Album Reviews

QCNH

Photo by Karlo X. Ramos

Busting out of Fort Worth, this quartet sounds like a Texas BBQ version of J. Roddy Walston & The Business. Its gritty, smokey and definitely for real. Per the their label, Lightning Rod Records, the band is equally influenced by ZZ Top and space. And while those sound like they would go together like peanut butter and sardines, it comes off as darn good listen.

The lead single, Mockingbird finds the protagonist charging around the solar system fighting the good fight as some sort of lone wolf/vigilante. Its got a filthy riff that fuels the tune and gives a nice scuzzy feel to it.

They also work current issues into a current songs in their own special way. Beat The Machine is as you can imagine from the title; a song about being fed up with all the bullshit and lies we’re fed on a daily basis. Liberty Bell 7 takes on the current immigration issues in our country by imagining a future where the protagonist is illegally helping people on to a new planet.

If you like raw Southern rock and roll, step on up to QCNH. They will soon emerge as one of your favorites.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Quaker City Night Hawks are here

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CSH

Photo by Anna Webber

I don’t consider myself to be a fan of rap. There are a couple of acts I enjoy but for the most part, it doesn’t connect. But when you listen to Kendrick Lamar or watch him perform, it becomes very clear that he’s close to lapping the field. He’s executing stuff that most guys couldn’t even dream of.

I got that same feeling when I spun Teens Of Denial for the first time. For those that have been living under a rock for the last year, Cat Seat Headrest is the brainchild of Will Toledo and he is just starting what forecasts to be a really special career. Originally the band was him banging out songs in his bedroom but for his first Matador album of new songs; he’s got a set band now. And that has done him some good. The album seems to have a swagger about it; not so much cockiness but a confident feel that exudes that feeling when you feel you are at the top of your game.

Like last year’s Teens Of Style, Teens Of Denial sounds like the quintessential Matador album. While the album is chock full of loud/soft dynamic, liberal use of distortion and some killer guitar work; it is Toledo’s take on the world around him and his place in it that really captivates. The track (Joe Gets Kicked Out of School For Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t a Problem) is a brilliant take on an acid trip and really captures the spirit of my sophomore year of college.

The 11 minute epic, The Ballad of the Costa Concordia is alot to take in. At first I thought it was in poor taste and a little self-centered to use a senseless tragedy as an analogy for struggling to find your place. But the reality, that’s how teenagers think.

Toledo is just beginning a career that is going to be something special. Like Kendrick, you get the feeling that it won’t be long before he’s lapping the field.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Car Seat Headrest is here

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ALU

Arbor Labor Union began life as Pinecones and much like a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, Pinecones entered into the cocoon of Sub Pop and re-emerged as Arbor Labor Union. Whatever happened during this transformation, the band definitely sounds better.

After spending some considerable time with I Hear You, I still fall back on Parquet Courts as a reference. Both acts have this ability to bludgeon you into submission with a driving rhythm section as guitars navigate around each other, occasionally careening over each other sending the other in a different direction. Unlike Parquet Courts, and I don’t know if I’ve made this up in my head because they’re from Athens, GA; but there seems to be an Americana element to it. I can’t really put my finger on what gives me that feeling. Any help would be appreciated.

I dig these cats. Their music gives me a bolt of energy that makes me feel young which is always appreciated. Plus, after reading their bio on Sub Pop, I think they might be a little unhinged which makes me like them all the more.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Arbor Labor Union is here

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1452889947NewMadridPhoto_low

Today I decided to work from home; specifically on my new back patio. As I settled in with my laptop on the couch, I put on the latest from New Madrid as my background music. It didn’t take long for me to get lost in the psych-pop beauty of it all. The sun was shining on my face and work soon became an afterthought as I just sort of lied there getting lost in the album. Songs drifted into each other and soon I was gone.

And that’s the spirit of magnetkingmagnetqueen. Once it gets its hooks in you, you’re cooked. Produced by David Barbe, this isn’t an album of an individual tracks. Its an hour of going down the wormhole and coming out the other end. If I was going to pick a favorite, it would be Dress Up. The texture of the track as sounds bubble up, only to fade away one second later as the rhythm section methodically pushes ahead is so tasty. Vocals are looping all over each other.

So dig into magnetkingmagnetqueen, their 3rd LP on a nice sunny day and let this thing wash over you. It has an unmistakable groove that is worth investing in.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

New Madrid is here

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Al Scorch – Circle Round The Signs (album review)

May 10, 2016

Photo by Nick Karp Let’s get one thing straight – Al Scorch can fucking pick it. His banjo playing is the sort of shit that leaves your jaw on the table. Scorch is a Chicago native, yet he had avoided my radar until the fine folks of Bloodshot added him to their roster. His playing [...]

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Pinegrove – Cardinal (album review)

April 26, 2016

I first heard of Pinegrove via Steven Hyden’s excellent Celebration Rock podcast. And the hard reality is that I only clicked on this podcast because he had Amber Webber from Black Mountain on. And man, did turn out to be fortuitous; as I was won over after his talk with the lead singer and chief [...]

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Kevin Morby – Singing Saw (album review)

April 20, 2016

This album came out of nowhere for me. Morby played bass in the band Woods for a few years, and while I enjoy their music; him leaving didn’t register to the same affect as when Isbell left DBT. By that I mean, I wasn’t counting the days for his solo releases. But based on this [...]

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Parker Millsap – The Very Last Day [album review]

April 14, 2016

In light of the truly disgusting laws that North Carolina and Mississippi recently passed, the fourth track, Heaven Sent, on The Very Last Day hits home. In the tune, Milsap takes the part of a gay man asking for acceptance from his Evangelical father. It is a heavy tune and Milsap hits it out of [...]

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Summer Flake – Hello Friends (album review)

April 12, 2016

Last year, I fell in deep like with Summer Flake’s EP, Time Rolls By. It was part of my year of down under when I became enamored with a number of acts from Australia and New Zealand, highlighted by Courtney Barnett. Summer Flake is the project of Stephanie Crase and she’s apt to draw comparisons [...]

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White Denim – Stiff {album review}

April 6, 2016

Upon learning that Austin Jenkins and Josh Block had permanently left White Denim to join Leon Bridges, I had reservations about the future of the band. As good as Jenkins is, it was Block that I was really going to miss. His chemistry with bassist Steve Terebecki always left me in awe. Their ability to [...]

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