Where did this spryness come from? As it is with all the pioneers of the Dunedin scene, you expect them to mellow out once they reach a certain age. But the Chills return in full form after close to 20 years with a propulsive confidence that gives an eye wink to their reverb-soaked contemporaries. Not that it’s a complete surprise—Martin Phillips has always had it in him to remold the Chills, and after sprinkling a few tracks here and there in the past few years it seems he’s finally concocted a formula that works. It’s a succinct rock song that curiously reminded of a less bombastic British Sea Power, which isn’t a bad thing, really. It’s also idiosyncratic enough to distinguish it as a Chills track, and that’s reason enough to believe that “America Says Hello” is a welcome return to the full-length album format.—JUAN EDGARDO RODRIGUEZ (8/10)
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Cindy Wasserman and Frank Lee Drennan, also known as Dead Rock West, recently put out the album It’s Everly Time!, a 13-song tribute to the Everly Brothers. Featuring an array of standards and underrated tracks, their latest single is their cover of the 1965 song “The Price of Love, which has been re-recorded live for their new video for the track.
The band might be led by its namesake, Brooklyn musician Chuck Stern, but anyone familiar with the underground/experimental/heavy music coming from the borough will see Stern as a supergroup. Partnering with Keith Abrams of Kayo Dot, Toby Driver of Kayo Dot and Vaura, and kayo Dot/Candiria collaborator Tim Byrnes, Stern has created a surreal hybrid of gothic rock, DC post-hardcore, progressive rock, and post-metal, with a strong Faith No More influence tossed in, and the end result is the extraordinary new album Bone Turquoise. If you want a good indication of how surreal and enthralling it is, you can’t do much better than “Your Level Best”, a weirdly gloomy track that slogs along like a dirge sung by a lunatic. Trust us on that one.
I’ve just loved everything about this week’s rollout of Josh Ritter’s new album Sermon on the Rocks. Though the last record had some strong moments, I could never quite get behind the whole “well-adjusted breakup album”-concept. So it’s fair to say “Getting Ready to Get Down” blew through my speakers like a breath of fresh air. I love the Ronstadt-influenced country-meets-new-wave production. I love the hurried verses and tangled Biblical illusions. I love the story about a woman’s defiance of small-minded religion. Hell, I even loved the stupid title of both the song and album. Ritter’s recent NPR interview about the album is equally exciting. In it he mentions that he recorded in New Orleans, that Trina Shoemaker (QOTSA, Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris) produces and Matt Barrick formerly of the Walkmen is on drums. Oh, and by the way, he’s apparently writing cowboy songs for Bob Weir! Josh Ritter sounds like a man personally and creatively refreshed and it’s got me feeling pretty sanguine about the prospects for the rest of Sermon on the Rocks.—JOHN M. TRYNESKI (9/10)