MELOMANIA gives you the high five!
Returning with all NEW MUSIC for you. Thanks.
ACT I SCENE III
This week (while researching another piece) it occurred to us that some of the best music we have in the last sixty years was simply licensed from overseas. For instance, when EMI in England signed the Beatles and its US arm, Capitol Records was not interested in the Fab Four, Chicago Blues, and Jazz label Vee-Jay licensed their initial recordings. Licensing singles and albums was not only lucrative but a great way to introduce acts like The Kinks to American audiences. By the Eighties, the entire output of a label led numerous acts up to the ladder so to speak (Mute, Virgin, I.R.S., Slash, and more.) For reasons that remain largely unknown, the philosophy at so many of these small labels was “you are only as good as your next release.” That hunger combined with the growing desire to hear/have the newest music probably led us to where we are today.
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Therein lies the problem. The majors continue to nurse either small well-manicured rosters or through using a dense sub-label system function as diverse. Their efforts at being heard are now at the same level as independent labels and distributors. However, the playing field is not entirely level. The majors dominate the advertising and marketing (much of a superstar release must have this multi-tiered plan in place months in advance,) and the independents are left to use all the press they can muster and curry favor to earn radio play/playlist curation. That leaves you and me as the listener/buyer of the end product. While it certainly does depend on our thoughts, our support, and (perhaps most importantly) our repetition and purchasing power - this multi-faceted environment often means it can function without these key facets. For the first time ever, a record can be a hit without anyone buying it. This change in the business has now commodified the one item we all share - time. So, as you read these and (hopefully) enjoy this music. Or any music for that matter. Whether you were brought to it by a billboard or a blog, ask yourself - was that worth my time?
THE LONG RYDERS - September/November [LP/CD](Cherry Red UK)
Nostalgia for the past and the loss of bassist Tom Stevens hang heavy over this latest album from the classic Cowpunk-Paisley Underground-ers The Long Ryders. In their heyday, The Long Ryders could be undeniably tough (“Looking For Lewis and Clark”) and then leave you misty-eyed (“Lights of Downtown.”) However, those Long Ryders were forever in the shadow of The Byrds (even as they were beating everyone to the genesis and fusion of Alt. Country/Americana today.) “September/November” is largely a record about soldiering on. While they still pump out a muscular Cowpunk style bruiser (“Elmer Gantry Is Alive and Well,”) “September/November” shows a lot of depth. The wistful “My Back Pages”-ish jangle of “Seasons Change” is shaken by a chorus that ranks as one of their most beautiful and original creations. The “Tom Tune” “Hand of Fate” from Stephen McCarthy is a Petty-esque heartbreaker that barely needs a vocal to make you cry. While the closer “Flying Out Of London” hangs on beautiful balalaika-like strumming and a soaring steel guitar solo. With “September/November,” The Long Ryders officially enter their second phase as sages of Country Rock.
DUTCH UNCLES - True Entertainment [LP/CD](Memphis Industries/Redeye)
After 2008, there was a glut of bands like Dutch Uncles. Uptempo Electronic music with a Rock band swagger. In that same year, this band under its original name (Headlines) became Dutch Uncles. Now on their sixth album, their music has become both nervy Post-Punk and intensely personal (think about Hot Chip’s sincere but danceable “One Life Stand.”) Dutch Uncles are gifted with Duncan Wallis upfront, his cooing/trilling highs always give a track a real rush. The hiccuping dancefloor burner “Tropigala (2 to 5)” comes out of nowhere with its Post-Disco Talking Heads attack. However, it’s Wallis’ falsetto understatement that really gives it a flash. Pair that with some brilliant key changes and you have a cut that whirls around like a disco ball. “Exit Row” amps up the fuzz bass and jangly, consistent guitar for a 1982 sweeping vibe. However, what really makes the cut sizzle is the deadly combination of keys deep in the mix (forcing you to listen) and how it lets the melodic guitar solo completely renew the hook. With its Eastern overtones, the Japan-like “In Salvia” and the chiming but emotional “I’m Not Your Dad” also separate “True Entertainment” from the pack.
AMBASSADOR HAZY - The Door Between [LP](Feeding Tube)
After 2022’s swirling Brian Jonestown-esque “Modes of Transport,” Sterling DeWeese goes into one-man Wet Tuna mode on “The Door Between.” “One Step Removed Blues” is a paint-peeling Psychedelic dose of lo-fi wonder. It mixes a roaming bass line, with DeWeese’s falsetto vocals and a shaky, out-of-phase spark-plug guitar part. It is the definition of druggy, as it wanders away from the verse/chorus structure into a spiral of hidden wah-wah and dope-driven drums. He immediately follows up with the lysergic “Lighthouse” with its Paisley Underground vapor trails and lovely trail-off. Finally, DeWeese cranks up the synth and drum machine on “Going Down” which sounds a bit like Suicide playing The Cure’s “A Forest.” No matter how you turn this one, “The Door Between” is a late-night favorite taking shape.
GEE TEE - Goodnight Neanderthal [LP](Goner)
More of that searing hot Aussie Punk Rock, Sydney’s Kel Mason is back with a blazing hot (the recording pushes distortion almost as hard as 208) album that finds some warmth in its distorted, amphetamine poppy Punk. “Within The Walls” is a near-sunny Ramones-style rocker with a cheesy keyboard and chunky Chuck Berry-style guitar. There is something charming and menacing about pushing the limits of Lo-Fi and having so much fun with the gurgling vocals. “Heart-Throb” is a Punk-Rock fireball. Mason controls its burn so well with its B-horror movie organ and gurgling Wolfman Jack-style grunts. Immediately bumping into “Stuck Down,” you realize that Mason’s greatest skill is not hooks (there are some awesome ones here like “Cell Damage”) but arranging and rearranging the same palette of sounds to always sound slightly altered. “Goodnight Neanderthal” is a burner from start to finish.
FREAKSVILLE NATIONAL ORCHESTRA [LP](Freaksville Record)
With a name like this, you had better be ready to bring some serious heat. Benjamin Schoos and Alex Gavaghan have assembled a massive group that is ready to tackle any and all versions of Garage/Psych/Rock. It is a testament to this album, that the track fly by like you are turning the channels on an old TV. “The Lancs” builds up from a simple two-chord riff into a locomotive (neatly underpinned by Hammond organ) that runs through an arpeggiated chorus that sounds a fantastic show opener. Then, wham, “Avinguda de la Malva-Rosa” shimmies out with horn charts that are too good for Garage and a swaggering Spencer Davis (with Winwood) style chorus. “Marina Goes Electric” is a great chaotic swinger that somehow fits beautifully with the interplanetary lounge ballad “Le Juares Cafe.” Everything Freaksville does musically emerges from fascinating taste. Gurgling synths appear next to twangy guitar, sitars dance around, and it is only about six songs in which you notice there are no vocals. The Nick Cave-ian “Jimmy Was a Rat Catcher” is gritty and a bit of a tone-changer. Just when you think Freaksville has run out of tricks in their old bag, they bring in a harmonica to just jam on the bluesy rager “Carr Mill Nights.” At the precise moment it settles into its groove, the mix changes. The bass line is prominent, the other parts disappear and we settle on a Stones-y slide guitar figure. Little by little, Freaksville rebuilds the song as it whirls past you and does not lose one ounce of its punch. Kudos to making an album that is not only a showcase for your growing membership but a whirling dervish that surprises you. So…how can we join?
We sincerely hope that these were time well spent. We thank you for reading, listening, subscribing, and most of all supporting the artists listed here. Thank you.
There is a method to the madness we promise. To us, the best playlisting songs come two ways:
1. When you are just skimming an older playlist/segment - see a track - and it starts playing in your head.
When a cut surprises you. When you are listening to the random array run together and that song plays that makes you race over to find out what it is.
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