Since there was no “Pick 6” for August or September we offer up a “BONUS Pick 6” for October. That is right, twice the amount of picks crammed into one month. So read up then go listen to some of this tasty music.
J. Mascis – Tied To A Star
The music of J. Mascis runs a very similarly along the same path as the age old story of Jekyll & Hyde. While Dinosaur Jr is frantic, viciously loud, raw and loaded with monstrous fuzz his solo work is the exact opposite. The noise is stripped down as J Mascis picks up an acoustic guitar delivering tunes that are more at home in front of a coffee house crowd than the thousands of sweaty screaming legions. On his latest offering, Tied To A Star, J Mascis has delivered some of his best music. The new album is a melancholic romp through Mr. Mascis’ psyche with self examining tunes like “Me Again” & “And Then” leading the way. A wee bit of his other band sneaks into the new album with the epic track “Come Down”. Yes there is still an acoustic focus but the fuzzy guitar undertones and brooding distortion gives the tunes an added dimension without muddying things up. The lyrical output on “Wide Awake” and “Better Plane” show that Mascis is a better songwriter than he gets credit for and the jangly “Every Morning” may be one of the best tunes he has ever released. J. Mascis’ talents extend way further than a purveyor of noise and his warbley vocals. He consistently delivers songs that speak to people and it truly shows when he strips things down. Ties To A Star is one of those records that gets better with each play so give it time and soak in all of its intricacies you will not be disappointed.
King Tuff – Black Moon Spell
Somewhere between 70’s glam metal and today’s garage punk noise lays the music of King Tuff, aka Kyle Thomas. Not one to worry about fancy recording techniques or a polished finish his music explodes from the speakers with a frantic rawness that pierces the ears but in a good way. The latest output from King Tuff picks right up where 2012’s self titled album left off. Loud and in your face Black Moon Spell smacks listeners in the face from the start with the title track “Black Moon Spell”. A growling guitar crawls into listener’s ears with the ease of a jabbing poker to the eye then the chaotic noise increases decibels until it becomes both infectious and grating at the same time. It may not sound like it, but this is a good thing. King Tuff finds the perfect mix of noise and melody on the tune “Rainbow’s Run” which sounds like something right out of the T-Rex catalog, just a bit louder and “Beautiful Thing” reminds you of bands like the Kinks or the 13 Floor Elevators. King Tuff takes people on a 14 song musical trip that has as many ups and down as a well designed roller coaster. The songs jump around keeping you guessing as to what is coming next. Vicious guitars, scratchy vocals and a wealth of distortion lead the way but it is the underlying melodies that keep Black Moon Spell from spinning off into unlistenable noise. It is this dangerous tightrope walk that makes music by King Tuff worth the listen.
Guided By Voices – Motivational Jumpsuit
With the wealth of releases from the volatile Ohio rockers Guided By Voices their work falls in one of two categories, “pure brilliance” or “what the hell were they thinking?”. Fortunately Motivational Jumpsuit falls under the first category. Bob Pollard and the original line-up continue their assault on our ear holes with another batch of tunes loaded with the jangly guitars and sardonic wit fans have come to love from Guided By Voices. The 20 songs follow the formula that works best for Pollard and crew keeping them raw, succinct, full of jangly guitars and full of quirky lyrics. On “Writer’s Bloc (Psycho All The Time)” Pollard drones on about what writer’s block has cost him in time, money and sanity. Other tracks that stand out are “Zero Elasticity” and “Planet Score” that dial up Guided By Voices love for the Who and “Until Next Time” a song that has Pollard offering up some words for the next generation. The two best songs on the record contrast each other in styles and sound. One is the opening track “Littlest League Possible” which encompasses all that is good about Guided By Voices. Pollard’s vocals fight through vicious guitars and booming rhythms as he sings about being a “big fish in a little pond”. Then there is “Jupiter Spin” which almost seems out of place. Tobin Sprout mans the mic on his smooth track that is virtually void of the signature fuzziness of Guided By Voices. While the new output from the “classic Line-up” of guided by voices may not live up to early albums such as Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes it is still damn good. It is a shame they once again called it quits because with Motivational Jumpsuit they were just hitting their stride for a second time.
Primitives – Spin-o-rama
With pop melodies, Paul Court’s classic jangly guitars and Tracy Tracy’s sweet vocals the British band the Primitives shot out of England around the same time Jesus and Mary Chain, the Wedding Resent and My Bloody Valentine were gaining traction in the US. Their career came to a halt almost as quickly as it started but after several years apart they reassembled in 2009 and have now delivered a new album loaded with new tunes. With everything music listeners loved about the band packed into the 11 song album Spin-o-Rama picks up right where the Primitives left off. The opening track, “Spin-o-Rama”, welcomes listeners into the album with infectious guitars and catchy lyrics. Songs like “Petals” and “Lose the Reason” follow that same formula and when they step away from it things really get good. They harness a 60’s garage pop vibe on “Velvet Valley”, they take things in a little harder direction on “Hidden In The Shadows” and Paul Court on “Working Isn’t Working” may be the best song on the record. From start to finish Spin-o-Rama is a fun listen loaded with sounds that are pleasing to the ear. The Primitives make it look easy as they dish out tunes that are every bit as good as their earlier music delivering 80’s infused pop music without sounding stale and rehashed. Spin-o-rama is a surprising addition to the wealth of good music being released in 2014.
Il Sogno Del Marianaio – Canto Secondo
Brought together for a last minute festival gig, Il Sogno Del Marianaio has turned into a lot more than a one off thing. Consisting of legendary bassist Mike Watt, guitarist Stefano Pilia and drummer Andrea Belfi the trio has evolved from hanging out and jamming to a well oiled musical machine. While the brilliant debut record comes across as a laid back jam session the follow record Canto Secondo is a precision attack on listener’s auditory senses. Il Sogno Del Marianaio delivers a booming sound layered with sounds ranging from punk to jazz to soul. The mostly instrumental record explodes into an incredible soundscape of melodies and rhythms that do not need any vocals. On a couple of records a growling voice talks over the music but it is more about the contrasting sounds then the actual lyrics. The members of Il Sogno Del Marianaio play off of each other complimenting each other’s styles showing no signs of stepping on each other’s toes. The album flows from start to finish creating a single piece of music. The songs sound great alone but playing them as a whole makes them so much better. If you are looking for something that steps outside the box then you can’t go wrong with this record.
PUJOL – KLUDGE
Tennessee’s PUJOL is a whirlwind of organized chaotic noise. The brainchild of Daniel Pujol, who splits his time between school and rocking out, the band harnesses the power and speed of 70’s punk bands like Dead Boys, the melodic sounds of power pop legends Cheap Trick and the raw garage feel of indie champions Guided By Voices. When PUJOL puts it all together there are few bands that can deliver like they do. In 2012 United States of Being was a favorite of critics, peers and music lovers everywhere 2014’s follow up KLUDGE sees PUJOL fine tuning their sound without losing any of their potently raw sound. Songs like “Judas Booth” and “Pitch Black” possess a sing-a-long quality with unassuming melodies that flow through the fuzz and distortion. “Manufactured Crisis Control” is a perfect execution of organized chaos as PUJOL delivers a fast punk infused masterpiece. Things get slowed way down on “Dark Haired Suitor” showing that there is more to them than fast aggressive music. The song “Circles” delivers jangly guitars and chunky rhythms in what may be the choice song of the album. After listening to KLUDGE it is obvious that PUJOL has evolved. They have kept the spontaneity and raw energy from the first album mixing in catchy melodies and minimalistic pop undertones. With each listen I discover something new about the album and it has slowly become one of those records that are hard to turn off. So toss I ton the record player, drop the needle and crank it up loud like it deserves.