Record highs in Spring 2010...
If last year’s maddening shred festival was Dinosaur Jr.’s epochal Farm, then the front runner for 2010 arrives by way of Louisville, Kentucky’s Follow The Train, and their debut full-length on Removador Recordings. Under the watchful eye of My Morning Jacket’s Yim Yames [Removador’s founder], Mercury was recorded over the past year. Like Jacket’s Z, the album bleeds intensity on nearly every track, making the sonic traveler wonder what was going on in these guys lives to unleash such pent up fury? The jagged and metallic guitar solos come early (especially on the lengthy jam out “Movin”) and often, bringing to mind fellow axe-masters and Kentucky sluggers Wax Fang. Metal intros (“Coffee”), reggae melodies (“219”), cosmic voyaging guitar solos (“Listen”), and shoegazeably jazzy undertones (“Mellwood”) gives this album it’s signature breadth, which certainly can be attributable (at least in part) to Yames’ chameleonic music appreciation. Fans of The Hold Steady, Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse will enjoy the record as it channels such a broad array of modernized rock to encapsulate the listener in a rousing and transcendent ride to the planet closest to the sun. The stoned-out sprawler “Listen” blazes on through it’s first half as frontman Chris Sheridan sings
Don’t drink that, it’s poison
It’s gonna light up your whole world, just before it kills ya
And I know this wanting comes a bit too late
But if I could rewind I’d stop you cold before you make that mistake
before the tune builds towards a monstrous guitar solo of truly majestic and legendary proportions. Mercury is one of the more righteous collections to come out of KY in awhile and, after reading the band’s rough-and-tumble bio, a big win for the underdog. To conclude, it’s just damn fine to see a Kentucky underdog put out such an inspired, “operatic brain cookie”.
Download “Movin” free and listen to Mercury in its entirety HERE
Recommended Tracks: "Movin'", "219", "Mellwood" & "Listen"
MGMT- Congratulations [4 1/2 stars] Amazing, drippingly psychedelic and light years above expectations, this may just be the frontrunner for 2010's blue ribbon. On the whole a better album than 2007's Oracular Spectacular. These songs probably won't be as susceptible to Hollywood and commercial appeal, but fit together as a cohesive piece and droningly grip the listener in a downright narcotic fashion. Also, easily the best album cover since Tha Carter III. Congratulations MGMT, looks like you'll be in it to win it for the long haul. Not to mention I was just went from casual "they alright" fan to put-me-in-a-home, obsessed listener.
You can listen to Congratulations totally free at www.whoismgmt.com, totally awesome. Totally.
Recommended Tracks: "It's Working", "Song for Dan Treacy", "Flash Delirium", "Siberian Breaks", & "Congratulations". Really all of them.
Zany town video for "Flash Delirium":
Dave Rawlings Machine- A Friend of A Friend [3 1/2 stars] At long last journeyman Dave Rawlings has an LP of his own.
Recommended Tracks: "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is to Be High)" & "It's Too Easy"
Peter Gabriel- Scratch My Back [2 stars] When I first heard about the Scratch My Back, I'll Scratch Yours concept, I thought Gabriel's I'll-cover-yours-if-you'll-cover-mine plan was compelling. It didn't hurt to pique interest that Gabriel was going to take on such iconic bands and artists as Radiohead, Talking Heads and David Bowie as well as modern acts like Bon Iver and Arcade Fire. However, the arrangements are somber-inducing, slow, uncreative and lack the power to match the originals. Hopefully, the flip side will be better.
Shooter Jennings and Hierophant- Black Ribbons [3 1/2 stars] Son of a country music legend releases a futuristic prog rock/metal concept album featuring narrations by Stephen King as the anti-government radio DJ host of "Last Light Radio". Can't make this up. The weird thing about this album is, it's actually pretty damn good. Besides a few dips in the cheese bowl on songs like "Fuck You I'm Famous", this whole piece sounds good, not sure if I've got a complete grip on the message yet...
Recommended Tracks "All of This Could Have Been Yours" and "Black Ribbons"
The Whigs In The Dark [2 1/2 stars] 2008's Mission Control was a tough act to follow, and In The Dark doesn't come close. The record will undoubtedly have a broader appeal in the mainstream than the band's first two efforts, let's just hope The Whigs don't go the way of the brothers Followill on their next one. If they do, more power to them I guess. 2nd half of the record is notably stronger than the first half.
Recommended Tracks "Naked", "Dying" & "Automatic"
Also, not an album, but a pretty incredible show (that lasted almost 6 hours) for the Grateful Dead bassist's 70th B-Day bash. Deadheads and Black Crowes fans are definitely gonna wanna roast this one [Chris Robinson takes lead vocals on a half-dozen tracks or so].
Furthur 3/12/2010 Live in San Francisco, [5 stars]
I: Ripple@, Lazy River Road@, Peggy-O@, The Stranger@, Brokedown Palace@, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall@, They Love Each Other@, Mountains of the Moon@, Attics of My Life@
II: Scarlet Begonias, Minglewood Blues, Easy Wind > New Speedway Boogie, Viola Lee Blues > High Time > Caution Jam > Viola Lee Blues > Hard to Handle > Viola Lee Blues > Like a Rolling Stone > Sugaree
III: Not Fade Away > Happy Birthday > Not Fade Away, Playin in the Band > St. Stephen > The Other One > Elevator > Unbroken Chain, Comes a Time > Cream Puff War > Franklin's Tower
E: Johnny B. Goode
1st set without Russo and with Steve Molitz, Chris Robinson, and Jackie Greene; 2nd set without Jay and with Jackie Greene and Chris Robinson; 3rd set without Jay and with John Molo, Steve Molitz, and Jackie Greene
Only ''Lazy River Road''; Only ''The Stranger''; Only ''A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall''; Only ''Easy Wind''; Only ''High Time''; Only ''Like a Rolling Stone''; Only ''Elevator''; Only ''Cream Puff War''
Playin in the Band: