michael gallucci

ALBUM REVIEWS

In album review on 07/02/2012 at 12:00 pm

Baroness

Yellow & Green

(Relapse)

Like fellow Georgia prog-metal behemoths Mastodon, Savannah’s Baroness get heavy and heady on their third album. They also bite off a little more than they can chew on Yellow & Green, a concept album of sorts, split into two separate works and filled with the tricky, twisty instrumental chops and complex songcraft that have gained Mastodon a following outside of typical metal fan bases. Don’t bother searching for a tidy theme among the 18 songs scattered among the two records; it’s the minor-chord brooding, genre experiments, and epic thrust of the music that tie it all together. Tracks like “Take My Bones Away,” “March to the Sea,” and “Eula” reveal a growing interest in melody and structure that isn’t just about the push and plunder. And frontman John Baizley has never sounded more at ease with his surroundings, finding peace among the ruins.

Cosmo Jarvis

Think Bigger

(Frame/The End)

This British singer-songwriter caught a ton of buzz a couple of years ago with “Gay Pirates,” the catchiest song ever written about homosexual swashbucklers. His third album still packs plenty of whimsy, but Jarvis cuts a more conventional path this time, targeting – as the title implies – more mainstream topics. The best songs (“Love This,” “Tell Me Who to Be”) are tuneful, filled with playful wordplay, and kinda average.

Jeff the Brotherhood

Hypnotic Nights

(Warner Bros.)

Nashville siblings Jake and Jamin Orrall (sons of a Music City vet who worked on Taylor Swift’s debut) work a Black Keys-style low-fi stomp on their new album. And the comparison is no accident: Dan Auerbach co-produced Hypnotic Nights with the brothers. Fuzzy, scuzzy, and a throwback to Nuggets garage rock, songs like “Country Life” and “Sixpack” are sloppy, solid slabs of primal rock & roll, no subgenres necessary.

Matisyahu

Spark Seeker

(Fallen Sparks/Thirty Tigers/Red)

Even Matisyahu isn’t sure how he fits in these days. After inventing the “Hasidic Jewish reggae rap” genre (and, as far as we know, he’s the only guy to ever dabble in this mix), the Pennsylvania native eased into Jack Johnson-like breezy acoustic folk. His fourth album is all over the place as he grasps for some relevancy in a world grown tired of his gimmick. Over 55 tedious minutes, Matisyahu sings, strums, and, yes, raps, Hasidic Jewish reggae style.

The Very Best

MTMTMK

(Moshi Moshi/Cooperative)

Three years ago, this group – a collaboration between Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and British producer Johan Hugo, now flying solo – became blog favorites for its mix of traditional Afropop and old-school hip-hop. Their second album is more of the same, with more emphasis on the African music that drives the grooves. The best songs here (“Kondaine,” “Yoshua Alikuti”) transport township jive to the hippest club on the continent.

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