Pick yourself up, walk down the street
Feel the freaks that you shall meet
They are your family now. . .
—Ty Segall, “The Feels”
Singing old Pat Benatar songs at a karaoke party this spring revealed to me something that I hadn’t realized: most popular songs today don’t have guitar solos, which makes for some slightly awkward, “let’s skip to the Taylor Swift track” moments when you’re waiting to belt out that last Pat Benatar chorus. It doesn’t make those songs any less singalong-able, it just means that a lot of younger (ahem) music fans seem to get bored if a song isn’t wall-to-wall vocals.
But no one could be bored by Ty Segall. It’s true, the man does have a penchant for shredding, but he can sing like a mofo and doesn’t noodle or show off, unless you call displaying his prodigious talents “showing off.” Spawning dozens of releases at a breakneck pace for the last six years or so (plus constant touring) means he’s had plenty of opportunities to hone his craft and Manipulator is the epitome of that craft thus far.
The first season of The Walking Dead was nothing short of brilliant (review). It went through some growing pains—literally—in Season 2, figuring out how to deal with a new showrunner as well as twice as many episodes. The criticisms of that season have been discussed to death and don’t need a rehash. Season 3 expanded the show’s scope further with even more new characters and 16 episodes. Amazingly, Season 4 is better than the excellent Season 3 (review); those who gave up on the show after Season 2 should definitely try and catch up, as it is on par with those first six episodes.
Those who claim all The Ramones songs sound alike have clearly never listened to Naomi Punk. This trio from Washington has cast their lot with a very limited sonic palette. Each of the tracks on their newest release, Television Man, strain against those limits like fish in a tank that’s too small.
In the 1990s, I was lucky enough to live in New Orleans. The Continental Drifters lived there, too, and I’ve lost track of the number of times I saw them play live, mostly at The Howlin’ Wolf. Drifter Peter Holsapple played a free acoustic set every Sunday at Carrollton Station which completely obliterated the “Sunday night blues” for those of us stuck in that Monday to Friday, 9 – 5 grind. And occasionally, Drifters Susan Cowsill and Vicki Peterson would perform as The Psycho Sisters. Those familiar with The Cowsills or The Bangles who’ve never heard these two women harmonize are in for a special treat with Up On The Chair, Beatrice.
Guess what? This review isn’t going to compare Spoon to their possible influences, nor will the author jack herself off by citing said influences with hipper than thou references. Spoon has been, at the very least, a good band (with moments of a great band) for a long time. You may or may not know that yet, but They Want My Soul is worthy of your time and money. Knowing how cool you are by “getting” an author’s dazzling musical knowledge has nothing to do with that. The short version of this review is that the lyrics are clever, witty, and at times acerbic, and the music is interesting, melodic, simple yet layered, and other bits are more complex or partially in conflict with the general melody, but never cacophonous. It’s worth buying and unpeeling the onion skin of lyrical meanings at your leisure—or not. The album sounds great and stands alone whether or not one cares to excavate lyrics like a scholar examining cave paintings.
Jack White, what hath you wrought? The debut album from Brighton UK’s Royal Blood sounds amazingly like the White Stripes, from the gutbucket blues stylings to Mike Kerr’s anguished howls and yelps. They, too, are a duo, though the thing that sets them apart is they are a bass and drum combo. I have no idea how one can make a bass sound so guitary, but Kerr does it. Hell of a trick, that is.
By Tim Murr
The debut album by Mortals from Brooklyn, NY is a black/thrash/sludge metal-enthusiast’s dream. Cursed To See The Future hits hard and never relents across six tracks, clocking in at around 50 minutes. With brutal, pummeling rhythms, throat-shredding vocals, and unimpeachable guitar and bass work, Cursed sets a high bar for a debut.
I don’t think it should be necessary in 2014 to make a big deal about Mortals being an all female power trio that rightly earns comparisons to High On Fire and Darkthrone, but there you go. These three women—Caryn Havlik (drums), Lesley Wolf (bass/vocals), and Elizabeth Cline (guitar)—create rhythmically exciting metal that stands shoulder to shoulder with any of their contemporaries. Track 5, “Series Of Decay,” backs up that assessment nicely.
After buying this album, it’s been pretty much all I’ve listened to, and before that I’d been listening to their Death Ritual EP and Night Terror Demo. I like Mortals quite a bit and highly recommend Cursed To See The Future. It’ll be exciting to watch this band continue to evolve; they’ll certainly be one of Relapse Records MVPs. If you can catch them on tour make sure you buy them each a quadruple espresso!
An Honest Liar is a documentary about James “The Amazing” Randi (self-described liar, cheat, and charlatan) directed by Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein. I was surprised by how many people to whom I mentioned this film had not heard of “The Amazing Randi.” Perhaps he’s one of those people locked away somewhere in the brain along with Tang™ and some random fact that you can’t quite access but know you know while playing Trivial Pursuit™. After all, helping Alice Cooper with a little stage decapitation and appearing on Happy Days in cahoots with The Fonz are among his lesser-known activities.
The vampire movie renaissance, of which Let Me In was the high point and Priest may have been the low point, appeared to be drawing to a close. Then in late 2013, Director Jim Jarmusch (Coffee and Cigarettes) came out with Only Lovers Left Alive. This moody, atmospheric, bohemian tale pleased both critics and fans alike, especially the built-in fanbases of its leads, Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. However, underneath the dark rock-guitar score, the musings about art, and the familiar vampire lore, there’s something more going on. Only Lovers Left Alive is, at its heart, a movie about marriage.
Found footage films are getting more eyerolls every year, it seems. I’m a huge fan of this subgenre but I will be the first to admit there are some films out there that are not that great. Also, the ones that are not that great are the more popular ones for some reason and that I just don’t get.