Several years ago, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears played an in-store concert at Streetlight Santa Cruz. The band blew the audience away with its driving blend of soul, garage, rock, psych and punk.
Lewis and company just dropped the band’s fifth album, Backlash, the first since 2013’s Electric Slave.
The album sees the band doing what it does best: creating driving grooves full of gritty guitar, spot-on drums, catchy horns and Lewis’ skillful and catchy vocals.
As American Songwriter puts it:
“There’s occasional funk, as in the hip-swiveling “Global,” and even a six-minute psychedelic/jazzy ballad (“Maroon”) that closes the disc. But this is predominantly a rowdy, raucous, garage-punk album with nods to the wonderfully unhinged likes of Swamp Dogg, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Andre Williams, who also mixed the wilder aspects of rock with a crazed soulful attack.
“If the frantic Black Keys-styled riffing “Shadow People” was slowed down, you’d even have a decent heavy metal track. It’s hard to make out what’s going on lyrically since Lewis’ wild-eyed vocals lash out like a rabid dog (and there are no printed words), but it really doesn’t matter. The appropriately titled Backlash is all about gritty attitude, pulsating groove and the kind of freewheeling, irreverent swagger that defines music’s most iconic figures.”
Sleater-Kinney has to be experienced live to be fully appreciated.
One of the original riot grrrl bands, as well as one of the pioneer bands of the Northwest indie-rock scene, the band rocks with the best of them, has a longtime commitment to social justice, and is a musical force that has influenced countless other bands.
In 2015, the band went on a comeback tour of sorts. Live in Paris is a showcase of that tour and the impressive trio of women behind the band.
“If there is one unifying thread among many of the songs that make the cut on Live in Paris, it’s not just that they’re late-era Sleater-Kinney highlights (five of the 13 songs come from No Cities to Love, four from 2005’s The Woods). From the post-recession terror of opening track “Price Tag” to the sly sendup of capitalist femininity on closing song “Modern Girl,” the tracklist emphasizes what Sleater-Kinney does best: playing not just with urgent feeling, but in service of immense meaning. Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss came back swinging in 2015 as strongly as they ever had—a gift considering how rarely it happens in rock. Live in Paris is the victory lap leaving us wanting more.”
Here’s the tracklist from the album:
01. Price Tag
03. What’s Mine is Yours
04. A New Wave
05. Start Together
06. No Cities to Love
07. Surface Envy
08. I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone
09. Turn It On
12. Dig Me Out
13. Modern Girl
After an 18 year hiatus, A Tribe Called Quest is back with We Got it From Here. The album has two over-arching themes: the U.S. presidential campaign and the loss of group member Phife Dawg, who passed away earlier this year.
Recorded well before the elections, the album nonetheless provides a spot-on glimpse into the powers that be and a campaign of intolerance and hatred. It also serves to honor Phife Dawg, whose absence is noticeable, with tributes and nods throughout.
Despite the 18 year lag, Tribe demonstrates that it’s very much a part of today’s rap scene, and will forever stand as foundational acts for the current crop of rappers. As Rolling Stone reports:
“It’s important to check the vibe throughout. Entire books can be written about how the sound, identity, location, phrasing, technical innards and even purpose of rap music has changed since A Tribe Called Quest’s last album, The Love Movement, in 1998. But Tribe, in both delivery and content, maintain the attitude of the Bohemian everydude funkonauts that inspired Kanye West, Andre 3000 and Kendrick Lamar (who all appear here).”
Fresh off the press, Blue & Lonesome, the first studio album from the Rolling Stones in over ten years. The album sees the band returning to its blues roots, a passion that, according to the Stones’ website, “has always been at the heart and soul of the Rolling Stones.” The album features tunes by blues legends, including Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, Eddie Taylor, Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf.
Recorded in just three days in West London’s British Grove Studios, Blue & Lonesome was a departure for the band, in terms of the recording process:
“[The band’s] approach to the album was that it should be spontaneous and played live in the studio without overdubs. The band – Mick Jagger (vocals & harp), Keith Richards (guitar), Charlie Watts (drums), and Ronnie Wood (guitar) were joined by their long time touring sidemen Darryl Jones (bass), Chuck Leavell (keyboards) and Matt Clifford (keyboards) and, for two of the twelve tracks, by old friend Eric Clapton, who happened to be in the next studio making his own album.”
As co-producer Don Was explains, “This album is manifest testament to the purity of their love for making music, and the blues is, for the Stones, the fountainhead of everything they do.”
Here’s the tracklist:
- Just Your Fool
- Commit A Crime
- Blue And Lonesome
- All Of Your Love
- I Gotta Go
- Everybody Knows About My Good Thing
- Ride ‘Em On Down
- Hate To See You Go
- Hoo Doo Blues
- Little Rain
- Just Like I Treat You
- I Can’t Quit You Baby
R&B singer-songwriter Solange Knowles recently released Seat at the Table, an R&B masterpiece that takes on race, social issues, anger, injustice, healing and more in exquisite, minimalist fashion.
Described by Knowles, who is the sister of Beyonce, as a “project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief and healing,” the record combines commentary, observation, family history and first-hand experiences into a powerful record that engages emotionally, intellectually and musically from start to finish. As Spin reports:
“[Seat at the Table] is among the most exquisite productions of the year, each track silken-smooth and replete with quietly virtuosic instrumental flourishes—and in service of a story of pain and healing.”
Don’t sleep on this cultural and musical masterpiece.
In 2014, following frontwoman Laura Jane Grace’s coming out as a transgender woman, Against Me! dropped Transgender Dysphoria Blues to critical and popular acclaim.
The punk band is back with Shape Shift with Me, an album that NPR describes as “raging, tender, organic, erotic and liberating.”
“There’s a lot to say, and Grace doesn’t hold back. In “All This And More,” she waxes tunefully about cities visited, hotel beds shaken and “your hips in my hands,” all while reminiscing gently about past loves and spent lust. On the other end of the spectrum, the fierce, abrasive “ProVision L-3” — which borrows its name from a popular model of airport-security body scanner — chillingly wonders, “What can you see inside of me?” As with the best Against Me! songs, the personal and the political dovetail into an inseparable tangle of anxieties and fuel for protest.”
Chicago-based rock outfit Wilco just dropped its 10th album, Schmilco. The record is mid-tempo, acoustic record that’s been described as the band’s “loosest, most unadorned set of songs since its debut.”
The album’s title is a nod to Harry Nilsson’s Nilsson Schmilsson, the singer-songwriter’s classic-yet-unexpected venture into classic rock and novelty tunes.
But, as Paste reports, the title is a “curious reference point, because Schmilco contains few such gambles. Wilco has already passed through its wilderness period, and unlike Nilsson—who sank into alcohol abuse and seriously damaged his vocal cords by the mid-’70s—this band has emerged on the other side settled and healthy. Schmilco feels like aging gracefully.”