Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Heavy - The Glorious Dead

I am very surprised that I have yet to review either of the Heavy's previous two albums, the great debut, Great Vengeance and Furious Fire or the 2nd, The House That Dirt Built. I can only assume that is because, while they are one of the new breed of soul bands that are tearing up the world (along with Sharon Jones & Black Joe Lewis), they are a bit more diverse and less easily pigeon-holed (though I love those other acts). The Heavy have a strong soul/r'n'b base, but add a bit of hip-hop and other modern edges to the mix, as well.

The opening of this album, "Can't Play Dead", is a good example. This is a hard & heavy, sweaty soul-rocker, but has distinct hip-hop grooves, as well. Not so much that it is obnoxious or overdone, and it is a highly musical song, but there is a flavoring. The band gets more melodic with "Curse Me Good", which, other than a more modern recorded sound, could have been a Motown hit! "What Makes a Good Man" is the latest single and a damn good choice - super catchy chorus with fab female backing vocals and an insistent beat that is sure to get ya movin'!

A little less successful (though not bad) is "The Big Bad Wolf", which is less Motown, more modern monotony, though that is a bit harsher than I mean to be. The string-laden ballad for the record is "Be Mine" followed by more strings on the slowish stomper "Same Ol'", which even has a bit of a Beatles-esque influence to it. A bit of a schizophrenic change of pace comes in the form of "Just My Luck", an up-tempo garage-rocker that randomly breaks down to a slow-paced tune before recharging itself and, a bit bizarrely, adding a Tijuana Brass-styled trumpet!

"The Lonesome Road" is a bit dirge-like and not supremely memorable, but "Don't Say Nothing" picks up the pace again and is a traditionally catchy Heavy number! The group takes a stab at an Otis Redding feel with "Blood Dirt Love Stop" for a deceptively simple ending number.

The packaging is pretty damn stellar - a quality cardboard "gatefold" cover with a hard CD sleeve (with a psychedelic design) and a card stock fold out poster with the lyrics on the back! Pretty phenomenal!

Overall, another fine release from the Heavy - they are a quality act and tons of fun live, as well!

The Riverboat Gamblers - Something to Crow About

I first saw/heard the Gamblers 6 years ago last night (coincidentally) opening up for Joan Jett and was knocked out my their maniacal stage antics and fast'n'furious but highly melodic songs. I picked up their then-current CD To The Confusion of Our Enemies and dug the hell out of that, as well. This 2003 release is still melodic, but a lot more punkedy-punkedy and less tuneful. Lots of call & answer numbers and "hey hey heys" and solid playing and a damn fine record, but not as amazing as TTCOOE, which is the place I would start with this band. But once you groove on that and are wanting more, be sure to grab this one!

The D4 - What I Want CD single

I was pretty blown away when I first heard the D4's album 6Twenty and have been looking for more of their stuff since, and came across this on Amazon. I admit that I thought that this was a full CD, not a CD single when I bought it, so was a bit disappointed in its brevity. Minimal packaging, with a remarkably dull live photo on the inner sleeve. The music is the loud-guitar-based punk'n'roll that I was expecting and the tunes are pretty damn good, but it's hard to recommend buying a CD for a few minutes of music. Good stuff if you find it cheap, but I'll be on the lookout for another full-length.

The Tinglerz - Double Down Saloon, Wednesday, November 15, 2012

It is always hard for me to get out on a weeknight, but when one of my favorite bands is playing (relatively) early, I will make the effort. Of course, this being the Double Down, the 10:00 set time got moved to after 11:00. This was an odd night anyway, with a poetry slam prefacing the Tinglerz set and, as these things are wont to do, it went on much longer than it was scheduled.

Because of that, the band seemed a little less hyper than their usual super-kinetic selves, but still managed to put on a set of high-energy, ultra-coll punk'n'roll! I keep trying to think of bands to compare these guys to, and while I can dig what many of their influences are, I can't really say that they sound like anyone in particular, which is a good thing! Far from generic punk rock, they write real songs that are fun and musically interesting and play with talent as well as energy. These cats are always a good time!

They hope to record soon and I can't wait to hear what they can do in the studio! Check 'em out whenever you can!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Space Oddity - David Brighton's tribute to David Bowie - The Cannery, Friday Nov 9, 2012

A chance discovery by John Fallon of this act brought us all to the outskirts of town to the Cannery, land of tribute acts. I am always a bit wary of tribute shows, but some can be fun, in a campy sort of way, as this one was. Brighton looks astonishing like Bowie, especially on stage, and his production is quite well done. A group consisting of two guitarists, bass, drums and a female keyboardist, all of whom could sing amazingly well, they were able to replicate many of the sounds of the different eras of the man's music - the synthesizer was capable of an amazing imitation of a saxophone, for instance.

The set jumped around a bit chronologically, starting with "Fame" & "Let's Dance" along with a few others, before moving into the Ziggy period (along with costume changes - all pretty accurate) and then into the 80's hits. Videos on the large screens bookending the stage helped with transitions & changes, as did some longer guitar jams.

Some of the song choices were a little strange - a Motown cover from a live album that I don't have, the song that Bowie did with Jagger (here with a local, and not very good, Mick Jagger impersonator from a Stones tribute band), and even odder, Cream's "I Feel Free" and, for an encore, from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, "The Time Warp"! I would have preferred more 60's/70's Bowie tunes, but the audience was digging on everything that he provided.

We weren't sure who was going to come out for a show like this, but everyone there seemed to be at least our age and while quite frumpy (we were the only ones dressed in anything other than t-shirts & jeans or shorts), all seemed knowledgeable about this music. Makes us wonder what these folks looked like in their youth!

All in all, pretty fun night for $5.00! Obviously, not the same as seeing the real deal, but a good production (though better rock'n'roll wigs would be nice) and worth checking out if he comes your way. For more info, see

The Lucky Cheats - Saddles'n'Spurs, Sunday Nov 4, 2012

I'm a little late on writing about this gig cuz it's been a crazy week, but The Cheats hosted a Las Vegas Blue Society blues jam at the SnS at the eminently reasonable hour of 6:00pm this night. A surprising number of people came out for this, including many musicians and music fans, as well as what appeared to be a number of regulars.

This was actually a very timely event, with the LC's on right at 6:00 and off by 7:00, which is always unusual in Las Vegas, land of late starts and even later ends. But, we old folks love an early night, especially when the next day is a work day.

The guys went through a fun set packed with their originals (several from the excellent CD, Sugar in the Tank) and cool covers. They even brought up a couple of special guests, including the lovely & talented Shanda from the Shandaleers and Chris from the Delta Bombers. A great time was had by all, including the hula-hooping dancers that showed up!

After the Cheats, a number of cats got up to jam, though no one jumped out at us as too exciting, so after a few drinks and good conversation we heading home for the Walking Dead! Hopefully, there will be more nights like this near home again soon!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters by Robert Gordon

I had heard that this was the definitive biography for Muddy and while I have read other good books on the man, I would have to concede that this is the one to get. Comprehensive, with interviews with everyone who was still alive while Gordon was researching the book along with excerpts from older interviews for those who had passed on.

The story is detailed yet told with a passion and enthusiasm that makes you want to devour it all - including the copious notes in the back of the book.

I've written at length about Waters re: books and records and this man absolutely deserves his legendary status as blues man and ladies man - Robert attempts to record his many progeny and progeny's progeny, which is dizzyingly confusing. Lots of personal anecdotes and well as professional stories that all make up a well-rounded picture of the man.

Everyone should know the story of Muddy and this is a great, detailed overview. Highly recommended!