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Music

August Music Review: Rock is dead? It certainly wasn't last month!

From The Beths, Rock Eupora, Foxing and IDLES were at the head of a stellar class

It wasn’t quite as tough as it will be when it’s time to say goodbye to Lucas Pauley today, but bidding farewell to the musical month of August was pretty rough.

That’s because August was a freaking awesome 5 weeks of New Release Fridays! Of my top 35 rock releases of the year so far – yes, I rank them as the year goes along – 9 (that’s nine!) of the records were welcomed into the world last month.

August also included a strong, strong, strong contender for my Record of the Year – “Future Me Hates Me,” the debut record from The Beths, an ultra-promising guitar pop band from New Zealand. Yes, New Zealand.

It also featured yet another fantastic record from one of my favorite bands, Rock Eupora. Hopefully, you read my review of the band’s self-titled record. But if you didn’t, here’s a link. (If you’re reading this on paper, go online. Trust me, there’s a link.)

The dog days of summer also saw the St. Louis (yes, St. Louis) proggy alternative band Foxing swing for the fences and knock it out of the park with the grandiose and beautiful release, “Nearer My God.”

And IDLES, a brash post-punk band from Britain, topped its outstanding 2017 release with “Joy as an Act of Resistance.” IDLES ratchets up the intensity on this record, while also writing songs with a broader, progressive world view. Amazing.

If that wasn’t enough, Mitski added a bit of punch to her pretty, lush songwriting on the excellent “Be the Cowboy.” And the up-and-coming dance punk (yes, dance punk) band Bloods, from Australia, put out a truly buzzworthy release, “Feelings.” What’s going on Down Under?! All kinds of good stuff coming from there, including The Beths (previously mentioned), Courtney Barnett and Alex Lahey.

Think I’m done mentioning great music from August? Hah! Not even close!

California’s The Frights upped their pop punk game with the weird and spazzy but captivating “Hypochondriac.” The Muncie Girls from the UK (not Indiana) established power pop consistency with the catchy “Fixed Ideals.” And the alt folk band Saintseneca (think Violent Femmes meet R.E.M. and Mumford & Sons) put out its most interesting and complete record to date, “Pillar of Na.”

I’m done? Not a chance. There were two strong EPs released in August – Fall Out Boy’s “Lake Effect Kid,” and “I Was Starting to Wonder,” by The Mowgli’s. (Yes, I liked a Fall Out Boy record.) (And, yes, it’s The Mowgli’s, and not The Mowglis. Drives me nuts!)

There were strong new releases last month from Bad Bad Hats, Death Cab For Cutie, Slaves, Rubblebucket and Prince. (Yes, Prince.)

And Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl released the solid-but-not-spectacular-yet-worth-a-listen-and-worth-11-hyphens “Play.”

So many hyphens. So many (Yes,) confirmations – Because August was just that fantastic for music. What a way to end the summer!

If you’re reading this on paper, check out all of the bands I mentioned and more on a Spotify playlist I’ve attached to this story. If you’re online, well, you’ll see the playlist. It’s longer this month than usual, for reasons I should have made obvious in the previous 23 column inches of copy.

Oh, and bye, Lucas. It’s been great working with you, becoming your friend, and talking about music. Let’s make sure we keep that up, and perhaps even keep sharing our completely unsolicited opinions about rock music with these fantastic readers. Whattya say?

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