March 16The Decemberists, “I’ll Be Your Girl”Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, waking up from their three-year slumber, Portland hipster mellow-rockers The Decemberists have returned with their new album, “I’ll Be Your Girl.” The majority of this record lands on the sweetly saccharine and upbeat side, which is somewhat odd for these moody boys. The first track, “Once in My Life,” will be a familiar-sounding one for fans of the band, with the addition of synths the only large departure from their typical sound. This occurs throughout the record, as with the majority of new indie rock records. There is a synth obsession happening here that, while not entirely unwelcome, is certainly a little strange. The first single off the record, “Severed,” has some 16-bit Atari-esque sounds as its backbone, and it is a little weird. At times, it clashes majestically with the traditional folk passages, but for the most part, it is just kind of odd.
Stone Temple Pilots, “Self Titled”Following the unfortunate passing of both Scott Weiland and his replacement Chester Bennington, no one would blame Stone Temple Pilots for hanging up their hats and calling it a day. But, it seems they still have something to offer the rock ’n’ roll world, and that offering is a second self-titled album with new singer Jeff Gutt. He has quite the shoes to fill, but seems to have the chops to pull it off. The lead single, “Meadows,” lacks the snarl of the “Core” era, but still has a lot to offer, with searing guitars and Gutt’s vocals, which show off a lot of his strengths. In this era of reunions, it can sometimes take a lot for bands like STP to justify themselves, but I think this second self-titled record will be something worth remembering.
Rivers of Nihil, “Where Owls Know My Name”Progressive metal is a genre that simultaneously has staples and tenets that must be embraced, and at the same time, needs something to progress the genre. Sometimes that is done by merging disparate genres, or including lyrics of a transcendental or insightful nature. And sometimes, as is the case with “Where Owls Know My Name,” it entails taking all of the go-to hits for the genre, cranking them up, and then polishing them to be the very best they can be. This record does a truly brilliant job of having no real filler tracks, and every second of it furthers the goal of producing something excellent. “The Silent Life” is an easy track to highlight for me. Death metal is not a genre that typically has quiet or contemplative moments, but this track opens with some light guitars and pleasant vocal work, which leads into a crescendo of violence that, while overwhelming, is chock-full of excellent instrumentation and solid songwriting. It then leads into a wonderful saxophone section, and background vocals by the singer from Black Crown Initiate, another band that carries the torch of bands like Obscura, Opeth, and Cynic.
Other releases include new albums from Hot Snakes, Earthless, The Crown, Scotty McCreery, Snoop Dogg, Murs, and more.Cooper Stapleton