I am getting into a bad habit of putting these monthly list articles off. I won’t be making the same mistake in March for reasons that you’ll soon see. But anyway, we all know the drill here. I can’t review everything, so here are some other releases from the month of February that I think are worth your time. As always any of these albums would be scored 3.5 or higher if formally reviewed.
AGAINST ALL LOGIC – 2017-2019–Nicolas Jaar returns once again with his house-centric Against All Logic side project. This time around the tracks are a little dirtier and less polished, but they’re actually better for it. I personally feel like the start of this album is a little weak, but it really picks up a few tracks in and stays good through to the end. If you’re into house music, don’t sleep on A.A.L.
BEACH BUNNY – HONEYMOON–While the band’s name and sound might suggest California, this band is actually from Chicago. Despite their Midwestern origins, they inject some much needed life into the world of west coast power pop. The album short, coming in at only 25 minutes, but it uses that short time to deliver some solid guitar driven indie pop.
BLACK ROYAL – FIREBRIDE–Apologies in advance for the album art. Last month I expressed my hope that 2020 would be a better year for slow metal than 2019. February has only strengthened my hope, and Black Royal played no small part in that. This is a sludgy death/doom band from Finland that bring the heavy with some pummeling and yet catchy riffs. They haven’t forgotten that death/doom can be a fun genre as well as a dark one.
DENZEL CURRY/KENNY BEATS – UNLOCKED–Denzel Curry continues to prove himself to be a perennially consistent rapper with his third great project in as many years. Kenny Beats does the same, continuing his trend of short, but potent albums starting with Vince Staples’ FM! and Rico Nasty’s Anger Management. Beats throws out some of his wildest and inventive beats and Curry rises to the challenge of complementing them with great lines and flows.
HMLTD – WEST OF EDEN–This debut album from experimental art-punk band HMLTD is a wild ride. Over the course of its 50 minutes you get elements of industrial, spaghetti western, surf, blues, cabaret, and electro-pop. Song structures range from bizarre to accessible. I feel like it tends to drag on in places and some of the decisions don’t fit well with others, but it’s a very promising debut otherwise.
JAMES TAYLOR – AMERICAN STANDARD–JT has brought us his 12th studio album and his first in five years. As the title indicates, this album consists of Taylor performing a selection of American standards in his familiar, laid-back, acoustic style. There are songs on here from Rogers and Hammerstein, Billie Holiday, and Henry Mancini among others. It’s slightly unfortunate that there are no originals, but familiar songs in a welcoming and familiar style is kind of nice to have in times like these.
LOWRIDER – REFRACTIONS–Yet another release that’s convinced me that 2020 will be a year for slow metal. Sweden’s Lowrider took their time with this one, releasing it 20 years after their debut, despite a semi-regular performing schedule. But good things come to those who wait. There’s some fine stoner rock to be heard here, and it’s probably the best of that specific vein of hard rock and metal I’ve heard so far this year.
SEPULTURA – QUADRA–Speeding things up in the metal department, we have the 15th album from the Brazilian thrash veterans. Well over 30 years into their career, Sepultura are still producing quality work. A big part of that is that Andreas Kisser is a thrash riffing machine! It kicks off strong and stays strong. The riffs hit hard and even the more groove metal tracks are tight.
TAME IMPALA – THE SLOW RUSH–Yes, yes, Tame Impala is a trendy thing right now, but you should believe the hype! Kevin Parker has crafted meticulous psychedelic sounds over the course of his discography, and while The Slow Rush pushes further into the realm of synthesized sounds, it’s no exception. I don’t know if it’ll be my favorite Tame Impala release, but it is an excellent one.