.NEW.MUSIC.FRIDAY. back at you with releases and reissues galore.
PLUS A DEEP DIVE into John Coltrane circa '65.
TARAKA - Welcome To Paradise Lost [LP](Rage Peace/Secretly)
Band breakups like personal breakups send musicians in a variety of directions looking for both answers and their own identity. Taraka Larson of Psych band Prince Rama has made an album that is both intoxicating and haunting Psychedelia and wildly experimental Pop. “Deep Hollow” is a reverb-drenched trip to within being without someone, “0010100” is a thematic, operatic, Sixties-kitschy-is-cool vision of the looking glass and “Psychocastle” is a brilliant Punky slice of life that mixes monster riffs with Girl Group vocals. The best part is this only her Garden of Eden.
JULIA BARDO - Bauhaus, L’Appartmento [LP/CD](Wichita)
With her Natalie Merchant-esque delivery and Stevie Nicks-ian warble, this British singer has stepped away from the phenomenal Working Men’s Club to push an album of guitar-based Liz Phair-ian Pop/Rock. On songs like “Do It To Me,” Bardo has already developed her songwriting to immediately draw you in with her writing. Like Taraka above, “Bauhaus” is another search for one’s self. Bardo skillfully only gives you the bits that are bothering her. This makes a stellar track like almost angular Pop of “No Feeling” ring true as both her asking the nagging questions while taking charge of her own life.
BEVIS FROND - Little Eden [LP/CD](Fire Recordings)
Nick Salomon continues his late-career roll with a set of songs that clearly signify his search for meaning (the rousing "Do Without Me") and still meet his high standard of emulating Sixties and Seventies Rock. Salomon finds safety in melody (the Power Pop "They Will Return" and the imaginative Wilco-esque Folk/Rock of "Hold Your Horses") while keeping both new fans and longtime followers satiated. From the Eighties-esque jump of "Everyone Rise" to the lengthy guitar bliss of "Dreams of Flying," "Little Eden" is a sprawling beauty.
GOAT - Headsoup [LP/CD](Rocket Recordings UK/Redeye)
The Swedish "world music" collective Goat has always made a joyful Psychedelic noise that pushes all the parameters. Haunting vocals, dense polyrhythms, and a searing hot guitar use their earlier albums to leave you in a trippy haze. That is why "Headsoup" is such a welcome surprise. These early tracks that stretch all the way to "The Sun The Moon" - their 7" debut single gives you a picture of the power they brought to even the most rudimentary recording. A bumping burner like "Dig My Grave" will place them beside Oh Sees in the realm of modern Psychedelia, while the fuzz-bass anchored "Dreambuilding" fits right into everyone's current definition of "World Music."
BAD BUSINESS CLUB - Naked Neighbor [LP](Bad Business Club)
MAGDALENA BAY - Mercurial World [LP/CD](Luminelle/Fat Possum/The Orchard)
New York’s Bad Business Club is a new danceable band looking for that crease between Disco and Yacht Rock. Their melodies and harmonies are all very 1979, especially when they break out the trendy synths. However, beneath it, they mix tight rhythms and pursue the everlasting groove. The mix of female and male voices keep their tracks from ever venturing too far into sameness. The soulful “Tired of Being Over You” and the sophisticated French chanteuse-meets-Disco magic of “Runnin’ From You” definitely should get this group some notice.
Magdelena Bay follow down the path of supremely good dance music with great production touches (the mid-song synth wash of “Secrets (Your Fire,”) the House underpinnings on cuts like “Chaeri” and even a swing at both Yacht Rock (“Hysterical Us”) and Modern Rock (“You Lose!”) You could easily see this Los Angeles-based duo finding production/songwriting work and getting some of these licensed for your favorite shows and commercials.
THE DECLINING WINTER - The Definition Glance [7”](Acuarela/The Orchard)
This solo project of Richard Vincent Adams formerly of Hood takes a new shape around this luminous new single. “The Definition Glance” mixes languid synths above a more intense drum pattern and PiL-ish bass to push Shoegaze in a whole different direction. The melancholic nature of the track is not lost with all the driving sounds, it is strangely emphasized. When it finally drifts out into a distortion-tinged ending, you will want to hear it again to catch what you missed.
COLOSSEUM - Live in Germany [CD](Repertoire UK)
One of the first bands to fuse Blues, Jazz, and Rock, Colosseum was on the cusp of breaking through when they called it quits in 1971. These live recordings (mostly from WDR’s Beat Club) capture the band in a state of flux (with most members being replaced or reassigned around January 1970’s release of “The Grass Is Greener.”) However, in almost any incarnation, saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith (also in the New Jazz Orchestra reviewed here 9.23.21) truly breathes life in their songs. When he plays his passionate solo on “Tanglewood” breaks down into just listening to him play and breathe between phrases, the band return with vim and vigor. “Take Me Back To Doomsday” is more conventional but their ability to join the tough verses with its sweeping chorus is still inspired. They actually fare better on the lengthier cuts like “Valentyne Suite” and “Lost Angeles.” “Live in Germany” is a document of their upward climb to a US release and an album (“Daughter of Time” partially recorded by the time they were playing many of these shows) that almost hit the Top 20 in the UK.
A glorious run of LOUD ROCK this week..
DIRT WOMAN - The Glass Cliff [LP](Grimoire)
Maryland-based Stoner Rock with a hint of desert-flavored Doom, Dirt Woman knows two things that bode well for their future. Always find the groove and never overdo it. With vocalist/guitarist Zoe Koch hiding her wail in a bed of reverb, the fuzz bass is mixed right in your face. At times on their centerpiece “Creator,” you can almost feel the oscillations of the notes ringing out. Over thirteen minutes, they speed up/slow down but rarely the same way twice. They rush out of the gate with the Queens/Kyussian “Lady of the Dunes” which neatly puts the big booming snare hits of Avery Mallon between the stops from the riffing. While the slow swing of the Monster Magnet-ian “Demagogue” shows they do not need to be loud or uptempo to ROCK.
AORLHAC - Pierres Brulees [LP](Les Acteurs de L’Ombre FR]
While their inspiration is the Medieval history of a region of land between Spain, France and Italy, Aorlhac are very modern Black Metal. Their chainsaw riffing and the double drumming work very well to generate steam, but the band is not afraid to descending some grinding Sabbath-esque riffage and even sing. “Le colere d’volcan” sounds like by the numbers Black Metal, but they wield a mean riff right in the middle that would not be lost to most listeners. “Au travers du nos cris” lands somewhere between blinding Thrash and galloping Punk, “Vingt sieges, cent assauts” actually peaks at its end with another whip-cracking apocalyptic horseman riffs, and “Nos names aux mornes idees” actually sounds almost Celtic and anthemic - before they turn the Black Metal to stun. Aorlhac has a lot of promise to use their bludegoning Black Metal as only one facet of their attack.
GODDAMN - Raw Coward [LP](One Little Independent UK)
BUMMER - Dead Horse [LP/CD](Thrill Jockey/Redeye)
2021 has seen a reinvigorated guitar rock ready to incinerate their own sound. God Damn appears on the surface to be another bracing Shit And Shine-type band out to offend (in a funny way) and red-line everything. However, when you separate the lyrics, noise and booming band, you may discover “Raw Coward” is actually a new hybridized Grunge. Songs are purposely set to “destroy” like “Radiation Acid Queen” which rages before its “Territorial Pissings” style verse. However, this arrangement is only to make their blistering chorus surprise you. “Cowkaine” is the perfect combination of gonzo guitar, screaming and noise, while “Drop Me Off Where They Clean The Dead Up” is both as morbid as you would expect and Metal/Industrial slammer. “Raw Coward” is a guided missile of Metallic/Industrial/Noisy Rock whose twisted lyrics and wicked riffs need to find more Rock fans.
Kansas City’s Bummer is out to decimate your mind. Like Big Black or the classic AMREP records of old, “Dead Horse” is a yowler that never lets up. “JFK Speedwagon” (their titles are all spun gold too) is the right combination of thudding drums and razor-sharp guitar. Bummer’s riffs are deadly. Played loud, the singer has no choice but to unleash a guttural primal scream. Like God Damn, Bummer is out for some dark humor. However, the hammer-to-the-skull riffage of tracks like “Juice Pig” and the Melvins-esque sludge of “Kid Spock” are about getting in your face and never letting you look away or blink.
BRIEF PROGRAM NOTE: METAL is returning to the airwaves in Hattiesburg, as BLOODY NOSE takes control over on 88.5 FM on Thursday nights from 10pm-MIDNIGHT.
Oh yeah, we have to end with the deep dive…
JOHN COLTRANE in 1965
To prepare for the "A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle" release from Impulse, this makes a great time to evaluate the myriad of changes John Coltrane's music is going through in months before the September 30th recording.
In the year 1965, Coltrane will be in and out of the studio with almost feverish enthusiasm and intense concentration on finding the perfect performance from his classic band. The year opens with the Quartet back in the same studios at Englewood Cliffs, NJ with Rudy Van Gelder where they just recorded "A Love Supreme." As his music will travel in 1965, songs are suddenly less about the song than capturing the fire of interplay and how each player responds to the most sudden changes.
Over the year, Coltrane's music will evolve from classic Jazz with song structure shrinking all the way down to a melody quote in the middle of a maelstrom as if Coltrane was knowingly giving the neophyte listeners at least a phrase to hang on to. McCoy Tyner's stacked fourths give the songs of "A Love Supreme" both a serious and an Eastern feel. While Coltrane is regularly using a "chant" to draw the disparate parts together and playing like words are coming through his horn.
What will follow is a continuously evolving array of compositions that begin as blistering live performances (the Spring sets at the Half Note make a fantastic laboratory for their heated improvisation) and typically end as the definitive recording in the studio and perhaps one more almost-as-solid take that follows shortly thereafter.
This habit of Coltrane trying to catch the proverbial "lightning in a bottle" leaves a string of live takes, outtakes, long renditions, and more of the songs he was constantly working on in his head. Above all, please remember that most of this was "spiritual" music to him. So, when he drops out of the present to play a crowd-pleaser like "My Favorite Things" - it is as if he summoning a different plane of consciousness than the one he was seeking.
In the summer 1965 tours with Thelonious Monk and Archie Shepp (captured on "New Thing at Newport,") Coltrane seems to be ready to test his music on a willing and rapt audience. So it makes perfect sense in the dual planes he is functioning to first attack "One Up One Down" with an almost vicious ferocity (as if he is seeing if the presence of the crowd can take them higher than before) and then use the modal but gentle swing of "My Favorite Things" as a soothing counterpoint.
When tracks grow sparse ("Dear Lord") and even develop from scales ("Psalm,") it is often as if Coltrane is pulling away from the Blues at times, but always returning to its simplicity in an almost elemental manner. Also, 1965 is significant because it is the year that Coltrane became fascinated with the Avant-Garde and saw the potential for Ornette Coleman-esque "Free" improvisation (it is important to note, Coleman had been honing this method since 1955) to create music that could soar even higher. Like a mountain climber, you can hear Coltrane always steadily climbing in his songs until he knows it is not arriving at the zenith that is most important - instead, it is the feeling that he is leading us all - at his speed and tempo - to that marvelous peak.
It is also important to note that as of May 1965, to follow the metaphor, he was taking more band members with him to the mountaintop. "Ascension" features eleven players, "Meditations" settles on a sextet, and by the end of 1965, Coltrane will be using two drummers. In the beginning, there are a pair of versions of “Nature Boy.” Both let go of their ballad-esque construction to explore space (similar to “A Love Supreme”) and the band swelling around the track in waves. Between the Feb. 17th and the Feb.18th take, it takes on a more confident swing from Elvin Jones which in turn allows Coltrane’s solo (over Tyner’s chording) to flow in and out of their groove.
Then there is the furious “One Up One Down” which in nearly every version seeks to emerge from Jimmy Garrison’s bass lines and simply warp your opinion of Jazz playing in every scale at once. The Half Note version (originally broadcast live on the radio March 28th) is a fevered Hard-Bop dream. By three minutes in, Coltrane is already alternating between his lowest notes and that high squeal that is all over “Village Vanguard.” The 15-minute version recorded May 26th definitely shows Elvin Jones in total control. Because of that, Coltrane stays in the high register running notes for a while and hitting those “sheets of sound” while racing through his arpeggios. By the time, Coltrane leads it off during the live set at Newport July 4th, his fiery lead playing inspires a brilliant solo from Tyner on piano.
As the Free Jazz side of music grew more interesting to Coltrane, the sessions that would be reassembled as “Transition” in 1970 see Coltrane reaching for the most immediate improvisation he can summon to create and yet always willing to go back to an earthy Blues figure. The Coltrane-Jones duet “Vigil” appears in two takes from June 16th. At both his most melodic moments and his most visceral runs, Jones always responds to his rhythms. Yet, when Coltrane runs the gamut on his horn, Jones hammers that central beat with precision. There is something so muscular about the pair playing off of each other. One raises the stakes. Then, the next iteration cools a few degrees. In the end, it is most interesting that on the cusp of crossing fully into his experimental phase - we still have so many tracks to study how well they listened to each other and almost by instinct responded within a split second.
1965 was the final year of Coltrane’s prodigious output. Following the Penthouse set that comprises the new Impulse release “A Love Supreme: Live In Seattle,” the band would swell in size. This added set of musicians likely reduced the elasticity of Coltrane’s recording schedule. He will put the meditational “Om” together in October, the fully Free Jazz “Meditations” in November, “Expression” in March 1967, and his final live recording on April 23, 1967. There were sessions between that have thankfully turned up in posthumous releases (“Stellar Regions,” and “Interstellar Space”) However, it is highly likely that 1965 will stand as his late-period creative peak.
To accompany this deep dive, we constructed (to the best of our ability) a set that organizes the first nine months of Coltrane’s recorded activity in chronological order. Please take into account that in the space of three-fourths of a year, Coltrane and his numerous groups committed nearly 12 hours of music to tape.
Well, another week, another list of several different styles and pursuits in music for you. Enjoy. Listen again. Share as you wish.
NEW RELEASES lovingly compiled for you from this very week!
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