Blitzen Trapper — ‘Holy Smokes Future Jokes’
THE GOOD: Oregon indie folk rockers Blitzen Trapper switch labels again (Yep Roc is now home) and release their 10th.
THE BAD: All good.
THE NITTY GRITTY: For almost two decades, Blitzen Trapper has offered a steady stream of songs soaked in variations of the country/folk/indie blend. Some songs lean toward rock. Others are a little more western. Albums never stay in one place their entire running time.
“Holy Smokes” doesn’t buck these long-established trends. So on one hand, you’re getting a somewhat predictable set. On the other hand, that’s never a bad thing when it comes to frontman Eric Earley and his homespun crew.
“Don’t Let Me Run” is melodic indie rock perfection. “Requiem” keeps matters folksy and intimate. “Hazy Morning” ends the record on a slightly buzzing, psychedelic note. Each track brings something different to the campfire. “Holy Smokes” ends up another rustic and timeless collection, outlasting any trends that may have already passed us (and them) by.
BUY IT?: Sure.
Cayucas — ‘Blue Summer’
THE GOOD: California indie pop duo Cayucas (brothers Zach and Ben Yudin) comes back with a sunny fourth.
THE BAD: “Summer” is over all too quickly, but it’s a case of quality over quantity.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Here, the guys go back to the beach, with the record recalling sandy days and moonlit nights. And as the songs play, they remind us of someone spinning a solid stack of 45s. “Malibu ’79 Long” kicks off the set, a tribute, rip-off or maybe even parody of the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.” From there, we move onto the hazy and stoned “Yeah Yeah Yeah,” pure surf rock of “From the Rafters” and the unapologetically gushy romance permeating “Summer Moon.”
One half modern pop, one half blatant nostalgia trip, “Summer” caresses our senses and carries us off to a simpler, more harmonious time. The brothers have always flirted with these sounds and vibes before, but here, they’ve fully committed to giving us the best day ever at the shore. Surf’s up.
BUY IT?: Definitely.
Elvis Costello — ‘Hey Clockface’
THE GOOD: British singer/songwriter Elvis Costello delivers his 25th album (collaborative efforts not included).
THE BAD: Those expecting a straightforward rock set aren’t getting that here. This is NOT a record with the Attractions or the Imposters. This is Costello moving in many different directions. Not bad, but be aware.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The man cruises through extremes, such as the dramatic melodies of “No Flag” and the jagged panic permeating “We Are All Cowards Now.” The title cut is jaunty Tin Pan Alley fun. “The Last Confession of Vivian Whip” is wispy and graceful, while “Hetty O’Hara Confidential” embraces modern noise. “Radio Is Everything” takes the shape of late-night poetry floating about the cosmos.
None of these sounds and styles are new to Costello. Bringing them all together in one collection is. At least he hasn’t done that lately. “Hey Clockface” finds Costello dealing with the passing of time. However, if this work is any indication, he still has plenty of good years left.
BUY IT?: Sure.