July Album Reviews

Weird month. Loved a LOT. Liked one album I would have been willing to bet money I wouldn’t like and didn’t like one I would have assumed I’d be more interested in listening to. Weird.
Absolutely Love & Adore:
My Morning Jacket “Evil Urges” – Not just my favorite album in August, but my #1 album of the year so far. It’s sexy and funky and sassy and smooth. Love it! Favorite song is “I’m Amazed” folowed by “Librarian” (great lyrics) and “Smokin’ from Shootin” (love the chorus). Only one song I tend to fast forward past and that’s “Remnants”.
Earlimart “Hymn and Her” – So pretty. Really cool boy/girl interactions, harmonies, lyrics. Faves: “For the Birds”, “Time for Yourself” (great rhythm), “Town Where You Belong.”
Cut Copy “In Ghost Colors” – Dance, dance, baby. I read a great quote somewhere (dang, lost the link) describing them as a “non ironic Joy Division.” They also remind me of earli(er) Madonna (“Lights & Music” particularly). Really fun. Favorite songs are “So Haunted”, “Out There on the Ice” and the opener “Feel the Love” to which I always yell “YES!!” when it comes on.
Drive-By Truckers “The Dirty South” – OK, I KNOW, I am only four years late to the party on this one. Bygones! I first listened to Jason Isbell last summer, went to see him this spring, and decided I needed to backtrack and find out what Drive-By Truckers were all about. It was recommended I start here. Yay! Love it. Very much an album of Southern rock storytelling. Gritty tales of (often) misfortune. Favorites are “The Day John Henry Died”, “The Sands of Iwo Jima”, “Puttin’ People on the Moon” and “Puttin’ People on the Moon”.
Beck “Modern Guilt” – Love it. Really great. His albums are all such individuals, it’s hard to compare, but “Sea Change” is probably its closest comparison among his previous albums. That said, I actually find this signficantly less melancholy than that one. Faves are “Gamma Ray” and “Walls”.
Nana Grizol “Love It Love It” – I think of these dudes as a slightly happier, slightly poppier, and less “harsh” on the guitars version of Okkervil River. But I am likely the only person on the planet who describes them (or any band) that way. Love the horn arrangements. Love “Circles ‘Round the Moon” (yay!) and “Voice Echo Down The Halls…” Only song I skip is (oddly) the last one. Woot. Lots of fun.
Favorite Singles (not on any of the above albums):

  • “Photograph” Eagle Seagull
  • “On My Mind” Romantica
  • “Wreck” The Bittersweets
  • “Murder in the City” The Avett Brothers
  • “Give Em Hell” Hearts of Palm (love the lyrics)
  • “She Does” Locksley
  • “Black Ghost/Black Girl” Starling Electric (90s feel)
  • Mother & Child Reunion” (cover!) The Morning Benders (LOVELOVELOVE)
  • “Word Up” Willis

Other Albums I Liked:
  • Mason Jennings “In the Ever” – Love “Fighter Girl.” Love “Your New Man”. Also “Soldier Boy”. But find it a bit uneven as a whole. Don’t like “Memphis, Tennessee”. Don’t dig the semi religious/Jenny Lewis-type overtones at times.
  • Ryan Auffenberg “Marigolds” – Been singing along to “Alright, Okay” all summer long. Really love “Undercover”. Also “Deep Water” is nice. Not polished throughout, seems to still be working things out. Has a Ryan Adams/Rhett Miller vibe at times (yes those are two very different people. Work it out.).
  • Coldplay “Viva la Vida” – If the world stops turning, I’ll have to take the blame, as it, you and I should all be in shock that I actually like this album. I’ve told you before [more than once] I’m not a Coldplay fan. You don’t want to get me started on Chris Martin and masking tape on his fingers. But someone sent me this album and damn if I don’t quite enjoy most of it. Hate the song “42” (HATE) but really like “Lost” and even the two radio releases “Viva la Vida” and “Strawberry Swing”. Also like “Yes” but mostly because it doesn’t sound at all like Coldplay, ha ha ha.

Not really for me / but maybe for you!:
The Hold Steady “Stay Positive” – Loved their first album, liked their second, didn’t care for the third. Now this one is OK but I just don’t find myself making much time for it. Have kinda lost my moment with this band. Have seen them live quite a few times. Always a really entertaining show. But generally I find myself less excited than in the past. This album: unusual instrumentation for them, some crazy harpsichord-sounding action. Tends to have more “singing” than they’ve done in the past (particularly “Lord, I’m Discouraged”) / less just Craig Finn ranting. But tunes like “One for the Cutters” just make me ask “how many times in one song can you say ‘townie’?” (Turns out a lot.) However, if you are a big HS fan, I think this is a solid album that’s exploring some new ground.
Shamefully have either not listened to at all, or not all the way through, or so few times that I can’t legitimately offer an opinion:
None! 🙂

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