July 23, 2015

REVIEW: "Bees & Trees" by Numb Bats

Numb Bats Play Through the
Heatwave on Bees & Trees
The music of Numb Bats is a little like surf rock, one could say, if the waves that were being surfed upon were made of grease and glue. It’s punk rock dumped in a Gatorade cooler of molasses.
   Numb Bats is a three-piece all-girl group from Phoenix, Arizona where the sun shines harshly seven days a week. Mo Neuharth whacks on the kit, Sophie Opich makes the bass tremble and Emily Hobeheidar croons in the dark. All their voices are heard, though, piping up in the background.  
   On July 14, on their Bandcamp page, Numb Bats self-released their new 6-track EP, Bees & Trees. The collection opens with “Runnin,” a side-winding slog of sleepy-eyed punk with reverb that washes through the sewers and drains. The second song, "Rainbow," begins with dreamy arousal then wades into an ascending drum punch.
   Bees & Trees, their second EP, is the follow-up to last year's full-length album, Gentle Horror. It's hot and it’s humid. The structure of these songs is very disorderly, thrown-against-the-wall and unpredictable. They fill in the spaces where the song loses steam with a heavy fog of languorous drone. This is what it feels like to live and breathe in hundred-plus degree heat.
   And the temperature continues to rise with "Then I Went To The Refrigerator." The strands of feedback come together slowly. It’s the score to a house without air conditioning, the sound of your heavy eyelids deflecting the sun. It picks up, rupturing into Ren & Stimpy punk, before falling under again.
   Hobeheidar snarls and barks from the quicksand on “U R A WINNER.” “I feel so weird inside,” she intones again and again against a fire-pit pounding drum cycle. She sounds fed-up and bleary, caught in a downturn. But, all ends in fairness with a cheeky shout-out from all the girls singing and laughing, “You are a winner!”
   The most distinguished song here is the longest. "Dog Poncho," over five minutes, opens with voices in motion like a mirage on the distant highway. Steady thread of junkie guitar and effects that move from ear to ear like a wasp move the track along. It waltzes and loops through shifting bridges before crumbling into something that sounds like the B-52's after huffing a fair amount of rubber cement.
   Easy comparisons would be Dum Dum Girls or a less buzzy and distorted Raveonettes. But there is definitely a heavier DIY appeal and a bouncier bubblegum attitude. They’re definitely sculpting their own post-rock sound.
   The looseness and fragility on Bees & Trees is part of its charm, but is also a reminder that Numb Bats’ best work could be stuck up in the pipes somewhere, ready to spill out. The group are currently skinning the west half of the country on tour. Find them.

Key Tracks: "Dog Poncho," "Rainbow," "Then I Went To The Refrigerator"

source: http://imp

July 22, 2015

"the dog w/ da lazer eyes"

the dog w/ da lazer eyes (2015)
old paint on cut up piece of wood

REVIEW: "Star Wars" by Wilco

Wilco Casually Drop New Album,
Star Wars, into the Web (Lucky Us)
   They’ve been celebrating twenty years of making music this summer with deluxe releases and discography-browsing setlists during a special anniversary tour. New music from Wilco felt somewhere close, not quite in reach, but somewhere on the distant horizon. Then, by way of Internet surprise, the Chicago band released Star Wars, their ninth album, for free.
   Eh, here you go.
   Main songwriter Jeff Tweedy and crew give us something to remember the summer by.
Stars Wars opens with a pile of rusty strings on the very loose, very cross-eyed, "EKG." The album quickly warps into "More..." a folk funk jam with oceans of noise settling onto the shore. By the third song, "Random Name Generator," a heel-hammering nugget of rock, it's clear that Wilco are back in the front seat as one of America's greatest bands. Ain’t no foolin’.
   In fact, Star Wars might join Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Sky Blue Sky as some of the most perfectly sculpted albums in rock and roll. For now, maybe, too soon to tell, but it feels right.
Nearly every song lasts right around the average length of the classic pop song--some two minutes and thirty seconds. Within the short time span the songs are just as evolutionary, tightly-wound and gusto-filled as Wilco's greatest tracks. The held-back restriction of Sky Blue Sky mixes with the full-range expansion of A Ghost Is Born.
   Slip into the casual breeze of “You Satellite” as it rises to a rushing wind. Ride the range on wisps of steel guitar during “Taste the Ceiling.” Get your shoulders up and shimmy along to the egged-on guitar of “Cold Slope.” “I know, I know and you know that I know / It’s a powerplay,” Tweedy sings in perfect gyration with the notes.
   Tweedy’s streaming sense of lyrical weirdness is fully intact on “The Joke Explained.” “I stare at the eyes staring at my face / It always ends in a tie / There is no meeting the divine / I cry at the joke explained,” he sings over the whirling electric guitar.
   "Pickled Ginger" charges forward in electric calm like a palm-muted version of Wire with sudden groove outbreaks and keyboard fallout. Tweedy warns in a low mumble, “No one tells me how to behave.” Star Wars is wrapped up neatly with a sweet, straight-forward love song that slips around. "Magnetized," is an ode to the realization of the love that stands before you.
   Since releasing their debut album, A.M., in 1995 this band has gone through one of the most exciting transformations in music, shedding old sounds, embracing new tones, letting the old sounds resurface in another genre, but always finding a way to make it sound cohesive, intentional. Star Wars continues the trend with a large arched step forward.
   As Wilco continues to tackle these new songs on tour through the fall, it ought to bring them even further out of whatever comfort zone they thought they had. Star Wars gets the physical CD release August 21 with a vinyl release on November 27 from Wilco’s own label, dBpm.

Key Tracks: "More...," "Random Name Generator," "Cold Slope," "Pickled Ginger"

source: http://imp

painted can all angles

July 21, 2015

REVIEW: "The Monsanto Years" by Neil Young + Promise of the Real

Neil Young Feeding on Corporate 
America with The Monsanto Years
   Neil Young has kept himself busy in this post-divorce era of his career. In 2014 he released two albums, A Letter Home, a lo-fi selection of covers, and Storytone, a solo album with an extra orchestral version attached.
  For Young’s thirty-sixth (gasp) album, The Monsanto Years, he aims his guitar and pen at Monsanto, the company genetically engineering seeds (or GMOs) that are found in plenty of American products. But that’s not the only major company caught in his flame. He chips away at the facades of Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Safeway and Chevron, a list that reads like most teenagers’ first places of employment.
   Unlike Young’s more recent statement of protest albums--GreendaleFork in the Road and Living With War--this one sounds more put together, less slapdash and hurried than the others. In Young’s last five-year or so late career dash, it’s his best album.
   California band, Promise of the Real, were enlisted as Young’s backing band for the album after the two played at last year’s Farm Aid. The group features Willie Nelson's boys, Lukas and Micah. They bring a wall of rumbling sound, not too dissimilar from Young’s main band of grizzled beasts in Crazy Horse.  
   The Monsanto Years opens on a hopeful note with the revitalizing “The New Day.” Young comes right out proclaiming, “It’s a bad day to do nothing,” setting the progressive tone of the album. A beer mug-swinging chorus follows with everybody’s arms around one another, swaying to and fro. Young closes with a stunted guitar solo that fades out with the song.
   "Wolf Moon" is a sweet serenade pulled from Young's classic Harvest-Harvest Moon era. He sings with a vulnerable quiver to our tortured atmosphere over an acoustic strum that moves along calmly like dripping rain.
"Big Box" rolls in like a hurricane with mists of Crazy Horse feedback. In the fog are Young's red eyes as he spews down on corporate America and its unjust strangulation of the American worker. "From the capital to the boarded-up main streets / Big Business is there at every turn," he sings, painting a gloomy vision of impossible odds. The rhythm feels like being chased through streets that never cease.
   Young doesn't mince his words. The lyrics could be the frustrated screed of a part-time worker written on a napkin during a fifteen-minute break. "People working part-time at Walmart / Never get the benefits for sure / Why not make it to full-time at Walmart? / Still standing by for the call to work," sung as matter-of-factly as can be.
   On "Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop" Young pierces Monsanto all the way through and pokes into Starbucks with the spearhead on the other side. He uses straight-speak lyrics to discuss the intertangling of the two companies sounding as though he’s singing words from a pamphlet handed out at a rally.
   Surely, the jumble of “preachy” words will turn off a lot of casual fans, but the song still has a pulse. It’s a whistle-while-you-work jingle that rails against the mislabeling practices of Monsanto. The chorus is a heartbreaking helpless plea to the GMO giant. Young ends the song with two simple lines that cut out all political pretense. "Mothers want to know what they feed their children," he implores. "Let our farmers grow what they want to grow."
   Neil Young continues to be the amplified bullhorn for the people, using his artistic merit to sing songs about the many discouragements of modern life. Long may he run.

Key Words: "Wolf Moon," "Big Box," "Workin' Man"

source: http://imp