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Islands – Ski Mask

September 20th, 2013
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‘Ski’ Slope Toward Acceptance

Islands mastermind Nicholas Thorburn—marking a year’s distance from his confessional post-divorce album, A Sleep & A Forgetting—is feeling kind of spry again. Islands’ latest LP, the often lovable Ski Mask, has a wicked twinkle in its eye not unlike the schlock monster on its album cover—and there’s a sense that, suggestive of the Kübler-Ross “five stages of grief,” Thorburn is well on his way to acceptance.
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By Owen Schumacher Posted in High Fidelity, Reviews

Holograms – Forever

September 10th, 2013
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New Fjorder

The Swedish post-punk crew Holograms return with a middling sophomore release in Forever, varnishing the energy of last year’s debut with newly-mixed washes of awe and brooding. Where the self-titled Holograms, it seems, hovered somewhere between angst and optimism, the group’s latest sits almost exclusively in a darker, more Gothic space.
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By Owen Schumacher Posted in Reviews

Ty Segall – Sleeper

September 2nd, 2013
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Deep and Restful

Hyperactive psych rocker Ty Segall releases, on average, about two albums a year. At 26, he’s notably young in view of an already impressive list of credits, including eight solo albums if you count his scruffy early cassettes, Horn the Unicorn and the self-titled Ty Segall. Now, having honed a loud-and-proud sound recalling the rawer acts of the ’60s, Segall has changed pace and gone quiet with Sleeper, a record whose strength derives not from the artist’s usual roughneck riffs or blown-out production, but instead a dreamy, acoustic-driven aesthetic akin to solo Syd Barrett or Bowie’s Space Oddity years.
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By Owen Schumacher Posted in Reviews

Tedeschi Trucks Band – Made Up Mind

August 22nd, 2013
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Dixie Done Right

Led by man-and-wife pair Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, the Tedeschi Trucks Band makes a triumphant return to the studio with Made Up Mind, building on the strength of their Grammy Award-winning debut, Revelator. Without fail, the 11-piece group sounds every bit their size, fusing a number of country, funk and R&B sounds into a single, seamless expression. And—despite more of Trucks’ famed slide playing and Tedeschi’s always-excellent vocals—it’s hard to discern the standout performances, as the band’s stars routinely cohere in such a bright constellation.
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By Owen Schumacher Posted in High Fidelity, Reviews

Walking Papers – Walking Papers

August 8th, 2013
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Duff’rent Strokes

Despite a star-making tenure with G n’ R and playing bass for supergroup Velvet Revolver, Duff McKagan was never one to rest on his laurels. Even during his Slash and Axl days, McKagan released Believe in Me, a solo project in ’93, and, shortly after G n’ R’s big “transition”—read: Axl’s dismissal of the classic lineup—the busy bassist took up with Neurotic Outsiders, one of the more surreal übergroups of all time, featuring Sex Pistol Steve Jones and guitarist John Taylor of Duran Duran. (Let’s all pause to process that—if possible.)
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By Owen Schumacher Posted in Reviews ,

Serj Tankian – Jazz-iz-Christ

July 24th, 2013

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Serj-ing Ahead

Ever the adventurer, Serj Tankian, the mind and voice behind System of a Down, is at it again with Jazz-iz-Christ, the musician’s second solo release this summer following his all-orchestral sojourn, Orca. Though at times possessing classical flourishes in part thanks to guest violinist David Alpay (“Song of Sand”), the music is largely jazzy—as you might’ve guessed from the album’s title and deliberate, bargain-bin cover art.
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By Owen Schumacher Posted in High Fidelity, Reviews

Robert Randolph and the Family Band – Lickety Split

July 18th, 2013

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Families That Play Together…

Slide guitar phenom Robert Randolph returns with a joyful and boisterous noise in Lickety Split, the artist’s first studio album in over three years. Along with his famous Family Band, as well as some celebrity cameos by Carlos Santana (“Brand New Wayo,” “Blacky Joe”) and New Orleans wunderkind Trombone Shorty (“Take the Party”), Randolph hoots and hollers through the session not only with renewed vigor but, as expected, a slew of blazing-hot guitar runs enough to make you fall off your chair. Be sure to tape yourself down for safety. Read more…

By Owen Schumacher Posted in Reviews , ,

The Octopus Project – Fever Forms

July 10th, 2013

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Things That Go Bloop in the Night

Rebounding from the cosmic bigness of 2010’s Hexadecagon, noisetronica experts The Octopus Project show us robots can indeed perspire with Fever Forms, the group’s fifth full-length LP. Sweet as it is serpentine, there’s no getting around the music’s honeyed and many-tiered sheets of sound, the wowing—and, in the end, tiring—equivalent of an aural cyber baklava. Yes, with each bite—or is that byte?—your inner metallic club kid, at first ravenous for every sugared morsel, with time bowls over to a party-halting truth: Sometimes shit’s too dense.
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By Owen Schumacher Posted in Reviews

Valient Thorr – Our Own Masters

June 22nd, 2013

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‘Masters’ of the Looneyverse

Crawling from a hole deep in the earth of Chapel Hill, N.C., Valient Thorr again show they’re on this planet for a reason: to throw their uniquely ghoulish brew of punk and metal in your manly, grimacing face, only for its skin to drip off and reveal a smiling, headbanging skull. The band is a repeat offender at this sort of mendacious attack, and it’s high time to pencil in their sixth big entry on the rap sheet, Our Own Masters.
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By Owen Schumacher Posted in High Fidelity, Reviews

Andrew Stockdale – Keep Moving

June 16th, 2013

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Word to Your Wolfmother

When Wolfmother’s guitarist and lead squealer Andrew Stockdale promised a followup to 2009’s Cosmic Egg, few could’ve predicted how embattled its production would become. Amid all the murmurs and episodic updates, there was talk of a late 2011 release and then, with the album reportedly close to finished, a fashionably late publication in early 2012. Thereafter and for reasons unclear, axeman Aidan Nemeth and drummer Will Rockwell-Scott made an unceremonious exit— and with them, it would seem, our faith in a third Wolfmother album.
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By Owen Schumacher Posted in Reviews ,