Hot off the presses: new music! Better said, new music that is worth your time.
Smooth Hound Smith – Dog in a Manger – 10 tracks / 34 minutes
This folksy take on Americana and blues is the duo’s high water mark thus far and is a must-listen for anyone who wants to be happy for a half hour.
Shoutout to my man Justin for turning me on to these cats recently, and just in time for not only a new record but their upcoming Boise appearance in October.
“Life Isn’t Fair” starts things off but comes with a message that might surprise: Zack Smith (along with show-stealing backing vocals from his bandmate and wife Caitlin) sings his appreciation for the good things he has, because he knows he “might not get this lucky again”.
The organ tones behind “One in the Morning” are a real treat as Zack sings about a woman that he knows doesn’t love him but will be there in the morning. “Backslide” could be the next theme song for all of us who consider ourselves very much incomplete and works in progress, with the repeated mantra “I ain’t goin’ back, I won’t backslide again”.
Caitlin makes the most of her opportunity to carry the vocals on “Waiting for a Spark”, and things get playful and bluesy on the album highlight “I Got My Eyes on You”. Confronting someone who claims to want him when he knows better, Zack claims that he is “tired of talking to your shadow, gonna bring what you did to light.. don’t tell me that you want me, that ain’t true; I can see that you lyin’, honey I got my eyes on you.”
This fine album closes with the tongue-in-cheek ballad of the power of getting clean while spending weeks on end on the road: “There’s a way that I know to get clean and still keep drinkin’, grab a beer and a towel and I’ll tell ya just what I’m thinkin; it’s a truck stop shower… get yourself a truck stop shower”. Yes, this is easily the finest truck stop showering song I’ve heard, complete with some great pedal steel, and I love the advice to bring rubber sandals.
Key Tracks: “I Got My Eyes on You”, “Truck Stop Shower”, “Backslide”
Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/618cxcdaTLWR37m4usxSnW?si=6qTmbFq6SPOLbaulooej5A
Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind – 14 tracks / 63 minutes
Twenty years in, Corey Taylor and the Iowa crew are still bringing the noise and intensity their maggots have come to expect.
Yes, We Are Not Your Kind is classic Slipknot, and has just as much rage, anger, and pain as their previous five studio albums. However, they are at a creative high here, and if you play this record back to back with their seminal debut album from 1999, it offers a stark contrast. The band has grown in many ways, and although they still remain true to themselves, they now create what I would call beautifully dark and violent thrash-metal ballads. Consider this: half of the fourteen tracks have a run time of at least five minutes, and the greatest song here is well over six minutes.
After a quasi-intro (“Insert Coin”), things get started with the marvelous “Unsainted”. Pretty and haunting backing vocals repeatedly sing the chorus before the rage and onslaught kicks in at about the one minute mark. Corey is the undisputed king of the metal hook vocal and when he sings “I’ll never kill myself to save my soul, I was gone but how was I to know; I didn’t come this far to sink so low, I’m finally holding on to letting go”, the crown is clearly still his. If you need any more proof, check out the incredibly catchy yet aggro highlight “Nero Forte”.
Those of you who don’t get the band or write them off as a novelty do at your own peril. I may not identify as a maggot, but I respect the shit out of this band for their longevity and creativity. They always were more emotive and melodic than the rest of the crop of similar but inferior bands at the heavy end of the spectrum that emerged during the regrettable nu-metal explosion of the late 90s. Most bands would struggle to keep up this level of intensity for over an hour, but on their sixth record, Slipknot does just that (mostly). None of their one-time contemporaries can come close to saying that.
Key Tracks: “Unsainted”, “Nero Forte”, “Critical Darling”
Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/754RY5WpZ2LTUZsk8kDBju?si=Kh1miYF9QtynvytMN6KC_w
Sigur Ros – Limenal Sleep
Snow Patrol – Reworked (EP1)