Friday , September 21 2018

‘Family’ deliver real heart

Another Kanye … this time, darker

Family and Friends, “Felix Culpa” (Family and Friends)

The first full-length album by the indie folk-rock collective Family and Friends rings a few familiar bells.

There’s a jam-band vibe that echoes the work of Lord Huron and Local Natives, rollicking along with a strong bass rhythm underpinning that gives it real forward lean.

It’s also hard to imagine that this ensemble, based out of Athens, Georgia, didn’t spend time soaking up the sound of U2, especially the finger-picked electric strumming of the Edge.

But the songs here offer more variety than Lord Huron and Local Natives, circumventing the pitfall that makes much of what those bands produce sound the same.

And while there may not be anything that alters the trajectory of rock ‘n’ roll the way U2 did in its heyday, Family and Friends lay it out there with honesty, energy and enough nuance to reward repeated listening.

There’s the soaring urgency of “Hold On to Your Love,” a pour-it-out anthem that would be at home on many a heartbreak playlist. So will “Better Days,” for that matter, another beautifully wistful anthem that also comes from the I’m-losing-you school of love songs.

That’s a theme throughout the album, though the approaches and pacing range around. Similar demons haunt one of the album’s best songs, “So Within/So Without.”

So no, this independently-produced album may not be the most original record to surface in recent years. But it’s a fine early effort, delivered with real heart, from an emerging band that deserves more attention going forward.

The omnipresent Kanye West returned Friday with his second album in as many weeks, this time a darker take on life’s anxieties with his protege Kid Cudi.

After a year of silence in which he sought treatment for mental health, West roared back in April with typical headline-grabbing antics as he became a rare African American celebrity to support President Donald Trump.

West on June 1 returned with his eighth studio album, “Ye,” in which he turned introspective about his insecurities but, with a hasty seven tracks, showed himself to be less ambitious than when he put out sprawling opuses a decade ago.

The rap superstar made good on the schedule promised over his Twitter feed as he released another seven-track album on Friday, a collaboration with Kid Cudi called “Kids See Ghosts.” (Agencies)

While “Ye” harked back to the soul samples and danceable beats of early West, “Kids See Ghosts” is much more a work of Kid Cudi, whose trippy electronic clouds accentuate the dark reflections in his rhymes.

“Freeee (Ghost Town Part 2)” opens with an inspirational quote from the early 20th-century pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey before the rap duo respectively say that they have found peace.

“I don’t feel pain anymore! Guess what, babe? I’m free!” they each rap separately, West presumably about the furor over his controversial comments and Kid Cudi likely on his struggles with depression.

The album closes on a track that is based on Kurt Cobain’s “Burn the Rain,” a downcast acoustic guitar riff released as part of the “Montage of Heck” documentary on the late Nirvana frontman. (Agencies)

By Scott Stroud

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