up, it’s probably best to leave the vocal duties to big sis, even though her backup, ill-produced “la-la-la’s” that pop up on “Slade” do nothing to help this argument. The same clumsy la-la-la’s show up later on the uninspired “Glittery Joe.”

“I Quit You” has Amelia and Pat stuck in a give-and-take vocal battle sung over a Sleater-Kinney drumbeat. Amelia presents more awkward, high school notebook lyrics: “You said my eyes were average / You talked about your ex in bed / You started taking me for a fool / And that’s not cool.” Ho-hum. I did enjoy the handclaps on the track, though. I’m a sucker for handclaps.

“F.O.R.G.E.T.” is a Pat-led piece that does its best impersonation of the Bay City Rollers. Once again, it’s best to get Pat away from the microphone. His attempt to sing “reason” with three syllables at the one-minute mark is proof of Pat’s vocal inabilities. This is one I would like to f.o.r.g.e.t.

The EP ends on a strong note. “I Think I Like Your Girlfriend More Than You” is a fun two minute, eighteen second romp that reads like a 1960s-sounding lounge single. Amelia’s voice is convincing and attractive; she brings life to the goofy lyrics. Her English accent sells the sweetness of her sentiment. Take Pat’s indecipherable singing off of the last twenty-four seconds and this could be a hit. Sorry, Pat. I think I like your sister’s singing more than yours.

Something tells me that bentcousin’s songs sounded better in their heads than they do on the EP. There are some highlights that shed some hope on the band’s future. Nevertheless, if bentcousin wants to be successful, Amelia must take sole control of the vocals, any and all backing vocals must be mixed better and the lyrical content needs to improve. Sometimes being too coy and too cute can be extremely annoying and abrasive. The twins have a chance, but they might just need to be separated to have any measurable success outside of London pubs.

Please check out bentcousin’s recent Daytrotter session: http://tinyurl.com/b536zqm

February 20, 2013. Tags: , , . Albums. 1 comment.

Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania

It seems to be fashionable to dislike Billy Corgan and his Smashing Pumpkins. Music writers/bloggers wear their contrived Corgan hatred like a badge of indie-cred on their Urban Outfitters’ Cardigan sweater sleeve. I refuse to take part in this anti-Smashing Pumpkins witch-hunt.

Oceania–a reference to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four?– is the middle section of Corgan’s ambitious epic concept Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, a forty-four song artistic statement that certainly guarantees more Pumpkins music in the near future. Love him or not, you have to appreciate Corgan’s desire and artistic ability to take on such a dubious task.

Though there are hints of the old Smashing Pumpkins in a few of the tracks, Oceania sounds as though Corgan has finally developed a new approach to his songwriting craft and created something unique that reflects his evolving sound. “Quasar,” the album’s opening song, is a rocking affair that utilizes Corgan’s trademarked multi-layered guitar and vocal tracks, but there is a different feel, a different texture to the song. It feels as though the band has come together as a whole, rather than Corgan dominating and playing over everyone else.

“Panopticon” continues to rock with a Peter Hookish bass line holding the song together. Corgan sings, “There’s a sun that shines in / There’s a world that stares out at me / And all I refuse to please.” Not sure if Corgan’s lyrics are an attempt to show off his knowledge of Michel Foucault or if he is commenting on the expectations on him to release another Siamese Dream, but there is an insightful and philosophical depth in this new group of Pumpkins that wasn’t present in the previous incarnations of the band.

There are some sweet moments on Oceania. “Violet Rays” has Corgan singsong over a love that has left. Corgan pleads, “Babe, don’t leave me, please believe me / ‘Cause I’m so easy to know.” Corgan did a beautiful acoustic version of “Violet Rays” on Howard Stern. “Pinwheels” is an eclectic track that carries the listener through a dark maze of classic rock sounds that even includes backing vocals from ex-Veruca Salt bassist, Nicole Florentino. It’s good to hear another voice on the album, even if it’s fairly brief.

At the same time, there are some moments of poetic cheese that infects a couple of tracks. “My Love is Winter” sounds like an Interpol tune that falls in the trap of Poetry 101 and fails to inspire. “One Diamond, One Heart” finds Corgan rhyming “light,” “fright,” and “night” over an 80s inspired synth track that eats away at your ears until it is interrupted by a Coldplay-like guitar riff that is more sappy than sensational.

The album’s title track is a beautifully layered, nine-minute exercise in prog rock that once again showcases the Pumpkins’ push to rise above and move beyond the expectations placed on them by the music media and many of their fans. It feels like an indication of what the band’s future releases may sound like.

Fans of early 90s Pumpkins will rejoice in “The Chimera,” a track that embodies the trademark rock Corgan fed us earlier in his career, but with weak and thin drums. It’s a song like this that makes us miss Jimmy Chamberlin. But that’s neither here nor there.

Oceania is an honest effort that keeps on giving. There are many aspects of this newest release that will seemingly unfold after multiple listens. Needless to say, it has me waiting impatiently for the Teargarden bookend albums, which will probably change the way one listens to Oceania. It’s a shame that people have such a disdain for Corgan and his refusal to permanently move past the Smashing Pumpkins name. Dare I say that Corgan is just beginning to write some of the best songs of his career?

July 14, 2012. Albums. Leave a comment.

Dent May – Do Things

Straight out of Taylor, Mississippi, Dent May is a singer-songwriter that bends and twists genres with his indie crooning voice, mid 80s electronic tracks covered with a chillwave flare, topped with a dreamy and textured falsetto that recalls the Beach Boys on an off day. Even further, May looks like a cross between a Goodbye Yellow Brick Road era Elton John and a less effeminate Truman Capote. But maybe it’s his choice in eyewear that makes one draw this observation.

Anyway, Dent is back with his second record, Do Things, just in time to soundtrack your summer cookouts and late night drinking parties. Dent has a charming ability to create varied and witty tracks that simultaneously sound familiar and unique, upbeat and somber, brief yet timeless.  On the opening track, “Rent Money,” Dent, in his best Brian Wilson impersonation, confides, “Don’t wanna be chasing that rent money for the rest of my life / Just need somebody to hold me at night.” It’s a sweet summer song to listen to at night, sitting on your bed with the windows open, contemplating your dead end day job.

Dent varies his compositions, keeping his singular, multi-layered voice from becoming too redundant; he knows when to slow the music down, drive the bass further, or add a looping synth track. “Tell Her” is a strong pop ballad that reads like an introduction to an early 80s television show. On “Best Friend,” Dent captures a disco-like beat to carry his witty lyrics that ruminate in reminiscence. The album ends with the first single, “Home Groan,” a confessional anthem about avoiding the temptation of moving to a big city. Dent dryly sings, “I don’t want to move to southern California / I wasn’t really meant for LA / And New York City just ain’t my style / so this town is where I guess I will stay.” I hear you, dude.

For someone who was born in 1985, May fantastically captures the synthesizer sounds that infected so many songs during the Reagan era, and he adds his own indie pop spin to bring a fresh and enduring approach to the table. Do Things plays like an unreleased Beach Boys album for people who drink wine coolers and smoke bunk weed; it’s a feel-good affair for those looking for something more compelling and cool to add to their record collection. Dent’s sophomore album is fun, friendly and guaranteed to shake away the summertime blues.

June 11, 2012. Albums. Leave a comment.

Public Image Limited – This is PiL

It’s been twenty years since the last Public Image Limited album and the first sound the listener is greeted with on the title track is a weak beer belch from John Lydon, followed by the sarcastic announcement of “Lucky you” spoken in a voice that is uncomfortably reminiscent of an old person with Down Syndrome.

And this is PiL after a twenty-year hiatus? S i g h.

“This is PiL” is a turd of an opening. It should’ve never been included on the album. Lydon told NME that it’s a song that he created to not only open the album with but also PiL’s concerts. Seasoned PiL fans will remember that Lydon, to the surprise of many, including Robert Plant, used an instrumental version of Zeppelin’s Kashmir to open up shows in 1986. In all fairness, underneath Lydon screaming and howling “PiL” over and over again, there is a persuasive and attractive musical track that overrides the silliness of Lydon’s repetitious rants. Thankfully, the album gets better.

One of the most successful tracks is “One Drop,” the first single from the album. Lydon’s vocals are scratchy and raw to the point where he sounds menacing, foreboding and convincing we he proclaims, “We are the last chance.” The song reads a bit long, and Lydon’s unnecessary need to repeat certain lyrics doesn’t allow for the music to resonate and grow, much like he did in his Metal Box years. “One Drop” is a solid piece of music where the band sounds like a tightly formed unit equally contributing to the creative process.

“Deeper Water” is classic PiL; it’s a fantastic tune that is textured and defiant. Lydon howls, “I will not drown” as he tries to keep his head above Lu Edmonds’ stabbing guitar and Bruce Smith’s relentless drums. “Terra-Gate” is an explosive rock song that sounds like it could’ve been leftover from That What is Not.

The first half of the album is a bit more friendly and accessible than the latter, where the songs meander and become more challenging and difficult to digest. “Human” is a slow drive embarrassingly played out over a No Doubt “Hella Good” synth track. Lydon piles a lot of interesting lyrics throughout while Edmonds’ guitar is strong on this awkward waltz. “I Must Be Dreaming” is almost forgettable but it has its charm in the way Lydon is less defensive and softer in his vocals.

On “It Said That,” Lydon’s wordplay is goofy and the music is abstract and shifty. Continuing with the awkward word speak, “The Room I Am In” plays out like a claustrophobic coffee shop spoken word performance. “Lollipop Opera” is an odd mish mash of start and stop sounds punctuated by Lydon’s vocal bits and pieces. At first listen, I took the song as a joke—a throw away track much like the classic PiL track, “The Cowboy Song.” But, after multiple listens, “Lollipop” has become a worthy highlight that would make Captain Beefheart dance in delight.

As the album winds down, “Fool” is another slow drag that you’re sure to skip over and ignore. The lyrics don’t seem quite right, or Rotten enough for me. “Reggie Song” is a pleasant surprise that showcases the band’s ability to push the boundaries of their comfort zone. Lydon’s challenges his fans not to sing along to a lyric like, “Shine like a beacon in the Garden of Eden.” It’s one of the boldest and honest songs I’ve heard in quite some time.

PiL ends with “Out of the Woods,” a marching ten-minute pop song about The Battle of Chanceville. The song begins with a trademark PiL heavy bass and leads into a textured journey through the eyes of Jackson, a Confederate soldier. There are familiar elements of 9’s “Warrior” and “Save Me” from Happy?, but it goes somewhere further when Edmonds incorporates a somber mandolin riff that serves as a creative twist that puts the listener on his/her toes. The density and emotion is tangible, like I’m standing in the woods with Jackson. Lydon’s choice to sing about the American Civil War is interesting and unique. PiL is going in some unexplored musical areas, which leaves me to believe that Lydon has surrounded himself with a solid group of ex-PiL members.

Besides for three or four unnecessary songs, This is PiL is worth the twenty-year wait.  The album is a layered and challenging affair. I’m sure after multiple listens of the album new aspects and nuances will emerge, and maybe those few clunky tracks will become more approachable. Regardless, it’s always a pleasure to have new material from Lydon and PiL. I’m anxious to hear some of these new compositions performed live, after the band has mastered them in rehearsals. I hope PiL’s contract disputes have come to an end and a new PiL album will follow sooner than later.

June 7, 2012. Albums. Leave a comment.

Grass Widow – Internal Logic

Grass Widow is a cool band! Yes, I just used an exclamation point. This San Francisco-based threesome –Hannah Lew, Raven Mahon and Lillian Maring- write simple garage rock songs that groove and bounce. Can you imagine a less glossy Lush coupled with a more serious Dead Milkmen, blended with some early Cure? This is Grass Widow.

Internal Logic, the band’s third release, is a serious pop album. But it’s not without its flaws. With the opening track, “Goldilocks Zone,” there is familiar feel that pulls the listener into the album. The harmonies that eventually give way to a chunky bass line and a Sebadoh-ish “Sixteen” spastic yet controlled guitar riff sets a mood that carries throughout most of the album. “A Light in the Static” is an unnecessary acoustic Sabbath “Laguna Sunrise” moment that just doesn’t fit. It just slows the ladies down. But, I would like to see the ladies explore this acoustic aspect in their future releases, because Grass Widow’s releases are beginning to run together in some formulaic fog. Also, The piano outro “Response to Photographers” should’ve been expanded upon or simply left off of the album; it kills the balance of the record. The ladies obviously have a real talent and ability to write intriguing, genre-bending songs. There just seems to be a musical hurdle that can’t quite overcome.

The fact that each band member takes on the singing duties is an attractive and tangible quality that gives their songs depth. I like the collective, musical Marxist feel of the group. At this point, I’m not sure I really care what the ladies are singing about, nor do I wonder what kind of narrative they’re trying to push, but their lyrics fit within the confines of their sound.

It’s refreshing to see three women in an indie rock group that don’t feel the need to adopt a Riot Girl aesthetic. Grass Widow is more intelligent than this. Internal Logic is a turning point for this garage rock trio; it is a solid and likable album that should push the ladies further in their career. It’s the kind of album one could build memories around. Needless to say, I’m just as excited about this album as I am with their future releases.

May 31, 2012. Albums. Leave a comment.

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