April 13John Prine, “Tree of Forgiveness”John Prine is a singular songwriter amongst the legions of American writers. Prine is able to blend wit, satire, humor, and a pinch of darkness into some of the most revered Americana songs to emerge over the last 50 years. “Tree of Forgiveness,” his first album of all originals in almost 13 years, lacks the punch and bite of early career tracks like “Sam Stone.” On the album, Prine leans in favor of more wizened platitudes befitting an artist with such legendary status. The whole record has the feel of a bedroom recording, with the warmth of Jason Isbell’s slide guitar, and the subtle quaverings of mellotron tape-looping, which adds a nice element of realness in a world of increasingly sterile folk recordings. The years have certainly taken their toll on Prine’s voice, with the rasp coming to a head on this record. Though it doesn’t quite overshadow the lyrics, it can be distracting for those who aren’t fans of Tom Waits, or those who are prone to sympathetic coughing fits. Though not groundbreaking, this record does a wonderful job of not falling into the trap of being recorded for recording’s sake. It feels as though Prine had to get these songs out, and the world will be better for it.
Behemoth, “Messe Noire”I am not typically a fan of live albums, though over the years there have been a handful that captured the theatrics and energy of the bands that I like to see live. Behemoth, Polish masters of blackened death, certainly fall into that category. I have seen them multiple times, and enjoy their music enough to have a symbol of theirs inked onto my right wrist. Their new album, “Messe Noire,” is a collection from their 2016 tour in support of the album “The Satanist,” which contains some of the most layered and deep work in their near 30-year history. The sound quality of the recording is wonderful, even if frontman Nergal’s vocals can at times be lost in the furor of the instrumentals. The tracklist leans heavily on the new material side, so those who look for live albums to act as a stand-in for a greatest hits album will be disappointed, but that doesn’t mean the songs are lacking. The standout track to me is the 10-minute-long midtempo, “O Father O Satan O Sun.” It’s one of the more melodic tracks in their catalog, and easily one of the greatest closing tracks on any extreme music album. The live footage on the DVD that comes with the album is awesome as well, and showcases just what led Behemoth to become one of the most successful heavy music acts in history.
Other new releases include Laura Veirs, The Damned, Jason Aldean, Beth Hart, Hollywood Burns, Wrong, Wrekmeister Harmonies, King Tuff, Rich The Kid, Breaking Benjamin, and Pentatonix.