Evil Spirits? Yup, it’s that time of year

Graveyard-zombies-evil-spirits (warriorsofmyth.wikia.com)

Who’d a thought…42 years after acquiring the distinction of being the first British punk band to release a single, the breakneck-tempo love song of sorts “New Rose,” the Damned would still be at it – and sounding as vital as ever. Yes, this past April the band released their eleventh album, Evil Spirits, and this month they put in an appearance at Irving Plaza in NYC. Their usual Halloween-season show, though a bit earlier this year. (remember this one? from way back when Schizomusica was just learning to crawl)

The-Damned-colour (burningflame.net)

The-Damned-Evil-Spirits-cover (amazon.com)

The new-ish album is a brisk, ten-song trip that PopMatters describes as sounding like “a band stretching out and having fun in a studio, under the watchful eye of someone who is accustomed to working with mavericks and outcasts.” That someone is Tony Visconti, venerable producer of many a David Bowie record, who’s certainly elicited some top-notch creations out of this bunch of mavericks and outcasts. Lead-off track “Standing On the Edge of Tomorrow” is classic, gothic, Dave-Vanian-sung Damned, almost bringing to mind the faster side of…the Moody Blues? And it’s got a knockout sci-fi-themed video. Following are songs composed by various Damned members, the best being “We’re So Nice,” “Sonar Deceit” (both written and sung by guitarist Captain Sensible, the latter adopting a nice 60s-Supremes-style beat – with horns even); “Look Left” (by drummer Pinch and touring bassist Jon Priestley – as opposed to recording bassist Paul Gray – and with another great video); the theme song for myself and many people I know, “Procrastination” (penned by Sensible and keyboardist Monty Oxymoron – so lots of cool organ going on); and the 6-minute, trumpet-infused Vanian/Sensible monster “Daily Liar” (now who could that be referring to?). And check out the cover art: a film-noir movie poster motif down to the listing of the band members’ names – big last name, small first name.

 

The-Damned-stage-logo-2

October 18th brought the Damned to NYC once again, for a set studded with classics, not-so-classics, and a few soon-to-be-classics from Evil Spirits – against a backdrop showcasing the shadowy “man in the doorway” figure on the album cover. Kicking off with “Nasty,” the number the band performed back in the mid-80s on Brit TV comedy The Young Ones, the set seemed to lean heavily not on material from the new record (“Standing On the Edge of Tomorrow,” “Devil in Disguise,” and “We’re So Nice” – nothing more), but on the 1980 release The Black Album – including four in a row early on, plus the single “History of the World (Part 1)” and an abbreviated rendition of the epic “Curtain Call.” Rounding out the main set were “Stranger on the Town” from 1982’s Strawberries, the ’86 single “Eloise” (a cover of a 1968 Brit-hit by Paul Ryan), the always-appropriate-nowadays “Democracy?” from 2001’s Grave Disorder, and a healthy helping of good ol’ punk rock like “Love Song,” “Neat Neat Neat,” and of course “New Rose” (which they dedicated to ‘Joey’ – Ramone I would imagine).

The-Damned-b&w (arena.com:The Damned)     l-r: Monty Oxymoron, Paul Gray, Dave Vanian, Pinch, wot! Mike Love?

The spectacular encores – two of ’em – couldn’t help but drive the Irving Plaza crowd to ear-gasm: “Curtain Call,” the rowdy sing-along “Ignite,” “Street of Dreams” (the opener from 1985’s Phantasmagoria), and hands-down the best Damned song ever, “Smash It Up.” But the charm of the Damned goes beyond their amazing songs. After singing lead on “Silly Kids Games,” the affable Captain Sensible quipped, “They let me sing one song each gig…like Ringo…like Ringo without the money! But, big noses!” At the end of the show Sensible and Vanian each thanked the audience for “putting up with him” (pointing at each other), at which point the Captain mentioned he’d been working with Mr. Vanian for 42 years. Yikes. Punk rock is old! So once again…OLD GUYS ROCK.

vintage_halloween_rock_n_roll_skeleton_w_guitar (zazzle.com)                                                                   (wait, that’s a little too old)

 

Images courtesy warriorsofmyth.wikia.com, burningflame.net, amazon.com, me, arena.com/The Damned, zazzle.com

YouTube videos courtesy Good999Music, TheDamnedVEVO (© 2018 The Damned, under exclusive license to Universal Music Operations Limited), The Damned, Casey Purdy, Chuck Friendly, Ace Records Ltd

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Now for a little island music

That’s music from the Island of Long…which if you grew up there in the 1970s-80s might conjure up sounds, sights, and smells of large bars (aka small clubs) hosting rowdy rabble-rousers like Twisted Sister, the Good Rats, and Zebra. Oh, anybody remember Rat Race Choir? They seem to be back in action. How about Swift Kick? I think they played mostly covers – but completely cool ones. And Blue Öyster Cult, one of L.I.’s great success stories. To the muddled masses yearning to be at MSG, Long Island likely means BILLY JOEL. Yes, that guy wrote many a good song but… Let’s keep it fresh and new here, and at least borderline Schizomusical!

Long Island Postcard (theworldaccordingtofrankbarning.blogspot.com)

So introducing three recent releases:

Go to School by the Lemon Twigs

lemontwigs-go-to-school (jenesaispop.com)

Hicksville? Long Island? A train station, an exit off the expressway. Later on, the home of – again – Billy Joel. But now, with the emergence of former Hicksville High School students the D’Addario brothers, Brian and Michael, making shockingly eccentric music under the name The Lemon Twigs, Hicksville is hip! British daily The Times likens The Lemon Twigs to a combination of Wings, Supertramp, Big Star, the Ramones, and Broadway musicals. And that’s pretty accurate. Check out the stuff on Go to School, the band’s second album: Wings? “The Lesson” and “Wonderin’ Ways” are quite McCartneyish. Supertramp? Take a listen to “The Bully” or “Never Know.” Big Star? “Queen of My School” sounds just like an outtake from Radio City. Don’t really know where the Ramones fit in but their spirit is certainly all over the place. Broadway musicals? I’ve never seen School of Rock but I imagine “Rock Dreams” would be at home there. Album opener “Never in My Arms, Always in My Heart” melds the Stones with the Strokes. Then there’s the incredible “Small Victories,” snagging a hook from Seals & Crofts’ 1972 hit “Summer Breeze”! And it’s all held together as a rock opera of sorts about, um, a chimp raised as a boy going to school. Okay…

Lemon-Twigs-_-Hero2_JW-1132x620 (hero-magazine.com, Faith Silva)

 

Things Are Looking Up by the Walk-A-Bout

Walk-A-Bout-Things+Are+Looking+Up (walkaboutband.com)

These guys have been regulars here at Schizomusica, and this past June they busted out with a 6-track album entitled Things Are Looking Up. The Walk-A-Bout is mostly Long Islanders including founder/guitarist/songwriter Kevin Anderson from Westhampton Beach – plus an Australian singer/lyricist with one of the most soaring and soulful voices ever. The album kicks off with the easy-going title track – an optimistic jewel in the midst of all the nonsense happening these days – then slides into “That’s Just the Way It Goes” with its mellow prog rock grooves (remember Grand Funk Railroad’s “I’m Your Captain/Closer to Home”?) and the equally mellow “By My Side.” “Consequences” stirs things up a bit as singer Darren “Sully” Sullivan breaks out the blues harp and new addition Dave Christian tosses off tasty electric guitar leads. Closing things out are two previously-released songs, the percussionistic “Oasis” and one of the band’s best, “Drifting Tide.” And things keep looking up for the Walk-A-Bout – check ’em out at the Music Speaks Out East benefit for cancer research at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead on October 20…along with of all bands Rat Race Choir!

TheWalkABout (walkaboutband.com)

 

Twentytwo in Blue by Sunflower Bean

sunflower-bean-twentytwo-in-blue-artwork (pastemagazine.com)From Glen Head, Long Island (and Brooklyn) comes Sunflower Bean, a trio with a sound from the pages of Joan Jett, the Go-Go’s, T. Rex, and the Velvet Underground, topped by a modern millennial sheen. Twentytwo in Blue is their second release, following 2016’s Human Ceremony, and it’s positively stunning. “Burn It,” the opening track, stomps along like Blackhearts-era Joan (thanks to singer/bassist Julia Cumming and drummer Jacob Faber), while “I Was A Fool” takes things down a notch, Fleetwood Mac-style, with intricate vocals from both Cumming and guitarist Nick Kivlen. The exquisite title cut “Twentytwo” is top-shelf jangle-pop with Cumming elegantly twisting syllables in the line “I do not go qui-ET-ly,” noisy glam-rock comes breaking down the door on the rollicking “Puppet Strings,” and haunting guitars swirl around Cumming’s echo-y vocals on “Only A Moment.” “Any Way You Like” recalls the delicate side of the Velvet Underground, then the band really channels Lou Reed on “Sinking Sands” and the outstanding closer “Oh No, Bye Bye.” Sunflower Bean will be at Brooklyn Steel on October 22 – don’t miss ’em!

SunflowerBean (blog.urbanoutfitters.com, Nina Westervelt)

 

On another note, this date marks Schizomusica’s two-year anniversary (and 60th post, if that has any significance), so thank you to all my readers, followers, commenters, criticizers, etc. Thanks also to Susan for giving me the idea two years ago and Sam for suggesting WordPress. Cheers!

long-island-iced-tea-recipe-for-blog (dishingwithdiane.com)

 

Images courtesy theworldaccordingtofrankbarning.blogspot.com, jenesaispop.com, hero-magazine.com/Faith Silva, walkaboutband.com, pastemagazine.com, blog.urbanoutfitters.com/Nina Westervelt, dishingwithdiane.com