Six months into 2017 and I’m losing the battle against the list of new music. I can’t keep up with the abundance of releases; garage rockers and the next big thing at the festival seem to be cranking out releases in full force. So in no particular order, here are some of the ones I’ve given the most ear-time to since January:
The Buttertones, “Gravedigging”This is saxophone- and guitar-driven surf and garage rock, an appropriate descriptor for a Southern California-based band that is needed by your aging punks, skateboarders, or now 40-somethings reared on the The Faction or other thrasher skate rock bands. It’s a skate-rock album as much as it is a soundtrack for pulp film and fiction, the music that serves as the backdrop for drag races or a good old rumble. RIYL: The Cramps, Swami John Reis.
Ty Segall, “Ty Segall”The prolific Segall will likely have name on three or four releases in 2017, and his hand on many more. It’s a punk, garage-rock album that hints of psychedelic and stoner rock, while having an underlying sound revealing a study of Brit-rock of the mid ’60s. I take Segall to be a student of all rock, capable of penning a song ripe for any genre or any era. RIYL: Ty Segall, The Kinks.
Robby Grant & Jonathan Kirkscey, “Duets for Mellotron”The mellotron is a “tape-replay” keyboard, and this album – on which it’s the primary instrument – is an ambitious venture and a hardcore exercise in audio nerd-dom. This is not toe-tapping music, but more like atmospheric oddities of electronic sounds. I like the lounge feel amid a weird backdrop, while the whole thing screams “soundtrack for your experimental film project,” via long-time Memphis musicians who aren’t afraid to experiment. RIYL: Montefiori Cocktail, Moog Cookbook.
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, “Sidelong”Via Bloodshot Records, reflective of its early releases that made you love the label, when most of the lineup was aging punk rockers exploring roots country and bluegrass. Shook is making degenerate country music, leaning more toward the influence of the Gun Club and away from that of Loretta Lynn. Lyrically, she hits on all the trailer-park hype of alcoholism and unfaithfulness, and does so via rowdy, classic country. RIYL: Lydia Loveless, Trailer Bride.
Bash & Pop, “Anything Could Happen”It’s the first Bash & Pop album in almost a quarter century, and one revealing that Replacements’ Tommy Stinson still has an ear for rock ’n’ roll, albeit with a swagger that shows its age. This is bratty, hook-laden rock ’n’ roll songs that belong on that next Replacements record that still hasn’t happened. RIYL: The Replacements, Soft Boys.
Valerie June, “The Order of Time”There’s a beautiful and laid-back draw that belongs to June, ensuring she’ll soon be a darling of the singer-songwriter world, thrust into a room with the Neko Cases and Gillian Welchs. She’s hitting all things that fall under roots music: blues, soul, and slight country that’s void of twang, coming in an uncomplicated package. There’s some raw emotion in her voice layered over pared-down arrangement, delivered via simple, down-tempo songs. RIYL: Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch.