Clutch Show Review – Earth Rocker Tour: Lean, Mean, Rockin’ Machine
Clutch, 3-24-13, 7 p.m., House of Blues Anaheim, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, CA 92802
Tour: Earth Rocker
Set Time: 90 minutes
Attendance: Audience – 1,000+; Band – 4
Mood: Band – Equal measures of rock, rebellion and revival, poked with a stick, then set on fire; Audience – Rocking and grooving like the world’s about to end
Players: Neil Fallon (lead vocals, harmonica, occasional rhythm guitar, additional percussion); Jean-Paul Gaster (drums); Dan Maines (bass guitar); Tim Sult (lead guitar)
Special to Reviewer Magazine
by Brent D. Tharp
I remember the album Thunder Seven by Canadian rockers Triumph. In fact, I can recall nearly the entire track listing – listening to it about 100 times in succession enhances recall, even for my sometimes-addled brain. That was also the first Triumph album I ever heard. Years later, I’d finally come up with the not-so-unique idea of listening to Triumph’s entire back catalog. The point of this little memory exercise is that out of the ten studio albums, the one that really stuck with me was their second, Rock & Roll Machine. It came out when gas was rocketing up to $0.75/gallon and some odd folks were still wearing polyester and bellbottoms (my dad always avoided the bellbottoms, since they were for hippies, but he did love his polyester).
Clutch’s show in Anaheim, just five days after dropping Earth Rocker, brought me back to the first time I heard that Triumph album, and it made my skin tingle. That’s an unusual reaction when reviewing a show – typically, you sit around for hours waiting for the show to start, you eschew all alcohol, and you consciously avoid any emotional response that could cause you to dance your ass off. That response was hard to avoid on this night, however; Clutch are at the top of their game. For a band renowned for its live shows and the organic jams that tend to come from them, it might sound like a putdown to say that they were exceptionally tight and methodical. If that were the whole description, then I’d have to agree. But on this particular night, Clutch was like the vessel upon which a hurricane, a volcano and a tsunami converged, with all that energy pumped, harnessed and released, with constant energy and flow, through the machinations of a Pentecostal preacher.
Often, lead singer Neil Fallon’s persona is so large that it drowns out other players on the stage. Fallon is a magnetic front man – I’m pretty sure he could hold his own on stage with Yngwie Malmsteen, playing with amps set to 11. It’s just that in the process of being hypnotized by Fallon’s strong delivery, one can miss the subtle musical accomplishments happening right next to him. I have little fear that that will be a problem on this tour, if the Anaheim show is any indication.
House of Blues is a venue that allows more room on the stage and in the house, for the energy to be equally distributed within a band. Even so, I don’t think that’s the reason for Clutch seeming more like an ensemble than they have in the past. In my opinion, this is a carryover from Clutch’s studio work on the album. They’ve acknowledged that they put more pre-studio preparation into this album than any other, and that the time in the studio, though shorter than usual, was intense. That intensity is coming through in the live show, and it’s a big positive, especially for anyone who’s never seen the band before. And for those who’ve seen Clutch a thousand times and thinks they’ve always seemed like an ensemble onstage, don’t go all Dream Theater 1 on my ass, just take a compliment for what it is.
With that in mind, here’s what you can expect from Clutch if you go to one of their shows on the Earth Rocker tour: 1. guitar solos; 2. drum solos and shuffles; 3. no extended jams, but a lot of groove; and 4. cowbell (editorial note: these are not necessarily things one would expect at a Clutch show). Some may be saddened by the absence of any extended jams, but that would be inconsistent with what this tour, and the Earth Rocker album, is about: non-stop, guitar- and drum-driven rock n roll, in your face and without any stops (the album actually has an interlude before side 2, obvious if you listen to it on vinyl, but I think that’s an homage to the format as much as anything).
What you get in return is the familiar of Neil Fallon doing his best to save your unworthy mortal soul (I have no knowledge of this, but I have to believe that Fallon was forced to go to Sunday school). As noted above, you’ll also get a healthy dose of grooviness. That might seem to contradict a fast-moving rock show, but since most rock has blues as its base, a lack of groove is the real concern. Even on the hardest, fastest songs, the audience was shakin’ it for all they were worth (this included several fans who appeared to have reached the ripe old age of 10 or 11). Any concerns that audience members might shake their way over the balcony rails, in my opinion, were completely warranted. To what can we attribute this? I think the prime culprit is drummer Jean-Paul Gaster’s extensive use of shuffles on the new album. That drumming adds a lot of soul and warmth to even an in-your-face song, and has a primal essence that whispers “C’mon, let’s dance a little, or a lot…”
There’s another aspect amping the energy level, and that’s the crowd response to the music. Clutch are a band acutely aware of how the audience is reacting to their music and playing, whether it’s obvious or not. I had the opportunity to interview Gaster before the show, and I asked him about the audience response to the new album online and at the shows. I was a bit surprised that he was shaking his head yes to both parts of that question, an indication that just five days into a new album, the band are extremely interested in how they are connecting to the public, not just at their shows, but online as well, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive thus far. The consistently positive reaction, I think, is giving the band even more energy, and it’s being funneled into their performances.
On to the songs.
The opener, “Freakonomics,” is a solid number from their previous album, Strange Cousins from the West. More importantly, the drum and guitar on this song are similar to those on Earth Rocker – they are leading the music. To the ear, they’re slightly ahead of the other parts – that’s not technically true, but when mixed so that is sounds that way, the lead guitar becomes the focal point in union with the drums, and the other instruments seem to be pulled along for a brutal, speed-driven freight-train ride through a fiery blaze from which there is no escape.
The second song was “The House that Peterbilt,” which is (normally) down-tempo and from earlier in the band’s history. It appeared to have been sped up, however, and Tim Sult’s lead guitar was louder than I recall it being on the studio version of this song (a fact I confirmed later). His overlays throughout seemed to be cleaner and louder, as well. Without seeing the show, I would have guessed that this song was a head fake on the way to turning the tempo back up, but the band never really slowed down at all.
“Earth Rocker” is the first of five tracks played from the new album of the same name. It’s also a song that reminds me to always be suspicious of Fallon’s lyrics. Unlike many artists, he assumes his listeners are smart enough to figure them out, and like many artists, he is intentionally vague enough to allow those listeners to reach their own conclusions if they want. Just like “Power Player,” this song is self-referential and at the same time, critical of unabashed fame and privilege. It constantly crosses the line between frankness and parody, but Fallon will not be the one to tell you exactly where that line is. While Electric Six (see Electric Six Review) would write a critical song and add the lyric “And if you’re on land, you can come and see my piece of shit band!,” Fallon would hit you with something like “Come out and see our punk band, Everyone knows we’re the best in the land.”
The intensity of the set started to build at this point, with two more songs from the new album, “Unto the Breach” and “The Face.” “Unto the Breach” is the type of song, lyrically, that has been responsible for Clutch being repeatedly mislabeled as a ‘stoner rock’ band. It has lyrics that tie in the medieval period, religion and death, space fantasy, earth fantasy, and Dr. Who, with some linkage from one to the next in terms of textual meaning. “The Face,” meanwhile, is a direct criticism of religion in the form of guitars being put to their death. As a writer, I’m personally aghast that Fallon believes guitars will get a stronger emotional response than references to Fahrenheit 451, or the story of a good old-fashioned Bible Belt Book Burning, but as a music fan, I suppose I can agree to agree. This might resolve that contradictory, and quite funny, reaction to their album Blast Tyrant: while many religious groups were quite vocal about their dislike of the album, there was a small contingent that thought Clutch to be some sort of religious band. I’d call that a confusion of lyrical type over content.
“The Mob Goes Wild” is one of my favorite anti-war songs, and it also reflects the same sarcastic thread from the band. The song has one of their catchiest riffs, and is one that gets the crowd moving, yet the message is political and deadly serious. Meanwhile, you really have to dance, you can’t help it, while you sing along to the lyrics ’21 guns, box made of pine, letter from the government sealed and signed, Delivered Federal Express, on your mother’s doorstep.’ This was followed by “Profits of Doom,” (the basis for my comment about Blast Tyrant above), “Escape from the Prison Planet,” “Abraham Lincoln” and “The Regulator.” All of these songs are from previous albums, have been reviewed extensively by the press, and were played flawlessly. Further mention of them here is unnecessary.
The next two songs were from Earth Rocker. “Crucial Velocity” has a driving guitar riff, and though the song’s video uses a car as metaphor, ostensibly named a ‘Rocket 88,’ the reference is to “Rocket 88,” the first rock song to use distortion. In many ways, it’s also a tip of the hat to Sult and the way he plays guitar, and the lyric “My Rocket 88 fastest in the land” is the tacit directive for him to play it as loud and as fast as he wants. By this point in the show, he’d already done that. Meanwhile, Jean-Paul Gaster should have been tired by this point, but instead seemed intent on increasing the fills, while attempting to break all the skins at once. “Cyborg Bette” is a hilarious song about love and confusion, about a man’s love for his cyborg companion, of course. Love, however, always has complications. It’s not my favorite song on the new album, but it’s my favorite combination of groovy riff with insane, frenetic drumming. I also believe it most accurately represents the energy and groove of the album. And yes, people may have danced over the rails on this one, though I didn’t check (better not to know about these things).
“Burning Beard” and “Mice & Gods” are two of my favorites, and were played impeccably. The closer, “D.C. Sound Attack!” deserves some special mention. Also off the new album, it’s currently my favorite from same. It’s the best anti-war song I’ve heard since, well, “The Mob Goes Wild.” Fallon’s singing literally drips with sarcasm as he switches from first person to third person, and he’s one of the only singers who can singularly overwhelm a non-stop cowbell, supported by Sult’s guitar and Dan Maines’ bass being tested to their limits. Fallon has always had a strong voice, but at times critics have commented on it being a bit gravelly. That’s not the case now. His vocals are as clean as I’ve ever heard them, and apparently it’s due to some sort of mystic tea (see this official Clutch Channel video for details):
The encore comprised “Texan Book of the Dead” and “A Shogun Named Marcus,” two classics. It was a fitting end to a solid show. If you’re in the mood for a straight-up, hard driving rock show without any frills or pretension, then Clutch will fit the bill.
1. Dream Theater – an American progressive metal band formed in 1985, arguably one of most technically proficient bands in the world. Also famous for playing songs so long and technically complex, that only their tiny niche of fans has any interest in listening to them. Their hardcore fans are identifiable by a tendency to have a visceral and personal reaction to anything that could be a criticism of “their” band, e.g., a statement that they are amazing musicians, but their music is inaccessible to the average listener, would be met with astonishment that anyone could consider their music inaccessible, or that anyone who can’t understand their music must be stupid, rather than appreciating the compliment that they are amazing musicians.
“He had one picture pinned to the wall: a grotesque portrait of himself as a special Olympian…”
Leviathan Darkside, Pontius Autopilate, and Phone Sex With Stephen Hawking
Getting acquinted with the underground writer and personality known as Lev Six
A first-person recollection by Zack Wentz
Photos are from the personal Facebook of Lev Six. His current public feed is HERE.
I first came into contact with Lev Six in 2000, maybe as late as 2001. Back then he was better known as Leviathan Darkside. We somehow got in touch, I think over a cult song that was circulating online called “Phone Sex With Stephen Hawking,” which was every bit as twisted as you can imagine. Hopefully more so. This was before MySpace, and the online music world was much less streamlined, more genuinely anarchic.
He released his music as Pontius Autopilate, and that was one of his most notorious, passed-around tracks. The PA work struck me as an odd mix of early Devo, artists like Foetus, Negativeland, maybe Tit Wrench, and something I couldn’t really put my finger on. It was sick stuff, strategically designed to both upset and amuse, and insidiously catchy. Subversive and homemade, but not just noise. He knew his way around a hook.
If I wrote to him about anything he would get back with thousands of words about as quickly as the miserable computer I owned at that time could be refreshed. Always very tidy, grammatically correct, but extremely intense, compressed, and wickedly funny. It was hard to tell what was serious and what was a joke. Often hard to tell if he knew. All over the idiomatic map. Obscure occult references interlacing insider breakdowns of various bureaucratic institutions, punctuated with offhand pop culture gags, and tied up with some odd bit of theoretical physics or ancient history.
He was one of the first “trolls” I knew of, well before the term was part of the common vernacular. It wasn’t just for “LOLZ” either. This was the kind of activity Anonymous is well known for now: pranks that were really designed to demolish organizations from the inside. I remember he was dealing with some fairly dangerous people, neo-Nazis, KKK nuts, infiltrating their chat rooms, first enticing, then dominating them socially, and when he had them eating out of his virtual palm, pulling the rug out, ravaging their online bonds by exposing them to each other as hypocritical saps. He did mess with plenty of harmless folks, Golden Girls fan clubs, and such. Sometimes you felt guilty for laughing.
I remember an odd phase he went through, composing bizarre porn screenplays around old Stephen J. Cannell/Glenn A. Larson type shows. The really off ones like Automan and Manimal. Hysterical stuff. Seemed to have endless energy for any stray idea, high-brow, low-brow, whatever. Went at it all with the same manic gusto.
He was always very generous with his words, but who he was and what he did was more than a bit mysterious. I remember once getting the idea that he possibly worked for some sort of intelligence program. Some kind of dis-info unit. Could have been the case, for all I know. I asked him, and he laughed it off, but still didn’t quite answer. I did gather that he had once worked inside Wall Street, the really nasty business, and was also intimately familiar with a wide variety of illegal substances, although in what capacity was left ambiguous.
It was a long time before I actually met him in person. Actually took a long time just to learn that he was located somewhere in Philadelphia. The band I was in was starting to tour nationally on a regular basis, and he offered to house us when were in his neck of the woods. The next time we were in Philly we put him on the list, and at the end of the show a very pale man in dark clothes, slicked-back black hair, came up to the stage smiling impishly. He looked like a cross between a young Christian Slater and a Secret Service agent, and although he talked much like he wrote, his words were delivered in sort of arch drawl. Say if Jack Nicholson had to play William Burroughs. He had a handful of pet words he used in strange ways, like “flipper.” They would get stuck in your head, and then you’d find yourself using them, as if he was teaching you his language subliminally.
The house he was living in was quite a ways outside of downtown Philly, in an upscale neighborhood. Big place, immaculately kept, but seemingly empty. He had a room upstairs that was almost more like a kind of temporary office, or monk’s cell. Very Spartan. Just a bed, chair, desk, computer, half-dozen or so thick books, guitar, and a synthesizer. He had one picture pinned to the wall: a grotesque portrait of himself as a special Olympian, playing basketball from a wheelchair.
He had bought us a lot of beer and some whiskey, made us food, an excellent host. The only thing he seemed to share the house with was a fish that lived in a bowl in the kitchen, and he was especially attentive to it. The rooms he set us up with didn’t seem to belong to anyone. Guest rooms, but not dusty or stale. All with fresh bedding, as if a spectral maid had just done them up, but no sign of regular occupation.
I remember the sound of him typing well into the night, and he was still typing when I woke up. I don’t know that he ever slept, which explained a lot. When we emerged from the rooms, he offered us breakfast. A lot of the whiskey was gone, and everything again was nice and clean.
I still have no idea who the house belonged to, but it seemed better not to ask at the time. As if it might be safer not to know. Probably was safer not to know.
[Editor’s notes: Lev Six will be releasing a fictional account about a female android prostitute that takes place in the far flung future wherein she takes part in the second American revolution. He’s described his writing here as being “very tight like an android prostitute.” Zack Wentz runs an online literary journal at New Dead Families and lives in domestic bliss with his wife and cats in Sherman Heights, a neighborhood of San Diego. He and Mrs Wentz sometimes play in their band, The Dabbers, around San Diego and elsewhere.]
Urban Hillbilly Y’alt-Punk
Introducing A New Americana
by Reviewer Rob
“… a unique presence in the neo-folk/freak-folk movement…”
The Evangenitals are an LA alternative-country rock band (or y’alt-punk rock) that resists firm description. Upon first appraisal they appear to draw inspiration from country, hillbilly music, Southern spirituals/gospel and early 19th-century ship song as well as traditional Klezmer music disciplines. Lyrically one might also say they are to some extent infused with the great literary heritage of Herman Melville.
This strong 7-piece band is led by the astonishingly robust vocals of Reverand Juli Crockett, a PhD student, LA film and theater director and a retired prize boxer who is said to have been a real-life model for the role Hilary Swank played in MILLION DOLLAR BABY (see link below). Recently released from touring with the hugely popular Johnny Cash tribute band Cash’d Out where she sang as June Carter, Juli Crocket is now free to pursue her more personal artistic goals.
This band and it’s lead singer should be closely watched as they come roaring through the Southern California new music scene.
On a mild February night last week, I met Juli and she provided a tour of The Stockroom on Sunset Boulevard in Silverlake, a sex-toy store/fetish-gear manufacturing plant where she works her current day job in marketing as an informal ambassador of kink. The famous retail outlet is actually where the idea for the name of the band was conceived. “We were making websites here one day,” Crockett said while we were upstairs in the administration offices, “and came up with The Evangenitals.” It’s appropriateness is unique to the band, given the alt-punk music scene milieu, the nature of the adult entertainment niche Crockett finds herself in by day and the spiritual/gospel bible-thumper roots of the Americana genre music they play. The name may hold them back from being announced any time soon on a popular late night TV talk show, but if they know that they don’t seem to care.
We shot some video interview footage and then I witnessed, as unobtrusively as I could, an Evengenitals rehearsal in their rented space nearby in downtown Los Angeles just across the LA river, and did more video and photos. You can see the photos in flash HERE.
The Evangenital’s new self-titled CD has a painting on its cover wherein a sperm whale is prominently featured, pointing to Crockett’s interest in MOBY DICK as a source of theatrical and musical inspiration.
In the world of theater, Crockett wrote and directed a Los Angeles spoken word opera adaptation of MOBY DICK which she titled or, the whale. It was presented at the 2001 Moby Dick Conference at Hofstra University and performed by the TENT group in Portland, Maine.
Or, The Whale, as you may know dear reader, is the secondary title to MOBY DICK, a book still called by many the greatest American novel ever written. Juli names this book as a recurring theme in her music and theatrical art and describes it as a story about “man’s quest for wholeness.”
From their Wikipedia listing on 2/27/10:
” The Evangenitals, formed in 2003 with friends Lisa Dee and Brett Lyda, have received considerable media attention in the LA Weekly, Music Connection Magazine, and other publications & radio stations for their singular brand of “hillbilly truckstop lullabies.” They are considered a unique presence in the neo-folk/freak-folk movement. As stated on the Orphan Records website, “Though not entirely unclassifiable, the Evangenitals are versatile and multi-layered, and will likely carry a ‘slash’ in their genre classification for as long as they exist as a band of Southern Californian country bumpkins.”
The band’s first album – “We Are The Evangenitals” – received rave reviews from fans, selling out of its first printing and receiving a 5 star rating on iTunes. The Evangenitals’ second album “Everlovin” was recorded in South Pasadena at Del Boca Vista studios in January 2007 and released in October of 2007.
In the fall of 2007 The Evangenitals went on the “Road to Oprah” tour with a documentary film crew from The 1 Second Film. The Evangenitals are composing songs for the The 1 Second Film’s “making of” documentary that will accompany its lengthy credits. The Evangenitals will also be appearing in the documentary. So as to appear more media friendly during this time, The Evangenitals went under the moniker, The Love Punks.
Writer Colum McCann spoke in an interview of Juli Crockett and the music of the Evangenitals saying, “For pure craziness, there are lots of other bands, including one that I can’t write to but I’ve become a big fan; they’re called the Evangenitals. They’re from Los Angeles. One of the front singers is a former boxer-slash-philosopher. She’s a fantastic singer. Her name is Juli Crockett.” (Powells.com/Colum McCann).
In addition to fronting The Evangenitals, Crockett also perform[ed] with Cash’d Out, the world’s premier Johnny Cash tribute band, singing the June Carter parts in their stage show.
Crockett and Lisa Dee also perform outside of the band under the name Evangina. ”
US News article: Million Dollar Maybe, A real-life version of Maggie Fitzgerald
Juli Crockett Producer Profile for The 1 Second Film
WBAN Boxing Record for Crockett
Evangenitals Official Site
Evangina Official Site
At left: click the pic or HERE for a members’ section performance-video and and interview with the band.
Photos below: at top, Juli Crockett belting out her Americana; middle photo: four of The Evangenitals in their rehearsal studio space; mask photos, Juli at The Stockroom, a fetish gear retail clothing store and factory in Silverlake, where she works in marketing and as Ambassador of Kink. I had asked her to pose with and without one of the elite Venetian masquerade party-crowd festival masks from in the display case… At bottom is a video file of the interview.
Photos © Reviewer Magazine, by Reviewer Rob 😀
Click HERE to explore the full Flash gallery of pics.
Quicktime video HERE
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Joan of Arc: Flowers
Polyvinyl Records, 2009
Legendary Chicago scenesters, Joan of Arc, have just released Flowers, their latest CD. Amazingly it is another brilliant, innovative and unique (which goes without saying) album.
In 2007 JOA put out Boo! Human an equally great CD that they had no trouble following-up. That album, Boo! Human, was chock full of what seems like contrived, well-thought out, wry songs, but in reality Tim and company, the revolving door that is Joan of Arc and probably one of the things that has kept at least the name alive all this time, for Joan of Arc has released a LOT of CDs.
In the incarnation for Flowers, Joan of Arc, this time around, consists of frontman and songwriter Tim Kinsella as well as Cale Parks, Sam Zurick and Tim’s brother Mike, aka Owen, playing drums on at least many of the tunes and doing a damn good job of it too.
This new release, Flowers, has been noted in some areas as being a little more coherent than its predecessor, Boo! Human, but to anyone who has heard some of their past, more experimental recordings such as Dick Cheney, Joan of Arc & Mark Twain, The Intelligent Design of Joan of Arc and the studio album (it’s not “live”): Live in Chicago: 1999, which Flowers seems to drift back towards since the more “structured” Boo! Human, in 2007, which, while still very unique and not at all following any formula but what happened to be in Tim’s head, which can vary wildly.
Yes, Flowers has a more experimental feel and a slowed down pace as well, that departs from their previous disc. Nonetheless, there are great songs on this album, in fact, it’s another JOA CD that is perfect for listening to from beginning to end, never getting tired or stale. The same goes for the solo work of both Owen and Cale Parks, who have both had some excellent solo albums that they did completely on their own, Owen, in his boyhood bedroom.
Songs that stick out, as far as being more “structured”, hence more easy to get in your head, are, for one, the super-catchy “Explain Yourselves Part 2”, the opening cut, mellow and performed with only singing and synthesizer, “Fogbow”, the penultimate song, “Life Sentence/Twisted Ladder” and the closing cut, “The Sun Rose”, which, if you listen closely, is an acoustic guitar solo that does some sly finger-picking, playing variations on the theme of the opening cut, the aforementioned “Fogbow”, which was exclusively done with synth. From beginning to end you discover lots of diverse ways to express oneself and some damn catchy hooks!
Trespassers William: The Natural Order of Things (EP)
Gizeh Records – release date: 6/08/09
Relatively new as a duo, Trespassers William have just released their second CD, this one an EP, entitled The Natural Order of Things, the follow-up to their debut, Different Stars, which was released on Bella Union Records, which makes The Natural Order of Things their debut for Gizeh, an indie label, based in Leeds, England, UK.
If there is any flaw one can point to about this CD it’s that it is too short! It only has five songs on it, leaving one wanting more when it’s over.
The music is a warm, glowing balm with bold beats: bare boned, white knuckle drumming, keeping a perfect beat as well as providing an anchor, a center of gravity. Over the primitive drumming is everything from sitars to synths, guitars, bass, etc, but mostly it is the voice of Anna-Lynne Williams; not in an overwhelming, loud way but because the mixer turned up her microphone louder, bringing her vocals into the forefront, becoming part of the music, not just accompanying instruments.
Anna-Lynne’s is a powerful voice, one able to enunciate and vocalize symbiotically and one that doesn’t get lost, overtaken by loud guitars or sampled noises, etc. Musically, one couldn’t ask for a better partner in Matt Brown, Anna-Lynne’s her perfect match in a musical way: Brown puts together these beautiful soundscapes and Anna-Lynne fills them in with extra vivid colors: soft pink pastels and neon lime greens.
Together they put together an angelic album: ethereal yet earthy and elegant; Matt Brown’s magical musical machinations and Anna-Lynne’s beautiful vocal musings have combined to produce something that will take the listener on a transcendental journey just lying on a divan with this on the stereo.
Sometime around the fall of this year Trespassers William will head to Europe to play a few gigs and then eventually they’ll make their way over to the US for some select dates (don’t forget Southern California!) which will probably be late in 2009 or early next year. For more information on the band, check out their website at: trespasserswilliam.com or, for more information on Gizeh Records, go to gizehrecords.com – you can also find MySpace pages for both band and label.
After releasing two EPs in their own, “DIY” style, entitled EP01 and EP02, the duo, worriedaboutsatan, made up of two Brits: long-time friends, Gavin Miller and Tom Ragsdale were snatched up by the UK’s Gizeh Records and it was for them that this dynamic duo recorded what was to become their full-length debut: Arrivals, a CD made up of 11 songs that go into one another without any stopping, just segueing right into the next tune. This works quite well, as there is no pop songs on this record, no three ½ minute little slice that one can cut out and play like so much laundry soap or French fries on your average commercial radio station. Go away radio, you’re anachronistic. People who can think for themselves don’t need to be told what is “hip” or “cool”, I would like to think that people go out and buy stuff that they really enjoy, not something as an accessory (but then that’d mean that Hannah Montana and Britney Spears really do have an appeal, limited though it may be to pre-teens, not yet exposed to drugs and DIY bands at cool clubs). For that, just stop listening to the radio. I haven’t listened to the radio for 9 years or so now and I don’t have any problem with finding new stuff to listen to not to mention all the great stuff that’s been made or composed in the last 400 years or so.
On Arrivals, worriedaboutsatan make a bold debut, they don’t sound hesitant or unsure. There is a seeming place that they want to take their sound and it shows by the structure of the songs and the continuity of the music on the CD, the way the tracks were laid down.
Track seven, “History is Made at Night” is a minimalistic jaunt that has this infectious hook/groove through it. While it’s repetitious, it is so in a cool, entrancing way. For a time the same beeps are looped over and over then in a progressive way, a fluid organ sound insinuates itself into the minimal beeps and drum machine sequence. After the wave of atmospheric ephemera rushes over everything, it just as magically wanes away, leaving in its wake a quiet wake of guitars providing a tinny melody above and over a windy synth machine. Before you know it, you’re in the middle of “Your In My Thoughts”, the next song, seamlessly born from the previous track. Track number eight, “You’re In My Thoughts”, starts off with a crackling beat, intricate percussion: two spoons being deftly manipulated, really coming to the foreground until it’s then weaved in with more drum machine programming.
Track 10, “All Things But You Are Silent”, is a tune with the imagery of a generic urban downtown setting, late at night, when streets are deserted and the lack of any people, of traffic or of anything lighted up or moving give the empty streets this look of pre-fabrication, as if it were merely a Hollywood movie set. It’s weird. So the song starts out and for about the first four or so minutes it flows with an eerily slow and minimalistic soft velvety wave of quiet stirrings, a tinkering of a bass guitar, noodling around the neck with bubbles of anchorable melody. Things get wound up some toward the end, edging it up about ¾ of the way through and then coming back to the way it began, back to the slow, quiet peace that was the gist of the theme of the tune.
The title track, song number eleven has this plaintive, wailing, sobbing guitar with just enough distortion to provide a bit of fashionable feedback (just a touch, mind you, not Jesus & Mary Chain-style feedback. But underneath is a lush, fluidity of constancy; waves of synthesizers that anchor the wandering, crying guitar.
The last two cuts are just “edits” of previous tunes: songs 12 and 13 are “edits” of “You’re In My Thoughts” and “Evil Dogs”, respectively. I, myself, could never understand the need to put extra takes, re-mixes or “edits” on CDs, something I’ve always found to be repetitive and not needed. I guess, one could justify it by saying that it allows the listener the choice between two versions, or if one really likes it, they can hear it twice in one album, mixed two different ways.
Here’s hoping that with Arrivals, worriedaboutsatan will be sticking around a while and wracking their brains to follow this up with something brave and new in the near future. Until then… -KM