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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Microcosms “Fairytale”

Sometimes you learn an instrument and then create a band. Sometimes you spend years playing one instrument only to find inspiration in another instrument. That was the situation with songwriter Andrew Tschiltsch who spent time playing drums for years before the desire to play guitar hit him. And once the guitar was in his hand, the desire to create his own songs hit. Tschiltsch spent a few years recording and experimenting with the way his music sounded before bringing Bryan Emer (bass) and Jered Pipenbrink (drums) into the fold. Together, Tschiltsch, Emer and Pipenbrink create the Chicago-based band called Microcosms. The band’s first release, Know My Body, came out a few years ago in 2017. And in 2018, the band released their latest EP called Fairytale

Fairytale from Microcosms begins with the track “Omnipotence”. The track begins with the entire trio creating a track that blends together straight-out Rock and Roll with some Prog-Rock influence to it. Soon enough, however, the feel of the track changes as Bryan Emer’s bass seems to be the instrument to focus on as the bass pushes the track forward. Both Tschiltsch and Pipenbrink use their instruments to support Emer’s playing. Eventually, the trio creates a song that contains a rather unique feel to it. Ultimately, the slightly off-key music of the track brings to mind the style of Frank Zappa, as both the music on the track and the playing of the band both seem to contain Zappa’s influence. The track’s lyrical content features a darkness as the lyrics describe a person who wants as much power as possible.

With the second track on the release, Microcosms creates a slightly more upbeat track. The track “Wrapped Up” features a musical blend that takes some Punk feel and mixes it with some straight Rock and Roll. What stands out on this track is the vocal delivery from singer/guitarist Andrew Tschiltsch. On this track, for whatever reason, Tschiltsch seems to be channeling Mark Mothersbaugh of the band Devo. The lyrics to the track also seem to contain a little influence from the Akron, Ohio band of Devo as the lyrics about wondering why the singer is so attracted to the person of interest that the lyrics are about. The band powers through “Wrapped Up” as the song doesn’t even last for two minutes before it’s finished. While the song is not one hundred percent influenced by Devo, the influence does seem to be there.

Microcosms’ 2018 release of Fairytale continues with the song “Flinch”. With this track, the band continues their pattern of creating songs that are inspired by older bands. On “Flinch,” you can almost hear the influence of the band Talking Heads in the music. It’s the slightly off-kilter feel of the music that brings the vision of the Talking Heads to mind when listening to the song, not to mention the way the lyrics feel as Andrew Tschiltsch delivers them. The Frank Zappa approach of the band on this track makes for a great track that goes well with the previous track of “Wrapped Up”. The overall feel of the track makes it perfect for any Alternative Rock radio station.

As the track “Strangle” begins, the listener finds themselves back in the nineties as the track has a style that is rather reminiscent of bands from the era. The track starts off with the sound of Bryan Emer’s bass. The riff created by Emer brings to mind something from the band Weezer. From there, the track features a style that blends Weezer’s influence with some Punk feel. The driving pace to the music of the track creates a strong, fun feel to the song. Like much of the EP, “Strangle” features lyrics about someone who has too much power. The lyrics deal with the singer trying to control his anger towards that person. The song feels rather at home in today’s political atmosphere.

The five tracks that make up the 2018 EP of Fairytale from Microcosms have a definite feel to them that helps to create a solid release. However, the five tracks also contain a different approach. This creates a solid EP with a good amount of variety in the Rock and Roll. While this EP was released not that long ago, the band continues to record. Stay tuned.  

 

To check out the music of Microcosms, check out the video to their single “Omnipotence”.

For more information, check out Microcosms’ PR Firm, Whiplash Marketing & Whizkid Management. Click on the logo below to visit their site.

 

 

 

 

Microcosms just celebrated the release of their latest single entitled “Forget Us”. Click HERE to check out my review of that track. 

To check out the Fairytale EP from Microcosms, click on the album cover below:

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Borstal Boys S/T

It is said that many local music scenes, no matter where you live, are made up of about twenty-five musicians or so who make up about seventy-five percent of the music scene. Meaning, if you go out to see a cover band, you are most likely going to run into one of these omnipresent musicians. Even some of the Original Music bands contained within a scene will contain some of these musicians. This is very much the case for the band called The Borstal Boys.

The Borstal Boys is an Original Rock and Roll band that has roots within the Pittsburgh area. Each of the musicians that help to make up the group has a long history within the Pittsburgh music scene. Consisting of: Rocky Lamonde (Bass), Patrick Norman (Electric and Acoustic Guitar), Joe Pelesky (Organ and Vocal), Darryl Thumm (Guitar), Scott Wilson (Drums), Vinny Q (Guitar) and Mark Ponsonby (Lead Vocal), The Borstal Boys have stood on stages with the likes of Bill Toms and Hard Rain, Rusted Root and many other bands. Together, the musicians take the years of experience to create a new band that draws from that long history.

Taking all of their various musical influences such as The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, The Faces and more The Borstal Boys created their first album. The band’s self-titled album was released in 2018.

The first track on the self-titled release from The Borstal Boys is the track “My Everything”. With this track, the band breaks into some good, old-fashioned Rock and Roll. In fact, what the sound will most likely remind the listener of is something from Bruce Springsteen. Moreover, the song has more than a little bit of influence from The Boss’ music from around the time of the Born to Run era. “My Everything” from The Borstal Boys has more than just a little influence from Springsteen’s song called “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out”.  The track also has some Bob Seger influence to it, as well.

For the next track, the band seems to add some newer influences to the mixture. The track “Marlene Jane” features Rock and Roll that feels as if it came from the eighties. While there is still a good amount of Classic Rock influence to the track, the song also features a little New Wave and/or Alternative influence to the track. The majority of the track seems to contain some influence from John Mellencamp as the guitar-driven track is reminiscent of Mellencamp’s stuff from the eighties. The keyboards in the background of the song, however, seem to contain a much more modern influence to them. Because of the combination of the two directions at one time, “Marlene Jane” is a track that would easily fit well next to songs from the like of the Goo Goo Dolls or Gin Blossoms. The track would be right at home on any Modern Rock or Hot A/C radio format.

With the track “Head Full of Ghosts,” The Borstal Boys take their music back in time once again. The track is firmly placed in the middle of Classic Rock. As you listen to the track, you can easily imagine Power Trios like Cream adding some influence to the music of the band. But there also feels as if there is some Frank Zappa and the Mother of Invention influence present in the music, especially in the guitar playing on the track. For fans of straight-out Rock and Roll looking for that style today, you can’t do better than “Head Full of Ghosts” from The Borstal Boys.

Bringing their music back to a more modern sound, The Borstal Boys create the track “Green Light”. The slower-paced track features a strong guitar feel to the music. The music on the track brings to mind the feel of the music that came from The Black Crowes back in the nineties. This track by The Borstal Boys would feel right at home being played right after a track like “She Talks to Angels”. And with a playtime that exceeds the four-minute mark, “Green Light” ends up being one of the longer tracks on the album, although you really wouldn’t notice as the track flows rather smoothly during that playtime.

And speaking of angels, the very next track on the seven-song release is actually called “Fallen Angel”. And just like with “Green Light,” “Fallen Angel” has a slower pace to the music. While the previous tracks on the self-titled release from The Borstal Boys do not contain any religious meanings, the song “Fallen Angel” is full of heavenly imagery in the lyrics. Plus, the inclusion of the organ on the track also adds a bit of flavor to the track as well.

The Borstal Boys bring their 2018 self-titled release to a close with the track “G-Spot Blues”. The final track on the release finds the band creating an all-instrumental track. And with the fact that the song contains the title it does and the music is quite Progressive in its style of Rock and Roll, the Frank Zappa references are sort of difficult to miss. The completely instrumental feel to the music on this track gives the listener a clear glimpse at the talent of each of the members of the band.

Where many bands and recording artists pay attention to only the newest rends in music, it is great to find those bands that still incorporate real Rock and Roll feeling into their sound. The Borstal Boys have created a strong seven-song release that stays fresh throughout as they create songs that make use of that Classic Rock style.  

 

For more information, check out the band’s record label The Vault Records

To hear the music of The Borstal Boys, check out their song “Head Full of Ghosts” 

To hear the entire self-titled album from The Borstal Boys, find the band on Spotify

To purchase a copy of the self-titled album of the The Borstal Boys, click on the album cover below: 

 

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Featured Review

Gary Pig Gold Celebrates Mothers Day …50 Years Later

The first Friday of most every month throughout 1967 and into ’68, I was formally excused from school so that my mother could take me all the way into Toronto for orthodontic appointments. As due reward afterwards, I would be treated to a tasty french-fry-and-chocolate-milk lunch in the sumptuous Eaton’s Department Store cafeteria, then left for an hour alone in the adjacent Music Department while dear mom ran her errands elsewhere.

Gawd, I truly was deep in pre-teen heaven in there, believe you me: Guitars – just like the one Tommy Smothers played on TV every week! – lining each wall, while right over there were more record albums gathered alphabetically together in one place than my wide young eyes had ever ever seen. 

But it was while methodically flipping through that “Misc. M” bin one innocent Friday in search of the latest Monkees long-player that I came across an image which shook me to the very core of my hitherto safe, sound, Micky’n’Mike-loving spine:

A foreboding, dark purple sci-fi sky shot through with lightning bolts, beneath which were strewn an above-motley crew of comic-book cut-outs (some of whose eyes were obscured with sinister black bars!) And in front of all that stood what appeared to be a group of bearded, ugly, definitely NON-Monkee-looking men wearing… wearing dresses and standing by a mess of rotten vegetables which for some reason spelled out the word “mothers.”

Subconsciously at least, I recognized this was sort of, for some reason, like the picture on front of my latest Beatle album. But I also instinctively gathered something BAD was afoot.

So for the next several months, as if revisiting a decaying body rotting in the back woods or the scene of some other such crime, I’d patiently let Dr. Shanks, D.D.S. rip around my mouth, rush with Mom to scarf down some Eaton’s fast-food, then creep back towards those record racks to check if …IT… was still hidden there. Why, one grave Friday I even showed the offending, but somehow alluring record jacket to my mother (who, immediately sensing things untoward indeed, said “put that down, Gary. We’re going home.”)

Flash forward a couple’a years:  By now, my comparatively straight teeth and I were enrolled in the local high school, specializing in Fine Arts and pouring over my latest charcoal still-life when the most incredible music suddenly burst from the record player at the back of the room. It was Eric Shelkey’s turn to bring vinyl in to accompany the day’s lesson y’see, and Eric, being by far the most freeeky, out-there student in all our Grade 9 Specialty Art class (I mean, the guy wore little round eyeglasses just like John Lennon, and his hair actually reached below his shirt collar!) certainly did not disappoint with his choice of music. Yep, instead of the usual docile strains of Tommy Roe or, at worst, Blood Sweat and Tears, the room was this morning filled with fully-stereophonic snorks, wheezes, electronic noises (much like those the microphone made in the auditorium downstairs when it wasn’t working), and some creepy voice which kept whispering “Are you hung up?” over and over again.

Understandably I suppose, just like my mother had back in Eaton’s music department, our usually pretty patient art instructor Mr. Pollard walked quickly to the back of the classroom, turned the volume all the way down, removed the offending twelve inches from the turntable, inserted it back in its sleeve, and told Eric he could pick his record up after class, thankyouverymuchnowpleasegetbacktoworkeveryone. Of course, me being me, I made sure to follow Eric out into the hall afterwards to find out the name labeled onto the middle of this wondrous, forbidden twelve inches. Most obligingly indeed, but being careful to check both ways first to see if anyone was looking, he pulled the album slowly from his portfolio case.

AND THERE IT WAS. That same diabolical image which had haunted my post-orthodontic Fridays all those years ago! 

Winking most conspiratorially, Eric invited me over to his place to listen to the entire record that day immediately after school. I naturally began saving up my allowance and bought my OWN copy a couple of months later, locked myself in my room… and it would be quite some time until I ever listened to Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd. – or anything else, for that matter – quite the same way ever again.

I couldn’t say it then, but I surely will now:  Thank you, Frank Zappa. Especially for your music. Especially for that one particular album released a full half-century (!) ago this very month.

 

 

 

 

www.GaryPigGold.com
 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Stratospheerius “Guilty of Innocence”

When looking for musicians that have the talent to put on a good show, you don’t have to look any further than seven-string violinist Joe Deninzon. Having graduated with Bachelor’s degrees in Violin Performance and Jazz Violin from Indiana University and a Master’s in Jazz/Commercial violin from Manhattan School of Music, Deninzon splits his time between teaching violin and performing in his band called Stratospheerius. Just recently, Deninzon and the band created a new album of music. For this album, Stratospheerius consists of: Joe Deninzon – Electric Violin, Lead Vocals & Mandolin; Aurelien Budynek – Guitar & Backup Vocals; Jamie Bishop – Bass & Backup Vocals and Lucianna Padmore – Drums. Together, the band is currently celebrating the release of this album. The new release from Stratospheerius is entitled Guilty of Innocence.

Guilty of Innocence from Stratospheerius begins with the track “Behind the Curtain”. With this track, Deninzon and the band start the album off with a bang. The track features a strong, driving pace to the music that comes complete with a definite Progressive Rock feel. That Prog-Rock sound is helped along with the inclusion of Deninzon’s electric violin along with a few musical effects that add to the feel of the piece. With a sly acknowledgement to the movie The Wizard of Oz, the track’s lyrics deal with a slight of hand, making people pay less attention to what’s really going on around you. “Behind the Curtain” contains a sound and feel that keeps the feel of the band’s last release of The Next World…, an album that was released back in 2012.

The newest release from Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius continues with the track “Take Your Medicine”. The track starts off with a very strong bassline from bassist Jamie Bishop before the rest of the quartet joins in. Like the previous track, the band creates a track that features a very driving feel to the music. That driving feel seems to alternate between musical deliveries that is reminiscent of Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention and a delivery that contains a slightly less progressive feel. Because of the Progressive nature of the music, “Take Your Medicine” may not be very commercial; however, this track would be extremely popular on Album-Oriented Rock radio formats.

Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius create one of the more “progressive” tracks on the title track of the album. Keeping with the pattern set forth by the first two tracks of the album, “Guilty of Innocence” hits the listener with yet another driving force to the music. Like the previous tracks on the release, the band plays with plenty of energy. But the one thing that stands out on this track is the Classical Music feel to the music as Deninzon layers his playing on the electric violin to create an effect as if a string quartet was brought in to add texture to the track. The addition of the Classical approach on the song is what truly sets the title track apart from the earlier songs.

Continuing the inclusion of a more Classical approach on the musical side of things, the track “Face” allows Deninzon to show off his ability on the violin. This track features more of Deninzon’s playing than the previous tracks on the album. The song begins with Deninzon’s violin and a strong beat plus his vocals. The sparse feel of the music allows for Deninzon’s violin to truly have a moment in the spotlight. When the rest of the band joins in on the music of the piece, the band creates a track in “Face” that has a definite Gentle Giant vibe to it.

And speaking of other people’s styles, the Guilty of Innocence album from Stratospheerius continues with the band’s version of a track from the band Muse. It is that group’s song of “Hysteria” that Joe Deninzon and band put their spin on. With the version by Muse, the band creates a song about animal attraction and the uncontrollable need for someone. Needless-to-say, the lyrics and music from Muse create a song that has a very dark feel to it. When Deninzon and the rest of Stratospheerius take their turn at the song, the ensemble seems to lighten up the feel of the song so that it’s not so dark. The energy level is still there with the Stratospheerius version as they create yet another track with a driving nature to the music, but the song contains a lighter feel this time around. If only a little bit.

The mood of the album changes direction on the next track. Like many in the music industry, Joe Deninzon shows he has a political side on the track “Affluenza”. With this track, Deninzon makes his opinion known on the subject as he sings about those who live their lives not caring what the consequences of their actions may be. While the lyrical content is rather political, the music of the track is rather commercial. The song begins with a Funk style of music that separates this track from every other song. The track’s music also includes some straight-out Rock and Roll. If not for the political edge to the song, “Affluenza” would be the most commercial track on the Guilty of Innocence album.

The most progressive sound of the band returns with the track “Game of Chicken”. The track once again features Deninzon on violin back by the rest of the band as they create a track that features one of the more challenging musical time signatures. With the track, Deninzon and the musicians in Stratospheerius show off their true musical abilities.

The Guilty of Innocence album from Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius comes to a close with what could be called the “showcase piece”. The track “Soul Food” features a playtime that exceeds the ten-minute mark. The twelve-plus minute opus features the band creating several different passages that change the direction of the music from one moment to the next. Included in the song are passages that include the use of a piano and the final section that even includes an entire chorus that adds an orchestral feel to the piece. The twelve-minute playtime seems to go by rather easily because of the variety in the different sections of the track. “Soul Food” ends up being the most unique track of the ten that make up the release.

Guilty of Innocence from Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius finds the band in fine form as they create a new album of music. While the album comes with plenty of Progressive Rock tracks, it’s the other songs containing other styles that help to make the release even more entertaining. If you happen to be a fan of Progressive Rock, the new album of Guilty of Innocence album from Joe Deninzon and the band Stratospheerius is one album you need to check out.

To hear just a little of the music of Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius, check out the song  “Guilty of Innocence”. 

For more information, check out the band’s PR Firm, Leighton Media.

To purchase a copy Guilty of Innocence from Joe Deninzon, click on the album cover below:

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CD Review: U.S. Americans “Greatest Hits”

The band U.S. Americans is a Rock and Roll band that makes its home in New York City. The four-piece band consists of Jeff Weiss on Vocals/Guitar/Percussion, Emerson Williams on Drums, Daniel Deychakiwsky on Bass/Guitars and Roy Abraham on Guitars. Together, the musical ensemble creates a sound that they describe as: “Acid punk, whirling guitar, pummeling vocals, throbbing bass, and Dickensian drums.” With this style, the band has created a brand new album of music. And like much of the Punk Rock music scene, the band of U.S. Americans has taken to creating a release that has a slight political undercurrent to a few of the songs on the release. The new album from is U.S. Americans entitled Greatest Hits.

Greatest Hits from U.S. Americans begins with the track “Playtime”. This track features a quote that is most likely where the band’s moniker comes from. Back in 2007, Caitlin Upton, a Miss Teen USA contestant was answering a question about people living in this country not being able to find the United States on a map when she dropped the now infamous description of “U.S. Americans” as part of her answer. While the track features this now infamous statement, the song also features a rather fun lyrical content from vocalist Jeff Weiss as the track features lyrics of board game titles strung together to create a rather amusing wordplay. The track also features a very strong, driving feel to the music. Blending all of these elements together, “Playtime” is a track that comes across as more fun than political.

The new release from U.S. Americans continues with the track “Money in America”. The track’s sound features a very strong seventies vibe to the Rock and Roll music, not to mention the unmistakable Robert Plant vibe on the vocals from Jeff Weiss. The track has a definite Classic Rock style to the music in the style of Led Zeppelin while the lyrics deal with ever-growing divide between the Haves and the Have-Nots in the United States. Musically, “Money in America” will appeal to fans of Classic Rock while still trying to get a message out there about the shrinking category of the Middle Class in the U.S.

With the track “Innocent Fools,” the band changes the direction of their music. On this track, the band takes up a sound that would fit firmly in the eighties. “Innocent Fools” finds Jeff Weiss, Emerson Williams, Daniel Deychakiwsky and Roy Abraham blending their talents together to create a strong Power Rock sound. The strong guitar presence in the track and the feel of the bass and drums really bring out the feel of the track. While the track may not be ready for radio airplay because of the throwback feel to the eighties-style music, the song will absolutely fill the void for those music lovers who have missed the sound of the eighties.

For the track “Manolo,” the band creates a track that features a Prog-Rock style of Rock and Roll that feels as if it had been influenced by Frank Zappa. In fact, the music features guitar playing that brings to mind either the playing of Frank himself or that of his son Dweezil. “Manolo” is the shortest track on the release, but it’s still one track that stays with the listener.

“Fade Out” is the current track on the release to be featured, and it’s easy to see why. The track begins with a guitar riff that sounds as if it’s been backwards masked. That effect creates a very unique sound that catches the listener’s ear immediately. That riff is repeated over and over again throughout the entire length of the track which adds to the unusual but catchy nature of that riff. After the riff has played for about ninety seconds, the rest of the band joins in to create a song that features a slow pace to the music; at least, for the first half of the song. The track alternates between a slow pace and a much harder musical delivery that picks up the pace. The track “Fade Out” is easily one of the tracks that stands out the most on Greatest Hits from U.S. Americans. And the track is one of the songs that all but begs the listener to put on headphones and just allow the music to take you away.

The track “King Someday” is a track that finds U.S. Americans blending musical styles. The track contains a strong Classic Rock feel to the music that also contains a light Hip Hop flavor to the lyrical delivery. Actually, the delivery on the lyrics feels slightly more poetic than Hip Hop-flavored; although, there is a definite Hip Hop attitude to the lyrics. “King Someday” contains a slow pace to the music that brings to mind the music of Led Zeppelin once again.

U.S. Americans pick up the pace of their music for the song “Fuck the KGB”. The Punk Rock track contains a strong guitar presence that goes along with the quick pace. With the track, the band lets their feelings out about how they feel about the Russian spy agency. The track adds just a little bit more political presence to the band’s Greatest Hits release.

Greatest Hits from U.S. Americans comes to a close with the track “Dentist Street”. The track contains a rather relaxed feel to the music while still containing a strong backbone. The straight-out Rock and Roll track has a definite timeless feel to the music. The track could have been created in any decade of the last forty years. To go along with that timeless feel to the music, the lyrics are also rather universal as they seems to tell you to watch your step no matter what you do. “Dentist Street,” while not containing one of the more upbeat musical paces, is one of the more memorable tracks on the new release from U.S. Americans.

The Greatest Hits release from U.S. Americans is a solid album from the very first note. The New York-based quartet incorporates many different musical styles of Rock and Roll to create a release that changes directions throughout the twelve tracks. If you like Rock and Roll, even Rock and Roll that’s slightly political, Greatest Hits from U.S. Americans is well worth checking out.

 

For the music of U.S. Americans, check out the song “Fade Out“.

For more information, check out the PR Firm for the band, Whiplash PR

To purchase a copy of Greatest Hits from U.S. Americans, click on the album cover below:

 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The World of Captain Beefheart

Fans of the obscure and more challenging forms of Rock and Roll such as Progressive Rock or even Avante Garde Rock and Roll should, no doubt, be familiar with the name Don Van Vliet or his alter ego, Captain Beefheart. As Captain Beefheart, Van Vliet created some of the more unusual songs and albums in the sixties, seventies and early eighties. In the time period, the Captain created thirteen albums (with the album Bat Chain Puller being released posthumously in 2012, two years after Don Van Vliet passed away).

While it has been seven years since the passing of Don Van Vliet, there are still plenty of people who call upon his music as an influence to their own. Because of that, it should come as no surprise that someone would create a new album that pays tribute to the memory of Van Vliet and the music he left behind.

The World of Captain Beefheart is a new album created by Gary Lucas, a guitarist who spent time helping Don Van Vliet create some of his later albums. It is Lucas that creates the music for the album. Helping Lucas out with the creation of the new album is singer Nona Hendryx who has a history creating some very original material of her own as well as backing up people like Patti LaBelle. As you listen to the album, you can tell that Hendryx’s voice seems just perfect for interpreting the musical direction of the lyrics to the songs from Van Vliet. Together, the two artists and a few of their friends have taken some of the best music from Captain Beefheart’s musical library and compiled those songs into the album called The World of Captain Beefheart.

As there are thirteen albums to pick from in order to create the playlist for the tribute, a decision as to what would be used had to be made. Taking a look at the playlist for the new tribute album, Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx have focused on some of Captain Beefheart’s more well-known albums. Along with other albums, the songs for this release were taken largely from Clear Spot and Safe as Milk which the songs from those albums account for about half of the release.

Starting off the tribute album is the song “Sun Zoom Spark”. One of the more Avante Garde of Captain Beefheart’s compositions, “Sun Zoom Spark” features a rather difficult rhythm to the music, creating one of the more interesting songs in Van Vliet’s song collection. As far as Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx’s version of the song is concerned, the duo does a good job of interpreting the track with just enough Avante Garde feeling to satisfy those looking for that type of feeling. The resulting track lives up to the original.

One of the more commercial tracks on the release is “My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains”. With this track, Captain Beefheart created a track that blends Jazz and Rock and Roll together to create a track with a gentle pace to it. The version here from Lucas and Hendryx contains a little bit more Jazz influence as a result of Hendryx’s vocal delivery. The quick two-and-a-half minute playtime makes for a great single for radio.

As you go through the album, you encounter a lot of different musical styles. The track “I’m Glad” features a sound that brings to mind something from the band Tommy James and the Shondells. More specifically, the track would fit right alongside that band’s “Crystal Blue Persuasions”. This is one of the more arranged tracks on the album as the original had more of a Motown feel to it. This album version from Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx may actually blow the original version away.

Another standout track on The World of Captain Beefheart is the song “Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles”. This version of the song finds Lucas and Hendryx slightly departing from the original feel of the piece for something a bit different. Although still containing a lot of the original feel of the piece, this version seems to contain a bit of Frank Zappa influence to the music. While the Van Vliet influence is there, the arrangement favors Zappa’s way of playing. Having that Zappa influence, while probably unintentional, isn’t all that unusual since Van Vliet and Zappa knew each other and collaborated with each other over the years.

Putting the album together, it was important that the release was a good representation of the works of the writing style of Don Van Vliet. That meant including some of the more challenging tracks from Captain Beefheart as well as the more commercial of his songs. One of the challenging tracks from Beefheart is the song “Sugar and Spikes”. The constant changing of the beat and the slightly off-key playing from multi-instrumentalist Gary Lucas creates a track that slips into Prog-Rock style. In fact, at times in the track, the music will remind the listener of something from the band Gentle Giant. With the track having such a challenging rhythmic pattern, vocalist Nona Hendryx does a fine job handling the changes that are thrown her way as she sings.

Speaking of singing: For most of the tracks on this release, vocalist Nona Hendryx’s voice works well with the music of the songs to produce a good take on the vocals even though she doesn’t sound much like Captain Beefheart. On the track “Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do,” however, Hendryx’s vocals seem a little hoarser than on the rest of the album. So much so, the listener can almost imagine Beefheart singing the lyrics to this one. As far as the music to the track is concerned, a stronger Blues influence shows up. With this track, you can hear a definite nod to the early days of Rock and Roll when the Blues were more of a part of the music. With the very evident Blues feel to the track, “Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do” could easily have been Don Van Vliet’s tribute to one of the major building blocks that helped to build Rock and Roll.

The World of Captain Beefheart comes to an end with the track “Tropical Hot Dog Night”. In true Captain Beefheart fashion, this track has a very warped sense of humor as far as the lyrics are concerned. And with the definite sexual innuendos that flow through the track, the female vocals from Nona Hendryx seem strangely and sadly out of place. This is one of the weirdest tracks on the album and one that definitely screams “Captain Beefheart”.

One of the things that fans of Captain Beefheart will immediately notice when putting on The World of Captain Beefheart is that the tracks on the album stay pretty true to the original versions of the songs. While they wanted to create an album that paid homage to Don Van Vliet, one thing the duo of Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx seemed to not want to do was to alienate fans of Captain Beefheart. Because of that, the resulting tracks that make up the release interpret the music of Van Vliet but do not “reinvent the wheel”. The songs used for this release are close to the original arrangements while still breathing new life into the songs.

If you have been a fan of Captain Beefheart or are now just coming to become aware of the artist and the music he left behind when he passed away in 2010, The World of Captain Beefheart is a great place to start before you go off and find the original recordings. And if you have the original albums from Captain Beefheart, this album is well worth the time to seek out so you can add it into your library of his music.

For a taste of some of the music off of The World of Captain Beefheart, check out the song “Sure ‘Nuff ‘n’ Yes I Do” by Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx.

For more information on this and other releases, check out Howlin Wuelf Media.

To purchase a copy of this release, click on the album cover below:

Capatin Beefheart

 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Tom Guerra “Trampling Out the Vintage”

Connecticut-based guitarist and singer Tom Guerra has spent many years playing in a rock band called Mambo Sons. Together, the trio that also includes vocalist/bassist Scott Lawson, and drummer Joe “the Cat” Lemieux has released several albums. Those releases featured music that combine rock and roll with a large amount of blues influence. The band last released an album back in 2009 which was a double CD release called Heavy Days. Since then, however, the trio has been silent.

But that changed recently when guitarist and singer Tom Guerra went out on his own and released a solo project. Back in 2014, Guerra celebrated the release of the album All of the Above. While Mambo Sons created music that was heavily blues-based, Guerra decided to incorporate more influences into his sound. The more influences, the better-rounded the style of Guerra’s sound. And while Guerra does include more influences, he has also decided to take his music in a much more Classic Rock type of direction.

Two years have passed since the release of that album. Now, Guerra is back with yet another solo album. For the new release, Tom Guerra turned to Kenny Aaronson on bass guitar; Morgan Fisher on piano; Mike “Doubledog” Kosacek on drums and percussion; and Matt Zeiner on piano and Hammond Organ. Together, they make Guerra’s new album come alive. The new release from Tom Guerra is entitled Trampling Out the Vintage.

Trampling Out the Vintage begins with the track “All Purpose Song”. The track finds Guerra creating a song that would have existed back in the seventies alongside people like Bob Seger. The track features a very strong, driving feel to the music that revolves mainly around the guitar from Tom Guerra. However, the track also features a strong piano part that is as essential to the track as the guitar is. In fact, it truly is the piano that is the standout instrument on the track. “All Purpose Song” is a great song for those looking for the sound of the seventies. The track, however, is not the “all-purpose song” that the track itself actually describes. So just keep looking.

The new release from Tom Guerra continues with the song “Dr. Nick and Elvis”. The track is another that features a strong, driving pace to the music. The style of the guitar playing on the track and the feel of the lyrical delivery as well as the production quality on the guitar solo all add up to track that seems to scream Marc Bolan and his British Glam Rock band T-Rex. The song would easily stand up next to that band’s hit single of “Bang a Gong”.

The style of the music changes dramatically on the next track. For the song “Tell the World,” Tom Guerra finds himself being influenced by the likes of bands like The Raspberries.  That band shaped the sound of their music around the sound of the music being brought into the United States from England during the British Invasion. On “Tell the World,” Guerra’s song features the jangly feel of the guitars that were present within The Raspberries’ songs like “I Wanna Be with You” or “Go All the Way”. With the track’s commercial feel, “Tell the World” would have fit well with other songs on AM radio back in the seventies.

With the track of “BYOB,” Tom Guerra creates a track that takes his style back just a little bit from the style of “Tell the World”. “BYOB” feels and sounds as if the track would have been perfect for the time of the “Summer of Love”. In fact, the mindset of the lyrics comes across as being close to “free Love” as “BYOB” stands for “bring your own buzz”. As far as the music, the song sounds as if it had been influenced by the 60s era Rolling Stones.

One of the strongest tracks on Trampling Out the Vintage is the song “Pay in Blood”. The track is also one of the most unusual as the song alternates between one style and another. At one point, the music on the track feels like it would fit inside of the musical style of 70s Classic Rock. And when the track enters the refrain section, Guerra creates a musical and lyrical style that is undoubtedly very Zappa-esque in nature. The refrain feels as if it was influenced by songs from Frank Zappa such as “The Torture Never Stops,” one of Zappa’s darker songs.

For the track of “Supermoon,” Tom Guerra seems to invoke the style of Tom Petty. In fact, the song contains the style of Petty while he was part of the Supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. The track’s refrain even sounds as if Petty could have been joined by the rest of that band as they sang the lyrics of that refrain. The guitar solo even feels like something from Petty.

For his new release of Trampling Out the Vintage, Tom Guerra does a great job of using the various influences he has picked up throughout the years. The resulting album’s 10 tracks are widely varied from one track to the next while they still contain a solid Rock and Roll base. Guerra has put out yet another album that would be very welcome in any Rock and Roll listener’s music collection.

To check out the music from Tom Guerra, check out the song “Pay in Blood“.

To purchase a copy of Trampling Out the Vintage from Tom Guerra, click on the album cover below.

tomguerra12

 

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Artists & Bands Featured Review Reviews and Suggestions

Pigshit with Gary Pig Gold: TEN YOU MAY HAVE MISSED In 2015

Just on the off chance you’ve already made it through all 18 discs, 20 hours, and/or 379 tracks of Bob Dylan’s Cutting Edge Collector’s Edition, then may I suggest you now turn both ears immediately towards…
driftingsand21 DRIFTING SAND Summer Splash (Piña Colada Records) To fill that sonic gap in a year which saw exactly zero new Beach Boys or even Laurie Biagini albums, Rick Escobar and all his fellow Surfer Spuds from the far left coast produce thirty-four-minutes-thirty-four of sounds, sights and even aromas which conjure those Modern Lovers of yore hijacked by Keith “Beachcomber” Moon. Bravely mixing a clutch of entirely too-cool-for-words instrumentals – Dan Burdick’s lonely trumpet being particularly effective – with Muscle Beach Party-pedigree songs to evoke your fave rave Surfaris B-side, Drifting Sand can, will, and do rhyme “splash” with “such a gas,” “July and August” with “Robert August” (!) and, on “Beach Tour USA” alone toss an M.Love-ly sax solo over carnival barking unheard since our last visit to “Amusement Parks USA.” Top with an ultra-vibra-spaghetti-slappin’ cover of Hazlewood/Sinatra’s “Sand” and the end result may well be the sophomore Fantastic Baggys LP we never thought would ever reach shore. P.S.: and guys? When you’re ready to do your next album, lemme know. Coz have I got a song for You!!

wheel of talent2 THE FLESHTONES  Wheel Of Talent (Yep Roc Records) Technically speaking, this 2014 beaut didn’t arrive in the sty, courtesy of our pals over at Rock Beat International, til just a few months ago. But no problem! ’Cause any year’s an ideal time for those Fabulous F-tones. And as ever and always, these veteran garage czars’ unfailing, unflinching embrace of all things rock and naturally roll are intact from the very get-go herein: “Available” blasts direct into the backyard on wings of brazen brash ‘n’ trash …yet with some incongruously appropriate cellos and violas to boot. Likewise, a good half of this talented Wheel – notably “The Right Girl,” “Tear For Tear” and “For A Smile,” the latter featuring the Southern Culture Skid-vocals of Miss Mary Huff – somehow bring a Shadowy Meek sheen of pure pre-Beatle UK pin-up pop to the proceedings (attention! John Waters) without sacrificing one iota of the oomph. Elsewhere, “Roofarama” speeds Jimi’s “Crosstown Traffic” all the way downtown, “Hipster Heaven” sounds tailor-made for the nearest USB latte turntable, and “It Is As It Was” manages to spin the entire Fleshtone fable in a Schoolhouse Rock! as opposed to School of Rock manner; Ghetto Recorder Jim Diamond professorially sees to THAT. And, for anyone left out there who all these years later still doesn’t get the message? Right there on Track 4, “Remember the Ramones.” Got it!

You Are Here3 GARFIELDS BIRTHDAY  You are Here (Pink Hedgehog Records) Another holdover from ’014, “recorded mostly at home with files winging their way from Dorest to Yorkshire via Bristol then back again” in the words of the handy enclosed press sheet. In other words? The fourth, and positively most welcome to date collection of smart, stylish poppin’ rock from the British brothers Felton, Simon and Shane, this time with none other than Lucky Bishops/Schnauser man Alan Strawbridge on drums. And that’s an important factor indeed, lest the Feltons’ files end a tad too GarageBanded as they travel the virtual UK. To wit, as soon as their “Magic Bike” gets rolling we are finely assaulted with a great big meaty and beaty bounty – yes, this being Century 21 the Magic Bus has been downscaled somewhat, but the drive is every bit as present and potent. “Carpet Ride” similarly soars Armenia City’s skies with, and I quote, “one eye on the future and one foot in the past.” Witness as well how “It’s Your Lucky Day” somehow Cyrkles clear ’round those Basement Tapes while “Lunar Eclipse” happily weds Kurt Cobain verses to killer-kilter XTC choruses. Shane Felton’s fearlessly inspired lead guitars are a vital part of the equation throughout, but particular notice must also be paid to the other Felton, Simon’s, magnificent vocals …on “Oxford” (most importantly); a masterful performance, and song, whose files deserve to be shared this very instant with Art Garfunkel for starters. Which reminds me: visit the Pink Hedgehog for a copy of Simon Felton’s recent Emotional Feedback as well. You will be doubly glad you did.

The Grip Weeds4 THE GRIP WEEDS How I Won The War (Jem Recordings) With their latest release, the Grip Weeds have gone and done, by my count, two outstanding things: (1) claimed full lineage at long last to their Richard Lester-ized namesake, and even more importantly (2) made the best album of their career. Here’s how: As no less an authority as Phil Spector once explained, some artists sing ideas, and that the Grip Weeds always have. And it helps immensely, to say the least, that they most fortunately number within their ranks a member who is equally talented on the other side of the microphones too. That would be Kurt Reil, who once again has twiddled knobs brilliantly inside the band’s own House Of Vibes studio to create textures that are lush but not cluttered; bright but never brittle. Overall, the sounds this time out contain much more bite and snarl – in Kurt’s vocals, pointedly – which suits to a “t” the confusion, conflict and, yes, warfare which always seems to boil below the surface. Several short, mainly instrumental segue pieces play a key role as well in making this disc an end-to-end singular experience. Ah! The long-lost art of the Album as a totality. What a concept! But then about two-thirds in, beginning with the completely Zombie-able “Heaven and Earth,” comes a trio of more nuanced numbers which relax things to a whole loftier level. In fact one of these, “Over and Over,” not only serves as a much-needed truce during this great War, but thanks in big part to the lead vocal of Kristin Pinell – always the Grip Weeds’ not-so-secret-anymore weapon – may honestly be the highlight of it all. Which reminds me, Kurt and brother Rick: Where’s HER album already?!!

Pop Spaceman5 RICK HARPER  Pop Spaceman (HiVariety Recordings) Hey, have you noticed everyone and their roommate lately is not only a singer/songwriter/player, but a bonafide home recordist in addition it seems? Well, listen: Rick Harper, in case you hadn’t noticed – and you certainly should have by now – has been toiling at all that and so much more since ’way back in the primordial pre-laptop daze, I kid you not. Which is why he’s so damn good at it, dammit, as Pop Spaceman, the latest in his Demo Teasers series, surely demonstrates. Along with Erich Overhultz’s occasional keyboard, Rick sing/write/plays up a one-man storm of not only undeniable Songs for our far-out Times (“Pax: Kiss of Peace,” “Wind Idiot,” and “Ca$h Poor,” you bet) but offers as well an unusually good selection of classic Rickenharper-clever chord and monumental chorus compositions (“Not About Us” and my favorite “Pretty Fool”). Each note is not only expertly played, but oh-so-properly placed as well: a supreme proficiency at the fine art of orchestration which is even more apparent during the 14-minute “Music From the Film, Cue 1,” a score of truly cinematic proportions which, for best results, requires secure headphones, a recline position, and lights right off. Interesting how this Pop Spaceman appeared on the ol’ Pig Player right alongside Eddie Cochran just the other night …and fit in just fine.

Lemon Clocks6 THE LEMON CLOCKS  Time To Fly (Jam Records) Rather than attempt myself to adequately describe the tight ‘n’ tart dayglo delights of this disc, let us turn instead to the wise words of the three Clocks themselves, Stefan Johansson, Todd Borsch, and Jeremy Morris: In the land of ELECTRIC TOMATOES we can always find the TIME TO FLY. When the FUTURE IS THE PAST we can bend the clock and make time last. We hear the RAINBOW ECHO all around. Our ring is a promise that is growing underground. We will WALK UPON THE WATER because you just CAN’T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN. It all happened JUST IN TYME during an UNDERWATER DREAM. AND I FOLLOW in TIME until we’ve FINALLY FOUND OUR HOME. Our lemon clock life is like a GROOVY MOVIE with a very happy ending. It’s full of peace and love coming down from above. So LET THE SUNSHINE IN and let it in your heart. You’ll be really glad you did! It’s THE BEGINNING OF THE END and it’s also THE END OF THE BEGINNING…

Mariam7 MIRIAM  Down Today (Norton Records) As if co-launching Brooklyn’s greatest-ever fanzine (Kicks) then coolest go-to music stop (Norton), as well as providing big beats behind the Cramps, Zantees and A-Bones wasn’t more than enough already the one, the only Miriam Linna again steps from behind her Pearl’s to deliver what must be 2015’s rock-candy ear necessity #1! Alongside producer/multi-musician Sam Elwitt, a dozen sweet Sixties slices of strictly 7-inch caliber are fully reheated and served anew… but with nostalgia thankfully taking a distant back seat to respect and utmost finesse in both arrangement (Gregor Kitzis’ occasional strings, for example, always augment; never swamp) and performance (Miriam has added a definite Bazooka Joe as opposed to Bubblicious snap to her Lisa-Jenio-meets-Mary-Weiss pipes). To wit, the Dave Clark Five’s “Don’t Be Taken In” now sounds more like one of December’s Children, while “One More Rainy Day” – the flip of my favorite Deep Purple (!) 45, by the way – quickly turns, somehow, into a full-on Joey Ramone-opus. But after reveling in a half hour of such Evie Sands, Terry Reid, Neil Diamond et al chestnuts, it’s actually one of Mr. Elwitt’s two own compositions, the wholly ’67 Gibb-worthy title track, that just might steal the show. Yes, in yet another year when words like “power” and “pop” continue to be thrown around far too liberally, Miriam shows not only how it’s done, but precisely how it should be SUNG. Hear, here, for yourself.

Andy reed8 ANDY REED  Relay Vol. 1 (Futureman Records) This little seventeen-minute EP demonstrates the absolute best case imaginable for the wealth of miracles found lurking, quite regrettably, in the nether regions of that musical so-called subculture. Relay 1 happens to be Bay City, Michigan one-man audio factory Andy’s first solo release since 2008 (in the meantime, he is also a member of the Legal Matters who I raved of as one of 2014’s Missed); it, and Vol. 2 are apparently due together soon on an up-coming Futureman vinyl release. Til then, this digital trailer recalls, on say “Dreaming Of The West Coast,” Bruce Johnston by way of Eric Carmen… BUT, luckily, with only the most attractive vocal characteristics of both. “I Love A Long Goodbye” features an octave-leaping melody of Jimmy Webb proportions – and that’s one comparison I rarely get to make anymore! – while “Darlin, You Don’t Know” is a drop-down wonder; an around-the-wide-world trip of sound in three and a half minutes flat. In all, Andy’s work is smart and detailed, sometimes stark, sometimes dense. Someone get this man a gig scoring indie films, quick! Meanwhile, as we await that Relay vinyl, you should seek and love his Oddities And Entities collection as well, which holds over thirteen years’ more rare and precious gems.

thewind39 THE WIND  Re-Wind (Cheft Records) Though it seems more like 300, it’s actually “only” been around thirty years since the original Queens-by-way-of-Miami, Lane Steinberg/Steve Katz/Stephen Burdick-model Wind last made us an album. And it HAS been worth the wait, for the trio’s deftly under-troubled skinny white approach serves as even more urgently-needed fresh air against our current century’s assaults upon ear canals. F’rinstance? “Fight Like A Girl” needs less than three whole minutes to perfectly encapsulate, then broaden wildly upon its Buddy ‘n’ Beatles For Sale history of every little AM radio thing. Spin the dial further and “Think On Your Feet” crouches in some recessed corner of an Emitt Rhodes session, “Which Part Of Goodbye?” really could be The Great Lost Wings B-side we’re still queuing for, “Baby, I Can Take A Punch” finds Todd Rundgren pillow-fighting Squeeze while “There’s A Clamoring” and even more so “Let Me Show You How It’s Done” point Badfingers in thoroughly the right direction. Still, Messrs. Katz and Steinberg roll their tan sleeves all the way up to mix “ambivalence” and “after-dinner mints” with some lo-gummed “Sugar Sugar” keyboard for “Yes And No” …and isn’t “Weak Spot” the theme from Craig Ferguson’s late late, extremely great talk show?! Whatever the cases may be, David Grahame’s co-production keeps all sounds – vocals first! – ice-clean, clear, and to-the-heart at all times; it does take a brave man, not to mention fabulous material, to mix this way. But that’s always been, and apparently continues to be, The Wind. Hopefully it won’t be another thirty years before another album blows our way.

Frank Zappa Roxy10 FRANK ZAPPA  Roxy: The Movie (Eagle Rock Entertainment) Delayed even longer than the mighty Wind is this nifty, sometimes tough, and often quite bitchin audio/video record of Frank and his Mothers’ three-night stint at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood during December of ’73. Why it’s taken sooo long to reach us is – Surprise! – NOT the usual legal morass ‘n’ molasses which coats most things Zappa. No, this time it was a simple [sic!] case of technology sufficient to sync the Roxy audio with the Roxy video not being at hand until just a couple’a years ago. Meaning we can all finally not only hear, but see FZ sucking down endless Winstons, seated on-stage in chair having make-up touched up as George Duke pulls a “Big Swifty,” watching Ralph Humphrey drum duel Chester Thompson with a lot of “Cheepnis,” then even manning an extra set of traps himself to help beat off the “Uncle Meat” variations. Later Bruce Fowler and Napoleon Murphy Brock go trombo-a-saxo too all over their “Be-Bop Tango” before Carl and Rick and Jane (then Lana, Brenda et al) are coerced on stage to, um, dance to it …a sight even more unsettling than I’d imagined all those years ago under headphones spinning Side 4 of Roxy & Elsewhere when I should have been doing my homework. Caveat Emptor however: as Gail Zappa (RIP) of the esteemed Zappa Family Trust says (admits?) in the accompanying liner notes, Frank indeed “shows up here at his geekiest,” as many of the fiercely wrought arrangements, not to mention between-song “announcements” attest. Of course, a mere five years pre-Roxy such a disclaimer would NEVER have been necessary regarding the original Mothers of Invention and those things they did, but…

Gary Pig Gold

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PIGSHIT: A WORLD WITHOUT GEORGE

“Music is at the core of our being. Can you imagine a woman rearing a child and not humming to it? It's as natural as breathing.”

Just in case you haven’t already been listening over the past sixty-some-odd years, Eagle Rock Entertainment’s grand new Produced By George Martin documentary demonstrates once again, via a wealth of vintage clips and contemporary interviews with clients past (Paul McCartney, Cilla Black, Jeff Beck, Bernard Cribbins even) and protégés present-day (Rick Rubin, T-Bone Burnett) the sheer magnitude of the man’s sonic innovations on, and indelible contributions to, the music industry. Or what remains of it, I should say.

All of which got this Rock and Roll Reporter thinking, for not the first time mind you, what exactly our aural lives would have, could have been like in, dare I even imagine it…

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PIGSHIT: Ten Reasons to Now Revisit Hendrix at Winterland and In the West

1. These original live recordings – totaling 47 tracks over five hours plus – have previously been semi-available only on long-out-of-print releases (not counting quite inferior-sounding bootlegs), and in the case of the Winterland performances now features three (!) full discs of additional material.