Like many residents of central Illinois over the past week, I was basically stuck in my apartment for about 4 days. I listened to a ton of music over that time period, and I just thought I would share some of my favorites.
1. Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains--The Big Eyeball in the Sky
The name of the group may not be easy to say, but this is hands-down one of the most unique albums I've ever listened to. Comprised of Primus bassist/frontman Les Claypool, legendary virtuoso guitarist Buckethead, former Primus drummer Bryan Mantia, and Bernie Worrell, keyboardist for none other than P-Funk, their styles are all thrown together into an eclectic, jarring, surprisingly funky stew. From the choral organ opening on the song "Buckethead" to the sprawling, ten-minute instrumental "Elephant Ghost", ideas do not remain in place for long; these are musicians known for being outside the norm, and it is delightful to hear them together.
2. This Town Needs Guns--Animals
I found this band on a list of music I might enjoy on Amazon. Turns out they were right. This is music that is often attempted, but rarely done right. Spindly, spiraling guitar lines frame falsetto vocals (while not the main focus of the album, they are still very nice) and hypnotize with their interweaving harmonies. The songs are all animal names, such as "Baboon" and "Chinchilla" but they are all high quality, intelligent music with intricate rhythms underneath it all. Definitely recommended for fans of thoughtful, technically demanding music.
After 30 years of shows, Phish debuted an entire set of new material this year at their Halloween show in Atlantic City. It is an interesting chunk of music, with many standout moments, the best in my opinion being the rapping/siging oddball "Wombat". Right off the bat it's classic Phish music, the grooves, harmonies, collective improvisation, etc. But it's a true testament to their ability to be able to debut an entire set of never-been-played songs after 30 years and make them work. Other highlights include "Fuego", "Winterqueen", and acoustic number "Amidst the Peals of Laughter". These songs have already begun making their way into the regular concert repertoire, which is good news for those who have been getting tired of Phish's setlists.
4. Fruit Bats--The Ruminant Band
One of my absolute favorite albums, this is folk music at its best. De facto leader Eric Johnson's high-pitched yelp echoes over noodly, jangly guitar lines and pianos, with hazy backing vocals giving a dreamy feel to the whole thing. Opening track "Primitive Man" sets the tone for the first half of the album; bouncy yet contemplative, mournful yet hopeful. Honestly, I could list other highlights here but the whole album is great, there isn't a bad song on it. Recommended for any fans of folk.
5. Ween--White Pepper
Ween is a band unlike any other, always pushing the envelope on every album, in every song, really. No song sounds like the others and no two albums are the same. There is so much Ween material out there, it's hard to know where to start sometimes. My favorite is The Mollusk, but White Pepper has gotten more rotation than usual lately. Highlights include the beautiful, Beatle-esque "Flutes of Chi" the calypso styling of "Bananas and Blow", the jazz-lounge track "Pandy Fackler", and really the rest of the album. It's just one of many quality albums in Ween's vast catalogue, but it's a pretty accessible start to their music.