THURSTON MOORE – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Consciousness”
THE GOOD: Ex-Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore plugs in for his fifth solo outing.
THE BAD: Nothing.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Since Steve Shelley is still playing drums for the guy, Moore’s solo stuff doesn’t sound all that different from SY. The biggest dissimilarity is a lack of distinct female vocals from Kim Gordon (Gordon and Moore divorced a few years ago).
Yet, on “Consciousness,” Moore further distances the new music from his past band work by stretching out and showing off his true guitar chops. The new album just clocks in at 40 minutes but only contains five songs; Moore and second guitarist James Sedwards playing off one another like a distorted indie rock take on the Allman Brothers.
Tracks like the slightly aggressive and shuffling “Cusp” and the layered haunting “Smoke of Dreams” find the man in fine voice and even better playing mode. “Consciousness” even occasionally creeps into psychedelic territories while delivering standard SY guitar tunings and sporadic blasts of noise.
BUY IT?: I would.
ROGER WATERS – “Is This The Life We Really Want?”
THE GOOD: Ex-Pink Floyd vocalist/bassist/composer Roger Waters unleashes his fifth solo outing.
THE BAD: Not this time.
THE NITTY GRITTY: So this just happened. Waters, the driving force behind one of the most innovative progressive rock acts ever, worked alongside Nigel Godrich, long-time producer and “sixth member” of arguably the most influential band on the planet today. Pink Floyd meets Radiohead. Is your mind blown yet?
The background broadcasts and string arrangements bring back “The Wall.” The guitar riffs and swirling synths recall “Wish You Were Here.” The grooves and basslines are one half “Meddle,” one half “Hail to the Thief.” The icy atmospherics and sense of paranoia harken back to “OK Computer.”
And then there are Waters’ politics. The man, disgusted with the current world view, isn’t pulling any punches. The title track even opens with an unflattering interview clip from Trump himself. It all adds up to one of this year’s most compelling listening experiences. What are you waiting for?
BUY IT?: Of course.
CHUCK BERRY – Chuck
THE GOOD: Announced on his 90th birthday last year and released a few months after his passing, “Chuck” is the final bow for one of rock and roll’s founding fathers — Chuck Berry.
THE BAD: “Chuck” doesn’t equal the man’s 1950s Chess Records work (few things in this universe do), but this new album remains a fitting testament to Berry’s legacy.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Backed by his grown children and members of his own Blueberry Hill Band, Berry plows through ten tracks ranging from standard rockers in the great CB tradition (“Big Boys”) to poignant bluesy reflections on one’s own mortality (“Darlin”) to progressive groove-laden fare (“She Still Loves You”).
Even the slight missteps (yet another sequel to “Johnny B. Goode” titled “Lady B. Goode”) cook; the entire album oozes energy and authenticity. And despite his age at the time of the sessions, Berry‘s voice was still rich, his guitar playing still razor sharp. Most guys aren’t relevant right up to the very end. Chuck was (and remains so).
BUY IT?: Yes.