Sometimes you take a chance. It’s not quite like the old days when you would stroll through a record store and something would catch your eye: a name, some art. But it’s close, and as I was flipping through the Record Store Drop releases at my local shop I saw the reissue of the sole record from Ann Arbor’s The Rationals. The hype sticker drew me in as much as the colors on the album art: you put the words “Detroit R&B Garage Band” on your sticker and you’re going to hook me. I’m glad it did because it turns out The Rationals delivers precisely on the sticker’s promise: down and dirty rhythm and blues that has a foot firmly in the 60s while calling out to the more rock-centric power the 70s would deliver.
Continue reading “The Rationals: The Rationals (1970)”
Day 20 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for an unpopular album by a popular band. It’s crazy that as popular as ZZ Top, are there’s not a lot of talk about their debut, wonderfully titled ZZ Top’s First Album, as if they were certain there would be more. One listen to that singular guitar tone and I can understand why. There may not have been a huge hit on the album (their second, Rio Grande Mud, would kick off with “Francine” and “Just Got Paid”) but you can already hear that Gibbons’s tone is there, and the rough and tumble electric blues they would come to dominate for decades was fleshed out if not fully formed from a songwriting perspective from the get-go.
Continue reading “ZZ Top: ZZ Top’s First Album (1971)”
Day 24 of the #mayvinylchallenge takes a look at etchings, whether it’s the weird title messages scratched into the dead wax of a record or a full side sketch for those albums that don’t fit a double album format. Thinking about that brought me back to The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, the chameleon rock second record from Gary Clark, Jr. At 53 minutes it more than fits on a CD, but the vinyl version only takes up three sides, allowing for a gorgeous scratch design on Side D. So it fits the category; now let’s talk about the music.
Continue reading “Gary Clark, Jr.: The Story of Sonny Boy Slim (2015)”
My shying away from a lot of modern metal doesn’t mean I’m shying say from modern (or more accurately, current) rock. All Them Witches was a revelation to me back in 2016 when I discovered their Lightning at the Door album through some mutual friends. Over the years the band has expanded and contracted, moving in subtle directions where the emphasis can fall on multiple genres – some more successfully than others. Trimmed down to a trio, Nothing as the Ideal locks everything into place, creating am monster of a rock album that feel simultaneously timeless and of every time. It’s a banger, in other words.
Continue reading “All Them Witches: Nothing as the Ideal (2020)”
It took album #3 for The Beasts of Bourbon to fall prey to what we’ll call for lack of a better word “safe” music. Which is not to say that Black Milk is a bad album; on the contrary, it’s a terrific amalgam of everything that was present on the previous two records (their debut The Axeman’s Jazz is a terrific gnarled album, but I don’t own a physical copy, so no review). But that amalgam is tempered, somewhat. There’s a tunefulness and restraint that doesn’t have the vital spark of Sour Mash, but is sweet just the same. Continue reading “Beasts of Bourbon: Black Milk (1990)”
We all have those people in our lives who act as our musical sherpas, guiding us on paths we would not have otherwise taken to discover aural delights that reverberate in our souls and ears. Over the last six or so years the largest of those people has been Henry Rollins, via his weekly KCRW radio show (seriously, listen here) as well as his collection of Fanatic books where he provides liner notes for every radio show. Through him I discovered the hotbed of great music that’s been coming out of Australia for years, specifically the swerving, booze-drenched blues insanity of The Beasts of Bourbon, here represented by their second album, Sour Mash. Continue reading “Beasts of Bourbon: Sour Mash (1988)”