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, weRead More →

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 deepRead More →

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 notRead More →

Susto – & I’m Fine Today  Missing Piece Records – out now 3.5 / 5 Susto, a Latin American term roughly translating as “soul sickness,” doubles South Carolina’s alternative rock quintet on their second full-length. The term is fitting as lead singer and songwriter Justin Osborne, who traveled to Cuba in his mid-20s on a musical quarter-life crisis, pens here a sophomore of songs of wanderlust and disconnection. What comes on this not-quite-dozen are fun, solid tracks that sport a musical twist-and-turn every now and then. Right off the bat, we enjoy the strings on “Far Out Feeling,” which are a powerful accent for aRead More →

Flagship – Electric Man Bright Antenna – out March 10 3 / 5 Charlotte, North Carolinan duo Flagship hoist the sails again in their sophomore LP, Electric Man. Here, Drake Margolnick (vocals) and Michael Finster (drums) aim is toward mid-tempo rockers, the more emotive ones instead of rock shredders, and generally hit their target; yielding a result like “In the Rain,” a drum-pounding anthem. But while Flagship hit their target, we’re going to admit: that target wasn’t too terribly high. The risks on Electric Man are minimal, the songwriting not terribly explosive, and the execution is above-par, but not much else. But those drums, though… Yes,Read More →

Dutch Uncles – Big BalloonMemphis Industries– out Feb. 174 / 5 We’re going to try a different approach for Manchester, England based quartet Dutch Uncles here. Their latest full-length, Big Balloon, is number five in their full-length discography. We’ve covered #3 – 2013’s Out of Touch in the Wild – which you can read right here. We also had to follow up with them in 2015 on their fourth full-length O Shudder (also read our review right here). If there’s something you, our readers, might have noticed about our reviews of Dutch Uncles’ last three albums, they’re all good, solid albums, at 4 / 5. (Four of fiveRead More →

Sallie Ford – Soul SickVanguard Records– out tomorrow3 / 5 We love Sallie Ford and her Sound Outside’s 2013 release Untamed Beast. It’s buoyant, joyous, fun, and all-around a great album. It’s a rocker, and it knows it. Fast-foward to 2016: Sallie Ford releases her second official solo, sans-Sound Outside. We’ll be honest, Ms. Ford is a hit-or-miss kind of artist. In 2013, she hit. But 2016, on Soul Sick, she missed. This is why. We’ve got to bring it back to what made Untamed Beast so good. Ford and her Sound Outside had just hit their stride musically: they felt spontaneous, they gelled, theyRead More →

Matthew Logan Vasquez – Solicitor ReturnsNo label-out now4 / 5 Let’s cut to the chase for y’all: it’s a good album. Now Austin-based rocker/writer Matthew Logan Vasquez, from Delta Spirit / Middle Brother fame has his solo album. And it’s good. It took us a few listens to get into his slower pace on here, but it’s grimy, it’s deliberate swagger, it’s confident and assertive. Some time back, Vasquez mentioned that he envisioned his Delta Spirit not as “Americana,” but as a rock outfit. We think this is the album he envisioned when he said that (not their decent, but lyrically flawed 2012 Delta Spirit).Read More →

Beware of Darkness – Are You Real?Bright Antenna– out Sept. 162.5 / 5 The LA emo rock trio Beware of Darkness has come out with a sophomore album we’ve been anticipating since 2013’s debut LP, Orthodox. A few words about that one: it’s a fantastic rocker. And now, onto Are You Real?: it’s not. The dozen songs here do rock, yes. Stylistically, musically, the guitars growl, the hooks groove, the beats pound and sway. But what holds us back from declaring their sophomore a satisfying rocker is the, erm, sophomoric lyrics and content. Are You Real? feels conceited, a bit self-indulgent, and more than a bit misogynistic. ItRead More →

We’d been keeping on top of Unknown Mortal Orchestra since their sophomore full-length, cleverly titled “II.” We were initially on the fence as to whether we wanted to catch the Portland, Oregonian foursome – mostly because we’d just come off the Newport Folk Festival the previous weekend. But we admit: we had a good time of it at Fete in Providence. Yes indeedy. So, obviously the UMO played some cuts off their latest jam, Multi-Love. No surprise there. But what we enjoyed about this performance were two things: how adaptable their songs were. Yes, as enjoyable as listening to Multi-Love is (and it’s certainly enjoyable), weRead More →