Saturday, November 12, 2011


 I had originally started a comprehensive new music preview but many of the albums I planned on profiling didn't exactly electrify my ears. In its place, here are five recent or upcoming albums I can confidently say offer solidly stimulating sounds.

Endless Now
Male Bonding
  English band Male Bonding have been labeled as a punk rock band, although I'd say they are closer to pop punk. Endless Now is the follow up to their well received debut, last year's Nothing Hurts, and finds John Arthur Webb, Kevin Hendrick and  Robin Silas serving up carefully crafted '90s-ish rock. Unsurprisingly the album was produced by '90s mix master John Agnello, who has worked with The Kills and Sonic Youth. Male Bonding have consistently drawn comparisons to Dinosaur Jr., who Agnelo has also produced. I can definitely understand this observation, especially on tracks like What's That Scene? and Dig You Out. Male Bonding's sound may call back to a different ear but it's their energetic execution that makes Endless Now a must listen in the present day.


Channelling Your Fears

Heartbeats & Brainwaves
Electric Six
  The recently released Heartbeats and Brainwaves is Detroit sextet Electric Six's eighth studio album in eight years. Their frantic output may lead listeners to expect a decline in quality; yet when your musical style crosses so many genres it's easy to mix it up. I'd wager most of you have heard the band's most popular song Danger! High Voltage in a commercial or otherwise. Most of the tracks found on Heartbeats and Brainwaves aren't too far off from Danger! or their other mega hit Gay Bar. Yet there are some divergences, most notably the '80s-infused We Use the Same Products. Whether you're in the mood for disco-punk or shiny synths, Electric Six are here for you. LED codpiece not included.


Divine Providence
Deer Tick
 On Deer Tick's fourth album, John McCauley & company continue to deliver their signature alt-rock, country-tinged tunes. There's nothing as sweet as Friday XIII or These Old Shoes. Instead Divine Providence contains party anthems (Let's All Go to the Bar), folk ballads (Mr. Cigarette) and familiar angry rants (The Bump.) Deer Tick's music sounds as if it were recorded in a dive bar, surrounded by spilled beer and clouds of cigarette smoke. According to McCauley that's not far from the truth.
“I can’t even guesstimate how many beers we drank,” McCauley told 77 Square of the Divine Providence recording sessions. “We were definitely ourselves.”

Miss K

Tarot Classics EP
Surfer Blood
 My inclusion of Tarot Classics is a bit of a cheat as it's not a full length release. However the handful of tracks on this EP are substantial enough to warrant a listen. Only their second release, after last year's Astro Coast, Tarot Classics demonstrates Surfer Blood's continued confidence at pairing competent pop rock with punk riffs and frenzied feedback. The four tracks are a billowy pop piece (Drinking Problem), a rocky kiss off (Miranda), instrumental done right (Voyager Reprise) and a toe tapping, beach ready single (I'm Not Ready, listen below.) Looking ahead to Surfer Blood's next release, here's hoping this Florida five piece will continue to pair sunny themes with the chilly disposition they've crafted for themselves.

I'm Not Ready

Exits & All the Rest
Girl In a Coma
 Much like Male Bonding, the first single (Smart, watch the video below) off of Girl In a Coma's Exits and All the Rest is reminiscent of the '90s. However instead of Dinosaur Jr., Girl In a Coma are more aptly compared to Magnapop or The Breeders. This indie Mexican-American trio, made up of sisters Nina and Phanie Diaz along with Jenn Alva, signed with Joan Jett's Blackheart Records in 2006. If Smart is any indication, Exits and All the Rest will be softer than their previous efforts. I adored their '07 debut Both Before I'm Gone, which was more in line with the Joan Jett, hard rock aesthetic. They may have mellowed out a bit but what Girl In a Coma are presenting is still robust enough to rouse a comatose music fan out of a mainstream induced slumber.  


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