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.
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.
Tinnarose’s self-titled debut album feels like a classic rock album. There’s a tablespoon of Nilsson, a dash of Bowie, some drops of Steely Dan, all shaken up together and covered in sprinkles of inventive harmonies. Cooking metaphors aside, Tinnarose is a likeable debut with power pop sensibilities.
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!
Does anyone remember what an album was? Do they still call a music “release” an album anymore? Well, back in 1980, when a band released an album, you bought an album, a piece of vinyl inside a paper sleeve slipped into a cardboard sleeve. I think I might have paid about $8 for this record when it came out in 1980. I was 15 years old. A bit of background may be in order.
To call Orenda Fink’s Blue Dream meditative isn’t at all a stretch. It’s an exploration of the meaning of love, death, and spirituality, all filtered through a dreamy, gauzy haze and sung in an incredibly intimate way. Listening to Blue Dream is like walking into someone else’s slumber: a place where you’re welcome, but it’s all a bit disorienting and dark and a little eerie. It’s a captivating record.