January 21, 2020

Bardo Pond – Volume 8 - Fire America

By Kristi Kates | Feb. 24, 2018

Philadelphia’s drone-jammers take another one of their Pink Floydian treks through sound on their latest set, 40 minutes of soundscapes that morph from track to track with nary a change in audio atmosphere. Was it the band’s intention to craft what’s essentially one long new-age tune? Regardless, that’s how this album comes across as it shifts from the flute-bedecked “Kailash” through the haunting “Power Children” to the album closer, “And I Will.” Consider this one a very long psychedelic jam session that never quite reaches its destination.** 

Ride – Tomorrow’s Shore – Wichita Recordings
This might only be a four-song EP from the English shoe-gazing indie pop outfit, but as a hint of things to come — it collects a few leftover studio tunes from the band’s recent reunion album, Weather Diaries — it indicates Ride has a lot more sharp songwriting on deck. The tracks here perfectly encapsulate what makes Ride so appealing to listen to; it has a skill for taking simple scenarios (love song “Catch You Dreaming,” space travel ode “Pulsar”) and transporting them audio-wise into something beautifully extra. *** 

Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts of the Great Highway – Rough Trade
The tunes of Sun Kil Moon, aka Mark Kozelek, aren’t necessarily for everybody: They aren’t always immediately accessible and often lean toward a dark point of view. Like its predecessors, this isn’t an album you’ll be cranking out of your car speakers on a sunny day. That said, Kozelek is a talented guitarist and is not shy about communicating his thoughts via lyric and his internal strife via his emotive vocals. Tracks like “Carry Me Ohio,” “Duk Koo Kim,” and “Si, Paloma” alternate between Nick Drake and Neil Young in audio ambiance, if you can handle the heavy. ** ½

Dashboard Confessional – Crooked Shadows – Fueled by Ramen
Leaning more toward the pop side of things than the emo side (the latter being where DC has been firmly rooted for the past umpteen years), this set is quite a switch production-wise from previous efforts. It’s also an interesting if not wholly effective way for the band to return after not releasing an album since 2009. If you’re new to the band, you’ll probably be just fine with catchy tracks like the energetic “We Fight,” the amiable “Heart Beat Here,” and the contemplative “Open My Eyes.” If you’re an old-school fan, the polish might take some getting used to. ** ½





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