Craig Finn – A Legacy Of Rentals
Released on Positive Jams
Finn’s 20+ year legacy of work has been a long series of character sketches and vignettes about people facing despertation and despair, but I feel like it wasn’t until he went solo that he was able to fully grasp their subtleties. The sound is probably why; the brash deliver of the Hold Steady means even a song like ‘Independence, Missouri”, about a guy washing out of Hollywood, sounds like it still might be a pretty sweet time. The more subdued instrumentation Finn pursues on his solo work makes it feel much more real, haunted with the ghosts of the past and coming face to face with bad decisions piling on bad decisions. With his day band, a song like “Messing With The Settings” would have been a rock ‘n’ roll epic; here, it’s a soulful meditation on the people from your past whose presence never really left you, much as you wish it had. He’s done six albums of this now and while I’m still overall partial to Faith In The Future, A Legacy Of Rentals shows clearly that he’s getting better with every iteration. He plays with voices he wouldn’t touch elsewhere – more drum loops, synths from the Eighties, tones that might have once been unearthed from the Philadelphia soundtrack, or the time Bruce Springsteen got lost in the wilderness between firing the E-Street Band by fax in 1989 and 9/11. Stuff he once disavowed – although, again, the mere fact of Lifter Puller’s existence means any bitching he ever did about New Wave can be safely dismissed.
Also, you listen to “Due To Depart” and tell me you can’t imagine Patterson Hood doing it.
Cola – Deep In View
Released on Fire Talk
Ought broke up unceremoniously in November but that doesn’t stop the frontman and the bassist from hooking up with the drummer from U.S. Girls and forming a new trio, which has all of the wry spoken-word observational power and chunky art-rock riffing with less of the ultimately meaningless meandering.
Weird Nightmare – Weird Nightmare
Released on Sub Pop
They come by their similarity to METZ honestly – it’s Alex Edkins on a new side project. Despite familiar vocals, this is an entirely different band – peppier than METZ, more garage rock than slamming noise punk, a little fleeter. There’s real hooks here that you don’t need to go digging for. Refreshing.
Everything Everything – Raw Data Feel
Released on AWAL
Sweaty alterna-pop, heavily indebted to Peter Gabriel, that derives its lyrics from machine learning; the band threw anything on hand, from LinkedIn’s terms of service to Chinese philosophy, into the maw of the machine and used the resulting output as the basis of the lyrics. This doesn’t always work, but it’s an interesting experiment, nonetheless.
Porridge Radio – Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky ★★★☆ (Secretly Canadian)
Flume – Palaces ★★★☆ (Transgressive)
Lykke Li – Eyeye ★★★ (PIAS)
Jordana – Face The Wall ★★★ (Grand Jury)
Ravyn Lenae – Hypnos ★★★☆ (Atlantic)
SOAK – if i never know you like this again ★★★☆ (Rough Trade)
Cave In – Heavy Pendulum ★★★☆ (Relapse)
Static Dress – Rouge Carpet Disaster ★★★ (Venn)
Mary Lattimore & Paul Sukeena – West Kensington ★★★ (Three Lobed)
Mavis Staples & Levon Helm – Carry Me Home ★★★ (ANTI-)
Alex Izenberg – I’m Not Here ★★★ (Weird World)
Spice – Viv ★★★ (DAIS)