Canadian singer-songwriter Tess Parks has recently released a fabulous album titled Blood Hot, which has come out on 359 Records (the new label from Creation Records founder Alan McGee). Tess is a Toronto native who spent some time in London and then relocated to Canada and formed a cracking band that not only understands the vibe of her songs but adds a very creative and unique way of presenting them.
Tess' songs are rooted in simplicity in a way that brings to mind not only folk music (she is on record as being a massive fan of Dylan and Elliott Smith), but also adds a droning, hypnotic psychedelic element that is uber appealing in a Velvet Underground/ Brian Jonestown Massacre/ Mazzy Star kind of way. Modern psychedelic folk rock? YES, please!
Unfortunately, the album isn't available on vinyl, but there's a fantastic limited edition 45 that IS (get it here).
'Someday' is so catchy it just gets rooted deep into the brain and I certainly don't want it to leave; it's the kind of song that can stay in your head all day and not be annoying- in fact, it just makes me wanna hear it again and again.
The flip side, 'Let's Sing This Song', (which isn't on the album) is just as great, and turns up the hypnotic factor with some fantastic slow motion guitar bends and super sensual vocals.
What makes it all even more fantastic is that Tess is only 23 years old- just when it's easy to feel jaded that the younger folks aren't 'getting it', along comes a talent that *does*. I for one can't wait to see what the future holds for this artist. Stellar stuff!
A rare LP from 1964 from Lightnin' Hopkins entitled "Lightnin's In Town." We will listen to the whole LP. Sam John Hopkins (1912-1982), better known as Lightnin’ Hopkins, was an American country blues singer, songwriter, guitarist and occasional pianist, from Houston, Texas. Also - 1950's "Extended Play" 45s by Chuck Berry and Elvis. Hosted by Spike Priggen. Link.WGXC.org
Certain aspects of music got VERY strange in the late '60's-early '70's; changing sounds and trends brought about big changes in the type of records that were pushed as hit singles.
Records intended for the AM radio market cranked up the ODD-ometer, and some downright FREAKY tracks were released which never became hits but survive as relics from a very different age. An age where remnants of the psychedelic sound mated with bubblegum songcraft and a pinch of the 'HEAVY' rock (without the ...'n' roll) fused together.
First up in this installment is River Deep's 'Take A Ride', which is essentially 2:35 of very dirty innuendo on top of a high energy beat track. This appears to be the only record by River Deep, so I'm assuming they were a studio concoction (as were so many of these types of records).
Next up we have 'Neurotic Reaction' from a German band (called Die Anderson) that was re-named Kannibal Komix for the US market. The track (1970) reminds me of the music that I remember hearing in low budget films from the era that had a ubiquitous LSD-bad-trip scene that would show on UHF TV Saturday afternoons when I was a kid. Records like this also kind of fall into a proto-glam category, as they would fit right in with the danceable rock tracks that became the mode de rigeur of the glam scene.
While I've had the Plant & See 45 in my collection for a long time, I had no idea until this morning any details about the band. It turns out that their lone LP (from which this 45 was taken from in 1969) has been recently reissued by Light In The Attic Records, and the group history is fascinating. Vocalist and songwriter Willie Lowery was a Native American (he passed away in 2012), the drummer was a black man (the incredible Forris Fulford, who defies gravity with his drumming here), the bass player Latino (Ron Seiger), and a lady backing vocalist (Carol Fitzgerald). The track sure does COOK, and it's yet another variation on the 'Foxy Lady' rhythm (itself a variation of the old bump 'n' grind) that was heard on so many of these types of records.
Phew...The always creative and inspiring Brian Jonestown Massacre main man Anton Newcombe has come up with a pair of exceptional single releases, both of which came out at the end of 2013. Unfortunately, one of them was limited to 200 copies and only sold at destinations on their 12/13 Australian tour (a huge thank you to my friend and bandmate Joel Gion who brought one home for me); however, the featured track will most likely be on their next album (which Anton has been sharing publically on youtube and vimeo as a work in progress for the last 7 months or so).
Revolution Number Zero is a lovely double 7" 45 packaged in a dual pocket gatefold and pressed on grey vinyl- SUPER cool! The single reprises the incredible 'Vihollisent Maala' from the amazing 2012 LP Aufheben, in both its album version (sung by a haunting and hypnotic female voice in Finnish) and an alternate version in English. Anton tends to work alone and with guests at his own studio in berlin, but this track was written in collaboration with on again-off again BJM member Matt Hollywood. The other track on the single, 'Don't Say A Thing' is great, too; but you'll just have to buy the single to get that one.
'Days, Weeks, and Moths' is featured on a split single with London based band The KVB (who turn in a very cool dark wave sounding track on the flipside), and this song is practically a modern blues song, proving that the genre can still stay relevant without resorting to white men in flame patterened shirts making funny, pained faces and spouting out lyrical and musical cliches. Anton's guitar solo here is pure soul, and the lyrics are universal and straight to the gut. While this single is practically un-obtanium, the song is sure to be one of many highlights on the upcoming BJM album.
It is far and few that I strongly recommend a Pop record achievement from my own country but, here is one of those rare instances when I strongly do; it is nothing short of a mini-masterpiece, the one time collaboration between famous Tarantino "Death Proof" movie soundtrack recording star, April March (in her world known cover of Swingin' Mademoiselle Ye Ye queen France Gall's Serge Gainsbourg-penned "Laisse Tomber les Filles" : "Chick Habit" that was even used later for a national Renault French car advertising campaign)... and French Indie Avant-rock band, Aquaserge, from the southern provincial town of Toulouse, up to here an excellent Robert Wyatt-era Soft Machine influenced combo. Excellent... which in itself is a rare instance among the French indie rock and pop scene enough to mention!
Of course we lost one of the greatest a little over a week ago; Phil Everly had the voice of an angel, and his massive body of recorded work with his brother Don is some of the greatest music ever recorded by anyone, anywhere.
From the beginning, the brothers recorded output beautifully merged Appalachian harmonies with rock n roll music for something that is 100% original, and was a massive influence on so many artists that followed their lead. In a move that could only have been fate, The Everly's moved from Cadence Records (the home of their '50's hits) to Warner Brothers Records in 1960. The hits continued for a few years (including their biggest, 'Cathy's Clown'), eventually the group was swept by the wayside by newer sounds (specifically the British Invasion, which owed so much to the pioneering work of The Everlys). However, during the mid-60's, the group branched out and mated their patented sound to R&B (the equisite Beat And Soul and Rock And Soul LP's, 1965), and a brilliant LP which found the group backed by The Hollies and fully adopting the Mod sound (Two Yanks In England, 1966). During this time, the once stodgy Warner Brothers label recast itself as THE hip label for cutting edge music, and 1967 releases from The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Grateful Dead and The Electric Prunes (to name a few) cemented that image fully in place. The Everlys were ready to embrace the underground, and they did so beautifully on their 1968 releases.
'Lord Of The Manor' may very well be the most avant garde single EVER released by a major hitmaking group- any chances of commercial success are non-existant with a song that waits more than :35 before the lead vocals come in; and OH, those voices! Don turns in one of his most soulful lead vocals, while Phil soars gorgeously through a lyric that takes on class struggle in a gently poetic way. And yes, that IS the ending.
The flip side, 'Milk Train', is a more traditional sound but still puts one giant step forward for the groups' creativity for a beautiful example of country fried soul.
The Everlys' 1968 LP release (Roots) is a major high point in recorded music, and in my opinion easily rates within the 50 best LP's ever made if I were to compile such a list. Under the brilliant arranger of Beau Brummels guitarist/ songwriter Ron Elliott, this album matched the Everlys' sound with heavy doses of tasteful psychedelia and heavier rock and in turn created one of the first and (in my opinion) best LP that can be filed under the genre country rock.
For a single release, the wah-wah drenched and flat out barn burning 'T For Texas' (the wildly rearranged adaptation of Jimmie Rodgers' 'Blue Yodel No 1') was coupled with 'I Wonder If I Care As Much', itself a radically rearranged version of the flip side to the Everlys' first hit, 'Bye Bye Love'. On the LP, these two songs are cross faded together, and while that's a lovely bit of production brilliance from Lenny Waronker, it's nice to hear the tracks on their own as well (and in mono mixes to boot).
Get your motor runnin', Head out on the highway, Looking for adventure... Heavy metal thunder, Racing in the wind, And the feeling that I'm under...
Now, that's what immediately comes in mind when listening to their music, the lyrics of that Steppenwolf anthem... 'cause it is Biker music, not the later Hard Rock Café FM ZZ Top variety but of a more Psychedelic, Heavier, earlier brand.
A few months ago, I came accross Paul Green on Facebook, one of the guys behind the cult British Psych' and Freakbeat ISSS compilation series : "Incredible Sound Show Stories", and now he was relaunching his "Astonishing Sound Show Stories" project, a new series catered to the more modern bands of that nature (of whom one of my previous bands : "Bang!" song was selected for the first volume of the series which sadly stayed at demo stage... ); his newly updated label has two standard-bearing bands : The Darryl Read Group and... The Levitating Churches. The latter having their new album out, Paul asked me to investigate them especially.
Now the best to describe themselves and their music would be to faithfully reproduce the words to their press sheet 'cos it pretty much sez it all :
"Levitating Churches was formed early in 2011 in Melbourne, Ausratralia as a live vehicle for the recordings of band leader, singer and guitarist Matt Alien formally of NZ garage-rock legends Slavetrader and The Hi-Tone Destroyers.
The band consisting of Dave, Matt, Grant and Shaun gleaned their name from a miss-heard Roky Erickson lyric ("learning temples meditating churches", from the song "White Faces" ) and draws inspiration from not only Roky but bands such as Dead Moon, Radio Birdman and Hawkwind to name just a few.
Thus far, Levitating Churches have self-released one 7" (fuckblues b/w cry a little harder ) and their debut self-titled 12" album. The band are currently working on their 2nd vinyl album which they plan to also release on their own "no squares or hippies" label.
Levitating Churches have no plans to release their music on compact disc but all of their recordings are available for free download on their bandcamp page."
There. Now take a look at them live here and see if you would want them to play in your town nearby... I would go see them for one if they'd come to my town! ;-)