record reviews december 2014

NUDE BEACH

77 (Don Giovanni)

nude

The title of the Brooklyn trio’s album nodding to the era it echoes, this double album wears its hearts on its sleeve, opening number Used To It offering up a clear marriage of the Velvets and Tom Petty while the latter’s influence is equally apparent on the likes of Yesterday and For A While. I Can’t Keep The Tears From Falling. Elsewhere they flit across the time stream with the chiming guitars and tumbling folk rock melody of I’m Not Like You recalling The Byrds, I Can’t Keep The Tears From Falling nodding to the punkier guitar rock of The Replacements, the ballad See My Way suggesting The Beatles and both Changes and the swaying If We Only Had Time evoke the jam acid rock of the Grateful Dead.

With I Found You stretching out for an unnecessary 10 minutes of guitar riffing showcasing, there is an argument that more if actually less here, especially given that, of the 18 tracks, several similar sounding cuts might have been lost without any impairment to the overall impact, but, if you want to glut on the sound of classic American new wave guitar rock, then this is as good a place to feast as any.

Mike Davies

THE JACK KEROWAX

Jack Kerowax (Self-Released)

jack k

Fronted by singer-songwriter Johnny Beauford, this Dallas/Fort Worth four piece have a great name; a pity the music couldn’t have been more inspired. Not that there’s anything terrible about their Americana bar band sound with (as on opening number Fever) its Southern rock touches, indeed the harmonica blowing, piano pumping Moonshine Barber shuffles along nicely in a sort of Allmans way, Ten Year War is a solid country stained ballad laced with guitar arpeggios and Terrible Eyes waltzes confidently round the honky tonk floor, but at the end of the day, unlike its titular pun author, this spends more time in dead end alleys than it does on the road.

Mike Davies

BELLE GHOUL

Rabbit’s Moon & Doomsday (Elefant)

belle-ghoul

Comprising Electric Six’s Christopher Tait and Patti and Fred Smith’s daughter, Jesse Paris, this six track EP takes a trip into retro psychedelia, kicking off with the Hammond stabs and fuzzy swirls of Lakes Of Fire before entering moodier territory on the Alice in Wonderland allusions of the tinkling Timepieces. Momentum is a simple piano motif instrumental laced with muted horns and electronic effects, giving way to the echoey sung, accordion coloured Winter’s Gone, the merry-go-round piano and synth ooh oohing pop Around For The Weekend and, finally, the orchestral arrangement and hesitant piano notes of a forlorn Mystery To Me. An interesting, wintery sketchbook of work in progress rather than an invitation to a long relationship, but, for the curious and musical trivia collectors, certainly worth exploring.

Mike Davies

THE SAINTS

King of the Sun/King of the Midnight Sun (Fire)

saints

Enjoying both a revival of interest and attracting new audiences following Springsteen’s cover of Just Like Fire Would, the seminal Australian punks, long minus Ed Kuepper but still featuring the nasal strangled tones of Chris Bailey, have resurfaced with two albums of the same songs.

Actually, the first is a re-recording of the 2012 Australian release (which originally had a second disc of re-recordings of Saints classics), a blues tinted recollection of the old days that opens with the piano introed title track with its Napoleon and Josephine references before moving on through a jaunty almost shanty feel A Million Miles Away, the Stonesy swagger of Sweet Chariot, two seven minute numbers in the druggy, plangent guitar country stroll Turn and a ragged Mini Mantra Part 1, the stabbing, organ led fractured tempo of Road To Oblivion Part 2 and the frisky Dylanesque air of Adventures In The Dark Arts Of Watermelonry.

The second takes the same songs in the same order, but recorded as live to give them a punchier (if sometimes shorter), rougher edged swagger, some of which (as on A Million Miles Away the 2.4.6.8. Motorway feel of Mystified and more sneery Watermelonry) work better, while the truncated Turn becomes something of a dirge that feels longer than the original. I’m not sure the Springsteen fans, for whom it was clearly recorded to cash in on, are going to embrace it with open arms, but those who’ve followed Bailey over the course of 20 albums and four decades are unlikely to be disappointed.

Mike Davies

roots-and-branches.com 2014