Two sentence reviews of new albums I listened to in August. Boom!
The Horrible Crowes — Elsie: Brian Fallon is one of those musicians who I struggle to find fault with, primarily because his songwriting is so strong; he’s one of the best songwriters working today. This is the debut album from his acoustic-y, Rolling Stones-esque side project, and it’s shining and mirage-like in all the best ways: Brian’s voice and the eerie background harmonies, the songs of joyous heartbreak, the subtle guitars and complex percussion. It’s staggering and painful and exactly what I wanted it to be.
The Dirty Guv’nahs — Youth Is In Our Blood: hooky pop guitars and staggering keyboard lines; think somewhere between early Stones and late the Band, this is a throwback album in the best mold of what’s come out the last few years. Danceable and drinkable and grooving, I can’t believe I missed out on this one until now.
The Turbo A.C.’s — Kill Everyone: okay, so, I didn’t spend my teenage years listening to surf punk, so I had never heard of these guys before this album, but I am kind of in love with all of them. This album is melodic and ragged and angry and peppy and singable and I grooved the hell out of it at work (Big Boss: “What are you listening to?” Me: “A surf punk album called ‘Kill Everyone’!” Big Boss: ), and I don’t know if the rest of their back catalog sounds like this, but this is fucking amazing. “Shut Up Pills” and “Take Me Home” are contenders for two of my favorite songs of the year.
Three Blind Wolves — Sound of the Storm: the lead singer’s voice gives me the shivers in the best way; this is Americana like Megafaun is Americana, with melody lines and heartbreaking lyrics, giving way to grooves and to noise and to shudder and shake. Loving it.
A.A. Bondy — Believers: this is shimmery and gorgeous and so, so, so fucking sad. This album made me weep at work. It’s probably Bondy’s best songwriting, subtle and layered and sonically closer to a toned-down Verbena than any of his earlier stuff, but it just has that ache about it that makes my heart hurt. It’s great, but it’s heartbreaking.
Gum Creek Killers — Coat of Arms EP: a melting pot of Birmingham-area musicians (including at least one who played with Bondy in Verbena, ironically), playing the kind of indie-roots-rock that I’ve come to expect and delight in from Skybucket Records artists (one of the Delicate Cutters, for example, plays with GCK). The songwriting on this EP is great, although the male/female vocal split is a little shaky in places. Where it’s good, it’s great, though, and they’ll be one to watch. The huge chorus of “Tonight” is just enormously lovely.
Megafaun — self-titled: I love Megafaun, but everybody including Megafaun knows I love them most when they’re more Americana, less noise, and while there’s a lot compelling going on their self-titled, their second full-length, it isn’t necessarily the Megafaun that I personally find most compelling. I love love love “Real Slow” and “Second Friend”, but for me, Gather Form & Fly is more of a draw. This is a great album, sharp and complex and really, really surprising; it just is never going to be my favorite Megafaun album.
Kennebec — Handsome Devil EP: this has, embarrassingly, been sitting on my desk waiting for a review since August; because I am a terrible person. Kennebec has been one of my favorite new local discoveries this year, and 2011′s Handsome Devil EP is the best of their sound: close, tight harmonies, lush guitar work, and solid songwriting. I’ve never seen them electric, but this release has the best roots in their acoustic set, shivery vocals and a precise attention to detail.