Just For Fools (Urinal Cake)
The band name and green-black-yellow-red color scheme may suggest reggae, but Rebel Kind is straight lo-fi from the fertile indie scene of Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor. The band is led by guitarist/singer Autumn Wetli, one-time drummer for Bad Indians, and includes bassist Shelley Salant (Swimsuit, Tyvek) and drummer/keyboardist Amber Fellows (Swimsuit). Just For Fools trucks in classic “fool” themes of romantic confusion, hope and frustration, but Wetli keeps the proceedings loose and breezy, as each frolicsome backing track scampers along for a couple of minutes before stepping aside for the next one. Wetli also sounds a knowing wink while delivering would-be emo lines such as “I was blind but now I see / We could never be / You’re dead to me!” When “At the Party” rides out with the refrain, “At the party full of people it’s getting hard to even smile / When I feel so alone,” Wetli bursts in with a vaudevillian “One more time!” Happy music for sad people can wear down one’s defenses or simply wear one down, but with few exceptions, like the too-long “Kiss You,” Rebel Kind lands on the right side of the line.
The Rolling Stones
Blue & Lonesome (Interscope)
Has it really been 11 years since A Bigger Bang? The Stones’ last studio album met with effusive but qualified praise, summed up in the sideways accolade “Their best album in decades!” Turned out nobody needed A Bigger Bang, or any new Stones album—so what could a poor World’s Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band do? After a half a dozen tours, the band returned to the studio in late 2015; purportedly, they ran through Little Walter’s “Blue and Lonesome” and decided to record an entire album of Chicago blues.
It’s too easy to dismiss Blue & Lonesome as a stunt—and as blues covers albums go, oh, it’s fine. Mick Jagger’s voice is in great shape (reverb helps), and his harmonica playing is a highlight (it better be—he has more solos than Ronnie Wood). Slow burner “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” features slide guitar work by Eric Clapton, while Chuck Leavell tickles ivories and Matt Clifford adds swampy organ—all welcome enough window dressing, but unnecessary, just like Blue & Lone-
some—even if it is the best Stones record in 11 years.
Foxhole (Tough Love)
A London-based duo comprising James Hoare (Veronica Falls, Ultimate Painting) and Max Oscarnold (Toy), Proper Ornaments released a few tracks leading to a sun-dazed, consistently pleasing debut album, 2014’s Wooden Head. Foxhole is a more subdued version of that record, perhaps its wintry counterpart —minimal, melodic, dreamy indie combining the mellowest sides of The Velvet Underground and The Jesus and Mary Chain. There are slide guitar and piano touches, but the consistent base is a pair of dry electric guitars chiming over an unobtrusive bass and drums that hardly include anything more than a snare keeping time. Hoare and Oscarnold swap lead vocals with a common laid-back breathiness, shadowing each other so closely it’s hard to tell the lead from the backup. The lyrics turn out to be on the mopey side, but the singers avoid mawkishness by blending into the instrumental fabric. Foxhole may get a bit samey, but it also sounds like the type of album that reveals different favorites over time—likely candidates include the leadoff track “Back Pages” and the gently rocking “Cremated.” Well worth checking out.