Sonic Reducer: Micro Reviews Of No Cities To Love, Shiloh And Shadows In The Night

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I’m the Sleater-Kinney fangirl: completist who owns everything I could find; fool who bawled at work that day in 2006 when Pitchfork announced the trio was going on “indefinite hiatus”; fanatic who flew to Portland that August to see one of (what we thought would be) their last shows at McMenamins Crystal Ballroom. With that CV, it’s to be expected that I almost exploded when I heard about No Cities to Love, recorded in secret for a year and S-K’s first album in almost a decade. Classic elements are here: incisive, personal-as-political lyrics, Carrie Brownstein’s unique guitar tuning, Janet Weiss’ earthquake of drums, Corin Tucker’s explosive spinto soprano. There’s innovation too, like Tucker delving lower into her vocal range on songs like “No Anthems.” Other standouts? I could say all, but the title track as well as “Price Tag,” “Surface Envy,” “A New Wave” and “Bury Our Friends” are especially awesome. A most triumphant return indeed. (M. Brianna Stallings)

Five Mile Float Shiloh (Self-released)

The debut album by Five Mile Float, Shiloh, is available now as a name-your-price download on Bandcamp. The release puts an awesome shine on the proposition that a new generation of local rocanrol residents will inevitably rise up and conquer the realm currently overseen by the aging hipsters gloriously pummeling their way through our sometimes static club scene. Hailing from Eldorado High School—the same golden locale that brought forth Michael Henningsen—Five Mile Float creates melodic, instrumentally advanced music with a peculiar pop inflection that makes for compelling listening. Rhythm guitarist Zack Block’s vocals have a youthful tone, but that conceit doesn’t prevent a sometimes knowing and cynical delivery. Drummer Matt Ehasz uses trebly time-keeping energetically; adding bassist Matthew Jaeger and lead guitarist Ryan Saavedra to the mix completes this vision of the future. In particular, tracks like “The Tape” and “Ghost Song” demonstrate that this band is more than worthy of our city’s sonic attention. (August March)

Bob Dylan Shadows in the Night (Columbia)

Speaking of aging hipsters, Bob Dylan’s latest project is a deconstruction of traditional works once sung by an even older hep cat named Frank Sinatra. It confirms that the man in the snakeskin suit remains as slinky and wily as ever. A lifelong Zimmerman fan, I too have grown suspicious over the years as the dude meandered with whiskey-soaked vocalizations through a kaleidoscope of incarnations and influences in the ’90s and aughts. But Dylan’s 36th studio album Shadows in the Night finds the elder statesman perched provocatively amid ghosts, divining meaning and depth from the pre-rock and roll world. His take is less remaking what came before and more revisioning what the Great American Songbook sounds like under the influence of a raspy, deeply poetic vision of tradition. With a deadly serious, ofttimes deliriously great band backing him, Dylan nails tunes like “Some Enchanted Evening” and “Stay With Me.” Shadows in the Night is Bobby’s strongest recording in 20 years. (August March)

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