Tag Archives: rock
The album title, Cruise Your Illusion, a slight play on the Guns ‘N’ Roses double album set, Use Your Illusion, should have been your hint. The Olympia, Washington quartet, Milk Music aren’t your average band of long-haired, riff rockers from the Pacific, Northwest who were raised on grunge and worship at the altar of the alt-rock guitar trinity of Young, Mascis, and Moore. Sure, there are many nods to those holy noise-makers throughout Milk Music’s long-playing, debut, but guitarist Charles Warring also borrows from several, let’s say, lesser referenced greats of the classic rock era, like Tom Scholz of Boston, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, and Duane Allman and Dicky Betts of the Allman Brothers.
Listen to how Warring’s guitar weeps throughout the end of “Illegal and Free,” and then ask your dad or Youtube about “Sweet Melissa.” Milk Music’s Melissa may have purple hair and work at the organic grocer, but she’s a heartbreaker, just the same. She can bring a tear to the toughest biker’s eye. “New Lease on Love,” meanwhile, features this breakdown where Warring threatens to launch right into Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” and he’s not being ironic in the least. Later, on album closer, the slow-groove, blues of Dire Straits serves as main inspiration. Now, it’s time to ask your dad or Youtube about “So Far Away.”
Ultimately, being able to navigate both the classic rock and alt-rock canon doesn’t make one great. Walk into a Guitar Center on Saturday and you’ll have your proof. Where Milk Music excel is how they merge all of these diverging influences into one rugged, as in monster truck on monster truck rugged, guitar rock album. The combination of vocalist, Alex Coxen’s pained yowl and Warring’s maestro work, when backed by a relentless tempo, as on “I’ve Got a Wild Feeling,” and “Cruising with God” is a call to wanton debauchery if there ever was one.
Can this really be the same band who were too stoned to stand during last year’s summer tour? They pouted and mumbled through most of their set at the 2012 Pitchfork Music Festival, taking painfully, awkward breaks in between each number.
Yet, in a short time, they’ve broadened their influences, shored up the songwriting, and upped the rip factor, placing Milk Music, along side Mike Polizze and Purling Hiss, as two guitar bands doing it right in modern times. Neither act seems particularly concerned with pleasing people by having the right image and right sound.
They plug in, jam hard, and let the music lead them. If the guitar wants to do Neil Young, it does Neil Young. If it wants to play Dire fucking Straits, it’ll play Dire fucking Straits and make you wish you never mocked Dire fucking Straits for their pretty-boy haircuts and pastel headbands.
It just goes to show you what practice and having the right dealer can do for you. Arthur is the man. He’s thanked on the back cover. Milk Music were going nowhere fast with that old stink weed. And, now, they’re a can’t miss act.
Baltimore’s Double Dagger always straddled that line between art-punk and workingman’s punk rock. No where is this more evident than on “Heretic’s Hymn” from the band’s posthumous album, 333 (due out via Thrill Jockey on RSD 4.20), where a minimal, bass groove literally explodes during the chorus, eventually becoming overwhelmed by a group roar in the sing along and drink along tradition. That’s the first half. The second half, of this seven-minute number, feeds their more artistic impulses, as spoken-word verses are accompanied by scattered drum hits, the occasional strum of a string and a constant hum. It’s not only one of the most epic pieces the trio have ever composed but also adds an exclamation point to the sentences of those who were thrilled when the band first announced they had finished up their leftover material for one more spin of the limited edition variety.
Orange County’s The Lovely Bad Things are right up my alley. They play infectious, hook-driven garage rock, sounding like a mixture of The Soviettes, Pretty Girls Make Graves and The Pixies. They also appeal to the geek in me by referencing Star Wars and Macho Man Randy Savage on three of their song titles. They even have an image of Bigfoot on the album cover.
The Pixies influence is strong on “Fried Eyes” (below) with spoken-word vocals and the laid-back, Kim Deal bass line. “Hear or Anywhere” (also below) the opening track from their new album, The Late Great Whatever, starts the album off right with sugar-sweet female vocals and pounding drums. The Late Great Whatever is out now on Volcom. For all of the analog lovers out there you can get this on cassette as well from Burger Records.
The Lovely Bad Things – Fried Eyes from The Late Great Whatever (2013)
The Lovely Bad Things – Hear or Anywhere from The Late Great Whatever (2013)
Kurt Vile has little use for a diagram of the western pop song. Forget verse, chorus, verse, bridge and coda. There’s the ramble part and the tamble particle and the solo. His voice rises where most would descend, and descends when most vocal melodies would tend to rise. Words are mumbled like Dylan and syllables are stretched in a Philly drawl all his own. So when Vile says this new album of his, Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze, was particularly influenced by Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, one should know better than to expect anything other than another suite of weirdo blues, the likes of which he’s spent the better part of the past five years perfecting.
Lead track, “Wakin on a Pretty Day,” epitomizes the Vile style. A slack guitar melody, played at an early AM speed, sidewinds itself into the listener’s mind as Vile works in measured strides with both careful and carefree guitar solos. His nonchalance is almost striking, especially once you realize part of his pretty day includes an acquaintance threatening suicide and a phone which won’t stop ringing with the news.
Now, with the mood sufficiently set, on this, Vile’s valium album, all that’s left for the listener is to find a place to settle down. A worn couch with a lot of sink would work especially well for tracks like “Was All Talk” and “Girl Called Alex” where guitars and synths, organs and lap steel, gently transmit narcotic warmth through the brain, one vein by one vein. The mid-tempo strummer, “Never Run Away,” is about as animated as Vile gets.
Otherwise, there’s the lush, Appalachian folk melody of “Too Hard,” which evokes foggy mountaintops, lush forests, and the musicians who’ve worked that scenery into their souls, the return of those vintage synths on “Air Bud,” for a round of what I like to call Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, and Cluster, and blue skies, pleasant moods, and sweet grooves forever.
“My God Is the Sun” may not provide us with any breaking insight into the mind of Josh Homme and his Queens of the Stone Age, but six years on from their last release (2007′s Era Vulgaris) it is refreshing to have this hard-charging front man and band back. Granted, your idea of refreshing has to be of the relentless kind. And, a love of speedy, blues guitar helps, too. Yeah, your refresher probably needs some pummel in there, while we’re at it. The rhythm section on “My God is the Sun,” is particularly on point, on this, the first single from Like Clockwork (6/4 on Matador Records). Perhaps, refreshing wasn’t the word I was looking for at all. Something more like fierce would work.