Monthly Archives: January 2016

Listen/Watch Iggy & Josh Homme “Gardenia” Collaboration

Iggy

Kind of like The Idiot and Lust For Life for millennials.

By Blurt Staff

Post Pop Depression is the name and Iggy Pop-meets-Josh Homme is the game. Arriving in March, according to Homme talking to The New York Times, it apparently was a super-secret collaboration that the pair more or less views as operating on a level similar to the Iggy-Bowie collaborations of the late ’70s but transplanted from Berlin to the Mojave desert (at Homme’s Joshua Tree studio, natch). Here’s “Gardenia,” the first single:

But wait, there’s more: they turned up last night on the Colbert program to perform the track with with Homme’s current Queens of the Stone Age pal (and Dead Weather member) Dean Fertita, Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, Chavez dude Matt Sweeney and QOTSA guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen. The first two are also on the album, while the latter two flesh out the touring band. Watch the Colbert clips below.

Incoming: UK Band/David Holmes-spearheaded Unloved

“A shared musical hallucination”: The language of cinematic music, of Jack Nitzsche, of Morricone, Nino Rota, of the electronic sounds of Raymond Scott, an amalgam of vocal instrumentalists and fearless raconteurs, of Edda Dell Orso, Ruth White, François Hardy, Connie Francis, Brigette Fontaine, Jacques Brel, Elvis and Lee Hazlewood.

 Spearheaded by David Holmes, in collaboration with composer/producer Keefus Ciancia, and songwriter-vocalist Jade Vincent, Unloved are a band born of 60’s girl groups and classic film scores. Guilty Of Love drops March 4 via their own Unloved imprint.

The Backstory: Holmes, who was in Los Angeles working on a film score, was introduced to Ciancia, who was also working on film score. Keefus invited David to The Rotary Room where Vincent sang. The regular Tuesday nights saw a collective of great musicians join as informal ensembles, Woody Jackson (Red Dead Redemption), Gus Seyffert (Beck, The Black Keys), Jay Bellerose (T Bone Burnett) and Deantoni Parks (John Cale), with Holmes DJing between each band. All the while Holmes, Ciancia and Vincent were experimenting, re-interpreting their favorite music. Nights bled to later nights, all nighters. Conversation spun into collaboration. David and Keefus found sound and programmed beats, sonic themes wrangled and tamed, creating a landscape passed to Jade for melody and for lyrics, songs of lament and confession.

The Unloved trio formally came together as a band at the legendary Vox Studios, Hollywood. Helmed by composer Woodrow Wilson Jackson III, in a studio almost original to its beginnings in 1936, a rotating cast of musicians arrived to realise the Unloved vision. Jade Vincent was joined by vocalists Raven Ciancia-Vincent, Kat Khaleel, Sarah Rayne, Tanya Mellotte and PenelopeFortier. Musicians Jim Keltner (John Lennon), Wayne Kramer (MC5), Tommy Morgan (The Beach Boys, Elvis), Jay Bellerose, Gus Seyffert, Gabe Noel, Tyler Parkford, Deantoni Parks, Zach Dawes, Jonathan Wilson, Tim Harries and BP Fallon also climbed on board, creating an atmosphere thick with possibility. [Below: David Holmes]

Holmes

An intimate tribe, riding a near-psychic wave with “a shared musical hallucination” captured by engineers Michael Harris, Jeremy Carberry, Bryce Gonzalez, Masa Tszuki and Valente Torrezand mixers Michael Patterson, Rich Costey and Darryll Thorpe.

Richard X. Heyman Preps Special 25th Anniversary Concert for “Hey Man!”

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Power pop gem gets resurrected by the auteur himself in March. Watch the original video for the album’s “Falling Away” below.

By Fred Mills

A few years ago BLURT’s own Lee Zimmerman penned a special profile of singer/songwriter/rocker/cult-legend Richard X. Heyman. In The Pop Perfectionist he asserted that Heyman, of ‘70s Sire/Warner Bros. classic Hey Man! fame, “is a man who’s accumulated an incredible canon of vibrant melodies, ever-ready refrains, sumptuous hooks and the kind of songs radio once craved, prior to the onslaught of American Idol-spawned pretenders and drab, disposable wannabes. Over the course of the past 25 years or so, Heyman’s garnered a remarkable reputation by virtue of a stunning series of albums that affirm a power pop template, but push at the parameters of that often stylized sound.”

Indeed. I second that commotion! (Go HERE to read our review of Heyman’s 2013 album X, and HERE to check out a track from the record that we premiered at the time.) So we were quite chuffed when the news arrived of Heyman planning a concert to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Hey Man! that will take place March 19 at Arlene’s Grocery in NYC. According to the Heyman camp, “Richard and the band have been dipping a cautious toe back into the performing pool, and did a couple gigs late last year. [They will] play the whole album start to finish, and hand out copies of a remixed/remastered version of the disc to the first 50 people in the door.”

Below, check out the official press release for the show.

3-19 press release with graphics

Video Premiere: Alex Dezen (Damnwells) – “Elephant”

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Multifaceted artist tucks into a fresh solo recording, due next month, with sparkling results. Meanwhile, that’s one helluva outfit the dude is sportin’ in the video!

By Blurt Staff

Do you dig Brooklyn’s Damnwells? Damn right, ya do! So you no doubt will dig our latest exclusive video premiere: it’s from the band’s frontman and main songwriter Alex Dezen, who on Feb. 12 will release his first solo album, titled appropriately enough Alex Dezen. Check out the video for the very cool track “Elephant”:

Commenting on the song, Dezen notes, “’Elephant’ was the first song I wrote for my solo record. The idea came to me during New Year’s with my girlfriend in Ohio. I saw an elephant on Facebook playing around in the ocean, as the opening lyrics will attest, and let the stream of consciousness go from there. Each verse starts with a seemingly innocuous event (looking at Facebook, taking a plane from Cleveland to LA, playing a show in the basement of an old church) and drives that narrative to some kind of personal truth or realization. It was the first experiment that informed the rest of the writing for this record.

“The concept for the video, also shot and edited by me and my girlfriend, Amber Bollinger, came from us brainstorming about silly video ideas. The first two videos we made were kind of serious, and I wanted to make something a little more playful. And my neighbor down the hall just happened to have an elephant costume, so it seemed like providence. We were both super happy about how it turned out. It’s incredible what you can DIY these days. There’s almost no excuse for an artist to not have any content beyond the album. Sure, it’s a major pain in the ass to have to have to record your own albums, make a video for every song, and maintain and update your multitude of social media and all that, but I think it’s worth it. Not only is it exciting and engaging for the fans, but also informing and exciting for me as an artist to move through different realms of creation.”

On the album, longtime fans of Dezen’s band will no doubt find some commonalities—the group got back together in March 2015 following a seven-year split, issuing an eponymous album, their fifth—but there’s also plenty of moments where other sensibilities come to the surface. In fact, over the years he’s written for other artists and even found himself working with the likes of Dave Grohl, The Dixie Chicks, Justin Bieber and Kelly Clarkson. In 2014 he released four solo Eps, and more recently he collaborated with the American dance company Pilobolus Dance Theater, composing the music for the dance piece “Wednesday Morning, 11:45 (2015),” which was performed at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.

Of Alex Dezen, the musician says, “The recording for this whole record was very fast and easy, mostly because I played and produced and engineered the whole thing and didn’t have to deal with anyone else (other than my girlfriend and a few friends, whose opinions were invaluable). It was recorded in the corner of my small apartment in LA, a tiny place in the world I have designated Sally Studios.”

Go to Dezen’s official website, www.alexdezen.com, for more info and for upcoming tour dates.

Alex Dezen-Alex Dezen-cover

Funk/soul Maestro Clarence “Blowfly” Reid 1939-2016 R.I.P.

Blowfly

From hard-edged funk to sweet soul sounds to profane and ribald rock, the man was one-in-a-million. Check out some choice video and audio tracks, below.

By Blurt Staff

Funk and soul aficionados had heard rumor of the legendary Blowfly’s poor health, but last week, when his drummer/manager Tom Bowker announced via Facebook that the performer had been moved to a hospice center in Florida, the news was still shocking. Yesterday (Jan. 17), the man born as Clarence Reid passed away from liver cancer at the age of 76.

“Clarence Reid, the genius known both by his given name and as Blowfly, the Master of Class, passed peacefully today, January 17th, in his hospice room,” Bowker wrote on Facebook. “His sister Virginia and I thank you for all the love you have shown this week. We also thank you for supporting Clarence’s 50+ year music career – especially these last few years. We love you and will keep you informed on services and tribute performances in Clarence’s honor.”

Reid was not only a gifted songwriter, penning hits in the ‘60s and ‘70s for the likes of Gwen McRae, Bobby Byrd, Betty Wright and KC &n the Sunshine Band; he helped put Miami’s TC label on the map as a soul powerhouse. And as the X-rated performer Blowfly, he also laid the groundwork for much of the hardcore rap milieu, ultimately being cited as an influenced on everyone from Public Enemy to Snoop Dogg.

(Add punk rock to that roster: no less an outfit than NC’s Antiseen toured and recorded with Blowfly in later years. One of the video clips below shows Antiseen’s Jeff Clayton dressed up as Blowfly during a hometown performance, and Blowfly himself appears onstage at the end.)

Essential viewing: Jonathan Furmanski’s 2011 documentary The Weird World of Blowfly.

Bowker has indicated that a final Blowfly album, 77 Rusty Trombones, is due this year, telling Rolling Stone, “While most performers sit on their laurels in their later years, Clarence constantly wrote new material and grinded tour dates like a 20-year-old. He treated gigs at Halloween house parties in suburban California the same as arena gigs in Germany and massive Australian festivals. He never refused an autograph, or an opportunity to tell a dirty joke. He was a once-in-a-century talent, and it was an honor to reintroduce him to the world these past 12 years.”

Mott the Hoople Drummer Dale Griffin 1948-2016 R.I.P.

Buffin

Possibly one of the most-loved and –respected percussionists ever in the rock biz. (Above, top center)

By Uncle Blurt

Terence Dale Griffin, known to Mott the Hoople aficionados across the globe as simply “Buffin,” passed away last night (Jan. 17) in England. The cause of death has not yet been officially announced, but according to the BBC, Griffin “died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday night, said Peter Purnell from record label Angel Air records.”

Griffin had been ill for a number of years, and although he was a member from the group’s late ‘60s inception through its demise in the mid ‘70s, his health prevented him from taking part in the entire celebrated Mott live reunion in 2009 for the group’s 40th anniversary celebration. At that point he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Purnell told the BBC, “ He was one of the nicest, friendly and talented men I have ever known. All he ever wanted was for his beloved Mott The Hoople to reform and it was his determination that achieved that very feat in 2009 but sadly by then he was too ill to perform at the five sold-out dates – though he did join the band for encores.”

Dale Griffin

You can find out more about Griffin at his Wikipedia page, including his post-Mott work (which included a healthy career as a BBC producer from 1981-94). Meanwhile, let’s rock, all you yong dudes and dudettes – your ol’ uncle saw Mott twice wayyyyy back in the day and the band was, in concert, a life-changing experience. Somewhere in my storage unit I still have my stack heels and glammy spaceman outfits to prove it…. The music endures to this day, and I will always treasure every single one of my albums by the band.

Shellac Announce Extensive (3-gig) UK Tour

Shellac

Memo to self: above photo not current.

By Blurt Staff

The Quietus reports, rather succinctly (hence our following suit):

Shellac have announced their first UK tour in two and a half years and their first UK dates since the release of 2014’s Dude Incredible.

The tour will take in three dates at the very end of May which will see them play Leeds’ Brudenelll Social Club (May 29), Cardiff’s Trashed (May 30) and London’s Koko (May 31). Helen Money will support across all three UK dates. Tickets are on sale here, here and here now.

Well, all right then! Let’s review the aforementioned album, which indeed is pretty freakin’ incredible…

 

Eagles Co-founder Glenn Frey 1948-2016 R.I.P.

Glenn

The Frey-sung “Take It Easy” an eternal desert-island-discs-mixtape track…

By Barbi Martinez

Earlier today at the Eagles’ website the stunning news was posted:  “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our comrade, Eagles founder Glenn Frey, in New York City on Monday, January 18th, 2016. Glenn fought a courageous battle for the past several weeks, but sadly succumbed to complications from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Acute Ulcerative Colitis and Pneumonia,” the statement continued. “Words can neither describe our sorrow, nor our love and respect for all that he has given to us, his family, the music community and millions of fans worldwide.”

Rumors had circulated back during November when the band cited “intestinal issues” for the co-founder, as regards for the group’s inability to appear at the upcoming Kennedy Center Honors awards ceremony.

Frey was a major architect in the country-rock/proto-Americana outfit’s success, of course, and he went on to a successful solo career during the group’s 1980-94 hiatus.

We hear at Blurt would like to express deepest condolences to Frey’s family, friends and surviving bandmembers. Even our editor, who recently wrote about sundry problems he had with the band, hastened to point out that the Frey-sung “Take It Easy” as one of his all-time favorite songs, without qualification. Yeah, it’s a keeper. R.I.P. sir.

Chamber Strings’ Kevin Junior R.I.P.

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A mainstay of the Chicago (and Midwest) music scene, he also helmed the Mystery Girls and Rosehips.

By Michael Toland

It’s with great sadness we report that Kevin Junior, leader of the excellent, underrated Chamber Strings, passed away on Friday, Jan. 15. Official cause of death is unknown, but he’d suffered health problems for years, including major heart surgery, and, as his friend and bandmate Dave Swanson noted in his Facebook announcement, “his heart just gave out.”

The Akron, Ohio native was a longtime stalwart of the Chicago music scene, starting with the glam-rocking Mystery Girls. That band evolved into the powerful Rosehips, on which his distinctive vision of Nikki Sudden/Dave Kusworth rock & roll meeting Burt Bacharach/Laura Nyro pop began to coalesce. The band’s impossibly rare Soul Veronique in Parchment is a soulful stunner. Then came the overtly popwise Chamber Strings, who released two amazingly strong albums: 1997’s bristling Gospel Morning and 2001’s beautiful Month of Sundays. The latter featured the song “Make It Through the Summer,” co-written by Wilco’s John Stirratt.

The Strings also backed Nikki Sudden on his eclectic masterpiece Red Brocade. Junior worked with both Sudden and his brother and Junior’s kindred spirit Epic Soundtracks off and on for the last part of both of their careers. Junior’s aforementioned health issues prevented him from working steadily in the last decade, but he did manage to reform the Chamber Strings and put out a single, 2009’s “I Come Apart (A Tragic Comedy).”

Unfortunately, nearly all of Junior’s work is out of print. Until this state of affairs is rectified, the best bet for the uninitiated is Spanish label Sunthunder Records’ 2009 compilation Ruins, which spans every band in his career. This collection of live cuts and rare studio tracks may not capture the sustained beauty of one of his studio albums, but it still gives a savory taste of his unparalleled way with a tune and makes absolutely clear how much we’ve lost with his passing. May he rest in peace.

***

The Chamber Strings – “It’s No Wonder”:

 

The Chamber Strings – “Make It Through the Summer”:

The Chamber Strings – “Flashing Star”:

The Chamber Strings – “Dead Man’s Poise”:

The Rosehips – “Ragdoll” (live):

The Mystery Girls – “Kingery Highway”:

Producer Giorgio Gomelsky 1934-2016 R.I.P.

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By Blurt Staff

Legendary London scenester, deal-maker and producer Giorgio Gomelsky has passed away at the age of 81, from colon cancer, reports the New York Times. He was living in the Bronx at the time.  Gomelsky, of course, was known as the man who gave the Rolling Stones their first big break by booking them to play his Crawdaddy Club in the early ’60s; he also acted as the manager and producer for the Yardbirds, additionally working with the Animals, Soft Machine, Brian Auger and John McLaughlin.

By the ’70s he had dipped decisively into Prog-rock, working with Gong, Henry Cow and Magma, eventually moving to New York in ’78 and continuing to pursue his interest in cutting edge and avant-garde music.

Quoted at one point in journalist Richie Unterberger’s outstanding book  Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators and Eccentric Visionaries of ’60s Rock, he said, “I had no presumption, assumption or desire to have a career in the music business. I just wanted to prove a point. I was passionately interested in change, and change was needed.”