Fruit of the Spirit
Partisan Records
Street: 06.21
Paleo = Seu Jorge + Violent Femmes vocals
I love the fact that Paleo took the time and made the effort to include their song lyrics with this album. There is nothing better than actually being able to find out what the fuck someone means, or at least to make an interpretation of it. It’s nice indie folk––track one, “Lighthouse,” makes me think of The Life Aquatic or something like that. Steel drums inhabit the background and there are tons of ocean and sailing references. Spoken/sung vocals bring images of a bum hanging around the docks in a coastal town. The album has the feel of a live performance––it was recorded by David Strackany himself, who is the man behind Paleo. Fruit of the Spirit has a sense of drunken sadness, as if the artist has tried to drink himself happy, but failed and ended up with a laughable sadness. In standout track “The Rager,” Strackany damns his “wandering eyes” as if they have kept him from love and contentment. “Favorite Places” almost made me cry. It hits home in a way anyone who has ever loved someone desperately can relate to. He describes a home where he must “sweep all the glass from the floor,” alluding to a chaos he must live with. Strackany once wrote 365 songs in 365 days, and he describes his endeavor as “life altering” and “a constant catharsis.” Listening to him makes me think I need a journey of my own. I’m getting the fuck out of here, maybe taking Fruit of the Spirit with me. –Tom Bennett

Paley & Francis
Street: 09.13
Paley & Francis = The Five + Black Francis + The Catholics
This 10-song album re-unites Pixies frontman Frank Black (formerly and again known as Black Francis) with frequent collaborator Reid Paley. Paley was a founding member of the Pittsburgh-based post-punk hellish-blues band The Five before forming his own trio in the late 1990s. The pair has written numerous songs together, several of which appeared on Black’s albums Honeycomb and Fast Man Raider Man. This is their first full-length collaboration. The album was recorded over two days in Nashville, and every song was captured on the first take. About half of the songs feature Black’s signature lead vocal, with Paley doing harmony. The other half reverse the formula and feature the gravelly, bluesy Elvis/Merle Haggard-hybrid lead vocal that is Reid Paley’s bread and butter. Also present on the tracks are veteran session musicians David Hood (bass) and Spooner Oldham (piano). The overall vibe of the record is definitely Nashville, but in the classic shoot-a-man-in-the-street kind of way. It feels a lot like early Frank Black solo material, but with the rushed, unpolished sound you may remember from the classic Bob Dylan albums Blonde on Blonde and Nashville Skyline. In all, this is a great record from two musicians that sound like they’ve always played together. –James Bennett

Protest The Hero
Vagrant Records
Street: 03.22
Protest The Hero = The Human Abstract + Dillinger Escape Plan - the calories
Protest The Hero came out swinging with their first release, Kezia, in 2005, and have since raised the bar for melodic prog-metal to extraordinary heights. They continue that legacy with third album Scurrilous, a ridiculously addicting ride through acrobatic guitar-work, theatrical vocals and unpredictable beats. First single, “C’est La Vie,” is an upbeat, galloping song with an ominous feel flowing underneath and energy to spare; this is one of only three songs lyrically penned by bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi, and you can hear the difference between his widely poetic words and vocalist Rody Walker’s more personal, even sarcastic perspective, though both are equally entertaining. Their music is as tight and technically superior as ever; in particular, the bridge of “Moonlight,” with its fret-crawling, stuttering rhythm, leaves a huge impression on the listener. Walker does a lot less screaming/growling here, showcasing instead his unique and moving clean vocals that beg you to sing along. Drummer Moe Carlson has outdone himself, and writes some of the most creative fills in the business. While it’s more strengthening of position than establishing new progression, Scurrilous will still dig under your skin—and good luck getting it out. –Megan Kennedy