Showing posts with label ska. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ska. Show all posts

Monday, December 19, 2016

video review: 'WORRY.' by jeff rosenstock

Yes, I know I'm late to the party with this one, but my god, I'm so happy I got to it regardless, so smart and well-written, I just wish I dug the hardcore parts more.

Eh, whatever, and now following it with another great record... well, stay tuned!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

album review: 'WORRY.' by jeff rosenstock

So I've mentioned a number of times throughout the three years I've done this series that I'm not the biggest fan of nihilistic artwork - not because I find the themes morally repugnant so much as they just get tedious after a while. You can wallow in your own depravity and debauched hedonism all you want, but at least switch it up once and a while or try to say something interesting about your condition - looking at you, Future.

But that's not to say music with dark or depressing themes doesn't work for me, especially if the writing or instrumentation twists in interesting directions. Enter Jeff Rosenstock, a name you're probably most familiar with from the New York punk and ska scene, namely as the frontman of Arrogant Sons of Bitches, the DIY ska-punk collective Bomb The Music Industry!, and the indie rock group Kudrow. But where I started to take more notice was his solo work, and when I say that I mean that my notice was driven by a bunch of music critics I otherwise respect telling me insistently that I need to hear this guy. And sure enough, they were right, because Jeff Rosenstock's music was right up my alley. A punk smart enough to temper his anthems in the sort of overwritten but self-deprecating material to temper the bite, with a frankly astonishing level of detail to paint the pictures, both instrumentally and lyrically, his music reminded me a bit of Frank Turner in a weird way in the maturity of their punk mindset and a commitment to ridiculously catchy music. But I think Rosenstock squeezed more instrumental styles and tones into his first two solo records, aptly titled I Look Like Shit and We Cool?, grabbing from ska and garage rock and lo-fi and even synthpunk to form a raucous, utterly unpredictable sound that really stuck with me, I really dug those records. As such, while again it has been a long time coming, I really wanted to check out his newest release this year WORRY. - did it hold up to the hype?

Monday, March 2, 2015

video review: 'mono' by the mavericks

And that's two for tonight. Whew.

Okay, next... either The Pop Group, Toby Keith, or (if I have to) Kelly Clarkson. Stay tuned!

album review: 'mono' by the mavericks

So let's talk about comebacks again.

I've talked a bit before about artists managing to revive their careers thanks to diehard fanbases, critical attention, or simply stepping into the right place at the right time - one of the reasons Sleater-Kinney's No Cities To Love did as well as it did this year, on top of just being awesome. But Sleater-Kinney wasn't just a great band, they were responsible for shaping that particular brand of feminist punk rock for years to come, and you could argue their influence runs pretty deep.

The Mavericks, on the other hand... okay, who was expecting this comeback to work? For those of you who don't know, The Mavericks were a neotraditional country act that came up in the mid-90s that I'd describe as midway between Alabama and Lonestar - not quite as rollicking or twangy, but not the slick pop country that would define Lonestar successful years in the late 90s and early 2000s. They charted a few modest hits, but were never massive hitmakers with anything that hit the top 10, or made music that I'd describe as essential of the era. Hell, on some of their singles I'd have a hard time describing them as a neotraditional country act, which might have been their problem getting hits - they were too polished for most country with the ska-like horns, clean adult contemporary production, Raul Malo's rich baritenor, doofy yacht rock vibe, and tendency for covering Elvis and Cat Stevens. It's no surprise that 'All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down' is their biggest country hit and the only one I recognized at all on first listen - and they still managed to find a way to wedge an accordion solo into it! So after breaking up, I had no reason to care about The Mavericks, putting them in the same historical footnote as I put similar 90s neotraditional acts that never really caught on - yes, I know they had a Grammy, ask Marc Cohn or Debby Boone how much those matter for one's long-term career.

But then they came back with In Time in 2013... and really, it was like they never left. The horns, the accordion, the eclectic country of The Mavericks only seemed to really change and evolve in the thicker grooves and picking up more texture, which was a welcome shift. But despite the waves of critical acclaim the record got, I was a little more lukewarm on it - I got the old-fashioned flavour to the vocals and songwriting, but to me it always felt a little staged and kitschy - not bad by any stretch, let me stress this, but a little broad. But then again, the band seemed to be committed to pushing their sound even further, so I made sure to check out their newest album Mono - how did that turn out?