Penny Reel Music Blog
  • Black Lips
Underneath the Rainbow
(Vice Records)
*****/5
The first album from Black Lips since 2011’s Arabia Mountain finds the boys from Atlanta bringing the snot and snarl that is now synonymous with their persona on Underneath the Rainbow. Co-produced by the likes of Patrick Carney (Black Keys) and long-time collaborator Ed Rawls, the album continues the group’s suit-and-tie trajectory of the garage rock sub-culture they helped spearhead. As polished a product as Underneath the Rainbow may be, the subtle genre spanning of the group’s influences latches its thorns into your skin, drawing only the slightest hints of blood. Opening with the hip shaking 70’s tune that may best identify itself in some biker exploitation film, ‘Drive By Buddy’ vaults the boys into a journey through deep-south grooves with ‘Boys in the Wood’ and arena rock pandering on ‘Dandelion Dust.’ With tracks like ‘Dorner Party’ that could easily fall into any of the group’s last few albums, new and old fans alike may feel that this album is a peace pipe where all parties involved can thank the gods that Black Lips have yet to falter once again. – M. R. Brown

The album is available March 18 on Vice Records. See Black Lips live at SXSW and the upcoming tour for the new album.
  • 

Diarrhea Planet 
I’m rich beyond your wildest dreams.
 (Infinity Cat)
****/5
In March of 2012, after wandering about much of the day, I settled on a SXSW showcase at Cheer Up Charlie’s. I had heard a group called Diarrhea Planet would be playing. In fact, you can read my recap here. The six-piece Nashville rock outfit is well known for their live shows. As the group’s set came to a close, guitarists Evan Bird and Emmett Miller scaled the stage’s precarious scaffolding to have one last shred-off to the undeniably catchy tune “Ghost with a Boner.” I was hooked. Who wouldn’t be?
Diarrhea Planet makes music that could fit squarely on a looping basement party playlist while also being an omen for the eventual evolution of what is currently the low-fi movement. The latest release solidifies the group as a viable ‘next big thing.’ Go ahead, hang the card on ‘em. It’s a safer bet than the Cowboys taking home any hardware this year.
Much of the album’s pacing borrows from the similar, pragmatic approach as former tour partners, and previous Kevin McMahon-produced artist, Titus Andronicus. “Lite Dream” opens with a momentous build-up and closes with a harrowing and repetitive solo that drowns in a wave of sound. Jordan Smith’s unabashed lyrics sit playfully atop a well-glossed, yet still lo-fi, output.
First single “Separations” is a heartbroken outburst recounting the daunting process of being apart from the one you love and its all too likely end. It’s powerfully hip and somehow bursts with calculated pop tact.
Many of the album’s tracks were admittedly written or influenced from the time Smith and drummer Casey Weissbuch spent living together, spawning such restless revelations as “The Sound of a Ceiling Fan” and “Skeleton Head.”
One thing is for sure, I’m rich beyond your wildest dreams. has enough riffs to melt even the thickest skinned faces. If that’s not worth the listen, then your ears are useless. – M. R. Brown

External Link: San Antonio Current
  • David Lynch
The Big Dream
(Sunday Best/Sacred Bones)
***/5

David Lynch is not a musician. He even refuses to be called one. Following what may be his final film, 2006’s Inland Empire, Lynch has taken to exploring various forms of artistic expression, including acting, painting, photography and, since 2001, music. The Big Dream is a marked improvement from 2011’s Crazy Clown Time, particularly in its focus and musical balance. Much of the album is a surrealist, modern blues record that has passed through the creative channels of the auteur director’s mind. “Star Dream Girl” is a march of old world blues set adrift in some clouded vision. Lynch’s thin-nasal voice cracks in a beautiful protest over a smooth Southern guitar lick.  “Say It” blends simple storytelling with intoxicating surf-rock influences. The haunting brilliance of “I Want You” pulsates with hesitant lyrics of repressed emotion that flutter out from an adolescent mind. Closing the album is the Lykke Li collaboration “I’m Waiting Here,” a somber cadence evoking the gentle sway of youths in the school dancehall. Lynch may be far from having crafted the sonic equivalent to any of his films, but the imaginative spirit that runs through his celluloid is no less apparent on the record. – M. R. Brown

External Link: San Antonio Current
  • Gogol Bordello
Pura Vida Conspiracy
(ATO Records)
****/5 

Gogol Bordello’s move to ATO Records has produced the group’s most exacting effort to date, effectively harnessing the band’s energetic musical orgy.  Gogol Bordello finds their pulse in waves of melody and madness. “Dig Deep Enough” is a brazen protest and worldly chorus with beautifully melodic injections. “Lost Innocent World” equally stomps in anger over loss and confusion. The group’s aural dissonance comes in the positive ethos of “Rainbow.” Finding simplicity in everything from confrontation to freedom, the track is a reflection through experience from a traveller’s soul. Pura Vida Conspiracy is as much a call to arms as a transcendental celebration, replete with chanting choruses for collective masses. The album’s message can be simplified to the “John The Conqueror” lyric “Living and loving/ The rest is insane.” Gogol Bordello has matured from a wild gypsy punk band to a true folk outfit that hasn’t forgot their roots. – M. R. Brown

External Link: San Antonio Current
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