Pensacola, Florida
Monday September 24th 2018

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Ears & Fingers 9/11/14

By Jason Leger

Ryan Adams-Ryan Adams
I could poll 100 people and ask which Ryan Adams LP was his last “good” album and the results would likely be very scattered. Some might say that he peaked at “Cold Roses.” Others might take the “Love is Hell” approach. Still others, who I would probably call wrong, might claim that he was even keeled all the way to “Ashes & Fire.” Plus, there would be that one guy who would say, “He hasn’t done anything good since that song from Robin Hood.” God have mercy on that soul. For me, the guy fell off after “Jacksonville City Nights.” I tried with “29,” “Easy Tiger,” “Cardinology” and even the ridiculous “Orion,” but something was just lost for me. I had hopes this loss wasn’t permanent.

A self-titled album late into a career can generally be connected to a sense of rebirth, a return to one’s roots. “Ryan Adams” is a confident return to form for the 39-year-old songwriter. The whole album brings to mind classic Adams and what originally drew people to him. The sometimes bluesy, sometimes country, sometimes grungy alt-rock, the moody lyrics and overtones, and just the right amount of (good) Morrissey influence bleed throughout and bring him right back into a state of relevance. The songs offer a wide variety of past Adams sound and feel as though they could be placed in preceding albums seamlessly. I spun “Ryan Adams” four times in a row last week, and if I drifted off, at times it felt like I was listening to “Demolition,” then it would travel into “Rock N Roll” territory, and it even touched the classic “Heartbreaker” a few times. I’m willing to go out on a huge limb here and say this album is a game changer for Adams’ career and we have yet to hear the last from the guy who used to be able to churn out two to three albums in a year. We should be more than OK with less quantity in favor of better quality. “Ryan Adams” is out now via PAX AM Records.

If You Haven’t Heard: Joanna Gruesome
In all honesty, I was drawn to Welsh band Joanna Gruesome based solely on their name, which is a play on the folk harpist, Joanna Newsom. When I started to listen though, it’s loud, shoegazey and has just enough sheen to be catchy as hell. The band exudes the coolness of some of the great girl fronted bands of the ‘90s, like Sleater-Kinney or The Breeders. Their message stretches beyond music though, as the bands’ ideals of feminism and anti-homophobia are at the forefront of their mission. Their debut album was released last year and steam has steadily been gained ever since. This is definitely a band to keep an eye on. “Weird Sister” is out now via Slumberland Records.

Track of the Week: TV on the Radio-Happy Idiot
Last year, Brooklyn’s TV on the Radio dropped ‘Mercy,’ which is one of the best songs they have ever produced. A couple of months later, they followed it with a much more soulful jam, ‘Million Miles.’ Both of these got me very excited for a new album, but then they kind of fell off the map and there were no plans announced for any future release. That is until last week, when the band released mega jam, ‘Happy Idiot’ along with the announcement of upcoming album, “Seeds.” Excitement abounds, y’all. These guys are always solid and ‘Happy Idiot’ shows no signs of “Seeds” being anything less. Stream it anywhere online or pick it up on iTunes. “Seeds” will be released Nov. 10 via Federal Prism.