Capsule Wednesday 3

By: JamBase Staff

Machine Head: The Blackening (Roadrunner)
Like some massive steel muezzin lumbering awake, "Clenching The Fists Of Dissent" launches this undeniably ambitious, fiercely epic metal beast into action, and over the next 10 minutes proceeds to show more sheer imagination and daring than most of their genre will ever muster. This is nasty enough to appeal to death metalers but artfully constructed enough to make a Cliff Burton-era Metallica fan flash a yellow grin. Oakland's Machine Head have been making this monster for almost a decade, and while they've always been talented (and a surefire live act) The Blackening is what it's all been building towards. This stone soup is boiled from breathless speed metal, grindcore spit and a pinch of Emerson, Lake and Palmer's high-minded antics. Hell, there's brief, pretty tangents that recall the Alan Parsons Project! None of this should imply this isn't HEAVY AS A FREAKIN' STAR crashing down on your house. Pull yourself from the rubble and make sure the stereo still works. There's headbanging to do. (Dennis Cook)

Boris with Michio Kurihara : Rainbow (Drag City)
A lot of music is called psychedelic but most of it is a muddy approximation of the '60's perception altering pioneering. Rainbow spikes the punch just right. This is a vintage San Fran ballroom built over an abattoir, sinuous rock exploration with the mutability and burnished nightglow of liquid lights on warm flesh, quivering from dramatic shifts in mood - hellacious noise bursting into aerial calm, a fuzzy cat's eye marble rolling down a long, curved road. Quicksilver Messenger Service and Cream would be proud. Never mind that they're singing in Japanese. You'll get the message. (DC)

Lez Zeppelin: Lez Zeppelin (Emanation)
This all-female tribute takes balls in hand, opening with Zep's signature "Whole Lotta Love" and squeezing till juice runs down their legs. It won't be long till there are plenty of admirers ready to lap it up, too. With Zeppelin production alumni Eddie Kramer behind the boards, everything sounds just right, and the performances have oodles of sticky spirit but don't mess much with the arrangements. A pair of charming original instrumentals ("On The Rocks," "Winter Sun") could slide onto Physical Graffiti and you'd be none the wiser. Like myself, you may end up lovin' this WAY more than you expect. Rock out. Cock out is optional. (DC) .

The Clientele: God Save The Clientele (Merge)
This is the definition of effervescent, fizzy lifting drink that floats your ears in chrome and white and gently snapping bubbles. Just watch out for the fan blades whirring above your head. The third time out for this quite English trio swoons on beautifully articulated strings, a winningly elusive singer and spectral pedal steel. The music is so emotionally satisfying it takes time for the words to sink in. The Clientele taps into the pervasive ache of old lovers and missed chances, bucolic picnics and happy lost nights. There's a touch of formula to their constructions but enough curveballs to keep one listening long into the autumn. (DC)

Tesla: Real To Reel (Tesla Electric Company)
Right to it: This is a fantastic cover tune album. There's not many acts from the mid-'80s one feels glad to still have around but Tesla has proven themselves a worthy descendent of Deep Purple, Nazareth and other boys who love heavy music. Every cut here equals the passion and focused intensity of the originals, and in a couple instances (Thin Lizzy's "Bad Reputation" and UFO's "Rock Bottom") they may have topped their ancestors. The guitars rarely fail to inspire air flailing and there's lean, attractive muscle on every note. There are easier Zep tunes to tackle than "Thank You" but they come up roses, especially singer Jeff Keith. Hipster bonus points for tackling The Guess Who's environmental war cry "Hand Me Down World" and the James Gang's "Walk Away." The liner notes by longtime manager Tom Zutaut call it the best cover record since Bowie's Pin-Ups. I've only heard the commercially available Real 1 [Real 2 is being given away as part of your ticket price to any headlining Tesla gig in 2007 and contains their takes on Aerosmith's "Seasons of Wither," Bad Company's "Shooting Star" and Alice Cooper's "Is It My Body" amongst others] but it's safe to say they hold their own against the Thin White Duke on this very happy Summer surprise. (DC)

The Fratellis: Costello Music (Cherry Tree)
The Fratellis full-length debut bounces out of the speakers with the bravado and bad behavior befitting a trio of hooligans from Scotland. The attitude and swagger last the entire 43 minutes as tales of doomed relationships and erratic adventures are described by singer Jon Fratelli in a frenetic but articulate voice. The production on the album adds texture without wiping away the grime. Brothers by name only, The Fratellis pull off their shenanigans because the songs are taut and cleverly worded, like this verse from “For the Girl":

She was into the Stones when
I was into the Roses
She was breaking my bones when
I was bursting their noses
She would tell me a secret
I would lose it the next day
You not supposed to be easy
Makes you sick in a bad way
And all the while the girls sang
La la la la she sang
Kickings for my sweetheart
Bruises that I just don't miss
And she said I don''t like you
You can't stand me
I can't love you anymore than this

The iTunes hit, “Flathead," is only one of several instantly infectious tracks that beg to be played on repeat. If you like energetic rock from the UK, or just like to watch soccer and drink pints, Costello Music will occupy your hi-fi for months to come. (Forrest Reda)

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[Published on: 8/29/07]

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