Loudwire.com 1971 Metal Album Of The Year—-Black Sabbath / Master Of Reality

Master of Reality (Remastered Edition)

Master of Reality is the third studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in July 1971. It is widely regarded as the foundation of doom metal, stoner rock, and sludge metal. It was certified double platinum after having sold over 2 million copies. Master of Reality was Black Sabbath’s first and only top 10 album in the US until 13, forty-two years later.

The Analysis—-

Sweet Leaf—-Picking up with this release much as Paranoid left off, the Sabbath dirge is well in place. If there is ever a ‘stoner’ rock anthem, this song would have to be it. At the time…..pot was, by all standards, a different experience than it is today. Osbourne, still in fantastic voice and clarity is the best contrast for the deep and dark sounds of the music. This is fantastic! The shifting chord changes and musical tempos of the song as it progresses….the drums from Ward…..and the ever present bass line make for a masterpiece.

After Forever—-With an intro that sounds incredibly modern before its time, this track moves at an incredible pace from the onset….a surprise! Ozzy delivers a fantastic vocal…..clear…concise and seemingly made for the sound of the band. The contrast is remarkable. There seems to be a bit more ‘static’ to the sound of this song….but even now…all these years later…when that melody guitar lines kicks in…it is fantastic!

Embryo/Children Of The Grave—-A surprise right from the onset, this rather jaunty Scottish sounding beginning gives way to that plod plod of the Sabbath bass line and the drum delivery…..faster and more to the back of the mix for the most part than on Paranoid. Osbourne seems to almost yell to be heard over the music….it is if his vocal is pushed further back to the mix as well. This is still epic. I love the dirge and dense feel of the song. There are so many ‘movements’ to the song…..making it very epic in sound. Good drugs!!!

Orchid—-melodic and beautiful at the onset, this is still a surprise to me after all of this time. The acoustic feel to the intro was a surprise to many I’m sure. The beautiful and sad melody line is just remarkable.

Lord Of This World—-Returning to full throttle Sabbath right from the onset, the dirge and plodding delivery of the music is on full display. Ozzy delivers a vocal that is once again pushed front and center….you catch every dark word and forbearance of the song. The bass line is incredible…and I remain convinced…it is just as hard to reign in drum playing to this tempo than it is to go full throttle crazy. This is incredibly constructed…..shifting and changing numerous times…before reverting to the beginning.

Solitude—-Again…a sharp contrast and surprise as the guitar intro soars and puts you in a different place than the previous song. This is perhaps best described as a foray into Folk-Metal…before we even knew what that meant. Osbourne actually seems to sing rather than yelp his way through the track. The melody line is beautiful…the landscape of the song conjures up foggy fields and loneliness. Just remarkable.

Into The Void—-Ending the release…and returning to full throttle Sabbath mode, this is epic as well….going on for ages and taking us through mood changes and a million different chords, this is an epic finale to a short but genius release. Sabbath rarely disappointed in these early days…the creativity was incredible and REAL…it was a very cohesive band at this time…without external forces or influences. I’m so glad we have these important pieces of history in the development of modern day Metal…without these gentlemen…things would look different.

***** out of 5

 

 

Loudwire.com 1970 Metal Album Of The Year—-Black Sabbath / Paranoid

Paranoid (Remastered Edition)

Paranoid is the second studio album by the English rock band Black Sabbath. Released in September 1970, it was the band’s only LP to top the UK Albums Chart until the release of 13 in 2013. Paranoid contains several of the band’s signature songs, including “Iron Man“, “War Pigs” and the title track, which was the band’s only Top 20 hit, reaching number 4 in the UK charts. It is often regarded as one of the most quintessential and influential albums in heavy metal history.

The Analysis—-

War Pigs—-Introducing a slow marching dirge like the world had never known, Sabbath entered into this release with an incredible opener. I listen back on it today and think it should have been the theme song for the prior week’s Inauguration festivities! Osborne delivers an almost deadpan vocal at times…but the song has many moods. What was deep and plodding opens up into a magna opus of Metal sounds and warnings of war and desolation. Still sounds fantastic.

Paranoid—-A landmark song….the sound is remarkable still. the slight and brighter sound from the previous track gives the song a damn contagious element. The melody line of the song that runs underneath everything is bass driven….the fantastic vocal giving the song a bright sound. The tale of alienation and somewhat fear of insanity’s brink is still as relevant today as it was in 1970. This is…as you all know…a classic!

Planet Caravan—-Returning to a darker feel on this track, there is something almost beautiful about this track. Not sure how the vocal was manipulated way back then….but the effect gives the song a lonely…sad…melancholy sound that addled with the appropriate drugs can make you lose your place in reality for a moment. Dark….moody and damn pleasant.

Iron Man—-A tried and true classic that never grows old…no matter who you are or your age. The song helped to further trademark the Sabbath dirge sound that despite the bright points of the song were still very well in place. The song is bass driven…but in perfect contrast to Ozzy’s voice. The song has been written about 1000 times….what can I add except to urge you to take a listen again…and appreciate the genius that was taking place at the time. The galloping end to the song….was so unexpected and genius…..

Electric Funeral—-Full on marching bass sounds help shape the tale of doomsday scenarios and warnings of the end of the world and the future of robots. The drugs must have been damn good at the time. The music is incredible….that bass line…almost never leaves room for a brighter guitar sound. The drums from Ward and slow and precise…keeping the song at a constant march towards doom…..then the track brightens a bit with an almost psychedelic sound…..this is a journey all in itself.

Hand Of Doom—-Delivering a remarkable almost modern sound…..reminding me of some Tool songs, this track is another journey. Ozzy delivers more warnings of war and desolation from nuclear damage…..in a vocal that is clear…concise and incredibly understandable…you catch every single syllable of warning…..I find it easy to go from one musical groove to the other all delivered in just a few minutes….this really is a masterpiece of a release!

Rat Salad—-With a slight different sound at the onset, the drums are incredible and the brighter guitar lends again, an almost psychedelic lean to the song. The deep bass line is there mind you….but it is not the premiers star of the show at all times. The melody line leads the song……and ward delivers a drum solo that is landmark and unforgettable.

Fairies Wear Boots—-Ending this release much brighter than it began and on a more of a ‘jam’ note, the rhythm section of the band is on full display. Again….I remain amazed at how clear and concise the lyrics and the vocal were at that time. Osbourne was at a creative and preforming peak at the time…before external forces barged in and tinged things. This is an epic track…..full of intermittent vocals and intermittent jam sessions displaying the power of the band as well as the star of Ozzy. Just fantastic.

****3/4 out of 5

A Note Of Explanation —-A ‘ Review Experiment’

I recently came across a list, published by Loudwire.Com, that named the #1 Metal Album Of The Year from 1970-2016. I thought it might be fun….at least for me…..in the next few weeks to review these #1 picks…..beginning with 1970…..I hope you will all indulge me on this journey. Until tomorrow……thanks!

The Smiths / Meat Is Murder

Meat Is Murder [Vinyl]

The Smiths were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1982. The band consisted of vocalist Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce. Critics have called them the most important alternative rock band to emerge from the British independent music scene of the 1980s. Q magazine’s Simon Goddard argued in 2007 that the Smiths were “the one truly vital voice of the ’80s”, “the most influential British guitar group of the decade” and the “first indie outsiders to achieve mainstream success on their own terms”. The NME named the Smiths the “most influential artist ever” in a 2002 poll.

Based on the songwriting partnership of Morrissey and Marr, the group signed to the independent record label Rough Trade Records, on which they released four studio albums, The Smiths (1984), Meat Is Murder (1985), The Queen Is Dead (1986) and Strangeways, Here We Come (1987). Four of their albums (including three studio albums) appeared on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. They have also released several compilations, and numerous non-LP singles.

The Smiths had several singles reach the UK top twenty and all four of their studio albums reached the UK top five, including one which topped the charts. They won a significant following and remain cult favourites, although they had limited commercial success outside the UK while they were still together. The band broke up in 1987 and have turned down several offers to reunite.[4]

The band’s focus on a guitar, bass, and drum sound, and their fusion of 1960s rock and post-punk, were a repudiation of synthesizer-based contemporary dance-pop – the style popular in the early 1980s. Marr’s guitar-playing on his Rickenbacker often had a jangly sound reminiscent of Roger McGuinn of the Byrds. Marr’s guitar-playing influenced later Manchester bands, including the Stone Roses and Oasis. Morrissey and Marr’s songs combined themes about ordinary people with complex, literate lyrics delivered by Morrissey with a mordant sense of humour. In 2014 and 2015, they were nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Early in 1985 the band released their second album, Meat Is Murder. This album was more strident and political than its predecessor, including the pro-vegetarian title track (Morrissey forbade the rest of the group from being photographed eating meat), the light-hearted republicanism of “Nowhere Fast”, and the anti-corporal punishment “The Headmaster Ritual” and “Barbarism Begins at Home”. The band had also grown more diverse musically, with Marr adding rockabilly riffs to “Rusholme Ruffians” and Rourke playing a funk bass solo on “Barbarism Begins at Home”. The album was preceded by the re-release of the B-side “How Soon Is Now?” as a single, and although that song was not on the original LP, it has been added to subsequent releases. Meat Is Murder was the band’s only album (barring compilations) to reach number one in the UK charts.[48] In 2003, the album was ranked number 295 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The Analysis—-

The Headmaster Ritual—-This was really the album that began my life long love affair with The Smiths and Morrissey. While not one to peer to closely into the pseudo-political meanings of songs, this track touched me more for the music and the voice. The remarkable  rock-a-billy approach to the song…..the incredible drumming and the innate ability of Morrissey to fit so many words in a bar of music just astounded me. The wonderful jangly guitar of Marr is just incredible….listen to the layered sound while the drums pound away I the back drop….but never taking the spot light from Moz……this is incredible.

Rusholme Ruffians—-I just love the added effects that the band lent to certain songs….the bass line of the guitar is incredible…while Morrissey bangs on the tambourine to keep everything intact. The laid back and lazy vocal is never without inflection and certain emphasis on words that make you perk up and pay attention. Morrissey……back in those days had the remarkable falsetto warble that took you into paradise. I love this man…this band…and the message.

I Won’t The One I Can’t Have—-Always having a special place in my heart, how many burgeoning gay men can’t relate to the sentiment of the song. God….I was always falling in love with straight guys….I felt like the song was written just for me….I was naive in many ways. The music is fantastic…at the time, there was nothing like this being played in the US…thanks to my constant pursuing of NME and Melody Maker……I always kept up. Marr is an extraordinary guitar player….I wonder what kind of music they could make today?

What She Said—- Coming out of the quiet with an aggressive sound, it is remarkable that Moz managed to make his vocals match the pace of the song….but damn he did. And the result is nothing less than masterful. The layers of guitar sounds that Marr creates is just incredible…while the drums just pound away in the backdrop. Morrissey swoons and leans his lithe body to the music…I can see him in all his glory…celebrating the post-punk sound of the music he warbles to. Just phenomenal.

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore—-Marr matches the intense and often unhappy lyrics of Morrissey as he ponders his fate and his presumed lack of love for life. Now approaching 60…..I’m sure Moz is appalled…but he is still here none the less. For a depressed closeted teenager, this music seemed to be my own….I found myself rather pissed that anyone else would love MY BAND……The Smiths still speak to me….even at 52.

How Soon Is Now—-Released as a B-side, this track has become a Smiths classic and most referred to song in the catalog. The guitar effects from Marr are just incredible…layered and played back over top of each other, the voice tells a tale that anyone can relate to. Now that I’m happy in my life….I struggle to find a place for this masterpiece…but it is always nice to revisit such a masterpiece of creativity.  The tale and the feeling is familiar and relevant…..the music incredible….and the talent excruciatingly good.

Nowhere Fast—-Returning to the full on rock-a-billy feel of the band combined with the pseudo political ravings of Morrissey, this track plays very well today….think of our current condition. Morrissey phrases his songs incredibly well…every important word landing on the right note to create a painting. When Marr plays at the center point of the song….I can almost envision Morrissey rolling around on the stage in utter abandon.

Well I Wonder—- Slowing things down a bit and allowing the rhythm section to be showcased, the vocal enters…delivered with a slight echo and backdrop overlays that paint a very somber and sedate portrait. Morrissey has always had such a way with his vocal inflections that FORCE you to feel what he feels…..I love and adore this man.

Barbarism Begins At Home—-Marr displays his technical guitar playing again on this track…delivering a downshifting guitar that still manages to stay in the same place. The landscape the music paints is incredible….Morrissey enters and ruins everything…lol. Delivering words of school torture and discipline I somehow he might be very familiar with. I love the music to this sound more than the musings of Moz.

Meat Is Murder—-The song that single evenhandedly began me on my almost 20 year vegetarian lifestyle, the remarkable thing about the song is not just the content…but the effects as well. Pretty advanced for the time and era it was produced. You hear the cows….the chickens….the pigs all feigning torture….combined with the ugly lyrical pictures of meat processing and manufacturing. Morrissey is so damn heartfelt in his words…you can’t help but pay attention and fall in with the crowd. Magnificent.

***** out of 5

Black Sabbath / The Dio Years

The Dio Years [W/Bonus Track]

Black Sabbath: The Dio Years is a 2007 compilation CD of material from recordings made during vocalist Ronnie James Dio‘s tenure in the band. The CD contains full album length, remastered tracks culled from all three studio albums: Heaven and Hell (1980), Mob Rules (1981), Dehumanizer (1992), and the live album Live Evil (1982). It also contains three new recorded songs: “The Devil Cried“, “Shadow of the Wind”, and “Ear in the Wall”.

The Analysis—-

Neon Knights—-You notice, with many of the Dio compositions with the band, that the trademark heavy sludge of Ozzy era Sabbath is missing. This sound is clearer and crisper…and delivered with a much faster pace. Ronnie sounds remarkable…that trademark vocal and lyrical imagery reminding me how much I miss the man. This is a fantastic track…the ebbs and flows are remarkable…still allowing for the Iommi bass line but making it more accessible.

Lady Evil—-A great drum intro to the song ushers in a nice throwback sound to 80’s Heavy Metal. Ronnie delivers lyrics that were to become trademark to his career….mystical and magical. The band lends a hand on the chorus…filling out the track. The musical clarity is fantastic…I can almost see Ronnie on the stage with his wide arm gesturing that he was known for.

Heaven And Hell—-With a bit of return to the classic Sabbath sound, this has a remarkable melody line that will stick in your head. The intro leads to the clear and crisp vocal from Dio….painting a picture that flows right through your headphones. There are magnificent power chords on this track that are all in the right place….they magically fall away to allow for the vocal…and the chorus is huge. I love this version of Black Sabbath. The track gives way to an all out jam session that speeds everything up to a frantic pace…..but Ronnie never falters. Extraordinary.

Die Young—-Seeming to offer up a bit more band technology with the intro to this track, the music swirls and swirls to reach the apex of the beginning. The guitars and drums enter and the track is off to a nice faster pace and energy. The imagery that Dio paints with his lyrics are unlike any songwriter at that time. The energy of the song is incredible…as are the ebbs and flows of the music. Dio almost whispers the intro to the chorus….giving everything a mystic feel….and then we return to magical Metal.

Lonely Is The Word—-Beginning with a huge blast of guitars, the slow sludge of early Sabbath compositions are missing…even though you feel Iommi through the entire track. This has never been a favorite track of mine, but it stands on its own if for nothing but the soaring vocal from Dio.

The Mob Rules—-Again with the crisp guitar sound beginning the song…and then the growl from hell as Dio kicks off the track. The song is really fast…with a damn catchy melodic line flowing through the entire thing. Tony has a very prominent and loud bass line that plays through the whole track…but never drowns out the crisp modern guitars. This is just fantastic….

Turn Up The Night—-Returning to a deeper bass heavy melody line, the chug chug of the Iommi sound is nice to hear. Dio sounds so good on this track…you notice you can catch every single word that he utters which is remarkable for Heavy Metal. There is a literal wall of sound playing through this track…but every section shines and no one suffers.

Voodoo—-Again, the power chords are strong when the song begins but fall away to allow for the train like bass to drive the song. This has never been a favorite track of mine…and even here on this collection it sounds a bit dated and stuck in time. Thank God for the remarkable vocal….keeps me coming back.

Falling Off The Edge Of The World—-With an odd really tender beginning, Dio begins his vocal in an almost tender manner. The swirling string lines are accompanied by a strong drum intro but the track is very slow to really start. I really didn’t expect to hear that familiar Sabbath sludge to come out of the slight beauty….but the murky darkness is there…then the crisp guitars enter and send to track off to a fast pace as you feel everything brighten up. There are many moods and shifts on this track…the one wonderful constant is Ronnie’s voice.

After All [The Dead]—-Beginning the trio of my favorite tracks from Dio era Sabbath, this track really hearkens back to the early days of the band with the deep, slow and methodical sludge that the band was known for. Dio enters with a vocal that I can really hear Osbourne singing to be honest. The track is huge…with constant down shifts on the bass that remains a constant despite it. It is the simple part of the song when Dio utters…’After All’ that makes the track for me. This is a masterpiece.

TV Crimes—-Back to a full and dramatic rhythm section with the steam engine bass playing leading the track. The vocal is fantastic…Dio is so clear and concise and sounds so big for such a little guy.  The energy of this track is contagious as hell….giving you the urge to just sit and jam the fuck out. This is one of the bands best concoctions in my opinion. It has the best of everything that made this band a monster.

I—-Hands down, my favorite Dio-era Sabbath track. I love the vocal inflections…I can see Ronnie on the stage with his remarkable gesturing…and his ability to take over a stage with his presence. The remarkable bass line that begins the song…is classic Sabbath…while Dio rises above it with his voice. The guitars enter and the song becomes so large. This is fantastic….I could listen to this song over and over and over again. Everything about it is classic!

Children Of The Sea [Live]—-A classic and oft played version of this track, this could have well been a classic Dio track….indeed he played it many times live when he was on is own. This is trademark Dio fodder….the remarkable thing is the power of the voice…even in a live setting…rising well above the instruments and filling the audience with the grandiose track. The melody line is fantastic…and transcends so well live…..just incredible.

The Devil Cried—-Recorded during the re-vamped Dio era Heaven And Hell and towards the end of the legends life, this is still magnificent.Its hard to believe when you listen to the track that 1] Dio was ill and 2] that the band ever took a break from recording. The sound is much fuller….but ebbs to allow for the mystical and magical vocal to enter. Dio just sounds magnificent….crisp and clear…even though you recognize some double tracks going on. But the track as a whole from Musicality to song content…..is a true winner.

Shadow Of The Wind—-Deeper in sound and energy, Iommi has a bass style that is so huge…the sound literally shakes my headphones. The sludge and slow stepping pace of the music hearkens back to classic Sabbath sound…..but Dio makes his mark none the less….double tracked vocals are a surprise…and the lack of energy is a bit apparent….but a great track none the less.

Ear In The Wall—-Faster and full of undeniable energy, this starts quick right out of the gate. The drums are huge…and the bass chug chug chug is incredible. Dio sounds a bit less than inspired…but he delivers regardless…..again we have double tracked vocals…which on 13 was a new thing…but leans towards Ronnie’s declining health. This is really nice….but not a favorite of mine.

****1/2 out of 5

 

 

 

Satyricon / Satryicon

Satyricon

Satyricon is a Norwegian black metal band, formed in 1991 in Oslo. Satyr and Frost have been the band’s core members since 1993. The band’s first three albums typify the Norwegian black metal style. Since its fourth album in 1999, the band has strayed from this style and included elements of traditional heavy metal in their sound. Satyricon was the first Norwegian black metal band to join a multi-national record label (EMI).

Satyricon is the eighth studio album by Norwegian black metal band Satyricon. It is their first topping VG-lista, the official Norwegian Albums Chart. It was released throughout Europe on 9 September 2013, and released on 17 September 2013 in USA and Canada.

The Analysis—-

Voice Of Shadows—-I was a late comer to this band…but have now collected every release thus far. this sounds, at the onset a little subdued and less produced than the last two release. I find myself thinking the band has started to sound a bit more Industrial in sound on this release. The music is dark….but the melody on this track is almost catchy and pure. I long for the days of Now, Diabolical.

Tro Og Kraft—-Again, the rhythm section drives the feel of this track….Satyr enters with his evil sounding vocal and gives the song a bit more credibility. The record to me…has a hollow sound to it…like production could have been much better. The big sound of the last few releases in missing.

Our World, It Rumbles Tonight—-This just seems to be a mish mash of different sounds all mashed together in one song. You have the sometimes heavy feel from Satyricon, intermediate Orchestration here and there….combined with keyboards and some phenomenal drums…which I love. The form of the band seems to be struggling and a bit lost though.

Nocturnal Flare—-Beginning with a nice epic aggression, the song ebbs away into a more funeral feel as it tries to take shape. The one constant are the drums…but the effects seem to even stifle them a bit. This is such a long intro I almost lose enthusiasm. Satyr enters with his vocal…not a growl and not clean…but enough of a difference to catch my attention. Sometimes he sounds a bit pissed off…which I really like….but the shifting musical sounds are unorganized and without passion.

Phoenix—-A huge blast of aggression and rhythm greets me as this track begins….leading me back down the path of Black Metal i so love. the drums are awesome…the guest vocal from Sivert Hoyem is a surprise and an almost shock as the clear and concise vocal greets you. I love the rhythm of the song…but the purity of Black Metal is compromised in my opinion.

Walker Upon The Wind—-Beginning huge and epic in sound, the aggression is remarkable and makes me smile. This is what i wanted from the beginning. The music is fast…maniacal and the vocal comes at you in a pissed off manner that makes you draw your breath inward. This is fantastic…one of the best tracks on this release!

Nekrohaven—-Again, the aggression seems to be back to a point. The rhythm section leads the entire pace of the song, while the vocal appears to be run through a filter that makes me think of Ministry or some band in the Industrial music field. I like this……but the direction of the band seems to be faltering…so….I hear they are not recording any longer together…perhaps this loss of direction is why. This track is pretty awesome though….full of dark imagery.

Ageless Northern Spirit—-This again, has a muted feel to the music and the vocal that speaks to me of lack of production value. This track should have…and could have been epic if properly mixed and produced. I hate to see a band dissolve into mediocrity like this.

The Infinity Of Time And Space—- Moody and sounding a bit mainstream at the onset, Satyr delivers a vocal that breaks the spell a bit. The deep growling delivery is broken by a melodic guitar that crashes me enthusiasm for the track…making me wonder….what the fuck happened to this band? I’m sorry to see them go….but the creativity seems to have come to an end.

Natt—-I hate to say it, but I welcome the end to this rather lackluster release. I remain disappointed and know for a fact i will not grab this record to listen to on even a casual basis. all the integrity of the middle period of the band has dissolved and gone by the wayside. I guess for everyone there must be a new chapter…this band is ready for one….book closed!

** out of 5

 

In darkness
Underneath
The above
Swordbearer
Son of a tornado
He lies in the slumber of (dark) clouds

Born by a thought
He flies through the thunder of wars
Swirling
Ripping

Ultimate destroyer
Unspeakable avenger
Walker upon the wind
Hunting, piercing
(The) ultimate, roaring
Walker upon the wind

Son of a tornado
He lies in the slumber of (dark) clouds
Mourned, feared, adored
Accursed one, torn one, marked one

Ultimate destroyer
Unspeakable avenger
Walker upon the wind
Hunting, piercing
(The) ultimate, roaring
Walker upon the wind

 

 

Best Coast / California Nights

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Best Coast is an American rock duo formed in Los Angeles, California in 2009. The band consists of songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Bethany Cosentino and guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno. Cosentino, a former child actress, began writing music as a teenager and was formerly a member of the experimentalist drone group Pocahaunted. After a brief tenure at college in New York City, Cosentino returned to the West Coast and began recording lo-fi demos with Bruno, whom she met in the Los Angeles music scene.

After a string of 7-inch and cassette-only singles, the band signed to Mexican Summer, who issued the band’s debut, Crazy for You, in 2010. Crazy for You became an unexpected commercial success following Internet buzz surrounding the duo. Lewis Pesacov of Fool’s Gold and Foreign Born -produced, engineered and mixed the album. Best Coast added a touring drummer, Ali Koehler of Vivian Girls, and spent much of 2011 on the road for festival appearances and tour dates. Best Coast’s sophomore effort, The Only Place, was released in 2012 and featured a cleaner sound than their previous releases. In 2013, the duo released an EP, Fade Away, and their third studio album, California Nights, was released on May 4, 2015.

California Nights is the third studio album by American indie rock duo Best Coast, released on May 1, 2015 by Harvest Records.It was produced by Wally Gagel, who also produced the duo’s 2013 EP Fade Away.

The band announced the album along with tour dates and the release of a “dreamlike” video directed by Adam Harding for the title track, which also served as the lead single.[On the band’s official website, singer-songwriter Bethany Cosentino described the band’s approach to the making of the album, stating: “In LA, there’s a real darkness that you don’t see unless you know where to look. That’s a theme we very consciously decided to explore and play with when making this record. We related to the idea that things may look or sound fun and upbeat, but they may not actually always be that way.

The Analysis—-

Feeling OK—-Underneath the guitar fuzz, there is a remarkable brightness to be found in the music delivered by Best Coast. Perhaps it is all in the voice…but the musical mood delivers the sunny relaxed West Coast feel as well. This music helps me to fight the Daylight Savings doldrums and look forward to warm beachy days filled with warmth….beer and fun….wonderful.

Fine Without You—-Beginning with a nice fuzzy sound, the sun and the fun permeates the sound despite it all. Bethany has such a pleasant and throwback tone to her voice. You will find it hard sometimes to realize this album was recorded in modern times and not during the beach craze of the 50’s and 60’s. This is exactly what you need on a cold and wintry day.

Heaven Sent—-A warm and huge guitar sound begins the track…the drums kick in and the song is off t a Ramones speed track. The entire feel of the song is so consistent with the rest of the release….despite the songs contents, the sound is always bright and sun drenched. Making me want to bop along in a convertible on a California freeway. Wonderful!

In My Eyes—-Again, fuzzy guitars enter with a remarkable melody playing underneath the sometimes noisy delivery. The guitar lines are bright and shiny…while the underlying bass line makes everything a bit layered in sound. The tambourine and the voice come together to make a fresh and bright sound. I truly love this band…the ability to make you feel good despite tales of lost love and hurt is remarkable.

So Unaware—-A darker sound begins this track but gives way to the lighter feel like the rest of the record. Bethany sing….”it’s always dark by 5 p.m.” Boy, can I relate. The drums on this track are huge…the guitars sharp and crisp….while the bass line gives you that underlying feel that all is not well. What a magical combination this band has built.

When Will I Change—-This song has such a familiar melody line, but I struggle to place it. The vocal is fantastic…with slight overlays and a little echo makes it sound huge. I can feel the urge to be-bop around the room with joy and happiness. I relate to the lyrics….as one who seems stuck in one place…..but the song is not a downer. Despite some intense lyrics…the sound remains sunny and bright.

Jealousy—-This entire release makes me want to listen to Josie Cotton! This track, fairly well known and have had some air play is a bit more sedate and layered in sound. The content is not happy….but somehow you feel happy…with all the ‘sha-la la’s’ going on in the background. How can you not love this?

California Nights—-Swirling in a dark atmospheric way at the onset, the vocals are pushed to the back of the mix and sound a bit processed. Giving me a feel of classic ‘shoe-gaze’ music of the 90’s the pace of this track is slow and drawn out. This is a masterpiece of a song….I love the references to the nights in California….making me want to move TODAY! This is wonderfully constructed…and delivers a feel different than anything thus far on the record.

Fading Fast—-Returning to a brighter feel hat has a slight rock=a-billy feel to it, the vocal enters and the slight voice overlays makes her voice sound so much larger. I wonder how all of this plays live? I love the throwback feel to the song…making me want to bask in the sun and swim in the ocean without a care about cold…bills…love or life. That is why music matters!

Run Through My Head—-Deep in sound and bass driven right from the onset, the sharp tuned guitars enter to brighten things up a bit…but underneath of it all, the bass carries a feeling all of its own. The chorus is contagious and catchy…..the bright guitars never hiding the deeper feel of the song. A nice mix of feelings….I love the brilliance of this band.

Sleep Won’t Ever Come—-With a remarkably familiar melody running through the track as soon as it begins, this is so sedate and sunny. The voice is pure perfection…..you catch every word….reminding you this is not happy joyous music…but you can’t help but feel happy. This is a remarkable achievement.

Wasted Time—-Ending the release with a layered and melancholy track, the hum that runs through the underbelly of the song leaves you a bit wanting and sad. The deep sound of the song is intense…the almost acoustic guitar leads you on a different path than the majority of the record….but it leaves a wonderful taste in my mouth…it makes me sit back and think.

**** out of 5