Monday, 30 March 2020

March Album Reviews: March 27, 2020


NIN, 'Ghosts V: Together'
- the surprise release of these two albums, both continuations of the 'Ghosts' title of instrumental releases, was such a good one, especially when paired with a very earnest and open letter from Trent and Atticus ... this album, in a very impressive career of instrumental music composition, is some of the duo's very best work
- final rating: Highly Recommended


NIN, 'Ghosts VI: Locusts'
- where part five of this series was moving and atmospheric, almost cautiously hopeful even, part six is some of the most unsettling music that I have ever experienced; the NIN worldview has never been all flowers and sunshine clearly, but this is some dark stuff even for them


Father John Misty, 'Off-Key In Hamburg'
- released on bandcamp as a fundraiser, this album is a recording of a concert in Germany from 2019, backed by FJM's own band as well as that of the Frankfurt Philharmonic ... the man is great live, so if you have a way to hear this one, you won't regret it
- final rating: Recommended


Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini, 'Illusion of Time'
- I had very high hopes for this album, especially as it feels like Daniel Avery himself is just coming into his own as a DJ and producer of ambient electronica; unfortunately, there are only slightly more bright moments on this album as there are forgettable ones, especially "Inside the Ruins" and album opener "Sun", with many of the songs feeling a touch long and/or repetitive


Margaret Glaspy, 'Devotion'
- Glaspy has fallen into and out of (and then back into?) love since her last album, 'Emotions and Math' and the results are mixed; though she paints a very human picture of relationships in all their complexities, the songs are over-produced with so few real instruments obviously being played, so that it all washes somewhat similarly in the end; the final four songs are very solid, as is the album's standout track, "So Wrong It's Right"


Waxahatchee, 'Saint Cloud'
- though the band's music is classified as "indie rock", this is as clear an example as you're likely to find of "Americana", the kind that sounds like it was dreamed up in a farmhouse near a cornfield and a big red barn...it's not my thing, especially the twangy vocals but that's no comment on its quality because this is really an exceptional album with great song structure, outstandingly layered instrumentation and solid story-telling
- final rating: Recommended


Pearl Jam, 'Gigaton'
- I will be honest and say that I didn't really have much in the way of expectations here, especially considering the talk of taking new directions musically; that said, I have to also admit that I enjoyed this album, even if the "bold new directions" aren't all that bold ... overall, it limps quite a bit towards its conclusion, but this is a solid album from a band that still has some tricks up their sleeves
- final rating: Recommended


Sufjan Stevens and Lowell Brams, 'Aporia'
- a bit of a bizarre mix of strings and computer-generated oddities, this album has both its moments of wonder ("Glorious You") and its moments of downright strangeness ("For Raymond Scott"), almost to the point of being unsettling


The Chats, 'High Risk Behaviour'
- songs this short, this hilarious, and this devoutly grassroots punk are impossible to dislike and the Aussie accent (I think...?) just adds to the enjoyment of it all
- final rating: Recommended



Sorry, '925'
- maybe that 90s renaissance is coming sooner than I thought; this is Sonic Youth with a modern twist and aside from the final track, I flippin' love it
- final rating: Highly Recommended


Apologies that I missed out on Childish Gambino's new album (though I have never been much of a fan) nor did I make it through all of Nap Eyes' release 'Snapshot of a Beginner' and I missed the new Nils Frahm album altogether...

Peace,
    Br.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Quarantunes...

Michael Stipe and Aaron Dessner "No Time For Love Like Now" today...


... and Dan Mangan shared "Soapbox"...


... Soccer Mommy played a set for NPR ...


... while last, but not least, here's "Winter's Lament" from Rival Consoles


Let Michael Stipe's smile at the end of the first video stay with you for as long as it can. Peace,
    Br.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Best Song of 2020 (so far...)

I can't keep this song off my speakers right now - I have long loved Charlie Cunningham, but this is truly something magnificent...enjoy "Climb" featuring Sophie Jamieson


Coming a close second is the new Car Seat Headrest track, "Martin", which is not only unpredictable in terms of its title (he sings to someone named Justin after all, not Martin) but also in terms of structure, giving it the full Broken Social Scene treatment


Rounding out the top three is Sharon van Etten's "Beaten Down", a bold song with beautiful atmosphere, not to mention a mesmerizing video


Hope you're enjoying these tracks as much as I am. Feel free to send me your favourites! Peace,
     Br.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

New Music!

Here's "Yankee and the Brave", the first single from the upcoming and hotly anticipated RTJ4 album; it's the same track that El-P released the intro to on his Instagram page recently. The duo also released another track on Spotify called "Ooh La La"...


Joel says there's a new Pearl Jam song too - this is called "Quick Escape"...


Peace,
    Br.

EDIT: NIN have released two full albums today (26 March), 'Ghosts V: Together' and 'Ghosts VI: Locusts' - here is the link to their website

Monday, 23 March 2020

March Album Reviews: 20 March, 2020

Well, with the week of releases we have coming, this week was bound to be a bit of low point for the month. There was only really the one album to get excited about, and even that one is not the type of excitement that makes you want to commit to multiple album listens. It was definitely an interesting week, but not a good one...


Roger & Brian Eno, 'Mixing Colours'
- it's pretty much impossible to separate Brian Eno's name from the genre descriptor "ambient", with the majority of his albums playing as glistening, beautifully-produced music to transport you to another place, mood, etc.
- unfortunately, 'Mixing Colours' is just too devoid of life, too sparse, too much plinking away on the piano without ever really going anywhere ... decent music for the spa I guess


Sea Wolf, 'Through A Dark Wood'
- initially, I was really hopeful about this album, but then he started singing and I just can't get into his voice ... just too abundantly American and there is no hiding from that, no matter how interesting the instrumentation is


Ian William Craig, 'Red Sun Through Smoke'
- if you locked Sufjan Stevens and Thom Yorke (without Nigel Godrich) in a cabin full of recording equipment and instruments for 3 months, it might sound something like this...maybe...bonkers stuff


Moaning, 'Uneasy Laughter'
- I have, somewhat boldly and frequently, described the 80s as 'the most regrettable decade in the history of music' but even having said that, I need to admit that it is also a decade in which I rarely strayed from the well-beaten path of popular bands. This album probably sounds reminiscent of all those dark 80s bands that I never got into, like Bauhaus or deep cuts of The Cure; I'll be honest and say that it is a solid album, even with the synth layers, and it makes me wonder if I may have judged the 80s a bit too harshly (editor's note: I unreservedly retract that final statement)
- final rating: Recommended


Annabel Lee, 'Let the Kid Go'
- this sounds like a band that would be amazing to see at a atmospheric concert hall in Copenhagen or Amsterdam; you'd love the energy, dance your face off, but then the next day probably remember the experience over the actual music


Cold Meat, 'Hot and Flustered'
- thundering, intense, hardcore punk with the majority of the songs just over 240 seconds in length ... decent but not memorable

I'm pretty sure there were other albums that I listened to this week; meh. Roll on March 27th - Daniel Avery, Pearl Jam, Margaret Glaspy, Nicolas Jaar, San Fermin, Sufjan Stevens, Waxahatchee...and Dua Lipa!

Peace,
    Br.

Curt's Countdown #12


I don’t experiment too much with music. Never have. I know I have narrow tastes and I’m not going to apologize for that. Despite being careful with my music experimentation, I’ve still struck out a number of times when buying a new record. I can only imagine how many times someone with an eclectic flavour has missed the mark, or at least overestimated an album. (editor's note: almost never...I do my research, thoroughly)

Here, I’m going to tell you the Top 10 times I bought an album and totally regretted it. I’m sure we all have cases like this - no one is batting a thousand. This is just for fun, I’m not actually disappointed in these music mishaps, it’s all just a fun exercise and can be chalked up to experience. The albums here are all regrettable, but are ranked from least regrettable to the most regrettable...

New Music!

More new music from Car Seat Headrest! I flippin' love this band! Here is "Martin":


Oh! And here is the complete new album from Sufjan Stevens and Lowell Brams, which is bound to be weird...


Peace,
    Br.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

RTJ4

It's coming...



Peace,
    Br.

Finally! Nirvana Gettin' Love!

So bizarre to me that it has taken a pandemic in order for the general populace to appreciate Nirvana for what they were - one of the most influential bands of all-time. Or maybe it's just an age thing - 90s parents like me have had kids and those kids know great music when they hear it. Is a grunge renaissance on its way?

Here's "Stay Inside":


Here's Tom Misch's take on The Anthem:


Here's some hand-washing assistance:


Let's all just take a minute to offer a prayer (sung over a down-tuned guitar) to better days. Peace,
      Br.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Ultimate Tracklist: The White Stripes


It's been awhile since last we did an Ultimate Tracklist entry here in GUOG, but enforced social isolation due to a pandemic surely gets the musical wheels turning and goodness knows I have a lot of time on my hands. So, today I'm going to dig deep into the discography of one of my all-time favourite bands, The White Stripes.

The format is the same as in the past - one song chosen based on its place on the original album tracklist, placed there based on how it rates against the others from each album. Some of these are easy picks for me, but that was very rarely the case, especially tracks 3, 6, and 9. Let me know what you think in the comments, especially if you're a big fan...

Thursday, 19 March 2020

New Music!

Here's Paramore's lead-singer Hayley Williams, supported by the trio that is boygenius (Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker) on the clunkily-named but interesting "Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris"...


I am no fan of Williams but to have those three women as backing vocalists is something special. Peace,
    Br.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Cardi for Coronavirus Cure!


Don't you love how people are just pulling together at this time of unprecedented upheaval? Artists playing free streaming shows from empty concert halls and their own homes, quarantined Italian seniors playing their instruments and singing from their balconies ... and Cardi B complaining about royalties owed to her. Now there is a woman who is obviously connected to the big picture and the world's struggle with a debilitating medical crisis.

It seems someone sampled a short phrase of Cardi's - not a song mind you, a spoken phrase - and then mixed it into a coronavirus medley. Now that it's in the charts, Cardi wants her money! Isn't she just the best? What a heart-warming story this is...


More Dan Mangan-esque stories please. Even a good old Liam Gallagher-thinks-he-has-Coronavirus-when-he-actually-just-has-the-furnace-on-too-high story would be better than this. Psycho.

Peace,
    Br.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

#Quarantunes

From Code Orange to Coldplay, industrial hardcore to pop-rock, artists are sharing their gifts in this bizarre time of canceled concerts and coronavirus. Streaming from empty concert halls and their living rooms alike, a host of musicians are putting on free concerts via streaming services, YouTube, and their own websites. Though there many to choose from, here's my favourite - Dan Mangan at the Danforth in Toronto...


Peace,
    Br.

Curt's Countdown #11


In his email to me, sending this 'Countdown', Curt said this playlist "probably grinds against every fibre of your being". You have no idea Curt, no idea.

During my mental health classes, I’ve learned several ways to cope with anxiety and depression. One of them is to Self Soothe. Basically, do something that makes you feel happy and/or comforted. Examples in class are often things like take a bath, go for a walk, watch a movie or do some journal writing. For whatever reason, early 90s dance/rap music does this for me. It takes me back to elementary school and it soothes me. I don’t get it, but I go with it.

The gym can be an intimidating place. If you’re like me, you’re constantly comparing yourself to everyone else. It sucks. It used to really depress me. But thanks to all my mental health classes, I don’t get hung up on that anymore. Sure, I still see dudes lifting twice what I do, or using terrible techniques that I desperately want to correct for them, but I just stick to my own thing and consistently push out my negative thoughts (mindfulness of thought). Just focus on the next rep and that sure gets a lot easier if some early 90s dance tunes pop up on my playlist. 

Although this is going to make the Beezer cringe (which I gotta admit is kinda funny) here are some of my favourite early 90s rap/dance tracks. I’m not ranking them, I’m just making a comprehensive, alphabetized list. Like some other countdowns, I’ll be limiting songs to one per artist...

Sunday, 15 March 2020

March Album Reviews: March 13, 2020

We're gonna put a bit of a different spin on album reviews this month, just to try something new. Though there will inevitably be some focus on a handful of particular albums each month, I'm going to do a weekly round-up instead of pouring all my energy into just one album at a time. So, here is this week's round-up of releases...


Ultraista, 'Sister'
- six years after releasing their debut, this trio is finally back; best-known for his work with Radiohead, Nigel Godrich is the brains behind this collaboration with drummer Joey Waronker and vocalist Laura Bettinson, which inevitably sounds a lot like more-linear music you'd otherwise expect to be sung by Thom Yorke ... the vocals sound best when sort of drowned out, as is the case for much of the album ... some sweet, sweet beats here and interesting arrangements, especially on "Mariella"
- final rating: Recommended


Four Tet, 'Sixteen Oceans'
- under normal conditions, this would be the perfect album for a cold drink and a hammock under semi-tropical sunshine...but the smooth vibes and solid beats will work just as well in your socially distanced confines
- final rating: Highly Recommended


Jay Electronica, 'A Written Testimony'
- the much-celebrated producer has dropped his debut album at age 43 (that gives me hope!), filtering the constant struggle against racial inequality in the US through the teachings of the Nation of Islam, with samples aplenty filling out most songs ... the guest appearances of Jay-Z (who co-wrote all but two tracks) and Travis Scott never hurt, but Jay has chops of his own, making this a great debut
- final rating: Recommended


Acid Tongue, 'Bullies'
- channeling their solid 70s sound, this album cannot help but sound a bit like the Black Crowes; the album fails to offer consistent quality but "Walk Don't Run" is all kinds of awesome
- final rating: Cautiously Recommended


The other albums I listened to this weekend, all of which I would not recommend:
  • Circa Waves, 'Sad Happy' ... so polished and poppy and gross
  • Code Orange, 'Underneath' ... I mean if vocals that sound like burping are your thing...
  • Horse Lords, 'The Common Task' ... math rock? Nope, noise
  • Deap Lips, 'Deap Lips' ... just read the song titles and make up your own mind
  • Zelienople, 'Hold You Up' ... solid instrumentation, weak vocals
  • Love Regenerator, 'Love Regenerator 3' ... Calvin Harris, nuf said
  • ROOKIE, 'Rookie' ... this sounds like The Darkness if they weren't very interesting
  • Odd Couple, 'Universum Duo' ... German weirdness
  • Mo Lowda & the Humble, 'Ready Coat' ... every song sounds the same
If you've got a hankering for social-isolation-inspired new releases, here is the Indieheads list of releases for this week. Donald Glover also sneakily released a new album this weekend. Peace,
      Br.

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Danny Carey, you absolute legend

This. Makes. My. Head. Hurt. Here's Tool's drummer extraordinaire and polyrhythm king, Danny Carey...don't try to count along, just enjoy:


Peace,
    Br.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Curt's Countdown #10


The big man has done it! Ten countdowns! Here is his "Working Out Playlist"...


I like to lift - it’s a big part of my routine. I’ve learned over the years that routine is very important to me, especially for my mental health. Therapy, meds and exercise are the three pillars of mental health and I need them. Eliminate one for even a couple days and I’m slipping.

None of them are easy to maintain. Therapy is only available when group sessions are running. Fortunately I have a great social worker who helps fill the gaps and will accept my call anytime. Meds are easy to take, but also easy to forget. If I don’t prep them the night before, I’ll sometimes forget to take them during the busy following morning. And exercise is a lot of hard work. Just getting my girth to the gym is tough, especially on a lousy winter day.

What’s nice about working-out is my music. I love 90s tunes, but for whatever reason, that’s not my go to for lifting. I prefer one of two sounds: heavy/loud or early 90s dance/rap. Such a juxtaposition is probably funny to look at but for whatever reason, those are the styles I like when I’m lifting the heaviest weights. 

In this article, I’m going to share some of my favourite heavy and loud songs I enjoy to work-out to. Like my other pieces, I’ll restrict this list to one song per artist/group, listed alphabetically (otherwise it’d just be a bunch of Metallica songs, not that that’s a bad thing)!

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

"Danger! High Voltage"

This trip down memory lane (mid-2000s maybe?) speaks for itself...enjoy


Peace,
    Br.