Three early editions today on three of my more anticipated records of the year:
Foxy Shazam - The Church of Rock and Roll (Jan. 24)
What an incredibly fun listen. It's a mix between the '70s rock that they get compared to most –*obviously, they get compared most to Queen but there are other influences here as well –*and '80s dance-rock that would have been played at high school proms. I think the fourth track, and obvious standout for me, "Last Chance At Love," spells out that description. Imagine if that song by The Darkness ("I Believe In A Thing Called Love") was just a little more catchy and a little less completely ridiculous (although Foxy is pretty ridiculous). "It's Too Late (Baby)" and "Wasted Feelings" are two of those types of songs that are almost so catchy it shouldn't be allowed –*the latter might actually be my favorite Foxy song just because of the chorus. There are a couple of misses on the record, but Church should have no problem helping this band rise to new heights. Foxy Shazam wants to be one of the biggest bands on the planet and they can do it.
The Menzingers - On the Impossible Past (Feb. 21) Chamberlain Waits is now The Menzingers' former masterpiece. It's not even a close call – this record is better in every fashion. It's a listen that goes by in a quick fashion despite the album's 41-minute run time (very long for a punk record nowadays), but you want it to last longer every time you listen. There are a lot of instantly memorable quotes scattered across the album ... "I've been having a horrible time," begins opener "Good Things." Later on in (in a song that I can't remember right now, and I don't want to search for the title) we get the gem, "I'm pretty sure this corner is the loneliest corner in the whole world." "Sun Hotel" is the catchiest number here, barely edging out first single "The Obituaries." The aggressiveness peaks with "Sculptors and Vandals," a 2-minute rager of a punk song. The dual vocals, as always, are the highlight throughout the album, but the guitar work is more interesting this time around as well.
Cheap Girls - Giant Orange
After only a few listens, the core sound is back but the production is a lot cleaner. It was pretty expected that this would be the case after they enlisted Tom Gabel of Against Me! fame and they signed to Rise to put the record out, but that doesn't change the fact that older fans are going to get weirded out when the vocals come through so cleanly. The muddy production was a part of this band's charm for me and many more listens will be required to get used to the new style; it's not that the songs are any worse, they're all good songs, they just sound a little different.
Some comparisons early on –*I've already heard all of my anticipated albums through the first two months of the year (with the exception of fun.) and The Menzingers' record stands out most. Foxy Shazam is a great fun listen but it's not quite in the realm of an AOTY contender, just as far as those gut feelings go when you hear an album that you know is going to stick with you a little longer than the rest.