Album Reviews

Fraser

You have to have balls of steel or gobs of talent if you’re going to come off looking like Bob Dylan on your debut album cover. Fraser A. Gorman is a 24 year-old from Melbourne, Australia and while I can’t speak of his balls; I can most certainly speak to his talent. Like fellow Australian and good friend, Courtney Barnett, Gorman has delivered one of 2015′s outstanding debuts.

Unlike Barnett, who’s album routinely gets tagged with labels of slacker-rock and fuzzed-out, Gorman’s album is rooted in country and folk. The tie that binds these young Aussies together is their ability to craft some pretty stellar lyrics. Both Barnett and Gorman have this knack of paining vivid pictures in one verse, albeit Gorman’s seems to come from a person with an old soul.

On the opening track, Big Old World, Gorman opens the tune by singing over a gently strummed acoustic.

Its a big ol’ world out there this morning / It’s a tiny universe in an afternoon.
It’s a strange ol’ time to be in love with Elvis/ You better drink it up, it ain’t coming back around soon

The excellent lead single, Book of Love, is a very sarcastic play on a love tune which is made even more evident by the video. The closing verse is brilliant on this one.

I see you brought your mother along, oh no / I know she doesn’t like rock n; roll, but let’s go.

The opening verse of Broken Hands is another gem.

I’m a man but lately you don’t seem to wonder who I am / I’m a boy so won’t you let me be your evil toy; voodoo I’m alright
I got no soul cause country music sounds to me like rock n’ roll / turn up ol’ Hank up

Gorman’s debut is brilliant. He is a troubadour in every sense of the world. If you consider yourself a fan of Justin Townes Earle, Luke Winslow-King or Ryan Adams, run don’t walk to pick this one up. Once he makes his way over to the USA, he’s going to blow up.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

Fraser A. Gorman is here

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umo_large

Ed Droste recently tweeted that music reviews that mention an artist’s social profile are pointless or something akin to that. Respectfully I disagree with Ed. While I would never jump on board with a band because I liked their tweets, sometimes they provide a different perspective of what you thought they were about.

Following UMO’s front-man Ruben Nielsen on Twitter is one such experience. He is funny, self-deprecating, political, heartfelt, etc. While Ruben and I are probably not destined to be friends, I do feel like I get a peek into the man’s psyche. And based on the mish-mash of genres throughout Multi-Love, that is an active and fruitful space. Its almost as if Nielsen is trapped in a bubble straining to record a song in just one genre, be it folk, funk or disco. But the confines of the bubble means that he can’t fully commit to one sound. So while a song might be more funk-based, the other genres are always in there somewhere, sometimes subtle as can be. The more and more I listen to UMO, the more and more I am reminded of Beck. Another artist who has boundless influences and who’s creativity knows no boundaries.

The album’s driving force was the ending of poly-amorous relationship. Not your run of the mill breakup album but like most things about UMO, it is unique. Kate Hutchinson of The Guardian wrote a great article on the genesis of the album and what was going on in Nielsen’s head. Multi-Love is one of those albums that just gets better with every listen.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

UMO can be found here

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Bully – Feels Like [album review]

by Woody on June 22, 2015

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While I may be a 45 y/o married father of three, sometimes I like to connect with my inner twenty-something feminine side. To be honest, I didn’t know I had one up until a month ago when Bully’s debut LP entered into my world. Fronted by Alicia Bognanno, Feels Like travels at warp speed for 30 minutes as she recants all the insecurities of growing up.

Much like Hop Along’s Painted Shut, Feels Like benefits greatly from its lack of over-production. Bognanno’s internship at legendary Steve Albini‚Äôs Electrical Audio studio in Chicago certainly didn’t hurt in that regard.

Bognanno may be the star here but just like Messi, she needs to get the ball to make the magic happen. Stewart Copeland, Clayton Parker and Reece Lazarus make quite the racket as the band careens around sounding like Corin Tucker fronting Superchunk.

One of major misses at SXSW was missing Bully. Thankfully they are going to be at Pitchfork on Saturday at 1:55. Same day as Ex Hex and Sleater-Kinney. Holy rocking females Batman!!!!

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

Bully is here

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The Deslondes – s/t (album review)

by Woody on June 9, 2015

Deslondes

During this past SXSW, I had the pleasure of standing in the rain and watching Run The Jewels absolutely kill it. Thirty minutes earlier I was standing in the historic Continental Club watching New Orleans act, The Deslondes, finish up an amazing set of Country-Soul Americana. It was like taking a 5 minute cab ride from a back porch in the country to a street corner in the inner city.

While their music may vary, they both share something in common; their connection to the core values of their genre. I despise mainstream hip hop and country for the same reason; it is all sizzle, no steak. Both more concerned with their image. Inspired by old Stax and Sun Records sounds, The Deslondes sound like they stepped out of yesteryear. Formed by Sam Doores & Riley Downing after meeting at Woodyfest, the band doesn’t try to ape the music of their forefathers; they expound on it.

Downing found inspiration for the lead single, Fought The Blues and Won, by spinning some Fats Domino albums. The piano melody gives the tune this sort of lazy defiance, as if to say, “Yeah, I fought the blues but I didn’t really want to.” Less Honkin’ More Tonkin’ is your “typical” upbeat honky-tone tune inspired by traffic. Oddly enough, their friends and frequent tourmates Hurray For the Riff Raff tried wrote a tune on the same subject with Crash On The Highway.

While The Deslondes and Run The Jewels might not be in the same musical genre, they do share one thing in common. They are both looking backwards to take their music forwards. And both have done it in great fashion. This is a phenomenal album that is worth your time and money. And make sure you go see them live.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

The Deslondes are here

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Other Lives – Rituals (album review)

June 1, 2015

In the span of five years, Other Lives went from having me obsess over them; to having Thom Yorke obsess over them. I’d like to imagine there are a few things I do better than Thom Yorke, but music certainly isn’t one of them. Much like a Radiohead album, Other Lives albums swallow you whole. [...]

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Banditos – s/t (album review)

May 20, 2015

The old saying goes, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” If there was ever an instance to contradict that statement, the cover of the Banditos’ Bloodshot debut would be it. Take a look at that cover and really let it sink in. Dig into the details and you know you’ll be getting a [...]

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Michael Rault – Living Daylight [album review]

May 14, 2015

Photo by Meg Remy Michael Rault plays an infectious brand of psychedelia-tinged power-pop. Hailing from Edmonton and now residing in Toronto, Rault was lucky enough to have his music heard by the tastemakers that are Burger Records. As Rault joked in an interview, Burger is a bit of a cult with their fans. If you [...]

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Torres – Sprinter [album review]

May 11, 2015

Dense. That’s the word that comes to mind when I listen to TORRES. After a spin of her latest, Sprinter, I feel like I’ve been hit in the guy with a medicine ball. Her music is powerful, raw and intense. It doesn’t let up for one minute. Its not meant to be listened to casually. [...]

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Mandolin Orange – Such Jubilee [album review]

May 8, 2015

Recently I was having a conversation with some friends about what act they would like to play on their back deck or porch if giving the opportunity. Many good names were thrown out but the first act I thought of was Mandolin Orange. Comprised of Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, the duo’s warm and inviting [...]

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Mikal Cronin – MCIII [album review]

May 1, 2015

I am a Yes fan. There, I said it. I was mullet-sporting, pimple-popping, sexually frustrated dork that loved Yes. One of things I loved about Yes were their musical suites – a song that lasted 15 to 20 minutes that was comprised of numerous parts. I’d get lost in these wondering why I wasn’t getting [...]

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