Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Records featuring John Wicks – Rotate

January 01, 1970

(Fuel)

 

www.johnwicksandtherecords.com

 

 

For those who have
forgotten or simply weren’t around back in the day… John Wicks was the main
singer and rhythm guitarist in The Records, a London-based band that was part
of the power pop explosion of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Many people
remember only their biggest hit, “Starry Eyes,” but the fact is, these guys
turned out three excellent albums (well, two and a half) between 1979 and 1982.
Wicks wrote most of the melodies while drummer Will Birch contributed the
lion’s share of the lyrics.  The result
was something like what The Beatles or Kinks might have produced if they had
emerged in the aftermath of punk. [Read
The Records story, featuring recent interviews with Wicks and Birch, here at BLURT.
]

 

Wicks, who is
currently based in L.A., just re-released his 2007 album Rotate. The new version of the disc adds three songs – including a
brand new version of “Starry Eyes” – and better cover art, while losing a cover
of “We Can Work it Out.” The result is an even better version of Rotate with a total of 14 songs. It’s
not exactly a “new” album; in fact, these tunes were recorded sporadically over
a period of two decades, with various lineups. The oldest song, “Whenever
You’re Near,” goes all the way back to 1990. Interestingly, that ballad is also
the weakest song here, with generic
lyrics and programmed drums that date it. Thankfully, “Whenever You’re Near” is
the exception and not the rule. The rest of Rotate is an exhilarating affair that stands proudly next to The Records’ first
two albums.

 

Though the genre here
is still power pop, there is some diversity to be found. The lead track, “Oh
Yeah!,” is chiming and exemplary pop. Ditto “The Lost Years,” which may be the
catchiest song about depression ever written. “Come On Round” has a slight
country feel, as does the new track “You Place Your Bets.” The album’s
centerpiece, “Desert Sky,” is lengthy and lovely, while “Edges of a Dream” and
“That Girl is Emily” are driving rockers, the latter a tribute to Syd Barrett.
The arrangements on Rotate are crisp
and Wicks proves himself an adept lyricist while remaining a top-notch melody
man. All in all, this is a welcome
return from a musician who is way more talented than his low profile would lead
you to believe.

 

DOWNLOAD: “That Girl is Emily,” “The Lost Years,” “Starry Eyes” DAVE STEINFELD

 

 

Balam Acab – Wander/Wonder

January 01, 1970

(Tri Angle)

 

http://tri-anglerecords.com/

 

“When I listen to their
music, I feel it in my entire body.” So proclaims actress Ellen Page who,
when she is not busy raising awareness on the alarming disappearance of the
earth’s population of bees (www.vanishingbees.com)
or being her usual button-cute Canadian self, is singing the praises of
20-year-old Pennsylvanian Alec Koone, quickly proving himself to be one of the
most intriguing enigmas in modern electronic music.

 

Following the promising mystery
of his 2010 debut EP See Birds, the Ithaca dropout returns with his first
full-length effort. It submerges the unique brand of alien R&B that earned
him a gig soundtracking Beyonce’s booty claps for a L’Oreal commercial into an
aquatic afterworld of complex laptop rhythms and airy samples of operatic
vocals, xylophones and his own processed singing – and in a way that brings an
element of John Cage’s chance theory to the genre the kids are calling
“Witch House”.

 

It should be said, however,
that on Wonder/Wander Koone transcends such dippy, blog-generated catch-phrasing,
displaying a sense of genuine dominion within the art of experimental laptop
pop. And while one can call out tracks like “Welcome,”
“Motion” and “Await” as highlights of this eight-song set,
the LP is meant to be heard in its entirety (“in the tradition of a
classical work like a Bach Cello Suite,” according to the artist).
Exhibiting a mastery of static and atmosphere at such a tender age offers a
universe of promise that is bound to reveal itself as this talented youngster
skitters across life’s touch screen en route to adulthood.

 

Just ask Juno.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Motion”, “Await” RON HART

 

 

 

Fishbone – Crazy Glue EP

January 01, 1970

(DC-Jam)

 

www.fishbone.net

 

Fishbone has been around for a
quarter century and the critics have consistently had a hard time slapping a
label on the band. Crazy Glue will not help that situation. Rising up
from the same LA scene that spawned Jane’s Addiction and the Red Hot Chili
Peppers, Fishbone defied convention and drew from reggae, ska, and metal, punk
and thrash to mold their sound and every influence is heard here. Crazy Glue is typical and classic Fishbone.

 

Offbeat vocals (DeAngelo Moore’s
specialty), weird time signature, thrash guitar riffage and social commentary
permeate the record; but whereas the reggae roots drove the car during most of
the band’s career, thrash and punk are in charge here. The guitar lines are
dense and the drums can be, at time, punishing. Twenty five years in, these
guys have not slowed down. If anything, they are playing with renewed vigor and
purpose; like kids desperate to prove that they matter.

 

Though the songs are very serious
instrumentally, the lyrics and song titles (“DUI Friday” “Weed, Beer &
Cigarettes”) let everyone know that Fishbone, like their contemporaries Primus
and the Chili Peppers, have a winking sense of humor.

 

Crazy Glue may be divisive. Hipsters will call it
juvenile – not serious enough. Metalheads will call it too bouncy, too
danceable. And punks may sneer at it for the smile that it generates across
their weary faces. But, that’s the point of Fishbone. They aren’t for everyone
but they should be, because theirs
is in fact something here for every group: the weird lyrics and delivery for
the Primus/ Frank Zappa fans, the thrash licks for the skateboarders who love
Testament or Black Flag, even the mellow reggae beats for the kids that want to
hug the world & smoke a truckload of weed.

 

It’s not a perfect EP, but
there’s one thing that it is for sure: it’s
fun
, and that’s what matters.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Crazy Glue” “Weed,
Beer, Cigarettes” DANNY R. PHILLIPS

 

Glossary – Long Live All Of Us

January 01, 1970

(Last
Chance Records)

 

www.glossary.us

 

Perhaps
it’s because of their geographic location – about 30 minutes south of Nashville
in Murfreesboro, Tennessee – but Glossary all too often gets lumped in with the
Americana or alt-country crowd. While Glossary has been known to let slip a
little twang now and then on the edges of their guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll
songs, the reality is that for going on 14 years (and counting), Glossary has
quietly earned a reputation as one of America’s best, albeit obscure rock
bands.

 

In the
end, Glossary defies critical or commercial expectations and instead plays like
a square peg jammed into a round hole. With the band’s seventh independent
album, Long Live All Of Us, Glossary
delivers a strong rock ‘n’ soul collection that leans more pronouncedly towards
Memphis and Stax Records than it does to Nashville and Music Row.
Lead singer and songwriter Joey Kneiser has long been one of the most
underrated scribes in indie rock, and he outdoes himself with a stellar
collection of songs on Long Live All Of
Us
. The album opens with the laid-back “Trouble Won’t Last
Always,” a rollicking 1970s-era mid-tempo Southern rocker akin to Delaney
& Bonnie, but with a few interesting instrumental flourishes that fall out
of the ether into the spry arrangement.

 

A
trembling guitar lick and Memphis soul rhythms intro “A Shoulder To Cry
On,” a delightful romp that showcases Kneiser’s weathered vocals and
guitarist Todd Beene’s nimble licks. Kneiser’s voice captures the kind of
forlorn emotion and pleading sincerity that a bigger-name but lesser-talent
like Justin Timberlake can only hope to achieve, Kneiser’s vocals a cross
between Wilson Pickett and Roy Orbison, with Beene playing the role of Steve
Cropper (or maybe James Burton). The hauntingly beautiful “Nothing Can
Keep Me Away” is a slow-paced folk-country gem with Kneiser’s
high-lonesome vocals accompanied by Beene’s tortured fretwork and blasts of
mournful horns courtesy of saxophonist Jim Spake and trumpeter Nahshon Benford.

 

The heart
of Long Live All Of Us is “When
We Were Wicked,” an unbridled rocker with chaotic rhythms from bassist
Bingham Barnes and drummer Eric Giles, a wicked riff via Beene, and Kneiser’s Springsteenesque
vocals, doubled by wife Kelly’s loftier tones, wrapped around one of the best
“Born To Run” styled set of lyrics this side of the Hold Steady or
the Gaslight Anthem. The equally up-tempo “Heart Full Of Wanna”
features a fat Barnes bass line, Giles’ heartbeat percussion, and Beene’s wiry
guitar dancing behind Kneiser’s joyful vocals. The tuff-as-nails “Keep It
Coming” is Sam & Dave on steroids, a mid-tempo blue-eyed soul
heartbreaker with serpentine rhythms, Beene’s imaginative guitarplay, and Kneiser’s
swaggering vocals, which swing from a Tom Petty-styled drawl to a mournful Otis
Redding plea within a single verse.   

 

Long Live All Of Us was financed, at least
in part, by the band’s Kickstarter campaign, and it looks as if they’ve used
the money wisely. The production is lofty and nuanced, without busting the
budget, the CD’s eco-friendly digipak displaying Glossary’s usual graphic arts
savvy. Given that they’ve done seven increasingly-impressive albums on a
shoestring indie-rock budget, I’d love to see what they might do with a little
more cash in hand and a sympathetic producer like Jon Tiven or John Porter.
Then again, maybe this is all they need – a rock-solid set of songs, a little
guitar, bass ‘n’ drums, and enough studio time to get it down on wax. You can’t
argue with the results, Glossary one of the best rock bands you’ve yet to love!

 

DOWNLOAD: “Trouble Won’t Last Always,”
“When We Were Wicked,” “Keep It Coming” REV. KEITH A.
GORDON

      

 

Erkin Koray – Meçhul: Singles and Rarities (LP)

January 01, 1970

(Sublime Frequencies)

 

www.sublimefrequencies.com

 

Erkin Koray is widely regarded as the father of Turkish
psychedelic rock, a polyglot stew of alternate Eastern-tinged tunings and
American- and British-style guitar bravado. Beginning in the late 1950s and
continuing to this day, Koray has blended traditional Anatolian folk with the
fuzz and swagger of amplified distortion. Like his home city of Istanbul, he stands at the conjunction of many different
traditions, in geographic terms spanning the music of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, in temporal ones, the folk melodies of
pre-history, the psych ferment of the 1960s, the progressive experiment of the
1970s, the new age-y ethno-explorations of the 1970s and 1980s. Using primarily
Western instruments – guitar, bass, drums – but also an amplified lute-like
instrument called an electric baglama, Koray juxtaposes the swirling,
psychedelic excesses of Nuggets-era rock and roll with the primal longing and
fundamental rootedness of Turkish folk. His music sounds at once like a lost
1960s band you never heard of, and a dazzled meander through a souk, foreign
and familiar elements shifting second by second, measure by measure.

 

Koray has always been something of a collectors’ obsession
and, since the late 1990s, his music has become available in the West through
reissues, compilations and bootlegs. Meçhul adds to the pile of readily accessible Koray material, gathering hard to find,
non-album materials from the 1970s. This was a period of tremendous
productivity for Koray, the same decade that saw release of his best-known
albums: the self-titled from 1973, Elektronik
Türküler
from 1974.

 

These songs, many of them singles, mix tradition and rock in
varying proportions. “Krallar” (or “Kings”) from 1974, is pretty close to
straight-up prog overdrive, extended guitar solos broken by operatically
dramatic vocals. “Cümbür Cemaat” (“All Together with Happiness”) from a couple
of years later, however, is all caravan-swaying rhythms and deep-voiced chants,
a not-quite-guitar executing Eastern-tinged bends and twists – a long way from
King Crimson. “Hadi Hadi Ordan”, one of the disc’s best tracks, splits the
difference, picking out oddly shaped, Arabic riffs and intricate hand-rhythms
against the blare and fuzz of distorted bass. It’s hard, even, to find the seam
that separates the Western elements from the Eastern ones in this cut, so
cleverly have they been matched together. “Dusunus,” a touch more melodic,
could easily slip into a mod 1960s collection, resting comfortably between the
13th Floor Elevators and, say, the trippier elements of the Who. Yet
as the vocals slip sideways into unfamiliar harmonies, as the guitar solo winds
through unexpected alleyways, you see 1960s psych through a new lens, a
brighter, stranger one.

Listening to Meçhul is like reading
one of those alternate histories. What if, after absorbing blues and folk in
the 1960s, rock had turned towards Istanbul?  What if Turkish psych had been as big an
influence as reggae or disco in the 1970s? 
Instead of the Police trying to rock steady or Mick Jagger attempting a
dance beat, we might have had something very much like this. Shame really. By
all indicators, it would have been a much more interesting world.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Hadi
Hadi Ordan”, “Meçhul”, “Cümbür Cemaat” JENNIFER KELLY

Psychic Ills – Hazed Dream

January 01, 1970

(Sacred Bones)

 

www.sacredbonesrecords.com

 

For their third full-length, Brooklyn’s Psychic Ills make a
sharp left turn away from the trademark psychedelic squall of their previous
studio whirlwinds. In its place, frontman/guitarist Tres Warren, bassist
Elizabeth Hart and drummer Brian Tamborello execute a spacey warmth highly
indicative of the title for their Sacred Bones debut.

 

“The album lives in a sunny place,” Warren explained in a
public statement regarding the new record. “A half memory. A Hazed
Dream
.” Indeed.

 

Absorbing the translucent tarp of meandering rhythms and
fuzz-inflected melodies enrapt within the contextual core of the eleven songs
that comprise the LP, the swirl of Eastern-tinged vibes, UFO Club organ trips,
phased guitar strolls and acid blues scowls mosey along the cracked city
streets like they were prairie trails, evident on such mellow gold as opening
cut “Midnight Moon” and the third eye road anthem “Travelin’
Man”.  Ever ponder what The Stone
Roses would sound like if they replaced John Squire with Sonic Boom? Just
listen to the hypnotic “I’ll Follow You Through The Floor” and let
the bugout begin.

 

If you are late to the dance in hipping yourself to the
second best act from the Kings Country harboring the term “psychic”
in their handle (the other one being the equally admirable Psychic Paramount), Hazed
Dream
is the perfect place for you to tune in and turn on. So if you were
wondering what time it is, it’s time to get Ill.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Midnight Moon”, “Incense Head”, “Travelin’ Man”,
“Dream Repetition” RON HART

 

Ryan Adams – Ashes and Fire

January 01, 1970

(PAX-AM/EMI Capitol)

 

www.paxamrecords.com

 

All ash and no fire. A new Ryan Adams is no longer news
considering the former Whiskeytown auteur’s solo career has primed the pump
relentlessly, leaving no song idea that washes up unrecorded. This latest
entry, his 12th in 12 years, is more cohesive than the filler
collections of years past: fragile ballads (“Come Home,” “Save Me”), slow
burners (“Dirty Rain”) and a song called “Rocks” that, laced with strings,
wisely doesn’t, are examples of the rainy day mood draped from start to finish.
The haunting “Chains of Love” stands above the rest of this set, which doesn’t
stray from the same droopy tempos and lyrical blahs.

 

Eying age 40, Adams seems
to be acknowledging his adulthood with adult contemporary tedium. But despite
the obvious care for craftsmanship, no standouts emerge. Instead, this is
strictly mood music that takes the edge off. And how.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Chains
of Love,” “Dirty Rain” MARK GUARINO

Mastodon – The Hunter

January 01, 1970

(Reprise)

 

www.warnerbrosrecords.com

Atlanta’s nű-Monsters
of Rock have consistently crafted a meanly ornate and archly conceptual metal
roar without pulling a Spinal Tap. If bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders,
guitarist/singer Brent Hinds and their partners in mayhem weren’t so
accomplished as instrumentalists or masterfully majestic as mood-swingers and
singers, Mastodon would come across as dumb-headed kitsch; they muster a Celtic
Frost-meets-Sunn O))) level of stoner theatricality and sludge-filled darkness
that never eschews strong contagious melody. Yet rather than aim for big doom
conceptualism as they’ve done on past albums, The Hunter goes straight for the jugular, hard and blunt, with
drummer Brann Dailor leading the pulsating charge. He’s jazzy and thundering
all at once with a swinging sensitivity more akin to a Buddy Rich than a Bonham
or Moon.

 

While “Curl of the Burl” and
“Blasetroid” are downright infectious (and quick about it despite their
spaciousness) and “Dry
Bone Valley”
comes on all sexy and slow, “All the Heavy Lifting” heads toward its outro with
a riveting double-time kick that’ll spin your head around like a Chucky doll.
It’s Apocalypse a-go-go for the Georgia
gentlemen. Go with them.      

 

DOWNLOAD: “Stargasm,”
“Octopus Has No Friends” A.D. AMOROSI

Girl In A Coma – Exits & All the Rest

January 01, 1970

(Blackheart)

 

 

www.blackheart.com

 

It took four
albums, but the San Antonio
trio Girl in a Coma have finally found their sound, and damn, it’s a good one.
Their previous efforts were all solid experiments in influence sharing-everything
from Nirvana to their beloved Smiths (see moniker)-but Exits & All the Rest find the band in a comfortable groove they
never quite found with their other records.

 

Front
woman Nina Diaz in particular has evolved into a remarkable singer (not
surprising for someone who joined the band at 13), being able to segue seamlessly
from soft crooning to fist-in-your-face screams as needed. A little less
punk-influenced than their earlier efforts, the band can still bring out the
distorted guitars and fuck you attitude when needed, specifically on “Hope,”
the only positive thing to come out of Arizona’s
racist immigration policy. Not a weak track on the album.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Hope,” “One Eyed Fool” JOHN B. MOORE

Bevis Frond – The Leaving of London

January 01, 1970

(Woronzow Records) 

 

         mailto:nicksaloman@btinternet.com


 

 

After an eight year hiatus from
Frond projects, Nick Saloman, a bit put out by a largely ignored legacy (20 to
22 albums, he isn’t quite sure himself), decided that the time seemed right to
have another run at it. Having kept his hand in the game playing with his
daughter Deb’s band and unplugging from living in London, Nick packed up and
relocated to the southern coast of England, to the lovely countryside of East
Sussex, to Hastings, hence the album title. While garnering a solid
cult-following through the years with their fuzz-psych-blues, and Nick’s
frightening virtuosity on the guitar, and seemingly bottomless reservoir of
music writing creativity, The Bevis Frond mostly were stuck in a holding
pattern of being underground darlings, overlooked by the mainstream after years
of hard work. Not an uncommon tale in the music biz, as many struggling bands
have discovered through the decades, blinding brilliance without much to show
for the effort sometimes.

 

 

After some prompting from
friends, Nick geared up for another run at it, again ably assisted by longtime
BF member Adrian Shaw on bass, newly added Paul Simmons on guitar and Dave
Pearce pounding the drums. And the Frond return with a renewed energy and
perhaps their best album to date. Eighteen tunes, clocking in at 80 minutes,
cover territory both familiar and freshly minted, exhibiting clearly that
there’s still plenty of voltage in the generator and that they’re only
improving with age. I’d go as far to say that the album should have been
entitled after the song “Reanimation,” as that’s an impression you get from the
first listening. It’s an explosive number that radiates energy and power and
some outstanding, fluid guitar work. Likewise, there’s plenty of juice shooting
out sparks in live-wire songs like “Barely Anthropoid,” “You’ll Come,” “More To
This Than That,” “Heavy Hand” with its prog. rock guitar shadings, and the
dueling wah-wahs in “Stupid Circle.” “Preservation Hill” is such a return to
familiar Frond form, on the other hand, I could swear that I’ve heard it on
several older albums. 

 

 

Amongst the numerous
compositions, many styles are represented besides soaring rock paeans. There’s
the introspective and very delicate “Testament,” and “The Divide,” a divine and
sublime confection simply featuring just Nick singing along with his adroit
acoustic guitar work. The playing throughout the album is pristine and
masterful, criss-crossing back and forth from skull-shattering to soothing
balladry and lyrics that carry a warm wisdom. This should be a celebrated
effort, embraced by any who worship at the feet of The Scientists, The Black
Angels, Wooden Shjips, Thee Hypnotics or Spacemen 3. While more diverse
musically, and perhaps not as cosmically psychedelic across the board, the
Bevis Frond let their freak flag fly high and give you a knowing wink with an
acid-glint in their third eye. I’ve long supported the notion that you can get
your freak on better in the country than the city, and I believe this album
sustains that view rather well.

 

 

        DOWNLOAD: “Reanimation,”
“You’ll Come,” and “More To This Than That” BARRY ST. VITUS