Monday, December 22, 2014

Shakey Graves Marches to Different Drum on War

Shakey Graves - And The War Came
Dualtone Music Group
-out now
3.5 / 5

Texan Alejandro Rose-Garcia isn't a power-voice like Hozier or Rachael Price (of Lake Street Dive). He isn't as poetic as Joe Pug or political as U2; but what he is on his second full-length is present, fully in command, a captain on his own ship. His off-kilter slashing folk songs anchor themselves less on lyrics or melody, so much as on his probing, coyote-howling vocals.

Take "Hard Wired," one of those unusual songs that just sticks with you for, well, unusual reasons. Build up with percussion and (somewhat) twangy guitar, it's not a song anyone's likely to cover. And here's why: Rose-Garcia is banking not on songwriting here, but on emoting and being the only one weird enough to pull it off. And he does. On the other end of the spectrum comes "Dearly Departed," which is a brilliant stop-and-go tempoed, singable duet. But largely, these songs here fit a niche, they're very particular to an indie ear, and something of an acquired taste.

But they're good, yes. We've had this album on our 'pod for a while, and we have to admit, while it's not an immediate go-to first-time (or second-, or third-) around, it's done well enough that the mood every now and then strikes us right for a folksy indie twist. Still recommended.

Mr. Graves on Soundcloud.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chain Gang's "Daydream" Anything But "Forever"

Chain Gang of 1974 - Daydream Forever
Warner Brothers
-out now
3 / 5

We. Were. Stoked. To hear about the new Chain Gang album coming out. We still haven't figured out the deal with White Guts (was it actually released? was it done piecemeal?), other than it was a top album of ours not too long ago. That one... that one brought a tear or two to our funkalicious hearts. And now, Kamtim Mohager (of the 3OH!3) dances his way back onto a major label to present: mind-melting dance beats. But, with a twist: it's major label dance beats. Where once we had acerbic, rage-against-the-man vitriol, now we've got tamed, "let's open up a can of dance and put it on the floor" kind of beats, the kind of beats that are (still decent but) Spam to the unaverage man.

We don't like Spam.

"Sleepwalking" is one of those great little poppy gems that is crafted and re-crafted, polished and perfect. But, what we loved about White Guts and especially "Stop" off that album was Mohager's ability to ignore his audience and find the pulse within. Every now and then, a song like "Witch" balances the polish just right, but the majority of these songs are singable, too singable, and just too polished to really stick with us; they glimmer pretty but slide from our grip. And while some will certainly appreciate Daydream Forever from the get go - ourselves included - we suspect those same people won't be jamming these basslines the same time next year.

A pleasant, but not brilliant (and certainly not enlightening) little dance ditty. Nice, but not what we're looking for in a back-breaking sweat-induced coma; take a pass.

Chained onto Soundcloud.