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Music Reviews

Bob Mould

Bob Mould

Blue Hearts

Merge

Much ink was spilled upon the release of “American Crisis,” the single released off Bob Mould’s upcoming album Blue Hearts. Especially after the song was an angry, nakedly political song comparing Trump’s America to the Reagan ’80s.

While Blue Heartsis not completely a political album (Mould continues to mine his personal life for songs) it opens with a trio of political songs, with the acoustic “Heart on my Sleeve” followed by the ragingly wistful “Next Generation,” namechecking Husker Du’s “Divide and Conquer,” and an explicit ode to the ’80s while wondering what will be left for future generations if current trends continue before the aforementioned “American Crisis.”

Blue Hearts finds Mould energized and can be seen as a companion piece to last year’s more optimistic, upbeat Sunshine Rock, much like Sugar’s harder edged Beaster was a reply to the poppier Copper Blue.

Mould hasn’t forgotten his pop hooks and melody, especially in “Siberian Butterfly,” which wouldn’t sound out of place on Sunshine Rock, or even on a later Sugar album. Jason Narducy and Jon Wurster continue to be a criminally overlooked rhythm section – their years of working with Mould have resulted in an almost telepathic grounding, especially in the faster songs.

There’s melancholy, there’s rage, there’s political and personal sometimes all wrapped up in a single song – it’s almost amazing that Mould continues to produce albums of this quality.

bobmould.com

Categories
Sound Salvation

2020 on Fire

2020 on Fire

I’ve been working on this playlist for several weeks, as the protests following the death of George Floyd have continued and the battle for social and racial justice rages on, as the Black Lives Matter movement continues to win more and more support, as more and more people have had enough of institutional racism.

Here, then, is something of a soundtrack for this modern age, made up of music old and new, all of which continues to fight the good fight.

“White People for Peace” — Against Me!

Against Me! has been a protest band from the very start, so what better place to start than this track from 2007’s landmark “New Wave” album, a protest song about singing protest songs? The title has never been more relevant, with the number of white people who’ve finally had enough of racism being a driving force as part of the current protest movement.

“Ghost Town” — The Specials

This song was written and released during a different series of riots — 1980 in the UK was rife — but it almost feels more timely now, with COVID-19 making all of our towns even more like ghost towns, and absolutely, “bands don’t play no more.”

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” — Gil Scott-Heron

The prescience of Gil Scott-Heron’s seminal song may seem somewhat questionable now. The revolution is being televised… and streamed. But the message is really that revolutions don’t happen from your sofa.

“What’s Going On” — Marvin Gaye

“This is America” — Childish Gambino

Did the current movement start here, with this utterly prescient song and video from Donald Glover? There’s an argument to be made that it did, with this song debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard chart and sweeping the Grammy Awards, it certainly did as much to sharpen focus and draw attention to what’s happening than virtually anything else in pop culture.

“Polaroid Baby” — Bratmobile

“Bang! Bang!” — Le Tigre

One of many songs of this list to reference previous police killings of unarmed black men, this song includes “newcaster” voiceovers directly discussing the killing of Amadou Diallo in New York City in 1999. The countdown to 41 reflects the number of shots fired at Diallo, 19 of which hit him.

“Make America Great Again” — Pussy Riot

Released two weeks before Donald Trump was elected president, this song envisioned what the world would be like under his rule. It’s sadly and eerily accurate.

“White Privilege II” — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Jamila Woods

Macklemore is never given enough credit for what he says. Listen closely to all 8:45 of this song, in which he analyzes his own privilege, the way other white people react to him and weighs all of that against his own desire for change. This is required listening.

“Hands Up” — Daye Jack feat. Killer Mike

“Fuck tha Police” — N.W.A.

“Fight the Power” — Public Enemy

“Sound of da Police” — KRS-One

Of course, this list would be incomplete without these three seminal hip-hop classics, but I wanted to take a moment to update on some things happening with these artists today.

N.W.A.’s Ice Cube — who has, of course, become a hugely successful actor, artist and entrepreneur — has been advocating for “A Contract with Black America,” a document that represents “a complete paradigm shift in how we run our institutions and operate our country,” which outlines ways to combat racism including education, legislation and police reform. Follow @icecube on Twitter to keep up with the developments.

Public Enemy, meanwhile, recorded an updated version of “Fight the Power” that kicked off the recent BET Awards, with new verses from Nas, Rapsody and Black Thought honoring recent victims George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Check it out at www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHQolYuO6Ew.

“Baltimore” — Prince

Sometimes it seems as though, much as there is a “Simpsons” reference to fit almost all occasions, that there is likewise a Prince song to pair with virtually any sentiment. Prince wrote this one in response to the 2015 death of Freddie Gray.

“(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang” — Heaven 17

“Youth Against Fascism” — Sonic Youth

“American Idiot” — Green Day

As the current president edges the country closer to a fascist state than ever before, it’s noteworthy to consider that musicians have been predicting and agitating against this slide to the right for decades, from Heaven 17 at the dawn of the Reagan era and Sonic Youth at the tail end of the George H. W. Bush presidency to Green Day’s brilliant concept album taking on the George W. Bush administration.

“Clampdown” — The Clash

The only band I allowed two songs on this list, and honestly, I could have included a half-dozen others. Once known as “the only band that matters,” the Clash made a career of fighting for social justice in song. Dating to 1979’s seminal “London Calling” album — one of the very best albums ever made — this is yet another song that sounds eerily prescient today, so much so that Beto O’Rourke used it in his aborted presidential campaign.

“I Wanna Riot” — Rancid

“Don’t Pray on Me” — Bad Religion

“American Crisis” — Bob Mould

The newest song on this list, the great Bob Mould has been speaking out through music for decades, and he’s continuing in 2020. “I never thought I’d see this bullshit again/To come of age in the ’80s was bad enough/We were marginalized and demonized/I watched a lot of my generation die/Welcome back to American crisis,” he opens before continuing to rail against “evangelical ISIS” and “a fucked-up USA.” He’s tired, but unbowed.

“The Only Good Fascist is a Very Dead Fascist” — Propagandhi

“Nazi Punks Fuck Off” — Dead Kennedys

“If the Kids Are United” — Sham 69

An uplifting message? Yes, because overall, wheat’s being fought for is an uplifting goal, and it’s important that those who are doing the fighting remember to stand together as one and to never be divided.

“Know Your Rights” — The Clash

“All You Fascists” — Billy Bragg & Wilco

From the vaunted “Mermaid Avenue” sessions, this is a song that goes some distance to illustrating how far back these issues go. The song was recorded for 2000’s “Mermaid Avenue Vol. 2,” but the genesis of the project was a book of unused lyrics by the legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie — writer of, among other things, “This Land is Your Land” — that were unearthed by his daughter and handed to British folk singer Billy Bragg, who brought the great American band Wilco in on the project. Guthrie wrote these lyrics in 1942, while the U.S. was fighting fascism in World War II.

“Riot Van” — Arctic Monkeys

“Freedom” — Beyonce feat. Kendrick Lamar

I wanted to end things on an uplifting vibe, and this gospel-tinged rave by Beyonce fits the bill. “I break chains all by myself/Won’t let my freedom rot in hell/Hey! I’ma keep running/’Cause a winner don’t quit on themselves,” she sings, and that’s a message we can all do with. Keep up the fight.

Categories
Music Reviews

Husker Du

Husker Du

Savage Young Du

Numero Group

Of all the reissues dreamed of in the fevered imaginations of record nerds, punk/hardcore legends Husker Du’s catalog was surely up at the top. But with a combination of acrimonious former band members and a record label not known for cooperation, that dream seemed sadly out of reach.

Thanks to the audio archaeologists at Numero Group, however, the dream has been realized with the release of Savage Young Du, a collection of 69 tracks of rare or previously unissued tracks from the groundbreaking band, along with a gloriously designed 140 page book filled with photographs, set lists, and record covers. Covering 1979 through 1982, the set shows what an influential and vital band Husker Du was, even before the group’s SST releases.

What’s striking about the set is how fully formed the band was from their earliest recordings. Songs like “Can’t See You Anymore” are pure pop, while “Insects Rule the World” and “All I’ve Got to Lose Is You” show that Husker Du had channeled their pop sensibilities into the contemporary punk sound, while “Statues” and “Amusement” show the band was absorbing the post-punk sounds coming out of England.

The second disc, however, shows the band assembling all these disparate sounds into what would be their signature sound – ferocious assault with an ear for melody. Bob Mould’s guitar has acquired a metallic (the material, not the music), shimmering wall of sound, much different from the treble-y “Here’s a guitar solo just because it seems like we have one;” which was the case for most hardcore bands at the time.

The set that would become Land Speed Record is included here. Sort of. Taken from a show the next night where the band did the same set, this version is notably cleaner, and divided into individual songs, rather than one mass. At this time Husker Du were billed as “the fastest band on Earth,” which is evident in these recordings. Buried under the speed and power is a remarkably tuneful aspect which would come to the forefront in their next recordings.

The next disc includes the band’s turning point, Everything Falls Apart. Here the band is outgrowing what they felt were the limitations of hardcore and are tempering speed and power with the pop sensibilities they had always flirted with. The title track and their cover of Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman” reveal the changes that were to come.

While this isn’t the Husker Du of New Day Rising or ,these songs show a band confident with incorporating and synthesizing influences while never losing their core essence. Hundreds of bands were treading these same waters, there’s a reason why Husker Du stood out. With cases of more tapes mentioned, hopefully this is just a teaser of more unreleased material to come.

www.numerogroup.com/products/hsker-d-savage-young-d

Categories
Music Reviews

Cornflower Blue

Cornflower Blue

Invincible

Hailing from Ottawa, Ontario, these guys do American roots rock better than most of the acts you’d find in the lower 48, primarily because they refuse to be kept in any one genre or fashion. Led by the vocals and guitar of Trevor May and Theresa McInerney, the group can go from twangy alt-country of “Way Down Town” to the full-on thrash of “Catherine”, which is a bit like what you’d imagine Bob Mould would sound like if he played a Telecaster and laid off the electronica.

The secret weapon on Invincible is the soaring violin of Deanna McDougall, whose melodic lines lift numbers such as the Cowboy Junkies-ish “Long Walk Home”, reminding you a bit of Rolling Thunder-Dylan and his work with Scarlet Rivera. And when May and McInerney sing together, such as on “Around My Heart” or “Snowed In”, you can’t help but be reminded of the great Richard and Linda Thompson duets. Their tribute to the Bakersfield sound on “The Ballad of Don Rich and Buck Owens” is a hella-fast romp with some nifty Richian twang fills, while the acoustic title cut tells of “feeling invincible on the playground”.

Cornflower Blue break out of the standard roots pack with good songs, great guitars and that sublime fiddle. A little bit Bottle Rockets, a bit of Sugar, mixed with a healthy dose of twang make Invincible a can’t miss. That’s an order!

www.cornflowerblue.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Butch Walker

Butch Walker

Afraid of Ghosts

Dangerbird Records

Since the release of his 2002 debut, Left of Self-Centered, singer/songwriter/producer and author, Butch Walker has consistently created music more appealing and lyrics more compelling than your garden variety hipster messiah. And with this, his seventh solo effort, Walker’s traceable evolution from pop cultivator to poignant curator finally has come to fruition.

Produced by roots rock golden boy, Ryan Adams, Afraid of Ghosts showcases ten of Walker’s latest, and arguably, greatest – recorded in just four days, exactly one year after the passing of his father. Deeper and darker than his previous offerings, but still often striking a strangely familiar nerve, Walker himself has described the album as his way of “coming to terms with the past and living for the future.”

Afraid of Ghosts opens with the powerful, yet delicate acoustic-based title track. Addressing the personal emotions attached to losing a loved one, particularly his father, it’s one of the record’s best. I’m gonna take what scares me the most and turn it into something real.

Walker’s most endearing artistic asset continues to be his ability to unveil with honest transparency, Rembrandt-like portraits of his past relationships – loves had, and loves lost. And in that regard, “I Love You,” “Chrissie Hynde” and “Still Drunk” shine brightly, reflecting some of his best work to date.

Teetering between E.L. James super-steamy and Rick James super-freaky, the hauntingly engaging single, “Bed on Fire” proves that Walker remains in a league of his own. I’m Butch Walker, beeatch!

Afraid of Ghosts also boasts an array of big-name musical guests. Hollywood heartthrob Johnny Depp delivers a fabulous Neil Young-flavored guitar solo on the Sky Blue Sky-meets-The River-sounding “21+,” while famed guitarist, Bob Mould, smears his stylistic fingerprints across Adams’ Abbey Road-flavored drum work and gloriously gritty guitar solo on “Father’s Day.”

Although it may lack the snap, slap and tickle of his previous lighthearted, carefree songs of summer jam mix tapes and L.A.-based coke parties, Afraid of Ghosts succeeds in delivering an even bigger payoff for Walker’s most faithful frequent flyers.

butchwalker.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Sam Vicari

Sam Vicari

Heart Explosion

How authentic can you get? Chicago’s Sam Vicari bought the recording tape for this project at a yard sale, bulk erased it, and loved the washout and weird frequency response of its badly abused iron oxide. Does all this show up on the low-fi speakers we live and die by today? Maybe in a Phil Spector, mix-it-through-a-transistor… radio… way. Vicari’s vocals and backing are the sort of clunky rock and roll we remember from high school dances and late night AM stations coming in from New Orleans or Salt Lake City. Vicari has an upbeat sound, the voice is three-packs-a-day smooth, and the musicianship is more concerned with sounding good than sounding slick.

“Buildings, Bridges” shows that urbanism is still a valid hunting ground for romance and emotion, and you don’t need to be out in the woods with the hippies and the deer ticks to feel fulfilled. “Cause and Affect” (that’s how it’s spelled) offers a rough and chunky guitar reflecting a rough and chunky love life — in this case maybe the city isn’t as fertile a romantic ground as in the last song. That’s why Heart Explosion gets you; you’ve followed Sam as long as any random Game of Thrones mook, but you’re sad when the happiness is suddenly chopped off.

Those three reels of recording tape make this project worthy of the lo-fi DIY cheapness. You can take this album to bed and commiserate. Nice work, Sam.

Sam VicariFacebookBandcamp

Categories
Music Reviews

Sugar

Sugar

Copper Blue/Beaster EP & File Under: Easy Listening Reissues

Merge

The past two years have been banner ones for Merge reissues. Indie icons Superchunk and Archers of Loaf have both had their back catalogues extricated from the label’s vault, dusted off and polished, then augmented with demos, B-sides, and live recordings (not to mention extensive liner notes), and in some cases entirely re-envisioned (in the form of fresh cover art for the Archers’ Vee Vee and White Trash Heroes).

As part of that tsunami of mid-’90s nostalgia, Sugar — a band that wasn’t even signed to Merge during its brief lifetime — has received the same treatment. Copper Blue, which debuted in 1992 to rapturous critical acclaim, has reappeared bundled with 1993’s Beaster EP and four bonus tracks (all of which were issued on the catch-all rarities compilation Besides in 1995) as well as an 18-track companion live album from a 1992 concert in Chicago. File Under: Easy Listening, originally released two years after Copper Blue, gains six bonus tracks (also compiled on Besides) and its own companion live album, a 1994 Minneapolis concert that previously saw the light of day as The Joke Is Always on Us, Sometimes with early pressings of Besides. The long and short of it is that these two reissues amalgamate every major Rykodisc release in Sugar’s discography plus a concert — replete with a killer cover of Iggy Pop’s “Dum Dum Boys” sung by bassist David Barbe — that up to now had only been making the rounds as a high-quality bootleg. Completists rejoice.

Said completists notwithstanding, lovingly curated reissues such as these are, broadly speaking, aimed at two types of listeners. The first would be the longtime follower of Bob Mould (his Modulate period being the understandable exception) who purchased this music when it first appeared and already owns the bulk of it in one format or another; the obvious carrot on this particular stick is the wealth of conveniently repackaged bonus material. The second type would be the younger, “retroactive” listener — in the same sense as, say, teenaged contemporaries of Sugar privately discovered Mould’s earlier work with Hüsker Dü — who wants to own a pair of highly praised, influential albums with the dedicated contextualization and commentary offered by the expanded liner notes. Both of them will find plenty here to fit those bills.

But that’s not where the strength of these reissues lies. That would be with the music itself, which has weathered the past twenty-ish years with few discernible wrinkles; and more importantly, the remastering that has made those earlier releases sound like back-alley knockoffs. Even the compressed 320kbps MP3 downloads I was given for review (Merge saves the full monty for select Pitchfork and Rolling Stone critics, apparently) have a more expansive sound than lossless rips of my personal copies of Copper Blue and FU:EL on CD. The stereo sound is fuller, more enveloping. And it isn’t just drums and bass, the usual beneficiaries of remastering. Within the albums’ expanded sonic universe, there’s infinitely more nuance to pinpoint and explore.

Those general qualities translate to particular delights. The lead guitar on “Gift,” FU:EL‘s opener, gains in searing intensity. The hard/soft contrast of Copper Blue‘s “A Good Idea” hits like a roundhouse rather than a jab, and the dark anger of “The Slim” is amplified. “Tilted,” with its cumulative succession of rage and catharsis, sounds more furious than ever. Acoustic-heavy tracks like “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” and “Believe What You’re Saying” sound crisper and less wispy. Even a relative low point like “Granny Cool” grinds and shrieks its way toward something like pleasure, though its sneering put-downs about refusing to age gracefully might come back to bite Mould before long. The only potential caveat of this studio workover is that the vocals on certain Copper Blue tracks — the thundering “A Good Idea,” the chorus of “Fortune Teller,” and a much more thundering “The Act We Act” — sound as if they’ve been given a watery warble for reasons that aren’t altogether clear.

Before these reissues appeared, there was already reason enough to revisit both Copper Blue and FU:EL from time to time. Not as fine albums with that deprecatory qualifier … for their time, but as fine albums in their own right that all but transcend the short but halcyon span of years out of which they arose. Thanks to the excellent digital remastering, the surfeit of supplemental material, and last but not least, attractive price (Merge is currently asking just under $30 for the entire five-CD combo), this is the next best thing to hearing Copper Blue and File Under: Easy Listening for the first time.

Bob Mould: bobmould.com

Categories
Outsight

Outsight Best of 2007

Best of 2007

Each year, I review the playlists generated by my broadcasting activity and release the most played artists of the year. Often it is surprising to find what documentation shows I was most eager to play during the few hours of airtime I have. This list is my commentary on those results in no particular order. Note,  not all releases are 2007 releases.

• •

Bloodied But Unbowed: The Damage to Date 1978-83 by D.O.A.

I played many different D.O.A. recordings during the year, but I especially recall Bloodied But Unbowed: The Damage to Date 1978-83 by D.O.A. Classic D.O.A from the birth of hardcore sounds vibrant, instigating, and smart on this release from Joey Keithley’s Sudden Death label. Further kudos go to Joey’s label for keeping the old Vancouver scene in print through albums by Pointed Sticks and Vancouver Complication as well as exciting new titles, such as Joe Shithead Keithley and his Band of Rebels.

Here is my interview with Keithley.

• •

After Frank – 1st Movement by Napoleon Murphy Brock featuring Gregarious Movement

Zappa got a lot of airplay from me in 2007 for the general reason that his music excels on many levels. Specifically, in 2007 I interviewed Zappa alumni such as Napoleon Murphy Brock, Don Preston, and Bob Harris. I celebrated each chat with a collaborator by playing a lot of Zappa. Some of the actual interviews can be heard online.

• •

World of Fuzz by Mutant Press

On Sunday, 16 Sept. 2007 I interviewed Mutant Press main man Jerome T. Youngman. I expected to focus on his surprise collaboration with Josie Cotton, but the interview touched a lot on his early association with Gerhard Helmut & Ripped as well as working with Bobby Paine, bassist and Josie Cotton/Go-Gos songwriter. The proto-punk topics discussed in this episode of Outsight Radio Hours are fascinating! Jerome T. Youngman and I used to live in the same neighborhood, and I have always admired his crude industrial music, Fugs covers, and overt political stances.

• •

Peace, Love and Anarchy by Todd Snider

Todd Snider’s snide and even snotty country anthems have resonated with me ever since I first heard them. In 2007, John Prine’s Oh Boy label released demo and studio material on Peace, Love and Anarchy Snider helped compile this one, helping assure its quality and sparking in me a year well seasoned with Snider songs.

• •

Wire My Jaw by Dennis Most

I met Dennis Most in 2007 and it put me in touch with someone that walked the stages during the fertile proto-punk era of American underground music. Having formed a band called Punk in 1972 that played trippy blues garage-rock, Dennis was right there for the explosion of diversity that led to so many of the genres that are common today. Lots of Dennis Most projects found their way into Outsight air time in 2007, including “AudioLove” and such signature Most tunes as “Excuse my Spunk” and one great interview.

• •

Fabriclive.35 by Marcus Intalex

Fabriclive.35 by Marcus Intalex is one of the many parties-on-disc that came out in the Fabriclive series. This volume mixed by the talented drum ‘n’ bass DJ Marcus Intalex features Calibre & Lariman, Lynx & Kemo, Jonny L, Mistical, Duo Infernale and more. I found it real easy to use it time and again to pump the energy of one of my shows in 2007.

• •

Shim Sham Revue- Music of New Orleans Burlesque Shows of the 30’s, 40’s & 50’s by Ronnie Magri

In a sort of friend-of-a-friend thing I found out about Magri and his one man burlesque band evangelism. His CD Shim Sham Revue-Music of New Orleans Burlesque Shows of the 30’s, 40’s & 50’s didn’t leave my CD player very often after that. Take a listen to it and get your cheesecake on. Then hear Magri explain it all in my interview with him.

• •

The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years by Elvis Costello

There were at least two Costello retrospectives that came out in 2007. They were fodder and fuel for rediscovering and celebrating anew this varied artist’s songbook.

• •

What Doesn’t Kill You by Blue Cheer

In mind, Blue Cheer is the über-power trio, the hard kernel of the Summer of Love that give birth to hard rock and metal, the surly and simple rock expression that will never grow old as long as Blue Cheer keeps to their formula, as they do wonderfully on What Doesn’t Kill You. Dickie Peterson himself talked to me about this album.

• •

The Tick Tock Club by Golden Arm Trio

The hip, upbeat instrumental jump & jazz on this CD is from the same group that livened up the A Scanner Darkly soundtrack. I have so come to love this CD that I have started seeking an interview with someone involved for my radio show.

• •

hat. (Expanded and Remastered) by Mike Keneally

In 2007 we were treated to expanded and remastered editions of Hat and Boil That Dust Speck. Funky, mathy, and silly, these are infectious and lanky masterpieces.

• •

Two Loons for Tea by Two Loons for Tea

The 2007 release of Nine Lucid Dreams by Two Loons for Tea caught my ear, and even more so, the self-titled Two Loons for Tea when I revisited it. This Seattle alt-pop duo puts a lot of effort in their albums, making them rise head and shoulders above the indie pop crowd.

• •

Guillotined at the Hangar: Shielded by Death, Vol. 4 including Zellots

Through the latest edition in the Shielded by Death series, I discovered post-punk rockers Zellots. From there to the internet I was able to learn more about the Los Angeles, Vancouver, and London, Ontario versions of the group. This band came from such a fertile, creative period that it really makes me yearn for those times.

• •

Helen Money by Helen Money

So sue me, but I never “got” the whole Bob Mould thing. But like many others, Alison Chesley did. Now, from laying down tasteful cello accompaniment in studio sessions, Alison Chesley has become Helen Money. After working briefly with Mould, she now performs “aggravated cello” and is darkly, abrasively beautiful.

• •

Sov Gott Rose-Marie by International Harvester

Listen to Sov Gott Rose-Marie or some of the other recordings out there. You will discover that International Harvester was a shining jewel in a psychedelic crown that glimmered in Scandinavia reflecting a light from the States.

• •

Iris Nova by Mudville

As I write, “Wicked” from the Mudville 2007 release Iris Nova has won the 2008 Independent Music Award for the Best Song in the Dance/Electronica category. Do you like Feist? Morcheeba? Portishead? Find all that and more on excellent albums from Marilyn Carino and Benny Cha Cha as Mudville. Iris Nova, is being called, “A perfect melding, as if Nina Simone came back from the dead to front Morcheeba on a new record” (Rhapsody Rhadish). Iris Novaalso features performances by R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, Karsh Kale, Forro in the Dark’s Mauro Refosco, and more. (Hear interview.)

• •

Beautiful Device by Todd Grubbs

I decided to interview Todd Grubbs when I discovered that he worked with Don Preston who guested on his new CD. After hearing all his recorded work, I am now a fan of the man who keeps the Tampa area alive with driving, sophisticated electric guitar rock.

• •

Still Stuck in Your Throat by Fishbone

Angelo Moore from Fishbone graced Outsight Radio Hours with an exciting, roaming, cell phone interview that went from the restaurant to the street on 3 June 2007. Angelo told me of the first time he met a Theremin, how he cases a crowd, and about the time he had a wardrobe malfunction live on air! Well, the 2007 DVD of the Hen House Sessions and the album Still Stuck in Your Throat spurred a fun rediscovery of this very important band.

• •

Loggy Log II EP by The Henry Road

2007 saw the much anticipated second chapter in The Henry Road’s Loggy Log series. This goofy audio adventure tickles the funny bone of the twelve-year old boy that lives inside me. The first episode got me to call Lip Collin in England and ask him about it.

Categories
Music Reviews

Bob Mould + Richard Morel

Bob Mould + Richard Morel

Blowoff

Full Frequency

You can’t charge Bob Mould with shunning a variety of venues. He first gained prominence while playing, singing and writing for the influential “alt-rock” band Hüsker Dü, and later the more forgettable group Sugar. But he’s also written for World Championship Wrestling, and his song “Dog On Fire” is used as the theme for The Daily Show, as performed by They Might Be Giants.

Still, his collaboration with producer Richard Morel could seem an odd one. Hüsker Dü evolved from a “speed core” punk rock band and Mould’s early solo work featured an acoustic sound. Morel’s credits include the Grammy-winning remix of Dido’s “Thank You.”

But Mould has experimented with electronica on recent solo recordings such as Body Of Song. And Morel digs The Beatles. Both men are also gay, in more than one sense of the word: Reading separate interviews with the two men via Google you notice they are thoughtful, articulate and witty, at least when being interviewed.

(I think there may be some sort of play on words, or double entendre, implied in the duo name Blowoff, but I wouldn’t know to be sure.)

Enough fooling around with history, how does it sound?

The answer is… it sounds pretty cool, actually.

The first song, “Hormone Love” reminds me of what might happened if the Beatles could have hit back at Candy Flip for covering “Strawberry Fields Forever.” This starts with an electronic bleat that’s knocked over by lay-it-straight-down-the-middle rock. It’s followed by “Here And Now,” which does something similar to a machine beat over manfully-strummed, hard-rock guitars.

“Get Inside With Me,” meanwhile, sounds like XTC-impregnated drum’n’bass. But on one or two songs, on first listens, there is a sense that “music” is being attempted by just pushing a lot of buttons. “Saturday Night All The Time” is an out-and-out dance track; its deadpan vocals recall Pet Shop Boys without the classic pop lyrics.

But “Beautiful” uses a found-object line at one point that I though no one would use after Meatloaf made it the basis of a song — and gets away with it because the song has such atmosphere.

“Fallout” is (if you can imagine such a thing), shining dark. It’s one of those best-kinds of songs where a heavy lyric is illuminated by, to coin a phrase, a thousand points of light.

Full Frequency Music: www.fullfrequencymusic.us

Categories
Music Reviews

Flip Flop

Flip Flop

Various Artists

Yep Roc

Yep Roc Records has got to be one of the coolest indie labels around. With a roster that includes near legendary old-timers (Paul Weller, Bob Mould, John Doe, Robyn Hitchcock) and relatively young Turks (Marah, Caitlin Cary, Robbie Fulks), the label seems intent on putting out quality music, wherever it might be found. This compilation brings together sixteen tracks from eight of the label’s bands. The results are never less than listenable; more often than not, it’s a highly enjoyable listen.

The Chapel Hill-based Comas showcase inventive fuzzy guitar pop with female-male vocal harmonies. “Moonrainbow” and the more acoustic “Falling” are taken from their 2004 album, Conductor, which was voted one of the “best albums you didn’t hear last year” by both Spin and Rolling Stone. I plan to hear more in the very near future. That can also be said for Dolorean, an Oregon band with terrific harmonies that bring to mind The Jayhawks. Shades of The Band, Nick Drake and Neil Young can also be heard on the two tracks here from last year’s Violence in the Snowy Fields.

A member of both The Posies and Big Star, Ken Stringfellow offers two tracks from his most recent solo release, the somewhat underwhelming Soft Commands. The Beach Boys-like “When U Find Someone” is the keeper here. Speaking of Big Star, Philadelphia’s Bigger Lovers often cite that band as an influence. But the springy ’80s sound of bands like XTC can also be heard on “You, You, You,” from last year’s This Affair Never Happened.

Canada’s Sadies offer a pair of tracks from their terrific recent release, Favourite Colours. “A Good Day Flying” and “Translucent Sparrow” bring to mind The Byrds during the Clarence White era. Texas guitar slinger turned introspective singer-songwriter Ian Moore put out a wonderful record last year called Luminaria. Included here are “April,” one of the album’s best, breeziest songs, and “New Day,” a showcase for Moore’s remarkable, Jeff Buckley-like vocal range.

Throw in a couple of tracks from lesbian punk-poppers The Butchies and two from the weird, Tragically Hip-like guitar rockers The Standard, and you’ve got a pretty interesting collection. If you can find Flip Flop in the used bin and you’re interested in sampling any of these artists, it’s worth picking up.

Yep Roc: www.yeproc.com