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


As if ruled by near Swiss clockwork precision, 48-year old singer/songwriter Ryan Adams once again made good on his unwritten pledge to dish out yet another collection of new music on average about every third month. This time earmarked by his ninth project containing previously unreleased material since December 2020 — tenth, if considering his mid-March Return to Carnegie Hall EP — the alt-folk heavyweight re-ascends into the global ether by way of a full rework of brit-pop giants Oasis‘s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? Offered once more as a download giveaway to newsletter subscribers via his PaxAm label hub, and already slated for a subsequent full blown release on licensed services, the reimagined batch appears as a double-sided 14-cut reinterpretation of the original 1995 rock classic.

Thus wrapping up a wholly uncalled for, yet overall more than gratifying, trilogy of covers, Adams’s Morning Glory follows in the wake of his own personal takes on two other cornerstones of modern folk rock: Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks and Springsteen‘s Nebraska — originally unveiled on last Christmas day, and at the beginning of December, respectively. This latest exploit is handily the most daring and wildest set of liberties the North Carolinian seized as part of the unofficial cover series yet. From the re-sequenced tracklist, the upgrade of as many as four lead single B-sides (“Talk Tonight“, “Headshrinker“, “Acquiesce“, and “Rocking Chair“), to the almost complete de-electrification of the instrumental canvas, Morning Glory sees a worshipping scholar affording himself just enough envelope-pushing inertia to both celebrate and advance the work of art at once.

In-between such heaps of legendary recordings rearrangements, the PaxAm founder also found time to announce to the world that he had gotten his old revered Cardinals band back together earlier in March — aligning the newsflash with the release of their stern piano-led comeback single “Dreams of the Working Class“. In the same breath, he also squeezed in the dispatch of a forthcoming gargantuan US Coast-to-Coast tour accompanied by the band. Their time on the road starts next month and will keep a newly redrafted lineup, inclusive of Brad Pemberton on percussions, Chris Stills on guitars, Daniel Clarke on keys, and A-list record executive moonlighting as bassist Don Was, occupied traveling across America through mid October.

Meanwhile, as he’s wrapping up the final European leg of his year-long solo acoustic run, the former Whiskeytown ringleader made sure to cue up the drop of Morning Glory with his physical arrival in ole Blighty, just before Easter. In great British catholic spirit, he also saw fit to stitch a revised and regionally fitting front cover on the record, tributing folklore Mancunian TV soap opera Coronation Street (see below), aside from of course indulging in the deconsecrated exercise of resuscitating the seminal collection of songs on the margins of Christianity’s parallel antic a few days later.

To humour the analysis a smidge deeper, it’s interesting and perhaps not coincidental to constatate how Adams plucked one cornerstone album for each different decade leading up to the new millennium. Albeit not churned out strictly chronologically, Blood on the Tracks (1975), Nebraska (1982), and now Morning Glory (1995) can all serve as auxiliary stepping stones on a roadmap that charts the impact and influence of watershed rock albums on both the wider cultural zeitgeist, and on Adams himself. Bearing witness to his increasingly exuberant rendering of these musical staples as part of the incubatory artistic heritage that moulded him is to watch a musician having more and more fun doing it (something discussed as early as in the first cover series instalment). It’s a touch tired and microwaved posit, but the key here is in the process, rather than the output.

Progressing from the unassuming and somewhat dejected pound-for-pound rendition of The Boss‘s ten tracker — with only minor compositional personalisations and musical derivatives — to then alight at the braver and aesthetically bolder instrumental coda choices laced into Dylan’s fifteenth studio LP, the Jacksonville, NC-native seems to have come full circle with the Gallagher bros’ magnum opus. By his own admission, this latest two-sided reverb and delay-effected affair stands to pull the curtains on his interpreter phase — at least for a while — an assertion that lends a heightened sense of closure over what some Oasis purists might brush off as iconoclast creative choices on Morning Glory.

With the sole exception of the record’s opener (“Hello“) and closer (“Champagne Supernova“), every single other number on Adams’s Morning Glory is completely refactored and repositioned compared to its reference LP, fundamentally forging a whole different album listening experience—not to mention the seemingly untouchable tracklist contamination through the inclusion of almost 30% of cutting room floor material. So the project is now fourteen cuts long, spanning an hour and five minutes of runtime, as opposed to the brit-pop chart-toppers’ 50 minutes and de facto only ten songs (sans the two “Swamp Song” skits). Parochial absolutists of the Manchester prodigal sons couldn’t necessarily be faulted for being up in arms at the mere thought of it.

This not only warrants the inquiry of whether Adams’s Morning Glory can even be considered a covers album of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? in the first place, but it also refracts a whole new beam of light on what is, perhaps notoriously, the Cardinals frontman’s biggest and most successful track to date: his 2004 Love Is Hell cover of Oasis’s “Wonderwall“. Then smartly and tastefully stripped back to a thin acoustic backbone and drenched in reverb compared to the reference track, his 2023 version is, well, even more stripped back to a thin acoustic backbone, and even more drenched in reverb.

Right from the inaugural announcement that he was working toward his own take on the Manchester heroes’ second studio album last year, the question arousing the single largest amount of curiosity amongst his listenership was, understandably, how he would’ve re-dressed one of the most popular songs of all time. Once again. By sticking to the tried and trued guns of his first groundbreaking recitation, one can’t but feel like he not only missed a brilliant opportunity to breathe new life into what’s almost become a laughing stock within his formidable catalogue, but it also raises a whole slew of questions over how enslaved by that 2004 version he’s become. Almost to the point of feeling pressured to build a whole cover album around it.

In his concluding defence, Adams did introduce his Morning Glory as “[w]eirdly like LOVE IS HELL had a brother from another mother maybe”. Definitely Maybe: with twenty-twenty hindsight, chances are that covering the Oasis debut could have made for a fairer choice to both him and the music.

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



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


As if attempting to take a stab at reimagining your reported ‘favorite album of all time’ would not be intimidating enough, restless and prolific singer/songwriter Ryan Adams chose to indulge in the challenge while playing in God mode. Shortly after delving into the hounds of rust belt hell via his recent unsolicited interpretation of Bruce Springsteen’s marquee project Nebraska, the 48-year old poet and musician this time saw fit to up the storied and timeless ante by borrowing from his ‘favorite songwriter of all time and spirit animal’ Bob Dylan. Reinventing the Nobel Prize winner’s iconic fifteenth studio album Blood on the Tracks, Adams’s own version of the 10-track LP appeared as yet another free digital download on his PaxAm label on Christmas’s Eve—a festive offering of sorts.

In his defense, the former Whiskeytown founder self-exculpated the covers album release by pleading ‘sacrilege’ over the stint, yet rebutting how he would be ‘doing it anyway’, prefacing how ‘it’s important to stay on your toes, and frankly after this beautiful year of climbing this mountain again my body is broken but my mind is pacing the floors… so it’s time to get busy.’ Lest people forget, Blood on the Tracks was the seven-time Grammy Award nominee’s sixth studio project unveiled during the course of the 2022 calendar year (adding to Chris, Romeo & Juliet, FM, Devolver, and the aforementioned Nebraska), annihilating previous personal and industry records at once.

Taking Adams’s recent DIY, self-released, and up-for-it ethos into account, the musical heresy was bound to be naturally deconsecrated. A somewhat reduced—and contextually enforced—instrumental backline underscores his rendition of the folk rock pièce de résistance, while slyly walking a thin tightrope between homage and re-appropriation as far as the performance committed to tape is concerned. Most crucially, his PaxAm re-issue adds a whooping extra twenty minutes of runtime to Dylan’s more contained 52, accrued by virtue of more or less extensive instrumental codas tacked on to cuts such as “Simple Twist of Fate”, “You’re a Big Girl Now”, as well as project bookends “Shelter from the Storm” and “Buckets of Rain”.

While adding more than a third of previously inexistent material to a work of art universally considered flawless might sound like a non-starter to purists, such musical fat on this thing is easily cut, and never in the way of the essential message conveyance on this update. Lending the Ryan Adams treatment to such legendary and to a certain extent untouchable recordings also meant demystifying what for many—through little fault of their on, mind yo—is a fourth-wall relationship to these American classics. For Adams neither modernizes nor museum-ifies these vignettes. He just merely performs them. That’s a straight A for making the effort alone.

As recently argued within the context and realm of him gifting Nebraska to the world—another unattainable record if there ever was another one—the Jacksonville, NC-native is bound to his spurs of creativity much like a scissor to its two arms. Blood on the Tracks was apparently arranged, rehearsed, and recorded all whilst fighting post-tour blues this past December, following his most recent US fall/winter live leg. If one can pass us the analogy; nobody would bat an eye if your favorite <insert here> basketball player hit the court for a couple free throws the day after the big match—like it or not, much like any professional athlete of record would do in their line of sports, Ryan Adams poured his blood, sweat, and tears on these tracks.

In the same breath, even a cursory scan of some of the verses and stanzas echoing loud almost fifty years after they were initially written, could almost have one wonder whether they were just chucked down by latter-day Adams himself. Take the brilliant and malignant opening batch from “Idiot Wind”: “Someone’s got it in for me / They’re planting stories about in the press / Whoever it is I wish they’d cut it out quick / But when they will I can only guess“—one can’t but picture the alt-country minstrel double checking his notes on whether it’s really a cover he’s recording. Elsewhere, the poignancy and earnestness with which they’re delivered make the following sets of words from the penultimate cut sound and read just like they originally came from Adams’ pen: Suddenly I turned around / And she was standing there / With silver bracelets on her wrists / And flowers in her hair / She walked up to me so gracefully / And took my crown of thorns / “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give ya / Shelter from the storm”.

Admittedly a tad too late, but here’s a fat disclaimer: much like with Springsteen’s Nebraska, on Blood on the Tracks liberties were taken. Verses were cut, song tempos were altered, solos and instrumental interludes were added and removed, cover arts were reimagined (see below). It notwithstanding, the creative process’s resin extrapolated from the source leaves us with a watertight opening quartet of tunes, making up what’s Adams’s most focused, original, and accessible portion on the whole project. By contrast, the midsection gets a little rougher around its edges, and frequently risks to trail off on a number already patience-demanding such as “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts”, potentially causing some listeners to throw in the towel halfway through.

The two-pronged ending is worth sticking around for, though. Adams’s “Shelter from the Storm” becomes a sweet little groovy acoustic serenade with lots to write home about. From its soft and tender instrumentation, to the former Cardinal’s reassuring intonation and diction, the cut gently skids through its four minutes and change before giving way to an impromptu six-minute instrumental coda that, unlike some of the earlier ones on the record, ends up sticking its tasteful and gratifying landing in spite of a few lick blemishes here and there. The exploit pulls its curtains scored by the eleven-minute sonic odyssey of “Buckets of Rain”, a frizzy and buoyant outro that cues up another six-string fade out before morphing into a blistering cold droney outflow—a callous reminder that by staying true to his unrestrained self, Ryan Adams managed to do away with any musical apprehension for the salacious crime he committed.

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











































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.



On Wednesday 7th of December, alt-country singer/songwriter Ryan Adams did the unthinkable only a few years ago and gave away a full front-to-back rendition of Bruce Springsteen‘s revered 1982 classic Nebraska, making this collection of covers his fifth official studio album release in the current solar year. While rewriting musical history by way of re-dressing a set of original songs via his trademark guises is nothing inherently new for the PaxAm label owner—he successfully and fiercely charted said territory the first time eight years ago with Taylor Swift’s 1989—issuing five distinct projects in less than seven calendar months is something unparalleled and unprecedented even for a prolific author such as himself. Yet don’t get it twisted; less than standing as desperate industrious attempts at morphing into the present day media landscape’s content output expectations, the 10-track ode to one of Adams’s most evident influences is but an expression of endurance.

Progress through action and creation—the form and pacing of the 48-year old Jacksonville, NC-native’s musical portfolio growth of late can’t pretend it’s hiding behind a necessity of unabashed fast-forwardness. This might be where the rubber meets the road: since his comeback unplugged oeuvre Wednesdays in December 2020, the former Whiskeytowner has released seven LPs. That’s a number as big as his worshipped feline household companion’s purported lives, for comparison’s sake. While it’s true that the buck has to stop somewhere, if there is anything that the past twelve months have taught legions of DRA disciples, is that a storyteller as gifted and impervious as Ryan Adams can only survive as a relentless musical empresario. So much for having additional out-of-the-box records in the can, ready to be unveiled in 2022 as originally announced in the lead up to his summer album FM.

Truly and honestly, we can’t say he did not warn us. There were a slew of presages worked into this past years’ tea leaves pointing to some resemblance of boundless creative manifestation, acting as some sort of be-all and end-all for the heartland rocker. A higher faith of sorts to devote one’s self to. With the benefit of twenty-twenty hindsight, one could easily point at his recurrent generous live impromptu sessions on Instagram, the engrossing runtimes and setlists of his more recent three-hour long solo acoustic shows, or even the trickery surrounding an alternate Boss-indebted sleeve for his inaugural trilogy album Wednesdays, as self-evident clues leading to something akin to the gesamtkunstwerk of studio debauchery and stern live renditioning that his own personal interpretation of Nebraska panned out to be.

What matters though is the substance, the artistic elixir; not the format. Nebraska is his second free digital download gift to fans in quick succession, following rapidly on the heels of the brilliant and neat Devolver. With it, DRA seems to self-fulfil the reassurance that he can rest on the grounded belief that effortless creative sprawls are there for him to be captured and channelled outwardly. Whether they translate into industry ruffian studio albums or self-recorded giveaways, matters only peripherally (and to those troubled enough to care). The whole point of being Ryan Adams is to be afforded the creative and marketing license to retain the unfiltered, untamed, and unedited impetus that always accompanied him along his near thirty years worth of discography—irrespective of whether that’s true blue country on Jacksonville City Nights, heartland rock on his self-titled, or heavy metal on Orion.

Nebraska, much like say Devolver, the PaxAm Single Series, or his more recent Instagram live sessions, speaks of the auteur working out, attending his regular gym sesh. In a not too dissimilar fashion to the source material creator’s modus operandi—who in his Born to Run memoir revealed how his songwriting prowess was shaped more by method and consistency than bursts of uncalled for inspiration—Ryan Adams can’t not write and put out music. So why not wholly condoning his embrace of such an un-produced urge by way of leveraging his modern day freedom from contractual or material constraints to opt into a ‘the more the merrier’ ethos? Lest we misunderstand, the approach is additive, not discrete.

While we all eagerly await Bruce to unearth his own lost drum-loop based synth-washed album, let this project carry us in a similarly unassuming yet stark fashion, all the while musing over what Springsteen’s artistic trajectory could have been in the 90s, if only. Safe to say, most of us will take this over any other disingenuous boomer bait any day of the week. How could we not: this is Ryan’s early Christmas present. Most of us will eventually come around to pardon and appreciate what’s arguably the most prolific songwriter of his generation for speeding up “Atlantic City“, chopping and screwing “Johnny 99“, or going full analogue live take on the final three cuts on his version of Nebraska—for most of us have understood that we can’t have Heartbreak-era Ryan Adams, if we can’t accept post-2020 Ryan 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.



Any calendar year’s fourth quarter act invariably sprouts summational thinking on the part of music pundits the world over, thrusting them into cynically whittled down crop of best (and worst…) of new music as if their life depended on it. As it turns out, 2022 appears to be making said faux-editorialized process ever so slightly more difficult, by virtue of above-average quality drops peppered throughout the last two eligible months of October and November. We’d go as far as to claim that the current one might be the most backloaded revolution around the sun in semi-recent memory—potentially of the last decade. This essay sets out to highlight a round up of but a few of the miscellaneous late-into-the-year releases standing to corroborate and qualify such advanced hypothesis. And to think it’s doing so without exhibiting other potential heavyweight honourable mentions worthy of making the cut, such as the intelligently composed and astutely assembled The Car by the Arctic Monkeys, Freddie Gibbs‘s aspirational glam rap opera $oul $old $eparately, and Canadian treasure Neil Young‘s self-effacing fifteenth studio album with Crazy Horse, World Record. Or even Taylor Swift’s open-hearted confessional Midnights, rounding up with Nas’ latter-day-high King’s Disease, attained via his third cold-blooded single-handed trilogy instalment.

A subdued and unsuspecting mid-October Friday saw the return of exquisite Mississippi-hailing singer/songwriter Cory Branan, who with his latest 11-track exploit When I Go I Ghost fiercely put an end to a five year mouthwatering musical drought, dating back to his last studio body of work: 2017’s mixed bag Adios. Unlike his previous, his newest record is a superlative exercise in no frills alt country and then some—flirting equally exuberantly with blue collar heartland rock (particularly on lead single “When In Rome, When In Memphis“, but also on “Room 101” and “Come On If You Wanna Come”), heavy garage rock (“When I Leave Here”), as well as lightweight power pop (“One Happy New Year”). It might be stating the plain as far as the Branan-initiated are concerned, but one of the sharpest traits that sets him apart from the dime-a-dozen pack of mainstream-adjacent country exponents is his refined lyrical sensibility, exhuming a supremely distilled ability to sound both emotionally relatable and eruditely unrivalled at the same time.

When I Go I Ghost is no exception in how it launders and delivers witty quotables and earnest diaristic entries alike—all set to carefully curated rootsy sonic backdrops, relying primarily on Branan’s still criminally underrated guitar playing, as well as sparsely interwoven keys of all strands. Frankly, each of the eleven records sequenced on the project could warrant at the very minimum one sampled litmus test, yet we’ll limit the textual road show to just a few here. Start with “O Charlene“‘s sudden lightheartedness of surrender, which might be one of the most unexplored themes in rock music—especially by men: “Cause the birds are still singing and the sun still burns / Swing low, diminishing returns / And I’m finally done with all my trying to get it right / I drink a flat Coca Cola in the cold sunlight“). Meanwhile, “That Look I Lost“‘s romantic ambivalence, doubling as one of the stickiest refrains on the album, makes for an all too familiar internal struggle to those fighting back their natural ageing inertia: “And I’ll spend the rest of my life / Dying to find / That look I lost, that look I lost / Dying to find that look I lost in her eye“.

Another unassuming dark horse eruptively claiming high altitude spots on many a year-end lists in 2022 has got to be The Loneliest Time, 36-year-old Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen’s sixth studio album. On our part, we did our best by warning Interweb argonauts about CRJ’s impending pop doom ahead of time, but boy did the feast not disappoint. Hitting the shelves one week after Branan on 21st October, the Interscope-corralled set of synth-pop galore aptly packs thirteen anthemic vignettes of prima facie alienated melancholic catchiness. Case in point, third promo single leading up to the full release, “Talking to Yourself“, culling the immediate resonance and impact of few other modern pop cuts. Everything from its slick and glossy production to the undeniably familiar verse-pre-chorus-bridge-chorus leitmotiv is bona fide song crafting perfection. In the same breath, “Joshua Tree“, at number two on the tracklist, dabbles as much in pop rock instrumentation as in synthetic pop incantation, only to fold before the melted cheese stickiness of its refrain: “I need it (Da, da-da-da-da-da) / I feel it (Da, da-da-da-da-da) / I see it (Da, da-da-da-da-da) / I know it (Da, da-da-da-da-da) / I own it (Da, da-da-da-da-da) / I show it (Da, da-da-da-da-da)”.

Jepsen—who on The Loneliest Time enjoyed studio co-signs from behind-the-scenes songwriting royalties Rostam Batmanglij and Alex Hope, as well as her longtime collaborator Tavish Crowe—is the type of music creator who can disguise a quasi-interlude into one of the strongest takeaway from a premiere body of work (“Sideways“), in spite (or precisely because of) sugary and borderline cringeworthy verses such as “One more cutе disaster / Said, ‘I love you’ twice / Bеfore you could even answer / It’s hard here in paradise“. Contemporaneously, the Grammy-nominated artist is one to sequence absolute album standout “Bad Thing Twice” as late as number ten on the record’s D-side, willingly entering into the risk of leaking potential listenership along the way before delivering a masterclass in Dua Lipa-like heartbreak slapper material. Sonically and thematically, The Loneliest Time is such a resiliently robust collection of songs; one’d be hard-pressed to spot a lull moment or snoozer on this thing (perhaps “So Nice” on an antonymic day?). Even its pocket of digital-only bonus tracks is worth sticking around for.

Surely, the heaviest name to drop on this year’s backload is Bruce Springsteen‘s, whose 21st studio album Only The Strong Survive sees him interpreting custom solo renditions of fifteen classic soul exploits. Stemming from the storied and iconic back-catalogues of Motown, Gamble & Huff, Stax, and similar fixtures, these recordings double as The Boss’s second collection of covers to date (following the Grammy-winning We Shall Overcome in 2006). By his own admission, the handpicked selection of evergreen R&B tunes enabled the 73-year old “to make an album where I just sang. […] I’ve taken my inspiration from Levi Stubbs, David Ruffin, Jimmy Ruffin, the Iceman Jerry Butler, Diana Ross, Dobie Gray, and Scott Walker, among many others.” Further elaborating on the revisited creative concept through a dedicated announcement clip, the OG New Jerseyan declared: “I’ve tried to do justice to them all—and to the fabulous writers of this glorious music. My goal is for the modern audience to experience its beauty and joy, just as I have since I first heard it. I hope you love listening to it as much as I loved making it.”

As far as the lead up to the full release on 11th November was concerned, the initial electric sprawl and edginess of “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)“, originally written and performed by Frank Wilson in 1965, gave way to the beloved Commodores classic “Nightshift“—easily one of the album’s pièces de résistance, and an improbable rendition for the heartland rocker to hop on if there ever was one. It’s arguably on this track, more than any other in this retro crop, that Springsteen reached a vocal apex insofar as how clear, tight-commanded, and ebullient his windpipes sound. The watertight and sturdy “Don’t Play That Song” served as the final advance preview for the project, turning a bona fide chart-topper originally authored by Ahmet Ertegun and Betty Nelson (later popularized by Aretha Franklin in 1970) into a carefree brass fest set to Bruce’s cheeky yet wholly believable croonerisms. Elsewhere on the record, “When She Was My Girl“, “Turn Back the Hands of Time“, and “I Forgot To Be Your Lover” stand as further unmissable highlights—decisively turning Only The Strong Survive into an unavoidable candidate in any AOTY race.

At long last, on 17th November trailblazing and envelope-pushing LA boyband BROCKHAMPTON found good riddance of its interior demons by demystifying unreasonable longevity expectations for a coming-of-age group of a dozen through the purge of their swan-song, The Family. Just about making this year’s consideration’s cut, this is the Kevin Abstract-led group’s seventh and final album in six years. It follows their 2021 bloated mixed bag ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE, and rides on the sappy coattails of their hiatus announcement at the beginning of this year. In keeping with the San Marcos, Texas-gestated collective’s unhinged explicitness, lead feline single “Big Pussy” came through from out of left field with a sprawling and out-of-control free jazz instrumental hold, shape-shifting into patch-worked tape-montage wizardry, only to feature the sole Abstract on the mic—much like on the rest of the project—dishing out inflammatory 16s about finessing unfulfilled record deals (“The label needed thirty-five minutes of music“) and the wedges of fandom (“The show is over ni**a, please stop harassing me / Stop asking me, it’s bad enough for me to deal with this tragedy / On my own“).

You guessed it: The Family packs a blitzkrieg 17 records into, well, 35 minutes of runtime—mind you, with as many as ten joints in the bag not even reaching the two minute mark. Everything but the kitchen sink notwithstanding, the off-the-wall raison d’être that has permeated the collective’s MO since its inception seems to take a time-out breather on the subdued and soulful “The Ending“. Dropped just a handful days before release date as conclusive project teaser, the intermezzo is less a fully-fledged single than a semantic coda sermon to BROCKHAMPTON‘s erratic conduct. Sequenced as penultimate offering on the tracklist, sandwiched between the raucous bareness of “My American Life” and their eponymous coda’s blistering prowess, such a concluding triptych makes for a momentous and poignant finishing. Before it, baked somewhere in there is another candid half-hour of heart-on-sleeve primordial soup of boundless hip-hop virtuosity, albeit Abstract-only. At any rate, it’s the last exhibit of a tail end of album drops amounting to as much as any other year top 10’s worth of material, coming to fruition in the last two months of the year alone—if a rising tide lifts all boats…

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




2022, Blue Elan Records



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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