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DEER TICK – Mayonnaise

Album: Mayonnaise

Artist: Deer Tick

Label: Partisan

Release Date: February 01, 2019

https://shop.partisanrecords.com/

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Given that Deer Tick turned in two full albums in late 2017, it’s a little surprising just a month in the new year that they already have another LP ready to send out into the world (even if this recent, sudden gift of music was preceded by a four-year absence). But be thankful for small miracles. Mayonnaise, the band’s eight full length is another amazing collection of rock-tinged Americana, made up mostly – I’m assuming – of songs that didn’t make it onto 2017’s two self-titled efforts.

Far from sounding like lesser cast-offs, the songs here are just as worthy as anything off those earlier albums. The music vacillates between more mellow, acoustic fare like “Pale Blue Eyes” and straight-ahead rock numbers like the infections “Hey! Yeah!”. They even flirt with instrumental jazz on the piano/sax-heavy “Memphis Chair”. Pleasantly the band is solid regardless of whatever musical road they head down on Mayonnaise.

Not sure if this latest release, the third in the series, is foreshadowing another hiatus, but hoping that’s not the case as the group is clearly hitting their stride.

DOWNLOAD: “White City” and “Hey! Yeah”

GWAR – Mr. Small’s Theatre 9/14/18, Millvale PA

Dates: September 14, 2018

Location: Mr. Small's Theatre, Millvale, Pennsylvania

The shock-rock legends were big, but Mr. Small’s – located just outside Pittsburgh – was big enough.

TEXT/PHOTOS BY TIFFINI TAYLOR

Pittsburgh is known for its steel, football team and craft beer, but there are also good music venues. Mr. Small’s Theatre is only one of them. The name may have the word small, but it is big enough for GWAR. The night began with the walk up the stairs into the theater, once inside one notices the dark venue filling up with people. There are black tarps covering some of the theater walls to protect from some of the fake blood. The crowd tonight is in for a giant treat, that is the show GWAR puts on itself.

If one has never experience a GWAR concert, then go to a concert at least once, add to the bucket list now. Attending tonight there are fans, the curious and then there are those who were brought by someone and have no idea who GWAR is. The fans are easy to spot in most cases, showing up in white t-shirts or some form of white clothing. This is due to wanting the spray of fake blood upon them. It is like a rite of passage or ritual. Then there is the curious who want to see what attending a GWAR concert is like, they want the experience and memory. Then there are those whose friends have an extra ticket, and these are the one’s who come and are in for a big surprise. Those who are not familiar with GWAR are usually scared once the band steps onto the stage.

A roar from the audience came with enthusiasm as the band enters the stage, this is what GWAR fans are, they are passionate and from all walks of life. The bands attire is the first thing that is noticed, either you love it or hate it, there is no in-between. GWAR comes with a backstory that is interesting and creative, they also have a comic book series. Their costumes are made of leather, armor, masks, fake blood, more fake blood, make-up and horns. GWAR is not from this Earth, they are from a far- away outer space. They were part of an elite fighting squad who served master because they were screw ups they were banished and sent to planet Earth. Basically, they were here and made human beings. Now remember this is all make believe, very creative and interesting.

During the show the crowd is squirted with fake blood, a lot of fake blood, as the band tells their story through their music. If you are a photographer, do not forget camera bags to cover camera, this is a warning. This show is fun, it is funny in some parts and gross in others. The band has been known to bring out mannequins of celebrities and kill them, this is of course all fake. There is a moment in tonight’s show where a beloved member of GWAR came out onto the stage and the audience was chanting ball-sack, this is the characters name. It was a moment that was incredible having a full theater yelling out ball-sack. The show continued and the fake blood squirted and poured onto the stage.

GWAR is a band that is not for everyone, but it is an experience. They are a music group who do know how to play their instruments very well. Can anyone imagine playing guitars, drums, and bass dressed in the costumes they wear?

 

MARTIN NEWELL – The Greatest Living Englishman

Album: The Greatest Living Englishman

Artist: Martin Newell

Label: Cherry Red

Release Date: March 05, 2019

https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/martin-newell-the-greatest-living-englishman-2/

BY JONATHAN LEVITT

Martin Newell released this pop tour de force back in 1993, which makes it a shocking 25-years-old. If by now you haven’t heard this record then this reissue is a great time to get in on the action. Using the later era cover art for the record, the album is the finest slice of British guitar pop this side of XTC’s Skylarking and as fate would have it the record is produced by Andy Partridge. His presence looms large especially on tracks like “Back on the Hurricane” with a string sound that would eventually be used on XTC’s own “River of Orchids”. “She Rings the Changes” is as perfect a pop song as you can get, here Andy joins in on the chorus which will have you humming it long after the song has dissipated. This sets the stage for the song that is the true centerpiece of the album. “A Street Called Prospect” hits every single sweet spot for fans of British pop. From the harpsichord to the clever lyrics, this song is absolute perfection. I love how Newell turns a phrase, “And there’s a brown stone church with a cracked bell ringing, Where the boys learn boxing and the girls learn singing, Where the good take the cloth and the fallen join the game, Before they burn out so briefly like an insect in the flame”. That’s absolutely brilliant! A tough act to follow for sure but Newell manages to lay on us another stellar cut with “Christmas in Suburbia” filled with beach boy harmonies and a snappy beat. Then to finish the pop trifecta Newell offers up “Straight to You Boy” a plaintive beautiful number that shows a more introspective side to his writing. If there’s a downside to this iteration of the album it’s that Cherry Red for some odd reason has decided to strip the two extra tracks tacked onto a previous reissue of this record. Be that as it may this is a work of art that needs to be in every Kinks, Beatles and XTC fan’s collection.

DOWNLOAD:  “A Street Called Prospect” “Christmas in Suburbia”  “She Rings The Changes”Straight to You Boy”

 

 

The Goon Sax 11/1/18, Denver

Dates: November 1, 2018

Location: Larimer Lounge, Denver CO

Live at the Larimer Lounge!

BY TIM HINELY

If you haven’t heard the Goon Sax you’d better get on it. This Brisbane, Australia trio, of Louis Forster (son of the Go-Betweens Robert) on guitar/vocals, James Harrison on bass and Riley Jones on drums though they all sing and switch insturments at different times, are creating some of the most unquie pop around. And they’re young cats, too! Just out of high school, I think.

This Thursday night at the Larimer wasn’t super crowded, though it should have been, but it didn’t matter, these three plowed on like they were playng to a packed Fillmore.

They played a nice mix of songs off their two full-lengths, 2016’s Up To Anything (released on Chapter Music) and the recently released We’re Not Talking  (on Wichita Recordings) and showed real confidence and quirkyness that can’t be matched (Harrison had on a almost full-length purple raincoat with finger purple gloves as well) while Forster occasionally snarled in between swoons.  The 8-foot tall Forster also occasionally mumbled things into the mic while Harrison ambled about the stage looking like he was sleep walking and Jones sat quietly on the drum kit doing her thing (and very well I might add).

At different times throughout the set I heard echoes of The Shaggs, the Television Personalities, Raincoats, Swell Maps and yes, early Go B’s (think that Lost Album period).  They opened up with  few from the new album including “Sleep EZ,” “Losing Myself’ and “She Knows” and later, even without the string section, the brilliant “Make Time 4 Love” sounded excellent, a bit grittier but no less potent. Off the debut we heard gems like “Home Haircuts” and “Anyone Else.”  They ended the short (30-ish minute) set with “Til’ The End” and headed straight for the showers or green room (in this the outside patio).

This is no run of the mill pop band, these guys are a special thing indeed. Wise beyond their years and not afraid to take chances (even if they may not realize it). I’d call ‘em fearless even and fearless with terrific songs is a great combination. Listen (and attend a gig) immediately.

TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS – The Best of Everything

Album: The Best of Everything

Artist: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Label: Universal/Geffen

Release Date: March 01, 2019

www.tompetty.com

BY DAVE STEINFELD

At first glance, you might ask yourself if The Best of Everything — which is subtitled “The Definitive Career Spanning Hits Collection” — was necessary. After all, there are already several other Petty anthologies including An American Treasure, which just arrived last fall and includes four discs. But An American Treasure — while comprehensive in scope — focuses mainly on deep cuts, live renditions and previously unreleased material. So being that there is little if any overlap between these two collections, the answer is a resounding “yes.” The Best of Everything serves a purpose and does it well.

Tom Petty’s death — on October 2nd, 2017 — left a gaping hole in the world of rock and roll. True, we’ve lost other plenty of other rockers, some quite recently. But there was something special about Petty. Back in the late ‘70s, when many music fans embraced either the corporate rock status quo or the more groundbreaking sounds of punk and New Wave, Petty was one of the few artists who could claim fans from both camps. And the ability to appeal to people of disparate interests and backgrounds never really left him. Petty and his Heartbreaker cohorts were unabashedly influenced by the artists who came before them (The Byrds, The Rolling Stones etc.) but they synthesized those influences into something that was fresh and perfectly in step with the times. And there was always something appealingly “normal” about Petty. He knew he was good but he lacked the arrogance of someone like Mick Jagger. He was Rock Star as Everyman and could be as critical of himself as he often was about the music business.

Likewise, The Heartbreakers were a tight and talented group of “regular guys” from Gainesville, FLA who happened to hit the big time. Mike Campbell was the perfect right hand man for Petty, an underrated lead guitarist capable of casually unleashing great solos and an adept co-writer as well. Keyboardist Benmont Tench was the son of a judge and probably the most intellectual Heartbreaker. Musically, he provided an essential component — which is no mean feat in a guitar-based band. Ron Blair’s rock star looks belied his penchant for stage fright and general shyness but he was a solid musician (check out the bass line in “American Girl”) and has the distinction of being both the first and third bassist in the band, following the sadly departed Howie Epstein. And while Stan Lynch fell out with Petty in the ’90s, there’s no question that he was an integral part of the band early on with his larger-than-life personality and drumming. In this writer’s opinion, The Heartbreakers were probably the greatest American band of the past 50 years.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their self-titled debut at the end of 1976. Over the next 40 years or so, they would provide the soundtrack to millions of American lives. Some albums may have sold better than others, some may have even been better than others, but Petty never made a bad record — which is more than most artists who have been around for four decades can say. Even the albums that were spotty had their moments.

Which is where The Best of Everything comes in. It offers 38 tracks spread across two CDs (or four sides of vinyl). There are also some great photos, plus liner notes from Cameron Crowe. Admittedly, you don’t get many previously unreleased songs here — just two, in fact. But the quality of the music that you do get is so consistently top-notch that this hardly matters. The Best of Everything collects material from Petty’s solo career, his later efforts with Mudcrutch (TP, Campbell, Tench, Tom Leadon, and Randall Marsh) and, of course, plenty of stuff with The Heartbreakers. The songs aren’t arranged chronologically but this is an advantage in a way because it makes the listener realize that Petty was writing great songs throughout his career, even after he stopped being a regular presence on the charts. Most of the big hits (“Free Fallin’, ”Refugee,” “American Girl,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” etc.) appear on Disc 1. But there are some on Disc 2 as well, along with some excellent lesser known songs.

Even at 38 tracks, not all of Petty’s best work is represented and naturally fans will argue about what should or shouldn’t have made the cut (I, for one, wouldn’t have minded a couple more songs from Echo or Long After Dark). But again, this is a minor complaint. The number of great songs here is truly striking — as is the variety of those songs. Witness the title track from 1985’s Southern Accents, a breakthrough ballad that even this Connecticut Yankee can appreciate… The biting commentary of “The Last DJ,” which was banned by Clear Channel for telling some inconvenient truths about the music business… The Zeppelin-esque blues-rock of “I Should Have Known It” from 2010’s Mojo… Sad, beautiful ballads like “Room at the Top” and “Dreamville”…. And the back to basics rock and roll of “You Wreck Me” from Petty’s massively popular solo disc, Wildflowers.

Taken as a whole, The Best of Everything offers ample proof that Tom Petty was one of the most important and consistent figures in American rock and roll. These lines from “Walls,” a deceptively simple single from the overlooked She’s the One soundtrack, provides a fitting epitaph:

“Some things are over
Some things go on
Part of me you carry
Part of me is gone.”

RIP, Tom. We’ll never forget you.

LUTHER RUSSELL – Medium Cool

Album: Medium Cool

Artist: Luther Russell

Label: Fluff & Gravy

Release Date: February 22, 2019

https://fluffandgravy.com/

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Luther Russell has drifted under the radar of many for the past few decades, but his 2018 double album anthology, Selective Memories helped clue in the uninitiated to his brilliant knack for writing Power Pop and Rock songs that brim with substance. His latest, Medium Cool, continues that streak, shunning trendy musical fades for a timeless set of guitar-driven, strong narrative songs that could have come out at any time over the past 40 years.

The influence of his sometime-collaborator Jody Stephens shines through on many of these songs, which sport a strong Big Star influence (“The Sound of Rock & Roll,” “Can’t Be Sad”), but elsewhere he is straight up, prefix-free rock (“Corvette Summer,” “Sad Lady”). There are one or few tracks here that don’t quite measure up to the rest, but that hardly takes away from the overall greatness of Medium Cool.

Themes of cruising around, checking out bands and teenage romance drama fill out the record, that sounds like the perfect summer soundtrack to a world before cell phones and Instagram stories.

DOWNLOAD: “Can’t Be Sad,” “Have You Heard?” and “Corvette Summer”

Wild Honey Foundation Kinks Koncert Benefit for Autism Think Tank

Dates: Feb. 23, 2019

Location: Alex Theatre, Glendale CA

People take pictures of each other in Cali – and the Ministry of Information can’t do a damn thing about it. God save the Village Green. (Above photo by Cary Baker)

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY SUSAN MOLL

The Kinks’ generation lost its childhood to the Fuhrer. Many little ones were loaded onto boats, buses and trains and sent away from their families during Operation Pied Piper, and many others cowered terrified in tube tunnels as the Luftwaffe rained fire and death upon their homes. The ones who survived the war suffered through unspeakable physical and psychic injury, hiding their bomb shock and trauma behind stiff upper lips and the Keep Calm and Carry On direction from the Ministry of Information. As adults, they pined for the youths they never had. Hence The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society, on which the band reimagined their youths in simpler, safer and happier times and contemplated, wistfully, the verdant idyll that might have been. Their love letter to England was addressed to a country and a culture long vanished, committed to the archives of history alongside the Iter Britanniarum.

The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society just celebrated its 50th (!) birthday, and the Wild Honey Foundation marked the occasion by selecting it for its annual benefit concert, proceed from which help fund the Autism Think Tank. Under the tutelage of musical director Rob Laufer, the 20+ members of the Wild Honey Orchestra (including Dr. Clem Burke bashing away behind the kit) backed the talent paying homage to the album that tanked upon release but ripened with time, as well as an assortment of other Kinks favorites. None of the surviving Kinks were able to participate. Their advancing ages make travel difficult, and the brothers Davies would have annihilated each other the minute they stepped off the plane. No one, onstage or off, minded in the least.

God save Donald Duck, vaudeville and variety! Former Blur guitarist and vocalist Graham Coxon delivered “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” with equal parts charm and smarm, a naughty-schoolboy glint in his eye. Cheeky! … Emerging Chapel Hill ingénue Millie McGuire teamed up with Peter Holsapple for “Monica.” Her debut, Yours, Millie McGuire, lands this summer. Chris Stamey produced… Chris Stamey, meanwhile, pussyfooted through “Phenomenal Cat” with vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Debbie Shair cast as the titular feline. The former is set to release New Songs for the 20th Century, a double-disc collection of original songs influenced by the Great American Songbook, later this year… Anna Waronker and Rachel Haden performed “Two Sisters,” and there’s a new that dog record in the works as well. It’ll be the band’s first since 1997’s Retreat from the Sun …. Smithereens Severo Jornacion and Dennis Diken read everyone “Picture Book” while Derrick Anderson joined the Wild Honey Orchestra on bass…People take pictures of each other, and there was no one more camera-ready than Kristian Hoffman of Mumps fame… “Milk Cow Blues,” “All Day and All of the Night” and “The World Keeps Going Round” were absent from the set list, but we can’t have everything now, can we?… Large-and-in-charge Pugwash mainman Thomas Walsh, fresh from the townland of Ferdia’s ford: “I’m still fat!”…  The incomparable Terry Reid, aptly nicknamed Superlungs (and for good reason), rode the rails on “The Last of the Steam-Powered Trains” and reminded everyone “I’m Not Like Everybody Else.” We wouldn’t have it any other way… Steve Stanley stepped away from his duties at the Now Sounds reissue imprint to serve “Afternoon Tea,” and you can tune in to his radio broadcast The Now Sounds every Monday on luxuriamusic.com … The Baseball Project couldn’t decide upon a song to play for the occasion so they played three: “Lola,” “Where Have All the Good Times Gone” and “Get Back in Line”… The night culminated in a riotous cover of “You Really Got Me” and a goodly amount of cash in the Autism Think Tank’s coffers. God save the Village Green.

Chris Morris (emcee)

Anna Waronker & Rachel Haden

Chris Stamey & Debbie Shair

Graham Coxon

Elliot Easton

Ira Kaplan

Kristian Hoffman

Jason Falkner

Steve Stanley

Thomas Walsh

Rachel Haden

Carla Olson

Dan Wilson

Morty Coyle (All Day Sucker)

Mark Eitzel

Mike Viola

Probyn Gregory

The Baseball Project’s Mike Mills & Scott McCaughey

Jeff McDonald (Redd Kross)

John Easdale (Dramarama)

Peter Holsapple

Millie McGuire

Steve Wynn

Freedy Johnston

Bill Janovitz

Syd Straw

Terry Reid & Chris Price

Emeen Zarookian + Alex Jules (Bebopalula)

Jordan Summers

Rob Bonfiglio

Rob Laufer

Luther Russell (Those Pretty Wrongs)

Derrick Anderson, Severo Jornacion + Dennis Diken (the Smithereens)

 

 

 

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS – The Albums: 1991-1997

Album: The Albums: 1991-1997

Artist: Stiff Little Fingers

Label: Cherry Red

Release Date: February 22, 2019

https://www.cherryred.co.uk

BY JONATHAN LEVITT

I must admit that I never really listened to Stiff Little Fingers later period material, but then this box set came along. The 4-cd set expands the albums released by the band spanning seven years in the ‘90s and is a bit of a mixed bag.

The centerpiece of the boxset is the live set from Glasgow circa 1993, a blistering run through their canon of songs. “Tin Soldiers” slays everything in sight and will have you pumping your fist to the chorus. “Alternative Ulster” is a punch to the gut, and like Sham 69’s “Hurry up Harry,” anthemic and empowering. The album Flags and Emblems is a brilliant return for a band that had broken up. An aggressive political statement that was a big fuck you to the corporation called government. Tracks like “(It’s A) Long Way To Paradise (From Here)” thumb their nose at the establishment and are a resounding call to action. “Beirut Moon,” the single which was deleted right after its release for taking on the government head on, is the perfect amalgamation of political chiding and anthemic rock. The antithesis to this record is Tinderbox which in this reviewer’s estimation is the weakest album of the bunch and sounds like an afterthought coming from a band with such lauded credentials. Get a Life is only slightly better, but begs the question, what was the goal of recording something that sounds somewhere between REO Speedwagon and Green Day? “Can’t believe in You” is a trite absurd tune that is so color-by-numbers it hurts. “Road to Kingdom Come” is dreadful and sounds like the band was chasing instead of leading. While not advocating artistic stasis, I do think that in this case their choice of direction was wrong and rings hollow.

Ultimately, this is a boxset for completists only.

DOWNLOAD: “(It’s A) Long Way To Paradise (From Here)” “Beirut Moon” “Tin Soldiers” “Alternative Ulster”

 

 

CARSIE BLANTON – Buck Up

Album: Buck Up

Artist: Carsie Blanton

Label: self-released

Release Date: February 15, 2019

https://www.carsieblanton.com/

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Carsie Blanton has this chameleon-like ability to be just about everything to everyone. On her latest LP, she flaunts a distinctly original sound and style that can be flirty and dirty on one track (“That Boy”) and just minutes later turn out a beautifully-political and enlightened reflection (“American Kid”) and then transition to a sweet love song (“Harbor). Such is the charm of a Blanton record.

Slipping in and out of genres, from the jazzy opener to the Americana pop of the closing track, there is not a single song on Buck Up that doesn’t earn a right to be here. Over the course of the past 15 years or so, Blanton has managed to carve out a distinctly inventive sound that may draw subtle influences from folks like Nina Simone and John Prine but is still a remarkably individual voice.

The record is capped with the charming title track, a duet with Oliver Wood from the Wood Brothers, proving that that Buck Up has something to offer for just about everyone.

DOWNLOAD: “Jacket,” “Bed” and ‘Buck Up”

BOB MOULD – 2/26/19, Englewood CO

Dates: February 26, 2019

Location: Gothic Theatre, Englewood CO

Live at the Gothic Theatre, of course!

 BY BEN CURNETT / PHOTOS BY J.D. BAMFORD

When you go see Bob Mould on tour, one thing jumps out before the show starts: everyone in the crowd looks pretty much like the performer. You will not witness more middle-age-slightly-balding-touch-of-grey-buzz-cut-square-glasses-stubble-beard-plaid-shirt-and-vans lookin’ dudes anywhere this side of a bears meetup weekend in the Poconos. And just in case you’re wondering if Bob’s in on it, they sell the goddam plaid button down that he’s wearing on stage at the merch table next to the standard black tour Ts. First rule of marketing: know your audience.

Bob knows his audience. The man’s iconic, like it or not (he doesn’t), having now made three decades worth of music post-Hüskers, If a retrospective of that entire canonical catalog what you’re craving in a live show of this particular stripe, you will not be disappointed. The concert is a showcase of what is currently the world’s best example of what rock looks like in late middle age: fun, honest, and full of energy. That “fun” part is important. You can see plainly that Bob is having a good time on stage, playing old Sugar and HD hits not because he has to slog through them in order to keep enough people coming to be able to still play large theaters, but because those songs are a backdrop to the new stuff. And while we’re on the subject … Sugar songs played: A Good Idea, Hoover Dam, If I Can’t Change Your Mind. Hüsker Dü songs played: I Apologize, set closers Something I Learned Today and Chartered Trips, and an encores of Love is All Around and Makes No Sense At All (verdict is still out on whether or not it’s ok to hate our Fort Collins neighbors for stealing New Day Rising).

The new album was prominent in the set list (the title track, “Sunshine Rock” was a highlight, as was the frenetic “Thirty Dozen Roses”) and there was a pretty good balance of other career nuggets too, including “See A Little Light” and “I Don’t Know You Anymore.” In fact, you should stop reading this now and run, don’t walk, to your nearest new browser tab to get tickets for the next show. You won’t just be getting a Mould compilation; you’re going to witness one of the best live performances you’ll see this year.

The band is one of the best trios you’ll see. That’s not hyperbole; they are amazingly tight, and that controlled fever pitch is the feel that the band carried through the night. Jason Narducy’s bass and backing vocals matched the energy Bob was putting out there like they had played together for more than a decade, which … hey look at that! … they have. Jon Wurster made me ask myself why I hadn’t ditched everything and dedicated myself to playing the drums.

And then there’s Bob. The man’s iconic, like it or not (he doesn’t), having now made three decades worth of music post-Hüskers, If a retrospective of that entire canonical catalog what you’re craving in a live show of this particular stripe, you will not be disappointed. The concert is a showcase of what is currently the world’s best example of what rock looks like in late middle age: fun, honest, and full of energy. That “fun” part is important. You can see plainly that Bob is having a good time on stage, playing old Sugar and HD hits not because he has to slog through them in order to keep enough people coming to be able to still play large theaters, but because those songs are a backdrop to the new stuff. And while we’re on the subject … Sugar songs played: A Good Idea, Hoover Dam, If I Can’t Change Your Mind. Hüsker Dü songs played: I Apologize, set closers Something I Learned Today and Chartered Trips, and an encores of Love is All Around and Makes No Sense At All (verdict is still out on whether or not it’s ok to hate our Fort Collins neighbors for stealing New Day Rising).

I don’t think I can, it was one of my favorite shows ever. Bob was smiling a lot, and so was I. Great night.