Time to shut this baby down... It's all about reinvention...
Check out my reviews @ Earvolution
Check out Rinjo, Jimmy Morbid, and MillerTime's brief music critique @ Slave to Shuffle
Check my newest pet project The 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s of Power Pop
Another Sunny Day in Pop!
Time to shut this baby down... It's all about reinvention...
Posted by Rinjo Njori at 4:26 PM
The Broken West
I Can't Go On I'll Go On
While it is not entirely unfair to lump The Broken West with Jeff Tweedy's Wilco, it definitely does a disservice to the band's overall sound, direction and ultimately their chance at success. I Can't Go On I'll Go On masterfully parries between psych pop and power pop. With just a hint of
Opening up with up tempo "On The Bubble", The Broken West quickly establish the sound of the album. For the most part Scott Claassen's keyboards drive most of the songs. They don't saturate the sound but merely provide a solid foundation. In contrast "Slow" is a guitar driven power pop gem which benefits from Flournoy's vocals and the band countering with back up vocals. These elements combined allow them some breathing room. "Down in the Valley" has a quiet intensity backed by the type of feel good chorus that filled so many British Invasion hits of the late 60's. "Shiftee" is peculiar in that it seems to have the same feel and direction Oasis hinted at on Heathen Chemistry, but ultimately failed. "Hale Sunrise goes in a similar direction, but doesn't project the same level of intensity. The Broken West don’t necessarily one up Oasis, but they definitely sound less contrived. "Brass Ring", it's been pointed out, sounds eerily familiar to The Beatles "And Your Bird Can Sing". This is true, but I doubt that George Martin and company are gearing up for any legal action against the band. Their biggest crime here is possibly the familiar harmony.
As good as I Can't Go On I'll Go On can be at times the band can be restrained and underwhelming. "Like a Light" wallows around for roughly three and half minutes, before rising up and going nowhere. The flurry of sound is nominally interesting, but comes off more as a show closer than and actual song with any depth. Similar issues plague "Hale Sunrise". There is a lot of buildup, but the flow of the song barely changes from verse to chorus, save for an exercise in "oohs and ahhs" which make the song better but not good.
The Broken West might not be pioneering "a new sound" or "pushing limits" with their instrumentation and vocals. They have released an upbeat album that reminds you of why you like music in the first pace and aren't necessarily shackled to an idea of what is "cool" or "forward thinking". They don't need comparison's they need a good listen. With Matthew Sweet churning out cover albums, The Broken West reinvigorates the increasingly "soft and toothless” indie scene and makes power pop cool again.
The Black Diamond Heavies, have the song "Fever" available for download over at Alive Records website. The band features John Wesley Myers (Organ/Vocals, Immortal Lee County Killers) and Van Campbell (Drums. The Invisibles and The Rum Circus)
Ahead of the March 20th release of Clutch's From Beale Street to Oblivion, you can stream "Electric Worry" over at DRT Entertainment's MySpace Page, Here. Also, if you check out and download DRT Entertainment's inaugural podcast you can check out "Power Player" (minute 32.46). You can subscribe via iTunes or this link.
The Bloody Hollies
Who To Trust, Who To Kill, Who To Love
Coming off a big move from Buffalo to San Diego and winning Best Rock Album at the San Diego Music awards, things shouldn't be this good for The Bloody Hollies. However Wesley, Joey and Matthew deliver again on Who to Trust, Who to Kill, Who to Love. The themes of this album are perfectly illustrated on the album cover. Trust= Bible, Kill= Noose, and Love= Broken Heart. The Bloody Hollies want us to know that it is all pain in one form or another. With all this change you might ask, "What is the biggest change in the band since If Footmen Tire You?" Well, Wesley and Joey's guitars are bigger, more layered, and the mood a little more sinister.
Don't let the accordion intro on "Mona" fool you. The Bloody Hollies kick into full rock mode pretty quickly and don’t' let up until the curtain call "Let's Do It". The hopelessness on Who to Trust, Who to Kill, Who to Love isn't necessarily surprising. In the first two songs alone Wesley Doyle pleads that "You better pick up gun" and "Sometimes you get what you are asking for, and everybody always gets what they deserve". Regardless of the lyrical tone the album is truly about the guitars. "Satanic Sattellite" has a riff that wouldn't sound out of place on a Fu Manchu album. "Black Box Blues" also has some vaguely Zeppelin-esque guitars. The Bloody Hollies shed the cool intensity of their
Who To Trust, Who To Kill, Who To Love doesn't disappoint in any way shape or form. If anything bad can be said about this album is that it ends way too soon, despite a generous thirty six minutes of non-stop rock that rarely lets up.
Future of the Left
Fingers Become Thumbs
Andy Falkous officially joins the ex-Mcluksy frey with Future of the Left. There first three song offering is on the same label as Mclusky and the "other" ex-Mclusky band Shooting At Unarmed Men. Still this shouldn't be viewed as a competition. Falkous brings another whole dynamic as frontman. Chapple to his credit is trying something new.
Falkous overly aggressive take on Frank Black is still there as is the heavy Pixies influence, but like the last two Mclusky albums he has grown beyond that association. What does Jack Eggleston (drums) and Kelson Mathias (bass) bring? A crushing rhythm section that doesn't let up and adds to the urgency of the music. In a way Future of the left reminds me of a less metallic Nurse-era Therapy and a lot like Mclusky from Mclusky Do Dallas.
"Fingers Become Thumbs", has that same disjointed guitar riffs that made Mclusky "different". Falkous also wisely let's the rest of the band join in in verse and chorus. This gives this evolutionary tale a little more control. " The Fibre Provider" allows Falkous a little more room, but on this track the female backing vocals effectively sneak in and reminds me of the "lighter" moments from My Pain and Sadness are More Painful and Sad Than Yours. "
As much as I like John Chapple's Shooting at Unarmed Men, Falkous is much better frontman. If you loved Mclusky than you will love Future of the Left. Consistency rules!
A Weekend in the City
Wichita/ Vice Records
Why doesn't this suck? Well, if you believe the hype and comments by Kele, the lead singer, we were in danger of "being treated" to some derivation of Justin Timberlake and other mainstream R&B ilk. That doesn't happen and everything on this album that is really good can be summed up on the track "Uniform". Bloc Party manages to capture what the band is about while incorporating "like" influences such as Depeche Mode and Erasure. There is even some stabs at a bigger sound on tracks like "On" and "Hunting for Witches" If you thought Bloc Party wasn't your cup of tea before, Weekend in the City just might change your mind. Like Muse didlast year with Black Holes and Revelations, Bloc Party are doing with A Weekend in the City making a clear jump to respectability without compromise.
- Mark Sultan has "Cursed" up from his forthcoming Sultanic Verses on the In the Red MySpace page, Here.
- Australia 60's garage rockers, The Tol Puddle Martyr's are back with three new songs from their upcoming album, here.
- Mooney Suzuki is without a record label, but you can check out their track "99%" at Clear Channel New music channel, here.
- Check out "A Certain Guy" from Mary Weiss'(Shangri-La's) forthcoming solo album over at here MySpace page, here.
Buried Alive 7 Inch
I recently came across this almost forgotten 7 inch from one of my favorite hardcore bands of the late 80's/ early 90's, The Icemen (see Coregasm). At this time hardcore was a genre in transition. The Icemen were aligned with Blackout Records and were stop and go over the course of the few years they were together.
This two song seven inch unfortunately does not live up to what I remember about them. Fronted by Carl Griffin (ex- Underdog) with Mackie Jayson on drums this should be killer, but it is pretty weak. "Fire and Ice" sounds a lot like a bad Maximum Penalty demo. The slow pace is almost emotive and boring. The bassist was Noah Evans. Marco played guitar. Noah was a big guy with even bigger hair. Almost like a Kid ( from Kid N' Play), but the hardcore version. This song just exposes how "not into it" they were. "Buried Alive" is a much better song, but it lacks a certain amount of energy. Mackie's drumming on "Buried Alive" is vintage Age of Quarrel. Carl gives his best on "Buried Alive", but seems to be falling asleep.
For those who remember the band it's definitely worth the effort to track down these songs at Coregasm. However, if you want to remember them in the best light find their Rest In Peace E.P. out on Blackout Records. Still nothing stems my disappointment in a band that could have been really good during such a dark time. However, by 1992 when they performed at the CMJ showcase all energy was evidently sapped from the band, this 7 inch is a testament to that.
What Did We Learn
From the opening riff of "Climbing on Board" Supertouch established itself as something left of center in the New York Hardcore scene. What Did We Learn was a 7 inch released on Combined Effort records back in the late 80's and predates their only long player, The Earth is Flat (Revelation). This group of songs on some level advocated progression and made a great argument for that progression. These three songs are a great intro for anyone interested in Mark Ryan and JonBiviano's attempts at infusing better instrumentation, melodies and song structure into a musical genre which not only embraced the moshcore of the mid to late 80's, but also was intolerant of any band that tried to change the formula.
"On Three", the second track on the "A" side is an amazing song. There are time changes, a melodic chorus, and dueling vocals which close out the song. "Climbing on Board" is a more typical hardcore song, but has some moments, most notably Ryan's singing. The song deals with "Straight Edge/ Gang Mentality" that was all the rage in New York in 1987. Supertouch was incorrectly aligned with the straight edge scene and this was there way of distancing themselves from that label. Musically it hints at the direction that The Earth is Flat would take. Biviano rips out one of the crispest breakdowns in hardcore. The title track opens with sixty strong seconds before Biviano goes into "Edge" (see U2) mode with his guitar. Ryan sees that three chord hardcore will eventually die and the need for change was at everyones front door in the late 80's. "What Did We Learn" is a solid argument for that progression, both musically and lyrically. What Did We Learn is a turning point, unfortunately only bands like Token Entry and Underdog followed suit. Like Supertouch they suffered the same fate. They broke up just when they got a foothold. After releasing The Earth is Flat Supertouch called it quits. They returned in '95/'96 and recorded a few songs ("Better"), but sputtered out again. If you can find this 7 inch buy it, for no other reason then, "The music is old just like the rest of us."
Crystal Gazing Luck Amazing
Sympathy For The Record Industry 2000
On this final record from Greg and Jack's Compulsive Gamblers these "Memphis Blues Punks" give us a little taste of what evolve into solo Jack Oblivian material and Greg Cartwright's Reigning Sound.
"Your Happiness" and "Whole Lotta Woman", two covers, could easily be Reigning Sound material. A mix of 60's R&B and Greg Cartwright's southern tinged British Invasion sounds. The standout is "Your Happiness" although Cartwright's vocals seem a little strained. Still bouncy tempo can't be ignored. "Whole Lotta Woman" similarly channels that 60's sound but merely feels like a cover (granted one that really captures the spirit of the original), whereas "Your Happiness" feels like a Cartwright original even if it isn't.
Jack "Oblivian" Yarber is credited with "Pepper Spray Boogie" and "Rock and Roll Nurse." The primal rock feel of "Pepper Spray Boogie" is reminiscent of late 50's rock even if the punk feel betrays that feeling. The Jerry Lee Lewis inspired keyboards are erratic, sometimes you hear them sometimes you don't. The psychedelic feel of "Rock and Roll Nurse" feels more in line with the solo material that Yarber put out with The Tearjerkers. The keyboards on this song create all the mood that the Gamblers need. "Wait a Bit Joe" is a little Dylan-esque vocals with a whole lot of country. The song is good just a whole lot better with a cold can of beer in hand.
"Two Thieves" is one of the greatest songs the Compulsive Gamblers ever recorded. Ethereal and honest, this slide guitar driven song is delivered with a tremendous amount of eloquence. The first time I heard this song The Hives were covering it during a televised medley which ran the gamut of there influences. Twenty minutes later I was listening to the original over and over again. The song that makes this a great curtain call is "Stop and Think It Over". Three minutes of rock and roll that is as fun to sing along to as it is to listen to.
In the grand scheme of things there isn't many bad things you can say about Crystal Gazing Luck Amazing. Bluff City in my opinion is marginally better, but this is extremely close to their previous album in quality.
Age of Quarrel
Profile Records (1986)
This album arguably is the most important New York Hardcore album of the mid-80s, if not the 80's. For me personally it was a staple of my record tape collection from 1987 until now. Not a year goes by when i don't listen to the entire album just once and play "Don't Tread On Me" at least fifty times. From 1985 until early 1988, Harley Flanagan, John Joseph, Paris Mitchell Mayhew, Doug Holland, and Mackie Jayson were the Cro-Mags, prodigal sons of New York Hardcore. Age of Quarrel also had the distinction of being one of the albums that remained "hardcore" but also had elements of the new and emerging genre, "crossover". Unfortunately as the 90's dawned this band essentially ceased to be relevant in it's many incarnations (White Devil, F.V.K., Hardcore Allstars, etc.). Still Age of Quarrel represents a time that put NYHC on the map, before the guys in Anthrax "moshed" it up.
Opening up with a few clicks of Mackie Jayson's drumsticks "We Gotta Know" sets a standard for the rest this album. Harley and Mackie at this moment in time were keyed into another as no other rhythm section was in NYHC. Doug Holland and Paris Mayhew thunderous guitar equal parts lead and equal part rhythm. The riffs were neck breaking and Mayhews guitar solo is just right for this song. John Joseph fit the bill as front man, Athletic, chaotic, and somewhat melodic. Everything Roger Miret was not trying to be with Agnostic Front. The fourteen songs that follow run the gamut of growing up on the lower east side, the unique nihilism that area produced, religion, and surprising musicianship for a hardcore band. "Show You No Mercy" is unrelentless and downright scary. Matched with "Street Justice", Ave A. seemed more like East L.A. in Colors, then the place that suburban kids walked down to catch shows at Tompkins Square Park Band shell. The groove heavy "Seekers of the Truth" was reflective and at some level interjected the emerging ideas of Hare Krishna in the bands image and music. To a lesser extent "By Myself" also deals with those same paths and individuality. Granted the Cro-Mags were never Shelter or 108, but would there have been either of those types of bands without John and Harley leading the way? The two most important tracks on this album are "Don't Tread One Me" and "Malfuction". The former was inclusive of what every viable hardcore song had in 1986/87. Theme of friendship and betrayal. Musically there are the breakdowns and the shout alongs. "Malfunction" by intent or mistake always reminded me of the Bad Brains gone metal. The Cro-Mags associated themselves with the Bad Brains as both friends and sucessors to a certain extent. Still the guitar sound is so low and Joseph's has a range akin to HR (though not as severe).
After Joseph and Jayson left in 1988, Holland, Flanagan, and Mayhew soldiered on and delivered Best Wishes. A great album that lacked the blood and sweat of Age of Quarrel. This album is a must have if you are into hardcore. Profile/ Another Planet offers both Age of Quarrel and Best Wishes on one disc. Strangley enough my original Profile/ Rock Hotel copy sold for $45 on eBay. The Cro-Mags in one form or another will always will draw a crowd, but nothing matches the intensity or sincerity of this album
Full Cro-Mags Discography
Age of Quarrel ****
Best Wishes ***1/2
Alpha Omega *
Near Death Experience **
Before the Quarrell ***1/2
Posted by Rinjo Njori at 7:59 PM
Future of the Left
Fingers Become Thumbs
Better than Shooting at Unarmed Men, Andrew Flakous is just that much more of a front man. Like Shooting At Unarmed Men, Future of the Left isn't terribly different than their progenitor McLusky. Falling short of two minutes "Fingers Become Thumbs" is filled with robotic riffs and Falkous "Black Francis" inspired monotone. The biggest part of Future of the Left is how clear the beat is throughout the song and the most distortion there is is relegated to a little fuzz. You have a choice, refuse to admit McLusky never broke up or accept the Future of the Left. Either way you win.
Posted by Rinjo Njori at 10:40 AM
Wild Billy Childish & The Musicians of the British Empire
Punk Rock at the British Legion Hall
Talk about a quick turn around. Not two weeks after the last Buff Medways single Billy Childish kicks out his first single from Wild Billy Childish & The Musicians of the British Empire. Punk Rock at the British Legion Hall is two tracks and Childish's backing band is reduced from three to two. The only difference here is the that Childish now handles all guitar parts. Otherwise everything pretty much the same. "Joe Strummer's Grave" which laments the corporatization of music juxtaposed against punk icon Joe Strummer (of The Clash) is the most cerebral of the two tracks. In a way it follows the theme explored on "The Last of the Buff Medways". Instead of acting locally he takes on a more global and less personal view. In no uncertain terms he tells us that Aussie Rupert Murdoch has co-opted every possible avenue for popular culture and business rebels that promote themselves as left of center, like Richard Branson, only differentiate themselves by "not shaving" or growing their hair long. "Punk Rock at the British Legion Hall" has a little more energy and a lot less commentary. On this track he gets solid vocal back up from Nurse Julie (bass). This little something fleshes out an otherwise by the numbers Childish release. Like "Joe Strummers Grave" it is an exercise in contrasts. The British Legion veteran realizing that his social club is being co-opted by anarcho punks or more appropriately people with pink and orange hair for punk rock shows. If Bill Childish is your cup of tea Punk Rock at the British Legion Hall doesn't disappoint.
Posted by Rinjo Njori at 10:37 AM
Shake Your Monkey
In the Red
Every once in awhile a Screws song pops up on my iPod and I immediately think of All Music Guide's biography of The Screws. "The Screws are perhaps the "punkest" of all Mick Collins projects." That would be fine if it weren't so untrue. Mick Collins and Terri Wahl "gave birth" to The Screws when Mick produced The Red Aunts Ghetto Blaster. They released two albums over the course of half a decade. The first was primarily a set of orginals, Presents 12 New Hate-Filled Classics. The second was this collection of covers from Ike and Tina Turner to the O'Jays to the Rolling Stones. Shake Your Monkey, is far more interesting and much more representative of Collins other band The Dirtbombs and their own covers album Ultraglide In Black.
Opening with a "slow and low" version of The Outsiders "Story 16", Mick croons his way through some insinuated depravity. Something tells me the original didn't ooze this much sex. "In Case You Need Love" stay fairly faithful to the Smokey Robinson original. "The Storm" is full on Blues. Drums and harmonica accompany Mick and his guitar, but they add little
The "free form" sax on " "Flip Your Face" ruins one of Terri Wahl's chance to shine on the album, though her vocals are a little muddled and seem to be mixed under the guitar.
Putting out a covers album always sets the stage for intense scrutiny. The Screws aren't looking to do text book originals. They manage to bang "new" Detroit versions of these songs. Some are hits and some are misses. Regardless, The Screws are giving us and inadvertent opportunity for a history lesson. Check it out.
Posted by Rinjo Njori at 10:35 AM
The Pop Rivet's are most notably Billy Childish's first professional band. Formed in late 70's the band consisted of Billy Childish on vocals, Will Power on guitar, and the Russ rhythm section, Big Russ on Bass and Little Russ on drums. Instantly recognizable as by the numbers punk rock, this is the closest Childish ever got to putting out mainstream music. The Pop Rivets take on everyone on this album, Mods, the Ska movement, Disco, etc. The best part about it is that the whole record is a lot of fun.
"Fun in the
Greatest Hits certainly loses steam, but songs like "To Start To Hesitate.. To Stop" and the extremely messy "Medical and Surgical Specialities" are painful from start to finish. "To Start To Hesitate.. To Stop" comes off almost like an early Cure song or Southern Death Cult. "Medical and Surgical Specialities" falls more in line with the experimentation of John Lydon's Public Image Limited.
The throw away tracks are few and far between, but if you are not a fan of late 70's punk you might be sorely disappointed by the early and surprisingly clean production. Those looking for Proto-Headcoat or Cesaer's material won't find it on Greatest Hits. The Pop Rivet's are something different for Childish complet-ists and a nice tour of late 70's punk for the rest of us.
Posted by Rinjo Njori at 10:03 PM
This sophomore debut was supposed to be the group's major label debut. Not enough interest was generated from the record labels and Into Another decided to stick with with the only label looking to make a major change themselves, Revelation (or so the story goes). On Richie, Drew, Peter and Tony's most excellent sophomore album they strengthen the foundation they established on their self titled debut.
Ignaurus opens with a contradiction. "Running Into Walls" is part psychedelic pop and part prog metal anxiety. As with a few other tracks on this album the song opens with Tony Bono's bass line leading the charge before Peter Moses and Drew Thomas enter the fray. Equal parts sonic thunder and equal part s brutal melody, Birkenhead manages to emote to distinct vocal styles that complement the solitude and the thunder. As complex as the first track is they roll through six more tracks with equal zeal before arriving at their most complex and perfect song of their career, "Drowning". After Moses thunderous entry, Bono's bass line drives the song for the next four minutes. Thomas, Moses, and Bono are in perfect sync. Birkenhead tones done the falsetto and delivers the most impressive vocals of his career (thus far). Each member is able to shine and that is rare on most if not all songs. The bulk of the album follows this template. "Ungodly" and "Maritime Murder" are moody pieces. "Laughing at Oblivian" and "Poison Fingers" are riff heavy songs with a menacing glare.
The album is far from perfect, but when Moses and Birkenhead sit down for "Anxious"you are looking for the end after about a minute. "William" ventures into similar territory. These types of songs became the hallmark of the last two releases, however the more aggro tracks work better for the band.
Into Another were a complex band since their inceptions. They attempted to break from form. To a certain extent they were far more ambitious then Quicksand, if less successful. Ignaurus is the place to start if you are looking for something a little different.
Posted by Rinjo Njori at 8:53 PM
What a nice surprise this Wednesday morning. Song number three from the Damon Albarn/ Paul Simonon project otherwise known as, The Good, The Bad and The Queen. "Herculean" and "History Song" were disappointing after repeat listens. There is still some great songs there but compared to "Kingdom of Doom" they are underwhelming. The intro to the this song is reminiscent Oasis doing there best Beatle update, but this is Damon Albarn-- their 90's nemesis-- making waves the way they have not made waves in years. The song is extremely fluid, as it moves between acoustic guitar, keyboards and eerie sound effects. Albarn's lyrics are also the most engaging lyrics since Parklife (minus the Gorillaz over the top ethos). I was optimistic for The Good, The Bad and The Queen's debut, now I am rally excited.
"Kingdom of Doom"
Posted by Rinjo Njori at 8:52 PM