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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.) 

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”

 

CHUCK MEAD – Close To Home

Album: Close To Home

Artist: Chuck Mead

Label: Plowboy

Release Date: June 21, 2019

www.plowboyrecords.com

BY JOHN B. MOORE

It seems pretty appt that one-time BR5-49 member Chuck Mead would head to the iconic Sam Phillips Recording Studios in Memphis to make his latest, as few in the Americana world have come across as easily an instant classic as Mead. Even though the band first came out in the ‘90s, they had an instant timelessness to their music that you’d have been forgiven for assuming they’d cropped up in the original Sun Studios era. And, much like his former band’s output, Mead’s latest, Close To Home, is just as ageless. Crammed with twangy chords, steel guitar, mandolins, and Mead’s distinctive, melodic drawl (a Midwestern/Southern hybrid), this record is classic honky tonk for a modern age.

From the opening, charging chords on “Big Bear in the Sky,” Mead and crew reel through nearly a dozen country swing and barroom dance floor jams, slowing the tempo down ever so slightly now and then, but never for long.

The music is superb, but it’s Mead’s subtle, witty lyrics that really take center stage on this record (like all his previous solo offerings). Though there’s hardly a weak track on the album, the closing song, “There’s Love Where I Come From,” manages to be both remarkably simple, and simply sublime.

DOWNLOAD: “I’m Not the Man for the Job,” “Close to Home” and “There’s Love Where I Come From”

Love Tractor / Swimming Pool Q’s 6/28 (Athens) & 6/29/2019 (Atlanta)

Dates: June 28 -29, 2019

Location: Athens, GA & Atlanta, GA

 

Live in Athens for the first night in The Vista Room (above), then in Atlanta the following evening at the 40 Watt Club – and both shows were packed to the proverbial gills, with fans coming down to Georgia from as far away as New Jersey and all points in between.

TEXT BY JOHN BOYDSTON / PHOTOS BY KAREN ALLISON (ATHENS) AND JOHN BOYDSTON (ATLANTA)

For these two shows, Love Tractor comprised three original members Armistead Wellford, Mike Richmond, and Mark Cline, plus two musicians playing with them who were both members of the band The Glands:  Joe Rowe (drums, who is still kicking ass with the Pylon Reenactment Society… man, does he precision hammer the good stuff),  and Doug Stanley (keyboards and guitar).

Also for the Athens gig, original Love Tractor member (and subsequent REM drummer) Bill Berry joined the band onstage, as did Berry’s 16-year old son on acoustic guitar, for Love Tractor’s ‘Neon Lights.’  Berry has famously described the band decision he had to make one day – stay with Love Tractor or continue with this other new band he’d been playing with…

Love Tractor played all the great stuff from their early records (maybe all of the first one), and reached into ‘This Ain’t No Outer Spaceship’ with a fabulous performance of ‘Chilli Part 2.’ It was eally a crowd-pleasing set, sounding way better than any old fan like me had a right to expect them to sound. In fact, this was maybe as good as they’ve ever been – which is cool when a band can pull that off after all the years.  It was a solid hour plus set.

Swimming Pool Q’s closed out.

Below: The Second Night in Atlanta

SUMO PRINCESS: When an Electric Storm

Album: When An Electric Storm

Artist: Sumo Princess

Label: Ruined Vibes

Release Date: May 10, 2019

https://www.ruinedvibes.com/product/sumo-princess-when-an-electric-storm

BY JONATHAN LEVITT

There’s a whole lotta heavy in them hills! All hail this hefty slab’o’wax from Sumo Princess a band made up of Abby Travis and Gene Trautmann both of whom have played with The Go Go’s and Masters of Reality. Abby Travis is a wicked LA bass player and an amazing vocalist who on tracks like “Crooked Plow” delivers some powerful emotions using her wonderfully expressive voice and swagger filled bass playing. “New Goth” had me rocking in me seat. Here Travis’ throb heavy bass recalls elements of Peter Hook and then there’s the drum beat which has “She’s Lost Control Again” written all over it. The song then sludges out into hallucinatory territory, a shot to the dome, that hands beat downs all the way to its glorious fade out. Trautmann’s skin smashing talent, lends a biting heft to all the songs on this record. “Kali Ma” me not really like, it’s part Helios Creed processed vocals and King Diamond operatic nonsense. That misstep aside the next track “You Will Rise” is as if Kate Bush began fronting a stoner rock band. The track bristles with an unsettling moodiness augmented by some clever percussive elements. The subtle nuances Travis is able to coax from her bass is visible on the ultra-heavy and hypnotic “Angel Dust”. The album closes with “Click Bait” an oddly structured number that conjures both elements of Therapy? and Elastica, stretched over some jarring time changes. Travis’ amazingly broad vocal range and bass playing is so compelling, it makes the case for getting this record on its own. That said I think that her best vocal moments are when she sings using a more standard delivery. The musical interplay between Trautmann and Travis when it connects makes for an absorbing experience that pulverizes everything in sight. I’d be interested to see how that translates to a live setting. The band is playing a string of east coast dates with the Meat Puppets beginning in early May.

DOWNLOAD: “Crooked Plow” “New Goth” “You Will Rise” “Angel Dust” “Kill the King”

 

The Lemonheads + Tommy Stinson 5/14/19, Denver

Dates: May 14, 2019

Location: Bluebird Theatre, Denver CO

TEXT & PHOTOS BY TIM HINELY

Terrific double bill at the Bluebird Theatre that offered up some serious nostalgia for folks who were going to shows in the 80’s and early 90’s (*raises hand*). Also I would imagine that Evan Dando was listening to plenty of Replacements (Mr. Stinson’s band, as you all well know)  back when he formed The Lemonheads as a frothy, buzzsaw punk band in the mid-80’s so I’m imagining it was somewhat of an honor for him to have Tommy open up.

Stinson hit the stage promptly at 8 PM with a nice acoustic guitar and dressed to the nines in a sharp fedora and a new pair of glasses (as he stated to the crowd, “not just bifocals but trifocals! I’m still getting used to these things…I can’t see shit right now!”). He didn’t play any Replacements songs (much to the dismay of a few annoying folks in the crowd) but did play a handful of cuts off his Bash & Pop records including a superb set-ending version of “Friday Night is Killing Me” (title track of the debut).

Also, it wouldn’t have be a Tommy Stinson set it he wasn’t a little tipsy (he was) but the crowd loved it and loved it even more when he jumped down to play a song down on the floor in the crowd. Come on back to town anytime, Tommy.

I didn’t know what this version of the Lemonheads was going to offer, but I sure was curious. In addition to Evan Dando on vocals/guitar he had longtime indie rock vet Chris Brokaw on 2nd guitar and the rhythm section of Farley Glavin on bass and powerhouse drummer Lee Falco hittin’ the skins. These guys were like a well-oiled machine on this night.

There was a long set list but it didn’t matter as they really didn’t follow it, but most of the set was heavy on early 90’s albums It’s a Shame About Ray and Come On Feel the Lemonheads which is fine as there’s plenty of meat on those records.

There wasn’t a lot of in-between song chatter, more of them putting their heads down and going to work, playing songs in rapid succession with not a lot of time in between. We heard fan favorites like “It’s About Time,” “Rudderless,” “Confetti,” “Turnpike Down,” “Great Big No,” “Drug Buddy” and plenty more.

They also played a handful of covers off of the new album (Varshons 2, which is an all covers album and was recently released on Fire Records) like Lucinda William’s “Abandoned” and John Prince’s “The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” to name but two.

I know in the past Lemonheads’ live shows could be dodgy affairs depending on what state Dando was in but on this night there was none of that. As mentioned above he only mumbled a handful of words to the crowd, he/they came to play. The songs sounded great and Dando’s voice still sounds superb. If they come to your town do not miss them (‘cos if you do you’ll hear from your friends about how great of a show it was).

 

 

Jawbox 6/22/19, Brooklyn

Dates: June 22, 2019

Location: Brooklyn, NY

The iconic punk band was live in Brooklyn June 22, 2019.

TEXT, PHOTOS, & VIDEO BY JONATHAN LEVITT

It’s been almost 30 years since I last saw Jawbox in concert. I remember it was at the Cabaret Metro in Chicago where they opened for Chicago’s Tar, with whom they had split the “Static” seven inch single at the time.  I have a VHS of that show that I shot and will one day get digitized and uploaded to YouTube. Luckily for myself and Blurt readers I was able to shoot some primo footage from the photo pit (click here to see my gallery) and check out my video of the song “FF=66” down below.

The band played 21 songs to the sold-out audience before they came back for an encore of 4 more. It was the right move to save the hit “Savory” till the end, because while that song is great, the trajectory the band took to get there is even greater.  The band may be older but the ferocious way they pummel their instruments would have made bands half their age green with envy. The sound waves hitting me at the front could’ve easily stripped the paint off a car. The audience was filled with 40-somethings who knew almost every word to every song and I could tell they were just thrilled to have one of their bands back in action. The tour that will traverse the US is an absolute must see. Hopefully this is more than just a one off and a new record is in the offing. Regardless of what happens, the world is a better place with Jawbox alive and kicking once more.

Above: the evening’s setlist.

***

 

Begin The Begin: R.E.M.’s Early Years, by Robert Dean Lurie

Title: Begin The Begin: R.E.M.’s Early Years

Author: Robert Dean Lurie

Publisher: Verse Chorus Press

Publication Date: May 14, 2019

Published by Verse Chorus Press, the 288-page volume is a crucial read that fully captures what made the Athens wonderboys so special in the first place.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

There have been numerous books written about Athens-based R.E.M. dating back to the mid-1990s, but few seem as personal as the latest entry from former Athenian Robert Dean Lurie.

The book strength can also, at times, be its biggest weakness. The author, a BLURT contributor who moved to Athens, GA in the ‘90s, in part thanks to its burgeoning music scene, inserts his own narrative into some of the book. But while it can be a little distracting at times, overall, it’s these personal anecdotes and detailed descriptions of living in that college town that bring it alive and allow it to stand out among all of the other R.E.M. bios that came before it.

Another big advantage, along with having the hindsight to be able to look back on the band almost a decade after they dissolved, is that Lurie focuses a bulk of the book on the band’s founding and first few albums. He ends the narrative in 1987, before the band leaves their indie label for Warner Bros on a track that would bring them global stardom. By focusing on the early years, he can home in on what made the band so unique at the time. Through interviews with the band’s college friends, many who knew the members before R.E.M. came together, Lurie is able to piece together a detailed, insightful and thoroughly exhaustive narrative of the band at its founding and slightly before.

Begin The Begin may not be the first book on R.E.M., but it’s a crucial read for anyone looking to understand R.E.M. and how they were able to create such a massive impact on modern American music.

Full disclosure: Blurt editor Fred Mills contributed to the book’s selection of photos.

Kristin Hersh 6/27/19, Atlanta

Dates: June 27, 2019

Location: Terminal West, Atlanta GA

Live at the venerable Terminal West in hot ‘lanta…

TEXT & PHOTOS BY JOHN BOYDSTON

Throwing Muses will be performing a few dates later this summer with Kristin Hersh, David Narcizo, and Bernard George in the band (no Tanya Donelly apparently), their first shows in  five years.   The trio has late-August dates in Boston, San Diego and the Pasadena Daydream Festival (curated by The Cure’s Robert Smith).  I caught the alt-rock legend singer-guitarist-songwriter Hersh’s own show at Atlanta’s Terminal West, performing songs from her long solo career and new stuff from her acclaimed new release ‘Possible Dust Clouds’  – Fred Abong was on bass, and Rob Ahlers was on drums and backing vocals.

Check out our shutterbug in Atlanta here: https://jobo.smugmug.com/