New Release Report: April 2017
Old friends may not believe what they’ve been reading so far this year. How can Scott be so positive these days? This is so not like him.
It’s pretty simple. It’s hard for me to be snarky when there’s so much great new music coming out. As I’ve said in earlier reports, 2017 is turning into an extremely strong year for new music, and April continues this trend. Every week there’s at least a couple of new records worth adding to my collection. When was the last time that happened.
Add to that the glorious finds on Record Store Day - Jason Isbell, Drive-By Truckers, Big Star, Evan Dando, The Smiths. If you want more info on those releases, check out last week’s Live Ledge.
Here’s a dozen of April’s highlights:
Buttertones, Gravedigging. This is the great unknown find of this month. Take a bit of The Fleshtones and Lyres, and add all sorts of other elements. What comes out of this fine mixture of surf, garage, punk, and even a shade of Americana is a collection of party songs that should liven up any late night listening session.
White Reaper, The World’s Best American Band. Speaking of surprises, it’s about three seconds into this album that one realizes this isn’t the same band that put out 2015’s “White Reaper Does It Again”. The Louisville garage-punk band has tightened up the riffs and fleshed out the production to become a modern day mix of Cheap Trick, Kiss and Thin Lizzy.
CFM, Dichotomy Desaturated. Did you like the self-titled Ty Segall album that came out at the beginning of the year? Then you’re sure to love the second album by Segall cohort Charles Moothart. Like the Segall album, Moothart meanders in and out of various styles. There’s plenty of bursts of power like on the debut record but he also reveals a quieter side. (I almost typed “softer side” but that would not fit at all as even the acoustic-based tracks tend to include a heavy riff or two.)
Guided By Voices, August By Cake. It’s frustrating to be a Robert Pollard fan. Unless you’re rich, you really can’t afford to keep up with his deluge of records under seemingly a dozen or so different names. Honestly, the quality control sometimes suffers. One would think that this would certainly be the case on this record as well, as it’s the first double album he’s ever released (outside of compilations, of course). Yet what has been advertised as his 100th album is also his strongest record in well over a decade. There’s little filler here. There’s next to know 30 second ditties. From top to bottom all of the songs are fully fleshed out.
New Pornographers, Whiteout Conditions. I’ve admittedly never been as big of a fan of this Canadian “supergroup” as most people. In fact, I’d much rather listen to a solo Neko Case record. Yet this is a nice collection of power pop
Ray Davies, Americana. A few years ago, Davies released a memoir detailing not only the Kinks troubled relationship with the U.S. but his more recent years living in New Orleans (which included a near-fatal shooting in a botched robbery). His first record of new material in almost a full decade is inspired by that book, and features Minneapolis’ greatest Americana act, The Jayhawks, as his band. This is an inspired pairing.
Jay Som, Everybody Works. A trumpet prodigy while growing up in Oakland, Melina Duterte began recording pop songs in her bedroom. Under the name Jay Som, she became noticed after Polyvinyl Records discovered her bandcamp page. Still recording in her bedroom and still playing all of the instruments, the first release on the label jumps back and forth between rock, funk, folk, and even a pinch of contemporary pop.
Warm Soda, I Don't Wanna Grow Up. Matthew Melton is a power-pop genius. If you enjoy catchy, revved-up garage-oriented rock and roll, you NEED to pick up the fourth and final album of Melton’s patented brand of “glitter fuzz”.
Thurston Moore, Rock N Roll Consciousness. It’s a little scary to find out that the producer of Adele and Coldplay (along with dozens of other pop stars) is behind the boards for the latest release by the ex-Sonic Youth leader. Ignore that. This is still the man who led that former band’s masterpiece, “Sister”, 30 years ago. The recording may be infinitely better than it was back then, but this is still primarily a collection of extended guitar workouts.
Juliana Hatfield, Pussycat. Did you know that Juliana Hatfield is not a Trump fan? If you didn’t before, you certainly will after hearing this record. Don’t let the political aspect cause you to shy away, though. Hatfield has always had a gift for catchy pop songs, and her melodic work shines even as she’s tearing him (and his colleagues) to shreds.
Robyn Hitchcock, Robyn Hitchcock. The former Soft Boys leader has never put out a truly bad album, but it’s been quite some time since he’s put out something that is strong from start to finish. On this record, however, the 63 year-old eccentric songwriter sounds downright refreshed. He still sounds like the bastard son of Syd Barrett and John Lennon, but producer Brendan Benson appears to have pushed him to sound more aggressive than he has in quite some time.
Mark Lanegan, Gargoyle. The former singer of Screaming Trees has always had one of the best deep voices in rock. Unlike most of his early 90’s Seattle cohorts, Lanegan has always been willing to take a few chances. He continues his varying passions on the tenth album of his career, putting his leathery voice to not only traditional rock but elements of electronica and Krautrock. It’s easy to see why the likes of Isobel Campbell, Moby, and Soulsavers have elicited his services.
To hear tracks from these, and other recent releases, tune in to this week’s Live Ledge on realpunkradio this Friday night at 7 pm ET.