Now, God Dammit, I Done A Music Posting

Been a helluva long time since I wrote up a batch of mini-reviews. But here we go, I’ve not completely fallen out of the loop.

Cloud Cult, Unplug — “You’ll become a baby cumulus; fly up to the firmament” — gawd, how I love this band. As some stellar songs from this tour were omitted to get the release down to a single disc, I think KEXP’s film from last year’s Arts In Nature festival (my bald head occasionally finds its way into the bottom-center of the screen)…

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…is a better way to experience this set. Nevertheless, this release had me more less on the verge of elevating them to favourite-band status (I’ve only had two since 1988, so, kind of a big deal for me). But with the New Pornographers’ street-date announcement, we’ll have to put the coronation on ice, at least for the time being. And now, the news of Arlen’s departure has upset the apple-cart even further. This could well mark the end of the golden age of Cloud Cult — guy is an astounding drummer, and is perfectly suited to the band’s sonical dynamics. Huge bummer!

Kasai Allstars, Beware The Fetish — Will probably be my album of the year. (Though now that the New Pornos are officially on the clock, all bets are off…) If this record doesn’t make you want to get up and bump your ass, nothing will.

The War On Drugs, Lost In The Dream — The hype is warranted.

The Felice Brothers, Favorite Waitress — C’est bon — a welcome return to their roots. Not that the detours were unwelcome, of course. I’ll allow that the first few songs don’t quite hold up their end of the bargain; but from “Constituents” on through to the finish, this is epic. A drop-everything-you’re-doing must-see live band for those who’ve not had the pleasure.

Judas Priest, Redeemer Of Souls — Priest…are…BACK! Their first great album since 1984. Believe it. One of those to-be-played-at-maximum-volume records. I have been utterly struck dumb by how much I love this.

If you loved this band in the ’70s/’80s, this song — the closing number from the Deluxe version of the record — will send a chill down your spine and draw a tear from your eye. It’s a bit schmaltzy, sure — but considering the utterly glorious batch of songs preceding it, they earned the right. Don’t wanna overstate the album’s importance — they are, after all, still singing about the likes of Dragonauts and Metalizers. But for a band which hadn’t moved the needle in a good thirty years’ time to deliver up such a powerful and vibrant Swan song — one that ranks among its very best recordings — is most impressive indeed.

No idea why they chose to leave this song off the album proper; but here in the Bittorrent Century, I guess it doesn’t really matter.

Old Crow Medicine Show, Remedy — Love the music, hate the vocals/lyrics. Next.

Protomartyr, Under Cover Of Official Right — My first exposure to this band; kinda sounds to me like a collision of The Jam and Art Brut. Maybe not ready to say that I love them (primarily because of the singer’s voice), but I like them a LOT.

Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues — Like it much.

Archie Bronson Outfit, Wild Crush — Not up to Derdang Derdang standards, but a nice return to form.

SuperUnknown boxed set – One wouldn’t necessarily suppose that being asked to listen to the same set of songs in four different incarnations – Studio, Live, Demo, Rehearsal – would be terrifically fulfilling. But in fact, they’re different enough to each other that it doesn’t feel like overkill. The Demos disc is especially noteworthy, to my way of thinking. They sound more fully-fleshed than the term (to me, at least) has always implied. But whereas listening to the studio disc – especially in its remastered form here – calls to mind the iconic Memorex image from days gone by…

Live Or Memorex

…the demos sound more like an exposed nerve. It was already my favourite Soundgarden rekkid; and now I love it even more.

Lily Allen, Sheezus — I like it okay. But the euphoric feeling induced by listening to the debut seems like such a long, long time ago.

Israel Nash, Rain Plans [2013] — Chalk up another home run for 2013. If I were to re-jig my top ten from last year, this’d be very close to meriting inclusion.

Boris, Noise — I’m…not that into it. Don’t know when the last time was I said that about a Boris record? Maybe never. Not to say that it doesn’t have its moments — when Boris drop the hammer, few bands on this earth can touch them. And they MUST be experienced live by all human persons physically able to crawl to a music venue. But, this one doesn’t quite cohere for me.

Roman Remains, Zeal — I’d much rather have a new Duke Spirit album. But…not bad.

Ray LaMontagne, Supernova — I don’t get why his fans are so up-in-arms? This record is great! Not as good as Gossip In The Grain, sure. But miles better than God Willin’ And The Creek Don’t Rise.

Neil Young, A Letter Home – Well, what can you say? He’s Neil Young, and the rest of us are just mortals. Even Neil’s little toss-off front-porch experiments rise above most everything else one will hear in a given year.

The Hold-Steady, Teeth Dreams — Doesn’t quite hit the peaks of Boys And Girls and Stay Positive, but certainly far superior to Heaven Is Whenever. These songs are going to kill it live; and “On With The Business” is in contention for song of the year: “Blood on the carpet/Blood on the mattress/Waking up with that American Sadness” — well, Craig certainly hasn’t lost his way with words, has he?

Zeppelin remasters — Holy…fucking…crap. The hype is warranted — in spades. More less everybody at my Junior High school was of the opinion that The Beatles and Zeppelin had the two greatest discographies in Rock; thirty years later, I’m inclined to think that it’s still the case. Listening to the live version of “Communication Breakdown”, one could almost argue that, as if their other accomplishments weren’t enough, Zeppelin invented Punk Rock as well. I would probably say that I think that the Stones remasters were more revelatory, simply for the value of the bonus tracks. But, still…holy fucking crap, mon.

Tony Molina, Dissed And Dismissed [2013] — 12 songs/11 minutes of Pop-Punk deliciousness.

Tinariwen, Emmaar — Yes, thumbs very high – and the story of how the album came to be is pretty incredible.

 

Valerie June, Pushin’ Against A Stone [2013] — Holy shit 2013! Just bullseye after bullseye last year. An amazing record (with a great cover, as well — some bands could take a clue).

V/A, This Wheel’s On Fire [2013] — Well, at almost every song, I felt compelled to check see whom was the artist. That’s a pretty good sign… Excellent comp!

Woods Of Desolation, As The Stars — Finally, the goofnut vocals sink it for me — even being relatively low in the mix as they are. Too bad, ’cause the music’s really phenomenal.

And in case you missed ‘em from earlier in the year, Ed Harcourt’s Tme Of Dust and Seun Kuti’s A Long Way To The Beginning are two strong recording-of-the-year candidates. For video of the year, this one, from the latter, is so spectacular that, really, none others need apply.

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