Meticulous and ephemeral, English Oceans recalls Isbell's 2013 critically acclaimed solo album Southeastern, a solid and stolid collection of sketches that didn't turn into watercolors, of homilies whose guitar tunings were as private as prayers.
Few bands at the same point of their career can boast that they’re still working on their highest level, and with ’English Oceans’ the band cement themselves as one of the best and consistent alt. country acts of the ’00s - and there’s no sign of them slowing down.
Basically, this is the sound of a band happy to be coasting, which can be a chore to listen to.
Cooley’s superlative performance on English Oceans would be more worthy of celebration if it wasn’t negated by Hood’s most non-committal songwriting to date.
But the instrumentation and mixing don’t often match the bold storytelling, which is strange since English Oceans feels like the most Rock (with a seriously capital “R”) LP that the Truckers have put out since The Dirty South.
English Oceans is a meat-and-potatoes rock and roll record, rawer and rougher than anything since Alabama Ass Whuppin’, and its leanness highlights the band’s strengths while amplifying a few lingering weaknesses.
This is Southern rock with a brain, featuring well-etched characters and imaginative lyrics framed by fluent guitars, subtle keyboard touches, and the crisp production of long-time collaborator David Barbe.
English Oceans is a typically strong album from Drive-By Truckers. It doesn’t touch the band’s early 00’s run of Southern Rock Opera, Decoration Day and The Dirty South, but it’s nice to hear Cooley fully embracing his status as co-leader of the band.
English Oceans is more or less what you would expect, and that’s pretty much a good thing.
The Drive-By Truckers are still capable of mixing things up and showing off new sides of their skill set, and that's certainly the case with English Oceans, which shows them making wise use of all their talents -- not just Mike Cooley.
English Oceans is a triumph for the Drive-By Truckers, one that capitalizes on Hood and Cooley’s strengths as songwriters and also gives them something to sing for that means more than all those colorful characters put together.
A record that’s all too often content with mediocrity even though its finest moments reveal just how close it came to greatness.
Most tracks are urgent dancefloor stompers — particular standouts are “Icabod” and lead single “Rescue, Mister” — but with the departure of Maya Postepski to focus on dark synth-poppers Austra, something else seems absent.
The new record’s album artwork, an overwhelming black image whose blue and red dashes and lines create a tunnel of endless darkness, highlights the progress Alfons has made in abandoning the superficiality of TRST for something truer to the nature of emotional darkness: subjective inexactness and uncertainty of meaning.
“Happy,” the album’s (nauseatingly successful) lead single, is a perfect example of what is lost in this replication process: boldness, personality, dynamic, cultural relevancy, etc.
Calculated to death and buffed to an immaculate sheen, all dressed up with no motivation to go anywhere: that’s G I R L. It sounds expensive as hell and even more boring.
Mostly, Pharrell is content to approximate dance floor fillers from the ’70s and ’80s; at his worst, he rehashes the more soulful and innovative material he made a decade ago.
While the immaculately blended pop smoothie that is G I R L goes down easy, its complacency is disappointing.
Those who aren’t giving Williams the time of day are missing out on some of the richest, most tasteful pop of a generation. And G I R L, his first solo album since 2006’s In My Mind, is 47 more minutes to back that up.
While G I R L is too surface-level at times, it hits the target it’s aimed for. Pharrell wants summertime airplay, and any of these songs could survive on the radio.
Yet Pharrell remains very good at what he does – and when that trademark falsetto kicks in, its easy to see why he’s so successful. G I R L may not be breaking many new boundaries, but it’s guaranteed to keep Williams in ludicrously large hats for some time to come.
The album goes about its quest to please the widest possible audience with mechanical efficiency, packaging Pharrell’s proven disco grooves in agreeable, mostly PG-rated songwriting.
His joyful voice and foot tapping production makes for a happy atmosphere and an enjoyable feel. He maintains his position as a top producer of the music industry and proves that his artistry is top notch.
His mastery of those things is evident here, resulting in the most booty-shaking, speaker-twinkling, glitz-intensive pop-soul record to come down the turnpike in years, out-dazzling even kindred efforts by Timberlake, Bruno Mars, and Miguel.
It's not too long, but not too short; it's fun without being transparent and it's got its feet firmly rooted in the sounds of the past without sounding like a weak tribute. In short, it's great.
Compared to his albums with N.E.R.D. and In My Mind, this is easily Pharrell's second most enjoyable album, just behind the original version of In Search Of... from 2001. It's fun, frivolous, and low on excess.
This is an LP that merits liberal use of the repeat button, and, even when it occasionally misfires, there’s always something interesting just around the corner, a fact that makes The Drop Beneath one of the most endearing albums to come out in the early part of 2014.
Working with indie rock hero Doug Gillard as producer, the band forgoes the tough, punchy sound of its previous album, Correct Behavior, in favor of something a little slicker and more accessible.
It is clear that Eternal Summers have made more than just a third album; The Drop Beneath is the first record of their career that truly feels like the start of something special.
While the album sometimes suffers from hookless meanderings and sonic redundancies, its terse production and strong performances are an achievement indeed.
While nothing here qualifies as any kind of radical reinvention of the indie-rock wheel per se, the band manages to astutely put their own spin on it, seemingly figuring out their own sizable strengths in the process.
For a band that experienced rapid transformation in a short span, this seems to be where they have settled, head nestled in Tom Petty’s bosom.
Though there aren't any clunkers, Tomorrow's Hits peaks when it achieves maximum speed and strives for the ecstatic repetition of eye-rolling, body-transcending gospel music
With such of wealth of new music competing for our ears, the gruel-bland stylings of Atlas barely merit a chance listen. In fact, like a jangle-pop case of the plague, it should be avoided at all costs.
The Leeds-based quintet wraps post-punk's dark shadings over an engine of punk urgency and sends the whole thing howling downhill.
It’s an uncompromising debut, and contains as much melody as brutality – even though they’d probably punch you for saying so.
Imperfect as it might be, the album’s relentlessness is also it’s chief allure. In reality, Eagulls sounds more innovative than it probably is due to the world in which it arrives.
Most importantly it sounds like nothing other than Bozulich’s own twisty back catalog, her career spent distorting punk rock and country and the blues into exciting new shapes.
Simply put, there are few artists with the precision and poetic fortitude of Carla Bozulich, and on Boy, she commands attention like no one else.