Back again with his second E.P. this year, Matt Muse returns with So Far, So Decent, five songs that deliver a hefty amount of melody coming in an assortment of deliveries. “Let It Out (featuring Emoni Brown-Bey) with its flowing cooing harmonies in the distance accentuate Muse’s words while the “Him Freestyle” is a potent giant of a track. Muse leaves just enough space to make his words much more poignant. It may rally around a braggadocious sentiment, but it doesn’t braggadocio attitude. This one gives us an idea of what else follows, with strong deliveries and thick catchy beats, but it’s on “Something Good (featuring Senite)” where he allows someone else to take the lead and it’s a beautiful thing. Both emcees volley their words with one another and the beat? Well, its fury buried within its catchiness. We should all be here for it.
LYDIA LOVELESS – NOTHING’S GONNA STAND IN MY WAY AGAIN
Oh, what can be offered about Lydia Loveless that has never been said before? Well, the “alternative country” singer-songwriter may be lumped into a genre that hasn’t offered much the past few years, but Loveless is way past the singular sound that we’re all familiar with. Her mixture of punk, honky tonk, country, and pop has always reached for the stars in a way only Loveless can deliver. With her eight full-length release, I’m sure we’re all wondering if she can continue capturing that same magic on Nothing’s Gonna Stand In My Way Again (Bloodshot Records).
It’s no surprise here, Loveless’ voice sprawls across the 10 tracks of the album with more than a residual effectiveness. But one thing about Loveless; she never repeats herself so of course you will never hear the same thing twice. Tracks are balladesque, there’s rocking soulfulness, all with her underlying love of a great country twang of her voice which is both subdued and larger-than-life. One thing’s for certain though, whatever we get, it’s going to be undeniably Loveless. There are moments that are surprising, and “Feel” just might be that moment. We find her across this expansive track, radiating much of its energy from the effected-guitars, and when her voice creeps around words, “Midnight, feeling lonely…” with a delivery that lingers across the atmosphere, soothes the soul. It sounds huge even before the rhythm section rides in on the crescendo. Oh, the majesty of the moment! Her voice, her words, her music, it’s all so monumental at just about whatever specific moment the song plays. Anytime, anywhere. But it’s the melancholic “Runaway,” where we hear her brilliance. She moves from desperation – without being desperate – into urges of seclusion in an attempt to forget. Piano notes play around keyboard washes with a rhythm that’s loose but direct.
Lydia Loveless has always been able to rock with the best of them and “Poor Boy” shows that from beginning to end with its catchy melody, hard-knocking rhythm, and cooing harmonies. Loveless is masterful at mixing her heartfelt lyricism around love, wanting, and always falling short, juxtaposing the melancholic with hard-hitting melodic rhythms. Even the much more restrained “Song About You,” filled with guitars and strings, skirts around what seems like mixed feelings with an unrequited love but not really. All this with a catchy melody. It all comes to a head on the stormy piano-driven “Summerlong,” a beautiful song accentuated by strings with Loveless’ southern-styled voice. This is why we all fall in love with Lydia Loveless.
If there were questions about Lydia Loveless’ Nothing’s Gonna Stand In My Way Again, they’ve been answered through her music. It’s powerful, soulful, and filled with an energy that’s unmatched. Loveless is and has always been a force to be reckoned with.
FLAT WORMS – WITNESS MARKS
What’s old is what’s new and what’s new…well, it’s sometimes reflective of what’s old. That’s what the popular opinion might just be of L.A.’s Flat Worms, the band fronted by guitarist Will Ivy, which also includes bassist Tim Hellman, and drummer Justin Sullivan. The group has just released its third full-length LP – depending on who you ask – Witness Marks (God?/Drag City) and what a ruckus they inflict on this impending doomed world.
Throughout Witness Marks, Flat Worms never plays the same song twice, but this rambunctious outfit never lowers its levels and sets their instruments to stun. The opening “Sigalert,” is noisy filled with its thick & gooey bottom end with overdriven guitars, which – and I have to be truthful here – a portion of it is reminiscent of the Cobain penned “Stay Away.” It’s a significant part of the track as it leans into a different direction with its punk-pop enthusiasm. As for comparisons, that’s as far as it goes… but one song does not an album make and comparisons are nixed from here on end. The band is heavy on the bottom end, accentuated at times by guitar like on the post-punk drive of “SSRT.” There’s a shit load of melody, whether it’s through Ivy’s spoken/sung vocals or the unilateral movement of the band’s instruments. It’s heavy, chiming with dissonance at times which adds to the rich flavor of the song. Honestly, a good amount of tracks move this way, whether it’s “Suburban Swans,” “Wolves In Phase,” or “See You At The Show,” Flat Worms elaborates as much of this post-punk sound out of the songs as it can, and that’s an amazing thing.
Don’t get me wrong though, the band can heat things up and go balls-to-the-walls, much like on “Orions Belt,” filled with enough frenetic energy to encourage waves across Californian coasts. Of course the band seems to leave the best for last in the title track with what sounds like a combination of feedback and dissonance to create notes we probably have never heard before. It’s both stunning and mind-boggling at the same time. The melodic rhythm allows guitars to distort and contort across the track. Welcome to another “WTF” moment! All this before Ivy, rips into an overdriven solo.
It’s pretty easy to say Witness Marks delivers in ways others have tried but haven’t. Ok, there’s another comparison but with this release, it seems Flat Worms is only one of the few bands that truly do matter this year.