Album Reviews

Wolf People – Ruins (album review)

by Woody on November 23, 2016

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A.D. 2016 and England is in flux. This bastard island is divided, shot through with doubt and self-loathing, ruled by the feverish egos of passing power hungry-dilettantes, two-bit aristocrats and smiling psychopaths. Swathes of the country have been sold off, paved over, neon-lit. England is at war with itself and this time the enemy is in the mirror. The people require a new narrative, a new soundtrack. They need to feel the pull of history and navigate a new path through the morass of misinformation.

Emerging from the woodlands, riverbanks and the dales like the grizzled ‘green men’ resistance fighters of the post-Norman invasions, the spirit-raising purveyors of pagan folk psyche prog Wolf People return to provide exactly just that.

Fuck yeah!!! That’s the opening two paragraphs of their bio and you could probably say the same thing about our little country as well. So, I figured that if Wolf People were going to save the UK from Brexit; maybe they could help me out with the talking racist Cheeto.

While Ruins might not be able to banish Farage & Trump into obscurity, it does provide a real nice diversion. The concept of the album is nature reclaiming the land. With their heavy prog-folk hooks, you get lost envisioning something akin to that scene in Lord of The Rings when the Ents (the trees) laid a fucking beatdown on Isengard. But this happy feeling comes with a quartet of British fellas unleashing some serious jams.

As I have said in reviews of their previous albums, their music scratches an itch for me. As a 46 y/o that grew up listening to Sabbath, Rush, Tull and Zeppelin; Wolf People tap into that genre without sounding as if their pandering or repetitive. The music sounds fresh and they flat out tear into their songs. The second track, Rhine Sagas finished with a furious chugging fuzzy jam that is so tasty. They even have a three part song, Kingfisher, that is split up throughout the album that digs into their more pastoral side.

I still haven’t seen these guys live and it is on my bucket list. They must blow the doors off of a venue. If you want to get lost in some serious heavy riffs, I suggest you close your eyes, dial up Ruins and enjoy.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Wolf People are here

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Mandolin Orange – Blindfaller (album review)

by Woody on November 17, 2016

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Photo Credit – Alex Loops

Andrew Marlin & Emily Frantz, aka Mandolin Orange, continue to fill the void that was left after The Everybodyfields broke up. Like The Everybodyfields, Mandolin Orange ply their trade in Americana music. And much like Jill & Sam, Andrew & Emily’s voices play off each other so well. It is a true joy listening to them.

And just as Such Jubilee showed some real growth as artists, Blindfaller sees the band continue to move forward. Buoyed by the success of the album and countless time on the road, everything on this album sounds just a little more confident and comfortable.

They have a timely track here titled Gospel Shoes that examines how politicians perverts religion as a weapon to get what they want. I get chills every time Frantz joins in with Marlin for the chorus. So the armies march on / for the mother and the son” is how it begins with some furious mandolin mixed in. Brilliant tune.

Wildfire is a heavy tune about how the Civil War still affects our lives today. As I was typing the song title for this review, it struck me that sitting by a fire is the perfect setting to listen to Mandolin Orange; sitting outside as the wood cracks under the heat all the while; the beauty of their music permeates the air.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Mandolin Orange is here

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Soccer Mommy – For Young Hearts (album review)

by Woody on November 14, 2016

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Photo by Justin Fargiano

I first caught wind of Soccer Mommy aka Sophie Allison via an article on Stereogum. Her vocals immediately reminded me of an artist that I spent a whole lot of 2015 listening to, Sarah Bethe Nelson, and that was enough to search out and buy her album.

For Young Hearts is her third album and from what Stereogum had to say, her most accomplished and fleshed out to date. These tunes are all centered a nice jangly riff. The tune that stands out the most is Skinned Knees; a tune that is just Allison strumming along on an electric as she sings about falling in and out of love with the occasional whistle chiming in. It really is lovely tune that showcases her voice over an excellent melody.

I’m happy to have found Sophie’s music and I’m looking forward to hearing more. I just booked my flight for SXSW and am hoping she’ll down there so I can catch a set.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Soccer Mommy is here

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Photo by Michael D. Spencer

In the years since Kingsley Flood released the phenomenal Battles, they’ve released a couple of EPs and a live set. Coming off such an amazing album, I have to admit I found those EPS and the wait to be frustrating. I was also frustrated that they weren’t finding a bigger voice in the landscape, something similar to what I’ve felt for years with Roadside Graves.

But along came Another Other last week. Hell I didn’t know that this album was out until I hopped on Spotify to play me some Kingsley Flood one night while making dinner. And as I sit here in stunned disbelief after last night’s results, it seemed as good a time to review this album. You see, Kingsley Flood play an energizing brand of punk-folk that as the band puts it, “is a exploration of identity and race and class.” Lead singer Naseem Khurmi, an American of Palestinian descent that grew up outside of Boston has a very captivating and unique way of looking at the world.

To The Wolves is a fiery tune that feels on point today fueling the anger towards the wealth and elite that corrupts our country.

I am no supermodel’s son, I open doors, all on my own,
I got no Rockefeller blood, when the dollar is done, then the dollar is done,
And I know there’s a hand above,
Grabbing the gold, leaving none for us,

On My Mind is another fiery tune dealing with our inactivity to deal with issues that could be fixed. This track has a nasty little riff in it.

Yes I heard from the late night plea
And the toll free number at the bottom of the screen
A broken child fending in the wild of a distant land
I could write a check from this couch and yet I can’t reach my stamp
But it’s on my mind

The first track, titled Bridge deals with the disconnect between growing up in an affluent suburb and what is going on in the city so close to you. Like Khurmi, this is something I am confronting as I try to best educate my kids on what’s on the other side. You wish to keep them safe but at what cost.

Papa’s eating peas, saying “how was your day
You went down by the bridge, your teacher said
I’ve always wondered why in that part of town
The green grass suddenly turns to brown

These guys are simply amazing. And as I mentioned above, how they have not blown up is one of life’s great mysteries. This is exactly the album I needed today and I am blaring it loud. I suggest you do the same.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Kingsley Flood is here

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Paul Cauthen – My Gospel (album review)

November 8, 2016

My Gospel is Paul Cauthen’s solo debut after a spell with Sons Of Fathers, which included an absurd cease and desist order filed against them by Beck when Sons Of Fathers were known as Beck and Cauthen. They were an excellent live band and seemed to have a real future ahead of them. Then the [...]

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I Have A Tribe – Beneath A Yellow Moon (album review)

November 7, 2016

I Have A Tribe is the moniker of Irish singer-songwriter, Patrick O’Laighaire. His debut LP, Beneath A Yellow Moon, came out a few weeks ago and it reminds me of the early Elvis Perkins albums. Like Elvis on Ash Wednesday or In Dearland, O’Laighaire’s vocals are thoughtful, never feeling as if any word is extraneous. [...]

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Springtime Carnivore – Midnight Room (album review)

October 19, 2016

The voice of Greta Morgan, the woman behind Springtime Carnivore, really began to grow on me with her excellent set of punk covers with La Sera’s Katy Goodman. Hearing the lead track of Midnight Room heightened my expectations for her sophomore effort. For the most part it delivers. The album kind of works somewhere between [...]

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Jonny Fritz – Sweet Creep (album review)

October 17, 2016

In anticipation of Jonny Fritz’s new album, Sweet Creep, Fritz just had what could be the quote of the year in this article on Rolling Stone. “Recording outside was Jim’s idea. He’s fucking nuts,” laughs Fritz, who doesn’t put much stock in high-end studios. “My list of how to record music is the songs are [...]

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Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster – Constant Stranger (album review)

October 13, 2016

Photo by Matt White For those not in the know, Justin is the lead voice and 1/3 of HearYa favorite, Water Liars. With Water Liars, their tunes tend to vacillate between quiet moments and crashing sound all the while showcasing life’s difficulties. On his solo debut, Justin dials back the sound for in giving you [...]

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Hiss Golden Messenger – Heart Like A Levee (album review)

October 11, 2016

I rarely listen to regular radio because for the most part, it sucks*. But when I do listen to music it winds up being XRT here in Chicago. But that station has become so crappy lately as it is an adult contemporary station. They must play that X Ambassadors song or Kids by MGMT almost [...]

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