Parquet Courts-- Sympathy for Life

Parquet Courts’ seventh album Sympathy for Life ventures even further away from the band's rock roots, exploring trance-inducing club beats, dub experimentation, and a fusion of both organic and electronic forms of psychedelia. With song structures stitched together from meticulously edited improvised jams and further refined with production help from Hot Chip and David Byrne collaborator Rodaidh McDonald, the songs here flow together like unrelated segments of a dream. The Primal Scream-inspired "Walking at a Downtown Pace" kicks things off with a buzzy bassline and a wash of trippy guitars kept from falling into complete chaos by the danceable rhythms. The song takes notes directly from the Manchester club scene of the late '80s and early '90s, but vocalist Andrew Savage's unvarnished vocals give the song a distinctive energy that keeps it from being a complete homage. Moments later, "Black Widow Spider" delivers an odd combination of wobbly distorted bass tones, Krautrock-esque repetition, and muted melodic phrasing that feel almost Kinks-like. This combination of approaches results in a surreal feeling that can be pinned down to any of its individual elements, and that kind of unexpected synthesis becomes the album's mission statement.. Sympathy for Life loses none of the funkiness of 2018’s Wide Awake, but twists it into strange and more cerebral forms. Instead of party-starting excitement, the band refracts echoes of Can, Bowie, and the Talking Heads at their most abstract for an album that feels tense and bleary, like a party that's still fun but has burned on for so long that the sun is coming up and things are starting to get weird. ~Fred Thomas, allmusic.com

 

John Coltrane--A Love Supreme: Live In Seattle

Recorded at the Penthouse Club on October 2, 1965, A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle sat in the archive of musician/educator Joe Brazil (he played flute on John Coltrane's OM, recorded the day before) for 55 years. Five years after Brazil's death in 2008, family friend Steve Griggs discovered two 1/4" reels containing this performance. This is only the second complete concert performance of A Love Supreme to see the light of day; the other is from a July 1965 concert in Antibes.

Opener "Acknowledgement" is nearly 22 minutes long. Other than Coltrane's familiar flutter on the thematic introduction, this piece is almost unrecognizable for 15 minutes. The interplay between bassists is canny. Donald Garrett uses a bow while Jimmy Garrison strums chords, and McCoyTyner offers chordal counterpoint as Jones double-times on ride cymbals. Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders trade solo spaces with Ward interjecting tentative bursts. "Resolution" emerges with Coltrane stating the theme briefly. McCoy Tyner enters, expands the frame, and signals Carlos Ward in. Initially uncertain, he adds sparse, dissonant notes and flurries for a few moments and then grabs onto the rhythm section's tough modal swing and rips the tune wide open with a killer solo, followed by Sanders and Coltrane blazing scorching trails through the tune. After a six-minute drum solo interlude, "Pursuance" begins with Coltrane stating the theme, then Sanders breaks it into pieces with a long, labyrinthine, and furious solo. Tyner supports with sharp, chromatic asides before taking his own long, imaginative solo and dueling with the bassists and Jones. Coltrane doesn't solo at all. "Psalm," with its trademark bluesy tenor intro, stays closest to the studio recording.  Coltrane takes only a minute to begin ascending but fades before he reaches a peak as Tyner and Jones envelop him. Coltrane begins rebuilding the tune, reaches an inner pinnacle, then dissembles it again amid bowed basses, Tyner's sparse middle register, and Sanders' Tibetan prayer bells. The audience responds with stunned silence for a few seconds. It's a startling performance. The package design is simply stellar and the liner essays by critic/historian Ashley Kahn Coltrane biographer Lewis Porter are educational, authoritative, and indispensable. ~Thom Jurek, allmusic.com

The Replacements-- Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out The Trash

The Replacements’ 1981 Twin/Tone Records debut, SORRY MA, FORGOT TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH, heralded the Minneapolis-based band’s competing tendencies toward indelible genius and reckless abandon. The ’Mats’ legendary founding line-up – lead singer/songwriter and guitarist Paul Westerberg, drummer Chris Mars, and brothers Bob and Tommy Stinson (lead guitar and bass respectively) – unleashed a thrilling, dynamic sound on the album with now-classic songs like “Takin’ A Ride,” “Shiftless When Idle,” and “Customer.”  Rhino Records is celebrating the 40th anniversary of SORRY MA, FORGOT TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH this fall with a 4CD/1LP set that offers a remarkable document of The Replacements’ formative years. Of the set’s 100 tracks, 67 have never been released before, including the first demos the band recorded in early 1980, as well as a professionally captured concert from January 1981. Along with a newly remastered version of the original album, it also uncovers many unreleased rough mixes, alternate takes, and demos from the band’s first 18 months together. The LP included in the set, titled Deliberate Noise, presents an alternate version of the original album using these previously unreleased tracks. It comes with a 12 x 12 hardcover book loaded with dozens of rarely seen photos. The Deluxe Edition ends on a high note with the earliest professional live recording of The Replacements. The previously unreleased concert, dubbed Unsuitable for Airplay, was captured by Twin/Tone’s mobile unit on January 23, 1981, at the 7th St Entry in Minneapolis, MN. A portion of the show was later broadcast on the local community radio station, KFAI.

 

Amyl & The Sniffers--Comfort to Me

Melbourne-based punk quartet Amyl and the Sniffers new album, Comfort to Me, is an explosive thrill, bursting at the seams with Dec Martens' chugging riffs, Bryce Wilson's bashing drums, Gus Romer's threatening basslines, and Amy Taylor's charisma and defiance. An absolute force of nature, Taylor remains the star of the show, even as the band have boosted their attack to create an evolved monster fueled by anger, frustration, and existential dread. Whipped immediately into a frenzy with "Guided By Angels," Comfort is a non-stop romp, frothing with blood, sweat, and spit. The no-frills hardcore of raucous headbangers like "Freaks to the Front" and "Don't Need a C**t (Like You to Love Me)" launch listeners into the mosh pit, while groove-heavy, L7-esque lurchers such as "Laughing," "Choices," and "Snakes" get the body moving as the imaginary boots of a crowd surfer swing precariously close to another concussion. While every song is a highlight in its own right, "Hertz" is a standout in the band's catalog, a new wave buzzsaw that piles on a melodic groove, soaring guitar solo, and Taylor's escapist demands to "Take me to the beach/Take me to the country!" Her lyrics are the secret weapon on Comfort to Me, an evolution forced by global turmoil and simply growing up, veering from self-empowerment and newfound freedom ("Choices," "Laughing," and "Don't Fence Me In") to larger issues such as misogyny, climate change, politics, human rights, and more (which are tackled on the heady "Capital" and the frustrated "Knifey"). Their rapid growth is as head-spinning as the songs themselves, lending a triumphant air to Comfort to Me that keeps Amyl and the Sniffers primed and ready to conquer the world -- again. ~Neil Z Yeung, allmusic.com

Billy Strings -- Renewal

Billy Strings has been hailed as the future of bluegrass, transcending tradition and genre with his high velocity, flat-picking guitar technique, and intense, confessional songwriting. He won a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album for his 2019 release, Home. The Michigan-born, Nashville-based artist returns with, Renewal, his latest album on Rounder Records. Strings and his band — Billy Failing (banjo), Jarrod Walker (mandolin), and Royal Masat (bass) – joined producer Jonathan Wilson (Father John Misty, Roger Waters) at the Sound Emporium to blaze right ahead with a new record, Renewal. With Wilson’s guidance, the band expanded their bluegrass sound, continuing the long-familiar-to-fans elements of heavy metal and jambands that define their shows, but also adding spaced-out psychedelia (“Secrets” and “Fire on My Tongue” offer examples), classic rock melodies (“Leaders”), and even indie rock. But the bluegrass remains — “Red Daisy,” “Hellbender,” and “Fire on My Tongue” are all beautifully arranged and as close to traditional as a Billy Strings song can be.


Jarvis Cocker- Chansons d'Ennui Tip-Top

 Chansons d'Ennui Tip-Top, a tie-in to the soundtrack for the 2021 Wes Anderson film The French Dispatch, offers 12 cinematic covers of classic French pop songs, some with ties themselves to other films from Pulp front man Jarvis Cocker.  A collaboration with Anderson, the record closes on the larger-than-life "Aline," Cocker's version of the hit '60s ballad by Christophe that he recorded for The French Dispatch soundtrack and which inspired a full album of like-minded covers. Steeped in echo, thundering drums, harpsichord, and a weave of strings and soaring backing vocals, it's guided by Cocker's spoke-sung vocals as they rise from sultry whispers to tortured pleas. Generally using the dramatic, stylized arrangements of the originals as templates throughout, he opens the album with "Dans Ma Chambre" and, loyal to the Dalida original, a quote of the famous opening to Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, which recurs during the song. A highlight for its quirky theatricality, the space-age "Contact," a Serge Gainsbourg tune made famous by Brigitte Bardot, is a fairly spot-on cover by Cocker, who has Bardot-like vocal support on the choruses. Speaking of guests, Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier is featured prominently on another Dalida entry, "Paroles Paroles," the singer's seductive 1973 duet with actor Alain Delon. Intriguing from beginning to end, Cocker's lush, emphatic takes should delight fans of vintage French and Baroque pop. ~Marcy Donelson allmusic.com

 

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