New Music Tuesday: Iggy and the Stooges • !!! • Akron/Family • Neon Neon

Iggy and the Stooges - Ready to Die

Every Tuesday, we focus on new music releases by naming our top tracks, album highlights, lowlights and important takeaways for select albums.

Iggy and the StoogesReady to Die

2.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Ready to Die”
“Dirty Deal”

Album Highlights: Iggy got the band back together! Ready to Die is the first album released by the original Stooges lineup in over 40 years, and they haven’t messed with their balls-to-the-wall approach to irreverent punk rock. The return of James Williamson following the chemical breakdown of Iggy nearly a half century ago, adds a much needed kick to Iggy and the music he produced in the past years. The title track demonstrates Williamson’s chops to a tee, this coupled with Pop’s knack for rebel lyrics equals one rocking good time.

Album Lowlight: This album was not created to appeal to the masses, and will likely not garner much commercial success. It will please longtime fans, but is unlikely to convert many to this cult or weird and wild. Songs like “DDs” can be easily dismissed as campy and lame, but you know it’s quintessential Iggy Pop, so we have to grin and bear it.

Takeaway: God bless the fact that Williamson decided to call up his old Stooges buddies and lend his stellar playing to a previously sinking ship. I’m sure the supporting tour will feature all the onstage antics that blew minds in the 70s, and with some fresh songs the veil of nostalgia act may be lifted just a bit.

~Kevin Quandt

!!! (Chk Chk Chk)THR!!!ER

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“One Girl / One Boy”

Album Highlights: Everyone’s favorite dance-punk group is back with their fifth LP, THR!!!ER. The formula hasn’t shifted for short-shorts frontman Nic Offer and the rest of the groove-tastic band; the instrumentalists build tasty 70’s-inspired drum and bass rhythms for Offer and a disembodied female singer to sing and freak out to.

About half the cuts on the record are instantly addictive & danceable. “Slyd” is a high-energy single with a female-voice hook that gives way to a heavy bass-driven beat. “Californiyeah” explains why they love California over a clap-centric jam, but at the same time tells why they won’t live in the Golden State (“…but why would I live somewhere where the bars close at 2?”). The track that most resembles a traditional ‘song’ and could find radio play is “One Girl / One Boy”, but what what fun is there in normalcy?

Album Lowlight: On the other hand, about half the cuts on the record are shockingly hard to get into, and some never get over the likability hump. It’s not surprising that the biggest offenders have a slower beats-per-minute, present repetitious lyrics without a payoff and end up being too singsongy. “Even When The Water’s Cold” & “Fine Fine Fine” fall into this category. The biggest problem with these tracks is that your ass should be shaking, and it’s not. It’s even more curious as to why these tracks were featured first and fourth on the record.

Takeaway: Chk Chk Chk only partially succeeds with their newest album, which proves that the faster and more intense their songs are, the better. Listening to THR!!!ER is an up and down experience, and the only two songs that really succeed in succession are “Slyd” and “Californiyeah”, and that’s over halfway through it. This effort has produced a big handful of upbeat, catchy tracks that will translate at Chk Chk Chk’s sweaty live shows. In addition, the female voice prominently featured in this record needs to translate to the live experience. !!! should do their best to find a female mirrored version of Nic Offer for live performances – if they could find the right match for Offer’s over-the-top stage presence and alpha-male dance moves, it will take !!! to the next level.

~Mike Frash

Akron/FamilySub Verses

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“No Room”
“Until the Morning”
“Whole World is Watching”

Album Highlights: From the opening song “No Room”, it quickly becomes apparent that a long, epic journey in psychedelic folklore is about to transpire. Almost every song starts off on the slower side and builds into a colossal sound full of a variety of percussion and blissful guitar riffs that blend seamlessly into each other. The best example of this is in “Whole World is Watching”, which starts out with industrial sounding drums then breaks into haunting melodies. “Until the Morning”, which is the first single on the album, might be the most “normal” sounding song, but its truly beautiful, capturing the overall emotion of the album.

Album Lowlight: “Holy Boredom” was a little odd even for this album, but it serves its purpose as the transition between the lighter side of the album and the darker side. I see how this song could grow on me though.

Takeaway: This album tackles many different genres and is really a treat to listen to. The mix between psychedelic rock and folk is gaining mainstream popularity, but Akron/Family has been doing it for years and they’ve done it again. The song “Sometimes” is very gloomy and dark, yet “Sand Talk” is uplifting and very catchy. Sub Verses displays a wide range of emotions and each song evokes a different mood.

~Pete Mauch

Neon NeonPraxis Makes Perfect

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Dr. Zhivago”
“Ciao Feltrinelli”
“The Jaguar”

Album Highlights: Super Furry Animal fans rejoice! There is new material, not from Super Furry Animals, but from SFA frontman Gruff Rhys. Being a long time Super Furry Animals fan, and a fan in general of everything Rhys touches, I was excited for the new Neon Neon album. Praxis Makes Perfect is the second album by Neon Neon, a collaborative project between Gruff Rhys and producer Boom Bip.

Praxis Makes Perfect continues Neon Neon’s tradition of conceptual albums. Their debut album, Stainless Style, told the life story of famous automobile engineer John DeLorean. Praxis Makes Perfect centers around the Italian publisher and political activist Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. Song titles like “Dr. Zhivago”, “The Leopard” and “Ciao Feltrinelli” pay homage to Feltrinelli’s career.

Neon Neon creates a unique blend of electronica, pop and indie rock, with a dash of 80’s smooth synth pop. Electro-heavy, Praxis Makes Perfect makes heavy use of the synthesizer. Mix the synth-heavy sounds with Gruff Rhys’s distinctive vocals and you have a catchy, poppy album.

Album Lowlight: This is a short album. Only 10 songs in length, this album clocks in at slightly over 30 minutes. I’m just getting started by the time the album finishes, leaving the listener yearning for more.

Takeaway: Praxis Makes Perfect is a great album despite it’s length. Gruff Rhys’ distinctive voice is at the forefront of this album. You may have heard Gruff Rhys on the Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach, guesting on the song “Superfast Jellyfish.”

Fans of Super Furry Animals will get their fix with this album while they await the group’s next move. I can only hope that SFA is delayed even longer in lieu of a Neon Neon tour.

~Kevin Raos

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