Mixed Bag: The 3Q 2014 Album Reviews Roundup


I’ve been putting this off because there hasn’t been any “home run” albums released in the past few months. Nothing has really spun my head like releases from earlier this year by Sun Kil Moon or Strand of Oaks or Courtney Barnett. Plenty of good music has been released, but I’m finding it harder than usual to think of anything to say about it. It’s been a dry quarter. That said, here’s what I’ve been listening to, and what you should seek out, if you’re so inclined.

The Dead Space, Faker (12XU) — Gerard Cosloy’s people at 12XU compare them to Joy Division. Sacrilege? Maybe. But other than bassist/vocalist Quin Galavis sounding all haunted and shadowy, like a hipster version of Ian Curtis, there’s little similarity while the ever-buzzing guitar falls closer to Interpol, if Interpol recorded in a basement. If you’re into any of the above, this is a hidden gem.  

The Rural Alberta Advantage, Mended With Gold (Saddle Creek) — This signing by Saddle Creek always vexed me. Their acoustic frontier twang is rhythmic and well played, and singer Nils Edenloff has a pretty croak, but none of their songs resonate or are memorable. Why go to Toronto for this style of music when there’s a half-dozen bands in Nebraska that do it as well or better? If you’re going to lose money putting out music, you might as well lose it locally. 

The Gotobeds, Poor People Are Revolting (12XU) — These Pittsburg boys have a boner so hard for early Pavement their lead guy even barks/screams like Malkmus. I guess if you’re going to ape someone, you could do worse, though high-water anthems “NY’s Alright” (with the line “…if you can get your d*** sucked“) or “F***ing Machine” ain’t as good as, say, the lowest hanging fruit on Slanted. See them live Nov. 18 at the Down Under Lounge.

Adult Mom, Sometimes Bad Happens (Miscreant) — I can’t remember how I stumbled across this 6-song cassette (That’s right, cassette), but every tune is endearing and honest and oddly melancholy. Frontwoman Steph Knipe clearly was going through something when she wrote these songs; something that involves realizing you’re not going to live forever and what a drag it is getting old (even if old means 21). *Pssst, woman are still making the best music these days.* Find it on Bandcamp. 

The Heart Wants, All I Remember is Waiting (self release) — This is a side project from Omahan Chris Yanulis, who you might know from his other band, Drakes Hotel. Guitar, synths/keys, vocals and drum machine — he did it all — and the result is startling thanks to can’t-get-out-of-your-head hooks and simple arrangements that come off like darkly veiled Guided by Voices. Some of the best stuff I’ve heard this year. It’s a shame we’ll never see this performed live (probably).

Ty Segall, Manipulator (Drag City) — More psychedelic garage rock by a guy who eclipsed Jack White a long time ago, this album is the slickest, most commercial collection of his career, an obvious reach for something beyond life in a van. And while it’s sure to turn more heads, he’s not doing himself any favors with level-headed self-restraint. I like his early, out-of-control stuff more, though I’m sure I’m in the listening minority. 

Iceage, Plowing into the Field of Love (Matador) — They play a rough, dry-heave style of punk with shadows of early monsters like Gang of Four and The Fall lying hidden beneath the waves. And like any good performers, these songs felt more urgent and important when they played them live at The Slowdown a few weeks ago. Much of the drama was lost in the studio, but it’s still better and more imaginative than the last Interpol album. 

Lace Curtains, A Signed Piece of Paper (Female Fantasy) — Recording the sound of the new LA indie playground (because LA is the place to be these days, they say), frontman Michael Coomer’s approach has similar esthetic to, say, early Dismemberment Plan or Beauty Pill, and if you’ve never heard of either, just think good, streamlined indie rock cast in a Hollywood sunset.

Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers, Living by the Minute (Silver Street) — As I told Hoyer in a gush email, I don’t know anything about this genre of blues/funk other than what I learned from Sharon Jones + the Dap Kings, but he and his band do it as well or better than most of the bands in this category. Why he hasn’t been “discovered” yet is a mystery, though I’m told word is getting out about this Lincoln combo. Discover them for yourself at the CD release show Saturday, Nov. 8, at The Slowdown. 

Jenny Lewis, The Voyager (Warner Bros) — The least interesting collection in her catalog.

Twin Peaks, Wild Onion (Grand Jury) — Is electric-guitar-fueled power-pop back again? The throw-back style of this Chicago band’s good-time songs will have you thinking so. It’s like The Kinks combined with every band on the Titan! label. The 16-song collection is only 40 minutes long, which means most songs clock in under the 3-minute mark — a bitter-sweet thing. See them perform live Nov. 25 at odd midtown venue Midtown Art Supply, 2578 Harney St. 

Worth checking out: Spoon, They Want My Soul (Loma Vista); Flesh Lights, Free Yourself (12XU); Tennis, Ritual in Repeat (Communion); The Intelligence, Boredom And Terror (In the Red). Guilty Pleasure of the Month: La Roux, Trouble in Paradise (Polydor). Single of the Month: Tei Shi, “Bassically” (Mermaid Avenue / Double Denim). 

Over The Edge is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@gmail.com


Category: Art

Leave a Reply