The Rolling Stones - Blue & Lonesome

The legendary blues rock band The Rolling Stones is back for the first time in over a decade with new material. Well, almost. The band's Blue & Lonesome is a very revealing record for the future of this band.

First and foremost, this record is not new material. It consists entirely of covers of old blues and jazz tracks. The only sense of "new" this album has is the fact that some of these covers have a different vibe than the original. Other than that, Blue & Lonesome feels entirely lazy and like the band has run out of life.

If the covers at least showed a different array of sounds, this album would be at least a bit more inviting. But no, every track sounds virtually the same. That is by no means the fault of the original artists; if anything, it's the Stones' fault for making the same sounding cover again and again. From the first track 'Just Your Fool' by Buddy Johnson to the last track, 'I Can't Quit You Baby' by Willie Dixon, you are just tired of hearing the same track. It's the same harmonica solo, the same guitar sound, the same vocals, everything. There is nothing to gain from this record beyond the first track.

Have The Rolling Stones run their course? Not only is Blue & Lonesome devoid of original material, but it also has the same recurring sound over and over again. It feels like there's no inspiration left. There's no confidence like they had in their biggest hits, just comfort in the same sound, and that's about as low as you can get in terms of passion. Comfort is the enemy, you have to challenge yourself - that's how you grow. The Rolling Stones don't seem to want to do that anymore.

Favorite Tracks: none.

Least Favorite Tracks: all of them.

Rating: 19 / 100


You can listen to or buy Blue & Lonesome from the following:

Childish Gambino - 'Me and Your Mama'

Donald Glover is a lowkey legend. His acting career is just starting taking off, and in the midst of it all, he's about to release his third record as Childish Gambino, entitled Awaken, My Love. Not only is the record a surprise, but it seems to be a departure from his original sounds, as well.

The first single he's shared from the record is called 'Me and Your Mama,' an expansive six-minute long track that blends blues and rock in a dark and aesthetic way. There's a lot of passion and sensuality packed into the one track, and that core message takes many paths.

The song is introduced with a sparkling pianos akin to Radiohead's 'Daydreaming' with various sounds pounding the bass and a higher one that swims through the falling stars the piano creates. The ethereal choir chants "I'm in love when we are smokin' that la-la-la-la-la" over the intro, referencing Gambino's addiction to marijuana and the implications it has on love.

The song proceeds into its hook and verses, thick guitar carrying them through with bluesy, southern genius. Gambino sings passionately, screaming with both sensuality and pain as the song slowly but thoughtfully progresses. The R&B flair combines beautifully with the old-fashioned blues rock vibe the song has, and Gambino electrifies the song even further with his delivery. The song's intensely emotional core gives way to a peaceful instrumental conclusion that revels in a blues improvisational piece that you hear in black & white, the synths adding a modern touch to it.

The song can be interpreted in two ways. One takes a look at a bigger picture that encompasses the album, while the other takes a personal delve into the track's lyrics. Taking a look at the tracklist for Awaken, My Love, it looks like Glover is writing to his son. Songs like 'Baby Boy' and the similarly titled 'The Night Me and Your Mama Met' are found in the tracklist, and the title itself seems to be a call to his newborn son. Perhaps this album will be a life lesson, of sorts; maybe 'Me and Your Mama' is a sort of warning. The song itself is about love, or rather, how difficult it can be. Glover tells his girl in the first verse: "They wanna see us fallin' apart! / You know that I love you! / So let me into your heart," begging her to let him in, regardless of what everyone else wants. He goes further in a reference to Smokey Robinson and Outkast in the bridge, chanting "Girl you really got a hold on me / So this isn't just puppy love," claiming he knows his love is real and more than just an idea. He wants her.

Childish Gambino is about to change the game. December 2nd is when Awaken, My Love drops, and 'Me and Your Mama' really shows it. It's a brilliant song, bringing Pink Floyd and James Brown together into a simplistic but powerful track. Donald Glover is a artistic genius, and it's about to show.

Rating: 89 / 100

July Talk - Touch

Without blues, there would not be rock today as we know it. There are plenty of bands who combine the roots of rock with their modern flair - Alabama Shakes being a prime example. What's rarer to see than a blues rock band is a rock band with a tenor singer singing in that raspy blues and jazz tone that was the signature of Louis Armstrong.

That rare, if not unique combination can be found in Canadian rock n' roll outfit July Talk. They've just released their sophomore album Touch, and it begs the question as to why this band doesn't get more attention. Their sound is something truly special.

Going into Touch, you don't expect to her that raspy tenor powerfully leading the tracks. The beautiful thing about July Talk is their seamless combination of blues and rock. Kicking off with the groovy 'Picturing Love', the intro number really sets the pace for a rocking record. It starts in an understated manner, a strong drum beat followed by some keys. Suddenly, the magic of Peter Dreimanis' vocals kick in and you know something brilliant is ahead. Dreimanis' voice is powerful and bassy, yet is contrasted by the sweet and strong voice of Leah Fay throughout the record, providing for lots of color. The relationship between the two vocalists' voices becomes clearer in 'Beck + Call' where the two come together in a stunning manner.

Even though it's so easy to get lost in the voices, the instrumentals cannot be ignored. The aforementioned 'Beck + Call' is pure rock n' roll with its big guitars. Some songs exhibit a punkier attitude, such as 'So Sorry' towards the end of the record, booming with Leah Fay's challenging tone and the wild guitars. It's bridge is something else - the instrumental comes to a halt as Fay and Dreimanis sing under a palm muted guitar as the song builds back up to a giant explosion. 'Lola + Joseph' also has an absolutely immense instrumental, the brass section just as influential as its guitars. The deep brass really accent each chord with a definitive presence that you can't be indifferent to. It's so good. Softer moments are also present on the record - the pianos and smooth bass lead to dreamy strings and synths in 'Strange Habits' giving it a chilled back and ethereal vibe while still remaining memorable.

The best part of this album is definitely its vocals, but everything works together in a very amazing way. It's as if each element of the song is the support for another, in a form of musical symbiosis. The vocals are just like guitars, the higher register held onto by Fay while Dreimanis handles the low-end. The lyrics are something else, too. Single 'Push + Pull' expresses the duality of a volatile relationship, the chorus ethereally stating, "We're used to the night that leaves us unstable / We're used to the night, we take more than we're able / We're used to the night or whatever's on the table." There's also 'Jesus Said So', which is a huge bashing of modern culture. Through slamming words such as "White babies cry / On reality TV / Plastic surgery disaster / Inherit obesity" and the provocative imagery of "
The cops put men in cars / Drove them out into the snow / Find women's bodies in the rivers / But nobody seems to know", it really leaves a lot to wonder about.

The final track, the eponymous 'Touch' is a brilliant conclusion to the album. It's not an upfront track like a lot of the other big tracks were, but it instead builds into one wallowing crescendo of moody noise. The bluesy piano licks that repeat themselves from start to finish back the harmonies between Dreimanis and Fay, while the drums slowly build into the song's climax, bringing a thousand voices together for one big closure.

Touch is an album you can't really understand until you see it through. All you can tell is that it's something unique and strong. July Talk is only on their second album but sound like they've been together for decades, their sound so crisp and knowing. It's a musical astonishment. This band deserves more attention than their reputation for crazy live shows has garnered. They deserve worldwide fame

Favorite Tracks: Beck + Call, Lola + Joseph, Touch, Picturing Love

Least Favorite Track: Johnny + Mary

Rating: 86 / 100