The Lonely Minotaur

Music & Concert Reviews

Coldplay’s “Everyday Life” Track-By-Track Preview — November 16, 2019

Coldplay’s “Everyday Life” Track-By-Track Preview

Coldplay’s latest album, Everyday Life, stuck up on pretty much everyone. Sure it has been four years since the overtly pop centric and saccharine filled A Head Full of Dreams was released but Chris Martin and the gang kept things relatively low key this time around. The ball got rolling with some vague twitter rumors followed by strange appearances of album ads in smaller newspapers around the globe and finally the band actually dropping snail mail to random fans announcing a double album due on November 22nd, one half called “Sunrise”, the other “Sunset”.  The band have said it’s an album of ruminations on how “we feel about things” going on right now in…….everyday life.

Sunrise 

Sunrise – The album opens with an unlikely violin filled instrumental piece that would not feel out of place in a World War I era film. The track was first teased in an instagram post by the band back in October.

Church – A fine mix of the production style found on Viva La Vida and Mylo Exloto. This wouldn’t be Coldplay if Chris Martin isn’t trying to chase down love by any means necessary somewhere on the album. A potential single for sure.

Trouble In Town – Dare I say this is the first time Coldplay have been openly political during a song? Lyrics critique racial profiling in America and the impact it has on so many lives of innocent people just trying to get by in 2019. To add on top of that is the audio of an infamous police exchange that went viral on YouTube several years prior. Coldplay holding nothing back on their message here. Dynamic second half musically with a killer guitar solo by Jonny Buckland. 

BrokEn – Move over Kanye, you aren’t the only one doing gospel in 2019. Coldplay’s very own version of “This Little Light of Mine”. Fitting it follows the racially charged “Trouble In Town”. 

Daddy – This album’s “O”. It has the atmosphere of a lullaby in reverse. Not for a child but for a missed parent. Tender and beautiful. It is hard to tell but is some of that piano melody borrowed from the unreleased “Famous Lost Painters”?

WOTW/POTP – A short acoustic sketch of a song which passes by in barely a minute. Has a very White Album feel to it. Loose and raw. The most under cooked studio track by Coldplay in decades. Maybe since the song “Parachutes”. 

Arabesque – Sonically this is the crown jewel of Everyday Life. Coldplay have not sounded this bold and brave since the Viva La Vida days. Led by chugging percussion, heavy bass lines and loads of saxophones! Sax crimes all over the place on this tune and it all works to great satisfaction. Great freak out towards the end as everything comes crashing down. Reminds me of “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac or the ending of “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” by Paul McCartney.

When I Need A Friend – It seems like Coldplay have been spending a lot of time hanging out in old churches between the songs “Church”, “BrokEn” and now “When I Need A Friend”. This track in particular sounds like an old fashioned Christmas carol you’ve been singing at the holidays each passing year. Coldplay’s “O Holy Night”.  Another album curveball. 

Sunset 

Guns – Shades of both “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face” and “Major Minus” running throughout this acoustic based stomper. Again Coldplay are tackling real world issues this time with gun violence in America. Satirical in nature, Chris holds nothing back as he torches government policy and big business for allowing weapons of mass killings to be so easily obtained. 

Orphans – Every Coldplay album needs its stadium banger and “Orphans” does that job fantastically well on Everyday Life. Chris Martin might have unlocked the cheat code of life by just wanting to “get drunk with my friends”.  Don’t we all Chris? Don’t we all….

Eko – The acoustic guitar finger picking evokes imagery of figure skaters dancing effortlessly on ice. I am also reminded of the song “Graceland” by Paul Simon whenever I listen to this song. Warms the heart. 

Cry Cry Cry – One of the most unique sounding songs not only on Everyday Life but also in the Coldplay discography. Feels like a song from alternative history 1950s America.  Total doo-wop action. Enchantment Under The Sea dance.

Old Friends – Very similar in vibe to “Eko” but this time the subject matter drifts to a long lost friend and the bond of that friendship over time. 

Bani Adam – Another instrumental but with two distinctive halves. The first begins on piano with shades of “Postcards From Far Away” running through it. About two minutes in an unexpected transition occurs as Coldplay drift into U2 territory. Think Zooropa meets Passenger.

Champion of The World – A true album highlight. A soaring anthem of personal perseverance supported with wonder Echo and The Bunnymen guitar effects.  Nice to see Coldplay embrace their previous musical influences even for just one song. Will be a killer track when performed live. 

Everyday Life – First debuted on SNL two weeks ago. It’s a simple yet direct piano ballad that cuts straight to the point. You can see why the band selected it to be played on national television along with “Orphans”. My favorite part of the song are the beautiful sonic textures behind the piano and the accompanying violins. 

Coldplay have said they will not tour this album proper and will be donating all proceeds to reforestation which is an extraordinary act of kindness for a band to do. There have been many rumors of a quick follow up album to Everyday Life due in 2020 at some point with a huge supporting world tour. We shall see if that comes to pass or not. Until then we can enjoy this unique entry into the Coldplay canon. 

Wilco Bring The Poetry and Magic To “Ode To Joy” — October 13, 2019

Wilco Bring The Poetry and Magic To “Ode To Joy”

Wilco returned last week with their 11th album after a three year hiatus as a group. It wasn’t a complete break for band leader Jeff Tweedy however. He was hard at work penning his well received and outstanding autobiography Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back). On top of that Tweedy released not one but two solo albums cheekily titled Warm (2018) and Warmer (2019). Both were acoustic driven and extremely self reflective on his life once he reached the ripe old age of 50. These themes and style would carry over to Wilco’s newest effort Ode To Joy. A lot of this album feels like it could have been Jeff’s third solo album except now it’s been beefed up by his Wilco buddies and ready to sit firmly in the band’s pantheon. 

Jeff Tweedy and drummer Glenn Kotche made a concentrated effort to record drums for this record in a unique and organic manner. No better example of this then on the opener “Bright Leaves” where such pronounced drum skin pounding is heard. Elsewhere Wilco produce one of their more poppier tunes in years with the bouncy “Everyone Hides”. Lead guitarist Nels Cline makes his presence known on the beautifully understated “We Were Lucky”. His restrained guitar solo sounds like a downed power cable sparking with electricity just ready to roast whoever comes in contact with it. Echoes of Neil Young’s Crazy Horse work easily spring to mind. The best is yet to come with the calvary charge guitar playing of lead single “Love Is Everywhere (Beware)”. You have to hand it to Wilco. They’ve been a band for almost 30 years and can still cook up ideas that impress your ears. This tune is a real pleasure to listen to. 

One could say the overall thesis of Ode To Joy is found in the song “Hold Me Anyway” where Tweedy attempts to make sense of the randomness of life and the hope of a cosmic connection between us all. “Are we all in love just because? No, I think it’s poetry and magic, Something too big to have a name…”. What’s next? Wilco has already embarked on a North American tour this month that will take the band across the states and into Mexico for 2020. I highly recommend catching a gig. Always a great time.  Also be on the look out for a Jeff Tweedy cameo in Curb Your Enthusiasm which is due to return to HBO in 2020. 

Grade: B

Checkout: “Everyone Hides”, “Love Is Everywhere (Beware)”, “We Were Lucky”, “Hold Me Anyway”

Liam Gallagher Strikes Back With Why Me? Why Not. — September 22, 2019

Liam Gallagher Strikes Back With Why Me? Why Not.

Liam Gallagher has been on one hell of a roll since officially announcing his solo career in the summer of 2017. Out of the devastating breakup of Oasis in 2009 and later the ashes of Beady Eye in 2014, Liam has not only resurrected his good name and public perception but also delivered not one, but two well rounded solo albums. As You Were set the table in October 2017 proving that Liam could successfully navigate a post Oasis world without his big brother Noel guiding the way both lyrically and sonically. That album would go on to be a #1 record in the UK, become one of the biggest sellers in England that year and his concert venue sizes would continue to bloom with each passing month. Liam jokes that soon he could play his own Knebworth. Maybe that is a bit tongue-in-cheek but he might have a solid point. Things are escalating rather quickly for Gallagher who only 4-5 years ago was down on his luck, basically out of the music business and slowly piecing his personal life back together after a bitter divorce sparked by an affair with an American journalist. 

Now in 2019 Liam has unleashed his newest solo record titled Why Me? Why Not. It’s not a grand departure from his debut which was a lot of straight forward rockers and power ballads built to be sung by legions of adoring fans. The album was previously teased with lead single “Shockwave” that feels like it was destined to be in a Guy Ritchie crime caper, followed by the swamp rock of “The River”, then the self reflective ballad “Once” which many see as an olive branch to his brother Noel and lastly “One Of Us” with its military like stomp. Four different slices of the Liam Gallagher pie that should fill the appetite of any former Oasis fan. As with As You Were, Liam reunites with uber producers Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt (fresh off an Oscar win for “Shallow”) to help craft the sounds he envisions in his head. So get ready for a steady diet of 1967 Beatles, All Things Must Pass slide guitar action and some Between To Button era Rolling Stones. 

Highlights from the album include the catchy singalong “Now That I Found You”, the driving piano rocker “Halo”, the Magic Mystery Tour drenched “Meadow” and spaghetti western tinged closer “Gone”. There is a lot more musical diversity on this album compared to As You Were and it makes for a very enjoyable listen. It must have been difficult for Liam and his management to select what songs to make singles. Pretty much all 11 tracks could be commercial enough to promote the record. It wouldn’t feel out of place to have songs like “Halo”, “Alright Now” or the title track “Why Me? Why Not” set the table for what is to come on Liam’s newest LP. When it comes to musical accessibility look no further than the men behind the controls, Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt, who really understand how to not only get the most out of a song but also the artist performing them. Liam’s good fortune of linking up with these two Hollywood hitmakers could not be better timed as both helped to solidify his solo career with some serious musical thump and prestige behind it. We can only hope that Liam’s third album isn’t too far down the road. Now about that Knebworth gig….

Grade: B+

Checkout:   “Halo”, “Why Me? Why Not.”, “Meadow”, “Gone”

Built To Spill Shine Bright at Starland Ballroom — September 13, 2019

Built To Spill Shine Bright at Starland Ballroom

The Keep It Like A Secret 20th anniversary tour kept on rolling Thursday night in Sayreville, New Jersey. The gig was the first of a new tour leg that will see Built To Spill work its way up and down the east coast for the next two months in support of their seminal album from 1999. The band had previously played 27 shows in Europe in the spring followed by an additional 31 dates earlier this summer focusing mainly on the midwest states. Like the majority of anniversary shows prior, Built To Spill opened with “Time Trap” before running through the bulk of Keep It Like A Secret in random order with songs like “Center of The Universe”, “Else” and “Carry The Zero” receiving the biggest audience responses on the evening. Frontman and creative leader Doug Martsch, the lone original member of Built To Spill, was a man of few words on the night. He instead chose to focus on delivering the music that featured sprawling guitar solos, tight percussion work and his trademark heavenly vocals that do not seem to have aged a single day over the last 20 some odd years.

After 10 songs the band left the stage before inevitably returning for a much expected encore that would feature a nice cross section of various Built To Spill classics over the last 30 years. First up was The Halo Benders tune “Planned Obsolescence” followed by There’s Nothing Wrong with Love’s “In The Morning”, Untethered Moon’s “Living Zoo” and Perfect from Now On’s “I Would Hurt A Fly”. Built To Spill is known to do some pretty awesome and random covers with tonight being no exception. The band launched into “Waterloo Sunset” by The Kinks and was a real highlight for the gig. I love the mini resurgence that song is having at the moment with Ethan Hawke singing it in the film Juliet Naked most recently. To bring the show to an epic conclusion, Built To Spill ripped through “Broken Chairs” and thus completing their Keep It Like A Secret 20th Anniversary show on a rainy night in suburbia New Jersey. Also on the bill tonight were Portland, Oregon indie rockers And And And who had what I would describe as a Band of Horses meets Fleet Foxes vibe going on as well as New Mexico hard rockers Prism Bitch who had a flare for the theatrics on stage. Both were worth seeing as you wait for the main course.

 

Setlist

Time Trap

Center of The Universe

The Plan

When Not Being Stupid Is Not Enough

Bad Light

You Were Right

Sidewalk

Temporarily Blind

Else

Carry The Zero

 

Encore

Planned Obsolescence

In The Morning

Living Zoo

I Would Hurt A Fly

Waterloo Sunset

Broken Chairs

Vampire Weekend Triumphant at MSG — September 8, 2019

Vampire Weekend Triumphant at MSG

The culmination of a decades worth of immense hype and hard work for the former Columbia University band was finally paid off in epic fashion Friday evening as Vampire Weekend took to the stage at a sold out Madison Square Garden. It was the band’s very first gig at the world’s most famous arena and they certainly rose to the occasion by performing a robust 32 song set that crisscrossed the groups already legendary discography. Some of the biggest cheers of the night were heard when Ezra Koenig and company ripped through VW classics such as  “M79”, “This Life”, “Harmony Hall”, “Diane Young”, “Walcott” and fan request “Ottoman”.

Also joining forces with Vampire Weekend on stage were opening act Angélique Kidjo during The Father of The Brides’ album closer “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin” as well as guitar virtuosity Steve Lacey for a cover of his own song “Dark Red” and Vampire’s “Sunflower”.  The band were in great spirits all night long and their adoring legions of fans ate it all right up. Sadly there was no surprise cameo by Danielle Haim during “Hold You Now” which is one of the real treasures from The Father of The Bride. One day it will happen. One day. In addition to being the hottest ticket in town Friday night, the band also streamed the event live on Twitter so that all who follow their music could enjoy the Garden party. Up next for the band are 53 more concert dates that will carry the band across the globe and into October 2020.

Sept. 6, 2019 — Madison Square Garden, New York

* “Bambina”

* “Unbelievers”

* “White Sky”

* “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”

* “Holiday”

* “M79”

* “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)”

* “Sympathy”

* “Unbearably White”

* “Step”

* “New Dorp. New York” (SBTRKT cover)

* “This Life”

* “Diplomat’s Son”

* “Hold You Now”

* “Harmony Hall”

* “Diane Young”

* “Cousins”

* “A-Punk”

* “Hannah Hunt”

* “2021”

* “California English”

* “Dark Red”

* “Sunflower”

* “Oxford Comma”

* “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin”

Encore

* “Big Blue”

* “Ottoman”

* “Obvious Bicycle”

* “Run”

* “Worship You”

* “Ya Hey”

* “Walcott”

Big Thief Unleash “Not”, Ready New Album — August 25, 2019

Big Thief Unleash “Not”, Ready New Album

To the surprise of many Big Thief have dropped a new single titled “Not” and also announced a new album due out on October 11, 2019 called Two Hands. Big Thief are already coming off a banner year with rave reviews for their album U.F.O.F. with many people believing it is the album of the year for 2019. I really can’t argue with that. This band is on fire at the moment with a steady stream of great albums since 2016’s Masterpiece and 2017’s Capacity. Throw in lead singer Adrianne Lenker’s solo album abysskiss from last year and it is safe to say the group is sitting on a purple patch of creativity much to listeners delight.

Our first glimpse of Two Hands is the super charged, raw and emotional “Not”. It has made the rounds as a fan favorite live track over the last few years but until now has never seen the light of day studio wise. The song features a ferocious guitar solo that runs almost 3 minutes long and would almost certainly make Neil Young blush in admiration. This is easily the best song I’ve heard all year. It is not even close.

Two Hands is described by the band as the twin sister to U.F.O.F.  and is billed as “the celestial twin” with Two Hands as “the earth twin.” Big Thief recorded the album at Sonic Ranch in the border town of Tornillo, Texas and features very little overdubbing, with an emphasis on live takes.

As Adrianne Lenker states in the press release:

“Two Hands has the songs that I’m the most proud of; I can imagine myself singing them when I’m old. Musically and lyrically, you can’t break it down much further than this. It’s already bare-bones….While you listen, let your own two hands rest in front of your body with palms facing inward and see what power grows between them.”

Two Hands:

1 “Rock And Sing”
2 “Forgotten Eyes”
3 “The Toy”
4 “Two Hands”
5 “Those Girls”
6 “Shoulders”
7 “Not”
8 “Wolf”
9 “Replaced”
10 “Cut My Hair”

Pre-order the album here.

https://bigthief.ffm.to/twohands.opr

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Touch Down in New Jersey — August 9, 2019

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Touch Down in New Jersey

The 16 date Noel Gallagher/Smashing Pumpkins North American tour launched Thursday night in Camden, New Jersey. Or as Noel kept saying all show……Philadelphia. Very close but wrong side of the Delaware Mr. Gallagher! The High Flying Birds began their hour long set with 5 straight songs off 2017’s excellent Who Built The Moon? that really incorporated the strengths of the 11 piece band. Holy Mountain got the crowd twisting and shouting from their seats. I was behind a woman who kept holding up a sign that said “She Danced, She Danced” during the song’s soaring chorus. A nice touch and it was great to see fans get really enthusiastic over newer material. Thursday night also marked the live debut of “This Is The Place”, the lead track for Noel’s forthcoming new EP of the same name. It went down extremely well for a song most people in the audience still hadn’t discovered yet. The track is equal parts Jungle and New Order and is the most modern sounding recording of music Noel has yet released as a solo artist. He has come a long long way from his Oasis days. Also performed was Noel’s single from earlier this summer “Black Star Dancing”. Loads of bass thumping and heads bumping to that one. Just as Noel predicted to the press back in June. It was refreshing to hear Noel open his show with 7 straight solo songs, all from the last two years. Next came the big ones, “Wonderwall”, “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” and “Don’t Look Back In Anger”. Not sure when Noel dropped doing the slower Ryan Adams version of “Wonderwall” but I’m glad he did. The song goes down much much better live with the faster tempo. Reminded me of his vintage 1996 performances. This was also my first time hearing “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” live. When I saw Oasis twice in 2002, it wasn’t played either time (Las Vegas, Coachella). The evening came to a close with Noel dedicating the last song to President Donald Trump….”All You Need Is Love”. God knows we need it lately in this country with multiple mass shootings this week. Overall the gig was terrific. Noel was in great spirits all night, smiling and laughing with bandmates. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look that happy on stage in person before. Noel is certainly flying high as a solo artist in 2019. Looking forward to the rest of his EPs this year with one dropping in September and the final one in December.

 

Full set:

Fort Knox

Holy Mountain

Keep On Reaching

It’s A Beautiful World

She Taught Me How To Fly

Black Star Dancing

This Is The Place

Wonderwall

Stop Crying Your Heart Out

Don’t Look Back In Anger

All You Need Is Love

The Music of Quentin Tarantino — August 6, 2019

The Music of Quentin Tarantino

And away we go….

Every Quentin Tarantino movie is a grand adventure and spectacle. Few directors command the respect, attention and globally admiration that Tarantino does. When he releases a film it’s appointment viewing. I can’t really say that about too many other current directors. Maybe Wes Anderson, Christopher Nolan or Paul Thomas Anderson. Needless to say it is a short list of prime movie directors. This is no different than Tarantino’s 9th feature film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a fading tv star named Rick Dalton. Best Pitt plays his stunt double and best friend Cliff Booth. Together they toy around 1969 Hollywood trying to resurrect Rick’s struggling movie career while the Sharon Tate, Roman Polanski and Manson Family looms large in the periphery. It’s a new tone for a Tarantino movie and often very melancholy. It’s more Jackie Brown than say Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs. This is very much a love letter to Los Angeles and the Hollywood Tarantino fell head over heels with as a young boy growing up in the city of Angeles. It’s also an excellent film worth repeated viewings for all the snappy dialogue, subtle LA references and Tarantino Easter eggs. 

With each new Tarantino film comes an eclectic soundtrack packed full with killer songs from yesteryear. Tarantino doesn’t just rescue fading Hollywood stars like John Travolta or Pam Grier or even David Carradine. He also exhumes lost musical nuggets that the hands of time have forgotten about. He’s done this over and over beginning with his very first film Reservoir Dogs going straight through to Hateful Eight. Songs like the George Baker Selection’s “Little Green Bag”, Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck In The Middle With You”, Urge Overkill’s cover of “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon”, Dick Dale’s cover of “Miserlou”, The Delfonics’ “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time”, Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street” and The 5.6.7.8’s cover of “Woo-Hoo”. Each one of these songs re-entered the pop lexicon to tremendous success and lasting impact. Whenever you hear these songs they automatically transport you right back to his films in which they appear. Often times creating a perfect marriage of sound and cinema. That is part of the gift that is Quentin. 

The soundtrack to Once Upon A Time In Hollywood continues this time honored tradition. As the story goes Tarantino had two rules for the soundtrack. First, no songs could be included past the year 1969 and second the songs needed to be played on Los Angeles’ KHJ radio (AKA Boss Radio) in the summer of 1969.  He accomplished the latter by contacting tape trader communities who made it a hobby of recording popular DJs on KHJ throughout the 60s. He ended up with over 14 hours of material to comb through. Anything he heard on those tapes were in play to appear in the film. Tarantino zeroed in Paul Revere & the Raiders who in their own time were quite popular in the late 60s but have since been lost in the infinite shuffle of popular culture. Three of their songs feature in the movie including the extremely catchy “Good Thing” with its sunny day Beach Boys vibes. Also unearthed were Neil Diamonds’s gospel preacher anthem “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” and Los Bravos absolutely rollicking “Bring a Little Lovin’”. Those three tracks in essence make up the backbone of the film musically. I don’t think I have ever heard any of them prior to this film being released. Now I’m happy to have them living and breathing on my iPhone at all times. As an encore, Tarantino deploys Vanilla Fudges’ psychedelic freakout “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” during the film’s dramatic conclusion on Cielo Drive. Few do it better than Tarantino on a continual basis and this article doesn’t even touch on all the brilliant movie scores he’s borrowed and mixed in over the last two decades from old spaghetti westerns, vintage war films, defunct tv shows and forgotten Ennio Morricone compositions. That is a story for another time. For now enjoy Tarantino’s new film effort and the music he painstakingly selected for your listening pleasure.

 

All songs that appear in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood….

  1. Treat Her Right – Roy Head & The Traits (1965)
  2. The Green Door – Jim Lowe (1956), performed by Leonardo DiCaprio
  3. I’ll Never Say Never To Always – Charles Manson (1970)
  4. Mrs. Robinson – Simon & Garfunkel (1968)
  5. The Letter – Joe Cocker (1970)
  6. Summertime – Billy Stewart (1966)
  7. Funky Fanfare – Keith Manfield (1969)
  8. Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man – The Bob Seger System (1968)
  9. The House That Jack Built – Aretha Franklin (1968)
  10. MacArthur Park – Robert Goulet (1970)
  11. Paxton Quigley’s Had the Course – Chad & Jeremy (1968)
  12. Hush – Deep Purple (1968)
  13. Son of a Lovin’ Man – Buchanan Brothers (1969)
  14. Choo Choo Train – The Box Tops (1968)
  15. Kentucky Woman – Deep Purple (1968)
  16. Good Thing – Paul Revere & The Raiders (1966)
  17. Time for Livin’ – The Association (1968)
  18. Hungry – Paul Revere & the Raiders (1966)
  19. The Circle Game – Buffy Sainte-Marie (1967)
  20. Jenny Take a Ride – Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels (1965)
  21. Can’t Turn You Lose – Otis Redding (1967)
  22. Soul Serenade – Willie Mitchell (1968)
  23. Bring a Little Lovin’ – Los Bravos (1966)
  24. Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show – Neil Diamond (1969)
  25. Hey Little Girl – Dee Clark (1959)
  26. Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon – Paul Revere & the Raiders feat. Mark Lindsay (1969)
  27. Don’t Chase Me Around – Robert Corff (1970)
  28. California Dreamin’ – Jose Feliciano (1968)
  29. Dinamite Jim (English Version) – I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni (1966)
  30. Out of Time – The Rolling Stones (1966)
  31. Straight Shooter – The Mamas & The Papas (1966)
  32. Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon) – The Mamas & The Papas (1968)
  33. Snoopy vs. The Red Baron – The Royal Guardsman (1966)
  34. You Keep Me Hangin’ On – Vanilla Fudge (1967)
  35. Miss Lily Langtry – Maurice Jarre (1972)
  36. Judge Roy Bean’s Theme – Maurice Jarre (1972)
  37. Batman Theme – Neal Hefti (1966)
Strange Ranger – Remembering The Rockets Review — July 28, 2019

Strange Ranger – Remembering The Rockets Review

Every once in awhile an album comes along that catches you completely off guard. That happened this very week with Strange Ranger’s fantastic new LP Remembering The Rockets. I first came into contact with this hot new young band by listening to Princeton University’s college radio station 103.3 on a drive home over the Christmas holiday in 2017. The tune played was “Most Perfect Gold of the Century” from their album Daymoon. It’s a sprawling, guitar shredding, indie gem that is equal parts Modest Mouse, Built To Spill and Crazy Horse Neil Young. A great introduction to the band. Later I’d find Daymoon on vinyl at the Princeton Record Exchange brand new for $5. A huge score for a random spring evening. Also purchased that night on vinyl was the Burial/Four Tet/ Thom Yorke collaboration from 2011 for $24. Anyways, I digressed, Remembering The Rockets is an album perfectly paired with the warm sunny summer. 

The album was teased over the last few months with the addictive bubble gum indie pop of “Leona”, the synth drenched “Living Free” and “Message To You” which channels the likes of Massive Attack crossed with Yves Tumor. It’s a total flex move having the ability to have keyboard player Fiona Woodman take over to write and sing a tune on an album that already features the pipes of lead singer/guitarist Isaac Eiger. Toss in the fact that bass player Free Nixon can also rock the mic with the best of them. It’s almost an embarrassment of riches. Isaac recently told Fader.com that The Cure’s Disintegration was a huge influence on Remembering The Rockets, not lyrically but sonically. This is clearly evident on “Sunday”, “Nothing Else To Think About” and “Living Free”. All three lean heavy on The Cure. The first two sound like the best parts of Wish, “Sunday” has hades of “Friday I’m In Love” with R.E.M. guitar jangle, and the latter of the trio is pure Disintegration bliss. 

Elsewhere on Rockets, another silky smooth indie anthem is found with “Planes In Front of the Sun”. A clear cut highlight from this album that rivals the addictive qualities of “Leona”. Also sprinkled throughout the album are three short ambient pieces of music that lend added sonic textures to an already rich palette. The best of the batch being “‘02”. The album closes with a beautiful yet melancholy ballad called “Cold Hands Warm Heart” which evokes memories of Wayne Coyne’s vocals on The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips. This is a proper album send off for one of 2019’s strongest efforts to date. I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot more from this Montana/Portland/Philadelphia band over the coming years.

Grade: A-

Thom Yorke’s ANIMA: A Track-By-Track Breakdown — June 30, 2019

Thom Yorke’s ANIMA: A Track-By-Track Breakdown

This album was a solid four years in the making with a handful of mini tours previewing future material. Once again Thom teams up with producer Nigel Godrich as bandmate and creative partner. I feel fortunate that we are now in a phase when so many Radiohead projects are seeing the light of day. Between Thom’s new solo record ANIMA, last year’s film soundtrack to Suspiria, Jonny Greenwood’s film scores to Phantom Thread and You Were Never Really Here, to Phil Selway’s solo albums/movie soundtrack and Ed O’Brien’s upcoming solo debut due this fall. That is not to mention the Ok Computer mini disc leaks of early June and a heavily teased 20th anniversary Kid A/Amnesiac boxset reissue for October 2020. These are very happy times. Before you know it Radiohead will be gearing up for LP10. 

Traffic – ANIMA picks up where Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes seemingly left off. Very similar DNA on this track to many of those tunes and is also featured as the middle section of the ANIMA one reeler by Paul Thomas Anderson on Netflix. 

Last I Heard (…He was circling the drain) – Sonically feels like another version of “Interference” from Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. A good thing in my opinion as that was a stand out song. Thom describes a dystopia of human sized rats and swimming through the gutters. 

Twist – One of the crown jewels of this record. A long time live favorite which exceeded all expectations on the record. There is even a call back to “15 Step” with children shouting “YAY!”. The real treat of this song is the three minute coda which was previously known as “Saturdays”. Definitively one of the best passages of music Thom has cooked up as a solo artist.

Dawn Chorus – A long time rumored Radiohead song with a mixed bag of fact and fiction surrounding it. Believed to be many other songs (“Open The Flood Gates”, “Wake Me Before They Come”) Thom performed live over the last decade but it ended up being none of those. A devastating beautiful spoken word track that looks back on a life worth living twice despite any hardships. One of the best keyboard melodies the man has ever committed to tape. Sounds like the older brother to “Glass Eyes”. Looking forward to this one live. “Dawn Chorus” is also the final song in the ANIMA one reeler which ends in a surprisingly romantic way for a Radiohead related project. A visually stunning finale to Paul Thomas Anderson’s 15 minute short. 

I Am A Very Rude Person – The most Radiohead like sounding song on ANIMA. Could easily have been on A Moon Shaped Pool. The first guitar notes of the album are heard here. Very heavy on the bass which translates into some fantastic grooves. The ending choir effects are a nice touch. “I have to destroy to create”. 

Not The News – A song that just makes you want to dance and give way to whatever impulses you might have. I consider this the lead single for the record despite not officially having one. An IDM banger. The orchestra swell mid song is truly hair raising stuff and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Jonny Greenwood was a part of that moment. This is also the opening montage to the ANIMA film project. 

The Axe – If the Black Mirror TV show had a theme song this would be it. Humanity vs. technology. Thom wanting to take an axe to our over reliance on technology reminds me of Pink Floyd’s warnings that “one of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces”. A real album highlight for sure. Nigel Godrich with some of his best production work.

Impossible Knots – On first listen this track sounds like Thom’s other side project Atoms For Peace. Great pulsating bass lines and cameo drumming by Phil Selway. Likely to be a favorite of many who listen to this record. 

Runwayaway – Beginning with guitar noodling that sounds like an outtake of Radiohead’s “These Are My Twisted Words” before morphing into its own unique creation. Thom even revisits his Quasimoto style vocals not heard since the Amnesiac days. The final moments of our journey through Thom’s dreamscape subconscious. Time to wake up….

Grade: A    (Thom’s best solo work by a wide margin)