Reviews (albums, concerts)

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Buckeye Randy
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 am

Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Buckeye Randy »

Band: Supersuckers
Title: Play That Rock N’ Roll
Released: February 2020

It has been a real rollercoaster ride for the self-proclaimed, ‘The Greatest Rock n Roll Band In The World’. Turnover in personnel, battles with cancer, divorce and no permanent record company. None of this seems to be getting the band down. They just released their 13th studio album and recently began a tour of Europe with 66 stops.

OK, it’s hard for me to be objective about The Supersuckers because I’m a fan, at least I used to be. About 17 years ago a guy at the Ian Hunter messageboard told me to buy the Supersuckers latest release (Motherf*ckers Be Trippin’”). He said he would buy it off me if I didn’t love it….no need because I loved it.

I instantly started filling my cd collection with a couple from their back catalog and buying most the new releases. I think I’m up to about 10 discs but it is a very incomplete collection because these guys have countless live, fan club and solo releases. Adding to the diversity is they have several country albums to go with their full throttle rock. I’ve often described these guys as being Waylon Jennings meets Motorhead.

I also started going to their club shows when the timing was right. I think I’ve seen them five times live because that’s how many autographed CDs I have. Part of promoting yourself as ‘The Greatest Rock and Roll Band In The World’ is being the ‘The Most Accessible Band In The World’. Band front man Eddie Spaghetti is ALWAYS is at the merch table after the show and is even there before the show sometimes.

One of the negative things about being a fan is having expectations. The previous three releases by The Supersuckers did not meet expectations. In fact, I listened to their previous release (Suck It) on Spotify a few times and didn’t even bother buying it. There was nothing fun about the band and their adolescent charm seemed exposed. I basically gave up on the band and accepted that I used to be a fan but didn’t care much for them anymore.

Well, that was before I heard the latest release. More than half of the 11 songs fall into the instantly likable kick-ass category.

The album starts with “Aint Gonna Stop” which is their best opening track in 17 years covering six releases. It’s funny how expectations can change with one song. “Deceptive Expectations” starts with a country twang but quickly turns into a galloping rocker that sounds like it will be fun on the stage. Another song built for the stage is “Dead, Jail Or Rock n Roll” which will fit in great toward the end of the night.

The title track “Play That Rock n Roll” is a straight blues song that would make Johnny Winter or Stevie Ray Vaughn proud. It’s good to hear Metal Marty take a break from his usual style. Things get real fun with the upbeat “That’s A Thing” which even has some contagious handclaps. It’s like Pearl Jam meets Gary Glitter.

The album ends with “A Certain Girl”. This is the hit by Ernie K-Doe that was later covered by The Yardbirds. Wow, what a fun version of a forgotten song.

OK, this album is not perfect but it isn’t like these guys ever put out perfect albums even in their heyday. What they have done is put out their most complete and fun album in double digit years. Well done!

Buckeye Randy
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 am

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Buckeye Randy »

Band: The Secret Sisters
Title: Saturn Return
Release: Feb 28, 2020

The Secret Sisters have certainly lived up to their name, at least with me. They have been a well-kept secret until their most recent release which is their fourth overall. Apparently they aren’t a secret to a lot of music fans because their first three releases all landed in the top 10 of the U.S. Folk charts.

Brief background check tells us Laura and Lydia Rogers are sisters from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. They grew up watching their Grandfather lead a family group, The Happy Valley Boys. Fast forwarding to more recent happenings. The sisters had to deal with the deaths of both Grandmas during the recording of this album plus both women were pregnant at the time. If that doesn’t sound like a great recipe for a heartfelt album then I don’t know what does.

OK, they have been highly successful on the folk charts and are known for their harmonies and even compared with The Everly Brothers. I’m sure that description conjures up some sort expectation to what they should sound like. Throw it out the window, it is all that and so much more.

During the first listen I’m reminded of “The Trinity Sessions” by The Cowboy Junkies which is still a great album 32 years after being released. The Secret Sisters combine country, folk, bluegrass and even some blues as they tell their stories on “Saturn Returns”. Traditional folk sound might be the backbone of the sound but there is also plenty of electric guitar and even some horns. Note to all bands, less is more! The 10 tracks come in at a scant 37 minutes and everything remains crisp and never repetitive.

Another thing that reminds me of “The Trinity Sessions” and even Neil Young is playing tracks at a slow tempo for effect. I don’t mean just slow, I mean slooow. It takes top shelf songwriting to pull this off and it sounds great here when they choose to do so.

Highlights can be identified on nearly every track. If I was forced to recommend a few for people to check out…I guess there are some that stand out but there really are no weak tracks.

“Silver Hair” is the only true bluegrass track and that is followed by “Late Bloomer” which is a straight up pop sounding piano ballad. “Fair” is really the only true folk song with vocals over an acoustic guitar and it shines. “Healer In The Sky” deals with death, memories of life and being totally at ease with loss. The album bounces like that throughout.

The verses of “Water Witch” sound like a swaying waltz as the sisters alternately sing lead and then harmonize over some distorted guitar. “Nowhere Baby” was the first track I fell in love with and I think no less of it after repeated listenings. The lyrics paint a kaleidoscope of reality and the chorus is simply haunting.

I just recommended 6/10 tracks as highlights and I feel like I'm short changing a couple others.

I tend to be a bit shallow when it comes to music (Turn it up!). However, I like to think I can recognize a quality release when I hear it. For me, this is a high quality release and it will fit in perfectly with my favorite ‘rainy night’ releases. I’m a fan.

Buckeye Randy
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 am

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Buckeye Randy »

Artist: Disq
Title: Collector
Released: March 6, 2020

What we have today is the debut from Disq. Disq are a band from Madison, Wisconsin and I must say that I generally have allot of respect for Wisconsin. Their football team is always tough, the winters brutal and some of the best cheese I’ve ever had was from Wisconsin. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard any music from Wisconsin but I’ll give it a try.

Disq are a group of five kids barely out of high school. The album they have recorded falls into the indie category and can be noisy, rocky, punky and sometimes all those things at once. They are also able when so inclined to paint moods with sweeping sounds which gives a bit of a psychedelic feel.

The first song on a debut album can be a real deal breaker. A band never gets a second chance to make a first impression. Possibly the most important song on the entire album. No pressure! The album kicks off in fine fashion with “Daily Routine” and represents everything fun about this band. Well done!

“Konichiwa Internet” is like a noisy dream that marches forward until the last 30 seconds drifts into nothingness. “I’m Really Trying” sounds allot like the type of jarring melody that would be on a Buzzcocks album, I say that in a good way.

Plenty of slower songs discuss deep subjects like only teenagers can. The songs seem nice enough, they just aren’t for me…nor were they intended for me! My kids are older than these guys. On the slower ones, the band has a tendency to show off some of their musical talents trying to make each song seem different. I would say that only works about half the time.

Honestly, I would recommend that everybody listen to “Daily Routine”, it’s a fun song. There is nothing else on the disc that runs through my head after hearing it. The disc is in no way offensive and the band is obviously talented. It will be interesting to see how this band does with future releases. Not bad for a debut and thanks for a killer introduction.

Buckeye Randy
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 am

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Buckeye Randy »

Artist: The Boomtown Rats
Title: Citizens of Boomtown
Released: March 13, 2020

Well, well, well…it’s been a while, hasn’t it? There hasn’t been a new release by The Boomtown Rats since 1984. Bob Geldof sites a 2013 live appearance at Isle Of Wight Festival as the beginning of the reunion though he claims the band never really broke up. Interesting, if I didn’t release an album or show up for dinner for say…36 years, I’m pretty sure my Wife would consider that a break-up. It must be amazing to have a fractured link to reality like many musicians have, love it!

I want to start by saying that I’m from the U.S. and that means that I do not have the same connection with the band as people from the U.K.. The Boomtown Rats had zero songs crack the top 40 in the U.S. and “I Don’t Like Mondays’ was the only song to chart at all coming in at #73. Conversely, in the U.K. the band had eleven songs in the top 40 with five top ten and two coming in at #1.

All of that said, “I Don’t Like Mondays” got plenty of airplay on FM stations in the U.S. and most people knew a few other songs by the band. It just wasn’t the same chart domination like the band enjoyed in the U.K..

There was a sneak preview from this new release that came out in January, “Trash Glam Baby”. That song is one smoldering slice of glam rock heaven that checks all the boxes. The song has chunky guitars, dirty words and even mentions the ‘Spiders From Mars’ and ‘New York Dolls’. It doesn’t sound exactly like The Boomtown Rats of yesteryear which may or may not be a stumbling block depending on your point of view. I think it’s absolutely the best song that I’ve heard so far in 2020 and I’ve been looking forward to the release of this album since the moment I heard that song.

After a couple listens I have to say that the styles are all over the place and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. “She Said No” romps like a mid ‘60’s rocker by Them or maybe The Yardbirds, it’s a really good period tribute. “Monster Monkeys” is a groove driven song that sounds a bit like the The Stones when they get a little funky.

I’ve mentioned three songs and all have something in common. They are types of music that influenced the band at some point but not exactly the sort of stuff released by the band. Many bands have released cover albums with their teenage favorites but this is a little different. Now it becomes a bit of a game trying to guess who the song sounds like.

"Passing Through" sounds like a ballad by Procol Harum. The only thing missing is an organ up in the mix but the vibe is there.

“Rock n Roll Ye Ye” is a bit of a curveball, this sounds like a song the might have been influenced by The Boomtown Rats. Seriously, it sounds like a song from the early ‘90’s by Cracker or Spacehog. “Sweet Thing” also sounds like a tribute forward but I’ll let you guess the band.

I’m not a fan of dance music therefore I could do without the beat tracks. “Get A Grip” and “K.I.S.S.” are melodic enough but aren’t really for me. I will say that the rap in “K.I.S.S.” is fun in a Steriogram kind of way.

The thing missing is the new wave snot from the early years of The Boomtown Rats, I wish the band would have played a little tribute to itself. I’m not sure if fans that have been anxiously waiting for 36 years will like this disc but it sounds OK to me. Thanks

Buckeye Randy
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 am

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Buckeye Randy »

Band: Rookie
Title: Rookie
Released: March 13, 2020

What year is it? Another week and another retro sounding release harkening the early ‘70’s. Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, I would like to introduce you to Rookie who might be your newest and bestest band.

I have a retro friend whose opinion I respect very much and I played some Rookie for him. I prefaced by telling him it was power pop in the spirit of Artful Dodger or Badfinger. It’s amazing how two similar people can hear different things. My buddy hears Slade and he even said it’s 1972. I can actually hear why he would say that even though he is mostly incorrect (sorry!). If you want a more recent reference, try the Redwalls and their brilliant 2005 release, “De Nova”. Funny how 15 years is recent in this context.

You owe it to yourself to check out “Hold On Tight” which is simply brilliant. Other standouts (for me) include “One Way Ticket” and “If I Can’t Have You But I Want You”. It is a debut and there is a sameness to many tracks and it is not flawless. However, when Rookie are firing on all cylinders it is a thing to behold.

Try out the newest/oldest thing.
Last edited by Buckeye Randy on Sun Mar 22, 2020 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Buckeye Randy
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 am

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Buckeye Randy »

Artist: Ratgrave
Title: Rock
Released: March 20, 2020

Ratgrave’s “Rock” might not be for everybody but I’m sure there are a few acid heads craving some new cosmic fusion funk. Let’s dust off the incense burner that looks like a dragon and fire up the lava lamp, let’s go.

Ratgrave is an experimental sketchpad for Julius Conrad and Max Graef. This is their second release as Ratgrave and it spirals, drifts and expands through the canyons of your mind. I honestly did not think music like this was still made probably because I didn’t realize people still ate mushrooms…which they obviously are.

This is the sort of avant-garde stylings I would hear on late night college stations in the ‘70’s. This release fits in perfectly with Return To Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Gong and Jean Luc Ponty. Man, I loved that stuff as a teenager.

There is really no purpose for listing individual tracks because the structures meander freely throughout. How a track starts is not where it ends. There is nothing offensive that will make you skip a track yet there is no hook that you can’t get out of your head. It’s all cerebral.

I think it’s a great release. I’ll use this as a starting point to play some alternative music I haven’t heard for years. The perfect soundtrack to a quarantine weekend. Well done!

Buckeye Randy
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 am

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Buckeye Randy »

A double review, an album and a concert!

Artist: Matt Friction
Title: Hot & Cheap
Released: March 15, 2020

Artist: Matt Friction
Live Internet Performance: March 24, 2020

Matt Friction is a total stranger to almost everybody…but not me. Matt Friction has cult hero status in my family. Matt is the leader of The Pink Spiders and seeing their shows has become a time honored family tradition going back 14 years. His photo has appeared on birthday cakes plus pictures and posters hang on walls not to mention all the autographed discs. My daughter’s first concert was seeing Matt melting down into a drunken heap and challenge the soundman to a fight. The last time she saw them…Matt was absolutely charming to her and a picture capturing the moment hangs in the kitchen.

My oldest son claims I’ve seen Matt Friction’s band The Pink Spiders more times than anybody in the Great State of Ohio but he really isn’t far behind me. The shows have been all over the place as far size of the venue, quality of performance and even members in the band. All have unique memories for one reason or another.

Matt felt like he wanted to do something special for all his fans (and Pink Spider fans) in these trying times of being quarantined. Matt released “Hot & Cheap” a couple weeks ago which is a collection of tunes recorded with Jerry Harrison as well as songs from the Bomb Shelter sessions. Matt also scheduled a living room concert live on The Pink Spiders facebook page and the person who donates the most during the show gets some cool prizes.

First, the new release. I do not know the story behind the recordings of “Hot & Cheap” and why they have been on the shelf and not released. All I know is that I’m glad that the music is out there and easily available through streaming services. I think the songwriting on this solo release is better than that on The Pink Spiders 2018 release, “Mutations”. I wouldn’t say it is better than their first big label release “Teenage Graffiti” (2006) or the follow-up “Sweat It Out” (2008) but that’s more a testament of the quality of the older material than a knock on the new stuff. The new stuff is solid.

Matt has always kicked out catchy hooks with ridiculous adolescent lyrics and “Beer Can Ashtrays” is the latest on the list. Writing power pop with a nostalgic flair is here as well with “Miracle Head”, “The Cheap Shot” and “Shock City”. There isn’t allot of punky, arena or acoustic type songs which describe numerous songs by The Pink Spiders but then again…this is not by The Pink Spiders. A worthwhile release for fans of good melodies and fun lyrics. Well done!

Second thing going on is the living room concert on facebook. The first several minutes were watching Matt fiddle with equipment as there was no audio…or a tech to help figure it out. Matt finally got the sound together in under five minutes and explained what to expect in the upcoming 30 minute show. The first thing I noticed was the Gretsch White Falcon that appeared in the first Pink Spiders video in 2006 (Little Razorblade). Matt even told the story of getting the guitar because he used it in the video.

The set list was a mix of classics, deep cuts, cover versions and new songs. I must say this was not a crisp performance from a timing standpoint. Each break involved one or more of the following; trying to find lyrics, giving out dog treats, doing shots, reading text messages and an occasional story related to the song. Remember how Matt said it would be a 30 minute show? The show included 18 songs and went well over 100 minutes so all is forgiven for the extended pauses between songs.

Memorable moments were plenty and one of the best was fellow Pink Spider JoCo joining on a facetime call to sing back-ups. Yes, Matt was playing guitar and singing while Matt’s girlfriend held a cell phone close to the microphone with JoCo singing backups to “Adalae”. It isn’t something you see every day.

The cover songs included Richard Hell’s “Blank Generation”, “American Girl” by Tom Petty and Nick Lowe's "What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding". Oddly enough…those three songs are a perfect mixture of The Pink Spider attitude and sound. Best of the new songs was one titled (I’m guessing), “Needle On The Record”. Any song that mentions the band Rockpile is cool with me.

Not all songs lend themselves to a solo performance but Matt managed to play two of my favorites, “Pretend This Is Fiction” and “Secret Song”. I guess the real highlight was listening to Matt go through text messages requesting songs and he said my daughter’s name and played “Don’t Wait For Me”. Ha, Matt has validated his cult hero status.

I think the new recordings are really good and the facebook concert was allot of fun. I’m looking forward to the new Pink Spiders album and tour. Well done!

Buckeye Randy
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 am

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Buckeye Randy »

Artist: Screeching Weasel
Title: Some Freaks Of Avatism
Released: March 24, 2020

My CD collection is not filled with a ton of discs by Ben Weasel and his band, Screeching Weasel. This is not really a knock on Screeching Weasel but more an indictment of my laziness and taking things for granted. These guys were a staple of college radio and have been appearing on punk samplers for 30 years. They have had a few songs that fall into the category of, genre defining classics. Most self-respecting punks know “Cool Kids”, “I Hate Led Zeppelin” and the now nearly impossible to find, “I Wanna Be A Homosexual”.

That said, as likable as many songs can be by Screeching Weasel, they have always been equally annoying and repetitive. Songs played a little too fast or lyrics that were stupid or whatever. They made it difficult at times…which is probably why the only two discs I have are ‘Best Ofs’…that have mostly different songs.

This new album is a little different, nearly every song is immediately accessible. The reason? The melodies are toe tapping, fist pumping and just downright catchy. The album was produced by Mike Kennerty who you might know from All American Rejects. The result is dare I say a near perfect poppy punky sound. Nothing jagged or jarring, it all seems to fit together perfectly.

The band line-up over the years has changed more than once. We currently have Ben Weasel on vocals, Trevor Jackson on guitar, Zach Brandner on bass and Pierre Marche on drums. It’s tough to talk about the line-up changes without remembering the 2011 SXSW Festival. For those that don’t know, the entire band quit after Ben Weasel attacked a woman from the stage. Ugly story that ultimately led to the band being dropped from their record label.

This is a classic punk disc in regards to crispness, 14 songs with only one track over 3 minutes. Favorites? The album kicks off with “She Ain’t Your Baby”, an up tempo, skip a long that really sets the tone for what’s to come. My first favorite is “Turn It Around” which is a great pop duet with Josie Cotton. Others that really cash in on this gentler and kinder sound are; “Back Of Your Head”, “Losing My Mind” and “Never Been In Love”.

It isn’t like this new release is a total departure from their punk rock roots. Think of it like Phil Spector tweaking the Ramones sound on the song “Rock and Roll High School”. It still sounds like a punk rock song, it is just a little more friendly for the masses.

I really like “Some Freaks Of Avatism“. IMHO, it is better than Green Day’s release earlier this year, this is a very solid punk rock record. Well done!

Buckeye Randy
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 am

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Buckeye Randy »

Do you like when bands 'pre-release' tracks months before the full length release? I know these sneak peaks are released to garner attention and create excitement. I also know I'm not a marketing major but for me (am I alone?), these early peepers totally ruin the experience of sitting down with a new release when it finally comes out.

I understand why record companies release 'singles' before the album but it only makes sense when talking about artists that have successful singles. It does not make a ton of sense to me when niche/cult type artists play this game. Two of my favorite artists are in the midst of leaking out tracks; Sparks and Dropkick Murphys.

Sparks will have an album (A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip) coming out in May and the pre release party started in December. There are now four tracks available on Spotify. The bad thing is that three of the four tracks fall into two categories; filler material or just plain suck material. I will say that "Self-Effacing" is prime though it does sound a bit like their song "Waterproof".

The only thing that has been accomplished by these early tracks is that I'm going to listen to the entire release on Spotify before 'possibly' purchasing. If the band would have just announced a release date (no pre releases tracks) I would have pre-ordered a copy, no questions asked. Not now after hearing what I'm guessing are the strongest tracks.

Whatever the reason, I'm not quite as critical of Dropkick Murphys playing this game. It might have something to do with their two songs being kick-ass instant classics. "James Connolly" is a rabble rousing sing along that trumpets the struggles of the working man. No DKM release is complete without a couple traditional (bagpipes, whistle, mandolin) tracks and this one is as good as any.

The lead track is more of a 'smile-along', DKM have become very good at weaving humor into their music. I'm certainly smiling while listening to "Mick Jones Nicked My Pudding" which is a fast paced stomper that is pretty great. I can already see/hear the mosh pit pumping fists to the chorus, I can't wait to see this live. All that said, I would have been happier to hear these two tracks in the context of the new album and not something to just whet the whistle.

How do you feel about early tracks?

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the milkman
Posts: 645
Joined: Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:24 pm

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by the milkman »

Buckeye Randy wrote:
Sat Apr 11, 2020 10:42 am
Do you like when bands 'pre-release' tracks months before the full length release? I know these sneak peaks are released to garner attention and create excitement. I also know I'm not a marketing major but for me (am I alone?), these early peepers totally ruin the experience of sitting down with a new release when it finally comes out.

I understand why record companies release 'singles' before the album but it only makes sense when talking about artists that have successful singles. It does not make a ton of sense to me when niche/cult type artists play this game. Two of my favorite artists are in the midst of leaking out tracks; Sparks and Dropkick Murphys.

Sparks will have an album (A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip) coming out in May and the pre release party started in December. There are now four tracks available on Spotify. The bad thing is that three of the four tracks fall into two categories; filler material or just plain suck material. I will say that "Self-Effacing" is prime though it does sound a bit like their song "Waterproof".

The only thing that has been accomplished by these early tracks is that I'm going to listen to the entire release on Spotify before 'possibly' purchasing. If the band would have just announced a release date (no pre releases tracks) I would have pre-ordered a copy, no questions asked. Not now after hearing what I'm guessing are the strongest tracks.

Whatever the reason, I'm not quite as critical of Dropkick Murphys playing this game. It might have something to do with their two songs being kick-ass instant classics. "James Connolly" is a rabble rousing sing along that trumpets the struggles of the working man. No DKM release is complete without a couple traditional (bagpipes, whistle, mandolin) tracks and this one is as good as any.

The lead track is more of a 'smile-along', DKM have become very good at weaving humor into their music. I'm certainly smiling while listening to "Mick Jones Nicked My Pudding" which is a fast paced stomper that is pretty great. I can already see/hear the mosh pit pumping fists to the chorus, I can't wait to see this live. All that said, I would have been happier to hear these two tracks in the context of the new album and not something to just whet the whistle.

How do you feel about early tracks?

I agree! One single is fine but that’s it. I really hate it when they seem to release filler first because it actually makes me lose interest.

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