For the first half of the 1990s, if Redd Kross was involved in something, I was interested. Any band they toured with or recorded with or even name-checked was a band that I would check out. I was rarely disappointed. Enter The Muffs, who I associated with Redd Kross originally because they were both from Southern California and had both punk rock and bubblegum pop cred. And there was the Bill Bartell connection. Plus, Kim Shattuck and Melanie Vammen were ex-Pandoras members, a band I was fond of after hearing them on WTUL New Orleans in the mid-’80s.
Not long after the band’s eponymous debut, Melanie left and former Redd Kross drummer Roy McDonald replaced original drummer Criss Crass. So I was extremely interested in hearing Blonder and Blonder, The Muffs’ 1995 release from Warner Bros./Reprise Records.
By Ben van D
The truly terrific soundtrack should be harmonious with its narrative and transcend and elevate the work as a whole. After all, Psycho isn’t Psycho without its violent shower strings; Star Wars isn’t Star Wars without its “Imperial March;” and the panther isn’t pink without Mancini setting the palette. JG Thirlwell is equally inseparable from the DNA of the Venture Bros., and this collection is hard evidence as to why.
By Tyler Hodg
The genre of country music is one of the worst offenders in producing soulless drivel. J.D. Malone and the Experts’ latest effort, Town and Country, is superior to the work of most mainstream artists in the same classification, but that’s not saying much. Where the album succeeds in exerting passion, it lacks in quality songs.
After several years paying her dues in various Toronto bands, Robyn Phillips was visited by a vision. Adopting the name of Isabella Rossellini’s character from Blue Velvet, Phillips began writing songs informed by this persona, eventually gathering other musicians to complete a full band. Vallens’ first album Consent is out today and it reveals that Phillips’ commitment paid off: it’s a stunning debut.
By Tyler Hodg
There is little that hasn’t been said about Neil Young over his 56-year long career (and counting), yet the prolific musician continues to give people reasons to talk; through the constant delivery of unique additions to his catalogue both musically and visually, and an unapologetically-high standard for passion, it’s no wonder he has been, and will remain, universally respected as an artist.
Young’s latest project sees him joined by Promise of the Real for a two-disc compilation simply titled Earth. The album, which features live tracks from his extensive repertoire and the pairing’s 2015 effort The Monsanto Years, is a 98-minute long collection of what Young describes as songs about “living here on our planet together.”
I heard a voice, a whisper in the dark
And I followed it until I couldn’t see anything anymore.
–Bloody Knives, “Poison Halo”
When your band is named Bloody Knives, you’d better have the tunes to back it up. Fortunately, the Austin four-piece deliver the gory goods on their latest release, the viscerally titled I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This.
Has there ever been a greater musical misnomer than “industrial”? Initially coined as a response to the music being released by Genesis P-Orridge’s Industrial Records and the phrase “industrial music for industrial people” on the first Throbbing Gristle album (at least according to Wikipedia), it’s become a catch-all for any dissonant music that uses drum machines. What is great about drum machines, though, is that they provide such a perfectly sterile template for compelling melodies, the kind that you can either thrash or dance to.
While Odonis Odonis’s latest album, Post Plague, was inspired by industrial bands like Nitzer Ebb and Front 242, it also owes a debt to films like Ex Machina and Beyond The Black Rainbow, as well as of-the-minute ideas about transhumanism and virtual reality.
After a split with Mute, Big Deal are back with their third album, Say Yes, on Fatcat Records. The path to Say Yes has been a difficult one, with band members leaving, relationships ending, and the theft of the band’s laptop, which had Big Deal’s demos and ideas for their new album on it. “It was fight or flight, and we decided to fight,” the band says. So they said yes.
The Twinkeyz are the kind of band that record collectors delight in, artistic and obscure enough to have little material, but not so obscure that there is no material available. And more than that, they have a definite and interesting style of music. The Twinkeyz are recommended in particular for fans of protopunk and the Velvet Underground, or even of neo-psychedelica. The Twinkeyz can be seen as part of the development of glam rock into punk, when the parts of punk had emerged, but not yet coalesced into a set of rules or expectations. By the time Alpha Jerk was released, punk had moved on into new genres, but The Twinkeyz were still being different.
You may be hard pressed this year (or any year) to find an album that is more fun and delightful than Charlie Faye & the Fayettes’ self-titled album. It’s a tribute to the best groups of all: Girl Groups. It’s a love letter to the Shangri-Las, the Shirelles, the Ronettes, and those ladies on the Red Bird label, with sugar crush harmonies from leader Charlie Faye and her Fayettes, BettySoo and Akina Adderly. It’s packed to the edges with ear catchy melodies and joyous vocals, even when the lyrics get less-than-light.