two sentence reviews of albums i listened to in march and april

phuzz phest: cheap time

I didn’t listen to much new in March; my vacation threw me off my podcast schedule, and I felt like I spent a month just getting that up to speed. But I did listen to a few in March, and way more new music in April. BANG.

The Speechless Radio — Care EP: horn-laden, vaguely twee indie pop, with a feel to me like the Lucksmiths; emo boy songwriting, but clever and funny emo boy songwriting that lodges in your head. Some interesting and variable guitar work, and a thickness and sadness to the orchestration that I really appreciate.

Pickwick — Can’t Talk Medicine: this is moody, bluesy, aching indie rock, and I’ve had recommendations for these guys from every quarter, but particularly from Adam. Every recommendation I’ve gotten is spot on; Pickwick’s record is soulful, parts Stax and Atlantic, part modern, chiming, post-prog indie rock, with wailed vocals and atmospheric guitars. It’s innovative, it sounds unlike anything else out there, and, yeah, I’m going to rave about this record, too.

The Deadstring Brothers — Cannery Row: it’s not like Bloodshot Records has ever put out a crappy release, but this is a wonder of steel guitar and traditional feeling chorused vocals, melded with Memphis piano and a shiver-shake of drums. Really staggered me, as my first serious introduction to the band (beyond tracks on Bloodshot comps), what I’ve been missing all these years: Texas-great songwriting and orchestration that’s unusual and well-used, and a real sound that makes me miss the Band.

Waxahatchee — Cerulean Sea: louder than last year’s debut, this is still full of fuzzy guitar, love/hate/love songs, Katie Crutchfield’s sulky, snarly little girl vocals, and awesome. I love that it moves easily from surly fuzz-punk (“Dixie Cups And Jars”) to charming jangle pop (“Lips and Limbs”) and everything in between without thought for flow or pacing — except that it works, the softer songs soothing after the growl, the noisier songs amping the album’s energy back up. God, I love this project of Crutchfield’s.

Luke Winslow-King — The Coming Tide: a delicious slow shuffle of a record from the newest member of the Bloodshot family, Luke Winslow-King’s new album is a gorgeous fusion of traditional country and gospel, Dixieland, the drawl of New Orleans, a little bit of Memphis in the horns and a lot of long lazy afternoons on a porch with a drink and a fan in the feeling it gives me.

I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House — Mayberry: the last SOB album was, well, a little angry; in contrast, Mayberry may open with a lament to the days of Andy Griffith and childhood having passed, but it’s a communal chorused sort of rancor. I mean, honestly, either you’re an SOB fan and you gave to the Kickstarter and have already listened to this, or you’re not and nothing I say will convince you. It’s a crash and rumble of guitars, and good songwriting, and some genuinely sincerely excellent harmonica playing.

Kacey Musgraves — Same Trailer Different Park: the debut record from the woman everyone is calling “the best new voice in country music”? Yep, it’s every single bit as good as everyone’s saying.

The Duke Of Norfolk — Le Monde Tourne Toujours: high-tempo, high-energy trad-folk; catchy and well played finger-picked guitar; riffs that stuck in my head.

The Glorious Veins — Savage Beat: smart, twitchy electronic garage-pop. I think I confused these guys with Bad Veins when I got the record, but I really dig on this — kind of New Order-y with more guitars and feedback? It’s good.

Rachel Kiel — Television Waltz: smart, rootsy indie pop from a Chapel Hill songwriter; Rachel has a fantastically world-weary voice that plays really well over the Neil Young guitar riffs and lush instrumental breaks in her orchestration. This record has a lovely mix of heavier psychedelia and lighter, rootsier indie pop, and it’s all well-balanced with harmonies and Rachael’s voice alone.

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