Album Reviews: March 2, 2017

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Flying Micronatal Banana (Australia)
Aussie’s really seem to have the frontiers of retro psych rock cornered these days especially with bands like Tame Impala and Pond. The latest record from King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard however perfectly straddles the worlds of groovy, riff driven rock and addictively abrasive alternative for an album too weird to put down. Between the epic run of “Rattlesnake,” the free flowing jazz of “Melting” and the tribal drumming on “Open Water” there’s already a powerful sense of musicality to their fun noise. The unbelievably catchy hooks of later tracks like “Anoxia” and “Billabong Valley” are contrasted with the raw energy of a Zurna to give the music a uniquely exotic sound for an Australian rock band that will be hard to match on any release this year.

Color Television –Tonight/Power Glove (Ottawa/Chicago)
There’s something about Ottawa’s weird weather that nurtures fascinating homemade electronic music. Chicago transfer Color Television is hitting Ottawa with a moving comp of two funky records, also coming physically on cassette. The album mixes a Donna Summers meets Michael Jackson style of disco with an electric undercurrent to thrust it forward. Along with his more classic vaporwave jam sound this album comes alive on the dance of “Sojourn” and “Lovin’ Me.” With a video game influence the second half of the album has a distinctly Japanese aesthetic, especially on the bounce and dubs of “Marine Biologist.” There’s a calming groove to “Reel to Reel” before launching into the robot party of “Power Glove” complete with lo-fi sheen and Nintendo overdubs. This comp is one blast from the past that will leave you begging for a live performance.

Thundercat – Drunk (Los Angeles)
Weird and star-studded is probably the last thing you’d expect from a record by a bass player but on Los Angeles producer and bass master Thundercat’s latest record that barely scratches the surface. Between meowing, singing about pre-sleep pleasure and a guest appearance by Kenny Loggins, it’s hard to not be intrigued by this album, especially with its powerful artwork. Featuring everyone from Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell Williams and Wiz Khalifa the album is covered in interesting collaborations that enhance the already impressive and ambitious record. While there are some questionably bizarre moments across 23 tracks it’s hard to find much to complain about especially with tracks like “Walk On By,” “A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II)” and “Jethro” making this an R&B record for the future.

Cool Kids Not You – Grow Up Already (Ottawa)
Ottawa’s punk scene is always full of pleasant surprises and the new record from Cool Kids Not You is definitely a harmonious one. Destructive hooks on the vocally empowering “Asthma,” raw burning emotion and cries from deep inner passion on the thrashing “Someone Something Anything” and the powerful pop-rock and bright guitars hinting of Against Me! On “Subjunctive Heroes” make the record ring out with powerful post-punk that hits the genre’s best qualities instead of its generic trappings. Later tracks like the less attack-driven “Rainshine” show a more diverse and vocally-driven side of the band that can deliver even more heart on their own. With the closing explosion of “We Were Quagmire” the local boys show they have a lot more to say on their next release as well.

Old 97’s – Graveyard Whistling (Dallas)
With the departure from pop-country on most alternative country records these days, it’s nice to find a few artists willing to indulge their pop sides. The Old 97’s throw as much country tone and instrumentation on their dark rock on tracks like “I Don’t Wanna Die In This Town” that ache of earnest desperation. Other tracks like “Irish Whiskey Pretty Girls” start on a traditional base and throw modern twists on their country flair, where “Drinkin’ Song” takes this and dials up the punk and rockabilly for maximum excitement on some truly catchy and cleverly subtle composition. The band pulls some more sombre writing on “Turns Out I’m In Trouble” that gets as close to Luke Doucet as the album can. Closer “Those Were the Days” hits some Joel Plaskett notes for a fun and hook filled finale that shows the band even has an indie side to their country.