Tag: 2015

Surfer Blood – 1000 Palms

ARTIST: Surfer Blood 220px-1000_Palms

TITLE: 1000 Palms

YEAR RELEASED: 2015

CHART ACTION:  #160, #11 Indie, #16 Rock

SINGLES: Grand Inquisitor, I Can’t Explain

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: John Paul Pitts, Thomas Fekete, Kevin Williams, Tyler Schwartz, Michael McCleary.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Returning to the indie labels, Surfer Blood makes a looser record, but not a better record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It seems that Surfer Blood, as time has gone on, has cut down on the elements that made them unique – their unpredictability. Even a return to the indie label circuits didn’t make them more adventurous. Instead, it codified their safety in their formula where they would have melodies somewhat buried in dense but sonically safe production.

“Grand Inquisitor” starts things out fine and hopeful, with tempo and sonic changes in a short period of time, but from there, the record becomes less and less memorable, with songs almost interchangeable for the most part. Only the final track, “NW Passage” changes it up a bit, moving into indie pop / folk land. That’s nice but not what they’re known for and it’s not their best work.

While decent, this is kind of disappointing and it really lost the band some momentum that they’d never recover.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Guitarist Thomas Fekete was diagnosed with sarcoma., and had to leave the band shortly after recording. He passed away in 2016.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 GRADE B-: Decent enough, but it’s disappointing that they didn’t take more chances.

Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp

ARTIST: Waxahatchee 220px-Waxahatchee_-_Ivy_Tripp

TITLE: Ivy Tripp

YEAR RELEASED: 2015

CHART ACTION: #153

SINGLES: The Dirt, Air, Under a Rock, La Loose

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I bet you heard some on some indie radio stations.

LINEUP: Katie Crutchfield, Keith Spencer, Kyle Gilbride

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Katie Crutchfield leaps forward, taking her songs into almost a full-rock band sound, without sacrificing quality nor vulnerability.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Moving to Merge Records and recording over a period of time in Long Island with her two collaborators (who are also in her sister’s band), Katie Crutchfield’s Waxahatchee project moves toward a full band experience. The hooks are still there, but the sound is definitely a bit more layered. Waxahatchee is more experimental here, adding in sonic elements not found on the simpler recordings.

The subject matter is about a transition between feelings of love and feelings of loss, like most of adulthood. And while the sound is fuller, the songs are just as rich and personal as her lo-fi recordings.

Crutchfield’s progress toward a recording artist working with a full band but when she’s on her own at guitar or piano, she’s as powerful and out front. Still a hidden gem, Crutchfield is asecending slowly and surely.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Ivy Tripp is a term she made up about the directionless folks living today.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE A: This is solidly written, arranged, and produced. What more do you want?

Hamilton – Original Broadway Cast Soundtrack

ARTIST: Original Broadway Cast Soundtrack        Hamilton_cast_recording_cover.jpeg

TITLE:  Hamilton

YEAR RELEASED: 2015

CHART ACTION: #3 US, #1 Rap, #69 UK

SINGLES: None.

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Alexander Hamilton is the one everyone has seen, but there will be a lot of these songs entering the vernacular soon, especially Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

LINEUP: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom, Jr., Renee Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, Jonathan Groff, Anthony Ramos, Christopher Jackson, Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onadowan, and others

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The soundtrack to the phenomenon of a musical holds up outside of the concept of the stage.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: You never know with soundtracks to musicals if the songs will hold up outside of the context of the play and its staging. One thing about Hamilton is that while the songs all fit in the narrative, with few stand alones that can be sung as standards, listening to the entire soundtrack gives you the ENTIRE narrative (or at least 95% of it).

Seeing this staged, with the sets, extras, and choreography is obviously the way to go, but since most of us don’t have a spare four or five figures to do so at this time, this will suffice. It’s a brilliant mix of show tunes, rap and modern production. I can’t recommend it high enough.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This is the highest charting cast album since 1963.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A: You’ll want to play this again and again.

 

Meghan Rose – In Your Bones

ARTIST: Meghan Rose                      inyourbones

TITLE:  In Your Bones

YEAR RELEASED: 2015

CHART ACTION: No

SINGLES:  None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Her Madison homies sing along!

LINEUP: Meghan Rose, Jake Ripp-Dieter, Emily Mills

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Mutli-band leader from Madison (and now NYC) records a solo album that melds the styles of her two band projects into a singular voice.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Meghan Rose has been a busy musician for the past several years in Madison. Little Red Wolf, a quartet, is a thoughtful, adult alternative group that has two albums under their belt. Her bandmate in that band, Emily Mills, formed Damsel Trash with Rose that allows Rose to shred her vocal chords.

So when the opportunity came to make a solo album, she took her partner and Mills into a studio and cranked out some tunes that range from rock to some gentle musings on life, love and the normal adult stuff that happens between people.

Musically, the album starts strong and muscular, but as the time goes on, the songs slow and soften and the arrangements go from more guitar oriented, to using piano, cello and other softer instruments. Vocally, Rose has several influences, but the most striking is that when she harmonizes its very reminiscent of Anna Waronker and Petra Haden in that dog.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Rose moved to New York as the play she scored, Held: A Musical Fantasy (co-created with Kelly Maxwell from LRW) is in the NYC Fringe Festival this year.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: You shouldn’t sleep on local artists just because they’re not signed to a major and play in clubs that seat 50 that you’ve never heard of, because you’ll miss out on some records like this. Check this out.