Now I Am All Figured Out
A little late getting to this one (it came out last year), so sorry about that, Gerald, if you’re still in Missoula or reading this somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Sorry that I don’t have the proper fridge-poetry module to describe the music, because I know that kitchen-sink electronic stuff like this relies on some pretty fine distinctions to acquit it in print. In any case, I’d go ahead and put this someplace between “cabin breakfast” and “medicine cabinet,” for the many moods here. Lots of crackling electronic ambience and mondo-distorto crooning/whispering with anxious feedback leaking through the joints. “Elegance” is a very noisy ballad for the Tesla-coil crowd. “Apathy” flirts with an almost alt-country sound and is appropriately sequenced to follow the Percodan maelstrom of “Elegance,” but if I had to pick the one word that describes this it would be “moody.” All songs written, conceived and performed by Gerald Sonessa, Jr.
Sinker, Too Close to Call
Another entry in the recent series of “We recorded this someplace else and then some of us moved to Missoula” releases. In fact, I don’t know if Sinker vocalist/guitarist Nic Laverne is actually hawking these to local record stores or just trying to drum up some impartial press in a different city to send to the folks back home. Nic brought it to the right place, though. Folksy acoustic pop with a cello in the mix is always an appealing proposition, I think, and the songwriting on Too Close to Call is deft enough to make the most of it. When cellos disappoint in pop music, it’s usually because no one has a clear idea what the cello should be doing, including the cellist, and so you usually end up just feeling sorry for them. Nothing like that here, thank heavens (This just in: I read on the band’s Web site, www.sinkermusic.com, that cellist Kate Wilkinson is earning her masters at UM and is also third chair in the Missoula Symphony). It all comes together perfectly on the jaunty instrumental “American Spirit,” and most of the other 13 tracks are top drawer, too. This is totally autumn music, all crisp country outings and smoldering leaf piles. Worth tracking down for “American Spirit” alone.
Mustangs in the Desert
About what you’d expect from a bunch of local old-schoolers who have been playing in the same circles for years now: Bob Zimorino, Keith Hardin, Jay Kirby, who used to be in the Tirebiters, plus straggler Thom Smithlin and Tirebiters producer Robert Harsch drafted in on the keyboards. The coolest thing about Mustangs in the Desert is that it’s all originals—no dog-eared covers of “Mustang Sally” or the usual bar-band fodder, and believe me, when I hear a thousandth-generation cover of “Mustang Sally,” the ice on my pond starts getting pretty thin. The Levitators thank spouses and kids and grandkids in the liner notes and describe their philosophy as “Keep it light and see where the music takes us.” Mostly it seems to take them back to their formative influences—Dire Straits casts a long shadow here, intentionally or not—but it’s pretty damn honest music and I can’t tell you how highly I value local bands who write all their own music, sink or swim. I wish more bands with the ear of Missoula’s older show-going crowd would take similar risks, put the original-to-cover ratio at 50/50 or better and see where that takes them. Available at Rockin Rudy’s.
No-Fi Soul Rebellion,
The Chocolate Demos
I was never too psyched about either the dress-up gospel soul of Washington, D.C.’s Make Up or the hip-hugger blues chic of the John Spencer Blues Explosion, but this I like a lot. A real lot, and not just because these mama’s boys got all up in my business about it. The Chocolate Demos is a little of the good stuff—not strictly funk or soul, although the first two tracks pretty much lay it down with Bootsy-style bass and lots of enthusiastic falsetto backup vocals. And check out this genius line (from “Artists”): “Clement Greenberg wrote the gospel and the word on universal form and beauty/Since the Postmoderns came it’s never been the same ’cause they don’t give a flying fig-newtie/Hooo!!!!” It’s not as brilliant as that all the time, but it hits way more than it misses, and there’s a refreshing earnestness to the whole thing that pretty much makes you like it. At least, it made me like it. Oh, No-Fi Soul Rebellion? You had me at hello.
Sacred Wuornos, Sacred Wuornos
I forget. Is this an advance copy, or do I just have the only copy in existence until word gets back to the toiling death-metal imp who laid it on me that someone else might want one? Just to be on the safe side, I’m bringing this one over to Ear Candy as a store copy. That is, just as soon as I’m done carving the necessary pentagrams in my flesh to really get in touch with the vomitous black mass of noise encoded into this li’l doozy. Barely audible Cookie Monster vocals set against a hellified sheet of guitar tuned down to the very plinth of the human audible range. A half-step lower and it would rupture organs. No song titles, no lyrics, no information of any kind forthcoming. It could be the amplified sound of army ants devouring a tapir. A black metal musical performed by the inmates of a Japanese leper colony. The sound of a bazillion demons trying to jimmy their way out of the same door to hell. Very frightening.