Kinski – Cosy Moments
Kill Rock Stars
Look at that album cover – goddamn, if it isn’t the year’s most kick-ass. But more than that, it illustrates a band getting in touch with its thrilling side. After six years of dormancy, Seattle’s Kinski strips down to visceral basics. With newfound concision, song structure and even vocal aspect, they emerge with a hungry proto-punk sound that yokes beefy riffs, gut-thumping grooves and hairy distortion in ways more raw and immediate than ever before. This bad boy here is all crank and crunch. And it’s the mark of a group learning to discover essence, get down to dirty business and just rock the fuck out.
Josh Rouse – The Happiness Waltz
Albeit quietly, Josh Rouse has proven one of his generation’s finest songwriters. For a while, however, Spain became both his muse and his artistic death, spawning a string of near-abysmal records dripping with goofy stylistic tourism after his relocation there. But rekindling the warm, beautifully calibrated American vibes of his prime-era albums 1972 and Nashville, Josh Rouse is back. Rediscovering his groove (and his old producer Brad Jones), he returns to his classic self with his best album in eight years. The lightly twanged, ’70s soft rock-burnished pop craftsmanship here radiates gorgeous rays of AM gold. And the rare melodic perfection that’s always been Rouse’s gift is finally back in its home setting.
Black Angels – Indigo Meadow
Belying their sinister name, the Black Angels have been getting a little incense-and-peppermints lately. That’s not a compliment. But this fourth full-length outing is at least a partial return to the dark, sexy hex that no one else does better. From the devastating opening salvo – the swarming and dire title track, the swaggering monolith “Evil Things” and the Mary Chain sidewalker “Don’t Play With Guns” – it’s clear they’ve shed some of the recent tie-dye and slipped back into their much more self-respecting black leather. Hallelujah. Add in standouts “Love Me Forever” and “War on Holiday,” and you’ve got a pretty whopping comeback for maybe the best psychedelic rock band of their time.