by Tom Hallett
We’ll forgo the usual rants an’ raves (watch the worms squirm on the news for once!) whilst we frantically scramble to ship out the final couple batches of ‘05 CD and DVD reviews over the next few weeks, folks. So settle into that icehouse, Finnish sauna or dimly lit gas station bathroom, kick back and dig in ...
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Blaaaagghh!” — Johnny Thunders
SONG OF THE WEEK: “Same In Any Language” — 1Nine
Local stalwart Dan Israel returns with a strong batch of self-recorded, solo
material he painstakingly knitted together over the past year while awaiting
the recent birth of his son. That reflective, somewhat pensive period served
the witty, wink-and-a-nod singer/songwriter well, as evidenced in standout cuts
like the Elvis Costello-ish “Mystery Train,” the ‘Mats-y rocker
“Question” and the simple, charming album closer “Every Single
“Mystery Train” (not THAT “Mystery Train”) jingles,
jangles and punches its way through Israel’s suburban basement walls with
all the hangdog rebellion of an outtake from King Of America or a lost,
Nick Lowe-penned McManus demo, with Israel equally evoking pangs of loss, stabs
of regret and raw grief.
slams out of the gate with furious snare cracks, snarling guitars and the usually-restrained
Israel fairly growling, “Why do people got to be so cold an’ mean?/
Try to put you down if you ain’t in their scene/ What makes ‘em
all so cool an’ vicious/ Walk around grumblin’ an’ so suspicious
...” Defo not your average “it’ll all work out in the end”
Israel cut, the slicing, biting lyrics here ride a late-period ‘Mats groove
and come off like Lou Reed tap dancin’ barefoot on a straight razor, while
Dan sounds more righteously pissed than ever: “What the HELL is this sad
world comin’ to?”
Hidden track “Every Single Day” winds up the show appropriately,
Israel turning once again to his faith, his love, his family, his friends and,
especially, his new son, with a sad, contented shrug. “I love you more
than I could say in a song,” he croons over bouncy, melancholy piano notes.
“May your days be happy an’ your life be long/ I can’t believe
that you fell my way/ I’m just tryin’ to hold on to every single
day ...” An ode to love lost, found and newborn, as well as a sorrowful,
knowing goodbye to days forever past, the cut perfectly captures not only the
time it was recorded in, but the deepest depths of its author’s soul.
Solid, classic Minnesota music at its finest. Available in local shops or at
Wynn & The Miracles
Dream Syndicate alum Steve Wynn checks in after a busy year of touring and
recording with other outfits (most notably Minneapolis’ own Golden Smog)
with an amazing batch of in-your-face, ballsy roots rock on ...tick...tick...tick.
Most notable on first spin is the production (Courtesy of Wynn, Craig Schumacher
and Linda Pitmon) here—heavy, thick and dead serious, the album at once
strikes a chord of savage, thumping immediacy.
Kicking off with the sizzling, electri-fried groove of “Wired,”
Wynn and his Miracles (Jason Victor on guitar and vocals, Dave DeCastro on bass
and vocals, and drummer Linda Pitmon) come out swinging on the very first note—“Why
am I wired this way?” he sneers, as the band embraces calculated chaos
at his back. “Cindy, It Was Always You” is like a Dream Syndicate
flashback, replete with high lonesome harp, whirling, earthy guitars and that
ever-present, primal hoodoo beat.
The sad, tinkling intro to “The Deep End” effectively embodies the
gut-bucket, honky-tonk soul that’s fairly oozed from the best of Wynn’s
work over the years. Like a sweet, secret tryst between a Sound Of Lies-era
Jayhawks nugget and (Wynn’s mighty gift) a song that’s simply never
been sung before anywhere, anytime, by anybody—the moody sweep of the
music and the pain-wracked, soul-baring lyrics of this track capture the very
best aspects of the whole release. I just wanna stock the fridge with cheap
beer, a carton of smokes an’ a package of government cheese and lock myself
in with it on repeat until spring comes and I (hopefully) finally gurgle my
own way out of the deep end. As Steve says, “...it’s more than sink
or swim/ I’d rather not go in/ The deep end ...”
Of The Tide” could very well have, musically at least, come from some
lost, Zuma-period Neil Young session, Wynn’s and Victor’s
axes alternately trading gruff, sexy come-ons and gnarly bitch slaps. “Bruises”
is straight-ahead power-pop—where Wilco might’ve gone if Tweedy
hadn’t broke down an’ gone all electro-trippin’ a few albums
back. “Wild Mercury” is a rollicking, schizoid mind-meld, Wynn and
the band fairly howling their ways through a barbed-wire-strewn field of wild
cymbal crashes, thundering bass riffs and spot-on harmonies.
“All The Squares Go Home” sounds a bit like something Chuck Prophet
might have laid down in the past few years (that both fellas were members of
the so-called “Paisley Underground” may have something to do with
that, but methinks great minds just think alike), squeegy keyboards roiling
atop a cacophonous bed of in-your-face beats, screaming axes, and Wynn’s
voice run through some kind of effects box that makes him sound eerily like
Wall Of Voodoo founder Stan Ridgway. It’s powerful—and highly addictive.
The record wraps up with “No Tomorrow,” another Dream Syndicate-esque
ballad disguised as a slap-happy country-inflected pop ditty. Wynn & The
Miracles aren’t breaking new ground with ...tick...tick...tick,
but then again, why should they? People are still trying desperately to follow
in the footsteps he left behind 20-odd years ago, and he’s content to
continue forging along that same trail with all the guts and gusto of the nameless,
faceless session men who were probably some of his biggest inspirations along
the way. An excellent addition to the Wynn catalog, a genuine gem of an album
and a must-have for fans of music that gives a shit. Buy it! SteveWynn.net.
That’s all the space we’ve got this time ‘round, gang. Tune
in again, same space, same time, for more, more, more ... until then, make yer
own damn news.
If you have local music news/gigs/CDs you’d like to see mentioned in
this space, or you’d just like to squeeze me out some logic like mustard
on a hot dog, send replies to: Tmygunn777@peoplepc.com. ||