Tuesday, July 07, 2015
10 song Vinyl LP
"Nothing has changed..." That's a line from the first cut on Freedom, and it couldn't be further from the truth. A lot has changed since 1997, the year that Refused unleashed their last and now-infamous hardcore album, The Shape of Punk to Come. How does one live up to a legendary myth almost 20 years in the making? Honestly, you just can't. It's not possible, nor should a band be expected to do so.
That being said, Refused doesn't try to relive their mountaintop experience. They wisely realize the futility and instead focus on making a killer record without looking back. Where Shape was a wild and reckless venture that flailed away in youthful angst, Freedom is streamlined with laser-like precision and destruction. It's a surgical strike instead of a carpet bombing, and the band has never sounded more determined and powerful.
To put it bluntly, it's one hell of a rock record by a maturing rock band. Refused may not be breaking new ground, but they are making everyone aware that they weren't a flash-in-the-pan or a fluke. Some things just improve with age, and this band is one of them.
MISH MASH Mandate: Liberation Frequency
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
9 song LP
With a career that spans four decades, it would be easy and understandable for Paul Weller to simply phone in an album at this stage. After all, most musicians of his caliber and status are comfortable in their skin and not eager to stretch boundaries. Thankfully, Weller is not one of those artists.
Even though Saturns Pattern isn't quite as on the edge as 2012's Sonik Kicks, it shows that Weller is more than willing to continue to push the limits of his creativity and deliver songs that keep things interesting. True fans should be used to this by now, as Weller has never exactly adhered to the status quo. (I have a feeling that a fan who can't appreciate this new effort is still stewing about The Jam splitting up 30 years ago.)
The songs are tight and polished, with Weller keeping everything reined into a neat power pop package. He briefly visits a variety of genres along the way, but he never gives himself over to one distinct direction. It's a fuzzy and fleeting feeling, but it's a pleasing one. That being said, one can't help but wonder if this album could reach higher heights if he concentrated his musical diffusion into a more focused and powerful punch. This musical meandering is creatively satisfying, but it never quite reaches the level of one of his classics, such as Wild Wood or Stanley Road.
At the same time, I don't think he needs to make either one of those albums again. Nor does he need to feed us a rehash of The Jam or The Style Council. Weller always seems to have something up his sleeve, and this album is no exception. I'm thankful he likes to keep us on the edge of our seat.
MISH MASH Mandate: Changingman
Paul Weller Website
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
11 song LP
Guster is back, and everything old is new again. The group's familiar, somewhat dreamy pop songs haven't really changed very much, and that's actually all for the better. I say that because their pop-centered songwriting still sounds surprisingly fresh and inviting, without feeling like a rehash or a simple revisit of their late-90's/early-00's heyday. They sound like they are having fun, and it shows.
The promise of a new extensive tour means it will be easy to catch them out on the road this year - and they have always put on a great show. Catch them if you can!
MISH MASH Mandate: Freshly Made Pop