This is week 17 of the year, where I’m reviewing new music through the Tidal streaming service. Up until week 15, I had been reviewing just five albums per week but moving forward, I’m going to review as many as I find interesting. What I’m still going to do is download albums from artists I recognize by name and also records with albums covers that catch my eye. The fun part of this for me is that for many of these records, I’m going in blindly – and I love discovering new music (or at least music that’s new to me).
- Album: Corey Hart – Dreaming Time Again
- Previous knowledge: “6-5, alive is the Boy in the Box”
- Review: Man, Corey Hart infuriates me. I’ve listened to pretty much every hit song from the 80s and there are very few that make me as angry as “Boy in the Box” with it’s stupid chorus reversing the count like I posted above, likely solely to create a rhyme. Ugh, anyone that knows me and talks 80s with me, knows how riled up I get when Corey Hart’s name comes up. Just some of the stupidest songs of the 80s. So of course, I’m a glutton for punishment here. How could Corey Hart release a new EP and I not listen to it!
With this, I listened to the lyrics closer than I’ve listened to any recent album. The hook has always brought me back more so than lyrical content unless I needed to listen to the words to understand a concept album but since I fucking detest Hart’s writing, I paid attention to every lyrics.
As biased as I am, I’m not too stubborn to just simply go into this EP, give it a zero out of spite and move on. And I can’t give it that zero because it has its moments. Not many, but moments. All the songs are pop based with four of them mid-tempo or ballads, with only the title track having a bouncy pop feel to it. Unfortunately, they also all sound dated from the first listen. I don’t know that I understand why on a release in May, there’s “Another December” which is a Christmas song. Nor can I get behind “Tonight (I Wrote You This Song)” which is yet another song that sounds like it was written for someone in particular and said person cried so hard when she heard it that the artist decided it was worth making it public. It never is. But other than being dated, the other three, aren’t terrible. “Aren’t terrible” is the best I’m going to get here though. At least I’m glad to see that his video isn’t set at night and he isn’t wearing sunglasses.
- Rating: 5/10
- Album: L7 – Scatter the Rats
- Previous knowledge: “Pretend We’re Dead”
- Review: A reunion of the classic L7 lineup after 20 years of silence? Yes, don’t mind if I do. I’ve actually heard a lot more of L7 than I indicated and back in the day they were pretty unique in that they were a fully female grunge band, in a genre that was very male dominated. Exactly 20 years since their last album, the women are back and um, still grungy. In fact, you could have told me this was a rarities record from their heyday and I would have believed you. There’s some massive riffs on this record as a song like “Fighting the Crave” makes you want to go back and listen to Bricks are Heavy again and rock the fuck out. But then something like the very generic, cliched and honestly terrible, “Murky Water Cafe” reminds you these ladies are almost 60 and sound like it. The better of the tracks are decent, the bad tracks are terrible. If nothing else, I want to like this for nostalgia purposes but it’s not nearly good enough to make me want to really care.
- Rating: 5/10
- Album: Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes – End of Suffering
- Previous knowledge: Frank’s other band, Gallows
- Review: Frank Carter’s the type of artist I have a lot of respect for. He’s got a ton of talent and loves a variety of musical styles. What I really enjoy about him though is that instead of trying to blend all his musical loves into one band and thus create a lack of cohesiveness, he busts his ass in three different bands with three different styles.
Though I have never listened to a Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes album before, I am familiar with his fiercely angry hardcore band, Gallows. And then he had a cup of tea as the leader of a band called Pure Love, which was a darker alt rock/punk band. Here, the Rattlesnakes play more upbeat and catchy alt rock, with a fuzzed out guitar tone throughout the disc. End of Suffering has its moments of anger and darkness but lyrically the concept actually fits the title, with some more positive lyrics. But it’s the riffs that are going to bring people back. This is a ridiculously well crafted gritty rock record that I’m hoping really breaks the band in the US where they have yet to have real success.
- Rating: 9.5/10
- Album: Amon Amarth – Berserker
- Previous knowledge: All their albums
- Review: If you know metal, Amon Amarth really need no introduction. They have been cranking out melodic death/viking metal for more than two decades now but unlike some of their peers, they seem to be running out of steam. Berserker will surprise no one. It’s definitely an Amon Amarth record but there’s definitely something missing here. Melody? Riffs? New ideas? Of course it’s still heavy as shit but it simply feels like they’ve just recycled ideas from their previous four or five records and decided to just record them again. Competent, yes. But Amon Amarth were once a great band, so competent doesn’t cut it here.
- Rating: 6/10
- Album: Alaskalaska – The Dots
- Previous knowledge: None
- Review: This is the debut album for Alaskalaska (not a typo) which is a six piece band that merged some pop dudes with some jazz dudes to create a sort of art-jazz-pop record. This is a really interesting record with heavier jazzy influences at the front end and heavier pop influences on the backside. I got a strong Steely Dan vibe at first, with a lot of interplay between the pop hooks and horns but later on in the record, that jazzier side take a back seat to sparkling pop rhythms. In between those is some really catchy indie rock as well. So you get a few different styles here that create a pretty unique sounding artsy debut.
- Rating: 9/10
- Album: Easy Freak – No Lies
- Previous knowledge: None
- Review: I don’t get to review too many bands from Johannesburg, South Africa but that’s what we got here, a two man, electro / R&B / funk / pop group with their second full length record. From the start, I wanted to love this. The first few tracks sound very much like the fun, funkiness of Chromeo, whom I’ve shaken my rump to more than once. Just like them, Easy Freak is funky, dancy and smooth when they need to be. But unlike Chromeo, they seem to branch out a bit more than they need to. There’s a lot of straight R&B on the second half of this record that is rather dull. The song “Bounce” kind of sounds like it would have come out of Diplo’s catalog and there’s some hip hop vibes here as well. There are plenty of tracks that work, like “Blow Out” which has a bit of a Cuban feel to it. But it’s not as consistent as I would have liked it to be. But, I still think they have a bright future ahead of them with a little seasoning. However, I still think they have a bright future ahead of them with a little seasoning.
- Rating: 8/10
Albums with a 10/10 so far in 2019 (listed in release order):
- Terror Jr. – Unfortunately, Terror Jr
- Emily King – Scenery
- Good Fuck – Good Fuck
- The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality
- UB40 – For the Many
- Griz – Ride Waves
- Pup – Morbid Stuff
- Lizzo – Cuz I Love You