2005 ISSUE #74
Buried Alive In The Blues
Out The Box Records
Once upon a time, Chicago was home to such blues
legends as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and they prowled the
underground nightclub scene, relatively unknown in the outside
world. In the mid-to-late 60s they were discovered and uncovered
by a group of young local rock musicians who had fallen in love
with the blues, and were eager to incorporate it into their rock
sound. Amongst those musicians were the likes of Michael Bloomfield,
Steve Miller, Barry Goldberg, Harvey Mandel, along with many others,
who took the blues they heard in the clubs and helped introduce
it to the mainstream in their own bands and albums.
Fast forward almost 40 years later, and we have
the Chicago Blues Reunion, which brings back together a few of
the survivors of this varied group of individuals as they pay
homage to the history of Chicago blues. Featured in the collection
are blues artists like the aforementioned Goldberg and Mandel,
along with Nick Gravenites, Tracy Nelson, Corky Siegel, and Sam
The CD is a straight-ahead set of live blues, where
the group members show off some of their own original tunes along
with a few blues classics. It's a pretty good rave-up, with each
of the members showing off their chops, which haven't suffered
any loss over the past 40 years.
The real gem of the set, however, is the DVD, which
serves more like a documentary instead of simple coverage of the
concert. In it, we not only see the band members reminiscing about
the early 60s blues club scene, but we also get commentary from
artists like B.B. King and Buddy Guy on the importance of the
Chicago blues. Interspersed between the interviews is archival
footage of the blues scene, along with footage of the recent reunion
While the CBR live material alone is worth the price
of admission, the additional documentary DVD makes it a must-have---especially
if you are a fan of Chicago blues.
MISH MASH Mandate: Real Blues Brothers
Out The Box Records Website
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New Music Reviews
Usually various artists compilations aren't much to get excited about.
In this case, the exception can be found in two of the three bands
featured in this collection of groups from Perth, Australia.
Light The Fuse
Out Of The Loop Records
12 song CD
The collection showcases three current Perth bands (The Volcanics,
The M-16s, and Fourstroke) who cover one song each from the town's
past music scene, along with three original tunes to round it all
out. Simply put, The Volcanics and The M-16s are incredible little
post-punk garage bands, flailing away skillfully with their guitar
rock strut. It's almost hard to believe they are both tucked away
down under on the other side of the world while other more famous
and less-deserving bands (who won't be named here) get all the press
here in the West.
The Volcanics do their best take on the sloppy-but-sure glam rock
of NYD & Johnny Thunders, and The M-16s seem to take their cues
from the big guitars of The Cult. Fourstroke holds their own also
with a classic drum & guitar attack, even though they are somewhat
overshadowed by the other two. Don't miss this one---and since you're
probably not going to Perth anytime soon, let your browser take
MISH MASH Mandate: Downed Under
Out Of The Loop Website
Absolute Zero Records
14 song CD
Leo Abrahams is an instrumentalist with an edge. While at first
glance this well sought-after session artist's tunes softly come
across with new age nuance, the songs unfold with layers of subtle
angst, and we see that Abrahams has plenty to say without saying
anything at all---at least not with words.
Abrahams is first and foremost a guitarist, and his songs are primed
in smatterings of rock guitar, atmospheric tones and acoustic noodlings.
At the same time, he expertly embraces the rhythms all around him,
which can move from heavy tribal drums to light taps, not afraid
to wrap his melodies inside the beat.
The result is an album which rides on an air of anxiety, keeping
the listener enthralled with an almost imperceptible discomfort,
a feeling that only grows as the music proceeds. It's a disc that
challenges and confronts without being overt, and quite a listening
MISH MASH Mandate: Rhythm Rider
Leo Abrahams Website
The Jazzman Cometh
Wantage USA/Kill Shaman
6 song CD
Listening to The Pope is like watching something explode. Their
sound is based in pure rancorous noise, caught somewhere between
RATM and Refused, all the more impressive when you consider they're
only a duo featuring bass and drums.
The songs are ripped out in extreme fashion, layer upon layer
of overdriven bass lines and noisy sound effects which bury the
drums in a sonic flood of cacophony. The vocals are delivered
in an unintelligible and mangled yelp which would make David Yow
bow in admiration.
I'm not sure if there's supposed to be a message in here, but
from what I gather, this is deconstructive music reaching to the
core. It goes beyond mere angst for anger's sake and into the
realm of noise as art. It's a beautiful mess, and well worth the
effort. Best of all, your parents will hate it. So will most of
MISH MASH Mandate: Bombs Away
Wantage USA Website
Kill Shaman Website
Formula For A Fight
5 song CD
Modern garage rock meets 70s punk head-on in this EP from the Seattle-based
Weapons. It's sort of a natural fit, as these guys sound like they
could have sat comfortably alongside any other number of groups
on Sub Pop a decade ago as Nirvana rode the waves of grungy superstardom.
The Weapons have a similar approach as Cobain & Co., as they
emulate the old days of punk by updating the sound to more modern
tastes. But don't let the assocations I've made with Seattle and
grunge scare you off, as these guys manage to shake that off quite
nicely. This isn't so much a re-hash as it is a re-visit of the
things that made that movement so alive, freshened up and brought
back to life in the 21st Century.
MISH MASH Mandate: Wily Weapons
The Weapons Website
You The Provider
10 Song CD
Chris Harrington is a singer-songwriter who embraces a classic pop
sound, while at the same time not letting that sound get stale.
He does this with an earnest and honest vocal style, combined with
a writing skill that avoids those dangerous rock cliches we've all
come to hate.
He borrows a little from British Invasion, keeping his sensibilities
in place, providing a smart pop base to build on. The songs never
quite break out into full rock, relying instead on minor chord
anxiousness and melancholy lyrics to provide the tension. It's
a brilliant blend, and it works just right.
MISH MASH Mandate: Mod Rocker
Chris Harrington Website
Candy Cone Records
4 song CD
With a sound that's almost as dark as it is quiet, Hush Collector
creeps into your head with stealth. Before you realize it, you're
caught in their atmospheric trap, mezmerized by the mysterious solitude
created by their music.
They manage to do in four songs what most groups fail to do in
an entire album---which is captivate and manipulate without tiring
out the listener. It helps that lead vocalist Katie Mummery has
one of those intriguing little-girl voices, one which won't let
go once it grabs hold. Before you know it, the disc is over, and
you're pressing play again, needing to hear more.
MISH MASH Mandate: Go With The Flow
Hush Collector Website
4 song CD
Doing their best to stay unconventional, Rademacher styles their
sound around not having a style at all. It's a loosely executed
rock sound, not relying on structure in a traditional sense. It's
almost as if Radiohead decided to go into the garage and cover a
few Interpol songs.
The result is an EP which thumbs its nose at pop convention, but
at the same time provides enough catchy melody to keep it interesting
MISH MASH Mandate: Unconventional Convention
© 2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved