NEW MUSIC TUESDAY – Album Reviews 08/18/15

This Week We Take A Look At Cool New Music From Monk Parker, Drunken Prayer and Stolen Jars

(Just a quick note before launching into the reviews. New format this week. Instead of writing three reviews like separate pieces, I’m going with a more free flowing look. A conversation about the favorite new music of the week. Let me know what you think about the changeover.)

Stolen Jars, KeptAmong the more outstanding releases this week was Kept by Stolen Jars a boy/girl duo from New Jersey. The album really jumped off for me, from “Waves” the opening track’s first tones. Once I put these songs on, it became increasingly difficult to turn to something else.

As a follow up to their 2011 debut record, Kept is a similarly sophisticated work without an austere distance that complexity sometimes brings. Stolen Jars songs are mid-tempo, redolent of an upbeat feeling without coming across as cloying or poppy. The band utilizes looping acoustic guitars, unconventional rhythm signatures and intricate instrumental interplay. Lyrically, Molly Grund uses her delightful variety of high pitched tones as an instrument.

Their quintessential track might be “Wreaths Rakes” featuring jittery guitars and vocals that ping pong back and forth across the stereo mix. The band plays with harmony in every way. In so many ways this band reminds me of Dirty Projectors and Sufjan Stevens, with a little touch of Grizzly Bear mingled in just for good measure. They can get down and grim too, as seen on the tremulous “Folded Out” which allows a showcase for Cody Fitzgerald’s more baroque vocals.

SMonk_packshotpeaking of baroque, I was struck almost dumb by Monk Parker’s debut album How The Spark Loves The Tinder a warbling country influenced record.

Parker offers a sweet but decidedly weird take on core Americana songs. Although Parker is a red blooded American, hailing from the hotbed of Austin, Texas his broken, vulnerable sound reminds me so much of Scandinavian or Icelandic pop acts. He interjects lumbering horns and high spired theremins and complex percussion into a traditional country song.

Listening to the opening track, “Sadly Yes” I lean hard toward Benni Hemm Hemm, which if you don’t know, you should. Parker’s voice is piercing yet fragile, almost in a Lynchian sense, giving an eerie but resonant feeling to the whole record which isn’t afraid to veer off into experimentation. Buy this record and give it some time to take over your mood, because it will.

FINALLast but certainly not least, I happened across the new Drunken Prayer record, The Devil & The Blues  which couldn’t have been more welcome. Comes a time every August when you need a lift and if you don’t know the Portland by way of Ashville, NC band, you’re missing out, their tumbling afternoon drinking on the porch songs are your brilliant summer shandy songs.

What Drunken Prayer may miss in complexity, they certainly make up for double time in recklessness. You need that feeling of danger, right? Honky tonk favorites like “Hellraiser” and “What’s Gonna Happen” strike a universal, spill the peanut shells on the floor chord, with just enough slyness on tracks like “Johnny Paycheck’s Cocaine” and “Captain & Tennille” to keep properly engaged, this is a terrific record, highly recommended for your end of the season blast. Or hell, your autumn harvest ramble, it’ll work pretty damn fine there too.