CD Reviews

The Episodes, Rhine Gold, Leavin’


Taproot The Episodes (Victory)

I’d always wrongly dismissed this band as one of many aggro-grunge groups with one-word, two-syllable names—Chevelle, Disturbed, Godsmack—and concussive songs that all sound the same. But when I learned Taproot had a new concept album on the Victory label, I took the bait. To my surprise, the disc is quite good. While The Episodes is hardly, well, episodic in its so-called narrative (sorry I can’t figure out the story, guys), lead single “No Surrender” is melodic, hardcore-edged and barely suited for mouth-breathing UFC fans. “Lost Boy” possesses a fractured prog-metal beauty that wouldn’t be out of place on a Tool album, while “The Everlasting,” the lyrics of which initially suggest a murder ballad, blossoms with a bright, chest-thumping chorus. If there is a thread connecting these 10 songs, it’s the odd Stephen Hawking-like spoken word (singer Stephen Richards uses a synthesizer to process his voice) that quickly materializes, then disappears. Still, give this a shot. ★★★☆☆


Choir of Young Believers Rhine Gold (Ghostly Int’l)

Danish cinematic post-rock isn’t exactly what I was hankering for as I waited for a new Sigur Rós disc to magically arrive, but Rhine Gold is certainly a musical jackpot. Orchestral without being stuffy, commanding without being bombastic, Copenhagen singer/songwriter and bandleader Jannis Noya Makrigiannis unearths a whole new strata of compelling sonic textures. Album opener “The Third Time” immediately sets the baroque tone with a tricky drum pattern and an eerie piano-and-plucked-string motif. The 10-minute Krautrock epic “Paralyzed,” meanwhile, rides a crescendoing wave of shimmering chimes, guitar feedback and bongo beats before settling into the loveliest acoustic-folk outro. Put simply, Gold is lushly, gorgeously imagined, every song arranged in ways that leave the listener stunned, unsettled. I’m told Believers are practically the Arcade Fire of their home country, and there’s no reason U.S. fans of bands such as Fleet Foxes won’t also dig this group’s churchy splendor. Don’t play Gold in your car, though; save it for late-night iPod listening. ★★★★☆


Dude City Leavin’ (Devil’s Tower)

Boulder City roots-rocker Jack Johnson, whose music falls somewhere between the Stooges and Steve Earle, has a sentimental streak a mile wide. It’s what separates his mature yet alcohol-ravaged songwriting from the chaff of his peers here in Vegas. No other lovesick brawler in town can pen a John Prine-worthy line like the one he delivers in “The Cat Song”: Sometimes I look at my face/wishing it were yours/and we were at your place/with the blinds pulled down/and the air turned up/just wastin’ away. (Only an artist knows how to milk ambiguity from a term such as “wastin’.”) Backed by the same band that has supported Ryan Pardey’s Halloween Town onstage lately, Johnson and his Dude City compañeros share a ragged, on-the-money chemistry, from the thumping caveman hard-on of “Technology” to the truckin’ kiss-off of the title track. Bonus: Mad Caps guitarist Ted Rader delivers stinging solos throughout. Literary, tough and alive, Leavin’ doesn’t let up. Buy it at ★★★☆☆

Suggested Next Read




There probably isn’t a hip-hop group with more male groupies than Slaughterhouse. The manner in which fans screamed at the top of their lungs when Royce Da 5’9,” Joe Budden, Crooked I and Joell Ortiz emerged performing “Sound Off” was reminiscent of Justin Bieber popping up at a high school showcase. But this rabid crowd didn’t want pop tunes—they craved mind-boggling lyricism. As the supergroup of solo artists rolled through both their individual offerings and their self-titled debut, hip-hop heads mouthed each and every lyric.



Optimization WordPress Plugins & Solutions by W3 EDGE