two sentence reviews of new albums i listened to in may

benji hughes @ cat’s cradle, originally uploaded by minervacat.

Short and sweet, stuff I dug this month:

The Black Keys — Brothers: this might just be the dirtiest album released this year. Not a bad track on it, and inevitably the soundtrack to my summer. Utterly unsafe for work, my god, and phenomenal.

Good Old War — self-titled: I fell in love with these guys when they opened for Gaslight Anthem about a year ago, and their second full-length doesn’t change that opinion; indie folk that’s pinned down by the lyrics and the band’s tendency towards shining humming background vocals and dynamic drum lines. Once shep.’s friend DMB described another band as using their mandolin as percussion, and I think that goes here, too — the percussive guitar work overlaid by the earnestly harmonizing vocals makes this feel new and unique, instead of simply a retread of all the other indie folk being made now.

Greenland Is Melting — Our Hearts Are Gold, Our Grass Is Blue: traditional-sounding indie bluegrass from Florida, with just enough lyrical cleverness, interesting subject material (album closer “Blood On The Banjo” makes me laugh every time) and spectacular three-part harmonies to make them stand out. If you love the early super-earnest raggedy sounding Avett Brothers albums — think Mignonette — you’ll love this one, and it’s available as a direct download, pay-what-you-want, from their website. Of course, they played Durham this month on a night when I was very busy out in Zebulon chasing down 25 year old minor league pitchers. Come back, please, I’m sorry I missed you!

Sons of Bill — Life In Shambles EP: the title track is one of the funniest tongue-in-cheek-but-true life-on-the-road songs I’ve heard in a long time, and the three Wilson brothers harmonize like nobody’s business.

Look Mexico — To Bed To Battle: okay, first off, the drumming on this album is fascinating and excellent. Second, the disparity between the vocal style and the oddly off-kilter guitars shouldn’t work, but somehow they both have the same sort of glimmer and airy feeling to them, like the whole album is about to take off in flight, and that’s pretty damn cool.

Austin Collins & the Rainbirds — Wrong Control: people who like late-era(-ie-pre-first-breakup) Slobberbone might like this album, which was produced by Centro-matic’s Will Johnson, though the songwriting’s not as sharp as Slobberbone (then again, very few people write songs as sharply as Brent Best does). Enjoyable Texas rock that twangs in the vocals and the subject material, and grinds and crashes through feedbacky guitars and heavy drums otherwise.

I feel like I listened to more new music in May than this, but I actually think that mostly I listened to a whole lot of old live sets. And Superchunk. It was that kind of month.

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