Monthly Archives: August 2019

MINUS 5 – Stroke Manor

Album: Stroke Manor

Artist: Minus 5

Label: Yep Roc

Release Date: June 14, 2019

www.yeproc.com

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

It’s always a welcome return when the power pop super group The Minus 5 adds a new album to their catalog, and Stroke Manor is no exception. After all, any time Scott McCaughey, Peter Buck, Jeff Tweedy, Corrin Tucker, Steve Wynn and the other musicians that tend to drift in and out of  this sprawling conglomerate manage to take time from their busy schedules to coalesce, it’s bund to be intriguing.

However, like Filthy Friends, another muso mash-up, part of whose membership overlaps The Minus 5’s, the end results don’t always equal the sum of its parts. Many of the numbers are awash in discordant melodies and a subversive undertow, giving it a grungy feel overall. There are exceptions however — the upbeat “My Collection,” presumably a song celebrating one’s musical library, the effusive “Bleach Boys & Beach Girls,” a song Mike Love might be wise to consider and the surging “Message of Mother” measure up to the best of the band’s earlier catalog.

Still, for all the gaps that fall in-between, Stroke Manor remains a wise investment. the songs tend to coalesce over time and any collector of the core members’ individual offerings would be remiss to ignore this. Stroke Manor strikes a few interesting notes, and for that reason alone, it give the Minus 5 a solid plus.

DOWNLOAD: “My Collection,” “Bleach Boys & Beach Girls,” “Message of Mother”

DREAM SYNDICATE – These Times

Album: These Times

Artist: Dream Syndicate

Label: Anti-

Release Date: May 03, 2019

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

It would probably be a mistake to declare there’s a Paisley Pop revival, but given the resurgence of bands like The Bangles, The Three O’Clock, and the Rain Parade (reference the recent release of a coop album called 3X4 which found all the aforementioned outfits curiously covering each other’s songs), a case could be made that the time is right for a comeback. The one-two punch of 2017’s How Did I Find Myself Here and its follow up How We Found Ourselves… Everywhere! certainly indicated a willingness to keep their renewed efforts moving forward, and given mainstay Steve Wynn’s willingness to put his prolific solo career on hold, a permanent new chapter in the band’s trajectory appears altogether possible. With drummer Dennis Duck and keyboard player Chris Cavacas playing their parts and fellow traveler Stephen McCarthy of Rain Parade making a nominal appearance on backing vocals, the pieces do seem in place to keep the pieces in place.

Happily then, These Times finds the band on familiar turf. The psychedelic sheen that  pervaded their seminal work is still largely in place, as evidenced by such songs “The Way In,” “Black Light,” The Whole World’s Watching” and “Treading Water Underneath the Stars” in particular. There’s a certain din that elevates the arrangements, adding a wry yet restless undertow to the proceedings overall. Imagine Lou Reed back at the. helm of the Velvet Underground and you get a basis for comparison. Granted, it’s hard to compete with such seminal classics as The Days of Wine and Roses and Medicine Show, but with most of their talent in tow, there’s no reason to think greater glories don’t await down the road.
DOWNLOAD: “The Way In,” “Black Light,” The Whole World’s Watching”

Bryan Ferry 8/15/19, Atlanta

Dates: August 15, 2019

Location: The Tabernacle, Atlanta GA


Taking a victory lap with a deep dive into both his solo and Roxy Music catalogues, and accompanied by a stellar crew that included UK guitar legend Chris Spedding, Ferry turned Atlanta’s sold-out venue, the famed Tabernacle, into his personal song-craft room of magic and mirrors. (Click on the images in the gallery, below, to enlarge them.)

TEXT/PHOTOS BY JOHN BOYDSTON

Bryan Ferry is back on the road touring the world has he has done for many years – but this time it feels like a bit of a victory lap, and in a good way.  Ferry and the entire Roxy Music band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year, and Ferry has said he appreciates the honor and loves the love.

If Ferry is feeling his 73 years he does a good job of hiding it onstage.   He’s loose, poised, having fun, and the onstage mutual admiration between this legend and his fans is remarkable and a sight to behold.   He’s also clearly leading the band, giving intro and outro cues, not that they need much direction once the show starts.  All top-notch veterans, and pretty much the same as he has toured with in recent years, including the great longtime Ferry/Roxy Music sideman and UK rock legend in his own right — Chris Spedding.  (Look him up.  We might not have ever had the Sex Pistols without his involvement.)

In fact, a highlight was the spotlight Ferry shared with Spedding for a solo during a rousing cover of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues.” I was reminded of Ferry’s all-covers solo record years ago, “These Foolish Things,” worth checking out as are all the Roxy and Ferry releases over the years.  I didn’t own my first Roxy Music LP until a few years ago, so it’s never too late, so start at the beginning with their iconic debut LP Roxy Music.

Ferry’s currently playing the Roxy hits, and solo stuff.  The guy is still making solid records.  Did I mention he’s 73?

Only a few US dates left, this week in Dallas and Austin, TX.  Then moving west to Denver, CO and onto California.  Dates here:  http://bryanferry.com/tour/

One other uniquely Bryan Ferry thing – he allows and encourages photographers to shoot the entire show.  NOBODY of his stature does that.  Usually it’s 3 songs and, get outta here, you weenies.  That says so much about his personal confidence – and it’s smart, because a photographer willing to take the time can capture all moods and visuals as the show progresses. A Bryan Ferry show heats up as it goes.

Bigger and more photos from the show are here:  https://jobo.smugmug.com/Bryan-Ferry-2019-Tour/
Check ‘em out and give me a follow on Instagram at @johnboydstonphoto.  Sometimes I have dog photos, too. (I can second that emotion. – Blurt Dawg Files Ed.) 

Los Straitjackets 8/4/19, Denver

Dates: August 4, 2019

Location: Soiled Dove Underground, Denver CO

Live at the Soiled Dove Underground

BY TIM HINELY

Though they’ve been on the scene since the late 80’s, but this was the first time seeing these veteran masked surf rockers. Also, though you might think they hail from another country (or another planet) they call the USA home, Nashville, TN, to be exact.

The band started when guitar Eddie Angel and Danny Amis (ex-Raybeats) met up and began playing their country-fied hometown  and many, many albums later they can still entertain (bassist Pete Curry and drummer Chris Sprague round out the quarter).  They’ve played with everyone (Nick Lowe, Big Sandy and Deke Dickerson to name but a few) and continue to take their show on the road.

On this evening at the Soiled Dove it appeared I was one of the younger folks in the audience (for a change, ha ha ha) so the 8:00 PM start time was good for all of us. The band came out and opened with their standard opener “Pacifica.” From there they played a healthy mix of cuts off of many of their albums (again, check out the band’s discography) and tossed in many covers including ones by Sam Cooke (“You Send Me”), The Ventures (“Driving Guitars”), The Hollies  (“Bus Stop”), Nick Lowe (“Cruel To Be Kind”), as well as the “Theme to Midnight Cowboy” and a Rock-A-Teens cover among others.

At one point in the set a young kid who was up front and on his dad’s shoulder had a rubber chicken that made a honking sounds so the band added that sound to a few songs and the kid was stoked.  Meanwhile, in between songs Angel spoken some pretty bad (ok hilarious) Spanish and the band also did some in-sync leg kicks and guitar thrusts/swings while the crowd roared with approval.

They came out for a few encores including The Champs “Tequila” and ended it with The Revels “Church Key.” The set was fun and unpretentious and though you may not be able to see their faces these folks sure give the crowd their money’s worth.

 

45 Reviews: The Dickies / Jack Ellister / Hater

Album: “I Dig Go-Go Girls” / “When an Old Cricketer leaves the Crease” / "Four Tries Down"

Artist: The Dickies / Jack Ellister / Hater

Label: Slope / Fruits de Mer / Fire

Release Date: August 09, 2019

“I Dig Go-Go Girls” (Slope: www.sloperecords.com)  / “When an Old Cricketer leaves the Crease” (Fruits de mer: www.fruitsdemerrecords.com) / “Four Tries Down “(Fire: www.firerecords.com)

BY JONATHAN LEVITT

I rarely get a chance to review 7” records these days, so when these three recently showed up I was beyond excited.

No need to rehash The Dickies’ long and storied punk history, but on this slab they decided to cover Cheap Trick’s “I Dig Go-Go Girls” and the results are stunning. This song, in The Dickies’ hands, rips and snorts with an aggression that is about as perfect a slab of summer as you can get. The vocals are bitchin with an extra bite courtesy of Monkey from The Addicts.  The infectious nature of a Cheap trick tune is amplified to stratospheric heights and buffed to perfection with a punk sheen.

B-side “The Dreaded Pigasaurus”, a Dickies original, is no slouch to its A-side brother. It’s a storming anthem replete with saxophone and what sounds like Hammond B3, stretched over a menacing throbbing bass line. Leonard Phillips vocals provide just the right dose of pop-punk to the proceedings that transported me back to the 1980’s. Short, sharp shock, just what the doctor ordered!

***

On Jack Ellister’s latest 7” he tackles two rather disparate tunes. The A-side, “When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease,” by the late British icon Roy Harper, is a nostalgic number that Ellister tackles, strikingly capturing the original’s somber beauty. Ellister’s voice, along with his old Polish piano, are as much a perfect combination as were Harper and his guitar when he first recorded it. Stunning!

The B-side sees Ellister turn his sights to Black Sabbath. Here his take on the super heavy “Supernaut” is to give the track a decidedly narco-haze and sing in an almost Mark E. Smith acid snarl. Every thud of the drums, drone of the bass, and wailing of the synthesizer is simply spectacular. A killer cover that sees Ellister not only inhabit the track, but modernize and push its boundaries a tad further.

Fruits de Mer have done it once again. Get this 7” from your local shop on colored vinyl with a fold-out poster.

***

Meanwhile, Malmo, Sweden, outfit Hater will drop their new single next month (September 6, to be precise) and it’s a lovely slice of pop that, to this reviewers’ ears, recalls elements of ‘90s era Tanya Donnelly and Lush, with a smidgen of Broadcast thrown in for good measure. Those may be the touchstones to convey to people what they’re in store for, but that’s not meant to say the band lacks creativity; in fact, it’s just the opposite. Side A’s  “Four Tries Down” is a mighty seductive slab of pop that is clear, effective, and memorable; it combines so many elements hitting sweet spots in my brain—from the deep female vocals at the opening, to the beat and catchy melody—that I played it over and over and over… okay, you get the message. The flipside’s “It’s a Mess” is another addictive gem. The understated vocals that border on whispers are seductively dreamy and left me under the singer’s pied-piper like spell. Me wants more!

***

DOWNLOAD: We here at BLURT recommend physical therapy, but if you must go digital, download all 6tracks from these two singles direct from the labels or the artists’ websites so they are guaranteed to get your dough!

 

CHRIS MONDAK – Eternal Youth

Album: Eternal Youth

Artist: Chris Mondak

Label: self-released

Release Date: May 01, 2019

https://chrismondak.com/music

BY JONATHAN LEVITT

Eternal Youth hit my desk in June and has been on non-stop rotation on my stereo ever since. Chris Mondak, a bassist hailing from Venezuela ,hits hard on his maiden voyage. With nods to Dave Holland and a whole slew of classical jazz composers, the listener is treated to eight original compositions that are a true joy to behold.

Opener “Voyage Maid” wastes no time in showing us the goods Chris has in store for us. His virtuosity is a wonder to behold as are his compositional skills which soar to lofty heights throughout the album.  His players are exceptional and they add heft without overshadowing Chris at just the right moments.  Solomon Alber’s sax opens the beautiful tune “Abuelito” and captures a mournful beauty that sounds a dead ringer for Stan Tracey. “Dream Catcher” is a Bossa nova number that has some stellar guitar playing by Carlos Heredia. I really dig how the number takes a funky turn midway through the track. “Warriorld” is Chris’ homage to jazz greats like Clifford Brown and shows that his compositional talent has a dramatically wide scope.  If there’s one let down its “Swords on the wall” this track feels weak and slapdash and zig’s when it should zag.

This summer has been filled with meeting upcoming jazz player and listening to their music and I can say, with Chris Mondak, the future of jazz is bright indeed.

DOWNLOAD:  “Voyage Maid” “Dream Catcher” “Abuelito” “Warriorld”