Dec. 1Neil Young and the Promise of the Real, “The Visitor”Neil Young has seemingly been going through a renaissance of late, and the addition of Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real has certainly been a welcome addition to the equation. Young has never been one to hide his political inclinations behind layers of obtuse metaphor, but on “The Visitor,” he really isn’t pulling any punches. The record opens with some fuzzed-out riffing and banjo plucking and Young reminding his audience that “(he is) Canadian by the way, and (he) loves the USA” before talking about how America is already great. There are a lot of phrases borrowed from the campaign trail of our president, turned into some biting sarcasm sung through gritted-teeth smiles. The record holds this sarcasm at its very core, but musically is very uplifting, bringing in choral arrangements and full orchestras to round out the stripped-down fuzz of the lead guitars.
The Faceless, “In Becoming A Ghost”After five years of rumors, adding new members and subsequently kicking them out, false promises, and even more rumors, The Faceless finally are releasing their follow-up to “Autotheism.” The Faceless have always been at the forefront of progression within the small subset of death metal they reside in, and they continue to wear that mantle proudly on the new record. Easily the most standout moment on the album is “Digging the Grave,” the final single released just a few weeks ago. The guitars swirl inward creating a claustrophobic sense of space while the production house tricks that main man Michael Keene has become infamous for, soar, ending the track with a wonderful melding of blast-beat drums, string quartet, and jazz flute that has to be heard to be fully absorbed. There are a few jarring moments, like current vocalist Ken Sorceron being absent on a track, replaced by former vocalist Derek Rydquist, which is welcome but odd, and Keene’s almost always ill-advised sections of clean singing. But the record remains a memorable one, though whether it was worth the wait is up to the listener.
Chris Stapleton, “From a Room Volume 2”Chris Stapleton has made a lot of headway in making me care about contemporary country music. Between him and genre darling Sturgill Simpson, they may make a fan out of me yet. “Volume 2” follows the predictably titled “Volume 1” from earlier this year. Stapleton has been slowly moving outside normal country music genre staples to bring in some of the sing-songy elements of folk, the beat of soul and R & B, and the rustic easy going nature of some of the best Americana. This record flows a bit more smoothly than its predecessor, turning itself into a bit more of a session record than one made up of singles, but it does get a bit same-y. Vocalist and spouse Morgane Stapleton is all over this record once again, and her voice is definitely welcome. They counterpoint each other extremely well, and it makes some of the songs a joy to listen to, to the point of it feeling almost voyeur-like, in that these are songs that they sing together, not always for an audience. As a whole, I think “Volume 2” is a bit more successful than “Volume 1,” but it remains to be seen how they work in context with each other.
Other releases: Major new albums from U2, Van Morrison, Action Bronson, Morbid Angel, and more!