Wasn’t sure if I’d pick this up this week, but beyond the new Foo Fighters album, I didn’t expect anything new. I was able to scrape together a few new albums and a single, though. Take a look:
Ariel Pink – Dedicated to Bobby Jameson
Woof. I was deeply enamored with Ariel Pink’s 2010 album Before Today, which featured the fantastic track “Round and Round”. He followed that up with a stellar album Mature Themes, in which the great song Kinski Assassin kicked off the action. Unfortunately for us, this newest album is dead on arrival. Screeching out of the gates, “Time to Meet Your God” is a grating request to turn down your speakers. “Feels Like Heaven” attempts to remedy the misfire by toning down the instrumentals, but the singer-songwriter doesn’t seem to care if this fades from memory before we even finish. The prevailing mood settles somewhere between ethereal and downright dull, but there’s at least one bright spot in all of this: “Bubblegum Dreams”. My ears perked up as it started, as it was more traditional Ariel. Perhaps that was the point, to try to branch out, but I think he just reached out in the wrong direction.
Key Tracks: Bubblegum Dreams
Foo Fighters – Concrete and Gold
I’ve talked at length at the dearth of good rock music prevailing in radio these days. I was thinking today, however, that it’s just that pure rock has escaped to the fringes – the indie, the clubs, the nostalgic cover bands. There’s nothing wrong with it, there’s nothing wrong with the change – as we evolve to a new form of rock, people that are thirty and older will have to discover something new to enjoy or grasp on to the last straws of rock, like two weeks ago when Queens of the Stone Age released a great new album, Villains, or now – a fantastic new album from classic nineties and aughts band Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl has been a mainstay on the scene for over three decades now, and it’s great to hear him admitting that sensitivity can funnel its way into his songwriting, like in my favorite track from the album, “Happily Ever After (Zero Hour)”. About two-thirds of the way through Concrete and Gold it feels like Grohl and the rest of the group just want us to relax, not worry about the end of the world, but take in their version of “It was all well worth it, I have no regrets”. Never fear though, true believers, there’s plenty of loud music to be had here: the one-two punch of first single “Run” and intimate rager “Make It Right” allow us back into the fray of Grohl’s world. After, second single “The Sky Is a Neighborhood” reminds us that latter-day Foo Fighters is anthemic but still full of pulp. The rest of the 11-song album is much of the same, but it’s certainly a welcome addition to the collection.
Key Tracks: Make It Right / Happily Ever After (Zero Hour) / Sunday Rain
Rostam – Half-Light
I have to preface this by saying that I’m very happy Rostam Batmanglij has still found a way to get his voice out there, it’s definitely one of my favorites – and one half of the reason why I loved his old band Vampire Weekend in the first place. My fear, however, is that much like another favorite band – Panic at the Disco – he was the weakest link. Time will tell of course, like it has with Brendon Urie and his extensive discography, but my guess is that I will still love Ezra Koenig’s version of the group, and at least admire what Rostam does from here on out. It may be that the group’s fracture comes not like the one that did in the pop group Fun. but rather more that Rostam branches out all the time much like Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla eventually did a few years ago. As this record goes, it’s a fine solo debut, with much of the music intimately familiar with his previous work. As I listened through, I could call out which tracks sounded like old Vampire Weekend ones. That isn’t entirely a bad thing: “Wood” has an Indian instrumental base that immediately reminds of “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)” – a track from Vampire Weekend’s titular 2008 effort. “Bike Dream” is a dizzying revelation that has to be a play on massive hit “Diane Young”. “Never Going to Catch Me” has all the flair of “Everlasting Arms” sans the heart. All in all, it’s a fine thing that Rostam has done, and I hope he bucks the trend, ultimately working well alongside his reformed former band.
Key Tracks: Bike Dream / Don’t Let It Get to You / I Will See You Again / Gwan
The Lone Bellow – Walk Into a Storm
Speaking of the evolution of rock, a recent theme in popular music is the folk-rock movement. I hesitate to call it a bad thing, as many do – they cite weaker efforts from The Lumineers or Of Monsters and Men or Mumford and Sons. As I’ve been a long time fan of The Decemberists, I can see why this trend has picked up during the last decade. There was a need for more relatable tunes, and given the penchant for top-40 to feel edgy and alternative by picking up unknown bands, they latched onto the pseudo-country sound of these bands and ran with it. I don’t mind at all, as much of the music is full of emotions I want to hear about in music. The Lone Bellow, in particular, have a good grasp on what makes for a good album – as their newest starts out with a road-trip worthy song “Deeper in the Water” we ride along with them on a journey towards satisfaction. While the rest of the album doesn’t quite deliver on the promise of elation, I can imagine this being on Zach Braff’s short list for a new film, or playing in the back end of my next cross-country excursion. If nothing else, take a listen to “Come Break My Heart Again” an ode to those lovelorn lovers stuck in purgatory after a breakup.
Key Tracks: Deeper In The Water / Walk Into a Storm / Come Break My Heart Again
Next week is a big one – The Killers, Fergie, Chelsea Wolfe, Camila Cabello and Fergie! We’re going to do our best to get the facts to you as soon as they’re available!
Until next time…