‘Odd Man Out’
10 songs, 19 minutes
We last visited Weapons of Choice with their 2014 release “The Only Truth . . .” The year 2016 finds these guys even faster, heavier and more hook-heavy than before.
On “Odd Man Out,” this band carries the irreverent flag of angst-punk garage rock and burns it to the ground in less than 20 minutes. The break-neck speed is not only fitting for the genre, but necessary to keep things from becoming redundant.
Not that it’s not all power-chord riffing and shouting on this one. “On The Couch,” in fact, even includes a refreshing little solo.
If you didn’t check out the music of these Pittsburgh punkers after our last review, go ahead and do that now. You can hear it at weaponsofchoice1.bandcamp.com or on Spotify.
‘The Serpent Only Lies’
10 songs, 46 minutes
Entertainment One U.S. (2016)
Kirk Windstein’s doom-inspired brainchild has never been the most popular band. But ask some veterans of the scene and they’ll confirm that Crowbar is certainly among the most respected.
On “The Serpent Only Lies,” Kirk and company serve up the kind of tunes that will have you grabbing your air guitar by the ever-lovin’ neck and bending those invisible drop-tuned strings like a boss. It’s par for the course for the “riff lord,” who’s done this kind of thing for nearly three decades in not only Crowbar, but also super-groups Down and Kingdom of Sorrow.
“Plasmic And Pure,” “Surviving The Abyss” and the title track are among the best on this release — and that’s high praise because this is yet another solid Crowbar album. This band is testament that, amid decades of changing trends and styles, good heavy metal can remain timeless and relevant.
Crowbar is touring Europe and America through the end of 2017. No Pennsylvania dates yet, but Morgantown, West Virginia, is only two hours away. Mark Dec. 7 on that calendar.
‘We’re All Gonna Die’
10 songs, 46 minutes
HUB Records (2016)
“We’re All Gonna Die” shows that Taylor Goldsmith and company continue to explore the outer reaches of sound.
This album couples the masterful songwriting of “All Your Favorite Bands” with an increasingly experimental delivery.
Songs such as “One Of Us” and “When the Tequila Runs Out” display a muted dance quality, while the title track and “Roll Tide” have more of the Zen-like feel of the band’s previous effort.
Part of Dawes’ charm is the way they take pop hooks and layer them with unpredictable combinations of instrumentation, including violin, slide guitar and clean piano. This results in pleasantly unpredictable albums.
If you appreciate the avante garde stylings of groups such as Beck, give Dawes a chance and see what you’ve been missing.
11 songs, 35 minutes
Records DK (2016)
Creep Newholland, Dave Buzard, Ernie Dirt and “Doc” Shoulders have a prescription for you: more up-tempo pop-punk.
This four-piece outfit from Pittsburgh doles out plenty of it on “Crushing Copper,” released earlier this year. The album tempers its angst and outrage with major scale-riffing and bright production quality.
Some of the better moments on this record come when the music speaks for itself. A good example is the solo on “Deep,” the album’s opening track.
Those who want to hear for themselves can sample at www.13saintsrock.com, or catch them live at venues across western Pennsylvania.
‘All That Matters’
Eight songs, 36 minutes
Crawdad Joe brings a little cajun heat to the local music scene.
With a full regimen of organ, harmonica and brass, this band delivers the goods on “All That Matters.” From the slyly executed “Blue Green You” to the sparse and soulful closer, “It Will Flow,” this album sizzles. The clever lead guitar lines help as well.
“Bringaround,” arguably the best of the bunch, has a hint of Dave Matthews Band. But that that’s just one of many different artists, genres and inspirations you can hear on this diverse effort.
This group has a show scheduled Oct. 8 at the Boulevard Grill in town. If you haven’t seen them yet, do yourself a favor and be there.
10 songs, 45 mins.
Anyone who’s seen HBO’s “True Detective” series knows that season one was far better than the second. But a highlight of season two was undoubtedly the music of Lera Lynn.
A singer and actress from Nashville, Lynn collaborated with music producer T Bone Burnett and Johnny Cash’s oldest daughter, Rosanne, on the soundtrack for the show. Though Lynn’s solo effort on “Resistor” is less haunting, it’s no less enjoyable.
What’s most enchanting about this release is the way she weaves minor and major scale melodies together, creating an atmosphere that’s both catchy and mysterious. Being a top-notch vocal talent helps as well.
To learn more about — and more importantly, hear more from — this very creative individual, visit leralynn.com.
5 minutes, 49 seconds
Nuclear Blast Entertainment
On 2014’s “Pale Communion,” Opeth went progressive and, if the band’s new single is any indication, the new album will be more retro.
“Sorceress” combines the grandiosity of King Crimson with the crunching stomp of Down and Phantom-of-the-Opera-gone-wrong stylings of Ghost. Its nearly six minutes, but feels like 60 seconds. The music moves, bends and morphs swiftly, and an attentive listener will really appreciate all the subtleties.
What has always been refreshing about Mikael Åkerfeldt, Opeth’s principal songwriter, is his disregard for rules — even his own.
“Sorceress” the single is available on Spotify now, but the full-length album won’t be released until later this month. That’s going to feel like a century for some of us, especially after hearing this title-track teaser.
‘Acid Crusher/Mount Swan’
Two songs, 34 minutes
Tee Pee Records (2016)
Earthless and Harsh Toke both believe in taking their good, sweet time with things.
What we have here is a split LP — two bands, one song a piece. Apparently all the cool kids (or cool record labels, anyway) are using these releases as a way to market two similar-sounding acts.
“Acid Crusher,” the Earthless track, puts off a fuzzy ‘70s vibe. There’s a seductive bass groove, lots of snare rolls and bright organ under distorted psychedelic guitar. The secondary percussion entries are a nice touch.
The Harsh Toke track takes a decidedly more ‘90s approach. Similar to how Sleep executed their infamous “Jerusalem” album, these guys bruise along with heavier-than-thou riffs. The track steadily picks up speed, then drops off again, adding a dynamic that’s both subtle and effective.
Overall, this LP is a highly recommended experience to anyone who appreciates long-form instrumental metal.
‘Death Thy Lover’
Four songs, 25 minutes
Napalm Records (2016)
Candlemass seems bent on proving that doom never dies.
On their newest EP, these longtime metalers do all the things that make this genre what it is: ominous riffs, epic solos and tales of the supernatural. It’s Dio-era Sabbath from Sweden.
Sure, by 2016 standards, it’s a little cheesy. But don’t tell that to the fans who’ve bought 15 million of their records over the past 30-plus years.
“Death Thy Lover” is a worthy addition to the Candlemass catalog by any standard. So be prepared to headbang like it’s 1989.
‘Into The Deep’ (Deluxe Edition)
14 songs, 59 minutes
Mascot Music Productions and
Publishing BV (2015)
No matter your music of choice, you’ve got to admit that Galactic hits a nice groove.
On “Into The Deep,” this New Orleans-based band employs a wide variety of guest vocalists and explores a diversity of sounds. Calling it a “roller-coaster ride” is cliche, so we’ll go with a “bipolar bayou bonanza.”
The title track features a soulful performance by Macy Gray and “77 Buck” is a horn-heavy space odyssey.
And “Dolla Diva” showcases a funky-fresh flow and an excellent duet by Maggie Koerner and David Shaw.
Galactic is scheduled to play a benefit for the Johnstown Free Medical Clinic on Friday, Aug. 26 downtown at Peoples Natural Gas Park. This is a talented and storied group of musicians you won’t want to miss — especially because they’re assisting a deserving organization.
‘EP’s And Singles’
14 songs, 27 minutes
Jack Sock Records (2015)
The Crooked Cobras kick it old school, and offer no apologies.
These Pittsburgh-based punkers play it in the style of bands such as Agnostic Front, carrying the torch of irreverent indignation. “EP’s And Singles” — titled ironically, since this style won’t be making any Top 40 lists in this universe — is a fast listen for fans of dissonant, up-tempo rock.
It’s clear that this group makes music for music’s sake. And there’s a lot to respect about that.
To hear these guys for yourself, visit https://crookedcobras.bandcamp.com.