Monthly Archives: October 2014

OLIVIA JEAN – Bathtub Love Killings LP

Album: Bathtub Love Killings LP

Artist: Olivia Jean

Label: Third Man

Release Date: October 14, 2014

Olivia Jean 10-14

www.thirdmanrecords.com

BY FRED MILLS

A core member of the so-called Third Man Records’ “stable,” rock ‘n’ roll filly Olivia Jean steps out from her band the Black Belles for a solo jaunt that’s one part classic ‘60s girl group pop, one part Music City USA twang and one part Nuggets inspired garage. That its angular, kinetic gonzoid qualities compare favorably to Third Man majordomo Jack White’s solo work isn’t a fluke, either, as White produced the album and contributes guest guitar on one track. Also guesting on a couple of tunes is Patrick Keeler (Greenhornes, Raconteurs), wile holding down bass and drums on a number of cuts are Dominic Davis and Whip Triplett; and The Ettes’ Coco Hames gets a co-writing credit on one of the album’s standout songs, the swaggering, strutting “Green Honeycreeper.”

But in the final estimation, Bathtub Love Killings is Olivia Jean’s show. She holds down acoustic and electric guitar duties as well as all the keyboards and vocals, putting her twinned signature stamp of seductress kitten/wronged lover on pretty much every number. In addition to “Green Honeycreeper” highlights include the pulsing, hypnotic “Mistakes,” in which she sings of an ill-timed affair that left her shamed and blacklisted by so-called friends; the creepy, minimalist “Excuses,” a kind of distaff take on the Minutemen if you can believe that; and a mostly instrumental slice of psychedelic garage, delightfully titled “Cat Fight” and featuring Mr. White and Ms. Jean indulging, indeed, a fretboard battle.

Though the vinyl album seems oddly paced and zig-zags from one style to another without regard to what the listener might be expecting, those qualities ultimately become part of its charms. Over the course of repeated listens, these tunes’ hooks gradually sink deep, leaving you humming ‘em for the rest of the day and well into the evening.

DOWNLOAD: “Cat Fight,” “Green Honeycreeper,” “Mistakes”

STEELISM — 615 to FAME

Album: 615 To Fame

Artist: Steelism

Label: Single Lock

Release Date: September 16, 2014

Steelism

http://www.singlelock.com/

BY JENNIFER KELLY

The sound of pedal steel is about as close to a human voice as any instrument, with its iridescent variegation of tone, its plangent swoops and leaps, the shimmer of notes between the notes lending an aura of human vulnerability to its tones. A regular guitar, too, can stand in for voice, though it usually doesn’t. Steelism, a duo that partners pedal steel guitarist Spencer Cullum Jr. with Jeremy Fetzer on Telecaster, uses both of these instruments to take the main melodic line, embellishing singing guitars with lavish strings, drums (that’s Nashville mainstay Jon Radford) and bass (Michael Rinne).

Both Cullum and Fetzer came up through Nashville’s studio system, playing back up for Caitlin Rose, Wanda Jackson and Andrew Combs (who appears on this album). So it’s no surprise that the duo’s primary grounding is in country, whether it’s the blues-vamping, stripped down, road-house sort tipped to in “The Blind Beggar” or the melancholic twang that infuses “Tears of Isabella.” They don’t stick to that, however – even “Isabella” the most overtly country song on the disc is paced by a Latin cha cha rhythm. And a good plurality of the songs work a rusticated surfer vibe that feels like Booker T crossed with the Ventures. One tune is even #called# “The Landlocked Surfer,” which pretty closely defines its sound.

The first half of the album is lathered up in movie strings, so that most of the growl and bite gets subsumed in sounds that, to my ears at least, sound sentimental and overblown. Things get more interesting past the halfway mark, however, in outlier cuts like “Marfa Lights,” which sounds like a slightly twangified Neu! cut, or “Caught in a Pickle” which has the grit of a Jon Spencer and the sleek, Southern­-soul swagger of the Booker T. A cover of “The Spook” pays homage to Peter Drake of the legendary “talking steel guitar,” and it does seem to talk, squealing in indignation as it navigates some very human-sounding high notes.

The variety is entertaining, but it leaves you wondering exactly who these guys really are, and what they would sound like if they stripped off the veneer of smooth-as-silk production. Steelism, recorded in slick Nashville and soulful, gritty Muscle Shoals, can’t seem to decide whether it wants to soothe you or kick your ass. I’d prefer the latter, personally, but either way, these two should make up their minds.

DOWNLOAD: “Marfa Lights,” “Caught in a Pickle”

 

FRIDAY THE 13TH O.S.T. by HARRY MANFREDINI (LP)

Album: Friday The 13th OST (LP)

Artist: Harry Manfredini

Label: Waxwork

Release Date: September 23, 2014

Friday 13th

www.waxworkrecords.com

BY FRED MILLS

Quick, what’s the scariest sound to you: rapidly-sawing strings that summon images of the shower scene in Psycho; a throbbing, da-DUN-da-DUN forever associated with an incoming shark in the post-Jaws era; darkly ominous drones that set you up for the inevitable orchestral burst-from-the-shadows explosion; or maybe even some Deliverance-styled hillbilly banjo riffin’? All those, and more, can be found on the soundtrack to Sean Cunningham’s 1980 fright night classic Friday the 13th, the film that arguably launched the teen slasher genre. As envisioned by composer Harry Manfredini, the accompanying score would need to enhance the movie’s crucial psychological component of being shot mostly from the killer’s p.o.v., but with the killer unseen until the final reel, it had to do more than simply underline—it had to supply the viewers with sufficient foreboding and dread to make Jason’s appearance all the more terrifying.

They were warned… They are doomed… And on Friday the 13th, nothing will save them.” — from one of the original movie posters.

In his new liner notes to this reissue of the soundtrack, filmmaker Cunningham details how he hosted an early screening of the movie before a score had even been recorded; it went poorly, to say the least, and as he puts it, the attendees “tried to find a few good things and get the hell out as quickly as possible.” A month and a half later he held another screening with the score added, and even though it was the same exact cut, Manfredini’s music made all the difference and the attendees were enthusiastic. (Cunningham singles out a particular scene in which one of the teenagers walks from the cabin to the bathrooms to brush her teeth, and that it was “a dull and boring scene because we’re not being told what anything means [or] how to feel. But when Harry finished this scene, the audiences were completely riveted, literally on the edges of their seats.”)

Which of course is what a good film score is supposed to do. In his own notes, Manfredini outlines how he approached the music and how he overcame certain obstacles to help synch the visual with the auditory. He also writes about how a Dolly Parton song called “My Blue Tears” inspired him to come up with the country-rock tune “Sail Away Tiny Sparrow” that plays on the screen at the end with deceptive smoothness, just prior to Jason coming out of the water to grab Alice in her canoe. It’s all rather fascinating, and it’s likely that anyone who reads the two men’s comments while listening to the album won’t be able to watch the film again in quite the same light.

The LP, incidentally, is pressed on stunning deep sea-green swirl 180gm vinyl and is housed in a handsome thick-stock tip-on gatefold sleeve. Included is a limited edition 12”x12” art print tastefully depicting a floating canoe with a bloody, hatchet-split head superimposed.

DOWNLOAD: All of it, natch.

Friday 13th wax

 

SID GRIFFIN –The Trick Is To Breathe

Album: The Trick Is To Breathe

Artist: Sid Griffin

Label: Prima

Release Date: September 16, 2014

sid Griffin 9-15

www.primarecords.com

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

Singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, biographer and bandleader Sid Griffin has been plying his craft for the better part of 30 years, helming such bands as the Long Ryders and the Coal Porters, as well as proceeding along quite nicely on his own. At the same time, he’s never neglected either his own roots or those of the forebears who inspired him early on – specifically, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan and the Band. He’s so intent on offering homage that he’s dedicated entire albums to covering the works of Messers Clark and Hillman, and has authored lengthy tomes on Dylan and Parsons in particular. Yet Griffin is clearly moved by far more than mere scholarly pursuits, and each of his albums reflect an astute enthusiasm for roots music in all its forms.

Not surprisingly then, The Trick Is To Breathe, Griffin’s latest individual outing — and only his third solo studio album overall — finds him offering a reverent nod to past precedents, with ample samplings of bluegrass, country rock and subdued ballads flush full of meditative desire. The melodies mostly take their cues from the sensual, supple sway of Griffin’s vocals (which  evoke an overtly soft pop sound ala Al Stewart or Stephen Bishop) and the tasteful arrangements which make ample use of banjo, mandolin, fiddle and dobro. Griffin is first and foremost a storyteller, no whether he’s alluding to backstage mishaps (“Ode to Bobbie Gentry”), subdued soldier stories (“Between the General & the Grave,” “Everywhere”) or a spoken dialogue about the apparent anger generated from a harrowing musical haunt (“Punk Rock Club”).

Mainly though, Griffin chooses to navigate through familiar Americana environs, always proving himself to be on firm footing. If indeed the key to existence is simply the ability to breathe, then Griffin knows how to inhale his influences.

DOWNLOAD: “Ode to Bobbie Gentry,”  “Between the General & the Grave,” “Everywhere”

CHROME – Feel It Like a Scientist

Album: Feel It Like a Scientist

Artist: Chrome

Label: King of Spades

Release Date: August 05, 2014

 

Chrome 8-5

https://www.facebook.com/chromechronicles

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

If some enterprising scribe ever decides to pen a comprehensive history of musical mindfuckery, Chrome should get its own chapter. While at its heart a psychedelic outfit, the band – which originally revolved around the axis of late singer Damon Edge and guitarist Helios Creed – poured in pitchers of electronics, punk rock, samples (back when they were still called “found sounds”) and any kitchen sink that wasn’t nailed down, forming a planetary mass that would go on to influence industrial music, space rock, psychedelia and every other kind of outsider music that involved amplifiers and sound effects.

After years of letting it rest, Creed has resurrected the Chrome name with new players, but the same attitude. Feel It Like a Scientist doesn’t just include all the familiar elements – boiling synthesizers, wildly pitchshifted vocals, robotic rhythms, noisy guitar swaths, incomprehensible libretto – we expect from a Chrome record. It rolls around in them like Scrooge McDuck in a pile of cash. “Captain Boson,” “Something in the Clouds” and “Nephilims (Help Me!)” exemplify Chromatic excess, and that’s the way it should be – subtlety is a naughty word in this universe. Admittedly, there’s nothing here that pushes the Chrome legacy past its previously-established borders – most of this record sounds like a signal beamed from the group’s original late ‘70s/early ‘80s heyday. But that’s cool – nobody has ever really sounded like Chrome but Chrome, and that makes Feel It Like a Scientist sound as fresh now as it did back in the bad old days.
DOWNLOAD: “Something in the Clouds,” “Nephilims (Help Me!),” “Captain Boson

Dum Dum Girls / Ex Cops 10/19/14, Denver

Dates: October 19, 2014

Location: Larimer Lounge, Denver CO

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BY TIM HINELY / PHOTOS BY JD BAMFORD

Unfortunately I got to the Larimer Lounge late and missed the set by Denver’s own Emerald Siam, though I have seen the band before and they are certainly worth of your precious time with a dark, brooding (yet melodic) sound.

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NYC’s Ex Cops (pictured above two photos) hit the stage at 10 PM sharp as a 3-piece. Brian Harding, the main dude on vocals/guitar, blonde female (Amalie Bruun from Captured Tracks band Minks) on lead vocals and keys and a drummer. The sound was a bit, I don’t know, maybe thin, and my pal and I both agreed that something didn’t quite sound right (maybe unrehearsed?). Then, about mid-set Harding yells at someone just off the side of the stage and says, “Why don’t you leave the fucking club!” Then says, “That’s our tour manager.” They played a song or two and the Bruun walks over to the side of the stage and yells at the same guy (I’m assuming as I was near the back of the club) and then called him a “Pussy!”. A song or two later they apologized and were done. Not the greatest set, though I am curious to hear their records.

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It had been a few years since I’d last seen the Dum Dum Girls. Missed them at Riot Fest here last month (their set was at 3 pm). Since I’d last seen them they added a male on guitar/keys, a tall gent who lurks in the back of the stage. The rest of the band may have been the same (its leader Dee Dee’s show). The band sounded great, all confident swagger and of course dressed immaculately as well. They played their latest record Too True from start to finish (more or less) and then came out for at least 30 minutes of encores including “He Gets Me High,” “It Only Take One Night” (from their debut LP) and ending the set with the 1-2 punch of “Bedroom Eyes” and “Coming Down” (both from their 2011 masterpiece Only in Dreams).

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This set might be the first time (in 3 times) where Dee Dee interacted with the crowd a bit and even giggled a few times. At this stage in the game I still can’t believe they’re not playing bigger venues. For my own selfish reasons I’m kind of glad they’re not, but they really deserve it.

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See more of photographer JD Bamford’s work: http://jdbamford.photography/performance

 

 

THE GOTOBEDS – Poor People Are Revolting LP

Album: Poor People Are Revolting LP

Artist: Gotobeds

Label: 12XU

Release Date: September 02, 2014

Gotobeds 9-1

www.12xu.com

BY FRED MILLS

Naming your band after a member of Wire and releasing your album on a label named after a song by Wire is either cheeky or risky, or both, but in the final estimation, this Pittsburgh outfit delivers enough of the goods to strong-arm any prospective naysayers up to the front of the classroom and force ‘em to stand with their noses against the chalkboard. The rest of us can resume our lesson in PostPunk 101, courtesy four earnest but innovative young men.

Start to finish, the Gotobeds’ long playing debut (it follows a pair of 45s for the Mind Cure label) makes for a compelling rollercoaster of a sonic ride. Just the opening track alone will take your breath away: “Fast Trash” is a whooping brace of Superchunkian jittery guitars and convulsing percussion so over the top in its ecstatic intent that you have to check your watch when it’s done. Later, as Side One nears its end, you get a reprise of sorts in “Wimpy Garcia,” a confident sonic swagger of clanging guitars conjuring images of CBGB circa ’77. And with album closer “Secs Tape” (say it out loud) the quartet stretches out, Sonic Youth-style, for an extended, effects-strewn psych-skronk blowup guaranteed to send you, the unsuspecting concert patron, tumbling out into the street to greet the early a.m. landscape with ringing ears and moistened eyes.

Crazed but inspired, noisy yet purposeful, the Gotobeds mount and then sustain a level of energy that one rarely encounters these days. Embrace ‘em now, before they flame out. Incidentally, you’d be forgiven if you thought the title of the album was Anarchy In the U.S. as that’s the legend that appears in big bold lettering at the top of the front cover; the “poor people are revolting” text is rendered barely as subscript. Both are apropos, however, and within two distinct (historical, cultural) contexts, linked. The revolution will not be televised—except in Pittsburgh.

DOWNLOAD: “Secs Tape,” “Wimpy Garcia,” “Rollin’ Benny”

THIRD COAST KINGS – West Grand Boulevard

Album: West Grand Boulevard

Artist: Third Coast Kings

Label: Record Kicks

Release Date: July 15, 2014

Third Coast Kings 7-15

www.recordkicks.com

BY FRED MILLS

As wince-inducing as the term “neo-soul” is when categorizing current-day practitioners of classic soul (imagine someone describing a young, fresh-faced hardcore band as “neo-punk”), it seems to have stuck, although when I hear it uttered I immediately think “watered-down,” as in, “Alicia Keys.” And “retro-soul,” while marginally better, seems vaguely dismissive, as if the process of drawing inspiration from an earlier era (say, the early ‘60s) is less “artistic” than coming up with your own sound in a vacuum. By my way of thinking, you either is or you ain’t “soul”: if anyone tries to claim, for example, that the Dap-Kings aren’t worthy of being discussed in the same breath as the Mar-Keys or Booker T & the MG’s, they’re itchin’ for a fight.

I bring this up because Detroit’s Third Coast Kings, though relatively young, clearly know how to walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to serving up steaming plates of unvarnished fonk. They’ve already earned the admiration of current soul hero Charles Bradley and the praise of BBC deejay Craig Charles, and it’s not hard to hear why: from West Grand Boulevard’s opening salvo “Ice Cream Man” of kinetic chicken-pickin’ guitar, surging organ and JB’s-worthy jabbing horns and the swinging, swaggering strut that is “Get Some; Leave Some” (featuring co-lead vocalist Sean Ike fairly smacking his lips), to the cinematic Blaxploitation vibe of the title track and the undeniably sexy dance invocation of “Just Move” (this one featuring the other vocalist, Michelle Camilleri), there’s not a wasted moment or superfluous flourish on the entire album.

File the Third Coast Kings alongside their peers on labels like Daptone and Secret Stash, sure, but be advised that this stuff is every bit as vital as the music being made back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. (Consumer note: don’t eject the CD at the end of the 12-song program as there are two uncredited bonus tracks included.)

DOWNLOAD: “Get Some; Leave Some,” “West Grand Boulevard,” “Lead Foot”

Photo Gallery/Report: 2014 Deep Blues Festival, Clarksdale MS

Dates: October 16-18, 2014

Location: Clarksdale, MS

Deep Blues Festival 2014Clarksdale, Mississippi

October 16-18 deep in the heart of Mississippi blues territory, and featuring the likes of Guadalupe Plata, Scott H. Biram, South Filthy, James Leg and Boogaloosa Prayer, our man on the ground, ace photog Marty “Mojo” Perez, was on hand.

BY MARTY PEREZ

“Blues is the preacher. Punk is the teacher”… that phrase pretty much sums up a recent October weekend which was held in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

The Deep Blues Festival of 2014 traveled from its home base of Bayport, MN. to the righteous delta digs of Clarksdale, for a sole purpose of raisin a lil’ hell, havin a lotta fun, and bringing together kindred folk, to pay/play some respect to the likes of R.L. Burnside, T-Model Ford, Junior Kimbrough and any other soul that might call a juke joint home.

Honestly, there couldn’t have been a better spot picked to stage this away game, than at the locale of thee much sung-about cross roads.

With that thought screaming to me, I decided it was worth making the road trip to kill some curiosity and see what this Spanish trio called Guadalupe Plata (who’s been making racket in Spain now for some five years now) might be like live and in the flesh. Their LPs can only be found in Spain and they rarely play the U.S., earning little to no airplay/press, and so far the only way they’re gaining ground in the US is via word of mouth. Which added a lil’ uncertainty and anticipation to the proceedings.

As without effort, they soared and smoked the receptive congregation in the appropriately named Juke Joint Chapel during their hour plus set. A true bonus was the encore of “Lorena” where they where joined by Walter Daniels, whose harmonica playing has graced several of their songs. Not coincidently, Walter was in the house to play later in a band he’s been a member of, South Filthy.

Guadalupe Plata pretty much exceeded my expectations and set the bar for the rest of the festival. From then on forward things were off and running and I proceeded to get schooled, whilst drinking from the tap of Deep Blues and navigating the waters of Muddy Roots.

Here’s some of what I saw.

Guadalupe Plata

Guadalupe Plata

Guadalupe Plata

Guadalupe Plata

Guadalupe Plata

Guadalupe Plata

Guadalupe Plata

Guadalupe Plata

Guadalupe Plata

 

Scott H. Biram

Scott H. Biram

Scott H. Biram

 

South Filthy

South Filthy

South Filthy

South Filthy

South Filthy

South Filthy

 

(Clarksdale sights ‘n’ local color)

Deep Blues Festival 2014 Clarksdale, Mississippi

Deep Blues Festival 2014 Clarksdale, Mississippi

Deep Blues Festival 2014 Clarksdale, Mississippi

Deep Blues Festival 2014 Clarksdale, Mississippi

Deep Blues Festival 2014 Clarksdale, Mississippi

 

Reverend Deadeye

Reverend Deadeye

 

James Leg

James Leg

James Leg

James Leg

James Leg

James Leg

 

Boogaloosa Prayer

Boogaloosa Prayer

Boogaloosa Prayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BUDOS BAND – Burnt Offering

Album: Burnt Offering

Artist: Budos Band

Label: Daptone

Release Date: October 21, 2014

Budos Band 10-21

www.daptonerecords.com

BY FRED MILLS

Although the first three Budos Band albums (helpfully titled I, II and III) were generally regarded as straight-up Afro-beat and jazz-tinged funk/soul, rock elements did creep into the mix, and in recent years reviews of the instrumental group’s live shows have steadily grown more and more psychedelic. Burnt Offering is the culmination of that evolution, and it’s telling that they opted not to title it Budos Band IV; that mystic sleeve artwork, done by art teacher (and Budos drummer) Brian Profilio isn’t a coincidence, either. They said as much when announcing the record, noting how it “reflects their love of Black Sabbath and Pentagram as much as it does Fela Kuti.”

Indeed, right from the get-go the album proceeds along the aforementioned lines: “Into the Fog” and “The Sticks” both have signature heavy riffs powered by the bass guitar, and although the group’s horn section is equally busy, the tunes’ arrangements suggest a ‘70s rock band utilizing horns rather than a traditional funk ensemble tipping its hat at rock music. The title track recalls vintage Deep Purple, what with its ominous introductory chords followed by the launching of a heavy bassline, gloom-and-doom keyboards and searing/droning lead fuzz guitar all dominant over the horns. And “Magus Mountain” has an unexpected Nuggets vibe to it—speaking of psychedelic—in the way the guitar and organ suggest a garage rock tune with horns added to it. Even the songtitles tilt in this direction: “Aphasia,” “Into The Fog,” “Shattered Winds,” “Magus Mountain,” “Turn and Burn,” etc.

What will be interesting to see is whether the Budos Band’s fanbase will follow ‘em down this path because the group did make its reputation as being one of the more prominent young Afro-beat ensembles to emerge in the recent past. One imagines certain purist fans recoiling and dropping out while a host of newcomers discover ‘em. Regardless, artists fiercely need to experiment and evolve—case in point, another “non rock” group, Latin/funksters Brownout, recently recorded a tribute to Black Sabbath titled Presents Brown Sabbath that’s been earning rave notices—so it’s likely that a combo as talented as the Budos Band will remain a work in progress, unwilling to rest on laurels or sit still for very long.

Consumer note: initial copies of the LP are pressed on colored vinyl.

DOWNLOAD: “Magus Mountain,” “The Sticks,” “Tomahawk”