By Chris Moore:
Tripper (The Fruit Bats)
Released: August 2, 2011
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Top Two Tracks: “Tangie and Ray” & “You’re Too Weird”
On Tripper, quirky, folksy retro rockers the Fruit Bats fall into a comfortable groove, kicking off with the drug-induced experiences of the alliterative “Tony the Tripper,” following up two tracks later with the tale of “Tangie and Ray,” and later adding “Dolly” into the mix. The Fruit Bats spin a veritable world across the eleven tracks on Tripper, adding bird sounds and what could be a stream to “The Banishment Song,” laying down warm, (dare I say it?) trippy atmospherics throughout. Thought the album falters a bit near the end, it is overall true to their form. It doesn’t have the same concision or catchiness as 2009’s The Ruminant Band, but it is, all together, a strong fifth effort from the band.
I’m With You (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Producer: Rick Rubin
Released: August 26, 2011
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Top Two Tracks: “Factory of Faith” & “Police Station”
This was a good year for rock, in quality if not in quantity. Earlier this year, I held up the Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light as one of the best rock albums in years. I’m With You doesn’t quite ascend to that mark, but it is an outstanding rock album all the same: killer guitar, great bass, and all-around passionate performances. From the well-arranged “Monarchy of Roses” at the start of the album to the standout tracks placed deep in the track listing, I’m With You delivers fourteen strong rock tracks, incorporating a range of sounds developed throughout the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ career. “Factory of Faith” is catchy with punchy vocals, “Brendan’s Death Song” tempers a heartfelt lead vocal and guitar while caressing the eventual buildup beautifully, and even a less exceptional track like “Ethiopia” brandishes impressively expansive production qualities. And this is only to comment on the first four tracks, never mind the true standouts: the gorgeous production and energy on “Police Station” and the epic quality of “Even You Brutus?,” to name only a couple.