Trailblazing a distinct chronological spate of significant releases coming out throughout June and July—including Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Far From Saints, Killer Mike, Queens of the Stone Age, Dominic Fike, and George Clanton—the mighty Foo Fighters are back. This time scathed. Dropping this past Friday 2nd June, But Here We Are counts as the alternative rock mainstays’s eleventh studio LP—their first since the untimely death of their longtime drummer Taylor Hawkins, early last year. The project comes orchestrated and arranged by returning production consigliere Greg Kurstin, whose royal pop knack and undeniable chemistry with the band made him an obvious choice for such a critical artistic statement in the group’s timeline, even after the mixed bag success collected in the wake of his work on both 2017’s Concrete and Gold as well as 2021’s Medicine at Midnight.

Unsurprisingly, and perhaps fittingly, frontman Dave Grohl traveled back to handling percussive duties on the whole record, marking his first official drum credit on a Foos album in almost twenty years. Not only that, the stickman-turned-ringleader also saw fit to lace a familial spin into the recording process for the first time, inviting his 17-year-old daughter Violet to sing prominent background vocals on the hazy, hollow, and dreamy “Show Me How“—the formidable third single in the lead up to the full album. Unveiled a mere seven days before the entire collection of songs, the track eerily journeys through plateaus of both reverb canvasses and gnarly distorted licks alike, before unboxing an unexpected sense of finality woven into the narrator’s bounce-back arc: “I’ll take care of everything / I’ll take care of everything from now on“.

In the album’s relatively packed and crammed promo roll out, said slow tempo number was preceded initially by the stark and stoic lead single “Rescued” (released on 19th April), as well as the gold-striking throwback grunge belter “Under You” around a month later. Both cuts carry a musical ethos that translates as an earnest return to form for the Seattle-gestated band. Raw and unfiltered aches of grief bleed through the somewhat low-fidelity taped instrumentation on the former, only to be snapped out of their emotional stalemate by two robust sets of verses with lots and lots of teeth (“It came in a flash, it came outta nowhere / It happened so fast, and then it was over; I fell in a trap, my hеart’s getting colder / It’s coming on fast, it’s over my shouldеr“). Conversely, But Here We Are‘s sophomore single triumphs in its catchy, anthemic, and heavily Hüsker Dü-indebted refrain, all the while lodging slews of nostalgic sonic moods that were first successfully forayed into as part of Dave’s inspired first three album run (1995-1999).

Hardly earning enough grandfathered rights to be considered an official single, the RCA Records-affiliates released a final teaser a few days before the arrival of the full length in the form of the 10-minute epic fever dream “The Teacher“. Sequenced as the album’s penultimate cut, before the unplugged, jagged, and forlorn coda “Rest“, the song unfolds and crumbles before the listener’s ears by way of proxying obsessive and thick stanzas atop of an unhinged baseline jam impetus, the latter ultimately binding the whole herculean effort together. It’s indulgent, inconclusive, and far from the most memorable moment on this thing—once again, definitely not single material. Yet this exploit’s biggest merit, standing as the Foo Fighters’ longest recorded track to date, is to allegorize the loose and unconstrained ethos that served as the album’s through line on here, whilst its constituent human parts rebuilt themselves amidst junctures of grief and mourning.

Aside from the aforementioned first two promo cuts, the record’s side A sports quite a lot more to write home about. At number three on the tracklist is “Hearing Voices“, a groovier and more contemplative affair wholly anchored by Grohl’s helpless cries, lamenting whatever part of letting go of someone who’s no longer there somehow still involves unfulfilled promises—in all likelihood reaching for a hybridized and spiritualized pastiche version of both Hawkins and his late mother Virginia (who passed away mere months after the drummer last year): “I’ve seen you in the moon / I wish that you were here / You promised me your words / A whisper in my ear / Every night I tell myself nothing like you could last forever“. The album title track follows suit, with its impervious and claustrophobic gain six-string riffs, pummeling a sense of utter paranoia and unsettlement into the track’s otherwise conventional late Foo Fighters formula. Dave Grohl’s soaring vocals reach husky heights rarely heard on a deep cut before, especially with such a quasi-psychedelic drawl, spookily adding to the tune’s disorienting sentence.

Wrapping up side A is perhaps the poppiest and most sanitized cut on the whole thing: “The Glass“. Flexing evident Concrete and Gold muscles on the peppy beat and flow front (cue “The Sky Is A Neighborhood“), the song does stick out a little bit like a sterilized thumb amidst the sea of musical roughness and lyrical rawness found elsewhere on the project. Don’t get it twisted, it’s far from the worst thing the Foos have ever put out, but the sensation it would’ve felt much more at home on any of their previous two LPs is one to not be easily shaken off—even after repeated listens. But Here We Are‘s flip side picks up strong again with “Nothing at All“, a Frankenstein’d power pop voyage starting off all but approachable and sticky, before completely transforming into an abrasive and savage chorus wave wholly obliterating the previously collected brownie points with casual listeners.

The aforementioned gorgeous ballad “Show Me How” follows on the tracklist at number seven, before deep feels continue to run at full steam thanks to the subsequent “Beyond Me“; an austere and truthful slice of emotional rock and roll, doubling as perhaps the most beautiful track on the record. “If it all just went away / Would you be kind? / Would you be so kind?; Are you well? / I can’t tell / Do tell / Do tell“, asks the former Nirvana percussionist, in a custom and manner that is so believable it hurts. “The Teacher” and “Rest” end the 48-minute runtime listening experience on a somewhat weaker note, although not less honest or compelling. More in particular, the latter cut’s second half suddenly photosynthesizes into a haunting and unsettling wall of distorted sound around the 2:40 mark, moonlighting as the farewell sendoff to this album’s dedicated dearly departed, and anyone else in the listeners’ minds for that matter: “Rest, you can rest now / Rest, you will be safe now“.

Safe to say with But Here We Are the Foo Fighters have made their best set of cohesive songs since Wasting Light. More than a decade and a pandemic later, and one core member down, they attested once again that resilience and defiance are two key ingredients in their raison d’être, whether they like it or not. If nothing else, they both have proven to be powering some of their best and most existential songwriting. With a set of ten new songs under their belts, and after having put to rest most rumors around seeking closure in order to move past their recent hardships by announcing celebrity session drummer Josh Freese (of Devo, Guns N’ Roses, and Nine Inch Nails fame) as Hawkins replacement, Dave, Nate, Pat, Chris, and Rami finally seem ready to move on and go back to being the biggest arena rock band on the planet. To do the easy part, in other words.

We’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and we hope to feel your interest again next time.




2023, Roswell Records



Standalone singles killed the album star. If it weren’t for a grieving Foo Fighters—now sans late drummer Taylor Hawkins—fitting to the standard industry mould with their lead single-and-LP announcement combo (“Rescued“, teasing the release of their eleventh studio album But Here We Are next month), one would be fooled to think better of the notion that focus tracks need to exist as part of a far-sighted project roll out. Thus, by way of rounding up a batch of recently unveiled solo records, here we dare put forward a non-definitive reflection around the seemingly dissipated importance to lend a monetizable roadmap to new music.

Beginning chronologically and alphabetically with vaporwave heavyweight George Clanton. Nearly cracking under the pressure to follow up his spotless and watertight Slide record from 2018, the 100% Electronica label founder unveiled his latest smash hit single “I Been Young” early last month—only to not be accompanied by an official announcement about a potential full length container. Sure, while it is true that the 35-year old electronic musician has been all but half-jokingly teasing his newest project on social media since his incandescent Nick Hexum collaboration, given his humorous and self-deprecating ethos it’s hard to gauge how founded that pipeline might actually be.

Lest we get it twisted here: prioritizing autonomous singles is nothing inherently new and unchartered. Over the past decade, the complete digitization and platformization of music consumption has made it so that its industry specifics design a clear incentivization scheme benefitting the ‘waterfall’ release of smaller projects (read: singles) over full bodies of work. Partly due to the major music services’s editorial playlisting leitmotivs, partly pushed by the opportunity of creating more ‘release events’ by staggering smaller drops over time, artists and labels alike have not been shy to tap into the predicament headfirst. Whether pundits mess with it or not—such tidal wave is not to be stopped and rather ubiquitous today.

Interestingly enough, instead of selling out to such rabid cheat code demands of the modern streaming economy, Clanton saw fit to take a somewhat different homegrown path, by creating a subscription-like community around 100% Electronica. He then elevated the concept to a whole new level with 100% ElectroniCON in 2019, effectively the first vaporwave music festival in the world. As the planet deranged and all live entertainment ground to a halt, he kept it going through so-called Virtual Utopia gigs, as well as by establishing a weekly VR talk show, THE BIG STREAM. Clearly, an adapted approach to a changing paradigm in the machinery—yet, still no unequivocal announcement to anticipate a next record. Here’s to hoping a Slide follow up does in fact materialize, for “I Been Young” sounds just as dreamy, hazy, and sticky as anything on it. Alas, it is also not exactly the type of material that would sit naturally next to “Fucking Up My Life” (his other standalone drop) on an LP’s tracklist.

This specific sample of latest releases seems to be doubling as something akin to a final straw. Especially on account of the fact that these artists have historically made it a point to curate and elevate full album experiences in their discographies. Let’s take 28-year old Brooklyn, NY MC Joey Bada$$ as further exhibit. His newest R&B-infused joint “Fallin’” quickly followed on the coattails of last year’s brilliant 2000, the highly anticipated spiritual successor to his groundbreaking debut mixtape 1999 (2012). With a street date of 7th April, and featuring production from Powers Pleasant, DJ Khalil, Chuck Strangers, Adam Pallin, and McClenney, the 4:30 minutes-crooner finds the Pro Era founder coasting through a butter-smooth neo-soul canvas for the song’s greasy first-half, before switching gears into sets of convinced and stern 16s that all bring out his spitting prowess on the backend—just in case anyone needed reminding.

The record is a welcome change of pace for the up and coming thespian, who flexes both singing and compositional proficiency on a cut that would have admittedly felt a tad out of place on his jazz rap-indebted third studio LP last year. Most suspiciously though, it’s the lack of cliffhanging substance attached to the headline drop, leaving fans with little to nothing to look for forward to musically past this point. For at this time it is wholly unclear whether “Fallin'” is to lead up to a new sizable project from the progressive rapper, or if it’s to exist as an isolated statement à la his impeccable and faithful Mos Def cover “UMI Says“, performed live for Australia triple j‘s storied Like A Version series at the turn of the new year.

Meanwhile, just mere days ago on 27th April, it was high time for the welcome and highly anticipated return of New Jersey alt rockers The Gaslight Anthem. Their newest track “Positive Charge” represents the first taste of original music after their seven-year indefinite hiatus—and since their lukewarm 2014 fifth studio LP Get Hurt—thanks to frontman Brian Fallon getting them back together to much fan acclaim last year after a successful solo stint. Ever the quintessential album-oriented group, their fans had however hoped their comeback single would be splashed together with a more robust dispatch, hopefully revealing details around their long-awaiting next studio project; tough luck for them too.

Musically, the song plugs straight into Brian Fallon, Alex Rosamilia, Alex Levine, and Benny Horowitz’s trademark punk-indebted heartland aesthetic. Dirty, distorted, ragged, yet undercut by a melodic emotionality that affords them certain of liberties to structure their tune around pop tropes. Thing is: no album release date as of yet. Granted, The Gaslight Anthem are the type of salt of the earth band from whom it would be outright unthinkable to not imagine a full album transpiring from a singles release cycle, especially when it’s a long-anticipated reunion one. What’s particularly uneasy here though is the complete lack of LP forethought in burning such comeback card, unlike say the aforementioned Foo Fighters—a band most people would likely claim The Gaslight Anthem are cut from a similar clot of.

Much like “Positive Charge”, the final record scrutinized today comes courtesy of distribution from Sony Music-owned Thirty Tigers, and marks the surprise-release of a new loose joint called “SentRock” by legendary Chicago lyricist Lupe Fiasco. Named after fellow Chi-towner and visual artist SentRock—real name Joe Perez—the tune is being dished out as part of a cross-media collaboration that resulted in limited-edition autographed prints of his A Westside Bird’s Eye View painting, doubling as its front cover. The abstract and jolty single is the MIT visiting professor‘s first taste of new music since his watertight Drill Music in Zion project last year, and yes, you guessed it right: no indication has hitherto been given as to whether it is to function as teaser to something bigger in the pipe. In Lupe’s defense, he appears to be keeping fairly busy on the heels of his recent nomination as Saybrook Fellow at Yale University—highlighting the conscious rapper’s latest honor in a series in the realm of academia.

As media outlets and online fan communities alike all heavily debate around the likelihood of full length collections of songs by these four acts in varying degrees of speculation, there’s no denying the notion that most artists and labels largely do so to protect themselves and the sacredness of their writing process. Chances are, all aforementioned creatives currently fall into that category. With that being said, there exists a foreboding sense of aftermath from a chasm that was perhaps long bound to happen, and that now seems to be reaching what were once immaculate corners of a revered space, that used to actually care about the craft of an album, and that wouldn’t stick their necks out unless there was one to announce. For as much as we find it convenient to throw around the self-protection argument when faced with their absence, what if the artists themselves have stopped giving a damn?

We’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and we hope to feel your interest again next time.




2023, 100% Electronica



2023, Columbia Records



2023, Thirty Tigers



2023, Thirty Tigers


Part requited commendation, part early-year new musical round-up, this missive comes by way of a collection of noteworthy projects that stood out to us of late. Both complete exploits and works in progress alike, each one alone might not warrant a whole chaptered entry by itself, yet gelled together they stoke a surprisingly elevated appeal. How not to begin with the incomparable Smashing Pumpkins, who are knee-deep and well underway the release cycle for their libertine high-brow triple LP ATUM: A Rock Opera in Three Acts. After having dropped the first instalment at the tail end of last year (15th November), the 35-year old American alternative rock giants are just fresh off the coattails of releasing Act Two, this past 31st January.

Ideated and intended as the clear spiritual and musical successor to the band’s seminal concept albums Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995) and Machina/The Machines of God (2000), the 33-track sequel was produced entirely in-house by wizard in chief Billy Corgan. Each part enlists eleven tracks, and the whole sonic opera’s roll out is being staggered with exactly eleven weeks of separation between each Act—with a highly anticipated final instalment slated for release on 21st April. Owing to the seasonal faculty inherent to its titling, the project loosely follows the changing atmospheric intervals following the Fall Equinox into winter and spring (album title ATUM is to be pronounced Autumn).

The Chicago rockers’ twelveth studio effort clocks in at a whooping 138 minutes of runtime—nothing unfathomable by any stretch of the imagination given Corgan’s first-hand involvement, yet a remarkable feat by any other unadulterated metric. Not least on account of the consideration that the Pumpkins’s last record in time, 2020’s CYR, was a bloated and ambitious 20-track double-sided affair of its own. Previewed as early as last September by the frizzy distortion and self-repressed marching of “Beguiled“—a cut ending up being sequenced at number nine on ATUM‘s Act Two, go figure—the auditory epic now sports two thirds of its unhinged musical narration, compounding to 85 minutes of material readily available for taste discernment.

To accompany the release and help fans make head or tails of the sheer critical mass of new music unveiled, the 55-year old National Wrestling Alliance-owner saw fit to design an audio-only companion guide to the rock-opera roll out, aptly dubbed Thirty-Three podcast. In it, the emblematic frontman dissects one new ATUM track per episode—alongside selected past works from his Pumpkins and solo back-catalogue—whilst contemporaneously offering previously unheard insights straight from Smashing Pumpkins Factory. Handpicked special guests such as bandmates Jimmy Chamberlin and Jeff Schroeder as well as fellow artists like Butch Vig and YUNGBLUD act as sidekicks to the ever so verbose and erudite Corgan.

Musically, the 22 recordings revealed hitherto cover a wealth of relevant sonic terrains. This is not something terribly foreign to third-act Smashing Pumpkins, who after having brought most of the founding line up back together for their fugitive yet brilliant Rick Rubin-produced Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. have found themselves working more and more synth-pop elements, if not even country pop at times, into their trademark alt-goth aesthetics. If Act One rollicks through a somewhat disjointed and tortuous sonic backdrop, with numbers as inherently variegated as the unforgiving “The Good In Goodbye“and the soft nintendocore “Hooray!” placed on the same side, Act Two reigns supreme with both its immaculate sound tightness coupled with an almost irresistible catchiness.

Songs such as “Neophyte“, “Every Morning“, “To The Grays“, as well as “Springtimes” on ATUM‘s second instalment sit comfortably amongst the band’s best and most timeless in the last twenty years. Notwithstanding side B’s overall superior delivery, what both parts have in common is a new found knack for compositional stickiness by Corgan. Significantly more so than in recent years, these tunes emanate universality and endurance. Mind you, the core leitmotiv journeying throughout is still of a softer and lighter blend—for all intents and purposes, ATUM is a very current-era Pumpkins statement—so invidious nostalgic pundits orthodoxly pledged to their 90s sound should probably best stay away. Everyone else is invited to bask and indulge in Corgan’s studious artistic idiosyncrasies, and look forward to welcoming Spring with a final set of tracks that might well round up what could become the group’s most exciting and readily accessible project since its spiritual predecessor Machina/The Machines of God.

A shorter, yet no less ambitious release hitting the shelves recently was from Brooklyn-transplant via Washington, DC rapper Oddisee, real name Amir Mohamed el Khalifa. To What End is out on budding New York label Outer Note and follows the imprint’s debut ODD CURE (2020), as well as a lustrum during which the underground sensation forayed into one-off live albums and EPs. The 16-track tape is the 37-year old American-Sudanese’s most ambitious and refined to date—a highly accomplished and well-rounded exploit perhaps only matched by 2015’s The Good Fight. Clocking in at a robust sixteen joints, with no skits and a slim layer of carefully placed featured guests—special mention for the Phonte, Bemyfiasco, and Kay Young trio illuminating album standout “Choices“—the LP coasts through a wide array of high-caliber sounds, freely touching on hip-hop, jazz, soul, and R&B throughout its beats portfolio.

Dropping this past January, this thing is a near all killer, no filler—with a metric ton of hooks splashed on top, just for us. Historically more renowned and commended for his articulate, heady, and introspective flows, on here Oddisee trades some of that vitiated one-dimensionality of rhyme spitting for a heightened sense of melody. All without sacrificing urgency, intention, or poignancy of message conveyance. Take the focus and conciseness of sophomore groovy dancer “How Far” on the tracklist, or even the pop-affability and radio-friendliness of lead single “Try Again” and “All I Need“; one would be hard-pressed to sample similarly effective-while-accessible spells in his back-catalogue.

Thematically, the MC re-essays previous notions of struggle and bottom-up realness, however this time with a higher aspirational grandeur. The systemic self-perpetration of purposelessness seeps through album opener “The Start of Something“, rising all boats and not even sparing kindred fringe-adjacent geezers: “You might not beat the odds but you got to meet the odd / It took time to accept that I’m worthy of admiration / Was brought up in a family not caught up in celebration / No clock within the house to remind me that time was racing“. Meanwhile, the chorus on glossy and tender curtain closer “Race” can’t help but wrestle with slews of unanswered questions, preventing closure from subduing overwhelmingness: “Sitting in my car, in the driveway / I’ve been home a while, but my minds late / It’s the only time that I day dream / Getting really hard to find a quite space / Open up the door and world screams / Getting overwhelmed by the high pace / Something’s on my mind I deserve peace / Until the door swings, race“.

Bookending this early in the year round-up with the inaugural offering from the enthusing and anticipated new supergroup Far From Saints. A country rock-meets-Americana trio composed of brit-pop legends Stereophonics‘s founder Kelly Jones, as well as Patty Lynn and Dwight Baker of Austin group The Wind + The Wave. The perhaps unlikely pairing first started gestating when Jones and Lynn met backstage during a U.S. tour ten years ago. That encounter led the Phonics frontman to recruit The Wind + The Wave to open for his 2019 solo tour, as part of which they whipped up impromptu on-stage renditions of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’s timeless “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around“—which immediately resonated with both them and the fans.

Fast forward to this past Friday 20th January, when Far From Saints officially came out of the pandemic-halted woodwork with their debut taster “Let’s Turn This Back Around“, a rich and full-bodied offering of flavoursome country with evident pop tinges. A dejected guitar picking, paired with forlorn steel-guitar laments, underpin the lead single’s first half, before converting into an expansive and swelling feast of accompanying strings and anthemic chants by Jones and Lynn (a vocal timbre pairing made in heaven). The number counts a such a wealth of engrossing musical elements that it grandfathers itself as a mouthwatering teaser for what else is to come as part of the yet-to-be-named ten-track baptism project—produced by the band itself and helmed by Al Clay on the mix. If a good beginning bodes well, Far From Saints seems poised to pan out as so much more than the occasional atrophied side-project.

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.




2023, Martha’s Music



2023, Outer Note



2023, Ignition Records










































I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time. And happy holidays this time around.



Support Arctic Monkeys:

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.



One quick way to realize one has exhausted all eligible attributes to describe North Carolinian singer/songwriter Ryan Adams’s unparalleled hyperactivity ensues upon by being left at, well, a loss for words by the release of his fourth studio album of 2022, Devolver—his twenty-second solo outing overall (and counting…). As if the current year of our Lord had not already seen the 47-year old author trial and error pretty much every project roll out antic under the sun, spanning scarcely announced windowed double LPs (Chris and Romeo & Juliet) as well as full-blown industry promo pandering including physical limited edition cassettes (FM), with the brilliant, astute, and ruffian Devolver the boundlessly prolific artist opted for a non-streaming free digital giveaway on 23rd September, of all methods. Evidently, it’s high-time for mid-Noughties peer-to-peer file sharing nostalgia all over again.

Another emphatic clue that demonstrates just how deep and backlogged the Jacksonville native’s songwriting well extends descends upon us by way of the realization that this latest batch of cuts actually goes to jeopardize a previously announced wealthy release roadmap for the remained of this year, teased over the summer by the PaxAm boss. Said ‘out soon’ catalogue allegedly bore two additional drops slated for this forthcoming fall and winter: Return to Carnegie Hall and 1985. Thusly, with the complete surprise release of Devolver, Adams’s 2022 total album tally would reportedly spike up to six: that’s a whole entire twenty year-album discography worth of material for your average band, only being put out in one single year (!). Bookended as both a token of worship and gratitude toward his ride-or-die listenership, as well as the remarkable celebration of one full sober lap around the sun, the 11-track Ian Sefchick-mastered project was birthed whilst chaperoned by the following incipit:

To my fans,

Today I want to say THANK YOU and I love you, in the language we speak to each other – with music.

DEVOLVER is for you, please feel free to download for free – this is your party and this album is me celebrating you.

In my darkest moments you lifted me up, creatively and personally and that love was instrumental in how I got here today, to safety and in a place of healing – one year sober.

Please accept this album as token of my appreciation for all the love you have shown me through the years, for your encouragement to continue on when I didn’t think I could and for standing with me, rebuilding this dream house brick by brick.

Sometimes the trick is to strip it all back, to keep it so simple life has a way to throw you some curb balls – to devolve back into the apeman and embrace the wild spirit in our bones.

This is that album and it has been my honour to have been given the chance to find myself and be myself fully – embracing my music and my life as it comes – in its own way – free of the patterns of the past.

So thank you. This one’s for you. You are truly loved and appreciate with all that I am.


By way of a brush up: Devolver follows on the heels of this summer’s commercially ambitious yet somewhat lukewarm FM, a record which aside from a few weeks at improbable positions within a handful countries’ Top 200 albums charts on scattered services, coupled with sporadic grandparental charting on iTunes, did regrettably not seem to live up to the PaxAm camp’s expectations. Musically though, the radio format-worshipping oeuvre still ended up rendering one of Adams’ most focused, well-jointed, and tastefully curated projects since the austere and dour Wednesdays: truth be told, this latest Fab Four-indebted exploit does not fall far from that sonic tree, albeit trading power and jangle pop for heartland/garage indie rock.

With a bang-on runtime of thirty minutes, it’s the most concise and reduced collection of songs the former Cardinals frontman has put out since his accomplished and impactful hardcore punk digression 1984—itself the trailblazer for the cleverly versatile and sublime 2014 PaxAm Singles instalment series. Devolver rings also above-average sticky and immediate for Adams’s canon, with a significant number of knee-jerk hooks appearing for the first time in his recorded history that one can’t quite believe he had not written before (start with “Stare at the TV”: “I like to stare at the TV / and wait here for you / My life wasn’t easy / and then I met you / I like to stare at the TV / I miss you / Do you miss me“).

The semantic irony of opening this complimentary record’s dances with the bluesy and ragged “Don’t Give It Away” is probably lost on no one, although it’s mostly the head-scratching lyrical prose laced into the tune that most betrays the built-in priceless component of the album: “Sick people / do you need to see a doctor? / Double too cool and icy / so bi-polar“. Similarly honky-tonk-sounding is the foot-stomping “Alien USA” at number three on the tracklist, a crooning exercise set to a fuzzy, reverberated, and groovy soundbed accompanying soaring chorus vocals and tired guitar solos alike. Meanwhile, two separate records on this thing, “Banging On My Head” and “I’m In Love With You”, clock in at less than two minutes each. While the former can be afforded a pass by virtue of its upbeat semi-punk rock flair and off-key vocal delivery, the latter nets a criminally underdeveloped re-recording and rendition of the dusty and nocturnal demo-like unplugged offering dating back to almost a decade ago, initially unveiled as part of the Do You Laugh When You Lie?, Vol. 4 issue of the aforementioned PaxAm Singles Series in 2014.

Without a doubt, it’s the album’s halfway point that houses the strongest and sharpest moments. The fierce and dreamy “Marquee” is a flawless exercise in textbook heartland rock and roll, unblemished and immaculate in its multicolored innocence as it pledges to surrender to the all-encompassing might of love. The song is followed by the hinged introspection of “Eyes on the Door”, a cacophonic six-string affair decorated by impressive vocal flexes and enveloping a suspiciously earnest amount of vice-laden frivolousness meets near-epiphany clarity: “I get to thinking I wake up so cold in the night / Hyperventilate and sigh / I get to thinking I get high“. The record’s central backbone reaches a highpoint with “Too Bored to Run”, a fantastic, anthemic, and timeless enchantment pulling out all the classic rock stops at number seven—from the songwriting at its core to Adams’ passionate, lulling, and life-depending performance—carrying what some might argue are the most essential elements of the alt/country rocker’s post-self titled third act songwriting arc.

Devolver‘s back-end wraps everything up in a plateauing, spotty, and perhaps subaltern way, corralling what sounds like a Chris throwaway amongst throwaways (“Free Your Self”), a sample of bum guitar notes that almost have to be intentional (cue in “Get Away” at 0:04), as well as a Cardinals-evoking experimental coda that too suffers from painful and shameful underwriting (“Why Do You Hate Me”). Mind you, there are no flat out fillers on here—if anything, some compositions could have used some more fleshing out and another minute or two of breathing time. As a front-to-back listening experience, this thing might be better than FM, which sparks reasonable doubt around whether the roll out succession (and accompanying industry plugs) should have been inverted. Yet now more than ever before in Adams’ career, spontaneity of abundance seems to be sole tenet around which to predict what is next. Considering the remarkable accessibility and artistic quality packed into his first ever purposefully gratis album, devolving into a primordial musical core might just be the name-checked clue that’s hiding in plain sight.

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.




2022, PaxAm Recording


Truly and honestly, we never thought we would say this, but with last Friday’s release of FM, singer/songwriter Ryan Adams has officially dropped more studio albums in the last nineteen months than the whole 2010s combined. What’s more, there already seem to be two additional LPs dolled up in the can for the endlessly productive 47-year-old North Carolinian musician and poet, both slated for release later in the year. Those extra two would bring the total 2022 full length project tally to an unprecedented five (!)—which would in turn render the last 24 months at that point as prolific as his whole previous thirteen years of career, with respect to unveiling brand new material. And to think that when talking about the former Whiskeytown and Cardinals ringleader, one is already dealing with the pantheon of one of the most relentlessly fertile artists of this generation (for the record, FM is Adams’ 21st solo studio album to date).

Unlike the last two stream-of-consciousness, batched and collated catharses that came by way of March’s Chris and April’s Romeo & Juliet, FM sticks its audiowaved landing as a compact and concise one-sided album, clocking in at a comparatively scant 10 tracks and 33 minutes of runtime. Much like its two near double LP predecessors though, the record finds the Grammy-nominated alt-rock prodigy coasting through a vivid, exuberant, and multi-layered heartland rock sonic canvases—if not power pop, at times—with renewed ventures into deep-ended seas of crunchy chorus as well as reverb effects to complement semi-idly evocative songwriting motives. Self-proclaimed and billed as “the musical equivalent of Albert Einstein’s ghost punching George Washington’s ghost in the nuts” by his camp, the windowed project is once again initially only being made available for premium purchase on Adams’ own Pax Am label store from Friday 22nd July, awaiting a wider worldwide release on all remaining digital outlets on 19th August.

By the creator’s own admission, in contrast to its previous two ‘caught-up-with-time’, cacophonic, and self-published exploits, FM also symbolises his return to a somewhat more formal and fully fledged marketing strategy, with the record having gone through the necessary due diligence in order for it to be picked up and chartered by conventional record industry bodies (presumably for the first time since before his Wednesdays/Big Colors/Chris trilogy). Sonically, the record does indeed exhume a more intentional and assertive attempt at gelling together a batch of songs that, while not necessarily on the lyrical front, all sound like they were germed and sprouted within the confines of the same musical garden of Eden, before mustering up enough survival-of-the-fittest oomph to stick together and solidarize as a self-referential oasis (although admittedly, “Fairweather” is reportedly a Big Colors throwaway…). Think looser and jollied up Smiths meet accessible Big Star, sprinkle a dash of self-titled era Adams, and even if you’re amongst the plebs salivating for FM‘s full public availability at the tail end of August, you’ll have earned a fairly accurate depiction of how this half hour and change rings.

In his typical misfit pariah style, much of the new project’s online promotion consisted of chopped and screwed unplugged Creed and REM covers, full giveaways of “What a Waste” and “Oh My Sweet Carolina“—both unreleased cuts off his last two forthcoming fall and winter drops this year, Return to Carnegie Hall and 1985—the FM outtake “Take the Money“, as well as motley clips and bobs from each of the ten records queued up on FM, gauntlet style. Similarly counterintuitively, the closest one could have pass as lead singles for the exploit would have to be the 4th July handout “When She Smiles“—a brilliant Johnny Marr-worship tracklisted at number four on the album’s A side, finding peak ecstatic Adams tapestries, arrangements, and lyrics—as well as ‘hot one’ “Fantasy File“, a smooth and silky saxophone-led bluesy serenade unveiled days before the album’s (exclusive) street date, sequenced right before “When She Smiles” at number three.

We know all too well how at this point it is near impossible to establish how and when exactly these ten tracks were written and recorded—God forbid, the exquisite and formidable album coda “Someday” could be hiding in plain sight if quietly inserted into 2017’s Prisoner tracklist. What one can attest to, however, is how much more focused, experiential, and cohesive this latest collection of songs is, relatively speaking. Mind you—the thematic arc is nowhere near as conceptual as on, say Prisoner, and the production and mixing mantel can’t compare to his rose-coloured Blue Note Records days yielding something like his 2014 eponymous epic. Yet, on almost each wavelength-chaptered station on FM, there are an otherworldly gated snare drum, multilayered strata of acquose reverb, lots and lots of arpeggio-ed strumming, and mighty fine songwriting at their core. Color that formulaic, but even humouring Adams and Pax Am as they afforded themselves to indulge in yet another crate-digging curatorial mixtape-like stunt feels like a pleasant and benevolent admission to have been punk’d here. Frankly, one could also choose to simply view FM as a slick and watertight little 10-track LP with lots of teeth; for bliss often lurks in the hive-mind ignorance of not overthinking.

The Jacksonville-native saw fit to alert listeners that “Ancient Incan and Aztec cultures warned not downloading FM once it was released would turn a human skeleton into a chalky dinosaur poo that the Gods would use to draw clouds on mountain rock once the person had ‘passed’”, yet we claim one ought not go quite as far to attain a wholesome and elated enjoyment outta this sweet little petty record. What we’ll certainly take away from it are the profoundly intense grace of A-side record flipper “Hall of Shame”—an urgent and poignant reflection of one’s true rock bottom set to lush six string motives and a converging outro that might stand the test of time as one of Adams’ most perfect. “So Dumb” is so earnest and stoic a barebone composition that one could easily imagine it being rendered under a whole host of different instrumental renditions and arrangements, and still kick listeners in the gut the same elemental way. Elsewhere, the glossy dream rock tapestries and lush articulations on the aforementioned “Someday” might make for what is the best third-act Ryan Adams album closer committed to tape.

If anything, it’s more of the upbeat and groovy moments on the album that come across as most rickety and frail. Granted, a few of them, such as “Love Me Don’t” at number two or penultimate cut “Do You Feel”, also suffer ever so slightly from a lack of extra TLC on the production end, but even in hearing something like FM‘s centerpiece “Wild & Hopeless”, one can’t quite shake off the feeling that it sounds more like a micro-serviced pastiche of solid compositional ideas all frankenstein’d together, rather than a tune arriving at its final evolution stage by way of an organic, raw, and un-doctored fashion. Not that this should necessarily matter, or even influence one’s enjoyment of the record, but when set side by side with stronger and more definitive songs like “I Want You“, “When She Smiles, “Hall of Shame”, or “Fairweather”, they do tend to stick out a little bit like sore thumbs. Nonetheless, Adams catches way more flies with honey than vinegar, and thankfully FM is by and large a victorious sunlit affair. Considering it got dished out on the heels of two double LP grieving odes to the dearly departed, we’ll take the switch of pace in spades.

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.




2022, PaxAm Recording


As the feel good heat of the Western Hemisphere summer nears and approaches arts patrons the world over, so it seems a brand new sorcerous episodic ARM segment touching down on a gauntlet of unrelated and loose singles accompanied by rapid (vapid?), forthright, passionate, and gate-kept opinions. It is a jolly and momentous round up of enthusing one-off, lead, and follow-up records alike—in some cases anticipating a pre-announced full album release, whilst in others simply dangling the pendulum of disparate speculation and excitement for more to come in front of thirsty music pundits’ noses. A few of these are long-awaited, highly-anticipated returns to form, others flat out surprise drops, all with the addition of a perhaps once unthinkable crossover no one really asked for, yet in twenty-twenty (surgery) hindsight of its release genuinely asserting its rhyme and reason.

Philadelphia-native and 2000s lo-fi indie royalty Alex G does truly appear to be back on his dragged feet as of late, following almost three years of near noble silence since offering the mystical, God-forsaken, and form-less art pop exploit House of Sugar—a quasi-benchmarking essay in late stage capitalism’s induction to morph purposeful noise and tender melody in a hodgepodge of feels. Mere months ago, the 29-year-old Domino Recording Company talent showed up and delivered on the unlikely role of principal scorer for Jane Schoenbrun’s coming-of-age horror drama We’re All Going to the World’s Fair soundtrack. The Utopia-distributed, Sundance Film Festival-premiered feature-length film comes through attached to a glowing, foreboding, and glacial 13-track OST album, wholly curated by Alex G. Such an extra-curricular outing by the normally insular and elusive singer/songwriter features both a “Main Theme” opener and an “End Song” coda reprising the motion picture’s primary musical and lyrical undercurrent. Both manage to effortlessly gallop alongside the frail and cathartic razor’s edge courtesy of the Frank Ocean-protégé’s trademark musical ethos. Bone-less bendings leaning from the edge of gloomy bedroom pop leakages atop of a self-deprecating throne. Pure, raw, and untouched Alex G canon.

Perhaps more relevantly, just weeks after the release of said full OST project, the six-string troubadour saw fit to also dish out what for all intents and purposes oughta be considered the first real lead single from his yet to be announced forthcoming ninth studio album cycle. Unveiled officially on 23rd May, “Blessing“‘s three minutes and change of uncut 90s alt-rock-borrowed distortion, mixed with a tight straightforward rhythm section, comes and goes as a flickering tide of melting sonic verses and intelligently woven counterpoint melodies—delivered in a suspiciously forlorn beck-and-call whispering mode that results ever so out of place vis-a-vis the balls to the wall synth layering earmarking the cut’s post-chorus, or outro. Deceivingly enough though, the singular tune wonderfully sticks its experimental landing, and actually proves to render itself more and more memorable with time, unfolding ounces of sticky and addictive replay value with each listen: it’s esprit d’escalier galore if there ever was one.

Meanwhile, Lord Pretty Flacko himself blessed the mainstream hip-hop lore with the comeback hit single “D.M.B.” (aka DAT$ MAH B!*$H) earlier in May—a hallucinating chopped-and-screwed tape-mounting experience masquerading as his very personal joie de vivre ode to both narcotics and women, to be understood as fitting marijuana and Rihanna’s descriptions. The experimental number was first teased online as part of an advertisement for disgraced Swedish fintech company Klarna as far back as summer last year, and is slated to be appearing on A$AP Rocky’s speculative and crowdsourcedly-named forthcoming fourth studio album, ALL $MILES. Sonically, the RCA Records-earmarked song is a warped and invertebrate psychedelic rap cloud of multi-layered overdubs, spanning viscous samples, a sweet and endearing electric guitar lick, as well as an expansive and spastic drum machine syncopation—sporting the joint venture trademark production of a slew of co-signs including grime heavyweight Skepta and D33J.

Soaked and buttered in many of the stylistic aesthetic inklings prevalent on his formidable last major project Testing—coasting through everything from sly vocal manipulation to phasers set to stun—”D.M.B.” reveres in a ridiculously elliptical and hivemind hook (“Roll my blunt, fill my cup, be my bitch / Hold my gun, load it up, count my slugs / Yeah, they don’t know nothin’ / Roll my blunt, be my bitch / They don’t know nothin’) and rises above the fray by way of the endulced, serenading, and heavenly bridge kicking in 2:40 minutes into the track: “Baby / It’s been a little time since we both / Felt full since our first encounter / And baby / Don’t let another n**** try my baby / Girl you know I’m one call away / It’s nothin’ / And baby / My angel and my Goddess, when my head get clouded / You’re my soulmate, my Goddess / And baby / Took a little time in a gray place / For nothing, nothing“.

Elsewhere, it is a bona fide meeting of the underground hip-hop minds the one that finds 44-year old musician, songwriter and record producer Danger Mouse sculpt modularly poignant tapestries of soulful spine-bending backtrack beats for the unparalleled and envelope-pushing wordsmithing craft of The Roots’ mainstay MC Black Thought. Cheat Codes, the brand new back-to-back collaborative LP set for release at the tail end of summer, sees its anticipatory lead up campaign already in full steam mode inasmuch as two abstract and elusive teasers unveiled ahead of its full street date on 12th August. “No Gold Teeth”’s cleverly laced, dramatically sensual samples paved the promotional way with a somewhat soft surprise drop in early May, piercing through with Black Thought’s both life-affirming and tongue-in-cheek sixteens alike. Lending a substantial urgency to every verse, the joint ushers into gangster territory in a ‘heat of the moment’ fashion, hitting a runtime cul-de-sac before one quite wishes to realise, despite its formal two minutes and a half of clockwork.

A few months later—and sequenced right after the aforementioned dental blonde on the full length’s tracklist—the dusty and rough-around-the-edges stream of posse consciousness inertia encapsulated by “Because” significantly upped the realness ante. Trading fierce and inflammatory flows navigating through a smokey, cavernicolous, and woody production whilst periodically getting re-centered by Dylan Cartlidge’s affable refrain, Philadelphia-native Tariq Luqmaan Trotter, Joey Bada$$, and Russ get (listeners) in meticulous line and build upon each other’s pamphlet of maximes and truisms about notions of survival of the blackest/fittest as well as success’ fatalist nature. With such additional guests poised to be featured on Cheat Codes‘ remaining joints as the above A$AP Mob leader Rocky, the late MF DOOM, as well as A-list rap collective spinoffs like Run the Jewels and Griselda Records’s very own Conway the Machine, it’s safe to say that the anticipation is running high for what might well turn out to be one of the most essential hip-hop listens of the year.

Lastly, there are so many ways in which a Taking Back Sunday and Steve Aoki collaboration could have gone terribly, irreparably wrong in 2022. Out of the myriad of parallel universes that cohabitate our existence, it’s both baffling and flabbergasting that the one graced by our very own human sentient presence would have been the one to gestate it. And to think that it’s not that TBS were scraping their creative barrel out of content saturation anxiety as of late. On the contrary; aside from questionable band anniversary bundles, throwaway acoustic B-sides left on the cutting room floor, a legitimate Weezer cover song, as well as the upteenth reissue of their modern emo classic Tell All Your Friends, the Long Island alt rock veterans have essentially kept quiet and passive for nearly seven years since the straight up no frills alt rock of Tidal Wave. During that time, really nothing much to report—absent the regrettable departure of founding member and rhythm guitarist Eddie Reyes in 2018, their cutting ties with California-based indie Hopeless Records, as well that Fuckin Whatever side supergroup project. Hence why, the improbable outfit pairing between John Nolan, Adam Lazzara, Mark O’Connell, Shaun Cooper and the 44-year old American DJ, record producer, and Dim Mak record executive strikes as all the more haphazard.

Yet amazingly so, the riveting musical joint venture revealed around a week ago on “Just Us Two” panned out strong and convincing throughout. Thankfully, the one-off collab follows admittedly more of a third act Taking Back Sunday trademark formula with the sparkled addition of peppered Aoki flairs on top of it, rather than the other way around. This manifests primarily in the form of the DJ’s bouncy, elastic, and spacious synths playing second fiddle in accompany mode to the odd 6/8 song’s principal edgy refrain (“I remember the way that it felt / I remember the way that it felt / Watched the sun go down / Sitting on your roof / And the air was thick / Yeah our heads were too / Watched the sun come up / Sitting on your roof / Yeah, the air was thick / It was just us two“), as well as the anthemic and triumphant post-chorus group chants. However, one can’t help but feeling like it’s giant shame lost on our zeitgeist’s ears, for if it weren’t for today’s jeopardising goldfish memory span, the latter are made of the stuff that could define a generation: “These are the days / Always remember / These are the days / Always forever“.

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.




2022, Domino Recording



2022, RCA Records



2022, BMG Rights Management



2022, Dim Mak Records


Fret not, dear reader: you are not seeing double. Or perhaps are you indeed? One workhorse and singer/songwriter extraordinaire Ryan Adams really did just unveil another two-sided album to the public, a mere month removed from the windowed self-release of his raw brotherly tribute Chris, a double LP in its own right. Announced, promoted, and eventually unwrapped within the span of a few weeks—and hitting the exclusive digital shelves of his own PaxAm record imprint on 25th April, exactly a month to the day after the last instalment in his recent trilogyRomeo & Juliet sticks its astonishing sonic landing just shy of eighty minutes of brand new material. In a similar dedicative vein to Chris‘s familial worshipping ethos, this Shakespearian-titled body of work stands as an ode to his recently perished feline household companion Theo, as evidenced by both Instagram-housed testimonies from the alt-folk wonderkid himself, as well as a cat-friendly tracklist sporting cuts such as “This is Your House”, “At Home With the Animals”, and of course, “Theo Is Dreaming”.

Records happen. Sometimes you have to wrestle them down like a bronco, other times you wake up to one song…..something you dreamt – and the next thing you know that song called all its friends over to a party. Without telling you. That’s exactly this.

Romeo & Juliet is a summer album. It’s maybe the first summertime album I’ve ever made, on purpose, front to back. It’s like the tall, long slightly mysterious sister to Easy Tiger. There’s a lot of room here and the stories all unwind like a long hot drive in the south with the windows down – sunshine blasting everything. And by the time the record ends it’s just early night – still blue notes in the dark purple patches of stars up the road hurling towards the hood of the car.

When this album is on vinyl, you’ll open the first page and it’ll just say “For Theo” because this is his album. This is his house.

He loved music so much and many of these songs had a bass part or vocal part being played with him asleep on my lap or curled up beside me. He was omnipresent when I made music or listener to albums. He is still. The others were made with him close by or on my mind. And the last few, made on his last few nights on earth – attentively listening to me play, eyes half closed with that low rumble of a purr. He was my best friend. He saved my life and loved me when I became a shadow to the world. That turned out to be the biggest gift I could have been given. That last couple years with him letting the days unspool – lost in the mirth.

These songs are about old loves, about Theo and about celebrating old loves and old friends that were here once and are now gone – in a big wreath of memory and monochromatic visions of times that go by too fast. It’s a summer album with summer chords and meant to be like that heat in the middle summertime where everything is so electric and so bright – and the world feels like another planet, a new neighborhood now alight and made of bright yellow and green halos. Squint and you’ll hear it. 

One of my favorite albums ever and still to this day is Louder Than Bombs, a long 24 track album that although were once singles, came together in a new way to make this big beautiful sprawling album you could collapse into – and discover new things in over time. It lasted all summer and became like a summer memory by fall. By winter it was like a fireplace in my Walkman.

To me that is what Romeo & Juliet is. I dreamt that title song and dreamt a few after like “At Home With The Animals” and followed that river here – to this album -just as it is. One song at a time.

So with great love and affection and excitement, I pass it on to you now.

Ladies and Gentlemen….

“Romeo & Juliet.”

For Theo. 



If it were not self-evident enough, the above is the sole available excerpt of official accompanying text stemming from the North Carolina-native’s camp one could have pass as PR material surrounding this latest exploit. Romeo & Juliet is the singer’s twentieth studio album as a solo act. Recycling and reinforcing the marketing roll out tactics adopted for his still fresh hot off the press March double threat, Adams opted once again for a cut-out-the-middleman antic: offering the record as an exclusive high-fidelity digital download purchase through his label (complete with two bonus strings attached; the Nebraska-indebted “Desperate Times” and an alternate take of supreme album track “Somethings Missing”). The project is to remain solely available via PaxAm for about three weeks, before receiving a more widespread digital release and distribution on licensed streaming services on the eve of his acclaimed return to live shows on the US East coast in May, after a four-year absence on the road.

With another two waxed sides and nineteen new numbers to comb through barely a month after his long-awaited and highly-anticipated Chris offering, the 47-year-old artist and poet truly is demanding extra overtime from his core listenership (for reference, this is Adams’ fourth album within the span of just fourteen months, since his splendidly somber and dour December 2020 Wednesdays project). Luckily for him, most seem to be onboard and are supporting his new found retail venture in earnest. According to him and the aforementioned citation, Romeo & Juliet is a summer album. The first summer after the pandemic. And a polished and sanitised one at that, too. May we add. With the slight exception of Big Colors‘ high-grade mixing and major label studio-earmarked production, by nearly all standards this latest effort sports a significantly more refined and careful sound compared to both the dusty direct-to-tape feel of Wednesdays and the draft-like low-fidelity of his more recent Chris.

The veiled and latent recalls to his 2007 Easy Tiger LP mentioned in the press release might only ring true to a limited extent, as well. For Romeo & Juliet is clearly and evidently a post-self-titled Ryan Adams creation—an epistemological third act career record. Granted, cuts like the well-mannered and forlorn piano-led ballad “Rain in LA”, or the epic six-and-a-half minute Cardinals jam and side A coda “In the Meadow”, come across as true blue mid-to-late 00s Adams lore. Yet, on the other hand, the bare and stripped back title track, or the aforementioned “At Home With the Animals”, immediately throw listeners into a more current and relevant Wednesdays-era folk benchmark. Elsewhere, the undeniable album standout and endless catch “Doylestown Girl”, as well as the strong and memorable album opener “Rollercoaster”, sound like they are rocking Big Colors fingerprints all over them (as a matter of fact, the former was making its way to middle-of-the-road heartland radio stations in promotion to said record as far back as 2019).

If Chris was an album made for his untimely and dearly departed namesake relative, Romeo & Juliet is for everybody else (and Theo). Strikingly more accessible and immediate, this collection of songs was deliberately earmarked as a collective solstitial soundtrack for the whole world to enjoy. Crucially, in doing so this 19-track opus sees a Ryan Adams freed and liberated from preconceived templates, allowed to move past the commitments of a self-inflicted trilogy bandwidth three years ago. Unlike Big Colors—another project billed as a sunny season musical companion by its head sculptor—this full length exhumes and emanates a sonic authoring depth that the former major label-inked record could not quite afford to indulge in, for a multitude of reasons. The soft, tender, and melancholic “In the Blue of the Night” at number two on the tracklist, for instance, is easily one of the stickiest and addictive numbers the musician has put out in the last decade. Similarly, the plastic and glossy soundbed ornating the soulful “Anything”, as well as the inherent musical development arranged on “Earthquake” and “Losers”, all denote superior musicianship and a songcrafting paralleling career-highs for the rocker.

More deceivingly, coarse and fibrous offerings such as “Somethings Missing”, “This Is Your House”, and “Theo Is Dreaming”, show us that the former Whiskeytown ringleader still knows better of oversterilizing dangerous, unsolicited, and incongruous feelings. Yes, these three songs do sound like demos, but that is kind of the point. In contrast to a few genuinely underworked and awkward mixes making their way onto Chris’s final bundle last month, the unfiltered and existential impetus behind these songs is perfectly at home within the walled confines of such imperfect and erratic wrappers: “This is your house / It’s where you live / Now I’m the one the one who’s waiting by the door to let you in / I know, I know / I’m supposed to move on / To let it go / But this is your house / Until you come back to me / Until I fall asleep“. Then again, one of the most enthralling elements about this project is Adams’ ability to undercut such moments with legitimate catharsis, made of joyousness and elation (lest we forget, on paper this remains another monument of eulogy, albeit zoological). This is best evidenced by the upbeat artistic lifelines of numbers such as “I Can’t Remember”, “Run”, and the waltzy evocative album closer “They Will Know Our Love”.

Early fan reception to this release seems to indicate that this might go down as one of Ryan Adams’ most well received and widely appreciated records in over a decade. While Romeo & Juliet does not have the focus and cohesion of his 2014 self-titled, or even the lavish grandeur of Prisoner, it does stand to represent probably the most generous and forgiving gateway to the pen, mind, and music of one of this millennium’s country rock prodigal sons. All is left for new, old, and lost listeners alike, is to approach the Veronese balcony window this album is leaning over from, and start serenading its big wreath of memory and monochromatic visions of times that go by too fast.

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.




2022, PaxAm Recording


Surely no one thought they would get away without a pernickety blow-by-blow review of a new Ryan Adams project in this part of Web-city, did they? Reporting a mere 48 hours after the Jacksonville, NC-native singer/songwriter delivered the third and final instalment as part of the promiscuous trilogy of studio albums he originally announced to the world in early 2019: Chris is an 18-track double LP epic that stands as the 47-year old alt country royalty’s musical tribute to his recently departed brother of the same name. Formally the sole chapter in the album series to have retained its original scheduling roll out slot—for 2020’s Wednesdays and last year’s Big Colors wounded up switching running orders compared to Adams’s initial plan—this latest collection of tracks comes at a sizeable full hour worth of raucous heartland rock material. It is hitherto exclusively available for windowed purchase via Adams’ PaxAm label website, awaiting a full public availability release on global digital platforms on 1st April (fool’s errands permitting, knowing the DRA character…).

Strikingly dour in both sentiment and sound, the double-disc project wireframes the artistic experience coasting through a sequencing of nine tracks on each side, while also throwing an unrelated, throwaway, and 1984-channeling nineteenth bonus track on top of the PaxAm digital edition, titled “Don’t Follow”. The creative direction across the sixty minutes of critical mass on here is significantly and directly indebted to the former Whiskeytown and The Cardinals honcho’s recording sessions that led to the release of his 2017 critically-acclaimed studio album masterpiece Prisoner. The analytical prism of fixating Prisoner as sonic and thematic cornerstone as a means to dissect Chris naturally thrusts a certain watery, washed-out, and reverb-soaked aesthetics into secretion—a combustion that, for better or worse, is noticeable in spades across these chorus-effect filtered tapes.

Yet on Chris, the inherent creative elixir exhuming from Adams’ pen and strings might be stretched back even further, as far as his spotless and immaculate self-titled triumph unveiled three years prior—a triple Grammy-nominated record that still charts as his most definitive and accomplished body of work for who writes. Concretely, a track like “Aching for More“, queued up at number six on Chris‘s A-side, with its galloping strumming and nocturnal acoustic-to-electric guitar interplay as well as evident mixing session parallels, comes across as something that might have easily been written the same day as the self-titled standout “Am I Safe“. Well as it turns out, “Aching for More” was actually originally placed as the B-side for that project’s lead promotional single “Gimme Something Good“‘s physical issue, in anticipation to the full album release in September 2014.

The throwback timeline references to said specific creative juncture don’t end there, though. When listening to the tenderly sour sensibilities of track number two on Chris, “Still a Cage“, one can’t but notice melodic vocal inclinations in the song’s main verse stanzas recalling a record like the stern and austere “I Just Might“, tracklisted at number nine on his self-titled, and Adams’s Springsteenian worship to end (and precede) them all. Moreover, examining a different exploit such as the cloudy, hazy, hollow, and ethereal “Dive“, opening the more amiable and dejected B-side on Chris, affords one the chance to draw a not-so-veiled parallel to its sublime older sibling “Shadows“, a true pièce de résistance on Adams’s 2014 record and one that sounds like it programmed and configured the exact same pre-amp effects and filters to stoke something as vaporous as “Dive”.

Notwithstanding the songwriting and recording influences of the PaxAm label owner and poet’s leanings during the front-end of the last decade, the undisputed sonic roadmap sprouting a collection of tracks as dense and raw as those that make up Chris is without a doubt his Prisoner record. For God’s sake, “Say What You Said” at number seven rings just like it’s laundering pound-for-pound recycled melodies, rhythmic patterns, and verses from the sweet and tender Prisoner acoustic ballad “Tightrope“. Further case in point, the throttling and low-fidelity indie rock number “Lookout” on the record’s side B: the demo was literally offered as exclusive bonus track on the physical deluxe boxset End of the World edition accompanying the main œuvre that same year (alongside “The Cold“). And lest we forget, the sappy and sugary standalone non-album Valentine single “Baby I Love You“—dropped mere months away from the principal Prisoner event—saw the Chris-housed “Was I Wrong” being served as companion piece for its physical release (further circumstantial evidence surrounding its being given birth during the lengthy and sumptuous Prisoner writing sessions can be found here, sourced straight from the horse’s mouth).

In agreement with fellow Chris reviewers, labelling this record as the final instalment in a discographic trilogy comprising Wednesdays and Big Colors could be inaccurate at best, decoying at worst. Much rather, one would be better off thinking of Ryan Adams’ nineteenth studio effort as the culminating double LP-relicts result of a working trajectory started with his 2014 self-titled, and fully emancipated and realised with his essential Prisoner outing three years after. Archival and cataloguing reflections notwithstanding, this effort takes listeners through an overall spotty, dusty, and erratic listening journey across 18 emotionally raw and occasionally overbearing cuts. Some, like the aforementioned “Lookout”, still come across as rough studio drafts, some sound like they never hit the final mastering round desk (album opener “Take It Back“, in spite of its compositional poignancy and momentum, cues two seconds of silence before playing back), while others sound overproduced and EQ’d too loud in the mix (“Replaced” at number sixteen).

No harm no foul; grieving, mourning, and penitence are imperfect and unrefined processes by definition. Throw at it the captained vessel of Adams’ sentimentally vulnerable assembly of atoms, tasked to act as primary conduit of canvassed messaging, and you’ll end up with the confused and unhinged hodgepodge that is Chris. Ultimately, what remains most vividly and brightly, after repeated front-to-back replays of this brotherly dedication in art, are quintessential third act Ryan Adams numbers. When navigating the menagerie on this thing, resort to the morally viscous and emotionally syrupy “About Time” (interestingly enough, one of the vastest pre-release leakages as part of this ‘album cycle’); the heavenly enchantment of “Schizophrenic Babylon“, a ballad for untimely lost angels and one that, can you believe it, borrows indiscriminately from Prisoner‘s gnarly “Haunted House“, as well as the indescribable spiritual lightness of the title track. Of course. RIP Chris Adams.

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.




2022, PaxAm Recording