June 19, 2018

Grieves – Running Wild – Rhymesayers

By Kristi Kates | Sept. 9, 2017

From Seattle hails Grieves, the double-threat rapper and producer who evolves in unique ways on each album. This time around, he’s working with Swedish producer Chords to add a more sleek, modern feel to his tracks, which are permeated with glossy synths and expressive horn sections. Lead singles “RX” and “Postcards” alternate Grieves’ soulful beats with more solemn commentary on mental health issues; guest apperances from Davey Jones and Paris Alexa add balance. ** ½

The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding – Atlantic
Band frontman, Adam Granduciel, and engineer Shawn Everett collaborated on TWOD’s latest, which offers both a little Philly street grit and otherworldly production. “Thinking of a Place,” with its precise interplay of harmonica and synths, is only one glimpse into how Granduciel constructs his tracks with slowly unwinding details as each song progresses. Half of the listening appeal in replaying tracks like “In Chains” and “Holding On” is to try and pick apart how he manages such remarkable complexity in just a few minutes’ time. ***

Hammock – Mysterium – HM
The Nashville guitar duo returns with a striking hour-long set (their eighth album since 2003) that is quite the in-depth listening experience. Every note is saturated with emotion, several with added contributions from different ears, including those of Interpol/ Jónsi cohort Peter Katis and European orchestra collaborator Roman Vinuesa. (The Budapest Art Choir also makes an appearance.) It’s an introspective and often serious set (dedicated to a lost nephew) with a lot of self-reflection themes running throughout. ***

Lukas Nelson - And Promise of the Real – Fantasy
Country music often casts a wide net over crossover genres, and Nelson makes the most of that fusion by combining his country roots with psychedelic surf-rock experiments. Recorded in one of Janis Joplin’s old houses in San Francisco, the set opens with the guitar-heavy “Set Me on a Cloud,” which showcases Nelson’s instrumental abilities. “Forget About George” shows his ability to set his life experiences to song, albeit through sometimes strident vocals. Yes, he’s Willie Nelson’s son, but he’s definitely on his own road (again). ** 1/2



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