Check the windows, wipe the oil, or whatever the Allman Brothers used to say… It’s time for the Schizomusica Summer Tour with stops at the hometowns of some noteworthy, newly- or soon-to-be-released music:
Let’s start this journey off right here at home, with a band from my birthplace of Long Island, and with a real road trip theme song: “Traveler”! That song was already reviewed back in February, but now The Walk-A-Bout (notice the extra hyphen now) has brought-a-bout their 6-song mini-album, loaded with even more of Kevin Anderson’s sublime guitar stylings and Darren Sullivan’s hearty, heartfelt vocals. All held together with the rhythmic glue of bassist Mike Perrotta and drummer Drew Bertrand. Add to that the funky catchiness of “Broken Past” and “Shakin’ It Up,” the luxurious keyboard streaming through “Look at the Moon,” the majestic melodies and subtle percussion of “On the Bay,” the swaying rhythm and eerie sound effects (produced by a didgeridoo, an Australian wind instrument, played by Aussie guy Sullivan) of “Fortune Favors the Brave,” and you have one hell of an intense and enjoyable recording.
Hoppin’ on down to exotic Wilmington, Delaware…say hello to the Spinto Band and a new expanded double vinyl LP (!) release of 2005’s Nice and Nicely Done, the group’s first album. This is high-energy, quirky pop at its finest, taking the 60s (Beatles and Beach Boys hooks and harmonies), 70s (10cc twists and turns, Sparks theatrics), and 80s (those disquieting vocals of The Cure’s Robert Smith), and tossing it all into the twenty-first-century meat grinder that extruded The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, and The Killers, with a seasoning of cute instrumentation like kazoos and ukulele. Check out first single/video “Oh Mandy.” The “expanded” part of the new package is 12 previously-unreleased bonus tracks/b-sides, featuring exploratory stuff like “When Things Are Placid,” “My Special Car,” the brilliant “Tractor,” and the fun, funky “People I Know.” The Spinto band (band name courtesy singer/guitarist Nick Krill’s grandfather Roy Spinto) will be at Rough Trade NYC on July 29 – great band, great venue.
Next stop, Clarksville, Maryland (by way of Boston’s Berklee College of Music)…here’s saxophonist Vanessa Collier. Vocalist and songwriter too (and keyboards and flute), her album Meeting My Shadow shows that off in eleven big, fat boilin’ pots of blues. Hot ‘n’ heavy numbers like “Dig A Little Deeper” and “Two Parts Sugar, One Part Lime” share the bill with slow-simmering soul (“You’re Gonna Make Me Cry”), hyper-gospel (“Up Above My Head, I Hear Music in the Air”), and haunting delta-blues (“Poisoned the Well,” “When It Don’t Come Easy”). Plus a cover of U2’s “When Love Comes To Town.” But of course…the original from 1988 featured Mr. B.B. King…and it’s the peak of the album, with Collier finally letting loose with that steaming sax.
Coming into the city of New Orleans…look, it’s King James & The Special Men with their debut Act Like You Know. Here’s a six-pack of 1950s-style southern R&B smothered in a spicy 2017 sauce: opener and theme-song “Special Man Boogie” chugs along with Latin-flavored percussion; slow-cookin’ blues rules on “Baby Girl” and “Tell Me (What You Want Me To Do)”; horns-a-plenty do the work on “Eat That Chicken”; and Bo Diddley comes crashing back to life on the 14-minute grand finale “9th Ward Blues.” And hosting the party is the hard-boiled voice of founder/singer/guitarist Jimmy Horn, a legend of sorts who bounced around the country as a kid from Utah to Illinois to Washington State to Pennsylvania, finally landing in New Orleans. Talk about a road trip…
Heading out west to Denver, Colorado…behold “gothabilly” outfit Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. 2017 sees the re-release of their album Cipher, an explosion of alterna-Americana that takes the Wall of Voodoo sound (remember them?), injects it with some Jesus juice, and then hurls it off a crag high in the Colorado Rockies. Listen to “This Land Is Our Land Redux,” “Americadio,” “Children of the Lord,” or the zany “Magalina Hagalina Boom Boom,” and – if you were a new wave music fan in the early 80s – images of Wall of Voodoo vocalists Stan Ridgway and/or Andy Prieboy oughta go flying by. Other highlights include the glam-rock-infused “Red Pirate of the Prairie” and the jumpy folk-song-gone-haywire “Ladies in the Know.” Formed in 1992, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club (often acronym-ed SCAC) consists of Slim Cessna, Jay Munly, and an eclectic handful of other musicians who have come and gone through the years; Cipher was originally unleashed in 2008 on the Jello Biafra-founded label Alternative Tentacles.
Final destination, the alluring Albuquerque, New Mexico…meet violinist/vocalist – and one half of American/Turkish/Balkan/indie/folk (what?) duo A Hawk and a Hacksaw – Heather Trost. Her first full-length album Agistri (named after a Greek Island) is a collection of eight surreal song sculptures…Stereolab fans take note…heavy on the vintage synths…with a 60s-70s-psychedelic sensibility…and Trost’s mellifluous voice, sometimes proclaiming lyrical lines like “Watching the moon go up and down with the waves” and “Thunder clouds roll over the mesa” (“Agistri”), sometimes blending into the mix as an angelic instrument (“Abiququ,” “Plastic Flowers”), other times doing both (“Agina,” “Real Me_Real You”), and on one track, not there at all, letting the sonorous synthesizers shine through (“Bloodmoon”). And don’t miss the lovely rendition of Harry Nilsson’s “Me and My Arrow.” Drums and bass by Trost’s partner in A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Jeremy Barnes; guitar by Deerhoof’s John Dieterich.
Ok, what’s the best part of going away? Coming home!
images courtesy ministry-to-children.com, RetroAmerica.com, pinterest.com, flickr.com, cdbaby.com, wikipedia.org, amazon.com, midheaven.com, roadtripkc.com