A few choices to keep us occupied during the zombie apocalypse...
Aimee Mann -Mental Illness
This ones a favourite at the moment standout tracks include,
Goose Snow Cone/ You never loved me/stuck in the past/patient Zero/ Rollercoasters
certainly worth a listen and very consistent all the way through. great lyrics to boot. -Paul.
Over the course of her career, Aimee Mann has given voice to those who aren’t necessarily losers so much as self-saboteurs, lovers who bristle at intimacy, who race full speed ahead toward happiness only to shoot themselves in the foot just shy of reaching their goal. “Always snatching defeat/It’s the devil I know,” she sings on “Goose Snow Cone,” the opening track of her ninth album, Mental Illness. “Even birds of a feather find it hard to fly,” the singer-songwriter goes on to say. Love may be the answer, and it may be all that we need, but it’s not always the last word.
It’s true enough that the operating mood on Mental Illness is one of melancholy—and not just because of the sad-sack nature of the characters that Mann brings to life, but because of the slow tempos and acoustic instrumentations. Mann has described this, her first album in five years, as an “if-they’re-all-waltzes-so-be-it record,” and though they’re not all waltzes, they are all songs about the solitude her characters feel in the wee hours of the morning.
Whether that qualifies the album as depressing is subjective, yes, but I’m doubtful given how funny and often beautiful this album is. The songs here feel expertly honed, boiled down to their essence both lyrically and melodically. Mann is perfectly capable of assembling a song from nothing but puns and wordplay. She deploys her wit with precision on Mental Illness: These songs are stark character studies, heavy-hearted, disillusioned, and spiked with just the right amount of black humor.
The album’s arrangements are all acoustic, Song for song, at each turn it exhibits the casual mastery of her razor-sharp pop instincts. “You Never Loved Me” is the most immediately winsome, a tiny masterpiece about how sarcasm and snark are covers for bruised emotions: “Boy when you go, you go/Three thousand miles just so I’ll know/You never loved me,” Mann sings wryly. Then she keeps circling back around to that title phrase, and it stings a little more each time.
“Gotta keep it together when your friends come by,” Mann sings on “Goose Snow Cone,” about a couple whose bond is fractured but who are trying to hang in there anyway, putting on a brave face when they’re around others and choosing to nurse their cuts and bruises only in private. Mann’s best work has always lingered on such private reverie, and Mental Illness is one of her most ravishing and affecting hymns to solitude.
What if Radiohead had used their Nineties digital prog to escape into the past rather than fight the future? That’s the vibe of “3WW,” the prettily mordant first track on Alt-J’s third record, a glitch-y modern version of Fairport Convention’s folk pastorales. The U.K. art rockers have a nice time messing with history – their “House of the Rising Sun” is a minimalist chamber rumble, with singer-guitarist Joe Newman adding his own poetry to the original. At times their idea-heavy songs can feel weighed down by cleverness (the Primus-y “Deadcrush”). But Alt-J can create a dark beauty that’s like moonlight on an English moor.
The Nashville Sound follows in the wake of Isbell’s 2013 breakthrough Southeastern and its 2015 follow-up Something More Than Free, albums that introduced the former Drive-By Truckers third-man to a larger audience with their tales of drunken demons and fresh beginnings. But after spending the last five years reckoning with past darkness, Isbell, 38, shifts his gaze outward. He pledges everlasting faith to his wife on the tearjerker “If We Were Vampires,” offers parental advice on the backyard bluegrass of “Something to Love,” and delivers an urgent warning to the white male demographic, which overwhelmingly voted for Trump, on “White Man’s World.” Isbell points to a more expansive musical future, one where he’s free to indulge his whims, fully unburdened by the notion that he’s the last of a dying breed.
Dead Can Dance- Within The Realm of a Dying Sun
With its two sides split between Perry and Gerrard's vocal efforts, Within the Realm of a Dying Sunserves as both a display for the ever more ambitious band and a chance for the two to individually demonstrate their awesome talents. Beginning with the portentous "Anywhere Out of the World," a piece that takes the deep atmospherics of "Enigma of the Absolute" to a higher level with mysterious, chiming bells, simple but effective keyboard bass and a sense of vast space, the album finds Dead Can Danceon a steady roll. Once again a range of assistant musicians provide even more elegance and power to the band's work, with a chamber string quartet plus various performers on horns, woodwind, and percussion. Impressive though the remainder of the first side is, Gerrard's showcase on the second half is even more enveloping and arguably more successful. The martial combination of drums and horns that start "Dawn of the Iconoclast" call to mind everything from Wagner to Laibach, but Gerrard's unearthly alto, at its most compelling here, elevates it even higher. "Cantara" is no less impressive, a swirling, drum-heavy song that sounds equally inspired by gypsy dancing, classical orchestras and any number of Arab musical traditions. "Summoning of the Muse" is perhaps too formal in comparison, though still quite impressive, but "Persephone" is the finer effort and a good way to close.
My Dying Bride - Turn Loose The Swans
Turn Loose the Swans is the debut album by My Dying Bride, and is a taste of the dominance that this band will show in later years in the genre of doom metal. Along with classic albums like Dance of December Souls (Katatonia) and Forests of Equilibrium (Cathedral), Turn Loose the Swans is one of the foundations that the whole genre is built on. It is an excellent album to listen to, and a wonderful addition to any metal collection.
The album begins with the song Sear Me MCMXCIII, which is a very atmospheric piece. It features slow and mournful singing from Aaron Stainthrope, and utilizes strings and a keyboard to create a emotion-filled introduction to the album. It is a very nice way to begin, and sets the tone for the rest of the album.
The next song is Your River, a personal favourite of mine, and a classic track. Again, this one is very atmospheric, and you can feel the tension building up throughout the song until it explodes at the end with a very catchy, yet heavy riff. Stainthrope shows off his harsh vocals for the first time (which he doesn’t do enough of anymore). The song ends with the lyrics:
'Where now" Feed me! Hold me! Save me! Save
yourself! Where now" Which way" Dear god,
show me. Take your own. Struggle free! Arise!
You're Ruined! Stand down! Your kin, piled
thick around you. Save yourself!'
This track will haunt you long after you have listened to it.
The next two tracks, The Songless Bird and The Snow in My Hands follow the same sort of formula, oozing with atmosphere, fading in and out between melodic harmonies and aggressive tones. Special mention must be made of Stainthropes's voice. He has the perfect voice for doom metal, and his harsh vocals are very good. He manages to create a balance between the two vocal styles which gives this release an edge over rival album, such as Katatonia’s Dance of December Souls. Stainthrope’s voice just fits doom metal a lot better than Renske’s. So we're 4 songs into the album, and we've already had 30 minutes worth of music. With albums of this type, you'd expect there to be some sort of short filler to give us a break from the music, but no, we are thrown into two even longer tracks and one shorter one to finish off the album. This can make album hard to listen to, especially if you aren't that patient or don't have a fondness of doom metal. On the other hand, it makes the album a whole lot more powerful and involving, as long as you are willing to give it that extra bit of attention.
The first of these two longer songs, The Crown of Sympathy chugs along at a steady pace, slowing down, and then speeding back up. This is probably the dullest song on the album. It is the longest, and just doesn’t have any brilliant moments which the other tracks all have. Being 12 minutes long, you'd want it to be interesting. Next comes the title track, and immediately sucks you in with an immersing guitar riff backed with strings, before Stainthrope begins the song with a very evil and menacing tone. Turn Loose the Swans is a very strong track, and probably the heaviest on the album. This song, along with Your River, epitomizes what My Dying Bride was trying to achieve with the album: a balance between atmospheric dread and Armageddon. Turn Loose the Swans is the defining Doom Metal song; it literally spells out doom, musically.
Following the title track, we have the final song, Black God. This is a beautiful and somber piece of music, which finishes off the album nicely. At first glance, I thought this was just another song, as it is almost 5 minutes long, but it is just a very long outro. The outro is so important for an epic album likes this, as it sets the mood that one would feel after finishing the album. This gives it that extra something that is missing from a lot of today's music. Black God is just sublime. I cannot give it enough praise. It is probably my favourite track behind Your River and Turn Loose the Swans.
Highly recommended. Keep an open mind and this album might just surprise you.