Song Spotlight: Pale Kings – Shearwater

Jet Plane and Oxbow is one of my favorite albums so far this year. It touches on the progressive rock of my teen years, while still being current and a great listen.

Pale Kings is one of my favorite tracks from the album, and I especially like the live performance from the KEXP studios here.

Album Review: Patch The Sky – Bob Mould

Bob Mould, who started the influential punk band Hüsker Dü, and later, the critically successful Sugar, just released his 11th solo album, Patch The Sky. He has as much as said this album is was helping him cope with the nut kicking life laid on him after the release of his 2014 album Beauty & Ruin.  His mother died, and this album reflects on lost relationships, loves, and lives, and the frontal assault of associated depressions.

Throughout the album, Mould gives us a cacophony of fuzzy guitars that evoke a gloriously angry past, while stark lyrics ground us firmly in his present. This is an album that doesn’t really take time to catch it’s breath, pushing with a fury throughout.

Recommendation: Buy It

Songs I have a Playlist For: Voices in My Head, The End of Things, Losing Time

Clunkers I will Thumbs Down: Lucifer and God

Song Spotlight: Shelter Me – Bob Mould

 

I never listened to Husker Du. They didn’t even play them on the radio where I grew up. Hell, I didn’t even know there was a band named Husker Du until I discovered this track, and wondered who Bob Mould was.

This probably explains why I like this song better than anything I have followed up by listening to from Husker Du.

Song Spotlight: Beautiful – Red Delicious

I first discovered Red Delicious back when MP3.com was actually a useful site. They released a self-produced CD called Emotional Blur that was one of my favorite albums of the 90s. In the 2000s, they released an called Addictions and Scars and then were never really heard from again. Which is sad because they were a great band.

This is probably my favorite Red Delicious song – Beautiful. A mildly addictive song, I can put this on repeat and just let it wash over me.

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.

Song Spotlight – See You Again by Elle King

Everyone has probably heard Elle King’s big hit Ex’s and Oh’s on the radio. Personally, I’m a little tired of that one. See You Again, on the other hand, was my favorite song off her album Love Stuff, which was one of my favorite albums from last year.

Elle King has a big voice, but, as this track shows, she’s capable of surprising delicacy. And, as is often the case, I like her singing against a single guitar.

 

Album Review: Blackstar by David Bowie

Blackstar (the album just uses a black star symbol) is the latest album by David Bowie. The 69 year-old rocker is still or maybe, more accurately, once again doing some decidedly experimental work. The album is relatively short, at 41 minutes, and only has seven tracks.

The title track starts off with what, to me, feels like a heavily jazz-influenced approach that carries all the way through the album. On the stronger tracks, Bowie’s vocals stand up to the strength of the occasionally frilly instrumental performances behind him. On the weaker tracks, it is a reminder that sometimes you lose a little voice as you age.

I think this is his most experimental album since probably “Heroes”. Only science fictions are likely to understand this reference, but I feel like much of this album could be playing in a middle Eastern cafe in a George Alec Effinger novel.  It feels futuristic in a way that I haven’t heard much outside of EDM lately.

That’s not to say that I don’t think this album has weaknesses – I feel like some of the music is a little overwhelming to Bowie’s vocals in places, and I had trouble understanding the lyrics from Bowie’s strained tenor in places. But this has always been true of me for Bowie’s music.

I think it is a testament to Bowie that he would write something like Blackstar at this point in his career. Blackstar doesn’t feel like an album of a musician looking to rest on his laurels. Fans of Bowie in his prime might be heartened of his return to greater experimentation.

After considerable thought, I would recommend this album as a buy. Certainly, if it’s available on your favorite streaming service give it a listen, but I think there’s more to this album that deserves to be discovered on regular relisten.

Recommendation: Buy it

Tracks I think I have a playlist for: Blackstar, Lazarus, Sue (Or a Season of Crime)

Clunkers I would thumbs down: Dollar Days