Posted in Album Reviews

Jane Weaver – Flock (2021)

Flock

Flock marks Jane Weaver’s first album to hit the top 40 in the UK.  The English singer from Liverpool’s 11th album is a varied recording taking in many different sounds. This is the follow-up to her remix album of tracks from Modern Kosmology and a reimagined soundtrack for the animated movie Fehérlófia. The title track here sees Weaver exploring cosmic 70s soul. “Stages of Phases” uses cascading synths before turning into a dreamy stomping glam number.

Weaver gets funky on first single “The Revolution of Super Visions” and adds a chiming guitar to second single “Heartlow”. The album really shines on the six minute “Modern Reputation” that is powered by a throbbing beat where “ahhhhs” are sung at various tones. The album closes on a its poppiest note with the upbeat dance track “Solarised”. Flock is experimental, atmospheric and organic sounding.  The contrasting styles come together, often in the same song, taking the listener for a starlit pop journey.

7.5/10

Posted in Album Reviews

The National – The National (2001)

The National

In Lizzy Goodman’s excellent book, Meet Me In the Bathroom that focuses on the New York rock scene of the early oughts, tellingly The National appear in a chapter entitled, “The Uncool Kids”.  However, over the years they would become one of the biggest bands to emerge from that burgeoning scene having now released 8 studio albums.  Back in 2001 though, they would release their self-titled debut on Aaron and Bryce Dessner’s Brassland Record label.

Featuring drummer Bryan Devendorf on the cover, this is before Bryce had officially joined the band but plays on several tracks.  “Cold Girl Fever” is a catchy acoustic led track with a squiggly synth and a drum that kicks things up before the end. “Beautiful Head” and “The Perfect” are solid college rock songs. Elsewhere the album strays into country influenced sounds on the upbeat “Pay For Me” with a twang in Matt Berninger’s vocals. The laid back “Bitters & Absolut” has fine backing vocals courtesy of Nathalie Jonas and a lovely piano towards the end.  The National’s debut is a well-played album with Berninger still trying to find his voice that would eventually lift the band to far greater heights.

6.5/10

Posted in Comedy & Jazz

Nate Bargatze – Full Time Magic (2015)

What do you mean you don't remember? by Nate Bargatze on Amazon Music -  Amazon.com

Nate Bargatze has been making the media rounds recently.  Not only hosting his own podcast, Nateland, but he has also appeared on Never Not Funny, twice on the Ryen Russillo Podcast, and mostly recently The Joe Rogan Experience. It was on his first appearance with Russillo where I discovered him before downloading his 2015 comedy special album, Full Time Magic. Right off the hop, the first few jokes introduce Bargatze’s deadpan, self-deprecating style.  He tells the story of his wife pointing out an ex-boyfriend on a boat while they were out one day.  Then he launches into a bit that if he wanted to fight the guy, he would have to swim out to him and have the ex help up get in before the melee could ensue.

The material is nothing too original, it’s jokes dudes would tell each other at the bar but after they had been honed and perfected for several years. His bit about trying to get in shape by buying P90x and being more impressed with the before picture of the workout model hits the nail on the head for many of us. Some of the highlights touch on going to community college, his love of chain restaurants, time travel and various MTV shows.

The main show closes with drinking stories about an Indian casino and getting locked out of a hotel room naked in his two year old daughter’s lifetime. “If she hears this and asks, ‘oh is that when you were in college?’  No, it was when you were the most dependent on me.” There is no “I’m going to tell you like it is” to Bargatze’s humour, instead he comes across as a slow talking version of one of your buddies who has plenty of funny asides about day-to-day life. Nate Bargatze’s newest Netflix special, The Greatest Average American, is out on March 18, 2021.

Rating: Very good/good/fair/poor