Hot off the presses: new music! Better said, new music that is worth your time.
Thee Oh Sees – Face Stabber – 14 tracks / 80 minutes
Bring on the prog-metal rock extravaganza!
After a couple tracks that get things loosened up, Thee Oh Sees’ latest album really gets going on the title track, which kicks your ass for two minutes before it comes to a dramatic close and the chirping of birds soothes the ears for a bit. Aside from that track, the first half of the record doesn’t do much for me, but I’m glad I didn’t give up on it because the second half is magic.
“Psy-Ops Dispatch” paints a picture of dystopia and wars fought in our heads, all over loud guitars and relentless drumming: “Look at us together, standing under sky; feel the sun upon our faces, content to be alive. Brother versus brother, a weapon in my mind; this will be the story we tell, to keep the fear alive”. The riffs on the short and sweet “S.S. Luker’s Mom” are mighty tasty, as is the frenetic solo at the one minute mark. “Together Tomorrow” is another ninety-second quick slap of goodness, this time much more melodic and catchy than most of the fare here.
However, the greatest material on Face Stabber is saved for last: the 21-minute groove of “Henchlock”. Over keys, guitars, a wicked bassline, and that always present (and bonkers) drum attack, the song gets off to a loose and jammy start. By the time the horns come in, you can tell something special is brewing here. The vocal melody is out of this world catchy, the aggressive and loud portions of the song are heavy enough to crush an elephant, and other than a short stretch around the 14:00 mark this thing avoids getting dull. Keeping the jam going for over twenty minutes on a recording is basically impossible, but the fellas accomplish that tough task on one of my favorite songs of 2019. Bravo!
Key Tracks: “Henchlock”, “Psy-Ops Dispatch”, “Face Stabber”
Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/2asqm6ydqbRKZKbXfGIhrX?si=b9HKGpmtSgaGfK0Tz6v4LQ
Eilen Jewell –Gypsy
More blues-soaked country/rock from one of our Boise heroes. There is plenty of goodness here, and damn near enough to warrant a full review. Lost love is reviewed on “You Cared Enough to Lie”, “Beat the Drum” ponders the importance of resistance and striving for better, and “These Blues” looks forward to the day that sadness stops taking up residence in her heart (excellent pedal steel alert!).
“79 Cents (The Meow Song)” finds Eilen lamenting the pay gap between the sexes, and highlights the strife that many (see just about everyone that isn’t a white male) will face during their life. Lest you want to label her a libtard snowflake, she addresses that, saying “if her skin is brown her pay goes down, it’s a nickel to the white man’s dime; but don’t complain or they’ll call you insane, pinko commie left-wing swine”. The song ends with a sly Trump reference, when Eilen sings that “Uncle Sam… is grabbing us right in the meow”. A smart and catchy take on the times we are in.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rat’s Nest
These prolific dudes are back again, with a metal flair. Most of this didn’t move me, but “Superbug”, their intense ballad about a drug-resistant virus “that never ever stops and never ever gives a fuck”, is freaking awesome. Also, “Self-Immolate” is worth checking out. This song about a desire to set oneself on fire starts with a hypnotic and pounding drum intro and then brings classic thrash metal guitar into the mix. Hard to believe this is the same band that released Fishing for Fishies (and the excellent “Real’s Not Real”) just a few months ago.
Surfer Blood – Hourly Haunts (EP)
This six-song EP is fairly light on must-hear music, but the leadoff track “Around Your Sun” is the sound of Surfer Blood at their finest. John Paul Pitts sings his doubts about his lover’s intentions with this great line: “you can say that you love me, but you’d love anyone, whose orbit fell around your sun”.
The Hold Steady – Thrashing Thru the Passion