Monthly Archives: April 2015

ROCKY VOTOLATO — Hospital Handshakes

Album: Hospital Handsakes

Artist: Rocky Votolato

Label: No Sleep

Release Date: April 21, 2015

Rocky Votolato 4-21

www.nosleeprecords.com

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

Rocky Votolato could have easily followed his muse in any number of directions. Hailing from a small Texas town, he could have become a country singer who hailed the virtues of small town life and the roads that lead away. His name would befit that of a rough and tumble fighter, had he opted to go, say, the wrestling route. Heavily influenced by the sounds of punk and hardcore, he could have gone insurgent regardless, forsaking melody for the sake of mayhem. In fact, he nearly did just that after launching his career with Waxwing, a band that won a local following among the discriminating Seattle crowd while gaining a small but significant national fan base as well.

Votolato’s new album, inexplicably titled Hospital Handshakes, offers yet another example of his considerable skills, a collection of songs that fires up an urgency that extends from first song to last. The surging tempo that underscores “Royal” – which finds him repeating the phrase “I wish I was a cannonball” — suggests a certain underlying tension crying to let loose. “White Knuckles” finds him clenching his fists in a manner consisting with its title, its strum and tumble qualifying it for a stadium shout-out. And when Votolato wails “I’ve wasted so much time” on “Rumi”, one of the most stirring songs in an album filled with explosive anthems, the emotion is unmistakeable.

Ably produced by Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla, Hospital Handshakes isn’t only about rage or rebellion, even though in tone and temperament it often leans that way. The themes focus instead on healing, longing and finding a sense of purpose in life in a world where clarity and direction can often seem muddled. “Sawdust & Shavings,” the album’s most reflective offering, and the track that follows, “So Unexpected”, convey those desires with the full flush of conviction and emotion, but it’s one song in particular – that being “This Is My Work”, a number that falls near the end of the album – which expresses it best. “I want to be here for you,” Votolato declares, leaving no doubt as to the hopes that he still harbors.

DOWNLOAD: “Sawdust & Shavings,” “So Unexpected,” “Royal”

 

RACHEL GARLIN – Wink at July

Album: Wink At July

Artist: Rachel Garlin

Label: Tactile

Release Date: April 21, 2015

Rachel Garlin 4-21

www.rachelgarlin.com

BY JOHN B. MOORE

The tile of San Francisco’s Rachel Garlin latest is rather apt, as it sounds like the ideal soundtrack to barefoot summer porch sitting.

For the record, this album will do absolutely nothing to dispel any negative connotations some may have about folk music, but fuck ‘em, I never understood techno, so to each his/her own. For those not turned off by acoustic guitars with minimal arrangements, Wink at July, Garlin’s sixth effort is charming in its simplicity; clear, sweet vocals over a picked and strummed guitar with the occasional mandolin and piano moving to the forefront and drums and bass always in the distance.

Garlin is not covering any new ground here, but with an instantly comfortable album, there’s no need for musical reinvention. It’s easily her strongest record to date.

DOWNLOAD: “Hey Keith Haring” and “Dear Friend”

 

 

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Magical Mystery Psych Out: A Tribute To the Beatles

Album: Magical Mystery Psych Out: A Tribute To The Beatles

Artist: Various Artists

Label: Cleopatra

Release Date: March 03, 2015

Beatles Tribute

www.cleopatrarecords.com

BY BARRY ST. VITUS

It used to be fairly common to inquire of a friend or colleague, who their all-time favorite bands were. Some might have to give serious pause to it, while others might readily spit them out with great confidence, be it a Top 3 or Top 10 list. I have mine, which, for the Top 3 at least, have remained rock solid through the decades. Beatles were never part of either list, because, come on…. they’re a GIVEN! To me, the best band ever, so, no need to demean their greatness by putting them on some list. They almost single-handedly changed music forever, at least for the youth of my generation. Their influence carries through today and they will remain popular for future generations to come.

That’s why I was curious about this compilation, and the audacity of some young artists to reinterpret their music, once again. But, giving them the benefit of a doubt, one would assume that they would give it their best shot, and it would be a loving tribute to the four loveable lads from Liverpool. As far as the ‘psych out’ theme goes, there were several songs covered that I had my doubts about being relevant fodder for a psychedelic re-do of, i.e., “And I Love Her,” “Martha My Dear,” ‘Julia,” and “Cry Baby Cry.” More obvious ones, ripe for heavy psych reinterpretation and embellishment might have included “It’s All Too Much,” “Within You, Without You,” “She Said, She Said,” “I Am The Walrus,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” ”Blue Jay Way,” or “Glass Onion.” I see a lot of juice to be squeezed from those. But, woulda-coulda-shoulda, you work with what you’ve got and go from there.

Electric Moon scored big, landing “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which every cover of that I’ve heard, from Monsoon to 801, is a sure-fire psych monster. This one doesn’t disappoint, either. Sugar Candy Mountain’s “Rain,” comes out sunny, shiny, paisley pop, ala the Rain Parade or the 3 O’Clock. John Lennon’s ”Julia,” is nicely re-imagined by the Vacant Lots, with a sound-mix mashup of “TNK” blended with “Gloria,” minus the spelling. The Blank Tapes roll out “The Word,” and deliver a smooth, fresh, take on the tune, but never quite cross the line into psychedelia with it, but, it is likeable. “Martha My Dear,” with the Ruby Suns, embraces the pure McCartney soul of the song, doses it with a lysergic production, and accomplishes transforming this near lullaby into a trippy number.

“Taxman,” as rendered by the KVB, was a surprise, totally transforming it into a dreamy, pop excursion, far from the original version. Likewise, the transformation of “Come Together” by The Underground Youth, is now a lush, electronica number. Fantasmes succeed with their pseudo-sitar-ish cover of “Love To You,” up to a point, but it’s nigh impossible to catch up to, let along surpass the original for its acidic high. Quilt’s version of “Cry Baby Cry” is pleasant enough, but doesn’t stray far from the original. So little, in fact, that it could almost be an alternative or lost out-take from the White Album sessions. The Lucid Dream, saddled with freaking out “And I Love Her,” mostly end up with a standard cover of it, but with lots of echo- chamber vocals layered in. Kikagaku Moyo offers up a rather creative, discombobulated “Helter Skelter,” the brown acid trip in this collection. But, considering the song’s unfortunate Manson Family connection, it’s a fair send-up of the darker side of the song.

“Sun King,” which wraps up the collection, is a very spacey makeover that you didn’t see coming. The Stranger Family Band do a rather hallucinatory rendition, complete with weird effects and over-dubs, and helium-high, mixed with slowed-down vocals, making for a strange trip, indeed.

Overall, the tribute is mostly a keeper, enjoyable and listenable. It succeeded in being a fun compilation, and while The Beatles don’t have much to worry about, competition wise, fans can dig a younger generation’s interpretation of these classics, for better of worse.

DOWNLOAD: “Taxman,” “Tomorrow Never Knows,” “Rain,“ and “Julia.”

 

 

WIRE – Wire

Album: Wire

Artist: Wire

Label: Pink Flag

Release Date: April 21, 2015

Wire 4-21

http://www.pinkflag.com/

BY JASON GROSS

It’s amazing that these punk minimalists waited for decades to do a self-titled album but that’s just part of their irony and art.  For their 14th album (their first one of new material with guitarist Matthew Simms), we get to hear a kinder, gentler version of Wire but don’t let that fool you- wimpy or empty they ain’t.

Compared to the fury of their post-millennium comeback (the Read & Burn EP’s, the Send album) and with the loss of founder/guitarist Bruce Gilbert, their last few albums were missing some of the avant leanings and hard-nosed spirit of their early albums and even some of their dancey ’80s records too.  As such, old fans might be put off a bit from their seemingly pleasant-sounding music now.  At times, they sound like a darker version of the dB’s (not a bad thing really) or that they did a whole album modeled after a polished take on “Outdoor Miner” (also not bad necessarily).

Vocally, it’s all guitarist Colin Newman now, who’s ditched his yelp mode for a calmer tone now.  He starts off name-checking all the online items he can think of on “Blogging” to a low-key minimal rock backing, only interrupted by an off-beat solo.  By the next tune, he’s actually pleading about a fading relationship (“Shifting”), backed by melodic guitars in an airy atmosphere and only a lightly menacing tone shoved into the background.  From there, they get majestic (“Burning Bridges”), jaunty (“High”), creepy-crawly (“Sleep-Walking”) and even a little psychedelic (the bouncy “Swallow”).  Finally at the end, they rev things up with a strong trio of tunes- “Split Your Ends” is a tight rocker that could almost be a Tom Petty boogie except for the dark synths and buzzing guitars, “Octopus” features jagged, harsh noises and controlled chaos interludes and the lengthy “Harpooned” has Colin almost drown out by grand, noisy slow-churning of the band.

‘Good’? Sure. Consistent?  Yeah, but maybe a little too consistent at times as Newman’s voice doesn’t ID or differentiate the songs as much as they could sometimes.  A little more variety to shake things up would be nice, like maybe giving bassist Graham Lewis more than just a vocal cameo here.  In the end, Wire is Wire- a strange, alluring, arty old-school punk collective that lives by its own rules, just like the Fall or Pere Ubu.  If this album doesn’t bowl you over, it doesn’t disappoint either and rest assured that their next record will be something different that you didn’t expect either.  And for that, we should be grateful.

DOWNLOAD:  “Harpooned,” “Split Your Ends”

ALABAMA SHAKES – Sound & Color

Album: Sound & Color

Artist: Alabama Shakes

Label: ATO

Release Date: April 21, 2015

Ala Shakes 4-21

www.atorecords.com

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

Anytime a band makes a striking debut and takes both the public and the pundits by storm, it’s only natural that the world will be holding its breath for the follow-up. Unfortunately though, the lifetime of writing that went into the debut is, given the pressures of the market place, reduced to mere months when it comes to formulating a follow-up. It’s only natural then to ask, what resources remain.

Happily for Alabama Shakes, there was plenty left to call on, enough at least to continue the successful path they initiated at the very beginning. Singer Brittany Howard’s vocals are as pliable as ever, a high pitched squeal one moment, an irascible growl the next. Yet, in this case, it’s the band — bassist Zac Cockrell, guitarist Heath Fogg and drummer Steve Johnson – that have evolved most this time around, providing a shifting set of circumstance varied in both tone and texture. That’s especially evident in the songs, particularly the title track, “Don’t Wanna Fight” and “Miss You,” songs that expect their particular blend of pathos and passion. In that sense, the title is all too descriptive, given that in a very true sense, it’s that sound and color which gives this album such distinction.

DOWNLOAD: “Sound & Color,” “Don’t Wanna Fight,” “Miss You,”

 

TITLE FIGHT – Hyperview

Album: Hyperview

Artist: Title Fight

Label: Anti-

Release Date: February 03, 2015

Title Fight 2-3

anti.com

BY JOHN B. MOORE

 The guys that make up Kingston. PA’s Title Fight must have known they were going to piss off some folks with Hyperview.

The band’s 2011 debut, Shed, was a barrage of loud drums and distorted guitars, followed the next year by Floral Green, a record that still drew greatly from post-hardcore and early emo bands, a bruising, but impressive soundtrack.

The announcement then that the band had signed to Anti-Records, the indie sister label to the more punk-heavy Epitaph, brought about confusion for many who associate Anti- with everything from Tom Waits to a slew of World Music bands. Just minutes into their third album Hyperview, though, their new home makes much more sense. With this collection 10 new songs, the band has done something most punk bands haven’t been allowed to do in the past: grow up.

This new record finds the band reveling in influences closer to The Smiths, Sunny Day Real Estate and a slew of Shoegaze bands of the ‘80s and ‘90 more than the tourment-heavy records of their teen years. There is nothing particularly revolutionary about the new record, rather it is a band finding confidence in a sound that’s new to them.

By embracing new influences and not simply putting out the expected punk rock record yet again, the band has set themselves on the path to long-term relevancy and prevented the 30-year old versions of themselves from having to take the stage at a future Vans Warped Tour to sing about teenage angst.

 DOWNLOAD: “MRAHC,” “Liar’s Love” and “New Vision”

 

 

Squat City Rocks, by Richard Dudanski

Title: Squat City Rocks

Author: Richard Dudanski

Publisher: self-publishes, via CreateSpace

Publication Date: March 10, 2015

Squat City Rocks

http://squatcityrocks.blogspot.com/

BY FRED MILLS

Celebrity memoirs, almost across the board, tend to be hideously self-serving (such is the nature of the beast). Yet we not only tolerate but encourage them, we the crumb-gobbling public, in hopes of some tawdry, tasty morsels upon which to dine until the next partial tell-all arrives. Musicians are not exempt from this ritual either—in fact, they sometimes are the guiltiest of authors, literally rewriting history before our eyes despite all prior evidence as they seek to justify all wrongs previously wrought from their egomaniacal selves. That nasty band breakup? “It was the lead singer’s fault, not mine!” That third stint in rehab? “Because I had finally found serendipity, not because I was trying to avoid incarceration!” The failed solo career, leading to a reunion with the old bandmates? “It was purely for the fans, not because I had alimony and mortgage payments!” This book you are presently reading? “To get it all down on the record for posterity, not merely for the publisher’s advance!”

Meet Richard “Snakehips” Dudanski, aka Richard Nother, whose Squat City Rocks is pretty much the antithesis of all the above. Having endured my fair share of self-serving literary rot over the years, I think I’ve developed a pretty good instinct about these endeavors, and this self-published 236-page tome hits me in right in the sweet spot. Subtitled “Proto-punk and beyond, a musical memoir from the margins,” it’s exactly that, a tale (or, as Dudanski wittily capitalizes it, a Tale) about a life well-lived as a rock star—but minus the “star” part of that equation.

Clash and Joe Strummer devotees already know the Dudanski surname: he was the drummer in Joe’s legendary pre-Clash pub-rock outfit The 101ers, whose “Keys To Your Heart” single, released in 1976 by the seminal punk label Chiswick, was a staple of many a punk/new wave record collector’s collection. Their lone album Elgin Avenue Breakdown, released long after their demise and subsequently reissued in expanded form following Joe’s death in 1992, is a ragged but right portrait of a young group blessed with a genuine spark and outsized personality. (In a stroke of master timing, Elgin Avenue Breakdown is getting reissued for Record Store Day this year, April 19, as a limited edition, double vinyl LP set.)

Others will recognize Dudanski from his short-lived (but noteworthy) stint in John Lydon’s Public Image Limited circa Metal Box, dub-punk savants Basement 5, the Raincoats, and Tymon Dogg & The Fools. More recently he’s held down the kit for his unassuming but highly recommended group El Doghouse.

Squat City Rocks will resonate among music fans for a number of reasons, chief among them Dudanski’s unique ability to recall and contextualize events of up to four decades earlier, providing an invaluable history lesson while also painting a vivid behind the scenes portrait of the London punk and post-punk eras. Roughly half the book is in fact devoted to his 101ers days—including events leading up to the formation of the band, accompanied by a vivid portrait of the communal squatter culture so prevalent in England during the early and mid ‘70s—so there’s plenty of Joe to go round, fellow Strummerphiles. The subsequent period working with violinist Tymon Dogg amounts to a previously untold hidden-chapter-of-rock of sorts, while getting to read Dudanski’s version of events that led to him being pushed out of PiL seems to finally right a few wrongs in the journalistic record. And his Basement 5 days, most likely familiar only to folks in Britain, provide a lively narrative in the hands of Dudanski’s wry reportage. (There’s a hilarious passage in which Dudanski relates how he was unceremoniously removed from the recording credits to a PiL album but somehow added to the credits of a B5 album when in fact it was another drummer who played on the sessions!)

Residing at the emotional core of the book, though, is Dudanski’s deep love for Joe Strummer. (Well, Joe, along with Dudanski’s wife of many years and two children, both of whom are active in music and the arts, much to their parents’ delight.) A neighbor of Dudanski’s from a fellow squat, Joe—originally called Woody; the iconic nickname would come, along with Dudanski’s “Snakehips” moniker, in a fit of the bandmembers’ desire for suitably rock ‘n’ rollish noms du rawk—came into the fold with a modicum of talent and a boatload of enthusiasm, and soon enough the nascent 101ers were holding down a weeknight residency at a nearby pub. It wasn’t to last, of course, although while Dudanski expresses obvious hurt at Joe’s eventual defection to the Clash, he attributes the decision more to the Machiavellian machinations of Clash manager Bernie Rhodes than any deep-rooted desires upon Joe’s part to be a pop star. And he also recognizes the fact that had the 101ers not formed, Joe of course becoming the key member and main songwriter, Dudanski might never have embarked upon a life in music.

Dudanski’s respect for Joe as a genuine, honest and caring individual comes through loud and clear towards the end of the book when they find themselves back into one another’s social orbits. Their friendship had apparently struck deep, and they were able to enjoy some good times together once again until that fateful morning in December of 2002 when he received a phone call informing him of Joe’s sudden death. Resolving to give the singer a proper farewell, Dudanski helps organize a pair of tribute concerts, one back in their old London neighborhood and another in Granada, Spain. It’s hard not to get misty-eyed while reading this portion of the book: those sendoffs were true rock ‘n’ roll wakes of rich proportions, with friends and musicians from all stages of Joe’s career taking the stage to perform signature tunes.

“There was something special in the air that night that even the dreadful sound quality of the PA couldn’t extinguish,” he writes, of the Granada gathering. “Our set was a pretty ramshackle affair, but a slick performance had never been the intention, and I know Joe would have absolutely loved it if he had been there: it was right up his street.”

At the end of the book Dudanski reflects upon the path he took, soberly noting that he “can be seen either as a failed rock muso who didn’t make the most of the various opportunities offered; or as a privileged individual who has lived an interesting life full of variety and freedom… I live in a city and country [Spain] that I adore, have friends and family of which I could not ask more, and a drum kit (when not out and about) standing sturdy on my living room floor.”

The latter rhyming scheme seems perfectly poetic in more ways than one. Who could ask for more, indeed.

 

Girl In A Band, A Memoir, by Kim Gordon

Title: Girl In A Band

Author: Kim Gordon

Publisher: Dey Street Books

Publication Date: February 24, 2015

Kim Gordon book

http://bodyheadmusic.com

BY DENISE SULLIVAN

Kim Gordon’s performance as a mean girl has been finely-tuned, though underneath the rock ‘n’ roll attitude, she’d like you to know there’s a person behind the mask, a woman who cries and bleeds like the rest of us, who still wonders whether she’s doing all she can and if that’s all there is to art, to life, and to love.

 

Every life has its cross or crosses, and Gordon, it seems has had her share, though it’s possible we would never have gotten to know a more personal side of Sonic Youth’s co-founder were it not for the very public rupture of her marriage to Thurston Moore and subsequent end to their beloved band.  Were it not for the break-ups, perhaps there would be no reason to divulge the inner-workings of their relationship, nor any call to examine the childhood and formative experiences that made Gordon the artist she is; no forum to unpack her creative process, nor a new lens through which to view band life in print. It would be our loss; though instead, Gordon’s losses become the source of the proverbial gift in the delivery of Girl In Band, A Memoir (Dey Street Books), a fine and concise history of what it’s meant to be a white female artist in the late 20th and early 21st Century, against a backdrop of success, disappointment, betrayal, and the predictable mid-life rebirth.

 

While Gordon had thought she’d found a suitable creative and romantic partner in Moore, someone with whom she could share a loft, a child and a life with, their time together, while hardly idle, doesn’t exactly read as idyllic.  Nevertheless she persisted, even after the family took up residence outside New York City and Moore’s discontent became palpable. In her sometimes unkind descriptions of people, particularly the self-obsessed narcissists with whom she has an extreme allergy, Gordon takes the opportunity to dig into her own narrative and how she developed her sixth sense for b.s.  Her insights into her reactions to others’ behavior are not unlike those of anyone over the age of 60, yet the revelations about Moore (and Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain, and other portions of the story the pre-press has seized upon) are the least interesting parts of Gordon’s own story. The most valuable and intense threads on offer here for artists, thinkers, and yes, fans are pulled from Gordon’s basic questions of nature and nurture. Do those who create choose their medium and style of expression, or does it choose them? Do early circumstances create a need to make art, and if so or if not, what would the art be like, were it not for these environments? Would it be more or less than what it is? And so on.

 

Written in a conversational style, the pages flash by so readily, it would be easy not to notice that Gordon is performing a hat trick: Transcending blood and guts band memoir conventions  and childhood trauma tropes, she takes us on a discovery of what it was like to live her artist’s life, late 20th/early 21st Century-style. She conveys the essences of what it takes to be a serious artist while your talents are being readily dismissed in light of California girl looks, of having her creative contributions subsumed by the company she keeps (men who by virtue of their privilege and charisma overshadowed her publicly, yet who privately encouraged her).

 

With a deftness and a certain humility, Gordon is able to acknowledge her own talents and privilege—she was no one’s victim—but it’s the unanswerables that keep surfacing: If she were another kind of person, would she have become a different kind of artist? While there is no doubt Gordon has her friends and foes (and is careful to list as many by name as she can muster), as a California artist in New York, it was always going to be a long way to the top. Taking it upon herself to embrace and invert the pyramid, she used the Cali stuff as grist for the creation of her own myths and ultimately got there, playing beside legends.

 

Of a (mostly) California childhood, with seasons in Hawaii and Hong Kong, life with the Gordons is remembered by their daughter as at once magical and fraught with challenges. As a girl caught between stylish and brilliant parents who kept a distance, a brother who was a role model and an antagonist (he would ultimately be institutionalized for his troubles), and her own yearnings to become an artist, she’s alternately inspired by her dad’s jazz records, the natural environment and the weird California scenes unfolding around her. Exposed to all varieties of West Coast experience, through the years Sonic Youth has taken heat for glamorizing the state’s darker myths.  “Nothing is farther from the truth,” she writes, in particular of a common misperception of the song “Death Valley 69.”  In this way and more, Girl In Band serves as an antidote to more New York-centered stories wherein the awkward child becomes a rock ‘n’ roll icon (Just Kids by Smith, I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp by Richard Hell), aided by a buzzing city and a coterie of friends.

 

The Golden State is always with Gordon, informing just about every note she plays, every canvas she paints, and every fashion statement she makes. Recalling with fondness dinners and evenings in Malibu with family friends, “If you were spending the night in their guest room, just below the high tide mark, you could hear the waves fiercely crashing underneath the house, true white noise that sloshed you to sleep.”  And while she’s casual about her contribution, Gordon is a pioneer, in a class with Smith and Yoko Ono as a multi-disciplinary artist of groundbreaking stature. I have deep admiration for her band’s impeccable Daydream Nation and Goo and the way they could stretch live, though of less interest to me are her side projects and especially her expositions on fashion here:  I come by point-of-view honestly, based on a bad experience in a New York ladies room years ago.  Gordon and a friend called out my apparel as “So last year,” and while it was alarming and hurtful to me as I stood by washing my hands, head sinking lower and lower into the basin as they mocked me in the mirror, their fashion dictates got me to thinking about the tyranny of fashion and helped me give it up forever.

 

“Back then, and even now, I wonder:  Am I ’empowered’? If you have to hide your hypersensitivity, are you really a ‘strong woman’?” writes Gordon. “Sometimes another voice enters my head, shooting these thoughts aside.  This one tells me that the only really good performance is one where you make yourself vulnerable while pushing beyond your familiar comfort zone.”  I know what she means in passages like this and others sprinkled throughout Girl In Band. When she writes of the exhaustion of her job at mid-life, juggling it with carpools and the care of aging parents on another coast, compounded by her family’s complicated history of mental illness and abuse, she joins a very small chorus of rockers who’ve dared to touch that mess. Yet even when opening up and lifting the veil, Gordon keeps the tension burning and never lets us see her sweat.  Delivered with a whole lot more soul and generosity than her recorded, performed, or painted works, Girl in Band is a tasteful, never tawdry tell-all that’s ultimately another dimension of Gordon’s art—her life, and her love.

 

Denise Sullivan is the author of Shaman’s Blues, the Art and Influences Behind Jim Morrison and the Doors

TRANSLATOR – Sometimes People Forget

Album: Sometimes People Forget

Artist: Translator

Label: Omnivore

Release Date: March 31, 2015

Translator 3-31

www.OmnivoreRecordings.com

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Sometimes People Forget is a perfect example of why Rock Music 101 should be a required course in every school. Remember the early 1980s college rock band Translator? Of course you don’t (if you answered “yes,” you’re either the perpetual cool kid or a liar), but you should. The San Francisco put out their first album in 1982, Heartbeats and Triggers and despite getting plenty of play on college radio stations and MTV over the next four years, the band was quickly forgotten once they stopped recording. Musicians like R.E.M., Jonathan Richman and The dBs, groups that had a similar sound and ethos continue to be namechecked by bands today, but Translator quickly faded in relevancy.

 

Sometimes People Forget is a fantastic collection of demos the band recorded between 1979 and 1985. It only seems appropriate that Omnivore Recordings, the label equivalent of a time capsule of the tragically overlooked, is behind this 22-track release. The audio quality here is stellar and many of the songs here hold up remarkably well three decades since they were first conceived.

 

The band has reunited a few times over the years, including a much-lauded gig at SXSW in 2006 and released an album of new songs in 2012, so hopefully Sometimes People Forget is just a stopgap until the band’s next album is released.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Translator,” “Get Out” and “Everything is Falling”

 

 

MOONLIGHT TOWERS – Heartbeat Overdrive

Album: Heartbeat Overdrive

Artist: Moonlight Towers

Label: Chicken Ranch

Release Date: November 11, 2014

Moonlight Towers 11-11-14

www.chickenranchrecords.com

BY TIM HINELY

I’d heard some previous stuff by this Austin, TX bunch that I’d really liked so was real curious to check out this record. I had no idea they’d been around since 2001; their self-titled debut was released in Spinster records back in 2002 and this is record number four, so good for them for keeping on.

Leader singer/guitarist/songwriter James Stevens put it pretty simply, “We just want to make people dance” (he also stated, re: Heartbeat Overdrive, “It’s basically a play on the physical feeling of one’s heart racing”, so there’s that). While Heartbeat Overdrive isn’t exactly what you’d call dance music you can still shake your moneymaker to it at times. It’s basically mid-tempo power pop/ bar rock – think Mr. Petty and his Heartbreakers – with plenty of interesting guitar parts and a real heart and soul pumped into it.  I actually had to take a second listen to make sure that “Fool’s Highway” wasn’t a Petty cover. That one’s a scorcher while other tunes to check out include unfolding opener “Out of the Gray”, the more moving “Windowpane” and the driving “Wrong Enough to be Right.”

In the end you get nine tunes and no B.S. – hey, Little Steven likes ‘em, and you just might too.

DOWNLOAD:  “Out of the Gray,” “”Fool’s Highway,” “”Day In Day Out,” “Heartbeat Overdrive”