Capsule Wednesday 9

By: JamBase Staff

Henry Flynt & Nova'Billy: Nova' Billy (Locust)
Welcome back my friends to the hoedown that never ends. This is a barn dance called by an inspired madman, where the fiddles switch at bog bottom boogie and the drummer rolls like a good crank buzz, mean and hard and focused. Throw this into the ring with Canned Heat's Hooker 'n' Heat and Albert Ayler's New Grass tag teaming and Flynt might bitch slap 'em both. It might be the Chuck Berry piano on "Lonesome Train Dreams" that trips 'em up or maybe the howlingly hypnotic string buzz throughout that puts them off kilter but there's a ropeadope move in here somewhere. While largely known to experimental/outsider music enthusiasts, Flynt is surprisingly groovy here. This highly left leaning (there's a delightfully bent version of Communist anthem "The International") conflagration of bold ideas existed for slightly less than a year in 1974-75, and while woefully short-lived, they make most so-called "newgrass" acts today look like mere fluffers to these true porn stars. This is bold, fearless stuff that still hits you square in the gutbucket. A thousand thanks to Locust for helping this one resurface. If Nova'Billy doesn't make you scream out loud at least a few times I'd wonder if there's antifreeze in your veins instead of human blood. (Dennis Cook)

Warm In The Wake: American Prehistoric (Livewire)
It begins like the opening credits to PBS's Cosmos and then swoops into a groove that's like nothing so much as The Smiths in their fighting prime, full of Johnny Marr worthy peels of electric exclamation and fronted by a singer who knows how to flow. The second cut is hugely reminiscent of the jittery-smooth pop of Prefab Sprout, albeit with less whining and more Hollies style flourish. Whether Decatur, Georgia's Warm In The Wake intended to evoke so much Englishness, especially on an album with "American" in the title, is unclear. Nonetheless, clever and well crafted – the trademarks of quality UK pop rock - are the overriding first impressions. Like My Morning Jacket (a Stateside kindred spirit), they betray very little of their Southern roots, opting instead to soar far and wide, building quivering bodies of lush, compelling sound. Their jangle stew bubbles with enough flutter and wow to keep you putting this one on for months, discovering a fresh thoughtful line, honeyed riff or beatific piano line with each spin. (DC)

Manchester Orchestra: I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child (Favorite Gentlemen)
The moaning offspring of Spoon and Radiohead, Manchester Orchestra is a roughly elegiac shake 'n' bake that takes pinches of the known and makes the chicken taste good. Neither timid nor bombastic, they are the rare very indie rock band that's not overly soft or distant but clearly expresses their pain and pathology with big guitars and resounding floor toms. Virgin is well constructed enough to appeal to older counter culture geeks but overwrought enough to snag kids looking to expand their horizons beyond My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade. A line like "I wish I'd known you were bleeding/As I sat and watched you reading" gives a decent clue to their mostly tortured lyrical bent. But, as angst-rock goes this is high quality stuff. (DC)

Randall of Nazareth: Randall of Nazareth (Drag City)
Pearls and Brass this ain't. In that seriously heavy, Sabbath/Deep Purple flavored trio Randy Huth is an Iommi-esque shredder with fire in his lungs. Tack on a holy city to his name and he becomes Bert Jansch jamming in the woodland cabin where Page & Plant penned the folksy bits on Zeppelin III. His solitary swoon is full of finger picked strings and throaty yearning, a successor to beloved obscurities like Linda Perhacs and Chris Thompson. It sure is nifty score for new dawns or hookah touched late nights, and if it doesn't break any new ground it tills familiar soil nicely. (DC)

True West: Hollywood Holiday Revisited (Atavistic)
A lot of bands have been lost to history, and sadly one of them is True West, one of the pillars of the short lived but geek-loved early '80s West Coast psych resurgence known as the Paisley Underground. Today, True West is largely unknown outside of black-fingered record collectors who still wax poetic about Translator and Guadalcanal Diary. Pity since True West stirred a cool, fine-edged, nostalgia free swirl that contemporary recyclers like The Killers and Bloc Party are just stumbling upon now. This reissue gathers together the Hollywood Holiday mini-LP (co-produced by TW guitarist Russ Tolman and Dream Syndicate's Steve Wynn), full-length Drifters and a trio of fine Tom Verlaine produced demos. Led by the dashingly monochromatic ennui of singer Richard McGrath, the urgency and wildfire creative twitch of young men is evident throughout. These thoroughly engaging platters are a pleasant reminder that the '80s weren't all hairspray, chrome and neon after all. (DC)

The Hotdamns!: Vanquished (self-released)
Blasting out with a classic Bakersfield chug full of vibrantly strummed guitars and boy-girl back-and-forth vocals, Richmond, Virginia's The Hotdamns! offer more pure enjoyment in under two minutes than most of Nashville can muster on a whole album. Better still, they follow the opener with the grandly titled "Yankee By Birth (Southern at Heart)," a slow burner full of twinkling piano, sighing organ, mournful pedal steel and honeysuckle sweet singing by Danielle Ahart, who croons with the womanly warmth of Jessi Coulter and Loretta Lynn. Ahart is especially stirring on the spare folk-gospel jewel "Poor Laurie" which flows seamlessly into the title tune, a sweeping bit of heartache worthy of Neko Case. While just an introductory EP, every element is rock solid, from the spacious production to the tears-in-your-beer mood. If you know what a Nudie Suit is or sigh a little that Gram Parsons and Buck Owens aren't with us anymore then you'll love this band. (DC)

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[Published on: 10/31/07]

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