Aside from Ozzy Osbourne’s Ordinary Man, there aren’t a lot of major-label rock albums out this week (or at least not a lot that interest me). Good thing the indie ranks are almost always ready, willing able to take up the slack. Here are the best offerings I heard this week, in order of preference:
INDIE-ROCK ALBUM OF THE WEEK
MY TWO CENTS: Sorry, Fleetwood Mac: Your fellow California pop-rockers Best Coast have stopped thinking about tomorrow. Frontwoman Betheny Cosentino and guitarist Bobb Bruno are clearly living in the here and now — and making the most of it — on this lively blend of punchy, crunchy beach-rock, twangy surf-pop and sunny vocals. I haven’t always been their biggest fan in the past, but this one really hits the sweet spot. I suspect it will sound even better in the backyard and at the lake come summer.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Los Angeles, California’s Best Coast release their fourth studio album. Always Tomorrow, produced by Carlos de la Garza with additional production by Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Paramore, M83), is the band’s first album of new studio material since their acclaimed 2015 record California Nights. The band previewed a new song from Always Tomorrow, entitled For The First Time, to an incredible response this past fall; their video for Everything Has Changed, directed by Ryan Baxley, features a number of people from one of Bethany’s favorite shows — Vanderpump Rules.”
ALSO ON THE PLAYLIST
MY TWO CENTS: With The Afghan Whigs back on hiatus, frontman Greg Dulli goes it alone (more or less) for the first time in his career, delivering a solid solo album that features his trademark blend of cathartic, slashing guitar-rock and seductive crooning — but with bits of mariachi-ghost country and electro-gloom balladry tossed in for good measure. Everything a fan desires. And nothing random about it.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “For the last 30 years, Greg Dulli, frontman of The Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers, has been the poet laureate of the bizarre whims and cruel tangents of desire. A foremost authority on the sell-your-soul rewards of carnal lust, the high voltage epiphanies of chemical enhancement, and the serotonin lows left in their wake. Therein lies Random Desire. Clocking in at a lean 37 minutes, Random Desire is a clinic put on by a veteran master operating at the height of his powers, offering evidence of the hard-fought and weary wisdom learned from setbacks and victories alike. A lucid, confident and self-assured document of the songs of experience, the perils of existence, and the possibilities that offer themselves anew with each breath. Another death and rebirth from an outlaw who has seen it all and somehow lived to tell.”
MY TWO CENTS: Impatient for Mark Lanegan’s next album Straight Songs of Sorrow? I don’t blame you. While you wait, tide yourself over with this suitably dark, deep and dangerous offering from his onetime collaborator Rob Marshall, who recruited Lanegan as a guest vocalist — along with Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan and other top-shelf indie-rockers. Not bad for a debut album.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Humanist is a big, ambitious project. A rush of future rock ’n’ roll, orchestrated by multi-instrumentalist / songwriter and producer Rob Marshall. The debut album showcases the vocal talents of Mark Lanegan, Mark Gardener (Ride), Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode), Joel Cadbury (UNKLE), Jim Jones (Thee Hypnotics), Carl Hancock Rux (Portishead) and John Robb (The Membranes), among others — a heady brew, masterfully conducted by Marshall (guitarist of Exit Calm and co-writer of Lanegan’s celebrated Gargoyle album) who wrote, played and produced all the music: a swirling Niagara of fuzzed-out industrial melody and noise, flowing into darker, more brooding territories, the boom of drop forges in shadowy, cavernous factories pounding white-hot steel. Humanist is also a magnum opus musically, a fully realised and rounded work — not only Rob’s first solo project, it was also the first music he’d ever fully produced, teaching himself production while making the record, just like he did with his signature guitar sound, forging its rich, brooding sound-world on instinct. Similarly, his production is raw, spirited and unique. Rob also played and recorded nearly all of the instrumentation, but he had a vision of the album going far beyond a one-man project, opening its palate and scope by making it a showcase for many of the singers he’d always admired.”
Beat City Tubeworks
MY TWO CENTS: These Swedish meatballs sound like every great ’70s guitar-rock band — if they condensed into one high-velocity, high-volume, high-voltage hit of pure energy and grinning irreverence. What more do I need to say?
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Beat City Tubeworks can best be described as energetic ’70s influenced rock ’n’ roll / garage-rock in its true form and glory… On steroids! The songs delivers a raw catchiness, with blazing electric guitars, honky licks, and thoughtful melodic hooks! Add a captivating pulsebeat tight percussion, and some killer baselines, and characteristic vocals to that, and it all results in a big sound! In a genre where it’s often hard not to draw clear similarities to classic rock ’n’ roll acts that we all got to know and love from the 70’s, (and the new wave of bands in that genre in the ’90s) Beat City Tubeworks still manage to pull off quite a unique sound of their own! Beat City Tubeworks was formed in the city of Jönköping, Sweden early 2015. Beat City Tubeworks has a reputation for being a superb live act, and deliver great performances. The band have shared the stage with acts as Danko Jones, Giuda, The Nomads, Deadheads and Vojd. This is when the band really comes to adopt it’s true shape, energy, and glowing spirit! They aim to please.. Are you ready?”