Down in Heaven
File next to: King Tuff, Deer Tick, Ty Segall
Chicago's Twin Peaks have always walked the fine line between keeping their garage-centered music relaxed and sloppy, and finding a focus that amounts to more than reliving the '70s. Their debut album was teenage amateurism, but even 2014's Wild Onion tried so hard to be freewheeling, it lacked much of a center of gravity. The band has taken an ideal direction for Down in Heaven: tighten up the musicianship, but apply a breezy, somewhat comical countrified air that brings to mind Camper Van Beethoven or Deer Tick. There may not be any song that leaps out at the listener with a potential riff of the year, but tracks like "Holding Roses" or "Walk to the One You Love" constitute ideal summer driving music. Twin Peaks' early efforts may have given few clues to this eventual aw-shucks style, but it fits the five-piece band like well-worn sneakers. — LW
File next to: Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream, David Bowie
Though he came to prominence initially as a member of art-rockers Roxy Music, Brian Eno's specialty has long been ambient music. The Ship is the latest example of Eno's exploration of ambience, and fans of his '70s work (Discreet Music, Music for Airports, etc.) will find it warmly familiar. Two lengthy pieces are followed by two works that adhere in length — if not structure — to pop conventions. They're deeply textured, fascinating, meditative and (almost by definition) static. Unexpectedly, some of the textures on "Fickle Sun (i)" could almost be termed aggressive. Prominent vocals give The Ship an emotional character that bridges the divide between ambient and conventional music; yet again, Eno demonstrates that electronic music need not be bloodless. — BK
Those Pretty Wrongs
Those Pretty Wrongs
File next to: Starling Electric, Teenage Fanclub, The Posies
Jody Stephens was the George Harrison of legendary Memphis power pop group Big Star. These days, Chris Bell and Alex Chilton get the lion's share of credit for the transcendent melodies the band served up on #1 Record and Radio City, while Stephens' contributions are too often overlooked. He's raised his profile via his involvement with the ongoing Big Star Third live project, but Stephens' new collaborative effort with Luther Russell should earn him well-deserved recognition for his current work. "Ordinary" sounds incredibly like a great lost cut off one of those first two Big Star records. Stephens' achingly vulnerable voice conveys bucket loads of emotion, and the jangle quotient is delightfully high throughout the album. Those Pretty Wrongs delivers winsome and tuneful pop of the highest order. — BK
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…