All Around Records

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

QOTSA

Queens Of The Stone Age
Villains
Matador

I’ve always liked this band, but never more than with this new album. I’d feared the worst when I found out Mark Ronson had produced it. I did not want Josh Homme turned into Bruno Mars, or the band aping Uptown Funk.

Thankfully that isn’t what happened. Instead, the production has an organic feel. Their angular, irregular hard rock packs a bigger punch than most, and when synths are used, it’s with a light touch. While I always loved their sense of melody, this album sounds even more melodic to me than their previous work. The songs flow both melodically and lyrically, not just within themselves, but over the album as a whole, pulling it all together as a unit.

The lyrics are dark, but done smartly, so they never go overboard. My favorite lyric on this album is "Hideaway," and anyone who has been in an unequal relationship will relate to this song. It's balanced by "Fortress," where Josh offers shelter and comfort to someone he loves, tells them to let their guard down, and be with him. In its own way, it’s sweet.


The moral of this review is never judge a book by its cover. Ignore Ronson’s pop work and approach this album with an open mind. If you’re a fan, though this is a little different, there is plenty for you to sink your teeth into. If you’re new to the band, let the guys take you on a ride, then go on into their past work from there.

Andrea Weiss

Sunday, August 27, 2017

BBB

The Bye Bye Blackbirds
Take Out The Poison
Self-Released

The follow-up to 2013’s "We Need The Rain" is more shimmering power pop/college rock from this long-running Oakland band.

Every track has something to recommend it, but three songs that stand out without diminishing the rest are noted here: the anthemic “Let Your Hair Fall Down” and “Baby We’re Fine,” and the Elliott Smith-like “I Meant To Write.” All three can be the gateway to the album, and while I’ve already reviewed it separately, “Duet” is another standout track, with a very sweet video.


The wait for this album was worth it for music this great, so do your ears a favor.  


Andrea Weiss

Thursday, August 24, 2017

SCF

Game Theory
Supercalifragile
KCM Records

Where to start with a heartbreaking review like this? With the basic story? I can, but I know there’s more.

Scott Miller was working on this album, had the title for it, the first GT album since 1988, and then he died before he could finish it. His wife, Kristine, with a whole cast of people helping, finished the album. While it was first crowd-funded, demand is such that it now has a general release on Bandcamp.

There are so many what ifs here. Scott’s voice and writing hadn’t aged a bit; these songs could have been on most any Game Theory album, or maybe "Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things," the first album by the Loud Family, Scott’s band in the 90s. With this expanded posse the songs were finished in ways not anticipated, but as close to Scott's vision of it as possible. It’s heartbreaking that it has to be like this. He still had it, which is what makes this album so good. Everyone involved pays fine tribute with their playing, and in some cases singing (Scott had recorded some vocals), but I’m going to single out the late Gil Ray here, a member of both Game Theory and the Loud Family, who lost his battle with cancer before the album was released. His percussion tracks are great. After that, it’s all equal.

Most of those who played with Scott are on here, along with others who were influenced by him. Did you know Aimee Mann was a Scott fan? Ted Leo, Will Sheff from Okkervil River, the Posies, and Doug Gillard of Guided by Voices and Nada Surf? You’ll hear what they got from Scott here.

With the exception of a comp of demos from the final Game Theory lineup in the pipeline, this is it. There wasn’t anything else, which means this is good-bye. I know for me Scott’s songs will live forever, and this album now belongs to history, and eternity. Thanks, Scott, if you’re anywhere, for all the great music.

Andrea Weiss

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Mark L.

Mark Lanegan Band
Underground Arts
Philadelphia, 8-17-17

I’d always liked Mark Lanegan, but I’d never seen him live, until now.

Duke Garwood and Lyenn were the two opening acts. Duke plays guitar in Lanegan’s band. He sounded like a good Chris Cornell emulator, circa Chris’s songs from the Singles soundtrack. Lyenn sounded like a more amplified Elliott Smith. They were good, but I wished they weren’t just solo guitarists, as the bare bones of their songs were good enough to make me wish for a full band. I liked their take on electric folk.

Lanegan and band hit the stage around 10:40. As dark as his songs are, there is also a lot of hope in them, and he seemed happy and to be having a good time onstage, which I found very likable. His voice has gotten better with age, a very rare thing, and his band is top notch.

The crowd, mostly 50-something’s like me or younger, seemed to be long-time fans. The venue can hold about 300 people. All hung on his every word, something I joined in on. And for the encore he played Joy Division’s "Love Will Tear Us Apart" very well.


Mark doesn’t tour the East Coast that often, so I knew this was a treat, and a great one. I left that night very happy. I hope to get to see him again.

Andrea Weiss

Monday, July 24, 2017

BBB

The Bye-Bye Blackbirds
Duet Video

"Take Out The Poison," the upcoming BBB’s album, will be released August 25th, and this excellent clip is a great run up to it. In the clip, a man and woman walk separately through the streets of San Francisco. They could be the duet, but they don’t know it yet. The music is college rock on its jangly side, very sweet, very nice.


I got a real kick out of watching this, too, because it reminded me of the one time I visited San Fran and how much I liked it. City Lights Bookstore, the famous one, plays a prominent role in the video, and I have some hazy memories of being in there, and how much I liked it, too.




Andrea Weiss

Sunday, July 23, 2017

R. Ring 7-21-17

R. Ring
Everybody Hits, Philadelphia, PA
7-21-17

R. Ring’s return to Philly was wonderful, a show I’d been looking forward to. This time they got to Philly without a hitch. For their gig here back in April, their van had broken down, and other mishaps, so all of us were very thankful they arrived this time with no problems.

Everybody Hits is a batting cage facility that also books concerts, and while it’s tiny, the sightlines are good everywhere, and it’s very clean and comfortable. The audience ranged in age and gender and was a very good mix.

The two opening acts didn’t disappoint. Joe Jack Talcum, a member of Philly punk icons the Dead Milkmen, and a very nice guy, played the best set I’d seen from him yet, and he's always good. Straightforward indie folk.

Sam from Radiator Hospital was next. I’d not seen him with his band, but I’d heard enough on Philly’s indie rock internet radio station, Y-Not Rock, to know that I’d like him. Very soulful, great lyrics, very cool.

R. Ring, who are Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery, played most of the songs off their album from earlier this year, "Ignite The Rest," and were damn good on all of them. They had a new drummer, Roseanna Safos, from Cleveland band The Goldmines, and she was excellent. While I didn’t catch the title or lyrics, they played one new song, and it rocked. It’s amazing to hear the interplay between the guitars and drums; it's their own sound and style of experimental electric folk, no comparisons to anyone else.


After the show I said hello. They were happy to see me again. Kelley was thrilled I'd purchased Breeders tickets, another show I'm really looking forward to.  https://www.facebook.com/rringsings

Andrea Weiss


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Jill

Jill Sobule
William Way LGBTQ Community Center Ballroom
Philadelphia, PA 7-7-17

I’ve been into Jill since 1995 and "I Kissed A Girl," which is not a cover of the Katy Perry song. I saw her for the first time at Lilith Fair, and have continued seeing her to this day. My fandom has stretched across three states, and many albums, all good. And she’s a blast to see live.

William Way, named after a 70s Philly LGBTQ rights activist, is a great place for everything LGBTQ, located in the heart of the “gayborhood,” Philly’s LGBTQ area. I was thrilled to find out Jill was playing there, and bought tickets immediately.

She was great, as usual, and played most of her best known songs plus a few new ones, just her and a modified backpacker guitar, which she’s been known to solo on like a guitar hero. She did play a short solo on it this night.

Her back stories were great, too, like how much flack she got for her song "America Back" (“When they say they want their America back, well what the fuck do they mean?”).  Another was about a troll, and getting that troll off her back with a new song. Other stories told of her teen years in Cinnamon Park, taking magic mushrooms to watch the Battle Of The Bands, with Chicago’s "Saturday In The Park" as a motif, and making sure everyone knew that the two woman in "I Kissed A Girl" did more than kiss (“They can have their diamonds, and we’ll  have our pearls”).


After the show I said hello to Tony, Jill’s longtime webmaster and moderator of her email discussion group Happytown, named for her song about the joys of Prozac. Tony's a really nice guy. Then I spoke to Jill, who I’ve known for twenty years. She loved my anti-Trump shirt. I had a fantastic evening.

The shirt in question. The feminist group Ultra Violet had a fund raiser with this shirt, and it was too good to pass up. More here: https://weareultraviolet.org
And Jill's site: http://www.jillsobule.com

Andrea Weiss


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