Tag Archives: rock
My Thursday at SXSW started at 6:00am at Reagan National Airport. I had a 7am flight to Austin via Charlotte and was set to touch down at 11:30am. I was only going to be in town for a brief stint so something needed to be sacrificed to maximize the excursion into downtown Austin. I dropped off my backpack, acquired my heading, hit the trail and shortly found myself in a river of bodies on 6th street. Music video shoots, food carts, a guy playing a saw with a violin bow, free music in every bar and makeshift venue for blocks–my head imploded.
As I waited to meet up with some friends for lunch at Chupacabra, something caught my ears: feel-good, raucous rock n’ roll and the voice of a less frantic Pelle Almqvist came blaring out of the open windows of a bar behind me. I stepped inside the Aquarium, cracked open a Lone Star (my first since I had left the state almost five years ago) and sat to soak in riffs raised on some sort of twisted amalgamation of punk, classic rock, and garage rock. I had no idea what their name was, but I was hooked. Turns out they were called Fox and the Law.
Frontman/guitarist/vocalist Guy Keltner informed the crowd of their name after a dazzling display of musicianship, which included blistering solos with big, nitty-gritty tone, grooving basslines and tight drumming. If this was the only band I was going to see at SXSW during my stay in Austin, I would have had no problem with that. Check out Fox And The Law’s album Scarlet Fever here.
Thanks to Victoria VanBruinisse for the above photo.
STREAM: Fox And The Law – “Unbelievable”
If it’s possible to declare a band is back on the basis of two, hand-picked preview tracks, then Primal Scream has done it. The veteran Scottish band has been in the musical wilderness since the release of 2002′s Evil Heat. Both 2006′s Riot City Blues and 2008′s Beautiful Future were misses in the Scream’s hit or miss discography.
“2013,” the first track from their new album, More Light, brought back My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields on guitar. Shields had previously been a member of the band on both Evil Heat and XTRMNTR (2000). Now, “It’s Alright, It’s Ok,” the second preview, reaches even further back, reliving the good vibes of their ’91 breakthrough album, Screamadelica. Sure, there’s the small matter of the eleven songs between the opener (“2013″) and the closing track (“It’s Alright, It’s OK”), but until those eleven tracks prove me otherwise, I’m willing to say, “The Scream are back!” and in a big way. Primal Scream’s More Light will be released May 13th in the UK. A pre-order for US fans is up at the band’s website.
Damn you, Kurt Vile. How am I supposed to write anything critical or snarky about your new single with your young daughter adorably prancing around the screen. You win. You get the free pass. All I can say is, “How cute!” And, Walkin’ on a Pretty Daze, the new album by Kurt Vile is out April 9th on Matador Records.
Next time, you won’t be so lucky.
Your older brother’s favorite fuzz-rockers, Dinosaur Jr., have offered their take on Phoenix‘s new single, “Entertainment.” It seems they’ve fed the original a couple of Ambien; the song goes from arena anthem to a drunken bar room waltz, a song to stumble to as the bar man yells out last call. Stream it below.
STREAM: Dinosaur Jr. – “Entertainment (Phoenix Cover)”
The name Mike Polizze doesn’t carry the same cachet in the underground as such guitar luminaries as J Mascis and Thurston Moore. To date, he’s been a frequent collaborator with his Kensignton neighborhood friend, Kurt Vile, the lead shredder for chooglin’ Philadelphia blues band, Birds of Maya, and the head of his own bedroom rock band, turned power trio, Purling Hiss. Outside of those record geeks whose faces will light up at the mere mention of Birds of Maya, Polizze has operated in anonymity through it all.
Purling Hiss’ Drag City debut should mark the beginning of a much needed correction. For one, unlike previous albums by Purling Hiss (and Birds of Maya), Polizze, Kiel Everett (bass), and Mike Sneeringer (drums) laid down the tracks for what would become Water to Mars in an honest-to-goodness recording studio. This means those killer guitar melodies, once obscured by layers of tape hiss, now come through loud and clear. Sampling only lead track, “Lolita,” one can pick up the sexy swagger of Van Halen, the urgency of Detroit proto-punk, the squawk of New York City noise rock, and the stacks of amps effect favored by the aforementioned J Mascis as Polizze shreds with indifference.
Then, there’s the new found focus Polizze shows as a songwriter. Fifteen minute jam-a-thons are rad, and those rad, fifteen minute jam-a-thons can still be heard on Birds of Maya records. Here, as on, “Mercury Retrograde,” Polizze prefers a more economical methodology, with the rambling guitar sound of weirdo Philly blues sequestered to the bridge. There’s a song to sing, too.
Later, “Rat Race,” further streamlines Purling Hiss into a lean, power pop machine, albeit one with some speedily picked guitar riffs, and Diamond Dave Polizze makes a return, now with even more wah-wah, on “Face Down.”
Granted, there are times when Purling Hiss take unnecessary detours on their way to recognition, as they do on the slacker folk, one-two of “Dead Again” and “She Calms Me Down.” Being one of the underground’s premier guitarists and one of its premier songwriters are two distinct propositions. Polizze has earned his place in the discussion when it comes to the former. He has some work to do on the latter.
Thankfully, there’s the street-tough, ramble tamble of the title track, “Water on Mars,” to put everything in perspective. After all, this review started with the thesis of Polizze being an underrated shredder. Seven-and-a-half minutes of screech, interlaced with evil-genius death rays and ’70s-styled boogie rock solos should cement his rep. He is an unpredictable soloist willing to work with the entirety of Rock ‘N’ Roll history within one song. Few, if any, can do this as seamlessly, as convincingly, and with as much passion as Polizze.