Albums of the Week

July 26-August 1

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In this edition: Premonition 13, Bomb The Music Industry!, Frank Turner and Crystal Antlers

Dennis’ Pick of the Week:
Premonition 13: 13 (Volcom Entertainment)

It’s almost three minutes of slow building, ambient buzz before the heavy knee drops on the listener with the debut of Scott “Wino” Weinrich’s new band, but it doesn’t take long before they’ve got “a boot on your neck, face smashed to the ground.” Premonition 13 are metal but in the expansive, open-minded sense that birthed pioneers like Megadeth and Testament, and really, given the emphasis on pacing and embrace of how intense and effective playing slowly can be, the granddaddy of them all, Black Sabbath. However, this isn’t an attempt to recreate Paranoid, in fact, it’s clear Weinrich paid attention to the virtues of under-sung Sabbath joints like Technical Ecstasy and Sabotage. 13 (released July 26) is adventurous AND hearty as home cookin’, a buffet for mature metalheads bored by the empty shock & awe tactics of contemporary hard rock. One major difference from Wino’s other famous project, Saint Vitus, is the wide-legged strut of 13, which gets downright funky in spots, notably the bump ‘n’ grind of Deranged Rock ‘n’ Roller and Clay Pigeons and the Funkadelic-y swoon of La Hechicera de la Jeringa. Elsewhere the trio – Weinrich (guitar, vocals), Jim Karow (guitar) and Matthew Clark (drums) – generate a lot of sound for three guys, with reference points extending beyond metal to classic trios like early Grand Funk Railroad and the original Robin Trower lineup. Space and texture matter just as much as whomp on 13, a model of brute sophistication that once again shows that Wino is one of hard rock’s most reliable bets, a musician fiercely dedicated to non-conformity for all the right reasons, including artistic ones. (Dennis Cook)

Dennis’ Runner-Up of the Week:
Bomb The Music Industry!: Vacation (Ernest Jennings/Really Records)

Cresting in on hurricane waves, Vacation (released July 26) arrives to soundtrack the remaining nine weeks of summer, a perfect, rollicking summation of suburban daydreaming, mischief making and remarkably sweet romancing. Jeff Rosenstock and his ever-expanding band of merrymakers tap into the thrilling vibe of the warmest season, surfing and crooning and crashing into all sorts of things in a tangibly alive way – emotions and rapid-fire thoughts burst from every pore. The band’s punk bona fides are well established – Rosenstock runs the super cool donation based record label Quote Unquote Records for cripes sake – but Vacation ups the musical sophistication quotient a good deal with increasingly interesting kitchen instrumentation, arrangements that show a knack for 60s style pop structures, and vocal layering on par with Bad Religion. The hooks are ridiculous, the lyrics simple & direct yet quite clever, and the Beach Boys/Phil Spector touches are a rag ‘n’ bone answer to Springsteen’s big budget chasing of that classic sound – and frankly I like what Bomb The Music Industry! is doing with the same elements better. It’s the kind of album you can throw on with almost any relatively diverse crowd and everyone will find things to dig about it, the rare album that a pubescent punk kid and a graying old schooler like myself might love equally. The video game blips and details to their scene painting are further gravy, but Vacation’s high point arrives early with The Shit That You Hate, as perfect a “teenage hymn to God” as any of Brian Wilson’s successors ever mustered, ending on the inspired refrain, “The shit that you hate don’t make you special.” Many things make one’s ears prick up on this honest, fabulously enjoyable slab, which suggests BTMI! may be growing into an epically together band right under the radar. (DC)

BTMI! hit the road this week with Sidekicks on this year’s Pick Up The Phone Suicide Prevention Tour.

Ron’s Pick of the Week:
Frank Turner: England, Keep My Bones (Epitaph)

Since his days as a member of the groundbreaking UK post-hardcore act Million Dead, Meonstoke, Winchester’s own Frank Turner has spent the majority of his last decade in performance as a professional musician defying the trappings of what makes one punk. And on his fourth album (released June 7), he continues to whittle away the barriers separating his singer-songwriter sensibilities and his DIY nature on the engaging and eclectic England, Keep My Bones – 12 new songs that cement the 29-year-old’s place as the heir apparent to the legacy of such gutter bards of yesteryear such as Billy Bragg and the late Joe Strummer. Copping its title from the underappreciated Shakespeare play The Life and Death of King John and employing more of a band-oriented approach than anything he has done yet as a solo artist, this versatile set finds Turner searching his roots in British folk on tracks like Rivers and the Harry Cox-esque English Curse while returning to the rollicking rawness of his early 00s salad days on I Am Disappeared and One Foot Before The Other. Meanwhile, songs like his sly homage to his grandmum Peggy Sang The Blues and the skiffle-flavored If I Ever Stray find young Frank perfecting the art of the bitter-raising pub anthem that stands at the very core of the “Englishness” he is looking to evoke here. “Well, I haven’t always been a perfect person/ No, I haven’t done what Mom and Dad had dreamed,” he proclaims on the sing-along opening cut Eulogy. “But on the day I die I’ll say, ‘Well at least I fucking tried!’/ That’s the only eulogy I need.” However, with England, Keep My Bones, he champions a sense of patriotic pride in the salt and sweat soaked into the fabric of the old Union Jack that would make any Queen-fearing parent mighty proud. (Ron Hart)

Ron’s Runner-Up of the Week:
Crystal Antlers: Two-Way Mirror (Recreation Ltd.)

As the final album of new music released on one of indie rock’s most venerated labels, the psychedelic post-punk of Long Beach, CA’s Crystal Antlers and their 2009 debut Tentacles was undoubtedly evocative of the kind of quality, challenging noise championed by Touch and Go Records during their 30 years as a fully operational entity. But the album harbored an air of bittersweet sentiment surrounding its release, much like the last Chevy truck going down the assembly line at the fallen Flint, MI GM plant documented in Michael Moore’s Roger & Me. Two years later, however, the C. Antlers return under the safety net of their own imprint to prove their worth beyond the unintentionally dubious nature of their news making past with an adventurous collection of new songs that have the group’s impressive growth spurts on full display. Legendary SST cover artist Raymond Pettibon doesn’t do jackets for just any old act, and on Two Way Mirror (released July 19), this quirky quintet prove themselves mighty worthy of the precious Indian ink he uses to work his magic. The band utilizes new keyboardist Cora Foxx to full effect across these 11 new cuts recorded in a Mexican barn during the winter of 2010. Foxx’s Hammond organ comes across like Martin Rev channeling Ray Manzarek on tracks like Dog Days, By The Sawkill and Fortune Teller, providing the perfect foil for bassist frontman Johnny Bell, guitarist Andrew King and percussionists Kevin Stuar and Damian Edwards to really take their Tuxedomoon-gone-Electric Mud sound to a whole new stratosphere of enjoy ability. Forget all the flip-flopping reviews you have read elsewhere on the Internet, Two-Way Mirror is an absolute keeper. (RH)