March Music Round-up

Heron Oblivion | s/t

Imagine if The Stooges’ “Search and Destroy” filtered through Television’s Marquee Moon were an entire album. Modern trends in rock music? Fuck that. You can read my full review here.

Kendrick Lamar | untitled unmastered.

Work-in-progress demos / B-sides from the To Pimp A Butterfly sessions from an artist that continues to travel deeper into his own Penrose Stairs-esque mind. The amount of enjoyment you’ll get from this is directly proportional to the amount of weight you give to the pretentious, capital-A Artistry of Pimp over good kid‘s coherence and restraint. He’s still the among the best rappers alive and easily hip-hop’s most interesting writer, for what it’s worth. Visit My Hundred Word Review here.

Brian Fallon | Painkillers

Painkillers is further proof that Fallon’s greatest strength as a songwriter is his willingness to fully embrace his unabashed earnestness. Yes, he can be cheesy and nostalgic, but his commitment to selling it sells the songs themselves as a result. This is a fine hold-over until The Gaslight Anthem comes back from their hiatus. Read my Hundred Word Review here.

Amon Amarth | Jomsviking

The tenth (!) record from the viking metal stalwarts is another solid
release, as expected. A few odd songwriting choices aside, it’s a great, if
inferior, follow-up to Deceiver of the Gods, the band’s creative peak. See
my Hundred Word Review here.

Young Thug | Slime Season 3

Less an album than eight stray songs cobbled together, the third installment of the Slime Season series is also its breeziest, both in terms of music and run time (a brief 28 minutes). London on da Track is as much a star of this as Young Thug, providing the majority of the minimalist, space-y production that gives YT plenty of room to play with cadence, tone, and Auto-Tune. If only every artist could come up with something this much fun as a result of a leak.

Iggy Pop | Post Pop Depression

Pop’s 17th album is also his best in a quarter-century (even with two of his silliest songs ever). PPD is yet another clinic in less-is-more songwriting. Songs are built from the rhythm section up. Since producer (and collaborator) Josh Homme has always preferred to use the guitar as a rhythmic, rather than melodic, device, his stabbing guitar style meshes nicely with the rubbery, elastic basslines – especially on “Gardenia” and “Sunday”. You can sum up this record – and, really, his entire career – in one lyric: “It’s all about the dancing pricks”.

Kadda / Patton | Bacteria Cult

Second collaboration between Mike Patton and John Kadda, meaning it’s Patton singing over Kaada’s gently gothic orchestral arrangements. Before hearing a single note, you’ll know if you like this or not. While there are no lyrics, the singing is (unsurprisingly) top-notch, as is the music. The only real surprise here is that there isn’t one. Cult of the most straight-forward releases of Patton’s career.

Killswitch Engage | Incarnate

Incarnate picks up right where Disarm the Descent left off – which is to say, no metal band writes catchier choruses than KsE. Their songwriting hasn’t progressed much over the last decade, so you mostly know what to expect at this point. That said, some fantastic riffs and strong choruses don’t address the staleness of it all by album’s end – even an acoustic intro to “Quiet Distress” is a wasted opportunity, as the song devolves into more stock metalcore. Incarnate might be Jesse’s best vocal performance to date, but it’s sorta wasted on “been there, done that” material.

 

Hundred Word Reviews: Amon Amarth | Jomsviking

jomsviking record review

Few metal bands are as consistent(ly great) as Amon Amarth, and they’re in fine form here. Vikings aren’t known for sprinting, but over the last few records that’s what AA’s music has largely been doing – and for the better. As usual, the misses occur when AA stray beyond five minutes, the added length hindered by a lack of commitment. Additionally, a few questionable choices mar an otherwise solid effort: an appearance by Doro is awkwardly out-of-place, and the melody of “Raise Your Horns” is nursery rhyme-esque. A bit of editing and you’ve got one of the year’s best metal releases.