Bob Mould, Hauschka, Said the Whale, and Talos
Welcome back! Let’s knock out some honorable mentions for the week before digging into Bob Mould, Hauschka, Said the Whale, and Talos. The first goes out to Jessica Pratt’s Quiet Signs. This album is a perfect example of the 70s easy-listening format. Everything is soft like a dewy meadow flower. It reminds me of the music my mom listened to on the radio.
The second goes out to Cass McCombs’ Tip of the Sphere. This album also sounds like it’s coming at you from the lo-fi 70s, but it’s more the AOR variety. There’s more rock and blues to the album than Pratt’s. For whatever reason, I’m getting a Mark Knopfler/Warren Zevon feel from it.
The final honorable mention goes to Panda Bear’s Buoys. This album is as far away from the previous 70s-style albums as you can get. It’s electronic plinky plunky/pew-pew-y, auto-tuned (but not obnoxiously so), and quirky. Onto this week’s selections!
Bob Mould: Sunshine Rock
Leading off this week’s albums is Bob Mould‘s Sunshine Rock. From the opening title track through the end, this is truth in advertising. It’s upbeat and energetic. The guitars are a driving force. It’s a windows-down-music-cranked-on-a-sunny-day soundtrack. The first image that came to mind is cruising along the PCH with this album bouncing off the surrounding landscape. To be fair, I’ve only travelled on the PCH once – during my brief stay in Long Beach in 2017. I wish I’d had this album at the time!
Hauschka: A Different Forest
Continuing the truth in advertising theme…
We all know the famous, German, prepared pianist, Volker Bertelmann, right? Sure, you probably already knew him as Hauschka, but as usual, I’m a tad late to the game. A Different Forest is his 25th album release (including EP’s and soundtrack albums). With such a vast catalog under his belt, it boggles my mind that I’m just now learning about him.
Regardless, here we are with a beautiful, piano album. I mentioned we’re continuing the truth in advertising theme above because this album’s structures and ambiance set a musical landscape like a forest. At times it’s dense and other times sparse. I listened to this while knocking out my FitBit steps over the weekend and, although, I was walking along sidewalks, I was mentally transported to a forest on a grey, Fall day. I could hear the leaves rustling or twigs snapping underfoot. Not literally, but musically. Note to self: ask Katja if she or her husband have been listening to this music for years.
Said the Whale: Cascadia
Vancouver, B.C. indie rockers, Said the Whale released their sixth album, Cascadia. Listening to the first two tracks, Wake Up and UnAmerican, immediately put me into a Modest Mouse frame of mind and that inkling returned at points throughout the album. It’s not that their vocals remind me of Isaac Brock’s. It’s their instrumentation and rhythms. For example, they move from alternative rock to a different, throwback style on Old Soul, Young Heart. The recording dynamics make it seem like the song could have existed on an old 78 RPM album. Then it’s back into alt-rock on Record Shop.
Talos: Far Out Dust
Let’s head back across the pond to learn about Cork, Ireland-born Eoin French. Again, you probably already knew him by his stage name, Talos. His recent album, Far Out Dust, caught me completely by surprise. Its impact is similar to Gotye’s Making Mirrors (an album whose influences I still carry with me to this day). To my ear, there are correlations to Gotye and Bon Iver/Justin Vernon. First, his use of electronic instrumentation and song structure is similar to both artists. Second, his falsetto usage reminds me of both Justin Vernon and also King Creosote & Jon Hopkins (especially their song Bats In The Attic). It’s really prevalent when his Irish accent shines through. Don’t be surprised if this album makes the Best of list at the end of the year.