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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T.G.I.F. – Ten Trippy Tributes

I bow in your honor

I love, love, love tribute albums. Some are so inventive they occasionally exceed the original. Some are so poorly regimented that they’re fun like an Ed Wood movie is fun. You just have to admire a group of artists taking the plunge, whether it’s a label trying to promote their artist roster or a heartfely bow to some grand master.

I think the pinnacle for me is still eggBert’s Sing Hollies In Reverse, which featured a stunning asssemblage of pop stars, great song selections and some unbelieveable takes on the Hollies canon. Then they wrapped it up in a beautiful package with a well-written and informative booklet. Handled with care. The late great Greg Dwinell is no longer with us, but that album is one of his shining legacies.

Still the champion

But I know most people aren’t like me – tribute albums make as much sense as ducking an artist’s concert to see a cover band. And the funny thing is, I abhor most cover bands. Maybe I like tributes more because of the one-song-per-artist rule, or maybe it’s that I don’t have to watch them…I can just listen. And when the collection creatively juggles so many styles – folk, rock, dixieland, punk, r&b, glam, powerpop – so much the better.

Here are ten tribute albums that might have slipped by you. Click on the links below to listen to sound clips – you’ll be surprised how great some of the cuts are, not to mention some of the famous artists participating on even the tiniest label efforts!

Resurrection of The Warlock  (T. Rex)

Lowe Profile  (Nick Lowe)

Turban Renewal  (Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs)

Uncovered  (Bob Dylan)

We Will Fall  (Iggy Pop)

Brace Yourself  (Otis Blackwell)

Caroline Now  (Brian Wilson/Beach Boys)

Chooglin’  (John Fogerty/ Credence Clearwater Revival)

Blastered  (The Blasters)

Frankly a Capella  (Frank Zappa / The Mothers of Invention)

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Blast From The Past: Sylvain Sylvain


Syl Sylvain
is one cool cat.
 

The Keef to David Johansen‘s Mick in the New York Dolls, Syl is the one who makes the engine hum. And as there are but the two sole surviving Dolls, that’s more important in 2010 than it was two decades ago when they first blasted upon the scene. 

I was playing some of his solo work today and flashed back to a review I wrote in November 1998 for Consumable Online; his albums had just been released on CD. At the time I surmised that the Dolls would never reform (I am very happy to have been proven wrong!) and hoped that he would resume his own career since Johansen obviously intended to do the same. 

The live Dolls reunion a few years ago and the subsequent album One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This both blew me away with a sound both classic and fresh. I wasn’t a big fan of the next Dolls album Cause I Sez So, and their recent live shows seem to use the same set list that they’ve been doing for a while. But I also believe that when good bands satisfy their outside urges they can bring some great stuff back to the table. 

The always-busy Steve Conte is doing that right now with The Crazy Truth. Syl is doing the same thing in Batusis with Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Boys. Maybe that will make the Dolls stronger. Maybe not. 

But no matter what happens, these Sylvain Sylvain albums rule. 

I'm Dickens, He's Fenster

After leaving the New York Dolls, guitarist Sylvain Sylvain released a couple of very good pop records that somehow got lost in the shuffle. When no third record materialized, it was a disappointment but not a big surprise – after all, post-punk pop was finding no welcome mat in the synth-happy 1980s, and even David Johansen had to whore himself out as Buster Poindexter just to put food on the table. 

Imagine my delight when Fishhead Records not only released some of Sylvain’s previous songs on one CD (Sylvain Sylvain…..In Teenage News), but a brand new collection of twelve songs! Adding to the good news was the announcement that Sylvain was hitting the club circuit again, band in tow. 

He’s still a pop guy with 50’s doo-wop roots glowing through his songs. The title track, an ode to his lost bandmates, is reminiscent of Little Anthony and The Imperials, while “Another Heart Needs Mending” mines the same sock-hop vocal territory. But grit abounds too, thanks to a crack band of backup musicians, among them Frankie Infante and Fuzztones Rudy Protrudi and John Carlucci. “Oh Honey” is pure Bo Diddley, and “I’m Your Man” is a finger-poppin’ rework that jumps out of the speakers. 

Although proud of his Dolls roots, reading Sylvain interviews gives a strong clue that a reunion will never happen, mostly due to a fractured relationship with Johansen. Still, Sylvain has no qualms with the great songs they wrote; three are included here, among them a spirited rendition of “Trash” (a song also recently covered by soulmate Gilby Clarke). And only a former Doll could write a “Sleepwalk” style instrumental and call it “Forgotten Panties”! Hopefully this signals the beginning of the second half of Sylvain Sylvain’s career

Syl’s MySpace site 

A good Creem interview from 2005 

Yet another  from 2006, courtesy Brooklyn Vegan

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