March 23The Sword, “Used Future”It has been three years since the release of “High Country,” an album that introduced a schism to The Sword’s fanbase. After lurking in the mire of stoner rock for so long, “High Country” saw the Austin-based four-piece step out of the shadows and start to stand on their own, with an interesting amalgam of stoner rock, Southern rock, folk, and psychedelia. If “High Country” shook your confidence in the band, then I am sorry to say that you will likely not care for its follow-up, “Used Future.” The album continues the band’s trend of embracing of the lighter side of their sound, bringing in those folk elements and even a twinge of Americana drawl. The album highlight for me was “Sea of Green,” an absolute jammer that could’ve been a B-side to Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf.” Where some of the previous Sword records called to mind interstellar battles or the quiet atmosphere of a witch’s hut, “Used Future” takes me to a more natural place – an all-encompassing bright blue sky reflecting in a lake.
Jack White, “Boarding House Reach”Jack White is one of those artists who is predictable is his experimentation. His music is always kind of weird, so we begin to anticipate the weirdness. Well, the weirdness has outdone itself on “Boarding House Reach,” White’s third solo album. Where the majority of his work falls somewhere under the umbrella of garage rock, this new record pays no heed to any established genre conventions, for better or for worse. Throughout the majority of the record, the name of the game seems to be atmosphere rather than songs, which is something that I am totally cool with, but might alienate fans that lean toward more traditional structures. There are some hip-hop elements, some dance music elements, some “Blade Runner” soundtrack elements, all culminating into a reimagining of Dvorak’s “Humoresque,” with White delivering crooner-level vocals that sound like nothing else in his catalog. This is definitely a record worth experiencing, especially for those who love White’s work, but I would not be surprised to find that a lot of his fans may come away unsatisfied.
Carpenter Brut, “Leather Teeth”Synthwave is a genre that is still trying to find its place in the American soundscape. The bombastic keyboard lines and robotic bass work tend to turn off the general EDM audience here, but the genre has found a welcoming embrace in Europe. Carpenter Brut was one of the first standout acts in the scene, with his debut three EPs, now known as “Trilogy,” setting the standard for what the genre should sound like. After a few years of laying low, the man has returned with “Leather Teeth,” the soundtrack to a made-up ‘80s C-movie that has been missing from our lives. There are a few surprises and meanderings from the formula, but for the most part, that description holds water. This time, there is a focus on vocals and cheesy heavy metal guitar added to the mix. Overall, I enjoyed the record, with the slow burn of closing track, “End Titles,” being the standout. Going in, I had my hopes a bit too high, given the impact of the Brut’s first set of releases. I was hoping for something game-changing. But if you want some fast driving music that makes you feel like you should wear your sunglasses at night, this album should scratch that itch.