Black Needle Noise with Bill Leeb – A Shiver Of Want

Black Needle Noise is one of John Fryer’s many projects, with a focus on collaborating with different vocalists and embracing an “anything goes” philosophy. Fryer, of course, was 1/2 of This Mortal Coil – a band who employed a similar approach with regards to guest vocalists. As a producer, he has made his mark with Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Wire, Stabbing Westward, and many, many more. If there is a “John Fryer Sound” it’d have to mine both ethereal & angst, rage & beauty. His collaborator on A Shiver Of Want is Bill Leeb. An early member of Skinny Puppy who found worldwide success with Delerium and Front Line Assembly. Most of my readers have probably heard the Delerium song Silence featuring Lilith Fair founder Sarah McLachlan on vocals – a stunning slice of trance melancholy (in its original form). Which means that this Black Needle Noise / Bill Leeb collaboration should be a match made in heaven – and it is, I am pleased to say.

A Shiver of Want starts out with moody instrumentation shifting into a hymn like spoken verse. A slow build, if you will. Musically, it combines a menacing atmosphere with wholesale industrial aggression. Perfect, in other words. The chorus positively explodes, providing a catharsis of sorts. Lyrically, this is dark stuff. “you bring me down / you tear apart in me / the light you see / pours out of me”. The final 90 seconds or so of the song are perfectly sublime – a perfect meeting of angst, sadness, and hopelessness. “into the night / we fall away / our shadows becoming thin”. Unsettling. Masterful.

You can follow Black Needle Noise on The Social Network here and pick up the track here. An absolute gem, it deserves to be in your collection.

For Fans of: Nine Inch Nails, Delerium, This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins, Portishead, Wire, Lush

Atlas Park – Preview of Coming Distractions

Atlas Park hail from Northern California and offer up an intoxicating brew of modern rock inspired gems. Formed by Daniel Gatling in 2014, the band has quickly developed a following. Emotive vocals and hummable melodies, what I love about the band is how they tap into that rare part of the brain that makes something feel familiar yet new all at once. Gatling handles vocals & guitar and is joined by John Kahling on drums, John Spomer on bass & synths, and Kat Cahill on lead guitar. Preview of Coming Distractions is the band’s debut EP, and though it has been out for a while, it is new to me. It serves as a taster for upcoming new material.

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Curry Quiche – Behind the Machine

The return of England’s Curry Quiche comes in the wake of Brexit and the aftermath of the US presidential election. The world has seemingly shifted to the political right and the band takes its cue from the shifting nature of the world. 2013’s full length 1 Seed, No Leeches focused on technology and how human connections were being lost. An intriguing concept that has only deepened with the passage of time. A record that was a joy to listen to, it took its darker subject matter and spun it into a carefree party vibe for the end of the world. Steve Fidler and company gave us a winning formula that seemed designed for the masses. Reggae, punk, britpop, indie – it all made for an intoxicating brew. What will the band offer up on their latest?

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Arthur Lee – Everybody’s Gotta Live

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Bring up the name Arthur Lee and hipsters in the know will wax poetic about the legendary 3rd album by Love, Forever Changes. A drug fueled trip the dark side of the summer of love (1967), it justifiably is always listed on greatest albums of all time lists. A culmination of Arthur Lee’s folk, jazz, & rock n roll fusions, this spells the end of the original Love band. It also marks the point where most people say “After that, Arthur just lost it, man!”. I’m here to tell you that is not true – not even close. The original band split and Arthur put together a new version of Love. Streamlined, it was a different band in tone and feel. Arthur’s new songs alienated his old audience, but he was following his muse. 1972’s Vindicator was released as a solo record instead of a Love record – kind of a mystery to me since the backing players changed steadily in the late 60’s and 70’s anyway. Everybody’s Gotta Live was the single, and what a single it was. A life affirming anthem, it blurred the lines between soul & singer songwriter poetry. Arthur’s always had a way of delivering lines that hit you right in the heart, and this one is no different. “Everybody’s gotta live / And everybody’s gonna die…I had a dream the other night, baby / I dreamt that I was alone / But when I woke up I took a look around myself / And I was surrounded by fifty million strong”. Note that the song was originally released in 1972, then remade for Love’s 1974 album Reel to Real. The solo version is superior. When I saw Arthur Lee & Love (Baby Lemonade was Arthur’s backing band after his release from prison) in 2002 in Seattle they played the song as a medley with John Lennon’s Instant Karma. At that time I was one of those aforementioned hipsters – not really aware of Arthur’s latter-day material. It gave me chills and changed my life. He passed away just a few years later and I’m left revisiting the magic on vinyl, video, and through words. Everybody’s gotta live…

Sunstack Jones – Days Stand Still

Spring is in the air – finally. One of the rainiest winters on record in the Seattle area is finally showing signs of taking it’s leave. Not coincidentally, I’ve had the latest EP from Sunstack Jones on repeat for a while now, summery tunes that have me longing for warmer weather. Hailing from Northern England, I’d imagine the band suffer from the same affliction as I – a desire for the wintry rain to go away. On earlier releases I’ve been transfixed by the band’s ability to work at a convincingly high caliper whilst blending in such disparate elements as folk, pop, shoegaze, & country. Ultimately, I measure a band’s impact by their ability to transport me away from daily life and into their world – on that count, Sunstack Jones succeed wildly. Days Stand Still is the latest offering from the band and it continues their winning streak

It Ain’t Easy sounds like The Byrds meets Ocean Colour Scene and is a standout. A sing-a-long anthem, it hints at despair beneath its breezy tone. “Don’t it seem some things / They just turn to nothing / And I’m barely coping / It ain’t easy”. It is the perfect choice for the single from this release. Days Stand Still has an intricacy to its guitar parts that reminds me of Simon & Garfunkel or Kings of Convenience. Add in those layered harmonies and it is a tune that’ll find repeated plays. Walking in Our Sleep slides into shoegaze territory – a melodic bass line, hushed vocals, and a mix that emphasizes vibe over instrument separation. Always Something Up closes the record on an upbeat, rocking tune that wouldn’t sound out-of-place on a mid period album by The Monkees (the absolute highest praise coming from me).

You can find out more about the band and / or order records here. I highly recommend this album – it has been a soundtrack for an unusual month for me, and its summery tones are capable of providing an escape from drudgery. Keep your eyes open for the latest full length from Sunstack Jones – coming out this summer.

Verdict: Shades of Summer

For Fans of: The Monkees, Mojave 3, Neil Young, Galaxie 500, Teenage Fanclub, The Byrds

Tracks:

  1. It Ain’t Easy
  2. Stations
  3. Days Stand Still
  4. Tibidabo
  5. Walking In Our Sleep
  6. Always Something Up

 

The Chameleons – In Shreds

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

I was shocked yesterday (3-13-17) to wake up to the news that John Lever – drummer for The Chameleons, The Sun & the Moon, and The Red Sided Garter Snakes – had passed away after a brief illness. It is not often that you find yourself in touch with your musical heroes, but over the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to do that many times. I’d been in touch with John to discuss his departure from ChameleonsVox as well as get information on his latest stunning project, The Red Sided Garter Snakes. It amazed me that not only had John read some of my ramblings on this site, he also seemed to like them. John’s body of work is incredible – his musicianship added that intangible quality to a song that made it rise above the rest. One of the first tracks that John cut with The Chameleons was In Shreds. A blistering punk tune, it was released in March of 1982. A more aggressive track than most of what would be featured on the debut album Script of the Bridge, it features stunning work from Mr. Lever. The song builds and build to a punk breakdown “It seems to me / to be so contradictory / it seems to me / you’ve become a part of the machinery”. Mark Burgess, Reg Smithies, Dave Fielding, and John Lever were on the cusp of something great – and you can feel it begin with this song. RIP John, your art will be here long after us mere mortals are gone from this Earth.

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction

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This is a guest contribution from Jeffrey Edwards, talking about one of the greatest albums ever made – Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses.

With the legendary rock band in the middle of their worldwide reunion tour Not in This Lifetime, it seems rather fitting to review their best-selling album, Appetite for Destruction. Having sold 30 million copies around the globe, this debut studio album is also one of the best-selling records of all time. It was released back in July 21, 1987, and remains one of the most influential rock ‘n’ roll albums, resonating with that spirit of rebellion that Guns N’ Roses were notoriously famous for.

While the majority of people are more familiar with the more popular tracks of the album, as games like Burnout on the PlayStation and Guns N’ Roses video slots from online gaming portal Pocketfruity feature “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and “Paradise City” in their musical scores, every song on the album played its part in making the album a commercial success. Kicking off the record with “Welcome to the Jungle”, which was reportedly written in just three hours, the aptly named track set the tone for their artistry and image. They were a rambunctious bunch of rockers whose rebellion and impulsivity was the driving force in their musical genius.

There are loads of interesting facts about the compilation of this album. According to NME, “Mr. Brownstone” was penned on a grocery bag. Another fun fact of the album is that “Out ta Get Me” is based on Axl Rose’s life as teenager back in Indiana, where he often found himself at odds with the law. And despite being a fan favorite, the band slated “Sweet Child o’ Mine” as a filler or circus music. But even with their less-than-favorable opinions of their biggest hit, fans love the song no less.

For those that don’t know GNR for anything other than their popular ballads, Appetite for Destruction is not meant for those who are afraid to venture beyond the conventional. The album explores all kinds of taboos through crazy guitar riffs, rebelling against the cultural atmosphere fostered back in the ‘80s. However, the record’s raw punk quality is what garnered its retrospective acclaim, becoming one of the greatest albums in music history.

Here is the complete tracklist for Appetite for Destruction:

1. Welcome to the Jungle
2. It’s So Easy
3. Night Train
4. Out ta Get Me
5. Paradise City
6. My Michelle
7. Think About You
9. Sweet Child o’ Mine
10. You’re Crazy
11. Anything Goes
12. Rocket Queen

What’s your favorite track?

The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

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The Flaming Lips have never failed to baffle, confound, delight, frustrate, and inspire me. I initially wrote them off as “alternative light” in the early 90’s in the wake of their hit single She Don’t Use Jelly (snobby hipster alert). As it now stands, that era of punk stoner pop rock ended around 1995, never to be revisited. It took me until 1999 to actually get into the band – The Soft Bulletin heralded a new era. Also, the best reviews the band ever received. The two shows I saw in Philadelphia for that album’s tour remain among the best, loudest, and most theatrical shows I’ve ever seen. The last 18 years have seen the band embrace electronic melancholy mixed with optimism (Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots), existential dread in the wake of divorce by way of motorik (The Terror), and a few albums that try as I might just didn’t hit the mark for me. There are also a ton of collaborative albums, wild experiments, and one collaborator that is key to the genesis of Oczy Mlody – Miley Cyrus.

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