Saturday, September 27, 2014

Allah-Las Worship The Sun & Show # 528

The Allah-Las second full-length album, Worship The Sun, delves into a 60s California atmosphere. Blending their previous elements of the British Invasion sound, 60s psychedelics and American garage, the band also adds in hazy rhythms of folk and more surf sounds this time. Worship The Sun features a very laidback and leisurely sound that isn’t always as up-tempo as 2012’s Allah-Las release. This is what sets Worship The Sun apart from their first full-length release and is also what perhaps confuses some critics. The laidback sounds found here are highly influenced by a relatable, but sunbaked 60’s California sound, perhaps more so than when it was first explored in 2012.

“De Vida Voz” starts off Worship The Sun with heavy drones of garage feedback before launching into catchy surf and garage rhythms. Its title roughly translates into “the voice of life” as reverb drenched vocals repeat the lines “Voices carry through the canyon”. This album features many lyrics that some might call soul-searching and this song starts it off displaying elements that we will find in the remaining eleven tracks. “Had It All” brings to mind 60s psychedelic garage nuggets with catchy harmonies and Latin drum rhythms. This song blends Allah-Las early sound and new sound perfectly. “Artifact” seems to pull influence from The Chocolate Watch Band, while “Ferus Gallery” shows us the first of two instrumental tracks found on Worship The Sun (the other being the surf and slide guitar country of “Yemeni Jade”).

Other highlights include the jangly Byrds pop sounds of “Recurring”, the folk influence of “Nothing To Hide”, and “Buffalo Nickel”. This early single from the album features reverb sun-drenched guitars and song elements that some might call surf pop. The song also features the thought provoking lyrics of “And we had so much time to live don’t it go by fast/And I have so much to give but that was in the past” which seem to question and search at the same time with the background “bah-bah’s” and sprawling guitar lines. “501-415” reintroduces the fuzz guitar pedal that we first heard in the album’s opening moments. The song picks up the pace a bit, hinting at their deep 60s nugget styled garage roots.

Worship The Sun draws on influence from many bands that sound familiar, yet different at the same time. Throughout the album the sounds of The Animals, The Zombies, The Byrds and Love seem to filter in and out, while newer influences are also brought in. This is evident on the album’s final track “Better Than Mine”, which sounds like the early country rock sounds of Buffalo Springfield. The CD and digital editions of Worship The Sun also comes with two bonus tracks. There is another instrumental track, this time a cover of The Frantics song “No Werewolf” and another original track “Every Girl”, which attacks with a 60s garage clang. As a whole Worship The Sun plays into its title featuring a focused sound indebted to sunny 60s California, but with this sound Allah-Las display a new laidback sound and approach that takes a few listens to sink in. Once it does it stays with you like a vintage ride in a Volkswagen Beetle along the West Coast.

Saturday Night Play List:

1. Mark Sultan - Shadow With The Golden Eyes
2. The Amazing Snakeheads - The Nighttime
3. Echo & the Bunnymen - The Yo-Yo Man
4. What Seas What Shores - Bonaparte
5. Deerhunter - Cryptogram
6. Christian Bland & The Revelators - The Last Summer
7. Johnny West - Murder Dressed As Mercy
8. Neil Young - On The Beach
9. Leonard Cohen - Diamonds In The Mine
10. Mexican Knives - Turner
11. Big Black - The Model
12. The Unusuals - Measure For Measure
13. Frank Black - Whatever Happened To Pong?
14. La Luz - Brainwash
15. Allah-Las - 501-415
16. Allah-Las - Better Than Mine
17. The Dead Kennedys - Kill The Poor
18. Link Wray - Radar
19. The New Dimensions - Junker
20. The Cramps - Blue Moon Baby
21. Devo - Praying Hands
22. The Psychedelic Furs - Fall
23. Iggy Pop - Five Foot One
25. Paul Jacobs - Soul Catcher
26. Thee Oh Sees - Ugly Man
27. Public Image Limited - Lowlife
28. Magazine - My Mind Ain’t So Open

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for September 27. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ty Segall Manipulator & Show # 527

In late August, Ty Segall released Manipulator, which is his longest album to date. On September 22nd, he played with his Ty Segall Band to a packed house at Trinosophes in Detroit, Michigan in support of this release. The show featured three opening bands and the venues stage featured a series of amplifiers, which after each set disappeared in layers until only Segall’s combination of Fender and Music Man amplifiers remained. Like the amplifiers, the album Manipulator also contains a multitude of layers. Musically the album combines elements of Segall’s most recent projects Fuzz, sounds from the album Slaughterhouse with the Ty Segall Band, acoustic elements, and the garage sounds that he has been known for. Additionally, the influence of 70s glam rock and classic rock sounds dominate this seventeen track release. This 56 minute double album also took fourteen months to record, every other Segall release was recorded and released quickly.

As the Ty Segall band took the stage, they all came out displaying their new look, which could be called psychedelic glam. Segall wore A Clockwork Orange droog-like costume combined with early glam-era David Bowie. Lyrically the album is a journey featuring a cast of characters, the concert was no different. Following a quick sound check, a man came out in a cowboy hat talking to the crowd. Further adding to the myth of the album’s cosmic senses, he began playing the organ part to the album’s opener “Manipulator”. The song’s infectious organ riff accents the hammer-on guitar lines and crunchy choruses that reflect Segall’s garage rock influence combined with his newer 70s Bowie glam-era sound. When the song began the audience erupted. Several fans were jumping around as if they were being controlled by the loud noises from the stage. One of the PA speakers also could not contain itself, it fell over during the opening number.

Photo By Mike LeClair
“Tall Man, Skinny Lady” features salty acoustic guitars, with some guitar fuzz and is reminiscent of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” “The Singer” combines glam acoustic sounds with electric guitar stabs and orchestral string accompaniments, while lyrically it could be a commentary on Segall’s loud rock past. “Green Belly” reintroduces the character dynamic with lyrics “He’s going to make a movie/Of his entire life” and acoustic interplay, “Who’s Producing Who?’ features infectious maracas, drum beats, fuzzy bass and Thin Lizzy styled guitar solos. The album’s louder dynamics pull in the influences of bands such as Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, The Stooges and early Motorhead. “It’s Over” features a Black Sabbath influence while drawing on sounds explored on last years Fuzz album and 2012’s Slaughterhouse, “The Crawler” adds more scuzz the mix adding elements of the band Blue Cheer, while “The Connection Man” is more like a slow dirge of sounds.

At one point during the concert, La Luz was playing and the drummer got up from the drum seat. Ty Segall stepped in on drums as she crowd surfed to the back of the venue and then returned to the stage in reverse. This song seems to contain the same uninhibited chaos. “Susie Thumb” attacks with a fuzzy garage crunch that borderlines on 90s alternative rock, while lyrically it further adds to the character elements found on this album. “The Feels” is a song that plays with Segall’s acoustic, heavy rock dynamic with haunting lyrics such as “And when I look into your eyes/I realize you’re the same as me/You’ll never be free.” After launching through a large majority of the Manipulator album, another cast of characters were introduced to the live set, songs from previous Segall albums. The ending track on Manipulator, “Stick Around” features battling guitar solos with string sections. During his live set Segall battles his sounds even fighting with them with every inch of feedback and subtlety until he shapes them the way that he wants them. Prior to Segall’s live set some fans in the audience threw handfuls of glitter at each other, during the erupting opening number it was launched throughout the audience. There is a certain mystery to Segall, whether it is his lo-fi garage beginnings or his multiple side projects. On Manipulator we are taken through a journey into a world of sounds that are familiar, but new and exciting at the same time that hits us as the dust and glitter settles.

Saturday Night Play List:

1. James O-L & The Villains - The System
2. Peter & The Silhouettes - Claudette Jones
3. Great Scots - Ball And Chain
4. Allah-Las - Had It All
5. Coachwhips - 1000 Years
6. Death From Above 1979 - Government Trash
7. The Cinch - Fade Out
8. EX~PO - Your Sunny Days
9. Neil Jarvis - Young As Me
10. Tea Leaves - Death Drive
11. Karen O - Body
12. Johnny Cash - Mama, You’ve Been On my Mind
13. Stark Naked And The Fleshtones - I Broker Her Heart, She Broke My Arm
14. The Pretty Things - Get A Buzz
15. The Almighty Defenders - She Came Before Me
16. The Black Lips - Modern Art (Live At Third Man Records)
17. King Khan & The BBQ Show - Fish Fight
18. The Velvet Underground - I Heard Her Call My Name (Alternate Take)
19. She Wolf - I’m So Glad You Don’t Know What’s On My Mind
20. Guided By Voices - Chicken Blow
21. Guided By Voices - Cool Planet
22. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - Hold Me Close
23. The Cigarettes - They're Back Again, Here They Come
24. Talking Heads - First Week/Last Week … Carefree (Acoustic Version)
25. The Outcasts - Self Conscious Over You
26. The Normals - Reruns (1978 Demo)
27. The Polymorphines - Saucer Eyes
28. Ty Segall - Manipulator
29. Ty Segall - Green Belly
30. Ty Segall - The Connection Man
31. Ty Segall - Susie Thumb

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for September 20. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Teenanger EP LP & Show # 526

Toronto’s Teenanger released their fourth album EP LP on September 9th, 2014, featuring Chris Swimmings (vocals), Melissa Ball (bass), Jon Schouten (guitar) and Steve Sidol on drums.  EP LP comes shortly after 2013’s Singles Don’t $ell which featured the band exploring the deeper elements of the new wave and post punk genres of the late 70s/early 80s. The album’s title once again is a play on music release formats, this one being EP LP, a release in the middle of a full-length album and an EP perhaps. Its title could also be seen as the band’s sound on this release, which is a cross between 2012’s Frights & 2013’s Singles Don’t $ell.  Musically the album is aggressive and at times more relaxed, but it still has an undeniable sleazy grime to it.

“Fly On The Wall” starts off this release from Teenanger. The song displays the band’s wiry post punk influenced garage sound, while lyrically it conveys something else. With words such as “You’re just a fly on the wall/You eavesdrop” and other themes that pop up in the verses of this track, it seems to be a comment on our social media dominated society. “Sky Saxon” attacks with its synthesizer-like riffs and lyrics that seem to be homage to The Seeds front man Sky Saxon lyrically, as it addresses his popularity as opposed to Michael Jackson. “Twisted” bends with its deep bass groove that locks in with the drums as the guitar fills in the gaps, while vocalist Chris Swimmings sings in a lower register. The song is also notable for its saxophone solo, which clocks in around the one minute and 30 second mark. The solo sounds eerily reminiscent of the saxophone in post punk band Magazine’s early song “My Mind Ain’t So Open”.

“Mild Survival” is the first song to be sung by Teenanger bassist Melissa Ball and features a sludgy bassline with sugarcoated vocals, while “Think About It” follows next as one of the album’s first singles. The song sneaks in like a monster jumping out from the primordial ooze of a late 80s Horror B-movie. It lyrically seems to tell the story of impatience and indecision amongst the scratchy guitars and distorted vocals. “The Sequel” is one of the longer tracks found on this album. It sounds at times like it could have come from 2010’s Give Me Pink as it bounces back and forth between up-tempo walls of guitar riff fury, mid-tempo driving bass and solid steady drums as vocals are executed in a creepy drawl. “Negative Zeros” is a rant about minimum wage and drinking in sub zero degree weather. Guitar work by Jon Schouten on this track sounds like it could have been played by Keith Levene while sliding on ice.

The final track on EP LP is the slow and sludgy “Hot Rods At The Loser Convention”. As the primal bass and drums pound away and the guitars slice and stab in the background, Swimmings sings of cliques, jocks and so called “cool” kids in a sneering satirical tone. Some are calling this track a loser anthem. The sound on this album is one that is difficult to describe specifically, it is the sound of a band in their element. On EP LP the new wave/post punk influence from previous albums is still apparent, but there seems to be more voluminous guitar riffs that are like shards of shrapnel. Basslines sound thick and at times fuzz addled, as analog sounding drums, snotty vocals by Chris Swimmings and backing vocals provided by Melissa Ball add to the overall battlefield of dynamics found here. With EP LP Teenanger does not misfire. Throughout this nine-track launch the band hones their sound and are right on target.

Check out an interview I did with Chris Swimmings, the vocalist in Teenanger in this post. 

Saturday Night Play List:

1. Orphan Choir - Cold Book Of Matches
2. The Spooky But Nice - Sun Goes
3. David Bowie - Dirty Boys
4. Thee Mighty Caesars - This Man’s Determined
5. Spoon - They Want My Soul
6. A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Double Dutch
8. The War On Drugs - Need In Your Eye #16
9. Nap Eyes - No Fear Of Hellfire
10. Monomyth - Cigarette
11. The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers
12. Small Teeth - Murder House
13. Marshmallow Overcoat - Knights Of Fuzz
14. Desperate Measures - Shane’s Song
15. Hag Face - Dirtbag Dreamboat
16. Siouxsie & The Banshees - Love In A Void
17. The Users - Now That It’s Over
18. Pseudos - Backdoor Man Bites The Dust
19. The Replacements - Hey Good Lookin’ (Live)
20. Lost Patrol - Second Time Around
21. Fugazi - Waiting Room
22. King Khan & BBQ Show - Anala
23. Teenanger - Mild Survival
24. Teenanger - Think About It
25. Husker Du - I Apologize
26. The War On Drugs - Baby Missiles
27. 999 - Emergency
28. The Jesus & Mary Chain - The Living End
29. Indian Wars - Walk Around The Park

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for September 13. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

James O-L & The Villains On The Banks Of The Detroit River & Show # 525

On August 28th 2014, James O-L & The Villains released their new album On The Banks Of The Detroit River. Prior to meeting up with James O-L to discuss the album, I pass the Detroit River. It is unseasonably cold this day and the water in the river is a strange blue-green colour. The night before there was a large thunderstorm, the weather seems to be warming up the closer I get to my interview location. We first start talking about recording, James O-L is a man of many hats, he has recorded and produced every album he has released with the Villains himself. He is also a musician and songwriter, but today James is not wearing any hats. On The Banks Of The Detroit River was recorded in Kingsville, with Brett Humber at Sound Foundry Studios and overall the album has “More of a bigger sound” and “In general the songs have gotten more aggressive”, as James tells me. Lyrically, this album pulls inspirations from its surroundings. Songs on the album seem to evoke a certain tone, one that comes with living in Essex County. Musically the album draws from the folk/country dynamic that James O-L & The Villains have displayed in the past, but it also mixes with the aggressive, punk/90s rock edge that has developed within the band’s dynamic recently.

The album starts off with “The System”. It begins slow and is melodically folk-like before launching into furies of feedback. These two dynamics battle each other much like a vicious summer storm that follows a period of intense heat. This also applies to not only the song’s lyrical subject matter, but to the album’s overall dynamics. “Manquest” follows next, this song was as James tells me inspired “By a road trip with Caleb (The Villains drummer) to Owen Sound”. It is also the album’s first single. Musically the song features mostly clean guitar, melodic basslines and steady drumming with a Jazz-like beat. The song builds into a slow burn as it picks up with guitar solos before fading out. “Late Night Drive” follows next bringing down the pace with its folk elements, mixed with electric guitar and strong vocal harmonies provided by the band in addition to Kaitlyn Kelly. The song which has been a staple of the band’s live set for a few years now, moves along like a slow drive through back roads of Essex County. At the album release show for James O-L’s solo album last year at the Capitol Theatre near the end of The Villains set a few friends shouted out “Kill The Devil” from the back of the theatre. Only a select few people in their vicinity heard this request. I asked one of the Villains guitarists, Boh, after the show about this and he told me “It’s a new surf song we wrote”. While I did not hear the song that night, this instrumental surf song does not seem out of place on this album. The song along with the Jazz-like instrumental “Kissed At The Loop” adds a smooth dichotomy to songs found on this release.

“Arts Degree” is a song that James tells me “Hits something really unique. I think it just sounds like us. A lot of people have responded it to it. “ With lyrics such as “Born for a love with the strange and the absurd/Dreamt of the colours behind this translucent world/But they’ll rob you blind” this song seems to be convey finding a voice and artistic freedom in today’s “Post modern age”. The words also help to make this one of the strongest moments on the album. “Collective Ignorance” features guest appearances from Jim Meloche (Orphan Choir/Worry) and Kelly Hoppe (Big Sugar), they blend in amongst the bands aggressive folk sound seamlessly.

Other strong points include the weary beat of “Till The Morning Light”, which echoes elements of Neil Young’s 1972 album Harvest and the album’s ending track. “The Old And The New” ends the album in a symbolic way for the band. The song intensifies with a maelstrom of guitar, bass, and drums before it nears its end and fades out. James tells me of the album’s inspiration during our interview “I was living in a house on the Detroit River… it was like 3/5ths of the band living together and jamming and stuff at that house on the water and I think that had some influence. So we named the album kind of after that time.” He also mentions midway through the interview: “I think this album might eventually be like kind of a transition album in some ways. It seems more aggressive than anything we’ve done before, but I think we’re going to go even more in that direction. “ The songs that make up this album portray the subtleties of a band mixing elements of folk, country and the heavy rains of aggressive feedback. With On The Banks Of The Detroit River, James O-L & The Villains find their voice during the in-between moments of the album, not unlike the album’s cover image which looks outward from Windsor revealing the water between Windsor/Detroit or after a summer storm.

Another version of this article first appeared in The Windsor Independent.

Saturday Night Play List:

1. James O-L & The Villains - Collective Ignorance (CJAM Session)
2. James O-L & The Villains - Manquest (CJAM Session)
3. James O-L & The Villains - Arts Degree (CJAM Session)
4. James Bond & The Agents - Wild Angel
5. Flesh Rag - Bug Man
6. Shonen Knife - Dance To The Rock
7. Elephant Stone - All Is Burning
8. The Vindicators - Hate
9. Double Naught Spys - One More Beer
10. James O-L & The Villains - Kill The Devil (CJAM Session)
11. James O-L & The Villains - One Horse Town (CJAM Session)
12. Pokey LaFarge - Central Time
13. The Gories - Train Kept A Rollin’
14. The Rolling Stones - Do You Think I Really Care
15. Sloan - So Far So Good
16. The Exploding Hearts - Sleeping Aides & Razorblades
17. The Adverts - No Time To Be 21
18. The Mongrols - Plastic Girl
19. The Junior Raymen - The Rat Fink
20. Guitar Army - I Wanna Be Like You
21. Ty Segall - Tall Man, Skinny Lady
22. Jaill - On The Beat
23. Lowlife - Thinking Naturally
24. The Sinners - No Brains Required
25. Apache Dropout - Constant Plaything
26. The Subs - Gimme Your Heart
27. X - Soul Kitchen
28. The Boys - You Make Me Shake
29. The Marching Girls - First In Line
30. The Clash - Garageland

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for September 6. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.