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REVEREND HORTON HEAT – Whole New Life

January 01, 1970

Victory

www.victoryrecords.com

BY JOHN B. MOORE

The Reverend Horton Heat (known by his parents as Jim Heath) is likely the only musician out there to be namechecked by Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, John Lydon, and Rob Zombie. But it makes sense, as no band since The Cramps has done a better job of fusing rockabilly with a sharp punk rock attitude. And his latest, “A Whole New Life,” shows he still has a foot planted firmly in each musical camp.

The band is at its best when they’re playing ferocious up-tempo tracks, like “Perfect,” “Hate to See You Cry” or the New Orleans-styled “Tchoupitoulas Street” (a song you’d swear was an old standard, but is actually a Heath original). The album takes a brief detour on the Nick cave-ish dirge “Don’t Let Go of Me,” the weakest track here. But the band quickly corrects course for the remainder of the record. They also throw in a great cover of “Viva Las Vegas” on the closing track – a perfect ending to this 30-plus minute nostalgic ride.

This latest effort marks an even dozen albums for the trio and is just as solid as anything they’ve done so far. If you never dug their high-octane rockabilly/cocktail vibe, this record certainly isn’t going to change your mind. But, if you’re a fan, “Whole New Life” will only serve to reaffirm that admiration.

DOWNLOAD: “Perfect,” “Hate to See You Cry” and “Tchoupitoulas Street”

THE RATCHETS – First Light

January 01, 1970

Pirates Press

www.piratespressrecords.com

BY JOHN B. MOORE

New Jersey has long been the farm team for punk rock bands. Everyone from The Bouncing Souls to Gaslight Anthem have hailed from one city or another off the NJ Turnpike before going on to spread the punk rock gospel to the rest of the globe. The Ratchets prove yet again with their latest LP, First Light, that the Garden State is still churning out punk rock’s best and brightest.

Relatively MIA for more than a decade after the 2006 release of their debut, the band is back – a little older, but just as promising as that debut that brought about more than a few comparisons to The Clash. On First Light those Clash influences are still front and center, as well as some of Joe Strummer’s more thoughtful later work. You can also hear a hint of Springsteen’s influence on the lyrics all across this one, as well. (You  didn’t think I could write about a Jersey band without at least one Springsteen reference, did you?)

But there’s also plenty of other elements here that make the band sound impressively original: the Bluesy guitar riffs on “Drone Control,” the ‘70s hard rock vibe of “2-4-6-8 Motorway” (a cover of the Tom Robinson Band punk classic), and Jed Engine’s sandpaper rasp vocals that were made for punk rock. The band manages to flawlessly bridge the political urgency of late ‘70s British punk rock with modern concerns.

Crammed with memorable hooks, air guitar-worth riffs and whip sharp lyrics, First Light finds The Ratchets back in fighting form and, if this record is any indication, ready to take over the world.

DOWNLOAD: “Drone Control” and “2-4-6-8 Motorway”

Billy Idol 9/28/18, Nashville

Dates: Billy Idol

Location: Carl Black Chevy Woods Amphitheater at Fontanel, Nashville TN

A rebel yell was heard echoing through the Carl Black Chevy Woods Amphitheater at Fontanel in Music City USA.

Text & Photos by Mark Jackson

Billy Idol has been out touring and sounding as great as ever with the release of  his remix collection Vital Idol: Revitalized. It has fifteen tracks remixed by such artist as Moby, Crystal Method, Paul Oakenfold, and others.

On the same day as the release Billy preformed at the Carl Black Chevy Woods Amphitheater at Fontanel in Nashville, TN, to an ecstatic fan base. Billy and the boys put on a hell of a show that kept the fans on their feet all night while dancing, singing, and jumping. Billy was looking and sounding as sharp as he did in the ‘80s, and Steve Stevens was still up to his old tricks, playing the guitar behind his head and with his teeth without missing a chord.

If Billy F**king Idol comes to your town, make sure you grab a ticket, give a “Rebel Yell” and sing along all night to his ageless hits…

Visit our ace photographer Mark Jackson: @MarkJacksonPhotography1

 

MISS WORLD — Keeping Up with Miss World

Album: Keeping Up with Miss World

Artist: Miss World

Label: PNKSLM

Release Date: September 28, 2018

http://pnkslm.com

BY JENNIFER KELLY

Natalie Chalal named her one-person, do-everything-yourself band after a Hole song, and that’s fitting, since not since Courtney’s heyday has a female rock musician skewered the conventions of contemporary young woman-hood while rocking the hell out this hard. Chalal, from London, has her finger on the pulse of Internet meme-ery, but her foot on the pedal of a blistering electric guitar. Her songs address a season’s worth of Keeping Up with the Kardashians ephemera, everything from low-card diets to collagen lip injections; she keeps such a straight face in doing so that it’s hard to tell whether she’s celebrating or sending up, except that she’s way too smart, self-aware and wickedly acid-tongued to be this excited about Tinder (a couple of truly vacant spoken word bits give the joke away if you haven’t gotten it before).

The best songs, though, go well beyond satire into fully realized, joyfully dissonant rock songs, which sound so rough and organic and live that you check for band credits. There are none. Chahal played everything, one track at a time. Whether you appreciate this album as social satire or straight up Joan Jett-into-Weezer rock and roll (or both) is up to you, but either way, songs like “Put Me in a Movie” and “Carb Yr Enthusiam” hit the mark. All hail Miss World, queen of the tawdry surface-y, click-obsessed world she surveys.  

DOWNLOAD: “Put Me in a Movie,” “Carb Yr Enthusiasm”

THE BAND OF HEATHENS – A Message From The People Revisited

Album: A Message From The People Revisited

Artist: The Band of Heathens

Label: BOH Records

Release Date: September 21, 2018

www.bohrecords.com

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

A super group of sorts originally hailing from Austin Texas, The Band of Heathens are composed of five supremely talented individuals that are capable songwriters each in their own right. However on their new album, A Message From The People Revisited, they take a different tack, covering songs that remains essential to the character of this country and humanity as a whole. The band says they were inspired by “the artistry and genius of Ray Charles,” and indeed, in their soaring renditions of “America the Beautiful,” “There’ll Be No Peace Without All Men As One,” and “Heaven Help Us All,” the light and legacy of Brother Ray clearly comes shining through.

Other songs provide additional inspiration — Melanie’s “Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma,” Dion’s “Abraham, Martin and John” and John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” in particular — recall the triumphs and tragedies that this nation has witnessed in modern times, with today’s trials clearly top of mind. Clearly meant to encourage a sense of unity and pride, this set of songs is perfectly timed. It arrives on the heels of their recent EP, Live Via Satellite, a breezy example of the band’s earlier efforts rendered with the effortless enthusiasm that consistently characterizes their concert performances.

That said, credit The Band of Heathens for taking time to deliver music with a message that’s needed more than every nowadays. Every individual, regardless of political philosophy or party affiliation, ought to consider it mandatory listening.

DOWNLOAD: “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “America the Beautiful,” “Abraham, Martin and John”

BOBBY FULLER FOUR – Magic Touch: The Complete Mustang Singles

Album: Magic Touch: The Complete Mustang Singles

Artist: Bobby Fuller Four

Label: Cherry Red

Release Date: November 30, 2018

www.cherryred.co.uk

BY JONATHAN LEVITT

Bobby Fuller was from my hometown of El Paso Texas, and I came to know this in the most roundabout of ways. After college I was hell-bent on landing a job in the music industry and given my China interest I found myself in Hong Kong for the Reed Midem music convention. I was also poor as a church mouse at the time and couldn’t afford the $200.00 entrance fee, so I did the next best thing and snuck in. I walked around giving out my resume and met people from a variety of international labels, picked up loads of swag, all the while trying to keep an eye out for security guards.

Eventually I made my way to the Del-Fi Records table and met Bob Keane*, surf music impresario and Bobby Fuller’s producer. He had a Hawaiian shirt on and told me that he might just have a job for me and said I should come to the LA office and discuss it. He wanted to create a sales a promotion office out in Hong Kong.  I caught a courier flight to LA and recall working out in my immature mind what sort of salary I’d ask for and worked out a rudimentary business plan of sorts. Then came my meeting at Del Fi records which was somewhere in the vicinity of Sunset Boulevard, and a smiling Bob Keane came out and invited me into his office and proceeded to burst every illusion I had about what this job might be. Dollar symbols quickly began to melt in front of me and on the way out of his office, crestfallen and all, I met his Director of Promotions, Elliot “Le Hot Show” Kendall, who showed me a mockup of a Bobby fuller box set they were working on and seeing as I was from El Paso he showed me the liner notes which were written by El Paso DJ extraordinaire Steve Crosno. I eventually made my way into the harsh LA light and caught a bus back to my friend’s home, completely deflated by the experience. I mention all of this because in the ensuing years Bob Keane and his staff stayed in touch sending me music and occasionally shooting the shit over email.

I jumped at the chance to take a listen to the latest compilation of Bobby Fuller’s music. This release covers all of his Mustang singles and is a real joy to listen to. You can see that Bob Keane tried to temper the rougher hewn elements of Bobby’s music not always to the greatest of results. My favorite songs like, “My Favorite Martian”, “I Fought the Law”, “Let Her Dance” and “Never to be Forgotten” are here for the listening and are sprinkled in between weaker numbers like “She’s my Girl” that tried to capitalize on the romantic schmaltz of the time. “You Kiss Me” is trying to be Elvis Presley, with its shuffle beat and vibrato vocals.

For me, Bobby Fuller’s greatest music is when he lets his rougher tendencies shine through and that I sense is what Bob Keane tried to rein in on several of these numbers. The CD has some amazing liner notes by Andrew Sandoval and the music is presented in its original mono format. I recall that “I fought the law” was number one close in time to when The Beatles came to America and that the titanic shift that caused was a heavy blow to Bobby Fuller. It’s a compilation like this that shows why he’ll “Never to be Forgotten” by music lovers worldwide.

DOWNLOAD: “My Favorite Martian”, “I Fought the Law” , “Let Her Dance”, “Never to be Forgotten”

*Ed. Note: For readers with sharp eyesight, check out the text on the album sleeve, above, and for a cheap thrill, note the spelling of the aforementioned Mr. Keane’s name.

 

Clutch + Sevendust 10/21/18, Pittsburgh

Dates: October 21, 2018

Location: Strage AE, Pittsburgh, PA

Heavier-than-heavy heroes systematically dismantle the Stage AE venue and leave it in pieces on a chilly fall evening…

BY TIFFINI TAYLOR

A chill in the air as people were going into Stage AE in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to see Clutch and Sevendust. Book of Bad Decisions Tour is making its way all around the country. The name of the tour comes from their newest release Book of Bad Decisions. Clutch has been around for quite a long time in the music world. Their style of rock is what makes rock ‘n’ roll. Joining them out on the road is Sevendust and Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown. This is a magical tour that any fan of rock will enjoy. This line-up will have one’s horns up, one’s head banging, and one’s heart pounding.

Taking to the stage first is Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown. If one has not seen this band live, put it on bucket list now. The guitar riffs are intense. The band has great energy. The guitar solos will make one’s heart melt. The charisma of Tyler Bryant makes for an entertaining evening that is rock. The band brings a bluesy rock to the masses. Guitar solo overload with this band. Sliding across the stage on knees while playing and not missing a note, Tyler Bryant is taking notes from guitarists past.

Sevendust took to the stage with a loud roar from the crowd. Coming from Georgia, these guys know how to rock! Their newest release is titled ‘All I See Is War’ and it is truly Sevendust doing what they do best. The show tonight is heart pounding rock from a band that hasn’t lost their southern roots. The use of red and white lights amongst the throbbing of drums, roaring bass and guitars, topped with a fiery voice makes for a show to head bang to. They are a band who love their fans dearly and always give their best show no matter where they play. Sevendust is a great way to get ready for Clutch.

Clutch is a band that puts everything out there and takes nothing back. The band has been around for 25 years and has been rocking out everywhere. The Book of Bad Decision tour is not a bad decision by no means. It is pure an organic rock while head banging fun. Clutch has a powerful command of the stage. Their talented musicians who know what to do to make an audience go wild. Looking for good hard rock, Clutch is the band to look to.  Red, white, blue and yellow lights rained down upon the band while they played only added to the excitement for the audience. The charisma of Clutch is over the top powerhouse. Each note played in its perfection is with a force to bring the connection of the band and the audience as close as can be. The reaction of the crowd to this energetic band shows what die-hard fans Clutch has developed over the years.  Each record brings more and more new fans, hopefully new bands are taking notes. There are no disappointments when seeing Clutch live. It appears the band should live on the stage. The music is harsh, brash, and mellow all at the same time.  The guys in Clutch play because they love the music, not only that they love their fans more. The tour name is the name of their new release Book of Bad Decisions and it fits so well. The album is great as well as the tour.

Clutch and Sevendust prove how hard work, not giving up and growing with the music give it longevity. They are not just a band that they play in, they are family. Touring on the road is not easy for any band but when there are three bands that pour their hearts into the show it is worth everything to their fans. The Book of Bad Decisions tour is one not to be missed. Three powerful performances which make for a magical and memorable night of rock.

CURSE OF LONO – As I Fell

Album: As I Fell

Artist: Curse of Lono

Label: Submarine Cat

Release Date: August 17, 2018

http://www.submarinecatrecords.com/

The Upshot: With the band’s 2017 album, Severed, already in the BLURT hall of musical fame, we now turn to their kickass 2018 entry.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Every once and a while you stumble on an amazing band that is so frustratingly under the radar that it makes you question the very concept of justice. The London-based five-piece, Curse of Lono, is one of those bands.

For three albums now, spread across the past three years, the band has turned in one nearly-flawless record after another and aside from the cheers coming from music reporters, some Americana devotees and record store nerds, the ripples in the pop culture lake never seem to go beyond one or two rings. The band’s latest effort, As I Fell, continues their streak of brilliantly simple and simply brilliant blend of Americana and Gothic Alternative Rock. Though the band has never been accused of being overly raucous, As I Fell finds the band at their most subdued, bringing about a strong Dylan vibe throughout the 11 songs here.

It seems almost unfair to single out one track from the next as the record is nearly devoid of any filler material. The band instead opts for creating a deeply moving Southern Gothic (yes, I realize they’re from London) sound that recalls everyone from the Cowboy Junkies to Nick Cave.

It sort of makes sense, given the remarkably twisted political world we are currently living in, that one of the best bands out there is not getting the attention it clearly deserves. Here’s hoping change is coming soon, on all fronts.

DOWNLOAD: “Blackout Fever” and “As I Fell”

 

THE TREWS – Civilianaires

Album: Civilianaires

Artist: THE TREWS

Label: Cadence Music

Release Date: September 14, 2018

By John B. Moore

Despite half a dozen albums to their name and plenty of love and adulation above the U.S. border, Ontario/Toronto-based band The Trews have never really been able to break through in the States. Like The Tragically Hip and Sam Roberts, ‘Merica was always just a little bit out of reach.

But, Civilianaires, their latest, could possibly be the record that gets them the attention they deserve here. Their sound has evolved quite a bit since the early ‘00s, losing a lot of the hard rock influences and focusing more on a cleaner, straight-ahead rock sound with hints of pop that offers a less dated feel. The slow-burn opener “Vintage Love” finds the band channeling everyone from U2 to INXS and offering a strong promise for what lies ahead. And for the most part, they deliver across 13 songs, an ambitious, expansive rock record that seems tailor-made for stadium sing-alongs. Lyrically, the band sometimes come across a little preachy and contrived, but those moments are few and far between. For the most part, they stretch their sound to impressive heights. Especially on a song like the gorgeous “Is it Too Late?”.

The Trews are finally a north-of-the-border band we can get behind. We gave Bryan Adams a career for Christ’s sake, we should at least get to experience some of the good stuff Canada has to offer as well.

Download: “Vintage Love,” “Leave It Alone” and “Is It Too Late?”

 

Dulcie Taylor – Better Part Of Me

Album: Better Part of Me

Artist: Dulcie Taylor

Label: self-released

Release Date: March 09, 2018

http://www.dulcietaylor.com

The Upshot: Singer-songwriter Dulcie Taylor writes exemplary songs with lyrics drawing heavily on real life, each imbued with a distinctive, poetic lilt. Her recordings aren’t quick-gets – they take some time to warm up to as the hooks are subtle, yet all the more barbed over time. Her slight, elfin vocals and some phenomenal accompaniment lift each of them to praiseworthy heights.

BY ERIC THOM

 In this hyper-competitive world of so many singer-songwriters seeking your attention – and working with a fraction of the clout it takes to get noticed – success will out if the quality shines through. You may not know Dulcie Taylor but it’s not for her lack of trying. Sporting her 7th release, Better Part Of Me is proof enough that it’s time to discover something you could be missing. Truth be told, her last album blew me away – ‘14’s Only Worn One Time – but I was late to the party. Better Part Of Me continues a steady progression of exceptionally-crafted songs, deliciously thoughtful accompaniment and the intimacy that only comes with the focus she demands for her small but tender voice.

This release is deceptive. It won’t knock you over the first time you hear it. Or the second. But, over time, these eleven tracks will tunnel into your brain and grow on you like they’ve always belonged. One of her secret weapons is the quality instrumentation that help elevate each breath she takes to higher ground. Of particular interest is the relationship between the singer-songwriter and her guitarist extraordinaire, George Nauful. The one complements the other, each raising the other’s game. Nauful (who also plays piano, sings lead and background vocals) also produces Taylor within an inch of her life, surrounding each tiny, often delicate melody with a swirling vortex of stringed sounds – dobro, acoustic/electric/slide guitar – that transform each relatively simple song into an eye and ear-opening extravaganza. Take the softly powerful “Used To Know It All”, which launches the record as it sets the high standard for the musicianship that surrounds her soft, yet confident, vocals. Slightly pinched with a slight country twang via South Carolina, Taylor’s vocal style is a soft, gentle caress blessed with the sort of complete confidence from her depth of experience, accompanying herself on dulcimer or acoustic guitar. Consider “God Did Me A Favor” – which unfolds like a beautiful first-bloom flower – and which could easily represent the quintessential Taylor composition. It, too, benefits from Nauful’s deft production gifts as he adds subtle percussion and his patented backdrop of lush instrumentation, reinforced by some of the best players available: Damon Castillo, Domenic Castillo, Joey Landreth (guitars); Abraham Robles, Tracy Morgan, Cameron West (drums); Dillon Johnson, Cameron West (bass); drawing on additional hues from organ/piano (Kristian Ducharme), cello (Erin Snedecor, Bob Liepman), strings (Pete Whitfield), mandolin (Tyson Leonard) and backup vocals (Valerie Johnson). At the same time, Taylor’s energy level moves her slightly forward in the mix as she underlines the depth of her love. However, it’s the comparably dark yet sultry “Watch Me Hurt” that proves to be one of the disc’s strongest songs, anger fueling her impassioned delivery, bolstered by simpatico background vocals while embraced by sensuous, sinewy guitars.

“Long Gone” is, likewise, embellished by cascading guitars which carry a slight jazz feel as Taylor dishes out more complex melodies chronicling her heart-weary ways. The comparably bluesy “The Moon Is Cold” offers a more laid-back feel as Taylor near-whispers her way through her lead vocal, her bitter criticisms of a bad lover offset by some tasteful guitar flourishes and the warmth of an acoustic bass. It’s the head-turning “I Do” which provides the disc’s greatest moment – a beautiful piece revealing an entirely different Dulcie – very much in love, her outlook buoyed by acoustic guitar, piano and bass. “Halfway To Jesus” may have been selected as the lead single, however, it’s not her strongest suit. While it’s great to hear these exceptional musicians cut loose and heavy things up a bit, its scolding tone and exaggerated vocal doesn’t reflect her true strengths – mining intimacy with a delicate touch. This word-heavy piece serves as an interesting band sound (with some great B3), as Dulcie’s soft vocals take a backseat to a more muscular workout. It may be ‘catchy’ but its crusade-like tone and aggressive stance seems an odd detour from the other ten originals here. Case-in-point is “Hearts Have To Break” – a light and lovely duet with Nauful, its cello and backdrop of acoustic guitars providing a soft place to fall, given its bittersweet lyrics. Slide guitar sets up the small town scuttlebutt behind the failed relationship of “Shining In His Eyes”. You can almost hear the neighbours talking over the fence as two guitars spar, gently, behind them. Yet, nothing can touch the deep-dish loneliness of “Dove Crying In My Window”. Acoustic guitar, piano and cello provide a haunting backdrop to the sound of painful loss.

The title track serves as somewhat of a lullabye – granted the sort that helps you cry yourself to sleep. But this slow-moving reflection strives to button up what seems a lifetime worth of bad choices and heartbreak, throwing a positive light on the life lessons learned, the scars revealing the “Better Part of Me” in the bargain. Dominic Castillo tosses in some stinging slide guitar as if to cauterize all wounds. After all this torment and pain, Taylor regains her composure and remains entirely upbeat and hopeful – a million miles away from the emotional punching bag you might have assumed – a final track which reveals so much about her.