Album Reviews

Royal Headache – High [album review]

by Woody on November 12, 2015


This album came out a few months ago and my love for it has been growing since. High is the sophomore effort for the Sydney foursome. Their s/t debut was solid but didn’t have any real staying power for me. So why is High so beloved by my? I think it comes down to the mix of the vocals.

For a band that plays a brand of heart-on-your-sleeve garage-punk, it was tough to deal with the vocals being muddled in the mix, especially when the lead singer’s name is Shogun. It fed into the punk ethos but burying him in there was wasting him. On High, Shogun’s vocals are front and center as the rest of the band – Law (guitar), Joe (bass), and Shortty (drums) – fire through a 30 minute blast of goodness.

That’s not to say that High is all spit-polished. It still carries a raw energy to it that is palpable. Whether Shogun is screaming ” I Need You” or calling his ex “Garbage” there is no hiding his feelings.

High is an album you get drunk to. High is an album you sing loud with your buddies. High is an album you fall in love to. High is an album you listen to when your heart gets broken. Enjoy the hell out of it. I sure have.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Royal Headache is here


Saintseneca – Such Things [album review]

by Woody on November 5, 2015


I’ve introduced Saintseneca to a few people. And while many have liked it, I have heard some say that “it’s good but the lead singer’s voice, Zac Little, isn’t for me.” I disagree as I love his voice as it reminds me of Jeff Mangum. And I thought they such a good job framing it during their last effort, Dark Arc. Utilizing a litany of folky instruments to make a lush Appalachian landscape and the occasional assistance from fellow bandmate, Maryn Jones, Little’s voice really stuck a nerve with me.

On Such Things, I think they improved on all that. The songs are more direct. Little’s lyrics are less verbose. The production is more polished, as well a more consistent use of rock’s traditional instruments – guitar, drums, synths, etc. I don’t want to give the impression that they’ve abandoned their roots. They just spread them out a little in a way really improved the sound.

Another thing that I really love on Such Things is that it feels like Jones’ vocals are present more. The lead single, Sleeper Hold, sees her take the lead for the first verse as they trade verses. The mid-tempo number sounds like something you could see them busking on the street capturing crowds with their infectious chorus.

And the harmonies between Little and Jones are wonderful throughout. The breezy Estuary that follows Sleeper Hold is such a pleasure. The guitar riff that pops up throughout lends some serious punch and texture to the track. A few tracks later, Little goes it alone on the beautiful and conflicted How Many Blankets Are In.

Little had this to say about Such Things, “I was pushing myself with Such Things to try to explore the pop motif further, to try to use and bend that formula of having a groove, a beat, locking in and using that as scaffolding to build a song,” Well, mission accomplished friend.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Saintseneca is here



Photo by Craig Scheihing

Beach Slang have been catching a lot of hype as of late. In many of the pieces, you’ll see The Hold Steady referenced. Its easy to see why as both feature front-men who fronted lesser-known acts before finding a larger audience in their thirties. They also tend to write lyrics that they wear their heart on their sleeves, albeit Craig Finn tends to be more a story-teller than Beach Slang’s James Snyder who tends to be a little more personal. And lastly, there is no shortage of guitars crashing out of your speakers.

But the main source of comparison for me is that I didn’t enjoy either The Hold Steady or Beach Slang after hearing just one tune. It wasn’t until I heard the whole album that I saw what the fuss was all about. For The Hold Steady, listening to Separation Sunday took me to this crazy place with an even crazier cast of characters; a cast that Finn seems to have a heartfelt love for. While Snyder tends to be more earnest in his feelings, or as Steven Hyden described it in his final Grantland article, they are the most sincere band of 2015.*

As for the musical stylings of Beach Slang, Snyder is an unabashed Replacements fan, so much so that he mentions in that Grantland article that he’ll be touring mats sites of importance during his first trip thru Minneapolis. So it’s a pretty safe bet that if you’re in your forties, and let’s say played The Replacements for hours on end, you’re going to find some enjoyment in this album.

The extra added enjoyment for me is that my 11 y/o thinks its pretty awesome and we can crank it up together when mom isn’t around. He also thinks is pretty funny that the lead singer is closer to my age.

*Fuck you ESPN for shuttering Grantland.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Beach Slang is here

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The Yawpers – American Man [album review]

by Woody on October 29, 2015


Photo by Paul Beaty

Fancy yourself a fan of Scott H. Biram? Two Gallants? Maybe you are but you really love yourself some Elliott BROOD. Well then, you’re in luck as I am about to introduce you to your new favorite band. They are The Yawpers, yee of greatest video ever fame. While that video was comprised of everything I love about being alive, I didn’t know what to expect from their Bloodshot debut. Well, it’s pretty fucking awesome.

The gist of the Yawpers is heart-on-your-sleeve blend of barroom country and blues. On top of all the barroom bluster, lead singer Nate Cook spins a damn good yarn. That can be often be lost as you get caught up in the rollicking nature of the music but isn’t here. The title track takes on the perspective of an American balancing the pride of being American while exploring the shit that gives you pause. I’m already looking forward to hearing this being misappropriated during a future presidential campaign.

Burdens follows the title track, a tune that balances the ying and yang of having all your whole life to live with the “Burdens” of having to do something with it. This one is told from the perspective of a 17 y/o looking to get the hell out of some small town. 9 to 5 is most certainly not a Dolly Parton remake. Cook looks at lost soul being told to ‘take the freedom of the 9 to 5.” While I do have that freedom, Cook makes it seem like a jail sentence as drummer Noah Shomberg beats the daylights of him drums and Jesse Parmet plays a snarling guitar lick throughout.

If you like your Americana with some grit and grime, these are your boys. I haven’t seen their live show but I imagine it must be a sight to behold.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

The Yawpers are here


Promised Land Sound – For Use and Delight [album review]

October 21, 2015

A couple of years ago, Promised Land Sound released their s/t debut. It was a solid album, and one I labeled as, “showing a band with great potential”. Well, that potential is met and then some on their sophomore effort, For Use and Delight. Its one thing to have great influences – Big Star, The [...]

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Thunderbitch – s/t debut [album review]

October 20, 2015

Brittany Howard is a once in a generation talent. There is no denying that. To that, she has the privilege of sharing the stage with many amazing talents, including legends like Mavis. And I’m sure she has fielded numerous inquiries for studio work. That’s the way it works isn’t it. Rise up out of nowhere [...]

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Blitzen Trapper – All Across This Land [album review]

October 5, 2015

Photo by Jason Quiqley If you had any questions on what Blitzen Trapper’s eight album was going to be about, the second track definitively answered that question. Rock and Roll (Was Made For You) is a testament to how once rock and roll gets into your system, its in there for good. Lead singer Earley [...]

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Futurebirds – Hotel Parties [album review]

September 28, 2015

Photo by David McClister As I alluded to in my post announcing Hotel Parties, Futurebirds don’t often shy away from a party. And why would you when you are in your early twenties and tasting your first bits of success. People are coming out to your shows in droves, you’re growing random facial hair and [...]

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Kurt Vile – b’lieve i’m goin down [album review]

September 24, 2015

Slacker rock. That’s the label that Kurt Vile was tagged with. Its easy to understand. Vile’s vocals don’t exactly scream out of the speaker. His tunes don’t sonically explode like a Lee Bains track. They just kinda amble into your ears, noodling a way into your psyche. So I’ve built this persona around Kurt that [...]

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The Roadside Graves – Acne/Ears [album review]

September 18, 2015

The Roadside Graves are the most underrated American band going. That is fact, not opinion. The alt-country band from Jersey has been kicking out amazing album after amazing album for over 10 years now. Over that time as hopes for turning music into a full-time gig and the lavish mansions that come it with faded, [...]

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