Beard on a Bike
File next to: Television Personalities, Jonathan Richman, The La's
With a simple, straightforward DIY approach, this Glasgow group named after a Cass Elliot album makes winsome, unaffected pop. Their gentle vocal harmonies suggest fellow Scotsmen Teenage Fanclub with their distortion pedals taken away. Jangling guitars and swaying melodies populate this four-song EP. Leader Lawrence "Laz" McCluskey simultaneously pokes fun at pop music while taking it seriously enough to create unironic songs about golden afternoons and Saturday girls. Beard on a Bike doesn't rock as hard as the group's earlier efforts, and the four songs here don't offer a great deal of sonic variety, but they're exemplars of this particular style. If you love that classic Rickenbacker guitar sound wed to shimmering melodies, this EP has plenty to offer. — BK
File next to: Shonen Knife, The Boredoms, Fiery Furnaces
It's heartening to see a band as odd as Deerhoof assemble an impressive fan base over the course of 20 years, despite their clashing mixes of Japanese pop and noise-grunge. After glitzing up production for a live album recorded in Japan and released at the end of 2015, Deerhoof elected to switch extremes by recording minimalist songs in an office space in a New Mexico desert. The Magic is still far from The Ramones, but when Ed Rodriguez takes solo vocal duty, Deerhoof can almost sound punk. In most cases, however, the split vocals of Satomi Matsuzaki and Greg Saunier are up to their usual inscrutable strangeness, as on the opening track, "The Devil and His Anarchic Surrealist Retinue." Through it all, Deerhoof can be counted on to offer the unexpected, something they've been managing to do since 1994. — LW
Day of the Dead
File next to: The Grateful Dead, Pavement
The idea of members of The National curating a five-disc Grateful Dead tribute forces hardcore jam-band haters to consider the possibility of a less-than-painful experience. Day of the Dead turns out to be quite good, with indie stars ranging from Courtney Barnett to Anohni (the former Antony Hegarty) covering choice cuts by Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and company. Sure, there are misfires: Charles Bradley is stuck with an odd arrangement of "Cumberland Blues" from the accompanying Menahan Street Band. Yet, high standards are largely maintained over more than five hours of music. Disc 3, the "long jam" disc, is the most impressive, especially when Pavement's Stephen Malkmus kicks out a blistering "China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider" medley. Live tracks featuring Weir playing with Wilco and The National successfully close out this behemoth. — LW
This is awesome! Excited about the new music and adventures for his year!
Thanks so much!!!
Hah! Similarly, one, if famous, should not die in December, as all those who passed…