Once again, the local scene comes through with still another collection of
seriously cool noise. It's characteristic of the breadth and scope of the
talent in the area, but also a testament to the achievement-oriented,
musically-dedicated folks who, despite horrific odds against enjoying any kind
of success, enter a recording studio and make music that comes from the heart.
As the Sun Sets: 7744 (Undecided Records), 8949 (Trash
Say hello to As the Sun Sets, then say goodbye. These two discs represent the
last recorded output of the Providence noise goons, and what a send-off. ATSS
ends up somewhere between Six Finger Satellite and Beefheart and Metallica. Or,
thinking out loud here, how about the Japanese noise rock of the Boredoms doing
Unsane covers? Yeah, maybe that's a little better. Anyway, they began as a
hardcore beast then morphed into something worldly and more dangerous at the
same time. However you want to describe it, little will prepare you for the
onslaught. Throw up your hands and succumb to the art-damaged annihilation.
First is 7744, a thorny fusillade of power chords, ascending
pentatonics, and screechy, help-me-I'm-on-fire vocals. Some of the stuff is
simply inscrutable, like the perfectly entitled "I've Run Over Black Cats That
Are Luckier Than Me." But some of the blasts are devastating, including the
32-second track #8 (on my player), which is quite nearly the perfect aural
expression of utter insanity, the kind of music you'd expect to hear from the
minds of Charles Manson or John Wayne Gacy. A little closer to earth is the
nearly melodic "Sweet Merciful Crap," a tune that begins with a weepy melody
line on guitar and . . . doesn't devolve into anything particularly pernicious.
It's an EP of noise that, unlike a ton of art-noise rock these days, doesn't
leave its listeners in a clammy fog. 8949 is also an EP, with five, uh,
"songs," a term essentially used loosely, all totaling just under five minutes.
Remixed and mastered by noise genius Steve Austin of the spectacular Today Is
the Day, 8949 is chaos in the purest sense and, for that reason, utterly
mind-boggling, with a few seconds of grind leading into a sample leading into a
Pink Floyd-esque interlude. Powerful, and a sweet looking package, too.
Unfortunately, as I said, this is As the Sun Sets' own eulogy. Three members
have gone on to form a new band called Daughters that you'll likely be hearing
about; another has a splattergrind band called Suffering Bastard on the
horizon. Be on the lookout.
Al Basile: Shaking the Soul Tree (Sweetspot Records)
Al Basile got his jumpstart as a trumpet player in Roomful back in the early
'70s, and the guy has been consistently busy since, doing significant session
work, especially with his buddy Duke Robillard. Basile has grown as a
songwriter in a huge way since starting out, and he has contributed both
trumpet and songs to Duke's many solo recordings. On Shaking the Soul
Tree, Basile's second solo disc, Robillard returns the favor, controlling
production chores and adding tasty leads all across the album. Recorded at Jack
Gauthier's Lakewest Studio and Robillard's own Mood Room in Pawtucket, the
album is a zesty representation of sweet and sassy soul, R&B, and the
blues. Joined by Robillard and his band, which includes bassist John Packer,
drummer Jeff McAllister, and Gordon Beadle and Doug James on horns, Basile's
arrangements recall Steely Dan ("Breaking the Ice"), Otis Redding ("After The
Fall"), and even a little French cabaret.
Basile, who was originally a fiction writer, proves to be an excellent
lyricist, too, on the animated "Rueful Rules" and "Lorelei." But Basile could
have used a little animation of his own as a singer. Some of his vocal
presentation suffers from low energy. But he's always on key, and the lyrics
and crisp arrangements carry the day.
Mojo Rhythm Combo: Time for the Show (Juxotone Records)
Johnny Juxo, Otis Read, Steve Lepper, and Steve Copel teamed up to lay down
this Mojo Rhythm Combo debut, a tasty, bluesy, low-key effort that sounds like
the perfect record for a Sunday morning. Led by Juxo's piano, the band sounds
like an acoustic NRBQ, an unassuming combo driven by an organ grinder of a
piano man who can sing the blues, play barrelhouse, and tell sad stories for a
few coins in the cup. Time For the Show is the kind of record Tom Waits
would make if he hadn't seen too much, lived too hard, or smoked too long. It's
gritty and tough and hard-bitten, but easily enjoyed without stressing over
meaning and content.
The disc features three new Juxo compositions, a tune from Pete McClanahan of
the Worried, and covers of Bill Haley ("Thirteen Women"), Chuck Berry
("Downbound Train"), and Rosco Gordon ("Just a Little Bit"). It builds
beautifully on Juxo's last outing with Loose Marbles, his first
acoustic-centered material after years in electric bands in and around
Providence. Which answers the question, Is there life after rock and roll? In
the case of the Mojo Rhythm Combo, lemme hear you say, "Hell, yeah!"
The Amazing Mudshark: 3 (Amazingmudshark.com)
As part of their triumph at the Guitar Center & Diamond Hill Studios Band
Slam last year, the Amazing Mudshark received a recording contract. That
contract resulted in their latest release, titled 3, a funky chunk of
rhythmic rock fueled by Mike Cahill's drums, Everett Pendleton's guitar and
voice, and Stacy Bugg's sturdy bass and harmony vocals. Let's get one thing
straight: All three of these guys can play the lights out. Cahill has been
featured in a few drum mags, while guitarist Pendleton likes his licks hot and
fast -- that is, when he's not doing the chugging rhythm thing. Underneath it
all is Bugg's bad bass, a firm, heavy monster that keeps the other two guys
from launching. The 10-song 3 is a record to be reckoned with, and a
competent companion for their live shows, which are drawing good numbers in and
around the state. Produced by Berklee professor Jim Stinnett, the disc pinballs
from rock to pop to Latin to funk and fusion, often touching on a few of those
mileposts in a single tune. Songs like the jangly "Fill Me Up" recall Michael
McDonald-era Doobies (in a good way), with danceable melodies and pretty
organic grooves. The opening "Die Happy" and "Simply Amazing" prove that this
band has no trouble producing breezy, likable tunes, full of empathic lyrics,
singalong choruses and, above all, the kind of soulful pop flavor few will have
trouble enjoying, especially in the middle of a sweaty dance floor.
The Amazing Mudshark will be at the Blackstone in Cumberland tonight
(Thursday, June 13).
WANDERING EYE. The GrandEvolution folks will be celebrating their
release party this Friday (the 14th) at the Met Café. The fact that it's
Flag Day will probably not have much effect on the outcome, though one never
knows. See www.grandevolution.com for details. New Beginning (www.anb.cjb.net),
Renata (www.renata60.com), and the Threats join GE for this majestic jam. Doors
open at 8 p.m. and the cover is $6 for the all-ages show. And there are free
CDs, stickers, and other prizes for the ones who get their asses off the couch
Your music news/records reviewed here! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Issue Date: June 14 - 20, 2002