“Blue Skies’’ is the latest from Matty T. Wall, out since 18 April on Hipsterdumptser Records. Wall is youthful, bluesy guitar shredder from Down Under, sort of a Dave Hole lite maybe – meaning no disrespect to Wall, but no one is as flammable as Hole. So how shred-a-lious is Wall? Well, he does an almost 12-minute version of Jimi’s “Voodoo Chile,’’ and he also covers a Robert Johnson tune and also a Keb’ Mo’ song. Wall wrote the rest – mostly ragers with “This Is Real’’ the only clunker. The opener “Burnin Up Burnin Down’’ pretty much sets the tone. On “Broken Heart Tattoo,’’ as in the girl with who ain’t nothing but “trouble’’ misspelled – here’s a song that deals with an unfortunate chain of events at the club that ends with a couple of suckers full of bullet holes. If you walked into a bar and Wall was playing, you’d stay longer than you should, drink more than necessary and have more fun than seemed possible.
“Little Brothers’’ has been released by the prolific Chip Taylor – out since 17 June on Trainwreck Records. Chip Taylor is in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and for good reason – he wrote a zillion hits for a thousand artists and thus, the check is always in the mail. He also comes from a family of over achievers. The album cover shows the trio of young brothers – one grew up to be volcanologist Barry Voight, another is right wing politically but artistically outstanding actor Jon Voight – that mildly lovable jerk Mickey from “Ray Donovan. The third brother is Taylor. He’s a geezer of rock these days and sort of sing/talks his way through these songs – taken collectively are prime examples of humanity, humility, good will and good cheer. His monologue/intros to his songs are models of what actor Richard Dreyfuss laments the passing of – and that would be civics. “Enlighten Yourself’’ is a musical update of Socrates’ ancient adage, “Know thyself.’’ There is no better advice, even topping John Lee Hooker’s words of wisdom, “Don’t forget to boogie.’’
“Keep It Together’’ is the third and latest from Lily & Madeleine, out since late February on New West Records. Following in the footsteps of so many memorable sister singing acts from the Andrews Sisters to the Pointer Sisters, the Wilsons from Heart and Tegan & Sara, the Jurkiewicz sisters out Indianapolis are very cute and they create heavenly harmonies as only siblings can. This L&M, unlike the cigarettes that killed off their clientele, do the folk lite rock thing with a tight back-up band. This one opens nicely with “Don’t Wanna,’’ which is all about doing not what’s expected or as e.e. cummings so astutely noted: “To be nobody but yourselfin a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.’’ Best is “Westfield;’’ and even though I have no idea what this one is about, it has such an alluring hook, it won’t matter. Then there’s “Chicago’’ which sure didn’t seem to capture the Chicago I experienced a month ago stuck in rush hour traffic going nowhere fast – a Slayer moment would’ve been more appropriate. The sisters are easy on the eyes and they can sing – they’ll still be cute and sing beautifully on better songs.
“Hero’’ is the debut from Maren Morris, out since 3 June on mighty, mighty Columbia Records. If this is the new country, then wahoo, little darlin’. The traditionalists will always yearn for that old twangy, cry in your beer, pedal steel stuff – but, hell no – that old twangy country stuff sucks – this pop country is much more palatable. Is this like Pat Boone covering Little Richard songs? Hope not. Thematically, this is still country music with songs about drinkin’, drivin’, ain’t-love-grand-not and the usual suspects. Maren has written or co-written all the tunes, and on her obligatory car song, Maren reveals that “I’m a 90s baby in my 80s Mercedes…’’ Then there’s the catchy “Drunk Girls Don’t Cry,’’ which sounds great but has a dubious basis in facts. I have found that drunk girls that aren’t crying are screaming, frequently sufficiently to give you the boot from your favorite bar for 10,000 years for bringing Miss Take in the first place, which at one time, seemed like a good idea.
“Pile’’ is the latest from A Giant Dog – and what a great title – out since 3 March on mighty, mighty Merge Records. It’s full moon werewolf energy, rowdy and raucous rock that’s dangerous and fearless – as it should be – as only the bulletproof youngsters who already know everything interpret what’s really going on. Front gal Sabrina Ellis is clearly the focus and to quote an observer, “Sabrina struts around the stage like Iggy Pop channeling Tina Turner,’’ which is probably always a good thing, especially when all the boys in the crowd are busy drooling and dreaming since they can do no other when their testosterone is bubbling.
“Sleep When I’m Dead’’ is an update on the Who’s “My Generation,’’ the survivors perhaps adopting Brigit Bardot’s world view: “I’d rather be old than dead.’’ Then there’s “Birthday Song,’’ which is solid enough although it’ll probably never replace the usual b-day song that friends have used to embarrass friends forever. There’s plenty of rockers on this one like “Too Much Makeup’’ and “King Queen’’ which far outweigh the few weak ones. To review: Hard rocking band fronted by a sexy girl singer? That never works. Actually, that always works as A Giant Dog joins the ranks of the other memorable canine-flavored bands – Howlin’ Wolf, Steppenwolf, Three Dog Night, the Bonzo Dog Band, Dr. Dog – all on the list of Larry Talbot’s favorite bands.
Heron Oblivion’s debut is self-titled – out since 4 March on Sub Pop. It’s a bunch of Bay Area musicians from a bunch of different bands that may’ve found the right combination when it comes to guitar driven stoner pop, not so much unlike a Quicksilver Messenger Service session half a century later in Spiritualized’s garage. Meg Baird supplies the tripped out hippie chick, whispery vocals while Noel Harmonson and Charlie Saufley shred on those guitars, and for a long time, too. The shortest song is just under four and one of them is over 10. It’s hard to top the opener, “Beneath Fields’’ which is so stony that after just one listen, you just might flunk the surprise drug test at work from those friendly back stabbing rats in HR. This one’s a definite keeper, much like herons which we do not want to go the way of the dodo.
The title of Heliotropes’ second album are the directions for three quarters of all the Westerns ever made, “Over There That Way,” out since 15 July on The End Records. Very much the vision of singer/songwriter and owner of way too many consonants in her name – that would be Jessica Numsuwankijkul. The first impression she seems as if she’s coming off like the demure garage girl band. And she is – but she’s not. It’s folk rock and power pop as Jessica channels Hope Sandoval somewhat, but this is a war album of songs about the United States going “over there’’ and ending up 2-0 when it comes to 20th century world wars. Our winning streak seems to have ended in 1945 but that’s another story. This one kicks off with “Normandy,’’ a good day in June of ’44 to have called in sick – and the sax solo is way cool as is the guitar solo at the end. Then there’s “The War Isn’t Over,’’ a fact that a quick peek at the newspaper makes clear. There’s two geography songs about a popular place, “Dardanelles Pt. 1 and Pt. 2,’’ a locale where soldiers died from Troy in 1200 BC to the Gallipoli campaign during the Great War. So the Heliotropes are not what they initially seem to be – this is serious stuff in a pretty package. And a song with “Dardanelles’’ in the title? I have not been similarly stunned since Phish rhymed “Papyrus’’ and “Osiris.’’
The latest from The Brevet is “Embers;’’ and it’s self-produced, 5-song EP out since 5 August from behind the Orange Curtain. According to frontman/guitar player Aric Damm, it’s all about “epic Americana.’’ Not sure about that – it’s more like classic rock for the New Millennium – tight guitar pop and happening harmonies. These guys clearly know what an agreeable song should sound like.
And for the curious: A brevet is a promotion for an officer who has demonstrated uncommon leadership skills and courage – it’s an honorary thing without the pay raise. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of 20th Maine fame, was a brevet general during the War of Southern Arrogance. And as to the 714? Don’t move up here.
“Patch The Sky’’ is the latest from that former Husker Dude, the prolific Bob Mould – it’s been out since 16 March on mighty, mighty Merge Records. As usual, this one is mostly visceral, making this sort of an aural orgasm as Mould finds that groove and sets up shop. There’s no point in making a list – every Bob Mould song has always been good. Here’s more.
Wassup 805? Bill Locey here, neither in Studio 805 nor in Camarillo, but still barely employed by the Ventura County Star, at least for the next hour or two, kicking it in my humble hovel, multi-tasking, writing about rock `n’ roll, watching the Dodgers with the sound off – petting my cat, Pam Grier, who is slugging in my lap and naturally, in my way – just a small part of the worldwide feline anti-literacy campaign. Besides all that – it’s back – high school football. It’s totally awesome (and affordable) way to spend a Friday night. See how long a football game really lasts without a zillion annoying and stupid commercials. Go Cougars!
OK, to both my readers, this is my last blog in this format, and as usual, these daily listings are more or less from south to north as to the location of the various venues. So have a swell week, but remember, this is rock `n’ roll after all and thus, these listings are subject to change for no apparent reason. Mom was right (pretty much, like always) – call first. If I had a faster car, a richer girlfriend or even one with a job, here’s where I’ll be lurking in the back this week:
OK, on FRIDAY, down in El Lay it’s Father John Misty at the El Rey Theatre and Spain will be at the Regent Theatre (and also presumably, still in Iberia), and Wolf Parade will be at the Echo. Culture Club will be at the Hollywood, ably assisted by the L.A. Philharmonic (also Sat.) and Peter Bjorn And John will be at the Roxy in Hollywood. Up here in the 805, there’s a swell punk rock show at the Borderline in T.O. with Youth Brigade, D.I. and Stalag 13, and down Hwy. 23 to Moorpark, it’s Robbie Rist at Redballs Pizza, and the DownTownAll Starz will be at Mission Oaks in Camarillo. In Ventura it’s Brandon Ragan at Copa Cubana and reggae from Herbal Rootz at Margarita Villa. Then there’s D. On Darox & the Joy Melody Bakers at Squashed Grapes, and the Shawn Jones Trio will play some blues at Grapes & Hops, Medicine Hat will be at the Wine Rack, and Kyle Jester & The Jokers will be at the iconic Hong Kong Inn, and the Masters Of The Past will be at the Star Lounge. Up Hwy. 33 to Ojai, Rain Perry will be hosting a house concert with Michael Fracasso. And finally up the coast, One, Two, Tree will be at the Brewhouse in S.B.
On SATURDAY, the FYF Fest is happening in Exposition Park in El Lay with a bunch of rock stars (also Sun.), and it’s Ernest Troost and Ray Bonneville at McCabe’s in Santa Monica, and Denny Laine will be at Bogie’s in WLV. Up here in the 805 where it’s so much better, the Corsican Brothers will be at Margarita Villa, Sister Ook will be at O’Leary’s Side Bar in Ventura, Mikey Mo will be at Plan B Winery. Spencer Makenzie has proven that there’s plenty of business to go around on a busy Ventura corner – it sits across Thompson Blvd. from Corrales – both restaurants are doing just fine. The fish taco place is hosting the Spencer Makenzie’s End Of Summer Block Party, featuring a bunch of bands all day including Mandex and Kyle Hunt’s new thing, Brothers Fortune. Up the coast, it’s Big Tweed at Island Brewing in Carp and Jackson Browne will be at the Santa Barbara County Bowl.
On SUNDAY, down in El Lay, it’s Clan Of Xymox at the Echoplex, while up here in the 805, Sonny Mone will be at Redballs Pizza in Moorpark. In Ventura, Shane Alexander will be at Grapes & Hops, Karen Eden will be at Amigo’s, while up Hwy. 33 to Meiners Oaks, it’s Shylah Ray Sunshine & Friends at the Deer Lodge and up in S.B. it’s Face To Face at Velvet Jones and those prog rock legends Yes will be at the Arlington Theatre. Check out my Yes story is this week’s incredible shrinking Time Out section – proof positive that I’m hardly making any of this up. And finally, those acoustic blues legends, Tom Ball & KennySultan will be at the Cold Springs Tavern in S.B..
On MONDAY, in Ventura, concerned locals should harangue the Ventura City Council and remind them that we have traffic jams right here, right now, so why are they approving any new projects at all? Don’t we have a drought? My water provider is convinced that we do. It’s too crowded now – one El Lay is enough – more than enough. Approve SOAR come November and not that fake Sustain VC Whatever thing which will allow the farmers to sell out to the carpetbaggers and ruin everything even more than it is already. And don’t vote for anyone endorsed by the Chamber of Concrete – that’s a vote for more El Lay here. Wherever city you live in, tell your city council the same thing – if we don’t protect our quality of life, who will?
On TUESDAY, Ozomatli will be at the Belasco Theatre in El Lay, and the Go-Go’s and Best Coast will be at Hollywood Bowl, Corinne Bailey Rae will be at the Grammy Museum, while up here in the 805, John Marx will be playing some blues at the Chop Shop in Simi Valley, and it’s the Down Home Super Trio at the Copa Cubano in Ventura, it’s the Ojai Songwriter’s Showcase at the Deer Lodge in Meiners Oaks.
On WEDNESDAY, Justin Spring will be at Redballs Pizza in Moorpark, Frank Barajas will be at Fresco II in Oxnard, and half of Shaky Feelin’ will be at the Bombay in Ventura, and up the coast, it’s the Glenn Miller Orchestra, who will no doubt be “In The Mood’’ at the Marjorie Luke Theatre in S.B.
On THURSDAY, it’s goofball rock from the Squirrel Nut Zippers at the Teragram Ballroom in El Lay, and the Wailers will be at the Canyon Club in Agoura, and ffinally, up Hwy. 33, it’s the Ojai Groove Tank at the Deer Lodge in Meiners Oaks.
And finally, one of the great things about music is the “Hey, check this out” moment because there’s so many great tunz out there worth sharing. It’s all about finding it; and so for no apparent reason except that I have the technology – here’s one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands and/or singers.