New Music 1/3/20: Magical Beasts, The Wombats

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

beasts

Magical Beasts – Yes, My Love, I Am Reaching (EP) – 6 tracks / 32 minutes

Some beautiful and melancholy music that came out of left field (at least for me).

 

This EP has the goods, whether on the lush and somber beauty of leadoff track “Come Find Me” (which would have fit nicely on Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest) or the gorgeous banjo and violin that provide the organic, backwoods feel of “7 Nights”.  Somehow this Chicago –based band doesn’t have a single song with 1,000 streams on Spotify, and has yet to amass even 100 followers – get on board with them now, tell your music snob friends about them and get some serious street cred.  The tagline on their Bandcamp website says it best: “Making the music you didn’t know you wanted to hear, but then you are like, ‘damn that’s a good sound’”.  Indeed.

“Darling” conjures up the country/folk feel of Ryan Adams early work (or some of Whiskeytown’s finer moments) and has much more going on in the mix than the acoustic guitar and drums that are front and center.  The closing 8-minute gem “Farthest Shore” is a slow and steady groove of muted percussion and strings over some lovely vocal harmonies.  I now have two musical projects: getting caught up on this here blog, and checking out their surprisingly robust catalogue of music.

Key Tracks: “Come Find Me”, “Darling”, “Farthest Shore”

Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/1AhbxEWv9BvmQTlzafTngL?si=_8AJZL-oS_29szynFfZFiQ

 

wombats

The Wombats – B-Z Sides (2003-2017) [In Rough Chronological Order] – 40 tracks / 150 minutes

This exhumation of their vaults is a real treat for fans of the blokes from Liverpool but also stands on its own (for the most part).

 

I admit I didn’t get turned on to The Wombats until I heard their last studio album, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life.  That collection of songs is a personal go-to when I need some fun sing-along tuneage that rocks just enough and has copious snark.  After going through their extensive earlier albums, I came out the other end a true fan of their work.  Sure, it is steeped in hooky, catchy pop tones, but also has some of that jangly guitar rock sound a la Franz Ferdinand or early Cold War Kids.

On this epic collection of unreleased recordings (including an early demo version of “Moving to New York”) from the past 15 years, my expectations were pretty muted, especially given the sheer size of the pile: 40 songs, for over 2-1/2 hours!  If anything this shows that these guys have a knack for writing short, sweet, well-crafted tunes.  In fact, although I find they are getting better with each studio album, some of the best music here is on the first half of the record (and therefore, from their early days, if the album title is to be believed).

All in all, there is at least an album’s worth of solid material here and I would recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed the band’s work or simply wants some guitar-pop that can also make you dance, chuckle, or think –sometimes all on the same song.

Key Tracks: “Baby Tinkerbell”, “Avalanche”, “Happily Screwed”

Spotify Album Link: https://open.spotify.com/album/1V6oN0NPEqwmIrwnmNRuhw?si=-O6-Ui9PTG2UffF4pHFHXw

 

Also heard:

Foo Fighters – 00959525 (EP)

On what is at least the tenth release of B-sides, live cuts, and covers they’ve unleashed over the last year, it seems to me that the vaults are running low on worthy material.  Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the finest acts in contemporary, mainstream, radio-friendly rock – but this act is starting to wear thin for me.  The B-sides here are glorified demos, the two live songs are fine but not noteworthy, and then there is an Ace Frehley cover (“Ozone”).  Who has two thumbs and is ready for some new, original FF music?  (this guy).

 

Stabbing Westward – Dead and Gone (EP)

With only three new songs (coupled with two alternate versions for a total of five tracks), this is basically a glorified single.  Still, I hadn’t thought about these dudes for some time, and “Cold” rocks in the same way that their early stuff I admittedly spun quite a bit back in the day did.