Monthly Archives: April 2019

WAY DOWN WANDERERS – Illusions

Album: Illusions

Artist: Way Down Wanderers

Label: Org Music

Release Date: February 22, 2019

www.orgmusic.com

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Chicago alt folk/Americana upstarts The Way Down Wanderers have managed to spike their music was some interesting elements on their sophomore effort, adding in snatches of jazz and pop here and there, while still remining true to the sound that made their debut a satisfying affair.

Though not vastly too different from their self-titled record, Illusions takes small steps forward both musically and lyrically for a more consistently appealing sound. Songs like “Frozen Through” and the creative musical stuttering on a track like “She’s Alright” find the band building on the foundation laid out two years ago and starting to separate themselves from an ever-growing field of bluegrass/Americana bands that have sprouted up over the past year or so. While the infusion of other styles for the most part serve to bolster their music, the Reggae-like beat on “All My Words,” has the opposite effect, dragging down an otherwise decent song.

Lead singers Austin Krause-Thompson and Collin Krause have impressively built on their strengths from the debut, perfecting their trade off vocal style and knack for strong harmonies. Aside from a few small stumbles here and there, Illusions is another solid effort from The Way Down Wanderers.

DOWNLOAD: “FROZEN THROUGH,” “SHE’S ALRIGHT” AND “HEARTLAND”

Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven 12/29/18, Denver

Dates: December 19, 2018

Location: The Soiled Dove, Denver CO

Live at The Soiled Dove, and the sibling bands were in fine form.

BY TIM HINELY

OK, so a few facts here. It had been over a decade since I’d last seen Camper van Beethoven and I’d never seen Cracker before, but I like the venue (though their booking is a bit suspect) so I jumped at the chance to see these two classic bands (plus seeing David Lowery pulling double duty, as he always does, it quite a treat).

Was pleasantly surprised to see Camper Van Beethoven with the original (more of less…at least their classic) lineup of Lowery on vocals/guitar, Greg Lisher on guitar, Victor Krummenacher on bass, Jonathan Segel on violin and Chris Pedersen on drums.

The set was a nice mix of hits and other oddities, yes, we did hear their Status Quo cover of “Pictures of Matchstick Men” plus “Take the Skinheads Bowling” and “Eye of Fatima” (both parts 1 and 2).  Near the end they did a fabulous medley that included “Hava Nagila” and some Led Zeppelin tossed in (some “Kashmir” for sure). They ended the set with “Northern California Girls” and I’m happy to say that after all these years CVB still sound fabulous.

Cracker took the stage at about 9:15 PM and the packed house was ready.  Segel from CVB was sitting in on keyboards while Pedersen was on drums (I think it was him) and up front was the big three with Lowery on rhythm guitar and vocals plus cosmic lead guitarist (and Colorado resident) Johnny Hickman and rock-solid bassist Bryan Howard.

Cracker sounded like a well-oiled machine as well. They played a relatively short set that was packed with classics including “Low” as well as “Get Of This,” “Seven Days,” “I Want Everything” and “Teen Angst “what the world needs now)”. Near the end they showed off their honky tony roots with the “King of Bakersfield” (off their most recent record, 2014’s terrific From Berkeley to Bakersfield) and ended the set with a whooped up version of ‘Euro-Trash Girl.”

On a night that I wasn’t sure what to expect both bands put their best foot (foots) forward and completely delivered. A great night and I can’t wait until they come back to town.

 

 

 

 

JOE JACKSON – Fool

Album: Fool

Artist: Joe Jackson

Label: Ear Music

Release Date: January 18, 2019

www.ear-music.net

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Coming immediately off a run of summer dates in 2018, Joe Jackson and his current band hit the studio to capture a group that was still very much hitting its stride musically. The resulting album Fool, Jackson’s 20th, still boats many of the jazz-infused pop trademarks that marked his post-big hit debut through much of the 1980s. It’s a solid set from the always dependable Jackson, if not a bit uninspired in places.

The album starts off with the ambitious “Big Black Cloud,” a dark song that sounds a little forced on the first listen but stays with you on repeated listens – one of the savviest tracks on the record. The breezy “Friends Better,” sounds as if it came off of “Look Sharp!”

Elsewhere, there are some songs that sound like they were last minute add-ons (“Alchemy” is so plodding you can almost watch time stand still), but taken as a whole, Fool still finds Jackson playing some of the best pop music out there, immune to fads and current trends.

DOWNLOAD: “Friends Better” and “Big Black Cloud”

VARIOUS – Come Join My Orchestra: The British Baroque Pop Sound- 1967-1978

Album: Come Join My Orchestra: The British Baroque Pop Sound- 1967-1978

Artist: VARIOUS ARTISTS

Label: Cherry Red/ Grapefruit

Release Date: December 07, 2018

www.cherryred.co.uk

BY TIM HINELY

You want an education in Baroque pop? Well, you’ve got it right here in 3-cds (in a lovely clam shell box set with an awesome, informative 40-page booklet that I’m only like a quarter of the way through). Lotsa music was churning through England during those late 60’s and early 70’s years. If you were the long-haired type your tastes may have been leaning more toward Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin, but those more, shall we say, cerebral folks, their ears were pointed toward what George Martin and the Beatles were doing and hundreds more bands took the ball and ran with it. Bands that didn’t at all mind experimenting with instruments like harpsichords or oboes or flutes and let’s not forget the granddaddy of ‘em all, the French horn! Oh sure, you know about Donovan, The Zombies and The Move (who all have songs on disc three) but how about the likes of Fickle Pickle or The Factotums or The U-Know-Who (I swear I’m not making these names  up). Oh and the Spencer Davis Group also show up on disc three as well. If you want to go chronologically check out disc one first and you’ll heart cuts by Genesis (yup), The Strawbs, Bert Jansch and The Honeybus (with the whimsical (“do I figure) In Your Life”).  A few others on disc 1 that I heard for the first time include The Toast, The Matchmakers  and Curved Air, just to name a few.

I have to admit, other than the big names (The Zombies, Donovan , etc) I was a latecomer to the whole baroque pop scene. What initially got me interested was the Cardinal record (released on Flydaddy in 1994) and I worked back from there listening to American bands like The Left Banke and Mortimer (who Cardinal covered on their record), so yeah, a lot of the stuff on here brand new to me despite some of it being 50 years old. The vocals soar as do the glistening melodies. Again, it’s a big spoonful here but if you’ve got time to lock yourself in your room for a few days you’ll come out a very educated person on the topic. We’ve all got time for that, right?

DOWNLOAD: Michael Blount- “Acorn Street,” The Honeybus- “(do I figure) In Your Life?”, The Searchers- “Popcorn, Double Features,” The Freshman- “She Sang Hymns Out of Tune”

 

 

Teenage Fanclub + The Love Language 3/2/19, Denver

Dates: March 2, 2019

Location: Bluebird Theater, Denver CO

Live at the Bluebird Theater, the Fannies were just about perfect.

BY BEN CURNETT

Teenage Fanclub makes big music using some fairly simple tools. Take the humble glockenspiel for instance. Founding member Norman Blake has obviously mastered the instrument, commanding the five-note run on other-founding-member Raymond McGinley’s “Your Love Is The Place Where I Come From,” like a veritable virtuoso of glockenspiel goodness. Most other 30-plus-years-and-eleven-studio-albums-of-Scottish-power-pop bands might say, “No! No glockenspiel for us.”

Not Teenage Fanclub. Thank god.

That particular tune came about halfway through a beautifully retrospective set at Denver’s Bluebird Theater last week when lucky Denverites braved the snow for the first Teenage Fanclub show in town in seven years. Openers Love Language played a high energy set full of melodic southernish rock, bringing to mind a pre-fame and fortune Kings Of Leon, full volume and lots of fun. This was before anyone knew anything about the presence of a glockenspiel, so, y’know … it was pretty raw. Maybe that wasn’t the right fit for the subdued, steady sounds of our staid indie staple headliners, but more than one other person I knew at the show left with brand new The Love Language vinyl.

When Teenage Fanclub took the stage, there was at least some trepidation about the noted absence of still-another founding member Gerard Love, who recently left the band. “It’s as amicable as it can possibly be,” said Love of the departure, and should we expect anything else from people who create music like this? No we should not. If it’s possible to hear well wishes upon a band breakup through the music of its remaining members, that was the message that permeated the show. There’s a lot to choose from with nine albums in the universe, and gems were picked, including the genre-defining “Alcoholiday” and the haunting “Only With You.” “Hold On” and “I’m In Love” solidly represented the newer stuff, and the new single “Everything Is Falling Apart” shoved aside any fears that the band is losing its step. The set closed with “The Concept,” which had been left out of tours past. It’s pretty fantastic to see the band continuing to tour and create great new music. My only hope is that we don’t have to wait another seven years before their next visit.

***

Teenage Fanclub’s new single, “Everything Is Falling Apart” is out now on Merge Records.

Setlist:

About You

Start Again

The Cabbage

Everything Is Falling Apart

Alcoholiday

I Don’t Know

Only With You

Catholic Education

Thaw Me

Your Love Is the Place Where I Come From

Planets

Verisimilitude

I Don’t Want Control of You

Hold On

I’m in Love

My Uptight Life

The Concept

Encore:

The Fall

Everything Flows

 

M. LOCKWOOD PORTER – Communion In The Ashes

Album: Communion In The Ashes

Artist: M. Lockwood Porter

Label: Black Mesa

Release Date: March 29, 2019

www.blackmesarecords.com

BY JOHN B. MOORE

There’s something about Oklahoma. Over the past several years, some of the strongest, Americana/country/folk albums have been put out by native Oakies like Parker Millsap, John Fulbright and The Turnpike Troubadours. Add M. Lockwood Porter to the list. A native of Oklahoma, he carries on the Red Dirt tradition beautifully with Communion In The Ashes, his third album and a triumph in diversity.

Effortlessly slipping in and out of musical genres from modern folk (“Get Back To The Wild”) to updated spirituals (“I Will Do No More A-Prayin’”) to straight up rock (“Anything For Greed”), Porter delivers a remarkably impressive album. The obvious dual influences of Springsteen and Dylan are present here, especially in his lyrics (“Get Back To The Wild” is truly one of the best spiritual anthems to come out in years), but you can also glimpse nods to others like Bright Eyes and Kristofferson.
Across 11 tracks, there is not a single moment of filler or superfluous music here. Ever lyric, every note works to deliver a remarkable album. Given the history of Oklahoma, there is a compelling argument to be made that the Sooner state could rightfully hijack Nashville’s claim to “Music City” or Austin’s brag of “Live Music Capitol of the World”.

DOWNLOAD: “Get Back to the Wild” and “Anything for Greed”

OST – Velvet Goldmine (Music From the Original Motion Picture)

Album: Velvet Goldmine (Music From the Original Motion Picture)

Artist: OST

Label: Universal Music Special Markets/Island/MVDaudio

Release Date: April 05, 2019

www.MVDaudio.com

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

Though poorly received when it came out in 1998, director Todd Haynes’ glam rock fantasy Velvet Goldmine has, over time, become a beloved cult classic. Whatever one thinks of the film’s reimagining of the relationship between David Bowie and Iggy Pop, though, the soundtrack is where it’s at. A mix of period cuts and glam rock covers performed by a pair of all-star bands made up of nineties alt.rock luminaries, the songlist is damn near impeccable, even with the absence of any Bowie cuts.

While the original compact disc version has been the perfect companion on many a road trip, MVD’s first-time vinyl reissue couldn’t be any more appropriate. Given the film’s time period and its musical metiere, letting the songs spin on wax (especially when as garishly colored as this half-blue/half-orange version) just fits. Needle in groove lets Teenage Fanclub & Elastica’s Donna Mathews’ version of the New York Dolls’ “Personality Crisis,” the Stooges’ “T.V. Eye” by the Wylde Rattz (AKA co-star Ewan McGregor fronting Ron Asheton, Thurston Moore, Don Fleming and others), and Placebo’s take on T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy” leap out of the speakers, teeth bared and power chords aflame. The less raging tracks fare just as well, especially the majestic interpretation of Steve Harley’s “Tumbling Down” from star Jonathan Rhys Meyers and the plethora of Roxy Music tunes (“2HB,” “Ladytron,” “Bitter’s End,” “Bitter-Sweet”) performed by the Venus in Furs, AKA Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Bernard Butler, Andy MacKay, and producer Paul Kimble. (For some reason Meyers’ take on Harley’s bizarre but affecting “Sebastian” didn’t make the cut on album.)

Speaking of Kimble, Grant Lee Buffalo, the band for whom Kimble played bass at the time, appears with an original: the pitch-perfect “The Whole Shebang,” which manages to sound period and just like its parent’s work at the same time. Ditto the two originals contributed by Shudder to Think, who ease back on their usual avant-garde weirdness to explore the diva-esque glam rock heart of their music with “Hot One” and “Ballad of Maxwell Demon.” Some actual vintage tunes appear as well: the real Roxy Music’s classic “Virginia Plain,” Lou Reed’s gorgeous “Satellite of Love,” T. Rex’s quirky “Diamond Meadows,” Brian Eno’s romping “Needle in the Camel’s Eye” (which runs over the opening credits in the movie) and, closing the LP, Harley’s breezy “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)” – quite possibly a lot of American glam fans’ introduction to this quirky British artist.

As both a sampler and a celebration of the seventies glam rock era, the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack is a gem. That it’s now out in the format that seems most natural to its era makes it gleam all the brighter.

DOWNLOAD: “Hot One,” “The Whole Shebang,” “Tumbling Down”

 

THE AINTS! – The Church of Simultaneous Existence

Album: The Church of Simultaneous Existence

Artist: The Aints!

Label: ABC/Universal Australia

Release Date: September 18, 2018

www.abcmusic.com.au

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

When former Saints and Laughing Clowns guitarist/songwriter Ed Kuepper put together the Aints in the early nineties, it was with the intention of reclaiming the Saints’ seventies catalog in the style in which the songs were originally recorded. The band quickly evolved into a vehicle for Kuepper’s bluesier, more jamming instincts – a sound in opposition to the highly crafted, idiosyncratic folk rock with which he worked on his solo albums. Twenty-six years after the last Aints album, Kuepper adds an exclamation point and revisits his original notion.

Rather than cover the already well-known work by his former band, however, Kuepper instead digs into his archives and resurrects a set of unrecorded songs – some predating the Saints and some coming from the time between 1978’s Prehistoric Sounds (and the subsequent dissolution of the original lineup) and the 1982 debut of the Laughing Clowns. That last period seems key here – not only for the presence of horns, which had debuted to great effect on the Saints’ “Know Your Product” and become integral on Sounds, but for the creeping jazziness that would define the Clowns’ innovative postpunk. Aided by Australian jazz pianist Alister Spence and a three-piece horn section, Kuepper pushes “You Got the Answer,” “Elevator (A Song For Barking Lord Jeff)” and the title track into what would have been quirky territory for the original band, but now strikes one as perfectly transitional. This is the world in which much of Kuepper’s work lives, and it sounds glorious.

Not everything strives to break what was then new ground, however. “Country Song in G” is another lovely folk rocker in the vein of “A Minor Aversion,” while “Winters Way” balances grooving R&B and melancholia for a brooding delight. “The Rise and Fall of James Hoopnoch Eefill” indulges in a Kinks-like fantasia, while “Goodnight Ladies (I Hear a Sound Without)” delves into epic psychedelic postpunk. “S.O.S. ‘75” and “Red Aces,” meanwhile, simply rock out, the latter opening the LP with a bang. The horns and piano stay with these tracks as well – along with Kuepper’s sense of melody and distinctive singing, which has only gotten richer with age, they provide continuity as the band explores various stylistic avenues. Not that there needs to be thematic unity – Kuepper’s writing is so strong and the band’s performance so tight the tracks would succeed under any circumstances. Welcome back the Aints!, stronger than ever.

Note: The album is also available as a limited-to-500-copies vinyl LP, while the deluxe version of the CD comes with a bonus disc, “The Church of Simultaneous Instrumentals.”

DOWNLOAD: “Red Aces,” “Winters Way,” “You Got the Answer”

 

Wednesday 13, John5, Hellzapoppin Sideshow Revue 11/4/18, Warrendale PA

Dates: November 4, 2018

Location: Jergel’s Rhythm Grille, Warrendale PA

Live at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille!

TEXT & PHOTOS BY TIFFINI TAYLOR

It was a chilly night when Wednesday 13, John5 and Hellzapoppin Sideshow Revue visited Warrendale, PA to entertain at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille. This was a show like no other. It had everything one could want in a night out. The venue is a nice place with good food and friendly staff. The show is a different kind of concert due to the inclusion of a sideshow. It is an experience to see a sideshow before a rock bands take to the stage.

The Hellapoppin Sideshow Revue was the first to take to the stage at Jergly’s Rhythm & Grill. If one has never seen a sideshow this is the one to see. Seeing glass being eaten is a sort of amazing unnerving all in one. The sideshow has acrobatic stunts, music, and things that one needs to see to believe. These are talented entertainers, do not try these at home at all. A very good show from Hellapoppin Sideshow Revue. A great way to begin the night of great performances.

Next with a giant roar from the audience Wednesday 13 took to the Jergyl’s stage. Wednesday 13 is a band that will give one a fright at first but then one will fall in love with them. The talent in this band is pure love of music.  Wednesday 13 puts on a performance that is good for any goth soul. A stage presence which is just as impressive as Ozzy Ozbourne and Alice Cooper.

The use of white and black make-up, along with gothic inspired and leather outfits is both macabre and lovely at the same time. The lighting which includes dark and light-colored lights is inspiring to fit an eerie night of music. The color of lights used included yellow, white, and blues. Wednesday 13 is one of the most powerful bands to see live. They have a new album titled “Condolences” out and it is good.

The crowd settled down somewhat while the stage is set up for John5. Once it was set and excited crowd yelled and screamed with joy and love as he and his band, the Creatures, hit the stage. He is truly one of the most interesting performers in the world as well as a guitar virtuoso. If one has never seen John5 and the Creatures live, put it on bucket list right now. The costuming and the blow ups on stage only add to the awe of the performance. His set included his well-known light guitar, a banjo, and of course electric guitars.

This show was exciting as well as inspirational. It shows creativity at its finest. Each performance offered something different in creative ways. It is amazing what imagination and talent can do. The audience left excited and happy. This is a must see show for any music and performance art lover. A great night was had, and look forward to seeing each performer again soon. Go out and see a show, it does the soul good.