Dig These Discs :: Plants And Animals, Shonen Knife, Snakehips, Guided By Voices, Rogue Wave

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Wednesday May 4, 2016

Canadian indie-rock band Plants and Animals releases their fourth full-length album this month, "Waltzed in From the Rumbling," after a four-year absence. Robert Pollard gets the Guided By Voices crew together again to go on the road, this time featuring Bobby Bar Jr. and Nick Mitchell on guitar, Kevin March on drums and Mark Shue on bass. Japanese punk rock trio Shonen Knife celebrates their 35th anniversary with their 16th studio album "Adventure," 10 tracks that show them moving deeper into the '70s rock sound they dipped their toes into in 2014's "Overdrive." Oakland indie rock band Rogue Wave releases their sixth studio album, "Delusions of Grand Fur," a dozen new tracks. And Snakehips -- aka Oliver Lee and James Carter -- gather all their friends for their new EP, four tracks of sensual R&B and hip-hop. Dig into the old and the new in this edition of Dig These Discs.

"Adventure" (Shonen Knife)

Japanese punk rock trio Shonen Knife celebrates their 35th anniversary with their 16th studio album "Adventure," 10 tracks that show them moving deeper into the '70s rock sound they dipped their toes into in 2014's "Overdrive." They kick things off with the surfer-girl band sound of "Jump Into the New World," complete with the backing track of "ooh... la la la." Imagine The Ramones as adorable Japanese rockers, especially on their second cut, "Rock 'N' Roll T-Shirt." Adding to their classic sound is the return of their drummer, Atsuko Yamano, except now, she's on bass, playing with guitarist/vocalist Naoko Yamano and their new drummer, Risa. They rock hard in "Calabash," and groove in "Dog Fight," singing, "A long, long time ago I went to a town beside the sea," with the adorable chorus of "Bow wow wow, scary for me." They continue with their songs about food in the hard-rock track "Wasabi," the '60s-leaning happy track "Green Tangerine (Kabosu)," and "Cotton Candy Clouds," which sounds a lot like a Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles cover, especially when they sing, "Pink and purple clouds floating by." Yamano wails on the electric guitar in "Imi (Emoji)," and "Tasmanian Devil." But they tone it down for the strummer "Hawaii," painting the portrait of a day at the beach: "swimming at Waikiki beach, let's drink coconut juice, mahi mahi tastes so good." These girls are on just the right side of wacky. The band finishes up a month-long tour of the UK on May 8.
(Good Charamel)

"Waltzed In From the Rumbling" (Plants and Animals)

Canadian indie-rock band Plants and Animals releases their fourth full-length album this month, "Waltzed In From the Rumbling," after a four-year absence. The trio of Warren Spicer and Nic Basque on guitar and vocals with drummer-vocalist Matthew Woody Woodley have been playing together as kids, and broke out on the scene in 2008. And critics are lauding the high production values of this new album. They kick things off with "We Were One," with perfectly balanced drums and guitar, as Spicer sings, "All my time, my friend, I'll spend with you." They noodle around the guitar in "No Worries Gonna Find Us," and easily slide through the super-short track "Fata Morgana." The vibe of "Stay" is like a '70s slow-rock song, meandering with good feelings and no specific destination. Vocalists Adéle Trottier-Rivard and Katie Moore keep things light and breezy here with the call and response to Spicer's urge to "look inside your heart." He's dreamt of her "Some Many Nights," wondering if it will be the same when he gets home, and in the slowly spinning track "Flowers," he fights himself, singing, "and we'll all be together/ we'll never be together again." The tune "Je voulais te dire" is a swinging collection of different sounds that work well together. A trap bass sound opens "Off The Water," and the female vocalists make it one of the best in the album, as they sing, "We won't always have the chance to move with you like water when we dance." "Johnny Is a Drummer" paints the scene of their erstwhile crew, and they end with the light and breezy "Pure Heart." This may not be a perfect album, but it's perfectly made.
(Secret City Records)

"Please Be Honest" (Guided By Voices)

Robert Pollard gets the Guided By Voices together again for their second reunion, this time featuring Bobby Bar Jr. and Nick Mitchell on guitar, Kevin March on drums and Mark Shue on bass. But truth told, Pollard dominates the album, playing almost every instrument himself. He kicks the 15 short tracks off with "My Zodiac Companion," as he warbles over guitar, "come back to me, my Zodiac companion." He rumbles through "Kid On a Ladder," a short, spare tune, and into "Come On Mr. Christian," rejecting "a coward's salute." The production on this is intentionally grainy, harkening back to early GBV garage-band DIY tracks. Pollard delves into rhythmic distortion in "The Caterpillar's Workforce" and "The Grasshopper Eaters" and his super-short "Sad Baby Eyes." Guitar hums menacingly in "The Quickers Arrive" and a marching drum cadence ends "Hotel X (Big Soap)." Pollard sings quickly up and down the scales in "I Think A Telescope," but is straightforward in "Please Be Honest," one of the best of the album. Drums fuel "Unfinished Business," as Pollard sings of naked desire. "Can we live without nets in the empire of the bottle?" Pollard asks in the laughable, gin-soaked "Defeatist's Lament." He finishes the album with "Eye Shop Heaven," singing, "you are simply lying, despite your strange display."
Some are disappointed that the album isn't more structured, but at least Pollard continues to experiment. The band kicked off a tour (with all the other musicians onstage) this month with a gig in Nashville, followed by limited dates in the U.S. and Canada.
(GBV Inc.)

"Delusions of Grand Fur" (Rogue Wave)

Oakland indie rock band Rogue Wave releases their sixth studio album, "Delusions of Grand Fur," a dozen new tracks. Lead vocalist and guitarist Zach Rogue gathers his team, including Patrick Spurgeon on drums, Masanori Christianson on bass and Jon Monahan on guitar to bust out a heartfelt album meant to be played live. They "Take It Slow" from the beginning, establishing a good foundation with their solid rock tune, then spread their wings with the easy sounds of "In the Morning." They sing, "You turn against the tide/ You wind up where the forces collide/ There's a million forms of light/ You lucked out like a 'California Bride'." In "Look at Me," they ask, "Who are you to think of judging?" as they tell their sad tale. They're "serious as a heart attack" in "Falling," with its excellent glockenspiel that continues into "Curious Me." Introspection abounds in "What Is Left to Solve," and they ask, "Am I perfect enough for you" in their Canadian tuxedo in "Frozen Lake." Spurgeon pounds it out on the drums in "Endless Supply" and swing out wide in the excellent track "Ocean." In "The Last Picture Show," they sing, "we know that you've heard of us." If you haven't heard of Rogue Wave, check them out now. They're a real bunch of charmers.
(Easy Sound Recording Company)

"All My Friends" (Snakehips)

Snakehips, aka Oliver Lee and James Carter, gather all their friends for their new EP, four tracks of sensual R&B and hip-hop. Tinashe and Chance the Rapper perform in the title track, "All My Friends." This slow R&B trap finds both Tinashe and Chance singing more than rapping, and flows smoothly as they sing, "all my friends are wasted and I hate this club and I drink too much." Dre Dre protégé Anderson .Paak is featured on "Money On Me," the fast-moving disjointed end-rhyme raps that are so popular now. He lists all the things he wants, from furs to booze to good smoke, singing about "workin' on a good one" and expects that money to keep raining down. UK singer Malika sings on "Falling," the old-school style female R&B track about taking that plunge and falling for someone, singing, "come hell or high water, nothing is too much." Canadian rapper Tory Lanez sings about Spanish girls on "Dimelo" which means "give me it" in Spanish. The "bitches" fly fast and furious in this bass-heavy song, but the female vocal breaks add lightness. Snakehips wowed them at the recent Coachella festival. Catch their new EP for a taste of what they've got.
(RCA Records/Sony Music Entertainment UK)

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.