IT MIGHT GET LOUD A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS — ‘Pinned’
THE GOOD: New York noise addicts A Place to Bury Strangers unleash their fifth.
THE BAD: A bit of the “same old, same old,” but they make it work.
THE NITTY GRITTY: You know what you’re getting on a APTBS album — brooding tunes brimming with scowling vocals, plenty of guitar feedback and a touch of the electronic. Think vintage shoegaze having filthy sex with post-punk.
New to the formula this time though is female drummer Lia Simon Braswell. Her playing style isn’t all that distinct, but she shows up as background vocalist on a number of tracks. She’s the ghostly ying to frontman Oliver Ackermann’s sinister yang. Any slight change-up at this point is welcome.
Still, APTBS albums evoke a certain mood. That’s their purpose. You don’t listen for the consummate songwriting. You show up for the pounding, relentless wall of sound that hammers a hole in your skull. The hooks bursting through the din simply are an added bonus.
BUY IT?: Maybe.
JACK WHITE — ‘Boarding House Reach’
THE GOOD: Singer/songwriter/producer and former White Stripes mastermind Jack White gives us a weird third solo outing.
THE BAD: You must approach “Boarding House” with an open mind. It gets self-indulgent in spots.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Plowing through this new outing, I kept thinking back to Paul McCartney’s first post-Beatles offering, 1970’s “McCartney.” There, Pauly experimented, spread his musical wings (no pun intended) and became a strange one-man show. White sort of does that here.
Traditional song structures are thrown off the roof, guitars fight with goofy synths, live drums duke it out with loops, and spoken-word pieces link tracks that are more about a groove than a solid melody. It’s a trippy, unpredictable ride.
But is it actually any GOOD? If you can let yourself go and get into the off-center riffing, multi-layered beats and occasional soft country piece, “Boarding House” is quite enjoyable. If you crave 10 new “Seven Nation Army’s,” you’ll be frustrated to no end.
BUY IT?: Your call.
SUUNS — ‘Felt’
THE GOOD: Canadian indie rockers Suuns get weird on their fourth.
THE BAD: Not “bad” but you must be open to the experience.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The spaced-out “Felt” is one of the trippiest albums I’ve heard in a long time. Echo-drenched layers of guitars, drums and buzzing electronics merge and melt into a foggy haze of organic and synthetic elements. Traditional songs are sometimes sacrificed for rolling, sustained grooves; droning, hypnotic melodies; or both.
There are pieces of jazz, math rock, post-punk and stoner rock constantly floating in and out of focus; “Felt” doesn’t sound like any particular era while recalling every decade from the past half-century. Favorite bits include the bizarro riffs across “Look No Further,” the icy pulsations carrying “Watch You Watch Me” and the eerie mood encompassing “Materials.”
What’s the line from that Tom Petty song? “Their A&R man said I DON’T HEAR A SINGLE.” That’s “Felt,” a headphones record best experienced after dark. Drink it in as a whole and take the journey.
BUY IT?: Sure.