Posts Tagged ‘Nuggets’

The Black Angels’ Joyful Darkness.

April 8, 2013

Black Angels Trip Out at Union Transfer

Black Angels-IndigoAustin psychedelic rockers The Black Angels create a sound that weaves joy and darkness layered under waves of reverb and shuddering tremolo guitar. That sound was heard in full hallucinogenic effect last night at Union Transfer in Philadelphia.  Playing behind their new CD, Indigo Meadow, the band essayed all of that album as well as much of their previous CD, Phosphene Dream.    Indigo Meadow is a more stripped down, rocked-out album than the more paisley patterned Phosphene Dream, but live those songs fit right in with repeated, distorted hypnotic guitar patterns drenched in echo from Christian Bland, doubled up alternately by Kyle Hunt and Rishi Dhir, that buoys up the nasal wail of lead singer Alex Maas.  All of it is held together by Stephanie Bailey’s rock-the-Rock-of-Gibraltar drums.  She may be one of the hardest hitting, and locked down drummers in rock.

Black Angels-PhospheneIndigo Meadow is an album full of songs about love relationships that might be most kindly characterized as ambivalent, if not outright antagonistic.  The title track laments a woman who “likes a hell of a show.” “Evil Things” brings out the Heavy Metal side of the band with the grinding, “Iron Man” riffing as Maas sings of his love interest, “We were both evil, doing evil things” and “Love is your gun,” a particularly fatalistic approach to romance to be sure.  A similar metaphor emerges on “Don’t Play with Guns.” Even on a song like “Love Me Forever” Maas sings that chorus more like it’s a prison sentence than a plea.

That darkness is not alleviated in other songs like “Holland,” about misadventures in Amsterdam, or the anti-war songs as psychological metaphor on “War on Holiday” and “Broken Soldier” both of which confront fear and uncertainty.

Their musical references were always more psych-garage rock than late sixties flower pop or San Franciso idylls.  Even though Pink Floyd asides always leak through the distorted haze, the vintage Farfisa and Reem electric organs signal their lineage in ? and the Mysterians, The Seeds and the Nuggets anthology.

In concert, The Black Angels immerse you in these songs.  They’ve upgraded their light show with a bigger screen and multi-layered panels that envelope the band within the op-art mirror image patterns they favor.   It reflects their shimmering, driving sound where Maas’ voice is barely intelligible within the web of reverb and slap-back echo he uses on almost every song.  While his singing is clear on their recordings, in concert he merges, sometimes incoherently, with the ricocheting guitars, becoming an instrumental effect more than a lyric vehicle.  He should probably dial down the reverb in concert, especially in  live room like Union Transfer.

They played several tracks off of Phosphene Dream.  “Entrance Song” drove down the endless hallucinogenic highway and “Bad Vibrations” still reverberates.  It was great to see them bring the coda back on “Yellow Elevator #2,” which they’d dropped in their last two Philadelphia performances.  You need an uplifting chorus of illumination sometimes.

In their early days, The Black Angels stretched out quite a bit more on tracks like “Snake in the Grass” and “Never/Ever. ” But these were unformed works that lacked a propulsive center.  Now that their song-writing skills are more finely honed, I’d like to see them bring that discipline to more improvised rave-ups, to use an old 60’s expression.

The Black Angels take you out of this world.

~John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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Bleeding Rainbow’s Psychedelic Garage Ectasy .

February 4, 2013

From Nuggets to Neu, Philadelphia’s Bleeding Rainbow Channels the Psychedelic Storm

Bleeding-Raainbow-Yeah-Right CVRBleeding Rainbow isn’t the kind of band you’ll hear on Echoes, but every now and then a new rock album catches my ear, and takes me into a different space that I don’t visit as often as I’d like, mainly because I don’t dig standing in rock clubs.  But after listening to Yeah Right,  I’d stand in one to hear Bleeding Rainbow.

The conundrum of the contemporary rock group is figuring out just what they’re going to pick from 60 years of rock history to inform their music.  Bleeding Rainbow, like The Dandy Warhols,  are scholars of rock and they draw from across the spectrum for their kinetic third album, Yeah Right.

The band has cited My Bloody Valentine and the distortion overtone guitar orchestras of Glenn Branca as influences.   You can also hear Velvet Underground drones on the opening “Go Ahead” with choked sustained feedback run that threatens to burst out and finally does on the chorus in a roar of Neu!– like fuzz.   Krautrock may be another inspiration, from the often motoric drumming from Greg Frantz (who recently left the group)  to the joy of guitar noise redolent of Neu! and Faust.  This is, after all,  a band who listened to The Can Tapes on a cross country tour.

But Bleeding Rainbow makes these sounds their own on their  third album, (the first two released under the name Reading Rainbow).  Kinetic songs like “Pink Ruff” with roiling overdriven guitar.  And that lurches right into the Jesus and Mary Chain cross-cut groove of “You’re Not Alone” with Rob Garcia and Sarah Everton’s chorused and distant vocals extolling a schizophrenic state of isolation.

For all their garage rock/punk conciseness, Bleeding Rainbow can attain the epic and they do that on both “Shades of Eternal Night” and “Fall Into Your Eyes.” The former is a minimalist haiku love song set against a storming rhythm and razor guitar chords.  “Fall Into Your Eyes” is a lament of love and transcendence lost with a grinding, shredded guitar riff and one of the more interesting drum grooves of the album.

The psychedelic trip of “Waking Dream” references The Kink’s “Tired of Waiting” in the guitar riff of the verse and then rips into a New Wave chorus that tears you out of your seat, adopting the quiet-loud approach of Nirvana.  It’s another song that makes good use of close vocal harmonies layered up in multi-tracked girl group-style choruses by the husband and wife founders of the group, Everton and Garcia.

Yeah Rightt is the kind of advance you’d expect from a group that’s maturing and finding more nuance in their sound.  The stripped down, lo-fi-to-a-fault production of their earlier work gives way to a more anthemic, body-shaking sound.  Instead of peering at the music through the haze of a washed out Polaroid, instruments are shredding like shattered glass and frayed fabric before your eyes.  My Bloody Valentine is an influence, but I know I’ll be listening to this a lot more than the new MBV release.  Yeah Right, along with Ulrich Schnauss’ A Long Way to Fall, is one of the few albums that I not only listen to repeatedly, but when it’s over I often go back to the top of the slide again.
~John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echoes On LineSiUlrich Schnauss - A Long Way to Fallgn up for Echoes CD of the Month Club.  With the Echoes CD of the Month Club, you get great CDs like A Long Way to Fall.  Club members will get this album 10 days before release.  Follow the link to the Echoes CD of the Month Club  and see what you’ve been missing.

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10 Greatest Rock Songs

August 7, 2012

Every year Echoes affiliate WXPN, 88.5FM has listeners vote on their list of the Best885 whatever, albums, road songs, artists, etc.   And every year they ask hosts to submit their top ten choices.  This year, they’ve made the impossible task of listing the 885 Greatest Rock Songs.   I mean, come on!  This list could go on forever and the ten I finally selected for the list could change, and did, the minute after I submitted it.  And what does “Greatest” mean?  Am I making an objective evaluation of the songs I think have the most significance, impact, influence?  Or am I simply picking the ten that rocked my socks?

With these best of lists, the tendency is always to go with the music that shaped you in your youth. The latest Alt-rock tune has a lot of trouble competing with a song that’s been in your DNA for 40 years or so.  So I’ve tried, not very successfully to step back from that.  The criterion I’ve wound up with is music that makes you stomp your feet, shake your head and flail your arms like the most embarrassing looking air-guitarist.  It’s the sound screaming out the window of my mother’s 1970 yellow Comet riding up Rte 93 to Hampton Beach in the summer.  It’s the songs that I still turn up whenever they come on the radio, even though some of them never come on the radio, but you know what I mean.  In other words, when I think “Greatest Rock Songs” I think songs that rock.  There’s no ballads, no heart-felt anthems.  I’ve excluded much of the music that’s at the core of my existence, and I’ve left out artists like Siouxsie & the Banshees, Levitation, IAMX, The Horrors, Arcade Fire and The Black Angels, all of whom have gotten me through more cardio workouts than I care to mention,  for no real good reason at all.  And as I write this, I’m definitely having second thoughts about leaving out the Black Angels.

More than that, I think any of 10 tunes by The Rolling Stones could be on this list:   “Satisfaction,” “Get off of My Cloud,” “Mothers Little Helper,” Street Fighting Man,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Citadel,” “19th Nervous Breakdown,” “The Last Time,” “Let’s Spend the Night Together.”  Done.  But as lists go, that would be boring .  Nevertheless, the Stones are at the top with a predictable selection, but one that I think is unassailable.

John Diliberto’s Greatest Rock Songs
(At Least for Today)

The Rolling Stones – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
There is no doubt about this one.  One of the greatest riffs in rock., ever.  It’s the perfect encapsulation of angst, aggravation and frustration.

2 The Beach Boys – “Good Vibrations”
No doubt about this one either.  A miniature symphony chorale.  If you don’t feel good at the end of this song, you need your meds adjusted immediately.

3 The Kinks – “You Really Got Me”
Someone recently put forth this question, The Kinks or The Clash.  My answer was, the Kinks created the greatest rock riff ever in this song and there is no Clash without the Kinks.

4 Steppenwolf – “Born to Be Wild”
I do like those tunes with heavy riffs and here’s another one. But it’s also a song that crystallized the wild abandon of the late 60s and coined the term, “heavy metal.”  We are all “easy riders” with our minds blown when you hear this song.

5 Jimi Hendrix – “Purple Haze”
Another seminal riff and a song that screamed freedom of the mind.  ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.” Hendrix’s guitar attack alone changed rock forever.  And it changed me as well.

6 Electric Prunes – “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)”
Another great psychedelic pop excursion from 1966 and an early introduction for me to electronic music with something called a Bigsby wiggle stick combined with massive fuzz tone and feedback going backwards to create that vibrating drone.  There’s a reason why it’s the first track on Nuggets.  And it wasn’t until  years later that I realized they were emulating the sound of dragging on a joint on the fadeout.

7 Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
The apotheosis of grunge.  This is the “I’m Eighteen” of the grunge generation, a timeless song of angst that will resonate for generations.

8 Ultravox – “Fear in the Western World”
I could’ve picked the Sex Pistol’s “Holiday in the Sun” but I went with this paranoid high-octane rocket-to-oblivion screed from Ultravox which should rightfully be paired with “Distant Smile,” the song it segues into on the album, Ha-Ha-Ha.

9 Guns ‘n’ Roses – “Welcome to the Jungle”
In many ways, Guns ‘n’ Roses isn’t my thing, but like Ultravox and Nirvana, this always seemed to be the perfect dystopian hellride, like Clockwork Orange on a Harley.

10 The Dandy Warhols – “Not If you Were the Last Junkie On Earth”
So many Dandy’s tunes could be on this list, but I picked this crank-up-the- volume ode to Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

These are my picks and I’m not stickin’ to ’em.  Ask me tomorrow and except for the Top 4, everything could change.  You make your own choices for XPN’s 885 Greatest Rock Songs.

You can see videos for all my selections at the end

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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