Now that Sonic Youth is officially over, we’re able to hear material from the other members, perhaps in a slightly different light. For Lee Ranaldo, perhaps it’s another way to hear his music and lyrics in a different way, away from the noise, the heaviness, and the occasionally ugliness although his music has always been very distinct from Thurston Moore’s and Kim Gordon’s. For Acoustic Dust (El Segell Del Primavera), the title basically tells the story, as the album has him playing acoustic guitars while being accompanied primarily by other acoustic instruments. It is his third album with The Dust, and if there’s something that makes these songs unique (if you want to call it that), it’s a distinct and simplified sound. One way to compare it is with the covers that are on here: Neil Young’s “Revolution Blues”, The Monkees’ “You Just May Be The One”, and Sandy Denny’s “Bushes And Briars”. You might expect to hear this at Farm Aid or the Bridge School Benefit, and perhaps jamming with Tom Petty or maybe choosing to do some ki ho’alu. Ranaldo sounds very comfortable in this mode but he has always done well with coverage a wide range of different textures, but it’s his stories that help pull you deeper into these songs and want to hear them over and over, or know that they will be there for you in the future when needed.
Zs are a Brooklyn based trio who come off as a group who like to throw in anything into the mix at any given time. There is a bit of spontaneity in what they do but there’s some sonic choreography so people can be sure they are on their mission to go through the music from star to finish. With the use of the saxophone, they may come off like the ghosts of Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band, Smegma, or Hell Cows and while those comparisons are/can be impressive, they show something that opens them up to the possibility of everything, which is what they do on Ze. The guitar work may sound like random doodling in spots while it may find its way to a goal in other portions, but the thing is the listener isn’t sure where things bein, end, or came from somewhere else. Or at least that’s one way of describing what they do. There are times when the rhythms go well beyond the math rock quota but a few seconds later, they may get into experimental mode and it sounds like a sandpaper circle being played at 78rpm.
What I also found impressive is that if you don’t pay attention to when the songs change, you will not know when songs actually begin or end. I would love to see how these guys do it in a live setting for while the noisy parts is what I love, I also really like when there are general melodies, as they do in “Corps” complete with unique rhythms and a twisted sax solo. Hearing this made me want to be deliberately on the edge. We’re just wrapping up month two of 2015 but I have already found one of my favorite albums of the year.
As someone who has followed Sub Pop Records for almost 30 years, it’s surprising and perhaps a bit of a shock that they have released something as soulful, moving, and powerful as THEESatisfaction and their album EarthEE but I’m glad they have done so. You might call this natural soul, neo-soul, earthy soul but personally, I simply want to call this soul that is able to branch out and find new things. The first person I am reminded of when I hear the voices of Stasia “Stas” Irons and singer Catherine “Cat” Harris-White is Georgia Anne Muldrow, as they’re all able to sing beautifully and with sensuality, then throw out dope rhymes without a fear of holding back words. They can be poetic in a romantic sense, then touch into the earth or the streets and tell you directly what they feel. You can also say this is along the lines of folks like Erykah Badu or Jill Scott but also with a slight OFWGKTA tendency, which means if they wanted to step out of the boundaries you expect them to remain in, they will do so. When you hear them rap in “Blandland”, you may immediately say “this would sound nice with Ladybug Mecca” and while she doesn’t show up, who does show up is fellow Digable Planets member Ishmael Butler, which is a chance for THEESatisfaction to extend their Seattle connection and show that family can be family when there is a sense of commonality. Me’Shell NdegeOcello finds her way nicely in “WerQ” and even with every cameo appearance the album features, it is still distinctively the sound of THEESatisfaction, and the song they’re creating/defining for themselves is enough to make people want to hang around for future endeavors.
Heavy Electricity (Sargent House) by Ireland’s No Spill Blood is proof that a band can still make angry music without sounding as if they’re trying to cater (too much) to anyone but themselves. In other words, the rage they play in their music sounds as if they’re giving each other last messages in case one of them dies, as if they’re saying “I want you to pass this to a loved one, I do so with confidence.” A lot of the riffs could be considered metallesque with sounds and rhythm sequences bordering on electronic mayhem, if not on the industrial side. Now mix that with punk or speed metal and it sounds like the perfect blend to down with the ship together and you feel the glory of the misery. “Harsh Route” even has some synth parts that sounds like something from a Foreigner, Styx Black Sabbath song, bright and moist but never out of place, especially when they morph that into something much uglier. The lyrics and and should be appreciated for those who may not be able to deal with the every day issues of simply living but there is always a small hint of brightness on the other side, if you’re willing to give it a listen.
(Heavy Electricity will be released on March 10th.)
A&R Studios: Live In New York On 26th August 1971 (Autarc Media) is a recording the Allman Brothers Band did two months before the death of guitarist Duane Allman and while this may not have the sane vibe or zest as the Live At Fillmore East album, there is more than enough juice in this baby to keep people satisfied. All the goods are here, from “Statesboro Blues”, “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed”, “You Don’t Love Me”, “Trouble No More”, and “Done Somebody Wrong” among many more, and what is nice about this one, like with any Allman Brothers Band live show, is to hear the different variations between everything from the solos to Gregg Allman’s singing to the drumming and the overall vibe. The session here is a bit eased up, more laid back but still retaining the same energy they were becoming known for in 1971. A very fine listen. The show has been released a number of times so if you haven’t heard it yet, pick it up.
The Killer Instinct is a hard rock and heavy metal album by Black Star Riders for those who like their style of music on the classic side. I guess for me, there’s nothing wrong with liking something that sounds as if it came from the days of my youth but do you want to stay in ones memories forever or do you want to find a way to bring yourself to modern times? My point is that as strong as their musicianship is, I found myself getting bored by the third song, as if every cliche was being done in front of my face without anyone ever throwing something new. I wanted just a hint of… something just so I would know there’s something else but they have nothing else, at least not here. I understand what they’re doing and it works, but give me something just so I know there is more, or at least make me want more for the next round. I found this to be a bore.
Lord Cream and BLKKK Spacey are known together as Cult 33 and if you like your hip-hop on the adventurous side, you’re going to really love this. It’s a 3-song EP called Culdesac, nothing more, nothing less, plain and simple but the music is anything but plain, simple, or ordinary.
While this year’s PDX Pop Now festival in Oregon is only five months ago, the guys in Hustle And Drone have shared a live performance from last year’s festival’. Check out what they did with “Bhikshu” and why they are one of the upcoming electronic pop groups to watch for.
If you happen to be a Portland-based artist who would like a chance to perform at this year’s PDX Pop Now!, head here for details.
They are Alright, and not just a way to say this group is alright, that’s their name and they’re from Charlotte, North Carolina. Featuring current and former members of It Looks Sad and Late Bloomer, they will be releasing an EP this spring through the Negative Fun and Self Aware labels, a split effort that is to insure people will hear it and enjoy the good music found on it. On vinyl, the EP will be released as a 7″ while digital will be, of course, digital. You can pre-order it from both Negative Fun or Self Aware, take your pick. If you want to know waht they sound like, have a listen to a tune from it called “Mixed Signals”, which will hopefully be direct to you. You have to head to BrooklynVegan.com to hear it.
They’ll take a week in March to do some shows during the second half of the month as a way to greet the much-desired spring. They’ll be doing shows with a number of other great bands, so show up early.
March 20… Charlotte, NC (Snug Harbor) ®
March 21… Raleigh, NC (Slims) ¥
March 22… Richmond, VA (Bandito’s) £
March 23… Oaklyn, NJ (Studio Lu Loo) Ƅ
March 24… Bethpage, NY (Mr. Beery’s) ȸ
March 25… Boston, MA (O’Briens) ʯ
March 26… Providence, RI (Aurora) Җ
March 27… Philadelphia, PA (KFN Upstairs) Պ
March 28… Washington, DC (TBA) ֆ
® = w/ Mineral Girls
¥ = w/ See Gulls
£ = w/ Sea Of Storms
Ƅ = w/ Extract, Goddamnit
ȸ = w/ Greensleep, Troubled Hearts
ʯ = w/ New Legs, Drug Dogs
Җ = w/ Twin Foxes, Laika’s Orbit
Պ = w/ Dogs On Acid
ֆ = w/ Witch Coast, Big Hush
You may not know Colorado musician Drew Miller just yet but if you’ve been keeping track of my website for the las few year years, you have seen projects by The Northern Hemisphere, Aywazlawst, Brother Saturn, and Chromadrift. Two new albums have been released, thsi time by The Northern Hemisphere and Chromadrift.
The album by The Northern Hemisphere is called We Were Stranded On An Island and while I like it when he releases EP’s every few months, the album experience is much more exciting. Have a listen.
For his album as Chromadrift, check out Another Cold Universe. Listen to them as you want, you may hear some kind of continuity between all of them, or you may hear them individually as their own masterpieces, or just listen for the sake of experiencing new sounds from the man. CHeck out Another Cold Universe below.
Both albums are available for free but if you are really into what Miller offers, show some support or maybe even better, if you’re a movie or video director and want to collaborate with him for a future project, get in contact with him, he’s on both Twitter and Facebook.