5 New Albums Coming Out This Month

1. Mark Knopfler – Privateering

Privateering is a new double album from this weird dude, who seems to be doing a bit of genre work a few years too late to make it onto the soundtrack of Master and Commander (he’ll never repeat his amazing luck at being chosen to write a soundtrack for the cult film The Princess Bride). It has Knopfler’s trademark fingerpicking, and trademark too-long bits. The title track has a minor-key vibe and some trippy compressed chanting in the background which somehow manages to conflate poor British seamen with a Native American vibe, at least in my ears. An impressive feat. But it’s still too long.

Verdict: For people over 50 or those who wish to understand them.

2. Matchbox 20 – North

These guys were the butt of jokes at my highschool, but they’re still around, wow, joke’s on me. This track has the words “overstate” and “overjoyed” less than a line apart in the chorus, which is a nonchalant other part of the song that barely registers. Not sure if that choice of words is meant to be poetic. This music is fine, I can picture myself commuting to work and this vague song and singer’s fake vibrato being just cheesy enough to basically fit in with my ugly dashboard or lame plastic travel mug.

Verdict: Sometimes weak music makes sense.

3. Grizzly Bear – Sheilds

I like this single right off the bat — the production style hits you right away. There’s something with reverb there, and reverb sounds romantic. Then the little dandy boygirl voices that sound like they’re coming out of ads for Forever 21 or Abercrombie come wafting out in the chorus, and a tambourine strikes. All eras of gentle hit songs, er, they can’t even be called hits or smash cause that’s too violent… all eras of gentle popular songs are represented here, in this one chorus… and then the band takes it further and further, key changes, production changes, the works! Is there anything this band can’t do, in this one song? Um yeah… they can’t change my pulse or get my dick hard. They CAN however sing in several-part-harmony live, and that’s a downright miracle in this day and age. I just wish I had a clue why this band is called Grizzly Bear, why this album is called Sheilds and has an abstract painting on the front, and how they can get away with having such an awesome looking lead singer who’s taller than David Letterman.

Verdict: Weird for people who are only weird in cute ways.

4. David Byrne and St. Vincent – Love This Giant

I was so excited to listen to this jam that I passed on the option to skip the 1:15 ad before it on YouTube, for The New Writer 5000 from Newstripe for striping athletic fields. This single starts with dorky horns, then gives in to some great production and a somewhat interesting choice of chords… and the vocals start. Dorky horns prevail, lyrics about a taxicab… I’m lost. Then when St. Vincent starts to sing it’s like a totally new song starts, and it’s nice, but what is driving this song? Something about a cup of coffee? I’m very bored. I like this guitar line towards the end, and these funny vocal punches throughout, but only in a way where they might entertain a kooky person I’m interested in, and I can tolerate it for one listen, so that’s good. But if that kooky person likes this record too much I might just have to let them go and look for someone more dangerous please.

Verdict: This was clearly more fun to make than it is to listen to. In a word, “interesting.”

5. Serpentine Path – Serpentine Path

New record on Relapse, uploaded by kevindoom666…. oh boy, yeah, this world. Awesome. The opening riff here is the closest thing to my taste of any of the tracks chosen for these reviews so far, so I give this a very generous listening, but its plodding 4/4 repetition gets tedious pretty quickly, and the vocals don’t really do anything new. It’s kind of middle of the road, dark metal, gray metal, sort of stoner. I like these turns in the riff, it moves in an unpredictable way in certain parts, almost like a snake (see what I’m doing here), but there are no real surprises. The solo has a cool tone but doesn’t really play much. Maybe this is supposed to be minimal and cold, if that’s the case, it’s definitely cold but not brutal. Downtempo metal.

Verdict: Life has no consequence, and consequently neither does this music, man. I think I’ll start a metal band called Tedious.


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