Tony Bennett, For the News Tribune
It really is amazing how some bands only basically have to release one album to become legends. Look at the Sex Pistols — they're the epitome of "punk" in a lot of ways, and they only ever managed to put out one real record before they self-destructed in a smear of drugs, dysfunction and death: the stone classic "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols." Bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and My Bloody Valentine had other records, but the ones that made them might as well be their only releases, given how much people focus on them.
Wait a minute — this is Dirty Horse's first album? Haven't they been around for a long time? Turns out, the answers are "yes" and "yes." Sometimes, that's the way it goes, though. You start a band, put out an EP in 2011, and, before you know it, seven years have slid past you like you're in a dream where you can't skate, but you're a goalie, and you're playing against the 1984 Edmonton Oilers, and Gretzky isn't just a player, but he's Father Time, and the puck itself is your life. Or something.
With regards to music reviewing, it's hard to not judge a book by its cover. Bands send you photos of them along with their new album, and it's quite easy to make snap judgments about what kinds of music they make, how good they are at it, what their influences are, and so on even before you press "play" on the first song. And it's rare that the image doesn't give it all away accurately.
Normally, I like to pair EP's in this space, but now that we're in the throes of summer — when album releases are not coming as fast and furious as they do in the spring and fall — it's slim pickings. There's just one little ole EP without any others to stick it next to. So, what the hey; let's put this sucker under the microscope.
In the almost eight years since their debut, "Opus Eponymous," Swedish rockers Ghost have diligently done the hard work of going out and earning their fans one by one on the road, and it's paid off. They've become one of the biggest hard-edged bands around. Now, with their fourth album, "Prequelle," they're shooting for the moon that is pop success.
In the fall of 2016, Swedish rockers Graveyard announced they were calling it a day. They'd made a name for themselves since their formation 10 years prior, even becoming a chart-topping band in their home country and getting to do things like tour with Soundgarden in Europe. It was a shame, as the group's mix of soulful balladry and live-wire garage-rock thunder had gotten them a long way, and they seemed likely to continue to gain fans as time went on.
Courtney Barnett's a rock traditionalist, really. The Australian singer and guitarist could've sprouted up in just about any era after about 1968 and seemed pretty of the moment. The thing about her is, she writes about the mundanity of the human experience in a way that could resonate with anyone in any time. And she plays it organic, with guitars, drums and bass leading the charge. Nothing really dates her music — even her references to cars and phones could've been in a song 50 years ago.
Last week, we considered the new solo album from former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes. His "World's Strongest Man" is a solid record, full of interesting sounds, but it largely missed the mark in its songwriting, with many of its tracks lacking in strong melodies and memorable moments.