Good music is released all the time.
It’s something consistent, and has been since the advent of vinyl, tape, CD, mp3, and back to vinyl. As great as it is to have your “back-in-the-day” lament, in my world, the decade that produced the best music hasn’t happened yet.
The belief that no good music has been made since your high school days reveals a laziness reflected in a complete inability to turn on a computer. It’s easy to find good music – find a respectable source, listen, then buy. March saw great releases:
“Fast Moving Clouds,” Sarah Bethe Nelson. So far the sleeper hit of the year, it’s an indie rock, down-tempo mix of dreamy pop and electro folk. The San Francisco-based Nelson clearly has been influenced by ’60s pop and ’90s alternative reminiscent of Juliana Hatfield. While every song has some instrument standing out and matching her voice, she’s clearly growing as a songwriter. The obvious hooks and Doug Martsch influence gives way to some lyrical and instrumental depth.
“Little Neon Limelight,” Houndmouth. Already a contender for record of the year in numerous websites, Houndmouth is a quartet walking a line between indie rock and Burrito Brothers cosmic country. It’s a laid-back rock record with Southern groove and great male/female harmonies.
“Pure American Gum,” American Culture. American Culture is the new band led by Colorado’s Chris Adolph, rising out of the ashes of the now-defunct Bad Weather California.
This is a successful quest for power pop. Reverb and fuzz give way to the best of simple songwriting. It’s a breezy record for summer, the name and title track paying homage to classic American Culture and its music. Reminiscent of Cheap Trick songs that lyrically tap on nothing more than a good time, it reminds us of the importance of a mixed tape and slowing down enough to enjoy a simple record.
“Bad News Boys,” The King Khan & BBQ Show. It’s the first release between vocalist King Khan and multi-instrumentalist BBQ Show (aka Mark Sultan) since 2009 and continues their successful and raucous quest to meld classic doo-wop and punk.
At times both catchy and chaotic, it’s a hybrid of times when music reflected American innocence along with being loud and in-your-face with an element of danger. The duo clearly gives a big nod to music’s past from numerous decades and genres, carefully combining them and smashing them together to find its auditory result.
“The Ruffians Misfortune,” Ray Wylie Hubbard. Texas roots rocker Hubbard’s latest has lyrical roots on the fringe of outlaw country, with tales of degenerates and cheaters, cowboys, old drunks and Jesus.
Up-tempo rock songs and sinning ballads are real and relevant, but more importantly, it’s honest. It remains a shining example of what happens when American songwriters find beauty in the downtrodden and depressed.
Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu. Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager.