Adriane Pontecorvo: In a year marked by outrageous, over-the-top political tensions, both locally and globally, it’s beyond satisfying to watch a video centered on politicians that go from a rap battle to a full-on intergovernmental brawl, especially with such a strong song to back up the action. Nobody holds back here; Run the Jewels’ rapping takes hard, dirty swipes at Trump, your momma, and anyone else in the way while blues arpeggios evoke wild west showdowns and trumpets back up every dramatic moment. DJ Shadow’s electronic beats add an extra layer of cinematic thrill to the track, giving us the no-holds-barred musical catharsis we all deserve for sticking it out through 2016. [10/10]
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Caleb Klauder has been a singular force in the alt-country/string band scene in Portland, Oregon for many years with his influential band Foghorn Stringband as well as his storied solo career. Now, he is teaming with musical partner Reeb Willms, who he met back in 2009 at the National Old-Time Fiddle Contest, for a new album of 14 original songs, Innocent Road releasing September 30th, rooted deep in the world’s of bluegrass and country. The title tune “Innocent Road” is a super catchy, mandolin lead number with some jaunty riffs and gorgeous harmonies. Klauder and Willms meld together as a duo with the same naturalness as Chris and Morgane Stapleton.
Though losing none of the formidable gravitas of past Mouth albums, Path of Eight and “Fever Dream” in particular bear witness to a band that has always been restless and inventive. The piece brings in the deep, spacious sounds of classic progressive and space rock, then tempers them with the fearless and far-reaching sounds of post-rock or, if you prefer, post-metal. The brilliant guitar atmospheres created by Steve Brooks and John Lakes not only helps buoy the track from one place to another, it also helps redefine heaviness. The song never overstates its case or veers toward heavy rock clichés but instead channels its energies into create a full-on listening experience that leaves the listener impressed and eager to hear what will come next.
Adriane Pontecorvo: There must be a vault somewhere in Stockholm that holds all the secrets to pop music, because nobody puts together a catchy song quite like the Swedes do. Miike Snow’s latest single attests to this; “My Trigger” captivates and begs for a dozen successive listens. Every element is so polished that it’s hard to pick the key to this song, but for my money, nothing keeps the song both moving forward and adds some weight to it like those keys. Upbeat, skillful, and above all, entertaining, both aurally and visually. This is the perfect pop song. [10/10]
Co-founder of celebrated Americana band Sons of Fathers, Paul Cauthen left the group three years ago to focus on finding his true voice and building a solo career. Digging deep into the gospel music of his Texas youth, Cauthen‘s lead track from his new album, “My Gospel”, is a rousing statement of purpose that preaches of the need for love and the spiritual in this life, whatever form that might take. Cauthen’s voice on this track echoes a bit of Elvis with its deep tones, heavy vibrato and ability to move the listener. He connects right away with you, like Elvis, his voice rising to the heavens like it could move mountains.