January 2021 Album Round Up!

What’s up guys! Another month, another Album Round Up. Below is a quick run-through of all the records I checked out this month:

Black Pistol Fire – Look Alive: Do The Black Keys get a royalty check every time these guys tune their instruments? Can someone explain to me how this is distinct in any way from the countless QOTSA-worshipping Alt-Rock acts out there? NOT RECOMMENDED.

Devin Dawson – The Pink Slip EP: One of Country’s brightest and best songwriters turns in six dazzlingly mediocre tracks that make 20 minutes feel like an hour. The Pop and Hip-Hop influences on “Whatever Forever Is” are particularly unbearable. “I Got a Truck”, at least, sounds like a Country tune and the Alt-Rock crunch of “Range Rover” is the other moment I kinda enjoy here. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Gatecreeper – An Unexpected Reality: Considering it’s been nearly half a decade since the last (excellent) Nails album, I suppose these Phoenix Death Metallers figured it was as good a time as ever to swoop in and steal their whole fanbase? Kidding aside, Metal’s first critical standout of 2021 is a brief-but-satisfying mixture of Death Metal with old school Grind (the former being reserved mostly for the epic Death/Doom closer “Emptiness”). And the main reason I make the Nails comparison is probably the production more than anything – An Unexpected Reality has a dry, suffocating sound that compliments the blistering riffs beautifully. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Jazmine Sullivan – Heaux Tales: For over a decade, Jazmine Sullivan has mostly existed in my head as an elongated Royce da 5’9 punchline from “Welcome 2 Hell” (off the Bad Meets Evil album), and for some reason I’ve never given her a good listen. So I was excited to hear this. Though this album’s numerous narrated interludes would’ve functioned better if they were woven directly into the songs, I can’t argue with the songs themselves – the strong harmonies in “Put it Down” the vocal showcase in the Cardiak-produced Ari Lennox duet “On It” , or “Price Tags”, in which Sullivan and Anderson .Paak have a surprisingly natural chemistry. RECOMMENDED.

Tribulation – Where the Gloom Becomes Sound: My favorite Metal album of 2021 thus far! I know, all five weeks of it. Tribulation’s sound is difficult to categorize, but I feel reasonably comfortable calling it a melodic take on Blackened Death Metal. Agalloch fans will fawn over more atmosphere-driven cuts like “Ianna” and “Funeral Pyre”, while the pre-album single “Hour of the Wolf” will feel like a logical continuation of 2018’s more Black ‘N Roll-influenced Down Below, an LP I gave a Top 10 of the Year spot back when we used to eat at restaurants and high-five people. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Weezer – OK Human: This was actually pretty cool! I enjoyed hearing a Weezer album that shook up the band’s tired formula, eschewing electric guitars completely. It distills Rivers Cuomo and company down even further to what they’re good at: simple but profound song concepts (“Numbers”) and annoyingly catchy little ditties that sneak up on you after a few plays (“Grapes of Wrath”, “All My Favorite Songs”). Hearing the strings function so well as a melodic centerpiece on “Here Comes the Rain” and “Grapes of Wrath” is particularly rewarding. Don’t listen to the naysayers – it’s not perfect, but give this one a try. RECOMMENDED.

Enjoyed

You Me At Six – SUCKAPUNCH (Alternative)

Didn’t Enjoy

Accept – Too Mean to Die (Metal)

Alta Reign – Mother’s Day (Metal)

Maggie Lindemann – Paranoia EP (Alternative)

Painted Wives – New Medusa (Metal)

Zayn – Nobody is Listening (Pop)

Some Old Stuff I’ve Been Bumping

Cathedral – The Ethereal Mirror

Majid Jordan – The Space Between

Neurosis – Through Silver in Blood

Prince – Sign ‘O the Times

Repulsion – Horrified

Strapping Young Lad – City

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