Prepared: Trust Me (BART Records, 2017)
22 minutes of heartfelt, emo punk with great energy. The guitar player is surprisingly engaging as you don’t usually get super interesting guitar playing on straight punk records.
The strength of this record lies in its ability to express/release a lot of negative emotions (frustration, desperation, sadness, anger, etc) with somewhat simple musical elements and allow listeners to have a similar release. And it accomplishes this with a nakedness and/or lack of pretension — it just goes right to it and lets it out. This to me is the essence of great punk rock.
Dead Ranch: Brumation (No List Records, 2017)
Regular readers know of my inner toil regarding heavy metal singers. I don’t like the cavemen, nor do I like the epic and operatic high range classic metal singers. I like this singer a bunch, he works for me. He’s a little punk, a little post-rock, and a little metal in places. There are places where he has a little Kurt Cobain working.
The guitar player is similar in his styles — he’s got some punk, some post-rock, some classic hard rock, and some metal in his playing.
That’s the formula, blending these various sub genres but at the end of the day are tunes good and is the music fresh? Yes is my answer. While I often bemoan shiny music custom aimed at the heart of alienated suburban youth, this is high quality shit for the fringey upset folks in Westchester county, Chicago suburbs etc.
Nice sounds and tones, really energetic playing and a really good singer.
Power Trip: Nightmare Logic (Southern Lord, 2017)
This is not a concept record — well, it is a concept record but it’s a rather simple concept. 32 minutes of smacking the listener around. Certainly not the most melted or manic metal out there, this is a no nonsense shot to the dome.
I would say the guitar sound and the playing slightly star here, but the band locks together and stomps your brains in. The drummer engages in some undercover swinging, just a wee bit and hiw work subtly changes the vibe of the record. Some hardcore, some classic metal, it’s a piquant blend of Metallica and Motorhead but without the redneck nonsense of Metallica and Lemmy’s, well I’m not really sure what Lemmy was about. Talk about a concept, fucking Lemmy.
In this fantastic Trump era (which I have really been enjoying), I spin the tune Executioner’s Axe daily to get the hate levels up.
Reverend Peyton: Front Porch Sessions (Family Owned Records, 2017)
I really loved Reverend Peyton’s last record, the rocking So Delicious but this almost solo record is growing on me.
I spend a lot of time saying this singer is not working for me, I don’t like their vibe, the delivery, etc but Reverend Peyton has a strange, somewhat nerdy voice but I dig it. I can see how it might annoy others but I dig its uniqueness, it’s not rational.
It’s just Peyton and his guitar on this set. He has multitracked the guitars so it’s not one guitar accompanying his voice. His guitar playing is not super flashy but he’s got skills — he can outduel Taylor Swift on the guitar.
If you dig the blues and you dig his voice then I’ve hooked you up, but if you don’t feel his tone and delivery well…this might not be for you.
Fofoulah: Bene Bon EP (Loop Records, 2013)
This 29 minute 6 song EP by a band out of London combines hand drumming with elements of Afrobeat and Senegalese singing. The drumming is really great, the guitar player sounds like he’s listened to a lot of the Edge from U2, but Edge’s long lost black brother from Africa. The singer is very good but doesn’t stand out as much as the drumming. The spirit of the music is neither Afrobeat or Afropop.
The second song (the title track) is my favorite, my least favorite is the fourth song but these guys definitely bring a different recipe to their African music.
Orquestra Baobob: Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng (World Circuit, 2017)
This band has been around for decades but this record introduces a kora player and brings a sweeter African salsa sound than some of their classic burning jams (and I do mean straight up, dome cracking burning). Feel free to check out Pirate’s Choice and other classics, those are incredible records as well.
Midtempo jams with super flavorful horn lines and beautiful singing.
Divanhana: Zukva: Sevdah from Bosnia’s Finest (ARC, 2016)
This is the kind of band that can play in the dark with one hand and it will sound great. They have crazy playing skills. The female singer has a strong and beautiful voice — she does none of the annoying things a bad singer can do.
The only reason this record is not in the best of year section is that after the first three songs it slows down. I wanted it to be smoking all the way through. I’ve clipped two of the first three tunes below so you get a sense of what these guys can do when they put the pedal to the metal.
The instrumentation is vocal, piano, accordion, bass guitar, drums, and percussion. I hear some tuba, nylon string guitar and clarinet in some of the tunes so it’s not fixed. I dig the accordion player and the singer the most.