June 2Dan Auerbach, “Waiting on a Song”For people not immersed in music and all that it encompasses, the role of producer is probably an empty word that just means “they helped.” But sometimes, the music world gets producers that are so influential on a record that you can tell within 30 seconds of hearing a song that they had a hand in it. Dan Auerbach is one such producer. Best known for his work with the Black Keys, Auerbach is an accomplished blues musician in his own right, and “Waiting on a Song” only goes to show just how much his sound has matured over the years. The title track would sit right alongside choice tracks from Paul Simon’s catalog, while tracks like “Shine On Me” sound like what Jack Johnson would do if he was a competent songwriter.
Flogging Molly, “Life is Good”Finally back after what seems like a lifetime (but has only been six years), Irish-American folk punk legends Flogging Molly are set to release their sixth studio album. A tribute to the times we live in, “Life is Good” highlights the highs and lows of existence, often through the magic of telling stories as only Flogging Molly can. Tracks like “Reptiles (We Woke Up)” act as a metaphorical rallying cry, a fairly somber (for Flogging Molly, at least) track about protest, while tracks like “The Hand of John L Sullivan” fit their quota for historical goofball tracks (and also introduce new generations to one of the world’s greatest mustaches). The group isn’t really breaking from their established mold on any of the tracks here, but there is a lot to love on “Life is Good,” and sometimes the world needs happy Irish drinking music.
Roger Waters, “Is This The Life We Really Wanted?”No longer content to continue touring and playing “The Wall” over and over again, Waters has returned with his fourth solo studio album, and first record in over 25 years! So far, it sounds about what you would expect from the Pink Floyd co-founder. “Smell the Roses,” one of the first singles, has a very traditional intro before melting away into the avant garde atmospheric weirdness that got me to love Pink Floyd. It struck me as very reminiscent of something like “Set Your Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” which is a very good thing. I think that is where songwriters like Waters shine, when they go completely unhinged: Regular boring song structures between the weirdness don’t do much for me. From what I have heard, this record is a winner, but only time will tell if it was worth the 25-year wait.
Mutoid Man, “War Moans”Composed of two of the bigger names in the modern hardcore scene, Ben Koller of Converge and David Brodsky of Cave In, Mutoid Man is the outlet for their more mainstream rock-type tunes. I first got into Mutoid Man with their first record, “Helium Head,” and then again when they got together on stage for a version of “Purple Rain” with the main man from Baroness, John Dyer Baizley (one of my artistic heroes). Only then did I realize they had a new album coming out. And man does it rage. Bringing in bassist Nick Cageao fills out the low end perfectly, turning the three-piece into a stoner rock tour de force. “Kiss of Death” is immediately catchy and also horrifyingly heavy, and a good indicator of what to expect throughout the record. While some people like light and airy for the summer, this is the perfect summer record for me: Loud, in your face, and catchy enough to shout the lyrics with your friends while standing in line for a hotdog at 2 in the morning.