March 31Mastodon, “Emperor of Sand”If you read DGO regularly, you remember me talking about how this was probably going to be my favorite record of 2017. Now it is here, and it is time to talk about it. Is it the second coming? No, not really. But it is a triumph of a record, and a rare look into how a gargantuan band like Mastodon can make something both insanely personal while also being a massive story. “Emperor of Sand” tells the tale of a man who wronged the kingdom of the desert and is exiled to wander the sands for the rest of eternity. On his journey, he discovers himself and transcends the need for the kingdom. On a personal level, the record is about time, and a horrible medical diagnosis that too many of us can relate to. The band wanted to talk about how, after one such diagnosis, time becomes the most valuable currency in the world, and the thing that becomes most important. Sonically, the record pulls from every era of Mastodon. Songs like “Scorpion’s Breath” and “Precious Stones” bring back the riffs that made them popular on albums like “Leviathan” and “Remission,” while space cases like “Word to the Wise” and “Steambreather” pull much more from albums like “Crack The Skye.” Album closer “Jaguar God” is also a highlight, letting each band member get their time to solo and sing and is a fittingly-epic closer to an album with such lofty subject matter. Overall, after three listens, I am a huge fan of the record, and I’m glad they returned to the cohesiveness that made me fall in love with their sound back when I was 13.
Bob Dylan, “Triplicate”Are you ready for around two hours of Bob Dylan covering more standards? No? Well too bad! This is Bob Dylan’s 38th studio album, and his first ever triple album. If you listened to “Fallen Angels,” his 2016 album of Sinatra covers, you know what to expect. Dylan’s voice is as on point as ever, lending some gravitas and depth to what are essentially pop songs of a bygone era. I’m a fan of the man, but I am honestly sick of the covers albums. I don’t know what it’ll take to get a disc of new originals from the dude but I hope “Triplicate” gets the cover bug out of his system.
Goldfrapp, “Silver Eye”The UK electronic duo Goldfrapp returns with help from one of my current favorite musicians (The Haxan Cloak) to make a record that definitely falls on the more electronic/pop side of their discography (where records like “Tales of Us” and “Seventh Tree” have an almost pastoral folk quality to them), to their benefit. The best track on the record is “Moon In Your Mouth,” which builds such an evocative atmosphere in its four minutes that I found myself playing it on repeat. I recommend the album just so you can hear this wonderful track. The rest of it has a bit more pop sensibility that doesn’t particularly strike me, but there are absolutely phenomenal moments that punctuate the record in a way that makes it memorable.