Tag Archives: Reigning Sound

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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Valentines Day? Love and Curses!

The Best Album of 2009

On this day of gooey lovey-dovey Keep-Hallmark-Cards-afloat palpitations, allow me to remind you that sentiment and passion is not always a positive thing. Sometimes love can be gut-wrenching and soul-sapping and unrequited and dark. And no one – no one– captures the spirit of desperation and bitter loneliness in song better than Greg Cartwright

And as good as his recorded canon is (including solo efforts and his work with bands including The Oblivians and The Compulsive Gamblers) his live performances are stunning. Onstage there’s not a single moment when he does not wholeheartedly inhabit these characters and songs and – as the classic adage says – let it bleed

Time Bomb High School has long been my favorite Reigning Sound album; I consider it almost a perfect record. I truly believe that Love And Curses can proudly stand alongside it: 

Like prior Reigning Sound albums, Cartwright offers a strong theme and excellent sequencing to make a powerful statement that flows with dynamic appeal. Despite the aroma of desperation, unrequited love, and loneliness in the lyrics, there’s an infectious magnetism to a man who can bare his soul so completely in his music. Cartwright is a happily married man with a family, but he’s able to dip into some dark places and channel the angst and pain of a tortured soul with amazing clarity.  

He’s willingly haunted, like the man in the horror movie who is warned not to go in the basement but clutches a lit match in shaky hands and starts the descent anyway. The album was recorded over time in two studios but has the immediacy of a group documenting a feverish all-nighter, and the balance of hard rock and desperate shuffles is flawless. 

Read my full review of 2009’s best album at PopMatters

Check out some samples here

The Reigning Sound MySpace page and Wiki site

Curses...foiled again.

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Show of the Year?

I'm gonna do me some prowlin'

I’m shuffling off to Buffalo (NY) to bear witness, to testify, to have my head dipped in the Baptismal pool of garage and punk and pure unadulterated genius that is The Reigning Sound. The combination of great band and great club (Mohawk Place) should make sparks fly with abandon.

I could listen to Greg Cartwright’s songs all day long – they resonate whether he’s playing a solo set or rocking the house with the band (David Wayne Gay on bass, Lance Willie on drums and the amazing Dave Amels on organ). In an era where the record industry machine is collapsing, they are a reminder of what rock’n’roll was supposed to be about all along. High expectations? You bet!

But I have a feeling they will vault that high bar and slam dunk my melon.

Stay tuned.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Things I’m Stoked About

The upcoming Eddie Izzard documentary

Seeing Ian McLagan solo and hoping there is a Faces reunion.

Also getting to see Todd Rundgren in an intimate show.

The Seinfeld reuinon on Curb Your Enthusiasm  

The Big Star box set

Mitch Ryder singing “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?”

Louis CK’s new show.

Finally getting to catch a performance by Otto and George

Blasting the new Reigning Sound and Greg Cartwright albums.

Opening my copy of the Life On Mars DVD

happy happy joy joy

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Taking It To Detroit, Part 2

Day Two of the manic weekend found me heading downtown to the Alley Deck in the Majestic Theatre complex to catch a set by one of my rock’n’roll heroes, Greg Cartwright. Having missed the Oblivians concert the night before (cloning is not one of my abilities) I knew I could not leave town without catching his solo set…even with a seven hour drive and two border crossings staring me down. I crawled in the door after midnight, but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

An American Original

An American Original

Greg apologized for being of raw throat and said he’d sing as long as he was able, then smiled and added “…but I will further fuck my voice up by smoking this cigarette“. The warning was all for naught;  he wound up playing two sets to an appreciative crowd of fans and fellow musicians… and I lost count at thirty-six songs.

Besdies a catalogue rich in great material, Cartwright had the crowd in stitches between songs – his story about Jack Oblivian selling his guitar to Jack White was classic. But he also paid genuine props to his peers, pointing out a friend who introduced him to an early Detroit single that’s now a live favorite, or how he learned how to better sing his own song “Bad Man” after hearing Rachael Nagy’s interpretation with The Detroit Cobras.

While there were some planned songs in his set, he also frequently took requests with the caveat that he might not remember all the words. Fumbles were rare, but when he hit the wall during “Two Thieves” he simply stopped and said “when I am beaten by my own brain, I will stand down“.  Then, laughing, he fired up the next tune. I’m not certain who had more fun, Greg or the audience. He’s an approachable guy who is the antithesis of the rock star persona, which is probably why so many other musicians are almost reverential when his name comes up in conversation.  

The set list touched upon all his band associations like The Oblivians and The Compulsive Gamblers but mostly drew upon The Reigning Sound, with at least one new track (“Pocket Full of Broken Things“) from their upcoming album Love & Curses. Hard to pick highlights, but “Reptile Style”, “We Repel Each Other”, “Time Bomb High School” and “Stop And Think It Over” each lit the place up like a rocket.

The Reigning Sound is now headed for Europe, but will return Stateside by mid-August to prepare for a tour to support the new album. Do not miss the opportunity to see not only one of America’s finest bands, but a true icon of independent music. I’ll hopefully interview Greg later this summer as part of a feature article about the band.

 Stop And Think It Over

Bad Man

We Repel Each Other

detroit 2

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Great Songs

What can I say?

All of these put a huge smile on my face and a spring in my step. Kick off your weekend with some great tunes…

Just don't dance like this...

Just don't dance like this...

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Under The Radar: South Filthy

For this cover, no caption will do

For this cover, no caption will do

 

Eugene Chadborne and Jack Yarber in the same space and time? Covers of Howlin’ Wolf, Ian Hunter, Warren Zevon and The Zeroes? Someone is reading my thoughts again. But what at first looks to be a raw, bluesy coalition scraping through swamp rock and jukebox leftovers quickly turns as fascinating and odd as the list of musicians. When most people hear “supergroup” they think Blind Faith or CSN or some other A-list combination of name artists. South Filthy is also a supergroup, but their ranks are filled with battle-tested, alcohol-soaked barrroom warriors from groups like Compuslive Gamblers and Tearjerkers along with the pen and sword of the uber-prolific Monsieur Jeffrey Evans.

Their 2006 album Crackin’ Up isn’t for everyone; might not even be for most. But liquor up and listen

I’m not certain how much permanence there is in the Memphis-Texas coalition or just how far their tongues are stuck up their collective cheeks (the inebriated waltz of Tom T. Hall’s “I Like Beer” bats in the 3-hole here). But if you think of this as Karaoke Night gone horribly awry – with instruments – it’s like listening to a group of off-center musician pals taking the stage and daring each other to get weirder song by song. And yes, some of the tracks are as sloppy live as they are in studio. Last man standing, indeed.

Their take on “C’mon Let’s Monkey” sounds like the theme from “Happy Days” performed by a shopping cart of winos. “Flaming Star” is somewhere between fragile and sloppy, reminiscent of a late 80s Alex Chilton b-side (and wouldn’t he have fit right in here!). But the closer to the blues they get (Wolf’s “You Can’t Put Me Out”), the stronger and more sincere they sound. Yeah, there’s the occasional bad Bob Dylan impression and someone will come in a fraction behind the beat time to time, but so what? Lots of bright spots to enjoy, and the title track is a killer. Loosen up, willya?

All you need is a twenty and an alibi.

All you need is a twenty and an alibi.

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