Since, in my wisdom, I decided to launch this Blog at the end of February, I have almost 2 months worth of music to run through. I will keep this as brief as I can as there’s a lot to get through.
The first Friday in January saw more of the same from Boston based faux-Irish punk rockers Dropkick Murphys in the form of “11 Stories of Pain & Glory“; and “Echolation“, the debut from rock “supergroup” Gone is Gone, made up of members of Mastodon, Queens of the Stone Age and At The Drive-in. The former is not particularly exciting, the kind of shout-along Celtic punk rock that the Dropkicks can probably play in their sleep (5/10), whilst the latter impressed me with its atmospheric nu-metal influenced hard rock (7/10).
The second week in January brought the return of The Flaming Lips’ “Oczy Mlody“, folk-pop songstress Julie Byrne‘s second album “Not Even Happiness“, the returns of metal stalwarts Sepultura (with “Machine Messiah“) and electro-indie-pop trio The XX. I quite like The Flaming Lips, but this is them at their weirdest and I just don’t “get it”(3/10). My disappointment continued with The XX, which to me sounded like terrible commercial dance-pop and was like a much more mainstream version of Jamie XX’s solo stuff than it was to the band’s previous releases (2/10). Julie Byne was a bit hit and miss – the plodding opener “Follow my Voice” wasn’t a great introduction to the album but it does pick up (5/10). Thank goodness for Sepultura as”Machine Messiah” is one of their best releases in years. (7/10).
Then came “Wave 1” of John Mayer‘s new album “In Search of Everything” (he is releasing 4 tracks each month), AFI‘s “The Blood Album“, and a more commercial return for Foxygen. I like John Mayer, he’s a very talented musician, and his “Where The Light Is…” live album is amongst my most listened to albums, but I often find his studio recordings to be very over polished. The 4 tracks on this EP manage to strike the right balance though and I’ve been pleasantly surprised (7/10). Foxygen have gone musical theatre influenced indie-pop on us and it’s very good (8/10)! Unlike Foxygen, it’s more of the same pop and goth tinged pop-punk/emo from AFI (6/10).
The last week of January brought the long awaited return of Japandroids, who carried on with “Near to the Wild Hearts of Life” where they left off 5 years ago (8/10). Another return this week, this time from ageing punks TSOL who bring us “The Trigger Complex” after a 6 year hiatus. Slightly less “out there” than they were in their youth, but still the familiar TSOL pop-punk sound (7/10).
February started in disappointing style – Black Star Riders are still trying too hard to sound like Thin Lizzy on “Heavy Fire” (5/10), and Surfer Blood‘s “Snowdonia” is steady yet unspectacular indie-rock (6/10)
Next up was former Something Corporate frontman Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, whose “Zombies on Broadway” album dumps the stripped down piano for a bigger sound, and it’s a pop masterpiece (9/10). Rag N Bone Man brought his breakthrough album “Human“, bringing his unique blend of blues and hip-hop, with a splash of “Male Amy Winehouse” for good measure (7/10). Aussie hip-hop group Thundamentals also returned this week with their “Everyone We Know” album, with some slick rhymes pop hooks (7/10).
The last Friday of my catch up, the 17th February, was one I’d been looking forward to all year – new albums from Ryan Adams and Son Volt. Neither disappointed! Adams’ “Prisoner” gave us the 80s rock influenced “Do You Still Love Me” followed by a mix of The Smiths, a laid-back Springsteen and classic Ryan Adams as he documents his divorce from Mandy Moore (8.5/10). Alt-country trailblazers Son Volt bring a blues feel to their appropriately-named album “Notes of Blue” it’s probably their best album since 1995’s “Trace” (9/10). These 2 albums overshadowed my other listens of the week, being Amy Macdonald‘s folk tinged pop in “Under Stars” (6.5/10) and The Orwells lacklustre “Terrible Human Beings“, their follow up to 2014’s “Disgraceland” (6/10).
Hopefully that covers everything I’ve listened to this year so far. Please check out my playlist of my favourite tracks of the year so far, which is regularly updated and can be found here.
I hope to post my views on some 24th February releases (John Mayer, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Los Campesinos! and Save Ferris) in the next couple of days.