WBEZ | Music http://www.wbez.org/news/music Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Savages join Bo Ningen and have a (Hugo) ball http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-11/savages-join-bo-ningen-and-have-hugo-ball-111126 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/savages%20bo%20ningen.jpg" style="height: 151px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>Drawing energy from/reacting to the chaotic horrors of World War I, many of the performers at Hugo Ball&rsquo;s Cabaret Voltaire, ground zero for the Dada movement, experimented with brutal, spontaneous, and uncompromising forms of clatter that they called &ldquo;sound&rdquo; or &ldquo;simultaneous&rdquo; poetry, sometimes resulting in patrons at the Swiss nightclub angrily storming the stage.</p><p><em>Words to the Blind, </em>a collaboration between Japanese noise-rockers Bo Ningen and English art-punks Savages that attempts to bring those Dadaist concepts into the New Millennium, is not an easy listen, but it&rsquo;s unlikely to result in anyone rioting. More likely Savages fans will be surprised that the group has abandoned the minimalist concision, laser focus, and camouflaged melody that made <em>Silence Yourself </em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/savages-drop-startlingly-powerful-debut-107065">the best album of 2013</a> in favor of&hellip; well, pretty much the exact opposite: a sprawling, unapologetically messy, occasionally tuneless, sometimes sleepy, sometimes explosive art-project detour/jolly good time, spread out over one 37-minute-long track.</p><p>Of course, as much as it boasts hallmarks of both bands&rsquo; strong and distinctive sonic calling cards (gawd, that Gemma Thompson guitar!), <em>Words to the Blind </em>shouldn&rsquo;t be judged as &ldquo;a new Savages album&rdquo;&mdash; or as &ldquo;a new Bo Ningen album,&rdquo; for that matter. Rather, it&rsquo;s a record of a moment-in-time collision, much like a lot of what Eno (another big fan of Hugo Ball) did with unlikely collaborators in the early &rsquo;70s, what Can and other Krautrockers tried to achieve via what they called &ldquo;spontaneous composition&rdquo; (and it&rsquo;s worth noting that Bo Ningen also has collaborated with Damo Suzuki and Faust), and most of all <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/wire-rock%E2%80%99s-greatest-super-geniuses-after-eno-106948">what Wire preserved for us as <em>Document and Eyewitness</em></a><em>.</em></p><p>Essential listening? Certainly not. Pretentious but fun and artsy but appealing clangorous self-indulgence? You bet! And this unrepentant prog geek cheerfully accepts it as a holiday gift that will make the wait for that second full Savages album overdue for 2015 seem just a little bit shorter.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ZCPOy3pSuO8" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Savages &amp; Bo Ningen, <em>Words to the Blind </em>(</strong><strong>Stolen Recordings/Pop Noire)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 3 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><em>Facebook</em></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/">Sound Opinions</a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/">Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 07:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-11/savages-join-bo-ningen-and-have-hugo-ball-111126 TV on the Radio mines sorrow for soul http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-11/tv-radio-mines-sorrow-soul-111119 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tvotr_seedslp01.jpg" style="height: 620px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>In the spring of 2011, as they geared up to tour in support of their last album <em>Nine Types of Light, </em>then-Brooklyn-based art-rockers TV on the Radio suffered the loss of their 36-year-old bassist Gerard Smith to lung cancer. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-04-20/tv-radio-bassist-dies-metro-gig-cancelled-85467">The tour was cancelled</a>, the group went on indefinite hiatus, and some fans wondered if we&rsquo;d ever hear a full set of new music from Tunde Adebimpe, Dave Sitek, Kyp Malone, and Jaleel Bunton again, given their other interests in film, session work, and producing.</p><p>Now to the surprise of many comes the sixth album from these versatile multi-instrumentalists (who have not permanently replaced Smith), and <em>Seeds</em> is as strong a record as they&rsquo;ve given us, as well as being their most soulful. To be sure, there always has been a fair amount of that sound in TVoR&rsquo;s mix, thanks in part to Adebimpe&rsquo;s extraordinary voice, as well as the entire group&rsquo;s inimitable sense of groove. But these 12 songs are as close to the avant-R&amp;B of Solange, Frank Ocean, and the Weeknd as they&rsquo;ve come.</p><p>Much already has been made of this being the group&rsquo;s &ldquo;mourning&rdquo; record, a la <em>Tonight&rsquo;s the Night </em>by Neil Young or <em>808s and Heartbreak </em>by Kanye West. Yet if the loss of Smith can be heard looming over the electro-shoegaze swirl of &ldquo;Quartz,&rdquo; &ldquo;Careful You,&rdquo; or &ldquo;Trouble,&rdquo; the band has always had its energizing/cathartic side, too (&ldquo;Wolf Like Me&rdquo;!), and it&rsquo;s also giddier here at times than it&rsquo;s ever been. Witness the gleeful rhythms of &ldquo;Lazerray&rdquo; and the last half of &ldquo;Ride,&rdquo; or even more strikingly, the single &ldquo;Happy Idiot,&rdquo; which could be heard as the thinking hipster&rsquo;s answer to Pharrell&rsquo;s &ldquo;Happy,&rdquo; and which takes on an even goofier dimension in the <em>Speed Racer</em>-inspired video.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been through a lot of stuff in the past few years that could have stopped the band cold,&rdquo; <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunde_Adebimpe" title="Tunde Adebimpe">Adebimpe</a> has said but I&rsquo;m glad we got it together and took stock of the unique connection we have between each other because the record is, 1,000 percent, without a doubt, the best thing we&rsquo;ve ever done.&rdquo; And I wouldn&rsquo;t disagree.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/OaKVy-FlaUA" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>TV on the Radio, <em>Seeds </em>(Harvest) </strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 4 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-11/tv-radio-mines-sorrow-soul-111119 Aaliyah deserves better than her Lifetime biopic http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-11/aaliyah-deserves-better-her-lifetime-biopic-111082 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mgid_uma_video_mtv.com_1097146.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Alexandra Shipp as Aaliyah with Clé Bennett as R. Kelly (Lifetime)." /></div><p>We might expect a considerable number of flaws from an unauthorized biopic crafted on the cheap for Lifetime, the Hearst- and Disney-owned cable TV channel that once branded itself as &ldquo;Television for Women.&rdquo;</p><p>But Aaliyah Dana Haughton, one of the most distinctive voices in R&amp;B in the last two decades, deserves much better than bargain-basement production values, wooden acting, a dismal soundtrack faking tunes that are no substitute for her own music, and a script that ignores many of the key facts in her story.</p><p>Most importantly, the many fans for whom she was and is a role model for self-empowerment deserve better than the sanitized, soft-pedaled version of her disturbing sexual relationship with Chicago producer R. Kelly when she was 14 and he was 27&mdash;a coupling that court documents annulling their brief and illegal marriage and interviews with people close to the ingénue portray as one of abuse and victimization, far from the &ldquo;puppy love&rdquo; seen in <em>Aaliyah: The Princess of R&amp;B</em>.</p><p>The Lifetime film, which debuts on Saturday, has been controversial from the beginning. Aaliyah&rsquo;s family never gave the project its blessing (they&rsquo;re planning an alternate big-screen take), and the first actress cast for the starring role, the Disney Channel star Zendaya, dropped out of what <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2014/07/zendaya-coleman-explains-exit-from-aalyiah-biopic/">she called a shoddy production</a>. The movie&rsquo;s future was in question until Alexandra Shipp (<em>House of Anubis</em>) signed on as Aaliyah and gossipy talk-show host Wendy Williams joined as executive producer, shepherding the movie to completion.</p><p>Williams spent a lot of time jawing about the Aaliyah/Kelly controversy in her days on talk radio, and <a>she has said she pushed for the &ldquo;true&rdquo; story to be told in the film</a>: &ldquo;The Aaliyah movie was already being produced and&hellip; they were doing things wrong. I was like, &lsquo;Look, if you&rsquo;re going to make this Aaliyah movie, you gotta get it right, Lifetime. I love you, you&rsquo;re good at wives who stab their husbands movies, but you gotta get this Aaliyah movie right.&rsquo; I was very popular on the radio for Aaliyah&rsquo;s rise and untimely death. I want to hear about R. Kelly&hellip; Don&rsquo;t skate over it. This needs to be a big plot line.&rdquo;</p><p>The film doesn&rsquo;t &ldquo;skate over&rdquo; relations between the &ldquo;street but sweet&rdquo; young singer and the self-proclaimed &ldquo;Pied Pier of R&amp;B&rdquo;; it spends half its length taking Aaliyah from Catholic grammar school girl, to ambitious student at Detroit&rsquo;s High School for the Fine and Performing Arts, to stardom and platinum success following her 1994 Kelly-produced debut<em>.</em> (That ascension is overseen by her uncle and Kelly&rsquo;s manager Barry Hankerson, played by Lyriq Bent, a veteran of several <em>Saw </em>films.) But the well-established truth of what happened between Kelly and Aaliyah is almost entirely missing on screen.</p><p>Working from the flimsy 2002 book <em>Aaliyah: More Than a Woman </em>by Christopher John Farley, Williams, screenwriter Michael Elliot (<em>Brown Sugar</em>), and director Bradley Walsh (whose credits include episodes of<em> Beauty and the Beast </em>and <em>The Listener</em>) give us a guileless ingénue in Shipp as Aaliyah, and she promptly develops a schoolgirl crush on her producer. For his part, Clé Bennett (<em>Rookie Blue</em>) plays Kelly as an innocent charmer from humble beginnings who falls deeply in love with his earnest young protégé, perhaps because he sees something of his beloved mother in her when they share a Chicago-style pizza after recording.</p><p>The fictionalized couple secretly marries, but when they travel to Detroit to break the news to Aaliyah&rsquo;s parents in her childhood home, her father&mdash;Sterling Jarvis playing the kind of dad who takes a sugary soft drink out of his kid&rsquo;s hand and proffers an apple instead&mdash;says they must annul the union immediately, lest he ask the police to charge Kelly with statutory rape. (At the time of the marriage, she was still 15, nearly half Kelly&rsquo;s age). With heavy hearts, the couple separates, never to speak again, while Aaliyah pouts for more than five years about the loss of her first &ldquo;true love.&rdquo;</p><p>The artistic triumph of Aaliyah&rsquo;s second, Timbaland and Missy Elliott-produced album and the promising start of an acting career that would have seen her appear in the two sequels to <em>The</em> <em>Matrix </em>barely lift her spirits. She&rsquo;s finally buoyed a bit when she begins dating hip-hop entrepreneur Damon Dash. Then, tragically, she dies at age 22 in a plane crash in the Bahamas, on Aug. 25, 2001.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Aaliyah-r-kelly.jpg" title="The real Aaliyah with R. Kelly (WBEZ file)." /></div><p>This version of events with Kelly at the center of the film is deeply offensive not only as a hoary &ldquo;frustrated lovers&rdquo;/Romeo and Juliet cliché, but as a flagrant whitewashing of criminal sexual abuse. As Abdon M. Pallasch and I laid out in a series of unchallenged investigative reports for <em>The Chicago Sun-Times </em>spanning several years, and as I recounted in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/timeline-life-and-career-r-kelly-107973">a much-cited timeline of Kelly&rsquo;s crimes for WBEZ.org in July 2013</a>, these are the facts:</p><ul><li>When Kelly first met Aaliyah, she was 12, and he already was widely rumored in the music industry to &ldquo;like them young,&rdquo; abusing his position of wealth and fame to pursue illegal sexual relationships with underage girls.</li><li>According to a civil lawsuit filed in 1996, which he eventually settled with a cash payment, Kelly had already had at least two sexual relationships with underage girls, one 15 and the other 16, in the years before he met Aaliyah. One of those girls slit her wrists when Kelly ended the relationship and began sleeping with the then-14-year-old Aaliyah, as well as writing and producing her debut album, which he titled <em>Age Ain&rsquo;t Nothing But A Number</em>.</li><li>Shortly after the album&rsquo;s completion, on Aug. 31, 1994, Kelly married the now-15-year-old Aaliyah at the Sheraton Gateway Suites in suburban Rosemont, having procured a falsified Cook County marriage certificate listing her age as 18. Some sources have said Aaliyah was pregnant. The singer&rsquo;s family, including a furious Hankerson, separated the couple as soon as they stepped off a plane in Florida for their honeymoon, and Kelly and Aaliyah never spoke again. (Aaliyah did not have a child.)</li><li>In October 1994, the marriage was annulled in Detroit and lawyers for both sides reached a settlement that was sealed in Wayne County Circuit Court, though a copy was obtained by the<em> Sun-Times</em>. The court documents provided a nominal payment of $100 from Kelly to Aaliyah, with Aaliyah promising not to pursue further legal action because of <strong>&ldquo;emotional distress caused by any aspect of her business or personal relationship with Robert&rdquo;</strong> or <strong>&ldquo;physical injury or emotional pain and suffering arising from any assault or battery perpetrated by Robert against her person.&rdquo;</strong></li></ul><p>That language alone indicates that the relationship was far from innocent, but years later, Aaliyah&rsquo;s mother told the <em>Sun-Times</em>: &ldquo;Everything that went wrong in her life began then [with the relationship with Kelly].&rdquo; And while Hankerson did not split with Kelly until more than five years after the marriage, and he&rsquo;s never spoken about what happened between his niece and Kelly on the record, his attorney did share with the <em>Sun-Times </em>a letter that he sent to Kelly&rsquo;s attorney. In it, Hankerson stated that he believed Kelly needed psychiatric help for a compulsion to pursue underage girls, and that Hankerson was in denial about that even after Kelly seduced Aaliyah because he didn&rsquo;t want to believe the worst and Kelly was a master manipulator.</p><p>None of the facts above appear in <em>Aaliyah: The Princess of R&amp;B, </em>nor is there any hint that Kelly became the subject of dozens of legal claims from underage girls just like Aaliyah charging that they had been hurt by illegal sexual relationships with him. Also missing: The fact that Kelly was tried and acquitted in 2008 on charges of making child pornography in a notorious video that allegedly depicts him having sex with and urinating on a girl who was 14 or 15 at the time.</p><p>To be certain, many of the specifics of the Kelly/Aaliyah relationship remain a mystery, and neither side is eager to address them. But the facts that <em>have</em> been well-reported make the story even more dramatic: Aaliyah had the strength and the support system to recover from her relationship with Kelly and record two more brilliant albums (<em>One in a Million </em>in 1996 and the self-titled <em>Aaliyah </em>in 2001), as well as making significant inroads as a leading woman on screen even in the face of Hollywood&rsquo;s aversion to African-American leads.</p><p>More significantly, with the false and phony version of the relationship presented in <em>Aaliyah: The Princess of R&amp;B</em>, Lifetime, Williams, and everyone involved with the film missed the opportunity to provide a stark example and a cautionary tale of how even smart, strong, and self-assured young girls can be victimized by older sexual predators, especially if those men are rich and famous.</p><p>In this way, the cycle of sexual predation is perpetuated, and it&rsquo;s hard to imagine a greater insult to Aaliyah&rsquo;s legacy than that.</p><div style="background-color:#000000;width:520px;"><div style="padding: 4px; text-align: justify;"><iframe align="middle" frameborder="0" height="288" scrolling="no" src="http://media.mtvnservices.com/embed/mgid:uma:video:vh1.com:1097146/cp~id%3D1732368%26vid%3D1097146%26uri%3Dmgid%3Auma%3Avideo%3Avh1.com%3A1097146" width="512"></iframe></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Mon, 10 Nov 2014 07:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-11/aaliyah-deserves-better-her-lifetime-biopic-111082 There is no love in this world anymore http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-11/there-no-love-world-anymore-111070 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Buzzcocks.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>Rare in recent years among the plethora of reunited bands from the punk or alternative eras returned for a second act, the Buzzcocks have stood tall. While the hyper-melodic first-gen punks haven&rsquo;t quite improved on the first three albums from their original era&mdash;and it would be hard if not impossible to better the material so memorably collected on <em>Singles Going Steady </em>(1979), that rare rock best-of that, no exceptions, <em>everybody needs to own</em>&mdash;then the music they&rsquo;ve released post-comeback has at the very least maintained the exuberant energy, indelible melodies, and sheer joy in streamlined speed to a point where many of the newer songs provide an only slightly inferior rush on disc, while they sound every bit as good onstage sandwiched between classics such as &ldquo;What Do I Get?,&rdquo; &ldquo;Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn&rsquo;t&rsquo;ve),&rdquo; and &ldquo;Harmony in My Head.&rdquo;</p><p>That is, until now.</p><p><em>The Way</em> is the sixth album singers, songwriters, and guitarists Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle have released with various new rhythm sections since first taking the band back into the studio in 1993, but it&rsquo;s the first where they often sound tired and devoid of inspiration. Diggle&rsquo;s voice is aging more roughly than Shelley&rsquo;s, but both men have lost considerable range and oomph in the vocal department, in addition to slowing down tempo-wise in general, sacrificing a lot of that sarcastic sense of humor, and narrowing the scope of their sociological commentary.</p><p>This is to say, complaining about the limitations of communicating via Twitter or meeting dates online (&ldquo;Virtually Real&rdquo;) is a lot more predictable, tired, and unambitious than succinctly summing up the existential angst of the modern condition in a mere 14 lines of lyrics (&ldquo;I Believe&rdquo;).</p><p>Add to this the fact that some very minor melodic ideas are stretched way past typical Buzzcocks breaking point (&ldquo;Third Dimension&rdquo; doesn&rsquo;t justify half of its 4:32-length, while &ldquo;Saving Yourself&rdquo; goes on for a full 5 minutes), and that other songs lack even the beginnings of a vital hook (&ldquo;The Way,&rdquo; &ldquo;Out of the Blue&rdquo;) and you have the rare album from these gents that you&rsquo;ll find yourself reluctant to ever play again.</p><p><a href="http://www.jimdero.com/News%202006/BuzzcocksJuly14.htm">Asked about the success of his band&rsquo;s second act in 2006</a>, Shelley told me, &ldquo;After 30 years, if you don&rsquo;t get it right, you must be doing the wrong thing!&rdquo; Well, the Buzzcocks did everything right for a good long time. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/SNujcFvHDRU" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>The Buzzcocks, <em>The Way </em>(PledgeMusic)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 1 star.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 07:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-11/there-no-love-world-anymore-111070 Olivia Jean: Lana Del Rey's worst nightmare http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-11/olivia-jean-lana-del-reys-worst-nightmare-111060 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/OliviaJean.jpg" style="height: 620px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>On their initial flurry of singles for Jack White&rsquo;s Third Man Records, and even more so on their eponymous album in 2011, the all-female &ldquo;garage-goth&rdquo; band the Black Belles amply delivered on the promise of that self-invented genre description with a ferocious snarl, an abundance of attitude, plenty of dark atmosphere, and a healthy dose of humor (and I lauded them for all of the above on <a href="http://soundopinions.org/show/355/#theblackbelles">this episode of <em>Sound Opinions</em></a>). But even as a smitten fan, I wasn&rsquo;t quite prepared for the joys of <em>Bathtub Love Killings, </em>the solo debut by the Black Belles&rsquo; multi-instrumentalist Olivia Jean.</p><p>Rivaling any death metal band for her obsession with horror and the macabre&mdash;the album title was inspired by a serial killer from the 1800s who slayed three women in their bathtubs, and song titles include &ldquo;Merry Widow,&rdquo; &ldquo;Deadly Hex,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Green Honeycreeper&rdquo;&mdash;Olivia Jean keeps things balanced with an Elvira-like fondness for kitschy/goofy humor and an aesthetic that might be described as early &rsquo;60s girl group gone very, very bad. But all of that is window dressing that would hardly matter a whit if she wasn&rsquo;t also an incredibly versatile and virtuosic musician able to play any instrument she picks up, further strengthened by an encyclopedic knowledge of music (heavy on the best of rootsy Americana and genuine country). Meanwhile, as a songwriter, she has unerring ear for crafting memorable hooks and deftly blurring genre lines, making her songs sound instantly familiar&mdash;though you never can quite figure out exactly why, much less who exactly they remind you of.</p><p>Given the way she plays with pre-Beatles pop images, as well as how she relies on sultry delivery and plenty of attitude much more than on a perfect-pitch voice, the comparison between Olivia Jean and Lana Del Rey is inevitable. But as I made abundantly clear in my reviews of <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-01-31/album-review-lana-del-rey-%E2%80%98born-die%E2%80%99-interscope-96007">Born to Die</a> </em>and <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-06/lana-del-rey-walks-tightrope-110358">Ultraviolence</a>, </em>Lana&rsquo;s bad girl posing is seriously undercut by her willingness to pander to the bad boys (possibly to the point of self-abuse), while Olivia isn&rsquo;t playing anyone&rsquo;s game but her own, much less serving as anyone&rsquo;s doormat. This is what makes her a true child of Wanda Jackson, one of the many artists she&rsquo;s backed as part of the Third Man family and house band, and more power to her.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/pjdB44WlwQg" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Olivia Jean, <em>Bathtub Love Killings </em>(Third Man Records)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.</strong></p><p><em>Follow me on Twitter </em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em>, join me on </em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em>, and podcast </em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em> and </em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em>.</em></p></p> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 16:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-11/olivia-jean-lana-del-reys-worst-nightmare-111060 Back for a shellacking http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/back-shellacking-111023 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Shellac-band.jpg" style="height: 404px; width: 620px;" title="Shellac: Trainer, Albini, Weston." /></div></div></div><p>Like, say, Lou Reed and John Cale in the shadow of the Velvet Underground, that irascible Chicagoan Steve Albini has labored for most of his life under the combined blessing/curse of his first significant band having influenced countless musicians who&rsquo;ve followed in its wake, and with those Big Black recordings still sounding mind-blowing and light years ahead of their time now, three decades later.</p><p>I was there, and yeah, it really was that great<em>, </em>as John &ldquo;Jughead&rdquo; Pierson amply illustrates in <a href="http://jugheadsbasement.com/2014/10/28/big-black-bulldozer-atomizer/">the fascinating new episode of his <em>Jughead&rsquo;s Basement</em> podcast</a>, which recounts the history of Big Black with a special focus on its classic album <em>Atomizer </em>(1986). (Click on the link above or the image below for the stream or free download.)</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://jugheadsbasement.com/2014/10/28/big-black-bulldozer-atomizer/"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bigblack-220x220.jpg" title="" /></a></div><p>As Albini denies in that forum but as I maintain with a few comments of my own, the singer and guitarist&rsquo;s roots as a wordsmith&mdash;he came to Chicago from Montana to study at what was then Northwestern&rsquo;s Medill School of Journalism&mdash;are significant. His and Santiago Durango&rsquo;s guitars absolutely were groundbreaking and thoroughly unique, as were Dave Riley&rsquo;s fonky grooves and Roland the drum machine&rsquo;s inhuman rhythms. And they were paired with some hauntingly powerful melodies, even if Albini would no doubt denigrate the word &ldquo;hooks.&rdquo; But the strength of the music was matched by the conceptual and lyrical heft of Albini&rsquo;s reportage-as-horror storytelling, as evidenced by the harrowing tales in songs such as &ldquo;Jordan, Minnesota,&rdquo; &ldquo;Kerosene,&rdquo; &ldquo;Cables,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Il Duce&rdquo; (and remember, Mussolini also started as journalist).</p><p>With a few notable exceptions&mdash;&ldquo;Prayer to God&rdquo; from 2000&rsquo;s <em>1000 Hurts </em>springs to mind&mdash;Albini pretty much stopped caring about the lyrics when he launched Shellac with bassist-vocalist Bob Weston and drummer-vocalist Todd Trainer in 1992... or at least he stopped having much of an impact with his words, focusing instead, sometimes with overly clinical, near-math-rock precision, on those Spartan arrangements and massive, jackhammer-harsh sounds, while the hooks became sparse to non-existent. Then, too, the searing humor of old also was too often confined to the live shows, via those annoyingly long bursts of stage patter.</p><p>While it&rsquo;s always a joy just to hear these three musicians playing together with such obvious enthusiasm and impressive synchronicity&mdash;listen to the intricate rhythmic interactions on the instrumental &ldquo;The People&rsquo;s Microphone&rdquo;&mdash;much of the success of Shellac&rsquo;s brilliant new <em>Dude Incredible, </em>the trio&rsquo;s fifth album and first new release in seven years, can be found in the shorter, tighter arrangements, a bigger dollop of melody, and dare I say it a little more focus on song craft, especially in the lyrics. No, Albini hasn&rsquo;t returned to lyrics as tabloid journalism, and he&rsquo;s done his best to swat us away from searching for meaning in the tunes <a href="http://exclaim.ca/News/steve_albini_breaks_down_shellacs_dude_incredible_track_by_track">in an amusing track-by-track breakdown with Exclaim.ca</a>. Then, too, he is not Shellac&rsquo;s only lyricist. So credit the whole group with the intentional-or-not conceptual framework for this disc, created by a trio of &ldquo;surveyor&rdquo;-themed songs, but it works.</p><p>Apparently the boys were riffing during their infrequent gatherings in the clubhouse of Electrical Audio on the historical oddity of many of the Founding Fathers having worked as surveyors&mdash;&ldquo;meaning,&rdquo; as Albini says, &ldquo;they took a chain and a pole and paced off the physical dimensions of our new country&hellip; But if you think of the word &lsquo;survey,&rsquo; that means that you&#39;re assessing something from a distance and measuring it<em>. </em>There are a lot of circumstances where there&rsquo;s an external observer surveying what&rsquo;s going on. It doesn&rsquo;t even necessarily have to be a person these days. It could be a satellite or a drone or a surveillance camera.&rdquo;</p><p>And so we have the human red-light cameras of Shellac giving us their observations on the group dynamics of broism in the title track, &ldquo;Riding Bikes,&rdquo; and &ldquo;You Came In Me&rdquo; (they&rsquo;re not sexist, they just portray sexists on LP); mulling about how the modern world breeds obsessive compulsion (&ldquo;Compliant&rdquo;), and paying homage to the history and ugly beauty of that blighted industrial burg to our south, &ldquo;Gary,&rdquo; which ranks as the funniest this band&rsquo;s ever been&mdash;though that&rsquo;s not to discount the brief a cappella Shellac-as-Whiffenpoofs intro to &ldquo;All the Surveyors,&rdquo; or Albini&rsquo;s angry bird caws later in that tune, which are both a real hoot, too.</p><p>Scoff at the aged punk&rsquo;s curmudgeonly public persona if you will, and maintain your disdain for his absolutism if you must. But avoid <em>Dude Incredible</em> at your own loss, because it&rsquo;s better than Shellac ever has been, and it&rsquo;s as good as uncompromising rock ever gets.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/StooJzxAfrc" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Shellac, <em>Dude Incredible </em>(Touch and Go)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 4 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><strong><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></a><em>, join me on </em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><em>Facebook</em></a><em>, and podcast </em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/">Sound Opinions</a><em>.</em></strong></p></p> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/back-shellacking-111023 Return of the Aphex Twin http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/return-aphex-twin-110978 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/aphex-twin.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>From the perspective of the techno scene in 2014, Richard D. James, better known as the Aphex Twin, hails from another planet. Then again, in terms of the depth of his vision, the scope of his creativity, and his pre-social networking disdain for conventional self-promotion and the trappings of stardom, he always has.</p><p>During his heyday in the&rsquo;90s, James often was described as making the techno equivalent of <em>Nuggets</em>-style psychedelic garage rock&mdash;incredibly organic electronica, owing as much to the &ldquo;found sounds&rdquo; of Stockhausen as it did to digital technology&mdash;but he never was easily pigeonholed, and that description ignores if not slights the beauty of the ambient work that also has long been part of his mix.</p><p>Born in Cornwall, England, in 1971, James began experimenting with sound as a child, dismantling and rebuilding the piano in his parents&rsquo; living room. He discovered house music via a tape that a friend brought back from Chicago, and by age 13, &nbsp;he already was crafting similar tracks using reel to reel tape recorders and old analog synthesizers that he built or customized himself in between performing menial jobs like ditch-digging. Tape hiss, crackles, pops, and unidentifiable electronic bleeps, burbles, and glitches are all part of his music&rsquo;s charm, as are the sounds of improvised instruments.</p><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;I&rsquo;d say to my friends, &lsquo;Pick any object in the room and I&rsquo;ll make a track out of it,&rsquo;&rdquo; James told <em>Option </em>magazine in 1994. &ldquo;I&rsquo;d make complete tracks out of Coke cans and carpets. Coke cans are easy because they have a lot of good acoustic characteristics, but with things like carpets, it&rsquo;s very difficult to get a bass drum sound.&rdquo;</p><p>Slower and spacier than more hardcore rave music at the time, James&rsquo;s grooves function as well on headphones as they do on the dance floor, and he&rsquo;s been hailed by many aficionados as techno&rsquo;s premier sonic genius, though he never achieved the mainstream success of first-gen peers like Moby, Fatboy Slim, and the Chemical Brothers, much less modern stars such as Skrillex or Deadmau5. His best-known track remains &ldquo;Didgeridoo,&rdquo; which used electronic sounds to duplicate the drone of the Australian Aboriginal instrument, prompting a flood of DJs incorporating other ethnic instruments at the time, as evidenced by the old Wax Trax! compilation, <em>Ethnotechno</em>.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/S5UBYOv1G9A" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Watershed &rsquo;90s releases such as <em>Analogue Bubblebath</em>, <em>Selected Ambient Works 85-92</em>, <em>Selected Ambient Works Volume II </em>(which marked his signing to Sire/Warner Bros. during the brief window when techno was marketed as &ldquo;the next big thing&rdquo; after grunge), <em>&hellip;I Care Because You Do</em>, and 1997&rsquo;s <em>Richard D. James </em>(by which point he was dabbling in jungle) remain essential listening for anyone who cares about electronic music, drawing on predecessors such as Stockhausen, Can, Cluster, and Eno while simultaneously pointing at a future that still hasn&rsquo;t been fully realized. (The Aphex Twin can deliver a more varied sonic palette and a more exciting listening experience on one track than many artists who fill arenas today provide in an hours-long set, all with a singularly twisted sense of humor.)</p><p>Sought after by the likes of Beck and Nine Inch Nails to work his remix magic back in the day, James was wary of stardom and the hype machine, and shortly after the video for &ldquo;Come to Daddy&rdquo; began generating MTV airplay, he announced his retirement, saying he planned to focus on running his independent label, Rephlex, while making music primarily for himself and a small community of online devotees. And with rare exceptions&mdash;2001&rsquo;s <em>drukqs<strong>, </strong></em>the last recording released under the Aphex Twin moniker&mdash;that&rsquo;s exactly what he&rsquo;s done.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/h-9UvrLyj3k" width="620"></iframe></p><p>The question now, then, is not where James has been, but why he&rsquo;s chosen to release music again as the Aphex Twin, initially trumpeting its release via the Deep Web and on a blimp flying over London. (I said he was against conventional self-promotion, not <em>all </em>self-promotion.) Inscrutable as ever, he really hasn&rsquo;t explained. Does he want to teach the kids a thing or two about ambition? Remind us that his worst day was better than their best? Claim a piece of what he helped start now that it&rsquo;s the new mainstream? All or none of the above? I couldn&rsquo;t begin to hazard a guess; I&rsquo;m just glad he&rsquo;s back.</p><p>Recorded over a period of years in various studios, including his home base in the Scottish countryside, <em>Syro </em>is a collection of 12 mostly instrumental tracks that are typically dense, ever-evolving in moods and styles (from jungle to ambient), and both resonant of the artist&rsquo;s rich past and pointing toward new directions in terms of the sonic ingredients (the most notable addition: treated vocals from his family members). The titles are, apparently, meaningless&mdash;&ldquo;4 bit 9d api+e+6&nbsp;[126.26],&rdquo; &ldquo;fz pseudotimestretch+e+3&nbsp;[138.85]&rdquo;&mdash;but the music certainly is not, comprising a movie of the imagination with the voices of James, his wife, his children, and his parents evoking the soul in the midst of the machines, or perhaps the battle to maintain our humanity amid the overwhelming post-industrial digital onslaught.</p><p>Always challenging, sometimes very funny, and alternatingly warm and welcoming and frightening but thrilling, <em>Syro </em>is a welcome and much-needed reminder of what this genre is capable of at its very best. And some of it you might even want to dance to.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/RUAJ8KLGqis" width="620"></iframe></p><p><strong>Aphex Twin, <em>Syro </em>(Warp Records)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 4 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike></em></strong><strong><em>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/return-aphex-twin-110978 Contemplating suicide in the opera house men’s room http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/contemplating-suicide-opera-house-men%E2%80%99s-room-110967 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SWSOCover.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>At 71, American-born Scott Walker, long a cult hero to the Brits, has stretched the meaning of that phrase further and asked for more indulgence from his small but devoted audience than just about anybody else in the history of cult heroics. He&rsquo;s moved from a pioneer in orchestral pop with the early &rsquo;60s Walker Brothers, to an acid-damaged MOR pop star in his mid-period solo years, to a decidedly eccentric and esoteric devotee of the musical avant-garde for his final act&mdash;&ldquo;Andy Williams reinventing himself as Stockhausen,&rdquo; as <em>The Guardian </em>once proclaimed.</p><p>More than a little &ldquo;out there&rdquo; themselves, Stephen O&rsquo;Malley and Greg Anderson, the Seattle duo that records as the experimental metal/drone/noise band Sunn O))), first approached Walker about appearing on a track on their 2009 album <em>Monoliths &amp; Dimensions. </em>A few years later, the singer proposed something even more daring and ambitious: having the pair back him on a set of new material, creating an entire album together. Bravo to both parties for daring to think outside the box; as an idea, <em>Soused </em>is a grand one. Unfortunately, as a listening experience, it makes the harshest outings by Diamanda Galas, the only artist who even springs to mind for previous attempts to combine sonic clamor and operatic grandiosity, sound like a sunny-day pop trifle.</p><p>&nbsp;No doubt somewhere in the Afterlife my Italian forebears grimace to read this, but my tolerance for opera is minimal to non-existent, so barrier number one is Walker&rsquo;s extremely theatrical, often highly affected baritone, virtuosic though it may be. Barrier number two is that Sunn O)))&rsquo;s dark, dense, often arrhythmic waves of drone, undeniable on their own, never actually mesh with Walker&rsquo;s Gilbert and Sullivan Tour Hell routine. Finally, there are the lyrics and subject matter, heavy on the fascism and sado-masochism with a splash of absurdity tossed in. And, at the end and just to lighten the mood, we get a cover of a tune by Ute Lemper.</p><p>Given all of that, and with five songs that each clock in around nine minutes or more, this clearly isn&rsquo;t an album for everybody. But pondering the question of who its intended audience is, I can&rsquo;t come up with anybody&mdash;except, perhaps, the hapless host of a Halloween party looking to clear out the last recalcitrant guests with something guaranteed to horrify (and not in a good way).</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/UwSveFnWzhI" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Scott Walker &amp; Sunn O))), </strong><strong><em>Soused </em></strong><strong>(4AD)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: .5 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/contemplating-suicide-opera-house-men%E2%80%99s-room-110967 Kirk Swan unloaded and back where he belongs http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/kirk-swan-unloaded-and-back-where-he-belongs-110965 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Kirk%20Swan.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Kirk Swan" /></div><p>Of all the bands in Boston&rsquo;s fertile indie-rock scene during the early to mid-&rsquo;80s&mdash;Volcano Suns, Salem 66, Big Dipper, Dinosaur Jr., and even the vaunted Pixies&mdash;my favorite by far was Dumptruck, the group co-founded by Kirk Swan and Seth Tiven. As guitarists, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PpX85Vp3XE">the duo&rsquo;s intertwining leads rivaled those of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd in Television</a>, while as singers and songwriters, the pair <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_hdokYK-r0">confidently tread its own path down a road that started with Big Star and continued with the early, Mitch Easter-produced R.E.M.</a></p><p>The band debuted with the self-recorded <em>D is for Dumptruck </em>in 1983, and Easter was at the helm for the follow-up, <em>Positively Dumptruck</em>; both are brilliant, and the band was even better live. Alas, by &rsquo;86, things started to fall apart: Swan departed, and while Tiven pressed on, the sort of epic legal problems that make those of our generation cheer the long-awaited death of the major-label system caused him no end of migraines. <a href="http://www.jimdero.com/News2004/Mar22SXSWwrap.htm">The band&rsquo;s co-founders have reunited on occasion</a> since, often in Tiven&rsquo;s new hometown of Austin, and in between touring with Steve Wynn&rsquo;s band, Swan has released some low-key but always rewarding solo albums. The third and latest is this longtime fan&rsquo;s favorite.</p><p><em>Unloaded </em>began as a Dumptruck reunion record but ended up as a solo outing, Swan told me (though he didn&rsquo;t say why). Nevertheless, &ldquo;Seth is on a couple tunes, so there are hints of the &rsquo;truck.&rdquo; Indeed.</p><p>As a lyricist, Swan was emo almost before emo was emo. Some cynics can be put off by his earnest and unapologetic Romantic streak&mdash;he loves to muse about things like snowflakes (&ldquo;World Stops Spinning&rdquo;), slate-gray skies (&ldquo;Dark Cloud&rdquo;), and Autumn leaves (ah, those Northeastern roots!), and his earnestness is painful and palpable when he sings about things like the end of a relationship (&ldquo;Walk Alone&rdquo;) and the suicidal stupidity of youth (&ldquo;Walking a Thin Line&rdquo;). But the sporadic clumsiness of some of his words is elevated to a glorious poetry by the strength of his melodies and the alternating fragility and ferocity of those guitar lines, which remain as vital and thrilling as ever. (Go, Kirk, go!)</p><p>This record may not be easy to find: Never a master of self-promotion (he hasn&rsquo;t updated his Web site since 2007), Swan seems as if, to paraphrase Brian Wilson, he just wasn&rsquo;t made for these digital times. Bug him on Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kirk-Swan-music/250293009090?sk=photos_stream">here</a> or <a href="https://www.facebook.com/kirk.swan.33/about">here</a> to get these tunes out there for the audience they deserve. Meanwhile, enjoy this clip on YouTube.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/tFe4CLPYo_k" width="620"></iframe></p><p><strong>Kirk Swan, <em>Unloaded </em>(D.I.Y.)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/kirk-swan-unloaded-and-back-where-he-belongs-110965 The Preatures: Walking on sunshine with blue planet eyes http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/preatures-walking-sunshine-blue-planet-eyes-110949 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/The-Preatures_Blue-Planet-Eyes.jpg" style="height: 620px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div></div><p>With singer Izzi Manfredi&rsquo;s leather-jacketed, self-assured, coolly disaffected update on the classic Debbie Harry or Chrissie Hynde stance and the band&rsquo;s percolating rhythms charting a tuneful course somewhere between Motown, New Wave, and electronic dance music, the Preatures <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-03/sxsw-2014-dispatch-2-panels-preatures-hungarians-wytches-oh-my-109846">made a strong impression at SXSW 2014</a>. Yes, the buzz bands of March sometimes disappoint by the time a full-length debut arrives in October. But working with producer Jim Eno of Spoon, the Sydney quintet has crafted the most irresistible album in this vein since Katrina and the Waves, rising above a bevvy of obvious influences to take the sound in new directions via the subtle use of electronics.</p><p>Pinpointing those influences has been a theme of most of the reviews the band has garnered so far, almost all positive. But charting the ingredients recipe-style shorts the strength of the finished dish; it&rsquo;s the songwriting and the sound as a whole that sucks you in and keeps you coming back. The absolutely exuberant &ldquo;Cruel&rdquo; and &ldquo;It Gets Better,&rdquo; the slyly seductive title track, the fonky-in-a-good-way &ldquo;Somebody&rsquo;s Talking&rdquo; and &ldquo;Is This How You Feel&rdquo;&mdash;heck, every one of the 10 tunes on this exquistely short and sweet 34-minute debut&mdash;not only stand on their own but combine for one of the most impressive introductory bows in recent memory.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/77_uwLYz55A" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>The Preatures, <em>Blue Planet Eyes </em>(Harvest Records)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 3.5 stars</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/preatures-walking-sunshine-blue-planet-eyes-110949