reviews 2020

Soccer Mommy Color Theory

Soccer Mommy color theory

Soccer Mommy's second proper album, color theory, comes after her 2018 album, Clean, garnered widespread accolades and high-profile tour-mates like Kacey Musgraves, Mitski and Liz Phair. Jim is impressed how Sophie Allison, the mastermind of Soccer Mommy, used synethesia as an organizing principle for this album. He's a fan of her combination of dreamy pop with dark lyrics expressing her depression. Greg sees a lot to love as well: the directness of the writing and personal expression of songs like“yellow is the color of her eyes.”However, the musical arrangements don't pack the same punch for him as the lyrics. Jim disagrees, citing the long legacy of dark words accompanying beautiful music from the blues to opera.

JimGreg
Go to episode 749
critics

Cornershop England is a Garden

Jim and Greg are happy to announce that Cornershop is back, although they never really stopped recording after their massive Number One hit, 1997's "Brimful of Asha". The band was founded with Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayres (the two constant members), and Greg says that the band was part a fruitful 1990s movement of Indian music coming out of the UK that also included Asian Dub Foundation and Talvin Singh. England is a Garden, the group's 9th album, supplies more of the Indian-influenced Brit Pop that made“Brimful”so memorable in the first place. The resulting mix is "as much of an evocation of one vision of Jolly Old England as Pink Floyd was." Yet the vision also contains a dark undercurrent, as Singh (a man of Indian descent) talks about being the victim of slurs and harassment on the street. Greg gives the example of "St. Marie Under Canon" as a song with a "garage-y, Motown vibe" with "bouncy Hammond organ; and then, they're talking about colonialism and the march of black boots… There's these undercurrents of political commentary in these great tunes." Jim is quick to acknowledge that the group had long ago fallen off his radar, but this album "is a breath of fresh air that made [him] fall in love deeply with the band." Both Jim and Greg conclude that the album is brilliant.

JimGreg
Go to episode 749
critics

U.S. Girls Heavy Light

U.S. Girls is a project by singer and songwriter Meghan Remy. The band has explored many different genres over the years, ranging from noise rock to glam to '60s girl group. Heavy Light is U.S. Girls' 7th studio album, and features the blending of elements like Hal Blaine's iconic drumbeat on the Ronettes' classic "Be My Baby" and almost musical theatre-like instrumentation and vocals throughout. While Greg acknowledges that he is a fan, he was not satisfied by this record and was expecting more. He thinks the first half of the record is pretty good, but finds it falls apart as it goes on, and the Broadway tone is not for him. Jim agrees that he doesn't care for the musical theatre tint Heavy Light has, and is not sure why she randomly references leaving a cake out in the rain, à la the Jimmy Webb-penned song "MacArthur Park" in the middle of her track "Woodstock '99."

JimGreg
Go to episode 749
Rookie

Rookie Rookie

The guys in Rookie may have officially formed in 2018, but they've been mainstays in the Chicago scene for years now. Now their debut album, Rookie, is poised to cement their place in Chicago's classic rock influenced scene that includes Twin Peaks and Whitney. Both Jim and Greg are impressed by the energetic, good-times,“give me a beer, no make it a pitcher,”attitude. The combination of Cheap Trick, Big Star, Thin Lizzy and The Allman Brothers influences puts Jim in mind of early Replacements. He's looking forward to hearing their "Unsatisfied." Greg points out there is a lot of musical information packed into Rookie's songs like "Hold On Tight" and applauds their compositional savvy. Both Jim and Greg can't wait to see them live when clubs are reopened.

JimGreg
Go to episode 749
critics

Angelica Garcia Cha Cha Palace

Angelica Garcia has made a big impression on Jim and Greg with her new album, Cha Cha Palace. Even though Jim previously named her as a buried treasure, this album blew him away. Greg calls the record great, and was impressed by how she mined her East Los Angeles Mexican and El Salvadoran upbringing into the mash-up that is her sound, "a collage of influences with a larger than life personality at the center of it". He is also impressed by the versatility of her voice: describing it as“blazing”on "It Don't Hinder Me," in contrast with the“beauty”that she brings to "The Big Machine." Jim notes that“Angelica Garcia is taking no guff from anybody, but she is doing it with joy. This is an album that as you rage, you want to dance.”

JimGreg
Go to episode 749
grimes

Tame Impala The Slow Rush

The Australian psychedelic rock band Tame Impala return with their first new album in five years, The Slow Rush. Led by Kevin Parker, the band has experienced mainstream and critical success. However, neither Jim nor Greg find this album very good. Greg asserts that he finds the arrangements to be sonically beautiful and deep, but beyond that, there isn‘t much. Despite also liking the band’s music, Jim can't find anything positive to say about The Slow Rush.

JimGreg
Go to episode 745
grimes

Grimes Miss Anthropocene

Electronic art pop artist Grimes is back with her latest album, Miss Anthropocene. It's her first record in five years since 2015's Art Angels. Both Jim and Greg are big fans of Grimes and really enjoy the layered complexities of Miss Anthropocene. Jim loves the epic sonic landscapes Grimes creates, and also when she throws listeners for a loop by adding in more conventional instruments like acoustic guitar. He loves the artistic concept of the album, about a goddess warrior who defends the earth from climate change. Greg is also on board with Miss Anthropocene and agrees with Jim that it rewards fans who listen multiple times. He loves the way she writes, sings, composes and produces her own records, and the fact that he never knows what she'll make next.

JimGreg
Go to episode 745
Wire Mind Hive

Wire Mind Hive

On their 17th album, Mind Hive. the British art punks of Wire are still re-imagining their sound. The group's first three albums from the late 1970s are widely considered classics: Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, and 1 5 4. Each fleshed out a different sonic approach ("pure punk minimalist attack, expanding sound and full on syth pop," respectively according to Jim DeRogatis). Since then Wire has been taking apart those elements and reassembling them in different ways. Now Jim hears them nodding to groups that were influenced by those early albums like The Feelies. Greg says if Samuel Beckett were a band, he would be these guys, dryly narrating the end of the world.

JimGreg
Go to episode 742
torres

Torres Silver Tongue

This week, Jim and Greg review the new release from indie singer-songwriter Torres. Silver Tongue is Torres's fourth album, but she's no stranger to Sound Opinions, having been a guest on the show back in 2015. Greg loves this album and how Torres blends synths with finger picking guitar. She also ups the hook quotient in her writing, making for a great record. Jim agrees, and loves Torres's literary, lyrical tone. They both find her genuine and transparent songs to be refreshing and enjoyable.

JimGreg
Go to episode 739
Drive-By Truckers The Unraveling

Drive-By Truckers American Band

Drive-By Truckers have been at it since 1998, but on their 12th studio album, The Unraveling, Jim and Greg agree they‘ve found something new to say. Coming three and a half years after their“most political album,”2016’s American Band, The Unraveling goes all-in on topical songwriting in a way the Truckers have never attempted before. Jim says the effort works because songwriters Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley focus first on the victims of the current political climate and let that animate their writing. Greg points out a sub-group of songs that focus on characters who feel like they're fugitives in their own country: "Rosemary with a Bible and a Gun," "Armageddon's Back in Town" and "Slow Ride Argument." Jim calls "Thoughts and Prayers" an earworm with an insideous hook.

JimGreg
Go to episode 739
beach

Beach Slang The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City

The latest album from Pennsylvania punk rock band Beach Slang is called The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City. Led by James Alex, Beach Slang has had a number of members since its creation in 2013. This new album showcases Alex's devotion to the band The Replacements, with similar sonic elements, vocals and lyrics. Jim likes what the band is doing and enjoys the record. Greg finds it to be a bit too derivative and enjoys the more instrumental, original songs.

JimGreg
Go to episode 738