Saint Cecilia EP/RCA Records
If the Saint Cecilia EP is indeed the Foos’ last recording—and Dave Grohl has hinted it could be—then it’s one final shotgun blast that will leave your ears ringing long after it ends. There is a rawness to these five tracks that’s been missing on the past couple of releases, so it’s a thrill to hear Grohl bellowing on the distortion-filled punk track “Savior Breath” or the gloriously cacophonous closer “The Neverending Sigh,” which plays like a compact version of “Come Back.” Religious imagery populates a number of the songs—fitting, considering the EP was recorded at Saint Cecilia Hotel in Austin, Texas (Saint Cecilia being the patroness of musicians), giving the EP a delicious duality as it explores what comes next, both existentially and professionally. Released earlier than planned after the Paris attacks cut short the band’s recent European tour, the free EP is a balls-out love letter to fans, and it’s a hell of a way for the Foos to go out.
Shovels & Rope
Busted Jukebox, Volume 1/
When you take a duo like this—known for its rich Americana, sinister folk and a number of similar genres—and pair them with everyone from The Milk Carton Kids to Lucius, from JD McPherson to Preservation Hall Jazz Band, you’ve got the makings of a good record. When said album covers the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails and The Kinks, it becomes Busted Jukebox, Volume 1, and the result is a damn fine mix. Michael Trent and Carry Ann Hearst offer up twisted, somber takes (“Perfect Day”), doo wop-inspired updates (“Nothing Takes the Place of You”) and howlin’-at-the-moon send-ups (“Patience”) of some of rock’s poignant moments, and they do so with an understated swagger. The myriad guest artists give the album some added oomph, but they don’t overwhelm the already electric, soulful presence Trent and Hearst create. Covers albums are rarely this good, but there’s nothing on Busted that needs fixing.
Young Hardware EP/Olympico
There is an engaging structure to the latest EP from Dead Professional. Amid the swirling guitars, hip-shaking drums and catchy lyrics from John Harouff is a sense of trying to build to something greater, always searching for a new lick or for that next great note. That’s what makes this a killer release. Whether it’s a driving rocker (“Downtown at Sundown”) or a sick bluesy groove flooding your ears, there is something downright magical happening in these five songs. Harouff gives the album an often subtly soulful vocal aspect, at times reaching beyond the melodies and the lyrics for a transcendent moment—for proof, check out the beguiling Americana rocker “Call Me a Doctor.” Young Hardware confidently examines the everyday in search of the extraordinary, giving this EP an undeniable pull.