I’ve been busy working on a series of long form pieces which subsequently trashed my intended bi-monthly “Heavy Rotation” posting schedule. Life being what it is, writing hours are fairly lean at times. The good hours that is – during the work week I’m pretty much worthless after 5pm, and the weekends only avail a handful of fresh morning hours. I realize I’m not crafting high art here, but I am trying to write with some focus and intention, and that takes time.
That being said, I’m always listening to music and seeking out new bands, so there is no shortage of things to share. In a recent dinnertime conversation I realized I average, between work and evening exercise, about fifty hours of music listening a week. I figure for someone my age that’s a respectable number of hours.
Below you’ll find some selections of what I’ve been listening to going back to January.
All Them Witches
Damn if I didn’t get into “All Them Witches” these past few months. I came across ATW a few years back but wasn’t taken by their first album so I didn’t pay attention to them. Then, around this time last year, Erin sent me the track “Bulls” and asked if I had ever heard of them. Oh man, that track totally grabbed me. We road-tripped to Moab that summer, and to McCall in the fall, and I listened to more of their discography. Great music – a combination of psyche-rock, rock, and blues. You get everything from instrumental jams to heavy shredders. I picked up most of their discography during a Bandcamp First Friday sale and have had them on constant repeat. I hope to see these guys play live one day. A handful of the many, many great tracks by this band below.
Came across “Thee Alcoholics” after being promoted on Bandcamp for their “Seven Inch” release. Fuzzy, chaotic, repetitive, with some serious Butthole Surfers vibes going on here. More the brain has blown a gasket cocaine/crystal meth psychotic break Butthole Surfers, than the I’m traipsin’ about enjoying the…whoa! there’s a cowboy eating a hot dog while riding a llama LSD hallucinatory Butthole Surfers.
“Thee Alcoholics” led me straight to “Pohl”. I’m not sure this band is around anymore, which would be a shame as I love the guitar sound and the overall energy. Rapid fire tempo, chugging, fuzzed guitars, all funneled into musical blasts that paint explosive streaks across my minds eye. I picked up everything they had on Bandcamp and have fingers crossed there will be something more down the road from this duo. Tagged as alternative, metal, stoner rock, doom, among others.
At one point in the past few months I revisited Alex Maas‘s solo release from 2020, “Luca”. This is a beautiful album, the music light and contemplative, even dream-like at times. The album contains some of the lighter classic psyche feels anyone familiar with Maas’s “The Black Angels” would recognize.
Hurray for the Riff Raff
I first heard “Hurray for the Riff Raff” this past winter when the track “Pa’lante” played during the closing credits of the mini-series “Sharp Objects“. I immediately liked the song and sought out more of their music. Admittedly, a lot of it is not for me. But shortly after combing through their discography their album “Life On Earth” was released.
While I don’t own this album, yet, I have been taken by it. This is the work of a talented and insightful musician, whom I’m sure has much more to give and to say to the world. I’m not heavily into eighties sounding synths, so some of that falls flat for me, but I liked the feel of the album overall. I doubt that’s helpful, but I’m not a music critic, and hopefully the selections below will give you an idea.
I know just about zero when it comes to Hans Zimmer, other than he’s scored a number of movies, a few of them that I happen to like. I’ve had a fixation with the movie “Interstellar” for a number of years now. I’ve probably watched the film close to fifteen times. It’s a film I never seem to grow tired of. Well, other than Michael Caine’s character constantly spouting, “Do not go gentle into that dark night…” to the point of irritation. Part of my enjoyment of the movie has always been the score. I picked that up recently and have had it on constant play. Obviously all music is a matter of taste and this is no different. I listen to this soundtrack and find it amazing. Erin, on the other hand, heard me listening to it one afternoon while I prepped for dinner and asked me, “What’s that funeral music you’re listening to?”. Ouch.
I’m not a classical music person, and I have little to no knowledge of it, nor do I really like much that I’ve heard. Maybe age is beginning to change that as I’ve found myself listening to more scores, or orchestral music, or classical music, or whatever the hell it is called, in the past few years. Mostly Phillip Glass, and now, Hans Zimmer. I’m sure any person well versed in classical music would find my selections below to be an outrage, but whatever. I like what I like, even if and when it’s corny. A few selections below, from the movie “Interstellar” and from “Gladiator”. Regarding “Gladiator”, I have to mention that parts of the soundtrack are irritating due some of the pieces having been interspersed with movie dialogue. It’s jarring to find your mind roaming in it’s own landscape, the music ushering that world along, and then suddenly Russel Crowe is declaring, “My name is Maxiumus Decimus Meridius…”. Wtf?
Mudvayne‘s first major album release, “L.D. 50” is one I come back to often. Even after hundreds of listens I still find this album exciting to listen to. That’s saying a lot, in my opinion, for an album that is over 20 years old. I’d put this in my top 5 metal albums of all time.
This is album has so many layers, and so many different musical inputs. Listening to the album you’ll hear metal, punk, jazz, death metal, and hip-hop influences. The album came out in 2000, well into the Nu Metal explosion. It has been slotted into that category, but I never felt like it fit. For me, it occupied a different space, one all of it’s own.
I didn’t take to this band on first listen. I was at a party and someone put on a track. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t seem anything special to me. Later, listening to the album in full, and then seeing them live at the Ozzfest in 2001 changed that. The album immediately fell into heavy rotation. I held high hopes for this band, and looked forward to its follow-up.
Then came the follow-up, “The End of All Things to Come”. While this album was met with overwhelming accolades, even achieving certified gold status, it fell flat for me. A complete let down. It was so overly produced it felt as if the music was coming from a vacuum. The songs were cheesy, the lyrics eliciting a shrug. That was it for me. Late last year I listened to their subsequent releases and it amounted to the same. But that’s okay, I still stick with L.D. 50.
While I’d love for Radiohead to put out a new release (6 years since “A Moon Shaped Pool”), I’ll happily take a release from Thom and Jonny’s new band The Smile. When The Smile released their first single “You Will Never Work in Television Again” it seemed they may be ushering in a return to a more guitar driven rock album the likes of “The Bends”. While the album is a mix of music and styles, it’s not that album. But, it’s still a great album.
“A Light for Attracting Attention” was released mid-May and I have had it in constant rotation since, each listen revealing more to me, digging it’s hooks in deeper. Some of my fav’s below.