Saturday, December 15, 2018

[NEWS] Neil Young + Crazy Horse to Release 'Ragged Glory II'

Read all about it here, or below:

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The 6 Most Honest Albums of 2018

Instead of listing out what I think are the "best" albums of 2018, I would rather narrow it down to the six most honest albums of the year, since that kind of music is what really interests me.

Hope you enjoy.


Amanda Shires, To The Sunset

We're often told to "let it go," or to "move on," as quickly as we can, and as far away as we can. But Shires tells stories that don't necessarily agree with those mantras. There are consequences for our actions, especially when it comes to love. "I said you're right, I'm not done with you yet," Shires sings on the opening "Parking Lot Pirouette."

Later, on "Leave it Alone":

Careful there, you're gettin' too close
What you think you're feelin' is crushin' at most
But I already know
I can't leave it alone

Has anyone described the lure of temptation so beautifully?

David Beeman, Music Epiphora

"Take all of it, I don't want anything you and I have made" Beeman sings on the opening "When I'm My Own One and Only." This is an absolutely beautiful and gut-wrenching album, filled with weird sounds that almost mask the heartache that Beeman sings of. A vulnerable masterpiece.

Meg Myers, Take Me To The Disco

There's a lot of things I could write about this relentless album, but perhaps Myers' bio describes the pain surrounding the twelve songs the best:

"Listening back to some of these songs made me realize what I was really writing about... what was underneath it all," continues Myers, who grew up in a Jehovah's Witness household before breaking free to pursue music in L.A. at the age of 19. "All of a sudden it all made sense to me and that moment of realization just overwhelmed me with a flood of tears and joy. On the surface, I thought I was writing about love loss but I've learned it goes much deeper than that. It's going back to the child in me that needed to be healed. I've always written from a true place, but in getting to know myself better, I'm now writing from an even deeper level of honesty."


Metric, Art of Doubt

"My life is on pause, it's out of my hands," Emily Haines sings on "Now or Never Now." Isn't it funny how someone else's decisions or actions can put your life on hold? I don't know if Haines is describing just that, but that's what it meant to me. The album closes with "No Lights on the Horizon," a song that touched me somewhere deep down in my soul, perhaps a place I didn't know existed. "I'm more than able to follow through / I'm just not for everyone / I might be just for you." Thank you.

Jeff Tweedy, WARM

This is an incredibly honest album from Tweedy, who, as you probably know, is the lead singer of Wilco. I don't know if he has written so poignantly in years. Take these lyrics from "From Far Away," for example:

If I die
Don't bury me
Rattle me down
Like an old machine
Take my books
And my magazines
My photographs
Of you and me
I won't need

That really moved me, as did every song on the album -- an album that clearly deals with death. The death that has already taken place, and the death on the horizon.

Brandi Carlile, By the Way, I Forgive You

I don't know what else to say about Carlile or this album. I've interviewed her a few times for this site, I've constantly praised her live performances ... there is literally nothing else I can tell you right this second (other than to go see her live as soon as possible). So, here is what I wrote about this album earlier this year:

Forgiveness has been a hot topic for, oh, I don't know, a thousand plus years. And music has a way of forcing us to remember the reason why we chose to forgive -- that's just the way it works. "Without you around, I've been doing just fine," Brandi Carlile sings on By The Way, I Forgive You, "except for anytime I hear that song." We forgive, but we seldom forget the things that tore us apart. And in doing so, sometimes, too, we remember the moments that brought us together.

This is probably the best album Carlile has ever released, but that shouldn't come as a surprise. The truth is, she has been writing and performing at an elite level for many years now, but with the way the music business works, certain circles of people will want you to believe that she is "taking it to the next level." Ignore all of that. This album is great because it represents a natural evolution of a supremely talented artist who has been releasing "next level" albums for some time. Recognition should not represent revelation.

"To remember what comes back, when you give away your love." That's what this album is about, and those are the words Carlile sings on "Most of All." She closes with "Party of One," a kind of song you don't hear often these days because it's not going to go viral, not going top any chart on Spotify. It's not going to immediately make someone a lot of money. But like forgiveness, over time, it will prove its worth.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The 35 "Best" (*UNRANKED*) Songs of 2018

You have your favorites, I have mine. I honestly don't care if a man or woman is singing.

Here are the 35 songs that moved me the most this year.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The 15 Best Sad Bastard Songs of 2018

Hello, Sad Bastards of the world!

Speakers in Code is back with its annual Sad Bastard playlist, and 2018 did not let us down. Some dark stuff here, and it's not all guy/gal with a guitar. These songs dig a little deeper. And if we say they're Sad Bastard songs, then dammit, they are!

Say it with me: LET'S GET SAD.

Pour a bourbon. Do whatever you need to do to press play.

This Sad Bastard's for you.

Monday, November 26, 2018

[FEATURE] Arkells Keep Their Eyes On the Prize In New Album Rally Cry

Photo by Matt Barnes

Arkells Keep Their Eyes On the Prize In New Album Rally Cry

Written by Elisa Regulski

It was a Tuesday night in Sheffield, and Arkells frontman Max Kerman felt the energy rushing from the crowd. Weeknight be damned. People were here for the party. Kerman soulfully wailed on his gospel-infused alt rock, and the crowd seemed to be drinking it up. As the Canadian rockers rounded out their set, they heard a strange roar rippling through the arena.

“You’re shit! You’re shit!”

“We’ve never gotten heckled that way before -- ever,” Kerman remembered. He was not totally sure why people would start doing that now, especially as the audience sang along to every chorus.

It wasn’t until after the show that Kerman realized what happened. “It turns out they were saying ‘Yorkshire,’” he laughed, “which is the area that Sheffield is in.”

Apparently, this is a common misconception.

“A bunch of people came up to me after the show and were like, ‘By the way, that was awesome. We were saying Yorkshire -- no worries,’” Kerman said.

There was no mistaking the enthusiasm at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival. The five-piece stopped in for a whirlwind set on October 13th and quickly jetted off to tour the rest of the country. Despite waking up at 3 am to catch a flight, Max Kerman was chipper enough to discuss their new album, Rally Cry, in the bustling media tent.

“We never try to repeat ourselves,” Kerman said. “The production is very focused. I like how sharp it is.”

Photo by Matt Barnes

Fans of Arkell’s earlier records Morning Report and High Noon will undoubtedly latch on to their latest release. The tracks are both raucous and easy-going, and it’s the perfect way to recover from the post-festival doldrums.

The focal point of Rally Cry sits with the effortlessly sing-able “People’s Champ.” The anthemic hook makes you want to punch the sky and shout at the top of your lungs. The straightforward “Relentless” is an instant bop, complete with perfectly percussive hand claps on the one and the three.

The real gem, however, is tucked away at the end of the album. In “Eyes On The Prize,” Arkells find a delicate balance between radio-friendly melodies and joyous shouting from the rafters. The familiar indie melody immediately slips into your bones, making you feel like you’ve heard this hit a thousand times. Then, like a screeching U-turn, the band takes you to church. The rollicking chorus drops as Anthony Carone plays a delicate trickle across the keys. Like light through stained glass, a choir of passionate voices shine in. When the song returns to its original chorus, it has morphed into something completely new.

“We’re not that precious about who we are and who we think we ought to present ourselves as,” Kerman said. “We’re more interested in being inspired by whatever is out there that grabs our ears.”