Riley Moore – Vagrant (CD)

There is seems to be a strong sense of inauthenticity with the vast number of bands who are suddenly unplugging their guitars and calling themselves “Americana” now. But soon enough, another genre will come along and be ripe for exploitation. And when it does, you can bet Riley Moore, a refreshingly genuine voice in the Americana/Folk movement, will still be playing his brand of no frills, but deeply satisfying music from that genre. Continue reading “Riley Moore – Vagrant (CD)”

The Alarm – Equals

Over the past several years, when not on their seemingly endless global tour, Mike Peters and his bandmates have been busy breathing new life into old classics. First came the 30th anniversary of their debut, “Declaration,” which saw the songs re-interpreted and re-recorded for a new decade, followed quickly by “Peace Train,” another series of re-recordings, this time of lesser known B-Sides. But, after an eight-year break, the band is finally back with a new studio record comprised entirely of new material. “Equals,” the result, is a strong addition to the band’s cannon. Continue reading “The Alarm – Equals”

U2 – Achtung Baby, Zooropa and The Best of 1980-1990 (Vinyl)

U2 is the latest in line to get the re-release treatment on vinyl and the occurrence serves as a great reminder of the band’s ability to redefine their style again and again.

Their latest records to get a proper 180-gram double LP treatment are 1991’s Achtung Baby, 1993’s Zooropa and their first of two hits packages, “The Best of 1980-1990”. Achtung Baby was their first proper studio album in four years, following up the phenomenally successful Joshua Tree (the in between record, Rattle and Hum, a hybrid live album/documentary soundtrack, was quickly written off by many fans and critics at the time as little more than a placeholder). The band made a calculated, if risky decision not to simply remake Joshua Tree, rather they took a step away from their more obvious American rock influences for a more European feel. Recorded in Berlin, the comparisons to late ‘70s Bowie are obvious and though not exactly a dance record, there is a bi move toward electronic music with this album. Though not quite as big a seller as Joshua Tree, it is still a remarkably satisfying record, having spawned a slew of songs that would go on to become U2 staples like “Even Better Than the Real Thing,” “Mysterious Ways,” “Whose Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses,” and “One”.

Zooropa, initially planned as an EP, morphed into a full-fledged album and continued the band’s move into separating themselves from their earlier, more Americana/rock-based sound. Reflecting the band’s polarizing Zoo TV Tour, where Bono debuted his smarmy “The Fly” character, Zooropa is crammed with themes of technology and sensory overload and that’s reflected not only in the lyrics, but the synth-heavy music itself. Though still a great album, Zooropa lacks both lasting singles and suffers from a bit from its rushed nature. Continue reading “U2 – Achtung Baby, Zooropa and The Best of 1980-1990 (Vinyl)”

The Lords of the New Church – The Lords of the New Church: Special Edition (CD)

Arguably one of the best punk rock/goth supergroups of all time, The Lords of the New Church was sadly close to being forgotten by an entire generation. Comprised of Dead Boys singer Stiv Bators, Brian James from the Damned, Sham 69’s Dave Tregunna, The Barracuda’s Nick Turner and occasionally the Damned’s Rat Scabies, the band’s fantastic 1982 self-titled debut mixed punk rock, British goth and some of the earliest hints of industrial music, all crammed into a tight 10 songs. You can hear their influence all over bands like Gene Loves Jezebel and Flesh For Lulu. And despite the influence of that album, you had to do some digging online to get a copy. Continue reading “The Lords of the New Church – The Lords of the New Church: Special Edition (CD)”

Great Lakes – Dreaming Too Close to the Edge

It’s been decades since the Elephant Six Collective was founded on a shared love for 1960s pop, but many of the scene veterans are still just as vital years later. You need look no further than the latest by Great Lakes – the Brooklyn by way of Athens, GA indie pop band – for proof. Continue reading “Great Lakes – Dreaming Too Close to the Edge”

One Man’s Madness (DVD)

Over the years, the music documentary genre has become fairly predictable. There’s the childhood background story, the rise and ultimate fall of the musician or band (usually a result of drugs, inter-band squabbles or changing musical trends), followed by the relaunch after years of soul searching, all told though interviews with those close to the band. VH1 set up the template years ago with Behind the Music and a whole generation of filmmakers seems to be on autopilot recreating it again and again.

But, thankfully the British ska band Madness, who’ve bucked convention from the very beginning, continue their streak of non-conformity and bring it to the band doc. Platform.

One Man’s Madness, a documentary about Lee Thompson, co-founder of the band, their sax player and one of their chief songwriters, is an exercise in creativity. Yes, the doc is littered with interviews, everyone from Lee’s family, his bandmates and various managers, but you never see these folks until the final minutes of the film. Instead, Thompson, dressed in various costumes and wigs, lip synchs (sometimes horribly) the audio from each interview.

The ridiculousness of this spectacle is enjoyably compelling, at times laugh out loud funny and perfectly in line with what Madness as a band have stood for since the late ‘70s – irreverent, creative and above all else, fun.

One Man’s Madness/80 Mins./Cadiz Music/2018 / 

Cowboy Junkies – All That Reckoning

Margo Timmins is one of just a handful of singers, alongside Nick Cave, PJ Harvey and the late Leonard Cohen, who consistently manage to take vulnerability and emotional rawness and translate it into powerfully moving records time and time again. “All That Reckoning,” the Canadian band’s latest, is certainly no exception. Continue reading “Cowboy Junkies – All That Reckoning”

The Nude Party – The Nude Party (CD)

Jesus, who knew it would take a band of 20-somethings to perfectly, organically resurface the vibe of ‘70s rock – from the swagger of the Stones to the swamp funk of Leon Russell – for the modern era. Continue reading “The Nude Party – The Nude Party (CD)”