Underwhelmed!

underwhelmed

Three-quarters of the way through 2017 and about to head up the final straight to the Festive Spill Lists BUT some disappointing new releases in the last three months that I had high hopes of are likely to make my choices that much easier.

Dave (Grohl) has done an incredibly good job of promoting the Foo Fighters‘ new album Concrete and Gold; it’s regularly been on my Facebook feed, they’ve done a BBC Live Lounge session, a tour and even Carpool karaoke but from someone who thought their last offering Sonic Highways was 8 tremendous tunes I think it falls short of the hype.

The best of the selection is (IMHO) https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/1tDM9ElAIOimEPBEnkXqe2 Sunday Rain – Spotify link.

To another band’s offering that I had looked forward to expectantly and a group that has previously had Mr. ‘Nicest man in Rock’ Grohl on drums and also used the vocal talents of Mark Lanegan – [Note to Ed – Gargoyle still remains a firm favourite this year], yes it’s QoTSAVillains.

As I mentioned elsewhere on The Spill I felt the influence of Mark Ronson hasn’t helped.

Anyway here’s a song that is bearable Feet Don’t Fail Me.

Turning to something a little more positive and Arcade Fire‘s Everything Now – this is the Canadian group’s fifth album. Now I thought their first offering Funeral was something special and the follow-up Neon Bible was also pretty good, things started to wane for me with Suburbs and kind of skipped over Reflektor but this one has one or two worthy tracks and I’ll select the title track.

A distinctive vocal from Andy Hull this band first came to my attention in 2014 with the release of Cope so I had more than a passing interest in Manchester Orchestra’s follow-up A Black Mile to the Surface. With the exception of one song all the titles begin with The and then a single word so I’ll choose the odd one out: Lead SD.

With a little help from my friends at Wiki-lies here’s why the specific reference to Lead SD: The album’s title, as well as much of the imagery presented throughout is in reference to the town of Lead. SD, which is an old gold mining town that is now the site of The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (“DUNE”). DUNE is a leading-edge, international experiment for neutrino science and proton decay studies.

“A Black Mile to the Surface” is specifically a reference to this project taking place a mile underground.

Another band that came to my attention in 2014 was The War on Drugs the album was Lost in a Dream according to Adam Granduciel it was influenced by the likes of Springsteen and Neil Young. From this years offering A Deeper Understanding here’s Holding On.

Black Stone Cherry – Black to Blues – a mini-album of six songs, a re-working of some of the blues classics (Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King) showcasing some great vocals and guitar. Champagne & Reefer is my choice but it could have been any of them.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/0KebmOBpkSM12X9uKuY2kI Spotify Link.

Shania Twain – Now – only out on 29th September, yes a new album. It’s 15 years since her last one: Up!. This is similar in vocal tone and it’s definitely Shania’s sound. Not particularly country but then Up! wasn’t either but I do enjoy her mellow voice and for me the pick of the bunch is Soldier.

Leavey’s Latest Listens

So what have you all been listening to during the summer?

41 thoughts on “Underwhelmed!

    • I just checked and it appears that I’ve bought nine 2017 releases so far this year. The new Robert Plant will make that up to a round 10, and I’ve a King Crimson live album, recorded in 2016 on pre-order too.

      I am currently listening to the new albums by The War On Drugs and The National a fair bit.

  1. Haven’t been listening to much at all this year, occupied with other things. My listening has been along the lines of, I think I feel like listening to Eric Burdon’s voice, or Stevie Ray’s guitar, and binging from there. And maybe a Steely Dan or Husker Du binge prompted by unfortunate events.

    Gotta say I’m with you on QOTSA, not impressed at all. Ditto Mark Lanegan. And I’ll be avoiding Shania like the plague 😉 That blues compilation looks right up my alley though.

    I’m with Carol on The National, what I’ve heard so far sounds lovely.

  2. This year has been good without being amazing but although I like all of the bands and tracks you’ve shared, they wouldn’t be in my top ten of the year. I do try and keep up but it’s increasingly difficult because of the sheer volume of stuff and the amount of time one gets to listen. Nevertheless, a big shout out to Everything Everything, whose 4th LP A Fever Dream is their best to date, which means that it is very good indeed. Ex-Vampire Weekender Rostam released his first solo LP Half Light a few weeks ago and I like this one very much indeed. Other standouts are the triple blammy from UK grime masters Wiley ‘Godfather’ and Stormzy ‘Gang Signs & Prayer’ and brand-new philisopher/rapper Loyle Carner ‘Yesterday’s Gone’.
    Rhiannon Giddens ‘Freedom Highway’ is wonderful, the other US albums that struck me are Ty Segall’s glam-rock tribute ‘Ty Segall’ and Thundercat’s excellent & bewitching ‘Drunk’.
    Best rap album was from Migos ‘Culture’, although I didn’t hear that much, best futurist work was from Jlin ‘Black Origami’ and how can I forget Father John Misty’s best yet ‘Pure Comedy’. Luke Sital Singh made a wonderful 2nd LP entitled ‘Time Is A Riddle’ which catapulted him into the public ear and Sampha won the Mercury with a beautiful record ‘Process’ which I recommend. Laura Marling is always good and Semper Femina sounds fantastic although I’ve only heard it once. Did anyone hear Once & Future Band ? A return to prog, very good too.
    But who can argue with album of the year going to the great Randy Newman, whose new record Dark Matter is very dark indeed, and matters a great deal. No one can touch Randy Newman in magicland.

    • Thanks for posting magicman think the choices you mention there are would certainly appeal to some of the Spillers (yes you Sarah but they’re a little out of my comfort zone but hey who would have though to have QoTSA and Shania on the same playlist!

      I might give the Once & Future Band a listen.

    • Damn it, I missed Everything Everything off my long rambling list below and yes FJM is a stand out album from earlier in the year.
      Agree with the Wiley/Stormzy/Loyle Carner. My 14 year old has introduced me to so much new rap including Migos – but he is into stuff I can’t yet spend too much time with. It doesn’t feel accomplished enough and some of it seems to be just noise (what a middle aged thing to say) – artists like Ski Mask, XXXtentacion and Cardi B. Worth checking just to hear what the yuff is listening to, but not really my cup of tea!

  3. Thanks Leavey, looking forward to listening, later. Picks for me this year have been Grok Enrol & the Nu Thing – All\Mix/Dup; Jaws of Love – Tasha Sits Close to the Piano; Emily Lee – Don’t Forget To Love (EP); Isobel Anderson – Chalk/Flint; Daryl Kellie & Jon Hart – Set Adrift, all of which I’ve covered on The ‘Spill (I think they were all released this year). I haven’t bought any “famous” albums though I have purchased quite a few tracks, I seem to be having a “pop” phase. Or perhaps I’ve been underwhelmed too!

  4. I liked the Foos album more than I expected (only liked odd songs by them really, wouldn’t normally get through a whole album) and love Villains, takes all sorts, doesn’t it? Have been listening on streaming things rather than buying as much, makes it harder to remember what I’ve liked, but Goldfrapp’s album was good, Chilly Gonzales and Jarvis Cocker, Mastadon, The Black Angels impressed and I’m looking forward to Beck’s new one.

      • It mainly sounds as you’d expect Goldfrapp to. To be honest, I loved their use of guitars, particularly because Alex Lee was part of the composing process on previous albums, so it’s not my favourite by them, but nothing to complain about really.

    • I like the black angels album. ridiculously i’ll end up having bought 50+ albums this year. almost impossible to do justice to them all and I cut out stuff I might usually have got as well. no qotsa, arcade fire, national, horrors. i’ve heard lots of stuff I really like of course.

        • i’m not looking forward to choosing them. more choice, more confusion. I always want extra picks. as it stands, there’s nothing that’s a cert, which is unusual by this time of year.

  5. It does indeed bethonoir I’d really been looking forward to it but just disappointed apart from the odd track, though it does improve after a number of listens whereas Sonic Highways was fantastic from the first play – it’s odd.

    Like you I’ve been using a streaming service and each Friday it suggests new releases according to your listening habits but you can click on the new releases page and explore a little, which is what i’ve done. This hasn’t always worked out but introduced me to a couple of new bands that were featured in the post covering the first six-months.

    Biggest issue is there is so much new music coming out (posted on here and available on Google Play) that I sometimes get a bit overwhelmed by it all and am currently going through Springsteen’s early output – kind of like a sorbet to clear the palate with something ‘clean and wholesome’ 🙂

    • I agree about the sheer volume of new music and most of the time I want to listen to something in particular that I already like, not enough hours in the day free for listening, I need to give up sleep to fit it all in. Your post made me think about it though, which was fun, thank you.

  6. Like a couple of others I’ve been having quite a good musical year, For my tastes there has been a welcome swerve back towards jazz oriented sounds in both hip-hop and electronic genres (@Magicman’s mention of Jlin one good example) as well as jazz itself getting more eclectic.
    It seems to have been the year for “orchestral reimaginings” and while these can be tedious and/or overblown I’ve enjoyed the EST Symphony by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Carl Craig’s Versus with Les Siècles Orchestra, as well as more big band oriented collaborations between the Frankfurt band and Phronesis. (However I couldn’t quite overcome my natural inclinations regarding Django Bates’ jazz big band reworking of Sgt. Pepper)
    Other than that there have been a series of brilliant mini-albums from Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah, the usual high quality from ECM and Edition, and a new album from Juana Molina.
    Concert-wise bass player Avishai Cohen was a big highlight as well as Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur.

  7. I already mentioned the Unthanks’ Molly Drake album and Offa Rex, the collaboration between the Decemberists and Olivia Chaney, in another post. Both still sound excellent to me.
    I like the new Father John Misty although not (yet) as much as his previous one.

    The new Susanne Sundfor arrived a couple of weeks ago and I’ve loving it although I suspect I will soon start to wish the short spoken bits could be edited out. That is a very minor quibble about an album I can’t stop playing.
    Dream wife released a number of tracks – no album – last year and I’m only just catching up with them now. A fantastic band live I gather. Hopefully, will find out next month.

    I haven’t yet heard the new Randy Newman but look forward to doing so. Ditto Sparks who were great live last week, and the new recording of T-Rex remixes which I keep hovering over.

    • I have listened to some of the T Rex remixes. Whilst unecessary, I quite enjoyed hearing the songs with somewhat different arrangements, worth a listen I thought.

      • I listened to the lot on Spotify and really enjoyed it. Actually, I think the ones which deviated most from the original recording were the most satisfying. Mind you, some of the reviews on Amazon are apoplectic!

  8. I started writing this yesterday and got a tad distracted. I’ve listened to a lot of new albums since we last discussed this

    Ok I’m going to disagree with you all about QotSA (I remember we have had this conversation before) I think Villains is a really lovely album. I’ve listened to it a lot since it came out. The lyrics are wonderful, the songs all flow together and although full of longing, melancholy and lost love it is not morose at all. My favourite tracks are Fortress and Villains of Circumstance.

    I’m with you on Foo Fighters tho. My reaction is “meh” not bothered by any of it. None of it grabs me and I am a fan of their music mostly. I like Dave Grohl, he’s a really likeable fella. So I agree, this one is a disappointment.

    The War on Drugs is another one I’ve had on loop – interchanging it with QotSA! I read this amazingly long review/love-in about the album and the outfit in general. The piece was inspirational and made me think about passion in writing as well as passion for music. I nearly did a “Discuss” about it but ran out of time and momentum. Here it is if any of you fancy reading it. https://www.stereogum.com/1958113/premature-evaluation-the-war-on-drugs-a-deeper-understanding/franchises/premature-evaluation/
    I took the writer’s advice and put it on very loud on a long car journey and made an effort to really “listen”. The result is, I think it is a beautiful aural experience and an album I am likely to continue playing for many years to come.

    The National’s new album Sleep Well Beast is another one I’ve enjoyed over the last few weeks. It has that fine mix of upbeat and classic National sound. I’ve always enjoyed Matt Berninger’s voice – it’s the right side of thoughtful pensiveness for me. On their London dates they’ve been supported by This Is The Kit. They’ve also had a new album out called Moonshine Freeze which I suggest you check out. I saw this lot at a sweaty tiny venue near me 2 years ago now and they are marvelous, their sound very distinctive with lots of ooh ooh ooh oohs – you’ll get what I mean when you listen!

    Other new stuff that’s been on my turntable worth checking is Crack Up by Fleet Foxes (more indie folk pop loveliness), New Energy by Four Tet (Electronica), Visions of Life by Wolf Alice came out on Friday and I’ve had one listen so far and enjoyed it. They are certainly an exciting band to watch out for. LCD Soundsystem’s return with American Dream is also worth checking out

    I think one of the nicest new albums for having on in the background is Tony Allen’s The Source. Gorgeous Afrobeat Jazz fusion.

    I’ve not listened to the Arcade Fire album, I’ve never really got on with them tbh, but I’ll give this a go. And I have never even heard of Manchester Orchestra! so thank you for mentioning them. I shall change this forthwith!

    I hope the upcoming releases in the back part of the year present some exciting listens for you. There’s so much out there to explore!

  9. Kauan’s new album has been out barely a week and I’m already completely in love with it. New Mogwai keeps up standard even if no dramatic change of direction. Lorde’s second album isn’t quite as good as her debut – how could it be? – but lots of the songs are growers, the lyrics are great as ever and it stands out from more mainstream pop while still being brillliant pop music. Public Service Broadcasting’s Every Valley isn’t as good as The Race for Space, but again some great tracks.

    Jazz: my big thing this year has been obscure Polish avant-garde stuff, but good albums also from Julia Hülsmann, Avishai Cohen, the EST orchestral thing Nilpferd mentioned.

    • Glad you like the EST orchestral thing after all- if I recall you had some reservations about it.
      I take it you mean the trumpet playing Avishai Cohen and Cross my palm with silver, I’ve also been enjoying that album. Very reminiscent in places of the Herbie Hancock quintet/quartet on Maiden Voyage and Empyrean Isles.
      Avishai Cohen The Trumpet Player played his previous ECM release here live last year, compelling performance. Last month Avishai Cohen The Bass Player visited with his new trio, I found them a little “technical” to start with but from about half-way through they began whipping up a sustained, ecstatic storm of polyrhythmic, folk-infused post-bop, very exhilarating, three encores on a cold evening outdoors, everybody on their feet, and at least half the audience were younger than we were.

  10. Ibibio Sound Machine
    Electronica: Kelly Lee Owen, Jlin, Laurel Halo
    Noisy, shouty, pulsebeat punk: Nots (or was 2016?)
    And New Zealand’s finest female, no not Lorde or Aldous Harding: Fazerdaze

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