May 19Rammstein, “Live In Paris”DISCLAIMER: Rammstein is one of my favorite bands and easily the best two concerts I have ever been to. This CD/DVD combo is a recording of a concert from 2012 in front of a massive audience, and it does wonders to showcase the spectacle of the performance. Jonas Akerlund employs a dizzying editing technique on the DVD that was almost too much for me, and made it hard to absorb all of what Rammstein performances entail. On the band’s side though, they are in top form as always. The riffs hit hard, the weirdness of the keyboard player Flake comes across in his strange, flittery performance, and vocalist Till Lindemann growls with a mighty churn. This is their third live album, and if you have any of the others, this one probably won’t change your life. But if you are die hard for Rammstein like myself, you have to snag a copy.
!!!, “Shake The Shudder”Dance-punk is not a genre I had heard of before researching for this record release. I know !!! (Chk Chk Chk if you wanna say it with your mouth) from my dear friends Ryan and Brondo’s compulsive obsession with them. The new record sounds about what I expected, and the band went in with the ethos of “there are no bad synths,” which speaks to me as a synthesizer man myself. The album is dancey and fun, with dreamy vocals from main singer guy Nic Offer, and guest vocals that lend more drama to some of the recordings.
Matisyahu, “Undercurrent”I have a very specific idea of what Matisyahu sounds like in my head, and that sound shows up occasionally on the new record. For the most part, “Undercurrent” struck me more like subdued hip-hop with a backing band than the reggae I remember. Admittedly, I haven’t listened to much of his more recent material, but some of the moments on “Undercurrent” strike me as almost lost bits of the more spiritual Brother Ali records rather than the fast rhyming typically accredited to the style of reggae he used to produce. I dug the record though; it’s vibey and mellow and good to hang out and smoke and talk about life to.
Wavves, “You’re Welcome”Surfy as heck, Wavves returns with their new album, “You’re Welcome.” The title speaks to a lot of the confidence and swagger present throughout. I never really got into these guys, though, while I now appreciate lo-fi and no-wave a lot more than I used to (shouts to GURL HURL on KDUR for educating me), Wavves still comes off a bit too cornball for me to take seriously. Maybe that’s the point and I just don’t get it. It’s cheesy at times but also lacks punch, which I expect more of when people tell me I’m listening to punk rock.
The Mountain Goats, “Goths” A concept album about how goths cope with the real world speaks directly to me in a way that almost makes me uncomfortable. John Darnielle has an uncanny ability to speak to all of us in some way that disarms us. On this album, it is my turn. What happens when moodiness just keeps you unhappy? Find out on “Goths” and learn why some people find goth early in life only to buy into society later on, while some do the opposite. Somehow, this album also manages to be an indie folk record while not including any guitars at all, which is an accomplishment in its own right. “Goths” is brooding and uplifting and absolutely wonderful if you have ever strayed onto the gothic path, and I expect to be listening to this one long after its initial release.