New Music 2/14/20: Nathaniel Rateliff

Incoming: new music!  Better yet, new music that is worth your time.

rateliff

Nathaniel Rateliff – And It’s Still Alright – 10 tracks / 42 minutes

Listeners unfamiliar with Mr. Rateliff’s earlier solo work may be surprised at the tone and themes of this impressive and introspective album.

 

Remember that it was only after Nathaniel wrote and toured for years in obscurity that he teamed up with his Night Sweats and “made it big”.  Fitting, then, that after achieving that success he has decided to take a step away and release this incredible and powerful “solo” work.  The man has been through some dark times lately, including a divorce and the death of his friend and record producer Richard Swift, and the bummer vibes are ever-present here- but they exist with a healthy dose of pep included in the mix.

Take for example the exquisite leadoff track “What a Drag”: the minor chord acoustic strums set the tone, but more joyous slide guitar and handclaps accompany, making quite the dichotomy. This duality occurs on much of this album, and the result is something that feels more complex than the relatively simple musical compositions.

The title track finds him lamenting that things don’t turn out exactly the way you may want, but the thesis here is that things are still, well, all right.  “Expecting to Lose” is a real highlight, which finds Nathaniel doing his best “doo doo da doo” scat work over some killer percussion and a sneaky-funk beat.  Yes, The Night Sweats have rubbed off on him after all.  The album closer “Rush On” is one of his finest works yet and well worth repeated listens even though it does cross the six-minute mark.

I won’t belabor this review, and there are quieter moments (“Mavis”, “Kissing Our Friends”), but the album confirmed for me that his songwriting is top-notch and still has what it takes to stand up on its own in the absence of his marvelous band.

Key Tracks: “Expecting to Lose”, “What a Drag”, “Rush On”

Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/2bWrnSJNyGevb1pr2VYEGW?si=SVhrK02TTWiUUi4P3ipPvQ

 

Also heard:

Noah Gundersen – A Raven and a Dove

This EP consists of acoustic versions of songs from his 2019 Lover album, as well as a cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow”.  The stripped down arrangements of “Robin Williams” and “Lose You” are both lovely and haunting, and the duet with his sister Abby on “Kamikaze” is a true highlight here.

 

Supersuckers – Play That Rock N’ Roll

Loud, fast, and dumb rock music is going to live forever, especially if bands like Supersuckers have anything to say about it.  This is a quick and entertaining listen, although there are few revelations or epiphanies to be found.  Does it rock?  Hells yes it does.  Particularly “Ain’t Gonna Stop”, “Deceptive Expectations”, “You Ain’t the Boss of Me”, and “Dead, Jail or Rock N’ Roll”- the latter track finds a band member moaning “fuuuuuuck” in anguish and relief after the three and a half minute onslaught.

 

Habibi – Anywhere but Here

A retro-rock influence permeates this album of guitar pop from these gals, and I thoroughly enjoy a few tracks here: “Bad News”, “Flowers”, and “Born Too Late” are of a similar mold and recall La Luz.  “Hate Everyone but You” reminds me of The Bangles, in a good way.

 

Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

The long-awaited new record is here, and as with previous efforts it’s just too pop-oriented for me to get behind.

 

The Heliocentrics – Infinity of Now

The instrumental jam “Hanging by a Thread” is pure goodness, a trippy and jazzed-up rager that makes me smile and is soaked in The Doors influence.

 

Huey Lewis & the News – Weather

I didn’t realize these gents were still making music, but in my defense it has been a decade since their last studio album.  This EP didn’t do much for me, but I’ll admit “Her Love Is Killin’ Me” is quite tasty- the classic guitar and sax sound is alive and well here.

 

Tennis – Swimmer

 

BAMBARA – Stray

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