Album releases the week of April 21 include Built to Spill’s “Untethered Moon” plus new ones by Alabama Shakes, Seattle’s Rocky Votolato and a Frank Sinatra retrospective.
Built to Spill, ‘Untethered Moon’ (Warner Bros)
Bands don’t last into their third decade without a willingness to adapt and reinvent themselves. While Built to Spill’s eighth studio album, “Untethered Moon” doesn’t necessarily change the formula that’s worked so well since 1992, it does find the Boise, Idaho, band in a time of seismic flux.
Gone are founding members Brett Nelson (bass) and Scott Plouf (drums). Former roadies Jason Albertini (bass) and Steve Gere (drums) take their places and thankfully don’t miss a beat. Everything that makes the band special — and also makes it mighty impressive that this is the seventh studio album for Warner Bros. — is left intact.
There’s plenty of Doug Martsch’s idiosyncratic guitar wizardry, especially beautiful on the thoughtful “Horizon to Cliff,” and impactful lyrics that seem to dispel Martsch’s long-held claim that his writing is simply subconscious fluff meant to fill in the spaces between bursts of six-string genius. “Living Zoo” is a particularly cutting example that finds Martsch contemplating our animal nature.
“Cause we’re lions in our cages,” he laments. “And tigers in tiny spaces.” Perhaps that’s true on an existential level, but Martsch’s music doesn’t feel caged at all. He hasn’t sounded this free in years.
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Alabama Shakes, “Sound & Color“ (ATO)
Frank Sinatra, “Ultimate Sinatra,” 4 CDs (Capitol)
Rocky Votolato, “Hospital Handshakes” (No Sleep)