Turn your gaze up. The naked stars are out. The boombox is cranked to 11, salty air on the fresh breeze, and cool sand squeezes between your toes. You enjoy friendly conversation at length and share some laughs. It is “Smile Time”…so much so that your jaws hurt. Find the cooler covered in wet sand and grab some cold beers. Time to wax up the Hobie longboard for tomorrow A.M.’s rally, and gather ’round a warm fire dug into the sand. After a long sunny Saturday in the surf, that sounds epic to me. Now picture this vibe in album form. That is the newest effort from Babe Rainbow, The Organic Band, wrapped in a tight wetsuit. It is Saturday Night.
As previously mentioned on this site, I’ve been taking a deep dive into blues, R&B, gospel and just about all things early Southern soul music over the last few years. This involved a trek to Memphis and the incredible Stax museum paired with hours digging through the blues and soul section of every Record shop and market I frequent during my travels. It has become an obsession to soak up everything I can about the genre, peoples and communities who created this music. After all that time absorbing the music and culture, I was a bit shocked when Elizabeth King came up in a press email and I was unfamiliar with her brand of sacred soul music. Her career is drenched in the very essence of Southern gospel soul music and I am beyond pleased to share my thoughts on her new album I Got a Love today. Hit the jump for my full thoughts and review.
After an elderly woman goes missing in the woods surrounding her home, a mother and daughter return home to find her but are haunted by her ever worsening, and all consuming, dementia.
Relic comes out this Friday, July 10th via all streaming platforms and I’ve got a review for you if you’re into the horror/thriller genre.
Please hit the jump for my thoughts on this upcoming film by Natalie Erika James.
When looking back on my early days of music discovery, the years when you found “the good stuff”, the late 90s and early 00s were likely the most important time for me. This was a time when I began to transition from the middle school days of mostly radio rock n roll towards a more indie, underground scene. Coming out of Kansas at the time were bands like The Get Up Kids, Appleseed Cast, The Anniversary, and of course, Ultimate Fakebook. Though maybe not as widely known as those other bands, the group was equally as important to me and to that scene. So it of course brings me great pleasure to review Ultimate Fakebook’s first album in over 10 years, The Preserving Machine. Hit the jump for my thoughts on this long awaited album.
In these weird times we’re living in, it seems like a perfect moment to get some album reviews up since we are major slackers in that category. It makes it east to motivate for a review when a band is kind enough to go out of their way to send us a physical copy of their release. We are hoarders people! My new pals in the German based band Pretty Lightning sent me their new album Jangle Bowls and I’m going to offer my thoughts on it after the jump. Remember, that I’ve stopped traditional reviews and tend to offer a more creative take on opinion pieces.
We still write album reviews? You’re damn right we do! Though it’s been a bit of time (okay maybe a lot of time), we do still like to talk about music and the full album experience. We currently live in a very “right now” society where things need to deliver fast and immediately, but the ATH team still loves a great record. This review of a great record features Scranton, PA based The Menzingers and their new album Hello Exile. Hit the jump for some words and thoughts.
Two couples travel to a remote rental home in the desert for a sex and drug fueled escape from reality. As tensions escalate over the course of a debaucherous night, things take an unexpected turn when a woman (Fairuza Balk) claiming to be a neighbor with car trouble shows up at the door. She seems harmless enough… or so they think.
Hit the jump for my thoughts on the film.
Of all the solo-powerhouses in the indie rock / folk world, few have resonated with me quite as much as the work of Sharon Van Etten. At this point, I’m sure you’re quite familiar with her story: small time broody indie-nobody quietly releases album after album of her own unique brand of raw and powerful music that sits well with fans of The National, Bon Iver, Beirut. Oddly enough, these incredible records like 2014’sAre We There,and 2012’s Trampfailed to push Van Etten into the main fray of the indie world. Cut to 2019: she’s on billboards in NYC, playing Jimmy Kimmel, and pretty much every music publication under the face of the sun is talking about Sharon.
The first thing I noticed at her ACL Festival performance back in October, at which she played a few of the tracks from her new record, is that the guitar was missing. While these tracks–what I came to find out would be the singles for this release–came with a hard bite, the meat of most of the songs were heavy synths played by the inimitable Heather Woods Broderick. We got a bit of a taste of this direction onAre We There,though it was always countered with guitar, be it acoustic or electric. Singles “Comeback Kid,” “Jupiter 4,” and “Seventeen,” as they were released all confirmed this synthy-almost-pop approach, but Van Etten’s sulky vocals kept them grounded in her classic style. On “Comeback Kid,” we have big drums, wailing synths, and Van Etten’s voice as commanding as we’ve ever seen it. “Seventeen” sees her downright screaming, whereas “Jupiter 4” seemingly brings us back to the kind of track we’ve come to expect from Van Etten.
Each of these songs, and the whole record for the most part is a look back on past. This perspective shines brightest in the leaps SVE takes on “Jupiter 4” and “You Shadow.” The former is seeping with desperation and longing to be loved and the insane anticipation of stumbling into something good: “It’s true, that everyone would like to have met / a love so real.” The track a gorgeous love song–though it’s heavy in atmospheric synth, you get a little bit of guitar cutting in, but Van Etten’s vocals take the center. This song is a leap: like most SVE tracks, it’s rooted in this slow pace that seems ominous, but the lyrics are some of the most heart-warming we’ve ever heard from her. She confesses this love continues to move her now: “Turning the wheel on my street / my heart still skips a beat.” This song is a sincere and steadfast confession of being moved by the power of loving someone else, which is a feat to accomplish without sounding corny or trite.
“You Shadow” comes later on and takes the approach of a sing-song-y taunt you’d expect to hear in an argument between teenagers; it’s actually probably the most ‘pop’ track we’ve ever heard from SVE and it’s infectious. Though simple, the song’s melody gets wedged in to your head. The crunchy sounds are juxtaposed well by lighter, bouncy keys. The whole number has this laid back groove to it, but the casualness of the beat and the smooth delivery from Van Etten is contrasted highly in the bridge, where we get the sweeping power vocals once more. It’s a weird combination, but the result doubles down on the strength of the words Van Etten jeers: “You ain’t nothing / You never won.” One moment she’s telling us a story from the perspective of someone emotionally removed, bitter. Next in the bridge, she’s right back in the moment, spilling with emotions and raw anger.
SVE made a lot of bold sonic changes onRemind Me Tomorrow and the two tracks I described were examples of these choices paying off in a big way, but the rest of the album doesn’t always offer that same kind of payoff. I find myself not quite connecting with every song as I’d like to, and as I have in the past. Don’t get me wrong, in the end,Remind MeTomorrowis a good record, but it pales in comparison to her past two albums both in songwriting strength, and in musicality. Sharon Van Etten is immensely talented and well-deserving of the moment she’s having, but this record feels less vulnerable, which is what I’ve always found to be a ridiculously compelling factor (if not the most compelling factor) of her music. Oddly enough, though the sound is bigger than she’s ever done before, Van Etten is emotionally guarded behind those buzzing synths.
Perhaps with revisited listening the guard will come down, Remind Me (to listen again) Tomorrow.
Though I’ve been hard pressed to afford the great many offerings from Waxwork Records, I have always admired their work and dreamed of owning everything in their discography. Part of it is the beautiful artwork and images the company creates for the re-releases and, of course, the other part is my fandom of horror movies and cult classics. So maybe you can imagine me geeking out when the company sent me a few records to review. Yeah, I nerded out a bit. With that said, I’m happy to announce my first ever Waxwork review is the creepy soundtrack from the amazing horror throwback Drag Me to Hell. Hit the jump for more.
I had to search our own site to find out how long it’s been since I’ve posted an album review and I will refrain from embarrassing myself with the exact timeframe, though you could search yourself I guess. We as an ATH staff have been neglectful as a whole when it comes to album reviews and we are hoping to rectify this moving forward. Hopefully you can understand that if an album has brought me out of my review slumber it must be a great one. The very soon to be released new album from Dan Mangan, More Or Less, is just such an album because, holy hell, it’s impressive. Hit the jump for some thoughts, photos, and tunes.