Saturday, April 05, 2008

Singers and Players

Casket Salesmen, Sleeping
Giants, Longhair Illuminati (6.1)

Left: Traffic (1967-1975)

The Casket Salesmen offer up a perfectly listenable brand
of prog-oriented alt-rock. Phil Pirrone (vocals, bass), Nathan Lindeman (vocals guitar), and assorted guests can play and
sing, which makes Sleeping Giants a fairly painless experi-
ence (interestingly, four musicians provide programming).

The duo embrace pretension without apology—one lyric men-
tions "a marionette in your memory"—and their songs aren't
particularly hummable, but there are far worse crimes against
humanity. Lindeman's adept solos and Steve Borth's occasional saxophone blasts bring to mind a post-millenial take on ELP or Traffic. That said, the blood-red cover art creeps me out.

Your Highness Electric, The Grand Hooded
Phantom, Longhair Illuminati [6/3/08] (6.2)

Your Highness Electric comes on like Led Zeppelin re-
born as a Louisville power trio with a glam-rock twist. It's spooky
the way vocalist/guitarist Brandon Bear Bondehagen (!) conjures
up the ghost of Mother Love Bone's Andrew Wood. No doubt he
and his band mates also grew up on bottom-heavy metal, like
Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Queen (note the band's name).

Damned if I can tell what Bon-
dehagen is going on about, but
his screaming could give Ozzy
or Wood's old roommate, Chris
Cornell, a run for the money, so
I'm willing to overlook the in-
anities. In other words, I'm try-
ing to forget I ever heard lines
like, "Our albatrosses just want
to be friends" and "Me and my moustache came to play..."

Right: Led Zep's Robert Plant

Wolfmother fans might give The Grand Hooded Phantom
a go. It's only missing artwork by Frazetta (see Molly Hatchet's
Flirtin' with Disaster), though the crown is a classy touch.

Ride the Boogie, self-titled, Longhair
Illuminati/Boogie Disks [6/17/08] (4.8)

There's no excuse for a name like Ride the Boogie. None. Whatsoever. Apparently, "[Adam] Tymn coined the name by describing what he thought these songs would make you wanna do." The Colorado quartet has ties to the Warped Tour, and it's a phrase with which a skateboarder might have some familiarity.

That works fine as an explanation, but it fails as an excuse.
The only excusable explanation is this: "I lost a bet." Truth be
told, RtB's mellow-metal debut bears a trace of funk, but the Dap-
Kings have nothing to fear from these Denver slackers. And lest I
seem overly-critical: their lyrics revolve around Cuervo, Jack,
shitty grins, slurping and burping, and moustache rides.

Toy Gun Cowboy, Big Blue, Gut-
ter Groove Records [5/13/08] (7.2)

Everyone is praying for you.
Everyone is hoping you'll come through.
-- Toy Gun Cowboy, "Big Blue"

Toy Gun Cowboy's
sophomore release was
"inspired by a Jet Blue flight
that had malfunctioning lan-
ding gear." The follow-up to
2006's Star?...Or No Star?,
Big Blue "tells the story of
humankind's voyage from the
Garden of Eden to the melding
of souls on the semi-defunct
plane." Okay. The album is the
product of Lakewood, CA-based multi-instrumentalist Matthew Erickson, who wasn't a passenger, but rather an observer.

Above: the Eels - Souljacker

Hard to say whether he pulls the concept off, because the songs
work fine on their own, but the record evokes a low-budget cross
between the Beatles, ELO, and the Eels (in "Looking for a Park
Bench," Erickson even refers to a "boxcar bully," which brings to
mind Mark Oliver Everett's "Bus Stop Boxer"). In other words: it's
nerdy retro-futurist pop. And I'll be damned if it isn't half bad.

Endnote: Not only do I love Traffic, but I dig the Spencer Davis
Group and Blind Faith, too. Every one of those musicians knew
how to dress. The key word is paisley. That said, I draw the line at
Steve Winwood's leather jacketed, bourgeois-baiting solo career.

As for the above, though I review every CD that comes my way,
I reserve the right to stop doing so without notice; increasingly,
it's hard to find time when I've got more than enough work to keep
me busy. Plus, I like to listen to music for the fun of it, and miss
discovering stuff on my own. On that note, I'm a few years too
late—they no longer exist—but my current favorite album is Mc-
lusky Do Dallas. Also, CHEM087 introduced me to several
Scottish acts I'd like to get to know better. I don't know what's up
with all these Welsh and Scots players: small countries, big talents.
Lately, I can't get enough. All images from the All Music Guide.


ratzkywatzky said...

Like Mclusky?
Like kittens?
Then you should see this:

kathy fennessy said...

Now, that will cure what ails you! I discovered Rather Good when they created a similar animation for the White Stripes' "Fell in Love with a Girl." They used the same kitten to represent Meg. I liked it so much I ordered the Cafe Press t-shirt. For anyone else tempted to give the "Lightsabre" link a try, be forewarned that Mclusky Rock with a supersized, bold face, capitol "R."