Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction
Released July 21st, 1987 on Geffen Records
The highwater mark for Eighties hard rock came directly from the squalor of L.A.’s rock club circuit, the combination of two hot bands in that scene: L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose, the latter of which featured guitarist Izzy Stradlin and singer Axl Rose. The three members of L.A. Guns – lead guitarist Tracii Guns, bassist Ole Beich, and drummer Rob Gardner – were either fired or quit, and of their replacements, two were former Hollywood Rose alumni (Slash and Steven Adler). Bassist Duff McKagan was the only out-of-towner, hailing originally from Seattle. Still, regardless of the fact that the band was basically Hollywood Rose in it’s structure, the name Guns N’ Roses stuck.
It’s an apt name for the band on Appetite For Destruction: blazing-gun guitar work and attitude with a dash of the rose, or at least a facade over burning lust. In an era when so-called “hair metal” was dominating MTV with increasingly-saccharine pop music and power ballads, GNR were a fist in the nose. Bands like Poison and latter-day Motley Crue were pretending at being loud and dangerous; Guns N’ Roses actually were. This was the same era in which Vince Neil was singing about “Girls, Girls, Girls” and David Coverdale was crying in the rain. Right from Axl Rose’s snarl of “you’re gonna die!” (cribbed from a homeless man who’d warned him in that exact fashion when he’d arrived in L.A.) this was something different – brash and bold, the musical equivalent of a street kid offering you weed with a switchblade hidden behind his back.
There were a lot of ways it could have gone wrong. 1987 was also the year that Def Leppard released that most boneheaded of hard rock singles, “Pour Some Sugar On Me”. GNR’s id-driven sound could have had thudded like that, but it was kept deft by the dancing rhythm section of Stradlin, McKagan, and Adler, who were much more Rolling Stones than they ever were Black Sabbath. Slash’s guitar work has always had trouble getting out of the minor pentatonic range, to be true, but it fits his work on Appetite exactly, like his leads were always meant to be married to the rest of the band’s boxer-bounce clamour. Axl Rose also never sounded better; his soaring, hectoring nasal voice found the vanishing point between Bon Scott and Brian Johnson (ahem) and took up residence there, becoming the signature voice for a generation of aspiring hard rock vocalists.
Much has been said of the problematic nature of the songs on Appetite. The album’s original artwork featured a surreal beholder-like monster attacking a robotic rapist, with the robot’s latest victim lying disheveled on the ground. Indeed, there is a certain obnoxiousness present throughout the tracks – singing about getting sex on demand, regardless of consent, spilling out a tell-all on “My Michelle”, glorifying alcoholism on “Nighttrain”, spelling out the boys-club rock ‘n’ roll fantasy lifestyle on “Paradise City” – but, coming from a quintet of near-homeless, drugged-up and boozed-out miscreants barely out of adolescence and raised on Zeppelin and KISS, it’s maybe not hard to figure out where that obnoxiousness comes from. At any rate, the band sells their songs with such vitality and fervor that it’s hard not to bang your head along, even if you’re worried about the message it sends. It’s also important to note that a lot of the filth and fury present here is dredged up from the then-decade-old punk rock scene, and presented as a middle finger to the Just Say No, Nancy Reagan, Christian America of the 1980s.
Everyone from a certain era has put “Sweet Child O’ Mine” on a mixtape for a person they’ve been romantically/sexually interested in, except for me. For reasons I’ll never be quite clear on, my go-to was usually “Rocket Queen”, probably because the latter is a much better-written song and the former is built around a guitar exercise Slash found stupid, and for good reason. I’m convinced that the only reason he changed his tune on it was because it got so godawfully huge. It’s a really annoying riff, even if the rest of the song is pretty okay.
Even as the band’s star diminished (by 1992 they were mostly a bloated joke, made fun of by Nirvana and the rest of the Alt Generation) Appetite For Destruction remained a classic album, a legacy of where rock ‘n’ roll had been prior to Nevermind that carried over into the new alternative world by sheer force of attitude. Even in the face of sprawl, an acrimonious breakup, a revolving-door lineup, and a long-delayed vaporware album that was finally released, Appetite For Destruction remains the quintessential GNR album, the one that makes them rock stars for life, regardless of all else.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced?
Released May 12th, 1967 on Track Records
There are two eras in the use of the electric guitar: that before Are You Experienced? and that after. Before, it had a role to play mainly as a solid support – outlining odd chordings in jazz music, and pounding out familiar, well-worn rhythm sections in country, blues, and their bastard hybrid, rock ‘n’ roll. Blues players had seen the potential in something more for the instrument even during the swampy days of the Mississippi Delta (lord knew Robert Johnson could make it sound like he had four hands) but it wasn’t until the post-war move to the industrial boom of Chicago that the genre began flashing out solo moments for it’s main instrument like searchlights in the night sky. B.B. King, Albert King, T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and especially Buddy Guy turned the instrument into something flashy, edgy, and utterly sexy. Early rock ‘n’ roll, however, didn’t cotton much to this, being much more interested in sex than sexy. Sure, Scotty Moore could bust out a good figure now and again, and the early Stones records had Keith Richards with some okay leads, but by and large these were all reverent tributes rather than attempts to progress the tradition.
In 1957, at the age of 15, a kid named James Marshall Hendrix started playing guitar. He was a blues head almost from the start, but unlike a lot of his contemporaries in the late-Sixties counterculture he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1961 as a paratrooper. When he was discharged, he kept playing guitar, now professionally. Moving to Tennessee, he played in the Isley Brother’s band and then with Little Richard until 1965, when he switched to Curtis Knight and the Squires for a brief period before jetting off to England, where the rock ‘n’ roll world was picking up serious steam. By then he had a serious manager, Chas Chandler of The Animals. Shortly after landing he formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience and from there the whirlwind began. It is an interesting quirk of history that the initial demos for Are You Experienced were rejected by Decca Records, who also passed on The Beatles back in the early 1960s.
Are You Experienced, the first record from the power trio of Hendrix, bassist Noel Redding, and drummer Mitch Mitchell, was a major revelation for rock ‘n’ roll. By 1966 even the mop-top proto-boy band Beatles were delving into psychedelic substances and sounds; the “Sound of the Sixties” was fully alive in London, and the spark that ignited the entire shebang turned out to be a guy from Seattle steeped in R&B and the blues who played guitar like a supernatural being sent to Earth to teach everyone to trip. Right from the beginning, “Purple Haze” showcases the absolute liquidity that Hendrix played with; the rhythm under the verses utilizes a jazz chord (C7(#9)) that sounds dissonant on it’s own but played with the strut and stoned sexuality that Hendrix imparts into it becomes something seemingly fundamental and essential to rock ‘n’ roll as a whole. “Fire” and “Foxey Lady” redefined the urgency of rock music; “Hey Joe” called on the dark and became a standard for garage bands ever after. “The Wind Cries Mary” features guitar work that slips and slides in an impossibly romantic fashion, and the instrumental melody of “Third Stone From The Sun” reframes that style in a stoned, breezy way. “Love Or Confusion” and “Are You Experienced?” conjure up lysergic visions that seem to frip and flit in the corners, as though Hendrix were translating an acid trip into a new language through his guitar.
To praise Hendrix’s guitar work is to only tell part of the story of Are You Experienced? Mitch Mitchell’s work on the drums is top-notch as well, filling in the bottom with a deft but aggressive fusillade of artillery fire that drives the squalling guitar leads before it. The reason that The Experience’s cover of “Hey Joe” succeeds beyond any other is because Mitchell’s playing is particularly inspired; at the same time, his busy playing under “Manic Depression” lends the track a hefty relentlessness that befits it’s subject matter. It’s a very jazz-inspired sound that propelled forward the idea (later reinforced by Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, whose title track Hendrix would open his shows with) that rock ‘n’ roll was more than just JD rebellion; it was an American art form building on previous American traditions that was in the right place at the right time to deliver a culture bomb to the world.
Are You Experienced? was the beginning of Hendrix’s ascension. Three years later he would be dead, but the innovations and playing he brought to the world of rock ‘n’ roll changed it forever. The sense of speed and abandon that guitar slingers chased in his wake stems directly from his heart and fingers, and the formation of hard rock and metal would be a very different thing without him.
AC/DC – Let There Be Rock
Released March 21st, 1977 on Albert Records
Once I entertained the idea of writing up a discography guide on AC/DC. Then I thought “Wouldn’t I just be saying the same thing like sixteen times?” So this is it, this is what can be said in honour of the 40th anniversary of Let There Be Rock. On AC/DC’s third album, they released another set of songs that detailed the glory of rock ‘n’ roll, warts and all. It pounds with the force of both heaven and hell combined for forty minutes, ending off with the world-ending power of “Whole Lotta Rosie”. It’s a gospel of pure rock, telling Tchaikovsky the good news and then spreading it to the whole world. It has Bon Scott’s howling devil-voice, Angus Young’s knife-in-an-alley guitar solos, Malcom Young’s steady rhythmic hand, and Phil Rudd’s artillery-fire drums. It also has stripteasing schoolboys, BBW starfuckers, and crabs. It rocks like nothing else. What else is there to say?
Panda Bear – Person Pitch
Released March 20th, 2007 on Paw Tracks
When Person Pitch first came out I was of the opinion that it sounded exactly like the Beach Boys, if the Beach Boys had been granted access to high-octane research chemicals during the writing and recording process. Very little in the ensuing decade has given me any reason to change this opinion.
Noah “Panda Bear” Lennox was, in early 2007, on top of the world. His day job band, psychedelic electronic acid-jammers Animal Collective, were being increasingly recognized as one of the most vital bands in contemporary indie rock (Strawberry Jam was just around the corner to cement this status). Between Feels, AnCo’s breakthrough album, and Person Pitch Lennox moved to Lisbon, Portugal; the sunny climate and generally carefree atmosphere Lennox found heavily influenced the sound of the album. The stacked vocals evoke a very beachy, very free-wheeling sense of fun and abandon; the sampled loops and instruments that clatter on beneath everything add to the sense of unreality, as though you’re on an endless vacation in a place where the sand is white and the water is a clear, brilliant blue and you have no return ticket. “Bros” (jam of a lifetime) and “Good Girl/Carrots” add a bit of gallop to the sound, as though the Grateful Dead (pre-Workingman’s Dead) had access to a modern recording studio and all of the LSD they could ever want.
Person Pitch was the height of Noah Lennox as a solo artist. His next album would largely ditch the samplers in favour of more guitar-focused work, and his follow-up to that would try to rework samplers back in while striving for a more radio-ready sound. Neither have the sense of hedonistic abandon that characterizes Person Pitch and neither has the reverb-laden choral quality of vocals that marks the album out as something special.
Because there aren’t any albums in this list I want to take the time to commit more than 300 words to.
City Sun Eater In The River Of Life
04/08/2016 on Woodsist Records
The veteran Brooklyn lo-fi folk group plays it safe on their latest album – entirely too safe. Everything here sounds like Woods, even when it’s trying hard not to.
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals
Call It What It Is
04/08/2016 on Fantasy Records
Ben Harper’s first album with his Innocent Criminals backing band since the first Obama election is a solid return to form, a slick and professional amalgam of his styles: funk, rock, soul, reggae, and old school R&B.
The Dandy Warhols
04/08/2016 on Dine Alone Records
The poster children for diminishing returns approach the singularity. Why even bother at this point?
04/08/2016 on Dualtone Records
The band doubles down on their folky Americana tracing, with a graver tone than the first time around. The best that can be said is that at least they didn’t just go full-on Coldplay like a certain other indie-folk band of saps.
Royce Da 5’9″
04/15/2016 on Bad Half Entertainment
The veteran Detroit rapper isn’t gunning for radio singles or memorable street bangers here. Instead, he leans on his top-notch lyrical skills to deliver a solid, message-driven album that also happens to feature some great hooks.
04/15/2016 on Because Records
The French psych-garage band combines a variety of European traditions – Italian giallo soundtracks, French ye-ye music, Spanish guitar melodies – with hard-hitting American psychedelic garage rock. Features New Order bassist Peter Hook in an obvious cameo on one track.
04/15/2016 on Suicide Squeeze Records
Like Drew Storen, The Coathangers are a once-reliable outfit that has lost its velocity and therefore it’s meaning by 2016. They try to develop some new tricks but, also like Storen, it remains to be seen whether they can pull that off in the long-run.
04/15/2016 on Dead Oceans Records
The former Woods bassist puts out a lush album of moves cribbed from the Bob Dylan playbook. Not exactly essential, but not a throwaway album either.
04/15/2016 on Secretly Canadian Records
A sort of lazy-eyed post-punk, like if Thom Yorke fronted an underground band. There’s nothing here that reinvents the wheel or even improves upon an aspect of their influences, but it passes the time well enough.
Surgical Meth Machine
Surgical Meth Machine
04/15/2016 on Nuclear Blast Records
After putting Ministry to bed with a trio of albums that all said the same thing (“George W Bush sucks”), Al Jourgenson returns in 2016 with a project that blends industrial oblivion with the blurred effect of speed metal. It doesn’t have the hard-hitting punch of his Ministry days but it’s funnier than anything he’s done in years, and the latter half of the album has more hooks than a bait shop.
Love Letter For Fire
04/15/2016 on Sub Pop Records
The Iron & Wine frontman teams up with Jesca Hoop to put together an album of rich country-tinged folk ballads that I can’t remember a blessed thing about as soon as they’re over.
04/15/2016 on Livity Sound Recordings
When it comes to electronic music meant to get you moving, Utility is competent. That’s not really a compliment but it’s not altogether denigrating either. You could do worse.
04/22/2016 on Susannasonata Records
An effective blend of the baroque majesty of Joanna Newsom and the cutting-edge mystique of St. Vincent. It would be a much better album if it wasn’t so overly long.
Asphalt For Eden
04/22/2016 on Profound Lore Records
Dense, thick, and lo-fi, the hip-hop group’s first album in six years (with new members) hits all of the right notes from their previous, critically acclaimed efforts. Noisy without being willfully so, and brief without being truncated.
Special Friday Edition!
Friday is the day on /r/music where the mods like to turn off the ability to post YouTube videos in the hopes of the subreddit actually becoming one for music discussion and not, say, where Reddit likes to dump it’s garbage fire taste in music. Ha. Ha ha. Well, they try, that’s the important thing.
If you tuned in yesterday, you’ll get the basic gist: I take a look at the top ten songs posted on /r/music in the last 24 hours and tell you how terrible Reddit’s taste in music is. In much rarer occasions, I’ll tell you where they get it right. Fridays will be fun because of the phenomenon mentioned above: it’s going to be a collection of those songs with the staying power to make it through the discussion posts.
Also, for the record, no I don’t plan on this being an everyday thing, but I would like it to be an everyday I can manage it thing.
June 2nd, 2016 (12:30 PM) to June 3rd, 2016 (12:30 PM)
#1: Mr. Bungle – “Air Conditioned Nightmare”
Reddit manages to kick it off with something weird and cool, courtesy of Mike “Weird and Cool” Patton. Goes through four different changes in tone and structure, each completely different than the one before. In anyone else’s hands, it would be a gigantic mess, but Mike Patton isn’t anyone else.
#2: Dinosaur Jr. – “Feel The Pain”
Sirius XMU’s favourite Dinosaur, Jr track is also Reddit’s most commonly posted DJ song. Thankfully it never gets old, although I’ve heard it three times today between the radio and this particular set. Two good tracks in a row, Reddit, maybe Fridays are your thing.
#3: Beck – “Wow”
Ah, the new Beck track. The one that starts off like a generic hip hop beat, or maybe something like what Beyonce might have rejected for her self-titled 2013 album. Then Beck manages to bull through it in a display of sheer Beck-ness. Still, it feels a little empty and it’s not until 2/3 of the way through that Beck lets his freak flag fly in even a limited fashion. Honestly it feels a little like Beck chasing a hit and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Holding out opinions for the album, we’ll see.
#4: The Cult – “Love Removal Machine”
The Cult were an Eighties goth band that scored some hits when they decided to be an AC/DC tribute band instead. My mom knew the lead singer in high school at one point, to no one’s surprise he was a dick. Trust Reddit to go ga-ga for generic hard rock because “it has guitars”.
#5: A Day To Remember – “Bad Vibrations”
Why do metalcore bands have such fucking awful band names? Why do metalcore bands all recycle the same damn low-end chugging? Why do metalcore bands mistake sung choruses for depth? Why do metalcore bands insist on breakdowns that are cheesier than a Wisconsin hamburger?
Anyway, you can always tell when the pre-teens are posting, because there will be metalcore.
#6: The Monkees – “Birth Of An Accidental Hipster”
Okay, show of hands. Who was crying out for a Monkees comeback? Anyone? Put your hand down, dad, Jesus Christ. Wait, this is actually sort of good. I…I kind of like this. Noel Gallagher co-wrote it? I suppose that explains some things.
#7: Portugal. The Man – “Plastic Soldiers”
Who gave the indie kids access to the internet? They managed to find a Portugal. The Man track that isn’t all that great. It’s about as middling a work as you can find from a middling also-ran indie act. You thought you were doing something good, but instead you fucked it all up. Good work, Reddit.
#8: Soundgarden – “Rusty Cage”
The rest of the post title literally reads: “I know this has been posted before, but not for months & I think it’s well worth posting again.” Oh, well, I guess that makes sense except wait IT WAS LITERALLY POSTED YESTERDAY AS THE JOHNNY CASH COVER.
Who are you trying to fool, anyway? We all know where the inspiration to post this came from.
Decent tune though.
#9: Link Wray – “Rumble”
Link Wray poked a hole in his speaker cone with a pencil and invented hard rock single-handed. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. Reddit of course knows it from its multiple pop cultural appearances, including Tarantino. At least it’s better than just posting the songs from Guitar Hero .
#10: Joywave – “Nice House”
Lyrics are the only really halfway interesting part of this song, the rest is a really generic and straightforward electro-pop song, like what Hot Chip would write if they got really, really boring all of a sudden. The outro is rather nice though.
TODAY’S AVERAGE: B- (Not bad, Reddit!)
Parquet Courts – Human Performance
Released April 8th, 2016 on Rough Trade Records
Parquet Courts are a lot of different things. A little bit Modern Lovers, a little bit Guided By Voices, the odd bit of Pavement, some old-world post-punk, the poppier moments of Swell Maps – it all rides a certain smoky nonsense, something borne out of the septic days of the Velvet Underground. I asked them recently on Reddit if they were kidnapped, locked in a room, and asked at gunpoint to choose between Pere Ubu and Swell Maps who their choice would be. Frontman Andrew Savage responded that first, this was an odd outlet for aggression, and second that he would have to be a patriot and choose Pere Ubu.
Parquet Courts are a post-punk band, but they’re an updated iteration of that exploration of what punk rock means. What does Wire and Swell Maps fronted by a deadpan, jittery Stephen Malkmus sound like? It sounds like Human Performance. The opening track, “Dust”, extends a Pink Flag era type riff while capturing a narrative out of the anonymous textures of everyday life. The title track lives on the edge of its own churning emotions, for sure, but it kicks off with one of the most succinct descriptions of love: “I know exactly where I was when I first saw you the way I see you now, with these eyes.” From there Andrew Savage tries to figure out exactly where it all went wrong, with regards to his relationship with both girl and city. Tracks like “Outside”, “Steady On My Mind”, song-of-the-year candidate “Berlin Got Blurry”, and “Keep It Even” tackle the former subject. More interesting are the songs that wrestle with Savage’s hot-and-cold relationship with NYC: “I Was Just Here” wonders fiercely where that Chinese restaurant got off to so quickly; “Captive Of The Sun”‘s Dylan-esque word vomit models the bustle and restlessness of the street; “One Man No City” examines the loneliness of the uncaring hordes; “Two Dead Cops” uses a real double-homicide of police officers in Bed-Stuy in 2014 to talk about the seemingly random and impersonal violence that crops up constantly in urban situations. The loneliness of a failing relationship is thus juxtaposed against the loneliness of the impersonal big city and a constant back-and-forth connection can be established between the two.
Parquet Courts have been on an upward trajectory of, if not maturity, increased awareness of their position as “artists” and of the art that they are creating. Light Up Gold was a mile-a-minute cross between pop punk, post-punk, and early Nineties indie rock a la Pavement and Guided By Voices. Sunbathing Animal followed suit, but on Content Nausea they got jittery, angular, and all of those other words we used to describe post-punk inspired indie rock with in the early Oughts. Monastic Living doubled down on that path, giving us a solid minute and a half of melody before spewing noise for the remainder of the EP. Human Performance brings it back around to the beginning, but with a heavy dose of that dreaded word I disavowed above: “maturity”. The noise terrorism is kept to a judicious minimum and the tempos have lost some velocity, and in this is the structure of a brilliant album.
AND THE REST…
Painting Of A Panic Attack
04/08/2016 on Atlantic Records
“Get Out” is a great track and having National pedigree on production is promising, so why does this album fall so goddamn flat?
04/08/2016 on Reprise Records
So you can’t go home again, as it turns out. Gore kind of sounds like the past glories of Deftones, if you take out things like edge and excitement.
The Hope Six Demolition Project
04/15/2016 on Vagrant Records
While not being as wall-to-wall brilliant as 2011’s Let England Shake, the veteran’s newest album manages to bring her politics local again, while getting off a few good shots. “The Wheel” happens to be a particular classic, and “The Ministry Of Defence” brings it all back around to Rid Of Me.
Mike & The Melvins
Three Men And A Baby
04/01/2016 on Sub Pop Records
The gods of Sabbath riffery were supposed to do this album with underground Mike Kunka 16 years ago, and it shows. Like most Melvins collab albums, it’s only as essential as your sense of completion requires it to be.
04/01/2016 on Hardly Art Records
Breezy, fun pop-punk from the Seattle heirs of the riot grrrl movement. Doesn’t differ all that much from their debut, but then again it probably doesn’t need to.
Megadeth – Dystopia
Released January 22nd, 2016 on Tradecraft Records
The addition of Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler and Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro to Megadeth’s lineup seems to have galvanized them. Dystopia is, musically, the first Megadeth album since 2004’s The System Has Failed to really embrace the aggressive thrash sound that made them famous in the first place. “Thrash” here is used a bit incorrectly, of course. Thrash metal implies that there is some awe-inspiring complexity that goes along with the speed, a blend of punk fury and metal heroics. The speed isn’t quite there and the riffs mostly chunk along rather than get knotty; all of this is perhaps forgivable for a band that is aging and that has repeatedly lost and then found its way again over the course of its career.
Less forgivable is frontman Dave Mustaine. His lead guitar skills are as slippery and quicksilver as they ever were, but the moment he opens his mouth everything gets dicier. His voice is aging awfully, for one thing. His signature howl has been reduced to an old man’s croak, and that croak is spewing things that would be embarrassing if they weren’t so damnably cliche. Mustaine has always been lyrically one to rail against authority in a tiresomely John Galt fashion, but on Dystopia this railing has been reduced to stuff you can find on any Tea Party web forum: Obama is a dictator, an emperor with no clothes, and he’s letting in Muslims who will destroy America from within. Why can’t we stand up to him? Why do we not face down the forces that oppose American interests? Wow Dave, Arabic singing before “The Threat Is Real”, gee, what are you trying to say, so subtle. And so on and so on into boredom. It lends every song a curiously turgid quality, which is undesirable given that the mainly bottom-end trawling guitar riffs already make them pretty stiff. It’s pretty bad when I would actually prefer the self-help sobfest of St. Anger to this, since it actually had some life (beyond that trashcan snare) and I could relate to it more.
Still, as far as Megadeth albums go, it’s less bad than Cryptic Writings and Risk, so at least Dystopia has that going for it.
Kurt Vile – b’lieve i’m goin down…
Anyone who’s been watching Kurt Vile explore the experience of a man and his guitar for a while now can be forgiven for thinking, upon a listening of “Pretty Pimpin'”, “Oh, he’s found a beat, good for him.” Vile’s stock-in-trade has been hazy dissipation for some time now, through his solo debut Smoke Ring For My Halo and into his excessively sprawling, hazy-to-the-point-of-incoherence sophomore follow up Wakin On A Pretty Daze. On b’lieve i’m goin down… Vile snaps back into focus, like coming out of a particularly deep stoned reverie.
This isn’t to say that he’s lost the meandering quality. A number of songs on here – the ones that stretch out towards the seven minute mark, mainly – are strongly reminiscent of his work on the last album, where you start losing the plot around the four minute mark and you never really recover it. “That’s Life Tho (almost hate to say)” and “Lost My Head There” are the worst offenders of this sort, but they’re balanced off by the melodic success of tracks like “I’m An Outlaw”, “Dust Bunnies”, and “Bad Omens”. The album works on that careful balance the entire way, teetering between focused, song-oriented work and the hazy, lengthy jams he’s particularly known for. The song-oriented tracks are a nice break from the jams, which don’t run quite as overlong as they did on Wakin On A Pretty Daze, but come close.
Ultimately Kurt Vile is at his best when he’s mining out a Crazy Horse-esque pattern with languid, stoned vocals, and that’s precisely what’s on offer here. It can get a bit exhausting at times but there’s always something to draw you back in, especially if you wear your hair long and keep a baggie of herbal medicine in your bedside table.