Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

It was sometime back in the early 00s when I got into King Crimson. I got to see them live with John Paul Jones when I was a Zeppelin die-hard and JPJ was touring behind The Thunderthief (2001). I got to hear the rhythmic daymare of Thela Hun Ginjeet for the first time in my life. The mix of strange and almost discordant rhythms did more to get me dazed than the contact high and warm pocket vodka. I remember being completely entranced until the song ended and I finally shuddered back to life. At the time, I also was discovering Zappa, and knew their common link was Adrian Belew. Young Lions, the first album I landed on at (thanks good ole Mr. Cheapos!), ended up tucking itself into the folds of my hippocampus in my Personal Museum of Eternally Beloved Music. This album is a mission of optimism with claws, set to vaguely jungle-ish rock drums and Belew’s unbelievable shredding. After now twenty years, whenever some Facebook chain email crosses me asking for my top fives or tens or “I listen to this when,” I instantly see the white-pink hue of my copy of Young Lions.

It starts with this pulsating stomp with bells on its ankles, that give me visuals of bonfire parties and hunting predators. This song always sends me deep into the stories in my consciousness and push up fruits of lush colors and imagery – sometimes a cavewoman lover shimmying for her beau, other times eyes in the bushes in the quiet blue darkness; a stalking foot of a carefully moving something. The driving stomp careens into a solo with a some instrument that I have no fucking idea what it is (probably some genius machination Belew does with pedals and pixie dust). It sears as much as it sings, stomping along with rhythmic grunts and twittering flutes, until the entire jungle erupts in natural rapture. It is a masterpiece of sound and joy and it moves me every time.

From there Pretty Pink Rose takes over. A guitar-crazy wailing pop smash, (the album’s one single and video), Pretty Pink Rose is just a good honest rock song. Total shoulder shimmy danceable. I won’t pretend to understand the lyrics, but they’re Bowie lyrics so they work well on their own just by sounding beautiful, nevermind what world-shaking political meanings Bowie may hide in there if you have the patience to search. “The left wing’s broken, the right’s insane” was one of the easily reachable bits to grasp, and rings even more frustratingly true the further we live through history. Other lyrics call up images of the Russian monarchy and seem to bite. Man, I don’t need to know what the hell the song is about, but the hooks in this song are so fun to sing along to, it doesn’t matter.

Humor me a personal story: There was a long time I didn’t pull this album out for a listen. I’m a sensitive soul and the universe decided to backhand me. When I was about 19, traveling the country with Led Zeppelin fans, I took my all Adrian Belew CDs on one of the coolest music adventures of my life (which I shall save for another post). My copy of Belew’s Op Zop Too Wah was with me, and it was super special. It had been gifted by another Belew fan on the internet with the caveat that I must one day pay it forward to another person who might like it. It was precious cargo, cargo that came with a mission. I wanted to make sure I had a few uninterruptable listens, and flights to and from Ohio were as good an opportunity as any.

So naturally, the airline lost my luggage.

When my bag arrived home 9 hours after I did, it was unlocked and all my beloved CDs and CD Walkman were gone. Heartbroken. I couldn’t bear to replace them, even though members of that Belew group sent me replacements and sympathy. But I felt so fucked up about it that I couldn’t really enjoy them without thinking about the violation of some chode stealing my stuff. And I always felt bad having never been able to complete my mission of paying a Belew CD forward. I sort of just blocked it out like it would be forever sour.

It took me until the darkness of 2020 to be able to see the light in this album again. In one of my many moments of deep orange panic, watching the world fall apart in front of me, I started singing “Looking for a UFO” at the top of my lungs. “Somebody will have to fall out of the sky, somebody to show us how to survive. Wouldn’t that be nice?” It sure felt like it. It came out of me randomly and at full volume like a cry to the gods (in the form of a catchy pop song). After all, it is three and a half minutes of upbeat but desperate hope when everything felt hopeless. Why not call upon the aliens? “I wonder what they see on earth. Do they see the hate and hurt? Or do they see the Christmas lights and mirth, and hear songs of peace on earth? Well maybe they would know, a way to make it so.” Maybe they do! Maybe we do, too. I confused the hell out of my neighbors, but I was happy.

One of the weirdest slam dunks on this album is I Am What I Am, which is a jam-along with cult radio evangelist Prophet Omega. I have always had a personally embattled relationship with spirituality, and this beat and monologue would make me scoff at the same time as “I am what I am, and that is all I am, and I am it” became an arcane mantra I would jot down in my notebooks in college. It’s this narrative of self-acceptance and living in the moment that is really engaging and healthy and light, although the guy also seems a little more than eccentric. I’ve since learned that Omega is some kind of legendary cult figure in Nashville music, and you can download his sermons/buy stuff about him from Genuine Human Productions here:

Genuine Human Productions Bandcamp

“Men In Helicopters” is an assault on poachers, and to some larger extent, the sins of our consumption. Belew’s rage is unfettered and raw in its biting lyrics. “Wouldn’t it be odd, if there really was a god, and he looked down on earth and saw what we’d done to her? Wouldn’t it be just, if he pulled the plug on us, and took away the sun?” I can hear a little extra breath in Belew’s rage, as if mentions of copters come with a snarl, a desire for justice. It gives you a push.

I always listen to this guy start to finish – there’s so much more to get, whether it’s the vaguely ethereal cover of “Not Alone Anymore” of the Wilburys, or “Phone Call From the Moon” or Belew’s personal cover of King Crimson’s “Heartbeat.” It’s a powerful album that more people ought to know about it. I could go on, but I won’t, because this review is already long. But I will say this:

DO YOU WANT A COPY OF OP ZOP TOO WAH? Help me complete my mission. I will send you a copy of Op Zop Too Wah on the condition that you one day pay another Belew album forward to someone else. Help me solve the mission I started 20 or so years ago in the primordial ooze of the internet. Reach out to me on Instagram! Cheers!

https://adrianbelew.net/

Adrian Belew’s Facebook

Adrian Belew’s Insta

A big thanks to my buddy Soda for giving me the space to share some tunes with you!

Thumpasaurus greeted the world with their 2018 sensation “Mental Karate,” and now the rest of us will have to spend our lives scouring eBay for hard copies of their brash debut, Book of Thump. Now they’re back with their sophomore effort Thumpaverse, a flavor bomb of dance, punk, funk, and jazz that has already gathered over 100,000 album streams on Spotify.

Thumpaverse’s twelve tracks are a journey.  The album opens with “Emotional Pain,” a building tidal wave of funk that hits the peak of falsetto tension before slamming you against the beat.  From there it’s like you’re listening to rest of the album through your hips. Try to stay still when songs like “I’m Pissed” and “Struttin’” cross your eardrums.  These tracks are guaranteed to get your body shakin’ at maximum wiggle and laughing at their ridiculous setups.  But this is not a one-note band – they bob and weave through musical genres with equal parts appreciation and irreverence. Vocalist/Guitarist Lucas Tamaren gives every song a whole different persona. There are no two songs on this album that sound alike, and yet they all THUMP.

These guys are eclectic and often swing in unpredictable directions.  Zeppelin reminiscent “Reaching” weaves delicate instrumentations and tense vocals through a journey until the song literally gives birth to itself. But they can also swing in the entire opposite direction and deliver something folky and sweet like “High School.” Somewhere behind the beat and humor is a kind of emotional self-awareness that can sneak up on you after a few listens, like in “Emotional Pain” or auditory hug “End of the Night.”

Thumpasaurus is a band that is at home in the cosmos (by way of Los Angeles).  But a real ride on the Space Barn can only happen when you see them live.  Fortunately, they recently recorded a live album, an exciting development we hope to see soon.

Buy Thumpaverse on Bandcamp

Thumpasaurus.com

Instagram

The Lickerish Quartet have done it again with their next EP installation. Full of sugar, spice and everything RAD. This EP takes off where Vol. 1 left us but with even crazier and more colorful arrangements. Soaring vocals, music for days and uber tight songwriting once again grace this release. So refreshing yet so familiar as these veteran masterminds come back together to bring the Universe these bright and beautiful sounds. A very much needed medication!

PREORDER HERE: https://shop.bandwear.com/collections/the-lickerish-quartet-shop

Watch the wild and fun video for lead single “Snollygoster Goon”:

“Similar to social anxiety or social phobia, anthropophobia is the fear of people. Unlike social anxiety, however, which often relates to feeling uncomfortable in crowds or a group context, anthropophobia symptoms can occur when the patient is in the presence of a single person.”

And now that you know the definition of Anthrophobia, can we change it to “absolute badassery”? Man! This new EP, Altered States hits so hard on each track and every single note. Certainly played with conviction, these guys have delivered a great package that’s a bit aggro, a bit punk and a whole lot of shit-kicking rock. These PA vets know exactly how to grab you by the ear and then by the throat. Singer Frank Phobia goes for the final blow with each syllable and the band is so no nonsense that you can’t help but bang thru the EP 3 or 4 times in one sitting. Lead single “Ghosts” is 1:57 of pure fast driving bliss. Anthrophobia is nailing a sound that is sorely missed without sounding dated or desperate.

*For enthusiasts of Corrosion Of Conformity, Clutch and old school White Zombie*

https://anthrophobia.bandcamp.com/music

Order the limited edition vinyl at their Bandcamp page which also features the EP Grind plus bonus tracks!

THE FLOWERING

Part two in the Black Sugar Transmission trilogy of 2020 continues this week with, The Flowering. Like any other great trilogy you cannot wait for the counterparts to arrive, I’m waist deep…and not disappointed. When an artist dares to release three records in a year you wonder how a blueprint may be laid out for such an endeavor. In the case of The Flowering (successor to Wandering Into the Bullseye) it’s not necessarily a step up, but more like a dynamic dart to the left. Which is wonderful. An intriguing thing I’ve always felt about Andee’s music is that it’s very familiar yet completely fresh at the same time. As The Flowering blooms, it is at times jarring like a classic NIN record (“Death Is Breathing”) and at others like a soundtrack to an 80’s movie drenched in neon (“Through the Torture”). Savory and decadent, it does its share of glamage to your ears but also has real proper indie rock street cred. This is just another trophy in the glitter lined sonic case in the Black Sugar Transmission world. I will await this quicksand to fully engulf me when part three arrives but for now I’m fully content clinging to the branches of The Flowering to stay afloat. Check out lead single and video “This Is Crazy Town” just below.

Katie Toupic - Magnetic Moves

Jeepers! I AM SO HAPPY that this record was put on my radar! (Directly by the artist herself, mind you). If I were to put into words, quite literally, a vibe that I get from this wonderful piece of work…it would be (now picture this)…playing 16-bit video games in a 1950’s style ice cream shop at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Pretty F’ing rad, no? Now imagine that vibe translated to an album of songs and you get Magnetic Moves, the debut full length LP from Katie Toupin (former Houndmouth).

Title track and lead single is a fuzzy little dancey number that could have been plucked from the late 80’s or early 90’s in all it’s disc drive glory (accompanied by an equally nostalgic video). “Here’s my heart, my dignity too. Take it slowly like, most men do.” And you better listen boys AND girls (to this, and the rest of the record).

Although the album gives you a fun starting line as a launch pad there is a lot to offer here that digs a bit deeper. “Moves” is romantic, honest and at times even gospel and so well crafted in both lyric and arrangement. It’s the slow dance that is “Someone To You” and the yearning beauty of “The Hills Are Calling” that can get you really wrapped up in this record. And then there are songs on here like, “In Your Dreams”, a fun bopper you can put on while you clean the house. Katie’s got ya covered here.

Magnetic Moves is a record that is commercially and structurally sound without losing any of it’s indie street cred. And that is a huge nod to Toupin for penning such a wonderful record as that is certainly a fine line to tred. So, don’t sleep on this one gang!

KATIE TOUPIN

(For enthusiasts of Amy Correia, Metric and Amy Winehouse)

“I’m not here to tell you about a dying world, I’m here to tell you that you’re not dead yet…”

Blindside - Gravedigger

THANK GOD FOR BLINDSIDE. They have returned with new single, “Gravedigger.” Precise and urgent and full of power and soul. Plain and simple.

Almost exactly 8 years ago Blindside left us with their 2011 record, With Shivering Hearts We Wait.  If this new single is a sign of what’s to come, well, it could not come fast enough. Maybe I am biased as I absolutely love this band, but let’s face the facts here. We want to be moved and shaken and feel, it’s long overdue. Where is that passion? It’s right here. For what so many others lack, this quartet from Sweden are desperately trying to pick up the slack for. Blindside is that type of band, continuing to wear their heart(s) on a tattered and dirty sleeve that has survived storm after storm. – The band had done some teasing on social media late June and announced the new single on the 24th. After a brief delay it went live early July accompanied by a lyric video (see below). Waking from their slumber Blindside has let out a scream that must be heard. As perfect and tightly woven as “Gravedigger” is, the rawness that the band possess is still honored, and every shattered piece is spit shined. Have they outdone themselves? Quite possibly, but it is hard to say with just one song. That being said, the band always sounds fresh and well rested on every record and better and better. No need for unnecessary bells and whistles on “Gravedigger”, it stands firmly on it’s own with no disguise. – LISTEN AND TELL YOUR FRIENDS.

Less than a week ago I had the pleasure of seeing Lisa Loeb perform again. I’d seen her only once, and it was 20 or so years ago in NYC when I was kid. I remember being so happy after watching her play and being able to be a part of that time when she was really at a peek and I myself was just learning how to be a singer and a songwriter and really absorbing the moment. Now, so many years later and having seen her again was a similar experience but different at the same time. I realized her influence even more.

Promptly taking the stage at 8pm, Lisa and her guitar looked more petite than usual in the Boulton Center on Long Island. Moments into the performance you knew that you were truly in on something special. The room was full of people that were very eager. It was obvious this woman’s work had come to be adored.

Lisa Loeb Live @ The Boulton Center, Long Island 03.30.17

Lisa Loeb live @ The Boulton Center, Long Island 03.30.17 (Photo by Soda)

 

Lisa played and sang and regaled us with a number of stories that spanned the course from her time just starting out up until that very moment. I mean, who wouldn’t want to hear stories of someone coming up in the early to mid-nineties in NYC. Sign me way up! This particular performance was full of those stories and just about equal to the songs given like precious little gifts, and, I was one of the lucky people there for the unwrapping, (thanks Blacktop Records). Hits like “Truthfully” and of course “Stay” were delivered so delicately with connections to the stories that went along with them. Lisa told us about how “Stay” of course changed her life. She was at number one without a record deal, we learned how that happened thanks to the film Reality Bites. It all sounded so magical. We were also treated to songs like “The Disappointing Pancake,” a tune true to it’s title. If you didn’t know, Lisa has also become successful in writing songs for kids, she also has an amazing foundation called Camp Lisa in which all proceeds from that recording of the same name goes to help children who can’t afford a summer camp experience to have one.

Myself and Lisa Loeb, Boulton Center 03/30/17

Myself and Lisa Loeb, Boulton Center 03.30.17

We could sit and listen all night long. It was intimate and personal. She has the charm to make you feel like you’re the only one in the room. Throughout the performance Lisa may have forgotten some words and had to poke around a few chords as well as a very nimble guitar intro in which she was very happy to have learned because it was “the guitar AND bass part rolled into one”. Those happy little mistakes made only for a better show, one in which a successful songwriter, an actor, an author and more…can just seem so, human. Tales of her friends and her children made you feel like you’d have known Lisa your whole life, and…that is a true gift. I certainly hope I don’t have to wait a bunch of years to see the one and only Lisa Loeb perform again as some shows you want to just get lost in. Thanks Lisa!

Check out the latest Lisa Loeb album, Feel What U Feel, out now.

Lisa Loeb - Feel What U Feel