Categories
Music Reviews

The Living Room

The Living Room

featuring E Roland and Jesse Triplett of Collective Soul

with Cheney Brannon and Shawn Grove

It was a pretty basic plan for the members of Collective Soul – rent a house in Sarasota, Florida to start writing and recording new material. Then the world we know spun out of control. Only band mates E Roland and Jesse Triplett were able to make it down to the rental in the Sunshine State, joined by former CS drummer, Cheney Brannon and long-time CS collaborator, Shawn Grove, manning the keyboards. Roland quickly realized that even though the full band wasn’t there, it was still an opportunity to challenge themselves with a creative side project. Thus, the birth of “The Living Room,” four musicians just sitting around in a “living room” making music, but the larger, double meaning of the band name in these trying times is not lost on anyone.

In a social media clip, Roland thanked first responders and then explained the thought process behind the project. Initially, his plan was to demo a batch of songs that he had just written for all of the CS members. But he quickly realized that the band doesn’t work that way. Normally, he would write songs and show them to the band in the studio and then they would record, usually two in a day. He did not want to remove that “spontaneity” from a band recording session and figured that the quartet who was present could rise to the challenge in this confined space. The goal was to record four songs in four days. They had to decide what sound they were going for, so they discussed which bands were their favorites growing up. Roland mentioned The Cars, and that was it. Everyone agreed.

You know, the only fan club I ever joined in my life was the band, The Cars. And right then, everybody’s head turned and goes, ‘that’s it.’ We want to do something like The Cars. So the sound’s gonna be a little different and we’re doing it as a tribute to The Cars because they were so important to me, you know, from their music to their style to their artwork. I even snuck backstage to meet them [as a kid]. They’ll never remember. And then, of course, anybody who knows me, if you ask me who’s my favorite lead guitarist of all time, it is Elliot Easton. I was excited about this when they all agreed and I was like, alright let’s do it. And the next morning I woke up and I got two ideas. The first one I wrote on a bass and the second one I wrote on a ukulele. So we were challenging ourselves to get from a ukulele to sound like The Cars. The next morning I got up and got two more songs going. -Roland

“Just Like You” immediately opens with upbeat Cars-type guitar riffs, keys and harmonies. I really like the guitar solo in the middle and the unexpected drums two-thirds in. But Roland sneaks in the lyrics that EVERYONE can relate to in these uncertain times.

Hello. Hello. There’s no one here on the telephone/Hello. Hello. Just working at home/I’m so lonely and blue too/Just like you

On the Beatles-flavored “The Living Room,” Roland sings about things we all used to do with one another and the need to come together as a society to get back to that normal.

With its driving Better Than Ezra-type groove, “Lucky Again” is the most Collective Soul-inspired track of the bunch. It features another great guitar solo at the end.

No more life in pauses/Not going where I’ve been/So give me a challenge/I’m feeling lucky, lucky again

Rounding out with “These Times,” another track about our world situation, there is once again a strong Cars guitar and keys influence.

One of the reasons that Roland is such an amazing songwriter is his knack for making a social commentary without shoving it down your throat. I think that’s part of why the music of Collective Soul has not only endured but continued to thrive. These four songs showcase the positive impact that music can have on a society, even in the worst of times. A goal of this project also was to raise money for MusiCares, which aids musicians in times of financial need. This would definitely be one of those times. Musicians around the world are struggling right along with everyone else. Grab this Soundcloud download and if you are able to donate to MusiCares to help out our music community, please do so. It would be a dim world indeed without our musicians.

soundcloud.com/thelivingroomband/sets/the-living-room www.grammy.com/musicares/donations www.collectivesoul.com

Categories
Interviews

George Mitchell

George Mitchell

There are a number of artists who attempt at resurrecting the Golden Age of ’70s funk and understandably so. That music is both rooted in its period but timeless as well. However, it takes a tremendous amount of talent, imagination, and a killer instinct for a hot groove to pull off. Producer/writer George Mitchell has the right ingredients when serving Fishbelly Black to the populace. Fishbelly Black’s latest album, Turn It Up, weaves together soul, R&B, and a sleek undertow of jazz – often lost in today’s makeovers – to travel back to funk’s early ’70s heyday but also inject it with contemporary hip-hop inspirations.

Q: What are the personal challenges you have gone through as a musician, and how did you overcome them?

A: I think the greatest challenge has been to accept the talents I do have. I have known some of the most amazing musicians that you will never know. Yet, I have been able to tour, get record deals, put out albums, produce a bunch of albums, etc. So there must be more to this business than just being the best guitar player out there?

Q: How did Fishbelly Black originate and how has it evolved?

A: Fishbelly Black was a studio project of mine – a made-up group. To be a record company you need product so while my artists were working on material, I was also releasing product under different names. When the first single “Spontaneous Combustion” started to take off in the U.K., I was getting offers for the band to perform – except there was no band – just me in the studio. I was even getting offers to DJ at clubs in London – and I am not a DJ. After I finished up the first CD, I decided to accept the tour offer and I put together a group of players and we toured the U.K. and then Europe. After one night at the Jazz Cafe turned into a week at Ronnie Scott’s, we caught the attention of BMG, who signed the group. But as occurs too often, there was a shakeup at the label and the CD was shelved for about eight months and I sued to get the rights back. Since then, I have released Fishbelly Black material under my label, Backbeat Records.

Q: In terms of musical style, where do you see fitting? It can be more than one.

A: I originally described the sound as “Maceo Parker and Jimmy Smith meet hip-hop breaks and beats.” At the time, it was categorized as “acid jazz” . Then that became “street jazz” and then “soul jazz.” It was tough in the U.S. because “smooth jazz” was the only format pushing anything that wasn’t straight ahead jazz, but I never really connected with a Fishbelly Black record following a Kenny G. record on the radio so even that was a tough slot to fit into. Luckily, the internet has allowed for much more varied playlists but I still find it hard to put the Fishbelly Black sound in a specific category.

Q: What was the first slice of music that ignited your imagination?

A: I could put on a Beatles record today and still know every lyric and guitar part. I was always drawn to a good melody and loved harmonies. For some reason I was never really into whatever was contemporary at the time. Whether the Beatles or James Brown, I always seemed to look back for my inspiration.

Q: Tell me your artistic influences and how they affected you. What did you learn from them?

A: I was always drawn to music that had a rebellious side. Whether it was punk music or hip-hop, I was into artists that could capture their defiance on vinyl. I was also drawn to artists that had their own sound, especially guitar players. It takes two notes for me to identify that Jeff Beck or David Gilmore is playing. It is that kind of identity that I wanted to bring to a Fishbelly Black record.

Q: Can you describe how you have evolved creatively throughout the years?

A: I try not to be dismissive of anything I hear. I just say to myself, “it’s not my time to hear it.” I hated disco, but now I can listen to a KC and the Sunshine Band record and totally appreciate the funky groove and arrangements. How did I miss that the first time around? Having a studio in a laptop has ignited the biggest creative advance for me. I used to run to a portable cassette deck when I wanted to capture an idea. Now I feel like I have the equivalent of Abbey Road Studios at my disposal. As a producer, I am more in tune to the sounds, the arrangement, the feel of a recording. I grew up drawn to incredible songs, so the recording quality was never the priority. Now there are more crappy songs that sound amazing.

Q: Do you feel being a musician is a job or a hobby? Or both. Please explain.

A: I would say neither. It’s something your just born to do. It’s a passion. Whether I was getting paid or not, music is something I would always have done. The challenge is to be able to get paid with few compromises. I know some incredible musicians working in wedding bands. I think I would prefer to sell my soul doing a regular 9-5. With that said, I have always treated it like a job. I’m not one to sit on the beach waiting for inspiration. I sit at the piano at 8 a.m. and say I can take a break when I write something.

backbeatrecords.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Tommy Emmanuel

Tommy Emmanuel

with Ida Mae

The Plaza Live, Orlando, Florida • February 26, 2020

The Plaza Live in Orlando, Florida played host to a wonderful acoustic performance from Tommy Emmanuel and opener Ida Mae on a drizzly evening in Central Florida. The two acts wowed the almost-capacity crowd in the intimate setting of the erstwhile movie theater. Just off the Joe Bonamassa “Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea VI 2020” cruise, the riveting performances were a fine complement to each other.

Ida Mae's Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean

Michelle Wilson
Ida Mae’s Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean

Kicking off at 8pm and offering a 40-minute set of soulful harmonies and scorching resonator delta blues, the British husband-wife duo (Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean), Ida Mae, was an absolute treat. It’s no wonder that they just won this year’s “Artist On The Rise To Luck” competition and will be performing at Luck Reunion 2020, a musical extravaganza at Willie Nelson’s ranch. The couple moved to Nashville a year and a half ago, and they have covered 75,000 miles throughout 43 states (“And we’re still married!”). Their indie release, Chasing Lights, was released back in June and received high praise. “As you can probably tell, we’re not from around here. English kids get obsessed with blues.” they joked. They describe their music as British blue-eyed soul and acoustic Americana, which is spot-on. “Do we have any blues fans?” asked Turpin, which received raucous applause and cheers from the crowd. He also relayed a deep history of the resonator. Highlights of their set included “My Girl Is A Heartbreak,” “Sweet Abandon,” “Baby Your Mine,” and a Woody Guthrie cover, “What Did The Deep Sea Say?”. They graciously thanked Tommy Emmanuel for the touring opportunity and their set seemed to end almost as soon as it began, after which they met fans in the lobby at the merch table. Keep your eye on this band with their fresh sound and youthful exuberance.

Tommy Emmanuel

Michelle Wilson
Tommy Emmanuel

Australian-born, Nashville-based guitar wizard, Tommy Emmanuel, took the stage at 9pm and thrilled the audience with a two-hour set. With his unique finger-picking technique and uncanny ability to sound like an entire band with just an acoustic guitar, it is not surprising that he twice has been named “Best Acoustic Guitarist” by Guitar Player magazine. Emmanuel does not read music but rather plays by ear, an incredible feat for such an intense player. His easy rapport with the crowd made it seem as if he was performing in someone’s living room rather than in a venue. With irresistible charm and wit, he kept fans enthralled as he peppered in witty anecdotes between the music. “My albums never get released; they escape.”

Tommy Emmanuel

Michelle Wilson
Tommy Emmanuel

In addition to several of his popular instrumentals, the guitar master also played “Sixteen Tons” (Merle Travis), a song that was a huge success for Tennessee Ernie Ford and covered by many others. Before he played this cut, Emmanuel hilariously gave thumb-picking lessons as he joked that it was for the two people who would “get” it.

Tommy Emmanuel

Michelle Wilson
Tommy Emmanuel

In a heartfelt moment, Emmanuel described becoming an American citizen. “Ladies and gentlemen, you are my fellow Americans because I became a U.S. citizen. It took me six years to get my green card but it was worth it. I love this country so much. It’s nourished me in every way.” He shared a story about growing up in Australia and as a ten-year-old boy, his father passed away. The musical family continued to perform, but it was difficult for the young musician. He said that the music of Chet Atkins really got him through the tough times. He mailed off a letter to Nashville for Atkins, addressing the envelope simply as “Chet Atkins, Nashville, USA.” To his surprise, the letter was received and a package arrived at his family home including a signed promo shot of his musical idol. Years later, Emmanuel became very good friends with Atkins and even recorded with him. The late Atkins described him as one of the greatest guitar players he had ever seen.

Tommy Emmanuel

Michelle Wilson
Tommy Emmanuel

Another highlight moment was when Emmanuel brought up Charlotte, North Carolina’s Joshua King to play searing blues harp and lead vocals on Percy Mayfield’s “Hit The Road Jack” and blues harp accompaniment on Bruce Springsteen’s pop hit, “I’m On Fire.” He also brought out openers, Ida Mae, to acknowledge their performance and to allow the crowd to recognize them once again.

Other gems included “Fuel,” which he wrote during a four-hour train ride from Paris to Cologne and which incorporates difficult time changes (“for the people who get that!”), “The Duke,” his ode to John Wayne complete with the actor’s signature swagger, “Deep River Blues,” “Blue Smoke” (another Merle Travis cover), “Lewis and Clark” (“I send it out with all my love”), “Avalon” (another Chet Atkins cover written by Buddy DeSylva, Al Jolson and Vincent Rose), “Classical Gas” (Mason Williams), and his always-popular Chet Atkins version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (Harold Arlen/Yip Harburg). “We got any Rolling Stones fans? Good. Here’s some Beatles tunes.” The acoustic Beatles montage is always a treat and the crowd ate it up.

Tommy Emmanuel

Michelle Wilson
Tommy Emmanuel

Surprisingly, about half the crowd consisted of folks who had never seen Emmanuel before. What a joy it must have been for them. The old timers shouted out requests – I’m “pretty sure” I even heard “Freebird” in there. “Music – I call it the happiness business,” said Emmanuel. And he is absolutely correct, as the packed house remained until the 11pm ending and left with smiles on their faces and music in their hearts. Catch these two phenomenal artists if they come through your town. It will be some of the best money you ever spend.

Check out the full galleries of photos from Rock Legends Photographers.

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/BLUES-CONCERT-PHOTOS/TOMMY-EMMANUEL-The-Plaza-Live-Orlando-FL-2-26-2020

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/BLUES-CONCERT-PHOTOS/IDA-MAE-The-Plaza-Live-Orlando-FL-2-26-2020/?fbclid=IwAR3A367herkZE_LxXJ7Poc27aT8jrbMV1XGtSCycmR5ma72vPG9xBg-JoK4

tommyemmanuel.com idamaemusic.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Doyle Bramhall II

Doyle Bramhall II

Shades

Mascot Label Group/Provogue

Doyle Bramhall II is one of the most versatile and underrated musicians on the music scene, quietly working with artists such as Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, Gregg Allman, Tedeschi Trucks Band and Sheryl Crow. Whether as guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, writer or producer, Bramhall’s collaborations always lean toward the brilliant side. Following the 2016 release of Rich Man, the Austin rocker is back on a new label with his self-produced, twelve-track record, Shades. Ten of the twelve cuts were either written or co-written by Bramhall. Featuring a handful of impressive guest musicians as well as members of his own touring band (who were included on his last record as well), Bramhall has once again created a mixture of signature blues-based, guitar-driven rockers and poignant ballads. There are echoes here of both Welcome (2001) and Rich Man, two vastly different records, but somehow Bramhall creates the perfect balance and offers a little something for everyone.

Opening strong with two gritty rockers, “Love and Pain” (influenced by the 2017 mass shooting at Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas) and “Hammer Ring,” Bramhall hearkens back to his early sound. “Hammer Ring” has a distinctively catchy groove. A good portion of the record focuses more on Bramhall’s soulful, R&B side. “Everything You Need,” which features Eric Clapton on guitar, is a real standout, as are “London To Tokyo” (with beautiful strings) “Searching For Love,” a gorgeous duet with Norah Jones, and the album gem, “Break Apart To Mend.” Peppered throughout are the Beatles-flavored rocker “Live Forever,” which includes fellow Austin pals, Greyhounds, and the Indian-inspired “Parvanah.” As he did on his last record, Bramhall closes this one with a cover, and a mighty cover it is. Co-produced with Derek Trucks and featuring the entire Tedeschi Trucks Band, Bramhall tackles Bob Dylan’s “Going Going Gone.” This lush, multi-layered version also includes horn arrangements from Jay Collins, who did horn arrangements for Gregg Allman’s cover of the same song on his posthumous release, Southern Blood.

This record is a very personal one for Bramhall, who confesses that “the new record finally feels like I’m comfortable in my own skin, like I don’t have anything to prove other than trying to express myself as honestly as I can.” Mission accomplished.

www.db2music.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Dropkick Murphys

Dropkick Murphys

11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory

ADA Music

For the Celtic punk band’s ninth album, the Dropkick Murphys do indeed tell stories. Sometimes they are melancholy, sometimes tragic, and as expected, sometimes hilarious. They do it all with a musical flair that sometimes evokes The Clash and other times The Beatles, but always with their signature Celtic spin.

The biggest surprise to me was finding a version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel on here. It turns out that after leaving yet another overdose wake, singer/bassist Ken Casey was struck when this song came up in a random rotation in his car. The chorus, “Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone,” struck him as illustrative of the struggle and how you don’t have to do it alone. This version maintains that evocative feeling, while updating the track to fit in seamlessly with the Murphys’ catalog.

As expected from an album with “Pain” in the title, we get some songs dealing with addiction. They look at what it takes to pick yourself up after a fall in “Paying My Way,” while “Rebels With a Cause” puts the spotlight on the street kids who often seem invisible to us. But it’s not all doom and gloom, because it’s the Murphys. Nostalgia reigns supreme in “Sandlot” as they guys reminisce about their youthful indiscretions, while a new drinking song is birthed in “I Had a Hat” wherein Casey’s hat goes missing during a wake, and he intends to get it back. Even the most serious subject matter can be dealt with positively. “4-15-13” pays tribute to the victims and heroes of the Boston Marathon bombing, but not as a dirge. The band keeps the tempo strong as they celebrate that even though we are all different, we are all in this together.

My two favorite short stories are “First Class Loser” and “Kicked to the Curb.” The former is a treatise on dealing with that one guy we all know, whether family, friend, or friend of a friend, who is “everything that you despise.” The latter is an up tempo breakup song as only the Murphys can bring us – “I ain’t got no money; I spent it all on you. I ain’t got no money, honey; I don’t know what to do. / I ain’t got no girl; she kicked me to the curb. I ain’t got no honey, and she took all my money. / I shake my fist at the sky; I smash my head on the wall. It doesn’t change a goddamn thing, ’cause I’ve gone and lost it all. / So come on Sally, whatcha gonna do? Break my heart and leave me, for another fool.”

11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory definitely delivers on the title. The songs range from bleak to bouncy, reminiscent to rebellious. Die-hard fans of the band will snatch this up immediately, but if you have never heard the Dropkick Murphys before, or you have only heard them on a soundtrack, do yourself a favor and check this out.

www.dropkickmurphys.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Leslie West

Leslie West

Soundcheck

Provogue /Mascot Group

Leslie West got his start with the hard rock band Mountain; if you have an hour to kill I recommend checking out his live version of “Nantucket Sleigh Ride.” But if you’re short on time you might look into this collection of covers that range from a rather odd “You Are My Sunshine” and the Beatle’s “Eleanor Rigby” to a butt-kicking “Give Me One reason” or the heart rending blues number “Left On The Roadside To Die.” Perhaps the best track on this collection is Freddie King’s “Goin’ Down.” This is electric blues at its finest; the sadness and dissolution of Mississippi blues is subsumed to sparking electric guitar work, energetic drums and West’s voice tanned by touring and somehow getting better with age.

Immediately following it we find a slow pop lament “Stand By Me”. Here West is still on electric guitar but aiming for a folk music acoustic sound. He makes it sound defiant underneath a bright female pop vocal. It’s a palate cleanser and soon enough we are back in the blues trenches with Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful.” Here the guitar howls in bursts, the drums keep a plodding rhythm, and West sounds every bit as thrilling as he did in 1969. This is a guy who’s been through all the bad stuff life can toss your way and he’s still one of the most engaging musicians you’ll hear today. Good stuff here from a great man. Dig it.

www.lesliewestofficial.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Love

Love

Black Beauty

High Moon

Once the most innovative bands in LA, Arthur Lee’s “Love” is now just a historic relic, like a bundle of letters from World War II. His was one of the first integrated bands from a time when the biggest battles of the Civil Rights wars had yet to be fought. There are reissues out there (www.ink19.com/issues/october2010/printReviews/foreverChanges.html) of the original vinyl along with and some grainy videos on YouTube but this collection adds new dimensions to his smallish catalog.

Acetates were quickie one-time cuts of musical tracks intended for the producer to make any minor mix tweaks before an album was committed to the pressing plant. It’s almost like galley prints of a novel or a press proof for an advertising campaign. The fact these still exist is pretty amazing as is the effort that went into cleaning them up. Sixteen tracks were rescued and the quality is amazingly high given the source materials. Some of theses tracks are pretty wild. On “Young and Able,” Lee announces “I got a snake coming out of my body”. Bold words indeed. “Can’t Find It” pulses with blues power and “Walk Right In” covers an old folk classic made famous by The Roof Top Singers. Yeah, I’m sure you remember them as well… “Beep Beep” has an island feel, and “Stay Away” has the sharp electric edge of late ’60s psych rock. The run order of these tracks seems to track their technical quality; the first half dozen are crisp enough for AM airplay but tracks near the end suffer from low dynamic range, poor equalization, and other relatively tolerable faults. You wouldn’t be shocked if your grandpa’s WW2 letters had ink fade, would you?

Accompanying this collection is a thorough 40 page book filled with pictures, history and personal recollections from various collaborators and friends over the years. Lee’s story is typical: a bright kid surrounded by music, he drifts in to playing guitar and eventually starts a band called “The Grass Roots.” He has to change the name when he finds another band already recording under that moniker. He has a few fast hits, develops a following and then just sort of fades away. The details are in the book and many other places; consider this your history assignment.

High Moon Records: www.highmoonrecords.com

Categories
Music Reviews

The Knack

The Knack

Zoom

Omnivore Recordings

Q: Why on earth would an album recorded 17 years ago, that has more or less failed on two previous occasions, be given yet another chance?

A: Because it’s packed with well-crafted, top-shelf, guitar-driven pop gemstones – songs that need and deserve to be heard.

More satisfying than a box of fresh Krispy Kremes following a long night of bad decisions, the debut album from The Knack was a tasty treat when it arrived in stores during the summer of 1979. Although the times certainly were-a-changing, Get the Knack felt like an inspirational aural hug from frontman Doug Fieger himself – clutching his awkward, confused and horny teenage flock close to his bosom – as if to say, “I understand you” – while seemingly reassuring us pizza-faced punks that The Knack could and would take us safely to the “Promised Land” – or at the very least, help us all to get laid.

However, almost immediately following the spectacular platinum-selling success of Get the Knack and its two chart-busting singles; “My Sharona” and “Good Girls Don’t,” came the inevitable backlash. Overnight, the four newly-anointed media darlings became perceived as less than “fab.” But the only crime of which The Knack was ever guilty was perhaps pulling the trigger on their sophomore record prematurely, which likely wasn’t even the band’s decision. Hence, when the equally engaging …But the Little Girls Understand was released in February 1980, just eight months behind the release of its predecessor, it was simply a case of (way) too much, too soon. And by the time the band’s more appropriately timed, (slightly) more experimental third record, Round Trip, arrived in the fall of 1981, that “fat lady” was singing with ear-splitting clarity.

The crunchy So-Cal combo splintered in early 1982, and soon disbanded. In the ensuing decade they reunited, broke up, re-reunited, released an ill-fated “comeback” album, then disintegrated once again. But the roller-coaster story of The Knack was far from finished.

Produced by Richard Bosworth and The Knack, Zoom was released originally during the summer of 1998 and was the band’s fifth studio album. Although it failed at the time to fully reignite their career, Zoom has enjoyed a feline-like existence. It was re-released with three bonus tracks as Re-Zoom in 2003, and in the spring of 2015, it has been given a third shot at bat, with five bonus tracks, via Omnivore Recordings.

The late singer/songwriter and guitarist, Doug Fieger, reunited with perennial members; guitarist and co-songwriter Berton Averre and bassist Prescott Niles along with new recruit, drummer Terry Bozzio to create a simply splendid collection that not only was but is worthy of the impeccable Knack legacy. And after nearly two decades, it stills sounds fresh – boasting plenty of the band’s signature-style snap and tickle.

And I’m not alone in this glowing assessment of Zoom. At the time of its release, music critic Steve Erlewine wrote that it was, “the best album the maligned power-pop band has recorded since their debut.” And author John Borack called the album, “a stunning effort.”

Zoom kicks off strong with the Fieger/Averre-penned, “Pop is Dead” – a ferocious little ankle-biter that would have fit comfortably on Side One of Get the Knack – nestled nicely between “Let Me Out” and “Your Number or Your Name.” Possessing an undeniable hint of Byrds-style, Rickenbacker ching-a-ling, “Can I Borrow a Kiss” is just about as catchy and delightful as any of Fieger and Averre’s previous feel-goods. Other super-fun selections include “Smilin’,” “Terry & Julie Step Out,” “Harder on You” and “Tomorrow” – high-energy treasures that beam golden rays of sunshine into my soul. The Magical Mystery Tour-flavored “(All in The) All in All” will certainly resonate with Beatles aficionados, while the familiar-sounding “Another Lousy Day in Paradise”-meets-“And Your Bird Can Sing” earworm, “Love Is All There Is” also stands out as a notable highlight. Furthermore, Fieger’s heartfelt love ballad, “You Gotta Be There,” just might rank as a personal best. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point out that the legendary Mr. Bozzio executed famously, all the flims, flams and rudiments required to make these tracks zing!

In sum, at the risk of compromising my well-guarded journalistic integrity, I’ll just say, “Doggonit, I miss The Knack! And Zoom makes me happy that I’m not dead.”

www.theknack.com omnivorerecordings.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Kevin Coelho

Kevin Coelho

Turn It Up

Chicken Coup Records

The Hammond B3 organ was a mainstay of the progressive rock era. Its muted, yet funky sound helped form our thoughts of what rock and roll, funk, the blues, and a dozen other genres ought to sound like. It weighs a few-hundred pounds and I’ve read of one or two bands that blew all their touring profits shipping these things around the country.

Today, it’s having a mild resurgence, and young Kevin Coelho is one of the leaders of this renaissance. Turn It Up is his second album, and it’s full of eccentric covers that just seem to WORK with this organ. There is a good crop of soul in this collection. “Soft and Wet” comes from the Artist Formerly Known As… and the opener “Root Down” comes from the Beastie Boys. Neither sounds much like the original. Once Mr. Coelho gets the melody established, he’s off on a rabbit chase with jazz improvisation chords. The Beatles’ “Come Together” receives similar treatment; it’s a slow burner to start with, but after Coelhozation, it’s a jazz number that slithers up to the edge of Muzak. The traditional “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” takes on a whole new meaning with key changes and a faster-then-slower interpretation that no self-respecting military organization could drill to. Coelho tosses in two of his own compositions, and these are the most pleasing since we have no expectations of what “Zig Zag” or “Shadows” ought to be.

The only weird thing here is the cover: it’s got a volume knob with a scratched in “11.” This album is solid jazz, but no need to turn it up to ear-bleed levels!

Chicken Coup Records

Categories
Music Reviews

Tame Impala

Tame Impala

Lonerism

Modular Fontana

Some bands take quantum leaps musically and artistically between albums and avoid the dreaded sophomore slump thanks, in large part, to the introduction of a new producer. Think of the leap from Mellow Gold to Odelay (taking only Beck’s major label output into account) or Licensed to Ill to Paul’s Boutique. In both of these cases, Beck and the Beastie Boys brought in the Dust Brothers for the second album. Much like these ’90s icons, Perth, Australia’s Tame Impala brought in a producer with a signature sound for their second album Lonerism.

Since 1990, Dave Friedmann has produced albums by The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev (he was a founding member), MGMT, Mogwai, Neon Indian, Thursday, and many others. Mojo magazine once described Friedmann as “the Phil Spector of the Alt-Rock era” — granted, this was before Spector’s arrest but is still a compliment. Friedmann’s sound tends to be open, atmospheric, expansive, and a bit psychedelic, which made him a perfect producer for Tama Impala.

On Lonerism, Friedmann takes many of the sonic ideas of lead Impala Kevin Parker introduced on 2010’s Innerspeaker and gives them a more expansive rendering. The band and Friedmann create deeply layered music that calls to mind post-touring Beatles, post-Soft Bulletin Flaming Lips, and pre-insanity, Pet Sounds Beach Boys. Fundamentally, Tame Impala is a headphone band — a headphone band in the vinyl, late ’60s and ’70s sense, not in the ear bud, hyper-compressed mp3 sense of today.

All of this positive praise is not to suggest that Lonerism is a perfect album; the nearly six-minute “Keep On Lying” feels a bit indulgent given its in medias res beginning, which seems like the ending of the song, that drops off into a four-minute jam. Small indulgences aside, tracks like “Apocalypse Dreams,” “Why Won’t They Talk to Me?,” “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” and “Elephant” are some examples of the album’s perfect psychedelic pop. So grab some headphones and enjoy the experience.

Tame Impala: tameimpala.com