Tag Archives: album reviews

The New Folk XIV – Got That Mojo Workin’…

There are some great new releases ready to drop in the next couple of weeks. This Lost Shark is particularly excited about the new album from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Mojo. This is the first new album from Petty with The Heartbreakers since 2002’s The Last DJ, so there is a great deal of anticipation. Here’s a taste of what to expect as well as a couple of other songs to ease you in to your Saturday night.

I Should Have Known It – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Petty is one of those artists who is truly timeless. He has been knocking out classic songs for over three decades and has a sound that is completely his own. Back with The Heartbreakers, Petty is scintillating. The band sound (and look) energised, Mike Campbell’s is at his blinding best; the rhythm section of  Ron Blair & Steve Ferrone are air tight; Scott Thurston chugs away in the background and Benmont Tench… well, he is without a doubt, one of the best piano/keys men going around. I Should Have Known It is common territory for Petty & The Heartbreakers. Tom has written some incredible songs of rejection/lost love over the years and this is up there with his best. When Petty snarls into the mic, ‘It’s the last time you’re gonna hurt me’, rejection never sounded so good. Mojo is out on June 15.

Cocaine and Ashes – Son Volt

‘I’ve had strychnine, I thought I was dead / I snorted my father and I’m still alive / I did it because that’s how it’s done / I’m the same as everyone, just kinda lucky’

So starts Cocaine and Ashes, the opening track from Son Volt’s forthcoming album, American Central Dust. The song pays homage to ‘the human riff’, Keith Richards, who once claimed to have snorted his father’s ashes (later denying it). The sound here is sleepy, at times desperate… Gone are the more raucous guitar sounds of Farrar’s previous band, Uncle Tupelo, but found is the graceful playing of newcomer Mark Spencer (piano, pedal steel). I hope this new line up has a few albums in them, as American Central Dust, has the lazy brilliance and raw confidence that we have come to expect from Farrar & co.

Destroyer of the Void – Blitzen Trapper

Destroyer of the Void blends sweet country, pop and psychedelia in epic proportions. It is an ambitious song to open an album, but where would we be without ambition? Destroyer tips its hat to The Beatles, Queen, Dylan with The Band and countless others, while remaining completely original. It is great to see the band re-expanding their sonic scope after the focussed folk-rock of previous album Furr. Don’t get me wrong… I love their acoustic narratives but the space rock of Destroyer opens up the astral plane and demands further exploration.

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Left to the Flood: The New Folk XII

There are albums that come into your life that you know will stay with you forever, that etch themselves somewhere deep and continue to reveal themselves with every listen… two such albums have come into my life in the last week: High VioletThe National & True Love Cast Out All EvilRoky Erickson with Okkervil River. Here’s a taste from each of these albums; these songs are sure to make that Autumn sun seem somehow warmer on the skin.

Runaway – The National

‘There’s no, saving anything, now you’re swallowing the shine of the sun…’ The opening line of Runaway is just one of the lines that has lodged its barb firmly in  my psyche. The rest of the lyric is just as unforgettable:

‘What makes you think I’m enjoying being left to the flood?/ We got another thing coming undone/ and it’s taking us over/ We don’t bleed, when we don’t fight/ go ahead, go ahead, throw your arms in the air tonight’

Runaway showcases Matt Berninger’s sweet baritone during one of the album’s softer moments.Throughout the album, Berninger moves from moments of personal catharsis to the blindingly surreal, while the band sound majestic, swooping divinely in and out of Berninger’s lyrical rabbit holes.

I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees – Bloodbuzz Ohio

I’m a confident liar, I put my head in the oven so you know where I’ve been – Conversation 16

Cover me in rag and bone/ and sympathy/ cause I don’t want to get over you – Sorrow

This album is going to be on super high rotation for some time… you can listen to the complete album here, prior to it’s official release on May 11.

True Love Cast Out All Evil – Roky Erickson with Okkervil River

When the sounds of crackling opener, Devotional Number One floated out of my speakers, my spinal fluid began to bubble. It reminded me of the time when I heard the first of the Cash/Rubin collaborations and how I knew then, that I had a lot of catching up to do… that I had somehow in my youth managed to overlook the genius of Johnny Cash. While I have long been a fan of Okkervil River, I have lived almost 39 years on this earth without any knowledge of Roky Erickson… thankfully that has all changed. This is a deeply spiritual album. Okkervil River frontman, Will Sheff’s liner notes (which are worth the price of the album alone) detail Erickson’s well-publicised demons, including a stint in a Texan Psychiatric Hospital and how the voices in his head, caged him for years. It is these experiences that Erickson has primarily drawn on during the writing of this album… but there is no wallowing here. This is an album of hope, redemption and the healing power of music and Will Sheff’s production is absolutely perfect. In the softer moments you can hear Roky’s lungs rattle as he draws breath and in the fuzzed up rocker, John Lawman, you can hear his spittle coat the mic. Albums like this don’t come around often…

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A Day Without Music?

To quote Nietzsche, without music, life would be an error. So, here’s a handful of songs to take with you throughout the day… let their lyrics sink deep beneath the skin, let their rhythms drag you from stillness, let their sound colour your daydreams… yes indeed, let there always be a song.

Curse Your Branches: David Bazan

Curse Your Branches is the title track from Bazan’s much anticipated debut longplayer, after years fronting indie favourites, Pedro the Lion. He is a truly gifted songwriter, his lyrics always taking front of stage. What I love about Bazan’s delivery, is that he makes no bones that the lyrics carry the weight; the music is perfectly crafted to carry the words… and they are a joy to listen to. Oh, falling leaves should curse their branches/ For not letting them decide where they should fall. This is folk/pop at it’s very best… unafraid to ask questions of life itself.

Here to Fall – Yo La Tengo

This is another lush, dreamy, slice of psych-pop from indie veterans, Yo La Tengo. The cinematic strings and dark, swirling keys grab you firmly by the ear and place you on some some neon-lit dancefloor, with its blissed-out groove. I am right there when Kaplan reassuringly sings, I know you’re worried / I’m worried, too / But if you’re ready / I’m here to fall with you. And after 25 glorious years in the business, these are some of the safest arms to fall into…

Underwhelmed – The Fauves

I have long been of the opinion that Andrew Cox has one of the sharpest wits in this country and during the course of the last 20 odd years, he has been unafraid to flex his sardonic muscles as chief songwriter for the criminally underrated Australian band, The Fauves. Underwhelmed is the opener from the bands ninth album, When Good Times Go Good. As Cox sings, all the years of waiting/ dreaming of the day/ somehow when it came/ it was underwhelming, you could be forgiven in thinking that Cox is singing about his bands fleeting success (remember the album Future Spa and the 90’s hits, Dogs are the Best People and Self Abuser?), but instead, Cox is poking his angular guitar at the new government, questioning, where’s the revolution? Like all great pop songs, Underwhelmed charms us into cranking the volume and singing along, while quietly questioning our own beliefs.

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