New Releases: Monsters, Men hitting the right Fever Dream mixBy MIK DAVIS,
Something can be said for the global music market drumming up a band like this Icelandic quintet. Following in the footsteps of Bjork and The Sugarcubes, "Fever Dream" feels like American Modern Rock whose portions have been adjusted. Lead singer Nanna has grown husky and more powerful during their 10 years. So she and the booming drums hit the mix right upfront ("Alligator").
Elsewhere, the focus on Folk (which made them unique) has all but disappeared under Rich Costey's Muse-like production. "Wild Roses" sounds like the National minus the bellow, its massive chorus should earn them a trip to the Top 40.
Micah Nelson is the other of Willie's sons. Unlike brother, Lukas, (whose record this year is truly underrated), Micah is enamored with textured Rock and making his own music out of the distinct drone of British Folk. He surprises with the Dinosaur Jr. chug of "Stroboscopic Light" while "Still Going" is late ‘80s College Jangle turned into ‘90s confessional Rock. "Window Rock" indicates that Micah is willing to blur lines between the past and present to make music that will secure his future.
Tall, Dark and Handsome
(LP/CD)(Hot Shot/Thirty Tigers)
Let's face it. Delbert McClinton should be a national treasure. He has been on hit records since he was 11 (his harmonica is the one that defines the legendary Beach Music hit "Hey Baby"), and now at 79 can still set them up and knock them down. First and foremost, he has long been the songwriter's songwriter. Never one to write seriously, sure. However, he has rarely re-written himself ("Two Bottles of Wine," a Country No. 1 for Emmylou Harris), while still carrying the wit and wisdom in bawdy songs like "Let's Get Down Like We Used To." Much like his late-period records, McClinton and the Self Made Men stretch a scintillating shuffle out of "If I Hock My Guitar." Sure, there's no "Givin' It Up For Love" (No. 8, 1980) or a monster songwriting find like "Every Time I Roll The Dice," (No. 13 Rock, 1992) but McClinton can swing, toss out that Jump Blues and even pull some Jazz out of that hat. He's a treasure. Oh, did we mention he taught harmonica to John Lennon?
In the burned-out culture of New York's Lower East Side, the Sixties hangover extended into the downtown Art world of the earlier Seventies.
At the Mercer Arts Centre in Greenwich Village, the freedom of performance became the first-ever showing of "Punk Music" by this band in 1970.
Inspired by The Stooges, singer Alan Vega and Farfisa monosynth player Martin Rev strapped the audience in and took music to some blacked-out places.
By the time they recorded this debut seven years later, "Punk Music" changed around them. The duo saw no need to change. Armed with primitive effects pedals and an insistent and simple Conn drum machine, their debut (while long overdue) is the blueprint for everything that follows in its wake: Post-Punk, Industrial, Ambient, Noise, even Synth-Pop. Self-described "Rock N'Roll kid" Vega gets to croon, swoon, howl, moan, cry and scream like he was Elvis ("Johnny") and Iggy (the terrifying Greek tragedy that is "Frankie Teardrop" - whose biggest fan was Bruce Springsteen.) Its raw, nihilistic texture is still being pursued by artists. If the avant-garde ever had superheroes ("Ghost Rider" and "Rocket U.S.A.are standards now) - it would be this daring duo.
While they emerged from the hippie wonderland of San Francisco in the Sixties, the fantastic Groovies were always more aligned with classic Rock N'Roll rather than its jammy, psychedelic offshoot. Their second album "Flamingo" is where nearly everything goes right. They assail the Blues ("Gonna Rock Tonite"), amp up the attitude in old school greaser Rock ("Comin' After Me"), nearly beat ZZ Top to the Texas-style Rock ("Headin' For The Texas Border") and conclude with one of the greatest closers of all time (the pedal-to-the-metal "Road House.") The whole record sails along mischievously even though it was recorded in quality less than Mono (12 tracks to one-inch tape.) Their first of two classics for Kama Sutra in 1970-71, its followup "Teenage Head" would be admired for its authenticity by Mick Jagger. "Flamingo" was truly years ahead of its time.
King of the Beats
(LP)(Get On Down)
If you do not recognize the name, no worries. However, when you listen - you will immediately identify the beat and its booming sound. When Hip-Hop was generally followed by "a hippie to the hippie," Mantronix came out of nowhere with productions that predated the blast that would follow Run D.M.C and the Def Jam revolution. Inspired by Electronic Dance music and Club music, Mantronix stripped everything down its necessary elements and defined Electro-Funk with the massive "Bassline" and "Fresh Is The Word." Sparse and undeniably funky, this was where Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" was taking us. As much as these singles were played in the clubs, MC Tee sounds close to the other rappers of that era. However, the rhythms beneath still show up everywhere from Beck ("Where It's At, ") "Beastie Boys ("Paul Revere,") and Snap! ("The Power.")