Hot off the presses: new music! Better said, new music that is worth your time.
The Weary Times – The Weary Times – 13 tracks / 50 minutes
The debut effort from this Boise-based band is as diverse and eclectic as it is magical.
If I hadn’t just told you that this was The Weary Times’ first foray into a major LP release, you wouldn’t have ever thought it. Their vintage rock sound is polished and experienced– while avoiding anything close to stale or boring. There is no better way to say it: this shit is good action. Give it a listen.
There is clear inspiration from the sounds of rock past, from the organ tones that drive the excellent leadoff track “Best for You” to the soft touches on the well-written heartbreak story that is “Why Are You So Lonely”. That isn’t to say there aren’t moments that rock here: see the growly “I Can Tell”, the guitar noodling on “Hard Times”, or the punk-adjacent romp that is “I Swore” for proof of that.
“Ain’t Done Drinking” finds singer and songwriter Ryan Curtis’s vocals so strained and pleasantly raspy that the song delves into territory damn near Left Lane Cruiser, and “I Don’t Know Why” is solidly based in the blues realm, lamenting a love gone bad. No doubt, Ryan’s voice is rough around the edges – but in the best way possible, and his lyrics are as literal and accessible as ever on “Give & Take”, one of the album’s highlights. He asks: “you ever get tired of waking up like this, dragging your ass to work when you feel like shit; it’s a tradeoff, it’s a take and give… Not everyone dies young no matter how hard they live”.
When I saw them at Treefort this spring, while waiting for Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, I was pleasantly surprised. On that day, they rocked pretty hard, and I recall my buddy leaning over and calling them a poor man’s Built To Spill. I didn’t necessarily agree, but I knew that I liked their sound – a lot. A few minutes later, Doug Martsch himself walked in and watched the rest of their set – high praise for any up and coming Boise band.
The Treasure Velley is awash in young musical talent these days, and I don’t believe our music scene has ever been better. If you are inclined to check out local music at one of our many great small venues, this is a band to keep an eye out for.
Key Tracks: “Best for You”, “I Can Tell”, “Hard Times”
Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/7mIMO7h6Gp24j7acgqmsGG?si=iVI6R3DMSSaKRCxFrvGm6w
Live – Woodstock ’94 – 9 tracks / 41 minutes AND Throwing Copper (re-issue) – 17 tracks / 71 minutes
As part of their 2019 look backwards, Live release their set at Woodstock 1994 as well as a re-issue of their classic Throwing Copper, remastered and including three unreleased songs.
A two-for-one special for Live fans this week, as their nine-song set at Woodstock 1994 gets the light of day. This recording shows the band just after the release of their classic Throwing Copper, and shows a band that is in their prime. It also comes with just the right amount of commentary from lead man Ed Kowalczyk.
As he introduces “Shit Towne” he makes mention that the mayor of their hometown (York, PA) doesn’t care for it. Just before the crowd goes nuts when they kick into “Lightning Crashes”, Ed tells the crowd that the song is about a friend of theirs “who is up in Heaven now”, and before they finish the set with the excellent “White, Discussion” he professes that they want to take a few minutes to sing about the end of the world.
I got the pleasure to see these guys in concert last summer and can tell you that they still bring the goods, but this would have been a show to see – at least now we can hear it in its glory. Turn it up loud.
As for the re-issue of that aforementioned career highlight of an album? Well, the three songs certainly sound as though they belonged on it – they are better than throwaways, and have an eerily similar sound to the material on that record. “Hold Me Up” has that preacher-angst feel that most of LIve’s best work has, and when the drums kick in it is very reminiscent of “All Over You”. “Susquehanna”, named after the river that flows just east of their hometown, is full of imagery of thirst and God, and features a lovely guitar solo and musical break about halfway through.
All in all, these additional 1994 tracks don’t change much- Throwing Copper was already a highlight of mid-90s American rock. However, this is a nice addition for fans of the band or those who simply enjoy this album.
Key Tracks: “Shit Towne (live)”, “White, Discussion (live)”, “Hold Me Up”
Spotify album links: https://open.spotify.com/album/3tsKEexbNEemfKpeckFLJh?si=dzSmRBreQN-Z1r4X4xGtng
Slaves – The Velvet Ditch (EP) – 4 tracks / 10 minutes
Short and sweet, this one is worth the ten minutes it’ll cost you to check it out.
My only complaint about this band’s latest effort is its brevity. Three of the four songs found here are fantastic and provide diverse examples of why I dig this punk/blues duo so much. Start with the gritty in-your-face riffage of “One More Day Won’t Hurt”, which laments wasting your life away doing the same old things while the years roll by. Things lighten up musically on the title track, a woe-is-me singalong that begins with Laurie Vincent asking for a “yeehaw”, which bandmate Isaac Holman gleefully obliges.
The highlight of the EP is the introspective and sincere closing track “When Will I Learn?”. Over a simple yet catchy piano riff Laurie sings of the vicious cycle of fucking things up: “inconsequential situations running around in my head, kicking myself cuz its all my own doing, no one to blame but me, tossing and turning staring at the ceiling is not where I want to be. When will I learn to say no… probably never”. This song packs a punch even though it is the quietest thing these guys have done in some time.
If you don’t know Slaves, you should – just make sure you find the British band, and not the American band of the same name (although they might be fine, I haven’t given them a listen).
Key Tracks: “When Will I Learn?”, “The Velvet Ditch”, “One More Day Won’t Hurt”
Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/7d5CoDjJQsGN3pDQtHvuM4?si=Q-L9SID4TXinZ2RNhlHC8A
Sum 41 – Order in Decline
I’ll admit I hadn’t paid attention to these punks since they were laughing when old people fall, so consider me surprised by this album which shows a more mature and robust sound. There is a definite Linkin Park influence on several of the songs, as well as a dash of Green Day, particularly with the distorted vocals reminiscent of that band’s recent work. Anti-Trump messages abound, although his name is never mentioned. “Turning Away”, “Never There”, and “Catching Fire” are highlights.
Grizfolk – Rarest of Birds
This mega-popular band’s work has never been my jam, but on this album, I found a couple songs that hit the sweet spot. Check out “Hurricane” and “Heavy Crown”.
The Flaming Lips – King’s Mouth: Music and Songs
This concept album about a beloved giant king does harken back to their Yoshimi-era music, but falls short of the mark for me.