I hope Lavar Burton broke some heads to get two-piece Reading Rainbow to change their name to Bleeding Rainbow. I hope Geordie LaForge and his milky white eyes was so pissed at the power-pop-punk noodling of this snappy little group, that he barged in to his manager’s double-wide and declared that if he could do anything before his career took a final nose dive that it would be to make Reading Rainbow change their name … to Bleeding Rainbow. And that the repercussions of this demand were so great upon Reading Rainbow, so violent and teeth-gritting, that their only reprieve from Kunta Kinte’s wrath was to add two new members to the band, and drift down a far dreamier path. Where one might think that Bleeding Rainbow was the moniker of a smarmy mouthed punk band, or that you might think that Reading Rainbow was indulging their base needs to just wear leather jackets and sneer, the newly named and newly added Bleeding Rainbow are more moody alterna-rock than anything else. It isn’t a bad change, they’re still catchy and kind of cute, but it seems odd that in the wake of Lavar Burton’s psychic beating, that they’d go in a more listenable direction. Maybe it was meant to be all along, and maybe all of these violent L. Burton fantasies are something I should talk to my counselor about.
Bleeding Rainbow’s Yeah Right is out now on Kanine.
You can’t, if you grew up in the wonder years of The Wonder Years, help but think that Cocktails’ newest track “Hey Winnie” might be about Danica McKeller’s iconic portrayal of bland-faced Winnie Cooper. And though, I can’t find any actual evidence that Cocktails have some long term endearment for Kevin Arnold’s lifelong paramour, the song seems to fit in to the glowing, nostalgic ambience The Wonder Years extended out over a generation of youth. I’m not a fan of some of the saccharine 80s cribbing that the early ’10s have brought us, but Cocktails does sweet and sugary just right – tempering the tooth-rotting rush with just a pinch of grime. Winnie Cooper, wherever you might be, I certainly hope that this one’s for you.
Andy Human, solo project of Lenz lead-man Andy Jordan, feels as if it could be appropriate in a sequin covered leotard, a shiny onesie that prism-explodes laserbeams of light as the first spotlight hits it. Not to say that this is disco, or that is this late 70s dance music, oh no, this is punk rock (80s? late 70s) but dressed up with pulsing back beats and a touch of leg shaking. But don’t get Andy Human and company wrong, there’s punk rock that lives in the center of this Rolo, gritty, dirt-covered, leather jacket wearing punk rock that stabs its way out with sharp, short solos, and a heightened sense of distorted angst. Andy Human might choose to wear a glam suit with glowing piping and horn-rimmed, rhinestoned glasses (he doesn’t) but that’s just to get your ass shaking, your hands moving. The real center of this punk rock Tootsie Pop is rock ‘n’ roll in the most rotten way.
It’s the beginning of the year (it still is I swear) and I’m still sifting through the many, many Best of Lists that populated the web over the last two to three months. It’s not say that I’m not actively searching for new music, but to be honest, the pickings feel slim, and someone(s) else already did some nice, deep, digging in to the music I missed last year. Hellshovel (to which I expect white face paint and pigeon eating) is a product of my skimming the good work and good intentions of other websites. Hellshovel is psych rock stripped down to a few bare essentials. The haze of psychedelia encroaches at the side, but this is a small group of musicians just dragging out the bare bones and going to town. It isn’t big or bloated with twenty minute noodle sessions, this is beats, guitar and the spindly whine of vocals. It’s refreshing is what it is.
Hellshovel’s album Hated By The Sun is out on Slovenly now.
From the keening wail of Pride to the broken down Willie Nelson of To, Willie to the barroom backbeat of Here’s To Taking It Easy he’s defined and redefined and redefined his sound and never lost me along the way. Progress is the bane and the beauty of being an artist and only the best can move forward without losing the, sigh, heart and soul of what and who they are. “Song for Zula” – off of the soon to be released Muchacho - is a new world for Houck and company, a distant planet just barely seen from the shores they once stood upon. Spacious is the word I think of; gone are the cigarette-burned bars, the long and wide open plains, the whiskey-drawls and golden hearted hookers, replaced with a single chair in a amphitheater. In the hands of a lesser artist, this might come across as too bold a step, too large a move in a new direction after so much motion towards another, but for Houck it doesn’t matter. As long as that pale, tremble of a voice sits front and center, the world can shift and move and break, and this listener at least, will always come back for another spoonful. Whatever it might taste like.
Phosphorescent’s new album Muchacho will be released on March 19th Dead Ocean.
Let’s get the standard 2012 Holiday Cheer Finale out of the way: Happy New Year! To you, to yours, to any and all who might’ve stumbled across this website and this post as the New Year, lucky ’13, crests on the horizon.
What better way to start a new year but with a hint of mystery eh? Fuzz, the blistering bit of rock ‘n’ roll awaiting you below, just released a 7″ on Chicago’s Trouble In Mind Records. Who though, may I ask, is Fuzz? There are rumors that this is yet another Ty Segall side project, this time paired with Charlie Mootheart. And in the bass-heavy rumble of discordant guitars and the near-petulant holler of youth-gone-wrong you might be able to pin this track to the shaggy-mopped anti-hero of 2012 guitar. No one’s owning up yet though, and in the end, when the 2 minutes and 30-something seconds grinds to a halt, the reverb still echoing in your ears, it turns out it doesn’t really matter. As 2013 lumbers in to existence, perhaps we can find some lesson to be learned in this.
Or perhaps we can just brace ourselves for another year of music, recorded or otherwise, and be thankful that those goddamn Mayans couldn’t stick the landing.
I’m admittedly not a fan of the last Sonny & The Sunsets album. I’ve followed, with baited breath, each evolution of Mr. Smith’s musical incarnation and the latest step down the path of my beloved country music just seems ill-fitting boring even. That said, Smith is an extremely talented, even prolific, musician and his, now, three volumes of made up bands doing made up songs is, even if you don’t like every single thing that’s on every single album, a pretty fantastic project. Vol. 3 brings back a lot of the old favorites (Earth Girl Helen Brown, The Fuckaroos, etc.) but the single is from Don Adora’e, a sort of twangy take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s political rock ‘n’ roll. It’s low key and up beat and a great reminder if everything good that Sonny Smith is capable of.
100 Records : Volume 3 will be out on Polyvinyl, January 29th.
The image of a man riding a bucking stallion on the cover of the new Parquet Courts album Light Up Gold is oddly fitting for this scrappy Brooklyn group. Not because there’s even a hint of twang or country noodlin’ in the music, but because there’s a kind of energy coursing through every song on this fantastic album that corrals good times, good music, good humor and a hint of hard drinkin’ in to the same party. You could imagine a couple of non-ironic cowboy hats tipped back, maybe a chawed on piece of straw hanging from the corner of a mouth, and certainly several faces knot in the wake of a strong gulp of whiskey.
Parquet Courts newest album is year-end discovery that will certainly change the structure of my Best Of list. It’s rollicking punk rock at it’s finest, and I’m imploring you to listen to this track and then go out and find the whole album. Do it!
Parquet Court’s newest album Light Up Gold is out now on Dull Tools.
Jozef Van Wissem and film director Jim Jarmusch supposedly met on a street corner when the albino haired director was seeking a, er, different kind of sound for his upcoming, hah, “crypto-vampire film.” What came out of it was a musical relationship that’s lasted three records and a slew of oddly titled performance pieces. Van Wissem is a master lute player, while Jarmusch is an old school guitar player and the combination is like falling in to a downward trending abyss of emotional dissonance. Long droned out bits of guitar mesh with the wavering hum of lute, creating what sounds, not surprisingly, like the soundtrack for something experimental, black-and-white, and entirely unwatchable. In a good way.
Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch’s new albumThe Mystery of Heaven is out now on Sacred Bones.
This time with a slow burner of a psych-jam that feels akin to the faded crushed velvet paintings of our collective youth. It feels like Dirty Beaches, from the “Slow Ride” days, got in with the bad kids from across the tracks, smoked a few too many happy sticks and decided to get down on the production board. Thus, it feels good.
Dead Luke’s new album God Takes LSD is out on cassette now from Moon Glyph.