The Beatles- Abbey Road 50th Anniversary
I fucking love the Beatles! Phew, it just feels great to finally get that out there, so you can take your punk rock guilt and shove it up your hairy ass because in my not so humble opinion Abbey Road remains one of the best records ever made. Actually scratch that hyperbole, it would’ve been the best record ever made if McCartney’s dalliance with Tin Pan Alley pandering (Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, Octopus’ Garden, You Never Give Me Your Money) was left off the record. Even with this pristine remastering and remixing job it still doesn’t make McCartney’s duds listenable 50 years on.
Fear not fans of the original mix as the subtle remix performed by George Martin’s son Giles actually delivers more punch than the original and online forum purists be damned as this will be the copy I reach for when I need to knock the cobwebs out with the definitive version of She’s So Heavy. Despite some obvious aforementioned clunkers marring this otherwise gorgeous slab of genius, Abbey Road is also the record that shows George “the quiet one” actually giving the two head honchos a good run for their money with Frank Sinatra’s favorite song Something and the glistening Here Comes The Sun. Although Giles Martin’s remix is not winning over any dyed in the wool, wet blanket fans who are letting the world know from the safety of their laptop keyboards the bonus disc of rarities is nothing short of a resounding revelation with versions of Sun King getting scooped off the cutting room floor and actually usurping it’s better known version. If you already have this it’s this second disc chock full of early takes that is really gonna put this on your shelf. If for some God forsaken reason you aren’t already gripping this classic piece of wax that helped shape the form of pop music ya better get down to your wax shack lickety split and shell out your dockets, you won’t regret it - just give Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and Octopus’ Garden a skip and you’re golden.
Chelsea Wolfe – Birth of Violence
As we enter October and we pull our collars a little further up our neck to combat a cruel howling wind and dead leaves are torn asunder from their branches it seems only fitting that the Queen of all things dark and gloomy would drop this masterpiece. Following up on 2017’s electronically driven Hiss Spun would be no easy task but instead of further forging down that road Wolfe returns to her dark psych folk roots and lets a minimal musical backdrop provide the soundtrack to her barbed words. Although Wolfe’s trademark signature has always been her sense of melancholy this record has this songwriter slinging her pearls with more emotional heft than ever here. The Wolfe induced chills are here in spades but it’s with a weathered whispered intimacy that she really cuts to the bone with surgical precision. The penultimate track American Darkness might be a good place to first get your feet wet for the uninitiated as this one track perfectly encapsulates what Birth of Violence is all about with slivers of light permeating all the colors of the dark. If you were fooled by Wolfe’s Goth get up and figured she was exclusively for the doom and gloom set you are doing yourself a great disservice as Birth of Violence is proving Wolfe is one of the best songwriters currently stomping the pines.
The High Dials – Primitive Feelings Part Two
(Hook and Prayer/Ray-On)
This local band of Anglophiles continue in their groovy U.K. baked grooves with some beats that will make gazing at their shoes almost impossible. If you remember bands like Soup Dragons and Stone Roses and other subterranean troglodytes who bubbled underneath the big Brit pop movement owned by bands like Pulp, Oasis etc.or even Brian Jonestown Massacre or Julian Cope then you are going to be on this like white on rice. There is a tsunami of blips, bleeps and other psychedelic treats floating around the relentless groove soup but instead of letting their sonic indulgences becoming formulaic fluff these Montreal psych lords know that a good song is really where they hang their hat. Look no further then the infectious propulsion of songs like Cold Shoulder moving with post psych German motoric precision. For pure pop perfection you can stick yer fangs into Work of Fiction, which is going to recall the better days coming out of the sunny environs of Bomp records and other bubblegum hustlers. If there was ever a record that should come with a tab of E tucked in its sleeve it’s this one. Now I just need to work my way backwards and get Volume One.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
(Bad Seed Ltd.)
Cave and his not so merry band of Bad Seeds settle into this massive 17th record, which is easily his most personal moment yet. His last outing, the truly stunning Skeleton Tree (2016) recorded shortly after the death of his son had Cave openly grieving while trying to reconnect with the world and Ghosteen definitely continues in a similar vein but actually burrows even deeper in his search for peace. This is probably Cave’s most narrative heavy and tender moment yet but instead of tub thumping or being maudlin he is able pull the listener in slowly by gently tugging at our sleeve. His hard fought vocal lines provide the stitching to the minimalist musical approach that refuses to step on toes while providing a perfect musical vessel for his amazing talent for vivid depiction. Musical movements are glacial as Cave’s tender and brutally honest lyrics soar beyond the palatial sky that easily holds us as passengers. Ethereal keyboards take up space in the upper range of the stereo picture perhaps as a nod to the title while letting his baritone delivery take up center stage. To receive all of Ghosteen’s rich rewards you must immerse yourself completely and surrender yourself to the sound and vision and most of all the feeling. This is far more than just merely being another record and listens like this don’t come along everyday. Definitely not for the faint of heart but for me this record easily gets my vote for record of the year.