Hot off the presses: new music! Better said, new music that is worth your time.
After several slow weeks, the floodgates open! Given the copious quantity, this week was a little light on quality – but there were two gems…
Night Beats – Myth of a Man – 10 songs / 32 minutes
Sometimes an album comes out of nowhere and smacks you right between the eyes with its simple greatness; here is example 2019-A.
Danny Blackwell is the man behind the Night Beats moniker, and for his fourth album he teamed up with the great Dan Auerbach (producer) in Nashville with a group of session musicians. From the opening moments of leadoff track “Her Cold Cold Heart”, Dan Auerbach’s touches are obvious. The vibe here is so blatantly 70s-era that one can easily envision this song appearing in a Tarantino movie. The psyched-out guitar riff, keys, and underlying organ combine for a killer mood on this jam. This is definitely rock n’ roll, but it has so much more going for it that I hesitate to put that label on it. One review I read referred to it as cowboy-psych, and I guess that works.
Songs like “One Thing” are dripping with soul and have a palette that is so much more than guitar (although lovely guitar riffs are here throughout the album). The sparse electric guitar notes on “Stand With Me” are tremendous, as is the chorus: “I’ll make your seas settle down, I’ll make sure you never drown; gonna feel my love surround you, won’t you take my hand, and stand, stand with me”.
My favorite guitar work on this album is found on the lovely and yearning (yet possibly stalker) ballad “There She Goes”. The riff is vaguely worldly, like some distant cousin of an Arabian string instrument, and the solo is about as fun as a listener can legally have. This is juxtaposed wonderfully with the saccharine sweetness of the next track, the piano-driven “(Am I) Just Wasting My Time”, which would be right at home on a high school prom playlist circa 1958. “Eyes on Me” goes right back to the vibes and guitar work that we had grown accustomed to, with great effect.
Key Tracks: “One Thing”, “Stand With Me”, “There She Goes”
Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/2PGaDiHPnNBkYomCoQoOST?si=mElNBCPGT_i_mM4xJGDfAw
Andrew Combs – Worried Man – 11 songs / 42 minutes
This may not be his first rodeo, but I say this is Andrew’s finest achievement yet, cringe-worthy album cover notwithstanding.
The third time is definitely a charm for this Dallas-raised songwriter. After two solid efforts that I have only recently discovered, he knocks it out of the park here. “Now the devil’s got my woman, and I’ve got the no-lovin’ blues”, Andrew sings on the opening track (which is complete with both piano and guitar solos). That line pretty much sets the tone for what’s to come on this sad-bastard of a record. There are heaps and heaps of heartache, worrying, and jealousy on this terrific effort that flawlessly blends country, blues, and folk influences.
Having said that, this is still an enjoyable listen and even has a few numbers with the power to move you while lamenting a broken heart (see the unabashed hillbilly stomp of “Big Bad Love” and “Why Oh Why” as prime examples). On the title track, Andrew even considers striking back against his cheating lover – a rare break from the “woe is me” attitude on the rest of the album. The lyrical malice and haunting organ add to what is already a great guitar riff and drumbeat.
I consider this a country music record, due to the lamenting subject matter and the ever-present and glorious pedal steel, which seldom shines brighter than on the lovesick “Please, Please, Please”. Everybody knows that desperation isn’t a good look for anyone, but Andrew just can’t help himself here as he begs “please, please, please, don’t go fallin’ outta love with me; give me one more chance and I’ll keep you satisfied”. The steel notes also add an element on “Too Stoned to Cry” as they underscore the desperation of the drugged-out misery Andrew is sharing. On the soft-spoken “Come Tomorrow”, Andrew keeps the arrangement subtle and the lyrics direct. This is the rare tune that features his acoustic guitar playing at the forefront.
Any album that brings the goods from front to back is a friend of mine, and this one comes really, really close. It isn’t until the closing track “Lonely Side of Love” that I took a pass. If one song – and that ridiculous photo that graces the disc (WTF??) – is all I have to complain about, then folks, this is a damn fine album worth checking out.
Key Tracks: “Big Bad Love”, “Too Stoned to Cry”, “Devil’s Got My Woman”
Spotify album link:
Papa Roach – Who Do U Trust?
Deerhunter – Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?
Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
Toro Y Moi – Outer Peace
Maggie Rogers – Heard It in a Past Life
Steve Gunn – The Unseen in Between
Steve Mason – About the Light
Julian Lynch – Rat’s Spit
Ronnie Milsap – The Duets
Switchfoot – Native Tongue
Greensky Bluegrass – All for Money