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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Steady B - s/t

Name: Steady B
Album: s/t
Year: 1986
Style: R&B Rap, Hip-Hop
Similar Acts: Rob Base, Biz Markie, Fresh Prince, Schoolly D, Beastie Boys
One Word Review: Minimalist Storyteller Rap
Based Out Of: Philly, PA
Label: Pop Art
 Steady B - Cover, Record
Steady B - Back, Record
Steady B (1986)
  1. Bring the Beat Back 3:54
  2. Get Physical 3:28
  3. Surprise 4:11
  4. Cheatin' Girl 3:57/
  5. Stupid Fresh 3:58
  6. Hit Me 4:13
  7. Nothin' But the Bass 4:09
  8. Yo Mutha 4:00
Album Rating (0-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Warren McGlone - Vox, Emcee, Writer (MC Boob, Sabir, CEB)
Joe "The Butcher" Nicolo - Engineer
Lawrence Goodman - Producer, Mixing
DJ Tat Money - Scratches (Terrance Thomas)
Grand Dragon KD - Scratches
Toni Kersey - Album Design
Marley Marl - Producer

Unknown-ness: With a general-sounding name, and a lack of in-depth knowledge of mid-80's rap, I can't say I know this. I imagine it is similar to Run DMC or Rob Base, as the style, angular artwork, and overall appearance lend it toward those hip-hop artists.

Album Review: Steady-B, aka Warren McGlone was caught and sentenced to life in prison without parole for a botched bank robbery and the murder of police officer Lauretha Vaird (first female phila police officer killed on duty) along with fellow rapper Cool C. This event sadly now overshadows the prestige and hype Steady B brought to West Philly back in the mid 80’s. He went to school and grew up on the same scene as Will Smith, following on the heels of Schoolly D, MC Breeze and Lady B.

“Bring the Beat Back” was a single. Steady electronic drum beat and scratching start off the minimal track. The chorus is a combo of samples and scratches. The song pauses about 1:45 and a drawn out “wellllll” kicks the track back in. There are a handful of breaks where it seems the song could end. The style is aggressive but not angry.
“Get Physical” was a single. The production feels raw, and live, with an auditorium echo around the vocals. The lyrics involve the stauts of the MC rapping and trying to get girls.  It is still a minimal drum beat with some samples peppered in throughout.
“Surprise” has a denser drum machine kicking off the track. The rap style is much more story-song like “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” and the vocal tone sounds more adolescent, too.
“Cheatin' Girl” begins with more radio friendly effects bips and bops surrounding a jazzy drum kit and vibrating bass. This too follows the basic story-song rap format, but a little more aggressive, closer to Beastie Boys and Run DMC. The chorus is a skipping, scratched version of the song title.

“Stupid Fresh” was a single. A bass and clap drum beat kicks the song off, and the aggressive rapping begins, reminding me a little of Chris Rock’s voice. The scratching and FX include some dated sounds like those from electro-scratches from Axel F and a couple sax notes.
“Hit Me” has some synth wood block notes buried below the cymbal drum machine and other rotating percussion effects, along with some synth bursts. It is still a fairly minimal instrument song, showcasing the vocals. The chorus has female vocals sampled.
“Nothin' But the Bass” has a pounding bass, then cuts with an electronic drum hit added. The word “Nothin’” is studdered, and the song feels like it is a motivational song to get people out moving. It features cowbell, scratching, sampled bursts, and is an all-around solid track.
“Yo Mutha” features a drum beat that is almost industrial, and falls into the story-song rap. There is a deep sinister bass line in the song creating an ominous feeling. The song is comical and an insult track, putting down, of course, yo mutha. The title is scratched and skipped to create the chorus.

Stand Out Track: Nothin' But the Bass

Links:
Medium-Cuepoint
Wiki
Discogs
Allmusic
Newsworks
Complex

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rubber Rodeo - Scenic Views*, Heartbreak Highway~

Name: Rubber Rodeo
Album(s): Scenic Highway*, Heartbreak Highway~
Year(s): 1984*, 1986~
Style: New Wave, Alt-Country
Similar Bands: Roxy Music, Wilco, REM. Let's Active, Cockrobin, Annie Lennox, Tori Amos, B-52's, Enya, Pretenders
One Word Review: Collegiate Cowboy Prairie Ramblers
Based Out Of: Rhode Island
Label: Mercury, PolyGram
 Scenic View - Cover, Liner Notes, Record
Scenic View - Back, Liner Notes, Record 
Heartbreak Highway - Cover & Record
Heartbreak Highway - Back, Record
Scenic View (1984)
  1. Need You Need Me 4:39
  2. Slow Me Down 3:31
  3. Anywhere With You 4:40
  4. Walking After Midnight 3:56
  5. City of God 5:13/
  6. The Hardest Thing 3:15
  7. House of Pain 4:45
  8. Mess o' Me 5:03
  9. Before I Go Away 5:57
Heartbreak Highway (1986)
  1. Heartbreak Highway 4:33
  2. If You're Ever Alone 4:10
  3. Everybody's Talkin' 3:40
  4. Souvenir 3:48
  5. The Civil War 4:14/
  6. Deadtown 4:43
  7. When Worlds Collide 4:13
  8. Look Who's Back 4:11
  9. Maybe Next Year 4:28
Album Rating(s)(1-10): *6.0
~6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Bob Holmes - Vox, Guitar, Mandolin, Violin*~ (The Crusty Gentlemen, Raining Violet)
Trish Milliken - Vox, Keys*~
Gary Leib - Synth*~
Mark Tomeo - Pedal Steel*
Doug Allen - Bass* (The Crusty Gentlemen)
Barc Holmes - Drums*~
Hugh Jones  Producer, Engineer*
John Doelp - Bass, Musical Direction* (The Commercials, Human Sexual Response)
Hal Cragin - Bass~ (Iggy Pop, MOno Puff, Hal Y Burton, They Might Be Giants, Vic Chestnutt)
Ray Gantek - Pedal Steel, Dobro~ (The Two Tons, Randle Chowning Band)
Ken Scott - Producer~
Don Rise - Executive Producer*~
Frank Opolko - Accordion~ (Sting, Corey Hart, Dutch Mason Blues Band)
Howie Weinberg - Mastering~
Ian Taylor - Mixing~
Mars Williams - Sax~ (Waitresses, Billy Idol, Psych Furs, Power Station, Audio One, Boneshaker, Cinghiale, Everplastic, Harrison Bankhead Quarter/Sextet, Keefe Jackson's Likely So, Liquid Soul, NRG Ensemble, Slam!, Switchback, Trio Red Space, Witches & Devils, Swollen Monkeys)

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band, but based on the years and artwork, it seems like it will be some sort of honkytonk midwest new wave. 

Album Review: Rubber Rodeo basically all went to school together at the Rhode Island School of Design, and even featured the married songwriting team of Holmes & Milliken. They started out on fire, even getting a Grammy nomination for Long Form Video in 84, for Scenic Views. Their second album was not received well, and although they were dropped from their label, they kept going for a few years more. Once the band ended in the late 80’s, the married couple ended their union shortly after.

“Need You Need Me” starts with a few chants, and follows up with some road weary, echoing cowboy guitar. The vocals are shared by both husband & wife, and there a western movie set imagery is created by the song. The chorus of back and forth repetition of the song title between the couple is pretty catchy, especially how it comes in after the lone-range guitar. It does draw out and last a little longer than it needs to.
“Slow Me Down” possesses more of arena rock soundscape architecture with long and drawn out chords. There is a bit of an urgency in the verse, which is medicated by the chorus, which does in fact, slow down
“Anywhere With You” was a moderate hit. It is a peppy new wave song with lots of hooks and jangly guitars. It builds well, making you anticipate an emotional release in the chorus with a solid build. This is fully sung by Trish. There is a backing female chorus supporting the lead vocals. The chorus plays out to a fade, and although it too is a little too long, it is a solid hit and example of the era.
“Walking After Midnight” is a Patsy Cline cover. It offers a few sound effects hinting at a haunting, slow tempo. The country twang guitar kicks the song into a reliable structure. The female vocals are deep, and strained a bit. The whole atmosphere the song creates feels sparse.
“City of God” continues with the loud, power chords that swell with arena rock. The male vocals here feel like they are fluttering with emotion. So yeah, it feels like a quite preachy song of religious, evangelical enlightenment of not being able to go back to his former life, having found the city of god. I’ll be happy to never hear this song again.

“The Hardest Thing” was the first unsuccessful single. It has some echo-y bass and keyboards working a call and response in the beginning. Female vocals, generally deep in tone follow the melody unremarkably. The harmonized chorus places the listener into open-tundra soundscapes, like much of the era’s musical tone.
“House of Pain” is a mid tempo religious song with male vocals. The guitars wail in the background, empathizing with the vocals, blaming his point of focus on creating his house of pain. The lyrics are pretty stupid, and could be viewed to be typical country music topics. There is a whole section of him complaining about bringing home bacon for his lady to cook, but he goes on to explain how he likes his breakfast. Seems very misogynistic, and places all of the emotional blame of his painful relationship on the woman…but he’d do it all over again.
“Mess o' Me” is a paceless new wave song, that never quite captures a tempo, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The female vocals are like a witchy-Blondie. But about 1:45 in, the song finds a catchy cohesive chorus. There are a bunch of new wave elements that must have come with all of the 80’s synthesizers: twinkles, crystalline charms, zooming waves. Separated out, the chorus is very good, rising and falling and still pushing forward.
“Before I Go Away” slowly fades up with female vocals, with a theatrical presentation, echoing, repetitive waves of soothing. Once it gets to about 2 minutes, it transitions into an orchestral, Annie Lennox or Enya style song for a short burst. It kinda feels like all of the songs in Ween’s catalogue I never hope they play live. The chorus hits again 2 minutes later, with some classical chanting and feel.

“Heartbreak Highway” starts the album off with a couple haunting & western elements that then combined into a driving song. The female vocals sound more confident than the first album, and a little B-52’s-ish. The chorus has a nice melody rollercoaster. And toward the end there is even be a sax, and definitely some slide guitar action. It is a solid song.
“If You're Ever Alone” an over-processed drum roll begins this country ballad with some pep, sounding a little like a sit com theme song. The vocals feel a little like the Pretenders, but in an AOR, AM light rock way.
“Everybody's Talkin'” slowly fades up, with the famous melody from Midnight Cowboy. It is a cover of the Fred Neil (covered by Nilsson for the film) song, and features some synthesized effects on the slide guitar, but is otherwise pretty mellow, with a slight anxious metronome-like beat.
“Souvenir” continues the male vocals, with a slide guitar, toe-tapping bass line, and toy-piano sounding accents. The female vocals come in for s second verse, and they harmonize in the chorus. The song is not bad, but it feels a little empty, and is lacking one more hook or something to make it stand out & be catchy.
“The Civil War” starts off with harmonica and typical campfire cowboy on the prairie ballad. Banjo and strings are added to the slowly growing song. It carries with it a sad reflectiveness that turns patriotic around the midway point. The established melody is transcribed with a bunch of different instruments and instrument effects, from electric guitar to keys to sax, getting bolder and more empowered with each incident

“Deadtown” is also a shared vocal song, with many 80’s new wave synth elements, and a kinda of jittery, guitar based melody. The song also feels theatrical, particularly in the dense, icy chorus.
“When Worlds Collide” has a pulsing, anxious beat, and echoy instruments over the shared vocals. The verse feels like it is going to build into an explosive chorus, but instead, it scales down, and the chorus is a subdued, harmonized hookless melody.
“Look Who's Back” echoing tubular bells start the song, with female/Pretenders like vocals. The melody is kind of dreamy, incorporating soaring slide guitar in the forefront and bouncy synth underneath. Stripped down, this could probably be the catchiest song on the album, but unfortunately, for my taste, the slide guitar battles the speed and design of the rest of the song, and it comes out winning, detracting from the song as a whole.
“Maybe Next Year” slows the album down for a country ballad, with straight up country male vocals. Slide guitar is the main enforcer of this song too. It is a little sad, but hopeful at the same time. The female vocals do accompany the song, but really only fall to the background.

Stand Out Tracks:* Anywhere With You

Links:

Friday, June 16, 2017

Gleaming Spires - Welcoming a New Ice Age

Name: Gleaming Spires
Album: Welcoming a New Ice Age
Year: 1985
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: Devo, Squeeze, Violent Femmes, Sparks, Talking Heads, INXS, A's, Alarm, Big Country.
One Word Review: Eccentric Sound-Scapes
Based Out Of: LA, CA
Label: Tabb Records
 Welcoming a New Ice Age: Cover, Liner Notes, Record
 Welcoming a New Ice Age: Cover, Liner Notes, Record

Welcoming a New Ice Age: Credits Close-up
Welcoming a New Ice Age (1985)

  1. Bigger than Life 3:10
  2. The Things I Have Done to Out Love 3:58
  3. Blowing Up My Life 3:46
  4. What's Coming Next 3:15
  5. Unprotected 3:12
  6. Harm 5:38/
  7. Mercy 3:51
  8. Welcoming A New Ice Age 4:24
  9. Tearaway 4:39
  10. No One Coming Over 2:33
  11. Your Secret Room 3:45

Album Rating (1-10): 8.0

Members & Other Bands:
Les Bohem - Vox, Bass, Guitar, Synth (Bates Motel, Sparks, Steve Gillette)
David Kendrick - Drums, Percussion (Bates Motel, Sparks, Devo, Visiting Kids)
Bob Haag - Guitars, Backing Vox (Bates Motel, Sparks)
Jimbo Goodwin - Keys (Sparks, The Call, Tommy Mandell, Sam Phillips, Mark Heard)
Greg Penny - Synth, Guitars, Backing Vox, Production (4-3-1, KD Lang, Martini Ranch, Poperetta, Lisa Nemzo, Eddi Reader)
Bobby Moore (Horns of Desire) - Sax (& The Rhythm Aces, Detroit Spinners, Stylistics, Count Basie & His Orchestra)
Donna Wylie (Horns of Desire) - Trumpets
Katia Empkowicz Penny (Passionettes) - Backing Vox
Patty Foley (Passionettes) - Backing Vox
Beau Wesley (Passionettes) - Backing Vox
The Happy Boy (Passionettes) - Backing Vox
The Party God (Passionettes) - Backing Vox
Fanny Penny (Passionettes) - Backing Vox
Jonathan Gold - Cello (Human Hands, Savage Republic Johanna Went)
Campbell Naismith - Bagpipes
Coolwhip - Mixing
Rick Butz - Recording
John Golden - Mastering
Bill Allen - Photography
Endre Bohem - Photo Bar Patron
Peter Turner - Photo Bar Patron
Karen Smythe - Photo Bar Patron
Mr Penguin - Photo Bar Patron
Frank the Bartender - Photo Bar Patron

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. But i like the name...sounds like it may be an interesting, edgy new wave band. Coupled with the new wave fashions in the cover art, and the map-like drawling & descriptions on the sleeve, there is a lot of focus on a band personality that seems exciting and timely. Hoping for some energetic fun new wave music here.

Album Review: The Gleaming Spires, or the heart of the band, at the very least, were the backing band for Sparks in the early 80’s. They have songs in films like The last American Virgin and Revenge of the Nerds, and David Kendrick went on to be in Devo.

“Bigger than Life” is light, starting off feeling like an INXS song. It features horns in the background of the chorus, creating an in-your-face pop sound, further emphasizing the INXS comparison, and a little Joe Jackson. It has a little blue-collar A’s feel, too. The end is a good-feeling, happy fade out, with all the instruments coming together bombastically.
“The Things I Have Done to Out Love” is a little more cold and barren as the song starts, reminding me of the Alarm. The build to the chorus gains a little pop, side-to-side swagger. The drums really stand out as the main driving force, produced with a slight echo.
“Blowing Up My Life” takes it down to a keyboard synth slow dance. It is sentimental, and feels like middle school. It is kind of a sleepy song, stripped down of dense production, sounding a little unfinished and reflective. Toward the end, backing vocals join to repeat the title in chorus.
“What's Coming Next” fades in with an anxious new wave bouncy rhythm, reminding me a little of Devo…it is a little sinister in tone, with quick angular Buzzcocks-style chord changes paired with the catchy hook. The instrumental section is peppered with horns, giving it a vibrant urgent importance. The song is a continuous, never-let-down controlled sprint.
“Unprotected” starts with theatrical vocals only, reminding me of Sparks. A pulsing keyboard is added, and the song fully enters into theatrical-musical realm, as a minimal accompanied vocal display, again, much like Sparks. The chorus is an emotional uttering of the song title, rising up in disappearing hope and the feeling of forlorn.
“Harm” gets more funky with buzzy synth and a deep tribal bellowing and bass. Oingo Boingo + Devo + Residents -like in song style and vocal style. The notes are not always on key, creating an itchy feeling, like something is out of sorts, just needing to be set right- which musically is a great way to push a song along. To add to the uncomfortableness of the song, they add a neurotically played violin. The vocal chorus adds in with a clear, catchy melody. The song grows, combined elements, venturing into late-XTC epic song-scaping territory, with elements of both the Talking Heads and Violent Femmes.

“Mercy” starts side two with a much more straight forward new wave song. Power chords and short building vocals segments fit together to create a perfect pop template. It feels a little Big Country-ish with the style of synth employed.
“Welcoming A New Ice Age” continues the windswept, tundra-esq songscape, with crystalline, echoing xylophone backing effects and soaring guitars. As this was a big style of the 80’s it never had quite a perfect fit as with the title and theme of this song. The drum beat keeps the whole song upbeat, and peppy.
“Tearaway” is a sedated synth track that feels like it could be from twin peaks at the first measure. The backing flute synth breaks out of the Badalamenti style, and takes us to another thematic Sparks-like slow song. There is a backing vocal that is robotic and synth-pitch processed, buried behind the lead vocals, that sings the title over and over on cue.
“No One Coming Over” starts as straight forward jangle pop, with some odd synth elements. Including more layered robotic vocals when the title is sung. The song is slightly devious, and lends itself to the Sparks Catalogue pretty easily, if only separated by the spot light on the overly jangly guitar. The bass line reminds me of an Oingo Boingo song, “Pictures of You” but all the sinister tone is sapped out by the rest of the song.
“Your Secret Room” is a very different style from the rest of the songs on the album…there is a county /acoustic sound to the track. From the first line, it sounds like the Violent Femmes, with near-exact tonal inflection of Gordon Gano’s style. Female harmonizing backing vocals are very apparent here, which enhances the country appeal, and they use bagpipes to end the song, which also end the album in solo form. 

Stand Out Track: What's Coming Next

Links:
Wiki
Discogs
Allmusic
Dangerous Minds
IMDB
Trouser Press
Futureismo

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Human Sexual Response = Fig. 14

Name: Human Sexual Response
Album Fig. 14
Year: 1980
Style: New Wave, Jangle Pop
Similar Bands: Devo, Blotto, Television, Tom Verlaine, Squeeze
One Word Review: Urgent, Menacing Jangles
Based Out Of: Boston 
Label: Passport Records, EAT Records, Jem Records
 Fig. 14 - Cover, Liner Notes, Record
 Fig. 14 - Back, Liner Notes, Record
Fig 14. Credits Close-up
Fig. 14 (1980)
  1. Guardian Angel 3:48
  2. Dick & Jane 4:13
  3. Jackie Onassis 3:48
  4. Cool Jerk 2:35
  5. Dolls 4:57/
  6. What Does Sex Mean to Me? 4:47
  7. Marone Moan 3:42
  8. Unba Unba 2:53
  9. Anne Frank Story 6:24
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Larry Bangor - Vox (The Zulus, Wild Kingdom, Screaming Mimis, Gospel Birds, Sugar, Kazoondheit, Honey Bea & the Mellow Muffins)
Casey Cameron - Vox (Kazoondheit, Honey Bea & the Mellow Muffins) 
Windle Davis - Vox (Kazoondheit, Honey Bea & the Mellow Muffins)
Dini Lamon - Vox, Tambourine (Kazoondheit, Honey Bea & the Mellow Muffins, Musty Chiffon)
Rich Gilbert - Guitars (The Zulus, Wild Kingdom, Screaming Mimis, Gospel Birds, Concussion Ensemble, Tanya Donelly, Frank Black, Uncle Tupelo, Steve Wynn. Throwing Muses, Lemonheads, Steve Westfield, The Family Cat, Crown Electric Company, Condo Pygmies, Country Bumpkins, CLOWN, The United States, The Coronet Premiers, Blackstone Valley Sinners, Eileen Rose & The Holy Wreck, Thad Cockerell)
Chris Maclachlan - Bass (The Zulus, Wild Kingdom, Screaming Mimis, Gospel Birds)
Malcolm Travis - Drums (The Zulus, Wild Kingdom, Screaming Mimis, Gospel Birds, Sugar, Concussion Ensemble)
John Doelp - Producer
Don Roze - Executive Producer
Eddie Ciletti - Recording
J.D. - Recording
Ben Wisch - Mixing Engineer
Hipgnosis - Cover
Paul Maxon - Cover
Richard Manning - Photo Coloring
Colin Chambers - Line Drawing
BC Kagan - Back Cover Photo

Unknown-ness: I had never heard of this band…looks like it may be calculated, yet fun. Retro, random artwork of children juxtaposed against the band name and album title, seems to illustrate a contradictory, yet clever, say hipsterry theme. I imagine new wave since it is from 1980, but to what degree, and how much nervousness, is yet to be found.

Album Review: So the guitarist, Rich Gilbert, has gone on to play with some of the most popular and big artists from the Boston area, namely Tanya Donelly and Frank Black. He has also worked on many a Bob Mould-Sugar album. They are still playing one-off reunion shows, even up to this year, 2017. But they never received much nationwide success, despite being played on KROQ in LA.
 “Guardian Angel” kicks in with a drum beat, and enters jangley pop territory. The vocals are jittery, and nervous, much like Tom Verlaine, with backing harmonized vocals for key phrases in the verse. There is some good energy to the song, but it is pretty non-threatening, and like a sloppier early-mid era Talking Heads
“Dick & Jane” is a little darker, with a fuzzy feedback guitar punctuating the verse, which is delivered in a cold and broken in structure. Verse two takes the guitar up a couple of octaves, but still is screeching with feedback. The chorus is just a chant of the chorus. The song is a little tedious, as it does not expand over the segmented and stumbling tempo, perhaps chanting a little like Devo.
“Jackie Onassis” was their “big hit.” It starts off with a cymbal, and sleepily and jangley begins, as if part of a dream. It charges ahead with a confident stomp with some prog-guitar flourishes, mixing in dreamy oh-yeahs in time. The song ends with call and response oh yeahs between the singer and backing chorus.
“Cool Jerk” begins with a bouncy and Squeeze-like bass line…the song jitters along anxiously, and would be a fun song to dance to during a live set. It is repetitive, but in a fun, catchy and building way. There are breaks in the song, that still pound forward with a pulsing drum beat. The song is just a Isley Brother’s “Shout” or Checker’s “Twist,” requesting to do the popular dance along with the band as a soundtrack.
“Dolls” also feels like an early Chris Difford/Squeeze song, with some wonky sound effects, and methodical, Devo-ish singing. The song refers to dolls coming to life. It builds and grows, but stays along a very narrow path of musical diversity. The song feels like it wears out its welcome, looping alarm-like vocals that build in intensity, but doesn’t really evolve or capitalize.

“What Does Sex Mean to Me?” starts with a basic rhythm setting the tempo…this is filled with some classic lines like “Virgins Die Horny” and “I put my fingers to my tongue / I taste vagina” Really the song juxtaposes how other societies view sex versus how we/the singer view sex, with some quite political/moral topics amongst the reactionary lyrics. The song, with its anxious, jittery vocals, and repetitive chorus fits cleanly on the album, but it feels like, aside from the instrumental, complex music is traded in for a clear, intelligible platform.
“Marone Moan” starts out quietly, with a less neurotic vocal. It feels a little renaissance like, lofty world and roots music at first. Then it gets a little progressive as the vocals harmonize into a wind-swept cadence. The urgency grows with the pulsing guitar and ethereal “AAhhhhhh” and then it just…ends.
“Unba Unba” begins with a dark guitar line, and a steady drum beat, which creates a bit of a menacing back ally atmosphere. Unba is the stuttering start in the chorus for the work unbelievable. Before the final urgent verse, the vocals swirl into a whirlpool of syllables and notes. And the song, also repeating like an alarm, winds itself up to a sudden stop.
“Anne Frank Story” is their sad, slow ballad. It too, has a bit of a mysterious menacing tone, but the sullen mood is felt as the calm vocals sadly croon and shutter about the Anne Frank Museum. The drums are bombastic and striking. After 2 minutes, the song changes direction a bit, picking up a driving progressive pace to reset the scene, back to the sad reflective verse. It has a bit of a similar feel to the Hooter’s “All You Zombies” which came out 5 years later. The lyric that is repeated the most is perhaps “Time Warp At The Anne Frank Museum.” And the song seems to build and exit just as quietly as it began.

Stand Out Track: Cool Jerk

Links:
Discogs
Allmusic
Wiki
Rate Your Music
Down Underground
Clash City
Static & Distance

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

CAB 20 - Dirty Smiles

Artist: Cab 20
Album: Dirty Smiles
Year: 2010
Style: Bluesy Rock, Garage, Classic Rock
Similar Bands: Queens of the Stone Age, Black Keys, Soul Asylum, MC5, Black Crows, Lenny Kravitz
One Word Review: Sweaty-Shouty-Guitar Jams.
Based Out Of: El Segundo, CA
Label: Slaughtered Lamb
Dirty Smiles Cover & Record
Dirty Smiles - Back, Record
Dirty Smiles (2010)
  1. Don't Leave Your Love 2:17
  2. Infection 2:56
  3. Stones & Bones  4:47
  4. Aquavit 3:19
  5. Oh Darling 4:00
  6. Slow Song 3:07 /
  7. Keep on Talking 3:50
  8. Substance Abuse 4:20
  9. Living Things 3:46
  10. Gravedigger 3:59
  11. Boots 3:28
  12. Blood on my Hands 2:37
Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Eric Conteras - Drums
Bert Hoover - Guitar, Vox, Album Artwork
Chris Khalife - Bass, Keys Vox
Ivan Konstantinovic - Additional Vox
Gil Serrano - Banjo, Additional Vox
Jonny Lai - Electric Guitar, Additional Vox
Noah Yoseloff - Additional Vocals
Robert Hoover - Co-Produced, Engineered, Mastering
Joo-Joo Ashworth - Photography

Unknown-ness: Never heard of this band. But from the color scheme from the grey and brown trains, it feels like it will be a slice of Americana rock. I imagine meandering, and tedious at times, perhaps some grungy guitar solos. 

Album Review:
So this is the very first band to ever appear on Shark Tanl (2012) in order to gain investor backing as a band. They didn't agree to a deal, and were not funded. Popularity from the show neve helped them out, as they are not really together making new music today.

“Don't Leave Your Love” starts with a drum beat, and an urgent, rattling guitar playing MC5 style garage rock. The vocals are also urgent, and emotional, verging on shouting. Very fast, and classic rock in style.
“Infection” has a bit more country twang in the guitar, but it is still rushed and anxiously played…the bouncing keys buried in the background also emphasize the pace. The appeal for alcohol fueled, bluesy guitar solos is apparent for the song is jumpstarted by the guitar.
“Stones & Bones” has a slower jazzy drum beat to begin. It is well accompanied by a funky bass line, and thick steamrolling guitars. The passionate vocals sound as if they are standing far away from the mic, in order to capture the natural vocals which don’t care how naturally loud they are. The song slows down in the minimal instrumental section, only to pick up for one last emotional verse.
“Aquavit” combined punk chords and the bluesy, slightly free-form shouty vocals well. The chord progression sounds very familiar. There are a couple distinct driving sections, which give a platform for the shouting vocals.
“Oh Darling” Starts with some space-guitar twittlings, and then proceeds as a minimal open room drum and bass section. The vocals are growly-shouting against a juxtaposing backdrop of slower music. The guitars kick in and with some feed back and other classic rock elements, push the song along faster. The song slows down to a crawling tambourine rest, then quietly surges with chugging guitars back to the full volume and driving force of the initial verse.
“Slow Song” is true to its name, and an acoustic guitar plays a balladeering bar stool jam. It is a little stumbly, but kicks in with a drum beat only to make the slow jam louder. The volume and intensity rises and falls, but it keeps a moderate tempo the whole time.

“Keep on Talking” begins with a small bass hook and cowbell. Then Cake-like guitar is added, and the song gets going with a sweaty guitar atmosphere. There are group shouting vocals over key lyrical phrases, but the funky bass line keeps the song in order. The song builds and gets a little progressive, with looping guitar licks, which cycle back to the initial set up.
“Substance Abuse” chugs along with grimey, sludgy guitar, and a spattering of drums below. The guitar leads the kick in, and shouting vocals pull the singer away from the mic to not overpower or distort things more than desired. The instrumental takes a while to grow back into the musical verse for one last run through before the song ends.
“Living Things” Starts with Pounding guitar and cowbell, with a flat sounding drum. The vocals are a little more controlled and coherent at first. It’s like a faster Kick Out the Jams. The song takes a bit of a break to focus on the vocals and simple rhythm chords. But it does manage to kick back in, and oscillate between sections balancing the slow & quiet with the fast paced urgency
“Gravedigger” is a swampy stomp jam with catchy group choruses and shouty sections mixed with stoner classic rock lines.
“Boots” is a bit slinkier, but is at heart a pub rocking band full of feedback and swagger. It plays out like a Lenny Kravitz instrumental jam
“Blood on My Hands” is a swampy porch, banjo picking, jug band southern sing along. The whole band sings in echoing natural harmony for the chorus. It feels more of a demo. At 1:50, the tambourine kicks the song into a quickened pace for a short bit before the song winds down, runs out of alcohol. 

Stand Out Track: Don't Leave Your Love

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cherry People - s/t

Artist: Cherry People
Album: s/t
Year: 1968
Style: Psychedelic Pop
Similar Bands: Byrds, Hullaballoo, Turtles, Archies, Association, Cowsills, Bee Gees, Monkees
One Word Review: Harmonized Style Array
Based Out Of: Washington, DC
Labels: MCA, Heritage
 
 Cherry People - Cover & Back, Record
 Cherry People - Center Fold-out, Record
Cherry People - Info
Cherry People (1968)
  1. And Suddenly 2:06
  2. Girl on the Subway 2:52
  3. On To Something New 2:22
  4. Imagination 1:54
  5. My Hyde 2:39 /
  6. Do Something to Me 2:13
  7. Ask the Children 2:08
  8. I'm the one Who Loves You 2:06
  9. Don't Hang Me Up Girl 2:53
  10. Light of Love 2:40
Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Punky Meadows - Guitar (Bux, Angel, The English Settlers)
Chris Grimes - Guitars Vox (The English Settlers, Jimi Hendrix)
Rocky Isaac - Drums (Fallen Angels, Bux, Jimi Hendrix)
Dougy Grimes - Vox (The English Settlers)
Jan Zukowski - Bass (Nobody's Children, Nighthawks, Fabulous Hubcaps)
Ron Haffkine - Producer
Barry Oslander - Producer
Jerry Ross Productions
Jimmy Wisner - Arrangement
Joe Renzetti - Arrangement
Val Valentin - Director of Engineering
Neil Ceppos - Engineer
Bob Golden - Cover Photo
Liner and Inside Photo - Stephan Paley
Dick Smith - Art Direction

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band, but I like the weight, coloring, and psychedelic look of this boy band. Short songs, most likely bouncy, upbeat and catchy seem to be what they're going for, I'm guessing. No year on it, but I assume it is somewhere in the late 60's. Excited to see what this sounds like.

Album Review: The biggest thing that any of Cherry People did was be part of the backing band with Jimi Hendrix when he recorded five songs. This was the result of trying to get a meeting with Jerry Ross to be released from their contract in NYC after a west coast tour, and ending up blowing off steam at an open mic/jam night where Hendrix also showed up.

“And Suddenly” was their one and only hit single, which reached #44. It begins with a little Bee Gee’s sense, and perhaps a little R&B. Then after the family harmonies, it finds its groove with a light sing-song, cheerful melody. It feels a little Monkee’s-ish, too.
“Girl on the Subway” is instantly psychedelic pop. It is very thematic, with a complicated barrage of harmonized parts and layers. It is happy and polite and very non-threatening. The trumpet takes center stage when the song reaches the instrumental break.As the song winds down, the trumpet takes over, and steals all the attention, in a somewhat jarring way.
“On To Something New” was the b-side to “Light of Love.” It harkens back to a male vocal group of the 50’s or early 60’s, with swirling harps and strings and a lofty soaring harmony. This song was made to appeal to the parents of the teens they were trying to sell the record to.
“Imagination” was the B-Side to “And Suddenly.” It too is a quiet, delicate vocal band throwback to a style that was nearly extinct. It is still theatric with flutes and sound stage flourishes and swirls.
“Mr. Hyde” was the b-side to a single. It is a more updated sound for the era, a slightly psych harmony, with a very Cowsills collaboration as the chorus kicks in. It has a bit of a marching pace, spurred on by the drumbeat.

“Do Something to Me” starts off side two with an upbeat, dancey song. It has a little bluesy vocal style, with a simple clap-along-tempo. It feels a little like a Belle & Sebastian song, with a different vocal style. There is an urgency and hunger to the vocals that feels like real emotion. This is the real star on this album, and sounds like a completely different singer/band.
“Ask the Children” is a bouncy, fun child’s-dream-like song. Lots of bubble gum pop harmonies, and it builds well into the chorus, which is just a psychedelic-vocal breakdown, not really delivering on the build.
“I'm the one Who Loves You” was a single. It has a smooth sexy glide, a little bond-theme-like. The backing vocals actually sound a little disco, well before disco was a thing.
“Don't Hang Me Up Girl” starts out seeming like a light, older style, but the pace picks up a snappy little groove, and hangs on some call and response harmonies. The song has its feet planted in the two different styles, and does a pretty good job of making it work.
“Light of Love” was a single, tapping into organ psychedelica of the time. The song is a pretty basic example of pop at the time that Herman’s Hermits or ? and the Mysterians (and the like) were making.

"Stand-Out" Track: Do Something To Me

Links:
Wiki
Discogs
Guardian- strange albums on spotify
FB
Allmusic
Rateyour music
badcat records

Monday, April 10, 2017

(the) Continentals - Fizz! Pop!

Artist: The Continentals
Album: Fizz! Pop!
Year: 1979
Style: Garage, New Wave, Power Pop
Similar Bands: Cars, A's Tommy Tutone, Raspberries, Knack, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, 
One Word Review: Nasally Anxious Pop
Based Out Of: London, UK
Label: CBS, Epic, Nu Disk
 Fizz! Pop! - Cover & Record
Fizz! Pop! - Back, Record

Fizz! Pop! (1979)
  1. Fizz Pop (Modern Rock) 3:05
  2. Walking Tall 2:45 /
  3. Housewives Delight 4:05
  4. Two Lips from Amsterdam 3:24

Album Rating (1-10): 8.5

Members & Other Bands:
Tommy "Ramone" Erdelyi - Producer (Ramones)
Thomas Doherty (Whirlwind)
William John Holliday (Whirlwind)
Allan Harris
Doug Smith - Manager (Motorhead)
Paula Scher - Design

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band, but from the energy, picture, and names on the EP cover, I had to get it, even if it was a little more than what I typically try to pay for TSM records. Looks like it will be fun, neurotic/urgent/jittery new wave/pop. And the year fits, too.

Album Review:             There is really not too much out there about these three guys from the US…living in the UK, I believe, if the sources I’ve seen are accurate. Aside from being one of the few bands that were given the push on the short lived Nu Disk 10” records, their biggest claim to fame is two of the three went on to write for the British rockabilly band Whirlwind.


“Fizz Pop (Modern Rock)” pops right off with a fun, jittery power pop hook. The vocals are nasally as expected, and recall an anxious Elvis Costello. The recipe is a simple oldies-rock verse chorus template, but sped up and electrified. The variations of the chorus keep it interesting, and last for a good portion of the second half of the song, proving they are a more dynamic band than just straightforward, easy power pop.
“Walking Tall” also has a sense of driving urgency, and the nasally vocals recall Costello again, with a little darker tone with the bass line. The exaggerated, sharp syllables define the popular neurotic nature of the music/sound at that time.

“Housewives Delight” charges right at the get go, but then lightens up with a little Americana mixed in with power pop new wave, with a hint of darkness. The chorus is a little light, as the title is sung. The tone of the song is anti-radio, as a spoken section toward the middle of the song explains. The song is a little long for its own good. It tries to push some variants of their chorus, but it is not a very strong hook to try and repeat as they do here.
“Two Lips from Amsterdam” feels a little like a song from Grease or American Graffiti at the beginning, with a high school girl & guy romance seeming to be at the center. The vocals still offer their nasally, updated delivery, but the song structure is a definite call back to songs like “Under the Boardwalk,” but sounding like Richard Bush and the A's.

Stand Out Track: Fizz Pop (Modern Rock)

Links:
Discogs
Allmusic
Wilfully Obscure
My Life's A Jigsaw
Last FM