Monthly Archives: August 2008

David Byrne and Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

January 01, 1970

(self-released)

 

www.everythingthathappens.com

 

Rather than think of this Byrne/Eno recording as extension
of their now-thirty-year collaborative relationship, find it in your heart to
consider the duo anew. It’s not Eno’s chilled country-funk production of
Byrne’s chicken-headed 1978’s More Songs
About Buildings and Food
, 1979’s Fear
of Music
and 1980’s Remain in Light (Talking Heads) or the music the twosome did as one as 1981’s clucking collage My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

 

 

Everything That
Happens Will Happen Today
is a more fluidly atmospheric, gospel-filled
brand of art pop that borrows from the Heads’ languid non-Eno recordings as
well as Eno’s own Roxy Music days (Roxy’s Phil Manzanera is on Everything) and his latter ‘70s
recordings like Another Green World.
While Byrne acts as an almost-straight talking Garrison Keillor-sort with a
winsome tone applied to his dreamy-yet-direct narratives, Eno provides a
couch-bed of tuneful gloom and dearly relaxed atmospheres through which his
players strum, thrum and pluck.

 

There are Bush-of-Ghosts-II moments like “Poor Boy” with its terrorist lyrical overtones. But from the
panic-y lyrics and strummed-hard gospel of “Home” and the oozing Muzak-ic
“Everything That Happens,” to the lazy country-ish “My Big
Nurse” and the dreamy discoid “Strange Overtones”, this is
oblong art pop at its holiest. By the time “The River” hits and the
boys go rapturous with churchy harmonies, Byrne yelps out something truly
hopeful for America
beyond the Obama rhetoric: “A change is gonna come/ Like Sam Cooke sang in
’63.”

 

That’d be nice.

 

Standout Tracks: “Strange
Overtones,” “The River” A.D. AMOROSI

 

 

[Editor’s Note: The
album is available digitally now; pre-orders are currently being taken for the
CD edition as well as a deluxe (and expensive) version loaded with bonus
goodies, and both should be available in November.
]

 

 

Love – Out Here + False Start [reissues]

January 01, 1970

(Collector’s Choice)

 

www.ccmusic.com

 

Anyone who hears the version of “Signed D.C.”
that Love remade on Out Here without
knowing the version on the band’s 1966 debut can get a much different picture
of Arthur Lee. While the original was a quiet, confessional piece, the update
shakes you by the shirt collar with an overwrought Lee vocal, a searing blooze
harp and a fuzz guitar solo in the coda. Love Mach 2 piled it on heavier than
its predecessor and Lee had the performance chops.

 

1969’s Out Here, the
second album by the lineup that retained Lee as the only original member, brought
the band to Blue Thumb Records. As a two-record set, it makes a great single
album. “Willow Willow,” “Nice to Be” and “I Still Wonder” rank with the pithy
folk of Lee’s early work. “Gather ‘Round” brings back Lee the visionary last
heard in “The Red Telephone.” But the album also includes joke songs both
clever and awful, an overblown guitar freakout, and “Doggone,” an embarrassing
12-minute track, eight of which are taken up by a drum solo.

 

False
Start
is probably best known for its opener, “The Everlasting
First,” which includes Jimi Hendrix’s wah-wah guitar. But by this album, Lee
was able to harness his new, heavy sound with his past, coming up with songs
that often sound like a Sly and the Family Stone sans horns. Last barely half
an hour, none of that time is wasted, even the live remake of an Out Here track.

 

Standout
Tracks
: “Stand Out,” “Willow Willow” (Out Here); “Flying,” “Anytime” (False Start) MIKE SHANLEY

 

Bruce Robison – The New World

January 01, 1970

(Premium)

 

www.brucerobison.com

 

Mr. Kelly Willis is better-known by the hits he’s written
for other folks than any of his own recordings – namely, “Angry All the Time”
for Faith Hill/Tim McGraw, Inc., “Wrapped” for George Strait
and the ill-fated “Travelin’ Soldier” for boycott victims the Dixie Chicks. The New World probably won’t change
that, which is a shame because it deserves a better fate than being treated as
a glorified demo collection. But even the awkward cover art looks like what
you’d slap onto a CDR of demo pitches than a finished product.

 

Give The New World some time, though, and it will sink its hooks into you. Modest though it is,
it’s eminently listenable pop-rock that doesn’t call too much attention to
itself even as you find yourself humming individual songs afterward. And
wouldn’t you know it, the impulse to match-make its songs with other singers is
irresistible.

 

You can imagine Toby Keith swaggering through “The Hammer,”
or Brad Paisley making the most of the clever rapid-fire wordplay on “Only.”
And somebody call Kenny Chesney, because “California 85” is bound to be his next hit.
But just so you don’t get the wrong idea, The
New World
closes with “Echo,” a loping meditation on million-mile
reflections that Robison sounds like he wants to keep for himself.

 

Standout Tracks: “Only,”
“Echo” DAVID MENCONI

 

 

No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground. New York. 1976-1980.

January 01, 1970

(Harry Abrams)

 

www.hnabooks.com

 

Unlike recent books (I’ve reviewed) such as New York Noise: Art and Music from the New
York Underground 1978-88
and No Wave,
guitarist/Youth Moore and drummer/scribe Coley’s version of this sordid SoHo
loft city squalor and the atonal squeals emanating from it feels lived in;
ratty; black and gray. At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll repeat myself –
“because I’ve slapped James Chance and/or his alter alter ego James White; made
William S. Burroughs laugh; hit on Lydia Lunch; and remember Tribeca’s Artist
Space, Peppermint Lounge Mudd Club and everyplace/thing else crumbling-ly
Manhattan before gentrification, these are for me.”

 

Only more so. Because Moore and Coley let the musicians and
artists tell their own surprisingly cheery stories of discovery and discovering
(squarely around Eno and his non-production of the seminal No New York compilation)
and the love amongst the ruins that was Anya Philips – the great heroine of
this hard frantic noise – and her relationship with No Wave principle James
White/Chance. Perhaps after some of Lunch’s own books and the text of No Wave you wanted to know more. But
maybe that’s Moore
and Coley’s point – that there were these artists (DNA’s Robin Crutchfield,
Arto Lindsay, Glenn Branca, Lydia Lunch) in this moment and they made what was
truly outsider music meant for solely that moment. And the best laid notions
can be found in the photos – unshaven art students too snide to out product in
their hair, too broke to buy anything but thrift store dinner jackets.

 

Brilliant music. Good book. A.D. AMOROSI

 

Apollo Sunshine – Shall Noise Upon

January 01, 1970

(Headless Heroes)

www.headlessheroes.com

 

The third record from this Boston trio is just as all
over the map as their first two, 2003’s Katonah and 2005’s Apollo Sunshine. While
exploring different musical regions, the band definitely excels at upbeat,
psychedelic pop a la The Apples in
Stereo, Mazarin and The Flaming Lips. Also, don’t let the 16 songs scare you
off that you’re going to be in for hour plus monster as the band is able to
trim the fat as they have pared Shall
Noise Upon
down to a mere 40 minutes.

 

Opener “Breeze’ is as cool
as it sounds, while “666: The Coming of the New World Government”,
which sounds like a Brian Jonestown Massacre song title, isn’t as sinister as
it sounds and instead suggests the aforementioned Apples in Stereo (as does
“The Mermaid Angeline”). Elsewhere, “Brotherhood of Death”
comes off like the Stooges haunted by the memory of Charlie Feathers and “Money”
(not the Pink Floyd song) is a gentle, acoustic tune full of good vibes and
pleasant dreams.

 

The record, while a bit
schizoid, is able to stick together and sound more cohesive than not. All in a
day’s work for Apollo Sunshine.

Standout Tracks:  “666:
The Coming of the New World Government”,
“Money”, “The Mermaid Angeline” TIM HINELY

 

 

Donna the Buffalo – Silverlined

January 01, 1970

(Sugar
Hill)

 

www.sugarhillrecords.com

 

Donna
the Buffalo’s
had plenty of company on the mountain music circuit over the past twenty years,
but what’s always set them apart from their peers is the strength of their
songwriting and the catchiness of their quirky melodies. Lest anyone forget,
their second album was produced by Mitch Easter, and while their roots are most
definitely in bluegrass and folk, those influences are filtered through a pop
sensibility. That’s never been more apparent than on “Temporary Misery” and
“Broken Record,” two of fiddler Tara Nevins’ catchiest songs (and best vocals)
ever. The former’s a bouncy mix of reggae and soul, the latter a prime piece of
jangle pop circa Athens 1982-a sound evoked with equal aplomb on guitarist Jeb
Puryear’s “Garden Of Eden.” On the whole, Puryear’s contributions are weaker,
especially the cloying “Biggie K,” but Nevins’ tunes make this Donna the
Buffalo’s most convincing outing yet.

 

Standout
Tracks:
“Temporary Misery,” “Broken Record” ERIC SCHUMACHER-RASMUSSEN

 

Matthew Sweet – Sunshine Lies

January 01, 1970

(Shout Factory)

 

www.shoutfactory.com

 

Still worshiped in power pop circles light years down the
road from his last semi-mainstream moment, Matthew Sweet kicks off his latest
effort with a song that feels like it could reconnect him with an audience
beyond those faithful 40-somethings who’ve actually been to the Raspberries
website (which is cooler than you’d think). But back to Sweet, the song in
question, “Time Machine,” is a crush-worthy power-pop classic, all wistful and
yearning and instantly familiar – like an old friend who actually looks good.
And the words are great, as the man goes McCartney for yesterday while pining
for a lost love (“Soon we’ll find we don’t know what love is, long after you’ve
said goodbye”).

 

It’s everything a fan could want from Sweet at this point.
And it’s not alone, although he does delve into harder rock to excellent effect
on the explosive “Room To Rock,” where Ivan Julian’s strangled-cat-on-jazz
guitar skronk makes it hard to miss the late great Robert Quine (on anything
more than a “Damn, I can’t believe he had to die and the dude who sings for
Nickelback is still alive to ruin music” level). There are other rockers too,
including one that feels like it may have been written while Christopher Walken
was in the background calling for more cowbell (“Let’s Love”).

 

But Sweet being Sweet, most highlights are cut from a
mellower cloth, from aptly titled folk-rock charmer “Byrdgirl” to the aching
majesty of the Beatlesque (it’s in the harmonies) “Feel Fear” and a psychedelic
title track that makes the most of guest Susannah Hoffs’ unmistakable
harmonies.

 

Standout Tracks: “Time Machine,” “Let’s Love” A. WATT

 

TK Webb & the Visions – Ancestor

January 01, 1970

(Kemado Records)

 

www.kemado.com

 

Guitarist-vocalist TK (Thomas Kelly) Webb began to turn
heads a couple years ago in Brooklyn with his
gritty acoustic Delta blues solo work. He’s the complete package; with the
voice, the fret work and the look, but now he’s plugged in and shit is getting
crazy. Growing bored with what he calls “half-baked folk acts,” Webb put together
his four-piece rock band The Visions. Now he’s created Ancestor, far and a way his best work.

 

Full of spaced-out feedback jams and heavy riffs, Webb still
pulls from the past, but with this accomplished cast of characters behind him
it all sounds somehow fresh, urgent and flat-out mean. The eight-minute “God
Bless the Little Angels” mutates Middle Eastern scales with heavy distortion
and crashing drums while “Shame” is all fuzzed-out cock-rock that should be
played on a Flying V guitar. “Dreen Drone Death” sounds just like the name
indicates, grinding slow sludge rock and “Hope You All Are Gone” sounds like a
younger Jerry Joseph.

 

While it’s all dark, that doesn’t mean there’s not tempo
shifts, slower songs and adequate space. The music is heavy in mentality as
much as delivery. We’re damn glad Webb has found The Visions; this is one of
the sleeper albums of the year. 

 

Standout Tracks: “Hope
You All Are Gone,” “Closed Caption Slang” AARON KAYCE

 

Matt Pryor – Confidence Man

January 01, 1970

(Vagrant)

 

www.vagrant.com

 

Poor Matt Pryor. Every time he gets the urge to try a little
tenderness, he feels the need to tip us off by taking on a new identity. New
Amsterdams, of course, began as Pryor’s unplugged detour from the Get Up Kids.
Then, Get Up Kids broke up, and suddenly New Amsterdams were getting all the
raucous songs. And now? He’s got this understated solo project, a batch of
folk-flavored ballads. What’s weird is that it could have worked with either
project if it weren’t for one small detail: it’s a one-man show, recorded at
home.

 

The end result is probably as intimate as anything he’s ever
done, occasionally fleshed out with harmonica, harmonica, organ or banjo. And the
words hold up to close inspection, even cracking a bittersweet smile in
“Loralai,” a breakup song whose mournful tone can’t mask the humor of its more
inspired moments. “I don’t want you to know that I don’t want you to go because
you’ve got my only set of keys,” he sighs at one point.

 

Standout Tracks: “Loralai,”
“Confidence Man” A. WATT

 

Eef Barzelay – Lose Big

January 01, 1970

(429)

 

www.429records.com

No need to lament the demise of Clem Snide: Eef Barzelay hasn’t radically
changed his modus operandi for his first post-band solo album (and the
successor to ‘06’s Bitter Honey). Lose Big even includes a few tracks
originally written for Clem Snide albums and a new version of one, “I Love The
Unknown,” they recorded. Barzelay’s still blending the sincere and sardonic,
the wisdom and wit, the revealing and ridiculous, and his reedy, aching voice
rarely betrays whether he’s serious or ironic. And that’s his charm.

Not only does the Israel-born, Nashville-based artist possess one of the best
names in rock, he’s one of its sharpest writers. Witness “My Apocalyptic Friend”:
it’s addressed to someone anticipating the world’s destruction in a moment of
religious rapture. “My dear apocalyptic friend, convinced the world will
shortly end, I only want to hold you in my arms,” the song begins, set to a
rumbling tom-drum thump, some lightly picked electric guitar and a few fuzzy,
distorted chords. But the song mixes sympathy with condemnation, raising the
question of the babies who might not be among the chosen. “Is this the joy felt
waking up your heart?” It’s a nuanced song, even though it’s one of the most
overt on the album; Barzelay has clearly spent some time with Randy Newman
albums. He can turn his satiric eye on himself, as on the pessimistic rocker
“It Could Be Worse,” although he’s more cutting when he adopts the role of a
new age crank in “Numerology” or the suicidal teen in the acoustic “True
Freedom.” He can also be poignantly sincere, as in the remembrance of his late
mother in “Song For Batya.” Lose Big can be funny, but it can also be wrenching.

Standout Tracks: “I Love The
Unknown,” “Could Be Worse” STEVE KLINGE