Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy [Album Review] 0 434

Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy [Album Review] 0 435

Car Seat Headrest
Twin Fantasy
Matador Records [2018]







Fire Note Says: Car Seat Headrest give the original 2011 Twin Fantasy a shot of rock adrenaline.

Album Review: Twin Fantasy is a re-recorded, re-imagined new version of Will Toledo’s 2011 self-released Bandcamp record of the same name. Toledo will for sure take some critical hits for this as many were waiting for the proper follow up to the excellent (and TFN #1 2016 record) Teens of Denial. Sure, I was initially disappointed about this approach as well but when you take a step back and hear the new version of Twin Fantasy you will get it.

Toledo’s 2011 version was recorded at age nineteen on an inexpensive laptop and follows his DIY lo-fi approach. It works and is a solid record but now Car Seat Headrest has taken those ten (already good) songs and given them a mobile fidelity type of range that gives each track an entire new depth and life. The full band approach enables each song to explode like the rock song shoes they were originally meant to fill. According to Toledo, he took eight months of mixing just to get the drums right on this new version so you know that this project is not a throwaway.


What I like on the newly re-imagined Twin Fantasy is how everything is cleaner. Being a big fan of lo-fi groups, that is a hard statement for me to make but this record doesn’t lose any of its innocence from the bigger sound. Where before, I think lo-fi for Bandcamp Car Seat Headrest sometimes meant compressing the vocals, guitar and drums. This soaring difference can be heard right away on the first track “My Boy (Twin Fantasy)” as the layered vocals now swirl around the listener for a different experience. The acoustic guitar on the 1:30 simple song “Stop Smoking (We Love You)” now has a true strum and when Toledo pleads “we don’t want you to die,” the song is able to focus in on the seriousness of his vocals. One noticeable lyric change on the record is on the rocker “Cute Thing” when Toledo now sings “God give me Frank Ocean’s voice and James Brown’s stage presence which replaces the original lyric which was “give me Dan Bejar’s (Destroyer, Wolf Parade) voice and John Entwistle’s (The Who) stage presence.” Appealing more to the masses? New heroes? Who knows but only the dedicated will notice. I also liked here how the track listing remains the same and Twin Fantasy is now a bit longer with some of the expanded arrangements.

Fans that have been there from the beginning might have some issues getting into this new version but if you remember Car Seat Headrest’s Matador debut, Teens of Style (2015), collected and re-recorded old tunes as well. The band’s current and expanded fanbase should completely love this record. The album was already great and now it has been tuned up for the seven-piece band to hit the road. Every track soars higher and wider and should get the maximum volume. What the project may lack in originality it earns back all respect with execution because Twin Fantasy for sure will be one of the bigger guitar records you hear this year.

Key Tracks: “Cute Thing” / “Stop Smoking (We Love You)” / “Sober To Death”

Artists With Similar Fire: Cloud Nothings / Ron Gallo / The Strokes

Car Seat Headrest Website
Car Seat Headrest Facebook
Matador Records

– Reviewed by Thomas Wilde

Thomas Wilde

Thomas Wilde

Thomas has a wide range of musical tastes as the NYC scene consistently broadens his pallet. Thomas is enjoying the opportunity to write at TFN and in his spare time is always looking for limited pressings of vinyl to add to his ever growing collection.
Thomas Wilde
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Ruby Boots: Don’t Talk About It [Album Review] 0 466

Ruby Boots
Don’t Talk About It
Bloodshot Records [2018]







Fire Note Says: Aussie country rocker with promise debuts States-side for Bloodshot Records.

Album Review: The second album from Ruby Boots roars out of the gate with “It’s So Cruel,” a cow-punk rocker that recalls the energy of Jason & The Scorchers. But before you get your hopes up, producer Beau Bedford (of The Texas Gentlemen), perhaps eager to display the singer/songwriter’s versatility, offers her up in the big doo-wop wall of sound of “Believe In Heaven,” nostalgic for the early days when Phil Spector was producing girl groups as rock & roll was first finding it’s way into the mainstream. “Don’t Talk About It,” the album’s title track, follows. It’s another ballad with orchestration that draws inspiration from that old school retro-sound.

Ruby Boots (real name, Bex Chilcott) comes from Australia via Nashville and had one previous album on an Aussie imprint before this debut on Bloodshot Records, a journey made by Kasey Chambers and others. Following the first three big production numbers, Boots sounds more at home on “Easy Way Out,” with a chord progression borrowed from the Tom Petty songbook, and the country weeper “Don’t Break My Heart Twice.”


The second half of the album sticks closer to country/rock formulas, with “I’ll Make It Through,” co-written and with harmony vocals by Nikki Lane, “Somebody Else” and “Infatuation,” are set up by punchy rhythms, strong vocal hooks, and solid, rocking guitars and minimal twang. Okay Boots has some twang in her voice on “Infatuation.” On these three, and the closing angry, country kick you to the curb slow burner with bluesy guitar and honky-tonk piano/organ that is “Don’t Give a Damn,” Boots sounds a bit like a young Lucinda Williams as the song heats up like a Rolling Stones’ song.

It’s the nearly a capella, almost hymnic “I Am A Woman,” that exhibits Boots’ voice in all it’s unique purity, in a spiritual song that declares her feminine gifts and her internal strength of being, echoing strength alongside vulnerability. On the whole this is a solid, inviting outing, driven by good songs and equally solid performances. Ruby Boots will be one to watch.

Key Tracks: “It’s So Cruel” / “Easy Way Out” / “Infatution”

Artists With Similar Fire: Nikki Lane / Lone Justice / Lydia Loveless



Ruby Boots Website
Ruby Boots Facebook
Bloodshot Records

– Reviewed by Brian Q. Newcomb

Thomas Wilde

Thomas Wilde

Thomas has a wide range of musical tastes as the NYC scene consistently broadens his pallet. Thomas is enjoying the opportunity to write at TFN and in his spare time is always looking for limited pressings of vinyl to add to his ever growing collection.
Thomas Wilde

Bill Mallonee & The Big Sky Ramblers: Forest Full Of Wolves [Album Review] 1 858

Bill Mallonee & The Big Sky Ramblers
Forest Full of Wolves
Self-Released [2018]







Fire Note Says: Bill Mallonee is one of those best-kept secrets you really want to share with the rest of the music loving world.

Album Review: No one is ever going to call singer/songwriter Bill Mallonee an under-achiever. His latest release, a 10 song full-length effort, Forest Full of Wolves is his 78th album by his own count. Mallonee spent the 1990s fronting the Athens, GA-band Vigilantes of Love, shuffling from one label to the next, driving a van from coast-to-coast playing every alternative rock/Americana friendly venue who would let them. Hometown friend, Peter Buck (R.E.M.) co-produced one of the band’s early more-acoustic albums, the Killing Floor. The band’s 1999 album, released on three different labels of the course of 18 months, Audible Sigh was produced by Nashville’s favorite side-man Buddy Miller, and includes a guest vocal by Emmylou Harris, as well as some of Mallonee’s best loved songs. Paste Magazine has named him one of the 100 greatest living songwriters.

A rough count, say there were 10 songs per release (usually there were more), puts Mallonee’s songwriting output at nearly 8000, and those are the one’s he’s recorded. Now basic logic would suggest that they can’t all be good, and surely not all of them are memorable, but Mallonee’s work, his actual raison d’’etre, has proven especially consistent over the decades, and in the 2010’s he’s delivered a solid album’s worth of tunes each year, with a noticeable uptick in production values starting with 2011’s The Power & The Glory. Last year’s excellent The Rags of Absence was a case in point, with Mallonee especially attentive to his lead guitar parts.

Forest Full of Wolves continues to chronicle the challenges to working class people and even songwriters, as if Mallonee is creating his own musical version of John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” for what he calls this “new dark age.” “Greed and fear (have) gained the upper hand,” he sings in “Changing of the Guard,” so he’s “grabbed a guitar & a notebook or two… became a phantom with some conjuring ‘neath the moon.”

Musically, Wolves takes the energy of Rags to the next level, with bigger, noiser guitar tones. Mallonee captures a Neil Young jamming with Crazy Horse in the garage vibe throughout, which is likely a lot harder to pull off since Mallonee’s playing all the instruments. Mid-tempo alternative country rock at it’s most earnest and relevant, and against all odds, Mallonee manages to offer a word of hope. “In the New Dark Age” he sings, borrowing the title from a different song that he recording on 2014’s The Winnowing, “the best thing you can do is fall in love.” Of course, “Love Is Always Risky Currency,” but it’s the best chance any of us have of surviving in this “Forest Full of Wolves.”

Like many artists scrambling to make art in the challenging digital marketplace and survive financially Mallonee has struggled to reach out and connect with Americana fans, break ground with new audiences, even though he’s stayed off the road in recent years. As a fan who first heard the singer songwriter live in the early 90’s, and many times over the years, Bill Mallonee is one of those best-kept secrets you really want to share with the rest of the music loving world. It’s artists who wear their passion on their sleeves, who keep pouring out their hearts in songs, that make the music that matters. (One reason to order the hard CD copy of this one, is the cover art produced by another singer songwriter, Chris Taylor, from San Antonio, TX.).

Key Tracks: “In the New Dark Age” / “Voodoo Ink” / “Trimmed & Burning”

Artists With Similar Fire: Neil Young / Bob Dylan / John Prine

Bill Mallonee Website
Bill Mallonee Facebook

– Reviewed by Brian Q. Newcomb

Thomas Wilde

Thomas Wilde

Thomas has a wide range of musical tastes as the NYC scene consistently broadens his pallet. Thomas is enjoying the opportunity to write at TFN and in his spare time is always looking for limited pressings of vinyl to add to his ever growing collection.
Thomas Wilde

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