Last week we had some outragous surf developed from a storm off New Zealand. Couldn't have happened at a better time.
Huntington Beach was the site of the Hurley U.S Open of Surfing for the last two weekends. It's been pretty calm surf at the last several big surf contests here but this storm created some monster surf at our beaches.
Check out this video of Jamie O'Brien surfing The Wedge at Newport Beach. Awsome.
This is Not a spot for the beginners. Last week a bodyboarder was killed as he was pummeled against the jetty rocks to the right. On the left side is just a very hazardous slam into the sand. -He had no business in that area, especially with the monster surf conditions.
More jamie-obrien Surfing >>
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Last week we had some outragous surf developed from a storm off New Zealand. Couldn't have happened at a better time.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
All of this leading up to the Second Annual Surf Guitar 101 Convention on Saturday August 1st
Being held this year at The Starting Gate in Los Alamitos. From 11:00 am to 8:00 pm. A full day of the sounds of the surf and sun.
And if thats not enough surf for your brain, make a beeline back down south to Oceanside (about an hours drive) and hit the Royal Dive by 9:30 pm and catch the Cavalcade Of Surf Music featuring 2 more bands to finish up the night.
Time to get up bright and early and head back north to the Huntington Beach International Surf Museums Surfin' Sunday show at the Huntington Beach Pier on August 2nd. This outdoors show always brings out hot talent and beautiful weather for all to enjoy. Show begins at 11:00 am and goes until 5:00 featuring 5 bands.
And..... To wind it all down, head just a short hop up the road to Don The Beachcombers Dagger Bar for a tasty libation and acoustic surf brought to you by The Duo-Tones, featuring surf superstars Paul Johnson and Gil Ore. Relax, talk story with your friends and wonder what the rest of the world did for fun over their weekend.
I love it here!
Sunday, July 26, 2009
While universaly lambasted by critics (and you know what I think about most critics) this album is still one of my favorite Bowie discs. Presented as complete discs 1 & 2, the way it was ment to be listened to.
Say "F&@% the reviewers" and give it a try.
Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
During the supporting tour for 1974's Diamond Dogs, David Bowie shifted away from the arch camp of glam rock and turned toward a highly stylized variation of Philly soul — a transition captured on the 1974 double live album, David Live. It's an interesting idea for a record, and certainly one that's fascinating as a historical footnote, but David Live winds up as one of the true failures in Bowie's catalog, one of the few records in his catalog that's a genuine chore to sit through from beginning to end. Part of the problem is inherent to any live Bowie LP: his concerts are equal parts visual spectacle and musical concert, so having just the aural portion of the show misses a crucial part of the story. Another part of the problem is that the soul reworkings of Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, and Diamond Dogs material is intriguing conceptually, but the execution, at least on this record, is awkward and ham-fisted, nowhere near as sleek and sexy as the subsequent Young Americans and, especially, Station to Station albums. And that points out the real problem with David Live — the performances are stilted, lacking energy, and often degenerating into bland groove-oriented vamps. It doesn't help that the recording is lousy and that no amount of aural tweaking — whether on Rykodisc's 1991 CD reissue or Virgin's expanded 2005 reissue, which is heavily remixed by its original producer Tony Visconti — can change the fact that this is a flat, colorless experience. [The 1991 Rykodisc edition tacks on a number of bonus tracks at the end of the disc rather than insert them into the running order, which the 2005 Virgin edition thankfully did.]
2 Rebel Rebel
3 Moonage Daydream
4 Sweet Thing
6 Suffragette City
7 Aladdin Sane
8 All the Young Dudes
9 Cracked Actor
10 Rock & Roll with Me
11 Watch That Man
12 Knock On Wood
13 Diamond Dogs
14 Big Brother
15 Width of a Circle
16 Jean Genie
17 Rock & Roll Suicide
18 Band Intro
19 Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
Get it HERE
Saturday, July 25, 2009
They shared stages with Dick Dale, Laika & The Cosmonauts, The Friends of Dean Martinez, Huevos Rancheros, The Royal Crowns, Resin Scraper, Phono-Comb, Atomic 7 and many others.Their CD on Iglu is a tasty collection of twangy original compositions by the group and one carefully chosen cover (by Serge Gainsbourg). One way to describe their sound is: Young, Fast and Scientific!
After several years of giving true fans of music a great deal of pleasure, Polaris! disbanded when their drummer followed his muse to Newfoundland. The CD remains as a lasting tribute to their amazing creativity.
"Polaris are amazing... a completely gorgeous, gorgeous band" Brian Connelly (Shadowy Men), Toronto Star, February 1996.
01 - HYPNOVISTA
02 - SPACIBA, DA SVIDANIA
03 - EURO STAR
04 - SCENE KING
05 - STRONTIUM 90
06 - DANGER GIRL
07 - DOCTOR ELECTRO
08 - BRYLCREEM PILLOW
09 - HIBACHI
10 - SEQUENCE VOITURE
11 - STRANGE MARY JANE
12 - BIG BOSS A GO-GO
13 - CRIME WAVE
14 - UNDERWATER MORPHINE
15 - POLARIS SHAKE
16 - N'ECOUTE PAS LES IDOLES
17 - PSYCHOTIC ROCKET
18 - PINBALL LOSER
Find it HERE
Phil Dirt Says:
These guys were early birds in the nest of surf. Not much of what we now think of as surf, but some really fine vintage tracks. Some East LA soul influences and some standard dance influences, but overall, a really solid album. They were influences on fledgling bands like the Lively Ones. They were a tough act in their days. [Reverb Central]
01 Surfin At Mazatlan
02 Rendevous Stomp
04 Nine Toes
07 Breakfast At Tressles
08 Moovin' N Groovin
09 Get It On
11 The Breeze And I
12 You Can't Sit Down
13 The Slide
14 Garbage Cans
Get It HERE
Friday, July 24, 2009
A fine collection of early Perry dub packaged in what seems to be a semi-legit, bootleg way. This label seems to be tied in with the French label Lagoon, which has released the Perry-produced Bob Marley session (two CDs, both of them essential). This is a good selection; Perry remixes are typically audacious and crazy, but there's little enclosed information telling you when the tracks were cut. Lack of information is an ongoing problem with Perry releases, since his entire output defies any kind of authoritative historical treatment. Still, this is worthy of your time, even if it doesn't provide the big buzz of some of Perry's other, more far-out experiments.
Opening track on the new album by The Dead Weather, Horehound. One badass tune.
Posted by Trustar at 7/24/2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Known for their eccentric, goofy, humorous way of blending punk and surf rock (sometimes with a definite country influence), the Ziggens aren't a major name in the rock world but have enjoyed a small cult following since the early '90s. The Ziggens have always been based in Orange County, CA, just south of Los Angeles -- a logical place for artists who are into surf rock -- and the four-man band has a long list of influences from different musical eras. Clearly, they're into '60s surf favorites like the Ventures, Jan & Dean, and the Beach Boys -- they've even been compared to Annette Funicello -- but they're hardly an exact replica of artists from the Lyndon Johnson years; their sound also owes a lot to old-school punk bands of the '70s and '80s. The Ziggens (who like to describe their quirky approach as "cowpunksurfabilly") have never been known for taking themselves too seriously; they obviously identify with punk's more fun and lighthearted side, which means that they have more in common with the Ramones and the Dickies than with militant, angrily sociopolitical agitators like the Sex Pistols, the Dead Kennedys, the Clash, and early T.S.O.L. (before T.S.O.L. got away from left-wing politics and reinvented themselves as a heavy metal band along the lines of AC/DC, Accept, and Dokken). Think of the Ramones performing "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" and "Rockaway Beach" or the Dickies pounding out the nutty "You Drive Me Ape, You Big Gorilla" -- that's the type of wacky, absurdist punk that has had a major impact on the Ziggens. And when the Orange County residents incorporate country influences, one is reminded of rockabilly and classic honky tonk rather than slick, glossy country-pop or countrypolitan -- in other words, they sound like they've more likely to listen to Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, or Merle Haggard than Kathy Mattea or Trisha Yearwood.After their formation in 1990, the Ziggens provided several albums in the '90s and early 2000s and recorded for the Skunk and Cornerstone labels. In 2003, Cornerstone released a best-of collection titled Greatest Zits: 1990-2003, which spanned 13 years and contained a variety of material that the Ziggens had selected themselves. The Ziggens' lineup has included head honcho/founder Bert Susanka, aka Bert Ziggen, on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Jon Poutney, aka Jon Ziggen, on bass, Dickie Ziggen on lead guitar, and Brad Conyers, aka Brad Ziggen, on drums and background vocals.
Off The Richtor (Act II)
The Song Remains Insane
Link removed at request of band.
This is one great CD
Get it over @ CDBaby
Thursday, July 16, 2009
This movie and soundtrack is another of my guilty pleasures. This one I won't hide though. Enjoy! Will post the flick this weekend if anyone is interested. Give me a show of comments.
Review by Cub Koda
This is the soundtrack to the Tom Hanks-written and -directed movie about a fictional rock & roll band from Erie, PA (the Wonders), who luck into their one and only hit record in 1964. As a souvenir of the movie, this soundtrack more than fills the bill. But as a collection of great songs, it more than stands on its own as well. The tunes and performances perfectly evoke that cusp of time in rock history when one era was ending and another was beginning, while the production values are retro and yet modern, clean, and sharp. If you're a fan of mid-'60s British pop, here's a new recording that adds some more great songs and performances to that genre.
1 Lovin' You Lots and Lots Norm Wooster Singers
2 That Thing You Do! Wonders
3 Little Wild One Wonders
4 Dance With Me Tonight Wonders
5 All My Only Dreams Wonders
6 I Need You (That Thing You Do) Wonders
7 She Knows It Heardsmen
8 Mr. Downtown Freddy Fredrickson
9 Hold My Hand, Hold My Heart Chantrellines
10 Voyage Around the Moon Saturn V
11 My World Is Over Diane Dane
12 Drive Faster Vicksburgs
13 Shrimp Shack Cap'n Geech & Shrimp Shack Shooters
14 Time to Blow Del Paxton
19 15 That Thing You Do! [Live at the Hollywood Television Showcase] Wonders
Get It Here
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
We've been working hard here at Trustar Vibrations the last month or so to bring you a broad assortment of musical types and styles. Some old, some very new. It seems to be working on some levels but not others.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
This is the new House mix by my friend DJ Aldo X. This mix was made exclusively for the DJ Ginny K's "Tuesdays Are" radio show aired on June 16th.
Playing Time 64 Mins – 192 Kbps
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
"What is catty," the backing singers ask U-Roy on the innuendo-laced "Big Boy & Teacher"; "The same as pussy cat, lying on the mat," he replies. Well that obviously explains why felines are running rampant over Adults Only!, Vol. 2. Stranger Cole has his "Pussy Cat"; Max Romeo doesn't have a feline of his own, so he wants to "Play With Your Pussy"; Lloydie & the Lowbites love theirs so much they exclaim "Yum Yum Pussy"; while the Soulmates attempt to put out the blaze after "Pussy Catch a Fire." The girls, meanwhile, seem to have their eyes on the chicken ruling the roost, as Owen & Leon explain on "Want Me Cock." And so Trojan excites listeners with another collection of rude reggae, raunchy rocksteady, and scandalizing ska classics and covers. Once again, there's an odd number out, "Rub up Push Up," which is no relation to the Termites' song that appeared on the first volume, where Justin Hinds & the Dominoes actually tell off their contrite girl for her lovey-dovey behavior. But when the Termites deliriously sing "Push It Up" and the Itals dulcetly intone "Push Push," it's in another context entirely. There's plenty of sweet singing as well from the likes of Max Romeo, Lloyd Charmers, and the Ethiopians, who beat down "Satan Gal" with great whip effects and fabulous harmonies, while the aforementioned Soulmates song boasts wailing fire sirens. Others numbers are so salaciously suggestive they stun on their own, notably Lloyd & Patsy's "Papa Do It Sweet," a cross between a back-alley "Je T'aime" and "Soldering," while Charlie Ace & Fay return with another heavy rhythm to accompany the DJ's heavy-handed seduction technique. And if the "Rough Rider" leaves you with a limp, "Doctor Dick" will put you right, just beware of the "Hole Under Crutches." For with the fabulous rhythms streaming behind the suggestive lyrics, you'll want to get up and dance, unless you'd prefer to have a bit of a lie-down.
An album stuffed with 18 "adult listening" classics, or to rip away the hyperbole, a compilation of rude reggae greats. Most are drawn from the early reggae years; however, the sugar daddy of them all, Max Romeo's "Wet Dream," the song that launched the whole rude reggae raft into the British charts, is a surprising omission, although the Inspirations do offer up a spirited cover. As with that hit, the innuendos are all in the mind of the listener, and there's actually nothing X-rated to be found within; on the Termites' "Rub up Push Up," only the title hints at more than a bit of canoodling. However, there's plenty of hot-and-heavy suggestion elsewhere -- Lee Perry & the Soulettes' "Rub and Squeeze," the Tennors' salacious childhood memories of "Khaki," Junior Byles' climax into an aria on the Versatiles' "Push It In" -- while pussycats are subjected to a wide variety of indignities, including a good washing from Lloydie & the Lowbites on "Birth Control." But that's nothing compared to the "Barbwire" Nora Dean discovers beneath her boyfriend's belt. Dave Barker & the Gaylads are convinced "She Want It"; perhaps they bumped into the Soul Sisters on their desperate search for sex on "Wreck a Buddy." After chasing kitties across two songs, Lloydie & the Lowbites are now looking for a "Fat Fat Girl," a lovely cover of the Heptones' "Fatty Fatty." The Observers have set their sights abroad with "International Pum Pum," a sexual unity anthem. Fay wants a sexy song, and DJ Charlie Ace is happy to satisfy her, while Max Romeo sweetly seduces "Sexy Sadie" (not the Beatles' song). Like the risqué seaside postcards so popular in the 1950s and early '60s, there's more smirking than smut. But more memorable than the racy lyrics are the phenomenal rhythms, from "Khaki"'s ska fest to a clutch of rocksteady simmers and on to the upbeat reggae scorchers.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Born Ted Horowitz in the Bronx, NY, Popa Chubby was the son of a candy store owner. At 13, Chubby began playing drums; shortly thereafter, he discovered the music of the Rolling Stones and began playing guitar. Although he grew up in the 1970s, Chubby took his cue from artists of the 1960s, including Sly & the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton, among others. By the time he was in his early twenties, he enjoyed and played blues music, but also worked for a while backing punk poet Richard Hell. Chubby's first big break was winning a national blues talent search sponsored by KLON, a public radio station in Long Beach, CA. He won the New Artist of the Year award and opened at the Long Beach Blues Festival in 1992. Chubby has continued to play more than 200 club dates a year through the 1990s. His Sony/Okeh debut, Booty and the Beast, was produced by longtime Atlantic Records engineer/producer Tom Dowd, whose recordings by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, and others are legendary. In 1994, Chubby released several albums on his own Laughing Bear label, It's Chubby Time and Gas Money, before landing his deal with Sony Music/Okeh Records for Booty and the Beast, his major-label debut, released in 1995. In 1996, the 1 (800) PrimeCD label released a live recording of Chubby's, Hit the High Hard One. Two years later, One Million Broken Guitars was released on Lightyear Records; Brooklyn Basement Blues followed in 1999. In 2000, Chubby signed with the Blind Pig label and released How'd a White Boy Get the Blues? in 2001. The disc turned out to be a slight departure, incorporating elements of contemporary pop and hip-hop. 2002's The Good, the Bad and the Chubby showed great development in the artist's songwriting and included the 9/11 commentary "Somebody Let the Devil Out." Blind Pig released a collection of early Chubby recordings, The Hungry Years, in 2003. Troubled by the war in Iraq, Chubby released his most political album, Peace, Love and Respect, a year later. Two albums previously available only in France -- Live at FIP and Wild -- were compiled by the Blind Pig label and released as Big Man Big Guitar in 2005, followed by a new studio set called Stealing the Devil's Guitar a year later. Electric Chubbyland, a two-disc set of Chubby covering Jimi Hendrix songs, appeared from Dixie Frog that same year, and then was repackaged and issued as two single discs by Blind Pig in 2007.
Popa Chubby plays loud blues-rock, plain and simple. The songs on this 1999 outing are almost all originals from his pen, with Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long" and Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary" being the only covers aboard. While blues purists will no doubt find his playing and demeanor rock-excessive, fans of burning bluesy guitar will actually find much here to savor. Chubby never really overplays (given the parameters of the genre he's working in, mind you) and the tunes show a stronger sense of melody this time out. There's a nice selection of grooves and all of them exist as songs first and as frameworks second. Fans of high-powered blues-rock will love this one.
Guitarist, singer and songwriter Susan Tedeschi is part of the new generation of blues musicians looking for ways to keep the form exciting, vital and evolving. Tedeschi's live shows are by no means straight-ahead urban blues. Instead, she freely mixes classic R&B, blues and her own gospel and blues-flavored original songs into her sets. She's a young, sexy, sassy blues belter with musical sensibilities that belie her years.
Tedeschi began singing when she was four and was active in local choir and theater in Norwell, a southern suburb of Boston. She began singing at 13 with local bands and continued her music studies at Berklee, honing her guitar skills and also joining the Reverence Gospel Ensemble. She started the first incarnation of her blues band upon graduating in 1991, with vocalist/guitarist Adrienne Hayes, a fellow blues enthusiast whom she met at the House of Blues in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin and Boston-area singer Toni Lynn Washington were Tedeschi's most important influences; in starting her band, in fact, she used Washington's backing band and hustled up gigs on nights when Washington and her band were not already booked. Since they began performing around Boston's fertile blues scene, Tedeschi and her band developed into a tightly knit, road-ready group, and have played several major blues festivals. Guitarist Sean Costello has since replaced original guitarist and co-vocalist Hayes, who left the group to pursue her own musical interests.
The Susan Tedeschi Band's first album, Just Won't Burn, was released on the Boston-based Tone-Cool Records in early 1998. The band for her debut on Tone-Cool includes guitarist Costello, bassist Jim Lamond and drummer Tom Hambridge; guitarist Hayes also contributes. Just Won't Burn is a powerful collection of originals, plus a sparkling cover of John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery." Tedeschi and band also do justice to a tune Ruth Brown popularized, "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean," and Junior Wells' "Little By Little." The appropriately titled Wait for Me appeared in 2002 and was followed two years later by the CD and DVD Live From Austin TX. Hope and Desire from 2005 found Tedeschi on the Verve label.
With a vibrant, versatile voice (sounding at times like an inspired mix of Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt) capable of adding subtle emotional shifts to slow-burning ballads or rocking out with the big boys, Susan Tedeschi burst on the scene at the close of the 1990s like a breath of fresh air in an era of prefab MTV teen idols. Like Raitt, Tedeschi works from a blues base, but she mixes in a strong sense of R&B and gospel, and with Back to the River, her second release for Verve Forecast, she shows that she's really starting to find herself as a songwriter, as well. Tedeschi wrote or co-wrote all but one of the 11 tracks here, and while one could still say these songs are based in her beloved blues, like Raitt, she has branched out from there to become a solid pop artist with a real and accessible vision, and the blues is just the engine under the hood. There are some wonderful moments here, including the big and funky title track, "Back to the River," which Tedeschi co-wrote with swamp pop master Tony Joe White, the sincere and solid "Learning the Hard Way," co-written with Gary Louris of the Jayhawks, and the impressive "Butterfly," which Tedeschi' co-wrote with her husband, Derek Trucks. The lone cover, a marvelous, horn-driven version of Allen Toussaint's "There's a Break in the Road" (originally recorded in 1969 by Betty Harris), fits seamlessly in with the newer material. Then there is Tedeschi's voice, which is a wonderful instrument, strong and hushed by turns, and she carries the full weight of the world's possibilities when she sings, ranging from wounded to determined, delicate to brash, always getting to the emotional center of the song. Tedeschi has already put out some great albums but as she continues to grow as a songwriter, her best work may still be in the future. Meanwhile, Back to the River will serve fans just fine.
1 Talking About
The second Slash's Snakepit album, Ain't Life Grand, reigns in the blues-rock jamming of It's Five O'Clock Somewhere in favor of a more song-oriented approach. New vocalist Rod Jackson is a combination of '80s pop-metal bluster and Faces-era Rod Stewart, which -- with more than a touch of Aerosmith added -- is actually a pretty accurate way to describe the band as well. The new Snakepit does kick up a lot of noise as the album rushes by, and the strong chemistry between the members is immediately obvious. In fact, Slash's guitar work sounds oddly tamed, as if he's trying to subsume his playing to that of the ensemble and emphasize the full band's talents instead of his own virtuosity as a soloist. Theoretically, that's a nice concept, but in actuality, it ends up making the project sound kind of bloodless and generic. The main problem is the songwriting: it never rises above the level of solid, and too many tracks are by-the-numbers hard rock at best (and pedestrian at worst). A couple of the catchier numbers are undone by lyrical awkwardness -- "Mean Bone" starts off with an embarrassing female rap full of gold-digger clichés, while the chorus of "Serial Killer" is cringe-inducing ("Do you like the way I murder your heart?"). But even when the songs click -- like the opener "Been There Lately" and the Stonesy, horn-driven title track -- Slash's burning solo work is conspicuous in its relative absence, and often not all that memorable when it does show up. It isn't that Slash or the band don't sound committed to what they're playing; in fact, it's obvious that everyone involved genuinely loves this kind of music. It's just that since the material isn't generally that inspired or vital, it needs a certain extra spark to really come across as alive and passionate -- the sort of spark that could be supplied by instrumental fireworks, which are never really emphasized. In the end, Ain't Life Grand is still a passable, workmanlike record that will definitely appeal to fans of grimy, old-school hard rock, but since it doesn't really breathe new life into that style, it's never much more than that.
1 Been There Lately
2 Just Like Anything
4 Mean Bone
5 Back to the Moment
6 Life's Sweet Drug
7 Serial Killer
8 The Truth
10 Ain't Life Grand
11 Speed Parade
12 The Alien
Most of the reviews were pretty brutal on this movie but on this one I have to say #%@& the reviewers. This review was resonably kind.
Like I usually say, Watch it for yourself and make you own mind up. I think it is good fun. Thandie Newton is also a real stunner in this flick. Enjoy.
Guy Ritchie returns to seedy London
"RocknRolla" is a return to form for British director Guy Ritchie. After negative reactions to "Swept Away" and tepid reviews for the overcomplicated "Revolver," "RocknRolla" is just plain fun.
While I was left indifferent to "Swept Away," I really enjoyed "Revolver" due to its strange approach, but even I had to admit Ritchie crowbared his philosophy into the storyline. "RocknRolla" just proves that Ritchie should stick to dumb fun because "RocknRolla" excels in this category.
Perhaps dumb is not the right descriptor, though; Ritchie weaves numerous storylines into this one again, yet this time nothing seems forced. Perhaps, the dumb comes in the action we observe. While "Revolver" was deadly serious, "RocknRolla" is comical.
A group of thugs named The Wild Bunch are hired by an accountant (Thandie Newton) to rob a billionaire Russian (Karel Roden). This money is for Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson), London's underground boss. Lenny has all of the city's officials in his pocket, forcing the Russian to work with him in order to build a stadium. To cement this partnership, the Russian offers Lenny his favorite painting to hold on to until the deal is complete. The painting is then stolen from Lenny's house by his crack-addicted stepson, Johnny Quid, a famous rockstar (thus the film's title) and also presumed to be dead after a boating accident.
Meanwhile, the Wild Bunch, which consist of One-Two (Gerard Butler), Mumbles (Idris Elba) and Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy) have willingly taken part of the accountant's plans in order to pay Lenny, who they owe for a real estate scam. From here, you can see that each story overlaps in some strange and extravagant way.
This is how Ritchie has always worked, weaving together a bunch of stories together in interesting ways. His best work, though, comes when he is doing it in a fun way. While "RocknRolla" is not on the level of "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," arguably his best film, or even "Snatch" for that matter, it is still a very enjoyable film.
All of the actors are charismatic, including drug-addled Johnny Quid, whose annoying character cannot hide Toby Kebbell's likability.
"RocknRolla's" biggest flaw, though, is that Ritchie has too many stories. His best characters are the Wild Bunch, but this isn't even their film; Ritchie sacrifices them for the other characters, which is understandable considering the numerous storylines. Yet, even "Lock, Stock," has the four friends and "Snatch" has Handsome Rob and Tommy. These characters work as the larger gears that turn the story; "RocknRolla" lacks these pivots to turn on.
That said, it is still a fun little romp in England's seedier side and great to see Ritchie return to the fundamentals.
Written by: Manny Carrasco
Not even a minor stroke could stop Five Horse Johnson from rockin' and, if anything, vocalist and harpist extraordinaire Eric Oblander's brush with the beyond only served to inspire the band's fifth album, 2006's The Mystery Spot, that much more. Also benefiting from Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster's imposing guest appearance throughout (hear him take over "Ten-Cent Dynamite" with his outro solo), the record showcases a noticeably reinvigorated 5HJ -- not really messing with their successful, rootsy hard rock formula, so much as tackling it with renewed appetite. Starting with the opening title track's aggressive 5/6 blues shuffle, where Oblander's raunchy vocal pays discreet homage to early, pre-Dada Captain Beefheart, and continuing through gritty stomps like "Feed That Train" and the energized "La Grange" groove of "I Can't Shake It," where his harmonica punctuates Brad Coffin's geeetar-grit with soaring wails. Then there's the evocatively named standout "Of Ditch Diggers and Drowning Men"; co-written with former Big Chief member Phil Durr (who also contributes second guitar), it is further fleshed out with slide guitars and organs for a laid-back, down-home sound the Black Crowes used to own the patent on. The remaining cuts do their aforementioned comrades ample justice, without necessarily guaranteeing themselves a spot on future set lists, but The Mystery Spot's overall consistency and reliable sonic qualities (bottom line: few bands pull this music off so well) still offer Five Horse Johnson fans plenty of reasons to celebrate their return.
Sunday, July 05, 2009
For a while there, it seemed like every town had a band like Big Head Todd & the Monsters -- and, if you live in a college town, you probably still have at least one that does. They're a roots band in the post-R.E.M. age, turning out serious, melodic, lightly jangly guitar rock that's very earnest and straight-ahead. At the height of alt-rock, they were on the cusp of success, but they pushed too hard -- hard enough that they wound up compromising their sound without the commercial rewards. This happened on two successive efforts, and they eventually retreated for a long, long time, taking five years between studio records before reappearing in 2002 with Riviera. This is a modest affair, never pushing too hard toward radio or to their jam roots. Frankly, after two deliberately calculated albums, the return to their simple roots is welcome, especially since they've cut away all excessive tendencies and made a clean, rather melodic, enjoyable record. There is no "Bittersweet" -- and even if there were one, it probably wouldn't get them radio play in 2002 -- but the songs are all sturdy, whether they're rockers (like the first-rate opener "Julianna"), or contemplative ballads, and they resonate because the group no longer is swinging for the bleachers, they're simply playing the game the best they know how. And, by doing so, they've wound up with their best record in nearly a decade.
Served up by the late, great AlZombie
AlZ recently delivered this jewel to my mailbox and opened up the world of Ozric Tentacles to my water-logged brain. I'm sure glad he did. More later.
A band from another time, Ozric Tentacles served as the bridge from '70s cosmic rock to the organic dance and festival culture which came back into fashion during the '90s. Formed in 1983 with a debt to jazz fusion as well as space rock, the band originally included guitarist Ed Wynne, drummer Nick Van Gelder, keyboard player Joie Hinton, bassist Roly Wynne and second guitarist Gavin Griffiths (though Griffiths left in 1984). The Ozrics played in clubs around London, meanwhile releasing six cassette-only albums beginning with 1984's Erpsongs. (All six were later collected on the Vitamin Enhanced box set, despite a threatened lawsuit from the Kellogg's cereal company for questionable artwork.) In 1987, Merv Pepler replaced Van Gelder, and synthesizer player Steve Everett was also added.
Ozric Tentacles' first major release, the 1990 album Erpland, foreshadowed the crusty movement, a British parallel to America's hippy movement of the '60s. Crusties borrowed the hippies' organic dress plus the cosmic thinking of new agers, and spent most of their time traveling around England to various festivals and outdoor gatherings. The movement fit in perfectly with bands like Ozric Tentacles and the Levellers, and the Ozrics' 1991 album Strangeitude became their biggest seller yet, occasioning a U.S. contract with Capitol. After the British-only Afterswish and Live Underslunky, 1993's Jurassic Shift hit number 11 on the British charts -- quite a feat for a self-produced album released on the Ozrics' own Dovetail label. The album was released in America by I.R.S. Records, as was 1994's Arborescence. Neither album translated well with American audiences -- despite the band's first U.S. tour in 1994 -- and Ozric Tentacles returned to its Dovetail label for 1995's Become the Other. Waterfall Cities closed out the decade in 1999, and the following summer the group resurfaced with Swirly Termination. Hinton and Pepler also perform in the trance-techno outfit Eat Static, and have released several albums on Planet Dog Records. Ozric Tentacles surfaced in 2000 to release Hidden Step, followed by the EP Pyramidion. In 2002, Live at the Pongmasters Ball came out on both CD and DVD, making it their first venture into the latter.
While the mainstream media was as far away from experimental space rock as it ever has been in 1991, Ozric Tentacles was making fascinating and very original music with few noticing outside of their homegrown "crusty movement." Mind-bogglingly talented and forward-thinking, Ozric Tentacles took this moment in their career to take their folk tendencies, add a heaping dose of weirdness, and connect it all with a dash of the emerging electronica scene to create a wildly experimental yet highly accessible sound that was all their own. One look at "Sploosh!" reveals throbbing synthesizers, continually changing water sound effects, heavily processed virtuoso guitar, hypnotic conga beats, and an amazing array of repetitive percussions that lead to a fascinating journey through their complex compositional skills. Not every track is that dense, but in general Strangeitude works because of their ability to build layer upon layer of sounds that bring the listener to different places. This music takes patience, as many times the subtle changes and winding melodies are hard to keep up with unless full attention is paid. But what makes this so rewarding is the delivery, as guitars dive bomb into the music and result in explosions of instrumental complexities that make perfect sense. What's even more impressive is how easy it is to go back to the record for repeat listens, despite the almost-complete lack of vocals, the time dedicated to the tracks (which are rarely under seven minutes), and the abrasive and experimental nature of their arrangements. Without needless noodling or druggy tautology, Ozric Tentacles unveiled a magnificent space rock effort that won them a contract with Capitol Records and finally brought them to American audiences.
1 White Rhino Tea
Ripped by weasels @ a horrifying 320
A fascinating collection of mostly instrumental live and studio material recorded by the original Mothers of Invention, complete with horn section, from 1967-1969, Weasels Ripped My Flesh segues unpredictably between arty experimentation and traditional song structures. Highlights of the former category include the classical avant-garde elements of "Didja Get Any Onya," which blends odd rhythmic accents and time signatures with dissonance and wordless vocal noises; these pop up again in "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask" and "Toads of the Short Forest." The latter and "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue" also show Frank Zappa's willingness to embrace the avant-garde jazz of the period. Yet, interspersed are straightforward tunes like a cover of Little Richard's "Directly From My Heart to You," with great violin from Don "Sugarcane" Harris; the stinging Zappa-sung rocker "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama," and "Oh No," a familiar Broadway-esque Zappa melody (it turned up on Lumpy Gravy) fitted with lyrics and sung by Ray Collins. Thus, Weasels can make for difficult, incoherent listening, especially at first. But there is a certain logic behind the band's accomplished genre-bending and Zappa's gleefully abrupt veering between musical extremes; without pretension, Zappa blurs the normally sharp line between intellectual concept music and the visceral immediacy of rock and R&B. Zappa's anything-goes approach and the distance between his extremes are what make Weasels Ripped My Flesh ultimately invigorating; they also even make the closing title track — a minute and a half of squalling feedback, followed by applause — perfectly logical in the album's context.
1 Didja Get Any Onya? [live]
Thirty years is a long time. In thirty years, you forget the details; the essence of life in 1970, until a rare screening of Two-Lane Blacktop brings it all back. Aside from the fact we were all much thinner then; the men had gorgeous sun drenched hair and an inexplicable quality of gentleness beneath a reckless, defiant exterior. Forget the war, the Cultural Revolution, for those of us sweet young things who populated the streets across America on Saturday night, we watched a young man's identity evolve from the horsepower under the hood of their Chevy Chevelle, Ford Mach I, or perhaps a Pontiac GTO. The rumble of glass pack mufflers, blurred by the glint of chrome, raging through the ¼ mile in the moonlight was as erotic as the rhythm of any bass guitar.
The emission control laws of the early 1970's added a few generations of life to the earth, but pushed those great muscle cars into the showrooms and garages of modern reality. On a rare Sunday, one of those garage doors opens and for a brief afternoon you can still catch the glint of passion in the eyes of one of those gentle, reckless souls of summer.
Despite the presence of a pair of ballads — one of them ("New Horizons") by Justin Hayward the latter's most romantic number since "Nights in White Satin" — Seventh Sojourn was notable at the time of its release for showing the hardest-rocking sound this band had ever produced on record. It's all relative, of course, compared to their prior work, but the music is comparatively stripped down here, and on a lot of it Graeme Edge's drumming and John Lodge's bass work comprise a more forceful and assertive rhythm section than they had on earlier records, on numbers such as "Lost in a Lost World," "You and Me," and "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock & Roll Band)." The latter, authored by Lodge, was — along with Lodge's "Isn't Life Strange" — one of two AM radio hits that helped drive the sales of this album, issued in early November of 1972, past all previous levels. Indeed, it was with the release of this album that the Moodies achieved their great commercial success in America and around the world, with a "Grand Tour" that kept them on the road for much of the year that followed. The irony was that it was all about to end for them, for years to come, and the signs of it were all over this record — Seventh Sojourn took a long time to record, and a lot of the early work on it had to be junked ("Isn't Life Strange" was one of the few early songs to get completed); it was clear to all concerned except the fans that, after six years of hard work in their present configuration, they all needed to stop working with each other for a time, and this was clear in the songs — many have a downbeat, pensive edge to them, and if they reflected a questioning attitude that had come out on recent albums, the tone of the questioning on songs like "Lost in a Lost World," "You and Me," and "When You're a Free Man" had a darker, more desperate tone. Perhaps the group's mostly youthful, collegiate audience didn't notice at the time because it fit the mood of the times — the album hit the stores in America the day before Richard Nixon's landslide presidential re-election victory (the culmination of events behind the scenes that would subsequently drive him from office). But the members were not working well together, and this would be the last wholly successful record — difficult as it was to deliver — that this lineup of the band would record, as well as the last new work by the group for over five years. And oddly enough, even amid the difficulties in getting it finished, Seventh Sojourn would offer something new in the way of sounds from the group — Michael Pinder, in particular, introduced a successor to the Mellotron, with which he'd been amazing audiences for six years, in the form of the Chamberlain, which is all over this album.
1 Lost in a Lost World
2 New Horizons
3 For My Lady
4 Isn't Life Strange
5 You and Me
6 The Land of Make-Believe
7 When You're a Free Man
8 I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)