Friday, August 07, 2009

Various - Teenage Heaven: The Fifties Girl Group Phenomenon
El

Thirty-something collection of teenage vamps and those lovin' in vain providing samples of the tear-jerking tales of heartbreak as true (truer) and fundamentally, painfully real as any grizzled been-round-the block-so-many-times-they've-got-their-own-heel-shaped-star-in-the-pavement country singer, shot through with their legendary, scarily all too believable and palpable doomed romanticism. So we get a few songs each of lying, loving and will he won't he laments and doo-wopping lessons in love from The Shirelles, The Chantels, The Bobbettes and others lesser savoured by history but no less appealing - The Tonettes, The Joytones, The Poin-Tails, Threeteens (with the acely punning Doo-Waddie - as in 'Do what he tells you...' and almost Shonen Knife-like Elvis joins the army elegy Dear 533-10761)...yeah, The Ronnettes, The Crystals and Shangri-La's are very conspicuous and glaring omissions, assumedly due to the old licensing issues but this is still a grand old low-budget romp with a bulging barnet that would make Kate Pierson & Cindy Wilson go back to go and commence the shake all over again, which is a nice little link to their rightly stating the influence and inspiration these girls had on the punk scene a timely fifteen or so years later (like The Shirelles' I Want You To Be My Boyfriend). Remorselessly lovely, full of misplaced innocence, knowing sorrows, glorious harmonies, heart-wrenching cuteitudes a go go, alongside some garrulously glammed up grin-smacking slaps such as The Bobbettes' Mr. Lee and Look At The Stars. When all's said, sung and undone, if these doesn't make your chest ache and heart pound and guts swirl pleasantly there's really not much hope for you.
Stu Gibson
Green Moon Sparks - Rebel With A Curse
Drunkabilly

This Quasimodo quartet from Italy are here to pummel into your brains that psychobilly is / was centred around fun and not the po-faced cliquery you might find on your travels through clip joints and cliche pits that've been popping up all over and around your conurbations like a damn plague, or rash. Sure, they aren't re-writing the book of smells and curses on this first round quite yet, but neither are they regurgitating same old billy from the burial pit as they take some of the bonkers or balls to it bite-ality of Frantic Flintstones (expecially their current Psycho Samba My Way, also on Drunkabilly), have a singer (Popo) that surely chews fire then slurps from the same vats of spark-plug juice as well, Sparky or Lightning Beat-Man, miring mariachi horns in their triumphant concoction of mayhem trumpets on Troubled Love Song, or stoned wino spaghetti western on Mexican Disease, country hay-bale moon howling on Loser with some disorderly guitar splutterings that'll go straight to your head and induce clod-hopping clumsy dancing that'd make a toothless Tucson tractor driver guffaw, nail your head to the wall with real deal train-derailing hoodoo drum mad hatter clatterings and elsewhere pilfer the riff from Depeche Mode's Enjoy The Silence on (With A) Demon Inside branding it to the backside of your withering bride. The guitars could be cranked up higher though in giving it a demo quality it manages to add to the crazed six in the morning atmosphere as muscles retract into your bones as the toxins take their leave. A whole wedge of gurning, teeth rotting fun, no matter how sticky the carpet and a flat-top amply bedecked with much up top.
Stu Gibson
Dex Romweber Duo - Ruins Of Berlin
Bloodshot

If you're an advocate of Jack White and all he holds dear then this becomes a necessary exploration through the avowed influence of this pioneer of stripped back garage-surf-rockabilly-whatsitcore from his twenty years of solo albums and Flat Duo Jets before that. However, should you be generally derisive of the wobbly haired, warbly one then don't despair by that news, as this episode of sultry class should not be similarly dismissed. This debut (with sister Sara of Snatches Of Pink on drums) is a darkly enthralling gospel of salvation, sin and wild at heart woe and wonder. From the ravaged surf opener to the Weimar cha cha of Lover's Gold, the exqusite ramshackle creepy shit-kick love ode Picture Of You and Camelia's Gone (Let It Snow) that would furrow Nick Cave's brow with intense palpiatations - Oh Lover's Gone likewise, though ol' Lenny C woulda beaten him to the ball, all told, it's a roll call of ragged glory, a spine-spangling gallery with fleeting reflections of Link Wray and Roy Orbison through to the air of preternaural realisation of Jeffrey Lee Pierce channelling Sun studio Elvis, Dex's voice is a resonant beast that croons and quivers then roars and tears at words like a, well, like a jack on fire perhaps. With a trio of lovely helpers in the guise of Cat Power (on a slinky squirmy Love Letters), Exene Cervenka and Neko Case (on a lovely lilt-a-whirl Still Around) cropping up on a trio of songs like three furies to calm the dirty water Dex's soul swims and sinks in, this is one cinematically enchanting, rapturously twisted cabaret to write home about. And not just yours. Almost incomprehensibly astounding. A truly authentic railroad to the real.
Stu Gibson
GHz - There's Trouble Coming
New Door Productions

An album of mainly Cream covers, a coupla originals, a Hendrix and a Doors one comprises a confusing and curious exercise. Really, what's the point? Apparently these chaps are well-established dudes on the DC blues circuit. All well and good, but why oh why conduct another business-like stroll through some fine tunes. What became of fucking things up a bit, musician should equal maverick not meandering through slick tributaries that have had any trace of slime and dirt sucked out. It's superbly played and produced and so on and shares some traits with Clapton, that of being an absolute waste of talent. Twenty-five years sweating it out together surely should summon up some inspiration, though it seems not and fuckaluckadingDONG lalalalalala but all too much like something done to showcase some studio effects or to give away at a seminar on the benefits of some new brand of six-string bass. That is, resolutely, none.
Stu Gibson
Ricky Warwick - Belfast Confetti
DR2

'I'm gonna put on my boots I'm gonna ditch my plans
I'm gonna fuck it all up in the promised land' - Can't Wait For Tomorrow

'So if your baby leaves you lonely and your heart begins to pine
For those rainy summer nights drunk on Buckfast tonic wine' - The Arms Of Belfast Town

A few years back Mr 'Almighty' Ricky Warwick not so much reinvented as stripped his sound down, kicked the stacks out the window, hot-wired an acoustic and brought out Tattoos & Alibis and Love Many Trust Few. He'd evidently stumbled into 'em or long had a lingering urge to pick up the muscular bluegrass biker country that Steve Earle once gloried in in pre-crack den rampaging past arrest warrants police-battering glory days (before the post crack-den rampaging...you get it...well 'cept for lately, alas, but that's quite another tirade...). Now, after a wee Almighty reformation a year or so back, here's album number three. And absolutely fucking colossal it is too, deposit the verbiage in the backseat for some educational replenishment in the fine art of passionate song dispersement. A surface simple, straightforward treat, the scowl that growled through the storm-summoning boogie of Wild And Wonderful and Full Force Lovin' Machine possesses abundant soul for these subtly complex and lyrical songs of love, liquor, lonesomeness and...fighting...on all levels. The atmospheric Angel Of Guile is a poetic discourse that Tyla used to vouch for but now vacillates and aches over, recalling Springsteen at his most exquisite, and even Mike Scott -see also the raggle-taggle tin-whistle trans-Atlantic paean / lament The Arms Of Belfast Town which is just about song of the year off album of the year. Born Fightin' could sit comfortably at a table with the titles from Earle's Train A Comin' but you'd find it perfectly acceptable, not crudely cheeky at all, for it to decline the invitation any godamn, undarned sock, way it wanted. You can hear the engine still roaring, see the fingers picking, behind joyous bar-toppling, table-throwing fuck it all and fuck it no regrets opener Can't Wait For Tomorrow and arms aloft Nebraska-fied Punchin' Thunder as well as the suggestion of some Radar Love soliciting you on the title track.
Stu Gibson
NB - RW tours with Love / Hate and Therapy? in Autumn, has to be seen.
Johnny Lima - Livin' Out Loud
Shock Pop

Wild stallion rocker Lima takes a break from his apparently much praised production and writing work to offload an entirely telegraphed retread through mid-late eighties chart bilge of the Bon Jovi and Def Leppard tradition thought beaten. I love my old hats but this is too much an exercise in pastiche and cliche - capiche? - no matter how long you been round, paying your dues with a colossal interest rate. Every little signifier is shoe-horned into it's right place, and any personality or identifiable traits pressed out like it'd been constructed by a cut 'n' paste A&R king, which with it's airbrushed genre perfection almost sorta makes it like Girls Aloud et al. Anyway, nevermind (haha) there may be some scantily clad Back In Black moments with choruses the size of the Capitol Records tower mushrooming outta their lap with verses that are repaving Sunset Boulevard as we speak, or screech, but you can get mucho primo AC/DC gristle on their albums, or maybe even a cheap Great White one in a skip outside some provincial town's record store's closing down sale. Maybe his studio work meant he was able to snaffle some old Desmond Child out-takes for this sure does scream like it fucking loves it for an Appetite to come and place it's masochistic fist in pertinent places...but what with the inexpliacle rise of copycat kak that could never hold their tongue out to the great title of Trash there may well be many a spandex-spanner bandana wearing buffoon plus a few Crue, Leppard and fuck, Bulletboys devotees to lick it up. Just buy Night Songs from amazon and be done and gone.
Stu Gibson
Abandoned Souls - Some Never Will
Fiend

Canadian Power metal sludge-trudge troupe beholden to Pantera, the ultimate shit Black Album, possibly Alice In Chains and slight leanings to Soundgarden and even nu-metal, clock in with second album. What do you mean you know the score? On the positive side there are some gut-gnawing deaths-head grind-riffs on proud display and one of those big rock voices that seem to be all the rage yet seem possessed of as much personality as a lumberjack with vertigo and resemble severe constipation. The weighty lyrics appear po-faced rather than treatises in revelatory depth-plumbing ('What's with the hole in the sky / I can't see it I just went blind / From the dollar sign'). Heavy as it may be it doesn't have the necessary underlying, never mind blatant, currents of haywire mania and convulsive, compulsively magnetic unpredictability that will pull, and plug, you in and keep you locked and loaded like seventies Ozzy.
Stu Gibson
The Meteors - Kings Of Psychobilly
Anagram / Cherry Red

Five disc retrospective splice dice of infectious invective and knife-fetish monstrous head-fuck horror songs the chainsaw crazy axe-men taught 'em from the chemical overload studios of Frantic Fenech and whatever frenetic cohorts he could stake into position for a few singles and a tour or two. There's much interchangeable pounding and chest-beating boogie strewn amongst some great alien snatch sci-fi psycho splatter titles like I Go To Bed With The Undead, Cecil Drives A Combine Harvester, Spinebender, film tributes like Here's Johnny, Michael Myers and Hills Have Eyes, ghoul romances with Wanna Make A Monster and tongue-pulling punnery with Sewertime Blues and The Loneliness Of A Long Distance Killer - the latter squished through the fast closing door towards the end of the final disc along with the bewilderingly emotive You Ain't Right that are raw open wound examples of the gonzoid mariachi surf that Oberstgruppenfuhrer Fenech has come to excel at, chomping 'em out like a suausage grinder on both Meteors and solo albums.
Largely exhumed from the mass grave of stuff they did for old UK indie Anagram this is bookended with early classics Voodoo Rhythm and Wrecking Crew and gouges out a few knuckular distrophic examples of tortuous twang from the recent albums they've done with People Like You - Hymns For The Hellbound, These Evil Things and Hell Train Rollin' - easily amongst their best releases, interestingly / coincidentally when Fenech's started to embody the splattermania of the songs ever more fervently and believably. If you're still on the fence, horror music (that means you, Misfits et al) don't get much better, whether the playground posturing of who coined the term and who's more psycho than everyone else, so you could do much worse than get this, though doing worse is fun, just watch who walks out the shadows past the fence.
Stu Gibson
Magnolia Summer - Lines From The Frame
Undertow

This slice of deliciously insistent wistfulness from Chris Grabau’s St Louis ensemble resembles the more finely appointed Jayhawks releases such as Tomorrow The Green Grass, steering clear of roads leading to the larger bland jangle towns of REM territory. Less brash but by no means less confident than pre-luude Big Star power-pop, twinklesome pedal steel shades sad-eyes that still scan new horizons, incisive guitars crash through waves of harmonies on rockier trails like To Better Days, Pulling Phase To Ground and Wrong Chords - purely vocally several heartbeats must burn in honour of the duet with Kelly Kneiser on Birds Without A Wire, while strings smooth out the turbulence to scale majestic heights rather than the mundane melancholy that would be the most many could summon. Sure to become a classic case of the rewards unwrapped when you take time to strike up a conversation with, then listen to, the quiet ones in the corner. Not much shy of essential.
Stu Gibson
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