TITLE: Humingbird Syndicate
Itís hard to keep up with Jon Macey. He has a new group, Hummingbird
Syndicate, which is part of a larger project. He's calling this a culmination
of his career to date.
One of the differences here from previous bands is that he shares songwriting duties with Lynn Shipley. They're modeling themselves like the Brill building songwriters and will record the songs with different line ups.
This new CD which shares its name with the band, Hummingbird Syndicate, is their first effort. It has two songs which are available on vinyl as well as digital forms. They mine the sounds of the sixties. The impeccable recordings match the detail written songs.
Waterfall Away is pure sunshine pop. The opening 12 string guitar line makes you think of the Byrds. The song goes through subtle variations. For the listener itís a treat to catch the different settings; changing vocal line ups and harmonies . Instrumentally the bass carries the song along as the guitars give the texture. In the end Iím reminded of the Buffalo Springfield whose songs went through similar paces. Thereís a lot of writing going on for a three and half minute song.
In I Want You To Stay the drums and bass lead you into the song, then Lynn Shipley takes the lead vocal. Two overlapping guitar lines going on in the solo section is a great idea not often done. At the end of the solo the guitars sit on one note that carries for half a minute with vocals over it until it finally breaks. That feeling of tension and relief gives the song drama. After that there is a section that is double timed. Just some of the ways they make the song go through variations.
Right now we're hearing new bands taking up the psychedelic sound. Jon is right in line with the times on this. Doug Tule is in the same sonic territory. There will be a another full length new CD by Hummingbird Syndicate soon.
This was an ambitious project for John Surette. After a long period of inactivity heís produced a Rock Opera. It has the reach and drama a project like this requires. Part of the opera's story is about a rock band trying to make it big and that allowed John to get the members of the original Boys Life together and record three new songs. One inside joke is that the song Boys Life is actually from a group called Apache and itís from 2007.
From our perch in 2015 we can appreciate Suretteís talents like never before. Itís not just his singing and playing but his real rock persona that raises everything he does here and gives it a stamp of authenticity that makes it avoid that Broadway song feel some of these operas have.
All the songs have strong melodies and lyrics. My favorite is Afraid of Girls which is punky and catchy. There is a little synth work tucked in to fill out and give some atmosphere. Live they added a narration to fill in the storyline and with that I imagine the lyrics would mean even more.
This CD was recorded at David Minehanís
Wooly Mammoth studio and he plays on the CD here and there. If you are still
waiting for new Neighborhoodís material take a listen to Innocence
Lost written by Minehan.
Valerie Forgione shines in her few lead vocals. When you hear Neil Sugarmanís unmistakable sax playing you get nostalgic for those Boys Life days. Neil has gone on to play on some high profile CDís such as Amy Winehouse.
There was a huge snow storm the night of Tomorrow the Worldís premier at the Middle East. There was no rescheduling with the all-star cast. That was a shame. Many people missed it. Maybe some of this excellent material will be played when John gets a new group going. Hope so.
This is where Tony Kaczynski shows everyone how itís done; a double CD that never flags in creativity or energy.
Even before I get the song material I have to note that this CD has been recorded
and mixed to give a hot sound and even balance. It was recorded at Ducky
Carlisleís studio. Carlisle has won a Grammy for engineering and you can
hear that prowess. Itís a big up front sound without being pompous.
Fireking is a trio and all three give equally to the sound that makes it an over the top success. Rather than play a solid body guitar, Tony plays a big hollow body electric that gives the whole CD a distinctive tone. Itís Firekingís signature sound. There is a 70ís era feel to the guitar lines and band sound.
Tony has a full bodied voice and he can do a few things with it. He doesnít do fancy things but has control. He can move a note around to make a sweet melody line that others may not go for, or do a short falsetto. He can wrap his voice around a word, or group of words, and drive them home. For my money Fireking outdoes Elvis Costello on the Tokyo Storm Warning cover and captures Gene Parsonsí So You Say You Lost Your Baby. Tony picks wordy songs maybe because he writes wordy songs.
The main thing for a CD of this length is the songwriting and Kaczynski evidently
has a big pile of material. All songs are well developed and he has plenty to
say. The songs shoot out of the gate and have a momentum that carries them along.
His lyrics are filled with musical references and more, like: Metal Guru, John
Coltrane, Young Marble Giants, Roxy Music, Pale Blue Eyes , Philip K. Dick,
Balaam and the Angel, Sal Mineo, P.F. Sloan, Badfinger, Charlotte Rampling.
Marco Pirroni, Divine etc.
I like how he mentions Elvis Costelloís LP Blood and Chocolate in a song then plays a cover from that LP two songs later. In the song Muffin he weaves a section of Theme from a Summer Place into the accompaniment. In the Contagious halting intro he slips in a small two note fillip that's from The Clashís Should I Stay or Should I Go intro. These are fun things to catch and a sign of the thought that went into all this.
This CD has it all; the sound, the songs and the performance.
A guitarist's first album would most probably be a guitar blow out. This is
not the case with Michael Roy's effort. Eclectricty is foremost
song centric and guitars serve the tunes with solos at a minimum.
Michael has played guitar and sung in Fox Pass from the beginning and that means 1974. I don't know why we get this now but it's a gem. The overall sound and writing reminds me of some of Richard Lloyd's solo work; good examples of this are Wherever You Are and the beginning of In a Well.
Songs are mostly mid-tempo but don't drag because the songwriting
is spot on. The guitar lines also carry the songs along. This can be heard on
slower tunes like The Difference and Taking My Time
where the melody and guitar lines are irresistible.
Roy has a clear voice with no affectations that fit the material and gives it emotion when required.
He's doing some interesting musical things with scales among other things but they are subtle and are not noticeable on a casual listen. There's something going on in Wherever You Are from the beginning but it's not until the solo where he uses an eastern scale that it surfaces to be identified.
I have many favorites: Land of Forgotten Dreams,
Taking My Time, Stop the Rain and Wired in
This has so many good qualities but in the end the best thing is that it's just so listenable.
As time goes on there is less punk and garage around so it's a treat to get the Brigands CD. The Brigands have been doing it garage style for 30 years and you gotta love that but don't get the attention of more known entities. They are a Boston band through and through. They cover songs by other Boston groups and sing about the city in their original lyrics.
They start up with a cover of the Atlantics' Teenage
Flu. They take out some polish and add some grit to make it their own.
They are similarly all over two covers by La Peste, Acid
Test and Spymaster. They just get rocking and let the
song show itself. Looking for Lewis and Clark is recovering a
gem by The Long Ryders a criminally forgotten band now.
Covering Pills by Bo Diddly has been a time honored tradition around here and has always been a way for a band to play a straight ahead no-frills rocker. Brigands give a worthy version. Brand New Cadillac is a zingy update of the rockabilly song by Vince Taylor. They pump up the underlying riff and have a two note ricochet guitar lick that sticks in your head. What's cool is that the riff is in the original but in a passing way Brigands bring it forward and it works.
What works in the covers works in the originals too. They fit in with the covers with equal weight. It's all straight ahead punky power chords with the drums and bass constantly moving to give excitement and variety. The bass especially propels the music along. Listen to the beginning of Night Patrol where the bass holds the interest until the group kicks in. All the originals are rockers, no ballads here. She's Mine is my fave but Jet Setter is right up there too. Let's Rock does what it says but then again they all rock. Ask the Globe brings the local reference to the fore.
Cuts 10 to 16 are a string of originals that make the case for Brigands as a band that should be getting more kudos out there.
The CD abruptly begins like it starts in the middle of a song. Itís swirling along at full energy and you feel off guard like your have to catch up. Itís like you walked late into a club as the band is ripping it up. I think that is a great effect. The song is full of punk attitude. Thereís Sonny but thereís also Rat Scabies, Glen Matlock and Steve Mackay doing their best to blast it out. Thatís quite an intro.
Sonny has a long history but we didnít hear him until we caught him at WMBR. We were fans immediately then. His gigs have been rocking. He also has many recording and if you go through his catalog you hear plenty of good songs which is to say heís no novice and he never does anything half way.
He knows how to write a song so there is always something of interest going on and with this band behind him thereís no way this would miss. Iím not a big lyric guy but Iíve been struck many times in this CD with the pointed lyrics. They are not just placeholders with easy rhymes. Heís expressing emotions that earn the screams he punctuates them with. The songs are not power chord workouts Sonny hits full chords which give things a little more character.
Now That I Have You has that undefinable something
in the combination of writing and playing that gives the overall song a feeling
and sound that give it an identity. I have to fight myself to not put it on
endless repeat and sometimes I donít fight it.
Not the Same is another song that has itís own feeling. Itís a calmer but not calm reflection of heartache. The next two songs Wait and Borders ramps the energy up again. The CD now feels like one of Sonnyís gigs where the songs come left and right and they are all good.
Sidewalk Cracks has flashes of real anger in itís half talking almost beatnik influenced style. Macon also has a sort of beatnik tinged scene at the beginning but then rocks out.
Iím spotlighting bits of songs but the truth is that this is a solid effort where the strengths donít falter, itís 14 worthy songs. As one listens one is struck by the anger and energy in the vocals. Itís not just volume that hits you but that blast of emotion that makes you listen and love this CD.
TITLE: Shake...outta control
GET IT: Ace of Hearts Records
We are tantalizingly close to the release of the Real Kids CD. It looks like it will be available the first week of June which means it will be in time for the June 14th gig at the Middle East.
The EP (see review below) reveals the essentials - a fully
realized Real Kids effort, new songs, great playing, a superb recording
and stand out covers. With the CD you can add refashioned earlier songs. You
can say it's like the EP and you would be right but think of it this way; it
means you have sustained quality over 12 songs.
Often a song will begin with a very simple guitar riff played by John with his characteristic clean snappy tone and you greet it like an old friend. This is The Real Kids experience pure and simple. Somehow even with all the rock you could ever want to hear, this is the stuff we desire.
Rick said they talked about making this like a follow up to the first Red Star LP and that's a great way to look at it. It does fit that idea with some extra bits. Fly Into The Mystery, Common At Noon and Who Needs You have a bitter sweet/weary tone that requires some life experience to give them the gravitas that make them work.
All Night Boppin' is a fifties style rocker
that gives another dimension to this song collection. Real Kids roots
go way back. This is an upbeat lead in to the redone Common At Noon
which along with Who Needs You is like a coda to the preceding
Common At Noon, the second to last cut, is done in a slow tempo and is very moody. Who Needs You starts where Common At Noon leaves off. Picking up the mood with light mandolin. But soon the volume increases and the song gets noisy and ends with a distorted guitar solo. Going from the contemplative mode and being lead into the rockin' mode and ending with a big punch is one nice trick.
I would say that this fulfilled all expectations but I don't think anyone expected anything as good as this.
It takes a nano second after the needle hitting the groove of She Don't Take
It to realize that this is primo Real Kids material. It has a simple
riff that Felice rocks the way that only he can. This is not just a song this
is a return to form for John and a gift for us rabid Real Kids fans.
It was a long road to this and a lot of work getting it recorded. This EP has
the combination of Felice composing and playing and Rick Harte recording prowess
going for it, in many ways that's all you have to hear to want to have it.
But back to the song, a Felice origingal; it rocks hard and has lyrics with a harsh tone, "I don't give my baby no shit. My baby, she don't stand for it. " it begins. It has wailing harmonica through it. It has a big garage influence. In the end the band ascends chromatically before landing on the final chord for a crowning finish.
There's three more songs but really for me this is even enough. It's something we wished for and didn't think would happen. It is new and quality Real Kids material in 2014. Wow.
John then picks Fly Into The Mystery by Jonathan
Richman. The local references must mean a lot to John. The tempo is slow
but the drums and bass are strong. There's no wimp factor here. In the solo
the guitar is an overdriven feedback animal. It's as if he is saying that when
and if he is flying into that mystery he's not flying quietly.
Side two starts with another Felice original called Got It Made. This is pop tune with a 12 string jangle. What a beauty. I wish Greg Shaw could have heard this. He would have been ecstatic. My main thought is - I gotta hear this live.
Then it's a lively bopper She's Got Everything a cover of a Kinks song. A simple riff drives through several changes rocking this way and that. It's garage rock heaven. The final chords modulate to some unlikely key which is straight from the original Kinks version that still stops you in your tracks if the rest of the song hasn't.
Back in 1975 we were
trying to get an alternative to the soft bland version of what rock had become.
The Real Kids among others gave us what we were looking for. Even with
all the music available to us now this Real Kids rock is still what satisfies.
This is a limited/numbered pressing. Get it at Ace of Hearts.
And this is just 4 songs from the CD which has more of the same. Can you wait? I couldn't.
Somehow Kenne Highland came in contact with these Italian
garage punkers. (There is another band called Sonic Daze from Maryland,
so do not confuse.) They started as a DMZ cover band four years ago and still
cover The First Time is the Best Time and have a
video of Mighty Idy.
Indeed the CD is a healthy dose of fast tempo garage punk and you can hear some DMZ in there amidst plenty of other group influences. The recording which is all analog sounds big and full of energy. They have managed to capture some of that early punk spirit in the song writing and recording.
I found repeated listenings rewarding by catching more of the details of this nice effort.
It's been a long time since Limbo Race won the Rumble. It was a welcome surprise to see Randy up on stage again. Randy still gives out what he did back then: good songwriting, good playing and that certain extra layer of passion that earmarks his style.
That's all on this CD. It's not flash or production trickery that gets your attention it's the peak into the window of our deeper selves that hits you time and again as you listen. This is music with an adult point of view.
One song title is called Simple Things but I think it's basic things he sings about that are anything except simple. The music is played by a three piece with a few quest vocalists (Linda Viens and Gabrielle Agachiko).
Randy matches words and music and makes the perfect join and that produces those hooks you just cannot deny. That is first class songwriting and he does it often.
I was going to list favorite songs but I would be listing
almost every song, Randy is very consistent, but I have to mention Trying.
Its lyrics delineate a city neighborhood scene that has a gritty verisimilitude
and attains a unique moody noir tone.
Live Randy has even more songs of this ilk. He also is adding instruments to the mix. It all bodes that he is in for the long hall. A very welcome return.
Like a Ford truck Pop Gun is solid and dependable and screams America. The rap on this group is that they sound very seventies-like and that is true, but somehow they sound just great now. I'm a punk guy but they won me over.
No One Knows received local radio play and when I
hear "she wants red roses" from that tune I get a tug of welcome recognition
and realize that their songwriting has the ability to cut through the tons of
other songs out there. That's gold.
They have the American flag on the cover and one song is entitled American Soul that talks about the status quo in the nation. I like that as a focus. In Restless they kick up the energy a notch and coupled with effective lyrics make it a standout.
If you are going to do the 70's thing why not do it great?
That's what they accomplish with Love and Wine which sounds like a 70's
hit maybe by Blues Image. It's a perfect 70's power ballad. For my money
it's the highlight of the CD and deserves airplay in a just rocking world. Don't
Ever Wanna Lose Ya is another power ballad not that far below that.
There's lots of finesse in the lyrics, singing and music if you listen attentively and the more you listen the more you find to like.
Available via Bandcamp - Pop Gun.
The first song, Female Trouble from the John Water's movie, is a perfect introduction to James Straight and the Wide Stance. It tells you right off the bat what they are dealing with: a dose of trash culture, a skewered look at society, some smart fun and always rocking music. They have gained a reputation with their live show. The good news is that the CD captures many of the live elements.
The Future of Love is one of my favorite songs here. It sounds like it must be a cover tune with its catchy riff and the bands solid performance. It has the easy air of a something they picked up somewhere else. Crazy For You is a simple progression they have fun with. I think that a minute shorter and it would leave you wanting more. It shows you what they do with just a few simple elements.
Wide Stance is their signature song dealing with the Larry Craig incident.
One of my complaints when I leave a show, even by a group I like, is the lack of memorable tunes. James Straight and the Wide Stance doesn't have this problem. Every song they have has a hook and a distinctive personality. I've highlighted a few here but everyone is a rewarding listen.
Joe Fagan's guitar always steals the show. His hallmark
is a short catchy phrase etched with a rusty corrosive tone. It's a never failing
formula. I see guitarists with thousand dollar guitars they can't tune, Joe
takes a cheap knockoff and creates memorable riffs left and right.
Aut Powell on bass and Laurel Blanchard on drums are one the best rhythm sections in town but alas this raw recording doesn't capture their full power. I don't know why, the mix? It's best to turn it up (never a bad idea anyway) and they can be heard a bit better.
This mash up of low culture and excellent song writing is the great CD we hoped we would get every time we heard them play live.
There's a new single out called My Lesbian Friend
by expatriate Johnny Angel or Johnny Angel Wendall, I guess it is official now. I heard the song on the LRC
on WMBR and Johnny Angel directed us to his Bandcamp
That's the way you find out about things now (says grandpa) not by seeing it in the record store.
Johnny's CD called IT! of a year ago was a success showing sharp playing and song writing. This is a much more lose affair and much more fun. The song begins with a siren like riff to get your attention and then the chunky chords roll along as you catch some very funny lyrics about the ins and outs (or not) of having a lesbian friend. Overall it sounds like a late seventies pop song (which I love) with a dash of Lou Reed maybe and other stuff.
Vamanos A Panama puts a Tex Mex twist to the proceedings. It sounds like he had a ball writing and performing these things. Along with last year's CD Johnny proves he got the chops to continue with a lot a quality music.
You can get this via the Bandcamp page Ömaybe not the record storeÖany more.
Sounding no worse for the gap of time Big Dipper comes out with a typical Big Dipper album. Maybe it's a little less unkemptÖmaybe. The songwriting and playing are all on par with their former releases. One change is that Steve Michener has been replaced by Tom Brewitt on bass.
I love their quirky charms that they still show. The most obvious being the deceptively plain lyrics that stand out and stick in your mind. Some of the lyrics shouldn't be in any rock song but somehow they make it work. Like a chorus that repeats "I'll never forget the chef", that should be laugh inducing but it rather successfully invokes a place and experience. I would have liked a lyric sheet to get into the words more.
Robert Pollard is a salute to songwriters. It's Big Dipper's version of Alex Chilton but much more. It's also self-referential with the second verse being a chide to Waleik himself and his songwriting. It's funny, charming and thoughtful.
Thankfully the unique vocal quality they have especially on the choruses is still intact, you know that yearning sort of nerdy tone . That's when you feel how much you have missed these local indy music faves.
This is a rewarding gift for all fans and a reminder of how neat indy music could and can be.
The first four rolling chords on this CD are what we love about punk/garage reduced to its minimum. The rest of the CD expands it but not too much of course. Triple Thick keeps everything to a minimum but they are hardworking and put out the product on a regular basis.
This CD is more of the same thing they always put out but listening to it I would say it's the best yet but maybe if I listened to an older one I would think THAT was the best. Heck, they are all good.
That first song Down the Road is a modern garage classic and like many other songs here invite comparisons to any 60's version of your choice. She Brings the Booze - that title is so good it doesn't even matter what the song is (but it is good).
All Banged Up and Made It Up are two more faves.
If you are a Boston Punk fan for any years and are still around you should be making it a point to see Triple Thick live and pick up a few of their CD's while you are at it.
In quality and quantity Jon Macey has already left his competition way behind. Intention continues that trend.
Jon puts the straight rock beside and accents more subtle sounds. This is more of a chamber music sort of affair. It feels very acoustic although there are electric guitars used for color.
The very first words are I'm outdated/ Seems like I'm fated. This signals the lyrics that follow which are mature and deal with adult issues. We (those who started with punk in 1976) are faced with these issues as we now see things through older eyes. It's appropriate that we get material like this.
To me Paris Street is the center of the CD. Seeing a girl walk down Paris Street in the morning represents destiny and choice. Jon uses tubular bells to ring a symbolic tolling of time (a lifetime) going by. The girl is gone at sunset and the singer remains having missed or rejected his possible destiny. It's very effective. The rest of the material deals with similar themes.
Words like intimate, calm, warm, detailed and contemplating mark both the sound and the recording and , what a surprise, this was recorded at Woolly Mammoth. I hear Woolly Mammoth, I'm expecting loud and visceral. It seems like David Minehan can use a scalpel as well as a sledge hammer.
This is the perfect CD for a moody day or night. It has a seamless tone from beginning to end.
After a hiatus The Ducky Boys come back with a generous 17 song CD. The first song New Chapter acts as Mark Lind's declaration of independence. The lyrics state he wants to wipe the slate clean and tear down the walls and that sort of freedom does hover over the CD.
There are a lot of words hence a lot of singing. Others say and I will too that the vocals have some Axel Rose in them.
There are elements of the mainstream added to a punky background. The instruments say punk the singing says mainstream. It's in a nice spot in that sense. That should appeal to a wide audience, although I maybe have no idea what a wide audience wants these days.
My favorite song is I Guess I'm Broken where a I'm Not Your Stepping Stone sort of ascending chords drives a confessional lyric showing some real emotion.
Cure Me is a strong tune with the memorable chorus "Won't you kill me? Or won't you cure me. Anyone?"
Feeling Alive has a faint country and western feel to it. Medicine the next song has even stronger C+W elements. Both songs are enhanced with the world weary lyrics. These songs certainly tear down a wall or two and help put some real variety in the CD.
Multiple listens open up the CD and I find more and more to like.
After hearing them rock the house live and then putting out this long CD I can't imagine why they even faltered for a minute. The Ducky Boys have a lot of music in them to keep going.
Punk is out the window with Johnny Angel it seems and maybe that's not a bad thing. On IT!! Johnny fits his songs into a county style and they sound very comfortable there. This is country with a rock sensibility like the Byrds or Poco. The songwriting is notable. This is no rush job the songs have great melodies and plenty of twists and codas with full arrangements. The whole CD has a wonderful feel to it. The mix is clean, you hear every instrument and every lyric. I love the guitar sound. Scott Gilman did some great work on the production along with Johnny. The playing is perfect for the material with a special nod to Boo Burns on pedal steel guitar.
Crazy Eyes is a strong opener. Three songs have Boston references. September in New England has Johnny pining for his old stomping grounds. I love Do I Ever Cross Your Mind which is the poppiest song. It's almost in the Raspberry's range. Oh, for a CD full of similar stuff!
Johnny was right to do this project. It was time for something new and it solidifies his songwriting reputation. It also opens up a whole new world where he can progress.
The first time I heard Thee Cuban Heels the songs made me feel I was in a different place and time - like to some small bar in the southwest circa 1964, then maybe a dance in a rented hall in 1967.
Not something I was expecting out of JJ Rassler of DMZ fame but as I have found out JJ's roots go back far and he's picked up lots on the way.
This is old school stuff. Guitars are clean and the playing is nuanced and controlled.
As if to lull you the opening riff of the CD could be one from DMZ or The Downbeat 5 but the next song generates from a place further back than that. Then the influences pile up - The MG's, Tex Mex, Country, Swamp Rock, Soul, English Invasion etc. It has all that and more and still manages not to sound patchy or inconsistent.
If you don't know the songs it's difficult to tell the 6 covers (from the 1960's) from the 8 originals. Number One and Tiger Beat are impossibly genuine in evoking a past state of music making.
It's all a lot of fun as is the group live. This is fine accomplishment for the group, it sounds great on the radio and it's another notch in JJ's belt.
The short story is - some solid stuff by some long time local musicians.
The roll call on this is - Rayboy (The Atlantics and Primary Colors), Billy Connors (The Boize), Gary Soprano (Third Rail), Scott Baerenwald (Reddy Teddy and Robin Lane) with help from Rick Coraccio (Lyres, The Only Ones) and Billy Loosigian (The Boom Boom Band).
This was recorded at Rayboy's studio which put out both rap in the early days and quality rock in the later part. Now the studio is moved with Ray to Cincinnati. Like all the other Butta Beat Studio rock releases the recording and mix is thick and punchy.
The Boize was one of Boston's earliest punk groups. They quit early and then surprised us all when they got together a few years ago and I was blown away with the new songs Billy Connors was writing. This group gives him a chance for even more songs.
He still writes things in the garage vein.
Nothing's Gonna Change is tailor written for Scott;it fits him like a glove, and what a wonderful voice Scott has. More Than Desire also sung by Scott is a highlight.
I didn't know he wrote Ecstasy with the Paleys. He includes that song here as well as one written with Mathew MacKenzie.
I wish everyone could hear Fed Up. This is an updating of My Generation that is an unflinching look at our generation's short comings. We need more of this. It's a template for the grown up rock we want.
This may be their best recorded CD.
The Mires have always had bare bones recording habits. It seems like they just want to get it done and leave, but here every extra track they throw in works wonders.
They have descending chimes during I Don't Need a Reason that show how a little production adds to the magic. The backing vocals mixed cleanly to one side during a few songs are another instance. I think it's time for a full CD done with elaborate arrangements - just a suggestion.
The Mires have a nice amount of CD's which translates to a lot of songs written mainly by Evan Shore and there is no sense of them slowing down.
This DMZ session was recorded at WMBR in 1976. It never ceases to amaze me how raw DMZ was at this time when radio and the whole rock world was so milquetoast. It took balls to get out there and pound it out like this.
There is other live DMZ material out there but this is a good addition. The recording is as rough and sharp as the performance. We get to hear some covers that aren't as obscure as usual, like Til' The End of the Day (Kinks), Glad All Over (Dave Clark 5) and Heart of Stone (Rolling Stones). Heart of Stone is just a little too out of tune to digest, the rest of the set is a treat.
Now that's the first 12 songs then they give you 13 more songs from the Lyres in 1982 recorded at Cantones. Nice to hear live Lyres but I find myself running to the studio recordings; they just can't be beat.
25 songs that we heard many times back in the day and that were the building blocks of the Boston punk sound.
This is a Beatles tribute from the Lowbudget Records' people. There is a wide variety of styles here.
I've been captivated by everything Tim Casey (Doctor X ) has done lately. Here he does Across the Universe in his synth centric way with great success. Bird Mancini gets the feeling right in Don't Let Me Down. Allen Abate gives She's Leaving Home a guitar symphony as a back drop. It's heavy sounding yet the emotion of the song stays intact.
One big surprise is T Max's version of No Reply which becomes the aural equivalent of a Sergio Leonie western. It sounds like he smoked a pack an hour to get his voice in shape.
Clara Kebabian does a great job on Blue Jay Way a song you might not expect as is Chuck U tackling Revolution #9. What a project that is to take on. Some Lennon drop ins add to the interest as he gets 7 minutes of aural collage that hold the attention, not a small thing at this point.
They drag some songs through some genres and styles that I don't always go along with but the playing is always first rate and show off the strengths of these locals. There's not a lot of rockin': it's ballads and more quiet songs.
This is a nice local project and is of interest to anyone who knows the groups and musicians. Oh ya, Pastiche is on here too!
There are precious few bands that can serve up to their fans what Fox Pass can. New and old songs, pop and rock songs, years of yeoman service, innovative ideas and of course more and more new CD's of material.
On this new CD most songs are new but they also have picked songs from other periods of their long history (Intemporal i.e. - out of, or regardless of, time.) It's wonderful to finally have It's Rock and Amtrak in a recorded form after hearing them live since Öwhat? 1976?
This is not because they are short of songs, no way. There are plenty of new songs here and they are detailed in the writing and recording. There are 17 songs in all. The creative flow of this band is cresting the banks.
There are a half dozen twelve string ringing pop gems that are as good as anything anybody else in the pop world is putting out. Most bands would be lucky to accomplish what are on the first 5 cuts alone.
The Sacred Mountain is Falling is a different beast for Fox Pass. It's a nine minute introspective piece carried on by a raga drone feeling rather than a strong beat. Guitarist Michael Roy hits the perfect tone as he always does and enhances the atmosphere. It sustains interest and mood for its whole nine minutes: a beauty.
Fox Pass shows their roots with Ticking of the Clock which reeks of Lou Reed.
The Fox Pass story continues.
After resurfacing and writing a few books Johnny Barnes comes back again this time with an CD of 13 Willie Dixon songs. This is fine pack of rock blues right in line with old Boston albums by The Colwell Winfield Blues Band and James Montgomery.
The backing musicians are top notch including the man himself, James Montgomery, on harmonica. Joe Pet on drums is a standout. Barnes makes his guitar snarl, squeal and sustain its way though these tunes with the same tone he had back in the day. The recording is sharp and the mix is full.
Most of these songs are well trodden but the level of performance keeps it interesting and the playing is full of energy, it never gets dull. Even the songs done as covers via Beck and Zeppelin are stamped with personality. A simple two note horn fillip individualizes I Can't Quit You, Baby for instance.
If you like this style of blues, and I do, then this is all kick ass ear candy. I listened to this for days. I just couldn't get it out of the CD player.
TITLE: Murder, Death and Prison
ON: Lude Boy Records
BUY AT: http://www.ludeboyrecords.com/
16 songs about Murder, Death and Prison - now that sounds like a pleasant listening experience; most of this CD is earthy and sobering and done with just acoustic guitar and voice but some use a light touch and humor.
We have four locals on this.
First is Jeff Crane of Classic Ruins (who has other side projects one in France). He delivers a noir-ish mystery with some vivid images called Rumour in the Town. It has Zep's Gallows Pole feel to it.
Lenny and the Poor Boys have a tale of Two Robbers (from their self titled CD) performed with an easy beat and singing steel guitar. It's nicely done and a standout.
Mark Lind of the Ducky Boys puts himself in the mind of a killer in the No Name Song and delivers a powerful portrait.
And talk of standouts, they picked Frank Rowe's effort to wrap up the CD and they were right to do so. It's a hilarious story called Baby's First Murder Song. Franks swears it's true or "that it might have happened somewhere." It involves the murder of a stenographer who wouldn't keep quiet. We need more new Rowe material.
This was a good idea and ended up as an excellent collection. This CD is a look at the dark side of people and as Frank Rowe says, "You can learn from this lesson or not as is your will."
BAND:The Nervous Eaters
TITLE: The Nervous Eaters
GET IT: Wounded Bird Records
When the Nervous Eaters played Dodge Street in 2003 Steve Cataldo took the chance to apologize to everyone there and not there for their first LP. Now, here it is; re-released on Wounded Bird Records.
You had to be around to know how disappointed and yes, mad people were about this. In 1977 the Eaters were not just dirty, they were lyrically obscene and they had a bad ass attitude all around. Then you get the album and Cataldo is singing romantic songs in a falsetto. People felt cheated.
Me, I sort of liked what it was, so I'm not being revisionist by pointing out the good things here, although I was as shocked as anyone when it came out.
It's not just that the songs are mostly pre-punk style, heck they are pre-Beatles throw backs. There's a lot of Stax influences not hard to peg with Steve Cropper on No Time. I like the romantic yearning in that song and several others. All Except You captures teenage romance. In it Steve talks about having a party and getting a band and "they play rock and roll. We might even get them to play a Stroll". That's late 1950's talk people.
They also recorded some of the live favorites we expected :Loretta, Get Stuffed, Girl Next Door, and Last Chance All sound good, better than they got credit for back in the day. All through it is great playing (Nicky Hopkins is on this!) and wonderful vocals by Steve Cataldo.
The problem then and now is you have get by the dual personality disorder inherent in the thing to appreciate the music but it's time to get over the shock. No one should have to apologize for something of this quality.
TITLE: Outside of Time
ON: Rave Up Records
BUY AT: http://www.raveuprecords.com/
When I saw this I thought it must be a re-release of their 1982 LP on Star Rhythm but itís not. Included here are the 3 tracks from the Elliot Easton EP (The two rockers sound as sharp as the day they were made and Paper Moon is that uniquely punk/romantic beauty.). Then there are 4 studio tracks and 6 tracks from a WERS Metrowave show both from 1988.
There are liner notes from Brother Cleve who played with them in their 1988 incarnation. In 1980 The Dawgs were the young upstarts injecting some fresh energy into the club scene. They made their mark and many fans with their Chuck Berry driven material. They split up and reformed in 1988 and most of the material on this LP comes from that period.
Brother Cleve plays the keyboards and does his usual excellent job. The material is more roots originating than before. They excelled in establishing a deep groove that carries the song along. The swampy Love on the Levee is a standout in that fashion. Jackís on Drugs is one of the standout rockers. Phil Haynen wrote all the material and there are no clunkers. The recording quality is good.
Dawgs fans have to get this. If you are a Boston music fan and havenít plugged into the Dawgs this would be a good time to seek them out and give them a listen.
http://www.raveuprecords.com/ is the Italian site that released the LP ( This is vinyl not a CD). They also have The Future Dads and Native Tongue LPís. I got it at www.bompstore.com.
BAND:The Whore Moans
TITLE: Hello From the Radio Wasteland!
GET IT: www.mtfujirecords.com/
The refreshing thing about The Whore Moans is that they're not trying to be punk. They donít chunk out power chords that limit the group sound. They mine some pre-punk influences and come up with some different twists.
As a Ďfor instanceí, letís look at the third song on the CD. Fingers and Martyrs starts heavy then snaps into a melodious chorus (real catchy) then to some yelling, next a metal influenced instrumental that leads to an unusual male chorus tapering into a soaring womanís voice, more yelling, more chorus and finally a quiet coda of violins and cellos. Thatís a lot of changes for one song.
Not every song is so complicated many are straight forward, but itís obvious that some good work went into the music and lyrics.
In Rise and Shine they quote Be My Baby at the beginning and do a verse of it in the middle of the song.
They make a big state of the union comment with Here Comes America .
Dead Manís Drink is a sea chantey.
They end the CD with an acoustic song.
Live, they come over as a good time party band but this worthy CD shows a depth that could give them a long career.
ON: Low Budget Records
BUY AT: Low Budget Records
This CD marks another chapter in Mr. Curt's long and interesting Boston music story. At this point he has picked up the threads of Pastiche and produced a fine effort. Mr. Curt is a great team player and has worked with too many people to name here but his work with Ken Scales was a highlight. Ken brings his own brand of drama to all his recorded and stage efforts.
Well, they still bring the magic to their co-written songs (along with band mate Ron Marinick) and that's what I was looking for. A moody atmosphere colors and unites the CD and makes it perfect for repeat listenings. Songs alternate with minute synth interludes. The overall sound is keyboard/synthesizer. Even in the 80's Pastiche songs were a more finished product than most and that inclination is further enhanced by the good work they did in the studios here.
My three favorite cuts were recorded at Ray Boy Fernandes' studio in Everett. Ray made a host of bands sound good on his History of Boston Rock (reviewed below). If I were in a band I'd head there.
Members of LowBudgetRecords further helped this effort especially Doctor X (Tim Casey). There is a lot of creative energy and interesting projects coming out of Low Budget Records.
Mr. Curt hints that more Pastiche CD's may happen and that's a welcome thought. This is quality stuff.
TITLE: Lake Winnipesaukee
GET IT: www.triplethick.com/
You have to love Triple Thick. They are a reliable, hard gigging garage band. It seems like a simple thing to do but it's just that they make it look simple. Just like this CD. It is simple but it's not simplistic. They know what to leave out to make it simple.
They get a good riff going in a solid groove then make sure there is a hook in there somewhere and that's it. One of the tricks - don't milk it!
If a song goes more than 2 minutes, then it's an epic.
As for lyrics, there are times when the song title is 80 percent of the lyrics, but there is always just enough content to make the song distinct.
You can tell they have learned their trade by studying their predecessors from the covers they play live and on the CD. Here they cover two garage obscurities but I don't think they're any better than their originals. They also throw in a left curve with a Townes Van Zandt song.
You got to laugh when they title their surf instrumental Lake Winnipesaukee - a lake that can't get a ripple up never mind a wave.
Forget the trendy pretenders and get the real deal here.
TITLE: Ruling the World From the Backseat - A Tribute to Unnatural Axe
ON: Lawless Records
TO GET: Email - The Unnatural Axe
There's 28 cuts, 27 bands, 12 songs and lots to like on this well packaged tribute LPÖyes LP - vinyl, the only real rock and roll format. Although, it does come with info on a free download for the digital devotees.
After 30 years together (mostly) the band who hardly ever toured and who have had infrequent releases but who have always been great live and who are beloved local personalities gets some attention.
Some of the songs get multiple versions and I liked that. I came to appreciate Summertime a lot more by hearing the variations like The Dogmatics who recapture that city-in-the-summer feel and the Sleazies who rock it up solid.
Some groups like The Classic Ruins/The Mighty Mighty Bosstones/Sater/Highschool Lockers should keep these Axe songs in their repertoire.
Also on the LP are the Neighborhoods, Mission of Burma, The Bags, Jerry's Kids and The Queers among others, based on that alone you want this.
It's also a limited pressing of 500 on swirling colored vinyl with different pictures on every label. Get the idea it's collectable?
TITLE: The 2X4's
Bridgeport Lathe was a completely original oddity back in 1979 and it remains so. Itís a great piece of songwriting in a nerd-machine-fetish genre of which The 2X4ís were the only adherents.
This was all the brainchild of John Hovorka who went on to fame in The Turbines and continues playing today as The Dawn of Mechanized Farming. His label is Metal Snowball Records and this CD can be bought there.
The CD has the single Bridgeport Lathe/Little Cities along with the complete 2x4ís studio output (15 songs). It all has those jerky art rock rhythms and Johnís distinctive voice. Fight Fire With Fire stands out with its bouncy beat, catchy tune and machine shop lyrics that even mention OSHA.
The 2x4ís were a unique self contained musical event and itís nice to see it in perspective even if itís 28 years later.
TITLE: Loud and Clear
ON: Winged Rose Records
BUY AT: CD Baby
The first Reddy Teddy LP was recorded in 1976; thirty eight years later we get a CD on which the first song, Modern Man, sounds like it could fit on that first LP; to quote Reddy Teddy "Ooh-Wow!"
There is one big difference; Modern Man is recorded much better. There is more punch to it and when you hear Morse and his buddies harmonize the chorus you will wonder how they could do it. Then as the CD goes on you'll find they continue the same magic all the way through. You are hit time and time again with the familiar touches, phrasing, and tonalities that are Reddy Teddy. It's a wonderful thing for us fans, you have to pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming.
Their three songwriters; Lock, von Rosenvinge and Baerenwald, write songs that fit seamlessly in the Reddy Teddy canon and the band never fail to deliver the goods, which is no surprise if you have seen them live. Of course it's John Morse's voice that brings it all home time and time again. Listen to his voice give a romantic resonance to Helpless Eyes, this is one of Boston's great talents.
They recorded Jerry Lee Lewis's Breathless which is a favorite live and brings up the point that they can cover a fifties song without any irony. They have influences there.
Is She The One, a Jeff Lock composition, is one of the catchiest Beatlesque ditties anyone has ever written. Pure ear candy. Like the first LP this one has Willie Loco helping on keyboards. Eric Lindgren also plays on the album and the CD was all recorded at his studio.
It's hard to put a new CD by a band who started in 1972 in perspective. They started out in the pre-punk era and dozens of trends and fashions have come and gone. From the beginning they have been very confident in their talent and showmanship. To quote the 1976 Reddy Teddy again, "The kids' got class, it's always gonna last."
BAND:The Radio Knives
TITLE: Hello Hell
ON: Self Released
When I have the misfortune to hear a pretentious band or two at some club then I feel the need to clean my palate with some straight punk. At that time my mind goes toward Triple Thick or these guys. They always give a solid no bullshit performance that satisfies and that's what they do here.
It's all very Kiss sounding in all the good ways. On You Got Me they have Ellie Vee of the Charms doing a guest vocal and that makes it a cut above the rest and if I was a DJ I'd be playing that cut. The longest cut (4:18) Set It on Fire and the next cut Harder show you how they work their chord riffs into some nice rocking party music and give you an idea of how they work it live.
Their web site is www.theradioknives.com
TITLE: The Scars
ON: Self Released
These guys didn't bother to reinvent the wheel. The overall sound is a familiar punk one but they stay sharp and simple and pull out a very appealing effort. The lyrics are about friends, home, drink, and the music. They do have a song about war called God Bless the USA. In the sixties rock took on the war, it's nice to see it being done again.
I find myself being drawn in by the singers' rough and trustful voice and giving this CD multiple listens.
The instruments are loud yet crisp. This is another good recording from Stoughton's Outpost.
BAND:The Prime Movers
TITLE: Back in Line
ON: Self Released
This CD marked the reemergence of the Prime Movers after a decade of inactivity. They say it's the album they should have put out back then and they are right. After hearing it it's hard to see how they could have missed, they command this garage/Mod ground and never make a misstep.
They power straight ahead through the tunes using just enough production to make it interesting. My fave is King of the World which has a touch of trumpet in it. The CD ends with the best of them all, the wailing, stomping - Where It's At. This is self released and if you don't get it soon you will have missed out again. Right now try Newbury Comics.
TITLE: History of Boston Rock - Here and Now
There is an uber-story here and it's about Rayboy Fernandes. Rayboy did a legendary stint as drummer for the Atlantics, later he reinvented himself running a studio and producing rap acts and did very well there too. As the rap acts died down he was talking around town about getting back into rock and here this is. He corralled some 16 local rock acts (some via the Noise Board) and got then into his studio for one song each. So, we get to hear some current groups and see how Rayboy can record and produce them.
Turns out itís all good news. The groups are mainly a cross section of hard working acts who gig regularly and are very good and Rayboy does a great production job. This is a kick ass collection. One thing a like about the whole collection is the vocal levels which are spot on and the mix is thick but crisp. Nice job by the Rayboy.
The first 5 songs out of the gate are all good rockers that set the standard (by Noble Rot, The Tenafly Vipers, The New Frustrations, Egoscene, and the Acro-Brats) and are worthy of multiple listens right off the bat.
Then a song in a pop vein by Mercy James Gang for a change up and the traditional tune Drunken Sailor by Three Day Threshold were they shine and show why they deserve the attention they get.
Two live groups I love come next The Doom Buggies and Girl On Top. Girl on Top does Superman a nicely arranged effort that is so well developed that it sounds like a cover song, and oh so catchy.
Nikki Core has a great persona and scores with a Quatro/Jett syle rocker (with Rayboy on drums, never a bad thing.)
The McGunks' Whiskey in a Bottle is a winner; a staggering, lilting, sing-a-long to heavy drinking and the curb you end up sleeping in. Zippo Raid does something similar with At The Bar punctuated with Oi, Oi, Oi.
Oh my god, what a great offensive song Nothing gets off called Woo Dog. It's a dirty, nasty, puerile ditty about Massholes that I listen to with glee but maybe it's too much for you? But try.
Over the Edge, Rock City Crimewave and The Illegals put in good rockers on par with everything here. Indeed there is a standard that no one goes below, which is Rayboy the producer cracking the whip Iím sure.
This is a good snapshot of the scene now and in that way would be good for out of towners who want to know what we are listening to around Boston these days. Plenty of songs for airplay too, I hope you DJís get on this. If youíre a group looking for a studio give this a listen. Rayboy the producer is back rockin' and recording.
ON: Actuallity Records, 2006
30 years into this game of Boston Punk Survivor and Fox Pass Outlasts, Outplays, and Outwrites the competition. 2006 and we finally get the first Fox Pass album and it is a sweet success. They have released a generous heaping of pop tunes; ringing 12 strings throughout.
Punk you can power-house through and come off just fine, pop music however, requires a few tricks. Macey and crew have the chest of chords, lyrics and musical twists that good pop needs. At alternate times during a song. I'm captured by a melody, a guitar riff, a lyric or the sound of the instruments: it's an embarrassment of riches
Child's Play is so good I keep playing it over and over and never getting to the rest of the CD. The song signals the CD's strengths: group vocals, clean ringing guitar tones, strong melody, and solidly written material.
Hit or Miss has this over the top lyric treat.:
Is like this,
The cold kiss
From your lips
Hit or miss.
Michael Roy tops of Hit or Miss with an exiting solo with a gritty tone that almost steals the song.
If you can resist the 12 sting intro to Saturday Girl you're a better person than I. I get pulled in and pine for that Saturday girl myself. The song is a real highlight both here and played live.
Other favorites are Here Comes the Karma and You Don't' Know Me.
It is gratifying to see the CD getting attention from places like Kool Kat Musik and Not Lame which are outlets for current pop. It proves that Fox Pass fit in just fine in 2006. How amazing is that? Full of talent and a real work ethic it's going to be fun to see where they are going.
BAND:THE NERVOUS RETURN
TITLE: Wake Up Dead
ON: Salle Records 2004
A prolific quartet out of LA. This is the follow-up to their debut album Headshots,
the cover of which was a "headshot" of a young lady aiming a pistol into her
The music on Wake Up Dead is more rock than rock'n'roll. The jangling electric guitars and stacked vocals by Jason Muller (guitar) and Anthony Crouse (bass) remind me of David Bowie's experimental Tin Machine. Modern euro-influenced rock.
Shane Gallagher on guitar and Greg Gordon on drums are on the money as is the entire production, credited to the band. These guys have returned to the studio already with producer Joe Barresi (Queens of the Stone Age, Weezer).
Apparently they have a nice buzz going on in SoCal. Still, after multiple listenings this one doesn't really rock me. I think I gotta check them out live.
Picks to Click: Red Camaro, Dramahead
Cowboy Score: 680
BAND: The Adolescents
TITLE: OC CONFIDENTIAL
ON: Finger Records
This album rocks like crazy. Our editor sent this one to me just before I
left for my traditional Christmas trip to Malibu. I cranked it up everytime
I cruised up the PCH.
This Southern Cal quartet features ex-members of Social Distortion and Agent Orange. Singer, lyricist Tony Reflex delivers on 13 skatepark approved rockers. Dig the opening line of title track OC Confidential: "I grew up in Orange County in the shadow of a mouse".
Ripping punk guitar and bass work from Frank Agnew and Steve Soto support Reflex's big hooks and melodies. I found it impossible to resist singing along to "California Son". Produced and engineered by the Adolescent's drummer Derek O'Brien in his Glendale studio.
Picks to click: Lockdown America, California Son, Pointless Teenage Anthem
Cowboy score: 875
BAND: THE GLASS SET
TITLE: The Glass Set
ON: self released 2005
I am bringing this one along to our next BGN slumber party.
Singer composer Leah Callahan fronts this Boston based quintet. "Deathmask" would be perfect for a D'Argento Italian slasher movie soundtrack. "Jealous Dead Girl" is another toe-tapper.
The review of this album in the Boston Globe said that it is a rock opera. I don't understand the storyline too good. But I dig the album all the same.
Leah's buried-alive vocals are backed by mad scientist guitarwork by Andy Doherty , downwardly spiraling bass lines from Erik Szyska, spirited casket thumping courtesy of Allen Esser and spooky key tinkling by Jennifer Dines.
Produced by the zombie-like Richard Marr who put together this studio project in his dimly lit Galaxy Park Studios.
Picks to click: Titticut Follies, Please, Leave Me Alone, Good-bye Troubles Cowboy score: 825
BAND: THE MIGHTY IONS
TITLE: Face Rakin' Rock
ON: Dino - 2000
Pile-drivin' retrospective (1981- 1999) from Boston's top ranked wrasslin'
rockers -The Mighty Ions.
Originally formed as a trio in the summer of 1980, the Ions were Bob Mackenzie (drums & vocals), Carl Square (bass & vocals) and Unnatural Axe's Tom White (guitar & vocals) these guys entered the squared circle with just one thing on their minds "We Want The Belts"!
You don't need to be a fan of Fred Blassie to appreciate pulse-pounding garage rock like this . Ferocious tunes with sing-along choruses (She Won't Shut Up) alternate with some good yucks (One Of Those Girls, Bill Tupper Rap). These 24 vintage recordings were culled from various studio sessions made around Boston as well as a 1982 WERS broadcast and rare live recordings captured at the Underground (1981) and Streets ('82). By that time a fourth Mighty Ion had joined the tag team, Dan McCormack (guitar, organ, backing vocals) plus the late great Roger Tripp (La Peste), soon signed on to give the Ions drumset a nightly beating.
Carl provides fantastic ringside commentary in a photo-packed 16 page booklet. The Mighty Ion saga includes free-for-all action at long lost venues like Cantones, Spit & the Rat. We also get to relive the Mighty Ions still controversial face-off with western Massachusetts' rock'n'wrestle title-holders The Foreign Objects (also on Dino Records), held at the sorely missed Inn Square Men's Bar. While the outcome of that Cambridge bout is still hotly debated, no one denies that the Mighty Ions were undisputedly a real bunch of winners.
The Mighty Ions reunited in 1999 with John Jules (Fox Pass) on drums to record several of their two-fisted tunes that had gotten lost in all the years of brawling.
The quality of these Euphoria Studios cuts (Michael Gatzios, engineer) is outstanding as is everything on this first rate release. Included are some nice live cover tunes: Next Big Thing (Dictators), Tonight We Fight (Unnatural Axe) and Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight (Fleetwood Mac).
I also must mention that Tommy White's collage of George "the Animal" Steele punishing the Mighty Ions is a classic!
My Picks to Click: Government Workers, Andy & Bill, Pedro Morales, Australopithecus, One Of Those Girls
Cowboy Score: 875
BAND: WILLIE ALEXANDER & THE BOOM BOOM
TITLE: The Dog Bar Yacht Club -2005
ON: Fish Eye Records
Boston's premiere underground rockstar Willie "Loco"
Alexander reunites with his 70's hotshot Boom
Boom Band and comes up with stunning results. Alexander
is the artist who effortlessly bridges the gaps between the beatniks, rockers,
numerous "new"waves, jazzbos, psychedelics, punks and poets of the past 6 decades.
A major label garage rocker in the sixties, Willie was a leader of the early 70's DIY music movement but the power and popularity of his 1976 Boom Boom Band propelled Willie back into the majors.
It's been twenty-five years since those big budget albums and national tours.
Willie has continued to perform and record
stacks of recordings over the years but somehow, right now, the original Boom
Boom Band have returned to us! The band still sticks to a simple
but devastatingly effective blueprint. Drummer David
McLean gets a hypnotic beat rolling. David
and bassman Sev Grossman pump up and deepen
the groove while wide-eyed Willie relates
his story-songs and adds occasional keyboard flourishes. Once the mixture is
really cooking, fretmaster Billy Loosigian
slinks out of the shadows and drops 16 tons of Gibson guitar into the stewpot
and blows the roof off the joint.
Loosigian is co-writer on four songs here that showcase his distinct style and an attack that frequently takes cues from Jeff Beck's pre-Stratocaster years ( soaring slide work on "Gravelly Hill") and seminal Jimmy Page riff rock ("High Tide Heroes"). I know, a lot of guitarists like to list Beck & Page as influences, but Billy Loosigian is one of the few guys I've ever seen who can truly pull that stuff off. At Boom Boom concerts you will always find an army of axe grinders hanging out in front of Billy's side of the stage studying this overlooked guitar star.
The ever charismatic Willie Alexander returns to his rock'n'rolling roots with these 13 big songs. Willie writes about what he knows. A lot of his best lyrics come out of what WA watches going on outside the window of his hilltop pad in the old fishing port of Gloucester MA. "Fred Buck's Footsteps" earns a place in my All-time Top 10 and rocks with one of the most infectious rhythms ever devised. Willie leads the way shaking an empty ginseng soda can filled with black beans. A real beauty is the opener "Gravelly Hill" with lyrics by Charles Olson, brilliantly adapted by Alexander.
Another slice of life (and death), this time inspired by Willie's old Somerville neighborhood, is "Who Killed Deanna" and you can find a mellower version of this same haunting song on Willie's majestic "The East Main Street Suite" (Accurate 5034) album. Two more treats, "Oh Daddy Oh" and "Telephone Sex" recall the ever popular "ga-ga" Willie "Loco" vocal-style from "Live at the Rat" days.
This recording was done by David Minehan at his Wooly Mammoth Studios. Cleanly tracked and unobtrusively produced, the cd isn't as gloriously heavy as the band sounded on stage at a recent Cambridge concert, but it still sounds great.
Word on the street is that Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band are headed to Europe for a tour. Bon Voyage and please keep this reunion rolling boys!
Cowboy's Picks to Click: Gravelly Hill, Fred Buck's Footsteps, High Tide Heroes, Mystery Training
Cowboy Score: 950
BAND: READ YELLOW
TITLE: Radios Burn Faster- 2004
ON: Fenway Recordings
Frightening quartet out of Amherst MA unleashes a torrent of stabbing guitar
jabs and politically charged ranting. It's hard to decipher some of the lyrics
but Read Yellow's unsettling message still
comes through loud and clear.
The ferocity never lets up and the violent attack of drummer Paul Koelle and bassist Michelle Kay Frenald seldom veers off target. Evan Kenney and Jesse Vuono are both on guitar, employing feedback and noise washes to good effect, these guys sure know how to get some good air-raid-siren tones. Everybody in Read Yellow sings.
While the sound has a sharp bleeding edge, the tunes actually stick to solid arrangement techniques: verses, middle eights, hooks and lots of call and response choruses. Read Yellow excels at herding up all their emotion and noise and galloping it forward, until it finally hits a stonewall head-on with repeated bludgeoning climaxes. Nice!
Formed in 2001 these artist/punk rockers have found success on the road, with tours of the midwest and northeast (USA) as well as several European road trips to their credit.
Radios Burn Faster was tracked in Brooklyn NY and finished up here in Cambridge at Camp Street Studios. Helmed by producer Paul Kolderie (Hole, Radiohead) the album was completed in 10 days. I'm gonna be watching these guys.
A lovely booklet comes along with this 11 song longplayer, featuring unsettling song lyrics, some Ralph Steadmanish gonzo-style inkwork and a bunch of exacto razor blades falling from the sky.
Cowboy's Picks to Click: The Association, The Art, A Love Supreme
Cowboy Score: 795
BAND: The Afrika Korps
TITLE: Live at Cantone's 1977
ON: Gulcher - 2002
Rock history is made when the Afrika Korps
show a packed Boston club their stuff. Readers of the Boston Groupie News
and fans of the 70's Boston underground should check out this 20-song set, recorded
live at Cantone's on August 20, 1977.
The Afrika Korps was formed in 1976 by three pioneers of the American DIY punk movement Solomon Gruberger (O.Rex), Kim Kane (Slickee Boys) and Kenne Highland (Gizmos). All three had already released their own indie records at this point, and with the addition of Ken Kaiser on drums and 16 year old Jay Gruberger on bass, The Afrika Korps recorded their highly recommended debut "Music To Kill By" (Gulcher 405). Fresh out of the Marines, Kenne Highland managed to wed our editor Miss Lyn (but she's single again right now boys!) and "Live at Cantone's" was recorded at the blushing couple's well attended post-wedding ceremony show.
Featuring all the Afrika Korps garage-rockin' faves (Fox Lane, N.Y. Punk, Make Her Know She's Getting Laid) with Gizmo and O.Rex tunes thrown in. The unstoppable Afrika Korps also blast through Willie Loco's "At the Rat", "Hit Her Wid De Axe" and even Thundertrain's "Hot For Teacher!"
This lo-fi recording captures the ambience of a hot nite at Cantone's, with plenty of stage asides, putdowns and banter from a crowd of inebriated Boston rock scenesters of the era. Cool liner essay by Kenneth Kaiser, who recalls the tragic death of gifted Afrika Korps bassman Jay Gruberger in a 1993 automobile accident.
Three original members of The Afrika Korps played a surprise 3 song set at the Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain on July 16, 2004.
Picks to Click: Califawnia Gurls, You're A Tease Baby, Jailbait Janet, My Head's In '73
Cowboy Score: 808
ON:self released (2003)
The editor of the Boston Groupie News sent me this gem. I'd avoided listening to it at first because with a name like Din I was expecting to endure some face-melting, ear-bleeding noise ala the dreaded Slick Pig or Government Dictatorship. Din turns out to be a very catchy pop-rock band featuring dreamy-voiced Carlene Barous (also on keyboards and bass) showcasing plenty of strong material all expertly captured on disc by David Minehan. Carlene floats her melodies over tight hooky backings on "I'll Find a Way" and "I Want You". Co-writer, singer Glenn Steadman ( also on bass and guitars) keeps things edgy, executing his very convincing baritone Iggy vocal track on "Crazy". Expert drummer John Gulizia ( ex- Moving Targets) and rocking guitarist Bart Lo Piccolo (ex- Scatterfield) complete the quartet.
These Boston players all have straight-ahead punkrock in their blood but now they have chosen to slide sideways into this groovy sounding Din territory.
The smooth sounding 7 song collection was recorded and mixed in Boston at Mr. Minehan's Wooly Mammoth Studios with mastering done by Colin Decker at M Works in Cambridge. Don't miss this one.
Cowboy's Picks To Click: I'll Find A Way, Crazy, Hung, I Want You, The Fall
Cowboy Score: 845
TITLE: Let The Light In (cd/ep)
CONTACT: Hydra Head - 2004
Yummy! Six diverse slices of hypno-rock dripping with melodies that
echo in the cranium for days. This Boston-based quartet features Maria
Christopher (Dirt Merchants) on vocals. Maria purrs her innocent sounding
lyrics effortlessly over a clever backing of bass and drums augmented
by everything from jazzy piano to wood flute to synth to Indian drums.
It all fits together really well and what we are left with are a bunch
of really addictive songs.
I understand that this band recently returned from a lengthy European tour supporting their label mates, Isis.
I hope to catch 27 live in concert back here while they are in town, if they sound anything like they do on this disc live they will be crowned with the Cowboy's green light to go all the way.
27 recorded this ep themselves and also designed the striking packaging. I find it interesting how 27 downplay themselves, no band photos and their names appear in type too tiny for me to read. None of the self-hype that so many bands (at least the ones I'm in) usually employ. Bring on the full length cd!
My Picks to Click: The Cause, Make Love Not War, Try (part 2), April
Cowboy Score: 850
|Willie Loco Alexander||Various||He's the MAN||Willie Alexander.com|
|Coffin Lids||Rock'N'Roll||Munster Rock||Bomp|
|Kenne Highland||Be More Flamboyant||Fantastic||Stanton Park|
|Girl On Top||Two CDs||Good Lyrics||Girl On Top|
|Jon Macey||Actuality In Process||Career best.||JonMacey.com|
|Reddy Teddy||Best Of||Great. 1972-'78||Not Lame|
|Three Day Threshold||Behind The Barn||Rock'n'Roll Moonshine||Pigpile|
|Thrills||Recorded Thrills||Barb's voice!!||Dionysus|
|Thundertrain||Two Cd's||Classic cheese.||Thundertrain Site|
|Vagrant Saints||Mammon's Little Baby||With Kit Dennis||CD Baby|