Friday, May 19, 2017

We're Moving - To A REAL Address!

Hello y'all!

We've just set up a new web address for the blog:

This is exciting, yes? We're rebranding a wee little bit, too: Music Ravings (by Matthew Keefer). Kinda catchy, right?

And more exciting: we've put up our first new post on the new blog.


Guess, guess, who might I be?
We hope to catch y'all just down the street! See you at!


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Marling Makes New England Feel "Femina"

Relaxing in the garden. Laura Marling takes a break from her tour to smell the... ivy. (C) Hollie Fernando.
The Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton, MA. Sun. 5-14-17, Doors 7p, Show 7:30p. $25.
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA. Tues. 5-16-17, Doors 7p, Show 8p. $25.

As soon as we listened to Semper Femina, we knew we had to see this British folk songstress. Recording music as a nineteen-year-old, Laura Marling's career includes impressing Ryan Adams enough that he threw away an album and re-recorded Ashes & Fire, all at an age most girls stumble around drunk because it's legal. At the age of 27 today, Marling has released her sixth full-length album earlier this year (and yes, we have reviewed it here... and yes, also greatly enjoyed it). To sum up: Semper Femina is just as it sounds, with a lyrical intelligence and simplicity to it that we feel is... well... perhaps you'll best understand listening to our favorite, "Nothing, Not Nearly." There. Does that hit the spot? We hope so.

If you enjoy incisive lyrics, strings, and clear, crystal simplicity, then you'll want to check out this album; check out some more tracks on her Soundcloud, too. Even those aren't grapevines in that promo pic, this Brit's still a draught of good wine that you'll want to imbibe with a tasteful friend. Editor's Note: A good bottle of wine is more costly than admission here.

Further tour dates on her website as well. Catch y'all there,

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Plenty of "Magic" on Goodbye June's Debut LP

Goodbye June - Magic Valley
Interscope Records
- out now
4 / 5

Time for a bit of rock and roll.

That must be the impetus behind this Nashville trio's debut LP. Goodbye June, we must say, sounds like they're already on their third or fourth album - Magic Valley is a polished piece of record right here. They've got cookers ("Good Side," "Bamboozler"), quiet ones ("Darling"), and just generally a good chex-mix of rock singles. Musically, think of aggravated vocals taking a hint from Angus-Young, simplified, clear guitar hooks (perhaps also a la AC/DC), and singable choruses. All in all, a good time with Goodbye June.

We can look at some of the songs on here, starting with the single "Daisy." Again - those clear, clean guitar hooks boost up Landon Milbourne's vocals. But if we enjoy these musicians, and their lead singer, we'd have to be a bit soft on the lyrics: "Daisy" is a pretty typical song about yearning for a woman. Most of the songs here, lyrically, don't particularly surprise, and perhaps even musically, the instrumentation is pretty straight-forward. Still, most of Magic Valley is a fun, enjoyable ride. The closer, "Fear of Jesus," is a song we'd like to pull out as a quiet, contemplative song that perhaps tells the softest, fullest story of the eleven. It's a little treat at the end, somewhat unexpected, and something we'd like to see Goodbye June delve into a bit more.

But here, on a debut LP, Goodbye June has given their career a strong push off the dock. It's not intricate, it's not hugely deep; but enjoyable, yes; fun, yes; rock and roll, absolutely yes. We're hoping their next one is as groovy as this one: recommended.

Listen along on Soundcloud.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Matthew Logan Vasquez' Sophomore Solo: Mature, Good, But Familiar

Matthew Logan Vasquez - Does What He Wants
Dine Alone Music
- out April 21
3 / 5

Delta Spirit frontman Matthew Logan Vasquez comes upon his second solo LP, the perhaps aptly named Does What He Wants. Up front, we'll tell you: it's not bad, and it's more of the same a la 2016's Solicitor Returns. That is to say, this is a Vasquez comfortable in his own skin, not the wild yells of a Vasquez of early Delta Spirit fame.

But we miss those wild yells, those impassioned pleas stretching, reaching for an imagined musical perfection.

But such is life: we grow old, we mature. And here Vasquez is just that: matured, not straining to impress. "Fatherhood" and the opener "Same," which deals with the age-old dilemma of bills piling up, tell us where Vasquez' mind is these days. But despite having, in a sense, "grown up," both sonically and lyrically, "Old Ways" hearkens back to Delta Spirit's sense of societal aggravation, with an unmistakable chorus: "You and I hate the old ways." It may not be "Streetwalker" off the Spirit's first EP, but it's something that we appreciate hearing all the same.

So why the middling score? Does What He Wants is not a bad album, by any means, but it's not that kind of stride ahead that Solicitor Returns was. We've listened to this album several times, and while a few songs grab us (those aforementioned), we somewhat imagine the whole of this album to drift by in another month. (And yes, "Bound to Her" in our previous album review is still stunning to us.) But it's good, it's another album to look at if you're a fan, though we suspect this album might not jump out enough for the casual listener. Recommended, with the caveat that Vasquez has stronger stuff in his repertoire.

Stream this album on Consequence of Sound for another week or so.

Friday, March 31, 2017

"Writing Without Words" - No Extra Words Podcast Feature

Photo (c) Matthew Keefer
Today, we've got a little surprise for y'all. For y'all readers, of course. But also writers.

Our compatriots at the No Extra Words podcast have a "Writer Spaces" series, and we thought we'd tag along, offer our "writer space." Their series is about where you go to write.

See photo above.

And then hear the essay at this Soundcloud link. Titled "Writing Without Words."

Hope y'all enjoy the essay!

And if not, you'll all enjoy our "A House Burning," also featured on the No Extra Words podcast from Nov. 2015, just click right here for it.

Peace out,

Friday, March 24, 2017

Raw Rock Fury Lacking a Clear "Vision"

Ecstatic Vision - Raw Rock Fury
Relapse Records
- out April 7
1.5 / 5

Philadelphia's hard rock foursome Ecstatic Vision slash their way through their second LP. Their approach is part gut punch, part slam-your-head-against-the-wall; that is to say, unapologetic. And while we appreciate their forwardness, their energy and approach, we still have to say: sorry, no. Their aimless jams certainly do not appeal to us, and in total feel like an album-long experiment in playing the same few brazen notes obnoxiously loud.

There's nothing wrong with loud, no. But there is when 11 is the only volume you understand: there is a deep lack of dynamics in Ecstatic Visions Raw Rock Fury, immediately from the get-go. The ironically titled "You Got It (Or You Don't)" is the opener, and not much deviates from the formula established here: repetitive rock-god-like slashing, repeat, repeat, repeat again. The music isn't appealing to us on a few levels, on the lack of dynamics (as mentioned), a lack of diverse songwriting (ie the aimless, unstructured note mashing), and a lack of clear vision, from beginning to end. This album doesn't feel crafted so much as hewn from a rough piece of granite - which yes, is a cool feel, but we were hoping for an end product more comprehensible than some strange, faux-avant-garde angles. We like the energy, the exuberance and even the burned-out vocals, but the repetitive repetition (did we repeat ourselves?) is just too much to bear.

The title Raw Rock Fury is indeed accurate, but on this sophomore, the album feels, alas, too raw in its writing. Take a pass.

Listen to a track on their Soundcloud.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Laura Marling's Sixth Is "Semper" Fantastic

Laura Marling - Semper Femina
More Alarming Records
-out today
4 / 5

Laura Marling's sixth album is not something we typically listen to. We like rock-outs, soul sessions, complicated layered what-have-yous. Stuff with a lotta moving parts. Contrary to our usual tastes, the Los Angeles native's Semper Femina feels, to take the opener, "Soothing." That is, sonically, it feels soothing; but make no mistake, behind the comfortable vocals, the sparse guitar, behind the illusion of a soothing album lies a quiet intensity. It's an introverted LP, an album that begs multiple listens to catch the subtle effects that work here. In short, it is not an album to put on in your car; it is an album to listen to quietly, on the stereo, alone, and we like it.

"Wild Fire" is one of our favorites off these nine, a track that comes off vaguely Dylanesque, both in instrumentation, vocal approach, and even, thankfully, lyrically. That is to say, the lyrics are intelligent: visual, perceptive, truthful. "Wouldn't you die to know how you're seen? / Are you getting away with who you're trying to be?" Another favorite is "Nouel," a guitar-and-vocal with solid tension and release. The whole of these nine are above-par, certainly; instead of pulling a least favorite track to compare, we'd rather get across that Marling's work here isn't for everyone, but it's worth reaching out to attempt something new and different and cerebral. It's not flashy, but it's an enjoyable album that grows on us.

We're glad we went against our normal musical bent here, for Semper Femina is a gem. Recommended.

Listen to some of these tracks on Marling's Soundcloud.