Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Tunes Tastings


It's Tuesday, so it's time to talk about some new music.  I wasn't able to get to everything I wanted to last week, but here are some thoughts on the nine albums I was album to listen to.  This week marks a very nice shift, since one of the albums I was able to get my ears on is one that I wholeheartedly ADORE and wouldn't be shocked to see make the long haul to my Mouthi Album of the Year ballot at the end of the year.  It's that good.

But you'll have to read below to find out which album I'm talking about.



Adore Life [Savages]


So, I’m pretty removed from rock music as of late.  I’ve found this quite alarming as of late, but whatever, that’s for a different discussion; I know.  Anyways, I went into the new Savages album unaware of what it was going to be, sound like, feel like and so as it unfolded in a way that was quite unexpected I found myself confused by my endearment to it.  It’s rough, sometimes sloppy, unpolished, noisy, often clunky and yet wholly focused and determined.  Track to track to track, this grungy garage rock album utilizes a tamed version of punk to create a sound that feels very organic and honest.  Unlike that messy album from Hinds, Savages have delivered a tonally complex album that relishes in its own blemishes and feels wholly intended and masterfully thought out.

Grade:  
4 Miley Tongues
Why?  Thoughtful lyrics and confident musicianship help establish Adore Life as a sleeper hit, even this early in the year.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Rock Album of the Year:  Adore Life
Best Rock Song:  Sad Person

First World Problems [Failure Anthem]

Debut album from rock back Failure Anthem brings me back to my teenage years.  It’s weird to think that this sound here is almost dated, because it makes me feel very old, but this band feels like they must have grown up around the time when bands like Soil and Nickelback and Drowning Pool were trying to establish names for themselves in the industry.  That whole southern ‘nu-metal’ sound is very present here, but I can’t hate on it because that was my era and that was the music I was very much into when I was a teenager, so sometimes nostalgia can play into your hands well.  My main issue with this particular album is that it starts to grow tired.  About halfway through I find myself aching for some sort of variance, but much like the bands that serve as influences, the tracks here all start to sound very, very similar after a while.

Grade:  
3 Miley Tongues
Why?  While they have a nice sound, they don’t offer enough of a complete experience.  It is all very safe, all very expected and predictable. 

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best Rock Performance:  The Ghost Inside

Gamble for a Rose [King Charles]

So, folk rock is such a love of mine.  King Charles pretty much personifies everything I love about the genre.  If you took Glen Hansard, Frank Turner and Mumford & Sons, put them in a room together, and forced them to make music; Gamble for a Rose is what you’d get.  Poetic, effortless, catchy, fun rock music.  With vocals that are earthy enough to carry meaning but polished enough to caress the ears, Gamble for a Rose is chuck full of songs that excite and exemplify why this genre of music is so special.  In fact, I have a hard time deciding which song is the best song here, they are all so wonderfully composed.  From the vibrancy of Lady of the River to the restrained passions of Coco Chitty or In Silhouette to the grounded rock sound of Choke to the near pop vibes of Bright Thing to the inspired Irish undertones in Carry Me Away, this album is pretty much my everything right now.

Grade:  
4 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  From start to finish, this album never once leaves me wanting more, because it has it all.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Album of the Year:  Gamble for a Rose
Best Songwriting:  Coco Chitty
Best Male Vocal:  In Silhouette
Rock Album of the Year:  Gamble for a Rose
Best Rock Song:  Choke

In the Magic Hour [Aoife O’Donovan]

Let’s get this out of the way; if you have an aversion to folk/Celtic rock then skip this album entirely.  If you happen to (rightfully) adore it, then dive right into Adoife O’Donovan’s recent album, In the Magic Hour.  So much of this album is just that, pure magic, and I’m not even ashamed of that pun.  That’s how deserving the delicacy and transcendence of this album is.  I’m a huge fan of Lisa Hannigan, who got her start singing backup for Damien Rice, and O’Donovan fits beautifully into her framework as an artist, offering us sincerely sung poems that feel like culture on a platter.  O’Donovan’s earthy voice reaches beautiful notes as her pitch perfectly captures the almost ethereal quality of these tracks, sending absolute chills.  If ever there was a genre that captured the essence of ‘storytelling’, this is it (and you thought it was Country).

Grade:  
5 Miley Tongues
Why?  For every reason listed above, and many more.  I’m simply smitten at the moment!  The more I soak this in, the more perfect it becomes.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Album of the Year:  In the Magic Hour
Favorite Song of the Year:  Jupiter
Best Songwriting:  Jupiter
Best Female Vocal:  Stanley Park
Alternative Album of the Year:  In the Magic Hour
Best Alternative Song:  Jupiter
Best Cover Song:  Donal Og

Moth [Chairlift]

Ok, so I’m a huge fan of The Bird and the Bee, this fun pop duo who produce music that feels like such a spunky homage to the early, early years of pop music, and now I can add Chairlift to that category of music that makes me smile.  Moth is a very consistent, enjoyable pop record that explodes from track to track with this vintage sound that is modernized by electro-pop influences that add a beautiful bounciness to the album.  This texture bleeds into the pop perfection of Romeo and then transforms into an almost R&B loveliness in Show U Off.  What makes Moth so great is the variety of sounds that collate into something that feels cohesive without ever being predictable.  If you like your pop music with some serious POP, this is an album you need to give a spin.

Grade:  
4 Miley Tongues
Why?  Consistency is key in making this an album I really can’t wait to revisit throughout the year.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Pop Album of the Year:  Moth
Best Pop Song:  Romeo

Sex Love & Pain II [Tank]

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I really need twelve tracks of sex, sex and more sex”?  No?  I have, and I got it back in 1994 with Bush’s Sixteen Stone.  Tank achieves the same feat, and yet here I find myself far less interested and amused by the result.  Maybe it’s all in the delivery.  Tank, who is no stranger to overtly cringe-worthy sexual lyrics, ups the ante with this offering of song after song about sex in every degrading (depending on how you look at it) position imaginable with an array of guest vocals that offer little more than more verses about endless hours of pounding, eating, licking, grinding, touching and sweating. 

Grade:  
2 Miley Tongues
Why?  If only the musicality were something to write home about, but even that verges on ridiculously basic.  Unless you’re looking for a slew of new sexual terms to add to a list of words you never need to utter, this is probably skippable.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
NO

Skilled Mechanics [Tricky]

Not to jump right into an obvious pun here, but this one is a bit tricky.  I’m new to Tricky’s sound and his composition as an artist, and while I have listened to and quite enjoyed his last ‘spiritual’ escapade, False Idols, there is something almost too scattered and underdeveloped about Skilled Mechanics.  It’s almost…unskilled.  The issue I take with this album is that it mostly feels unfinished and under-thought.  I expected, and certainly wanted, more.  Everything feels minimalist, to the point where you almost have to ask “why” because there is so much more he could have done with this, and he’s certainly proven he can do more in the past.  The opening track, featuring vocals from Oh Land, is a great opener that sets up the album for failure, because nothing else can touch it.  Boy has some nice concepts, but feels cluttered in its delivery and becomes off-putting by the end.  The cover of Bother is nice, but verges on uninspired, unfortunately.  That pretty much sums up the album; uninspired.

Grade:  
2 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  I expected more from someone with such vision as an artist.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Best Cover Song:  Bother

The Waiting Room [Tindersticks]

There is something oddly charming about this eerie pop escapade, but I can’t quite figure out what it is.  Is it a bad sign when my favorite tracks are the two instrumentals, which almost capture an experimental indie movie score type feel?  I mean, both Follow Me and This Fear of Emptiness are exceptional tracks, filled with wonder and awe and musical ambition (whether it be the southern storybook emotion of Follow Me or the shuttering otherworldly fantasy of This Fear of Emptiness) and yet they only capture a small spark of what this bizarre album has to offer.  There are so many musical influences here that it is hard to pin down what this actually feels like.  I remember a friend of mine asking me a question while we were listening to an Arcade Fire album.  He said, “what kind of music is this?” and that is the same question I ask when listening to The Waiting Room.  It’s equal parts jazz, pop, rock, country…Chris Isaac…and then it all gets kind of squished into this sound that feels almost cinematic.  If the film noirs of the 50’s were musicals, this is how they would have sounded. 

Grade:  
Somewhere Between
3 Miley Tongues
 &
5 Miley Tongues

Why?  I need to listen to this a couple hundred more times because, quite frankly, I can’t tell if I like this, love this or hate this.  I think the fact that I’m willing to listen to it over and over to find out kind of answers this for me, but whatever.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Album of the Year:  The Waiting Room (?)
Favorite Song of the Year:  This Fear of Emptiness (?)
Best Songwriting:  Second Chance Man (?)
Best Collaborative Vocal:  We Are Dreamers! (?)
Alternative Album of the Year:  The Waiting Room (?)
Best Alternative Song:  This Fear of Emptiness (?)

Wild Youth [Steve Angello]

Feeling very much in the vein of Tiesto, Steve Angello’s debut album is an interesting barrage of pop heavy dance tracks that utilize a slew of vocal performers we’ve never heard of to create a tapestry of tracks that maintain their youthful vibrancy through and through.  Some shine more than others, and there are moments when I wish Angello had more confidence in his own abilities (his solo track, Tiger, is a highlight of the album), but overall this is one fun ride for anyone who enjoys the current mainstream fascination with pop dance tracks.  I would have loved for Angello to push boundaries a little more here, and he had moments where that would have been possible.  His choices to utilize children’s chants in Children of the Wild could have been more effective had it been a little sharper, been more of a primary focus.  Sometimes the overt poppy nature of the experience feels too cliché, and I do wish that he would have darkened up some of the corners, giving us a little more edge, but at the end of the day; I really, really liked this.

Grade:  
3 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  Short of perfection, it still has shining moments and is an album that is endlessly listenable, even if the possibilities of what this could have been run deeper than the finished product.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best Dance/Electronica Song:  Stay (feat. Saints of Valory)

10 comments:

  1. Great work! I need to listen to several of these, especially Gamble for a Rose, In the Magic Hour, The Waiting Room, Moth, Adore Life, and Wild Youth. I'll DM you when I start checking these out. ;)

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    1. EEK! I can't wait to get those DMs!

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  2. Sounds like you had a really good week, listening wise. I will check a few of these out, but I will probably skip the Celtic rock. Sorry.

    I'm most amused and intrigued by your review of the Tindersticks album. I'll make a point to check that one out.

    So you're telling me Tank made a Chris Brown or Trey Songz album. It sounds emblematic of one of the biggest problems with current R&B, in my opinion. There is hardly any poetry in the lyrics and the dominant topic has changed from love to sex. This is especially true of the male artists who are lacking both maturity and nuance. Sex has always been a major topic of the genre, but it was once referenced in subtle and witty ways. These guys forego those things and basically make audio porn. I call it the R. Kelly Effect. Once he found success talking bluntly about his bedroom prowess, everyone started to do the same. Now, those types of songs permeate urban radio. R&B artists who still value skillful songwriting in place of telling you they've biggest bestest dick in the world, or the sweetest wettest va-jay-jay are marginalized and/or relegated to having even their newest material being played as the oldies R&B stations that cater to the 35 and over crowd.

    Okay, I'm done ranting. Great post.

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    1. The worst thing is that Tank can't really sing. Like, at least Trey Songz makes it sound good.

      But Trey has fallen into lackluster territory with his last few albums. I was once a big fan...now...not so much.

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  3. The celtic album you love sounds like an album I may like. I think I shall pass on the sex album-sounds like the person isn't getting any

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    1. LOL, I wish I had passed on the sex album.

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  4. I just listened to the new Savages. Not as good as the first album but man, it is fucking intense. Then again, I'm a sucker for brutal post-punk based music as it's raw and to the fucking point.

    The only other new album I need to hear that I have is the new Suede album. Fucking love that band.

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    1. I tried pulling up the Suede album, but it's not available on Spotify. Hopefully I can get my hands on it soon.

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  5. I hadn't heard of most of these Drew, but the album covers are quite striking. Great that you've been keeping up w/ Tuesday Tunes Tasting!

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    1. There was some interesting stuff here...but this coming post is even better. Best week yet!

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