Initial Reactions (2011): The Jayhawks, Blitzen Trapper, VHS or Beta

The Jayhawks – Mockingbird Time – (++): Pleasant enough. Leaves you with that peaceful, easy feeling. I might have been indifferent to this, but I enjoy alt-country, and to that point, humble-pie songwriting. I’m a newbie, but this is notable for long-time Jayhawks fans as Mark Olson has returned to the flock. Also, Gram Parson would have been 65 this year. ("Hide Your Colors", "She Walks In So Many Ways")

Blitzen Trapper – American Goldwing – (++): Stadium filling antebellum classic rock, except it’s not 1975. These guys remind me of some high school buddies that used to cover Grand Funk Railroad. What I mean is that this is imitative of a bygone era, but it’s also durn well done. "Fletcher" reaches a prodigious groove. I’m pleasantly impressed, and hoping this will grow on me. ("Fletcher", "Might Find It Cheap")

VHS or Beta – Diamonds and Death – (ind): A reboot for this band. Reminds me a bit of the first Tears for Fears album. While there’s a few groove-tastic and even neato moments, it mostly sounds like a couple of kids discovering synthesizers. High point: "Jellybean" sounds like a Police instrumental from the future, but I guess I just can’t get past the silicon taste on anything else. Cool cover bonus points though. ("Under the Sun", "Jelly Bean")


[!!!!!]: Enthusiastic. Frequent rotation. A buyer. Contender for year’s best.
[++]: Positive. Good stuff. Possible grower?
[ind]: Indifferent.. Underwhelmed. I don’t expect to come back to this one.
[—]: Negative. A real screw-up. Don’t even bother.