Ed Sheeran- Divide
The typical nice-guys-finish-last music that Ed Sheeran puts out usually makes me want to roll my eyes so hard that the sheer g-forces will remove my head from my body and send it spinning into the cold, unfeeling universe. That is to say, he’s a bit of a whiner overall. This poor-me, rich, white, Ron-Weasley-lookin’-motherfucker over here often plays the songs that my 7th grade Creative Writing class would call trite and a little sanctimonious.
Tl;dr- Calm the fuck down, Sheeran.
Which is why, it almost pains me to admit that I find myself constantly listening to his new album “Divide” in my daily life. While Im a long way from joining the -utterly insane- fandom on his tumblr sites, I will always admit when I’ve been wrong about a musician. Even if its only the one time.
Buckle up, buttercup. This is a long one.
I wasn’t aware that it was 1999 and Incubus was, once again, making me want to drive around all night tonelessly singing along with their new song. Get it? Because that song was also called “Drive”?
God, I’m funny.
In all seriousness, Incubus has always been a band known for their ability to transcend genres and for expertly crafted lyrics; this new single is no exception to that rule. The song hits hard with metal guitar riffs and a frenetic energy that is reminiscent of albums like “S.C.I.E.N.C.E”. However, that fact may also be the biggest flaw.
Jens Lekman, a Swedish chanteur nonpareil, has produced what is easily (at least, at this point in late February), my favorite album of the year so far. Blending styles as disparate as calypso, disco, folk, and indie pop, Life Will See You Now is a triumph of a record. Unabashedly, unreservedly, this is a fantastic album. Occasionally, it suffers from an abundance of over-earnest, almost saccharine outpouring of emotion. But it’s forgivable under the circumstances – Lekman manages to make the songs on this album so heartbreaking, so real, and so cutting, that the odd misstep is waved away with few reservations.
Well, that was a rough one. Ryan Adams’ latest effort, Prisoner, is a harrowing, and barely disguised, outpouring of catharsis stemming from his recent divorce and subsequent life apart from Mandy Moore. You can sense her presence, or perhaps rather her absence, looming in every corner of this album. You can hear the breakdown threatening to occur in every note Adams sings. It’s such a deeply personal thing that at times you almost feel bad for listening to it. Almost, but not quite.
I cant help but wonder what a world where Papa Roach got good, solid, weekly therapy would look like. It seems like every song that Jacoby Shaddix writes comes from a place of self-harm and self-hatred, and yet there is an overt and powerful catharsis from their energy and song-writing that a part of me will always appreciate – even as I steadily grow out of the hardcore sound. I will say, after returning to this band 15 years later (yes, you read that right… the album “Infest” came out in 2002), its really nice to see they’ve put the Rap-Rock sound to pasture… hopefully with a swift, painless bolt-gun shot to the brain stem.
No Country for Old Chainsaws…
“Is it finally true that we’re not getting any younger?” – “Boy Blue”, Track 8
Honestly? I kinda hate reviewing another album as impressive as this one. I’ve kinda become accustomed to tearing things down and yet, here we are: Listening to another master class in modern day Punk Rock that you should all start listening to right away.
The Menzingers knock it out of the park with their newest release “After The Party”, reaching deep into the nostalgia center of my brain while simultaneously forcing me to take a long look at my position in life; being forced to grow out of late nights, booze, and leather jackets. Like re-reading yearbook comments from friends you haven’t seen in a decade, just before walking in to your high school reunion.
It is as wonderful as it is heartbreaking.
Hey gang, as it turns out: Punk is not dead! Despite all evidence to the contrary; here we have one of the bands that is bringing it back in full force. Priests’ first official LP hits you with all the grace and subtlety of a chainsaw to the kneecap, and you’ll love it. Seriously, if you’ve ever had one punk rock bone in your body you should stop what you are doing and find a way to listen to this album. Maybe you could even click here and give it a listen? I don’t know. I’m not a doctor.
Japandroids has always been a frenetic, freight train of a band, blending the driving fury of classic rock and punk bands like Springsteen and The Replacements. 2012’s Celebration Rock was a perfect encapsulation of the duo’s aesthetic – eight gutpunching rock anthems barreling off into the night from the very first note, and never letting up until the very last. Sadly, Near to the Wild Heart of Life does not reach those same highs. While the record is cleaner, a more proper studio creation, than previous efforts, it suffers from its abundance of polish. Ultimately, it is much tamer than its title would indicate.
With its sweeping orchestral flourishes and heart-on-its-sleeve lyrics, it’s pretty clear that Little Fictions, the seventh studio album from British band Elbow, is a love letter to someone. Nearly every song is infused with some kind of romantic sentiment, be it desperate longing to regret or stupidly giddy happiness at being with someone you adore. In the wrong hands, these songs could be overwrought, even saccharine. But the members of Elbow have twenty years of songcraft under their belt, and they know how to treat these tracks with the quiet tenderness and breathing space they deserve.
Though Tourist in This Town is Allison Crutchfield’s first full-length solo effort, she’s an old hand at the scene. Often with her twin sister Katie (best known for her work as the lead singer of Waxahatchee) in tow, the Birmingham, Alabama native has been slogging away dutifully in the DIY scene since her early teens as a member of the Ackleys, P.S. Eliot, Bad Bananas, and Swearin’. With this wealth of experience under her belt, the resulting solo album is a powerful debut. Seamlessly bringing together a number of genres and influences, it’s also a harrowing emotional gutpunch. This is an album whose opening track includes the words, “Our love is here to die.” And over the course of ten tracks and thirty-two minutes, that’s exactly what happens.