Fuzzy, Catchy Rock & Roll
Guestroom Records – August 4, 2017
Cereal Glyphs’ self-titled record was one of my favorite that came out in 2015 – Andy Myers did a great job blending super-catchy riffs and melodies with an energetic, DIY aesthetic. The Second Hand finds Cereal Glyphs fleshed out into a larger band, adding a little more edge to the sound, while maintaining a knack for catchy rock.
“Get Up” opens the album with lots of energy as Myers sings “I’m never hurried, I’m never worried – I’ve found another way” – warped guitars plunge behind things during each chorus. My favorite of the album is the ultra-intense “I Wanna Be Your Hand,” which finds the band unified in rhythm and force during each chorus, and is all but guaranteed to get stuck in your head. “Passion’s Not Enough” was released early from the album – it’s driven by a heavily overblown bass, and carries with it a great amount of momentum throughout the song.
Many of the songs on the second half of the album are taken from Cereal Glyphs, and when you listen to the original right next to its remake, you get a real sense of the extra edge and heft on The Second Hand. “The Well” is one of the more mellow tracks on the album, but still feels a lot fuller and weightier than its original recording. “Count the Night” was my favorite on Cereal Glyphs, and it’s one of my favorites here, too – it opens with a dramatic pairing of low, whirring synths and guitar before it takes off a full speed. “Dead Beat” is even faster, and benefits quite a bit from the noisy fullness of a larger band. Closing the album is “Belly of the Snake,” a track that starts off as the most mellow and psychedelic of the album before it takes off for a high-speed outro towards the album’s end.
Those that heard and enjoyed Cereal Glyphs should really like this – it’s every bit as clever and tough to get out of your head, but a noisier band adds some intensity that makes this album even more fun than the last. The Second Hand has a huge amount of energy and momentum – each song moves seamlessly from section to section, and it doesn’t waste a single moment.
Tracks I Liked: Get Up!, I Wanna Be Your Hand!!!, Passion’s Not Enough!, Count the Night!!, Dead Beat!!, Belly of the Snake!
Ben Southworth – August 13, 2017 – Post Road
Rock and Roll
Polyvinyl Records – April 7, 2017
From the moment you read the title of White Reaper’s new record, you get an unmistakable sense of the band’s bravado. The music is armed with the know-how of one of Louisville’s best-known producers, Kevin Ratterman, helping the songs evolve from the less-polished, garage-rock style of previous albums to a clearer, weightier, bigger-sounding version of things. The album opener, for which the album is named, opens with the sounds of cheering crowds, featuring an anthemic chorus ready for the radio. “Judy French” is the album’s single, complete with chugging guitars, fast-rolling drums, and quick instrumental breaks that lead back into tight verses. At first listen, “The Stack” could almost pass as a My Morning Jacket track (particularly the resemblance between Esposito’s voice and Jim James’), but a fiery, angular guitar lick at the end of each chorus just gives things a different energy. The album’s closer, “Another Day,” is washed out, distorted, and loud – in just under two minutes, the band wraps things up, never losing the energy they started things with. The World’s Best American Band is a title that toes the line between tongue-and-cheek and sincere, leaning more towards the latter – White Reaper are pure, American rock and roll.
Tracks I Liked: The World’s Best American Band!!!, Judy French!, Eagle Beach!, Little Silver Cross!, The Stack!!, Another Day!
Ben Southworth – April 17, 2017 – Kenwick Place
High Speed Rock and Roll
Gubbey Records – September 30, 2016
A few Fridays ago, Satellite Twin put out a new cassingle, simply titled ‘extended cassette single.’ The cassette features a couple new original tracks, as well as a cover of “Push” by The Cure (though it’s not available via streaming services). These songs go by quickly, so I’ll try to be quick, too.
“Ignitor” fades in, falling into its groove almost immediately – fleshed out with fast moving drums, thumping bass, and bent notes on guitar. The vocals come in with a shout, lasting for less than a minute before the instruments take back over, carrying the song to a quiet, ambient outro. The second track, “Shock,” sounds a little more like the songs on The Mechanical Hearts EP, their great release from last year. It’s divided into a few more distinct sections, and has a little longer to play out than “Ignitor.” The emotional highlight of the song is around the 4:10 mark – a shouted bridge with all instruments driving forward before leading right back into a reprise of the track’s intro without a moment of hesitation. As a whole, the songs here are a little more intense than the tracks on The Mechanical Hearts EP, and they seem to get to the point just a little more quickly. The recording sounds even better here than what I heard their prior releases, too – it’s really nice to have a couple new really solid songs from Satellite Twin.
Tracks I Liked: Ignitor!!, Shock!!!
Ben Southworth – October 16, 2016 – Kenwick Place
From their forthcoming album, The Waterfall (May 5th, 2015)
Kentucky favorites, My Morning Jacket, are planning to release two new albums in the next two years, the first of which is coming out in early May of this year. The first single from The Waterfall is a totally radio-ready track, which showcases the band and some of the things they do best. The track starts off with some detuned synth waves, before jumping right into things with the vocals of Jim James right out front – accompanied by the full force of his band. After a short first verse, they’re straight into a catchy chorus – one adorned with piano, steel guitars, and saxophones, which add some nice thickness to the sound. All in all, this song definitely sounds like a My Morning Jacket track, but you might be a little dissatisfied by the length. My favorite MMJ songs are the ones where they pull out all the stops for a guitar solo with some room to breathe, but this track just rolls straight from start to finish without too many stops along the way. All said, it’s a great song, and is absolutely everything that a lead single should sound like – better yet, if they stick with this sound, I’m sure they’ll have some good stuff in store for listeners on the remainder of the album.
Give “Big Decisions” a listen:
Ben Southworth – March 12th, 2015 – WRFL Lexington