Miscellaneous Albums 2017, Part 1

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Herein lie super short reviews for albums released in 2017 that I heard but missed out on reviewing in 2017, either because I didn’t want to or because I didn’t have time. For the most part, I say they are worth checking out, but most of them didn’t impress me terribly much. Each review will be only one-hundred words long. I’ll also only be giving each album a grade of 1 to 10, rather than a percentage. Without further ado, here we go!

This is Part 1 of “Miscellaneous Albums 2017,” with albums released between January and June 2017.

☆☆☆☆

Bernie Torme’s Dublin Cowboy

Release Date: April 7, 2017

Genre: Hard Rock/Blues Rock/Acoustic Rock

There’s something special about a man and his guitar talking together as a duo to us through song. Think Hendrix, Clapton, and SRV. That concept has been represented in few places lately as well as it is on the new solo release from Ozzy’s most unknown and under-appreciated guitarist, the Irishman, Bernie Torme. Despite only having a brief stint with Ozzy, Torme has always been around. He’s a prolific guy. So now, after all these years, the guy is still going strong. We have a brand spanking new release from him. And it’s good. Sometimes forgettable, sometimes overindulgent, but good.

Grade: 7/10

☆☆☆☆

Ecstatic Vision’s Raw Rock Fury

Release Date: April 7, 2017

Genre: Psychedelic Rock

Here’s a bit of a novelty of an album (not a novelty album though, haha, sorry for the confusion) that you all might like to check out. I don’t think my thoughts on it warrant a full review, but the disk is certainly worth a spin for rock ‘n’ roll fans. When I heard about Ecstatic Vision and their new album, I just had to check it out. It was supposed to be a very live style, psychedelic rock jam session with all the songs coming together to form, basically, one song, one single work at album length. It’s fun!

Grade: 7/10

☆☆☆☆

At the Drive-In’s in•ter a•li•a

Release Date: May 5, 2017

Genre: Alt Rock/Post-Hardcore/Art-Punk

Though it somewhat misses the mark as a studio follow-up to the great Relationship of Command seventeen years later, as a standalone album, in•ter a•li•a is quite good. Though founding member, guitarist, and keyboardist Jim Ward chose not to participate, it sounds like the band had a ton fun, even if many of the songs discuss weighty subjects, often pretty effectively at that. Bixler-Zavala on lead vocals, Rodríguez-López and Davis on guitars, Hinojos on bass, and Hajjar on drums (who added some great work to Gone is Gone’s Echolocation earlier this year) all do an excellent job. Check it out!

Grade: 6/10

☆☆☆☆

Seether’s Poison the Parish

Release Date: May 12, 2017

Genre: Post-Grunge/Alt Rock/Hard Rock

Seether, one of the most successful hard rock bands of the 21st century thus far, is a South African band that started hungry and ready-to-run but has started to peeter out a bit in recent years. Thankfully, Poison the Parish is the best, most personal album Seether has released in a long time. It’s an enjoyable listen but still kind of generic post-grunge and only occasionally delivers on its hyped heaviness. I really enjoyed it the first few listens, but I haven’t had a huge desire to revisit it since. Check it out if you like this kind of music.

Grade: 6/10

☆☆☆☆

Alestorm’s No Grave But the Seas

Release Date: May 26, 2017

Genre: Power Metal/Folk Metal/Comedy Metal

Who ever thought we would one day have pirate metal as a subgenre of metal? Well, that’s exactly what Alestorm has been serving up cold since 2004, and, man, is it a joyous brew! The singing sounds like Bill Nighy’s performance as Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the instrumentation is delightful power and folk metal, and the music as a whole is a delightful mix of high seas adventure themed lyrics, power metal to the max, and Celtic/English folk music. If any of this sounds interesting to you, immediately seek out No Grave But the Sea.

Grade: 7/10

☆☆☆☆

Avatarium’s Hurricanes and Halos

Release Date: May 26, 2017

Genre: Heavy Metal/Doom Metal

Hurricanes and Halos is creative in its implementation of ’70s heavy metal along with newer doom elements, Jennie-Ann Smith has a beautiful voice and an excellent vocal range, and there were several moments where I thought, “This is what the Pretty Reckless would sound like if they were actually good!” There are some good songs, too. I love the acoustic guitar intro to “A Kiss,” and I like how the album slowly fades out with its finale instrumental. However, I haven’t been able to retain much of the album except “Road to Jerusalem,” the haunting “Medusa Child,” and “A Kiss.”

Grade: 7/10

☆☆☆☆

Ravage’s Return of the Spectral Rider

Release Date: May 26, 2017

Genre: Heavy Metal

Ravage sounds like a blend of N.W.O.B.H.M., thrash metal, speed metal, and power metal. What they bring to the table is pretty neat, but also pretty derivative. It’s really good and sometimes awesome, but ultimately, Return of the Spectral Rider left me wanting to go listen to Powerslave or Kill ‘Em All rather than this album again. Also, too many of the songs here sound too similar. Usually, what I want from a band is a new sound or a new perspective on old sounds. Ravage doesn’t really do either here. They do the old heavy metal sounds justice, though!

Grade: 6/10

☆☆☆☆

Rise Against’s Wolves

Release Date: June 9, 2017

Genre: Punk Rock

Solid but not particularly interesting punk, neutered. Wolves should have been angry, mean, hard-hitting. Yet it falls far short of that. When you go from singing about man’s violent nature and the breakdown of society to “we are far from perfect but perfect as we are,” that’s not very punk. Why don’t I go get woke with Katy Perry. Also, when the only thing edgy in your song is the word “sh*t” like in “Bullsh*t,” I’m sorry, but those days are long gone. Wolves is worth a spin at least, especially if this sort of thing is up your alley.

Grade: 5/10

☆☆☆☆

Royal Blood’s How Did We Get So Dark?

Release Date: June 16, 2017

Genre: Hard Rock/Alt Rock

Rock fans of almost any type will find something to like here. Royal Blood’s music sounds like Death from Above, the White Stripes, the Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, and the Arctic Monkeys. Yet therein lies the problem. Royal Blood sounds too much like those artists, and many others too. With their sound, they run the danger of becoming derivative, and that’s exactly what happened here on How Did We Get So Dark? You can still have some fun with this record, though, and there are definitely a few tunes that play well to the rock radio crowd.

Grade: 6/10

☆☆☆☆

Fleet Foxes’ Crack-Up

Release Date: June 16, 2017

Genre: Indie Folk/Folk Rock

Crack-Up contains beautiful lead vocals and harmonies accompanied by artful instrumentation, with hints of Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, and the Beach Boys on Pet Sounds and “Good Vibrations.” Yet Fleet Foxes falls short with their lyrics, which are mostly uninteresting and forgettable. They felt empty to me, and so did a lot of the spacey moments, by which I could tell Fleet Foxes wanted me to be impressed. Also, the compositions of the songs and the arrangement of the album is pretentious without being as intriguing as Fleet Foxes obviously thinks it is. Worth a spin, at least, though.

Grade: 6/10

☆☆☆☆

Portugal. The Man’s Woodstock

Release Date: June 16, 2017

Genre: Psych-Pop/Alternative/Indie

Woodstock has some legitimate, deserving hits on it: “Feel It Still,” “Rich Friends,” “Keep On,” “Tidal Wave,” and “Noise Pollution,” especially, are good. And this Alaskan psych-pop act has made a decent transition to a more modern rock/pop sound. Still, outside a few moments, I can’t remember much on the album a few hours after hearing it. It’s charged and remarkable, but too many of the songs within are too similar. These guys possess more talent than your average indie rock act, yet they can’t keep from coming off as sort of cute. I still love “Feel It Still,” though!

Grade: 6/10

☆☆☆☆

Imagine Dragon’s EVOLVE

Release Date: June 23, 2017

Genre: Pop Rock

EVOLVE sounds messy and fractured. Its song choices are super inconsistent and often unflattering to Imagine Dragons’ strengths. The instruments aren’t given enough space to roam, and Dan Reynolds doesn’t seem to know what to do with his good but limited voice. And many of the lyrics are awful. I really enjoyed Night Visions when it debuted in 2012. Smoke and Mirrors was OK, but I hoped it was a transitional work for the band. EVOLVE is probably where I jump off. Even still, Imagine Dragons are producing better pop rock than most, and there are moments that aren’t crap.

Grade: 4/10

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