White Ash Falls – Over The Night (Light Organ Records; 2013)
Having performed under several different monikers throughout his musical career, Vancouver folk sensation Andy Bishop released his latest album Over The Night, under the name White Ash Falls, on Nov. 5. His sophomore effort features 10 tunes, each filled with country twangs and soulful vocals.
Opener “Want It Bad” sets up the album as a soothing, yet upbeat, guitar-infused record, while “That List Is Too Long” sounds as if it were plucked from a ‘70s folk-rock festival lineup, with its subtle bluesy hints, reminiscent of roots-rock veterans, The Allman Brothers. On Over The Night, Bishop showcases his ability to seamlessly blend genres and proudly displays his versatility as a musician dabbling in country, blues, rock and folk. Regardless of what moniker he performs under, Bishop proves that a name does not make the man and lets his music speak for itself.
Trial Track: “That List Is Too Long”
– Jessica Romera
Melvins – Tres Cabrones (Ipecac;2013)
It can be difficult to continue making music as time goes by when a band bases a large portion of its music on its youthful angst and vigour. The Melvins came into prominence in the early ‘90s, in that post-Nirvana wave of grungy, punk-infused metal. The songs put forward in their newest album, Tres Cabrones, are similar to the songs that they were making 20 years ago, except that they are not as good as the classics.
The band does not play as fast as they once did, making the album sound like an LP spinning a tad too slowly, and the vocals sound rather worn. This is the group’s 22nd album and their second of 2013.
While it could possibly have benefited from some more time in production, perhaps old dogs simply cannot learn new tricks. This album is pure stagnation for the Melvins and those wishing to hear better tracks should pick up 1993’s Houdini.
Trial track: “Psycho-Delic Haze”
– Justinas Staskevicius
65daysofstatic – Wild Light (Superball Music; 2013)
The album opens with a warning: “Nobody knows what is happening. There is a lot of danger out there. OK?” As the Sheffield post-rock quartet begin their sixth album, this singular vocalized snippet conveys the journey on which the listener will embark. Channeling a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world, with moments of hopelessness, beauty and danger, Wild Light is 65daysofstatic’s most cinematic album. Bearing the influence of their recent work on the alternate soundtrack to the 1972 science-fiction film Silent Running, this is their most conceptual and coherent body of work to date.
Wild Light is a perfect balance of humanity and technology. Delicate piano melodies, percussion and the consistent use of guitar throughout, stand in contrasting harmony with the richly-layered synthesized bleakness that envelops the soundscape. Despite the album’s desolate themes, Wild Light showcases 65daysofstatic at their climax.
Trial Track: “Heat Death Infinity Splitter”
– Paul Traunero
Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (Aftermath, Shady, Interscope Records; 2013)
Eminem’s latest album manages to bring something new to the artist’s repertoire while simultaneously displaying shades of his golden days.The album starts off moderately with “Bad Guy,” followed by a short skit of Em running away from the police. Pretty bizarre, but the album then launches itself into oblivion over the next few tracks. “Rhyme or Reason” masterfully incorporates a sample of The Zombies’ “Time of the Season,” circa 1986.
“Rap God” is an all-you-can-eat Marshall Mathers buffet, a sampling of everything Eminem is still capable of, jumping all over the place in the process. “Love Game” is a goofy song featuring Kendrick Lamar — though not serious in tone it is definitely among the best on the album. This is by no means classic Slim Shady but it’s the next stage in Eminem’s evolution. A much needed mutation that corrected almost a decade of mistakes. And for that, it earns its place in your collection.
Trial Track: “”Rhyme or Reason”
– Alex Melki