Adeline Hotel – Habits

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One of Half-Life Music’s favourites, Adeline Hotel, have released a new single and teased a forthcoming album. Regular visitors will remember that Adeline Hotel is the nom de musique of Dan Knishkowy. One of the signature features of the band is Dan’s voice. Fragile but not weak. Emotional but not emoting. The new single, ‘Habits’, features the best of Dan’s vocals swathed in a looping melody as well as a wonderfully swirly mix of guitars that sees out the end of the song. It’s a slight departure from some of the very introspective tunes on previous EPs and marks a real turning point in the development of the sound. If this is the refurbished Adeline Hotel, then it’s a place I want to stay. But ‘Habits’ is just one of the tracks on the new album. Away Together will be released on October 26. Having had the pleasure of a sneak preview, it’s well worth wishing the time away for. To tide us over, though, there’s ‘Habits’. “You drew pictures on your breath”, Dan sings. A beautiful image for a lovely song. And it’s by Adeline Hotel, one of Half-Life Music’s favourites. Find it over at Bandcamp.

Ovlov – Tru

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If you like your Dinosaurs Jr. and your Sebahs doed, then for sure you’ll want your Ovs loved. For the new album by Steve Hartlett and friends is a reminder of a time when white-guy, distortion-heavy guitar bands were the thing of the future. 20-30 years on, the future may now be well and truly a thing of the past, but Ovlov have carved out a special little place in time on their new record. For most of the album, Hartlett could be reading out the names and addresses in the Albuquerque phone book, so impenetrable are the lyrics. But that’s not the point. What matters is the sense, the mood, the groove. The melodies that lie just underneath the unrelenting fuzz of the guitars. The songs that emerge from the seeming quatermass of the sound. Like all the great albums from that previous era, this one is best heard at a distance and perhaps slightly stoned. It’s no jazz record after all. Though they’re sometimes best heard slightly stoned too. The point is that from first to last, Tru creates its own sense of time. A time that didn’t end 20-30 years ago. Time that’s worth taking to listen to Ovlov’s new album today.

In the scheme of things, some days are better than others. And this is a good day. Chan Marshall has announced a new album. It’s called Wanderer and it’s out in October. It’s been about 5 years since her last album. That’s a long time in any civilisation’s calendar. And there’s still some waiting to do, which is more than frustrating. But if the trailer is anything to go by, it’ll be well worth the wait. Personally, I can’t wait to hear that unique, amazing voice once again. Counting down the days.

The Rock*A*Teens – Sixth House

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There’s a comfort in the familiar, but the excitement is in the new. For sure, another Calexico album is always welcome. The variation is on the theme. Good as it might be, though, it can never match the tingle that comes with the first listen to a new artist. It’s the anticipation. The not knowing what’s coming next that’s so exciting. But it’s also something potentially momentary. There’s always the ‘difficult’ second album. And sometimes there’s the ‘difficult’ second track on the first album. In between those two extremes, though, lies the real sweet spot. The familiar that offers something new. It’s the radical reinventions of Dylan. The many bands of Neil Young. The shapeshifting sounds of Ryan Adams. With their new album, The Rock*A*Teens are pretty close to this sweet spot. Formed back in the mid-1990s, it’s comforting that they’re back. But this is their first new release since 2001. Plenty of time in which to reinvent themselves. The Rock*A*Teens were always an eclectic outfit. But gone is the thought of any psychedelic rockabilly. In its place, there’s a stream of wonderfully rolling even rollicking riffs. Like Cracker at their best, or The Drive By Truckers anytime. “Take a deep breath and blow the cobwebs away”, say The Rock*A*Teens. It’s the philosophy of a band that’s found the sweet spot between the familiar and the new. And it’s a wonderful place to be.

Snail Mail – Lush

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“Do you dream about the people that wrong you? Do you see those faces again and again?” Oh yes. Do you dream about the songs that speak to you. Do you hear those chords again and again. Sure do. Lindsay Jordan has released probably the best album of the year so far.

Soccer Mommy – Clean

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Soccer Mommy can sometimes sound a little like Snail Mail, but with a lot more swearing. “I don’t wanna be your fucking dog, That you drag around, A collar on my neck tied to a pole, Leave me in the freezing cold”. Sophie Allison has released pretty much the best album of the year so far.

Dream Wife

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Fresh out of art school, Dream Wife can sound even angrier than Soccer Mommy. And they know how to swear in both English and Icelandic. Doubleplusgood. Rakel Mjöll and friends have released maybe the best album of the year so far.

Jess Williamson – Cosmic Wink

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With a nod to a deeper consciousness that flows from the love of each other and humanity, Cosmic Wink is an antidote to some of the pervasive negativity of the age. So, no swearing. Jess Williamson has released arguably the best album of the year so far.

The Men – Drift

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To ensure some gender balance, it’s time for some token men. And who better than The Men. Drift is a gloriously eclectic album with far more hits than misses. In fairness, Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi may not have released the absolute best album of year so far, but it’s been on repeat for months. And that’s fine by me.

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Led Zeppelin are one of the world’s greatest bands. They wrote some of the best songs you’ll ever hear. They influenced thousands of musicians from heavy metal bands to hip-hop artists. They reconfigured the music industry, playing to giant stadiums and huge crowds. Their place in the history of rock and roll is forever guaranteed. But in 2018 should we stop listening to them?

2018 is #MeToo year. It’s the year when women are no longer afraid to speak out. The year when women are providing much of the political energy in the US. The year of the Irish abortion referendum. 2018 is the year of the woman.

Led Zeppelin are one of the world’s greatest bands, but many of their songs are also from a very different lyrical era. ‘The Lemon Song’, ‘Black Dog’, ‘Whole Lotta Love’. They’re hardly the songs of the year when woman are no longer afraid to speak out. So, in 2018 should we stop listening to them?

At what point do we decide to change our minds about a band? Matt Mondanile left Real Estate after allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Attitudes to Mark Kozelek changed after his comments about Laura Snapes. Kanye West has been ridiculed for his absurd claim that slavery was a choice.

To be absolutely clear, none of the members of Led Zeppelin has been accused of any such crimes, or even similar verbal transgressions! It’s wrong to compare some of their lyrics with anything that has happened in 2018. More than that. Those lyrics weren’t even out place in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Why should we judge them by the standards of our times? Sure, even Robert Plant seems to have distanced himself from his previous incarnation as a rock god.

But if Robert Plant has perhaps changed his mind, then maybe we have too. Much of this year’s musical energy has come from all-women bands like Dream Wife and female artists like Snail Mail. And someone like Kacey Musgraves has shown that it’s possible for a woman to challenge the masculinity of a whole music machine. Things seem different now.

In this context, maybe Led Zeppelin will simply become less relevant. Less referenced. Less sampled. Less listened to. Without passing judgment, maybe we will just move on.

So, should we stop listening to Led Zeppelin? No. But will we end up by not listening to them as much as before? Maybe.

Oh, and their songs about elves and fairies are a pretty tough ask now as well.

 

 

Mark Kozelek

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There’s nothing more thrilling than taking a sly peek inside a diary that someone has left lying around. Just a few furtive glances before they come back into the room. It gives you a glimpse into their innermost thoughts, their mind, their soul. It’s thrilling. There’s scarcely anything less exciting, though, than someone offering you their diary to read. The entries seem banal, humdrum, everyday. How could it be otherwise? Why would anyone let you read their diary if the entries were anything other than that? When Mark Kozelek started his new musical style around the time of Perils From The Sea with Jimmy LaValle, it was as if he had distractedly left his personal journal on the bedside table. Suddenly, we got the chance to get a brief glimpse inside his head. It was thrilling. Over the course of a few albums, we came to know his deepest feelings about his father, his girlfriend, his cat. It was so thrilling that even the expressions of boredom became somehow compelling. The long flights. The drudgery of touring. But then the experience changed. As album followed album in quick succession, what were once intimate insights seemed more like meaningless meanderings. The subjects remained the same, but the entries became banal, humdrum, everyday. The solution is to put the journal down and go listen to something else for a while. If that’s the context in which you find yourself putting on Mark Kozelek’s new album, then it’s a delight. Prettier sounding than some of his recent outings, it’s a window into his innermost thoughts, his mind, his soul. His dad’s still there. His girlfriend. His pets. He tells us what DVDs he watches and when. So, if you’re discovering Mark Kozelek’s new style for the first time, or if you’ve taken some time off and are coming back, then enjoy his new album. It’s thrilling.