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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Son of Deseret: A Bob Moss Tribute

Album: Son of Deseret: A Bob Moss Tribute

Artist: Various Artists

Label: Regional Underground Elevators

Release Date: January 20, 2017

www.bobmosstribute.com

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The Upshot: Two-disc tribute to late Salt Lake City musical and visual polyglot suggests he shoulda been a national contender.

BY FRED MILLS

On one level, there’s nothing particularly illuminating about a tribute album devoted to an artist who probably wasn’t known all that well beyond the local scene that spawned him. Musician comes to prominence, is respected throughout his community, dies far too young, and his friends and peers subsequently mount a memorial in order to give him a permanent salute; happens in towns with thriving music scenes all the time, right?

But—and this is major but—if you peer closely, you’ll discover that Utah’s Bob Moss was an unusual individual, one so immensely talented (in more than one artistic discipline, it turns out) that it’s literally a cultural crime he wasn’t known far and wide. The quality of songwriting displayed on Son of Deseret is, quite frankly, off the charts; that the 20+ musicians contributing tracks here evidence such a remarkable range of styles and textures on Moss material further suggests a songwriter of uncommon breadth. If this had been released in Moss’ lifetime, I have no doubt that national critics would have been falling all over themselves to find out more about this cult artist.

By way of capsule bio: Bob Moss was a fixture on both Salt Lake City’s music and visual art scenes, a long-haired, bespectacled rocker/folkie/roots musician with a tendency towards the eccentric who also created eye-popping folk art images along the lines of Rev. Howard Finster and Jon Langford. He passed away in his sleep in December 2011 (Below, see a photo of Moss holding one of his pieces; I have borrowed this from SLC’s City Weekly but could not determine a photo credit.) In fact, from Jan. 20 through Feb. 13 a gallery homage to Moss was mounted, Covering Moss: A Bob Moss Visual Art Tribute, so highly regarded was the man. Among his fans was legendary underground artist Daniel Clowes.

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As far as the musical tribute is concerned, it grew out of a backyard jam held at Moss’ good friend Mike Kirkland (late of NYC band Prong) with a bunch of locals playing Moss’s songs. The emotions were so high that Kirkland decided it would be appropriate to get things down for posterity, and, along with fellow SLC musician and radio personality Bad Brad Wheeler, got the ball rolling. A list of all the performers appears on the poster at the bottom of this page, and yes, the demon feline image is one that Moss himself created. It’s a nicely-recorded, well-sequenced collection that literally has something for nearly every musical taste.

Highlights? Opening cut “True Love Is Hard To Find,” by Chubby Bunny, a self-described “chick band,” kicks things off in fine, distaff indie rock fashion, handclaps not optional. “The Ballad of John Baptiste” continues the indie rock thread, this time going for a rowdy Pixies vibe, right down to the quirky lyrics: “I’ll tell you about John Baptiste now/ He’s the kind of old-timer didn’t dig the vows/ So he got a shovel and he did run/ To the graveyard, baby, did he have some fun!/ Weird, weird fun…” The gorgeous “Croppingham Fair,” by Tracy Medley, shifts gears yet again, this time heading off in a folkrock direction a la Fairport Convention. “Killer’s Lament” suggests a cross between Johnny Cash and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, and with a performer named Aldine Strychnine you know it’s gotta be great. “Paradigm Shift,” by Murder Mystery Party, is pure Ramones. The whimsical “Captain Nemo Sea Shanty,” by Dave Bowen, Patrick Kenny and Audrey Smith, is a strummy, sunny singalong guaranteed to get toes to tappin’ as the musicians swap verses then sonically embrace on the choruses. “I Believe In Ghosts” finds Lara & The Haole Boys is alt-country as sweet as it comes, with a pedal steel and mandolin arrangement and sweet, Neko Case-like vocals. “Pete the Pacer” takes a Chuck Berry (R.I.P.) progression and gives it a kind of Fred Schneider-fronts-the-Beach Boys twist; the trio of Staker, Randito & Royal is a kind of rock critics summit, so it makes sense they’d do this kind of mash-up. And “Big Top Blues,” by Schneider, Balsam & Atwell, is just plain gonzoid, almost like Tom Waits singing beat poetry over a collage of found sounds.

And that’s just a handful of the 24 tracks. Aside from the inherent “fun” factor derived from trying to figure out just what made Moss tick musically—good luck with that; he seemed boundaryless—the outpouring of Moss verbiage is guaranteed to keep you amusedly scratching your head for the duration. Some of them jump out from the stereo, like the line “Nyquil habit suddenly made a wreck out of me,” while others are merely inscrutable. But it’s clear Moss was both a poet and a storyteller, sometimes both at once, so there’s plenty of quality time that awaits you once you cue up the first disc.

“Deseret” is a word derived from The Book of Mormon, “deseret” meaning “honeybee”; Wikipedia informs us it’s part of “the language of the Jaredites, a group believed by the Mormons to have been led to the Americas during the time of the construction of the Tower of Babel.” Armed with that insider knowledge, it now makes perfect sense to label Utah’s Moss and his songs a “son of deseret.” I’m betting he wouldn’t have it any other way.

To learn more about Bob Moss read “Resurrecting Deseret’s Son” by Jeremy Cardenas, about the tribute project’s origins; “I Believe in Ghosts,” by Brian Staker, a remembrance five years after his untimely death; and “The Cult of Bob,” by Randy Harward, a 2007 profile.

DOWNLOAD: Just drop the digital needle anywhere, it’ll come up aces.

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WESLEY STACE – Wesley Stace’s John Wesley Harding

Album: Wesley Stace’s John Wesley Harding

Artist: Wesley Stace

Label: Yep Roc

Release Date: February 24, 2017

www.yeproc.com

Stace

The Upshot: A natural heir to the Brit rock tradition, with a charm and exuberance that clearly complements that handsome heritage.

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

Having previously shed his John Wesley Harding persona the last time around and assumed his birth moniker seemingly for good, the ubiquitous Wesley Stace takes a half step back via Wesley Stace’s John Wesley Harding, presumably a transitory step towards combining the two identities for future referencing. Still, Stace by any other name is as potent as he’s ever been, a master of melody whose attitude and aptitude is fully engaged in the joys of simple, straight forward pop and roll.

There’s no denying the immediate, hook filled charms of “For Me and You,” “How to Fall,” “The Wilderness Years” and “I Don’t Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll,” songs that extol the singular joys of getting into a groove with the object of one’s affections. Melodic to a fault, this new offering continues a trajectory begun two decades back when as a folkie-turned-rocker he first plied his charms and initiated a brand that never ceases to satisfy. Even in its quietest moments — the autobiographical “Hastings Pier,” the lilting “Audience of One” and the sweetly sentimental “You’re a Song,” Stace/Harding maintains his momentum, alluring and enticing to a fault.

Like Nick Lowe, Squeeze and Robyn Hitchcock, he’s a natural heir to the Brit rock tradition, with a charm and exuberance that clearly complements that handsome heritage. Call him what you will, Stace is simply superb.

DOWNLOAD: “I Don’t Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Hastings Pier,” “The Wilderness Years,”

COLIN HAY – Fierce Mercy

Album: Fierce Mercy

Artist: Colin Hay

Label: Compass

Release Date: March 03, 2017

www.compassrecords.com

Hay

The Upshot: Erstwhile Men At Work frontman turns in his most consistently solid record in a decade.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Colin Hay has done a masterful pivot over the past couple of decades away from being known simply as the front man of the very ‘80s band Men At Work to having an impressive career as a solo performer. Neil Finn may be one of the few other Hay contemporaries that can make a similar boast.

On Fierce Mercy, Hay’s 13th album (10 more albums than he recorded with Men At Work, by the way), he turns in his most consistently solid record in a decade. Save for the song “I’m Walking Here,” with the dreadful rap/talk portion that completely brings this otherwise great album to a momentary standstill, there is hardly a weak moment on the record. In Hay’s defense, even Springsteen included that clunky rap portion on the song “Rocky Ground” off the Wrecking Ball album.

Lyrically insightful, Fierce Mercy is a mix between blissful contentment (“Come Tumblin’ Down,” “Secret Love”) and melancholy (“I’m Gonna Get You Stoned,” “Two Friends”). Coming in at a tight 10 tracks, the deluxe edition includes three additional songs, each of which clearly earns their spot on the album.

Hay is proof that there is still artistic life after being slapped with the One Hit Wonder label.

DOWNLOAD: “Come Tumblin’ Down,” “The Best in Me” and “I’m Inside Outside In”

 

Suicidal Tendencies + Havok + Crowbar 3/7/17, Memphis

Dates: March 7, 2017

Location: New Daisy Theatre, Memphiis TN

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TEXT & PHOTOS BY MARK JACKSON

On March 7th the old school cross over thrash/punk group of Suicidal Tendencies took the stage at New Daisy Theatre in Memphis, Tn. Lead singer Mike Muir has been kicking ass and taking names ever since he was young and wanted a Pepsi and couldn’t get one. Mike is out on tour in support of the World Gone Mad Tour with bands Havok and Crowbar.

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Havok

Havok (above) reigning from Denver Colorado took the stage first with lightning fast riffs and began to get the crowd into the mood for a great night.

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Crowbar (above) was up next and the crowd received them by beginning to mosh all around the front and middle of the crowd. I actually felt sorry for one young lady who apparently had never been to a heavy rock show, or at least not up front. She eventually worked her way out of arms way and scurried off to the back. Crowbar was a perfect setup for Suicidal Tendencies. Crowbar’s set was just as heavy as Havok’s set and both bands are gaining new fans and winning over the old heads who once thought that the bands such as Megadeth and Slayer might be an end to an era. After Crowbar said goodnight and left the stage the crowd was shouting ST over and over waiting for Mike and the crew to take the stage.

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ST came out with their powerhouse song “You Can’t Bring Me Down” and didn’t slow down for the entire night. It’s hard to believe that Muir has put out thirteen albums under the Suicidal Tendencies band since forming in 1980, and that’s not counting the side project Infectious Grooves with Robert Trujillo who is now with Metallica. Trujillo and Muir even got Ozzy to sing the line “therapy” in the song “Therapy”. It’s a cool story how they managed to get Ozzy who was down the hall in studio to sit in with them. You can see interview on YouTube for the full story.

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Mike may be getting older but you would never know it with his stage presence. He never stood still and kept up the iconic stomp that he has always strutted on stage. The band did stop the show just long enough to invite a few skater and young fans on stage to jam with the band for a couple of songs. The night wouldn’t have been complete without hearing “I Saw Your Mommy” and “Institutionalized”, and Mike didn’t disappoint!

Bryan Ferry 3/14/17, Atlanta

Dates: March 14, 2017

Location: Tabernacle, Atlanta GA

Blurt Bryan Ferry - March 2017 - John Boydston-15

Roxy Music mainman turns Atlanta’s Tabernacle venue into a temple.

TEXT & PHOTOS BY JOHN BOYDSTON

Bryan Ferry is on tour – and it’s a don’t miss show for even the most casual Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music fan, as if such a person exists. Not a Roxy Music reunion, but no complaints from this packed Atlanta crowd, with plenty of great RM songs on the playlist.  Ferry is in unbelievable form — looks great, voice amazing, crooning set to stun, rocking hard, and he’s still Mr. Suave.  He’s 71.

And get this, Brit guitar rock legend Chris Spedding is in the band, bringing his never-not-brilliant-chops to the upbeat mix of excellent players.  From the best Nilsson stuff, to helping record the Sex Pistols, to Robert Gordon’s rockabilly heyday later in the decade, Spedding played on or steered some of the best rock of that era and he’s still got the magic, so it was a pleasure to see this guy.  The other guitarist rocked too, but hey, this is Chris Spedding.

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Blurt Judith Owens - March 2017 - John Boydston

Don’t be late for this show – you don’t want to miss opener Judith Owen, pictured above. Think Laura Nyro, but now.  Owen’s band also features some top players, including LA legend Leland Sklar on bass. Owen, incidentally, is satirist (and Spinal Tap member) Harry Shearer’s spouse. Now THAT is show business.

Tour dates and ticket info is here – extra US dates have been added for August so fish around for those.

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THE GENTLE CYCLE – The Gentle Cycle LP

Album: The Gentle Cycle

Artist: Gentle Cycle

Label: Psychedelphonic

Release Date: January 24, 2017

thegentlecycle.bandcamp.com

Gentle Cycle LP

The Upshot:  Psychedelic gem wherein all the cranial pleasure boxes get checked here, with revved-up raveups galore and a general vibe of joyful abandon at play throughout. Below, listen to some of the music via the Bandcamp app.

BY FRED MILLS

Shazam. That “5” out of 5 potential stars isn’t something I award lightly, but this platter’s an obvious future classic. Now, let it be acknowledged that it’s also journalistically dubious to quote from a band’s self-description, not to mention risky; Yo La Tengo used to submerge misinformation in their bios precisely to see what would get recycled as fact by the press, and sure enough, a number of foreign journalists who perhaps didn’t know any better took the bait. Here, though, I so wholeheartedly agree with said self-description, in classic wish-I’d-said-that style, that I see no point in going to the trouble of what would ultimately be a paraphrase.

Uttereth this San Jose-based outfit:

“The Gentle Cycle is utilizing vintage gear and a bygone recording ethos to birth a swirling, grooving style of rock ‘n’ roll that’s both timeless and relevant. The band come from an abstract foundation that’s more modern & forward thinking than most musicians beholden to period-correct tones. The Gentle Cycle balances universal emotions with astral, atmospheric sonic architecture.”

Damn. Wish I’d said that… What I will say, then, is that guitarist Derek See, having woodshedded with the latterday reincarnation of fellow San Jose icons the Chocolate Watchband, the Bang Girl Group, Joel Gion (Brian Jonestown Massacre), and more, finally makes his official debut as bandleader on The Gentle Cycle’s eponymous debut. It’s a delightfully rocking, ramshackle exploration of time and space via the inner eye, loaded with echoey, reverbed, and flanged guitar riffs, rough ‘n’ tumble rhythms, and cosmic lyrical ruminations—at least one foot and one paw firmly clutching the late ‘60s, while staking out a claim with the other pair of appendages as a contemporary avatar of all that is wylde and psychedelic.

From the throbbing orgaz-mo-tronic opening track “Follow Light,” which is all tumbling drums and clanging, cavern-filling riffage, and the fuzzed-out, Spacemen 3-esque overdrive of “Memory Day”; to the rippling, acoustic-based modal twang ‘n’ jangle of “Way to Decay” and the lengthy, hypnotic “Far Beyond,” a classic slice of Feelies-do-Velvets drone-choogle (there’s some Television worship in the guitar leads as well); The Gentle Cycle is as impressive a debut album as I’ve heard in eons. All the cranial pleasure boxes get checked here, with revved-up raveups galore and a general vibe of joyful abandon at play throughout. Hands down, yours truly’s favorite new release for 2017 thus far.

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There doesn’t seem to ba a wealth of info out there on the band yet. Willfully obscure or mystique-fostering? Who know? Who cares! Head straight to the Bandcamp link listed above and grab this slab of wax pronto, before the secret gets out and all 309 copies are gone. The limited-to-200 green vinyl edition is apparently sold out, but there may still be a few of the 109 black vinyl left. Plus digital, of course. And take note: according to the Gentle Cycle Facebook page, if you donate to Planned Parenthood, Dakota Access Pipeline Fund, PBS, Oxfam or the ACLU, they’ll send you a copy of the LP ($18 or more donation), or a download ($5 donation). How cool is that?

DOWNLOAD: Not a weak track, but if backed against a wall: “Far Beyond,” “She Came This Way,” “Memory Day”

TIFT MERRITT – Stitch of the World

Album: Stitch of the World

Artist: Tift Merritt

Label: Yep Roc

Release Date: January 27, 2017

www.yeproc.com

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BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

It’s taken a relatively short time for Tift Merritt to work her way up the rankings of today’s more sensitive, soul-baring brigade, a distinction that’s put her name on the lips of all those prone to point out those deserving of being the ones to watch. That’s unlikely to cause any argument from her faithful followers, who have already anointed her as a balladeer worthy of all the ballyhoo she’s been accorded, with every new album meriting the increased anticipation that’s clearly her due.

Stitch of the World is no exception, and while the majority of the songs are of the exceedingly mellow variety, it offers further proof of the fact that Merritt has now emerged as one of Americana’s most distinctive songwriters. While opening track “Dusty Old Man” conveys more than a hint of driving defiance, and “Proclamation Bones” offers up some sizzling slide guitar, the remainder of the tracks find her in reflective mode, all cozy sentiments instilled with sublime reflection. In fact, the sweet sentiments contained in songs such as “Heartache Is An Uphill Climb,” the shimmering and subdued “Icarus” and the gentle and reflective “Something Came Over Me” find her gliding easily across this tranquil terrain, adding to the engaging and accessible lure of the album overall. While some might complain that the tone is a bit too uniform throughout, the overall impression is one of sweet serenity, adding up to an entirely engaging effort that makes this a supreme standout by any measure.

What a lovely World view indeed.

DOWNLOAD: “Heartache Is An Uphill Climb,”“Icarus,” “Something Came Over Me”

SHINYRIBS – I Got Your Medicine

Album: I Got Your Medicine

Artist: Shinyribs

Label: Mustard Ltd.

Release Date: February 24, 2017

www.shinyribs.org

Shinyribs

The Upshot: Austin band’s best effort yet.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Picking up the flag from folks like Dr. John, Delbert McClinton and Leon Russell, Austin’s Shinyribs play a mix of swamp funk and soul, mixed with a little country for a unique sound and all around fun vibe.

What originally started as a side project for Kevin Russell has grown into a nine-piece band and evolved over the course of seven years and four albums into one of the best things to happen to soul music in decades. And I Got Your Medicine, their latest, may be their best effort yet.

Spread across a dozen songs, Russell’s deep, southern drawl floats over honky tonk piano and a horn section that Springsteen would envy. The lyrics are sly and witty and you can’t help but move along to the music, even on a slow track like “I Knew It All Along” or the bittersweet “Nothing Takes the Place of You,” a great Allen Toussaint cover (the second Toussaint cover on this record). Part of the beautiful charm of Russell and his band is that they would put the fantastic “I Don’t Give a Shit,” just two spot above the someone more reverent “The Cross is Boss.” A fantastic record from start to finish.

DOWNLOAD: “I Got Your Medicine,” “I Knew All Along” and  “Nothing Takes the Place of You”

 

PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS – The Spirit of ‘67

Album: The Spirit of '67

Artist: Paul Revere & the Raiders

Label: Now Sounds/ Cherry Red

Release Date: February 03, 2017

www.cherryred.co.uk

PR

The Upshot: Still hungry through and through!

TIM HINELY

With my penchant for 60’s pop you’d think I’d know more about these guys than I do but I don’t. I do know that they released a few records in the year of 1966, this being one of them  (fooled ya’ with that title). You’ve seen these guys, the goofy get ups and all, but their music was no joke, they could really play and write. Back in those 1960’s they were in high demand, touring their asses off and on tv five days a week on the ABC show Where The Action Is. This particular edition includes the 11 original songs in a mono version plus those same songs in a stereo version and they tack on 3 bonus cuts.

There’s some excellent cuts on there (three tops tens) including ace pop tunes like “In My Community,” “Louise” and the baroque “Hungry” (also don’t miss the dirtier “Our Candidate”). Following a Beatles lead (I’m assuming) they get a little out there and psychedelic on cuts “Undecided Man” and “1001 Arabian Nights” (I prefer their pop/rock tunes).  Also, in case you forgot, some contributors to this record include producer Terry Melcher plus Hal Blaine, Bruce Johnson and Van Dyke Parks to name a few. After this record 3/5 of the classic lineup would split leaving only Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere to carry on with new members.

Though the band would go on to make at least one more excellent record (1967’s Revolution) Spirit of ’67 marked, for some, the real creative end of the band. Don’t miss the excellent liner notes by Ugly Things publisher Mike Stax which also includes some rare photos.

DOWNLOAD:  “In My Community,” “Louis,” “Hungry,” “Our Candidate”

 

THE JIGSAW SEEN – For the Discriminating Completist

Album: For the Discriminating Completist

Artist: Jigsaw Seen

Label: Burger

Release Date: January 27, 2017

http://burgerrecords.com/

JS

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

The Jigsaw Seen rank among the most sadly neglected power pop bands on the planet. And yet, their consistent cleverness has never been in doubt. Likewise, the fact that the Kinks’ Dave Davies frequently taps them as his backing band whilst playing solo, obviously adds to their credence. Still, the fact that so many folks remain unawares is truly distressing, especially in light of the fact that they’re so proficient at creating their relentless riffs as well as hooks that simply don’t quit. So while the tellingly titled For the Discriminating Completist fills in the more obtuse portions of their catalog — one that dates back some than 20 years in fact — it’s also an apt introduction that leans heavily on their penchant for pop. There’s intrigue along with the oddities, the former represented by a revved up take on the old swing standard “The Best Is Yet To Come,” the latter through an equally rocking version of the instrumental “Baby Elephant Walk.” As for the rest, a faithful cover of the early, obscure Bee Gees song “Melody Fair” (culled from an equally obscure Bee Gees tribute album) and single edits of their own originals, “When You’re Pretty,” “Whore Kiss” and “Celebrity Interview” all reaffirm their pop prowess. Hints of psychedelia, eastern influences and other obvious reference points (Beatles, Cheap Trick, Hollies et. al.) all enter the mix, making this both satisfying and sublime throughout. Completists will care, but after giving a hearing, newcomers likely will as well.

DOWNLOAD: “Melody Fair,” “The Best Is Yet To Come,” “When You’re Pretty”