Bob Dylan | Tempest
Dylan tugs on his roots with an album that alternates between epic country & western and marathon blues.
Bob Dylan’s voice is easy to hate these days — the man sounds like he has been dead for years — but he certainly knows how to make the best out of what he has.
“Tempest” sees Dylan returning to the C&W and blues songs that inspired his half-decade career with incredibly beautiful ballads and laments that sound all the more genuine and heartwrenching in his current vocal state of growls and croaks. The album’s high points are in the more country-influenced songs with corresponding low points in the more straightforward blues tunes.
This is one of Dylan’s darkest albums ever, with several songs reminiscent of the same allusion-heavy dystopian visions behind “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and “Desolation Row.” This album has some of Dylan’s best ballads ever, with multiple storylines reaching beyond the seven-minute mark.
For what it’s worth (to me, a lot) track two sounds like the most lyrically intricate Willie Nelson song ever.
Recommended If You Like: Leonard Cohen, Bill Callahan, Willie Nelson
By Sean Meehan
Cat Power | Sun
This girl rocks, yes she does.
Cat Power’s newest release is pure-grade badass. Full of infectious beats and toe tapping-inducing melodies, it’s no wonder Chan Marshall’s work here could be some of her best, considering she had not released an album of original material in six years.
After hearing these 50 minutes of incredible baselines, sunny piano riffs, spurts of electronica and crisp guitar, you will probably find yourself back for another listen.
Honest, poetic, angst-filled lyrics combined with Marshall’s sincere vocals are the commonality across the 11 tracks while each individual song recalls a story all its own.
The opener “Cherokee” encompasses all that could be associated with its name and fills every possible empty space with sound (there’s even a surprise bird caw).
But the one track that sums this album all up “Ruin” takes listeners on a journey across the world.
Cat Power misses not a single mark with “Sun.” Best listened on high, every individual sound comes together with such influential clarity, something that is hard to come by as a whole album these days. The heart-pounding backbeats, oomph-filled lyrics and sparkling accents are all mixed together with such soul. It’s hard to turn the volume down on this atmospheric analysis of real life.
RIYL: PJ Harvey, Feist, Fiona Apple, Tegan and Sara
By Molly Pfeffer
Dinosaur Jr. | I Bet On Sky
On their 10th studio album, Dinosaur Jr. offers more of the sounds their fans love while flirting with other genres.
Dinosaur Jr.’s “I Bet on Sky” is another installment of Dinosaur Jr.’s signature sound and a few steps in a new direction. The album is more polished than 2009’s “Farm,” but it certainly isn’t lacking in J Mascis’s fuzzily distorted, slacker guitar solos and distinct vocal style, both featured on nearly every track. The band does tread some new territory for a band with such an established sound.
“Recognition” almost sounds like a Strokes song at the start, and “Pierce The Morning Rain” borders on post-hardcore. Fans of the band will have plenty to enjoy, but this effort probably won’t win you over if you didn’t care for earlier Dinosaur Jr.
RIYL: Yuck, Japandroids, Ty Segall Band
By Cameron Stewart