New Music 5/4/18: Shinedown, Shakey Graves, Parker Millsap

Hot off the presses: new music!  Better said, new music that is worth your time.

Shinedown – ATTENTION ATTENTION – 14 songs / 50 minutes

Mega-hit single “Devil” scores these guys their 12th #1 Mainstream Rock Song, good for second most ever.

 

Brent Smith and company know how to make radio-ready rock and roll, and continue that on this surprisingly solid album.  Although they continue their trademark hook-metal sound here, there is more depth to the songwriting and diversity in the music than on previous releases.  Similar to the new Godsmack record, this one is their best since their debut.  (Don’t get it twisted, I am NOT saying these cats are as good as Godsmack, but they are touring together and did both just release solid albums).

The piano-led “Special” may not be the greatest songwriting feat of 2018, but it is a lovely rebuke to the holier than thou, self-serving people who seem to be coming out of the woodwork in today’s society.  “Stop waiting on your 15 minutes of fame, cuz you’re not special; I’m not trying to rain on your parade, but you’re not special… if you take it down a notch and let me explain, that on this Earth we are all the same” pretty much sums it up.

Key Tracks: “Devil”, “Special”, “ATTENTION ATTENTION”

 

Shakey Graves – Cant Wake Up – 13 songs / 52 minutes

While I must admit I still don’t quite get the hype, “Shakey” did just release his finest album to date.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I see that this is a talented artist.  However, as I find myself surrounded by avid fans of his work, I have always been curious what I was missing.  I mean, “Dearly Departed” is fantastic, but after that most of it sounded a little like a pile of unfinished demos.  This album is a big step forward in song structure and songwriting and helps me get in his camp.  This music is a bit difficult to label: it has the loose, folky feel of Shovels and Rope while holding on to some angst and attitude a la T. Hardy Morris, and while it is good, it doesn’t please me as much as either of those artists.

Though he is known for his energy, my favorite songs here find him in a more melancholy mood (“Dining Alone”, “Counting Sheep”).  And this lyric from the former song made me happy: “I wonder what it’s like to fly a plane, to go out with a girl on Friday night and wake up next to her on Saturday”.  I hear he puts on a heck of a live show, and I am looking forward to finding out for myself in August with a big Shakey fan (and one of my favorite people) with me, but even then I am more excited about his opener Jose Gonzalez.

Key Tracks: “Counting Sheep”, “Dining Alone”, “Kids These Days”

 

Parker Millsap – Other Arrangements – 12 songs / 34 minutes

Yet another hit and miss album from this talented young guitarist and songwriter.

 

Parker’s voice (along with the subject matter of much of his early work) conjures up the south and religious music, and he often belies his young age of 25.  His upbringing in a strict Pentecostal household certainly rubs off in his songwriting, but not in a snarky or holier than thou way.  He also is not fleeing his childhood like so many others – he simply is an old man at heart.  His influences include early blues and contemporary rock, and he blends both in most of his best work.  For example, on this record alone he plays the blues, rants and rocks about the indignant douchebaggery of humanity, and pines for his lover to level with him (see the Key Tracks below).

For fans of his, this is another rewarding outing, while newcomers should find his energy and straightforward style a welcome addition to much of today’s music.  After listening to the album, seek out the superior acoustic live version of “Your Water” that can be found on Spotify – it is tremendous and features lovely backing female vocal work.

Key Tracks: “Fine Line”, “Some People”, “Tell Me”

 

Also heard:

Royce Da 5’9” – The Book of Ryan – Eminem’s appearance on “Caterpillar” is truly badass, and there are a few other solid tracks.  One of the better rap albums I have heard so far this year.

Leon Bridges – Good Thing – Dude is talented, but this is not really my jam.

Sigur Ros – Route One – You remember when your Dad used to tell you that the music of the youths was just noise?  Well, this is literally just noise.  Throwaway release from a band that is actually pretty good, usually.

Lake Street Dive – Free Yourself Up – “Tell Them I’m A Good Kisser” and “I Can Change” and not much else.

Horse Feathers – Appreciation

Eureka California – Roadrunners

Cut Worms – Hollow Ground