Johnny Manchild and the Poor Bastards - "Fake Me Out"
The Bastards are back with their second single from their new album, Rapture Waltz, that comes out March 22nd. “Fake Me Out” tells the story of living with bipolar disorder. The song features the return of the horn section and does a great job at balancing the alternative/punk sounds that JMPB is known for. The song feels like it’s fighting against itself. The fast paced piano pared with the more somber moments really make this song stand out from the rest of JMPB’s discography. Lyrically, the song is sound and gets off it’s message well. The song reaches a feverish pace before mellowing out. Overall, I really enjoyed this single and Rapture Waltz is starting to become my most anticipated album of the year.
- Logan Hurston
Tapir! - The Pilgrim, Their God and the King of My Decrepit Mountain
Over the past few years, fans of folk music have been rewarded with some of the most progressive and forward-thinking releases the genre has seen in decades. With the ascension of Big Thief and Sufjan Stevens, an incorporation of much more rock-oriented sounds has become the norm for many neo-folk subgenres, and its left us with countless great underground releases, spanning from big bands like Muriel and smaller, solo artists like Daneshevskaya (both of which I reviewed last year). Tapir! gears more towards fans of bigger bands, with the London 6-piece using a myriad of sounds and instruments foreign to most folk rock and pop. The Pilgrim, Their God and the King of My Decrepit Mountain is the debut album from the band, but the band shows masterful, veteran instincts in choosing to incorporate dense electronic ambiance and a range of brass instrumentations, giving each song its own triumphant crescendo. Tapir! doesn't shy away from traditional folk elements, however, particularly in the B-sides of the record. Skeletal acoustic guitar picking, hand-played percussion instruments, and whispered vocals have their place in almost every track. This album can speak to a wide range of listeners and fans of any genres is the rock, pop, and folk circles, as long as they aren't expecting Tapir! to adhere to just one. Be sure to keep an eye out for this record and the ones to follow; these guys are special.
Favorite Tracks: "Act 1 (The Pilgrim) ; "On A Grassy Knoll (We'll Bow Together)" ; Gymnopedie"
- Will Lewis
Odie Leigh - "No Doubt"
Rising folk artist Odie Leigh released her first single of 2024 last Thursday. “No Doubt” is wildly different from anything Leigh’s released before. Most of Leigh’s songs have dealt with heartbreak, rough relationships, and the pains of life. In “No Doubt,” Leigh sings about love in a positive light. She’s totally smitten over her new love interest and it show’s in the lyrics and tone. The production is also different than almost anything Leigh’s released before. Most of her songs are just guitar ballads, most of which could be recorded live. “No Doubt” features a horn section and overlapping vocals in the bridge. This new combo from Leigh does wonders as the song is a jam. It’s a perfect song for the Valentine’s season that’s fastly approaching.
The Smile - Wall Of Eyes
The Smile is back for their sophomore album after 2021’s A Light For Attracting People. For those who don’t know, The Smile is a group featuring Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood from Radiohead, along with drummer Tom Skinner from Sons of Kemet. The band keeps the same vibe as Radiohead in their later years on Wall Of Eyes. Many songs feel like the natural progression from Radiohead’s last album, A Moon Shaped Pool. The first two songs off the album, “Wall of Eyes” and “Teleharmonic,” are very somber in town and slowly build to a warm crescendo. The album really picks up pace on “Read The Room.” This song features a eerie repeating guitar riff and goes into a quieter bridge before bursting into chaos during the chorus. “Under the Pillow” also features another catchy guitar riff that the song is built off of. It keeps an upbeat pace until the end where the song goes into full distortion. “Friend of a Friend” is one of the big highlights of the album. A simple piano ballad where Yorke sings his nonsensical lyrics in an upbeat tone. Yorke does a nice vocal run throughout the song, before the song goes into distortion. In the second half of the song, The Smile includes a full orchestra for a masterful finale. “I Quit” sounds like the band played with the piano on “Friend of a Friend” and digitalized it to make a dystopian sound. The crown jewel of the album is the sprawling, 8-minute epic that is “Bending Epic.” The song is slow and somber. It features this back and forth pattern on a detuned guitar with Yorke’s vocals being as poignant as ever. The song builds to add a orchestral arrangement before reaching this terrifying climax where the band goes into full distortion and electronic madness. The song tells the story of a car crash, much like one of Radiohead’s biggest songs, “Airbag.” The album finishes with a beautiful finale in “You Know Me!” Yorke reaches the highest register of his vocal range for ankther somber, slower song. It’s uplifting and astral in tone and is a nice sendoff for the album. Overall, this album is phenomenal. It evokes a sense of paranoia and terror throughout while hitting the listener with these moments of absolute beauty. An absolute must listen.
Favorite tracks: “Bending Hectic” ; “Read The Room” ; “Under Our Pillows” ; “Friend of a Friend”