The post grunge landscape of the late 90’s / early 00’s is littered with Nirvana-lite failures – bands that grabbed the limelight for a brief moment with catchy songs full of faux pain, then disappeared – missing the roots and point of the Seattle original scene. Puddle of Mudd didn’t fit within that convenient narrative. Formed in 1991 by Wes Scantlin, Jimmy Allen, Sean Sammon, and Kenny Burkitt it’d be another decade before the band had a breakthrough with the Jimmy Allen / Doug Ardito / Wes Scantin penned song, Blurry. By this time, Jimmy Allen was no longer with Puddle of Mudd, having moved on to writing for other bands and working with independent projects. The late 00’s saw Jimmy Allen form Against All Will, which released various EP and singles from 2007 through 2013 to critical acclaim. Late 2019 saw the release of a new project – Cooker featuring Jimmy Allen on guitar and former Puddle of Mudd bassist Troy McCoy. This is the real deal – it might be the finest album Jimmy Allen has been involved with.
The album kicks off in high gear with Settle the Score – intricate guitar work, a killer bass line, and howled vocals that wouldn’t sound out of place in Seattle circa 1989 (or 2019 – Seattle’s like that). Choke Up is the single getting spins on hard rock radio – and no wonder. It has the catchiest melody and has the verse chorus verse structure that Kurt Cobain famously talked about in Nirvana’s music long ago. This isn’t retro – it is an invigorating and decidedly modern anthem. The musicianship is outstanding – everyone is firing on all cylinders. Brown Girl is another highlight – a mid-tempo stroll through the emotive side of the band. The song builds and builds until it reaches a crescendo 2/3 of the way through, truly allowing the listener to experience the same catharsis as the performers. Roach is a perfect way to end the album – a pure visceral outpouring that serves as an encapsulation of the band’s strengths. It leaves the listener wanting more.
The album is out now and comes highly recommended. Jimmy and Troy are calling this a side project, but I hope to hear more from them in the future.
For Fans of: Puddle of Mudd, Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, Mudhoney
- Settle the Score
- Bad Unit
- Choke Up
- Brown Girl
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.
It’s been about 4 years since we’ve last heard from New York City’s The Lost Patrol. A lot has happened in that time, including the resurgence of Twin Peaks. Mention of David Lynch’s masterpiece is apt, as I’ve always thought The Lost Patrol’s music would be right at home in that fictional world (Note: I live about 30 minutes from where the series was filmed). Atmospheric, emotionally resonant – The Lost Patrol have always operated in their own world. And it is a world that I love being in. Redemption serves as a reintroduction to the band, an EP of 4 originals with 2 remixes. You know, in the 70’s they’d call that an album. Anyway – all the elements that I love about The Lost Patrol are here – hypnotic vocals by Mollie Heckerling, dream like musical backing by Stephen Masucci, and assorted help from familiar names & friends. So how does it stack up to past efforts?
Redemption has been on constant repeat since I received the album – an embarrassingly long time ago (this review is long overdue). Opener Some Other Time is all eerie synths, mysterious vocals, and tugging at the emotional heartstrings. Perfection, in other words. But the 2nd song Your Own Medicine might be my favorite song by The Lost Patrol ever. 60’s girl group vibes, heartbreak, heartache, and an epic sound for the broken. “I’m gonna make you feel / Like you have no other choice / I wish I could make you hear / Nothing but my voice”. Lyrics that cut like a knife. Don’t Cry
is not a Guns ‘N Roses cover, but nevertheless it is a great song. It continues the girl group heartbreak vibe in stunning fashion. It’s Time continues the vibes, with an atmospheric guitar lick coursing through the song. The EP is rounded out with two remixes, which enhance the vibes quite a bit.
Verdict: Short But Sweet
For Fans of: Lush, David Lynch, Lan Del Rey, Cocteau Twins, Chris Isaak
Later Fortune is the brainchild of Philadelphia’s Chet Delcampo and Heyward Howkins – two indie artists who have made their mark with solo records that stood apart from the crowd by using intelligent lyrics married to ridiculously strong melodies. Chet Delcampo (real name Chris Madl) took his name from Steve Buscemi’s character in the Coen Brothers’ classic, Barton Fink. He’s released a few solo records and singles along with two records under the Hong Kong Stingray moniker. Indie rock at its finest. Heyward Howkins might be familiar to some of my readers as I’ve reviewed both of his solo albums. I really have always loved his folk / pop sensibility as filtered through historical anecdotes by way of his Philadelphia roots. A band formed around these two huge talents is a major force to be reckoned with.
The band started out as a way for friends to get together and record spontaneous collaborations. The idea of recording a song a month was thrown around, with the result being an album released at the end of 12 months. Sometimes the best ideas start out with the best intentions but lead to a different result. And here’s what we have – the brand new, debut single from Later Fortune. As an introduction to a new band, it is perfect. It makes an impact and leaves the listener wanting more. A 12 Year Audition is a low-key gem, hushed vocals and resonant, joyful melody that builds as the song progresses. Birds of Papau is an instrumental b-side, evocative in the atmosphere it builds over the course of 3 minutes or so.
You can pick up the record here. I’m really looking forward to what comes next from Later Fortune , this is an impressive debut.
Verdict: Stunning Debut
For Fans of: Mojave 3, Neil Young, Honeychurch, Simon & Garfunkel
My background with the band Live coincides with my discovery of “alternative” music in the early 90’s, my desire to seek out bands that did things their own way, and a mentor who helped introduce me to many bands that I still love to this day. The band cut a record in the late 80’s while still in high school under the Public Affection moniker, fell in with Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads and released their masterful debut as Live in 1991, Mental Jewelry (still my favorite). From there the band became more and more popular, selling tens of millions of records along the way. Throwing Copper, Secret Samadhi, and The Distance to Here all were records that helped solidify Live as a household name. From there, the band experimented with their sound (V), released a somewhat underappreciated album (Birds of Pray), and released an album with some strong songs but overall didn’t showcase the band’s strengths (Songs From Black Mountain). The band went on hiatus, followed by solo albums, one-off projects, and a Live album cut with Chris Shinn of Unified Theory fame. A reunion of the original four members seemed to be an impossible scenario.