That Music Junkie is Back, and Album Overviews

Where has That Music Junkie Been?

It has been a minute since my Last Post, and I apologize for that. I took some time offer creative reasons, as well as to see to some major family issues that occurred. My head just wasn’t in the right place, and I didn’t want to write anything that my heart and head wasn’t 100% in.

I do want to talke a moment to thank my readers for baring with me through this brief hiatus, as well as to those who reached out to me during this time. I have some exciting things to share with you, and I’ll address that at the end of this article!

That being said, I think it’s high time I play catch up, don’t you? Here we go!

A Brief Overview of Some Fantastic Albums That Have Been Released This Year.

“Blueprint” by Alice Bag

The legendary Punk rock singer, author, musician, and activist is back with her third Solo album entitled “Blueprint.”

She pulls no punches with this album, and the message of Feminism is heard loud and clear. I think it’s absolutely brilliant, and she addresses major issues such as equal pay in the single “77.”

Alice Bag has been such an important figure for Feminism going all the way back to when she started out in the 70’s, and I honestly feel like her music is incredibly relevant, iconic, and again important.

I had the opportunity to see her live last year while I was still living in SoCal, and I was absolutely blown away.

“Eat the Elephant” by A Perfect Circle.

I know you guys were anxious for this one. Again, I apologize for the delay in talking about this much anticipated release.

Maynard James Keenan and company is back with this jazzy follow up to 2004’s “eMOTIVe.” 

You read that date correctly.

It has been a solid fourteen years since the last time the band released an album.  Keenan’s vocals are eerily soothing throughout most of the record, and the music has an obviously heavy jazz influence, but it works in the best way.

Then there’s the single “The Doomed” which is more along the lines of previous APC music. Unsettling album artwork aside, this album is definitely a major player in this year’s releases.

“Years” by Sarah Shook & The Disarmers.

I’m doing something I’ve never done on this site before: I’m going to talk about a Country album.

Now before I get all the “Country sucks,” “Ugh I hate Country music!” and other such comments, rest assured that there is a reason I picked this album. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers are more along the lines of the almost forgotten “Cowpunk,” subgenre of Country music.

Where a lot of modern day Country goes on about trucks, cold beer, and pandering to national pride, “Years” is a nitty gritty hard look at real life. Sarah Shook sings in her whiskey croon about alcoholism, infidelity, struggling relationships, and unhealthy coping mechanisms all in a way I honestly have never heard from a “Country” artist before. I say that with confidence as my mother is from Kentucky and I grew up hearing a lot of Country music.

The first song of her’s I ever heard was “The Bottle Never Lets Me Down” and I was so intrigued that I had to check out the whole album, which I pretty much immediately fell in love with.

“Bad Witch” by Nine Inch Nails.

The band’s ninth studio album is also their shortest one, clocking in at a mere 30 minutes. I know, it’s like OFF!’s “First Four EP’s.” 

What was suppose to be the final installment in a planned trilogy that includes 2016’s “Not the Actual Events” and 2017’s “Add Violence,” Trent Reznor and company decided to alter course as they felt the releases were “becoming predictable,” as Reznor said.

So instead of being the final part of a trilogy, they decided to rework it and release it as the official ninth album. It’s nothing like previous albums such as “The Downward Spiral” or even “With Teeth,” but it definitely holds it’s own as a NIN album, including the trippy single “God Break Down the Door”

“Primal Heart” by Kimbra. 

I want to start off by saying that I love Kimbra. She’s a fantastic vocalist, her music is always super enjoyable, and man do her songs get stuck in my head!

I know this is technically a “Pop” album, and I’ve expressed my feelings about the genre in a Previous Post, but baring her doing something ridiculous or completely changing who she is as an artist, I will always make an exception for Kimbra.

This album’s sound is all over the place in the best possible ways, from the pure hype of “Top fo the World” to the soulful “Recovery,” I genuinely enjoyed this record from start to finish. I’ve raved about Kimbra before, and you can read it Here.

“The Now Now” by Gorillaz

“Didn’t ‘Humanz’ just come out last year?” Yes, yes it did. But it seems like Gorillaz just had some more in them.

They took a brief hiatus after seminal “Demon Days” album, then came back with “Plastic Beach” five years later and have regularly released new music since. “The Now Now” opens with the catchy single “Humility” feat. George Benson, and continues on in the classic Gorillaz standard.

I actually enjoyed this album more than “Humanz,” which I though was a bit odd and abstract an album for the band. I also always get a kick out of people’s reaction when I tell them that Gorillaz creator and frontman Damon Albarn was also the lead singer for the 90’s Britpop band Blur.

“Rainer Fog” by Alice in Chains

The iconic Grunge band is back with this true-to-form album. Everything about it is fantastic and classic Alice in Chains. It’s heavy, crazy vocals, depressing at times, and man is it intense!

Jerry grew his hair back out, and the single “The One You Know” feels like it’s right from the band’s heyday. I have long counted Alice in Chains as one of my all time favorite bands, and “Rainer Fog” does not disappoint.

Honestly, I really can’t think of a bad album that they’ve ever released. From “Facelift” to the seminal “Dirt,” their live albums, and even their first album post- Layne Staley “Black Gives Way to Blue,” Alice in Chains has proven time and again that they’re a force to be reckoned with.

“Marauder” by Interpol.

Ok, I saved the best (to me) for last. NYC indie titans Interpol is my absolute favorite band, so you can imagine the hype I felt when they first began teasing this album.

Once they released the video for the single “The Rover” I swear I must have watched it at least a dozen times! I even got the “Indie Record Store Exclusive” cream colored vinyl when it came out.

It’s amazing how you can tell that with this album and the previous “El Pintor” Interpol entered a new phase with the way their music is written, yet it still retains that very established Interpol sound.

 

Honorable Mentions

There are a ton of albums that have come out this year, but unfortunately I neither have the time nor you the patience to go through them all. The above mentioned albums are all fantastic, and I wanted to make sure to mention “Love is Dead” by CHVRCHES, “Prequelle” by Ghost, “Petaluma” by This Wild Life, and of course the fantastic “Ordinary Corrupt Human Love” by Deafheaven. 

What Is To Come

Thank you so much for sticking around to the end of this article! I know it was a bit of a long one, but hey I had a lot to go over! I hope you enjoyed it, and would love to hear what some of your favorite albums that have been released so far this year are.

While I was away, I had been doing some planning for things I want to bring to you guys for this site. I relaunched my Store over on TeeSpring, and I’m planning out some new merchandise to post on there for you guys.

In addition to that, I’ve also been reworking my YouTube page and have a brand new show that I’ll be bringing to you! It’s going to be similar to shows like “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” over on FS1, but about music instead of sports. I’m really excited to show you guys, and I can’t wait until its live!

Thank you guys again for your patience and your support. It really means a lot to me, and I promise there won’t be such a long pause between posts again!

Review: “Be More Kind”

English Singer-Songwriter Frank Turner is back with this seventh studio album “Be More Kind.”

Let me start off by saying that I am a huge fan of Frank Turner. The man is a master songwriter!

I first heard Frank about five years ago when his album “Tape Deck Heart” came out. The hit single “Recovery”  was a free download single of the week off iTunes when they use to do that.

I was immediately hooked! My long time readers and viewers on YouTube know this already though as I went into that in THIS video.

“Be More Kind” opens with the wonderfully encouraging “Don’t Worry,” which sets the tone for the entire album. We hear Frank’s signature vocals and accompanying guitar serenading us and grabbing our attention.

“Be More Kind” was released on May 4, 2018 on Xtra Miles Recordings

The beautiful music in the song uplifts and accompanies the encouraging lyrics throughout the song perfectly, and honestly I was left speechless when I first heard it.

Next up is “1933,” in which Frank addresses our frustrations with the current political and social issues such as the idiotic “Alt Right” group, Nazi’s, and blatantly corrupt politicians.

The best aspect of this song is the line “Don’t go mistaking your house burning down for the dawn.” That, and he addresses how angry and disappointed the surviving WWII era veterans and citizens must be with what’s going on.

Track after track addresses our frustrations, but also offers  a solution on how to handle them.

 

All’s not anger though. The third song on the album, “Little Changes,” talks about what a big impact we all can have just by making little changes in our lives and attitudes.

Frank himself said this is actually his favorite song on the album, and it’s up there for me too.

The title track, “Be More Kind,” is a beautiful acoustic piece encouraging us to be just that, more kind. Let’s be more kind in our interactions with each other in person and online.

 “The best way to handle that kind of communication is to keep your manners,” Turner says. “Just kill with kindness. Remind the person that you’re not just an email on a website but a human on the other end.”

My favorite song on the album is “Make America Great Again,” which is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Trump’s campaign motto. Although unlike Trump and his supporters, Turner sings about how we can actually improve and restore the country.

 “Let’s make America great again,

By making racists ashamed again”

This is not a political website however, so we’ll not get into more of that right now. I did, however, write an article awhile back about music and politics that you can read Here.

2018 is churning out some amazing albums so far, and “Be More Kind” is another one that I’ve listened to in it’s entirety several times over.

 

Regardless of your musical tastes, be you a metalhead or hip-hop all day, I want to encourage you to listen to this album. I mean really listen to it. Contemplate Frank’s lyrics and consider their meaning.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! It’s easily one of the best albums of the year thus far. In my humble opinion at least.

Check out the video below to see me do an unboxing of the “Be More Kind” vinyl bundle!

New Shirt!

The official That Music Junkie logo shirt is here!

I teamed up with TeeSpring to bring you my first ever T-Shirt!

Show your support in style with this comfy black shirt sporting my official logo!

Logo Tee is available now through TeeSping!

You can get yours Here!

Post to Twitter and Instagram with #ThatMusicJunkie showing off your shirt! 

 

Don’t forget to take advantage of this Awesome Offer from That Music Junkie & Amazon!

 

Review: Sleep “The Sciences”

Stoner Rock juggernauts Sleep are back with “The Sciences.”

Two full decades has passed since San Jose legends Sleep released their last album “Jerusalem.” 

Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in. Almost the entirety of Generation Z was born since the last Sleep album!

Yet here we are in 2018 and not only do we have a new album, but we have an AMAZING new album.

I, like many others, regard the band’s 1992 release “Sleep’s Holy Mountain” as the seminal stoner rock album, and yet I feel “The Sciences” almost overshadows it!

“The Sciences” opens with an intense, 3 minute build-up song of the same name, and that kicks right into the heavy “Marijuanaut’s* Theme.” 

Each song leads seamlessly right into the next, and each one is crazier than the last!

Much like “Jerusalem” before it, “The Sciences” is only 6 songs long yet clocks in at almost an hour.

 

Heavy guitar work, crashing drums, and pounding baselines all accompany singer Al Cisneros imposing vocals perfectly in what is, perhaps, the best produced album of this year.

“The Sciences” was released on Jack White’s Third Man Records label, and has received raving reviews.  Not bad for a band that took a 20 year break!

“The Sciences” was released on April 20, 2018 on Third Man Records

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that this album will not only be remembered as one of the best this year, but I’d go as far as saying one of the best of the decade!

Only time will tell though, so we’ll see.

Check out “The Sciences”  for yourself and see what you think. It’s ab=vailable now.

*= Sleep, as with most of the bands win the “Stoner Rock” genre, utilizes a lot of cannabis imagery and references. 

* * * * * *

Want to check out this album before you buy it? Stream it and thousands of other songs with a free 30 Day trial of Amazon Music Unlimited!

Looking for a gift for the upcoming Graduation season, or maybe even Father’s Day? Be sure to check out my Previous Post for an amazing deal!

Review: “Evil Spirits”

Punk icons The Damned are back with “Evil Spirits”

“Evil Spirits” is the eleventh studio album released by UK Punk rockers The Damned .

Eleven albums! Let that sink in a moment. That’s a lot, especially from a punk band.

The Damned released their debut album “Damn Damn Damn” way back in 1977, and it featured hit tracks like “New Rose” and my personal favorite “Neat Neat Neat.”

Jump ahead a whopping 41 years to present day, and west the band not only still going strong, but putting out quality work to boot.

Though the lineup is a little different, the band’s sound remains true.

“Evil Spirits” features a classic noir-esque album artwork, and opens with “Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow,” which sounds like it would fit right in with a retro Sci-Fi show from the 1960’s.

“Evil Spirits” was released on April 13, 2018 on the Spinefarm Records label

Despite the off-putting band name and album title, it’s actually rather pleasant to listen to. Defiantly one you can play without your parents yelling at you to  “Turn off that racket! Dagnabbit, why I oughta!” (because in the scenario, your parents are from a 1950’s sitcom).

The Damned has always done away with the typical fast paced drive of traditional Punk in favor of more melodic and music overtones, and that really shines through on this album.

Songs like “We’re So Nice,” “Devil in Disguise,” and “Shadow Evocation” are prime examples of this. These songs feature great drum work, and even piano pieces.

Let’s not forget the fun songs like “Procrastination” that ring true to the Punk spirit.

The aspect of the album that really caught my attention is that it was produced by Tony Visconti. Visconti is an American Producer, Musician, and Singer who is best known for his work with the late, great David Bowie.

Visconti’s clean yet not over-produced touch really shows on this album.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this album. In fact, I’ve even listened through it a few times!

“Evil Spirits” was released on April 13th and is available for purchase in stores and online. 

Breaking Benjamin Brings Fire

Hard rock heavy hitters Breaking Benjamin are back with sixth studio album Ember.” 

Let’s be honest, we all knew this article was coming. “Ember” is here, so I won’t go into exposition, but instead will jump right in.

A few weeks ago I wrote a Post talking about Breaking Benjamin’s latest single entitled “Red Cold River,” and subsequently mentioned how excited I was to see new music from the band.

I had mentioned that BB has been one of my favorite Hard Rock bands, and that I’ve been a fan since day one.

Now that the album is finally here and I’ve listened to it a few times, I say this following statement with utmost sincerity:

I was not disappointed!

In fact, I enjoyed this album even more than their previous release “Dark Before Dawn.”

I honestly feel like Breaking Benjamin is one of the only genuine Hard Rock bands out there that actually puts time and effort into their releases.

The album opens with the foreboding piano piece “Lyra,” which leads seamlessly into the hard-hitting single “Feed the Wolf.” 

Lead singer and songwriter Ben Burnley has expertly composed a truly hard rock album without sacrificing melody.

Take the two mid album tracks “Psycho” and “Dark of You” for example.

While “Psycho” is the heavier piece and “Dark of You” is more sombre, both songs are emotional and beautifully melodic. You can really tell that Burnley poured everything he had into these songs.

It’s a rare occurrence that I’ll listen to a new release from beginning to end on an almost daily basis. I’ll of course do this when reviewing, but usually it’s reserved for my favorite albums.

That’s how impressed with “Ember” I am!

The album is lyrically sound throughout. Not once did I feel like a track was rushed or generic. It’s also on point musically too. Heavy guitars, pounding drums, thundering bass, and harmonizing vocals reign supreme throughout.

Will it become my favorite Breaking Benjamin album? I’m not sure yet. 2006’s “Phobia” holds that title. Only time will tell, right?

can already say, however, that “Ember” will be making my annual Top 10 Albums list at the end of the year!

“Ember” is available now, and you can get it right here through my Amazon link!

Ghost Release New…Everything!

 Metal act Ghost (also known as Ghost b.c.) premier new frontman persona, and release a new single with accompanying video.

Originally from Sweden, the ghoulishly masked Heavy Metal band has taken the States by swarm with their stage theatrics, devilish overtones, and eccentric frontman.

What’s interesting about the band is that with each album release they debut a “new” frontman. This is, of course, the same man behind the mask, just different personas.

While previous albums were fronted by the terrifying personas known as Papa Emeritus I, II, and III, this new album, entitled “Prequelle,” will be fronted by a persona named Cardinal Copia.

Papa Emeritus I, II, and III

 Ghost is a band that is known for their mystery as much as they are their presentation.

Each persona has had a different personality. The most recent, Papa Emeritus III, was known to be more active and “Flamboyant” in that there were many hip gyrations and wardrobe changes during his performances.

Ghost had kept fans guessing when during one performance Papa Emeritus III was suddenly dragged off stage by body guards, and the old and mysterious Papa Emeritus Nil hobbled on stage to announce the coming of what he called “The Dark Ages.”

The mysterious and ominous Papa Emeritus Nil (Zero)

Fast forward a few months, and the band releases their first live album entitled “Ceremony and Devotion.” (which is pretty decent live album if I do say so myself.)

All went quiet for another few months, then all of a sudden the band releases a two-part video series with the announcement fans have been waiting for: the new frontman.

Shortly after the release of the second part, Ghost announces a tour, a new album, and just today released the a new single and accompanying music video entitled “Rats.”

Ghost has also announced the Pre-Order of “Prequlle” is now available, and with a variety of bundle options.

“Rats” has a very 80’s feel both in sound and in appearance, and honestly it doesn’t really sound like Ghost to me.

I, however, won’t judge the whole album based solely off the single, and will remain optimistic.

I’m a big fan of Ghost, and I’m excited to hear their new stuff. I’ll also be pre-ordering there album to bring you guys another Unboxing Video, so stay tuned!

Soul Flowers of Titan Sees the Return of Legends

 American soul legends Barrence Whitfield & The Savages are back with “Soul Flowers of Titan.”

You know all those memes about searching for something online, and then seeing advertisements for that very thing on your social media?

That very thing happened to me, which introduced me to this album.

I was doing my usual perusal of record label websites for upcoming releases and news, as well as checking out some new music to review for you guys.

I then opened up my Instagram to check notifications, and saw an advertisement from a label called Bloodshot Records.

It caught my eye because of the record that was featured. It was a cool looking clear vinyl that came in a bright and colorful sleeve.

The link took me to Bloodshot Records’ website, and it turns out legendary R&B Soul act Barrence Whitfield and the Savages came out with a new album earlier this month.

“Soul Flowers of Titan” came out March 2, 2018 on Bloodshot Records

 

This piqued my interest, so I decided to listen to it. Now let me tell you, I was immediately impressed by this album, and I especially was drawn to the single “Let’s Go to Mars.”

It’s so cool and refreshing to hear that classic, soulful sound in the modern age of music.

 

Come to find out Barrance Whitfield & The Savages have been delivering that sound since 1984!

Now my long term readers will know I don’t usually talk about Blues music. It’s not for a dislike of the genre. I just have a history with it.

Where I grew up, all the bands were either Screamo kids, or a bunch of middle aged dudes who had a weekend band that played lazy Stevie Ray Vaughn covers.

So as a drummer, I didn’t have very many prospective outfits to join. That’s a story for another time though.

“Soul Flowers of Titan” is not only an enjoyable album to listen to, but it actually gave me a new interest in not only the band, but the genre and similar artists as well.

Titan refers to a moon that orbits the planet Saturn, which is usually associated with pain, suffering, and trials. So the album title is rather fitting for a Blues band, wouldn’t you say?

I’ve listened to the album a good amount of times now, and I can fairly say it’s one that doesn’t grow tiresome. It’s made me want to purchase that clear vinyl!

Plus, it’s always a good thing to support the artists!

You can check out the album for yourself through my Amazon Affiliate link here:

 

“Soul Flowers of Titan” may just appear on the list next time I do ANOTHER  recommendation post.