Album Review: American Head by Flaming Lips


Album: American Head
Artist: Flaming Lips
Release Date: September 11, 2020
Label: Warner
Favorite Tracks:

  • Dinosaurs on the Mountain
  • Mother Please Don’t Be Sad
  • Assasins of Youth

Thoughts:

The Flaming Lips enter their fifth decade as recording artists with this trippy new album. This seems weird to me even though I first heard the band in the 1990s, and began listening to them avidly with their legendary releases of the 2000s. The album is a loose concept album drawn from band leader Wayne Coyne’s childhood in Oklahoma City. Musically, the Flaming Lips aren’t breaking new ground and the lyrics are full of gratuitous drug references. But the melodies are gorgeous in this collection of mostly ballads awash in rich instrumentation. Kacey Musgraves provides counterpoint vocals on a few tracks.


Rating: ***1/2

Album Review: Shore by Fleet Foxes


Album: Shore
Artist: Fleet Foxes
Release Date: September 22, 2020
Label: Anti
Favorite Tracks:

  • Sunblind
  • Can I Believe You
  • A Long Way Past the Past
  • Going-to-the-Sun Road

Thoughts:

I think this is what they call “headphone music” because the rich instrumentation and lush harmonies of Fleet Foxes become readily when pressed up against one’s ears. There’s a definite warmth to the album which according to the band’s frontman, Robin Pecknold “celebrate “life in the face of death.” And so I can say “it speaks to our time of COVID” for about the 100th time in this blog. But if good art is one of the few worthwhile things that the pandemic brings us, then I will accept that.

Rating: ***1/2

Other Albums I’ve Reviewed by this Band:

Album Review: Holy Smokes Future Jokes by Blitzen Trapper


Album: Holy Smokes Future Jokes
Artist: Blitzen Trapper
Release Date: September 25, 2020
Label: Yep Roc Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • Magical Thinking
  • Masonic Temple Microdose #1
  • Requiem
  • Holy Smokes Future Jokes

Thoughts:

Blitzen Trapper has always sounded a bit like a throwback band, but on this album they explore a folk rock/alt country sound reminiscent of the late 1960s/early 1970s. Doubly so because the album draws inspiration from the Tibetan Book of the Dead which was also popular during the psychedelic era. Nevertheless, whatever deep metaphysical thoughts are in the lyrics, the tunes are warm and breezy and a pleasure to listen to.

Rating: ***1/2

Previously Reviewed Album by the Same Band: Wild and Reckless

Monthly Mixtape – October 2020


Genre-wise this feels like the most mixed up mixtape ever. I love it.

It also feels like a boat-load of new albums have been released in the past six weeks and I haven’t found time review any of them. So much music, so little time.

Maren Morris :: “Better Than We Found It”

Palberta :: “Before I Got Here”

Sam Amidon :: “Time Has Made A Change”

Molchat Doma :: “Sudno”

Jake Blount :: “Roustabout”

Mdou Moctar :: “Chismiten”

Previous Mixtapes:

Podcasts of the Week Ending October 24


Code Switch :: Is Trump Really That Racist?

Trump says the quiet part out loud, but a panel of experts evaluates US Presidents over the past 50 years and finds that many of them enabled racism through policy and laws.

Planet Money :: Frame Canada

A whistleblower exposes the propaganda campaign he created to (succesfully) make Americans believe that medical care in Canada is inferior to that of the United States.

The Thirty20Eight :: Disney Princess Non-Princesses & Non-Princess Princesses

What is a Disney Princess and who makes the cut? A surprisingly fascinating discussion of a cultural phenomenon.

Twenty Thousand Hertz :: Dies Irae

From medieval chants to symphonic compositions to the soundtracks of blockbuster films, a pattern of four notes has served to represent death.

What Next :: First Timers: Out of Prison and Finally Able to Vote

Incarceration strips American citizens of their right to vote, sometimes even after they are released. This podcast focuses on one formerly incarcerated person who will be participating in voting for the first time this year.

RUNNING TALLY OF PODCAST OF THE WEEK APPEARANCES

Monthly Mixtape – September 2020


This month we have a robust collection of new songs. Our mixtape begins and ends with some stirring protest songs, but there are some feel good songs in-between.

Janelle Monáe :: “Turntables”

Terror/Cactus :: “Guanaco

Throwing Muses :: “Dark Blue”

Kelly Lee Owens :: “On”

Æ MAK :: “i dance in the kitchen (feat. Seba Safe)”

A.G. Cook :: “Beautiful Superstar”

Romy :: “Lifetime”

ALA.NI :: “Lament for Emmett Till”

Previous Mixtapes:

Album Review: Dandelion by Carolina Story


Album: Dandelion
Artist: Carolina Story
Release Date: September 4, 2020
Label: Black River Americana
Favorite Tracks:

  • Light of the Moon
  • Lay Me Down Easy

Thoughts:

Back in the late 1990s/early 2000s I was deeply invested in the contemporary Folk/Folk Rock/Folk Pop/Americana, etc. scenes.  Eventually I drifted away, partly because everything started sounding the same and I wanted to hear something different. Hearing Carolina Story reminds me of the excitement of discovering something new during the height of my folkie days.

The duo is the married couple Emily and Ben Roberts of Nashville.  They remind me a little bit of Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer with more country twang and less mysticism.  But the best thing about Carolina Story is that they interpret traditional folk sounds in a voice that’s completely their own.  They are especially good using their voices to provide a wide range of expression and the instrumentation of the duo and their backing band is particularly rich.

Rating: ***1/2

 

 

Album Review: FREE I.H: This Is Not The One You’ve Been Waiting For by Illuminati Hotties


Album: FREE I.H: This Is Not The One You’ve Been Waiting For
Artist: Illuminati Hotties
Release Date: July 17, 2020
Label: Self-released
Favorite Tracks:

  • freequent letdown
  • melatonezone
  • content/bedtime
  • reasons 2 live

Thoughts:

Singer/songwriter Sarah Tudzin’s pioneering work in “tenderpunk” takes a turn in this brief (12 songs in 24 minutes) but eclectic collection. This is the band’s sophomore effort after Kiss Yr Frenemies and shows a willingness to experiment.  The album comes in the wake of their record label’s demise explaining why it is self-released and probably why it is so short.  Still, if this is just a place holder until the next “real” album comes out, then we can expect great things.

Rating: ****

Album Review: Dialectic Soul by Asher Gamedze


Album: Dialectic Soul
Artist: Asher Gamedze
Release Date: July 10, 2020
Label: On the Corner
Favorite Tracks:
Thoughts:

I don’t know much about jazz, but I know what I like. South African drummer Asher Gamedze draws on free jazz and Black liberation traditions of the 1960s and 70s and fuses them with contemporary jazz and protest music.  The standout track “siyabulela,” a slow tune with vocals by Nono Nkoane cuts to the soul.

Rating: ****