Slaughter Beach, Dog-Safe and Also No Fear

On his third record under the Slaughter Beach, Dog moniker, Jake Ewald has found a way to be an emotional and interesting storyteller.  Safe and Also No Fear is the former Modern Baseball singer’s most consistent effort with the project yet.  While the musician still paints very specific sketches of people and places, he isn’t as concerned about stories, as he was on Welcome, or finding a new voice for himself, as he was on Birdie.  Safe has the confidence of a band that have finally found their voice and wanted to make a great record that expands on what they’ve built. Continue reading

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Steady Hands-Truth in Comedy

     Supposedly, the ancient Persians would make laws, and then, they would get drunk to make sure they made the right law.  Looking through history, some of our greatest thinkers, writers, and figures have been drunks, and it’s makes you think maybe the Persians had something.  That’s not to say all important life decisions should be decided when teetering on a blackout, but sometimes brilliance can be whiskey drenched.  Steady Hands explore the inner workings of human nature, while downing a Pabst Blue Ribbon on their proper debut album Truth in Comedy.   Continue reading

Mount Eerie-Now Only

               This is all terrible to write about.  Last year’s A Crow Looked at Me was a career-defining album for Phil Elverum.  That’s terrible to say, because it’s an album so rooted in the tragic loss of his wife, Geneviève.  It’s also somewhat ignorant, because Elverum had been working as a musician for over two decades.  While a popular artist in his own rite, A Crow Looked at Me was the sort of album that propelled him into a certain level of mainstream success.  His near-immediate follow-up Now Only should not be nearly as good as it is, but it’s a similarly haunting and honest album. Continue reading

Titus Andronicus-A Productive Cough

To say I wasn’t really looking forward to Titus Andronicus’ new album wouldn’t be right.  I really wanted to hear it, but I also planned to dislike it.  In the interview that was released with “Number One (In New York),” Patrick Stickles declared that A Productive Cough would have no “punk bangers.”  Those were my favorite Titus songs, and now Stickles wanted to get rid of them?  These fears evaporated upon listening to “Number One.”  A Productive Cough doesn’t have the same sort of gritty, shout-along songs like “Dimed Out” or “A More Perfect Union,” but the songs aren’t any less punk bangers. Continue reading

Brian Fallon-Sleepwalkers

Where Painkillers served to bridge the gap from the crumbling Gaslight Anthem’s worst album to Brian Fallon’s solo career, Sleepwalkers sees Fallon comfortable in a singer-songwriter role.  His sophomore solo effort marks a massive step up from the previous album.  Fallon leans on the nostalgia that made him a punk celebrity, and the album is a good supplement to The Gaslight Anthem reunion this summer. Continue reading

Justin Timberlake-Man of the Woods

 

              This is not the folktronica reinvention we were promised.  Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods was hyped to sound like it was his 22, A Million.  To be fair, this was all speculation; all we had confirmed was that this was going to be a return to Timberlake’s Tennessee roots.  In a sense, it succeeds. JT has gone bro-country; save for some of the extra synth’s thrown in.  Man of the Woods is an earnest attempt at artistry, but it sees Timberlake slouching into his iconic status. Continue reading

The Front Bottoms-Terminal 5, NY-11/25/17

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Pop-punk isn’t really the type of scene that bands really grow into large acts in; emo is much more unlikely.  Still, against all odds, The Front Bottoms have reared their heads out of a niche corner in an underground scene and become full-fledged rockstars.  Seeing them headline Terminal 5, the largest venue the band has ever headlined, it was hard not to get teary-eyed with pride. Continue reading

Spit Some Blood at the Camera: the Mountain Goats-Brooklyn Steel, NY 11/12/17

I never expected to ever hear John Darnielle play a guitar solo, and perhaps, Darnielle isn’t the type of frontman that should take a solo.  Still, when there’s an excellent show with powerful emotions all around, sometimes you just need to take a solo, and your audience will eat it up with pleasure.  The Mountain Goats’ Brooklyn Steel show on Sunday night was a mutually cathartic experience with occasional fist-pounding admiration and some well-earned John Darnielle shredding. Continue reading

Slaughter Beach, Dog-Birdie

It’s not really shocking to find that Jake Ewald is a massive fan of the Mountain Goats and The Weakerthans.  His Modern Baseball songs were always incredibly descriptive and made mundane events seem much more fascinating with his lyrics.  It’s unsurprising that his second album from his Slaughter Beach, Dog outfit bares a strong resemblance to The Weakerthans’ John K. Samson’s recent solo effort.  Birdie is also much more of a jangle-pop effort than even last year’s WelcomeBirdie seems to be truer to Ewald’s life than the first Slaughter Beach, Dog album in a too sweet for its own good way. Continue reading

The Front Bottoms-Going Grey

The Front Bottoms were at one time leading figures in the emo-revival.  A weird pop-punk band from New Jersey that let indie rock and folk influences bleed through.  They had lyrics that masked emotion through humor and wits.  Also, they were huge.  They could book their own festival at New York’s Webster Hall with their friends and favorite bands and sell it out.  They toured with emo-vets Brand New on numerous occasions and wrote one of the decades’ best songs about life on the roadBack On Top was a major creative leap for the band, adding much more electric instrumentation than before, and it paid off.  The best songs off Back On Top could square off with any number of songs from their self-titled album or Talon of Hawk.  Unfortunately, Going Grey shows them doing just that: greying into a mediocre band. Continue reading