Memphis, by way of Jersey, singer/songwriter Stephen Chopek seems to have filled in the link between Nick Drake and Pete Yorn. On his third LP, Begin The Glimmer, he turns in a personal album, that despite a full backing group, some fun ragged guitars and clean production still has the spontaneous feel of a bedroom recording (think Bright Eyes or the first Jonny Polonsky record).
Chopek admits to a steady diet of Replacements and Guided By Voices in making this record and that influence clearly seeped into his writing. There is a strong pop component at the core of songs that vacillate from quieter acoustic fare to slightly more boisterous numbers. Those slower tracks, like “Dig A well,” drag down the record a bit, but there are enough great up-tempo moments, like “Radio Caroline” or the “The Ballad of Cash & Dean,” to keep the listener from moving on.
Chopek’s sometimes gig as a session drummer may help to pay the bills, but as Begin The Glimmer proves, his proper spot is at the front of the stage.
DOWNLOAD: “Radio Caroline” and “The Ballad of Cash & Dean”
Austrian band Melt Downer on Alter the Stunt serve up some hard hitting tunes that recall elements of Swervedriver and Helmet mixed with a Girls Against Boys type afterburn. It’s a pure joy to listen to these 10 tracks that are a partial homage to the Amphetamine Reptile (Amrep) sound, the Minneapolis label that gave us Helmet, Tar, Helios Creed, The Melvins, The Cows, and so many others.
“Alter” is a dark brooding affair that detonates everything in its path. The sonic guitar squalls work perfectly as they glide over a toe tapping beat. “Vater” is pure aggression and reminds me of early Helmet. The track provides quite the aural pummeling and shows just how talented this band is. I love every bit if this song including the production which focuses on getting the sub-sonic glaze just right. “Clown” is my favorite song with its hazy narcotic elements augmented by a saxophone. This is the greatest Steve Malkmus tune that he never wrote. Here the singer sounds like a dead ringer for Malkmus especially when it comes to the phrasing and pitch of his voice. The song’s disparate elements while seemingly incongruous, work really well together. I love how the groove of the song slowly lumbers along towards its conclusion. Very fucking cool! “Head Call” is a slow-burner of an instrumental that keeps one foot planted on the ground until it veers off into a bit of restrained psychedelia with Nik Turner-styled sax squawks to boot.
The sheer audacity, if you can call it that, to mix these disparate sonic elements together is what makes this album such a joy to listen to. This is a band that is able to synthesize these elements into some well-wrought memorable tunes that will remain with you long after the music has ended.
DOWNLOAD: “Clown” “Alter” “Vater” “Head Call”
A Blurt Boot Video Exclusive: Simon Bonney & Bronwyn Adams (Live NYC) 5/14/2019 WARSAW
Filmed by Jonathan Levitt. Check out Bonney's latest record "Past, Present, Future" http://smarturl.it/SimonBonney
A Blurt Boot Exclusive: Psychedelic Furs "Only You and I" (Live Costa Mesa CA 7-19-18
Tribute: Tony Kinman (R.I.P.) and Rank And File - Video from "Long Gone Dead"
Blurt Audio Exclusive: Thin White Rope "The Fish Song" (from 2018 remaster of The Ruby Sea