Another in our pseudo-monthly series of posts featuring albums you should be inserting into your Walkman.
City Streets Country Roads – …and the world turned ever so slowly
I listen to a lot of new music over the course of a year. A lot. Yet I have to look no further than the newest album from City Streets Country Roads to prove that trying to keep up with the constant onslaught of new releases can, at times, just be an exercise in futility. How else to explain why a band that claims to hail from the same town I currently reside in could release something so good, yet it takes this guy months to figure it out. Released all the way back in March, …and the world turned ever so slowly, turned ever so slowly through the ether like something from the newest Twin Peaks reboot until we finally met and fell in love sometime as Summer was struggling to change into Autumn. That’s a long-winded way of saying I screwed up big time in not somehow finding this album sooner. Few bands the world over have given themselves a moniker as fitting to their sound as City Streets Country Roads. The stealthy grit and grime of a late night in the city collides with the all-encompassing beauty of a lackadaisical back roads drive on this record. Ethereal pockets of indie rock are deftly woven between layers of Americana and bombastic rock outbursts. All the while a jazzy saxophone is helping direct this parade of unique influences through their paces. On paper all these influences sound like they could potentially be a white-hot train wreck. Yet City Street Country Roads not only navigate potential choppy waters, they’ve mastered them. A true home run of a record and one that fans of acts as varied as Dr. Dog, Howlin Rain, John Spencer Blues Explosion, and Morphine could get behind.
Ak’chamel – Death Chants
Few bands in the world are as prolific in releases as the mythical travelers in Ak’Chamel, and none as prolific in name changes (with the surname this time around being The Ecstatic Brotherhood of Anima Mundi). To say that no two Ak’chamel records are alike would be a drastic understatement. While I’d rather rip my own eyes out than hear Forrest Gump utter that inane line again, Ak’chamel really is the musical equivalent of that box of chocolates because…wait for it…no, you know how it ends already. Shitty movie quotes aside Ak’chamel really is such a unique and interesting project. Their members hidden behind various nightmare-inducing masks, identities withheld, seemingly sway between worlds, constantly returning to our own with some new concoction of bizarre sonic meditations. On their most recent release, Death Chants, it would appear that Ak’chamel has traded in some of their minimalism for a more robust output. What they didn’t trade in was their ability to transport anyone in earshot. Transport where and how is an individual choice, but whenever you wind up back home you certainly won’t be the same person as when the journey began. The album title is more often than not a fitting one as each track seemingly weaves its way, soundtrack-like, through a cavalcade of rituals designed to ease the crossing to the other side, whatever the other side may be. Atmosphere is the name of the game here and Ak’chamel possess it in spades as they meld various world music elements with bits and pieces of the darkest corners of the metal world, while smothering the whole thing with a blanket of esoteric psychedelia. This is certainly not the type of album you pop on in the car on a road trip (unless that road trip actually includes tripping). But it’s certainly an album you can meditate to while contemplating why the world as we know it is finally collapsing inward on itself.
Laundry Day – It’s Cool It’s Whatever
New Haven, Connecticut has a long a storied musical history, especially for bands that dance along the indie rock pantheon. The newest band to seemingly pick up the New Haven flag and carry it to the top of the mountain comes in the form of Laundry Day. Arriving on the scene with EP in hand in 2014, it’s been three long years since we’ve heard any new material from these guys and gal, but the proverbial juice was worth the squeeze as this band has taken a solid foundation and built a mansion’s worth of alt/indie rock sensibility. While too many bands of this ilk fall into the trappings of pretentious angst, Laundry Day seem to excel at just having a good time and making exceptional music for anyone else who wants to come along for the ride. Even when wading through moodier tracks like “Seven Seas” or “Driveway” one can’t help but feel that at the end of it all you’re still going to be more fulfilled, maybe even a little more human, than you were before. In these dark times being able to connect with an album the way you can with this one is a welcome respite from the endless mental drubbing we all endure. Multiple listens are highly recommended.