What Am I Listening To? – June 2016

Not much new this month because I’ve actually been spending a fair amount of time on the back catalogues of a few favorite artists that I hadn’t previously explored – most notably Florence + The Machine and The Decemberists, as well as Over the Rhine‘s earliest material from the early to mid-90s. Still, a few brand spanking new albums have worked their way into the rotation, so here they are…

2016_BandofSkulls_ByDefaultBand of Skulls – By Default
Band of Skulls are a pretty dependable band for me, in terms of my enjoyment of their sound. They’ve slowly inched away from the spare, blues-rock influences of their early days and toward more straight-ahead, uncomplicated, and kinda-danceable rock music. Their music is mostly muscle, which isn’t to say it lacks brains, but sometimes I think the lyrics are there more to sound badass than to really communicate anything, so they aren’t the world’s most articulate band, either. They do a simple job, but they do it well, particularly in the solid front half of this album. Things start to get a bit skippable in the back half, unfortunately.

2016_Sherwood_SomeThingsNeverLeaveYouSherwood – Some Things Never Leave You
I started following this band on Facebook not long before they broke up, so imagine my surprise when their page became active again and suddenly they were announcing a new album right around the corner! Sherwood also falls into the category of music that is fairly simple and there’s not much about it to overthink. They inhabit the world of summery indie pop, occasionally hinting at stories of personal hurt and fractured families underneath their optimistic exterior. My connection to them is more sentimental than anything else – I know that they’re from San Luis Obispo, and their music always brings to mind good memories of scenic road trips to the Central California Coast. This album, while more heavily guitar-driven than Qu, more or less picks up where that one left off, with sturdy songs that may not have stood out to me all that much on first listen, but I can tell a few favorites are going to emerge that I’ll be fiercely defending by year’s end.

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