Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 5

Here we are, Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 5, and I am already having problems picking from the plethora of albums across the genres, and of course keeping them in realm of Beyond Your Radio article experiences.  Sure, I can add three or four or more on the video, which I always try to do as many as I possibly can (giving a fair review), but there’s a lot so far, that I feel would be cool articles!  This Saturday, I spread the wealth again, taking an interesting contemporary country-slow rock with a singer songwriter I’ve been familiar with over the years, and might be one of those you might be surprised I enjoy.  The second album took some work, let me tell you!  I wasn’t sure what I was in for when digesting this party’s offering, and after all, I WAS cordially invited to listen to the album.  How could I pass that up?!  Then that Twitter (X) musical discussion feed had an interesting band name (way to simple), and a brief post from one my fav’s on there, so I sliced me off a chunk of time to spread this one over my stereo.  Hope you like!  Oh, yes, it’s all women in the vocal here, and they definitely deserve your attention!

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski & Panelist DAHM discusses these (3) albums + adds three (3) more reviews at the end]

 

 

Sarah JaroszPolaroid Lovers

Sarah’s voice is effortless, enrapturing, and familiar, no matter what landscape of musicianship she tenders to be surrounded by.  In her past of alternative-folk, bluegrass and fiery Americana, she’s been a chameleon of sorts.  You will realize it right away (you probably heard her voice before — after all she’s won a few Grammys).  But, what you might not realize right away is that she’s floating warmly in jazz vocal style throughout contemporary musicianship, subtle country, and swaying soft rock.  This accomplishment puts her in some unique status with the likes of Jann Arden and Neko Case to name a few that come to mind immediately.

Polaroid Lovers is just one of those lovely albums that doesn’t have a solitary song flaw.  Unless, you might be taken aback by the bluegrass and alternative-country being heavily diffused into modern adult contemporary country-pop (this is not selling out, so listen)  These well crafted, intentfully arranged snapshots that feature all kinds of life capturing moments are ‘The Way It Is Now’ or at least for the song-writer that Sarah Jarosz has been maturing into (this album was co-written with Tashian, Jon Randall, Ruston Kelly, and Natalie Hemby).  This album has reflective commentary followed by beautiful areas where the artistry of the instruments gets to subtly shine, and this song is probably the best encapsulating example.  While I state, soft and subtle, the lyrics carry the weight of life’s hardships, sorrows, and uncertainty, as well as balancing and working it into moving forward, which is present not only in her voice, but in the strumming to picking of the guitar, mandolin, or other string devices.

If ‘Columbus & 89th’ is an actual place, which I’m sure it is, we have all been there in the longing we might have for it, or the memory of it.  This album and Sarah’s impeccable delivery is beckoning us to join her in that moment in our own lives — those places of significance in our own polaroid of love and life.  Polaroid Lovers is a wonderful singer-songwriter love letter to explore from the vocal, to the lyrics and into the depth and importance of instrument compositions and how they flow and lift the overall audio experience.  Again, this developed adult contemporary that pays close attention to the overall music experience in marvelous, inviting vocals and arrangements is neat experience that should be around at year end lists!  ‘Good At What I Do?’ (she asks) isn’t that something we all hope for validation somehow in — in all that we do?  To you, Ms. Jarosz, in the music multiverse, I can assure you that you certainly are, and this is outstanding proof for all to visit!

The Band

  • Sarah Jarosz – vocals, octave mandolin, acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo
  • Jeff Picker – bass guitar, fretless bass, upright bass
  • Fred Eltringham – drums, percussion
  • Tom Bukovac – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, organ
  • Rob McNelley – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, resonator guitar
  • Jon Randall – harmony vocals
  • Justin Schipper – pedal steel
  • Emmanuel Valdez -acoustic guitar, electric guitar

Polaroid Lovers Tracklisting

  1. Jealous Moon
  2. When the Lights Go Out
  3. Runaway Train
  4. The Way It Is Now
  5. Dying Ember
  6. Columbus & 89th
  7. Take the High Road
  8. Don’t Break Down on Me
  9. Days Can Turn Around
  10. Good at What I Do
  11. Mezcal and Lime

 

The Last Dinner PartyPrelude To Ecstasy

From the orchestra bounding in foreboding movie soundtrack fashion, we feel the level of cordial invitation and the anticipation of what’s to come.  So, we sit down, at the table surrounded by the music multiverse, with our headphones on, and it begins.  ‘Burn Alive’ starts and the vocal hits you, immediately identifiable in a PJ Harvey, Florence Welch alternative beauty and edgy harmonies, putting you on notice that ecstasy is many things.  And so it goes, and dinner is served!

Prelude to Ecstasy has a lot of intriguing, bombastic and harmonic moments, leaving your ears in a true ecstasy if you’re open to the unscripted opportunities of art pop, alternative rock, and orchestrated crescendos that can leave you absolutely breathless!  Oh, and this is definitely is giving the ‘Feminine Urge’ to you with lock stock and two smokin’ albums sides!  The vocals, while captivatingly surrounded by and ever-changing musician-landscape from tickling piano to orchestral booms, are truly the “ecstasy” to the ear that holds the covers barely on.  It’s seductive from start to finish, and as a male listener, I’m drawn in to their pleasure seeking palette, ears perked, excitingly awaiting the next level of song (voyeuristic – if I can find the audio term for it – hell yes).  It’s also lovely and tender, too, where it is intended to be (all-be-it brief in most cases), like in ‘On Your Side.’

You know, Indie Rock, for me sometimes gets a boring wrap in my ears.  Indie usually means independently produced and a somewhat stripped down approach to the overall rock album process, admittingly raw, and sometimes (at least in the United States) guided by that which some areas of the country believe the sound to be (at the time).  Prelude To Ecstasy has none of these elements that I sometimes get bogged down in.  The album is produced with intentful passion and equal determination to be and sound empowering, and the ladies involved from London are pinnacle-ists for what ‘indie’ should mean (at least to me), completely independent from what’s going on in music at the time!  ‘Gjuha’ to ‘Sinner’ is exactly that moment in this album!  It is nothing you heard or expect, yet comfortable and utterly played to perfection!  James Ellis Ford, who produced this record, has another glorious addition to his outstanding production resume of pleasure and pain conceptual masterpieces (Depeche Mode’s “Memento Mori,” Artic Monkey’s “The Car,” and of course the aforementioned, Florence and the Machine).  He understands the true meaning and glory of Indie-Rock and how to release it from its definition artist by artist, album by album.

The Last Dinner Party was the experience of the year from start to finish!  I’m stuffed, bloated, and tripping over every moment in my memory attempting to savor the moment!  Oh, thank God, it’s an album in actuality, and I can just put the needle on the record again, unbutton my pants and consume more (did that come out right?).  Don’t miss Prelude To Ecstasy — it’s killer, and these ladies are astoundingly good at serving it all up in glorious indulgence!  ‘Nothing Matters’ right now except you getting this in your ears and trying to outlast them…good fuckin’ luck!

The Band

  • Abigail Morris – lead vocals
  • Lizzie Mayland – vocals, guitar, flute
  • Emily Roberts – lead guitar, mandolin, flute, vocals
  • Georgia Davies – bass guitar, vocals
  • Aurora Nishevci – keyboards, organ, piano, synthesizer, vocal

Prelude To Ecstasy  Tracklisting

  1. Prelude To Ecstasy
  2. Burn Alive
  3.  Caesar on a TV Screen
  4. The Feminine Urge
  5. On Your Side
  6. Beautiful Boy
  7. Gjuha
  8. Sinner
  9. My Lady of Mercy
  10. Portrait of a Dead Girl
  11. Nothing Matters
  12. Mirror

 

Cheddar – Psyche

Ok, let’s immediately address the beloved band name, here.  There is nothing cheesy about this band or this album.  In fact, grab a glass of a the most decadent red blend you can afford, and allow this poorly named Spanish quintet to take you into the modern, moderate occult hard rock sound that is Psyche.  Yes, that’s right, the title track is merely an intro piece that has chirping birds, keyboard and the words of someone you believe to be speaking on behalf of the struggle of human nature and the on-coming evil (oh no!).  Then the progressive entry of acoustic guitar and the elegant entry of the note-worthy Clara Dorronsoro, and then bass, drum and electric guitar seeps in like shadows — and we are off — brilliantly off!  Riff and booming, soaring vocals rise and swallow the full opening track ‘Chrysalis I’ making sure the hook is set and our ears are locked.

Psyche is a melded album of progressive metal (without keyboard) meets occult style hard blues rock (hence the dueling and beguiling guitar work), allowing the tracks to fall into the next, creating a seamless music experience.  The ethereal vocal can belt, whisper and engage cleverly within the crushing riffs, or a surprising beefy bass line like that of ‘Le Mort,’ and challenge the captivating and often dark drumming that snarls at every inch.  You want to psychoanalyze this band?  Do you dare?  Careful with Cheddar.  By the time I’m into ‘Imago I,’ I am starting to become aware of how self-aware they truly are.  They have this band name for some reason, and I’m starting to think the unconscious idealized mental image of someone is exactly why.  Influencing a person’s behavior, well that’s exactly the feeling ripping through this record.  Cheddar — how enticing cheese is in its power and connection to so many things!  Oh Cheddar, so indulgent.  The faults of human nature!  And now, ‘Limerence’ is bellowing in my ears, all beautiful and progressively dark — yikes!  Look it up (okay I looked it up for you:  a state of infatuation or obsession with another person that involves an all-consuming passion and intrusive thoughts).  Set the headphones down and step slowly away from the Cheddar…

Oh, but it’s so damn good.  She sounds so beautiful!  The music is amazingly hard bluesy metal and calling to me again.  Those dark grooves, hypnotic vocal plays calling from the dangerous nature of musical conception to be played again and again!  It’s so simple.  It’s Cheddar.  I’ve never wanted anything so much.

I agree.  “Dive into Psyche: fear and wonder, a struggle against the shadow that lurks among the collective sum of our minds”  Yes, what they said.  It’s all that and a board of Cheddar.

The Band

  • Clara Dorronsoro – vocals
  • Daniel Bitrián – guitars
  • Pablo Cabornero – guitars
  • Miguel Alonso – bass
  • Javier Macho – drums

Psyche Tracklisting

  1. Psyche
  2. Chrysalis I
  3. Chrysalis II
  4. Le Mort
  5. Imago I
  6. Imago II
  7. Limerence
  8. Lua
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