Review of the week: Brody Dalle, “Diploid love,” Caroline International, Released April, 28, 2014

5 years have passed since Brody Dalle’s last album, which was released under the name, Spinnerette. It has even been longer to harken back to the days of Dalle fronting the “Distillers” and virtually everybody hailing her as the next great Female punk singer. So, it was a nice surprise to see Dalle release her solo album, “Diploid Love” earlier this Spring.

For a solo debut, there is a lot to like. In particular, Dalle’s smoky, raspy vocals are just as good as ever. The lyrics are more intimate and evolved and there are some good, punky, riffs to go with a driving rhythm section. Different musical elements are present, ranging from punk, Alternative,West Coast hardcore and new wave without sounding like new wave. There is even a ballad that has a piano! not the norm for a punk/alternative album.

In short, “Diploid Love” has an edge to it, but with a more grown-up and sophisticated sound to it. There could be a little more edge to it and some of the songs drone on a bit. But there is a refreshing sound and a solid effort from Dalle, it is nice to see her back on the scene.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Standout tracks: “Blood In Gutters” “Rat Race” “Carry On”

 

Album Review of the week Wolfmother “New Crown” 2014, SR on Bandcamp

Upon reviewing Wolfmother’s latest release, “New Crown” I went in immediately with a feeling that generated little optimism. Not to be completely negative, but Guitarist Andrew Stockdale was coming off a freshly disappointing solo album and it has been 5 years since the sophmore slump “Cosmic Egg” album was released, which was a far cry from their copied, but refreshing and listenable self titled debut. With a revolving door of lineups that would make Axl Rose dizzy and 9 years distance from the (mostly) well received debut, “Wolfmother” is no longer really Wolfmother. They should really just call themselves the “Andrew Stockdale Band” or something like that.

The opening track, “How many times” is watered down, like a rowboat in a tsunami. It is teeming with borrowed Sabbath riffery and sounds like it was hastily recorded, with little preparation. The lyrics are devoid of any originality and the song just trails off. Not a good sign for an opening track.

That is the case for the first half of the album. From sheer annoyance at the poor production, or production location, maybe a series of tin shacks? to the tinny vocals, “stoner rock” hooks to the false hope of a good beginning of a song then a complete collapse. The first half of the album is largely forgettable and not really worth listening to.

“New Crown” does pick up a little steam with “Feelings” which has a somewhat fresh sound to it, like a punked up kinks song, so there is some hope, not too bad overall.  “I ain’t got no” captures some of the old magic with cool riffs and vocals, but sounds a little cribbed, yet still good. The album then regresses again with some weak closing numbers. Annoyance sets in again, with fragmented songs with elements of bad acid rock and weak acoustic passages and a general feeling of throwing any rock riff at a wall, to see what sticks. While some of the songwriting has great moments, most do not translate to good vocal interpretation on this album.

Finally, if “Cosmic Egg” is a far cry from the debut release, “New Crown” would have to be a moaning wail from both of the first 2 releases. I do not know what “Wolfmother” is going to do next, but it cannot get much worse,

I give this album a generous 1.5 stars out of 5 stars

Standout tracks

“Feelings” “I aint got no” “She got it”

Feelings

Album Review of the Week: Humble Pie, 1970 A&M Records

Upon listening to Humble Pie’s self titled third release from 1970. One gets the feeling that the “pie” is ready to serve, that the filling is congealed! “Humble Pie” is a departure from their first two albums, which were more acoustic/folk amalgamations that had an “all over the place” feel to them. Like a lost motorist, the first two LPs seemed to have no direction. That is not the case on “Humble Pie”, as there is a strong blues/rock presence and a noticeable change in musical direction.

For starters, the original lineup of Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton sharing lead guitar and lead vocals was intact. As well as the rock solid rhythm section of Greg Ridley on bass and backing vocals and drummer Jerry Shirley, which constitutes an awesome quartet. So no revolving door of new players was required, what was needed was a new sound. Humble Pie was under new management, and the rest, they say, is history.

“Live with me” is the opener and builds up into an epic heavy blues/rock number, with Marriott howling in fine fashion along with sultry keyboards and Frampton showing off his excellent guitar and vocals as they trade off sections of the song in fine fashion. This song grabs the listener and does not let go!

Another standout track is “I’m ready”, a riff heavy funky rocker that is loaded with swagger. It is impressive to see two outstanding singer/guitarists trading vocals and guitar solos! The stage was certainly big enough for these two amazing talents.

“Red light mama, red hot!” is a quintessential Humble Pie song and a template for future pie songs. With suggestive lyrics, funky breakdowns and riff heavy guitars coupled with Marriott’s soulful howling at it’s best gives a glimpse into the future.

The album is not all blues rock, there are still elements of folk, country and psychedelia on songs “Only a roach” “Earth and water song” and “Sucking on the sweet vine”, which are a change of pace from the rockers, while still showcasing Marriott and Frampton’s talents. What is also impressive is bassist Greg Ridley, who could have sang lead as well as driving the bus. A band with 3 great singers does not come along very often!

Finally, the verdict on “Humble Pie” is that it is a good album, but not great. What is great is the lineup, it is too bad that Marriott and Frampton couldn’t stay together for decades. However, this LP shows that Humble Pie had found their sound and new horizons were ahead. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mu6JuXYPVXY

 

From my record vault

Black Sabbath – Never Say Die

For Black Sabbath, 1978 marked a period of transition. Singer Ozzy Osbourne would be sacked from the band soon after the release of Never Say Die, the Sabs eighth release in their original lineup. It is no secret that all members were burned out from the grueling job of recording and touring and all the demons that accompany being a famous hard rock band. I purchased this LP at a garage sale and was a bit skeptical of its contents, but I liked the cover and after all it was Black Sabbath. This album is in my opinion one of the most underrated Sabbath albums released. There are many great tracks on Never Say Die but Johnny Blade is a real gem. From the synth intro that sounds a little cheesey but grows on the listener to the crunching guitar riffs by Tony Iommi and the always rock solid rhythm section of Drummer Bill Ward and Bassist Geezer Butler. And of course there is Ozzy howling at peak level. What really makes this song dynamic and a pleasure to listen to are the changes and grooves that have a song within a song feel to it. At the time of this release Disco, Punk and Easy Listening ruled. Hard Rock was out of style and many bands were on the ropes. However, Johnny Blade and most of Never Say Die sound fresh and unique. After Osbourne departed Ronnie James Dio would replace Osbourne as singer and many lineup changes would ensue for Black Sabbath. Ozzy Osbourne would go on to have a hugely successful solo career. In the end, Black Sabbath did throw one of their last punches on Johnny Blade, an epitaph from a great band that would never be the same.

April Wine – On Record (Album Review)

April Wine – On Record

Have you ever listened to an artist’s later release and say to yourself “geeze they don’t sound anything like their first or second album.” Canadian rock band April Wine is a band that fits that description.  Songs like “sign of the gypsy queen” and “Just between you and me” are April Wine’s signature hits and show how different they sound from their earlier releases. Not to say that they sound better or worse over time, more to say it is interesting to see how various band’s evolve creatively over a period of time

April Wine’s 1972 album On Record was their second release and has elements of rock, folk, funk mixed with ballads and harmonic instrumental passages. There are also some inspired and not so inspired cover songs as well. The standout tracks are “Could have been a lady”, which is an unusual cover originally done by Hot Chocolate. What makes this song stand out are the fuzzy guitar riffs and the tight rhythm section consisting of Bassist Jim Clench and Drummer Rich Henman. Rich’s brother, Dave Henman plays guitar and along with the only current original member and main composer, Guitarist and vocalist Myles Goodwin form a solid dual guitar combo.

There are some not so great covers as well. “Bad side of the moon” an Elton John original comes across as a bit dreary and is somewhat boring as well. Other details for “On Record “include some strange orchestral bumper music between songs that make the album sound fragmented and are a little confusing as to when the songs start and finish. In an era of prog rock excess and over produced masterpieces, I guess it could be even more over the top. Other great tracks are a great ballad “Didn’t You” and the instrumental opener “Farkus.” Overall “On Record” is an underrated album that shows April Wine in their formative years. From listening you get the feeling they are still finding their way and perfecting their sound. This album is still worth checking out and giving it a spin.