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MATS EILERTSEN – And Then Comes the Night

Album: And Then Comes the Night

Artist: Mats Eilertsen

Label: ECM

Release Date: February 01, 2019

www.ecmrecords.com

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

Veteran Norwegian bassist Mats Eilertsen has more sideperson gigs on his resumé than most of us have had hot dinners – he’s been the go-to guy for Scandinavian jazzers for over twenty years. But he’s also begun to make his mark as a composer and bandleader, as evidenced by 2016’s large ensemble piece Rubicon and his records with his current trio.

His third LP with pianist Harmon Fraanje and drummer Thomas Strønen (Food, Time is a Blind Guide), And Then Comes the Night does an expert job at straddling that fine line between jazz and classical music that European jazz musicians often favor and that ECM showcases so well. “22,” “Soften” and “After the Rain” lean hard on melody, with Fraanje preferring to work variations on the main theme more than spin off into improvisational flights of fancy. The leader works solely in support on these tracks, eschewing solos in favor of creating a foundation for a melancholy atmosphere. “The Void” and “Perpetum” threaten to give in to darkness completely, as Eilertsen weaves mournful arco bass through Fraanje’s minimalist chords on the former and the entire ensemble builds a quiet tower of menacing dissonance on the latter. In the tradition of his pioneering countryman Jon Christensen, Strønen plays around the beat as often as on it, an approach that adds a tension to the hermetic minimalism of “Sirens” that keeps it from floating off into the ether.

Eilertsen and company come full circle by ending the record with a variation on “22,” which, while not a radical departure, re-emphasizes the group’s commitment to its chamber jazz vision.

DOWNLOAD: “22,” “The Void,” “After the Rain”

 

The Who (reissue) / Pete Townshend (reissue) / Roger Daltrey (new album)

Artist: The Who / Pete Townshend / Roger Daltrey

Release Date: October 04, 2019

THE WHO
Live at the Fillmore East 1968
Geffen
www.universalmusicenterprises.com

PETE TOWNSHEND
Who Came First 45th Anniversary Expanded Edition
Universal
www.universalmusicenterprises.com

ROGER DALTREY
As Long As I Have You
Republic Records
www.republic.com

 

 

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

Long live the Who, or at least the legacy that remains. The on-again, off-again alliance of Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey notwithstanding, the band as we once knew it, with Keith Moon and John Entwistle powering that formidable rhythm section and adding the flash and finesse makes any attempt to reconvene as The Two pale in comparison.

Indeed, all that’s needed to affirm that premise is found with even a cursory listen to the archival slab of former glories belatedly released as Live at the Fillmore East. It bears witness to the seminal glory of the Who’s glory days gone by. Boasting an ample amount of seminal songs from the band’s early catalog — “I Can’t Explain,” “Happy Jack,” the early min opera and opus “A Quick One (While He’s Away,” and an entire disc devoted to an extended take on, what else, “My Generation” — it fills out the set list with the classic covers that were once given their indelible imprint — “Summertime Blues,” “Fortune Teller” and “Shakin’ All Over.” That early edge and energy, pre Tommy and any other affectations that would come soon after, makes this concert a singular stand-out that is legendary to say the least (bootlegged versions have circulated for decades), as well as one of the few archival examples of the early band live in performance. This is essential Who and a riveting example of all that assured their legendary largess and prowess,

Townshend’s first solo venture, Who Came First, began life as a tribute to his spiritual mentor Meher Baba and consisted mainly of demos of songs destined for the Who’ future catalog while still their seminal states. There were other additives thrown in full good measure — a tender take on the classic standard “There’s a Heartache Following Me” (said to be one of Baba’s Favorites), Small Face/Face bassist Ronnie Lane’s tender tale of reincarnation, “Evolution,” and other early extras that were yet to emerge fully formed. An earlier reissue added a smattering of bonus tracks, all but one of which is repeated here, but for this 45th anniversary edition, an entire disc of extra additives are included, among them, early rough takes on “The Seeker,” and instrumental version of “Baba O’Riley” and a very early version of “Drowned,” a key cut from Quadrophenia. While there was nothing especially earth shattering about Townshend’s first offering — it was more an additive to his bigger vision of the band after all — it still purveys a charm that finds Townshend in both a contemplative state and expressing a vulnerability rarely evidenced amongst the bombast and fury of the essential ensemble.

While he wrote only a smattering of songs for the Who, Roger Daltrey has put out a slew of solo albums throughout his career, venturing away from Townshend as a source for his songs and more towards other writers who also offered a seamless fit. Consequently, As Long As I Have You finds him trolling some essential soulful sources — Stevie Wonder, Joe Tex, Ruth Copeland, Jerry Ragavoy and the like — while transforming them with his individual inscription. He’s never sounded better, whether veering from an emotive testimonial  (I’ve Got Your Love”) to an ecstatic wail (“How Far”) to a soulful shout (“Where Is a Man To Go”), and the fact that Townshend is on board throughout most of the disc brings it closer to a Who album than anything else in recent memory. At very least, it’s Daltrey’s best solo effort since Ride a Rock Horse and an obvious indication he’s still in fine form. Every entry is excellent. Suffice it to say, it’s superb.

DOWNLOAD: “I Can’t Explain,” “The Seeker,” “How Far”

TROPICAL FUCK STORM – A Laughing Death in Meatspace

Album: A Laughing Death in Meatspace

Artist: Tropical Fuck Storm

Label: Joyful Noise

Release Date: October 26, 2018

http://www.joyfulnoise.com

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

The hiatus of Australia’s amazing Drones was a shock coming after its upward creative arc, but all is not lost for fans of their distinctive arty psychedelic postpunk roots rock. Singer/songwriter Gareth Liddiard and bassist Fiona Kitschin keep the vision flowing with drummer Lauren Hammel and guitarist/keyboardist Erica Dunn in Tropical Fuck Storm, named after the Drones’ self-guided label. Given how weird and eclectic the Drones had become by the end, A Laughing Death in Meatspace is both a retrenchment and an evolution.

The empty spaces and electronic atmospheres have been folded into the background, with guitars back up front and in your face. Kitschin and Dunn soak the arrangements in wild-eyed harmonies and Liddiard’s brilliantly wordy lyrics and off-kilter melodies are in full effect. Yet it would be inaccurate to call this any kind of return to form (a dubious compliment anyway). Having a new crew always changes things, and the band recalls the Drones’ best without being a clone. The social media critique “Chameleon Paint” starts like it’s going to be synthpop, but layers fractured guitar lines over the groove almost immediately; add in a singalong chorus and it’s something new yet familiar. “Soft Power” attacks the subtle abuses perpetrated by those at the top of the food chain across a smear of shrieking feedback, understated drums and Dunn/Kitschin’s otherworldly backgrounds. “Two Afternoons” adds a loping rhythm to its raging six-stream firestorm in a way unique to this group, while “Shellfish Toxin” skips lyrics for a deliberately meandering instrumental that takes Liddiard into new territory. (Below: vinyl enthusiasts will want to snag the “slime green” edition of the record while it’s still available.)

As always with most of the best restless experimenters, TFS know when to lay back and let some recognizable allure take the wheel – “You Let My Tyres Down” recalls the old group’s balladry, the rambling “Rubber Bullies” stands as classic Liddiard, and the nervous “The Future of History” would’ve fit right in on Feelin’ Kinda Free. It’s a combination of old and new, letting Liddiard play to his strengths as a writer while letting a new band paint his compositions in different colors. That blend of comfort and risk makes A Laughing Death in Meatspace one of the best rock records of 2018.

DOWNLOAD: “Rubber Bullies,” “Chameleon Paint,” “You Let My Tyres Down”

 

AMNESIA SCANNER—Another Life

Album: Another Life

Artist: Amnesia Scanner

Label: Pan

Release Date: September 07, 2018

https://p-a-n.org

BY JENNIFER KELLY

Amnesia Scanner constructs dystopic dance electronica out of altered, tortured voices and grindingly heavy industrial sounds. The duo, originally from Finland but more recently living in Berlin, builds heightened alternate realities from synthesized elements, the beats frayed with volume and dissonance, the voices denatured and abstracted. Imagine an AI in existential crisis. Imagine a robot reprogramming itself furiously so that it can scream. Imagine a whole floor of automated factory machines stirring to life and starting, clumsily, to dance.

Up to now Amnesia Scanner — that’s Ville Haimala and Martti Kalliala — has avoided vocals, composing a mixtape, a performance piece and two EPs entirely out of inorganic elements. For this debut full-length, the two add both real and manufactured voices. Pan Daijing, a noise-electronics artist also now living in Berlin, chants and shouts through two tracks, lending a female-empowered hip hop flavor to “AS Chaos” and a pouting hedonism to “AS Unlinear” (all tracks on Another Life begin with the initials AS). As for the manufactured singing, that’s Oracle, whom the artists conceptualize as the sentience that arises out of their dual project. You can hear Oracle in “AS Spectacult Featuring Oracle,” a relatively serene interlude of buzzing discord and high, unearthly keening.

In the best cuts, the dance elements win out over doom-y post-apocalyptics. “AS A.W.O.L.” layers metallic-ringing keyboard notes (like a music box made of tin) over a sinuous, vaguely ominous beat. “AS Another Life,” zooms in and out of focus on vibrating bowed tones (or their computerized equivalent), then kicks up its monolithic heels in a syncopated jig. It and “AS Chaos” rumble closest to hip hop, though in a hyper machine-like Terminator-style way. Other tracks deliver a purer evocation of post-industrial ruin, the noise of girders clashing and falling, of steam vents pushing out hot air, of the hiss and sputter of overloaded electrical wires, and, perhaps, as a clue to how it all went wrong, the not quite human sound of AI despair filtered through autotune.

DOWNLOAD: “AS A.W.O.L.” “AS Another Life” “AS Chaos Featuring Pan Daijing”

THE RATCHETS – First Light

Album: First Light

Artist: Ratchets

Label: Pirates Press

Release Date: November 09, 2018

http://piratespressrecords.com/

BY JOHN B. MOORE

New Jersey has long been the farm team for punk rock bands. Everyone from The Bouncing Souls to Gaslight Anthem have hailed from one city or another off the NJ Turnpike before going on to spread the punk rock gospel to the rest of the globe. The Ratchets prove yet again with their latest LP, First Light, that the Garden State is still churning out punk rock’s best and brightest.

Relatively MIA for more than a decade after the 2006 release of their debut, the band is back – a little older, but just as promising as that debut that brought about more than a few comparisons to The Clash. On First Light those Clash influences are still front and center, as well as some of Joe Strummer’s more thoughtful later work. You can also hear a hint of Springsteen’s influence on the lyrics all across this one, as well. (You didn’t think I could write about a Jersey band without at least one Springsteen reference, did you?) (Nope. – Ed.)

But there’s also plenty of other elements here that make the band sound impressively original: the Bluesy guitar riffs on “Drone Control;” the ‘70s hard rock vibe of “2-4-6-8 Motorway” (a vital cover of the Tom Robinson Band’s ground zero punk-era classic); and Jed Engine’s sandpaper rasp vocals that were made for punk rock. The band manages to flawlessly bridge the political urgency of late ‘70s British punk rock with modern concerns.

Crammed with memorable hooks, air guitar-worth riffs and whip sharp lyrics, First Light finds The Ratchets back in fighting form and, if this record is any indication, ready to take over the world.

DOWNLOAD: “Drone Control” and “2-4-6-8 Motorway”

THE GERMS – What We Do Is Secret [RSD Black Friday LP; blue vinyl]

Album: What We Do Is

Artist: Germs

Label: ORG Music/Rhino

Release Date: November 23, 2018

https://orgmusic.com/

BY JOHN B. MOORE

The Germs may have only released one proper studio album before frontman Darby Crash died, but you’d be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of more influential hardcore/punk rock bands to come out of that era. Everyone from the Minutemen and L7 to Soul Asylum and Pennywise owe a debt of gratitude to that Southern California band of nonconformists. So, it’s frustrating just how few songs the band managed to record during their four years together.

Thankfully, ORG Music has just re-released this gorgeous blue vinyl limited edition copy of their 1981 EP What We Do Is Secret. Originally put out in 1981, just a year after Crash’s suicide, this 7-song album pulls together live tracks recorded between 1977 and 1980. The songs are sloppy, loud, a bit amateurish, all which add to the odd brilliance of the band.

Their cover of Chuck Berry’s “Round and Round” is one of the highlights of this mini-album that hovers around the 20-minute mark. The last two songs in this collection, “The Other Newest Ones” and “My Tunnel” captures the band playing a frenetically impressive live show on December 3, 1980 at LA’s Starwood. The songs show a band that was destined for much bigger things, but sadly, Crash intentionally OD’s on heroine just a few days later.

Unlike The Eagles or Steely Dan, polished studio musicians searching for perfection, a band like The Germs were about immediacy, spontaneity, and living that ethos that anyone (literally anyone) can be in a band. And while The Eagles and Steely Dan may have found a much, much bigger audience, they manage to do so without a fraction of the passion that a band like The Germs had.

DOWNLOAD: “Round and Round,” and “The Other Sweetest One”

 

ARKELLS – Rally Cry

Album: Rally Cry

Artist: Arkells

Label: Last Gang / eOne

Release Date: October 19, 2018

https://lastgang.com

BY JOHN B. MOORE

The Arkells are on a seemingly growing list of Canadian bands that put out album after album of great music and attain a certain level of property in their home country, but have yet to really reach that level of recognition here in the U.S. Rally Cry, their fifth LP, is more of what fans have come to expect from the band – a frenetic collection of memorable, sing-along pop rock that brings to mind everyone from U2 to Cheap Trick.

The band clearly discovered a formula early on and have stuck with it ever since. Rally Cry is pretty much a karaoke album for modern times, with danceable hooks, and choruses begging for arena singalongs. Surprisingly one of the more obvious danceable pop songs here, “People’s Champ,” is a trojan horse political anthem, with lyrics describing Trump to a T, all wrapped neatly in hard-to-ignore hooks. Elsewhere, “America Screams,” though still a great song, is a little less subtle with the political implications. There are a couple of weaker songs here that start to lose luster after a couple of listens, but not enough to overshadow many of the stronger tracks.

Another fine entry into the Arkells’ growing canon. Here’s hoping America is listening.

DOWNLOAD: “Company Man,” “Don’t be a Stranger” and “America Screams”

Exclusive Video, Photos: Come 12/29/18, Brooklyn

Dates: December 29, 2018

Location: Union Pool, Brooklyn, NY

Live at Union Pool, the Brokaw-Zedek guitar summit continues to stun even after all these years. Below, watch the band do “Submerge.”

Video, Photos, & Text by Jonathan Levitt.

I was extremely lucky to have the chance to see Come play this last December here in NYC. I’ve been a fan since the mid 90s and never thought I’d have a chance to catch them live. Living in China for the past 20 years and the fact that they’d broken up kind of sealed the deal. But as fate would have it they reformed for two shows at Brooklyn’s Union Pool Club which is quite a cool place to catch a performance. The room was tiny and the lighting was awful, but the band played a killer set that veered through ground breaking LP Eleven Eleven, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell  as well as other songs from their canon. Chris Brokaw and Thalia Zedek both wring immense tragedy from their instruments. The combination of the two takes you to some incredibly dark places and is definitely not for the faint of heart. They were tight, bluesy and seemed immediately to hit their stride. I offer up to readers the song “Submerge” from the show.

I can only hope in the near future that this means more shows might be in the offing. It would be great to have them back in action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

King Tuff + Stonefield 1/15/19, Athens GA

Dates: January 15, 2019

Location: Georgia Theater, Athens, GA

The scene was the Georgia Theater, and the rock ‘n’ roll meme was kicking ass…

PHOTO GALLERY & TEXT BY jOHN BOYDSTON

King Tuff is on tour through February and you gotta look up the dates at this link (http://kingtuff.life/) and go – and I say that purely as fan who appreciates the work KT puts into his music and live shows.  As an artist Kyle Thomas has grown up, and never seems to have stopped working since we first heard his records in the earlier part of this decade.   I first heard “Bad Thing” on Sirius XM and Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel.   It’s a great starting point for his stuff – part hard T-Rex, part Joan Jett, part flat out balls to the wall garage rock.   Plus throw in some goofy moves and therein lies the fun and magic.   KT is touring in support of his latest release “The Other.”

Plus his band is Zoe Brecher on drums, Adrien Young on bass, and guitarist Nicole Lawrence- who, it has to be noted, adds a significant dimension to their live stuff, sometimes bringing a dual-guitar fuzz thrill ride.  The band rocks, and about every song feels like a showstopper.
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Stonefield opened, an all-sister band from Australia, holy crap are they good.  They’d fit right in at the Austin Psych Fest if that was still a thing.  Maybe Levitation will have them later this year, the event that replaced APF.   Amy Lee, Hannah, Sarah, and Holly Findlay, a band you should know.   They have done a few shows with KT, but openers vary.  Boise fans get a double-bill treat with King Tuff and Broncho on the same bill, there ya go Idaho.

FRANCES CONE – Late Riser

Album: Late Riser

Artist: Frances Cone

Label: Living Daylight Records/Thirty Tigers

Release Date: January 18, 2019

http://www.thirtytigers.com/

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Over the span of just 10 songs, Indie pop group Frances Cone manage to create a blissful soundscape whose beauty seems downright impossible given the current times we are living in. But damn they manage to pull it off impressively here.

“Late Riser” is technically the second record from the Nashville – by way of Brooklyn – band led by Christina Cone. But this album sounds like a rebirth of sorts with the addition of bassist and collaborator Andrew Doherty. Cone’s ethereal vocals soar over the complex soundscapes created by the band. Songs like the album opener “Wide Awake” and the remarkable “Failure” evoke early ‘90s groups like The Sundays and Innocent Mission, both which had similar abilities to take you completely out of your head, transfixed by sweeping melodies.

There are a couple of stumbles here, like on the somber “Easy Love,” but for the most part, Late Riser is crammed with stunning songs strong enough to make you forget what else is going on in the world – at least for 30 minutes or so.

Download: “Failure” and “Wide Awake”