By Cait Brennan
From their circa-1980 Dream 6 post-punk bona fides to their genre defining alternative rock gems like “God Is A Bullet,” “Joey,” “Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man,” and “Everybody Knows,” Concrete Blonde has made an enduring career of mixing the sacred and the profane, the earthy and the unearthly, a mosaic assembled in light and blood. Now 30 years into a truly iconoclastic career, singer/songwriter/bassist/artist Johnette Napolitano makes her home deep in the Mojave desert, and the ghosts of Joshua Tree haunt all seven inches of the group’s eminently cool new white vinyl spinner “Rosalie” b/w “I Know The Ghost.”
The limited edition 45 was originally pressed for the band’s 2011 Texas Halloween tour, and now a handful of the records are available at the band’s Official Website.
“She wraps herself in firelight, and dances in the sand like a ghost,” Napolitano sings on “Rosalie,” all low and mournful like a lost coyote. It’s a great country-infused old west tune, the kind you’d spin at midnight on Dia De Los Muertos. The flip side, “I Know The Ghost,” is a rave-up that hearkens to the band’s punk roots, buzzing with the kind of Madame Wong’s energy that only authentic survivors of the era could conjure.
Both tunes feature founding Concrete Blonde guitarist Jim Mankey (ex-Sparks, and himself a Joshua Tree resident) and drummer Gabriel Ramirez-Quezada, one of the brothers in LA rock en español standouts Maria Fatal and a ten year veteran of Concrete Blonde. The disc was recorded at Stagg Street Studios in Van Nuys with the band’s rock-steady engineer Anne Catalino. Videos for each of the songs are in the works.
The band is about to launch an East Coast tour, kicking off at Boston’s Sinclair Music Hall on Dec. 12 and heading to NYC’s Irving Plaza (12/13), Asbury Park’s Stone Pony (12/14), Washington DC’s 9:30 Club (12/17), Carrboro, NC’s Cat’s Cradle (12/18), Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse (12/19), Chicago’s Park West (12/21) and Minneapolis’ Variety Theatre (12/22). The band will also perform on WXPN Philadelphia’s “World Café Live” radio show on December 15.
One of the most unique and enduring bands of the alternative rock era, Concrete Blonde is still getting it done with passion and fire. These “songs of the spirits of the desert” are a welcome reminder of the band’s strength and Napolitano’s singular voice.