With Lynsey de Paul having passed away and Noosha Fox now running a restaurant, we only have Suzi Quatro to keep the flame of female Anglo glamrock alive, and I can think of no one who deserves to be its queen more than her. For all the acknowledgement that mainstream music criticism has given her, acknowledgement which is so often denied to female artists, she barely seems to care that she has it. In Performing Glam Rock, Philip Auslander’s analysis of her subversion of the authenticity and masculinity of rock in both her gender performance and musical performance seemed almost too good to be true to me the first time I read it, and difficult to parse based on the German TV performances I knew of her. Only now, after hearing The Girl From Detroit City, do I realize that she’s really even beyond what he describes.
Former Gomez singer and guitarist Ben Ottewell has the kind of voice that one struggles to find descriptors of. It’s like an old blues singer sitting on a front porch, like a drunken businessman wearing a suit made of sandpaper, like the honk of a deranged goose (but in a good way). His voice is distinctive and unusual and quite fantastic. As a guitarist, he is solid and makes interesting choices. He’s got a way with melody, too.
I don’t care whose house is on fire
As long as I can warm myself at the blaze.
—Iceage, “On My Fingers”
Anyone who is surprised by the evolution of Iceage on their new album Plowing Into The Field Of Love hasn’t been paying attention. The seeds of the band’s sound were sowed early on, in songs like “New Brigade” and “You’re Blessed,” a seemingly haphazard collision of styles and sounds hinting that something far greater was in their future. That something has arrived and it’s one of the best things you’ll hear this year, if not for a long while, or at least until Iceage makes another album.
The first Electric Six album I heard was I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master. As if that title wasn’t strange and unwieldy enough, I literally could not process what I was hearing. What the fuck was I listening to exactly?
After seven years and several albums, I’ve figured out more about Electric Six. But it doesn’t mean that every new album from the band doesn’t make me ask that same question again. Human Zoo, their tenth (!!), is perhaps weirder than most E6 albums, but is also possibly their most cohesive since Heartbeats and Brainwaves, which was itself a bit of an anomaly in the canon.
By Tyler Hodg
This past August, Brooklyn’s Bear in Heaven released their fourth album, Time Is Over One Day Old. Their signature electro-pop sound is prevalent, but it’s clear a natural growth has occurred since their last record. Although Bear in Heaven’s sound might be “in” right now, their creative songwriting has placed them in a genre of their own.
I have long contended that one of the greatest singers in pop history is The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz. He’s not only amazingly versatile, with a distinctive voice that is equally at home singing rock, jazz (the man can scat like he was born to it), or ballads, but even when singing backup, he rises above, imbuing each note with personality. His harmonies are tight. Always.
The psychedelic era, short-lived as it was, produced some of the most memorable tunes of the late Sixties and early Seventies. It also spewed forth a lot of crap. Basically, if you had a flange or wah-wah pedal on your cheap electric guitar, and some decent harmonies from the bassist and keyboard player, you could churn out a great psychedelic song in about half an hour. The lyrics didn’t have to make sense. As long as you were blowing someone’s mind, or singing about blowing someone’s mind, you were set.
The Primitives have the distinction of creating—arguably—one of the top ten greatest “one hit wonder” singles of all time with their perfect ‘90s pop gem “Crash.” They’re back with Spin-O-Rama, their first album of entirely original material in 22 years. Fans of their brand of sunshine-infused, jangly guitar Power Pop will be thrilled with this new release.
Spin-O-Rama picks up the band’s sound precisely where they left off in all the right ways, combined with a Byrds-like and ‘60s garage band-tinged influence, along with hints of the Monkees. There is nothing here that quite hits the heights of their delightful earworm “Crash,” but the undeniably catchy single and title track “Spin-O-Rama” as well as shimmering upbeat tracks like “Lose the Reason” and “Petals” make up a solid album from start to finish. It should make old fans deliriously happy and create a large contingent of rabid converts.
Spin-O-Rama was released October 14 via Elefant Records.
By Tyler Hodg
In music, collaboration can often bring out the best in songwriters.The first offering from 3RDEYEGIRL features none other than Prince, who at this point is basically an honorary member of the band (4THEYEGIRLBOY?). Stylistically different than Art Official Age—Prince’s album featuring 3RDEYEGIRL which was released on the same day—Plectrumelectrum is a fairly straightforward rock album, with a few surprises sprinkled in. Ever wondered what Prince would sound with a hard rock band? Here’s your answer!
By Tyler Hodg
The ever-enigmatic Prince returns with not one, but two new albums with help from his friends in 3RDEYEGIRL. With the first of the two—Art Official Age—Prince’s ambitions were to incorporate creativity and artistic value back into music. He is able to achieve this, also revealing that there are no guidelines in music, despite what mainstream pop artists often deliver.