Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 4

This week Jason Bieler of the 90’s rock band Saigon Kick gets a fantastic rebirth, we dive soulfully into a tremendous hip-hoppin’ homage from El Michels Affair + Black Thought, and a band we just recently picked up in the used bin releases an astonishing new album produced by Sean Oko Lennon that tips their psychedelic English rock on a pop-progressive edge!  All of this going on, this week, while we have monstrous records from Metallica, Feist, a return from Natalie Merchant and Mudhoney!  So much to choose from!  Hope this opens your ears to something a little bit out of the usual wheelhouse here on Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 4.

Jason Bieler and the Baron Von Bielski Orchestra – Postcards from the Asylum

Did I mention I’m a child of the 90’s music scene?  Duh, I just said that on Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 3, and when I was notified of the “Postcards from the Asylum” album by a fellow Tweeter, I took down a note to check this album out.  What I didn’t realize was the connection to Saigon Kick!  Now, if you go back to 1992’s “The Lizard” after listening to “Postcards from the Asylum” you will appreciate this mention of Jason Bieler’s rebirth (although Mr. Bieler has been busy and active since).  This is garage meets alternative metal when you think of the past, but this new album has a fantastic production, a great flow of songs, and an attention to song length that keeps your engagement for the 70 minute gaunt listen.  There’s a fantastic addition of progressive rock in “Flying Monkeys,” as well as that grinding garage rock in “Sic Riff.”  If you’re a fan of Saigon Kick, creative genre bending, and great hooky song writing you’re going to want to put this record on for sure!  Those that don’t recall Saigon Kick, you’ve got to give it a listen, as we have a strong feeling (in doing so), you’re going to back down a Bieler-rabbit hole and appreciate it even more.

The band:

Jason Bieler – vocals, guitars (probably)
Baron Von Bielski – who knows, but sited as writer too!
An entire cast of made up names on all kinds of instruments — that are probably famous. Guesses?
Ryo Okumoto – rock keyboardist (he’s the only one I can say for sure) [Spock’s Beard]

Need a little more context?  This is the website information:

“JASON BIELER IS A POST APOCALYPTIC TROUBADOUR WITH A PENCHANT FOR THE SONICALLY GROTESQUE, AN AMATEUR SURGEON, WATER DIVINER, A LIVING SAINT AS RECOGNIZED BY THE CHURCH OF THE OBSCENELY NONSENSICAL DONATION.”

 

Postcards from the Asylum Track Listing:

1. Bombay
2. Numb
3. Heathens
4. Mexico
5. Birds of Prey
6. Flying Monkeys
7. Sic Riff
8. The Depths
9. Beneath the Waves
10. Sweet Eliza
11. 9981 Darkness
12. Feels Just Like Love
13. Bear Sedatives
14. Deep Blue
15. Human Head

 

El Michels Affair + Black Thought – Glorious Game

This has all the love, homage and melody that we love about this genre of music!  The high level of production, mixing, and soulful fillings, funky tidbits, and all kinds of fun musical twists and turns leads you into the greatness of the “Glorious Game.”  The rap flow, lyricism and guest appearances deliver such steady, clever and meaningful vocal elements that your ears are perked up the entire 31 minutes of this album.  There’s no question the detail in the recording, and there are times where I was like, oh that’s a hint of De La Soul…so cool, or I felt like I was rapped up in R&B blanket, and then right out into the street…bass jolted!  The production techniques of Leno Michels is a bombastic connection throughout the entire record with Black Thought’s contemporary, all-star pitch.  This is definitely going to be a record we go back to at year’s end to see if can be a contender for the 23 Best Album of 2023

The band:

El Michels Affiar (Leno Michels) – Instrumental Outfit/Multi-Instrumentalist, Producer
Black Thought (Tariq Luqmaan Trotter) – Rap, Lyricist [member of The Roots]
Additional Collaborators:  Kirby (“Glorious Game”), Son Little (“Protocol”), and Brainstory (“Alter Ego”)

Glorious Game Track Listing:

1. Grateful
2. Glorious Game
3. I’m Still Somehow
4. Hollow Way
5. Protocol
6. The Weather
7. That Girl
8. I Would Never
9. Alone
10. Miracle
11. Glorious Game (Reprise)
12. Alter Ego

 

Temples – Exotico

Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time, and the Temples put me there three weeks ago.  I picked up “Sun Structures” from 2014 in a used bin at my local record store, band unknown, sound unheard, and I couldn’t even read the year it was made because of the incredible fine print and coloring — so I guessed it was progressive rock on the cover alone.  Wrong!  But to my ear’s delight, it was more of a psychedelic late 60’s early 70’s style with a careful musicianship that still held a slight modern edge.  Thoroughly enjoyed that purchase, even enough to put it on a recording of “What’s In Your Ear?” Beyond Your Radio Show (which will be releasing soon).  So imagine my delight yesterday when I see a new release (April 14th 2023) called “Exotico.” I’m immediately going in for a listen to see where the band is today having been unable to listen to a few of the records between 2014 and this one.  This record is much more progressive-pop in it’s truly bombastic recording, which should really make this into a widely accessible record.  The production is just as top notch as the 2014 on my first listen, and then I see it’s produced by Sean Ono Lennon (yes, that’s John and Yoko’s son, who knows exactly what he’s doing in this genre considering his Ghost of A Sabretooth Tiger records).  “Exotico” is exactly as the album title leads you.  This is an exotic psyche-pop trip with all kinds of surprises within the still 60’s/70’s vocal style delivery, but wrapped tightly in much more modern instrumentation, progressively tainted experiments in hooks and bridge work, as well as a much more feverish tenacity and energy.

The band:

James Bagshaw – vocals, guitars
Tom Walmsley – bass
Adam Smith – rythym guitar
Rens Ottink – drums

Exotico Track Listing:

1. Liquid Air
2. Gamma Rays
3. Exotico
4. Sultry Air
5. Cicada
6. Oval Stones
7. Slow Days
8. Crystal Hall
9. Head in the Clouds
10. Giallo
11. Inner Space
12. Meet Your Maker
13. Time Is a Light
14. Fading Actor
15. Afterlife
16. Movements of Time

 

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