Saturday, April 26, 2014

Album Review: True Widow

True Widow are a Texan trio who deal in heavy riffs and very controlled, regular tempos.  Their self-titled debut album, released in 2008, contains ten tracks of heavy riffage, with guitars stomping crankily all over some pretty downbeat melodies.
Dan Phillips handles most of the vocals, but Nicole Estill memorably handles two of the album highlights, Duelist and Bleeder, the latter of which features particularly pleasing guitar work.  A vocalist not dissimilar to Low's Mimi Parker, her voice mixes well with the bludgeoning guitars.

On Minor It Down and Flat Black they sound like a restrained Sonic Youth, Phillips' vocal reminiscent of Thurston Moore,  Mesh Mask drags a bit, like distorted Beck (circa Sea Change), while funeral-paced final track K.R. is probably the most 'metal' moment on the album and the longest thing here.  At times the tracks can be over long and there isn't much variety but they do one, very bleak thing pretty well.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Album Review: The Jesus and Mary Chain - The Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides & Rarities

In 2008 the Jesus and Mary Chain released a 4 CD box set of B-sides.  It's wonderfully packaged in a book-like case, full of notes and photographs.  You have to ask yourself though: does anybody need nearly 4 hours and over 80 tracks of this?

The answer is, of course, yes.  The first CD contains early demo Up Too High, the extraordinary assault of their first single Upside Down and many, many more. The hilarious, deadpan, expletive-laden Cracked is included here, but on the other hand, there are acoustic versions of some of the Psychocandy material, for those who can't take the feedback.

The second CD is almost flawless, full of exuberantly bored tracks like Kill Surf City, Everything's Alright When You're Down and TWO versions of the Beach Boys' Surfing USA.  The late 80s/early 90s covered on CD3 saw some dodgy synth & drum machine experiments, though they still found time for the triumphant Something I Can't Have.

On the final CD the preponderance of acoustic-based Primal Scream-style strums (Little Stars, New York City, Taking It Away), along with covers of the Pogues (Ghost of a Smile) and Prince (Alphabet Street) sound like a band running out of steam.  However, the material remains of high quality across this hugely comprehensive collection, sure to provide months of enjoyment for the Jesus-heads amongst us. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Album Review: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - The Lyre of Orpheus

In 2004 The Lyre of Orpheus was released as a double album with its hairier companion Abattoir Blues.  It opens with the funereal stomp of the title track, with Nick Cave singing the most visceral lyrics ("Eurydice's eyes popped from their sockets and her tongue burst through her throat").  It's a highlight of the set.

After that we get softer tracks like the almost David Gray strum of Breathless and the twinkling piano of Babe, You Turn Me On.  Better are the yearning Easy Money, and the solid Spell.  The skittering Supernaturally doesn't really work, and towards the end the choir prevalent on Abattoir Blues returns for Carry Me and O Children.  It's all very... tasteful and the songs are all of decent quality but it's not hugely... exciting I'm afraid.