Song Spotlight: Fan The Flames – Sheer Mag

Sometimes, you just need a little loud and raucous rock’n’roll. This gutsy quintet from Philadelphia provides just that. They’ve only released a couple of EPs so far, and I wouldn’t say they are the greatest rock’n’roll song writers yet, but their send EP was better than their first, and their music is loud and rowdy and it works.

Album Review: SVIIB – School of Seven Bells

SVIIB is the 4th and, regrettably, final studio album from dream-pop/synth-pop band School of Seven Bells. Benjamin Curtis, one of the principles in the band died from lymphoma during the middle of recording the album, which was finished by his romantic and creative partner, Alejandra Deheza, with the support and assistance of  producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen.

The album set the tone with the driven and exultant Ablaze, a song about being brought to life again. “You set my heart ablaze”, sings Deheza, and the song makes you feel it.  As the album progresses, it is both elegiac and sweetly melancholic, with clear remembrances of one partner for another, and a joy expressed in having had the experience.

Recommendation: Buy It

Songs I have a Playlist For: Ablaze, Open Your Eyes. A Thousand Times More, Elias

Clunkers I will Thumbs Down: Didn’t have one for this album.

Album releases, starting February 26th

Febuary 26th:
Loop the Loop – Bullion
Meet The Humans – Steve Mason
When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired – Mothers
Grandfeathered – Pinkshinyultrablast
At Hope’s Ravine – Holy Esque
Magnetic Season – Mugstar
Stargazer – Golden Dawn Arkestra
Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled – Donovan Woods
You’re a Man Now, Boy – Raleigh Richards
First Light – Sennen
Hold On Dreamer – Frøkedal
Post Society – Voivod
SVIIB – School of Seven Bells
Dig In Deep – Bonnie Raitt
Outdoor Museum of Fractals/557Hz – James Holden, Camilo Tirado, & Luke Abbot
Feels – Feels
The Ridge – Sara Neufeld
Plaza – Quilt
How to Dance – Mount Moriah
Hills End – DMA’s
Honest Man – Matt Andersen
Death Index – Death Index
Imperium Simulacra – Black Cobra
99¢ – Santigold
Going Down in History – Waco Brothers
For All Kings – Anthrax
Higher Power – The Dirty Nil
I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It- The 1975
Sisters – Odd Nosdam
Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin – Willie Nelson
Convenanza – Andy Weatherall
Talk To Me So I Can Fall Asleep – Crater
GeorgeFest: A Night To Celebrate the Music of George Harrison – Various Artists
Stranger Things – Yuck
This Unruly Mess I’ve Made – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
How Can We Fix This? – Shields
Escapism – Library Tapes
Keep It Together – Lily and Madeline
This life denied me your love – Gorgio Tuma
Heartwatch – Heartwatch
2013 – Meilyr Jones
Mother Town Hall – Bill Pritchard
G0d Don’t Ever Change, The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson – Various Artists
Vroom Vroom – Charlie XCX
NIHL – Altarage
Perfect Tense- Fahlula
Live From Lexxi’s Mom’s Garage – Steel Panther
Salvation (Deluxe Edition) – Madeline Juno
The Occultation Of Light – Mondo Drag
Sur le fil du rasoir – Kool Shen
Ride of Your Life – Tinashe

Album Review: My Wild West – Lissie

My Wild West opens with a kind of maudlin reminiscence of California in Hollywood. I feel like this entire album is a forlorn breakup album with LA or California…I’m not exactly sure which.

Not that it means My Wild West is a bad album. It’s just a little self-absorbed at times. Lissie is a good song writer, with a taste for pretty straightforward pop, and occasionally something more folk-inflected. He voice is always a little husky, a little gravely. It’s just that sometimes, she a little too slick for her own good.

In any event, the album starts out with a breakup song for  some part of her life, and ends up with a love song for some new part of her life, in Ojai, which is clearly a about her retreat and rejuvenation in the moderately remote Ojai, California. In between, she has some chargier stuff (My Wild West, Hero, Daughters) and some stuff that’s a little more reflective and introspective (Stay, Go For a Walk).

Recommendation: Stream It

Songs I Have a Playlist For: Don’t You Give Up On Me, Together or Apart, Hollywood

Clunkers I Will Thumbs Down: Hero

Song Spotlight: Elysium – Bear’s Den

If you hadn’t figured it out by looking at my favorites list, or some of the other song spotlights, I have a fondness for neo-folk bands, especially those with unusual instrumentation.

I actually discovered Bear’s Den relatively recently, while wandering around at random on YouTube and I’ve liked what I’ve seen of theirs. I like the play of the trumpet against the guitars and banjo here. They could use a little more dynamic range, but it’s a pretty song and I enjoyed it.

Album Releases starting February 19th

February 19:
Traditional Synthesizer Music – Venetian Snares
Control – Rosie Lowe
Colour Theory – Submotion Orchestra
Armour – Rae Spoon
Velvet Arc – Chuck Johnson
Golden Daze – Golden Daze
Voix – Aluk Todolo
DJ-Kicks – Moodymann
Love Yes – Teen
Basar – Africaine 808
Demain Est Une Autre Nutt – Essaie Pas
Ultimate Care II – Matmok
Side Pony – Lake Street Dive
In My Mind – BJ the Chicago Kid
On Vacation – CFCF
DAZE – Brood Ma
Mowing – Michael Nau
Painting With – Animal Collective
Livin’ On A High Note – Mavis Staples
neo – So Pitted
The Heretic’s Bargain – Rangda
Seth Bogart – Seth Bogart
Secrets – Deep Sea Diver
Sittin’ Heavy – Monster Truck
Life Of Pause – Wild Nothing
Victorious – Wolf Mother
Taking One for the Team – Simple Plan
Need Your Light – Ra Ra Riot
Reverie – Postiljonen
Banshee – The Cave Singers
Good To Love – FKA Twigs
Grasque – Choir of Young Believers
114 – Lais
Dig Deep – After the Burial
Coming Down: Sessions In April – Marching Church
The Infinite Disclosure of Life Went Silent – Goldlog
Cosmosis Vol 2. – Fholston Paradigm
Ritualize – Lushlife
Javelin – Jordan Klassen
Hoops – The Rubens
Lighter in the Dark – Sister Hazel
Heavy Crown – Last In Line
EP – C Duncan
Something – Purling Hiss
The Stranger – Creeper
Lunar Prelude – Delain
Benny… – Benny Hester[reissue]
Chixtape 3- Tory Lanez
Come Find Yourself (201th Anniversary Edition) – Fun Lovin’ Criminals
Living Hour – Living Hour
Star Wars Headspace – Various Artists
Night Flowers – Tiny Deaths
The Art of the Hustle – Yo Gotti
It Calls On Me – Doug Tuttle
Memoires Vive – Grand Blanc
Chinese Songs for Bad Boys – Combomatix
Undercurrents – Amy Duncan
Sugar Teeth – Tangerine
Violet City Lantern – Murals
Life Is Alright, Everybody Dies- Kal Marks
All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace – Universal Thee

Quick Hits: King, Hinds, DIIV, Chthe’ilist

We are King – King
It was an okay R&B record. At least as good as Jazmine Sullivan’s last year. Just not something that I’m going to want to listen to over and over.
Recommendation: Stream It

Leave Me Alone – Hinds
Meh. This album was a darling of the indie rock press. I thought it was one note and a little boring. The hype reminded me of Haim all over again, but I liked Haim better.
Recommendation: Stream It

Le Denier Crépuscule – Chthe’ilist
This album was acutally a surprise. It’s a death metal album that came very close to operatic metal, just a little darker. Honestly, if it had aimed more at the operatic metal tone, I’d have probably done a review of this album. It’s a very good death metal album, it’s just that death metal isn’t really my thing.
Recommendation: Stream it (if you really like death metal, Buy It. It’s pretty good)

Is The Is Are – DIIV
I have two problems with this album. It’s extremely self-indulgent, in a way that doesn’t interest me. And it’s too long. It’s a double album, so it’s supposed to be long, but the length, with the tone of the album, and the overall feel just didn’t hold my attention. I couldn’t sit through this album the seven or eight times minimum that I feel I want to to write a real review.
Recommendation: Stream It

Let Me Get By – Tedeschi Trucks Band
This album had potential. it was well written and well performed, but I didn’t feel like the band knew what they wanted to be. Some southern rock here, some jazz rock there, some bluesy rock there… It’s fine to have variety, but there wasn’t enough to unify the album for my tastes.
Recommendation: Stream It

Album Review: Cardinal – Pinegrove


Cardinal is the first album by Montclair, NJ indie folk-rock band Pinegrove.  Opening with Old Friends, a song that’s equal parts of nostalgia and self-reflection, and closing with New Friends, forward-looking and expansive. The album moves in this direction, gradually moving from looking back, to looking forward.

This band’s influences seem to be all over the place from alt-rock bands to straight up folk acts and everything in between. I can hear strains like Sufjan Stevens and the Avett Brothers, Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire, all echoing through intimate, rough guitar and the pleasant vocal twang from frontman Evan Stephens Hall.

Their bandcamp site says they are a ” five-piece rock hard at work in the promotion of introspective partying!” Cardinal leads me to believe that they are about figuring out how to navigate being people having relationships to other people.

Recommendation: Buy It

Songs I have a Playlist for: Old Friends, Aphasia, New Friends

Clunkers I will thumbs down: There aren’t any terrible tracks on this album.