CD Reviews


Oceansize Self Preserved While the Bodies Float Up (Superball)

With the same experimental (yet decidedly pop) bent exhibited by Muse and Radiohead, Manchester, England’s Oceansize washes up on U.S. shores with its fourth and heaviest full-length to date. Taking its name after the Jane’s Addiction song, this quintet’s unique brand of space rock careens like a doomed satellite caught in a brilliant asteroid wave—this is elegant, interstellar and ominous music. Bodies kicks off with the heavy doom-metal vibe of “Part Cardiac,” bassist/keyboardist Steven Hodson’s single synth-drone note fibrillating in the background. “SuperImposer” boasts a tricky math-rock time signature that lurches and weaves across singer Mike Vennart’s oddly compelling melody and lyrics. The stately “Ransom” is the closest to Pink Floyd you’ll ever hear without holding a gun to Roger Waters’ head. Edgy psyche rock doesn’t get more divine. ★★★★☆


Juston Stens & The Get Real Gang Juston Stens & The Get Real Gang EP (Park the Van)

Plenty of baroque pop fun to be had here, with a five-song EP that proves Philly’s Juston Stens to be a promising young songwriter with a huge career ahead of him—if his music stays as good as his debut EP. The ex-Dr. Dog drummer digs deep into his ’70s pop-rock vinyl, channeling Todd Rundgren, Badfinger and a smidgen of ’60s Merseybeat. “The Hard Way” is easy on the eardrums with its frolicking bass-guitar line and minor-chord guitar layers before accelerating into a handclap-stomping rocker. (“A simple heart/has always been inside of you,” observes Stens.) Then there’s the lilting doo-wop re-creation of “Falling,” light as a feather but packing a crushing knockout punch of a chorus. The loudest moment, though, is the thunderous (mostly) instrumental “Heavy Metal Heart,” which gives the Ventures a ride for their surf-rock money. Music doesn’t get more dynamic. ★★★☆☆


Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction We Are Volsung (SPV)

Like in-on-the-jokers Monster Magnet and Blue Öyster Cult, Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction is a band with tongue firmly planted, well, between both cheeks. Funny and fierce, the British biker-rockers have never received the credit they deserve, especially since it’s pretty well established they inspired Mötley Crüe to change their sound for Girls Girls Girls. Volsung is a strange turn, though; it’s not as sleazy or campy as usual. Instead, the aim seems to be mindless, Viking-referencing fun with the guitars cranked to 13. “Stark Von Oben” sets the tone with its dumber-than-dirt riff and lyrical celebration of all things Norse (“understand the hammer/utilize the force”). Only a fistful of songs—like “White Trash”—evoke the former crotch-pumping glory of Zodiac Mindwarp. Even minus the raunchy puns, this band will still ride you hard and leave you sopping wet. ★★★☆☆

Suggested Next Read

Get Low Gets Astoundingly Real

Movie Review

Get Low Gets Astoundingly Real

First-time director Aaron Schneider is at the helm of the Depression-era Get Low, which tells the story of Felix Bush (Robert Duvall), an ostracized Tennessean who wants to throw himself a living funeral so he can hear all the gossip that’s been said about him. He makes a deal with local funeral director Frank Quinn (magnificently played by Bill Murray) and his angel-on-his-shoulder assistant, Buddy Robinson (Lucas Black). But as the story unfolds, dark quirks and demons gradually seep from Bush’s hardened exterior—and nothing is quite what it seems.