By Tyler Hodg
Hot off the trail of his recent world tour, Rob Zombie has released Spookshow International Live, his first live album since 2007. Known for his horror-styled theatrics and energetic live shows, it should come as no surprise that Rob Zombie’s latest offering is nothing but fantastic—if you’re in a heavy music kind of mood, that is!
By Tyler Hodg
Never has so much nostalgia been so perfectly packed into a five-song, seven-minute EP. Then again, how often does a compilation of re-recorded anime theme songs get released?
Any ‘90s child (or geek) will be delighted to hear the fresh air breathed into some of his or her favorite TV themes. Send thanks to Andrew Conroy and his punk-rock “supergroup,” consisting of Tom Thacker (Sum 41, Gob), Anthony Bleed (Die Mannequin), and Darrin Pfeiffer (Goldfinger), for creating this amusing celebration of the golden age of anime shows. The themes for Pokémon, Dragon Ball Z, Digimon, and Sailor Moon are some of the catchiest songs to ever grace TV intros, so it comes as no surprise that Rain City Rockers’ Anime EP is delightfully mirthful.
Cherry Red Records continues to release some of the most fascinating compilations and reissues with a two-disc version of The Sweet’s debut album, Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be. The reissue, 28 tracks of music that range from bubblegum to The Sweet’s much heavier B-sides, is a mixed bag. On one hand, listening to the evolution of the band as they go from Archies-flavored pop to some quite heavy rock is fascinating. On the other, some of the songs are painful. Still, The Sweet were a great band, even when they were churning out silliness.
Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam does what he does exquisitely well. For over a decade, Beam has been creating hushed, intimate acoustic songs of love and domesticity and family, sepia-tinted nostalgia for right now.
The songs that make up Iron & Wine’s new Archive Series Volume No. 1 are pulled from tapes that Beam made before he was Iron & Wine, prior to the release of 2002’s The Creek Drank The Cradle. These songs were made only to be heard by his family and make up what feels like a diary of sorts, accompanied by his acoustic guitar. They are songs full of striking imagery, like in “The Wind Is Low,” a paean to a family of three “including the little one”: “We sail in the smallest boat/sleep just when the wind is low.”
Electronic collage artist Dan Deacon has returned with another eclectic offering in the very appropriately titled Gliss Riffer. A play on the the word glissando (sliding from one note to another) and riff (a repeated motif in a piece), Gliss Riffer is full of swooping keyboards and repeated movements, disembodied voices and dance-ready rhythms. It’s a heady mix.
How I went this long without hearing A Place To Bury Strangers is an embarrassing mystery. To rectify my mistake, I spent a lot of hours delving into their discography before writing this review. Alternating between brooding and buoyant shoegaze, this New York trio has elevated feedback to an art form. Although they’re frequently compared favorably (and appropriately) to The Jesus And Mary Chain, over the course of their three previous albums they’ve also managed to incorporate influences such as Tones On Tail, Love & Rockets, and The Church. And that’s what makes Transfixiation such a frustrating listen.
Back in 1986, I recorded Red Lorry Yellow Lorry’s “Walking On Your Hands” from WTUL college radio in New Orleans. It was the only track I’d ever heard from this Leeds band, but one I listened to frequently. For whatever reason, I never managed to delve further into the band’s discography until now. Cherry Red Records’ recent three-disc release of See The Fire (Albums, Singles and BBC Recordings 1982 – 1987) is a wonderful introduction to a band that has a singular sound but doesn’t fit into any single musical category.
There’s something about performing at the British Broadcasting Company that brings out the best in musicians. Perhaps it’s because the BBC is such a venerable institution that the very idea of screwing up there is abhorrent to entertainers. It certainly brought out the best in Todd Rundgren and his band, Utopia, as is evidenced by the new four-disc set from Cherry Red, Todd Rundgren at the BBC 1972 – 1982.
For a trio, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band sure do make a lot of noise. I listened to their latest, So Delicious, without knowing a thing about them, and assumed that there had to be at least six people in the Big Damn Band. It’s called The Big Damn Band, after all. And they’re loud. Looking at their bio, though, I was stunned to realize that the band is the Reverend Peyton, a Delta-style guitarist who sings; Breezy Peyton, who plays washboard and supplies backing vocals; and drummer Ben Bussell.
Steve Earle has always had a genius gift for lyrics that relate the life of the working man, the wronged person, and the misfits of the world. On his latest album, Terraplane, he again explores those characters and inhabits them so deeply that taken as a whole, the album is like a collection of fully realized short stories with accompanying soundtracks.