Monday, December 17, 2012

Human Cannonball “Let’s Be Friends”

 ( Human Cannonball’s sweet, quirky, American(a) production pop is “the balls!”

Phil Collins “Live at Montreux

(Eagle Rock) This 2-disc DVD opens with a set from Jazz Fest in 2004 where Collins enters the stage pretty much wordlessly and just starts playing a wild drum solo. Then another dude joins in and there’s a thundering drum duo. Then a third cat comes out playing congas and percussion and we get a drum trio. This is THE BEGINNING OF THE SHOW! And it goes on for like ten minutes, no music except apeshit percussion, and they are not doing some mellow drum circle unity thing, this is like a jazz war where cats are showing off their best stuff, trying to cut the other dude. Maybe Collins always opens like this, maybe he just wanted to show that he knows he’s a drummer and not a pop star so he prefaces an hour of schmaltzy vocals with a muscular set of mayhem, or maybe he just felt like jazzing it up jazz fest, I don’t know, but it was awesome. The rest of the set is genuinely godawful, nearly two dozen cornball Collins’ songs and covers (“Groovy Kind of Love,” Cyndi Lauper’s “True Clors”) accompanied by a smooth jazz/new age-ish band. Yecch. But disc two, a Jazz Fest set from 1996 is much more interesting. Collins decided to do a full on Benny Goodman Big Band deal, with no vocals, just big band arrangements of Genesis and Collins’ solo songs, with him playing drums. Quincy Jones conducts, and this is fun, if not super good.The problem is that despite Phil swinging pretty hard on the drums, using brishes when appropriate, and trying to jazz it up, it never sounds swingin’, it sounds more like a slick orchestra recording a movie score. The songs themselves ay be hard to jazz up, but also the very talented band is just not made up of guys who can get into big band mode. David Sanborn and Gerald Albright soloing is going to sound like a smooth jazz Christmas no matter what they try to play. At one point Tony Bennett comes out and sings a Tony Bennett song with his own pianist and bassist (and Collins and Co.) and he’s remarkable. Obviously Bennett can sing, but how muscular his voice was in ’96 is astonishing. According to Collins’ liner notes Bennett did a full 30 mionutes, but we only get one song. I feel good for Phil getting to do this, it looks fun, but other than backing Bennett it’s more a curiosity than essential. Still, between this and the drum collision I think this is a worthwhile release.

The Broonies “Mid-Life Crisis” "How I Feel"

( Negative integer-Fi noise punk that made my nails ingrow! I thought "Mid-Life Crisis" was the brooniest record of all time but the ridiculously scramble, screechy, muffly "How I Feel" is so much broonier that I feel...broonied to the max!!

Grip Weeds “Live Vibes” DVD "Speed of Live" CD

( The Grip Weeds were formed off of the Jersey Turnpike exit 9 and quickly arrived at the Psyche pop HIGHway Cloud 9. But rather than visit the 60s on their DVD they have hit the 90s, when bands had “EPKs” which oddly stood for Electronic Press Kits, which were barely electronic, Vas they were VHS tapes with relatively low budget video content hyping the band. This DVD features the group jamming their awesome hits in their home studio, augmented by cheap but cheerful in-camera psyche effects. Then there is the band in talking head mode (as in Ken Burns documentary blather, not David Byrne giant suit) explaining the band history and songs and personel. And you know what –-- I love it! They are so sincere and unpretenscious and hardworking that I’m happy to watch their home movies! Better yet, the bonus videos (cheapo actual music vids) are KILLER! Better than the DVD is their latest CD, which features a lot of the same songs (their greatest "hits") but rather than the DVD's "live" in the studio (which sort of means they are not dead when playing it, but by all other definitions, it's a studio recording) this has the energy of the audience and feels exciting and fun, and shows what their great psyche pop can do to people. It can grip them. And weed out the poseurs.

Grass Widow “Internal Logic”

(HLR) I was trolling the Internet for something I won’t tell you about when Youtube TOLD ME to watch a video where Grass Widow upset Shannon & the Clams in a cover band contest judged by Nobunny and a surly dominatrix. I will put aside how creepy it is that my computer tells the Internet who I am and that I would love that weird assed video because, basically, I really did love that weird assed video! Thank you Homeland Security, Google, and Big Brother for monitoring me! And thank you Grass Widow for making beautiful, bouncy, hypnotic indie surf retro/future music. Grass, grass or grass…no one rides for free! Except on Youtube.

Black Widows “Revenge of the Black Widows”

( If you expect me to say anything other than “I WORSHIP THEM!!!” about a motorcycle gang surf rock masked trash instro band  then you never met me. Hi, I’m Waymon, nice to meet ya! Spoiler alert: the press kit quoted someone comparing them to Blue Oyster Cult, and once you’re told that you can’t not hear it! So you have a motorcycle gang surf rock masked trash instro band that sounds exactly like Blue Oyster Cult. Go figure?

STAG “s/t”

( Sounds like a Cheap Trick cover band decided to write originals and a magic alien helped them by enchanting their instruments and they hired a good producer and workshopped some killer lyrics. And they chose a name with dangerous rhyming possibilities (see The Stags review).

Rich Mahan “Blame Bobby Bare”

(Snortin Horse) Bless Bobby Bare! Well, always bless him, but this time specifically bless him for inspiring this fun, well-crafted, countrified outsider Opry music album. And while you’re at it, blame and bless David Allan Coe, Vince Gill, SHel Silverstein, Kinky Friedman, and even Jimmy Buffett. I love you Mahan!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Apollo Ghosts “Landmark”

(You’ve Changed) Friendly ghosts apply musical ecto-logic to songs that rattle chains that evoke Lou Reed doing a children’s album, free jazz balloon solos, Jesus in a donut shop, campfire power pop, quirky sentimentality, and soft hard rock.

Nehedar “High Tide”

( Kind of Carole King-ish with less hooks. Reminds me of the Really Rosie soundtrack sung by Tinkerbells.

The Hoot Hoots “Feel the Cosmos”

( Joyful jukebox jerkouts that sound like what the best Jack in the box in the world would play if you kranked his knob.

Thorcraft Cobra “Count It In”

(Plaza Bowl) Yacht Rock on Quaaludes! And an inexplicable band name. In other words: winning formula!

Ozzy Osbourne “Speak of the Devil - Live from Irvine Meadow ‘82”

(Eagle Vision) I can’t believe how long I had this sitting on my desk without playing it. I figured, ‘why would I want to see an Ozzy concert from just after Randy Rhoads died?’ Which completely ignores Rhoads’ legacy. While I’m sure Rhoads would have been a bit more exciting to watch shred than the totally acceptable Brad Gillis, the reason Randy was a metal miracle was his influence on the songwriting – the Rhoads-assisted Ozzy solo records made hard rock poppy and hooky without losing the manliness and metallic edge in ways that Def Leppard and Billy Squier only hinted at. The reason to watch Ozzy live post “Blizzard” and “Diary” is because thanks to Randy (and a few Sabbath cuts) this is a show that probably features the strongest material in the history of the genre. And the fact that Ozzy is playing on a stage that looks like a Satatnic temple with flying laser demons, full-on pyro, and a keyboardist in a-hooded druid robe don’t hurt either. And let’s not fail to celebrate that Ozzy, his voice a marvel of metal, is meandering around the stage looking like Benn Hill in a fright wig, wearing a spandex workout outfit that looks like he should be in a Jane Fonda exercize video…and he still comes off as the greatest frontman in hard rock history! There are a million great details…the druid pianoman screwing up his costume by wearing his wedding ring…Ozzy;s tattooist being identified in the end credits…Ozzy drinking water from a chalice…every note of “Flying High Again,” “Paranid,” “Suiciede Solution,” “Mr. Corwley,” “Over the Mountain,” and ever other song. But it’s the big picture that matters…and it’s a big picture of Ozzy maniacally smiling. Watch this and you will be too.

The Safes “Century of Saturdays”

( They are playing it safe by making their music sound like weird dreams…because everyone has weird dreams, so universality is safe, right?

These Curious Thoughts “Building Mountains From the Ground”

( Strangely pleasant alternate dimension pop  compositions that are getting curiouser and curiouser, if you ask Alice (though this does not sound like Jefferson Airplane, that was an unintententional quote/reference).

Research Turtles “Mankiller Part 2 of 2”

( Whatever turtle research was involved, it was not by the same firm doing market research for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles computer animation cartoon. This appealing, slightly askew alt-rock power pop, with  a soft side, EP would not play well on Cartoon Network. But there’s a lotta other channels in the turtle swamp!

Double Naught Spy Car “Western Violence”

(Foot Pole) This sounds like the ominous Surf Rock soundtrack to a murder movie – think spaghetti western if the marinara sauce is laced with arsenic and broken glass!

Hemmingbirds “The Vines of Age”

( Aggressively pretty folk rock that’s for the birds…the awesome music loving birds!

Opium Symphony “Blame It On the Radio”

(Man or Machine) Post-Industrial cock-ish rock so sour it made my sphincter pucker.

Radio Moscow “3 and 3 Quarters”

(Alive) This inexplicably unreleased first album by RM is postmodern 60s trash garage blues that sounds like every 90s Goner Records release but with better leads and groovier basslines. In other words…Garage Grammy material!

Sophie B. Hawkins “The Crossing”

(Lightyear) Damn, I wish Sophie B. Hawkins made more records. Not every track on this diverse collection appeals to me, but a spooky, bluesy opening track, a ghostly prayer song built around a river = life metaphor, and a chilling version of “Sinnerman” make it easy to forgive the easy listening stuff. There’s even an acoustic version of that one song by her you know which sounds awesome. 

Klarka Weinwurm “Continental Drag”

(Saved By Vinyl) These quiet, ghostly, slow simmering torch songs (or the minimalist equivalent…matchstick songs?) will sooth your brain like fine “wein   and “wurm” their way into your soul.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Naked In Public “No Filter”

( Odd quirk-rock truthtelling through poppy songs that sound like weirdo novelty rock but are really life lessons that are actually funnier than real novelty rock.

barefoot in the kitchen: vegan recipes for you by Ashley Rowe

(Microcosm) Simple, tasty recipes that even a clumsy cook can create, and it maintains punk credibility thorugh cursing (”Don’t Fuck-It-Up Guacamole”) and thorugh allusions (the lamb-free shepard’s pie is illustrated with  a Minor Threat sheep looking happy).

Dark Fog “The Seaside Sounds of Dark Fog at Doctor Officer Quimby’s House”

( Chicago psyche superstars go to Detroit (for some actual MC5 drive), to outer space (for some mandatory psyche anti-gravity pills), and to the mysterious house of Dr. Quimby, who I guarantee provides completely different drugs than Sgt. Pepper (though he may be the neighbor to Dr. S. F. Sorrow and Obstetrician Nik Hawkwind).

Lasers and Fast and Shit “Second: Cat Fight”

(He Who Corrupts) This pummeling, hooky, anglular, hardcoresque music is the shit. And the fast. And the lasers. Sittign at an airport is boring by the way, which is the best them for an angry protest song I ever heard. “Get a slice of Wolfgang Puck’s!”

The Marshmallow Staircase “Gunfighters”

(Summersteps) Battlestar Galactica-evocative psychedelia (old show, not new one) that is somehow about cowboys. Which I guess makes sense, as space heroes are cowboys with laser six shooters, right? And Tonto must have slipped the Lone Ranger peyote sometimes.

The Howling Hex “Navajo Rag” cassette

(OSR) Circus electronic future/past incantation music that is genuinely nuts. Navajo? To quote Redd Foxx, “just a regular Chicago ho!”

Todays Hits

( James writes, sings, and records a new song every day. While this would be a fine digital project, he makes it "real" by recording some of the songs on cassette, then courteously leaving enough tape blank for you to record some of your own as well! The best song on the tape he handed me was about eating pizza every day. I would have made that a driving hardcore song, but that's why I'm not a musical genius...he made it totally pleasant, perfectly attuned to one who had the dream life of daily pizza consumption.