Spring Record Review Round-Up & Honeyblood

Jim and Greg give their take on several of the biggest new records, from Spoon to Mastodon, in this Review Roundup. Plus, a conversation with Scottish duo Honeyblood.

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reviewHot ThoughtsHot Thoughts available on iTunes

Spoon Hot Thoughts

Austin, Texas-based indie rockers Spoon have teamed again with producer Dave Fridmann for their ninth studio album, Hot Thoughts. The result, according to Greg, is a subterranean disco record where everything becomes a percussion instrument, from the guitar riffs to Britt Daniel's rhythmic vocals. Alternating between minimalist electro-grooves and avant-garde tracks, it's a great Spoon album that the band has been building toward its entire career. Jim concurs, highlighting the inventive drumming of Jim Eno that propels the band. He marvels that Spoon can continously reshuffle the same minimalist ingredients yet always come up with bold new statements. Hot Thoughts gets a double-Buy It.

reviewWhiteout ConditionsWhiteout Conditions available on iTunes

The New Pornographers Whiteout Conditions

The New Pornographers formed in the '90s as a collective of Vancouver songwriters, including A.C. Newman, Neko Case, and Dan Bejar of Destroyer. Bejar was not available for their ninth album, Whiteout Conditions, leaving Newman as the driving force. Although he was never a fan of Bejar's work, Jim guiltily admits he's grown bored with the band. Kathryn Calder's vocals are great as ever, and the record is full of“perfectly fine catchy ditties,”but it lacks any standout tracks. Jim feels Newman is running on fumes, and gives the album a Trash It. Greg feels that's too harsh, but says it lacks the variety of the band's previous records. Every song uses synthesizers to drive the rhythm and he feels the album suffers from not including Bejar's songs. Greg gives Whiteout Conditions a Try It.

reviewEmperor of SandEmperor of Sand available on iTunes

Mastodon Emperor of Sand

The Atlanta metal band Mastodon has just released its seventh album, Emperor of Sand. Like previous Mastodon albums, the album follows a thematic concept. This time it follows the tale of a man sentenced to wander the empty, desolate desert. Greg thinks the thematic elements work well, along with a slightly“pop-ish approach”with a turn towards melodic vocals. In addition to the smooth vocals, Greg believes their integration of different instruments is extremely strong (tubular bells!). He gives it a Buy It. Jim likens Mastodon's sound to mid-period Rush, especially when it comes to their progressive rock sound and detailed lyricism. He thinks it's as good as Mastodon gets and gives Emperor of Sand an enthusiastic Buy It.

reviewMental IllnessMental Illness available on iTunes

Aimee Mann Mental Illness

Aimee Mann began her career as the lead singer of the Boston synth pop band 'Til Tuesday in the 1980s. Since then, she's had a successful solo career, most notably with her 2000 album Bachelor No. 2. She's just released her first solo record in five years, Mental Illness. Jim thinks that this is one of Mann's best efforts. He loves her minimal use of instrumentation and thoughtful lyrics. While he's not a fan of the singer-songwriter genre, he digs Aimee Mann and gives Mental Illness a Buy It. Greg is also a longtime Aimee Mann fan, and thinks this record is one of her all-time best. Her intelligent lyrics and melancholy vocals make Mental Illness a superb album. He gives it a Buy It.





Stina Tweeddale and Cat Meyers are Scottish duo Honeyblood. Stina and Cat create music in a vein that, according to Jim, combines the“crunch and melody”of what was "most inspiring about the 90s alternative movement… taking it somewhere new." Their album "Babes Never Die" was one of Jim's favorites of 2016. He adds that Honeyblood's music features haunting melodies that invoke creepy imagery. The group joined us in our studio to play live and talk about their music.

Featured Songs

  1. Rosie & the Originals, Angel Baby, Angel Baby (single), Highland, 1960
  2. Spoon, Hot Thoughts, Hot Thoughts, Matador, 2017
  3. Spoon, First Caress, Hot Thoughts, Matador, 2017
  4. Spoon, Us, Hot Thoughts, Matador, 2017
  5. The New Pornographers, Whiteout, Whiteout Conditions, Concord, 2017
  6. The New Pornographers, High Ticket, Whiteout Conditions, Concord, 2017
  7. The New Pornographers, Avalanche Alley, Whiteout Conditions, Concord, 2017
  8. Spoon, Shotgun, Hot Thoughts, Matador, 2017
  9. Mastodon, Steambreather, Emperor of Sand, Reprise, 2017
  10. Mastodon, Show Yourself, Emperor of Sand, Reprise, 2017
  11. Mastodon, Sultan's Curse, Emperor of Sand, Reprise, 2017
  12. Aimee Mann, Goose Snow Cone, Mental Illness, SuperEgo, 2017
  13. Aimee Mann, Simple Fix, Mental Illness, SuperEgo, 2017
  14. Aimee Mann, Stuck in the Past, Mental Illness, SuperEgo, 2017
  15. Aimee Mann, Patient Zero, Mental Illness, SuperEgo, 2017
  16. Honeyblood, Ready for the Magic, Babes Never Die, FatCat, 2016
  17. Honeyblood, Love is a Disease (Live on Sound Opinions), Babes Never Die, FatCat, 2016
  18. Honeyblood, Fall Forever, Honeyblood, FatCat, 2014
  19. Honeyblood, Babes Never Die (Live on Sound Opinions), Babes Never Die, FatCat, 2016
  20. Honeyblood, Sea Hearts (Live on Sound Opinions), Babes Never Die, FatCat, 2016
  21. The J. Geils Band, I Must Have Got Lost, I Must Have Got Lost, Atlantic, 1974
  22. Lupe Fiasco, Pick Up the Phone, Drogas Light, 1st & 15th, 2017
  23. Mavis Staples, Action, Livin' on a High Note, Anti-, 2016
  24. The Staple Singers, I'll Take You There, Be Altitude: Respect Yourself, Stax, 1972
  25. Mavis Staples, Love and Trust, Livin' on a High Note, Anti-, 2016 Sound Opinions is a website