Wednesday, June 25, 2008

free record #8: the lions rampant 'play rock n roll ep'

so it would seem that rock n roll is alive and well in cincinnati ohio (via kentucky). although the trio that is the lions rampant would seem more at home in detroit. this first or two ep's is finished in just over 17 minutes and touches upon garage rock just as much as the blues. think of a less experimental than the jon spencer blues explosion, to which whom they are compared in the press release, and more rocking than the black keys (also in the press release). then again 3 is greater than 2 so there's no surprises there. still it would seem more appropriate if these guys called the place home where the dirtbombs, the von bondies, the white stripes and the detroit cobras call home rather than the afghan whigs. the afghan whigs are the reason i think of cincinnati as an r'n'b city (read: fuckcity) instead of rock n roll.

i know it's overused but where's the mc5 comparision? or the stooges? personally, i'd be more inclined to look into something if it was compared to either of those two than the blues explosion. sometimes jon spencer comes off as trying too hard and we all know that's ryan adams' job

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

free record #7: the dilettantes '101 tambourines'

so writing about that warlocks show the other night got me thinking about other jonestown massacre bands. and then i remembered i got the dilettantes debut a few months ago and it was laying around here somewhere. then i found it and listened to it again and i don't remember it being this good. and then i got to thinking that if i had spent however many years with anton newcombe i would hope i would know a thing or two about songwriting.

with this wisdom bestowed upon him, gion and his bandmates create a sound comprised of garage rock's punkish leanings, a mid-90's britpop swagger and the psychedelic noise that san francisco is known for. as for gion's words, the lyrics seem comtemporary yet could have survived the beat generation as well. and not that pretentious either! then he delivers them on a spectrum that contains not only a honkytonked mick jagger and an unpretentious jim morrison but a punkish sneer he could claim for his own. (had billy idol not ruined them for everyone). guitarists jefferson parker and brock galland, bassist nick marcantonio and drummer kc kozak conjure up some rock n roll that has a timeless quality not unlike the brian jonestown massacre. the inevitable byrds comparison is best heard on 'the whole world', yet 'like crazy' could be from one of those nugget's series showcasing 60's underground psychedelic.

wearing california on their collective sleeve thru-ou the whole of the album, the most cali-sounding tunes ('never go without', 'don't you ever fall') are the jefferson parker penned. while other guitarist galland contributes a song as well ('kiss & run') which might be the most rock n roll on the album, with the drums driving along at the quickest pace heard all afternoon. it's got the best solo from the album on it as well. i guess it's no wonder why the writing process is as democratic as it is because i'm sure joel gion was tired of getting punched right in his quiet sidekick mouth.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

live review: the black angels & the warlocks

so what are the chances that two of your favorite bands will share a bill? and what are the odds that they play at a wicked local venue with a wicked local band? now takes those chances and odds and add them to the odds that this will be the best show you've ever been privy to and what do you get? well, if you happened to be at the mad planet here in milwaukee last night to catch the warlocks and the black angels play (and judging by the attendance you weren't) then those odds were astronomically out of your favor but you bet your chips right by going.

on my way to the show i was planning the night in my head. first up i will get the 'get smoked call', and then i'll see locals call me lightning, followed by the black angels, and then the warlocks will burn the whole fucking place down. this wasn't exactly a correct assumption, in fact it was completely wrong. i walk in unsmoked to hear 'we're the warlocks and we're from los angeles.' and i'm like 'i thought this shit went down at 10. oh well i guess i missed call me lightning. fuck it.' nope, for some reason the warlocks opened the show--not that i have anything (or had anything) against call me lightning--i thought the locals would play first. it doesn't seem unreasonable that the band on tour wouldn't open. oh well at least there wasn't any awkward standing around as i was rolling solo.

the warlocks played a set mostly composed of favorites ('the dope feels good', 'hurricane heart attack', 'come save us', 'the dope feels good') and some from the latest release heavy deavy skull lover; 'so paranoid' but the set seemed suspiciously short. maybe 8 songs. 9? draped in strategically placed light, the warlocks' silhouettes were all we we're allowed to see. this along with the fog that the fog machine spewed (that constantly reminded me i wasn't smoked) totally added to the ambience the music was putting out. head warlock bobby hecksher was kind of downer when he kept saying that the venue wasn't right and he'll never play there again. then again he kept reminding us that he was sick as well so maybe the two we're related. maybe that's just the los angeles in him. either way, i think the warlocks cemented themselves last night as the best jonestown massacre offshoot band (with black rebel motorcycle club coming in at a dangerously close second).

locals call me lightning came out and thrashed a ridiculously awesome set. apparently a dude from mudhoney (mark arm) and jack black (if jack black grew his hair long, ruled the bass, and wasn't a retard (most of the time)) moved to milwaukee, found the best drummer in town and started a band. then they get signed to frenchkiss and then the warlocks opened for them before they opened for the black angels. that is pretty much all i know about them. well that and they shop at the same local record shop i go to. but man, can that kid play the drums even though he wears this ridiculous o-face the entire time. check em out if you can. that is if you dig solid rock n roll.

i've never heard about the black angels live set so i wasn't sure what to expect when i saw 2 film projectors, a film strip projector and an overhead projector. coming out and tearing up 'manipulation' the black angels blazed thru songs off of both their albums plus one i didn't recognize called 'sitar jamb no. 1'. thru-out the entire show, various films and movie clips with played over the band and some some of the audience intermixed with various pictures and slides. the only clip that really sticks out was the 100 meter dash form some olympiad or something was played backwards. it's really weird watching people sprint backwards with this unbelieveably perfect psychedelia is thrown right at your face. and by weird i mean totally fucking sweet. i really wish it was season and i could've eaten a chronic dose for saturday june 21st which could have been the only way last night would've been better. but even that would be only marginally better. because last night was pretty tits. during the entire set the band rotated instruments and even the drummer mid-song. speaking of drummers, the little drummer girl wrecks. my guess is that she likes the velvet underground a whole bunch. plus she's superhot. this tour goes thru july and i highly suggest you attend as this one was only 10 bones or clams or whatever it is you call them these days. stay tuned for an interview with black angel christian later on down the line. ok, so the only complaint i have is that they didn't play 'the prodigal sun'. meh.

well, that and then george carlin died. dang.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

free record #6: ben sollee 'learning to bend'

so one of the main people helping keep this scene alive is jeffrey smith of louisville, kentucky's crash avenue publicity. however, right in the middle of a move i started getting all these records in the mail from jeffrey and no way to review them as i was without internets. granted this is still the case but my boyo let me break into his place to get this up while he's at a 9-5. sweet!

right from the start ben sollee's 'learning to bend' let's you know this isn't going to be a typical record. 'a few honest words' burns slowly with the classically trained ben plucking his cello then glides into bowed playing with some fiddle and very not-typical percussion. also calling the president out on his horseshit (maybe) is a pretty ballsy move on your debut record. from there the record picks up steam and chills out along the way in all the right places with glorious help from abigail washburn and bela fleck and many many others. having written all the song except one ('a change is gonna come' is a reworking of the 1964 sam cooke tune) ben's lyrics are as talented as his cello playing. this album is teeming with influences from all over the map; classical, jazz, folk, americana, bluegrass, old r&b and is overflowing optimism. plus it's got a jaw harp! sweet! with a great pop sensibility this album is also as eclectic as they come. i wouldn't be suprised to hear any one of these songs to close out a coen brothers film. i also wouldn't be suprised to hear any of them songs on the radio as well. and not just sweet sweet npr either. the barnstorming good times that are 'it's not impossible' and 'bury me with me car' seem that they could have been conjured up by some toothless moonshiners in the backwoods of west virginia. but don't worry kids, this reocrd also has guitars on it too, like the slow strum of 'i can't' and the finger-picked 'prettiest tree on the mountain'. as a singer, the closest resemblence i can relate to would be james blunt, who i am just getting into as the same generous boyo has turned me onto him. if your familiar with james blunt, ben sollee's music is as sincere as james blunt's. which is not a bad thing.

so if you're not tired of the same old shit dropping out the major labels collective dirty twat, then by all means don't look into ben sollee, bury your head in the sand and wait for the next nickelback disaster. but if you are tired of the same old shit or you just have an appreciation for excellent excellent musicianship and clever wordplay then go buy this record and throw out your incubus records. well you should do that anyways, but i digress.

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