Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Shocker -- Up Your ... Ass Tray?

I'm not sure what an Ass Tray is.  The Shocker (you know what it's named after) seem to know, however.  That's why the band, featuring L7's Jennifer Finch, named its album Up Your Ass Tray -- The Full Length.  It doesn't matter either way, really.  The Shocker (again, you know what it is named after) has made a fairly rocking release that has some decent songs and even some staying power.

Of the 11 songs on here, most have something to warrant repeated listens.  Even the cover of "Body Count," as strange an idea as it may be, has "show ender before the encore" written all over it.  I'm sure the crowd goes nuts for it.  By the CD's end, however, something comes to mind that makes this release a little less enticing.

Yes, the songs are well-played and seem destined to get you flailing around in a pit in some dive bar somewhere.  In that they succeed quite well.  They don't do any more than that, though.  They go as quickly as they came, making this a CD that is played only when you come across it in the collection ... after you've forgot about it for a few months.  I like it, but not that much. 

I also don't know why every song seems to come across as kind of a joke (see the band's name even), but that doesn't help matters any.

The Shocker is a band I find far more enjoyable than L7, but that isn't saying much.  Keep in mind that if you seek this out, you may find yourself listening only once in a blue moon.  It will please you for that listen ... at least until you turn it off.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I did receive this for review.  If you click on a link, I may earn a commission

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Graves Brothers Deluxe

In 2005 the Graves Brothers Deluxe released Light.

That's a rather simple sentence that doesn't tell you much, yet at the same time tells you all you need to know. The release is nowhere near as simple.

I'm a fan of music that mixes styles naturally and with grace.  That's what you have here.  Rock, country, voodoo ... all of it comes together in way that flows.  "The White Devil's Death Song," "Nerves," "Legs Rub Together" and seven other songs fill this disc with stuff that is bound to bring a smile to your face once or twice.  And there's the rub.  Once or twice.

Even though this release is good in its weird, eclectic way, one can't help but feel that this has been done better by others.  You wouldn't be wrong there, but if you listen closely you'll realize there is more going on here than meets the ears.  There is a skill level that says this should somehow be just a tad bit more memorable.  Why is it that the songs leave your head almost as soon as you hear them?  Why aren't you singing them the next day?  Energy.

These songs only expend as much energy needed to carry them on to the next number.  Nothing more.  While that is fine for the duration of the song, it makes them less than memorable on many different levels.  That's quite a shame, as this is obviously the product of some talented musicians (and quite a few of them).  If they showed more spirit and paid less attention to technical chops, which really impresses nobody but music students, they would have had a release worthy of multiple listens for years down the line.  Instead, Light is something to be dusted off and listened to once every few years.  A reminder, perhaps, of what could have been.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I received this to review and if you click on the ad, I may earn a commission.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Little Stress Relief

Needing a break from editing an interview for the upcoming Film Threat magazine relaunch, I decided to put on some music I needed to review. Stress is killing me, so I picked something I thought would be a bit festive: Orchestra Makassy. It was festive, all right, but did little in the way of relieving my stress or the intense pain in my back. Arc Music, under the guise of "Legends of East Africa," put this CD out. It's apparently a re-release of Agwaya with two never before released tracks. If that got you excited, then by all means rush out and purchase this. If you gave an indifferent shrug, well, you aren't alone. I had much the same reaction. I don't know what the fuss is about and why this needed a re-release. Wasn't once good enough? It was for me. One listen. That's it. That's all that was warranted. Amazon listeners, however, think differently. If you read the reviews on Amazon, they are all positive, with some calling this the best CD they own. (His or her collection must be questionable at best.) It is almost as if this CD has become some kind of second coming. Maybe it is if you are a fan of African music (I like some of it). If not, though, reading these reviews makes you wonder if you listened to the same thing. I know I questioned it. By this point, you know whether or not you want this. You don't need me to point you in the right direction. Nope, you have odd Amazon patrons for that. Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I received this CD to review. If you buy it and join the ranks of the brainwashed, I may earn a commission, so click away.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Desert Music With the Bedouins

From 1955-1960 Deben Bhattacharya took to Bedouin tents between Jordan and Iraq and recorded the music of these people. The end result is a 14 song CD with songs like "Bedouin Love Song (1)," "Dabkeh Dance," "Coffee Grinding Rhythm," "King Hussain" and more. If the Bedouins fascinate you, this is the release to get. Traditional instruments like the buzuk and tambourine are heard on every track. Atmosphere is so embedded in this release that you can almost smell the camels and the baking sand. Unfortunately, if you have no interest in Middle Eastern music or the Bedouins there is zero reason to listen to this, as the music just isn't very exciting. I do like world music, but I'm fairly picky when it comes to what I enjoy. This does not meet my criteria for something that is worthy of repeated plays. One listen was enough for me. I heard it. I determined it sounded authentic enough, and then I went about my day. Bedouin fans, take note, however, this is your Grail. Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I received this to review and clicking on a link may earn me a commission.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Masters of Indian Classical Music to Bore Listeners

Arc Music's Masters of Indian Classical Music Vol. 2 is a competent release with many different musicians doing their best to bring listeners a healthy dose of classical music Indian-style.  These are long compositions that, if one is of the right mindset, can soothe the savage breast.  Unfortunately, I am not of the right mindset.  I embrace the savage breast.

My first indication that this would go wrong was to see that this was only six tracks ... over two full-length CDs.  Now, I enjoy instrumentals, but they have to create a mood or atmosphere for me to actually care about them.  These six tracks don't do that, and when you couple them with their length it starts to become an exercise in self-restraint not to pull them out of the CD player.

It has been said that classical music is dead.  Listeners are few and far between, and musicians no longer want to create anything in similar to the music of days long past, so the future looks grim.  This CD is part of the problem.  Purists will enjoy it, but I doubt it will move them.  Casual listeners, such as myself, will find themselves annoyed.  It's a no-win situation all the way around.
Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I received this to review and may earn a commission if you click on a link.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


It is well-documented that I thrive on anything on the Voodoo Rhythm label.  Hipbone Slim and the Knee Tremblers is no exception.  The Kneeanderthal Sounds of ... is the band's fourth release.  Billing itself as "primitive rock," I can safely say that is an apt title if there ever was one.

Bare bones.  Basic.  The kind of stuff you find playing in a bar from 7 p.m. to 2:30 as the last of the drunks shuffle out.  To call this a one-note release, however, is to make a grave mistake.  Witness the transition from rocker "No Great Shakes" to the surf "Camel Neck."  This could be two different bands.  It's not, of course, but that's what versatility does for you.  It wrecks expectations.

Hipbone Slim's other releases have had moments of sheer greatness.  Much of it sounds like a soundtrack to the kind of movie I want to see.  This release may top all the others.  There is stuff here you can visualize scenes too.  (Most of it break-up scenes that movies rely too much on, but you get the picture.)

Picking a favorite tune on here would be damn near impossible.  It would be totally dependent upon my mood.  That said, my mood right now dictates that I listen to "No End In Sight" and think about things for quite some time.  "Just to have you by my side/Once more to see your face/I'd crawl on glass/I'd run through fire/Through ice and burnin' heat/Just to find my one desire."  Reprinting the lyrics does not do the song justice.  There's no way it could.  Listen for yourself and see if I'm wrong.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I received this to review.  Clickin' on a link may earn me green.

Self Decapitation With Delaney Davidson

If you have to wonder why Delaney Davidson named his album Self Decapitation, then you obviously haven't listened to its 11 songs.  He has cut his head off and let everything out.

He is a wandering minstrel of the global blues.  A homeless rambler rambling on by with a guitar in hand.  A folk musician with a sense of humor and a talent for twisting the easily observed.  In these 11 songs, starting with "Around the World" and ending with "Magpie Song," he takes you on a trip that is part mountain magic, part soulful reprise. 

Voodoo Rhythm has put this out.  It fits right in with its stable of musicians for musicians.  Davidson may not be what you hear every day on the radio, and I can only say, "Thank God."  If you did, there would be imitations popping up everywhere, all inferior to the real thing, diluting all that is pure and good in this music. 

Currently, on Davidson's website, if you go to the tab for upcoming gigs it says that there are none.  "A man needs his rest," it reads.  It is true.  But in the meantime there is this release to hold you over.  I'll leave you with this video for "I Slept Late."  Incredible.  Magical.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I received this to review. Click on a link and I mean earn some cash. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Baluji Shrivastav's Goddess is supposed to be a celebration of female deities from various cultures. It is, as if the name were any indication, Indian music, so if that sort of thing bugs you, you'll want to stay away.  That's not the problem with Shrivastav's release, however.  It has something far worse going against it.

The music itself will please most people it is pleasant.  So pleasant, in fact, that I often found these songs drifting into the background.  It is seven songs that seem to go on forever.  Some people like that sort of thing -- soothing sounds that do little to "anger the blood."  But ...

As I write this CNN is covering a tornado that killed six in Harrisburg, Illinois.  That is the power of a goddess.  Any music that claims to be a celebration of goddesses needs to also recognize the sheer beauty and terror of the power they (culturally) possess.  Hell hath no fury, right?  To make something so peaceful and calm is fine for a few songs, but to make an entire CD "celebration" that way is to pay disrespect to the image of the goddess in whatever form it may take.  It may please the standard run-of-the-mill audience, but if run-of-the-mill is what an artist is shooting for than that isn't any sort of artist at all.

Owners of New Age bookstores and herbal shops will go absolutely nuts over this release.  They will tell their equally insane friends about the CD's power.  The sad truth is that they would never recognize true power until it was pounding them in the face ... much like Shrivastav himself.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I received this CD to review.  Clicking on a link could earn me money.