Music Review: Institute, Catharsis

Published on July 17th, 2015 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore

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Tell me who’s got a conscience that’s more pure / A servant of God or a girl they call a whore?
—Institute, “Christian Right”

If you didn’t know they were from Austin, Texas, you might assume that Institute was from the UK. On Catharsis, they’ve got a laconic, sardonic edge that sometimes comes across like the post-punk of bands like Joy Division or Magazine, but at other times recalls The Minutemen. Regardless, don’t let Moses Brown’s disaffected, distorted vocals fool you into thinking these are dumb punks. Unlike a lot of other bands that trudge through the same fertile ground, Institute are sharp, smart, and firmly committed to not only their sound but their specific aesthetic.

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Book Review: Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972

Published on July 17th, 2015 in: Book Reviews, Books, Current Faves, Horror, Reviews |

By Tim Murr

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TwoMorrows Publishing is awesome. These dedicated fans began publishing magazines about comics in the mid-’90s, such as the authoritative series Jack Kirby Collector as well as Comic Book Artist and Alter Ego. They have also published books and DVDs, further preserving the far reaches of comics’ history.

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Music Review: Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free

Published on July 17th, 2015 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Melissa Bratcher

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After his confessional, revelatory Southeastern from 2013, it would be forgivable for Jason Isbell to coast. Southeastern was huge: deeply personal, immediate, and gripping, not to mention successful. Isbell won Album of the Year, Song of the Year (for “Cover Me Up”), and Artist of the Year at the Americana awards. With his incredible new album, Something More Than Free, it’s clear Isbell isn’t going to take it easy.

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Music Review: Galactic, Into The Deep

Published on July 17th, 2015 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Melissa Bratcher

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One of the genius things about New Orleans’ Galactic is their use of wildly diverse vocalists on their albums and tours. Each singer brings their own flavor, but no matter who is singing, the sound of the finely tuned Galactic machine is unmistakable. Their newest, Into The Deep, eschews their previous concept album themes (2007’s urban From The Corner To The Block, 2010’s bonanza of incredible NOLA artists Ya-Ka-May, and 2012’s Mardi Gras-themed Carnivale Electricos) and embraces a number of disparate singers, but never loses sight (or sound) that it is a Galactic album. And it is ripping.

“Right On” featuring Ms. Charm Taylor (of the Honorable South, and currently making soulful, expansive music on her own) should be the song of the summer. Electrifying and thrilling, it is giddy hook-laden funk, with a bassline first laid down by Ben Ellman’s sax, then echoed by Robert Mercurio’s bass. Ms. Taylor’s vocals are the perfect blend of soul and sass, and when she sings, “Why you still waitin’ there?” (and not on the dancefloor) one must pause to ask, well, why ARE you still waitin’ there? There’s dancing to do. It’s sophisticated and complex, but it also speaks to that special part of the brain that makes one dance, and Stanton Moore’s kinetic drumming propels the track at a breakneck pace. The bridge, where Moore gets a moment to let fly and then the horns burst in, never fails to give me goosebumps. EVERY TIME.

There is no finer drummer than Stanton Moore. His live wire, second-line inspired, polyrhythmic drumming on “Higher And Higher” is miraculous, and paired with JJ Grey’s (JJ Grey and Mofro) evangelizing smoke and whiskey voice, creates a blistering track on which Jeff Raines turns in a particularly fevered guitar solo.

Last year, the delightful Maggie Koerner toured with Galactic and she shows up again on Into The Deep. Her smoky vocals on “Dolla Diva” color the hook and David Shaw (of the Revivalists) supplies a wonderfully desperate, boozy lead. Gritty lyrics, Mercurio’s bubbling bass, and Ellman’s ear-wormy sax all combine to make a track that begs for much relistening. It’s richly layered, and must be heard on headphones to appreciate its complexity.

The legendary Mavis Staples brings enormous warmth to “Does It Really Make A Difference,” the closest thing to an old-school soul song on Into The Deep. It’s a very “live” feeling track, buoyed by Rich Vogel’s excellent organ playing and some first-class trumpet in the fadeout from Ellman.

“Chicken In The Corn,” sung by Jamaica’s Brushy One String, is exciting, spare, and hallucinatory. Ryan Montbleau’s vocals on the loose-limbed “Domino” are a revelation, soulful and remarkably clear. Raines’s guitar work is all earworm, all the time. The title track, featuring Macy Gray, sets up an easy groove and lets it breathe. Gray’s vocals are raw silk.

The musicians in Galactic are wondrously talented, and their instrumentals bear this out. On the sinuous “Long Live The Borgne,” Stanton Moore lays down an ultra-funky beat, that is joined by Rich Vogel’s mad scientist keyboard and Jeff Raines’s nimble guitar. The propulsive opener, “Sugar Doosie,” explodes in horns and marvelous funk. “Buck 77” feels like all kinds of things; it’s a little sinister and a bit edgy, but maybe it’s the song as an organism. Mercurio’s bass is like a heartbeat, driving the song, and Ellman’s horns swoon like a breath. The comedown track (Galactic excels at having a last track on the album that eases the soul, one that is soothing and chill) “Today’s Blues” is an extravaganza for Vogel’s exceptional keyboard work and Ellman’s clarion trumpet.

Into The Deep is Galactic doing what they do best: being Galactic. They bring the funk, the technical skills, and the soul. They showcase vocalists. They make compulsively listenable, utterly engaging music. Is there a better day than a day when a new Galactic album drops? I didn’t think so.

Into The Deep was released by Provogue Records on July 17.

Tour Dates:
July 17 /// The Pemberton Music Festival /// Pemberton, Canada
July 18 /// Sioux Falls Jazz Fest /// Sioux Falls, SD
July 24 /// Fuji Rock Festival /// Niigata, Japan
August 9 /// Summer Meltdown Festival /// Darrington, WA
August 12 /// Brooklyn Bowl /// Brooklyn, NY
August 13 /// Brooklyn Bowl /// Brooklyn, NY
August 14 /// Brooklyn Bowl /// Brooklyn, NY
August 15 /// Brooklyn Bowl /// Brooklyn, NY
August 16 /// Ridgefield Playhouse /// Ridgefield, CT
August 18 /// The Chicken Box /// Nantucket, MA
August 19 /// The Chicken Box /// Nantucket, MA
August 20 /// Infinity Hall Hartford /// Hartford, CT
September 5 /// North Coast Music Festival /// Chicago, IL
September 11 /// Lockn’ Music Festival /// Arrington, VA
September 19 /// Red Rocks Amphitheatre /// Morrison, CO
September 20 /// Belly Up Aspen /// Aspen, CO
October 2 /// Bear Creek Music & Arts Festival /// Live Oak, FL
October 3 /// Bear Creek Music & Arts Festival /// Live Oak, FL
January 6 /// Jam Cruise 14 /// Miami, FL

Concert Review: Black Lips At The Horseshoe

Published on July 17th, 2015 in: Canadian Content, Concert Reviews, Current Faves, Music, Reviews |

By Pierce Finch-Coursey

July 10, 2015
Toronto, ON

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Black Lips performed two nights in a row at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern. After seeing both sets, I can easily come to the conclusion that Black Lips is by far one of the best live acts I have ever seen. With a career spanning more than 15 years and seven albums under their belts, it seems like these guys aren’t going to be hanging up their guitars anytime soon.

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Big Music Fest 2015 Review: Big Sugar, Jane’s Addiction, Soundgarden

Published on July 17th, 2015 in: Canadian Content, Concert Reviews, Music, Music Festivals, Reviews |

By Tyler Hodg

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Jane’s Addiction

From July 6 through 11 this year, Kitchener, Ontario was transformed into one of the hottest spots of this summer. Why, you ask? It’s because the annual Big Music Fest was held at McLennan Park once again, bringing some of the biggest rock acts in the world—including Jane’s Addiction and Soundgarden—to the city.
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The Sword Release New Single For Upcoming High Country Album

Published on July 17th, 2015 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, New Single, Pop Culture News, Reviews, Upcoming Releases |

By Tim Murr

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I was late discovering The Sword. I came across their album Warp Riders at the library last year and checked it out based solely on the fact that there were tracks called “The Chronomancer I” and “The Chronomancer II.” Since I like a little sci-fi with my metal, I gave them a chance and just fell in love with the band’s brand of classic stoner metal.

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Music Review: The Rollers, Voxx and Ricochet

Published on July 10th, 2015 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reissues, Retrovirus, Reviews |

By Melissa Bratcher

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In 1979, The Bay City Rollers shook things up. Eager to shrug off the mantle of being a teeny bopper band, they refused to do the cover versions that their record label Arista demanded and parted ways with their lead singer, Les McKeown, along with their exploitative manager (whom I will not name because he was a dreadful person), yearning to show the world that they rocked. On their last album for Arista, Voxx, they did just that. Mostly.

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Music Review: Goblin Rebirth, Goblin Rebirth

Published on July 10th, 2015 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Jeffery X Martin

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We—and by “we,” I mean no one but me—call it “State Fair Syndrome.” Creative differences between members split up a band. The musicians don’t like each other, but they like the money the band brings in. Sometimes,one band member, a smart one, will trademark the band name so no one else can use it. That way they still have the prestige and brand recognition of that famous name while ditching the rest of the band members for session musicians or road dogs who don’t charge as much. This is how you can have different iterations of the same band, with slightly different names, touring at the same time. These bands, with a splintered draw, end up playing smaller venues or, as previously stated, the state fair circuit, right next to the Tilt-A-Whirl along with Night Ranger without Tommy Shaw, who is currently fronting Styx without Dennis DeYoung.

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Music Review: Ted Nugent, Free-For-All (Expanded Edition)

Published on July 10th, 2015 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reissues, Retrovirus, Reviews |

By Tyler Hodg

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Before he was known as an outspoken, gunslinging political pundit, Ted Nugent was a platinum-selling artist, with his first hit album being 1976’s Free-For-All. Nearly 40 years after its release, the album has been brought to back into the light in a polished remastered version. Free for All is arguably Ted Nugent’s finest musical achievement, and it’s only fitting that a celebration is called for on the eve of its 40th anniversary.

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