If you think Dead Ghosts sounds like a Goth band name, you’d be right, but you’d be dead wrong about their sound. This is old school, straight-up party music. The only thing better than listening to this album at a party (nighttime, outside, backyard, torches to ward off mosquitoes) would be having the band actually play live at your party.
In other words, you have to dance to this music. There is no other way.
You’ll Never Walk Alone opens with the wonderfully titled, warped shimmy of “Glitter Death” and the clever lyric: tell all of your friends that this is the end/of all these stupid trends.
The first six tracks on the album weave in and out of each other so slyly they all seem like one glorious, extended song. A song that’s a three-dimensional rainbow tapestry of sonic bliss.
Burnt Ones recalls the psychedelia of both early Pink Floyd and T. Rex with more than a dusting of the latter’s primo glam rawk stomp, and lyrics to match (sample: Just like a sweater how you’re so together). At first those lyrics won’t make a whole lot of sense, but once you get into their groove, the crazy visuals they describe—”hypnotized and fried, licking glass perfumes”–will nag at you until you start to feel like you understand on some subterranean, emotional level.
By Melissa B.
I’m a nostalgist. What I love about reissues is hearing a song I’ve forgotten entirely about. In a beat, I’m transported to the back-backseat of my parents’ station wagon, listening to KTTS on the radio. The reissue of Marty Robbins’s El Paso City/Adios Amigo took me right back to that station wagon.
It’s difficult to talk about what the new Big Country album is without talking about what it isn’t. The Journey is the first album from the band in 14 years. It’s also the first studio album since original lead singer/songwriter Stuart Adamson took his own life in a hotel room in Hawaii in December of 2001. Bouncing back from a blow like that is difficult for any band. Look at the shambles INXS became after Michael Hutchence passed out and away.
Fronting Big Country now is Mike Peters, singer/songwriter for The Alarm, well-remembered for Eighties hits like “Sixty-Eight Guns” and “The Stand.” There are similarities between Peters and Adamson as songwriters. Adamson and Peters both created songs of epic scope, real sweepers. Listen to the guitars masquerading as bagpipes on “In a Big Country” and feel the cold grass of Scotland under your feet. Listen to the sweet high guitar trills of “Rain in the Summertime” and you really can almost feel the rain on your face.
Replacing Adamson’s vision with Peters’s panoramic view seems like the perfect match.
By Melissa B.
Kermit Ruffins co-founded The Rebirth Brass Band in high school. The Rebirth Brass Band revitalized the brass band community in New Orleans, and their success rejuvenated New Orleans’s Second Line culture. Kermit Ruffins is a great ambassador for that aspect of New Orleans. His extraordinarily distinctive, raspy voice paired with his virtuoso trumpet playing gives the casual listener a glimpse into the broad spectrum of New Orleans music.
His newest record We Partyin’ Traditional Style is like a time capsule, taking 20th-century classics and skewing them his own personal way and in the process, making an incredibly fun record. Partyin’ in the title? Not a coincidence.
On Magic Trix, Xenia Rubinos sounds like a radio caught between two frequencies. The first station carries brassy 1930s show tunes, a capella field recordings of folk songs, multi-tracked choruses, and lushly melodic whispered confessions. On the other, psychedelic keyboard freakouts, skittering drums, thumping hardcore declarations, and a cacophony of characters rule the day. Binding the disparate styles together is a soupçon of feedback from an analog keyboard and Rubinos’s force of nature vocals.
By Melissa B.
George Jones was called “the greatest voice in country music.” This is not hyperbole. He could make you feel so much with a crack of his voice, the swell or pull back on a phrase. He was masterful.
The liner notes for Jones Country/You’ve Still Got A Place In My Heart mention the miracle that he was alive and well in 2013 and planning a farewell show. I received this disc the day before he died. Irony is a wicked mistress.
Melvins—the “the” is silent—are one of those bands who are permanently on the list of bands I’ve been meaning to get into. Everything of theirs I’ve heard I’ve enjoyed and I’ve seen them live twice (both times were outstanding). I even have a few of their albums. But I’ve never crossed over into the “must own everything” level of fandom. Although Everybody Loves Sausages is an album of cover songs, it may have finally pushed me over that precipice.
Cover songs are tricky. Why bother covering something unless you’re going to make it better or add something special? There is a third reason, though it’s not the most popular: introduce people to bands that they’ve never heard before. As an album, Everybody Loves Sausages hits all those marks.
The claim that music with keyboards and synthesizers isn’t “real music” or is just crap has gone on long past its sell-by date. It was tired in the ’80s; now it’s just embarrassing. If music makes you feel something on a gut level—or hell, if it just makes you want to hit the dance floor—then who cares if it’s got synths, keyboards, or a didgeridoo?
The anti-keyboard bridge would probably break out the torches and pitchforks for Big Black Delta. Jonathan Bates has taken Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound to its most synthesized, processed extreme. It’s not just that Big Black Delta’s music features a preponderance of electronic sounds, it’s that the sounds include mountains, oceans, and skies.
The Meat Puppets are not only icons of the alternative/punk/underground music scenes; they are like fine wines: The band and their music just keep getting better with age. The latest from the Kirkwood Brothers, Rat Farm, is perhaps their finest, the band’s most playful and diverse offering since releasing Up On The Sun in 1985.