Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 12

There are places in this music multiverse where it would almost seem impossible to be heard as a musician.  Take Bermuda as an example.  Growing up in the Bermuda Triangle, perhaps, or war torn desert region of Africa, or maybe one of the largest urban cities in Italy.  The beautiful voice that survived the mysterious water triangle, of course, was Heather Nova.  That war torn region brought us the unique blues of Tinariwen, and the final one is one of two Italian bands on the list.  One totes a surf-punk sound with high energy (maybe they’re on steroids), and the other delves into murkier aggressive progressive instrumentalism.  Our third album for Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 12 comes in the form of a Mister.  A mister from the western sea of Italy as well.  Wait a minute!  All these fuckers are from Italy!?  What gives?!  Is Italy changing it’s top 10 exports?  Could they be taking the music multiverse by storm in all genres now, rather than the progressive rock and progressive metal they’ve been cultivating like the super-Tuscan soil surrounding the greatest red producing vineyards in the world?  Let’s explore some current sounds in Italy, and while I’m at — here’s the list of Top 10 Exports of Italy just to kind of shock you — that it ain’t wine.

Top 10 Exports of Italy [Yes, there’s no wine on this list]
  • Machinery including computers: US$106.2 billion (16.2% of total exports)
  • Pharmaceuticals: $47.4 billion (7.2%)
  • Vehicles: $45.5 billion (6.9%)
  • Electrical machinery, equipment: $40.8 billion (6.2%)
  • Mineral fuels including oil: $33.7 billion (5.1%)
  • Plastics, plastic articles: $27.1 billion (4.1%)
  • Articles of iron or steel: $22.9 billion (3.5%)
  • Iron, steel: $21.2 billion (3.2%)
  • Gems, precious metals: $20.4 billion (3.1%)
  • Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $16.1 billion (2.5%)

Stop “wine-ing” — ok.  But, perhaps after 2025, it could be musicians!  Wouldn’t that be – Stupendo!

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski discuss these (3) albums + adds 1 more Italian Import and (2) more reviews!]

 

 

Couchgagzzz – Gosports!!!

Bari, Italy yielded a man by the name of Ivan Iusco, a composer a record producer whose record label (running out of Los Angeles) has been connected with artists like Brian Eno and Depeche Mode.  He has an affinity for avant-garde and dark ambient, which he fixated to a band called Nightmare Lodge (there’s a place that’s probably not on the Bari landscape).  So, in this large urban, maze-like, coastal city, we’ve got this fifty-four year old, who in his formative years was engaged in the dark arts of rock, industrial as well as classical compositions (film scores), now in Los Angeles rubbing music elbows and making enthralling musical compositions and influencing a generation on either side of the world.  Now, did he influence this surf-punk band from the same city?  I’m going to think – not. But, what it does prove — is that out of anywhere, music love, appreciation and reach can and will happen.  Enter, Couchgagzzz.

You know me, I’ll say it — not even close to a smart name for a band (even if you had famous members).  If there’s an inside joke, no one is going to get it past your already known audience.  In fact, looking you up, they’re going to misspell or misassociate.  Can you overcome it?  That will remain unanswered at the time of this article, but I can assure you that my man,  Marco Gargiulo of
Metaversus PR is certainly spreading the sound word throughout the music-multiverse.  So enough of me living still in my show That’s Your Band Name?!  Let’s talk about this amped up sonic punk band from Bari, Italy that seems to have an affliction for a signature sound in the works.

The album is like a sports reel on a sonic punk tempo, complete with augmented vocal that kind of reminds you of a little bit of The B 52’s, right?!  Cool, infectious, riots, up-tempo guitar and tint-bashing symbols.  The rhythm guitar and mash up of sound and then back to an instrumental refrain all works so throw-back-like well.  I was completely drawn into the music and pace of it that I kind of left the lyrics on the cutting room floor, paying close attention to the changes in the guitar work and fun, simple riffs.  They throw it down, slap it all over the room, and then are clever enough to leave a little space to seemingly catch their strumming and solo breaths.  So evident on ‘Fap Challenge,’ which is a song that does not have vocal accompaniment, but it in that song I found the aching deficiency of the band.  How come I can’t completely follow or hear the vocal?  In the third listen, I’m starting to pick out pieces, but is it the foreign language?  No, I don’t think so, because the Italians are pretty amazing at speaking English.  Is it the sound wall and production?  It might be to some degree, but what I’m laying my ear on, is the commitment to it.  What am I saying, you ask?  You know the minute you put this record on that the tempo (the steroid induced pump-a-tude) is the signature.  I can hear and imagine the Italian club jumpin’ and slammin’ to their wall of sound and infusion of shifting rhythm and riff.  But, I think the vocal is left on the killing floor, enjoying the ride provided by the musicianship surrounding him, as the lower boot moshes on.  No one in the band is committed to it, as you’ll see below it’s three of the four.  Perhaps, when the ‘roids’ wear-off and the sophomore record comes to creation, they’ll find that voice, construct it and produce it to rise within or above.  That is what I’m anxious for, as this debut (in their own unique punk environment) has a lot going for it, and they’ve got the energy to fight for a really nice spot in the music multiverse!

The Band

  • JJ –  Drums, vocals
  • BB – Bass, vocals
  • Garko – Guitar, vocals
  • Snafu – Synth, guitar

Gosports!!! Tracklisting

  1. United
  2. Fap Challenge
  3. Gosports!!!
  4. Digimon
  5. The Wheel At The Finish Line
  6. Burak Won
  7. Bad Holes
  8. Astrazeneka

 

 

 

Modern Stars – Termination

It’s a fine line the progressive industrial rock environment and psychedelic progressive rock (for me anyway).  That line of ambient-drone, the music that speaks to intro, but sometimes never gets far enough to lead you somewhere.  There are bands that take it to the level like, Tool, and there are bands that linger in the myre of moodiness and nurturing as if it is Bonsai tree.  I like both, but I love the journey of going somewhere, so Modern Stars, from Rome Italy, is a tougher sell for me.  Wait!  Don’t you give up on Termination, their latest album, just because I said that.  I just want to provide a hint of context before diving into the vast moodiness of this album, also sent to me by Marco Gargiulo of Mettaversus PR.

‘If/Then’ is one hell of a start up song for this album.  I love the building moody underscored guitar and psyche, and the growing drum beat.  But, it doesn’t go anywhere, but into the next song.  Ok, I will play along, as there’s nothing wrong with an intro into another song (considering the prog-environment it could be lending itself to). It does allow for entry of a male melancholy moaning vocal along with an electronic pitchy, ominous slide-whistle (you remember those right — look it up).  Okay, while it didn’t go exactly anywhere, it was (like the Bonsai tree) sculpted to have a uniqueness and signature that was developed enough to appreciate.  This is where Modern Stars hangs their musical sculpting hat.  While you starve for the vocal to reach a better Depeche Mode tone and delivery, you enjoy the clever molding, patterns, and final product of the band’s musicianship.  Again, were in that same issue vocal, lyrical commitment issue.  The band is delivering, and even though it’s not reaching a tremendous crescendo, it is doing some fantastic and bold bass and psychedelic fused and rhythm centric progressive rock.

This was my first listen to the band, and I see that they have a catalog that is another three albums deep.  While I am not sold on the vocal delivery and lyric of Termination, I am still curious and excited to hear where their sound has been sculpted from and to, considering how well produced and instrumentally clever Termination is.  I plan to roam (almost spelled that wrong) in their sound for some time here, and I think you should to, especially if you like this kind of dark-ambient heavy on psychedelic sculpting of progressive mood rock.  Perhaps Modern Stars is the modern answer to moody bridge needed to elevate this murky mood driven genre?  If there’s any title that intrigues me to this notion, it is their Psychindustrial album for 2021.  And, away I — go.  Will you join me in this?  This is a miniature band in the grand scheme (something we always enjoy here at Beyond Your Radio), but their sound is larger than their stature and shaped carefully to reach even the most discerning ears.  I have a feeling the Bonsai terminology here will keep them in their wheelhouse, comfortable in the small shallow container, but believe me the sound is much bigger than that and should be allowed to expand.

The Band

  • Andrea Merolle – Electronics, guitars, vocals
  • Barbara Margani – vocals
  • Andrea Sperduti – drums
  • Mario Bruni – bass

Termination Tracklisting

  1. If/Then
  2. Nowhere
  3. Confession
  4. Bartleby
  5. Organization
  6. Be Pure
  7. Coming Down

 

 

 

Mr. Bison – Echoes From Across the Universe

That’s a big album title.  That’s a grand scope of an album cover.  So, what will you bring?  Mr. Bison decides to not wait a solitary second to give you what you should and thought would be coming out of an album and title like this!  Good for them!  The progressive psychedelic rock band from Tuscany, Italy really lays down some very impressive technical compositions here on Echoes From Across the Universe.  You saw the ‘echoes’ in printed form but also in the design of the album cover, and the band makes sure that you feel those in the subdued electronic keyboard, and the fuzz of their Yes-ian-psychedelic rock.  Yes, I said Yes.  Think Big Generator in the context of the sound, after all, this is Heavy Psych Sounds Records label, so you better bring the alternative stoner intensity, but they also manage to give you that vocal harmony that makes you make the comparison.  What also thrills me, and this is selfish, it’s the Yes I prefer, where the keyboards don’t go — way too far.

The riff and flow of this album from start to finish is careful to be progressive enough, but hold tight to the psychedelic nature and hard rock instrumental positions.  ‘Dead In the Eye’ which doesn’t feel seven minutes, encompasses the passion of every single member’s commitment to the project.  The bass holding, the guitars shimmering and riffing, the drumming courting the chaos, and of course the vocals reaching and seering with melodic intensity.  It seems that most of the band can play bass, so it’s not surprising how the fabric of breath in the album holds to that instrument and the meshing of the prog-instruments of Mellotron, synthesizer, and Hammond organ.  The harmonies within Sciocchetto’s vocals really make the album stand out, too!  It’s actually a fantastic second listen, where I was picking up on all of the intricacies of the instrumentation, progressive moments, and the mission of this concept record.  It took me some time to get there, but the musical experience and the bombastic vocals did rise to this occasion, and did echo across the album and its universe!  This is a fabulous listen of 70s fused with today’s progressive hard rock environment, a complete audio emersion of past, present and maybe future of how music can escape predetermination!  Escape is at hand.  Take Mr. Bison’s hand…by your headphones!  You’ve made the right choice!

The Concept, as told by Bandcamp page

The “Concept Album” is based on the Norse Norns myth, who weave the threads of universal destiny on a tapestry, in which all existence, in a continuous mix of past, present and future, intersect and influence each other, thereby generating a kaleidoscopic vortex of infinite and unpredictable possibilities. For this reason, we have used them as a symbol of freedom of choice, which never excludes but indeed implies, the element of chance.

The Band

  • Matteo Barsacchi – Guitars, bass, synth
  • Matteo Sciocchetto – Guitars, bass, vocals
  • Lorenzo Salvadori – Drums
  • Davide Salvadori – Acoustic guitars, synth, Hammond, Mellotron, bass

Echoes From Across the Universe Tracklisting

  1. The Child Of The Night Sky
  2. Collision
  3. Dead In The Eye
  4. Fragments
  5. The Promise
  6. The Veil
  7. Staring At The Sun  (Please don’t do this April 8th, 2024)

Hermanos Gutiérrez On Unknown Sundays 2024

HERMANOS GUTIERREZ ON UNKNOWN SUNDAYS [YOU TUBE VERSION]

There’s is just something alluring, dangerous, and erotic about the desert soundscape.  The Ennio Morricone Italian western mood intoxication, the wonder, and the majestic rolling landscapes coming to live via audio.  I am pure sucker for instrumental mood and sound designs somehow depicting and setting a mood and tone.  Hermanos Gutiérrez on Unknown Sundays is the perfect duo with six degrees of separation as to how I came to find them just at the beginning of last year.  That’s right, I started off with their album, Eternamente, which is a compilation recording.  Usually, that is not where I start, but I didn’t understand the title apparently.  Let me tell you the four degrees of separation that got me to this mood setting, Latin-classical fused duo that I first touted on #album4today on last day of August 2023.  But first, let’s give you a history of this Swiss duo.

That’s right, I said Switzerland, but that’s via Playas, Ecuador.  The two brothers of four were born of their Ecuadorian mother, married to a Swiss father.  So, Zurich it is, where Estevan studied  classical Latin guitar styles of milonga, salsa, and others, while being wavered (no pun intended) by surfer guitar sounds of the time.  Alejandro, eight years younger, has to play fast catch up, making fast work of learning guitar and expanding to steel pedal as well.  Eventually, the duo Hermanos Gutiérrez (obviously, the Gutiérrez Brothers) with Alejandro Gutiérrez (guitar and lap steel) and Estevan Gutiérrez (guitar and percussion).

Their first album, 8 Años, would be derived close to the classical Latin influence of guitar, playing close in style and flow, but in perfect tone, pitch, while evoking that element of mystery, intrigue and soundscape.  A beautiful recording for a first outing in the independent world.  El Camino de mi Alma and Hoy Como Ayer, the next two records, still held some closeness to tempo and Latin classical guitar works, but it is the production here, and the honing of their sound projection which is the stand up and take notice part.  Obviously, all of this coming with slight influences from the sound world around them, but not completely influenced by the western world (and when I say this, I’m talking in both sense of the word’s use).  Influence of Mexico, and the desert of the Western United States definitely shine and set moods and tones throughout the album I probably would put at my favorite, Hijos del Sol.  You can hear the change, maturity and attention to the influences, moods and potential experiences, which heighten the ear-filled experience.  And they have not looked back, retraced a solitary sand step or horse lead hoof — since.  Their latest from 2022, El Bueno Y El Malo, is a testimony to this, and definitely an album that keeps trying to steal my soul’s ear (more on that as we talk about the six degrees of separation that lead me to them).

Now the first degree of separation.  Tito & Tarantula’s work on the soundtrack, From Dusk Till Dawn, the movie by Robert Rodriguez, written by Quentin Tarantino.  ‘After Dark’ was the song, and beyond the vocals (which are cool Tequila wrapped perfection) there’s this hidden world beyond the horizon of the desert.  It’s tempting, dangerous, and mystical.  Oh yeah, I’m in!  From there I go back to the soundtrack to Desperado, another Rodriguez film, that Tito & Tarantula has ‘Strange Face of Love’ and then it’s ‘La Flor De Mal/Flower Of Evil’ from their catalog.  So, I’m ramping up.

Next, it’s Rodgrio y Gabriela, and that female Flamenco intensity and electric guitar virtuosity duo, which I had been listening to since Re-Froc (2006) that somehow brought me closer to the Swiss duo.  And it was during a listen to 9 Dead Alive’s (2014) ‘Misty Moses,’ during a writing session, where Google Play (now You Tube Music) wanted to lead me to Hermanos Gutiérrez, but I didn’t click on it right away — just made a written note.

The third degree of separation is the easiest, which I mentioned above.  Ennio Morricone is a heavy influence in this genre, almost as if, somehow, Italian composer extraordinaire somehow embodied the flavor, setting and dangerous mood of the Latin, Western world.  And for that, the Good the Bad and the Ugly, remains at the majestic mountain top of that soundscape, and an obvious influencer to me and to all those musicians within this mysterious musical environment.

The fourth, fifth and six degrees of separation come together nicely, and in the same circle/wheelhouse.  Third, Calexico, who just might be the best desert, jazz, Spanish tinted quasi-rock band in the industry today. When listening to their latest, El Mirador from 2022, the suggestion again became obvious (it’s funny, now that I try to make it happen it won’t make that connection — damn you algorithm).  So, now I’m taking notice, and I’m nearly ready to take the plunge, but for some reason they slip away from me for nearly a year?  Well, in my fifth degree, I’m doing research that takes me from Zella Day and Marcus King to the surprise producer, Dan Auerbach.  Yes, The Black Keys front man.  What’s his ear in the game?  I’m surprised to see his listing of all the production he’s done.  It’s the perfect anecdotal information that I used on Beyond Your Radio.  Cool, so I’m looking at all the entries, and there it is, 2022’s, El Bueno Y El Malo from Hermanos Gutiérrez.  I’m immediately drawn to the successful ear of the list of that which Dan Auerbach has helped, so they are now a click away from being heard!  And, at the same time, via social media (somehow), one of my favorites in the genre of that desert mood rock-jazz bending bands, Khruangin is remembering/touting the very same band as their soon to be opening act!  Seal the deal, click Hermanos Gutiérrez, and I grab compilation album, Enternamente., for which I’m an eternally grateful to all of these bands that made this journey to them what it was!

Their catalog is extremely tight, and if you love everything I just talked about, this is where you now need to click and land.  Walk the desert instrumental Latin tinged western soundscapes and mystique wrapped up beautifully by this Swiss-Ecuadorian duo.  This is music to cook by, entertain by, or lose yourself to.  Don’t be surprised if they show up in Beyond Your Radio’s Meal To Music series soon!  Bon-ear-petit!

I have not secured a Hermanos Gutiérrez Album For My Collection Yet! (but here they are again in order):
  • 8 Años  (2017)
  • El Camino de mi Alma (2018)
  • Hoy Como Ayer (2019)
  • Hijos del Sol (2020)
  • Eternamente (2021) – Compilation Album
  • El Bueno y el Malo (2022)

Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 11

Welcome to Beyond You Radio’s Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 11.  This weekend we are definitely all in for the rock genres.  The first is a super group made from the likes of progressive rock and progressive metal rock bands that you may know, but the name and the throwdown here definitely leaves their prior works at the door.  The next band up is not very well known, but has the alternative rock chops and 90s sound to certainly percolate the attention of a very wide rock crowd, and their name is attention grabbing, too!  Finally, we take the second trip down solo lane with one of the most unique and cause-worthy vocalists in the rock to see what he’s cooked up this time away from one of Australia’s worldwide known bands.  We love to do this each and every weekend, and this is no exception!  Don’t forget that Album Review Saturdays are always done on our YouTube channel, featuring an extended review and addition reviews!  This weekend especially, don’t miss another superstar rock band frontman that sold more albums in the 90s than any other band!  See you over at YouTube after you devour these reviews!

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski & Panelist DAHM discuss these (3) albums + adds three (3) more reviews!]

 

 

Whom Gods DestroysInsanium

Ok, the name of the band is an over-indulgent name, right?  I immediately think that there is no way they are going to live up to the name, even if the band consists of keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Planet X), guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (Sons of the Apollo, Guns n’ Roses), and vocalist Dino Jelusick (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Whitesnake).  Wait, they also add a rhythm section of bassist Yas Nomura and drummer Bruno Valverde (Angra), so maybe there’s a chance.  Ears crossed, headphone engaged (thought about duct taping them on for safety) and mind set to possibly being left insane in the music membrane.

And, it starts with a rather cheesy horror keyboard/piano entry beneath Sherinian scope?!  Don’t fear…well maybe you were supposed to fear, but it doesn’t take long before we’re hoisted into the progressive metal blender and hard rock splendor that is to become the first album of Whom Gods Destroy.  Everything familiar becomes evident and when Jelusick’s voice comes in and commands your Sammy Hagar meets David Coverdale attention in an all-in dark, blues rock tone the seal is complete.  We know exactly where we are musically, and probably where we are going, and if the first track ‘In the Name of War’ is any indication we’re going to be neck deep in it for a good fifty minutes.

Now while I don’t feel that the album was building toward something, I do feel that we were working up to the title track.  After all, it is placed at the end, and it is the demonstratively longest song on the list at over eight minutes.  The guitar work, progressive keyboard entries, and the bass had their places in and out of the songs to showcase one or the other, or in some cases even multiple instruments showing off, making it a gripping recording, but not completely hitting that progressive length in nature and scope.  ‘Crucifier’ in just past or at the middle did showcase the hardest rock and pace, and kind of really elevated the pace from where it was, which was excellent placement.  Which lead me to wondering, with all this musicianship power, when were we going to hear something that was strictly instrumental?  I did have that feeling that there was going to be, even if the song list was shorter than expected.  Sure enough, ‘Hypernova 158’ brought it out, giving us a little spacy groove while knocking our ears off with virtuosity from the supergroup as expected!

Finally we reach the end, ‘Insanium.’  And what we believe would be fitting, is actually the most progressive of the songs, reaching two bridges within, changing and exfoliating like an alternative chemical bomb, spreading out over the track in a variety of ways, while still maintaining the pace, hard rock delivery, and metal qualities that had been soloing in and out of the record, defining the guitar god from the keyboard demigod.  The shifting momentum of guitar work, modulating vocal, and return of the progressive nature from the beginning is all the ‘Insanium’ required to put a lid on Whom Gods Destroy for the time being.  However, you take your super groups, you will have to give this one heavy rotation and respect, especially for their ability to truly encompass each of the contributors, as well as make it all work very cohesively within the confines of the rock, metal and progressive structure they laid out.  Now, back to that name of the band.  Did they pull off being as demonstrative as Whom Gods Destroy?  I’ll leave that up to you for now, but I do know they’ve put together an album that will be remembered this year for sure, when it comes to lists in their progressive metal rock genre (for sure).

The Band

  • Derek Sherinian – Keyboards/Piano/Synthasizer
  • Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal – Guitars
  • Dino Jelusick – Vocals
  • Yas Numora – Bass
  • Bruno Valverde – Drums

Insanium Tracklisting

  1. In the Name of War
  2. Over Again
  3. The Decision
  4. Crawl
  5. Find My Way Back
  6. Crucifier
  7. Keeper of the Gates
  8. Hypernova 158
  9. Insanium

 

 

 

Kitsa – Dead By Dawn

Port Orchard, Washington, just 13 miles from Seattle, and a lovely, kind of quiet town (if you will) nestled in a four season environment with lake front drives, properties and a seemingly beautiful personae, if an area can have one (especially that near the rainy bustling city of Seattle).  This is the town that gave us radio personality, Delilah, Karolyn Grimes the sweet loving ‘Mary’ from It’s A Wonderful Life, and the contemporary rock vocal of Jason Wade of Lifehouse.  So there!  Yeah, so how the hell did this area grow Kitsa, a grunge, stoner hard rock, angsted band?  Is there some dark element wrestling for control over this quaint town?  Is, Dead By Dawn, the reminders, anxiety, and underbelly lurking in the modest shadows and back-lake of this supposed pleasing geographical location in the Western United States?  Well, if this good, let’s hope it is (did I just say that?).

When this first hits your ears you certainly are reminded of the heavier scene of the 90s grunge-metal era.  The angst and blue-hot-under the collar youth of Alice In Chains, Screaming Trees, and maybe Elder with a sliver of Silverchair.  The lyrics are definitive in their nature of being struggle of common place youth and trying to determine your path, reaching out, reaching past, and surviving enough to rise above it all, and in this case that’s rising — apparently — above the possibility of being, well, dead.  It is obvious that the band, or the lead singer, know what they are, or at least how they are perceived in the context of the lyrics, especially that of the title track (second track in)“I’m a liar, I’m a cheater.  The sun won’t shine on me.”  Dark words spoken in the wake of bodies piled up, which I’m hoping are not on the particular shores of Port Orchard (bad for business probably, unless you’re filming the next Quiet Place).

The music.  It’s riff-tastic, and falls right in line with the vocal delivery of Skot Davis.  There’s a hint of southern in some of the guitar workings here and there that gives it a different feel from the standard Seattle heavy grunge, which is the slightly refreshing part.  As for a debut, at least our first foray into the band, they knew exactly how to deliver their sound in groove and flow along with the grunge riffs, and they melded an excellent thirty plus minutes to capture our attention.  In fact, multiple listens, as we worked our way through the lyrical quality, we found a real rock style lying quietly at the surface, which came out in ‘Koi’ (the only instrumental on the album, which if you’re listening without paying attention is moreso a lead into the song, Hate).

Kitsa has our attention now!  So does Port Orchard for that matter, as we’re going to keep a close eye out there (just in case).  You should keep an ear out for this grunge alt-rock straight ahead stoner banger!  If this is their first album, we are very interested (if they’re not dead by next dawn, or the dawn after that…) to see what comes next.  After all, the journey of a thousand miles begins with just a single — listen!  Look out Delilah!

The Band

  • Skot Davis – Lead Vocals
  • Chris Pound – Guitar, Vocals
  • Randy Fort – Drums
  • Jeremy Deede – Bass

Dead By Dawn Tracklisting

  1. Seed of Famine
  2. Dead By Dawn
  3. Downhill
  4. Wasteland
  5. Koi
  6. Hate
  7. Journeyman
  8. She

 

 

 

 

Peter GarrettThe True North

If you’ve never heard of Midnight Oil, you need stop now.  That’s right!  Do not read any further.  This is not your jump off point.  Trust me.  This man’s vocals, statements, and pride in his craft begins with the great Australian band, Midnight Oil, that found its way to every shore, every concert venue in the world between the years of 1987-1996 (this is not the timeline of the band, as they started back in 1977 and just released an album in 2022).  So, come back to us, when you’ve listened to Diesel and Dust, Blue Sky Mining, and Redneck Wonderland.  For those of you that know, let’s take a dive into Peter Garrett (iconic, unique, lead vocalist of Midnight Oil) second solo record, The True North.

They say no one is Island.  For sure, and Peter Garrett is the embodiment of the selfless, aware, singer-songwriter with a propensity for seeking harmony.  Not only in his lyrics and music, but also in his daily life and the life of the world in which he engages in.  It’s been this way ever since the start of Midnight Oil.  Now, I can’t testify to whether it is only genuine in the creative process, but let’s face it, with the world being the way it is, we would have known he was a fake by now.  So, let’s move to the genuine vocal and pursuit that is, The True North.  ‘Human Playground’ is that perfect statement of song that resides within him.  “Push yourself so hard it hurts. Put the damage in reverse.”  What a beautiful path he states, and this is the kind of hope and delivery that governs Peter Garrett’s second solo album, and he pushes himself to — overdrive.

While this recording has one of the members of Midnight Oil in the band, it holds mostly away from the harder deliveries and rock statements.  However, there’s still that blazen harmonica, and that one-of-a-kind vocal that can never be unheard from the lines of ‘Beds Are Burning.’  In fact, you might even hear it ‘Meltdown.’  Mr. Garrett’s vocals and lyrics here showcase his connection to the art of songwriting, and the ability for his words to be melded within a variety of musical landscapes that allow for variety of piano affection, the beauty of the harp and simple rhythm patterns from bass and cello, as well as in the heart-pulling moments, like that of ‘Everybody,’ that timbre off to allow his tone the spotlight and striking storytelling (whether he choses a whisper or belting scream).  This album is a peaceful resolution to the masses that want more Midnight Oil, and to the music multiverse that just wants to hear his uniqueness in his chosen context.  And, for those that went through this without doing as I instructed!  It’s never too late, as Garrett states in ‘Innocence Part 1 & 2’ — so go back and do as I suggested and check out those albums!  You can curse or thank me later, depending on your foreknowledge of consequence (yeah what Peter said).

The Band

  • Peter Garrett – Vocals, harp
  • Grace Garrett – Background vocals
  • May Garrett – Background vocals
  • Rowan Lane – Bass
  • Freya Schack-Arnott – Cello
  • Evan Mannell – Drums
  • Martin Rotsey – Guitar
  • Heather Shannon – Keyboards, piano
  • Ollie Thorpe – Pedal steel guitar
  • Tony Buchen – Synthesizer

The True North Tracklisting

  1. The True North
  2. Paddo
  3. Innocence Part 1 & 2
  4. Hey Archetype
  5. Permaglow
  6. Human Playground
  7. Currowan
  8. Meltdown
  9. Everybody

Thea Gilmore On Unknown Sundays 2024

THEA GILMORE ON UNKNOWN SUNDAYS [YOU TUBE VERSION]

My favorite Gilmore Girl (no not that silly, fast talking, clever over-the-top bantering show where the dialogue was so beyond reality’s scope), it’s this wonderful, catchy folk-rocker, British Neil Young-ish singer songwriter that’s been in the business for nearly thirty years.  Thea Gilmore on Unknown Sundays 2024, might just be one of my favorite female artists from across the pond.  Is it the songwriting cleverness, punchy, jabby lyrics, the way she weaves in and out of genres of rock, folk, alternative, and punky-pop, or is it the ability to make a song her own when she’s bending Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Gin Blossoms, or even The Buggles (name that tune)?  What I think it truly is, is the fact that her voice carries a sincerity in the delivery, it hangs beautifully when it needs to, if falls off when required, and it finds connection in just about every tone and tune no matter the genre.  She can also slip from playful, to memorable, from lighthearted to sombre and dark, without losing a hint of flow within the recording(s).  I feel she is an artists in the music multiverse because she loves it, and she loves being her, making the music she wants, and leaving the impression she chooses through the stories and experiences she makes, shares, or retells.  That’s success, if you ask me!

My introduction to Thea Gilmore, did not come from a gamble in the used bin.  I know you’re shocked.  This one I owe to NPR discussing their enjoyment of her fourth album, Avalanche, which caught the attention of a friend of mine who was working with me at the time in restaurant equipment and supply sales.  He asked if I had heard of her, as he had just heard about her on his radio.  I obviously had not, and that intrigued me (as he was rather smitten with her, and I didn’t consider him a new recording artist kind-of-lover).  So, without even listening to the show, I went on the recommendation and description from my friend.  Thankfully, Record Theatre was not afraid of the independent label, and they were usually up-on-it, when it came to the music gaining popularity and attention, so it was there!  After just a couple of listens, I definitely would have agreed with The Independent’s comment as her establishing herself as a “wordsmith of her generation.”  But, it is one thing to be a wordsmith, but a completely different thing to actually make it work and deliver it with the conviction that goes beyond the use of words.  Ms. Gilmore did this and then some, and with not much production trickery.  Using just her guise, her instruments of choice guitar, piano, xylophone (I believe) and voice, and the talents of Nigel Stonier (producer and instrumentalist with whom she has had a musical bond with for just about as long as her career, and up until their divorce in 2021, her husband), she definitely made one of the best records of that year, and in the female range — maybe the best (Beyonce, Madonna, Evanescence, Liz Phair, Dido were all in that year with new albums).

Categorizing her style and vocal, is like a tale of growth and movement toward expansion.  Obviously, in the earlier days, her youth she had a grogorious pension for alternative lyrics, sparse, stripped arrangements that were well produced, dynamically hanging on her every word and snappy delivery (that wordsmith at work).  Youth come to maturity, expansion of her palette in instruments as well as songwriting development.  For me it seemed to be a growth in beauty instead of angst, but still no losing that original word play.  Her topical pursuits, the changing environment around her, and the ways — and not so ways — of the world certainly had their impression, hand and mindset into all of this.  And, I’m sure personal life, children and career are the catalyst and vice of which the rest has bestowed.

Her latest release, Thea Gilmore, while reaching in for loops and ambient-like music structures, still harkens to the artist she remains.  The self title this late in the game is certainly a marking of rebirth and rediscovery.  No jumping off the deep end, though.  She has an angst, but it’s smart, hopeful, harkening to reality over harshness.  The lyrics, whether delivered in harmonic speech, brit-punk, spiritual vocal, or whispered temperance, the music entrances and succumbs to her melodic signature, driving the lyrics to you (from her meaning to yours).  There’s not a solitary record that doesn’t manufacture this in her entire catalog.  Even her covering of Bob Dylan’s entire record, John Wesley Harding, takes on the her hymnal (whom it is apparent to us, she cherishes).  She also was commissioned to complete the final works of Sandy Denny (an important and influential English, female folk artist).  Now, while I did not know Sandy Denny at the time, the rabbit hole that Thea Gilmore has brought me to has been extremely rewarding, and that is the catalog worthiness, and why she is on our Unknown Sundays 2024.  I certainly would love to have a Catalog Review Show — with her as my panelist!  That would be awesome (having the panelist be the artist on the Catalog Review Show)!  But, what I truly encourage you to do is — get into her catalog!  We’re doing Melissa Etheridge this week with 15 albums (Tuesday, March 19th), and you known what?  Ms. Gilmore is probably one of the only artists that might be able to be in that same female singer-songwriter rock category with her in longevity and catalog.  It is extensive, extremely interesting in all kinds of sounds and genres.  And, maybe by that time (I’m certainly not expecting her to give this Up State New York music listener her valued time based on a solitary article) — you might be able to be a panelists with me, reviewing the catalog and putting them in the order of your favorites!?  There’s going to be a demand for it!  I know you’re all out there!  Yes, I’m counting on you across the pond!  Reach out, as she deserves the attention from us neglectful single consumptive Americans.  ‘Are You Ready?’  You should be, as she should have been as popular as Sarah McLachlan, once you hear her (I might have oversold that a bit).  Nah!  I’m sticking to that statement!  ‘Let It Be Known’ (all of this will make sense if you listen to this catalog) I say!

Thea Gilmore Albums In My Collection:

She has another release as the band, Afterlight – Afterlight (2021), which is an interesting poetically delivered album (in some cases) that still features her tempered sombre, textured vocal stylings, falling in the timeline of the album, The Emancipation of Eva Grey.  There are also EP(s) and rarities which bear the familiar singles but they have wonderful covers as additions and B-Sides, so be sure to explore all of those as well, and of course, check her out all over the web and YouTube.

Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 10

The intent is never to make a “concept” blog post out of these Album Review Saturdays.  It should be impossible, considering how we pick them — at nearly random (for the most part).  Hell, if I had a staff of writers that were interested in adding more reviews, it would be even more impossible.  But somehow, this time, three albums completely different, uniquely distinct in very different genres, have somehow (by design, or just how it came together), have given us some form of concept record this week.  The first is a progressive bluegrass unit seeking refuge, on the lamb, or in limbo over what we believe are the seven deadly somethings (and it ain’t Kung Fu fighters).  The second lands in the wonderful, technical rock-jazz instrumental landscape, delivered with such commitment and delivery that we can forgive the title in spite of the story (but read on to know how I really feel).  Then, the one we went out on a limb for…  What we didn’t know was the dark, soul-filled surprise within, harkening back to songwriting where the entire album is the Americana – piece — of all kinds of difficult puzzles solved only by living, persevering, and leaving the story to tell (in the music).  The concept to conceptualize is always one of debate and discussion, so without furthering our conceptuality, let’s give these three albums our Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 10 attention.

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski & Panelist DAHM discuss these (3) albums + adds three (3) more reviews!]

 

Kitchen DwellersSeven Devils

When you first see the tremendous, foreboding landscape on the cover of the Kitchen Dwellers’ newest album, if you didn’t know them (like i didn’t), you would immediately believe you were in for either a dark metal, doom excursion looking for hope like an amateur golfer looks for their ball in dense forest surrounding slivering fairways on courses they shouldn’t be playing.  You’d be wrong.  I was wrong.  Welcome in the bluegrass banjo and fiddling with Pacific country storytelling, toe tapping, and yes, avant-garde progressive instrumental additions that will stun you beyond what pickers and fiddles are usually sworn to.

Seven Devils wastes no time in braising their strings and reaching into elongated progressive bag of tricks, while maintaining a very catchy bluegrass rhythm along with engaging lyrics, fitting vocals, and deliberate harmonies.  I don’t know if the Seven Devils scare me as much against the guitar and fiddle playing, but it does make for an interesting start to a very well put together, and conceptualized album.  Let’s realize the mountain and the travel required, as that is the hardship concept and the reward.  The Seven Devils mountain range, located in western Idaho along the Snake River is more than likely the heart of the cover (although, if it looks that Lord of the Rings like, hopefully they can shoot the next Tolkien in Idaho to save some coin!  This travel-log, the forks in the road, opportunities lost, and the life chosen are so well felt from fiddle to mandolin, from vocal to harmony.  It’s not as dark as you might think.  ‘Pendulum’ should have been when you saw the title on the back cover, and it had a Roman numeral, too!  But, it’s fiddle, claps, and just well put together lyrics and timing.  This is nearly 90% of the record.

Let the current of this record carry you down the river.  Let the lyrics take you down roads travelled, whether they’re heading toward morning light — or into the night toward a great mountain.  Enjoy the musical tricks and escapades along the way, especially the wonderful acoustic guitar, banjo and mandolin mastering that flows, rages, and flips your ear on end.  Oh, and don’t forget those little production tricks that give this that slight progressive attention.  They are truly the diamonds in the rough, the truffles in the forest, and the mirrored hope at the top of…Seven Devils.

The Band

  • Joe Funk – Bass/Vocals
  • Torrin Daniels – Banjo/Vocals
  • Max Davies – Acoustic Guitar/Vocals
  • Shawn Swain – Mandolin

Seven Devils Tracklisting

  1. Prelude
  2. Seven Devils (Limbo)
  3. The Crow and The Raven (III)
  4. Pendulum (V)
  5. Cabin Pressure (IV)
  6. Drop Tine
  7. Here We Go (VI)
  8. Meagher’s Reel (I)
  9. Waterford Son (II)
  10. Wind Bitten (VII)
  11. Unwind (Paradiso)
  12. Seven Devils (Full Version)

 

The AristocratsDuck

What don’t you get from an Aristocrats record?!  Good question.  On Duck, you get all the seasons of the rockier side of the instrumental fusion band.  Duck leans heavy on the rock (like they had a sudden possession by the great Jeff Beck), and apparently even heavier is the feet that wear the webbing.  Not following me?  That’s okay, I get it!  But, I want to make my point here before carrying on with this very well performed, magnificently recorded instrumental album.  You were not following my webbed feet comment (if you were than you cheated and looked this record up).  I really enjoyed this album from start to finish.  Every corner, every guitar intro, outtro, lick, spasm, bass punch, drum manifesto, and willingness to outdo the next track.  Amazing!  But, if you thought I was going to follow this as a concept record about some Arctic duck fleeing a Penguin dressed/acting like a Policeman, you are giving me way too much credit (thank you in advance).  How these three music makers somehow felt a connection to such a storyline while delivering this Steely Dan, meets Stevie Vai and Jeff Beck is nothing short of divine intervention!  I don’t think they sat down collectively and said, “There’s this duck, and he’s fleeing his home for something better (guitar virtuosity here)He’s being pursued by a mean police penguin (he sounds like one of the licks from Bill & Ted’s).”  What I do know, is, it wouldn’t matter if it was about a concept album about a microcosm living in my plugged corner gutter.  This album sound exceptional, and it flows in musical fashion that makes it all kinds of fun and attention getting for all the right reasons.  None of which matter to the exact, cartoon like concept that is apparently the truth behind the sound.

The Aristocrats are amazing.  I heard all kinds of influential pieces.  I fell completely in love with the flow of the record from start to finish, finding it easy to feel the starts and tempos of the journey the music is undergoing (a la the Duck and the pursuers), but I also heard a lot of attention to instrumental greatness that had come before them.  The likes of Mahavishnu, Steely Dan, Jeff Beck, and The Who.  You could put this on in the background and indulge your rocker side while grooving within the jazzy spaces provided.  That’s the real ducky concept here!  The clever arrangement shifts and guitar explorations puts them on the list of albums so far that could potentially be in the Top 24 Albums of 2024.  Take the power trio’s concept journey!  It’s worth every solitary musical minute and mayhem.  Even if it finishes on the song, ‘This Is Not Scrotum’ (and you don’t know why), but you love it anyway!

The Band

  • Guthrie Govan – Guitar
  • Bryan Beller – Bass
  • Marco Minnemann – Drums
  • Rusanda Panfili (Guest) – World Class Violinist, ‘This Is Not Scrotum’

Duck Tracklisting

  1. Hey, Where’s MY Drink Package?
  2. AristoclubSgt. Rockhopper
  3. Sittin’ with a Duck on a Bay
  4. Here Come the Builders
  5. Muddle Through
  6. Slideshow
  7. And then there Were Just Us/Duck’s End
  8. This is Not Scrotum

 

 

 

Shane Smith & the SaintsNorther

This is the kind of album you want to be surprised by.  This is the kind of vocal that can entrance you into a concept record, whether it is one (or it isn’t).  This is the kind of music that Country was made to be; thought provoking, struggling with reason, accountability and everything it is to be human and live, and somehow respect everything and everyone living in it with you.  Claiming your importance, figuring out your soul and the soul of those around you, and fighting for what you believe to be right with sacrifices you are prepared to make.  At least that is my perception of Shane Smith & the Saints great album, Norther.

I don’t know how that Norther wind blows in Texas, but I have a feeling it’s a powerful, stand-up-and-take-notice kind of time.  And, the Johnny Cash meets Bob Seger vocalisms of Shane Smith brings this inanimate object to life in every lyrical lick, whether it’s the wind of war, or the wind of change.  “It’s a rich man’s war, but it’s a poor man’s fight,” is the lyrical line in the first song that sets the stage for this emotive, alternative country rock album.  The rock guitars and country fiddle and fang, and microphone tricks are added weight as the epic album unfurls like the landscape, the world in front of you, and the past in your mind or in the rearview.  Whether you seek guidance, and uplifting moment, or complete salvation, the Saints and Mr. Shane Smith have a sound here to bring you to your knees, cleans you in Colorado River, or be the beacon of reality in a hurricane of life, pursuit and passion.

The album is everything that they’ve got and more, and I do not think I’ve fallen for an alternative country rock album as fast as I have for this one.  An unusual feet in the music multiverse, but this is an unusual circumstance and time.  The Austin Texan band is a very complete sounding, true to themselves, and expressive force in the music multiverse this year.  Perhaps the hiatus of five years, their performance in Yellowstone for Kevin Costner’s fictional maorial victory (they also did it for real for Governor Greg Abbott), or the very Norther that swept our world in 2019-2020 brought them to this beautiful point for us to appreciate and revel in?!

The Band

  • Shane Smith – Singer-Songwriter
  • Bennett Brown – Fiddle
  • Dustin Schaefer – Guitar
  • Chase Satterwhite – Bass
  • Zach Stover – Drums

Norther Tracklisting

  1. Book of Joe
  2. Fire in the Sky
  3. Adeline
  4. The Greys Between
  5. Navajo Norther
  6. Field of Heather
  7. Wheels
  8. All the Way
  9. Hummingbird
  10. 1,000 Wild Horses
  11. It’s Been a While
  12. Everything and More
  13. Fire in the Ocean

Knife Party On Unknown Sundays 2024

KNIFE PARTY ON UNKNOWN SUNDAYS [YOU TUBE VERSION]

I was never a dance club guy.  Sure, I frequented the establishments that mostly were tuned to making the young women in the black mini-skirts dance, burn off their worries, and consume liquored beverages.  Hell, I was the designated driver for a lot of those excursions, whether it was to Canada, or when we were of age to the nightclubs of the Western New York area (which were fewer than you would expect, and even fewer now).  The tunes they spun would occasionally mix in something from popular radio and my music wheelhouse at the time.  Nine Inch Nails, ‘Animal’ was a constant, as well as Marilyn Manson, PJ Harvey, and later 4 Non Blondes, but it was the Moby’s and Tricky’s and Bjork that were starting to tickle this idea and merger of Electronic Dance Music and the Alternative music scene.  Pretty soon you had Portishead, tons of DJ this and DJ that, as the expansion of genres within the macro EDM became much like that of Rock-n-Roll.  I could of course spend an entire month on this kind of music and it’s creation and evolution, but that’s not why you’re reading (you are reading this right?).

The influence here starts from a DJ friend of mine from New Jersey, who not only had his finger on the vinyl trigger of this kind of music, but a very extensive knowledge of the genre.  On one of his visits to Upstate New York, he let me in on some of the goings on from Skrillex to Modstep to Nero, and then all kinds of other interesting singles that were yet to have an EP or album.  That’s the real problem in this music genre for me.  The lack of album or complete cohesion of a musical concept for the duration of an EP or a full length album.  That, and the concept of “samey” (as our panelist, Everett James, would probably say) or elongated electronic melody for too long a time, which was really one of the reasons I didn’t exactly like the music in the club.  The trance is the motion (I get it, and so did Static-X), but I wanted to hear something new or at least feel like we moved to the next song.  But this stuff, that Jeff DeYoung (that’s right another Jeff — damnit man, get on the panel) was throwin’ down on the car stereo had these “drops” that were like crescendos to that samey feel, and then they just exploded into something else!  Yes, some of it was Transformer sounding, but still it was engaging and extremely catchy.  Enter Knife Party onto the stereo!

‘Power Glove’ and ‘Internet Friends’ might have been the first two songs I heard.  So infectious, different, and thrilling because I just kept waiting for the next swift kickoff, drop or flipping of the musical script.  Sure, I wasn’t paying attention to lyrics, even though they were definitely swaying to that trance, meat market concept, but I was certainly paying attention to the bass and drum machine war.  And there is the hook.  The hook I had subtle hints of with DJ Rap, Portishead, Tricky, and others — it’s all about that particular bass.  No question.  And then, to see the craziness ensue in a live performance (on YouTube of course, as they don’t frequent our neck of the woods), and see all these bodies just moving to it and losing it the minute that drop hits!  Damn!  I want to be a part of that.  The elaborate screens and immensity of it all just to match these two men and spin/computer table!?  The cable stretching out like the Matrix!  I want to be a part of that!  A part of that at 40, doesn’t exactly put me in the pit.  In fact, I do that, and I’m probably going to have new lumbar problems I can’t even imagine.  But, I want to be cool, so I engage in Haunted House EP, as my first real, full force EDM purchase along with Skrillex and RJD2.

The Australian duo of Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen, a faction of the famous band, Pendulum (who is equally engaging but in a more progressive, Prodigy-like manifesto), started this back in 2002 while working within the drum and bass band.  They intended the gig to be just a side project, but it blew up big, just like those drops!  Unfortunately, for the fan base of Pendulum, it appeared that it was death by Knife Party, as there had not been be a follow up record to the 2010 Immersions album.  An album I also enjoy, and kind of would love to hear a continuation of the band, as they definitely have a signature sound and a dominatingly unique atmosphere.  Oh, but wait, 2023 saw the EP, Anima, come out so it does appear to be hope for Pendulum to take their DNB progressive rock further!  In fact, at this point the Knife Party website is apparently closed for the moment.  So, there’s all that going on — which adds to the overall scope and importance of this Unknown Sundays reach!  So, let me get back on track!  Enter the full length album, Abandon Ship in 2014, which oddly enough would be the only full album from Knife Party.  While it did take me some time to come to grips with a longer jaunt of EDM, I still find this album among the best of the genre in my opinion (with the likes of Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, Evolution Theory, and Deadringer).

I just know that every single time I put an album of Knife Party on, EP or Abandon Ship, I’m going to be sucked into that vortex of body moving club droppin’ bass and drum machine.  I know that I’m going to catch myself bouncing that knee in the car, or bobbing my head to the building crescendo, and ultimately — at some point — lose control and start jumpin around my kitchen with my Santoku raised away from the onion just to participate in the imaginary pit and pendulum (sorry guys) that I missed because I’m just a broken middle aged man who will have to take pleasure in the zany nature of the music and watching YouTube clips of youth not wasted on the ingeniousness of Knife Party raging raves!  Jealous, I am.

Knife Party Albums In My Collection:
  • Haunted House (2013)
  • Abandon Ship  (2014)

It’s very hard to find EP(s) of theirs for sure.  You can’t even order them on Amazon.com, but of course there’s plenty on the digital front!  Here’s the chronological order, so you have it;

  1. 100% No Modern Talking (2011)
  2. Rage Valley (2012)
  3. Haunted House (2013)
  4. Abandon Ship (2014)
  5. Trigger Warning (2015)
  6. Lost Souls  (2019)

Pendulum (band), if you would like to check that out;

  1. Hold Your Colour  (2005) *in my collection
  2. In Silico (2008) *in my collection
  3. Immersion (2010) *in my collection
  4. The Reworks (2018)  – all kinds of remixes by Knife Party, Moby, and Devin Townsend
  5. Anima [EP] (2023)

Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 9

Anxiously awaiting for a new album used to be a weekly thing for me, but now that there’s so much in my wheelhouse of music, my expectations are that I’m always going to be behind reviews for Album Review Saturdays, and 2024 is certainly living up to that!  This week’s Album Review Saturdays has me back tracking a week or two at least, starting with what might be one of my favorite bands coming out of France.  Then a god-like British duo make their self-titled debut in 2024, decades apart from their prior world domination experiences in the music multiverse.  Would this be the blend we all hoped it would be?  And, to finish off Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 9, we go on a journey with one of the best, diverse jazz guitarists on the planet who has been knocking albums and EPs out of the park for the last five years easy!  It’s good to be anxious, right!?  It let’s us know we’re looking — forward, n’est-ce pas?

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski discuss these (3) albums + adds three (3) more reviews]

 

 

Caravan Palace – Gangbusters Melody Club

I can still recall the first time I heard of this electro-swing, synth-house band out of France!  Thank you Later…with Jools Holland!  The swingin’ toe-tappin’ groovin’ band was infectious, and the romper-stomper augmented vocal and charm of Zoé Colotis equally beguiling, entrancing, and rock-centric.  The Gangbusters Melody Club release is, not only a continuation of that moment seven years back from the hit single ‘Lone Digger,‘ it’s an extension and bridge to another couple of genre bending moments that keep you anxious, guessing, and completely dance enthralled from start to finish!

Parisian.  The very word expresses upper class type feel and look.  Caravan Palace is the perfect blend of the Parisian, Nomad (Gypsy), Rave.  The concept is sophistication in instrumentation, coming from the old world delivery, but blitzing it here and there with new world favoritism.  Then bend in some intoxicating and ravishing house trance and dance to either accentuate or exacerbate the tempo.  Oh, yeah!  There’s even a hint of probably improvisation available within the recording, but definitely at the fingertips of  their live experience, which would no doubt have everyone on their feet and attempting the best cramped version of swing possible.  That’s Gangbusters Melody Club!  You’re in a very unique Paris club, that appreciates the art deco of the past in music, loves to splash in the synth pop and dance (even in the slower, closer, ‘Villa Rose’).

The vocal is probably a bit more augmented than I would have expected over the last seven years, but I do not know the range and reach of Zoe Colotis.  Although, ‘Fool’ does show an interesting range and dimension explored against a fractured accordion track and what I would believe to be a harp (if you can believe it).  This set of songs definitely yields great results, and as long as she’s enthralled by the musicianship and the ability to move to it, I’m sure her delivery will find slightly new interpretations available with or without the microphone tricks (although I’m sure it’s not exactly easy to dance like she does and deliver vocal perfection).  The real hit here is the overall band experience and how incredibly tight they continue to be in the face of all the free-flowing musicianship, new loops, and era sounds that are blistering throughout.  This is an exclusive club everyone’s ears should be in at least once a year.  Good clean, body movin’ fun in an old-school fashion and flash that’s not dated, nor pretentious by any means.

The Band

  • Arnaud “Vial” de Bosredon – composition, production, guitar, vocals
  • Charles Delaporte – composition, production, bass, vocals
  • Zoé Colotis – vocals
  • Paul-Marie Barbier – keyboards, percussion, vibraphone
  • Odd Sweet – dancer
  • Martin Berlugue – trombone, clarinet
  • Lucas Saint-Cricq – violin, saxophone
  • Luis Calderon – synths, Piano

Gangbusters Melody Club Tracklisting

  1. MAD
  2. Mirrors
  3. 81 Special
  4. Raccoons
  5. Avalanches
  6. Reverse
  7. Fool
  8. Spirits
  9. Blonde Dynamite
  10. Portobello
  11. City Cook
  12. Villa Rose

 

 

Liam Gallagher / John Squire – Liam Gallagher / John Squire

So, you take the lead singer and half the creative process of Oasis, and bring in the guitar greatness of John Squire from The Stone Roses, and get them collectively in the studio to see what happens.  Okay, I’m down with it!  I’m sure there were over a million plus in England that were more than “Okay” with the musical thought process.  The potential is the very definition of anticipation beyond control, right?  I certainly think so.  Those first two and three Oasis albums were very good, very engaging.  The Stone Roses ‘Second Coming’ still remains an outlying recording in my history of record buying.  I just love putting that on, and losing myself in the chords and the intoxicating lyrical connection within.  “The journey is the trip, I say,” is the lyrical line in ‘Mars To Liverpool’ that defined my exact expectations for this duo.  But, did it get there — for me?

Let me start off by saying my first listen was a broken one.  I was distracted by how much Liam is singing, which for me was not allowing the guitar tracks and layerings to be heard.  I’m not saying that the mesh wasn’t good, but I wanted to get more flavor and licks from the guitar work.  Why?  Because the more talented man on stage is John Squire.  His English blues, and signature sound is truly what drives the overall composition and engagement in the music.  The lyrics and vocal are fine, but they do not make for the greatest lead.  It’s the breath of the guitar between lines and refrains that is exactly what’s needed!  It’s what makes the vocal more interesting, as it slides and builds on the expert musicianship of Squire’s fingers, foot pedaling, and passion to get every little drop of sound out of each bluesy note.  He accomplishes that mission and then some, but you have to get past the nearly constant singing of Liam (in my first listen opinion).

There is a lovely blend between the two throughout a lot of their debut together.  Whether this will happen again or not — who knows.  The story is here that you get the sound you expected, some very well conceived lyric and music collaborations that are worth their time and your own.  I have a feeling that the more I gravitate to playing it, the more out of it I’m going to get and start to appreciate.  I just wish there was a bit more breath and respect to John Squire’s ability to be the lead on this, letting his instrument do more of the talking.  This is probably an issue where Liam’s vocal range is — well, Oasis, and it’s taking away from defining their sound and melody – to some degree.  Also, as a bitter side note, come up with a title next time!  It’s crazy to me that you couldn’t come up with an interesting title, even if it was The Squire in the Galla.

The Band

  • Liam Gallagher – Vocals, hand claps
  • John Squire – Guitar(s) [Electric and Acoustic], hand claps
  • Greg Kurstin – bass, drum programming, percussion, hand claps, synthesizer, keyboards, piano, Hammond B3 organ, Wurlitzer, Mellotron, vibraphone, congas, upright piano
  • Joey Waronker – drums
  • Debbie Gwyther – hand claps
  • Martha Squire – hand claps

Liam Gallagher / Johns Squire Tracklisting

  1. Raise Your Hands
  2. Mars to Liverpool
  3. One Day at a Time
  4. I’m a Wheel
  5. Just Another Rainbow
  6. Love You Forever
  7. Make It Up as You Go Along
  8. You’re Not the Only One
  9. I’m So Bored
  10. Mother Nature’s Song

 

 

 

Julian Lage – Speak To Me

Guitarist and composer, Julian Lage, has been making a strong case for his ability to man-handle the guitar in splendid genres of blues and jazz, and equally stunning collaborative individuals as well.  In fact, he is a favorite in the Kuligowski household after his terrific last four records, dating back to his collaboration with Nels Cline, Room in 2014.  Speak To Me, while it is not the usual structure or flow (meaning holding to a genre or tempo), it is an expressive, expansive jaunt through guitar-lead jazz, blues and even unplugged acoustic tracks that engage the trained and untrained ear.  It’s careful and lovely.  It’s also jangly and surprisingly enough a little rocky, which is cool addition to the albums over the last four years.

Now let’s get to the stunning uniqueness that still is the signature of Lage, which is evident and powerful in the ‘South Mountain’ track, leading off in an odd acoustic, soft, free-jazz intro that spills like a country acoustic trott and roll complete with woodwind accompaniments fluttering by like a desert butterfly (is there such a thing).   Then there’s the rockabillian jazz flamingo rocker ’76’ (what?!).  Yep!  It’s jazz, but it’s not like you’re used to.  It’s just catchy amazement with wicked off-beat wild piano improv, which just sends this record into another stratosphere that you were not expecting.  It’s also the reason you let it go around again!  Expectation, while still wowed, since it wasn’t what you were expecting — you have to do it again!  Why?  You missed that woodwind, and I’m fairly certain you missed the fact that somehow he has switched from electric to acoustic.

When all is said and done.  Speak To Me is ultimately a jazz record, but it’s one that is slightly pressing against the boundaries, but carefully plodding those points and consistently engaging the weapon at Julian Lage’s disposal, which is the Beck like control and lyrical signature he allows the strings to have at every prestidigitation he conjures as one of the best jazz guitarists currently in the world.  It will speak to you.  Some will take you a second listen, and others will be instantly attractive.  It is the beauty of how he speaks with any style guitar, to us, and to the professionals surrounding him that find themselves just as lost and appreciative of his finger felt arrangements.

The Band

  • Julian Lage – guitarist, composer
  • Jorge Roeder – bass
  • David King – drums
  • Kris Davis – keyboards
  • Patrick Warren – keyboards
  • Levon Henry – woodwinds

Speak To Me Tracklisting

  1. Hymnal
  2. Northern Shuffle
  3. Omission
  4. Serenade
  5. Myself Around You
  6. South Mountain
  7. Speak To Me
  8. Two And One
  9. Vanishing Points
  10. Tiburon
  11. As It Were
  12. 76
  13. Nothing Happens Here
  14. Cars/Colors (D2C LP Exclusive Bonus Track)

Love In Reverse On Unknown Sundays 2024

LOVE IN REVERSE ON UNKNOWN SUNDAYS [YOU TUBE VERSION]

So Love In Reverse, pretty good band name right?  I thought it was cool when I first heard it.  And, where did I first hear it, you ask (of course you’re asking or I wouldn’t write these articles)?  Well it was actually with Peter Frampton on an ABC news program called Turning Point.  I believe the gist of the program was working through the hardships and tribulations of being a musician and band in the era.  I do remember it, as it drew my attention, and then there was the album in the used bin, I Was Here.  This 1996 release wasn’t on my radar, considering the albums of Rage Against the Machine, Tool, Korn, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Beck (who actually wound up being the first video played on MTV2 when it was launched), REM and Metallica.  So, stiff record sales competition, but Love In Reverse was actually moving themselves into a good alternative music space with the likes of Stabbing Westward, Gravity Kills, Tonic, Spin Doctors and even Ian Astbury of the Cult.  Not to mention, they were signed to Warner/Reprise records, which whether they were spending big money or not, the prestige and reach would be effective to a better degree than being in an independent label situation.

Rolling Stone magazine was touting the band as one of the best new bands to watch out for in 1996, and they were kind of right.  The follow up record, Words Become Worms, while not a barn burning commercial success, still generated excellent critical attention, and added to the commercial activities for band mates, Michael Ferentino and Andres Karu.  Michael, a vocalist, and interesting guitarist, along with bassist and keyboard player Karu, managed to mesh a fresh electronica prespection on the late 90’s alternative scene.  They could fit into the dark edge of the alternative dying grunge, and let Michael’s vocal and lyrical delivery teeter in profundity, which I truly enjoyed in those first two albums.  And, I certainly thought, they were doing well enough, but that was not to be the immediate case, after being dropped.  There was an EP, which I never got, but I knew the premise was that they used to be called “Dog” before Love In Reverse, but while those five songs were right in the wheelhouse it yielded nothing advanced or different (perhaps it was remainders of sessions, after all, I think they made like more that 25 demo albums in that time frame before getting signed).

Still, there was no question that the band was meant for this, and Michael and Karu, despite the end of Love In Reverse wound up in a lot of projects together that are completely cool, unique, and probably what should have been “injected” into Love In Reverse (more on that to come).  Here are some with side notes, so you can take a deeper dive should you be intrigued;

  • Corduroy Poo-Poo (not such a good band name) = Noisy Lo-Fi Electronic Garage Band
  • Speak the Worms = An amalgamation of words, stories, brainfarts and experimental music.  (You lost me at brainfarts)
  • The Diablo Project with Jai Diablo = Stoner/Sludge Rock
  • Bedtime For Robots = Electronic ambient/experimental
  • The Miles Hunt Club = teaming up with Wonder Stuff front-man Miles Hunt.

Actually, the Bedtime For Robots project is a pretty exciting one, with soundtrack work that reaches some interesting avant-garde.  It has pretty good acclaim, reaching worlwide underground radio and Internet radio shows.  Hey!  We’re one of them now!  Yeah, we’re more obscure than 2004’s album Another One For You To Hate by Love In Reverse.  Anyway, some cool side projects for you to check out, as we did.  But here comes the big surprise!  They have albums in 2020 and just two years ago in 2022!  What?!  How the hell did I miss those?  I’m embarrassed, but I’m glad I pulled their name out for Unknown Sundays 2024, because if I had not I would not have enjoyed

  • 2020’s  I’m An Illusion
  • 2022’s  Fake It

Ferentino, Karu and Halpern (drums) are back at it again, planning something I believe for 2024, as there was a single talk on their Facebook page prior to my finishing touches on this article.  And, after having heard the marksmanship, evolution, and maturity of Fake It, and the excellent production value without a huge label backing, I would certainly state Love In Reverse is a worthy catalog to jump into currently for it’s groove and alternative pop-rock delivery, as well as swerve back in time to those two albums in the 1990’s.  The rest, and there’s quite a bit, I’ll leave up to you!  I expect a report back before next Unknown Sunday, ok?  I’m kidding (but you knew that).

Love In Reverse Albums In My Collection:
  • I Was Here (1996)
  • Words Become Worms  (1998)

 

Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 8

When choosing the music variety for Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 8 there were a lot of immediate releases that drew my attention, but I diverted my interest because I realized there were two that I was excited about two weeks ago that I didn’t get on the show!  So, I rectified that error quickly, and then I had to get in some instrumental progressive rock!  We take two reviews from Florida, and one from Switzerland.  I’ll let you already assume which is the instrumental progressive fusion band (first two guesses don’t count).  Here’s Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 8, I hope this gives you something to listen to!

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski & Panelist DAHM discuss these (3) albums + adds three (2) more reviews, again this weekend]

 

 

Monkey3 – Welcome to the Machine

This is my first adventure into the progressive fusion, instrumentally sound arena of Monkey3 out of Switzerland.  To my embarrassment (remember, I do not claim that I listen to it all — I try to), I have never heard one of their records!  Now, I could have ventured into the idea that the reason I had not heard of them was that they were in certain genre of music that I do not partake of, or that perhaps they were just not buzz worthy enough to be in front of me (Twitter, Facebook, Release Lists).  The truth is this is a complete miss for one reason or another that I cannot blame anyone other than myself for.  How did I come to Welcome to the Machine, then, you might ask (I hope you ask, that’s why I write these things)?  I saw the cover, which seems to have some Hellraiser connection to “the box” that I can always hear Pinhead calling out for.  Still terrified by that movie.  So, I think that’s “the box” on the cover of this space-lookin’ album, against the gold gleam and horror of that box.  What’s the band name?  Monkey3?  Is that even allowed in writing?  A word followed by a number without a space?  Shouldn’t it be written out as “Three?”  What should I expect from a band formed — no founded — by Picasso (no not that Picasso)?!

All right!  This instrumentally sound, progressive fusionsists have crafted a brilliant musical expression of space rock, featuring all kinds of progressive natures that utilize perfectly the guitars or keyboards as a vast expansion of the intense rocking flow of Welcome to the Machine.  Immediate kudos to these artists for their utter command of every inch of this experience.  You can take pleasure in the hardest of rock guitar solos, and then be sucked into the vortex of space, building — no manufacturing relentlessly and beautifully — to phasers-set-to-thrill crescendos.  Every instrument shines from the bass lines to the variety of drum fills and ever changing percussive flow.  If you enjoy a wild, passionate, and blindfolded instrumental orgie with Rush, Pink Floyd (very evident in beginning of ‘Collapse’), and Animals As Leaders being lead by the harder edge of progressive rock, you will have found your pleasure.

This instrumental album will… “…tear your soul apart!”  Wait, no that’s the best quote.  This is the best quote!  “Time to play…”  This is forty-six minutes of — hell yes!  Open Monkey3’s box of albums, as I am about to.  The audio pleasure’s they will show you…

The Band

  • Walter – Drums
  • Jalil – Bass
  • Boris – Guitar
  • dB- Keys and Sounds

Welcome to the Machine Tracklisting

  1. Ignition
  2. Collision
  3. Kali Yuga
  4. Rackman
  5. Collapse

 

 

 

 

JJ Grey & Mofro – Olustee

This southern soul-rock outfit started by John Higginbotham, aka “JJ Grey,” and Daryl Hance (who left the band ten plus years ago for a solo career) have come a very long way from their humble beginnings in the southern pan-handle of Florida.  Olustee is a vibrant recording that still carries their signature, but finds much much more interesting sounds, bridges (which they cross wonderfully), and the first real fantastic studio songwriting connection in their history.  Olustee keeps you sweetly comfortable in the background of the blues with that pleasing southern hinted vocal and melodic structures that are carefully woven throughout the variety of songs and lovely stories.

When we say the blues here, the familiar chord and structure is there, but JJ Grey and Mofro modestly tilt it and drive it like a swamp boat through the glades, taking their time in places, and in others, ripping it full throttle-ish.  Both are great rides, and it’s the backbone of the album, giving you all those wonderful hard-blues guitar solos, harmonics, and then horns and background singers, too!  But, there’s another side to this recording that really pops out at you.  It’s the piano and the ballad writing that’s got me smitten.  It’s as if there was some sort of southern-soul possession from Elton John & Bernie Taupin.  I’m not kidding.  While it starts subtly with ‘Seminole Wind’ in a southern delivery (those horns with piano, so cool), it carries with the faster paced ‘Wonderland’ and then it floors me at the end with ‘Deeper Than Belief.’

It is my belief that JJ Grey and Mofro have crafted their best album to date, and one that is certainly a contender to be ranked in the albums of the year for 2024.  While time will tell, as the albums pile up, I just feel the ear of my soul will keep moving me back to this record and all it has to offer from the blues, to the piano, to horns, and to even the string arrangements.  Olustee has all kinds of flavors for your soul beyond the black water of the named creek, battlefield, and the Osceola National Forest (there’s your history and geographical information for the week).  This album is visit worth planning, so get your earbuds ready.

The Band

  • John Higginbotham (JJ Grey) – vocals, guitar(s), piano/keyboards, harmonica
  • Katie Dutton, Laiken Love, Niki Dawson, Sage Grey – backing vocals
  • Todd Smallie – bass
  • Pete Winders – guitars (electric and acoustic)
  • Craig Barnette – drums, percussion
  • Eric Brigmond – keyboards and backing vocals

Other instrumental additions:

  • Bassoon – Paul Curtis
  • Conductor – Zoltán Pad
  • Congas, Percussion – Eric Mason
  • Saxophone, Flute – Kenny Hamilton
  • Trombone – Quinn Carson
  • Trumpeteers – Dennis Marion, John Reid (41), Marcus Parsley
  • Violin [Fadolin] – Lev Zhurbin
  • Budapest Symphony Orchestra

Olustee Tracklisting

  1. The Sea
  2. On Top of the World
  3. On A Breeze
  4. Olustee
  5. Seminole Wind
  6. Wonderland
  7. Starry Night
  8. Free High
  9. Waiting
  10. Rooster
  11. Deeper Than Belief

 

Amigo the Devil – Yours Until the War Is Over

The vaudevillian Johnny Cash is back with a new album!  Having seen him for the first time, opening for Clutch (see my review on Beyond Live here), I was darkly smitten with the idea of listening to his latest.  However, I was a little caught off guard a little bit into the record, not realizing that perhaps the darker side was stepping closer to more thought provoking in depth than his usual comedic crescendos (although they are there).

Yours Until the War Is Over truly starts with an album cover straight out of John Mellencamp’s collection.  And, while I wasn’t completely believing in the foreboding look of it–it should have been a slight sign.  Don’t get me wrong, Amigo the Devil, which is Danny Kiranos (who could sort of pass for David Grohl in the way he carries himself on stage), still has the vim and pissin’ vigor and comedic timing delivery that you expect.  There are just fewer songs that capture that to me this time around.  The way it starts off, perfectly in that wheelhouse, with those first three songs, especially ‘I’m Going To Heaven.’  But, it’s songs like ‘Mechanic,’ and ‘Barrel and Staghorn’ that I’m still scratching my dark-noggin’ on.  They seem to be carrying the lyrical content into a sincere pitch black folk as if these were interludes of more deeper thought.  I don’t displace this, saying that he’s not entitled to it, and I may find much later in listens (as I am definitely going to be listening to this more, considering the challenge I had with it first and second listens) that it finally clicks to me the flow and the movement to clever, whimsical, and bare bone honesty.  There’s life decisions, struggles, and regret living in this record where you’re waiting for the punch line — and it doesn’t really come.  It probably wasn’t meant to come.

I will say, nothing really prepares you for the very distant from usual, crusher called ‘Closer.’  I will leave it at that, and beg you, if you’re not sure about this to play it all from start to finish, and let me know where you stand on dark folk and interesting lyrical depth lurking from Amigo the Devil this time around.  While I was drawn to him for the whimsical and vaudeville approach into alternative dark-folk, I’m still dwelling on what Part II of ‘Once Upon A Time at Texaco’ could have sounded like.

The Band

  • Danny Kiranos – Guitars, Banjo, Vocals

Yours Until the War Is Over Tracklisting

  1. Hanging By the Roots
  2. It’s All Gone
  3. I’m Going To heaven
  4. The Mechanic
  5. Once Upon A Time At Texaco, Part I
  6. Barrel and the Staghorn
  7. Agnes
  8. Cannibal Within
  9. Garden of Leaving
  10. Virtue and Vitriol
  11. One Day At A Time
  12. Stray Dog
  13. Closer