The Roundup November 2016
Blah blah blah the days getting shorter, blah blah blah the nights longer, blah blah blah its cold….wait, wait it is not cold outside. Texas is stupid. The is the Roundup for November 2016
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Quarters!
After finally coming to appreciate the ludicrous nature that was Nonagon Infinity I had to go explore this Australian band’s other works, starting with Quarters!. Wouldn’t you know it, the gimmicks continued, with Quarters! being….4 songs long, each about the same length. Do these 10 minute songs work though? That depends. Opener, The River is a fun and trippy jam that nearly reminds me of The Grateful Dead, but not painfully boring. On the other hand God is in the Rhythm just spends too much time faffing about and being ‘pleasant’. None of these songs are bad, they each have a quirky dirty psychedelic garage charm, but when your album has only four ten minute songs you kind of need to make damn sure that those four songs are the best ones you can create. It’s good for the background, granting you the ability to chill and listen as the pleasantness drift by.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Oddments
What’s that you say? A King Gizzard album without a shtick? Interesting, and what do you know, its an assortment of normal length songs that go together quite well. I don’t mean to state I dislike when the band has a gimmick for an album, it is just that I am curious what else they can do, and this album proves to me they are more than just cute ideas in musical form. The dirty garage psychedelia is prominent with heavy fuzz and distortion on everything. Its great. It’s rich and textural with lots of organized chaos going on like a barrel of bees being thrown at you. I’m really enjoying this band and can’t wait to explore more of their catalog.
Fela Kuti – I Go Shout Plenty!!!
It’s Fela. When has Fela done wrong? Ok, there was the one really Jesusy Fela song that was a bit weird. OTHER than that? Never. These two in particular are really solid performances.
Inspector Owl – Patterns Of Nerve-Cell Action
A former significant other put the song 89 from this album on a mix tape for me back in 2006. I always adored the track as it was a fun, climactic and fiercely emotional number. How fitting ten years later that I would get the chance to hear the whole album. Was it worth the wait? For certain, 89, is the highlight of the album, but the rest of the numbers are joyous little mid 00’s Chicago suburb jams that are like little time capsules of that era of music. There is a sense of nostalgia that these songs are filled with that would not have existed back then. In a weird way, I am glad that I only uncovered the rest of this album ten years later as it gave these songs a chance to mature and age. I missed out on a lot of music from the mid 00’s when it was happening. Coming back to it now is special as it gives me a chance to enjoy the new music and also hold on to fond nostalgia.
PONY – CRUSHED
How do I express a polite shrug in words?
Rashied Ali & Franke Lower – Duo Exchange
What happens when a saxophonist and drummer just do whatever they want for 30 minutes? You really alienate the listener, that’s what. I loved it. This duo created some truly free-wheeling disjointed jazz that operates like some big middle finger to anyone who was demanding rhyme and reason. Remember that article I wrote about 5 jazz album for beginners? This album shows up to the houses of those beginning jazz listeners and sets their speakers on fire. Weirdly at times, things do mellow and come together making something beautiful; and they are precious, albeit brief moments. The rest of the time I am getting punched in the head. You need an album like that once in a while.
BADBADNOTGOOD – IV
My experience with BADBADNOTGOOD comes from their more hip-hop oriented works, where this little jazz group would provide tight grooves for people like Ghostface Killah to rhyme over. Things are a bit mellower here, a bit more free flowing and and bit more floaty. The guest vocalists are crooners and swooners rather than knife wielders. It all works though. BADBADNOTGOOD has an amazing talent at taking jazz music and turning it into something pop-oriented, all while maintaining the technicality and complexity the genre seems to fiend off of. Fans of their earlier work may feel a little disconnected, but BADBAD continues to not disappoint.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – This Unruly Mess I’ve Made
I’m confused by this release. I did enjoy The Heist when it came out, and really, this is another 50 some minutes of the same kind of pro-you believe in yourself type of hip-hop; so why am I not enjoying the follow-up? Perhaps because in the time between these two releases this duo has done nothing to evolve their sound? Is it because his lyrics are dense like lead, with no subtlety to them? All of the above? It is hard to put my finger on what any of it is, but when each song just screams in your face about what the subject matter is I struggle with connecting. There is no journey into discovering what the song contains, its all there, it comes pre-exposed and I tend to enjoy a little foreplay.
Faith No More – Introduce Yourself
Did you know this band had a singer before Mike Patton? The music is there, but the vocals just seem really weird and off, like I am hearing a cover band. I get that part of this is bias based on hearing songs like Epic and Midlife Crisis before these earlier numbers, but something just doesn’t gel here. It almost works, and I still love that quirky alternative metal sound they create, but once other guy starts singing it tends to fail to form into a cohesive piece of music. From a curiosity standpoint its worth checking out, but you are better off sticking with their known knock-out releases.
Curtis Mayfield – There’s No Place Like America Today
Soul and funk hybrid Curtis Mayfield is just a monster songwriter. Even when there is nothing more than guitar, bass, drums, and vocals he makes the song sound enormous and spiritually crushing. The keyboard work peppered throughout adds a spectral aura to a lot of these songs, elevating them even further. Even as a non-religious person the song Jesus has me wanting to head to church again. Mayfield had an unbelievable talent to radiate a gargantuan amount of emotion even with a minimal set-up. This is a masterclass in that ability.
10,000 Maniacs – Our Time In Eden
I don’t know….90’s?