What’s in your stash?


New releases to cure the winter doldrums

By Alan Sculley and L. Kent Wolgamott

Sleater-Kinney // No Cities to Love // Sub Pop




Ten years after going on hiatus, Sleater-Kinney has delivered one of its best records ever with No Cities to Love. With the oddly-tuned dual guitars of singer/guitarists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein creating dissonant tension over the drums of Janet Weiss, the music revisits the band’s ’90s/early 2000s sounds with even greater edge and focus. There’s a song titled “No Anthems,” but don’t let that mislead you. There are few ballads on No Cities to Love and plenty of fist-shakers as the now 40-ish women take their feminist look at power, the decline of the middle class, politics and dealing with life – all sans traditional storytelling, as has always been the case with Sleater-Kinney. There’s strength and optimism amidst the irony and noisy rock on this CD, which marks the return of one of indie rock’s most vital groups.


File next to: Babes In Toyland, Ume


Rating: 3.5/5


– L. Kent Wolgamott



AC/DC // Rock or Bust // Columbia


Last year was a tough one for AC/DC, with longtime rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young forced to leave the band due to dementia and drummer Phil Rudd out, facing criminal charges in New Zealand. Rudd, however, hammers away on Rock or Bust, the new AC/DC album that, well, sounds just like what you expect to hear from AC/DC. While the songs are credited to Malcolm Young and his lead guitar-slinging brother Angus, nephew Stevie Young has stepped in on rhythm guitar. He’s not Malcolm – the chops aren’t as crisp and driving. But he’s good enough to help set the pace on the 11 songs that are pure AC/DC – with Brian Johnson screaming and wailing over the riff-rocking guitars and straight-ahead rhythms. There aren’t any pedal-to-the-metal speed rockers on the disc, which clocks in at a very short 35 minutes. But there aren’t any ballads either. Instead, AC/DC swings, sways and drives through a set of mid-tempo numbers that are mostly either celebrations of rock or innuendo-packed and slightly sleazy, e.g. “Miss Adventure” (which features some of Angus’s most frenetic guitar work), “Sweet Candy” and “Emission Control.” The stomp of “Dogs of War,” a soldier of fortune number and the bluesy boogie of “Hard Times” keep the mid-tempo numbers from becoming same-y, letting the record fly by in a serious rock groove. Rock or Bust isn’t really anything new, nor is it a masterwork from the Australian rockers, ala Highway to Hell and Back in Black. But it’s AC/DC’s best record in more than a decade.

File next to: Motorhead, Judas Priest

Rating:  3/5

– L. Kent Wolgamott



Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross // Gone Girl // Columbia




Gone Girl, the third soundtrack Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and his composing partner Atticus Ross have done for director David Fincher has been released in full two-CD length. Perfectly fitted to the twisting, turning screen thriller, the all-instrumental Gone Girl might be more rightfully called a score. But whatever the label, it is dramatic and disturbing, haunting, dynamic, but never close to soothing.  The music rises and falls, scrapes and screams – and if you’ve seen the movie, you can almost replay scenes in your mind just from the sounds. That’s the measure of a great score/soundtrack – and this one has a shot at an Oscar like Reznor and Ross received for The Social Network.


File next to: Tool, OhGr

Rating:  3/5

– L. Kent Wolgamott


Wilco // Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014 // Nonesuch


To celebrate its 20th anniversary as a band, Wilco has given fans quite a gift – this four-disc set of unreleased music from the vaults. Fans will probably be drawn first to the unreleased tunes, many of which deserved to find a home before now. Unearthed original gens include the lovely piano ballad “Blasting Fonda,” the perky country honk of “Tried And True” and the winsome ballad “Cars Can’t Escape” (written by late guitarist Jay Bennett), the snappy and creatively arranged pop-rocker “Just A Kid” and the rustic country of “Don’t You Honey Me,” Covers include a thumping Stones-ish take on Gram Parsons’ “One Hundred Years from Now” and a rough and rollicking take on the Neil Young nugget “Burned.” There are also some surprises here among the alternative versions as well. “She’s A Jar” is demoed with lots of different instrumental ear candy.  “Camera” shows up in a heavy psychedelic version. “Hummingbird “ goes from the familiar sweet and graceful version to an edgy and dissonant treatment. Intermingled throughout the set are a generous number of live tracks that show the band’s energy and on-stage alchemy. Most bands would love to be able to release an anthology this good from their A-list material. That this collection comes from the group’s back pages explains why Wilco is one of the best handful of music acts going today.

File next to:  Spoon, Modest Mouse

Rating: 4/5

– Alan Sculley 


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Reach DCP freelance writer Alan Sculley at AlanSculley@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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