As a singer whose singles are as highly prized as his live performances, Lee Fields doesn’t boast the most sprawling back catalog of any vintage soul shouter. Instead, his recordings, slowly measured out over time, distill the steady advancement of a groove technician supremely engaged with wrenching the most emotion out of the minimal backing he’s associated with. Dishing out “Bewildered” in the late sixties, a song James Brown worked with almost a decade earlier, wasn’t a leap forward in the genre. Sharing a syncopated minimalism with the better-known vocalist followed for Fields. As much as any lone funky track can revel in a solitary musical idea, “She’s a Love Maker,” from Fields’ 1973 “Let’s Talk it Over” turns in a reasonably traditional backing track as the singer figures out one of his femme-conquests.
Read the rest of this entry »
The lonesome recording artist Jimmy LaValle, a.k.a. The Album Leaf, is set to bring to life his ambient, dreamy electronica soundscapes at the Bottom Lounge with the help of a live band. The intricate pieces that LaValle creates on record are not simply reproduced straight from the studio, but rather added to and re-imagined with the help of the three musicians that tour with him. The songs are kept sounding fresh so that they may continue to evolve regardless of the fact they have been committed to record. Read the rest of this entry »
In a town where Steve Albini remains important enough to comment on rap groups he’s never heard, nor cares about, a band like Swans should draw a healthy crowd. Much in the same way Albini’s earliest groups dealt in post-industrial rock-hatefests, Michael Gira and his New York-based Swans have steadily churned out weirdo theatrics for the last several decades. With a hiatus that allowed Gira to rev up his Young God imprint, Swans haven’t influenced current touring troupes in a musical sense so much as Gira’s served as paean to how destructive slow songs can be. Paired with Gira’s band is former Sun City Girls’ guitarist Sir Richard Bishop and his collected Freak of Araby Ensemble. Read the rest of this entry »
Music geeks should really be thankful that festivals like All Tomorrow’s Parties and Lollapalooza are able to toss around interesting sums of money, coaxing would-be disbanded acts out of the shadows. The Olivia Tremor Control, which was briefly summoned back to the stage in 2005 for ATP, has become another revival act of sorts after its ten-year hiatus. As a part of the Elephant 6 Collective, a wide ranging association of pop-psych bands including everyone from the Apples in Stereo to Jeff Mangum’s Neutral Milk Hotel, this group gained underground acclaim during its initial run between 1992 and 1999. Releasing a few long-players brought out the major-label vultures and, with reasonable suspicion, the group decided to take a break for a bit in lieu of signing away the rights to new music in order to pull in a big, corporate payday. Read the rest of this entry »
The Miami four-piece Torche is one of those “Dirty Southern” metal bands that can easily be filed alongside the likes of Baroness, Mastodon and Kylesa. What these bands have in common is that they are all unashamedly heavy, with their feet firmly planted in the sludge metal genre, but are progressive enough in their outlook to engulf myriad other influences to create a sound that appeals beyond the typical metal fan base. Torche’s crushingly heavy drop-tuned riffs and thunderous bass parts, which have made up their back catalog, blend with a sense of melody and pop sensibility that makes their songs exceedingly catchy. Read the rest of this entry »
Madball, one of New York’s longer-running acts trucking in the hardcore milieu, came to prominence during the early nineties with a a single featuring a handful of Agnostic Front’s brain-trust. That group, which is oddly best known for its cover of “Crucified,” remains a cultural crossroads for the genre, after which divisions among city-centric eighties hardcore scenes devolved to surprising lows. Henry Rollins frequently gets tagged as the figure moving punk from a haven for pencil-necked geeks to a place where tough guys exert dominance. But more than that much-maligned figure, New York’s mid-to-late eighties scene should be understood as the turning point. Granted, if you’re squatting in some abandoned building, being able to dole out beatings is worthwhile. The ability just doesn’t always need to be taken to shows. But Madball sounds like it should soundtrack the murder of some schnook on the Lower East Side. After the band jettisoned its AF members, Freddy Cricien fronted a group interested in merging hardcore, metal and thrash. Songs’ runtimes don’t usually move beyond two minutes—best-case scenario, it’s all over in less than sixty seconds. After a trio of mid-nineties albums, the band settled on a relatively consistent sound, turning in gang-shouted choruses and barely audible grunted verses. While the group persists in being recalled for thrashy tempos, it’s the breakdowns when Madball works best—from “Spit on Your Grave” to “Timeless” from the group’s newest disc, 2010’s “Empire.” Being true to oneself and fighting well doesn’t provide for much lyrical development, but if you’re punching a guy in the face while dancing, it might not matter too much. (Dave Cantor)
June 24 at the Bottom Lounge, 1375 West Lake, (312)666-6775. 5:30pm. $20. All ages.
Ignoring the Detroit Cobras building its legacy on the backs of other’s songwriting is impossible, but the band’s delivery helps mitigate the transgression. At least there haven’t been any licensing squabbles to note. Hugely successful acts working in well-selected covers have been indispensable in shaping rock ‘n’ roll. How good is the Stones’ “12×5” and what would it be without Chuck Berry’s work opening the entire affair? More telling, though, might be Creedence Clearwater Revival beginning its entire recording career with a then-unknown track by some weirdo in a cape, hollering about being possessed by some bad juju. “I Put a Spell On You,” Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ classic, turned a passable rock act from the sixties into psychedelic swamp evacuees over a four-minute runtime. Tossing in a tune penned by Steve Cropper didn’t hurt CCR’s first album, either. And the eventual reworking of the Temptation’s “Grapevine” might outdo the original. Read the rest of this entry »
Hearing anything recorded by Nagasaki-based Guitar Wolf seems as if it might have been set to tape in the company of Tav Falco or the Cramps. Each of the Japanese band’s endless slew of records could be misunderstood as a thirty- or forty-year-old collection of lost one-off releases. Trucking purely in antiquated tropes, the ensemble isn’t concerned with how garage and rockabilly have been turned into plastic arts, becoming something closely associated with campy kitsch and cheeseball shirts with flames on ‘em.
Beginning its career with a few recordings that didn’t initially make it to the States, Guitar Wolf has been on what amounts to a fifteen-year world tour. Leaving the road every once in a while, the trio sets up shop and cranks out another handful of tunes most listeners would have a hard time discerning the epoch from which it sprung. With such a concise understanding of its work, losing a founding member, bassist Hideaki Sekiguchi, six years back hasn’t slowed the band. Of course, any trio remaining fenced in by conceptions of rock music set up by Hasil Adkins and his ilk, but with a healthful bit of Stones’ swagger added in, don’t have much need to sit around contemplating the direction of their work.
Granted, the door fee for the show this Thursday could just as well get you a copy of any “Back to Grave” compilation featuring ridiculously obscure garage acts. But in lieu of just listening to half-talented players emulate their heroes, you can watch leather-clad foreigners do roughly the same thing. You might even be able to get away with pretending everything’s a Link Wray cover. (Dave Cantor)
May 19 at the Bottom Lounge, 1375 West Lake, (312)666-6775, 11:30pm. $15.
At this point in Los Angeles-based producer Daedelus’ career, there’s a sort of consistency in his wholly different recording endeavors. Initially affiliated with dublab’s first crop of speaker-rattlers, this well-heeled technician went and embraced the hip-hop half of the electronics, remixing the Weather’s only album. Of course, sticking to such abstruse fair wasn’t likely to endear Daedelus to wide swaths of the music listening world. Working DJ nights and continuing his contributions to dublab’s online radio programming, in addition to whatever innate creative force enables the guy to issue new recordings on a yearly basis, resulted in a European deal with Ninja Tune.
Bringing out “Bespoke,” loosely based around song titles tied to the producer’s penchant for vintage clothing, Daedelus accelerates his manipulation of a base number of samples into sounds evoking wide-eyed discovery. Almost nothing on the new album sounds like ample fodder for MCs, but the handful of crooning accompaniment fits the mood, if not making for an album skewed to the fey side of electronica. Read the rest of this entry »
While more and more new musicians are colonizing the territory of hauntological music, few can summon the actual creepiness of Meat Beat Manifesto’s fringe electronic work. For twenty years, MBM has been releasing records that meld industrial, trip hop, jungle and dub sounds into a disorienting mind-trip. Their 1998 opus, “Actual Sounds and Voices,” named for the many found audio clips that accent its gnarled, house-cum-free-jazz symphonies, probably produced the act’s most recognizable track, “Prime Audio Soup,” which made an appearance in the soundtrack to the mega-millions-grossing “The Matrix.” MBM stalwart Jack Dangers puts together another excellent walk on the dark side of aurality in his most recent, 2010’s “Answers Come in Dreams,” which, as the name suggests, pushes even further into the subliminal basements of sound. Piecing together sci-fi frequency tweaking, seismic dub tremors, industrial beat-making and swirls of concrète (sic) sounds into a sonically verbose machine which somehow manages to move; one can even imagine dancing to this, although what grisly shape that danse macabre might take is a mystery to me. (David Wicik)
February 16 at Bottom Lounge, 1375 West Lake, (312)666-6775, 9pm. $18. $17+.