April

Your Turn//Ceramic Dog

For a guy around since the 80s, Marc Ribot has an incredible ability to sound like some bright new thing. The sound of his current side-project, Ceramic Dog, is one of boundless energy and an almost-youthful sense of kinetic looseness. It’s also one that, as is the wont of younglings, is more than a little rough around the edges.

Album opener Lies My Body Told Me starts the album in frenetic style with a spunky bit of garage rock Americana that has more than a hint of Nick Cave’s Dig Lazarus! Dig! about it; the title track keeps some of the momentum going but, by the end of  the interesting but repetitive Masters of the Internet, Ribot has found himself in a bit of a rut. The next two tracks don’t even merit a mention.

It takes a trip back to his roots as a collaborator on Tom Wait’s off-beat New Orleans jazz polka madhouse Rain Dogs on Ain’t Gonna Let Them Turn Us Around for the album to pick itself back up. The kookiness of the stuttering blues tramp of songs like that and Mr Pants Goes To Hollywood show Ribot’s age, but it serves him better than some of his attempts at youth (see Masters of the Internet again).

From there some of the strut and verve of Your Turn’s beginnings starts to come back. It’s when Ceramic Dog are at their most straight-up and rough like We Are The Professionals that they really shine, even if it is somewhat derivative.

Ribot is entitled to draw on his years of experience to cultivate a sound that works, even if it isn’t unique, but you’d have hoped that somewhere along the line he would have learned to sort the wheat from the chaff. Your Turn is over long by a good dozen minutes and a great deal of the tracks drag needlessly past the 4 minute mark and lose momentum.

Rough, tough and youthful beyond his years, Ribot has produced a punchy, fun album that rocks harder than most when it works, but shows signs of immaturity in his craftsmanship that you’d really think would have been dealt with a long time ago.

B

Lies My Body Told Me, Ain’t Gonna Let Them Turn Us Around, We Are The Professionals

The Besnard Lakes – Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO

What a crap title.

What does it even mean?

Why…why is there a comma there when those two sets of words can’t possibly be connected?

Anyway, music. It’s the same as before. Done. If you liked everything else they’ve done then you’ll like this too. It’s exactly the same. It’s ethereal, dreamy, drowned in nice guitars and all the atmosphere. Every now and again it rocks out, maybe less than before, but mostly it’s pleasantly lulling in a Slowdive sorta way.

It’s good, basically. Really good. So good it’s frustrating because you can’t really complain about the fact they’ve essentially made the same album three times and are displaying absolutely no ambition because oh, that guitar bit was really nice, and, oh, that wash of synth was just heavenly.

Maybe a bit rougher, airier and effect laden than previous albums, the core nonetheless remains exactly the same as before. Which is terrible and brilliant all at once. I want to hate this band for being so lazy but I love them for making such nice sounds.

It makes for their worst album by default. It’s not original and it’s not a polish of a rougher debut. It’s just….just nice.

B+

46 Satires, People of the Sticks, Colour Yr Lights In

Floating Coffin//Thee Oh Sees

First off, an album that actually came out a few months ago but that took me that time to form any kind of opinion about. A sprawling, jumbled mash of genres, Floating Coffin is as furiously energetic as it is directionless. Whilst ostensibly rooted in a uniquely raw and strange mix of psycho-billy and psychedelic (psychodelic billy?), Thee Oh Sees flit between styles with virtually every song, and often in the middle of them too.

The results make for gripping, interesting, propulsive music; but as an album the schizophrenic approach can quickly grow tiresome. The title track in particular is much too furious and repetitious for it’s own good, especially when it’s those moments of controlled explosiveness and experimentation that really stand out. No Spell, for example, is the very next track but shifts the scene entirely to a mix of 70s psychedelic rock backed up by the band’s best CAN impression; it’s easily an album highlight but also illustrates just how unpredictable it all is.

Songs like No Spell also benefit from the kind of restraint that is sorely missing on some of their rawer stuff. It’s the moments of quiet dread and discordant lushness like that seen on the second half of Strawberries 1 + 2, and in particular on Minotaur – a dark journey into the mind of a disgruntled labyrinth employee that has more in common with Grizzly Bear than The Cramps and is easily one of the tracks of the year – , that display an artistic maturity and composure often missing from their faster paced efforts.

Floating Coffin is a strange album to judge – it’s obviously flawed and totally lacking in direction, but at the same time it’s interesting from start to finish and has some of the tracks of the year. It hints at a band capable of producing something masterful, but who, after 6 wildly different albums (released over 4 years!), are yet to really nail down what exactly they are.

B+

No Spell, Night Crawler, Minotaur

Tyler, The Creator//Wolf

C

See full review here

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