Editor’s note: From 2012 to 2014, Matt Rice wrote the music column Matt on Music for The Eastern Echo, the student newspaper for Eastern Michigan University. Beginning in 2016, Matt relaunched this column on The Young Folks. You can read past installments of this column here.
Matt on Music is moving to Sundays. And after skipping a week, there’s a lot more to cover. In this column, I cover three new rock albums: Sheer Mag’s collection of their first three EPs, Sleater-Kinney’s new live album, and Allison Crutchfield’s solo debut.
Sheer Mag: Compilation LP (Wilsuns Recording Company) The EP format can be somewhat limiting. With only a few songs to get the message out, even an excellent band can wind up seeming minor. This is largely why this Philly band’s first three records, individually, didn’t really grab me. But here, combined into a twelve-song album, their traditional but wholly unique brand of rock and roll packs a punch that can’t (and won’t) stop fighting. The first 7” is solid despite opening with their weakest song, while the follow-up is comprised of two decent tracks sandwiched in between two great ones. And the third is just plain awesome, highlighted by their best cut so far, “Worth the Tears.” All in all, this tells the story of a good band becoming spectacular over the course of a mere three years, and it manages to be a compelling pro-LP argument to boot. 8.5/10
Sleater-Kinney: Live in Paris (Sub Pop) Similar to when I saw them live in Philadelphia and Detroit, my favorite song (“One More Hour”) is sadly absent. Moreover, this isn’t really a necessary record, with the songs failing to sound distinctive from their studio versions and the setlist hardly exceptional. But this is still the best band of the past 30 years sounding great, and let’s not forget that something like this would have made for a major release just a few years ago. Today, with them reunited and strong as ever, it’s still a fine novelty. 7.5/10
Allison Crutchfield: Tourist in This Town (Merge) Where her sister Katie (best known for recording under the name Waxahatchee) writes songs that fail to distinguish themselves initially but reveal themselves the more you listen, Allison defines herself with sonics and yet is somewhat weightless as a songwriter. Here, between the orchestration, the synths, and the drums, your ears are immediately drawn to the musical details, but the words and melodies rarely reveal much beneath the surface. Exceptions: the frustrated take on male feminists “Mile Away” and the effortlessly tuneful “Dean’s Room.” 7/10
Single of the Week – Little Mix: “Touch” (Syco)