Friday, November 20, 2009

Lee Harvey Osmond A Quiet Evil Review

original article from The Aquarian

Marinate the members of Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, Cowboy Junkies, and Skydiggers. Then sauté their folk rock flavors together in a black cauldron of spooky malevolence, and you’ll end up with a pot of beatnik hippies, who could sound anywhere from Kenny G to Shawn Mullins and still be considered cool.

Lee Harvey Osmond’s new album A Quiet Evil combines elements of folk, country, soul, blues, and indie rock to enjoy on an early Sunday morning. With the slide guitar, cello, harmonica, and Tom Wilson’s tender baritone voice, it’s a nice ensemble of silky melodies. “The Love of One” is the best track on the record due to its soulful organ and smooth vocal harmonies between frontman Wilson and guest vocalist Suzie Vinnick, who sounds a lot like Emmylou Harris. “Lucifer’s Blues” starts off with a spoken word and quickly goes into a catchy Jack Johnson-like song with jangly guitars and bongos. Most of the songs have a laid-back country vibe to them, but not so soothing that it’ll put you to sleep.

A Quiet Evil doesn’t go overboard with its ensembles. Even with all the instruments featured on the album, Lee Harvey Osmond balance them throughout the whole album so it wouldn’t sound like a train wreck of jam solos all on one track. The album is consistent with its moonshine-fueled tone, dark ambiance, and quixotically keeps you on your feet with a downy, velvet sound.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Cult at The Wellmont

original article from The Aquarian

MONTCLAIR, NJ- I remember first buying the album Love by The Cult. It wasn’t 1985, but I probably did have too much hairspray and eyeliner on at the time. I knew a couple of their hits and liked Ian Astbury’s ruffled shirts, so I figured it’d be a good filler record to have in my collection. Instead of lumping it with the rest of the fillers that made few trips to my turntable, it ended up getting listened to repeatedly. So when I saw that The Cult was playing their entire Love album at The Wellmont Theatre, I was curious to see what these guys sound like after forming 26 years ago.

No opening band? Awesome! Starting the show close to an hour and a half late? Eh! I wished there was an opening band instead of hearing the same five songs on loop over the speakers. I did however enjoy listening to the grandpa Goths talk about seeing Southern Death Cult “back in the day.” It sucks being born around three decades too late.

They did a great job playing through Love. “Hollow Man” sounded enormous and the crowd roared once “She Sells Sanctuary” started. Pleasing fans with other hits such as “Fire Woman” and “Wild Flower, The Cult played a solid set of guitar howls, crooning vocals, and sultry bass lines. Ian Astbury looked like “L.A. Women” era Jim Morrison with his grizzly beard, but his vocals haven’t aged a bit. Even though he looks nothing like he did in the ‘80s, he did have on leather gloves and a raccoon tail hanging by his hip. Guitarist Duffy blew me away with his echoed solos and white holy body guitar that looked bigger than he was.
Though I was expecting Astbury’s infamous tribal hip shakes, instead he complained about how the concrete stage was giving him pain from his recent hip surgery and commanding the Wellmont to use the stage lights instead of the spotlight. What a rock star! The psychedelic video in the backdrop of nature, people, and trippy effects made the show better and livened up the lack of movement from the band. By the end of the show, Astbury threw the tambourine he was playing into the crowd, Duffy threw a bunch of picks, and the overpriced beer fueled crowd went nuts over them. Let’s hear it for big hair, leather, and combat boots!

According to Ian Astbury, there are rumors of The Cult going into the studio soon, so hopefully they’ll have a new album out within the next year or two.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Volcano Choir New Album Unmap

original article from The Aquarian

The word volcano conjures thoughts of hot lava engulfing buildings, ruining cities, and leaving nothing but dust. So with a name like Volcano Choir, wouldn’t you expect a huge explosion of sound powerful enough to melt your face off? Sadly, this Wisconsin band is a bunch of indie rockers that have probably snorted too much dust making their looping melodies and moaning vocals.

Unmap sounds like a bunch of whales talking to each other while listening to ambient synthesizer music. Some tracks abruptly end instead of smoothly transitioning into each other and have lots of tone clusters. “Cool Knowledge” starts off well with some awesome throat singing, but is quickly ruined with the cat-like vocals that come in, but I probably only liked that track because of its short length. The vocals that sound the best are on the song “Still,” but it’s because they use auto-tune. The rest of the album is uncanny reverberations of gobbledygook accompanied by whispering vocals.

Though Unmap does have a euphoric sound at some points, it’s ruined with nasally vocal harmonies, unpleasant popping percussion, and weird spacey sampling. The whole ambient thing is about being avant-garde and different, but it’s no good when you end up sounding like a strung out zombie singing Radiohead.

photo by / CC BY-NC 2.0

Talk Normal New Album Sugarland

original article from The Aquarian

It’s like every time I turn my head, there’s another artsy noise band of Brooklyn transplants jamming a drumstick against something to make a fresh weird sound. They either went to art school there or moved from somewhere in the Midwest to try to get a job at Academy Records or Beacon’s Closet. Talk Normal are a female No Wave duo from BK that sound like a mix of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Cop Shoot Cop, but they lack something that both of those bands have: good songs.

Their new album Sugarland is anything but sweet. It has a very loud chaotic sound, accompanied by the whiney vocals of Sarah Register and Andrya Ambro. The vocals on “Hot Song” sound exactly like Kim Gordon’s whispering voice and it’s the soundest song on the album thanks to the dancey drumbeats and catchy fuzzed guitar. The vocals and drumming on “River’s Edge” are drowned out by a vast high-pitched guitar squeal. The album ends with the track “Outside,” which features a really bad saxophone solo and industrial-like sounds in the background. Though this may be what Talk Normal wanted, their music is never steady and feels like a hurricane of racket that’s never going to end.

It’s annoying when noise bands like Talk Normal have every intention of being one of a kind, but end up sounding like every other new and hip noise band. Though they do set themselves apart by being women, they can’t play that card after hearing their music.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Volbeat ... Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood

original article in The Aquarian
Volbeat can’t seem to make up their mind. They could easily be poppunk thanks to their vocal harmonies and chewy pop melodies, metal because of their breakdowns of thrash guitar riffs, one of those radio friendly hard rock bands, or rockabilly due to Michael Poulsen’s doo-wop styled vocals. Fusing the esthetic of Queens of The Stone Age and No Use For A Name, this Danish rock band’s genre jumping annoying and overdone.

Their new album Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood starts off with a clunky resonator playing bluesy riffs and quickly goes into their hard rock title track, which introduces the ‘50s theme of the album. “Back To Prom” features hopeless romantic lyrics with catchy poppunk bass lines and “Wild Rover of Hell” is a thrash metal song that injects pleasing vocal harmonies during the breakdowns. By themselves the songs are okay, but as a whole it doesn’t work. Though the graphic novel/ film noir theme was a good idea, it doesn’t make any sense without the specific explanations before the lyrics in the booklet.

Though Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood may appeal to a wide audience because they sound like a twist of AFI and Johnny Cash, it ends up sounding like a mush of different tracks with the same lead singer. Poulsen’s voice is really powerful and clean, but the vocals aren’t rugged and rough enough to match with the band’s shadowy melodies.
no good no good no good!