Clearcut Case of the Blues
It doesn’t take much effort to enjoy longtime Missoula resident (and occasional Indy contributor) Mike Bader’s new album, since he plays the blues like he advocates (as an environmental consultant, these days) for the forests: religiously. Only momentarily, in “Never too Late” and “Funky Ed,” does he deviate from his chosen path, offering a glimpse into R & B, reggae and funk influences. And thankfully, he files his environmental proselytizing and his six-string licks in separate compartments of his brain; punning title aside, this is straight blues, no preaching.
The album features a well-rounded selection of Bader’s bluesy guitar solos, and his vocals are raspy and edgy, like any legitimate blues purveyor’s ought to be. The additional band members do nothing but enhance the quality of the sound with their combined musical expertise, which encompasses well over 30 years of gigging around. Bader is joined on the album by his brother Dave Bader on bass, Mike “Butchie” O’Connell on percussion, and Tom “T-Bone” Giblin on keyboard. Guest guitarist Craig Erickson rounds out the entourage of veteran musicians. (Diego Bejarano)
The Mike Bader Blues Band will play at Downtown ToNight at Caras Park on Thursday, July 1, at 5:30 PM.
Solo! Duo! Trio!: Blues that Defy My Soul
What’s the difference between Dexter Romweber and George Thorogood? Well, they do pretty much the same thing, but Romweber is nowhere near as grating, and he’s got real white soul. Jack White of the White Stripes is a longtime fanboy, for whatever that’s worth to you.
Lead singer, guitarist, songwriter and all-around personality of the incomparably rockin’ Flat Duo Jets, Romweber’s way with a song isn’t so much about building as it is about upkeep. Like Thorogood, he’s basically speaking a musical language with a syntax and lexicon that have changed little since the 1950s. But at least he’s fluent, and not every song is some boneheaded whiskey anthem: “I Drink Alone,” “One Bourbon, One Shot, One Beer,” etc.
Like a farmer fixing fences and shoring up sagging outbuildings, Romweber keeps creaky old styles like doo-wop and boogie-woogie in good repair through routine songwriting maintenance. “Rockin’ Dead Man” is as plain-Jane a boogie tune as you’ll ever hear, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for through sheer enthusiasm. Romweber has a great, adenoidal yowl that practically shouts “I’m here to get your party started,” but his finest moments are still those in which he croons like some Southern ghost of Elvis. Charlie Rich’s “I’ve Lost My Heart to You” gets the treatment here, and it’s awful purty. (Andy Smetanka)
Louden Up Now
Touch & Go
I can’t decide if I like this more because I have a weak spot for arty No Wave faux-funk, or because of the new horizons it seems to portend for hundreds of punk bands getting tired of themselves and ready to shuck the uniform. But dang, I sure do like it. Members of Sacramento’s !!! (the default pronunciation is “chk, chk, chk,” although any single syllable repeated three times will do nicely) used to play in some of that city’s snottiest bike-punk outfits (like the Yah Mos, whose “Off Your Parents” seven-inch is still a minor classic in my book), but with this new band it’s clear they’ve put all that noisy kid’s stuff behind them.
Louden Up Now is a sexy club album of potentially epidemic proportions—a parade of wall-to-wall grooves rooted in minimalist funk (with a dose of British dour along the lines of Gang of Four tossed in for added traction) just waiting to break in or break out. It strays dangerously close to disco at times, but, with lyrics that give George Bush a bloody dance-floor bashing, it’s unlikely to be confused with a long-lost KC and the Sunshine Band recording. Thirsting for something new to dance to? Knock three times if you want this. (Andy Smetanka)
The last time Latin hip-hoppers Ozomatli came out with a new album, the date was September 11, 2001. On that day the band released Embrace the Chaos, eerily—and almost prophetically—anticipating what was soon to come. Almost three years later, the band’s new album, Street Signs, bursts into the post-9/11 world with a fresh new batch of socio-political songs, like “(Who discovered) America?” a song about a lost love, and “Love and Hope,” which plays on the fears of a terrorized world.
The album is complemented by a surprising Middle Eastern sound, which only reinforces Ozomatli’s already-established role as ethnic ambassadors of musical goodwill. The band is accompanied here by some old and new friends: The legendary Latin jazz and salsa pianist Eddie Palmieri is featured in “Nadie Te Tira,” where his dazzling solo piano lines instigate a round of horn-blasted salsa. Los Lobos singer-guitarist David Hidalgo and the band’s former DJ, Cut Chemist, join in, along with Hassan Hacmoun, Les Yeux Noirs, Chali 2na and the Prague Symphony (yes, the Prague Symphony).
Aside from the activism that inevitably surrounds the band, the music is what’s really at the heart of Ozomatli’s self-proclaimed “revolution.” The music is energetic, passionate and thoughtful—its mixture of English, Spanish, hip-hop and Latin flavors serves only to give the band more credence as a viable outfit of cultural rebels. (Diego Bejarano)