November Picks 2

1981-1984- The Neats

Boston band played a garagey folkrock  sorta reminiscent of the Feelies or Kiwi bands like the Clean, with simple, driving melodies and pounding rhythms wholly stripped of wankery and flash. The singer, one Eric Martin, had a great deep voice, the band works up to a manic groove, and the songs have a way of insinuating themselves into your brain. Hypnotic stuff.

Raw Sienna — Savoy Brown

Jazzier and less rigid than their other blues-based works, this album ranks with the finest Brit rock of the 70s, with great, restrained playing and, in little-remembered Chris Youlden, a fantastic frontman with a cool, Mose Allison-like vibe. Impeccably arranged, with stinging guitar solos and notably tasteful deployment of horns–this is what Blood Sweat & Tears could have sounded like if they didn’t suck. “A Little More Wine” and “A Hard Way to Go” pretty well sum up my mood these days.

Life on Planet Eartsnop — Myracle Brah

Unabashedly derivative,  maddeningly catchy guitar pop which sounds uncannily like outtakes from “A Hard Day’s Night.” The principal is a very good McCartney-esque singer and guitarist (check out the excellent bonus solo acoustic tracks) and has a seemingly limitless to crank out these hooky, two-minute gems. The more lightweight stuff like “I’m In Love” does veer into Rutles territory (not a bad thing, since I love the Rutles), but he’ll surprise you with the more powerful moments like “Good Day to the Night” and “Bitter Thing.” A real guilty pleasure.

A Blowin’ Session – Johnny Griffin

On the surface this is just another good Blue Note hard bop album. Listen more critically and you’ll hear the world’s greatest drummer doing perhaps his best-ever recorded work—Blakey’s technique and speed are absolutely mindboggling. The sax players ain’t bad either—Griffin, Coltrane and Hank Mobley all play on “The Way You Look Tonight.”

Jimmywine Majestic — Red Red Meat

Overlooked Chicago band played a twisted, dark sort of blues, with lurching rhythms, distorted slide guitars and interesting, cryptic lyrics. The Stones of “Exile on Main Street” are a good reference, though they also suggest the more experimental postrock of bands like Polvo or Chavez. Alternating pulverizing, sludgy riffs (“Flank, “Smoky MTN”) with downcast acoustic songs of considerable beauty (“Braindead”), the songs are mantra-like and the overall sound is insinuating. This is the kind of record best absorbed in one sitting; I’ve worn out several copies already.

Free Dirt – Died Pretty

Psychedelic Aussie garage rock fueled by surging organ and frenetic, Iggy Pop-like vocals. The Doors’ first album is the obvious template, but I also hear early electric Dylan and heavier REM; the songs are groove-oriented and insistent, with a great sense of loud/soft dynamics. This is the best kind of headbanging music—visceral and powerful without sacrificing hooks and savvy.