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Friday, February 27, 2015

Junta - Junta EP

Name: Junta
Album: Junta EP
Year: 1984
Style: Alternative, Post-Modern, Art Rock, Experimental, Post-Punk
Similar Bands: Violent Femmes, XTC, Talking Heads, Wire, Gang of Four, Jonathan Richman, Residents
One Word Review: Organic, Ritualistic Beatnik Spasms
Based Out Of: West Chester, Ohio
Label: Day One Records
 Junta - Cover & 45 Side
Junta - Back & 33 Side
Junta (1984)

  1. Zaire 4:57
  2. Another Horse Story 4:58 /
  3. Waldo 3:59
  4. Roman Blood 5:38
  5. Tar & Soil (live) 4:32

Album Rating (1-10): 8.0

Members & Other Bands:
Jay McCubbin - Bass (Wolverton Brothers)
Bill Stuart - Guitars (Wolverton Brothers)
Paul Stewart - Bass, Lap Steel, (Jesus Boy vox at 10 y/o) (Redmath)
Jerry Hunter - Percussion (Steve Eaves)
Gary Shell - Producer, Engineer
Wayne Hartman - Engineer
Skip Williams - Added Percussion Live Track
Luther Wright - Added Percussion Live Track
K. Alvin Combs - Cover Art
Ken Allan - Photos
Tracey Kameru - Photos
Hathaway - Photos
Burkhart - Photos

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. And I admit, I was not so inclined to pick up the record based on the artwork or  design. It looks like the work of a trying-too-hard weird experimental band with lots of sounds, but not much melody. But I was persuaded to buy it for a dollar when I saw that each side was at a different speed. I liked that eccentricity, so for 5 songs, I figured it would not be too bad.

Album Review: Not much is out there about this Ohio band. The name describes a power/group taking control of a government by force. They have been called a new wave band, an experimental art band, and a global dance rock band. Two of the guys in the band adopted the stage-last-name of Wolverton, and are in the more popular Wolverton Brothers, still an active band. While all of the elements together would make me think this is an awesome band, the finished product falls flat for an undefined reason. Lots of potential, but it is just needs a little more direction.

“Zaire” fades in with a chugging, organic wood block and guitar lick. Dark bass supports, creating a topsy-turvy atmosphere. Jangle, Violent Femmes style guitar begins, and a Gang of Four, monotone droning vocal mechanically over the calculated backing track. There are a lot of time changes in the song, making it similar to some of the complexities in XTC or the percussiveness of the Talking Heads. The vocals take on some chants and spastic spitting yowls, like Andy Partridge was famous for early on. The song continues to drive the entire time. It is an odd blend of earthy and cold production intermixing and existing at the same time.
“Another Horse Story” features some haunting, synthetic coyote howls. A disjointed bouncy bass line parallels some rattling, jangely guitars. The dark, monotone vocals pick up a down ward melody in short segments that reminds of Jonathan Richman. It is beatniky, and sparse, and features some extra synth effects and overall, boils down some Talking Heads elements into basics and just repeats them to where they feel like there is no jittery end in sight, and it ends abruptly.

“Waldo” has a shaky, skatty drum that is all over the place, but carries a distinct urgency. A vibrating bass line adds to the mystery, as well as gentle synth hum. Off key organ notes drop out of the keyboard, and the up and down bass line moves the song along. Layered dark, chanting vocals sprawl over the music, which has intensified with an individual note plucked guitar hook. The chanting of Waldo feels like they are doing a ritual sacrifice to some ram headed god.
“Roman Blood” is introduced with a child’s voice. Probably a sample, singing “Jesus don’t forget me.” The conga drum is alive in the background, and a smoky jazzy trumpet creates an improv, interactive poetry slam vibe. The horn echos, offering a weird and off-putting-on-purpose vibe. The pace picks up, and the disorienting atmosphere they have created kicks the listener off spinning. The vocals turn to a call and response tactic, very theatrical, which brings back a manageable melody. But this too has skittering cockroach percussion in the background, creating a very nervous and tense feeling. The song ends with an intense repetitive shout chanting, which turns from mostly unintelligible to muttering sounds. And with a heavy breath, the whole song just gives out.
“Tar & Soil (live)” illustrates what their live show must have been like. It starts out sounding like the Residents with the weird effect in the background, and a little Mr. Bungle with the rapidly played guitar. The vocals are chanty, but have a softer edge. The guitar calms down a little and it takes on a Talking Heads style, but I imagine the live performance was a multi-media experience. The bass is mixed down, and is not as huge of a force as the rest of the album.

Stand Out Track: Zaire

Links:
Discogs
Spin Mag 9/85
City Beat Wolverton Bros Article
Sonic Bids Wolverton Bros
Terminal Boredom short description

Thursday, February 26, 2015

(the) Buggs - The Beetle Beat

Name: The Buggs
Album: The Beetle Beat
Year: 1964
Style: Beatles Rip-Off, Vocal Pop Group
Similar Bands: Beatles, Kingston Trio, Liverpool Beats,
"One-Word" Review: An American's British  Bandwagon Ride
Based Out Of: Bergen County, NY
Label: Coronet
 The Beetle Beat - Cover & Record
The Beetle Beat - Back & Record
The Beetle Beat (1964)

  1. I Want to Hold Your Hand 2:11
  2. Mersey Mercy (You've Got Me Bugged) 2:47
  3. Soho Man (Just One Look) 2:06
  4. East End (Since You Broke My Heart) 2:27
  5. London Town Swing (Why Can't You Love the Boy Who Loves You) 2:04 /
  6. She Loves You 2:23
  7. Liverpool Drag (Why Won't You Leave That Man?) 2:13
  8. Swingin' Thames (That's For Sure) 2:09
  9. Big Ben Hop (Sassy Sue) 2:20
  10. Teddy Boy Stomp (I'll Never Leave You) 2:37
Album Rating (1-10): 8.5

Members & Other Bands:
Goldie Goldman - Producer
Bill Omolski - Bass
Gary Wright - Organ, Vox
Frank Zillitto - Guitar
Steve Bogue - Drums
Eddie Brick - Vox
Jimmy Carol - Vox
Trade Martin - various instruments

Unknown-ness: I've never heard this Beatles rip-off band, but I can only assume it is a poor man's version of the Beatles, created to trying to coax unsuspecting mothers out to buy their snotty, complaining kid a Beatles album. There is not much room to dispute that his will be a shameless parody of the Beatles. 

Album Review: So there is a big, shady side to the 60’s music industry represented here with this album, which makes for a more exciting story than the album (which is a surprisingly solid set of songs). Apparently, this band was called the Coachmen 5, and after recording these songs with a hired hand songwriter, the NJ group (definitely not recorded in England) was under the impression that it would be their album. They had no idea the label would rename the group, rename the songs to sound more British, and use British looking models for the cover. The real band saw no royalties and the Coachmen 5 suffered from the travesty. Many mothers bought this album for their kids, not knowing it wasn’t a Beatles album. Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo was one such disappointed owner of the album, which helped him pen the song “U Got Me Bugged” in tribute. 


But the whole thing gets weirder. In 1966, when the music scene shifted ever so slightly, and Go-Go music began to take off, the record label repackaged the unsold records in their inventory with a new cover and title: “Boots a Go-Go.” They left off all the track listings to make people think it was a new Buggs album. At least Gary Wright escaped the whole ordeal mentally intact, since he was able to have a secondary career as a solo artist, having written “Dream Weaver.” Perhaps all of these experienced learned him as to what NOT to go in the music industry.

“I Want to Hold Your Hand” is a cover of the Beatles song. You know the song. They can’t hit all the notes, but musically it is a solid cover. Well, the guitar might not sound as punchy, but they do a good enough job, without sounding as silly as the Liverpool Beats rip off.
“Mersey Mercy (You've Got Me Bugged)” follows with a similar sounding guitar, and is definitely a Beatles inspired song. It has a little more of an island sound to it, like the Beatles mid-tempo Hard Days Night songs and the harmonies are layered well.
“Soho Man (Just One Look)” is a cover of the Doris Troy 1963 hit song, which the Hollies covered and also helped make famous. His version drops off the romantic longing, and goes for a punchy rushed pop tempo. So they make it their own rather than doing a soulful version. It is done well, like how the Beatles might have interpreted the song.
“East End (Since You Broke My Heart)” is a slow dance song, more in line with the male harmonic vocal groups of the time, and less like the Beatles. There are sweeping harmonies over the chorus, but this trys to hang on to the style of music like the Bachelors, with a crooning at the school dance vibe. Like a less catchy Earth Angel.
“London Town Swing (Why Can't You Love the Boy Who Loves You)” starts out with a big, heavy guitar sound, and a snare drum waltz tempo. At its base, it has a “Little Drummer Boy” feel all the way through.

“She Loves You” is a cover of the Beatles song. It is a pretty faithful cover, utilizing the backing harmonic vocals, and powerful punches when the title is sung, along with whooooo’s and hand clap percussion.
“Liverpool Drag (Why Won't You Leave That Man?)” continues the spirit of many of the songs of the era…questioning and/or embracing love on a high school level. This song twists the I Want to Hold Your Hand melody around a little to create this variation.
“Swingin' Thames (That's For Sure)” has a side to side, slightly proto-psychedelic bass line that is prevalent to the song. Even the organ comes in bring a psych element. It feels like it was meant to be a country-ish song. It fades out once the tempo and melody changes to something repetitive.
“Big Ben Hop (Sassy Sue)” begins very delicate for 10 seconds, but then it transitions into a  Buddy Holly style song played by the Beatles. It features “Yeah yeah Yeah” flourishes as well. Sure, the vocals don’t always have a commanding grasp on the extended and raised notes that make take the tooo-OOO or meee-EEEE up an octave. But the pace and tone of the song is fun and dance-y.
“Teddy Boy Stomp (I'll Never Leave You)” has a jittery guitar at the beginning with Dat-a-dums sung overtop and a “whoop” used to end a few lyric lines. The lyrics mention floating on clouds above, and the song feels like it is rolling along a rollercoaster up in the clouds. 


Stand Out Track: Big Ben Hop (Sassy Sue) 

Links:
Wiki

Brooklyn Dreams - Won't Let Up

Name: Brooklyn Dreams
Album: Won't Let Go
Year: 1980
Style: Pub Rock, Power Pop, Blue Eye Soul, R&B
Similar Bands: The A's, Toto, Hall & Oates, Journey, Supertramp
One Word Review: Smoothly Produced Radio Soul
Label: Casablanca Records and Film Works Inc
Based Out Of: LA, CA
 Won't Let Go - Cover & Record
Won't Let Go - Back & Record
Won't Let Go (1980)
  1. Lover in the Night 3:58
  2. Heartbreaker-Breakaway 3:49
  3. Spinnin' 3:32
  4. Beautiful Dreamer 3:38 /
  5. Back on the Streets 4:19
  6. I Won't Let Go 4:12
  7. Fallin' In Love 4:20
  8. A Moment in Time 5:00
Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
'Snuffy Walden - Rhythm Arrangement, Guitar Solos (Rox, Stray Dog, Various Sndtrks)
'Dave Garland - Strings & Horn Arrangement
'Phyllis Chotin - Art Direction
'Kevin McCormick - Bass (John Mayall, Rox, Nils Lofgren, David Lindley, Jackson Browne, Melissa Ethridge, Steve Perry, Don Henley)
'Les Hurdle - Bass (Bullet, Graham Walker Sound, The Mohawks, The Rhythm Section, Spaghetti Head, Troll)
'Art Hotel Inc - Design
'Mac James - Design
'Keith Forsey - Drums (Harold Faltermeyer, Giorgio Moroder, 18 Karat Gold, Amon Duul II, Hallelujah, The Heat, Me & You, Motherhood, Niagra, Ralf Nowy Group, Roland Kovac New Set, The Spectrum, Sugar Bus, Trax, Udo Lindenberg Und Das Panikorchester)
'Mark Bensi - Drums (Jerry Knight, Robin Williamson, Jennifer Robin)
'Tony Braunagel - Drums (Back Street Crawler, City Boy, Bloontz, Crawler, Eric Burdon Band)
'Bob Inky Incorvaia - Cheif Engineer, Production Assistant
'Steve Smith - Asst Engineer
'Willie Harlan - Asst Engineer
'Bobby Womack - Guitar (Artists United Against Apartheid, Valentinos)
''Bruce Sudano - Keys, Guitar (Silent Souls, Alive N' Kickin, Michael Jackson, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Donna Summer, Joe Bruce & 2nd Ave)
''Joe Esposito - Keys, Guitar (Giorgio Moroder, Brenda Russel, Laura Branigan, The Jam Squad, Joe, Bruce & 2nd Ave)
'Dave Aston - Keys (Tonio K, Henry Turtle)
'Nicky Hopkins - Keys (Cliff Bennett & Rebel Rousers, Climax Blues Band, Cyril Davies & his Rhythm & Blues All Stars, Jeff Beck Group, Jerry Garcia Band, Lord Sutch & Heavy Friends, NIck Hopkins Caravan, Night, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Sessions, Sweet Thursday)
'Rick Kelly - Keys (Street Players, Foxy, Afterbach, Emotions, Peabo Bryson, Jets)
'Ted Jensen - Mastering
'Ollie Cotton - Mixing Asst Co-Producer
'Jim Boyer - Mixing Co-Producer
'Bob Conti - Percussion
'Eddie Hokenson - Percussion (Brenda Russell, Donna Summer)
'Norman Seeff - Photography
'Gary Herbig - Sax (Afterglow, Don Menza & his 80's Big Band, toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Big Band)
'Don E. Branker Org. - Managment

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of them, but the cover looks familiar, like it was a generic template for other bands of this era with the grid style background. The logo and signature title look quite generic, and the photo looks like session musicians without much chemistry together. I imagine this to be light, or adult contemporary rock. There are a couple of candid shots on the back, but they look a little forced, and the end result is a generic look. But hey, Casablanca in 1980 might be fun, so why not?

Album Review: This is the band’s third album, and least popular due to the decline of Disco. They played on American Bandstand and the film American Hot Wax. As this is at the end of Disco’s popularity, it is the least disco like of their albums. Their popularity came from their association (and working with) Donna Summer, whom keyboard & guitar player Bruce Sudano married. He also found success through a song he wrote for Dolly Parton (Starting Over Again) which was given a second life in 1997 via Reba McEntire. He also started the record label Purple Heart Recording Company. Esponito also went on to have a somewhat successful career via Lauren Branigan & various soundtracks like Flashdance, Karate Kid and Coming to America. And his son, Mike, was a MLB pitcher

“Lover in the Night” starts out with pure power pop chords, piano, and new wave vocals that I’ve lately been comparing to Richard Bush of the A’s. Again, this sounds pretty spot on. The song has all the great new wave pop characteristics. A great build, strong chord progression, and a final bridge/build into the harmonized chorus. Even the breakdown slows things down with a simple clunky music box guitar, and in the end, female vocals are brought in to soar and intermix with the lead.
“Heartbreaker-Breakaway” is a little more of a slinky smooth groove. You can see how if this was recorded a few months prior, it could have much more orchestral and disco production, as it does sound like a bee gees song in the chorus. Stings are brought in a little, and the song kinda feels like Journey as it winds down.
“Spinnin'” is a bouncy, smooth sounding song, like Supertramp with vocals like Randy Newman. There is a bit of a show-tuney feel to the song, and an aww-shucks groovy carnival melody.
“Beautiful Dreamer” finishes out side one with a slow dance. Synth melody, piano and vocals yearn for attention. Drums and rhythm guitars are added in after about a minute. But the song stays dedicated to candlelight reflection.

“Back on the Streets” follows the first side recipe, by starting out with a fun driving melody that reminded me at first of Genesis, but that quickly fell away. It is just a sneaky, windswept detective/cop-tv theme song, futuristic new wave synth included in the chorus; as to be expected. It has a bit of a disco hustle tempo with the chorus that is produced to a non-disco format/
“I Won't Let Go” starts out sounding like Jackson Browne’s “Somebody’s Baby” from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But it gets much more soulful once the vocals begin. A chorus of vocals comes in toward the end to echo the lead vocals, which are split up and multilayered over top of each other.
“Fallin' In Love” is slow and confident, with synth trickles in the background. This is the power-R&B jam played on parents’ car stereos to set the mood just right.  The song features a reprise, which bunps the melody into a steady trot, one level up. But it is short lived, and although the vocals croon stronger, the melody slips back to the original installment. The end almost reaches gospel heights, with a full chorus joining in a side to side, hand clapping harmonic display before the song fades out in an instrumental.
“A Moment in Time” starts out as a slow, reflective R&B piano ballad. Intensity picks up a bit, but the tempo never does. Strings soar in the background, but are muted to a barely recognizable volume. The sax solo is put on display, and the song limps along. The song gets a little jazzier, taking liberties within the melody structure to mix it up ever so slightly, but staying true to the feel and tempo until it fades out.

Stand Out Track: Lover in the Night

Links:
Wiki
Discogs
IMDB
Allmusic
Popmatters
Soultracks
Rate Your Music

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Jett Brando - The Movement Toward You

Name: Jett Brando
Album: The Movement Toward You
Year: 2000
Style: Dream Pop, Lo-Fi
Similar Bands: Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Velvet Underground, Later XTC
One Word Review: Moody Medicated Happiness
Based Out Of: Brooklyn NY / New Jersey
Label: Gern Blandsten
 The Movement Toward You - Cover, Sleeve, Record A
The Movement Toward You - Back, Lyrics, Record B
The Movement Toward You (2000)
  1. The Center of Gravity (Sink Right Down) 5:07
  2. Waiting 3:44
  3. Well, Well 3:00
  4. Athuna 2:31
  5. Love You Blues 1:22
  6. Won't You Treat It Like A Storm 1:56 /
  7. All Your Tongues 4:21
  8. More than Becoming 1:55
  9. Nobody Wants to Know 3:12
  10. In the Dead Hot Sun 4:07
  11. Who is to Decide 6:10
Album Rating (1-10): 8.5

Members & Other Bands:
Jett Brando /Jeremy Winter - Vox, Guitar, Bass, Keys, Percussion, Producing, Sleeve Design (All Natural Lemon and Lime Flavors, Chase Pagan)
Pete Murphy - Bass, Keys, Percussion, Producer, Cover Art, Photography (Jack Rubinacci, All Natural Lemon and Lime Flavor)
Steve Doherty - Drums (Hymn Makers, Delerious?, Kingsway Kids)
Alap Momin - Engineer, Mixing, Recording
Alan Douches - Final Mastering
Sonny Ristorante - Handclap & Scream Assistance
Dan Marino - Pre-Mastering
Jennifer Holland - Original Art on Cover

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band, and from the moody, shadoy artwork, I imagine it is either moody art-rock or emo pop. It was in a dollar bin, and I am a fan of the bands that come from Gern Blandsten, so I wanted to pick it up. That said, the GB artists have a bit of an edge to them, so perhaps this is much punchier than I've given its artwork credit for. But maybe not.

Album Review: At the center of this band is Jeremy Winter, a multi-instrumentalist whose work was previously in a band called All Natural Lemon and Lime flavors, similar in vein to My Bloody Valentine. This is a beautiful album that I really enjoyed, but at the same time, would never pull it out to just put it on.

“The Center of Gravity (Sink Right Down)” fades up with a ringing string note. This cuts out, and dreary acoustic guitar strums support a very Radiohead – “The Bends” style of drawn out vocals. The strings come back in, followed by drums and a full production. The song finds its repetitive droning groove and pounds it into the listener without much diversion or alteration. The one dimensional song falls into its own pattern, and there is no telling when it would ever end. So when it does so, quite abruptly, the listener is shaken awake from a hypnotic trance.
“Waiting” feels more like a Jeff Buckley song with the guitar and jazzy drums. The vocals are echoing, and remind me of Ben Folds Five’s solemn songs from Reinhold Messner ("Hospital Song"). But the chorus has a very Buckley emotional delivery, without quite as much range. Overall, it is a very moody, pretty song.
“Well, Well” feels like it is going to be an oldie-pop song. But the vocals take it in a much more relaxed direction. After a couple delicate run throughs of verse-chorus, the heavier lo-fi guitars are brought out to distort what was kind of a straightforward pop song.
“Athuna” as more moody, romantic sounding acoustic guitars and the echoes on the vocals again make the whole project very Buckley-ish. The haunting high notes in the chorus have a bit if a British feel to them too (Radiohead’s “High and Dry”). As the guitar continues to play, the song ends in a fade out.
“Love You Blues” employs a looping, solemn vocal hook over some 60’s inspired dance pop. The mesh oddly well. The end result is a medicated happiness.
“Won’t You Treat It Like A Storm” straddles the thing Yorke-Buckley voice similarity, with some held notes that rattle away and a dark, Doors-like mood (minus the famous organ sound). The song ends in a looping psychedelic bass-guitar fade out.

“All Your Tongues” starts with strong daylight, waking up vocals, and a warbling acoustic guitar line. There is a bit of an alt-country feel to this song, but it is peaceful and organic. The interlude breakdown features an alarm-sounding guitar cadence mixed in with the bass line. The song resets itself, and wobbles though a few minor notes and slightly off pitches. The song feels as if it was produced in a soft, small, intimate room.
“More than Becoming” is a bouncy pop song, tweaked out with a buzzy electric guitar (like Of Montreal). But the song is a lot of fun, with its marching melody, reminds me a little of Euros Childs (Of Gorky’z Zygotic Mynci).
“Nobody Wants to Know” steps back from the fast dance song with a waltz. This reminds me of something you might hear on a demo recording from XTC’s “Mummer.”
“In the Dead Hot Sun” features the most straightforward vocals, reminding me a little of the Kinks. The melody reminds me of something a friend of mine would write (Jon Rosenberg). The music is a rollicking 60’s inspired slightly psychedelic pop song, and it even ends with a fade out of LaLaLaLa’s. This is followed up with a quiet fade up, one note at a time guitar with a hiccupping percussion in support. After a minute, this fades back out, and actually threw me because I figured it was the next track.
“Who is to Decide” quietly comes into existence with a record skipping “whoop” sound and warbling surf/steel guitar notes. Uneasy and tired, the song lolli-gags around, oscillating from foot to foot, as the ballad-like vocals rise and fall, matching the music, like a rowboat adrift on a gentle sea. The song bobs up and down as the tide draws the boat out further on a warm, moonlit night. As if this was a dream, a static buzz begins to grow, as if the sleeper is being awoken by a skipping record with a weedwacker running outside. A harsh jolt back to reality finally ends the record.

Stand Out Track: More Than Becoming

Links:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bandera - Knights

Name: Bandera
Album: Knights
Year: 1981
Style: Southern Rock, Pub Rock
Similar Bands: Ted Nugent, ZZ Top, Fabulous Thunderbirds, T Rex
"One-Word" Review: Neighborhood Honky Tonk Pub
Based Out Of: Bandera, TX
Label: MCA Records
 Knights - Cover & Record
Knights - Back & Record
Knights (1981)
  1. Billy the Kid 3:31
  2. Loaded Gun 4:53
  3. Crazy You, Crazy Me 4:44
  4. High Ridin' Mama 2:15
  5. Memories of Home 4:32 /
  6. Hello Texas 3:55
  7. Illegal 4:11
  8. Now That It's Over 3:22
  9. Old Rhymes & Photographs 3:51
  10. Blame it on the Full Moon 5:05
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands:
Paul Uhrig - Bass, Vox (Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band, Linda Hargrove, Jim Rooney, Earl Scruggs,Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Mac Gayden,  Ricky Van Shelton, Dolly Parton)
Tom Jones - Drums, Percussion (John McCutcheon)
Harry Robinson - Guitars (Ian Matthews, Jim Rooney, Joe Sun)
Leon Tsilis - Producer, Album Concept
Pat Higdon - Producer
Dale Jackson - Vox (Peggy Lacey)
Eric Butler - Vox, Guitars (Rainravens, Boilers, II D Extreme, Wintley Phipps, Groove Theory, Spur of the Moment, The Layaways)
Lore Orion - Vox, Rhythm Guitar, Album Concept, Art Design
Gary Laney - Engineered
Glenn Meadows - Mastering
George Osaki - Art Direction
Kelly Delaney - Personal Managment
Jeff Moseley - Personal Managment

Unknow-ness: I've never heard of the band, and with the Imagery of cacti bursting up through a city street, I imagine this is going to be a country spin on run of the mill rock music.Plus the double meaning in the name Knights, since cowboys are like Knights, and the city night-life is the backdrop on the cover, the double entendre supports the guess more. It is bright and colorful, so I don't expect the music to be low key or dull.

Album Review: Bandera only had the one album, and in its time, it did not receive that much popularity, but since then, a bunch of the Lore’s songs have been covered to gain more popularity by Tim McGraw (Illegal). Lore unfortunately passed away in 2013, and was perhaps more famous for his role as founder and president for life for the public interest group Citizens For a Wilder West. Many of the songs, they take the instrumental that usually bridges the second and final choruses and move it to end the song.

“Billy the Kid” begins with a speedy boot stomping bass dance beat. Like a sped up Johnny B Goode. The catchy chorus rings out with a harmony of vocals. The instrumental lets the country music side sine with slide guitar and tinny notes. Just as you think the song is going to end; it reboots itself for a final run through of the chorus. And the song presents a final fake-out before it stops hard.
“Loaded Gun” is slower and methodical. A slow head band of mystical prog fogginess; a little Led Zeppelin-like. After 3 minutes of changeless music, a computer like guitar lick changes the pace of the instrumental, and then an electric guitar whines out in support of the melody.
“Crazy You, Crazy Me” enters with a cymbal and steady drum beat. A T-Rex “Bang a Gong” guitar echoes in the background, and the pub room country theme takes shape. After the bones of the song play out, the jam band portion of the song takes over, as each instrument offers its uncalled for version of the melody.
“High Ridin' Mama” is a short little song with pub rock harmonic melodies and gritty guitar play. But it still has both feet imbedded in the country arena.
“Memories of Home” hits a more sentimental, drifting vibe musically. It floats side to side over guitar chords the ring out alongside a slow drum pace. Again, the first half of the song is a tight packed by the numbers rocking ballad, but the last minute is guitar showboating after interest in the song has been lost.

“Hello Texas” is a fun bouncy, upbeat choreographed western dance song you could see people dancing in time to at a small neighborhood pub. The song could have ended right at the 3 minute mark, but they decided to show off more guitar licks to end the track, rather than bridge the catchy chorus one final time.
“Illegal” was covered by Tim McGraw on his 2002 album. It brings a bit of a funky beat in the guitar timing. But when the vocals begin, it slinks back to a deep reminiscing verse. The chorus is layered with some nice harmonies, and is supported by prog-rock guitars. And after a crescendo of vocals and instruments, not to mention a quickened pace, the song should end, but instead, they wail out a minute and a half dueling guitar instrumental that gently fades out.
“Now That It's Over” begins with a heartbeat bass line, and a metal guitar hook fits neatly in the frames. The vocals start with a crying energy, set back from the front, and reminds me of a lot of 70’s middle America classic rock like what you’d find in Dazed and Confused. One guitar focuses on the main riff, and the second guitar takes the instrumental high ground.
“Old Rhymes & Photographs” enters like a lullaby, and continues like a bold middle school dance power ballad in the chorus.
“Blame it on the Full Moon” bleeds right in after some seamless point from the song before. It has a much more energetic tempo than the previous song, but it follows the same melody. There is much more glam rock teetering on country rock line walking here, sounding like T Rex’s more honky tonk songs, at least in the guitar. Again, just as the song should be over, and interest is lost on the basic melody, the instrumental stretches it out further...this time, bringing it back into a rushed version of the chorus. Which fades out before it hyperventilates. 

Standout Track: Billy the Kid

Links:


Friday, February 13, 2015

Prefab Sprout - From Langley Park to Memphis~, Jordan: the Comeback*

Name: Prefab Sprout
Album(s): From Langley Park to Memphis~, Jordan: The Comeback*
Years: 1988~, 1990*
Style: Light Pop, Jangle Pop
Similar Bands: Aztec Camera, Tears for Fears, Michael Penn, Trash Can Sinatras, Beautiful South, Lilac Time, ABC, Thomas Dolby, Scritti Politti, late-period Squeeze,
One Word Review: Wispy Lite Jazzy-Jams
Based Out Of: Witton Gilbert, Country Durham, England
Labels: Epic~*, Rollmo'~, Kitchenware Records~*, CBS Records~*, 
From Langley Park to Memphis - Cover, Lyrics, Record
From Langley Park to Memphis - Back, Lyrics, Record 
Jordan: The Comeback: Cover, Back, Liner Notes
Jordan: The Comeback: Liner Notes & Tape
From Langley Park to Memphis (1988)
  1. The Kings of Rock N' Roll 4:22
  2. Cars and Girls 4:24
  3. I Remember That 4:13
  4. Enchanted 3:47
  5. Nightingales 5:51 / 
  6. Hey Manhattan! 4:45
  7. Knock on Wood 4:15
  8. The Golden Calf 5:05
  9. Nancy (Don't Let Your Hair Down For Me) 4:01
  10. The Venus of the Soup Kitchen 4:29
Jordan: The Comeback (1990)
  1. Looking for Atlantis 4:00
  2. Wild Horses 3:44
  3. Machine Gun Ibiza 3:43
  4. We Let the Stars Go 3:35
  5. Carnival 2000 3:22
  6. Jordan: the Comeback 4:12
  7. Jesse James Symphony 2:15
  8. Jesse James Bolero 4:09
  9. Moondog 4:08/ 
  10. All the World Loves Lovers 3:50
  11. All Boys Believe Anything 1:34
  12. The Ice Maiden 3:19
  13. Paris Smith 2:55
  14. The Wedding March 2:46
  15. One of the Broken 3:52
  16. Michael 3:02
  17. Mercy 1:22
  18. Scarlet Nights 4:14
  19. Doo-Wop in Harlem 3:44
Album Ratings (1-10):~6.5
*6.5

Members & Other Bands:
Paddy McAloon - Vox, Guitar, Keys, Producer~*
Jon Kelly - Producer, Engineer~
Thomas Dolby - Producer, Keys~*
Andy Richards - Producer, Keys~
Stevie Wonder - Harmonica~
Andrae Crouch Singers - Vox~
Robin Smith - String Arrangement and Conductor~
Mike Ross - String Recording~
Richard Hollywood - String Recording~
Gavin Wright - String Leader~
Mike Shipley - Mixing~
Pete Towshend - Acoustic Guitar~ (Who)
John Altman - String Arrangment & Conductor~
John Timperly - String Recording~
Tony Philips - Mixing, Engineer~
Michael H Brauer - Mixing, Engineer~
Wendy Smith - Percussion~
Lennie Castro - Percussion~
Stephen Male - Design~
Cliff Brigedn - Engineer~
David Concors - Engineer~
David Leonard - Engineer, Mixing~
Gary Olazabal - Engineer~
Geoff Bruckner - Engineer~
Gonzalez Espinoza - Engineer~
Karl Lever - Engineer~
Mark O'Donaghue - Engineer~
Michael Ade - Engineer~
Mickey Sweeney - Engineer~
Peter Jones - Engineer~
Richard Moakes - Engineer, Mixing~
Steve Lyon - Engineer~
Steve Van Day - Engineer~
Terrence Wilson - Engineer~
Tim Hunt- Engineer~
Gary Moberley - Keys~ (Sweet, John Miles, A II Z, ABC, Monroes, The The, Rock & Hyde, Drum Theater, Charlene Smith, The Grove, Gary Windo, Feelabeelia, Onyeka)
George Marino - Mastering~
Luis Jardim - Percussion~*
Martin McAloon - Bass~*
Neil Conti - Drums Percussion (Niles Landgren, Bowie/Jagger, Martin Stephenson & The Daintees, Sandy Shaw, Sid Straw, Toni Halliday, Paul Young, Adventures, Horse, Alison Moyet, Mary Coughlan)~*
Wendy Smith - Vox, Guitar, Keys (John Dyson, Fold, Michael Sims, The Gist, Peter White)~*
Nick Night - Photography~
Muff Winwood - Executive Producer~
Wix - Keys~
The Phantoms - Horns*
Judd Lander - Harmonica*
Jenny Agutter - Vox*
Tim Young - Mastering*
Gerry Judah - Artwork*
Andrew Biscomb - Design*
Peter Barrett - Design*
Adrian Moore - Engineer Asst*
Charlie Smith - Engineer Asst*
Chris Puram - Engineer Asst*
Derek McCartney - Engineer Asst*
Karen White - Engineer Asst*
Mark Williams - Engineer Asst*
Paul Cuddeford - Engineer Asst*
Eric Calvi - Mixing Engineer*
Paul Gomersall - Engineering & Recording*
Bernie Grundman - Mastering*
Douglas Brothers - Photography*
Jonathan Lovekin - Photography*
Trevor Hart - Photography*
Keith Armstrong - Management*
Paul Ludford - Management*
Phil Mitchell - Management*

Unknown-ness: I have heard of Prefab Sprout, and I even picked up a couple albums based on the faint grasp of what they were like. But I do not really know. My mind has them as this dense, complex, non-melodic band that fits in with boring jangly-ness of mid 80's college radio popularity, but I can't recall if I've ever actually LISTENED to any of their songs.

Album Review: Prefab Sporut were a huge band in the 80’s in the UK, but failed to crack the US market at higher than #180. The core of the group are highly praised songwriter Paddy and his brother on bass, Martin McAloon. Their style combines intelligent, witty lyrics and smooth jazzy pop. The first of the two records I have feature cameos from Stevie Wonder & Pete Townshend, and were both produced by the popular Thomas Dolby. It was the highest selling album, but in contrast, is considered a week offering due to lack of solid songs, and slick production. The second was a concept album revolving around Jesse James (apparent) and Elvis Presley.

~“The Kings of Rock N' Roll” was their biggest and best known song in the UK. It starts with a smooth drum beat, and funky bass line. But then overproduced synth effects swoop by, as well as glass candy female la-la-las. Apparently the song is about a one hit wonder forced to repeat the one song forever, which with this being their biggest hit is somewhat ironic. The vocal style has a bit of the Thomas Dolby flair for dramatic line endings. And it sounds like the lyric is “I Want Cookie” (but is really Albequerque). The superficialness of the song and synth produced elements of all of the songs aspects dates the song, and it feels like it could have been concocted in some digital music suite. But the underlying hook in the chorus is catchy, and the effects and layers of vocals keep it interesting.
“Cars and Girls” reached minor US college radio success as a Bruce Springsteen parody. At the beginning, it feels like a slick produced doo-wop song, with the female vocals singing “Bop-Bop-Bop / Sha-doo-ba-doo”. Once the lead vocals begin, it again sounds like Dolby. Some points they are just a whisper, and then they find the energy to whine and extend on a note. The melody in the chorus is a two hilled sweeping hook. This feels like a solid adult contemporary single.
“I Remember That” was released as a single later on to promote a best of compilation. It begins with breathy George Michael like vocals under blanket of synth chimes. The song creeps along, growing into a slow side-to-side melody. I feel like some of the synth effects in this song were used in the Sonic the Hedgehog games. And they were only separated by 3 years, so it was definitely a sound of the times. More vocals step up to the plate and increase the tension as the song sashes out to the end.
“Enchanted” feels like it was stolen right from ABC’s album Alphabet City. It has string plucks and synth notes placed all over the place, yet mixed into the melody. The vocals are light and breathy
“Nightingales” was the 4th single released, and features Wonder on harmonica. It starts out with a style that could delve into Whitney Houston pop R&B or light AM radio fodder. The song whispers along the slow piano driven melody. The song is ethereal and could be categorized as lovely, but that is just because of its delicate pristine nature…not because the song is all that great. Stevie Wonder pulls out his 80’s harmonica which would fit right in with “I Just Called.”  Swirling synth effects change up the song a little toward the end, but it maintains its wispy ways. And the melody sounds like a slowed up, poor man’s version of Jimmy Ruffin’s great song “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.” And they let Wonder finish out the track with a little harmonica summary.

“Hey Manhattan!” was a single, and features Townshend on guitar. It Begins with an island beat and some disco strings. The barely-there vocals continue through the verse, and by the chorus, they express a little emotion, but it is lost underneath the whooshy production.
“Knock on Wood” has a funky-reggae influenced beat to start the song off. And it comes off a bit like Squeeze from this same time period of their career. A lot of the synth produced tidbits and musical eccentricities seem to be superfluous and added simply because they could.  
“The Golden Calf” was the fifth single released. It begins with some jangely rhythm guitar that reverberates out as the notes are held. The song is very different from the rest of the album, with confident Tears For Fears like, deeper vocals, and a straight forward pop sense right off the bat. The verse into the chorus is very fluid and natural, and the chorus actually feels like it is a bridge leading to a catchier part that never follows up. Even the spoken word section around the 3:45 mark is deep and melodic and dumps the listener into a nice energetic instrumental section before revisiting the chorus. Unfortunately, the chorus just fades out: I was hoping for a more creative finish. Still, it is a solid song.
“Nancy (Don't Let Your Hair Down For Me)” twinkles in like an early morning dream state. The lyrics of waking up to go to work match the mood set by the return to whispery vocals and adult smooth jazz structure.
“The Venus of the Soup Kitchen” is a mostly acapella song at the beginning, with radio show like effects used in the background offering the flimsiest of structure. Instruments like a guitar and trepidations drums come in at their turns, but the melody generally exists in the vocals alone. With about a minute and a half to go, the vocals are bolstered by a choir of support, building in a slow jazzy way. The choir falls away leaving a delicate female vocal to solo, which is quickly overtaken by the lead vocals finishing off the album.

*“Looking for Atlantis” was a single. It starts off strong, with a doo-wop tambourine, energetic beat. It adds some 80’s smooth synth production, and female backing vocals that establish the chorus hook. The main vocals are as expected: airy and fragile. The melody is fun to follow along, as it rolls along, is always catchy and ever changing. The song projects the early 90’s vibe of baggy button shirts and pants, wire rimmed circle glasses, and floppy hair. The song ends in fade out when the harmonicas take over.
“Wild Horses” has a slow start, with mystical chimes and a slow drum beat. The vocals whisper over the music, and again, it feels like the over produced Squeeze tracks. The chorus is sing where the word Wild is sung like a ringing gong, balanced with the rest of it “horses. I want to have” fitting back into the precedent style and melody. The chimes come in again toward the end, but not featured as prevalently.  
“Machine Gun Ibiza” begins with a ocean waves washing upon the beach synth sound. The song keeps the island vibe going with synthesized congas and wah-wah guitars. The melody has a bit of a dark undertone, and reminds me a little of Sting’s lame solo work. The vocals are not as flat and strained here, they are more confident. The song even references island events like hurricanes, hanging 10, and the island Ibiza, itself.
“We Let the Stars Go” was a single. It has a slow waltz tempo. The song is sung as a sentimental reflection with adult contemporary smooth-jazz production. The melody slips side to side, and it lightly drags a limp lane behind.
“Carnival 2000” was released as a single to promote a four-track EP, creatively titled “Jordan: the EP.” It is a tribute to the South American festival, and after a quiet intro, brass celebration begins with a samba drum beat. The vocals are very reserved for the sort of energy the music is trying to release. It is as if the vocals are coming from a nervous tourist watching the festivals from his hotel room. Or it could be an out of touch advertisement to come join from some guy who’s never been there.
“Jordan: the Comeback” is beatnik jazzy as it begins. Spoken word political poetry is sung over a free form jazz beat that evolves for the first 45 seconds. Then the synth drums kick in for the chorus, and the music synchronizes for a loungy hook. Another spoken word verse is used to fill the gap until the next chorus. There is too much light echo production on the vocals for my taste, and unnecessary chimes bells and synth effects in the background. Just because you have 15 open tracks on a multi-track recording device does not mean you have to use them all. But again it was a sign of the times in the late 80’s early 90’s for intelligent pop to be way over produced synthetically.
“Jesse James Symphony” begins with the Michael Penn style melody right away. It is kind of show-tuney, as it is very descriptive and relies on the lyrics and minimal chimey, harp-like music that just parallels the vocal melody.
“Jesse James Bolero” continues with the Jesse James concept part of the album, with a bold, trumpeting grand entrance theme song. The basic melody is just carried over from the song that precedes this, but more music has been added to boost the waltzing image. I am reminded again of the horns from Sonic the Hedgehog in production quality to the horns used here. The song repeats its hook, cashing it all in on the one catchy part, and just running with it.
“Moondog” has a George Michael Father Figure romantic wispyness to it as the song begins. The enchanting song crests and falls below the vocals. Then for a short segment, the song gets fun and energetic, which is only a preview for the jazzy chorus, which breaks the quiet mood the beginning sets up with synth horns and cheezy keyboard sounds. The extras drop away for the second verse, and it is a combination of Michael Penn and Thomas Dolby precision in the vocal melody. Some of the synth effects also remind me of XTC’s wasp star.

“All the World Loves Lovers” feels like retreading of old ground. It follows a grandiose, sweeping artificial soundscape with smooth production and forgettable romantic melodies.
“All Boys Believe Anything” is a slow, backing, mostly instrumental soundtrack song. It is like a lullaby.
“The Ice Maiden” begins with dual male and female vocals over a cold, sterile landscape. Horns and a woodblock try to melt the chill, which is even promoted with the lyrics. The song changes up enough that there seems to be no repeating chorus. It’s more of a story song. One section the vocals begin to grow in energy, but then they mention a “death is a small price for heaven” it sounds a lot like the horrible group I reviewed a while ago: the Goth Christian new wave band Mad At the World.
“Paris Smith” transitions without break and is a little slower, but still just as polished and grandiose, with haunting synth flutters and minimal melody changes or instrument supplements. The song ends with female doo-doo’s and harpsichord strums.
“The Wedding March” has  a bit of a mysterious tone to it, with a jaunty, bouncing melody underneath the sweeping vocals. A classical style is used with jazzy vocals and melodies added in a bit of an old-fashioned carnival setting. The song sashays along, slowing down to a choreographed dance routine you’d see in something like Singin In The Rain. Its vaudevillian style sets it apart from the rest of the album, although the production reigns it in as best as it can.
“One of the Broken” has the feel of  a sad, and sullen march. The vocals are deep and spoken in an echoing cave. These words are supposed to be a memory. The lead vocals pick up the story in present day, and the song continues on in a forlorn, head down, feet dragging trance. The end of the song has a piano that feels like it’s trying to build up a gospel vibe.
“Michael” is spacey and oceanic at the same time. The free form synth effects don’t quite match with the vocals, as they come from different places. The synchronization of lyrics and music is set off after a loud mystical chiming crash. The chorus is short, and only consists of the title name drawn out and is followed by a building of emotion.
“Mercy” is like “All Boys Believe Anything,” where it drifts along with quiet vocals echoing lightly as if in a cave. It never gets started and ends before it goes anywhere, even as a filler track.
“Scarlet Nights” has a dripping, echoing cave-like sound, which is pushed away with a driving drum beat and a revving guitar. The song moves into standard pop territory with a simplistic structure. The chorus drifts over the driving backing beat and melody. It seems weird to hid this accessible gem in the back end of the album, when the album is ready to end, the song could easily band together some of the one-dimensional atmospheric songs. Female vocals take over for one short verse, revitalizing the song, and adding another layer that could be dropped at any time.
“Doo-Wop in Harlem” fades in with a church organ, with held notes and a developing melody. The male vocals come in quietly. The textured, layer vocals mix with female vocals textured the same way. A surprising turn signal like beep fades in and out quickly in predestined intervals (after the word Harlem) which wakes up the daydreaming listener. The song fades out from its one dimensional nighttime prayer. 

Stand Out Track:~The Golden Calf
*Looking for Atlantis

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Guardian 2013 Interview

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Plushgun - s/t ep

Name: Plushgun
Album: s/t ep
Year: 2008
Style: Electro-Pop, Chip Music
Similar Bands: Steve Burns, Bicycle, Marxy, Lincoln, OMD, Grandaddy
One Word Review: Twee-Rave
Based Out Of: Brooklyn, NY
Label: Tommy Boy
 Plushgun - Front and Back
Plushgun - Centerfold & CD
Plushgun (2008)

  1. Just Impolite 3:48
  2. 14 Candles 4:14
  3. How We Roll 4:02
  4. Without a Light 3:37

Album Review (1-10): 9.0

Members & Other Bands:
Daniel Ingala - writer
Beth Newell - Art

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band when I got the album. But based on the artwork: Nintendo controller and a bird, I imagine this is some cutesy hipster shit. But when I saw the artwork, I still had to pick it up from the pawn shop I found it in and see what it was like.

Album Review: I remember seeing that this band was playing a bar nearby and even through I had listened to the EP a few times and liked what I heard, I was unable to make it out. They are still active, planning to release their third album sometime this year (2015). Much of their early popularity is attributed to being involved in a popular webseries called We Need Girlfriends, and that was supported by other songs being featured in other shows and commercials.

“Just Impolite” was featured in a Comcast commercial as well as MTV's The City. The song begins with a pulsing synth crystal beat and light heart-thumping drum. The lyrics, set back and distorted with a little polite fuzziness, follow the catchy rollicking beat. The harmless, precious and delicate vocals glide along, and feel organically intuitive.
“14 Candles” fades up with a twinkling Walkmen like synth, and the synth drum beat feels like it is right out of Megaman. As the song reaches the chorus, the drum beat picks up adding the electronic snare. The vocals speed up, but still remain cool and calm. A second female voice is added echoing the lead, giving depth to the song and a male-female paring that supports the lyrical feeling.
“How We Roll” was featured on MTV's Real World Brooklyn series. It starts with a Japanese-anime like zoomy synth, creating an urgent electro dance pop experience. The vocals are rushed, reminding me a little of Tullycraft, but still retain a clear purposeful collectiveness. The urgency in the backing synth drives the song, with other 8-bit effects (promoting the use of the Nintendo controller on the front?) are employed in the song. Immensely danceable, the music could create a genre of entertainment and listeners called Twee-Rave
“Without a Light” fades up as well, with grand synth effects that interweave, and feel right at home having listened to the first three tracks. Then a steady driving beat begins, and OMD like synth hooks take form. The coldness in the vocals mixed with the electro music makes me think of what Grandaddy cold do if they went in a dance direction. The song exhausts itself in segments, reverting to a quiet, ambient section, building up energy to start over again. This song feels more anthemic than the rest of the album by a very small margin.

Stand Out Track: Just Impolite
How We Roll

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