New York City’s The Electric Mess return with their 4th album chock full of blistering rock ‘n roll, punk anthems, and garage rock freak outs. The band’s been at it for over a decade and this familiarity with each other bears stunning fruit on The Beast is You. The band is led by frontwoman Esther Crow with Dan Crow (guitar), Oweinama Biu (keyboards, vocals), Derek Davidson (bass) and Alan J. Camlet (drums). That lineup is mostly the same as it was on their last record, with a change on drums. Alan J. Camlet fits within the band’s framework nicely, providing a propulsive, steady backbeat. Hard to believe it has been over 4 years since I’ve reviewed this band (and this review is long overdue) – but holy hell, it was worth the wait. The Beast is You is my favorite album by the band to date.
The Cure were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. It’s been a while since they’ve released an album – 11 years, to be exact. The band’s output from 1996 on has been sporadic and hasn’t quite hit the sweet spot for me (sometimes a matter of how the songs are sequenced, truthfully). 2004’s self titled album had multiple track listings for different regions, adding & deleting songs randomly. This Morning was a vinyl only song that was also used as a b-side to the single The End Of The World. It is a shame that it was relegated to an afterthought – it is my favorite song by The Cure of the last 25 years. Simon Gallup’s bass recalls the “original trilogy” era of 17 Seconds, Faith, and Pornography from 1980 to 1982. Robert Smith’s vocals on this a song are a reminder of why he is such an iconic figure in music – regrets, melancholy thoughts and sadness co-exist here. There is a spoken word interlude, Robert barely audible whispering his laments: “I couldn’t understand too much of what was being said, in a matter of minutes, peacefully so slow, I had to think to breath, my heart burst, we moved in silence really slowly away from the world, as we drove a strange silence, that moment, nothing will ever be the same, nothing will ever be the same, nothing”. The bass plods along, a soundtrack to broken hearts, the synths swell, the band is in sync – this is perfection. The chorus? “Nothing left to feel / Nothing more to do” An encapsulation of the darker side of The Cure.
Ian and Phil Jackson are the father / son duo that ARE the post punk band Nutopians. Not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves, they’ve become one of my go to bands over the last few years. Indebted to The Chameleons (that’s The Chameleons UK to us in the US), Echo & the Bunnymen, and the Buzzcocks (among others), the band has a way of writing post punk gems for the modern era. Over the last few releases, Ian’s vocals have become more confident, Phil’s instrumentation more articulate. The band’s latest full length – their 3rd – is their strongest offering to date. Indeed, Civilisation is an early contender for album of the year.
Victory Season is the new project from Randy Cooper, the guitarist who was a founding member of the Texas Hippie Coalition – a band who specialized in their own brutal “red dirt metal” sound. Victory Season continues that path, their sound described as a southern hybrid mix of Mötley Crüe meets Pantera. I don’t know about you, but that description pulled me immediately – that’s a perfect mix. The band features Randy Cooper on guitars, Aaron “Ash” Starr on vocals, and a father / son duo on bass and drums – Duane Connaughton on bass and Tor Connaughton on drums. The band’s debut EP is an absolute killer statement of intent.
The EP kicks off with Light it Up – which has a brutal thrash vibe and doom-laden vocals that call to mind what a bastard child of the Seattle scene and Pantera would sound like. Absolutely brilliant, in other words. Be Kind recalls those halcyon days of the late 80’s metal scene. In fact, I can just envision this tune being played on MTV (remember when they played videos??). This song features Gary Jefferies helping the band out and it is an exercise in perfection. Strong melodies, laid back lyrics hinting at the good old days, and just has that “it” quality. A killer guitar solo caps the whole thing off. The acoustic workout Burn Tonight segues into the closer, Ghost Dance. This last song really encapsulates everything that the band excels at – uncompromising riffs, strong melodies, and impassioned vocals. A perfect way to close things out.
You can follow the band here. Keep an eye on their tour schedule to see if they are playing in a town near you – I know I’m hoping they make their way up to the Pacific Northwest.
Verdict: Stunning Debut
For Fans of: Pantera, Skid Row, Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe, Hellyeah
- Light it Up
- Cumin’ Home
- Be Kind (featuring Gary Jefferies)
- Burn Tonight
- Ghost Dance
Pale Pose is a new project out of Athens, GA (home to another mildly famous band know as R.E.M.). The project was started by Kyle Kendall as a one-man band indulging in a variety of styles deeply indebted to the underground. Tom Ashton of The March Violets and Clan of Xymox came on board to offer up his studio wizardry and the rest, as they say, is history. Now, I was already excited when I heard snippets of the album when it was sent my way for potential review, but when I saw The March Violets connection, I had to smile to myself. A few years ago, I desperately wanted to see The March Violets in Seattle but could not make the timing work. Life happened, the band is no more, and I missed out on a great opportunity. So, seeing Tom Ashton’s involvement whetted my appetite, you could say. And what an album this is! Doorways; The Exiter is a brooding, masterful debut release from Pale Pose.
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.
Think of the Bee Gees in 2019 and the 1st thing that comes to mind for most people is their late 70’s / early 80’s disco hits. To focus on that era is to ignore a fascinating, artistically resonant era from a decade earlier. In 1969 the 1st incarnation of the Bee Gees had split – after several records in Australia, and 4 increasingly complex, masterful psychedelic albums released worldwide. Robin was – briefly – a solo artist. So productive were these sessions, that 2 albums worth of songs were recorded (all eventually released on Saved by the Bell: The Collected Works of Robin Gibb 1968-1970). I “discovered” the earlier Bee Gees records through my bookworm nature of consuming anything and everything relating to the 60’s scene. I do love those albums – but Robin’s solo work is another level. Robin’s Reign and Sing Slowly Sisters were both recorded in 1970, though the latter was not officially released until 2015 (I’d like to thank New Hope, PA for providing me with so many bootlegs of obscurities 20 years ago). The songs feel beamed in from another planet – hell, another universe. World weary at 19, Robin sings with a sense of melancholy that feels lived in. Saved by the Bell was the hit single from Robin’s Reign, preceding the album’s release by several months. The song is deceptively simple, Robin singing out his heart over orchestra & piano (courtesy of Maurice Gibb). A heartbreaking tale of a broken heart, it is an essential listen.
I really like Ric Zweig’s story – he had a lengthy career as a Prosecutor, Criminal Defense Attorney, and Circuit Court Judge in the Miami, Florida region. Once he retired from his career, he returned to music. Over the last decade or so, he has released 5 albums that are imbued with a sense of the South Florida life. Breezy, catchy tunes abound. Box is a song that was written 15 years ago by Oski Gonzalez and one that Ric had always wanted to cut. The song revels in a laid-back atmosphere, perfectly suited to Ric’s strengths as a performer. Lyrically, it rejects the notion of today’s technology trappings – celebrating the simple life. There’s a twist in those words, if you pay attention closely. Love the emotive guitar solo in this recording as well. A welcome return.
You can follow Ric here. Check out his latest song and video, you won’t regret it.
For Fans of: Eagles, America, Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor