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THE MINUS 5 – Of Monkees and Men

Album: Of Monkees and Men

Artist: Minus 5

Label: Yep Roc

Release Date: August 19, 2016

www.yeproc.com

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The Upshot: M5 maestro McCaughey does more than just pay tribute to the Faux Four – he and his pals become ‘em.

BY FRED MILLS

Minus 5 founder Scott McCaughey (er, you may have heard of him; think R.E.M., Young Fresh Fellows, The Baseball Project…) knows his way around a good homage. As if the new Minus 5 album title isn’t tip-off enough, or the fact that he has been known to operate under the nom du rawk of “Scott The Hoople.” (Go HERE to read a review of his recent Spain Capers album for evidence.)

Of Monkees and Men, then, is just that, and then some—not just a random hat-tip to the Faux Four, aka Micky, Peter, Davy, and Mike, what with songtitles that invoke their names: the twangy, mandolin/pedal steel powered “Michael Nesmith” (from a poem that McCaughey’s Texas pal Bucks Burnett penned), the shimmery baroque pop of “Davy Gets the Girl,” the dreamy psychedelia of “Song for Peter Tork,” the thumping, percussion-heavy romp that is “Mickey’s A Cool Drummer.” There’s even an anthemic garage rocker titled after the quartet’s hit-wielding songwriters, “Boyce and Hart”; how can you resist lyrics that go, “AM gave them their chance/ And indeed they had their day/ I guess it wasn’t easy/ But they had a lot of fun/ They made the scene on TV with a genie, a witch and a nun!” The album artwork even mimics a vintage 16 Magazine cover with its cheeky teen-centric graphics. While there are also tips o’ the McCaughey hat to the late hardboiled actor Robert Ryan, beloved Americana band Richmond Fontaine, and a “Blue Rickenbacker,”

McCaughey/Hoople’s double- and triple-tracked vocals here give the songs a Beach Boys-esque luminosity. He’s also joined by a roster of talented pals, among them singer/songwriter Laura Gibson, Peter Buck and Mike Mills from R.E.M. and the Smithereens’ Dennis Diken and Jim Babjak, and the result is a musical summit in which all assembled sound like they’re having a whale of a good time. Indie rock was never so joyous. Hey-hey, we’re the Minus 5!

Incidentally, Of Monkees and Men was originally part of the limited-edition, vinyl only Record Store Day release Scott the Hoople in the Dungeon of Horror. Copies ain’t cheap nowadays, so you have no excuse not to scoop this rec up in the here and now.

DOWNLOAD: “Boyce and Hart,” “Davy Gets the Girl,” “Blue Rickenbacker”

BETTY DAVIS – The Columbia Years 1968-1969 LP

Album: The Columbia Years 1968-1969 LP

Artist: Betty Davis

Label: Columbia/Light In the Attic

Release Date: July 01, 2016

www.lightintheattic.net

Betty Davis 7-1

The Upshot: Previously unreleased Miles Davis-produced sessions from 1969 featuring the powerhouse funk/soul vocals of Davis’ then-wife Betty, it’s got a who’s-who of jazz and rock legends as house band.

BY FRED MILLS

Although throughout the late ‘60s Betty Davis (born Betty Mabry) was making the NYC scene, rubbing shoulders with the elite, releasing a couple of independent singles, and eventually snagging a contract with Columbia Records (which released a 45 in 1968, “It’s My Life” b/w “Live, Love, Learn”), it wouldn’t be until 1973 that she would actually release a full-length en route to becoming the “Nasty Gal” funk-soul dynamo. And by the end of the decade, she’d already decided to leave the music business, just three albums to her name—hardly the type of career that gets inscribed in the history books.

However, there was that stunning 1975 Nasty Gal album. And there was that short-lived marriage to Miles Davis, to whom she introduced the rock-world likes of Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone. So she’s definitely more than a footnote. And the marriage also yielded an intriguing set of Miles-produced demos cut for Columbia on May 14 and 20, 1969, released here for the first time. The Columbia Years features a veritable jazz-rock supergroup backing her in the studio: Herbie Hancock, Harvey Brooks, Billy Cox, John McLaughlin, Mitch Mitchell, Wayne Shorter, and Larry Young. (Miles himself does not perform on the songs, but his voice can occasionally be heard in the studio talkback.) And it’s an intriguing collection, primarily originals penned by Betty.

BEtty Miles

The best track is her “Down Home Girl,” an outrageously kinetic five-minute swamp-funk workout that spotlights both the singer’s kittenish vocal come-ons and McLaughlin’s uncharacteristic chicken-pickin’ guitar licks. There’s also a pair of covers: a rousing, equally swampy “Born on the Bayou” which, with Mabry’s extemporaneous grunts and yelps, steers the band directly into Tina Turner territory; and “Politician Man,” served up as a bluesy sultry manifesto for Mabry but which doesn’t quite hold its own next to the version Jack Bruce originally cut with Cream. Also included are three tracks from an October 18, 1968, session produced by Jerry Fuller and arranged by her then-boyfriend Hugh Masekela. Those are equally engaging, and perhaps even a bit more expansive with the dynamics, which benefit from string arrangements and Masekela’s upbeat horn lines.

The album was put together by Light In the Attic with the cooperation and input of Betty, and her involvement surely gets the hopes up for longtime Davis fans who bemoaned her truncated career and always hoped there might be material stashed away in the vault—or even that she might return to performing and recording.

Consumer Note: The LP version is pressed on handsome gold vinyl, and the set’s graphic design is another class production from the stalwart archival label, with a thick gatefold sleeve and a booklet boasting iconic Baron Wolman photos and interviews with Masakela, bassist Brooks, and Davis herself.

DOWNLOAD: “Down Home Girl,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Live, Love, Learn”

Below: Instagram photo from a fellow satisfied customer…

Gold

 

 

 

NELS CLINE – Lovers

Album: Lovers

Artist: Nels Cline

Label: Blue Note

Release Date: August 19, 2016

www.bluenote.com

Nels Cline 8-19

The Upshot: Wilco fretboard virtuoso steps out with a solo album of originals and Great American Songbook selections that find him expertly connecting sound/song and intimacy/romance.

 BY ADOLF ALZUPHAR

Nels Cline’s Blue Note debut Lovers is a musical bonanza: guitar, the lyrical and the experimental. And it’s monumental when the album’s band lets loose.

Lovers is two discs of 18 songs. Some are original compositions and others are Cline’s own. According to Cline (who’s also a guitarist in Wilco), Lovers “is meant to be as personal in its sound and in its song selection as it is universal in its endeavor to assay or map the parameters of ‘mood’ as it once pertained, and currently pertains, to the peculiar and powerful connection between sound/song and intimacy/romance.”

Cline’s songs certainly meet those objectives. We hear mood throughout, a sort of sensual and melancholic mood at times, and an upbeat though dark mood at others. There’s even a song named “Glad to Be Unhappy” (a songbook classic with music written by Richard Rodgers) on the first disc. Cline’s guitar shines, but so do songs other instruments such as trumpet, leading us down some sort of neo-’50s of gallant entertainment.

This album’s songs do succeed at connecting sound/song and intimacy/romance, though with limitations. This society has come to associate with intimacy/romance like never before, to lyric and not to instrumentation; an Apollonian turn to clarity with which any musician of romantic song must be concerned, adding to any Dionysian harmony, melody, and rhythm. Cline’s songs are sultry, nuanced, and often slow, so all signify romance, but only as much as can be conveyed via purely instrumental music.

Cline’s “The Bond” is light, lyrical, and at times experimental. It’s this album’s highlight. “The Bond” has the singalong quality of a song like “Au clair de la lune.” That it’s being played primarily on guitar makes it that much more easy-going.

“You Noticed,” also written by Cline, is the opposite of “The Bond”; it is dark and hesitant. However, the song is beautiful in its own right. It takes much more sitting attentively through than “The Bond,” but it’s worth one’s undivided attention.

Aficionados of jazz’s beginnings will want to listen to “Why Was I Born”; the tune’s trumpet may remind listeners of Papa Celestin or Louis Armstrong. It is a song that is raw in a way that life can be. Cline attempts to lead the song with his guitar, but it’s the trumpet that will capture a listener’s attention the most.

On Lovers, Cline is effective at making re-interpreted songbook selections his own. Comparing his “Beautiful Love” to Benny Golson’s (the music was originally written by Wayne King, Victor Young, and Egbert Van Alstyne) is strong evidence of this. He does the same to Jimmy Giuffre’s “Cry Want,” adding some depth and city slick to it by replacing wind instruments with guitar.

In an article on Miles Davis’ album Bye Bye Blackbird, French writer Philippe Sollers invoked the following from a Guillaume Apollinaire poem to describe Miles’ artistry: “I do not sing this word nor the stars, I sing all the possibilities of myself outside of this world and the stars.”

“I sing all the possibilities of myself” can also be said about of Cline’s Lovers. He succeeds at imposing himself throughout these tunes, creating a valuable album in the process.

DOWNLOAD: “The Bond,” “Beautiful Love,” “You Noticed”

 

MICHAEL JUAN NUNEZ – Rise

Album: Rise

Artist: Michael Juan Nunez

Label: Parish Line

Release Date: April 01, 2016

www.michaeljuannunez.com

MJN

The Upshot: There’s an incorrigible soul deeply ingrained in the music of southern Louisiana that’s as essential as blood and water to all who live in her mystical shadows. MJN drops praise into just the right spot on every occasion.

 BY ERIC THOM

 How many times have you come to realize that some of your favorite artists are those who consistently prove to be the most difficult to categorize? Michael Juan Nunez (MJN) is a graduate of this school. He’s driven by some other-worldly demon to play whatever he feels – to hell with the rules. Head over heart. And while that may sound like a recipe for failure, it’s exactly this trait – one of being thoroughly unpredictable and impossible to define – that has cemented the foundation of his appeal. You just never know what you’re going to get – you only know it will be exceptionally good.

To not know what to expect has long been Nunez’ Ace of Spades. A disciple of Sonny Landreth with a side of Stevie Ray, he’s also influenced by the real-world of local legends Lil’ Buck Senegal and Harry “Big Daddy” Hypolite, having also toured with a treasure trove of Louisiana’s richest bedrock. MJN has earned his position the hard way, driven by something more than dreaming of an eventual payday. It’s like he’s got no choice in the matter – and the music will out – as it has on Rise, his 5th release.

Begin with the cacophonous “Betta” – drink in its dark, distorted vocal, electronic-pulsed intro and thunderous, dirge-like beat, adding a blistering blend of pulverizing guitars like you’ve just stumbled into a fearsome, Led Zeppelin-fueled, Satanic reunion of lost dreamers. He succeeds in scaring off the meek of mind, launching into the comparably upbeat “Come Into The Light” – which anyone would be anxious to do at this point. What’s this? Uptempo, happy music – like you’ve just been rescued by Harry Belafonte, flashing his patented smile and waving a bolero from atop his rearing, white steed? Toss in Mike Burch’s crisp snare, Nunez’ deft, finger-fired, near-Flamenco runs on acoustic guitar, the angelic backup vocals of Charlene Howard and Dudley Fruge and you’re about ready for the volleyball net to go up. Did somebody change the disc? But wait – Beelzebub is back – with a searing guitar and bass-driven attack – and just when you thought the flowers might actually begin to grow. “Lost It” returns the trend to into the dark tunnels with processed, almost-other-worldly vocals that turn out a tough, punishing sound that, still, leans on strong guitar hooks and scorching leads to register its general disdain. “Trouble” is all clean-sounding acoustic guitar as it introduces Eric Adcock’s B3 and the haunting vocal support of Charlene Howard to deliver its bleak predictions. Make note of “Burning” – an exacting power ballad if ever there was one, driven by Adcock’s rich keyboards, Nunez’ soulful vocals and a tasty slide solo for good measure.

If that all feels like an incredible musical range, you’re right. Know that Nunez & his American Electric hail from lower Louisiana – where nothing much counts much unless it’s benefited from the osmosis of everything else first. Hence, British rock is roughly married to Texas blues, Cajun to N’awlins R&B, funk to elements of Louisiana soul and a rich gumbo of everything in-between – sometimes blended into the same song. So “Lemonade” funks up an age-old expression and, with the creative assistance of Clint “Chief” Redwing on drums and percussion, Adcock on Hammond B3, plus (daughter) Jordan Nunez on clavinet, Nunez anoints it with liquid-sounding leads and his own lead and backing vocals, creating a head-turning boogie with a difference. Likewise, little can prepare you for the inventive, deeply soulful groove of “BLTLO (Baby, Leave the Light On)” – packed to the hilt with ardent vocals, a lush chorus, animated percussion and deep-set blues guitar leads – all wrapped up in Djembe Lee Allen Zeno’s warm, fat basslines. The Prince-friendly “Human” is an evil-sounding, sex-dipped, slow-sizzler of a track – an erotic, slow-boil of custom guitar-effects which builds towards a techno-climax, hinting at glam-rock – a true space oddity for a futuristic Science Fiction film, to be named later. “Nickel Roll” is a piano-drenched taste of N’awlins blues with all the dirty guitar you can eat, sensational ivory-tinkling from Eric Adcock and a solid rhythm section in Redwing and Zeno. Adcock’s piano is featured here together with MJN’s dark slide to supernatural effect. As always, MJN’s vocals are his sleeper play – all earthy tones, warm register and capable of bringing each character to life. If you listen close, you’ll see images of Chris Whitley forming over a moss-packed bayou backdrop. “Devil’s Daughter” presents a powerful offering that’s almost commercial in its scope and degree of shine. At the same time, it kicks into a second gear at the 4-minute mark that’s equal parts Texas blues jam and sheer South Louisiana hypnotics. And, in keeping with an aura of authentic Louisiana mojo, snakes, skulls and slammin’ the devil’s brood only adds more zest to Rise’s already distinctive sauce, with its double shot of piquant bite.

All this and a complementary Rorschach Test of a front cover, depicting a bird that may think he’s Phoenix-bound but who’s more than likely headed anywhere but heaven. Satisfy your darker side and seek out this seductive spellbinder. Michael Juan Nunez is one of those rare talents who gets there with his music without ever having tried to jeopardize the process by forcing it or doing anything against the natural flow of things. He’s just that good.

DOWNLOAD: Betta,” “Levee Breaks,” “Mr. Jones”

THEY SAY THE WIND MADE THEM CRAZY – Far From the Silvery Light LP

Album: Far From the Silvery Light

Artist: They Say The Wind Made Them Crazy

Label: Tofu Carnage

Release Date: July 08, 2016

www.tofucarnage.com

They Say 7-9

The Upshot: Improvisational, ghostly aural hypnosis with overtones of classic psychedelia, tribal folk, free jazz, and black metal from this Dallas guy-gal duo.

BY FRED MILLS

There’s always been an experimental community lurking at the fringes of the Texas music scene. More often than not, the Lone Star State is characterized in terms of its thriving blues and roots, but going all the way back to the mid ‘60s there were outfits like the Red Crayola/Krayola intent on dissolving traditional song structures and boundaries and probing both the inner spaces and the outer limits. This became even more explicit in the ‘80s when the Butthole Surfers arrived, and then again in the ‘90s when you had an entire movement (so to speak) of psychedelic sonic pharmacists clustered in the Denton/Dallas/Fort worth region.

The latest heir to this avant tradition is Dallas’ Tofu Carnage label, which via the likes of post-rockers Sans Soleil, black metal combo Dead to a Dying World, and jazz-punks Unconscious Collective excels in thwarting listener expectations and probing the psychic undercurrents of sound and vision. (Writing about the latter group in a review of its 2014 album Pleistocene Moon, yours truly hailed its “atavistic” inclinations and “skronky, jazzy, punk-improv music”… Shifting gears at will and turning on the proverbial dime, Unconscious Collective makes their chaos sound easy, pushing the listener relentlessly until he or she bleeds (or suffocates).”) Now comes They Say the Wind Made Them Crazy, featuring U.C./D.T.A.D.W. guitarist Gregg Prickett on axes, bass, flute, and shakers, and Sarah Ruth Alexander, who has guested with U.C., on dulcimer, harmonium, recorder, and bells, plus vocals that are at turns ethereal and operatic.

A 2LP set, Far From the Silvery Light marries intimacy to desolation, wraith-like elegance to primal flourishes, a duality that comes through most vividly on 16-minute track “Comancheria.” Here, a double-tracked Alexander coos, yips, and ululates as if channeling a distant coyote or wolf —at various times on the album her chant style of vocals resembles traditional Native America sing—and also adding textural recorder trills. Meanwhile, Prickett plucks out skeletal modal riffs that steadily rise in volume and intensity, eventually becoming clouds of fuzz en route to a chaotic climax, then gentle denouement. (For all you trainspotters out there, the tune suggests a marriage between late Quicksilver Messenger Service fretboard wizard John Cipollina and Krautrock legends Ash Ra Tempel.) Elsewhere one hears overtones of Dead Can Dance and Cocteau Twins (the harmonium-powered “Holy Longing”), John Fahey and Yma Sumac (the finger-style minimalism and octave-spanning singing of “Obsidian in Aorta”), and even black metallish splatter jazz not far from the Unconscious Collective’s killing fields (“Red Blood Green Grass,” awash in brutal swipes of distorted guitar improv from Prickett and vocals that turn into shrieks of near-terror from Alexander).

Challenging stuff, yes, with nakedly emotional swings between serenity and unease, but utterly mesmerizing in the final estimation. One readily imagines that when the pair play live, no setlists are drawn up and no two performances are even remotely similar as they offer sonic sacrament to their transfixed tribe. (You can listen to a stream of the entire album online at the Tofu Carnage BandCamp page.)

Consumer Note: As with the aforementioned U.C. album from 2014, this platter is pressed on gorgeous colored vinyl, the wax a kind of translucent pale green that actually had me checking to make sure it wasn’t glow in the dark vinyl like one used to encounter during the colored vinyl and picture disc craze of the early ‘80s. It’s not, but if you view it from across a semi-darkened room illuminated with the right kind of light source, it almost resembles, appropriately enough, a full moon—from the silvery light, indeed.

DOWNLOAD: “Comancheria,” “Obsidian in Aorta”

 

STEVE EARLE AND SHAWN COLVIN – Colvin & Earle

Album: Colvin & Earle

Artist: Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin

Label: Fantasy/Concord

Release Date: June 03, 2016

www.concordmusicgroup.com

colvin-and-earle-album

 

The Upshot: A loose feeling that reflects the fact these two longtime friends can simply trust the mutual familiarity factor to steer the proceedings as needed. 

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

At first glance, it seems like an unlikely pairing. Yet on first listen, the skepticism can be shoved aside. In truth, Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin share a common bond, because each has known their share of individual challenges, Earle as a former substance abuser and Colvin as an individual who overcame depression and other personal demons.

These days however, each of them rank among today’s most important musical voices, both boasting an indelible catalog that’s elevated them to Americana’s highest plateaus. That said, Colvin & Earle fits Colvin’s MO especially well, given that the album’s quotient of cover songs likens it to last year’s Uncovered, the second set of songs that’s found her retracing familiar favorites. For this, their first collaborative set (despite having known each other for nearly 30 years), they show that they share similar musical tastes by covering four songs of enduring appeal — “You Were On My Mind,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Raise the Dead,” and Tobacco Road” — and rendering them with a superbly crafted sound that reflects both inspiration and affection.

With Buddy Miller overseeing the production and a crack back-up band in tow, the duo keep things loose and unconstricted, sharing casual harmonies that are poignant, but generally not too precise. There’s a celebratory tone inscribed in each of the album’s offerings overall, a spirited sound that characterizes the material, regardless of origin. “Come What May,” “Happy and Free” and “Tell Moses” exemplify a cool, carefree attitude that rings with acoustic guitars, stirring melodies and the kind of back porch revelry that downplays any hint of posturing or pretence. Not exactly a dynamic duo, but a well-primed pairing nonetheless, Colvin & Earle has a loose feeling that reflects the fact these two longtime friends can simply trust the mutual familiarity factor to steer the proceedings as needed. That casual cool simply works well.

DOWNLOAD: “Come What May,” “You Were On My Mind,” “Ruby Tuesday”

VIJAY IVER & WADADA LEO SMITH – A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke

Album: A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke

Artist: Vijay Iver & Wadada Leo Smith

Label: ECM

Release Date: March 25, 2016

www.ecmrecords.com

Vijay-Iyer

The Upshot: The music simply translates deep musical respect and chemistry into moments of artistic fire and great beauty – the sound of modern jazz in full flower.

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

Teacher and student, mentor and mentee – it’s a collaboration as old as human interaction. A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke displays that relationship as jazz. Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, whose career reaches back to the creative explosion that was Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, has long served as teacher to pianist Vijay Iver, whose star has swiftly risen in the past decade. With no rhythm section to get in the way, Iver and Smith simply let their relationship flow.

The multi-part title track, of which most of the record consists, stands as testament. Iver provides a constantly shifting background, moving rhythms to and fro and adding classical runs across the foundation. Smith contributes piercing open bell lead lines and soulful mute work, complimenting Iver’s playing rather than cutting through it, even when both are at their most rambunctious. The lack of a rhythmic anchor sometimes gives the songs more free form than they actually need – there’s a difference between playful interchange and self-indulgence. But most of the music simply translates deep musical respect and chemistry into moments of artistic fire and great beauty – the sound of modern jazz in full flower.

DOWNLOAD: “A Divine Courage,” “A Cold Fire,” “Marian Anderson”

 

SIN ROPAS – Mirror Bride

Album: Mirror Bride

Artist: Sin Ropas

Label: Jealous Butcher

Release Date: February 12, 2016

www.jealousbutcher.com

Sin Ropas 2-15

The Upshot: The Marshall, NC, duo’s fifth full-length LP finds the band digging deeper into its core attributes, but with more focus than on any album since 2003’s Trickboxes on the Pony Line.

BY JOHN SCHACHT

Up in their mountain redoubt of Marshall, North Carolina, Sin Ropas—the husband and wife team of Tim Hurley and Danni Iosello—dwell in a musical world unto themselves, creating a haunting and compelling tableau of songs oblivious to the tides and tastes du jour of popular culture.

Mirror Bride, the duo’s fifth full-length LP, finds the band digging deeper into its core attributes, but with more focus than on any album since its darkly brilliant sophomore release, 2003’s Trickboxes on the Pony Line. Here, in the scratchy, burbling noises, disembodied banjo-plucking and creaky organ that slowly open “Save Me a Place” into a swirl of layered guitars and full-throated choruses, Sin Ropas inhabit as few can the tension extant in the collision of melody and noise. (Brian Deck, who excels at integrating those contrasts, mixed the record.) The crawling pace of “Brush for This” recalls Trickboxes‘ narcotic “Floorboards,” and represents another Sin Ropas strong suit—Iosello shadows Hurley’s weary vocals and provides junkyard percussion warped enough to conjure the distortions of a nitrous high (there’s even a marvelously disorienting chant reminiscent of the “everybody’s got one” outro on the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus”).

Sin Ropas’ music has always had a cinematic quality to it, but one that’s more experimental film than wide-screen epic; more micro than macro. On “Summer Bug,” over an up-tempo bassline and rattling drumbeats, Hurley’s guitars creep like time-lapse kudzu into every corner of the song, vines of razor-sharp riffs overlapping shadowy keyboards. “Broken Beaches” opens with acoustic barre chords sliding languidly from one fret to another while cello embroiders the melody and the duo’s vocals float overhead. They draw out the word “sleep” into a multisyllabic plea so long the tension eventually snaps into cathartic, guitar-driven choruses and marching percussion that could accompany grainy black and white newsreels.

The reductive call would be to label Mirror Bride and Sin Ropas “indie rock” and slot it with the other bands that emerged from the Red Red Meat/Chicago Petri dish (“Crows,” a rocking outlier, even sounds like a throwback to the Jimmywine Majestic years). But the North Carolina mountains-by-way-of-Chicago tells a richer back-story, played out in LP’s final tracks. The title cut is a swampy, backwoods blues built around grimy slide-guitar licks—likely played on one of the home-made cigar box instruments Hurley builds—as well as Iosello’s clanking percussion. It’s a primal Waits-like number shorn of the persona and redolent of sticky pines and burning embers. Closing out the record is “Tourniquet,” a sparsely arranged lament of shambling electric barre chords over which an e-bow line traces an anguished melody. Like the traditional blues found in the DNA of every type of rock ‘n’ roll, Hurley and Iosello tap into the suffering that is existence for their inspiration, lifting it into the light in the process—yes, as Hurley sings here, “all the angels bring jokes and bad luck tea.” But they also bring us the cleansing catharsis of music like Mirror Bride, and for that we can be grateful.

DOWNLOAD: “Save Me a Place,” “Silver Brow,” “Summer Bug,” “Mirror Bride.”

 Note: The LP is also available with a short story collection of the same name, written by Iosello. It includes an audio download with readings by the author, Tim Hurley, Califone’s Tim Rutili, Haley Bonar, actor Angela Bettis, and more.

LOOK PARK – Look Park

Album: Look Park

Artist: Look Park

Label: Yep Roc

Release Date: July 22, 2016

www.yeproc.com

Look Park

The Upshot: A little mellower and a little more introspective, but just as impactful as Chris Collingwood was two decades ago when he first started showing up on the radio.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Those still desperately waiting for a new record from northeast Power Poppers, Fountains of Wayne are still out of luck, but they can rejoice in the stellar first solo-ish effort from front man Chris Collingwood, going under the moniker Look Park.

I stop short of calling this one a full-fledged solo effort because Collingwood brings along members of Cracker and Winterpills to help fill out the music and eschews the eponymous title.

The 10-song debut still inherits some of the infectious nature of his pervious band, but the influences are much broader here, pulling in everyone from The Zombies to The Hollies. The songs are not as joyous either, with a tad bit of melancholy mixed in here and there; so those simply wanting little more than another “Stacy’s Mom” are advised to look elsewhere. That being said, lyrically, Collingwood is at his finest here and songs like “You Can Come Around if You Want To” and “Save Yourself” are career highlights.

A little mellower and a little more introspective, but just as impactful as he was two decades ago when he first started showing up on the radio, Collingwood is proof that growing up and growing older isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

DOWNLOAD: “Aeroplane,” “You Can Come Around if You Want To,” and “Save Your Self”

 

THE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE BAND – Maladies EP

Album: Maladies EP

Artist: Intelligence Service Band

Label: Wiener

Release Date: January 01, 2016

www.wienerrecords.org

IS

The Upshot: Vancouver upstarts’ latest slab of psychedelic rock that engages from the opening drone to the final stab of guitar.

BY JONATHAN LEVITT

Once and a while a hidden gem comes round’ and ends up on my desk. Hailing from Vancouver, the Intelligence Service Band, on their latest Maladies EP take the Moon Duo’s approach to minimalist psychedelia that rotates on a singular groove.

Opener “Distraction” is a really cool number that is revolves around some muscular drumming and an addictive retro organ line. Alex P’s spoken word vocals are almost a dead ringer for Low’s Alan Sparhawk. The song is 14 minutes long and at the midway point seems to repeat itself, but upon a closer listen the second half of the song includes some really killer hallucinatory guitar that left me hoping the song wouldn’t end. “Driving to my Sun” reminds me of the post Spacemen 3 band The Darkside; cue up the Darkside’s “She Don’t Come” from the album All That Noise. “Driving to my Sun” is a 3-minute song that shows the band can compact a cool idea in the space of a sentence instead of a paragraph. “School Me” is a vehicle for Alex P. and Heather Campbell’s back and forth banter.

Alex P. has a really distinct sounding voice. I also really enjoyed how Heather’s voice seemed to provide soothing relief tempering Alex’s weirdness. The interplay of male and female vocals worked really well and shows a smart use of each band members talents. In the future I would say this the band should stick to what’s been presented on this EP of having a healthy mix of shorter songs and ones where they just let things evolve.

All in all, what’s been presented on this EP has whetted my appetite for their forthcoming record Transgressors due out soon and produced by Chris Woodhouse of Ty Segall and Fuzz fame.

DOWNLOAD: “Distraction (Here Comes Dror)”  “Driving to my Sun” “School Me”