Hot off the presses: new music! Better said, new music that is worth your time.
The Lumineers – III – 13 tracks / 51 minutes
Their third LP (and first without cellist/vocalist Neyla Pekarek) is a beautiful work of art that should be judged on its own merits.
America’s favorite band from Denver is back with the long-awaited III, which the band has been teasing via numerous singles and live performances for months. It is aptly titled because it is only their third effort although they have been in the front of the general musical consciousness for ten freaking years now.
Casual fans may not initially find this as rewarding as their ultra-classic debut, which is how their sophomore record Cleopatra was reviewed in some circles. Repeat listeners know as well as I do that is bupkus- that was a powerful and rewarding album. Instead of comparing everything Wesley and Jeremiah do to that eponymous debut, let’s take III as an independent work of art. In that construct, it stands up to nearly anything released thus far in 2019.
This is a very personal record, rife with lyrics that are not for the faint of heart. Wesley Schultz bares his soul throughout this collection of songs about tortured love and a damaged family tree. Trouble with addiction and intoxication permeate this album (see “Donna”, “Gloria”, “Leader of the Landslide”).
“Leader of the Landslide” is a revelatory piece that finds Wesley lamenting the moment he became aware of where his troubles are derived from: his own childhood home. When he screams “the only thing I know, is that we’re in too deep; and maybe when she’s dead and gone, I’ll get some sleep” on the last chorus, it is chill inducing.
“Life in the City” is so perfectly built that its catchiness is almost a fault, while “My Cell” tells a tale of love as bondage over a guitar foundation unique on this largely piano-based album. “Jimmy Sparks” is a tremendous and daunting story of a troubled man who raises a boy in his image – to his own detriment (“never give a hitcher a ride, because it’s us or them”). This six minutes is compelling as Hell and is worth multiple listens.
The bonus version includes three bonus tracks that didn’t add much to what is a great group of ten songs, although “Democracy” would be my favorite of the trio.
Key Tracks: “Life in the City”, “Leader of the Landslide”, “Jimmy Sparks”
Spotify album link:
Pixies – Beneath the Eyrie
I am a Black Francis apologist/mega-fan, and one of few people I know who enjoyed Head Carrier. Fans of the band and the man himself should check this out, but there is not enough compelling music here to grace this with a full-throated approval.
“This is My Fate” is percussion heavy, dark, and brooding and works as well as it did when I saw them perform it this spring. The guitar/drum hook of “Silver Bullet” masks fairly weak verses, while “Long Rider” has the cadence of “Tenament Song” but isn’t as fulfilling. “Death Horizon” is a short and sweet acoustic number that alludes to a man who is here to end it all, and features this ear-grabbing lyric: “have you seen the death horizon, just there out of view? Way low in the sky, beyond the sea; and I can feel that the temperature is rising, but what can you do?”
Joseph – Good Luck, Kid
“Green Eyes” is folk meets pop (it’s pop, ok I admit it) and I’m not ashamed at all to profess my love for it. “Shivers” has less bombast but brings the goods also.
Blacktop Mojo – Under the Sun
Although not as consistent as Burn the Ships, this is another helping of solid tunes from one of the best “modern heavy rock” bands out there. Think Breaking Benjamin and then think of a considerably better version of Breaking Benjamin. “Lay It on Me” is a great introduction for newbies, while “It Won’t Last” is a slow burn and the finest track here.
Ghostface Killah – Ghostface Killahs
Killa Bees on the swarm again. The highlight here are the collaborations of Wu members, as on “Me Denny & Darryl” (Method Man) and “Burner to Burner” (Inspectah Deck). The snippets of old-school Kung Fu films that provide the backdrop of “Conditioning” is badass and straight up Wu-Tang as well.
KoRn – The Nothing
At this point, I prefer to go back and listen to Follow the Leader or their underrated MTV Unplugged performance, although “Can You Hear Me” is pretty good stuff.
Twin Peaks – Lookout Low
This band is all over the map, and they’ve yet to have a release that truly grabbed me. “Oh Mama” is evidence of how they can jam their way into your soul, but there isn’t much else here.
Slam Dunk – In Hell
These punks and current openers for Built To Spill’s west coast tour are back with more noise, some good and some not.
Puddle of Mudd – Welcome to Galvania