Posts tagged ‘Rock’
ON THE RUN: Los Angeles’ Downtown/Union play music without a fuss. “Keep the Engines Running” is the fifth track off their 2010 August release, “Astral Turf”. It’s garage rock about leaving suburbia and heading into the city for a good time, “I don’t wanna go home / I just wanna stay out late / Until the sun comes up, and then its over.” It’s a highly anthemic track about staying out all night, always being on the go, and waking up the next day hungry and looking to the future through blurry eyes. Band members are Bo Bory, Jeff Electric, Adam Bomb and Johnny Seasons. “Astral Turf” EP is available in on 180-gram vinyl or on itunes through Echo Park’s Jaxart Records. — David D. Robbins Jr.
RAUNCH AND REVERB: We know what The Black Keys are all about: a blues-drenched swamp rock, full of psychedelic guitar, fuzz and reverb. And that’s what you’ve got with their new album “Brothers”, scheduled for release on May 18th, 2010. The record begins with a thick bass groove, hand-claps, and an inventive little “doo-wop”-styled background vocal behind a high falsetto lead: “Let me be your everlasting light / The sun when there is night / I’m a shepherd for you / And I’ll guide you through / Let me be your everlasting light.” It’s a groove track, that doesn’t go anywhere in particular, but just feels good to listen to. It’s hard not to like these backwater blues tracks, a few of which are about women. “Next Girl” is about a guy moving on from his previous girlfriend. “Howlin’ For You” is a sexed-up, electrified gutbucket-stomp about desire. “She’s Long Gong” is a Led-Zeppelin power track in the “Kashmir” mode: “Well her eyes, they’re rubies and pearls / And she’s not made like those other girls / Well, her lashes flap/ And they smack me back / Like springs bouncin’ off of her curls.” The Black Keys can definitely do throwback, like on their 60s R&B track “Ten Cent Pistol”– with it’s rhythmic guitar solo. On a narrative level, the song playfully travels down the road of “Thin Line Between Love and Hate” — with a jealous lover taking a ten-cent pistol upside her man’s head. It’s enough to bring one back to Vietnam, bombs falling, Jimi and Big Brother. The band even cover Jerry “The Iceman” Butler’s “Never (Gonna) Give You Up” — thickening up the 1968 hit with deep brass and fidelity overload. But it might be their slow-burn songs “Unknown Brother” and “I’m Not the One” that are this album’s ass-pocket of whiskey. Hear the whole album at NPR by clicking here. — Words and art by David D. Robbins Jr.
HAPPINESS IS A LIT FUSE: The Powder Kegs’ new 5-song EP “Empty Side” (2010) is decidedly pop-based, but not in the way you might think. It overflows with Beatlesesque melodies, and soft phrasings. Lyrically, on a track like “Shake Me Down”, it’s easy to see John Lennon singing: “Your world is mapped out on a grid / Where avenues grow long and sidewalks never end / And every place you try to go / You find out that you’ve been there many time before.”
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NO LONGER JUST A WHISPER: Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger! could be the best or worst named band of the year. Right now, bands like the un-Google-able “Why?”, the ridiculously smelly “Hoobastank”, the seriously verbose “And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead”, and the unpronounceable ”!!!” are all shaking their heads. They’d thought they’d won the official title. Organizers for the Grammy Awards are crossing their fingers hoping the band doesn’t win one of those golden gramophones — because they’d have to scroll a “Tiger! S#%t! Tiger! Tiger!” across the bottom of your television screen. Oh, who am I kidding? The Grammys haven’t meant shit for … well, since they were invented. Okay, okay, enough fun. We don’t judge a book by its cover. And a band by any other name would rock just as hard. Frankly, I don’t give a damn what Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger! call themselves — this Foligno, Italy band is addictive to listen to with all their postpunk exuberance. They’ve released a single called “Whispers” to create some buzz for their upcoming EP, of the same name, due out sometime this May or June through Toloselatrack Records. This song is one of the best tracks released this year — energetic, crashing and anthemic like The Clash, Cymbals Eat Guitars or Pretty Girls Make Graves’ “Speakers Push the Air”. – Words by David D. Robbins Jr.
NEW TRACK: Blur released their first single in seven years, “Fool’s Day”, in conjunction with Record Store Day on April 17th, 2010. The band released it as a limited edition one-sided 7-inch vinyl single through Parlophone Records. “Fool’s Day” is the first song the entire group of Blur have recorded together since their 2003 album “Think Tank”. A thousand copies were pressed but sold out immediately. The band put the song up for download at the Blur official webpage for free, in order to avoid poor-quality illegal downloads. You can get the song by simply entering your e-mail address. You’ll find Blur in good form, with guitarist Graham Coxon and bassist Alex James weaving together a warm, swaying rhythm to back Damon Albarn’s comfortable Brit-slacker delivery. (Highlight is the 2:35 mark — the band unleashing a beautiful groove.) This song isn’t the next “Country House”, “Parklife”, “Charmless Man” or “Bugman” — but it’s clear the band didn’t mean it to be. In fact, the song’s throwaway, carefree nature is its appeal. It’s a 3-minute-plus track to whet the whistle. “Fool’s Day” makes fans hope the band can get along just long enough to create more music. – Words and art by David D. Robbins Jr.
There’s so much emotion devoted to the process of making or listening to great music — but even more-so when an artist dies young. For good reason, Elliott Smith’s fans are as religiously devoted to his music as the fans of Jeff Buckley and Kurt Cobain are to theirs. An album like “Roman Candle”, which Smith recorded in his basement while his girlfriend was trying to sleep, feels so intimate — almost as if the music is being played only for you. Much like a candle, the nine songs on Smith’s first solo record, are meant for private and introspective moments. You can feel Smith’s softness of touch, his elegant sense of melody, the mellow melancholic intensity, his dark sense of humor and his withdrawn nature that still found a need to create and be heard. Many early Smith listeners feel a kinship with other fans for having all fallen in love with the Portland singer-songwriter before his death made his name a little better known. Some may think of that as indie elitism, to stake a first claim to an artist, but there’s something to be said for the bond that forms among fans that know other fans have been invested in the long haul as much as they have. They know the history of the man and the music. They have reveled in every turn of phrase. In short, the music has become inseparable from their lives.
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BAD ROMANCE: Let it be known, I love covers. Even bad covers can be entertaining. But this is a decent one. Lissie (aka Lissie Maurus) comes from my neck of the woods — Rock Island, Ill., and I’ve been listening to her for a year now. Her five-track first EP, “Why You Runnin’”, was pretty decent for a debut effort — though a bit light in the lyrical department. The standout was a dreamy little southern rock number called “Little Lovin’“. One thing is certain, Lissie’s got a good voice. Here, the flaxen-haired beauty, turns Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” (the lead single off of “Fame Monster”) into something palatable with her smoky Stevie Nicks voice. It’s a fun cover and a nice way to drum up a little buzz for her newest single, “In Sleep”, which you can download for free on I-Tunes. – Words by David D. Robbins Jr.