Grab The Latest From All Them Witches, Jon Spencer, Bob Mould For A Good Time
All Them Witches — ‘ATW’
THE GOOD: Nashville psychedelic rock group All Them Witches shakes up its lineup (a new keyboard player who has apparently ALREADY departed) and cranks out a fifth.
THE BAD: These guys LOVE to adopt a spontaneous groove and get “jammy.” Controlled substances might make this stuff more agreeable if seven-minute guitar solos are not your thing. “ATW” is very loose and sprawling.
THE NITTY GRITTY: But there’s something to be said for this dreamy noise. Opening garage basher “Fishbelly 86 Onions” and the thrashing, rolling “1st vs. 2nd” display the band at its most visceral, with throbbing hunks of classic rock bringing us to our knees. Deeper, darker moments such as “Diamond” and “Harvest Feast” are based more in space rock and even the blues. Swirling keyboards beneath long stretches of guitar are made more jagged by a steady stream of peaks and valleys.
One could accuse this band of losing focus every now and then, but that comes with the territory. Progressive psyche is never succinct.
BUY IT?: Why not?
Jon Spencer — ‘Spencer Sings the Hits’
THE GOOD: Blues Explosion frontman Jon Spencer cranks out his solo debut (it only took about three decades).
THE BAD: “Sings the Hits” isn’t quite as crunchy or visceral as a Blues Explosion album, but it’s still great gobsmacking garbage.
THE NITTY GRITTY: This solo outing is close to Spencer’s work with his core outfit and, thankfully, isn’t any more or less polished. The guy plugs in his electric guitar, turns the amp up to 10, stumbles across a microphone, and rants and raves against all the musical fakes and indie darlings out there.
Of course, there aren’t any genuine “hits” in the traditional sense on this album; Spencer is much too spontaneous and uncontrollable for any of that charted nonsense. However, cuts such as “Do the Trash Can,” “Wilderness” and “I Got the Hits” pack a nasty punch. They’re all thunderous beats, distorted guitar riffs and Spencer preaching his unique version of rock ‘n’ roll. So crank this sucker and dance until you drop.
BUY IT?: Yep.
Bob Mould — ‘Sunshine Rock’
THE GOOD: Indie legend Bob Mould sees 60 in his near future but shows no signs of slowing down on his 13th solo record.
THE BAD: Not really.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Working with Superchunk’s current rhythm section, Mould embraces the power trio format and delivers some of his catchiest songs since the ’90s days with Sugar. Don’t be shocked. Even when the guy was redefining genres during the ’80s with Husker Du, he was always a bit of a pop wunderkind. It has to be loud, but it must possess a memorable melody, too.
Now “Sunshine Rock” comes with volume and hooks aplenty. Mould keeps matters tight and direct. Even the occasional bits of organ or string flourishes don’t detract from the basic power of “guitar, bass, drums.” An undeniable sense of optimism also permeates much of the album, with Mould refocusing his energies and embracing middle age. Yet, he still does that with more rock abandon than most kids a third his age. Amazing.
BUY IT?: Surely.
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