Tag Archives: glam

T.G.I.F. – Ten More Bridesmaids

You’ve seen the Top Ten for 2010, and the full list is still being whipped into shape, but there’s no harm tipping the cap to ten more albums that didn’t make the top of the list but were great purchases during the year. Some finished high on other lists – including one that straddled the top on many of them – while others can claim a handful of people like me in their fan club.

Huge followings don’t affect my barometer, nor does a lack of a visible fanbase make me think less of the artist. I like what I like; there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. Guilty pleasures are for cowards.

So here, in no particular order, are Ten More Bridesmaids to check out. Hopefully a few of these are already spinning repeatedly at your place too.

01) Manic Street Preachers – Postcards From A Young ManSome say they went commercial with their tenth album; I say they have one of their most irresistible collections of songs in years. Why are they not huge in the US?

02) Paul Collins – King of Power Pop. Maybe a slew of living room concerts inspired him to revisit his more energetic power pop side, and revisit his Beat days. The Flamin’ Groovies and Box Tops covers are icing on the pop cake.

03) Dwight Twilley – Green Blimp. The Man of A Thousand Comebacks makes yet another one, but Green Blimp is very much a return to form. You can almost hear him ripping himself off on these tracks, but in-house sampling is fine when it’s this good.

04) The Parting Gifts – Strychnine Dandelions. Greg Cartwright from Reigning Sound collaborating with Coco Hames of The Ettes, and I would have bounced it higher if Greg sang everything. Great guests including Dave Amels and Dan Auerbach, and the songs are stellar – of course.

05) Arcade Fire – The Suburbs. I like this album quite a bit, but not with the overwhelming fawning that it is getting across the board; I suspect it will finish atop this year’s Village Voice Poll (nah, they’ll cop out for Kanye West…). More of a consistent album than usual and it is growing on me.

06) Jason and the Scorchers – Halcyon Times. Dare I say it? The Scorchers are back. New rhythm section, but Jason Ringenberg sounds young and refreshed, and Warner Hodges is once again a guitar slinger to be bowed down to. Your move, Del Lords!.

07) Stereophonics – Keep Calm And Carry On. Another band that inexplicably doesn’t find success in America, and I’m dumfounded. Kelly Jones and crew just keep getting better and better; maybe one day we’ll catch up with the rest of the globe?

08) Locksley – Be In Love. Maybe it’s the reputation as a band for teens? Their second album is a big leap forward, stuffed with energetic, bouncy, dance-worthy pop songs and great vocals. Remember – no guilty pleasures!

09) Marah – Life Is A Problem. The sound of a band falling apart and being glued back together at the same time. Organic, loopy, rough, heartfelt, strange and exciting, it’s by turns depressing and magical; listening to it is like eavesdropping. I see light at the end of this tunnel.

10) Pernice Brothers – Goodbye Killer. Really, have these guys ever made anything less than a compelling album? Joe Pernice has to be one of the most under-appreciated songwriters around; here his gems echo everything from 60’s singles to late 20th century indie angst. Meant to be listened to cover to cover.

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New Album! Ginger

Well, almost new. This will have to hold you until the new studio album from the new band (Ginger, Michael Monroe and others) produced by Jack Douglas hits the streets this year.

Ten is a sampler of sorts, featuring a few songs from a few solo albums with the obligatory new cuts to make it required purchasing for the completest (assuming you’re not thieving the damned thing, that is.)

The lead singer of The Wildhearts has always been interesting to me, for he’s all over the board musically. Some tracks sound like Metallica, all heavy thunder and woofer bleating. Others are delicate, hook-laden pop numbers, reggae tunes or straight-ahead glam rockers with catchy verses and a memorable chorus. Beatle sounds, glam, garage rock, power pop…all in a blender. When he and The Wildhearts are on, they remind me of  a cross between The Del Lords and Jason and The Scorchers…

Video: The Wildhearts – “The Revolution Will Be Televised

I first came across him in one of my favorite bands, The Quireboys, from which he was fired. Turns out the move was better for them as well as him, as The Wildhearts have had major success (although not so much here in the States). But equally fascinating are his multitude of side projects, including Silver Ginger 5, Brides of Destruction and Clam Abuse. Although he discounts his own singing ability, his acoustic shows prove that he’s adept whether playing a coffeehouse or Wembley.

Video: Ginger –  “Yeah Yeah Yeah

If you’re a Ginger guy you’re probably already all over this; if not 10 might be a good place to indoctrinate yourself. Personally I’d advise you to take a flyer on Valor de Corazon, Yoni or Market Harbor, but then again I like all his albums with the exception of Clam Abuse. I find that album almost as appealing as the band name.

Listen to clips at Amazon

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Under The Radar – Neil Leyton

Blame Canada…

I was first turned on to Neil Leyton through the fabulous Changes One mailing list, a UK-based discussion group that had an eclectic and fanatical drive for honest, uncompromising rock and roll artists. Leyton fits the bill, and I’m ashamed that I don’t pull his stuff off the shelf more often than I do. Or that I never knew about his Canadian glam band Conscious Pilate

The Brighter Side of Her Midnight Sun is a seventeen-track melting pot of rock, folk, glam and spoken word, and for the most part it both stands together and holds up well for a seven-year old release. The track listing is split into two sides with verbose titles that are at once intriguing and foreboding:

  • The Insufferable Permanent Ennui of The Soul side, and
  • The Permanent Damage & Unimaginable Consequence side

Occasionally irresistibly earworm and sometimes simply jarring to the senses, you can almost tell by the song titles when things are going to get pensive and murky (“The Confraternity of The Faithless”) and when you could probably parse a track for a pop mix tape (“Once Upon A Yesterday”, “Whispers”).

Sample a few tracks here

Dedicated to his “chess playing Communist grandfather”, the album is rampant with political and social commentary, but with few exceptions not at the expense of the music. Hell, there’s enough between song chatter, interludes and reprises galore tying the whole thing together that a second and third listen expose new turns of phrase, more musical nuances. I most often got a David Bowie-meets-Bryan Ferry vibe, but that’s because Leyton is an expressive vocalist and many of the tracks are deeply rooted in glam. Besides the aforementioned tracks, I really like “Staring”, “Nine” and the epic nine-minute closer, “Twilight of the Gods”.

Maybe it’s not for everyone, but what is?

Neil’s done a bunch more before and since, including walking the walk as a vocal advocate regarding the paradigm shift in music distribution; his label Fading Ways being a forerunner. And as for Changes OneGood on yer, Ian Tunstull, wherever ye are.

Fading Ways website

Neil Leyton website and Wiki page.

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Blast From The Past: Redd Kross

 

By the time Redd Kross released Show World in 1997, they had already been a successful recording act for almost two decades. I thought that maybe this one would propel them from the minor leagues into the household name category, but once again the masses turned a deaf ear, and thirteen years later I’m still waiting for the next one.  Two years after its release, guitarist Eddie Kurdziel died, and the band put everything on the back burner. 

Hard to believe that it’s been thirty years since their debut EP. Harder to comprehend is that leaders and brothers Jeff McDonald and Steven McDonald are still young pups in their mid-forties; they recorded Red Cross when they were teenagers. Forced to change their name for obvious reasons, they released six albums over the next seventeen years, slowly moving from punk rock and juvenile subject matter to more highly polished material that rivaled the best powerpop songs of their era. 

Many fans preferred the hardcore punk days when subject matter ranged from cereal and comic books to Hollywood celebrities like Linda Blair and Mackenzie Phillips; Neurotica is often mentioned as their best work. I was gobsmacked when “Annie’s Gone” came blasting out of my speakers;  great vocals, big guitars and a hook that could snag a whale… 

Video: “Annie’s Gone” 

They mastered the art of mixing bubblegum pop, glam rock and hard rock into an irresistable mix, which is why I  much prefer the later releases (Third Eye, Phaseshifter and Show World) that focused on those crunchy pop rock nuggets. Show World in particular has three stone-cold classics in the first five tracks – “Pretty Please Me” (a faithful cover of classic by The Quick), “Stoned” and the shoulda-been-a-smash-hit “Mess Around”. Radio blew it once again. 

Video: “Mess Around” (live) 

The band has been making live appearances over the past few years and a limited release of a live CD/DVD called Got Live If You Must (a takeoff on an early Rolling Stones title) was gobbled up by lucky fans. There have been one-off projects by Ze Malibu Kidz and The Steven McDonald Group, and their Bitchin’ Ass podcasts have kept fans in stitches. 

Judging by that video clip, the boys are in top form. Reportedly their new release – recorded with drummer Roy McDonald (no relation) and former guitarist Robert Hecker – is almost ready to rock. I’ve been waiting thirteen years, so I’m ready! 

 

Listen to song clips at Amazon

Visit the Redd Kross website and their MySpace page. 

*** 

Damn your eyes. Too late!

 

Speaking of blasts from the past, bug-eyed British comic Marty Feldman would have been 76 years old today. He left us far too soon; dead of a heart attack at 49. Most people know his work in the Mel Brooks films but were unaware of his small screen work, from his writing and performing on British television to the American era staring with his debut as part of Dean Martin’s show. He combined physical comedy, quick-witted dialogue and absurd situations in a unique mix that people all over the world responded to. 

R.I.P., Marty – thanks for all those smiles

Visit The Marty Feldman Tribute Page.

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Under The Radar: Mercury Boy

Revisiting a great glam EP that I reviewed in 2003 for Yeah Yeah Yeah

Mascarad, blue-haired, gun-toting Mercury Boy looks like he escaped from a screening of Blade Runner meets Velvet Goldmine, but if you shelve the goofy image for a moment you’ll find he’s laughing all the way to the program director’s office. Get It Goin’ is a tight, four-song EP of punchy glam pop that can’t help but whet your appetite for more.

With a crack trio (guitarist Andee Hinds, drummer John Clancy and bassist Hannah Head – love that name), Mercury Boy taps the ample vein of Ziggy Stardust, 70s rock and Lenny Kravitz (ironically, the killer track here is called “Bus Driver”). And whatever the motivation is behind the cartoonish persona, you’ve got to tip your hat to anyone who can hose out the shoegazers with a record of energetic, fun rock and roll. Give me more!

Listen at Amazon

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