Sunday, June 09, 2019

Listening Habits 03-05.2019

In about a month’s time we’ll be taking a look at all the new releases that stood out in the first half of the year, but in the meantime here’s our long overdue "Listening Habits" post with our favorite albums and tracks for Spring 2019:

The debut album of the year so far came by the Irish post-punk outfit Fontaines D.C., a band we had the opportunity to see up close in action last December and our high expectations were more than satisfied by the refreshingly powerful and at the same time wonderfully tuneful "Dogrel", a record that reminded me of the thrill of hearing for the first time The Strokes or The White Stripes (not to go too far back in time). In different times for rock music Fontaines D.C. would be climbing the pop charts and headlining festivals in no time. As things stand, they are a prime example that punk rock remains a source of motivation and inspiration for young musicians four decades after the big bang of the mid-seventies.

Another great record of the last few months was The National’s "I Am Easy To Find" who eight albums into their magnificent discography managed to produce another career highlight, their best effort since their break-out album "High Violet". Matt Berninger here shares vocal duties with a stunning array of female vocalists including Lisa Hannigan, Sharon Van Etten, Mina Tindle, Gail Ann Dorsey and Kate Stables, adding another viewpoint to the songs and enriching their effect. The accompanying short film by Mike Mills, starring Alicia Vikander, is also excellent and you should definitely check it out.

Our top albums of Spring 2019 also include the sophomore LP by Snapped Ankles, who go from strength to strength with the Kraut-rock influenced, post-punk gem "Stunning Luxury", Priests’ "The Seduction Of Kansas", also a second effort that builds on the strength of a very promising debut, and "Designer", a folk-influenced treat of melodic delights by New Zealander Aldous Harding with John Parish on production duties.

Also, in a year filled with many interesting returns from artists and bands who we’ve been following for decades, we must emphasize that Royal Trux with "White Stuff" have produced one of their most satisfying albums, their eleventh full-length in a singular 30-year career of deranged rock’n’roll but first one since 2000, while Bob Mould, who never went away since our first introduction way back in the Husker Du days, has made one his top solo efforts with the fiery "Sunshine Rock", his 13th album under his own name.

Top 20 Albums

1.   Dogrel - FONTAINES D.C.
2.   I Am Easy To Find - THE NATIONAL
3.   Stunning Luxury - SNAPPED ANKLES
4.   White Stuff - ROYAL TRUX
5.   Sunshine Rock - BOB MOULD
6.   The Seduction Of Kansas - PRIESTS
7.   Designer - ALDOUS HARDING
8.   Serfs Up! - FAT WHITE FAMILY
9.   It's Real - EX HEX
10. Dusty Notes - MEAT PUPPETS
11. Lux Prima - KAREN O & DANGER MOUSE
12. Ladytron - LADYTRON
14. Psychedelic Country Soul - THE LONG RYDERS
15. I Used To Be Pretty - THE FLESH EATERS
16. You Won't Get What You Want - DAUGHTERS
17. The Unseen In Between - STEVE GUNN
18. On The Line - JENNY LEWIS
19. Silver Dollar Moment - THE ORIELLES
20. Art Of Doubt - METRIC

Top 20 Tracks

1.   The Barrel - ALDOUS HARDING
2.   You Had Your Soul With You - THE NATIONAL
3.   Big - FONTAINES D.C.
4.   Jesus’ Son - PRIESTS
5.   Tough Enough - EX HEX
6.   White Stuff - ROYAL TRUX
7.   Tailpipe - SNAPPED ANKLES
9.   Deadzone - LADYTRON
12. Lost Faith - BOB MOULD
13. Warranty - MEAT PUPPETS
14. Psychedelic Country Soul - THE LONG RYDERS
15. Red Bull & Hennessy - JENNY LEWIS
16. Risk - METRIC
17. Let Your Dogtooth Grow - THE ORIELLES
18. Vagabond - STEVE GUNN
19. Black Temptation - THE FLESH EATERS
20. The Reason They Hate Me - DAUGHTERS

Monday, June 03, 2019

Live: Phosphorescent @ Fuzz Club (Athens, May 28th, 2019)

Seven albums into the remarkable career of Phosphorescent, the nickname under which Alabama singer-songwriter  Matthew Houck is performing his music since the turn of the century, we finally had the chance to see him and his band playing live in Athens.

Although not too many people made the trip to Fuzz Club last Tuesday, it was obvious from their enthusiastic reception that they knew Houck's work very well and the requests for particular songs kept on coming throughout the set.

Houck looked genuinely pleased to be playing in Athens for the first time and he led his band to a crowd-pleasing set that in its 1 hour and 45 minutes duration revisited songs from most of Phosphorescent's albums, going as far back as "Aw Come Aw Wry", his second album from 2005, for a rendition of  a "Joe Tex, These Taming Blues" and 2007's "Pride" for "Wolves" and "My Dove, My Lamb".

Of course we got to listen to several songs from his most recent work "C'est La Vie", with the breezy, upbeat pop of "New Birth in New England" being the track that in a just world should have been a massive radio hit. And there was, of course, the song that actually did become a minor hit a few years ago, the majestic "Song for Zula", which received the biggest applause of the evening.

Overall an excellent, heart-warming performance by Phosphorescent which was greatly appreciated by the lucky few faithful who came to the show and also got to see an acoustic performance by Pelion Rivers who opened the proceedings.

Phosphorescent, live @ Fuzz Club (Athens, May 28th, 2019)
Pelion Rivers, live @ Fuzz Club (Athens, May 28th, 2019)
Check out below "My Beautiful Boy" and "Song For Zula" as performed by Phosphorescent in Athens:

Phosphorescent - My Beautiful Boy (live in Athens)

Phosphorescent - Song For Zula (live in Athens)