New Music 6/28/19: Gov’t Mule, The Black Keys

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

Mule

Gov’t Mule – Bring on the Music: Live at the Capitol Theatre – 39 tracks / 308 minutes

This quadruple album (two nights at The Capitol Theatre that were each a double album of their own) is the definitive live Mule.

 

Always best known for their live recordings, it should come as no surprise that perhaps their finest release to date (and certainly, their most ambitious) would center around a two-night stint at the Capitol Theatre in New York that celebrated the band’s 20th anniversary.  Warren Haynes is a six-string legend and shines throughout, and his band is up to the task, providing over 5 hours of entertaining and raucous takes on Mule classics and covers, including a passionate and heartfelt rendition of Pearl Jam’s “Comeback”.

Perhaps you are familiar with Warren from his days with the Allman Brothers, his day job before founding jam-band/rock Gods Gov’t Mule in the late 90s.  Maybe you are only aware of some of their live records, including their Rolling Stones covers album or their reggae-inspired live record.  Maybe you are a hardcore fan and know all about Mule-ography.  Regardless, this is a worthwhile listen.  Give the excessive run time and most peoples’ attention spans, here is a list of the songs that moved me the most: “Bring on the Music”, “Beautifully Broken”, “Dreams & Songs”, “Hammer & Nails”, “Larger than Life”, “Raven Black Night”, “Stone Cold Rage”, “Pressure Under Fire”, “Fool’s Moon”.

If you dig this, check out more from this iconic band, starting with their excellent and most recent Revolution Come… Revolution Go.  Oh, and if you are fortunate enough to live in the Treasure Valley, check them out when they come to Boise on August 23rd.  If you are sadly living elsewhere in America, they just might be coming to your burg as well – go see them!

Key Tracks: “Bring on the Music”, “Larger Than Life”, “Comeback”

Spotify album link:

Night 1- https://open.spotify.com/album/41qC7DfvTQ64y6RjmnfJ6f?si=UneiEQjIQ8uYTTpbvbdd7A

Night 2- https://open.spotify.com/album/2X0FEnoBAzTxoku5tJ15S5?si=dg773umgQFe6rq0uxNtDqg

 

Keys

The Black Keys – “Let’s Rock” – 12 tracks / 39 minutes

There was a time when a Black Keys release would be a world-stopper for me.  Needless to say, those days are long, long gone. Yes, that was a Black Keys song reference…

 

No, there isn’t anything particularly wrong with this album, or the output from this once-great band over the last five years.  The problem is, they have settled into a very safe and mundane sound that belies their punk/garage roots and their truly genius capabilities.  Hearing Dan and Pat on autopilot is fine, and in fact there are several good listens here, but it can’t even hold a candle to the work these guys put out over their first decade.

Leadoff track “Shine a Light” revolves around a classic Black Keys riff, but is so fuzzed out and poppy that it almost loses me – almost.  I must admit that it is still an earworm, but one that is nearly as annoying as it is engaging.  “Sit Around and Miss You” would have been right at home on Dan’s last 70’s pop-rock inspired solo effort, but ends up being one of the finer moments here.  “Under the Gun” features a catchy AF chorus that would fit nicely on the second half of El Camino, and might be my favorite track here.  Ditto “Fire Walk with Me”, another song that is perfectly fine, but could sure use some intensity, some life, some balls.

Look – it appears the days of raw, inspired rock and roll from these two may be over.  Dan spends his days producing some badass music (have you heard what he did with Night Beats?!??!?) and is clearly comfortable to shit out safe and catchy, radio-friendly “rock”, and God bless him.  But for me and many fans of their early genius, they are no longer a legitimate going concern.  If you are a rock fan, do yourself a favor and go listen to Rubber Factory, or the new Raconteurs album.

Key Tracks: “Sit Around and Miss You” “Shine A Light”, “Under the Gun”

Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/5yKxrYcsL0WxIvNJwLMMJJ?si=t7pgm2XdR7a8XxrgDtrUSw

 

Also heard:

Thom Yorke – ANIMA

Thom is one of my favorite artists alive, but this solo album from the Radiohead frontman is just too far in the techno weeds for me. However, it did cause me to go listen to his excellent solo debut, The Eraser, for the 200th time – check out that album or his work with Atoms for Peace if you are not familiar with those non-Radiohead Thom efforts.

 

Berwanger – Watching a Garden Die

Josh Berwanger is an interesting character, and has provided some solid jams over the last few years.  Although “When I Was Young” is a stirring and clever take on the ol’ “what a drag it is getting old” mantra, most of this record left me wanting something else.

 

Summer Cannibals – Can’t Tell Me No

Solid effort from this spastic, punky group from Portland.  “Like I Used To” is my highlight on the record.