Hot off the presses: new music! Better said, new music that is worth your time.
White Denim – Side Effects – 9 tracks / 29 minutes
This short and sweet album comes only a year after Performance, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in solid jams.
These guys from Austin have been one of my favorite throwback rock bands of the last decade, and this collection of unused demos and unreleased songs is a great starting point for those unfamiliar with them. Known as much for their funky time signatures and goofy sonic experimentation as their ability to retro rock like nobody’s business, James Petralli and crew found some diamonds in the rough and thankfully decided to share them with the world. Although this is their ninth record, and the tracks were penned over a range of years, it has the energy of a band just starting out and works as a cohesive set of songs of its own.
Solid lead single and leadoff track “Small Talk (Feeling Control)” rocks in a 70s psychedelia way, and the killer “Hallelujah Strike Gold” begins with a snippet of a child’s toy saying “the cow says…moooo” before the righteous and dance-worthy guitar groove kicks in; less than three minutes later, it ends abruptly, which serves as a fine metaphor for the album as a whole. Last year’s Performance was a bit of a letdown for me, but this mish-mash of material is more in line with what we have come to expect on records like Last Day of Summer and Corsicana Lemonade.
Don’t let the album’s 29 minute run time fool you – there is still room for some stellar jamming, as the last half of the nearly 7-minute “NY Money” can attest. “Out of Doors” and “Reversed Mirror” are both interesting instrumentals, although they couldn’t really be any more different (shout out to keyboardist Michael Hunter on the latter). If you just want to rock, you can’t go wrong with the two minute freakout that is “Head Spinning”, which I have listened to repeatedly each time I spin this album. Album closer “Introduce Me” is another worthwhile exercise in rock with soul, and as the song quiets to a close the guitars get fuzzier before disappearing and ceding to the sound of drums and keys, a fitting end indeed.
Key Tracks: “Head Spinning”, “Hallelujah Strike Gold”, “NY Money”
Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/6eE8Mgv2TSEP5gZRCcVUar?si=DHmb22usSZ6dEzZg8n8DVw
Steve Earle – GUY
Collection of heartfelt Guy Clark covers – a few gems (including album bookends “Dublin Blues” and “Old Friends”, but overall I’ll pass and wait for his next set of originals.
George Strait – Honky Tonk Time Machine
Ol’ George is still doing what he has done for decades, but for the casual listener (like me) there is little that stands out here. The title track is catchy enough and wormed its way onto my Spotify country playlist, but beyond that I found little worth revisiting. He channels his best Jimmy Buffett on the country-tequila boogie of “Codigo” – complete with a Jalisco shout out. His derivative and cheesy duet with Willie Nelson made my skin crawl just a little bit – these men are both better than this, or maybe I just need to chill out. Either way, this is for hard-core Strait fans only.
Ty Segall – Deforming Lobes (Live)
The Freedom Band play it loud, fast, and raw, and Ty’s growl is strong. All in all, this collection of live recordings from their two night run in L.A. over the winter of 2018 is worth rocking out to, but it’s a shame that no songs from his excellent Freedom’s Goblin are included here.
Son Volt – Union
Biting protest music that touches on our American ideals and issues such as income inequality, immigration, and speaking truth to power. “While Rome Burns” and “The Symbol” are highlights.