Cat Rapes Dog released a new album a few weeks ago called Life Was Sweet (Artoffact). The Swedish electropunk band have existed since the early 1980′s, but this is their first album in 14 years. By honoring The Beatles with their album cover and giving it the Life Was Sweet title, one wonders if this will become the group’s last recording. Only time will tell.
Director Maurélio Toscano helped out Brazil’s Boogarins to make a video for their As Plantas Que Curam album for Other Music Recording Co. on October 1st, and it’s for the far out song (with a far out title) “Lucifernandis”. Those who love the warmth of cassette will be able to buy As Plantas Que Curam through Burger Records.
With many people excited for the new collaboration album between Elvis Costello and The Roots, there were others who seemed to be a bit confused, as if mixing up musical influences in 2013 is something weird and bizarre. Let’s not forget that a few years ago, mash-ups were the it thing to do and hear, so if someone wanted to mix up Slayer with Conway Twitty, this was okay. Yet you do something that mixes things up in “real life” and “oh no, this is beyond anything that could happen, because it offends me”. Maybe that’s why the title is called Wise Up Ghost (Blue Note) because they’re telling you to wise up, and as for the ghost? Look in the mirror. Boo, you’re Casper.
In truth, this is a damn good album, with Costello bringing on the type of songwriting that has been championed by fans and critics for five, count them, five decades. This is a man who is making this type of quality of music before the age of 60, and while it shouldn’t be an issue, some will make it to be one. Costello doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. If he feels like doing classical music for awhile, he will. If he wants to go rockabilly, he will. Jam with Paul McCartney? Done. With The Roots, it’s simply putting on a new musical costume and doing it differently, with a band who have been consistent in how they play and produce their output. The Roots are a hip-hop band, we know this, but they have covered a wide range of styles not only on albums, but in a live setting and on a daily basis being the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s show. This is not a band who came from a random place and said “okay, let’s play with this white guy so we can get some rock credibility”, these are musicians who grew up with a diverse range of music and they’re doing it. A track like “Refuse To Be Played” has Costello and The Roots sounding like Lenny Kravitz and his band, or the work drummer Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson did with Nikka Costa. The keyboard work here is incredible too, anyone who has loved the jazziness of what The Roots have done over the years will eat this up sincerely, at times coming off like Thrust-era Herbie Hancock.
One might ask “do The Roots add a hip-hop vibe to Costello’s work?” Quick answer: no. Costello may do a quick jazzy scat here and there, but don’t expect for him and Black Thought (who isn’t on the album) to spit rhymes back and forth, this is not that type of album. Also, don’t expect Costello to try to be Macklemore, 2 Chainz, or Danny Brown just because he’s jamming with The Roots, this is not that type of album. Wise Up Ghost is an album by a pop/rock artist who has performed with many musicians behind him throughout his career, so consider this like The Roots sitting in at the nightclub, and oh by the way, Costello decided to surprise everyone by joining them. That’s not to say that there aren’t hip-hop influences on here? The drums in “Stick Out Your Tongue” seems like it was influenced by the Ohio Players’ “Funky Worm”, while “Wake Me Up” may be a nice tribute to Dilla and the drum chops created for Q-Tip’s “Let’s Ride”. “Sugar Won’t Work” sounds very much rooted in the sound of New Orleans and The Meters, with guitarist Captain Kirk getting his love of Leo Nocentelli spread all over the place. I love the 3/4 time signature of “(She Might Be A (Grenade)”, where what sounds like a bass clarinet (could be a baritone saxophone) sounds very much like what Herbie Hancock did on Mwandishi and “Ostinato (Suite for Angela)”, while the string arrangement sounds as if it was some unreleased Clare Fischer score from Prince’s Under The Cherry Moon or Lovesexy sessions. Meanwhile, the groove in “Viceroy’s Row” has a nice “People Make The World Go Round” feel to it. In other words, it sounds like ?uestlove was having fun with throwing his musical knowledge out and said “I have some ideas”. To me, that sounds like a DJ at work, making sure there’s balance, consistency, and flow from start to finish so that things sound flawless without anyone falling over, as one of the songs on the album states, a “Tripwire”. The music is brilliant in how it is exexuted, whether you listen to it on the surface or try to piece the puzzle that may or may not be going on.
Costello handles guitar, bass, and keyboards on some of these tracks, along with a melodica in the opening song “Walk Us Uptown”, so if we are to get technical, he really didn’t *need* to bring The Roots in for anything. He could’ve pulled a McCartney and said “hey me, I’m going to make a solo album and I’ll do a human beatbox for drum tracks.”. But he didn’t, he brought in The Roots and what you hear is simply a band who continues to show strength as time goes on, in everything that they do. The solidness of Wise Up Ghost, and how it can sound modern, bright and new at times while also capturing certain vibes of the past, comes not only from the production of Costello and ?uestlove, but also Steven Mandel, who has been an important part of the production equation of The Roots, and he makes sure they sound as good as they can be. Mix that up with someone like ?uestlove who may also have his set of standards, but then add Costello to the mix? I am certain there were a few clashes here and there but they managed to compromise and “wise up” amongst one another, allowing each other to not only create and work, but get to a finished product that would make everyone happy.
I had read a reference elsewhere where someone made the claim there are Costello fans who were complaining how some of Costello’s lyrics were pulled from older songs, so that this new Costello/Roots album featured nothing but hints of rehashes. I’m sorry, but why is it that when Pink Floyd used continuity in their music by reviving bass lines, keyboard riffs, vocal harmonies, and sound effects throughout their entire discography, that’s considered one of the greatest things any rock band could ever do, while Costello possibly doing the same thing is a detriment, or something that may hurt the integrity of his music? Really? Are people saying this because no one ever thought Costello would work with a band like The Roots, or are people blown away that this album is so good that they have to throw in some kind of negative comment just to say there are drawbacks to this listening experience? C’mon folks, consider this a chance to hear Costello get down and funky. I would rather be an artist that is open to collaboration and experimentation than someone who was forced to do what management told me. Costello’s lyrics are as consistent as they have been since “Oliver’s Army”, “Peace, Love & Understanding”, “Accidents Will Happen”, “Every Day I Write The Book”, and “Taking My Life In Your Hands”, and features the same kind of sentimentality, humor, sarcasm, inquisitiveness, adventure, romance, and hope that has always been the constant string throughout his work. The Roots continue to be at the top of their game, and one might say it’s a game with no players in the hip-hop field, but I’m talking all bands across the board, all genres. What would happen if Costello worked with the Dap-Kings, would people then say “oh yes, now this is an official album, this is the album of the year” but with The Roots you’re going to slam them? Bullshit. Complete bullshit. It makes me question if you’re really listening to the music or merely waiting for another comment from someone who you want to gripe with, for the sake of griping. Again: Wise Up Ghost.
Summer Filth Records released the Got A Feeling EP by Los Waves at the top of the month, and now you’re able to view the video for the title track. Their sound is reminiscent of 1980′s soundtrack music, that cross between Survivor and something you might hear on The Karate Kid, but their bio states they utilize “ethnic electronics”. I assumed electronics were devoid of ethnicity and its music a means of being free from those concerns, but maybe Los Waves know something. Now you can know a little more of their something with this.
Broadcast on August 30th, Coldcut created a 2-hour mix for the Solid Steel radio show. This is Parts 1 & 2 and as you can see, it runs for about 50 minutes, which means the second half of this mix should be posted very soon. You may look at the track listing by clicking here and as you’ll see and hear, it goes through everything from Sun Ra to Lee “Scratch” Perry, Yusef Lateef to Art Of Noise, Diana Ross to Tape Beatles, so a lot of adventure and trippiness in this.
This one was a bit tricky, for the homage is not so much in the image, but the lettering. What I saw was the similarity to Neil Young’s handwriting on many of the albums he has released, so the one I initially thought of was his great live album, Time Fades Away.
On the Clan Nugent release, the design of the handwriting is rounded, so I immediately thought of other Young albums, including Tonight’s The Night. I then realized it had a close resemblance to his live album with Crazy Horse, Road Rock Vol. 1, the one that had a great 18 minute version of “Cowgirl In The Sand”. I’m not sure if Cian Nugent & The Cosmos had this in mind when they created their tribute to Ireland for Matador Records’ Singles Going Home Alone series, and maybe it is a stretch but I’m sticking with it.
The music of The Band generally focuses on the greatness of The Last Waltz, and while there have been a small handful of compilations and remasters, there hasn’t been anything as big as The Last Waltz box set, until now.
September 30th is the release date for a 4CD/1DVD box set called Live At The Academy 1971 (The Rock Of Ages Concerts), which looks at the four night stand they had in New York City at The Academy Of Music. The shows featured them with a backing group, including a horn section with arrrangements by Allen Toussaint, and encores that also brought Bob Dylan on stage. These four shows, to be included in their entirety in the box set, became the source material for their album Rock Of Ages, thus the title of the box.
All of the music on the box were mixed from the multi-track tapes by Bob Clearmountain, and marks the first time the full sets from each show have been released, as they were performed. Discs 3 and 4 will consist of soundboard mixes from the shows, which were most likely given to the band to be used as reference tapes before they moved on to create proper mixes for what became Rock Of Ages. The DVD is a 5.1 surround sound mix of some of the material, along with two video clips from the shows.
The box set will also feature a booklet that documents much of what happened at these shows, featuring photographs that weren’t known to exist before. The Band’s Robbie Robertson did some of the liner notes along with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and members of Mumford & Sons.
Tyler Daniel Bean may be an independent artist, but he makes some nice rock’n'roll that sounds ready for the majors. Although I ask would a major label be ready for someone who makes music like him? Only time will tell, but Bean has released Everything You Do Scares Me (Kat Kat/Tor Johnson) as his follow-up to his 2012 album Longing, and if you’re familiar with it, you’ll love what he does here.
With the exception of drums, Bean plays everything heard in the two songs here. “Year Of The Snake” sounds like something that could be rustic in nature, or if you imagine it from a different perspective, this could easily be a punk or emo rock song as well. In other words, I could see this song take on a life of its own if it’s spread around for the song that it is, one that touches on the loss of someone close and wondering if that person still exists.
“I Was Wrong” could be considered a continuation of what was shared in “Year Of The Snack”, as Bean sings about dealing with the death of a loved one for a year but realizing that no amount of time will ever make that loss any easier. The guitar work on this one works as it goes back and forth between simple strums to a brief wall of feedback and while it never loses control, one could sense that it might if it was allowed, to create a sense of confusion and more loss in relation to the lyrics.
(The 45 for Everything You Do Scares Me can be purchased through Bandcamp below or Directly from Kat Kat Records, currently available in three different color variations.)
Grand Olney’s Hypnosis For Happiness has made an album that sounds like a group of friends heading to a house, everyone getting their instruments out to play in the living room or basement, and just allow themselves to take the music where the night allows them to. It’s mellow rock with nice bluesy and country touches, and I found myself comparing the opening track (“Not From Body”) to everything from John Lennon’s “Watching The Wheels” and Neil Young’s “Bandit” to Beck’s “Side Of The Road” for its outdoor feel and woodsiness. Meanwhile, the string section in “Your Own Afterlife” immediately triggers something inside while what sounds like an uncertain adjustment notes on the piano at the 0:30 mark seems quite natural.
The songs here are music for the common woman and man, every day music meant for all and not something that… well, what I was going to say that this is not music that is meant to be stared at as a museum piece, and yet it deserves that type of merit too, it is that worthy. I think my point was to say that while it’s music that shouldn’t be hung up on a wall or put in a box in your closet for a rainy day, I think rainy day music is necessary, and this is one of those albums that will bring a smile to ones face and a twinkle in the eye upon rediscovering it years later.
You may know them for one song and one song only, or maybe you’re a deeper fan and have all of their albums. If so, then you’ll have to add another into the Los Lonely Boys slot, as the Brothers Garza (drummist Ringo, bassist Jojo, and guitarist Henry) are ready to release Revelation (Playing In Traffic Records/MRI). Well, I’m sure they’d like to release it now but you’ll see and hear it in early 2014.
Until then, the band continue to be troubadours of the road. See where they’ll be next:
August 23… Dallas, TX (Kessler) (acoustic/two shows)
August 24… Lubbock, TX (Buffalo Springs Lake Ampitheater)
August 30… Syracuse, NY (NY State Fair)
September 4… Carmel, CA (Sunset Center)
September 5… Madara, CA (District Fair) +
September 6… Pomona, CA (LA Country Fair) +
September 7… Bend, OR (Les Schwab Amphitheatre) +
September 11… Flagstaff, AZ (Orpheum)
September 12… Taos, NM (Solar Center)
September 13… Santa Fe, NM (Boys & Girls Club Benefit)
September 14… Arvada, CO (Arvada Center)
September 17… Las Vegas, NV (Rio Allstar Suites Hotel)
October 12… New Braunfels, TX (Gruene Hall)
October 20-24… Miami, FL (Simple Man Cruise)
November 5-6… Miwaukee, WI (Potawatomi Bingo Casino) @
November 7… Champaign, IL (Virginia Theatre
November 8… St. Charles, IL (Aradia Theatre
November 9… Rochester, MN (TBA)
+ w/ Los Lobos
@ w/ Jonny Lang
If you can’t wait for Revelation just yet, they have released a “lyric video” for one of its songs, “Blame It On Love”.