Monday, December 7, 2020

Singles Roundup: The Nearly Deads, Jules & The Howl, Orden Ogan, & Greta Van Fleet

 It looks like we can sneak in one more batch of singles before the holidays start, which is a good thing, since writing about more albums feels superfluous when I already have my year-end list sorted and written. So let's see what bite-size efforts we have in store for us this time.

The Nearly Deads - Can't Make You Change

I wasn't expecting a new song from them, what with Theresa Jeane starting up her own solo work and all. This song picks up where the band left off, continuing a run of singles that are very strong. Starting with "Freakshow", the band has been occasionally putting out snappy rockers that have charm, character, and sticky hooks. The band has found their groove, and they're playing right into it. The production gives it a different feel than their "Revenge Of The Nearly Deads" EP, but it's all from the same mold. Collect the singles, and you've got another really good EP.

Jules & The Howl - All Along The Watchtower

I don't talk much about covers, nor have I ever been a big Jimi Hendrix fan, but Jules & The Howl have done a version of this classic worth talking about. Updating the sound from the smoky production of the late 60s, we get solos played with that same smooth guitar tone, cascading melodic phrases that do what a solo is supposed to. What's most impressive is Jules herself, wailing through the song with a sharp, strident vocal that adds a punch of power the song never had before. Instead of sounding laid-back and too cool, Jules' version is harder-edged, more desperate, and clearly an outlet for her passion. Well done.

Orden Ogan -  Heart Of The Android

The second single from this oft-delayed album is now here, and it continues to show Orden Ogan has little use with diversity. The track is a bit less aggressive than the previous single, but they are very much like Motorhead in delivering their signature sound again and again, even if it all starts to sound the same. Yes, the chugging riff is barely different than any of their songs, and the melody sounds familiar too, but if you like their sound, this is what you want. I happen to like it, so even if it isn't exciting anymore, it's nice to hear.

Greta Van Fleet - Age Of Machine

I've mostly defended this band, which I don't regret, but I can't defend this song. The brightness and energy of their previous work is gone, with this song trying to be a darker and doomier effort. Maybe they're trying to match the times, but it isn't a sound that works for them. The vocal tone can't be dark or ominous, and the doom elements bring things to a crawl. It's slow, tepid, and lacking and snap or hook. I'd say this is probably their worst song yet, so maybe branching out from being a modern Led Zeppelin isn't such a good idea.

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