onsdag 30. april 2014

30042014 - Michael Bormann "Love Is Magic"

Michael Bormann, the golden throated voice of bands like Jaded Heart and Rain, has released an album of ballads. This release includes songs from his previous albums, a couple of new songs and some covers. One of the new tunes, "Somebody Like You", as well as the older "Go Goin' Gone", have been written by a Norwegian songwriter who previously used to be Sane. This is all very pompous, sappy and extremely overblown, but as long as the songs are good Bormann gets away with it - with a voice like this he could probably get away with doing a Coldplay song! His version of The Beatles' "Help", however, is completely redundant, and too similar in arrangement to versions by acts like Tina Turner (nailed it) and Krokus (blew it). That, and the song "Way Back Home", which starts as a total rip off of The Bangles' "Eternal Flame", are the low points on an album that is perhaps best enjoyed in smaller doses of 4-5 songs at a time, but is thoroughly enjoyable as long as you don't overdose.

tirsdag 29. april 2014

29042014 - Chuck E. Weiss "Red Beans and Weiss"

I first became aware of the great Chuck E. Weiss when he released his fantabulous album "Old Souls and Wolf Tickets" in 2001. Any friend of Tom Waits' is a friend of mine I thought, and haven't stopped playing the album since. Now he's back, and this time he has found a label home with Anti, where Waits himself also resides. And may I tell you, Mr. Weiss is still the coolest cat around! From raunchy album opener "Tupelo Joe", through tunes like the jazz-noir strut of "Shushie", cabaret-mariachi boozefest "Hey Pendejo" and the rambling "Boston Blackie" he mostly lays down a swinging New Orleansy blues groove, with hints of whatever he could think of at the time. And closing an album with the silliest titled triplet of songs you will stumble across this year: "The Hink-A-Dink" (what?), "Oo Poo Pa Do in the Rebop" (come again?) and "Willy's in the Pee Pee House" (now that's just...) is something not may others would get away with, but for good ol' Chuck it makes perfect sense.

mandag 28. april 2014

28042014 - Broken Twin "May"

From the tender piano that opens this album you know that you are in for something special. And boy, does "May" by Danish Majke Voss Romme AKA Broken Twin deliver on all accounts! Her vocals on said opening track, "The Aching", have a haunting depth that far more experienced artist would envy her, and that brings to mind the Beth Gibbonses, Margo Timminses and Tori Amoses of the world. There's also hints of Barbara K. MacDonald from long forgotten and mostly underrated part time geniuses Timbuk 3 here! Armed mostly with just her voice, the piano and some tender strings or guitars, she accomplishes more with the poignant simplicity of these ten songs than most other artists do in a lifetime. Her compositions are filled with air, and you can tell that they will grow on repeated listening. This is not just recommended, it's compulsory!

søndag 27. april 2014

27042014 - Åse Kleveland "Stor Slem Pike"

This is the fourth album by the legendary Åse Kleveland, released in 1976, and it remains her last. The title track is a cover of JJ Cale's "After Midnight", with Norwegian lyrics by Finn Kalvik and Lillebjørn Nilsen. There's also a wonderful Norwegian version of the Beatles chestnut "She's Leaving Home", retitled "Se, Der Reiser Hun" and several other covers, all enhanced by her rich and wonderful voice. The album in its entirety is simply gorgeous, and it's a shame she never released another solo album!

fredag 25. april 2014

25042014 - Woods "With Light and With Love"

From the beginning of the first song, right when the slide guitar kicks in, I'm smiling. Ah luvs me some slide geetar! When the vocals come in, I'm not that sure, though. I can't tell if it's the nu-folkish voice or the annoying effects, but "Shepherd" works best for me when that guitar takes over. Still, all is mostly good. On the second track, the sound effects are gone, and I'm really getting into this. No slide guitar, but some nifty hammond organ more than makes up for that. It's the title track though, that really gets me. Byrds-y guitar open this nine minute epic, and rambling lyrics about love and death is always a good thing. It's fairly drawn out, jammy and trippy, moving in and out of focus, building up to... Oh, just listen to the damn thing, won't you? This is by far the highlight of the album, and even though there are several good tunes throughout the thing, the rest of this record never surpasses those first three songs. Especially the title track!

torsdag 24. april 2014

24042014 - Vintage Trouble "The Bomb Shelter Sessions"

Vintage Trouble. Love the name. It tells you all you need to know. Retro and old fashioned, yet dangerous and likely to kick you in the face - with their snakeskin boots and their RAWK! Because this is exactly the kind of band that didn't just read the rule book of rock and duplicated everything in it, ending up having no soul or originality; these guys are rock'n'roll because they have to! This album is the antithesis to yesterday's also-rans, and you know why? They have the SONGS, the FEELS, the HEART AND SOUL! Oh, did I mention that they also have the GROOVE? Well, they do. And they have a song called "Nancy Lee" and another called "Jezzebella", and both are grrrrrrrrrreat! Seriously though, do you know the real reason why they win? Because nothing sounds contrived, because they sound both down to earth and larger than life at the same time, but most of all because you just want to play this album over and over and over again all day and all of the night!

onsdag 23. april 2014

23042014 - Stone River "Valley of the Butterflies"

Yeah, I get it. You have a lot of southern rock records and you want to be the new Black Crowes. Well, I'll let you in on a little secret. Recycled southern fried riffs, soul-y backing vocals and some hammond organ ain't gonna do it. The semi-raspy voice trying so hard to sound all full of The Blues isn't doing it. That mandolin and the bar piano? Nope! You lack heart, soul and cojones, and in a world where there are plenty of actually good bands doing the 70's inspired rock thing you are only slightly more worthy of my time than Hootie & the Blowfish. Bye, now!

tirsdag 22. april 2014

22042014 - Totem Moon "Totem Moon"

Stoner/doom/heavy/psychedelic/rock from the woods. That's what Oslo's Totem Moon call their music, and if they say so that's exactly what it is. It's also catchy, groovy and sometimes dark and scary - much like the woods at night, and from the second they open this album with the song "Totem Moon" itself you will be hooked! These guys write songs that are just great, and build riff upon riff, making sure you end up sitting there rocking back and forth like a demented gorilla, enthralled by their hypnotic tunes. There are some pretty obvious points of reference here, but they still stand out from the heap of stoner cloners out there, not least because of the slightly threatening demon-preacher-from-the-pits-of-Hades vocals. This is a great album, for lovers of fuzz and finesse alike!

mandag 21. april 2014

21042014 - Rush "A Farewell to Kings"

No, I don't know the entire Rush catalogue by heart. So sue me. At least that's the perfect excuse to check out the essentials, and this is definitely one of those. Containing epic stuff like "Xanadu" and the lovely "Closer to the Heart", this is an album - er - close to the hearts of any Rush fan, but also one that's easy to get into for those not that familiar with everything they have released, but just knowing, say, the singles. Fanatics can say what they want, but of course no band should ever name a song "Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage", much less follow up said song on different album, but this was another time. In 1977 the word "pretentious" meant something completely different altogether. Besides, this album has "Cinderella Man" on it, which is brilliant at barely beyond four minutes, as well as "Madrigal", which is a mere two and a half minute of beautiful!

søndag 20. april 2014

20042014 - Holly and the Italians "The Right to Be Italian"

New wave/power pop from Holly Beth Vincent and her backing band with amongst others included Paul Schaffer and Anton Fig. Contains the original version of "Tell That Girl to Shut Up", later recorded by Transvision Vamp, who had a bigger hit with it than the original version ever was. Cute and catchy, but slightly pedestrian. Fans of Blondie, The Motels and the likes should be able to enjoy this, but the band's legacy and Holly's presence on a burgeoning scene is probably more important than the actual songs on this album.

lørdag 19. april 2014

19042014 - Emmylou Harris "White Shoes"

Do I really need to write anything about this album? It's Emmylou Harris, so you know it's good. Her voice on this 1984 album is as angelic as ever, and on some of the tunes she's rocking it up as well. This includes a totally rearranged version of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" and a song titled "It's Only Rock And Roll", which is not the Rolling Stones ditty. Her ballads are still where she really shines, and there are some moments here that will even give your goosebumps goosebumps, such as album closer "Like an Old Fashioned Waltz". And if anybody can pull off doing a tender country version of Donna Summer's "On the Radio", it's Emmylou!

fredag 18. april 2014

18042014 - Susanna Hoffs "Someday"

Not all days are good for writing or being creative. Today is not a good day for clever insights and eloquent opinions. It is, however, a good day for lovely pop music, and "Someday" is the soundtrack to soothe my head and my heart. If you don't love Susanna Hoffs' voice you might not have a soul. And that's a fact.

torsdag 17. april 2014

17042014 - Randi Hansen "Ho Randi"

Classic Norwegian visesang! This album is 35 years old this year, and because of that - the fact that it was released in 1979, and not in 1984 - it sounds surprisingly timeless. This was just a few years before the horrible 80's production tricks conquered all kinds of music, from minimalist singer/songwriters to heavy metal, so what we have here is unsullied straight forward acoustic pop music with lyrics about... I don't know, I haven't really been paying attention. Because you see, it's pretty, but boring, and it's actually pretty boring. Randi's voice is the voice of an angel, and you would kind of like her to sing you a lullaby every night, but just because you would be sure to fall asleep listening to her. "Hvis Æ Fikk Være Sola Di" is still classic stuff, though.

onsdag 16. april 2014

16042014 - Sigh "Scenes from Hell"

Sigh are Japanese. So of course they play Klezmer-death/thrash metal! Yes, that's right. These slightly scary weirdos combine horns, strings, piano and traditional Yiddish arrangements with technically complex progressive metal and a growl that could maim from a distance! It's a combination that really shouldn't work, so obviously it does. On "The Red Funeral" there's even hints of industrial metal thrown in the mix, and yes, that works too! The total is somewhere between the logical conclusion to what Celtic Frost did on "Into the Pandemonium" and the utter drivel that Therion are peddling, but Sigh manage to remain on the right side of silly. A feat in itself, and for this I salute them!

tirsdag 15. april 2014

15042014 - Liege Lord "Burn to My Touch"

Classic US power metal alert! I never did listen enough to Liege Lord in their heyday, but I remember the song "Cast Out" from this album. The entire thing is very easy to relate to: If you are allergic to air raid siren vocals, powerhouse riffing and twin lead guitars - or if you think there's such a thing as being "too much inspired by early Iron Maiden" - you might as well stay away from this album. But if you love all of the above and enjoy true classic speed metal craftsmanship, you may bow down and praise this Lord! Fun fact: One of the band's guitarists, Anthony Truglio, went on to play in a late version of Helmet and the other guitarist, Paul Nelson, would later play in Johnny Winter's band, even receiving a Grammy nomination!

mandag 14. april 2014

14042014 - Vikesh Kapoor "The Ballad of Willy Robbins"

Who is Vikesh Kapoor? I have no idea. What I can tell just from the first two songs though, is that he has a lot of great albums in his collection. Albums by Townes Van Zandt, John Prine and their likes, all the way back to Woody Guthrie. And, of course, "Nebraska". You can probably tell by now that his songs are stripped down working class folk songs with a tinge of country, but that's only half of it. Going for the heart of Americana can be dangerous for a young and unknown artist, but Mr. Kapoor pulls it off and then some on tracks like "Bottom of the Ladder", "I Dreamt Blues" and the gorgeous "Ode to My Hometown", because his songs have so much heart, soul and total honesty that I'm convinced that he is for real. This is what people should be listening to, not the latest hyped-up faux-folk sensation declared as "the next" whatever. Now, can somebody please bring him to a club near me?

søndag 13. april 2014

13042014 - The Giraffes "The Giraffes"

New angle this time. I was looking at my daughter playing with a toy giraffe, and thought I'd see if there was a band called The Giraffes. Because it's a good name for a band, so there's the potential of good music as well, right? And yes, as you will have gathered, I did indeed find a band with that very name, and press play I did. The first song sounds a bit like Clutch, and from there on the songs take on a bit of a punk edge, but with the kind of swagger you associate with Girls Against Boys or The Afghan Whigs. Of course they are nowhere as good as any of the above, which is ok, since those are pretty high standards to live up to. They are far from bad though, and a tune like "Sugarbomb" is the kind of song you would crank up in your car stereo and most likely break the speed limit! Great fun, and probably awesome live!

lørdag 12. april 2014

12042014 - Morten Harket "Brother"

I was not sure about this one, but Morten Harket remains one of Norway's most successful artists, internationally and back home, and has delivered some truly pop-tastic moments, both solo and with a-ha, so I decided to put my doubts aside and give "Brother" a spin. I could just tell you that now I have listened to this album, so you don't have to. Or I could start describing in detail an artist so in love with the beauty of his own voice and the cleanest production on the planet that he couldn't be bothered to write proper songs. It's not bad per se, but man, whatever happened to balls? How about trying out a little something we call edge, instead of being boring as Bono? This is really a whole lotta nothing wrapped up all fancy, and I'm thinking it would have been better if it at least had had the decency to be totally crap!

fredag 11. april 2014

11042014 - Alice Cooper "Zipper Catches Skin"

I admit it. Alice Cooper's "dark ages" are dark to me too. But they are definitely a part of his history, so here goes. Back in the day when you discovered albums and bands based on how cool their album covers looked in the record store, "Zipper Catches Skin" was never a contender. And even after discovering how totally amazing Alice Cooper really was - and still is - this album and the rest of his early 80's output never tempted me. So what if I have been missing out? After all, "No Baloney Homosapiens" is no stupider as song titles go than "Feed My Frankenstein" now, is it? Well, it's definitely Alice, but it's also definitely very unremarkable. The highlight is the fact that Violent Femmes seems to have stolen the riff to "Blister in the Sun" from "I Better Be Good", and with less than a year between them it's even plausible. Because I say it is! So, in conclusion I will have to say that this album is now listened to and I might not do that again. At least not in a while. I will check out the rest of his blackout albums, though. After all, it's still Alice!

torsdag 10. april 2014

10042014 - Dödsfest "Det Sista Äventyret"

Debut album, yes, but with members from Bob Hund, Pascal and others they are no spring chickens. Sonically, they are post punking it up and dark rocking it down, with songs like "Förbannad", "Gammal, Lam och Kall" and "GG Allin På Kalas" letting you know that Dödsfest will not bring the sunshine and pink Champagne to your little party! What they will bring, however, is great and moody songs that somehow manage to be both depressive and uplifting. Don't ask me how. They throw Sonic Youth, Raga Rockers and more in the mix here, and armed with guitars like blunt instruments firing noisy feedback and candypink sweetness at the same time, I would say we have ourselves a winner here!

onsdag 9. april 2014

09042014 - X "Los Angeles"

There is no good reason on earth why I haven't heard this album in its entirety before, but better late than never I suppose. This is the debut album of this classic Los Angeles punk band, and it's great! Why is it great? Because of the wonderful and legendary Exene, whose attitude filled vocals are as impressive now as they must have been in 1980. Because they do a Doors cover actually worth hearing - even if you don't care for the original. Because there's stuff here that reminds of Blondie, but then it doesn't anyway. Because of the keyboards on "Sex And Dying in High Society". Because every song is really catchy, yet so very very cool! I could go on, but I think you catch my drift. I had heard a few of these songs before, mostly on various compilations and playlists, but all the tunes here are equally X-cellent!

tirsdag 8. april 2014

08042014 - The World of Oz "The World of Oz"

Someone tipped me about this British band who released one single album of sweet and folk-poppy brit-psychedelia in 1969. It's very pleasant, and fans of early Bee Gees, The Flowerpot Men and the likes should love this. There's also hints of T-Rex, Herman's Hermits, Donovan, Matchstick Men-era Status Quo and just about everything else from this era that you would listen to if you were from Birmingham, but perhaps dreamt of San Francisco. The tunes are very light and catchy, but elegant and sophisticated enough to remain interesting. And is it just me, or does singer Christopher Robin remind quite a bit of a male Marianne Faithfull, about a million cigarettes ago? Fun fact: Geoff Nicholls, who plays the organ on this record, went on to play keyboard for Black Sabbath, and appears on every single of their studio albums from "Heaven And Hell" to "Forbidden"!

mandag 7. april 2014

07042014 - Anguished "Cold"

Oh, the totally blood curdling screams of Anguished's vocalist and handler of all instruments except for the drums on this most chilling of black metal albums! Possessed Demoness, for it is indeed a woman behind those tortured wails, ice cold riffs and howling solos, has not chosen her name randomly, because she does indeed sound both possessed and demonic on these hymns to Satan and suicide, that in addition to sounding like pained cries of despair from a truly tortured soul, also possess a haunting and melodic dark - oh, so very dark - beauty! On some tracks, such as "Come to Me Satan" and "September Nights", she uses different voices, to great effect, making the spine chilling shrieks sound even more darkly deranged next to the more - dare I say - human sounding singing. Although I am positive that this Finnish hell siren will be far from everybody's cup of sacrificial virgin's blood, I really enjoy this in some sick and deranged way!

søndag 6. april 2014

06042014 - Acid "Maniac"

I have not listened enough to this Belgian band that existed during the first half of the eighties. It's been one of those cases where, whenever you hear a song by the band, you say "I really need to check them out properly!" and then time goes... Well, finally I have taken the time to check out a full album. And I love it! The riffs, the songs, Kate De Lombaert's amazing voice - it's all so very good! This was their second album, of three in total, released in 1983. In my ears there's no good reason why Acid could not have gone on to the same success as, say Warlock, apart from bad luck and perhaps poor management or an inadequate record label? The songs are as strong as those on "Burning the Witches" and De Lombaert's voice is just as commanding as those of Doro Pesch, Chastain's Leather Leone, Hellion's Ann Boleyn or Zed Yago's Jutta Weinhold, simultaneously strong as steel and full of heart and soul! Apparently she's not done rock or metal since this band, which is a shame, but at least with an album like this on your CV there's bound to be a huge interest should they decide to get the band back together again! And with Hellion having resurrected these days, why not Acid?

lørdag 5. april 2014

05042014 - The Ceyleib People "Tanyet"

Today we go psychedelic! This 1967 album blends experimental blues with traditional Indian music and is at least as heavy on the sitar as the guitar, the latter partly courtesy of Ry Cooder. It has been described as Captain Beefheart meets Ravi Shankar, and I suppose that's not too far off. The album consists of two pieces, "Aton" and "Aton II", both divided into shorter parts, much like a classical composition. It is intriguing and mildly hypnotic at times, and some parts are pretty catchy, which is relatively impressive for an instrumental album! In addition to Cooder, there are musicians here who went on to play with artists and bands such as Bread, Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Diamond and The Dillards, to name a few. Psychedelia heaven for some, hippy hell for others, probably an amusing footnote to most.

fredag 4. april 2014

04042014 - Electrocutes "Steal Yer Lunch Money"

Electrocutes were basically The Donnas, but still not the same band. The four members started out as The Electrocutes, then formed The Donnas some years later and kept the two bands going simultaneously. This album - their only - was even released a year after the first Donnas record, and this album was released in the same year as The Donnas' second! So, what's the main difference? This is way rougher, punkier and more abrasive, and the 14 songs here are angry explosions of fuzz, noise and shouts. None of these songs break the 2 minute mark, and the shortest are a mere 47 seconds long, so there's no time to get bored here. One could argue that it's not very well played and the songs are the tiniest bit repetitive, but that would just be admitting to be a boring old fart. However, it's understandable why they decided to focus fully on The Donnas...

torsdag 3. april 2014

03042014 - Agent Orange "Living In Darkness"

Why have I never checked out this band before? From the opener "Bloodstains" (Their first single, not originally on the album in its original version, but included as the first song on this re-release), this is brilliant, angry, raw and slightly melodic punk rock with the tiniest metal edge. And what do you know - all of a sudden they tear into a rough version of the Dick Dale chestnut "Miserlou"! I'm gonna make this a short post since it'a a short album, but if you like american punk rock from before the skate punk revolution (even though Agent Orange bassist Steve Soto was a part of that as well, as a member of The Adolescents) you will enjoy ever so bleak piece of Orange County (pooh - clever name) music history!

onsdag 2. april 2014

02042014 - Wild Bill Davis & Charlie Shavers "The Music From Milk & Honey"

I really just stumbled across this album, looking for something else, but started listening and this is pretty cool! We have Wild Bill Davis, an artist I had never heard about, playing the organ like nobody's business and trumpeter Charlie Shavers, blowing that instrument with a whole lotta heart and even more soul. It's relatively basic stuff, and musically not very complex, but the two instrumentalists complement each other in a way where the sum definitely is bigger than the two parts. Shavers comes across as the virtuoso of the two, while Davis is more an efficient lounge jazz musician, but all in all this album should go perfectly well with a dry martini.

tirsdag 1. april 2014

01042014 - The Dogs "The Tears Are Voodoo"

Talk about opening with a punch! The first song on "The Tears Are Voodoo", the hard hitting "You Drive", is all farfisa, guitars and semi-distorted vocals with the line "I would have hit the bottle/if it didn't hit back" a strong contender for Lyric of the Year! Apparently nobody in the band, except vocalist Kristopher Schau, are playing their usual instrument of preference, but it's obvious that they all are more than capable of handling their chosen instruments in The Dogs as well, because this is as tight as hell! The brilliantly named songs "Armed And Fairly Well Equipped" and "Crime Is Sexy" are even cooler than their titles suggest, and "Do You Remember Me Now" sounds both dangerous and sexy, being lifted towards the end by a nifty harmonica solo! If you're not hooked by the last song on the album, the brooding "Is This Any Better", you clearly don't love wonderful rock! With this being a relatively short album there's no risk of getting bored, but chances are pretty high that you want to hit the repeat button. Repeatedly!