Album Reviews

Pony Boy – Blue Gold [album review]

by Woody on August 31, 2015

PonyBOy

I’ve been looking forward to this one for awhile. My anticipation only increased when I read that Pony Boy (aka Marchelle Bradanini) was going to record in Nashville with Adam Landry. They’ve subsequently started their own label, Cosmic Thug of which Blue Gold is the first release. The collaboration really paid dividends as Landry helped refine the twantg-noir sound that Pony Boy delivers.

Pony Boy’s music is stylish and her voice is cinematic. Combined with her lyrics, I always get visions of scenes in my head as I listen. “I’ve always really liked writing, almost more than the musical part, that’s why I’ve studied disciplines from screenwriting to poetry to music of various structures and lengths, ..” Its clear from her videos below that she cares about those visions as well.

“The record is looking at California in the rear-view mirror,” explains the artist, who currently splits time between Nashville and England. “Sometimes you gain perspective on a place when you leave it.” Throughout the album, synths swirl and guitars arrive sporadically throughout to punch up her tales.

I am massive fan of Pony Boy’s sound and style. it was refreshing to listen to her album on my way to work this morning a night after my twitter feed exploded with the nonsense of some so-called female musicians.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Pony Boy is here

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The Domestics – s/t (album review)

by Woody on August 28, 2015

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I caught wind of The Domestics on Spin’s site when they likened them to Wilco and From a Basement on the Hill-era Elliott Smith. Um, yes please, I’ll have some of that. The Portland based quintet is fronted by songwriters Michael Finn and Leo London.

This album is good old-fashion American rock and roll. The duo have battled through the ending of relationships, mental health and drug dependency among other issues. Their ability to to address the issues head on gives the ten songs a very genuine feel. The Willamette Week said this about their music and it is spot-on, “Two strangers in a bar at closing time, swapping stories of relationships gone bad until their voices conjoin in bittersweet harmony.”

The album is filled to the brim with jangly mid-tempo brilliance. One after another they pop out of the speaker as Finn and London trade the lead vocals back and forth, and when they harmonize – well that’s just special. The two tunes that open the album, American Drag & Jenny Says, are so god damn good that I almost didn’t make it through the rest of the album. Thankfully I did as It Came To Me, Tower Blocks and Blue Tarp Moon are all genius. Fuck it, the whole album is genius.

Finn and London have jokingly labeled themselves as the Portland version of Lennon and McCartney. If you dig bands influenced The Beatles, Wilco and Elliott Smith; run don’t walk to pick this one up.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

The Domestics are here

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There was a great article on NPR regarding the challenges of digesting super-sized albums. As a father of 3 with a full-time job, 80 minute albums provide quite the challenge as it is tough to find the time during car pools and phone calls. The big 80 minute album in my life now is The Most Lamentable Tragedy, which is referenced in the article.

I have been listening to TMLT in fits over the last month on a variety of listening devices. Five songs here. Eight songs there. Listening to such a personal piece of music makes it very difficult to form any reasonable conclusion on the album. I’ve had only two opportunities to listen in full twice. And truth be told, only one of them was I able to crank it up on quality speakers.

For those not familiar with Titus, they are a Jersey punk band. The man behind Titus is Patrick Stickles, an opinionated gentleman that has suffered from manic depression and battles with a selective eating disorder. His interviews are always an interesting read and his twitter feed is not for the faint of the heart. Stickles is an well-read intelligent man who is deeply convicted to his principles and beliefs.

TMLT is a massive sprawling, brilliant, messy masterpiece. The story of the protagonist is one of despair, redemption and one that returns to despair. It is a five piece rock opera that sounded ridiculous when I first heard the idea, but one that Stickles has made work. I’d be lying if I said I can break down this album in any sort of intelligent manner as it isn’t a story that is easy to follow along. Its more of a feel album with moments that will make you blow you out of the water.

For now, TMLT is a great collection of songs with some major highlights on it. Over time I plan on growing into this album and delving into the story where I can fully comprehend it. Really long-term, I hope this album means as much to my kids as Quadrophenia means to me.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Titus Andronicus is here

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Palehound – Dry Food [album review]

by Woody on August 13, 2015

Palehound
I don’t know what it is about this year. It seems every month, a female-fronted act that was greatly influenced by 90′s college rock kicks out a killer album. Whether it be Waxahatchee, Bully, TORRES, Speedy Ortiz, etc., the new one seems to hit at a point where I have listened to its predecessor to death. As I was just thinking I can’t listen to Foil Deer one more time without Sadie Dupuis taking out a restraining order on me, Dry Food arrived in my inbox.

And now, Palehound’s Dry Food is part of that excellent list above and it very well may be my favorite of the lot. Palehound is the moniker of 21 y/o Ellen Kempner who does it all on the album, other than the drumming. Calling her precocious would be insulting. Calling her talented would be an understatement. Calling her a potential force to be reckoned with for years to come sounds about right.

Dry Food’s inspiration came from a tough time in Kempner’s life. As a 19 y/o, Kempner left college and was caught in the limbo between being a kid and an adult. “The year between 19 and 20 is this weirdly insignificant time — you’re kind of an adult, but not a real adult. That was kind of hard for me, to think, ‘I’m not a kid, and there are things in my life making that very, very obvious to me, but I also can’t really fathom being an adult yet.’”

While Kempner’s lyrics are great throughout, her guitar playing is what will really stand out. Its almost surreal that she’s just 21 and can play so well. And play so well while incorporating numerous influences – Elliott Smith’s finger-picking, Wes Montgomery’s jazz influence and the fuzz of 90′s stalwart Kim Deal. I love it when she cranks it up on Molly & Cushioned Caging. But the highlight of the album is Dixie. Kempner is alone with guitar, playing impeccably, while questioning her worth. Its amazingly poignant and just flat out brilliant.

To be that young and good at something blows my mind. To think she’s only going to get better gets me excited. But don’t wait for that, get on board with this album and go them on tour. She’s put together quite the nice touring band.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Palehound is here

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rayLand baxter – Imaginary Man [album review]

August 12, 2015

Photo by Eric Ryan Anderson Just like Saw Outlaw saved me on a hungover SXSW morning, RayLand Baxter performed the same duties back in 2013. It was up on S. Congress and I was chewing on a beer after breakfast as baxter’s easy-going Americana gently wafted into the crowd. This caused Oz and I to [...]

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Ultimate Painting – Green Lanes [album review]

August 10, 2015

Green Lanes, the sophomore effort by the UK’s Ultimate Painting is like a gentle drive through the country on a warm Fall day – windows open, never going too fast; just soaking it in. Fronted by Jack Cooper and James Hoare, the songs are built on spidery guitar licks that creep out of your speakers [...]

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Sam Outlaw – Angeleno [album review]

August 6, 2015

photo by Matt Wignall I woke up on the Saturday of SXSW with a hangover, sore limbs and a rainy forecast. Needless to say I didn’t leap out of bed full of inspiration. But off we went to the Brooklyn Brewery party at Licha’s, specifically to see The Lowest Pair and maybe catch another set [...]

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The Tallest Man On Earth – Dark Bird Is Home [album review]

July 21, 2015

I can’t believe its been seven years since The Tallest Man on Earth, aka Kristian Matsson, released Shallow Grave. Matsson came out of the gate sounding like a youthful Dylan. The follow-up, The Wild Hunt was solid but mostly similar to Shallow Grave. I slowly lost interest in TMOE which tends to happen with me [...]

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Nap Eyes – Whine Of The Mystic [album review}

July 8, 2015

Upon spinning Nap Eyes for the first time, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Parquet Courts. It might not veer off the rails like some Parquet Courts tracks do but the nine tracks off Whine Of The Mystic share that quality of rumbling forward with little care of what stands in its way. Recorded [...]

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Fraser A. Gorman – Slow Gum (album review)

June 30, 2015

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 [...]

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