Frightened Rabbit, "Pedestrian Verse"
Rating: ★★★★ (out of four)
On Frightened Rabbit's sophomore album, "The Midnight Organ Fight," frontman Scott Hutchison found himself as a songwriter and delivered tunes that were heart-wrenching and sometimes uplifting. Occasionally, I wanted to shed a tear for what the man had gone through even though I obviously don't know him personally.
The band's third album, "The Winter of Mixed Drinks," is titled like a period it seems we've all gone through. Hutchison sang about the pointlessness of material objects, old flings and how he was not miserable, not any more, even though he knew "the dark can return/with the flick of a switch." The rest of the band stepped up with complicated and beautiful compositions.
Both albums showed growth from Frightened Rabbit's lesser but still good debut album, "Sing the Greys."
With "Pedestrian Verse," the band has come together as a whole. Hutchison wrote some songs with the band and others about, yes, another recent breakup. (Poor guy.)
"The Woodpile" is a standout about spending too much time alone and needing some bright spots to be brought back into your life. Hutchinson sings "I spent too long alone tonight...Come find me now/we'll hide out" while the band's guitars crash and shimmer all around him.
Songs such as "The Woodpile" and "Oil Slick" have a worn-in feel, which apparently comes from the band having played through the songs before recording. They also feel lush, like if Coldplay adopted more acoustic guitars, Scottish accents and a drab, gray outlook appropriate for an album recorded in South Wales.
Everything is very textured — guitars dance around drummer Grant Hutchison's rising and falling beats while horns and other textures swell in the background.
Only "Nitrous Gas" has a one-man-and-a-guitar sound, reminiscent of previous Frightened Rabbit favorites such as "Poke." It even has lyrics that reference writing sad songs such as "Suck in the bright red major key/Spit out the blue minor misery/I'm dying to bring you down with me."
— Kevin Coffey
Tim McGraw "Two Lanes of Freedom"
Rating: ★★ (out of four)
From the start, this is an album to listen to when you hit the road. Title track "Two Lanes of Freedom" kicks off the album and urges you to enjoy the open road as McGraw sings, "(God) made this old country road for drivin' and dreamin'."
Indeed, who doesn't enjoy a good, long drive with the wind blowing in your hair and good music blasting?
"One of Those Nights" is about making memories on a crazy, romantic night. "Truck Yeah" takes some countrified heavy metal and turns it into a singalong. "Mexicoma" is a jam about waking up stoned in Mexico.
"Two Lanes of Freedom" is another album full of three chords and the truth: a bunch of good tunes about good times. McGraw's mentions of romance and fun are just vague enough to bring about nostalgia from every listener. It's a fun record.
That said, there's not a lot of substance here. These songs aren't going to change your life. You'll still want to play them the next time you hit the highway, hit the bar or, wake up with a hangover in Mexico.
— Kevin Coffey
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