Hot off the presses: new music! Better said, new music that is worth your time.
Caamp – Boys (Side B) – 6 songs / 20 minutes
EP Part two of the Boys album picks up right where the first edition left off.
Caamp are pretty new to me, so it was a pleasant surprise that just as I finished marinating on their existing work, we are treated to this two-part album/EP/whatever. As far as I am concerned, these two EPs combine to make quite the record. Opener “Common Man” was released as a single last year and I recognized its quick and catchy acoustic guitar riff immediately. The vocals still are beautifully strained and reminiscent of Ray LaMontagne (most apparent on the album closer “Send the Fisherman”), and the overlaid banjo is downright lovely. When the drums finally kick in, we have an almost-rocker on our hands. Two minutes later, it’s over as quickly as it started.
Over electric guitar and a looping bassline that remind one of the Tennessee Three, “Just Wonderin” is the most country thing here, and includes lovely call and answer/echo vocals between the two fellas. And, again, the banjo makes an appearance and steals the show. “Books” tells us about a nineteen mile car ride with a girl that “tastes like candy and cigarettes” that ends with said car running out of gas and a long ass walk, and hopes that she loves him all the way and just might call him every day.
For those who have listened to a Caamp release before, this is nothing new – but it sure does sound great, and shows that these guys just might continue to make compelling, heartfelt music for some time. If you haven’t heard them before, this is a great place to start.
Key Tracks: “Books”, “Common Man”, “Send the Fisherman”
The Growlers – Casual Acquaintances – 10 songs / 30 minutes
One of my favorites from Treefort VI (2017) gives us a solid album that includes none of the singles they released over the spring.
After releasing four songs as singles in early 2018, The Growlers decided that their seventh LP would feature none of those and consist of all new material. Thankfully, this is a solid batch of songs, particularly on the second two-thirds of the record.
Brooks Nielsen’s voice (and laid back style of delivery) does take some getting used to, no doubt. Some people I have played Growlers music to were not impressed, based on that facet alone. After many listens, it seems to me that there is method to his madness. Give him a listen and see what you think. He also has interesting ways of turning a phrase, as is evidenced on the excellent “Pavement and the Boot”, where he sings of throwing his TV out the window over a haunting riff and some Nick Cave-esque bell chimes.
The band continues on their Waits, Doors, Cave inspired bizarre/dark party music on “Decoy Face”, a song about the fact that nobody really wants to listen to anybody anymore and that the best of us are merely adept at wearing a face that hides the fact that our minds are not there at all. Whether you believe that to be true or not, it does make for a chilling and interesting song. “Orgasm of Death” is a return to the vintage Growlers sound and finds Brooks having fun with his voice, singing that there is a fear “of going back to find, all of the nothingness we left behind”. There are several great songs here, perhaps none catchier than “Last Cabaret”, which would be the song of the summer if people like me controlled rock radio and/or streaming playlists.
Key Tracks: “Decoy Face”, “Last Cabaret”, “Pavement and the Boot”
Tony Molina – Kill the Lights – 10 songs / 14 minutes
Skateboard punk turned mini-songwriter Tony Molina gives us another lovely and frustrating album to breeze through.
What can you say about an album that is only 14 minutes long? Well, I will type up a few words. First of all, like the rest of his recent mini-releases (that he insists are albums although they are all less than 15 minutes long), there is some really good music here. It has been said over and over that Tom Petty had a knack for writing 3 minute pop/rock melodies, and for good reason. Tony is apparently our one-minute maestro, but at times I wonder what some of these better songs would sound like if expanded. By the time you get into a groove, the song is abruptly over – replaced with typically another nice riff that in no time is also over and out.
The guitar solo on “Look Inside Your Mind/Losin Touch”, accompanied by some killer organ, is an album highlight. However, songs like “Afraid to Go Outside” and “When She Leaves” would probably be better served as instrumentals, but I suppose they are virtually that anyway. This is interesting stuff and worth your time (its fourteen minutes, after all), but always leaves me wanting more – and not just longer songs.
Key Tracks: “Outro”, “Nothing I Can Say”, “Look Inside Your Mind/Losin Touch”
Boz Scaggs – Out of the Blues
Other than a pretty badass cover of Neil Young’s under-rated “On the Beach”, a more or less safe and slightly boring effort.