On 2016's Goodbye to Language, veteran producer Daniel Lanois and frequent collaborator Rocco DeLuca team up for an album of shifting experimental soundscapes created with lapsteel guitars. The album is far closer to Lanois' pioneering ambient works with Brian Eno, Harold Budd, and Michael Brook from the 1980s than his subsequent, more rootsy singer/songwriter albums. As the album's title suggests, there are no lyrics here, and the feelings evoked by this music can't accurately be expressed by words anyway. As simple as the idea of an ambient steel guitar album sounds, there's a lot going on here, and it never feels like mere background music.
Metallica formed in 1981 by vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich. The duo first met through an ad in a Los Angeles-based music newspaper. At the time, Ulrich had little musical experience and no band but managed to secure a slot on an upcoming compilation record called “Metal Massacre”. Metallica’s contribution, “Hit The Lights”, featured Hetfield, Ulrich and lead guitarist Lloyd Grant. Afterwards, Ron McGovney became the band's bassist and Dave Mustaine joined the band as lead guitarist…
Wilco's 11th album, 2015's Star Wars, was a playful and angular set of noisy pop and pop-friendly noise, and it seemed fitting that it literally appeared out of nowhere, with the band sending it out as a free download without any advance warning one July afternoon. Little more than a year later, Wilco has released a follow-up, Schmilco, and in many respects this album is the flip side to Star Wars. Schmilco feels every bit as spontaneous as Star Wars (and much of the material was recorded during the same sessions), but where the earlier album seemed full of the joy of making music, this one is somber and low-key, a set of navel-gazing music even as the tunes confirm that Jeff Tweedy's way with a melody hasn't failed him. Acoustic guitars dominate most of Schmilco's 12 songs, with Tweedy's vocals right up front, sounding introspective and emphatic at once.
Mangy Love marks the eighth long-player for Cass McCombs, who, fans will be happy to hear, continues to hold form as a refreshing renegade on his game. The singer/songwriter takes on the messiness of life including timely sociopolitical topics, with grooving accompaniment that makes it go down breezily. Along the way, he dips into psychedelia, reggae, Baroque pop, funk, and more. Compared to the mercurial 22-track set that was 2013's Big Wheel and Others, Mangy Love sounds focused and determined, even given a certain amount of style sampling.
Mavis Staples is a soul-gospel legend, but her momentum keeps building as she targets the future. She just won a Grammy for a Blind Lemon Jefferson cover, but her latest album takes her to a new plateau enlisting contemporary songwriters such as Neko Case, Nick Cave, Ben Harper, Tune-Yards, Valerie June, and M. Ward (who also produced). It’s an inspired set that frames Staples’ emotionally raw, transcendentally intimate voice in mostly spare arrangements that cut to the heart. Ward does a masterful job of simply turning Staples loose amid the positive vibrations of Harper’s “Love and Trust,” Tune-Yards’ “Action” (which even starts with some surf guitar), Son Little’s “One Love” (not the Bob Marley song, but a new one that sounds like a Ben E. King tune), and Ward’s own “MLK Song,” a stark ballad featuring his acoustic guitar backing Staples as she talk-sings words of peace by her civil rights mentor. The album feels stunningly fresh and cutting edge; expect to see it on some Top Ten lists later this year.
Anti existed as an album cycle before it existed as an album – arguably long before Rihanna knew what form her eighth album would take, either. Work on Anti began in the autumn of 2014 and proceeded in semi-public, progress being measured in Instagram posts and tweets, along with intermittent singles, each released to white-hot anticipation but none metamorphosing into massive hits. When Anti finally appeared in January 2016 – three years after Unapologetic and months later than expected – it bore none of these 2015 singles, a move that suggests a tacit acknowledgment that neither the curiously muted Kanye West and Paul McCartney collaboration "FourFiveSeconds" nor the unrestrained roar of "Bitch Better Have My Money" functioned as appropriate anchors for the album…
Carnsore Point in County Wexford, Ireland is famous for having been the proposed location of the Nuclear Energy Board power plant which was to be built in the 1970s. Originating in 1968, the Irish Government gave renewed effort to the plans after the 1973 energy crisis. The plan envisaged one, and eventually four, nuclear power stations, but was (discretely) dropped in the late 1970s after opposition by environmental groups. A series of free concerts were held at Carnsore Point in 1978 and 1979. Titled "Get To The Point" and "Back To The Point" respectively, the concerts were a massive success and served to bring to public notice the whole question of nuclear power in Ireland.