Nothing is Free
If there’s a tear in Carolyn Marks’ beer (or bottle of Jack), you should know she’s not wasting any of that eye juice on you. Nothing Is Free is as weepy an album as you could want from somebody with a great classic country voice like Marks’ (husky but feminine, with an endearing touch of nasality), but the tormenters here are mostly internal. Marks is more troubled by intimacy issues and identity crises than no-good, two-timin’ men. On the best tracks, her bitterly witty lyrics and gorgeous voice mix perfectly with the low-key folk instrumentation and you’ve got some great drinking music. But when the formula gets abandoned (the too-jokey “1 Thing” or the techno-tinged “Destination: You”) you’ve really got something to cry about.
This Will Destroy You
(Magic Bullet Records)
I was listening to this album, the full-length debut from San Marcos’ hottest entry in the genre labled post-rock, through headphones when my dog barked. I hit pause to see what was going on (nothing) and forgot to push play again for about five minutes. It’s not that this isn’t a pleasant listening experience, but, save for a few unique touches, syncopated clicking, and near-danceable drum beats, this album edges closer to ambient music than the most engaging vocal-less bands. Take that how you like.
In the Future
The folks in Black Mountain are apparently fans of all the ‘70s pot-rock heroes, so placing the exact influence on anything is too much trouble when you could be smoking out in your van. Album highlight “Tyrants” delivers 10 minutes of pure spacy prog in glorious sincerity, while “Wucan” features instrumental interludes more inspired by “Sister Ray” than “Starship Trooper,” and the 16-plus minutes of bluesy garage rock in “Bright Lights” remind us all why most of the shit in the Nuggets collection is about three minutes long. •