Billy Strings — “Long Journey Home / Life to Go” released Oct. 3
When I first discovered bluegrass this past spring, I admired the aspect of tradition inherent in the genre. Bluegrass standards are passed down through family trees of string players and the concepts of home and family are central to the development of bluegrass. My introduction to this style of music was Billy Strings, who came onto my radar through his connections with Primus.
Billy Strings is regarded as the leader of the current generation of bluegrass, gaining notoriety across a wide audience. He sets out to honor the man who instilled his love for guitar – his father, Terry Barber – by collaborating for his upcoming album “Me/And/Dad.”
“Long Journey Home” and “Life to Go,” two tracks from “Me/And/Dad,” are played in a style more traditional than Strings’ usual psychedelic flair but it’s suitable for such a project. “Long Journey Home” was first recorded by the Monroe brothers in 1936, and played with unbelievable speed. Strings is a lightning fast picker himself, but his version with Barber takes a more even-keeled approach, resulting in a brisk yet heartfelt rendition.
“Life to Go” is a somber tale of imprisonment and regret, key motifs within bluegrass. The contrast between Barber’s vocals on “Life to Go” and Strings’ vocals on “Long Journey Home” is both striking and touching. I look forward to hearing what the father-son duo has in store for the rest of “Me/And/Dad,” and learning about the songs that they and many other generations have shared between them.
Inclination — “Unaltered Perspective” released Oct. 21
“Unaltered Perspective” is the first full length release from Inclination and it’s a project spearheaded by a purposeful vision. It’s a direct address of drug addiction, that points a finger at corporations and politicians while lamenting the victims and the helplessness of those who witness the downward spiral.
The opening track is the album’s manifesto, spoken word over haunting acoustic guitar which declares that “This is about existing contrary to norms / This is about strength and self determination / This is an unaltered perspective.” Spare for the instrumental “Segue” and parts of “Commitment to Self,” the rest of the record is blistering, unapologetic and anthemic metallic hardcore.
While I enjoyed moments throughout the middle of “Unaltered Perspective,” the payoff is the last two tracks which instrumentally balance aggression and beauty. “A Decision” and “Commitment to Self” are perfect closers, brimming with emotional intensity and urgency in its message. The sense of integrity is stirring to the point of inspiring for me and I can’t help but pay close attention when the album nears its end. And just in case you hadn’t gotten the gist yet, those last two tracks leave no room for ambiguity — this is a straight edge record.
Deadbody — “The Requiem” released Oct. 28
One of my favorite phenomena is coming around to a band or genre that previously did not connect with me. Several artists that I now love, I did not care for the first time I heard them. I have a theory that the right music will find you either when you need it personally or when it satisfies a sudden musical craving.
In this case, Deadbody scratches a recent itch for something heavy and slightly chaotic. Their debut effort “The Requiem” is an enticing blend of death metal, hardcore and a dash of grind. This is something that would not have interested me a few months ago, but now I cannot get enough of this record. As soon as it ends, I let it replay for a second or third time.
“The Requiem” is a force to be reckoned with – deftly navigating through riffs that toe the line between brutally tight and frenetic. The pacing of fast blast beat parts and churning breakdowns is very satisfying. My favorite track by far is “Without Honor,” which feels like a sampler for what the rest of the album entails. It features breakneck twists and turns which slip into a smooth barrage at 1:43 – a transition which elicited an audible gasp from me when I first heard it.
Other highlights from “The Requiem” include the outro of “Wound Eternal” and the guitar solo in “Joy of Torture,” a rare moment of reprieve on this album, which is followed by a nasty closing breakdown. “The Requiem” clocks in at eight tracks in 20 minutes, the perfect length to leave listeners satisfied while still wanting more.
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