Album Reviews 8.11.16: Dinosaur Jr. + more
Ryley Walker — Golden Sings That Have Been Sung
Ryley Walker’s last album, Primose Green, invoked all that is beautiful and Van Morrison. There is a place where the richness of jazz arrangement and rock and folk meet, it is not an oft visited area in these days of sound plugs over instrumentation. However, Walker, is clearly an inhabitant of this place. With the help of the incomparable LeRoy Bach, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung embraces the rich tradition of Chicago contemporaries such as Tortoise and Jim O’ Rourke (when he was still in Chicago), music that is based in movement and color. “A Choir Apart” speaks of “wiseass wisdom wasted on the young” summoning images of skylines and passing neighborhoods, a meditation on the city from a car window or concrete stoop. “Funny Thing She Said” is a breezy night in a dimly lit apartment and memories of her perhaps while laying with her, “The Roundabout” is deep folk, soul. Releasing August 19, this album is perfect for iced teas and chronic bowls, or other things that promote deep thoughts and long stares.
Omni — Deluxe
When guitar playing was a thing, there was a thing called a guitar sound, where you would sit and strum a string looking for the perfect ring of a note, the perfect timbre, countless hours twiddling knobs on the instrument and the amplifier. A master of the guitar was Tom Verlaine of Television, and while this is not about Tom Verlaine, one of the first things I noticed about Omni’s Deluxe was the guitar sound which reminded me of Verlaine and Devo and The Feelies and Wire and all that post-no wave, post punk magic. “Wire” has a Nile Rogers/downtown thing, it grooves; I first heard it while in a restroom on a break from a class, I extended that break, and danced in the mirror. “Earrings” is a gem, “Eyes On The Floor” is Sonic Youth-ian rhythm and blues, the single coil pick up soul, flashing lights and concrete. Some of us remember the splendor of rock music before it was whatever derogatory connotation I might attach to it in its present form, but this is the music of today so it sort of disproves my pessimism. Hooray, Omni!
Phonte and Eric Roberson — Tigallero
Tigallero does a great job of evoking Mtume, Dilla, Jodeci, and 90’s R&B of shit like Case, Horace Brown, Jeff Red, and also Big Brother and A Tribe Called Quest. I know that is a lot, but that is what makes it great, because while it is like that, it still isn’t that. Before R&B was rappy and trap-ish, it was rhythms, it was slow, it was uptempo, it was barbecue and bedroom. “Thru The Night” is the definition of what someone means when they say “the jam,” the headnod and the great lyric “you really telling your kids you risked it all for that bitch off of Instagram,” it sounds like the party and the problem with being in the party. “Grow This Love” is the real relationship song, the damaged trying to repair but understanding that time is remedy. Let’s not rush it “Never The Same Smile” is the result of ruining love. Like so many of the of the “golden era” conversations bout soul music, Tigallero presents love, life, and loving in all its stages, incorporating more than the club and the ass and drunken decisions: “If she is something I have to have, then better is something I have to be” (from “Something“).
Dinosaur Jr. — A Glimpse Of What Yer Not
The idea of another Dinosaur Jr. album is always great prospect, because as a band, it is the representation of a band that helped define eras of music, while amazingly sounding pretty much like the Dinosaur Jr. you’ve loved from “Freak Scene” to a current favorite like “I Told Everyone.” A Glimpse of What Yer Not is solid, insanely so. J. Mascis’s voice is still the velvet smooth ice cream and the music is still sometimes Frampton pop rock magic. Sure, his guitar is a howling beast, but it is gentle when needed. Lou Barlow also brings the heat, the Clyde Drexler to Mascis’ Olajuawon. “Love Is…” is mystic love majesty: “If you’re still so full of rage, that only poison lets you live.” Dino Jr. can take a turn in a minute from sweet (“Knocked Around“) to heavy (“I Walked For Miles” and actually “Knocked Around,” too) to the diamond shine of “Mirror.” Dinosaur Jr. has risen to the occasion, occupying and sustaining greatness.
Shy Layers — Shy Layers
This LP is categorized on my computer as electronic. I never really understood the moniker, since most plugged in instrumentation is technically electronic. Shy Layers may be the most apt title of this record, as nothing is boisterous, it is mellow affair in places (“Stabilized Waves”), sounds breezing in and out like the sounds of the beach, “Playing The Game” begins as atmosphere but morphs into Sea and Cake like rock, “Bees and Bamboo” is a mellow smooth bourbon, Caribbean-ish, but progg-y. This is the type of music that decorates an afternoon or introduces a night, you could bob to it, two step in the kitchen, enjoy a margarita, it is a perfect for the moment before the moon comes out, the witching hour. Incorporate this into your daily routines of staring at your phone and scrolling up and down, looking up, scrolling up and down, eating a bite of food, staring back at your phone and scrolling up and down.