Sunday, 31 May 2015

Mississippi Bones - Songs for the Rejects, Slackers, and Rabble-Rousers, album review

Not Duo, But Ditto

Back in 2012 I reviewed Mississippi Bones’ album Tracks here, a slightly tongue-in-cheek but appreciative commentary on the then two piece’s powerhouse heaviness, where programming brought a new attitude, technologically speaking, to some basic hardcore heavy metal.

An earlyish review in my reviewing career – hey, I’m still here – so it was pleasing that band member Dusty Donley stopped by to leave a comment, and others have followed intermittently, but he was one of the first. So Dusty, are you out there?

He is certainly still in the band with then other partner Jared Collins and their sound is essentially the same – thank friggin’ goodness! It is punchy and pounding, the rudiments of what generates such power, with staccato riffs to allow wah-wah to burst through as on The Electric Church, a place in which to continue worshipping the dark art of Rock. Love it.

The band has expanded to a 6-piece, so there are ‘real’ drums courtesy of Jason Miller [see that initial review for context], and there is additional singing in the background vocals of Heather Collins whose additional nomenclature is ‘Baby Swiss Pissing Sheets’ which has sassy assonance and we won’t ask about any literal referencing.

Some of that originally heard grunge sound is also here in the drone of If You Find Hell Lonely, and ironically the 6 makes no more noise than the original 2 but then that is really the wonderful point: this is more of the heavily noisy same. 

Lips Music 2

The Milk Carton Kids - Monterey, album review

Precursor Angst, Or Not

This album and they are, as others say and because it is absolutely how it is, a cross between the vocals of Simon and Garfunkel with the guitar playing of Dave Rawlings. I like the latter precursors/influences/random echoes [though that last seems unlikely] and so I like this album and them. Homage/copy/victims of? Don't know. What I do know is having listened to their album which is softly sweet and simple and effective as such I would more likely go back to/over to S&G and Gillian Welch [wherein Rawlings is most obvious] if I wanted to hear either sound again. But I guess I have just worked out why one would stay with TMCK which is if the combination was the preference.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Car Music 15

White Eyes - Vinyl Copy

Pleased to receive my vinyl copy of White Eyes today, reviewed here. Never ceases to please, whether new or second-hand - the vinyl - though my record player is currently packed away because of decorating, that decorating itself to be delayed by examining.

Going Driftless - An Artist's Tribute to Greg Brown, album review

Deserved Tribute

Prior to my current examining duties I had been listening to quite a bit of Greg Brown and compiling a 2-cd 'best of' for myself, so in an interlude from that marking I have enjoyed listening to this tribute album, the quality of the artists performing, as seen on the album's cover, testament to the regard there is for his songwriting talent as well as reflecting the strength of this set of covers.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Dog Music 2

Exam Duties

I am now into my examination period so music postings will be intermittent, though I will continue listening. When I need a proper break, I will post. Until then, I will continue with the occasional themed album cover sequences. You know you love them.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Tree Music 3

Exam season begins this week: must sow these postings.....

Dwight Yoakam - Second Hand Heart, album review

Thought, But Mainly Romp

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix. Dwight Yoakam has fashioned a distinct Country sound over the years of fine songwriting, fine covers and fine singing. The template is - as with opener In Another World on this latest - fast-paced guitar and drums, twang and that vocal that works the near-yodel to perfection. There’s even an echo of Beach Boys harmony on this upbeat start. Second She sustains the pace, a tinge [I kid you not] of The Rolling Stones in the rhythmic beat, and great harmonies across the melody.

Third is the sweet drawled ballad Dreams of Clay [originally from his 2000 album Tomorrow's Sounds Today] that apes Presley’s Suspicious Minds in the opening chords and continues its plaintive tone in the descending lines, some pedal steel and the slowed pace of guitar-plucked twang. Fifth Off Your Mind is as old-school as a ten-gallon hat, and then sixth Believe swoons in with its anthemic 80s sound latched to the C&W roots.

There’s a rollicking version of Man of Constant Sorrow, Liar countryfies a Presley-esque That’s All Right-sounding tune with more Bakersfield spunk, penultimate The Big Time sustains this rousing close with its Country blues – hollers-n-all – and the album concludes on Anthony Crawford’s V’s of Birds, another ballad that provides an unusual counter to the rockabilly sass that precedes, a rumination that Yoakam clearly wants to cover and make, and perhaps just reminds there is thoughtfulness behind the romping,

Listen, listen
I hear ’em teaching
And it’s something I want to learn
Even fallen angels need shelter from the harm
When the winter winds have turned so cold
Tell me, tell me
Did you see it
Was it shining in the sky
Giving answers
Within the wisdom
Leaving space between the truth and lies

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Car Music 14

Like I said yesterday, there are resurrections....

White Eyes' 1953 Cadillac 'Black Boris'

In undertaking a little more research I have come across a photo of the '53 Cadillac hearse referenced in the previous posting, and you can read about this here. I have also ordered a copy of the vinyl because it seems this really should be the way to listen to this excellent discovery, and you can read more as well as order yourself if interested here.

White Eyes - White Eyes [1969/1970], album review

Could Have Been Them

This makes a neat link to my recent review of the Vanguard compilation of late 60s/early 70s one-album [largely] bands of the era, not that White Eyes was with the Vanguard label: they didn’t even get so far as to have one.

It is a wonderful story: the band toured and played coffee houses and similar during the late 60s, driving themselves and their gear around in a 1953 Cadillac hearse – an incidental detail but somehow appropriate to the iconoclastic spirit of the time – and they never recorded an album but did make in 1969-70 a set of demos to shop around to hopeful music industry/promoter types, an offering never taken up at the time. Some 40 years later and the details better told here, we can now listen to this wonderful slice from that early psychedelic past.

Not the White Eyes' Cadi, but a 53 and in its more familiar context

It is a brilliant album by any standards. The opening vocally versatile track It’s For You [Lennon/McCartney] should have and would have been a huge hit, I’m sure, if picked up at the time. The ensemble singing – harmony and overlapping – with the heavy guitar and hand claps is a gem of that period. It would have been radio-friendly in its pop sensibilities as well as that guitar work giving just enough to suggest its more psychedelic leanings, but not so much as to alienate those liking their commercial hits quick and restrained. Second Streetcar Love is much more obviously garage-pop with more sweet but less complex harmonies. Third I Know You Rider [which you can hear on the link in the previous paragraph] is again very much in that garage mode – having a chord sequence as simple as Gloria – but the heavy guitar is present again, and the harmonies, especially with lead vocalist Kathy Helmick, are clearly reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane. The following ballad October showcases Helmick’s superb solo vocal [and astonishingly I can’t find any online references to her having pursued a singing career beyond this time]. Sixth Hard Hard Livin’ is a rousing rockblues with Helmick’s vocal a raw and grittier sound, the gospel harmonies from the band adding a broader layer. Seventh A Girl on a Hill adds the requisite folk embrace - the acoustic guitar, flute and developing harmonies sustaining the impressive depth of songwriting and performance. Eighth and final track I’m Not a Free Man has a strong male vocal – with sweet harmonising to accompany at times – in this also requisite ‘political’ commentary of the time when will the people learn, not that we are ever told explicitly what that is but whatever it is it is curtailing freedom, and that is quite enough to sing about in rock’s defiant roll.

Like the Vanguard bands presented as perhaps unsung but worthy representatives of that time, White Eyes deserve this similar recognition, even if it is so far removed from the exciting possibilities of the actual moment.