two sentence reviews of reasonably new albums i listened to in december and january

studio session: effingham

Short and sweet this month. Didn’t process much new stuff, but getting ready to dig in. February will be big!

Estrangers — Black Ballroom: a debut release from a Winston-Salem band, this is fuzzy and catchy garage rock, similar to what the Smith Westerns are doing. It shimmers and swings, and the distorted vocals with the clean drumming and the fuzzed out guitars are all phenomenal counterpoints to each other.

The Beautiful View — life is beautiful: oooh, oooooh, a 2012 review! This is crunchy garage rock with smooth production and indie rock sad boy vocals; it’s all weirdly compelling and I had a desk dance party to it at work. If a garage rock renaissance is in for 2012, I’m down. And honestly, okay, how could I not love an album with a track called “Nothing Like The Joy Of A Southern Woman” on it? These boys know where it’s at.

Christopher Paul Stelling — Songs of Praise and Scorn: gothic and eerie orchestral folk-pop; staggering songwriting; one of the more haunting voices I’ve heard in a while. If you like Josh Ritter’s quieter, creepier story-songs, you’ll love Christopher Paul Stelling.

Courtesy Tier — Holy Hot Fire and The Resolution: fuzzy-guitared bathroom-vocaled garage blues; both the EP and the full-length are shivery and creepy in a really fascinating, romantic kind of way. If you like the Black Keys, you will like Courtesy Tier.

John Moreland & the Dust Bowl Souls — Everything The Hard Way: more country than Two Cow Garage, less punk than I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch, this 2011 debut LP from Moreland and his band is staggering, musically, and lyrically not quite as strong but definitely penned by someone who is finding his feet, and fast, when it comes to songwriting. If you dig cowpunk, they’re a band to keep an eye.

Cloud Nothings — Attack on Nothing: true story: I was listening to a 1970 Captain Beefheart album before this album kicked in on the playlist, and I was 3 tracks in before I realized the album had changed. It’s pure experimental ’70s rock and roll, hardcore screaming and sad acoustic ballads fused together in single songs, and I listened to the entire thing with my mouth open, gaping. I need them to tour because I can’t wait to see this album live, I think it’s going to blow my face off.

Some Dark Holler — self-titled EP: true to their name, this first release from Some Dark Holler is a kind of noir-ish country-flavored folk; rasping vocals and strong fiddle parts, boot stomping for percussion and sweet harmonies. Lots of traditional influences with a just a hint of something new.

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