September 19, 2020

Jonny Lang – Signs – IPT

By Kristi Kates | Sept. 16, 2017

Lang’s first album in four years blends his usual penchant for sharing personal experiences with some outside storytelling, all wrapped up in his distinctive guitar work and blues-pop singing approach. Produced by Lang with assistance from Drew Ramsey and singer Josh Kelley, the set is just as soulful as we’ve come to expect from Lang, especially on tracks like the dramatic “Last Man Standing” and the funky “What You’re Made Of.” “Wisdom” is another standout in an unusual way; it pulls Lang farther out from behind the safety zone of his guitar to better highlight the raw emotion of his vocals. ***

Trans Am – Trans Am – Thrill Jockey
Rev up your engines, Trans Am fans — the band’s landmark eponymous debut album has just returned in a revitalized version, and on vinyl (clear, nonetheless) for the very first time. This is where you can revisit the band’s early synthesis of ’80s-seasoned dark-funk and post-rock instrumental explorations, all encased in rigid arrangements, but don’t be surprised if you find this re-listen more tepid than you might expect; the band’s early work doesn’t hold up well, instead revealing how much it really did lack in complexity and maturity. * ½ 

Conveyor – No Future – Victory
Let it be said that Conveyor definitely does not let up on this collection of hardcore tracks. From the very start (“Dust”), the band is stuck on 95 mph, hurtling through each track with not only a sense of urgency but also a frantic need for speed — one often detrimental to the songs, which seem barely able to breathe or reveal themselves past their initial churning intros. “Whetstone” does benefit from the grounding tones of the lower bass riff, and the melody of “No Future” is almost distinctive enough to hold its own, but overall, the album is just too chaotic to stick. **

Cam Butler – Go Slow – BRO.H
Silver Ray bandmate Butler is a steadfast guitarist and composer in his own right, sending out a slew of his rough-hewn solo guitar and vocal tracks and elevating them with power-pop backgrounds of strings and percussion. This reissue of his landmark album, recorded in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia, features the songwriter backed with a symphonic string section on tracks like the authoritative “Brothers and Sisters”; the dark “Broken City,” rife with coiling guitar lines; the expectant tones of “Today, Troubles Seem Far Away,” and the epically contemplative “Shenandoah.” ***



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