Category: Music

MUSIC REVIEW | Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life (2017)

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Two blokes, eight songs, just over 30 minutes of music. That’s some incredible economy from Japandroids. But what’s more incredible is the punch packed by Near to the Wild Heart of Life. It never feels slight, rushed or in any way lacking. In this tight half hour of riffing guitars and thunderous drums, they find room for plenty of the Japandroids signature sweaty, break neck rock and roll in songs like the title track and No Known Drink or Drug.  They find room for soaring fist raisers like In a Body Like a Grave and the ode to their native Canada, North East South West. They even find room for a rare moment of more subdued ontrrospection in the synth heavy, seven and half minute epic Arc of Bar, which somehow actually sustains its full seven and a half minutes.


***2016 RECAP*** MUSIC REVIEW | The Drones – Feelin Kinda Free (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Liking this record almost feels you’ve passed some sort of test or initiation.”

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Who did The Drones make Feelin Kinda Free for? It’s dark, threatening, challenging and not interested in pandering to anyone. It’s also a kind of visceral, angry, unapologetic rock and roll that the world needs more of. The grit and growl goes beyond front man Gareth Liddiard’s voice, it permeates every note and beat of Feelin Kinda Free.


***2016 RECAP*** MUSIC REVIEW | Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I went into Coloring Book worried that I had built Chance the Rapper up too much in my head, based on too little.  Turns out, those hopes weren’t high enough.”

Chance 1.pngChance the Rapper is a dude who I have only ever seen and heard through guest verses on other people’s songs.  I like what he did with Kanye and I was a big fan of what he did with Action Bronson.  It’s because I like those little snippets of him so much, that I have been so lazy in getting around to his latest LP, Coloring Book.  I dug his guest spots so much, I was worried I’d have too high expectations of an entire album and come away disappointed.  But I’m a trooper, so I jumped in anyway.

The great mix of a vintage, jazz trumpet, with the signature Chance the Rapper weird yelps last upwards of five seconds before All We Got gives way to a flow so precise and natural, it goes beyond sounding written and rehearsed, and becomes more like it’s as much a part of his everyday life as breathing.  Then it’s time for some standard hip hop hubris on No Problem, opening with a threat to labels dumb enough not to take a chance on Chance.  But there’s a wink and sense of humour to his delivery that makes it sound a lot more endearing and self aware than your standard insecure rap braggery. (more…)

***2016 RECAP*** MUSIC REVIEW | Tegan and Sara – Love You to Death (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangeroius says: “Tegan and Sara continue to grow as song writers, making genre twists like this as intriguing as they are purely enjoyable. ”

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Tegan and Sara were never a pure indie rock band, but guitars played a major part in their work for a long, long time. With their pop tendencies becoming more obvious two records ago on Sainthood, then being pushed to their limit on 2013’s Heartthorb, that limit is now a distant spec of shattered debris in their rear view mirror with the unabashed synth pop of Love You to Death.


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***2016 RECAP*** MUSIC REVIEW | Drive-By Truckers – American Band (2016)

At the turn of the century, Drive-By Truckers released their double LP breakthrough opus, Southern Rock Opera. 15 years later, they’re back with a sequel of sorts in American Band.  While Rock Opera tackled the dark past of their southern homeland, from the Civil War to civil rights, their latest tightens much of the focus on time to the present day, while expand geographically to the entire United States.

From Black Lives Matter, to gun control, to border issues ad immigration, to the conservative right wing, to exposing the ignorance of a rose coloured nostalgia for the good old days, core song writers Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have exploited their southern rock, 60s soul and (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | The Old 97’s – Too Far to Care (1997)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “There’s ups, there’s downs, there’s snarky country, there’s unashamed emotion.  But most importantly, there’s some plenty of amazing, country infused, punk rock.”

I heard a single Old 97’s song about seven or eight years ago.  It was in an episode of Veronica Mars.  I loved it, and have had it my head ever since.  But for some reason, I never really sought that song, or the band, out any more than that in the years since.  But there’s something about that one song’s refusal to leave my head after all these years that gave me pretty high hopes as I pressed play on Too Far to Care.

Celtic drum beats at a break neck speed…  Rocking, riffing guitars blasting away from the get go…  Angsty lyrics kicking off with, “I got a time bomb, in my mind mom.  I hear it ticking but I don’t know why.”  Congratulations Old 97’s, you’ve cracked the code and figured out exactly how to make me love a band and album within five seconds. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | True Stories (1986)

“Who do you think lives there? Four-car garage. Hope, fear, excitement, satisfaction.”

David Byrne is one of those dudes who if I ever gave their career the attention it clearly deserves, I feel like I’d respect him more than I like him.  I have the first Talking Heads album, and I like it fine enough.  And I know their big hits because they still get played on commercial radio regularly today.  But there’s always been something a little too arty, a little too deliberately intellectual about David Byrne and Talking Heads for me to really dive in.  Weirdly enough, while that’s what turns me off when it comes to his music, they’re the exact same reasons I wanted to see what happens when David Byrne writes and directs a movie.  You get True Stories, that’s what happens.

A Narrator (Byrne) drives around a small Texas town in his bright red convertible as citizens prepare for the 150th anniversary celebrations of said town.  A boom is underway as more and more money is generated by the local microchip manufacturing plant.  And while the town is growing, it’s not growing in the best ways.  Miles and miles of desert are turned into miles and miles of suburbs.  Identical steel sheds cover the industrial landscape as things like efficiency and practicality outweigh beauty and tradition. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Whiskeytown – Strangers Almanac (1997)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “This is straight up country music balladry and heartbreak.”

I’m not sure when the genre of Alt-Country became a thing, but I know I first became aware of it in around the turn of the millennium, thanks to Ryan Adams.  He was an alternative radio favourite and every time I would hear one of his solo songs on the wireless, the jock would feel compelled to mention his old band, Whiskeytown.  I always liked Ryan Adams singles when I heard them, but never felt compelled to seek out entire albums until the last year or so.  And even then, my consumption has been casual at best.  But through bands and artists like Wilco, Drive-By Truckers and Jason Isbell, my appreciation for country, alt and traditional, has exploded over the last few years, which is why now felt like the perfect time to finally get into some Whiskeytown, with Strangers Almanac.

There’s nothing alt about the country of album opener Inn Town. This is straight up country music balladry and heartbreak.  Acoustic guitars, a mournful fiddle and vocal harmonies full of road worn sadness, it’s a great start, that leads into the perfectly juxtaposed up beat country optimism of the amazingly titled Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | The Jayhawks – Rainy Day Music (2000)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “When the song craft is at this kind of level, no one needs to reinvent the wheel.”
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Alt country is a genre of music I find myself liking, more often loving, every time I listen to a band or performer who falls under that heading.  Wilco, Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell (although, he tends to fall under the Americana umbrella these days), and his former band Drive-By Truckers (a combo of alt country and heavy southern rock).  When someone recently recommended I listen to The Jayhawks, it was the first I’d heard of them.  But now that I see they’ve been around since the mid 80s, and now that I’ve heard The Jayhawks with Rainy Day Music, I’m stoked to all of a sudden have 30 years of music to catch up on from some alt country pioneers.

The jangled guitars and slay bell infused hi-hat starts things in a great, vintage, 60s feel on Stumbling Through the Dar.k.  The light, sweetness of the vocal melody, reaching the occasional, impressive falsetto ads to that vibe.  It’s a great way to ease into an album, and the perfect setup for the alt-country, harmony filled Tailspin. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Hard Girls – A Thousand Surfaces (2014)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I only liked it more and more as each of it 40 minutes of simple but effective rock kicked and punched its way through my headphones.”

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The band; Hard Girls.  The album; A Thousand Surfaces.  My prior knowledge of who they are and what they do before listing; None.

A simple, driving riff that can be repeated ad nauseam is a great way to kick things off, and that’s exactly what Hard Girls deliver with The Quark.  Even better, when the vocals arrive, they deliver that same kind of simple, driving attitude.  It’s rock and roll at its most basic and most effective.  Things get a little more indie and angular on Sign of the Dune, but the chorus betrays just as much stripped back rock at the song’s core, for one minute and 43 seconds of unrelenting cool.

Slowing things down, the tempo is the only thing reduced on Die Slow.  There’s still just as much oomph and impact here, while not being quite as in your face as the opening quartet.  Onto Plan and Flying Dream, and A Thousand Surfaces is delivering a real Japandoids vibe.  These dudes know when they’re instruments and voices have done enough to get the job done, and they never layer anything superfluous crap on top to show how tricky they can be.  Hard Girls are kind of the anti-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, or anti-Radiohead. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism (2003)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I like every single song on here.  I just think it would take dozens of listens before I’d be able to tell them apart without the aid of a track listing.”

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There was time at the turn of the millennium when my music consumption had probably hit its most narrow.  Punk rock courtesy of Bad Religion, The Vandals and NOFX, ska thanks to Reel Big Fish, and throwbacks to my teenaged years of Pearl Jam, Primus and Aussie indies of the 90s would have represented pretty much the sum total of my listening.  I didn’t listen to any radio and I wasn’t interested in recommendations from anyone else.  This was also a time when indie rock was quietly being taken over by sensitive grandeur.  Bands like Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend.  Bands I never gave a chance until long after the rest of the world.  Bands like Death Cab for Cutie, with records like Transatlanticism.

Souring, crunching guitars, driving drums and strong but vulnerable vocals.  It’s a combination I associate with all of the above mentioned grandly sensitive bands, and it’s a combination in full effect on The New Year.  The vulnerability is cranked up and the volume lowered right down for the dreamy reflections of Lightness, before reaching its most sensitively grand on Expo ’86. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Randy Newman – Sail Away (1972)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Darkly funny, while never becoming a joke, I feel like it would be pretty easy to get lost in Newman’s words.”

I first became aware of Randy Newman when he was the mush mouthed, piano bar style singer behind that song from Toy Story that I think won an Oscar.  His voice is so unique and non traditional, it was kind of hard to believe years later when I began to realise that he had a legit career as a charting musician before he became the go to guy for cramming 100 minutes of Pixar sentimentality into three or four minutes of heart string yanking musical gold.  But he was a charting musician with actual hits, who recorded records like Sail Away.

Even with my almost non existent knowledge of Newman’s music, even I know that he’s notorious for his dry and sarcastic sense of humour.  And he delivers it in spades on the opening, titular track.  The music might be piano fuelled nostalgia, but the lyrics are darkly snarky and biting.  His viewpoint is immediately established with the album’s very first lines declaring, “In America you’ll get food to eat, won’t have to run through the jungle and scuff up your feet.  You’ll just sing about Jesus and drink wine all day, it’s great to be an American”. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Drive-By Truckers – American Band (2016)

At the turn of the century, Drive-By Truckers released their double LP breakthrough opus, Southern Rock Opera. 15 years later, they’re back with a sequel of sorts in American Band.  While Rock Opera tackled the dark past of their southern homeland, from the Civil War to civil rights, their latest tightens much of the focus on time to the present day, while expand geographically to the entire United States.

From Black Lives Matter, to gun control, to border issues ad immigration, to the conservative right wing, to exposing the ignorance of a rose coloured nostalgia for the good old days, core song writers Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have exploited their southern rock, 60s soul and (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Talking Heads – Talking Heads: 77 (1977)

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Talking Heads seem like one of those bands where it’s legally required that we all like them.  And whenever I hear a Talking Heads song, I do like it.  But I’ve never really listened to them in earnest, to find out why they’re so revered.  And I think it’s thatr universal reverence that has always kept me from diving righting.  I have a copy of Talking Heads: 77 on CD that I bought sometime around the turn of the millennium.  I bought it kind of out of obligation as a music fan, but I don’t remember ever actually putting it in a CD player.  I guess I never wanted to feel like a clueless idiot if I listened to it and didn’t immediately love it.  But to paraphrase Alan Partridge, it’s time to go balls out of the bath on this one, and 15 years after that purchase, I finally gave Talking Heads: 77 a spin.

What was I so worried about?  Uh-oh, Love Comes to Town and New Feeling are the perfect encapsulation of everything that was great about the nerdy, post punk sound of the late 70s.  Straight out of a weird musical, Tentative Decisions is bizarre, but kind of brilliantly so.  I can’t say I like it, but I also couldn’t stop listening to it intently. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Killing Joke – Killing Joke (1980)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I might not be able to nail down what they are, but I do know I liked it.  I really, really like it.”

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What kind of band is Killing Joke?  I had absolutely no idea, but their name is monumentally cool.  Which is why I listened to Killing Joke, and their monumentally coolly titled album, Killing Joke.

A metronomic, wasteland beat drives relentlessly on, a beyond distorted guitar begins to roar in the distance, dramatic, over serious, but just the perfect amount of over serious vocals deliver palpable portent, and Killing Joke announces its arrival auspiciously with the intense and propulsive Requiem.   But they get a little more to the point with the more traditional rock feel of Wardance.  Well, traditional until the Dalek vocals kick in. (more…)