The Dead Weather – Dodge and Burn


Just when you thought Jack White was going to do nothing but solo projects and produce obscure vinyl singles for his favorite bands the rest of his life, he got back together with his comrades in The Dead Weather (Alison Mosshart – vocals and keyboards, Dan Fertita – guitars, Jack Lawrence – bass, White on drums and vocals) and put together the group’s third record – Dodge and Burn.

The opener, “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles),” is a sharp, hot rocker with Fertita’s guitar licks being somewhere between psychedelia and metal. “Buzzkill(er)” doesn’t spare the echo effects, which doesn’t bother me at all. White and Mosshart have great voices for rock, and I love how both of their vocals are often distorted or drenched in reverb on Dead Weather records. This one is no exception.

“Let Me Through” has the fuzziest guitars on the record. They sound like they were played through amps bought from a failed punk band’s garage sale. “Three Dollar Hat” is sort of a rap song and sort of a Captain Beefheart song before it becomes a ball-busting banger that proves yet again what a bad ass Alison Mosshart is.

“Lose the Right” has that “Jack White feel” throughout it. It would be fit as well on a White Stripes, Raconteurs, or solo record as it does here. The keyboards on it give it extra punch. “Rough Detective” deserves to be on the soundtrack of your next favorite action movie. Lawrence’s bass on it is massive and White and Mosshart have a blast with the back and forth lyrics.

Mosshart’s vocal style on “Open Up” isn’t far off from Patti Smith’s (one of her main influences). “Be Still” goes by so fast (under three minutes) that it’s almost like an introduction to “Mile Markers.” The whole band is sharp on this track as Mosshart is at her sexy best, going from soothing seductive vocals to dominatrix-like commands. She continues it on “Cop and Go” with lyrics like “You’re caught like a cop in a cookie jar. Get what you want. Take it all.” The song dissolves into almost punk rock fervor with Fertita’s riffs fueling it.

“Too Bad” is so good that it demands multiple listens. White’s drumming is probably the best on the record here. Fertita’s guitar comes at you from all directions, Lawrence grooves like he doesn’t give a damn what everyone else is playing, and Mosshart moves into rock goddess mode with her voice.

“Impossible Winner” closes the record, and does so without distorting, echoing, or otherwise altering Mosshart’s excellent voice. It’s lovely and a great underscore to her talents.

The Dead Weather have no plans to tour, which is bad news for us, but at least we have this fine record. It’s better than no Dead Weather at all.

Keep your mind open.

Underworld release “I Exhale” from first album in six years.

British house / techno gods Underworld have released “I Exhale,” the first single from their upcoming album Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future.  The track is an immediate club hit and brilliant in its simplicity of booming bass and synths, stream of consciousness lyrics, and dance beats.  It’s an instant cure to seasonal affective disorder.

You can pre-order Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future (the band’s first album in six years) now.  They’ll also be playing Coachella this year, so don’t miss them if you’re out west.

David Bowie – Blackstar


David Bowie’s death shocked and saddened the world. A friend of mine in Vienna was at a coffee shop on the day Bowie’s death was announced. The guy behind my friend in line asked if the shop accepted credit cards. They didn’t, and he didn’t have enough to pay for his coffee. The barista told the guy, “It’s okay. Pay next time. David Bowie died today.”

Bowie left us with one final record, the magnificent Blackstar. It’s difficult to listen to it now without putting one’s own psychoanalysis on its lyrics and tone, but you can’t avoid the multiple tips of the hat to family, friends, fans, and the Grim Reaper.

The opening title track is nearly ten minutes long. Not many artists could get away with such a bold move, but Bowie does it like a walk in the park. It’s layered with electronic drumbeats, echoed vocals, and acid jazz saxophone that I’m guessing he loved (being a saxophonist himself). The lyrics speak of “a solitary candle” and “the day of execution” before changing gears halfway through to sing of someone taking his place in the spotlight. “I can’t answer why, just go with me. I’m going to take you home,” he sings. My favorite lyric is “You’re a flash in the pan. I’m the great I Am.” I take that as Bowie chuckling at his own mortality and creator.

Bowie, Creator love him, didn’t want the whole record to be doom and gloom, so he made “’Tis a Pity She Was a Whore” the second track. It’s a cool rocker with squealing saxophones all over it and a bass line that sounds left over from the Let’s Dance album.

The first line in “Lazarus” is “Look up here, I’m in heaven.” – so I wouldn’t worry about David Bowie being afraid of death. He sings, “I’ll be free.” multiple times. I swear it’s a lost Morphine track. It has reverbed saxophone and groovy bass throughout it, with the guitar mostly used to jolting effect while a jazz drummer plays for a stadium instead of a smoky nightclub.

“Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)” is practically the plot of an action thriller, with its lyrics of business deals, medical test results, dark intentions, hasty travel, questioned motives, love, and murder. It moves as fast as a chase scene. His band must’ve had a blast playing it.

“Girl Loves Me” is weird, but that’s means it’s great. I’m not sure it’s a love song. Some of the lyrics are almost rapped. Luscious strings dance around tick-tock drumming and a bass riff that would make John Carpenter jealous. It’s easy to be sad during “Dollar Days” as Bowie sings, “If I never see the English evergreens I’m running to, it’s nothing to me. It’s nothing to see.” The song is too lush and grand to keep you blue for too long, however.

The last track is “I Can’t Give Everything Away.” To say it is a beautiful send-off for the Starman is an understatement. The drums in it are upbeat while Bowie sings of final messages and legacies.

We might not see someone like David Bowie for generations. He might not have given everything, but he gave more than most of us can dream of giving others. He gave one of the greatest gifts any of us can give – inspiration – and he gave us this final, excellent record before he went back to Mars.

The Lumberjerks – Four More


I was pleasantly surprised to receive an envelope in the mail from Joliet, Illinois’ punk rockers the Lumberjerks. It contained their newest EP – Four More – and a letter stating the album was recorded on good ole fashioned reel-to-reel analog tape. The name of the band was enough to peak my interest, especially when I considered it might’ve been taken from the Looney Tunes cartoon of the same name in which the proper English-speaking chipmunks Mac and Tosh run afoul of a lumber mill.

The power trio belt out four tunes in less than ten minutes. “Trailer Trash,” with its better-than-an-alarm clock drumming, sticks a middle finger back at Uncle Sam and gives shout-outs to the Misfits and Sex Pistols. “Schizo Episode,” with its near-metal riffs and angry vocals captures bipolarity better than any mopey emo band could ever hope to try. “Somthin” has some of the best guitar work on the record and must be one of their best live tunes. The closer, “Garage Hopping,” is about wanting to break out of the rut of delinquency yet being tempted by the occasional thrill of it. It also proves that the Lumberjerks aren’t just snotty punks who enjoy booze and the occasional “bag of shake in cellophane.” They are good musicians. The bass work carries the track while the guitars slam throughout it and the drums change directions when you least expect it.

You can find the Lumberjerks on Bandcamp, where you can get Four More and their first EP, First Three, at ridiculous prices. A full album by these cats will be something to snag once it’s released.


Keep your mind open.

Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss


I haven’t picked up a dark wave record in a long while. The last record that might come close is a Bauhaus collection, and that’s actually a goth record. Chelsea Wolfe’s Abyss is a great way for me to get back into the dark wave game. It’s a stunning, sexy, scary debut.

“Carrion Flowers” slides into your ears with bass and drums you might hear from the armies of Mordor as they cross the Misty Mountains. It grabs your attention and won’t let go. “Iron Moon” moves from Wolfe’s near-lullaby vocals to some of the heaviest doom metal riffs you’ve heard since your last trip to Norway. “Dragged Out” is a great title for the third track, as the bass and pace sound like some…thing dragging itself out of the primordial ooze to bellow at the moon. “Maw” opens with Wolfe’s Dario Argento film-style vocals before floating into a pretty space that reminds me of cathedrals and dust seen in the light through stained glass.

“Grey Days” introduces some cello to excellent effect and keeps the album from having too much low-end guitar as the main force behind Wolfe’s vocals. “After the Fall” could be about a fallen angel. It definitely belongs on the soundtrack to that new Lucifer show because it’s dark and brooding.

“Crazy Love” seems to be Ms. Wolfe’s tribute to Mazzy Star. Her vocals curl around the track like clove cigarette smoke and the instrumentation reminds me of a creaking haunted tall mast ship. “Simple Death” is another quietly disturbing, yet lovely track that shows off Wolfe’s vocal talents. It needs to be on the soundtrack for the Twin Peaks relaunch. “Survive” might be the most haunting song on the record. Wolfe’s vocals are often layered in reverb as the drums and synths build to ritualistic fervor.

“Color of Blood” pays tribute to another woman who has obviously influenced Ms. Wolfe – Siouxsie Sioux. The song is like a snake in a dark corner – dangerous, menacing, and mysterious. The title track closes the record, and it’s complete with creepy, slightly out of tune piano that’s right out of that creepy clown dream you have at least once a week.

The Abyss is a great name for the record, because it’s easy to fall into it and get lost. Wolfe has spoken openly about her struggle with sleep paralysis and how this record is her exploration of her affliction and dreams. It’s like pitching over the edge of the Marianas Trench – terrifying at first and then strangely peaceful as you let it consume you.

The Strypes release first live record – Live in Tokyo 2015.


Young Irish rockers The Strypes have released their first live record, currently available on iTunes UK and Soundcloud, Live in Tokyo 2015.  It has ten tracks of their great blues-laced, raucous pub rock that draws influences from early Rolling Stones all the way to Arctic Monkeys.  These lads only get better with each record.


The Besnard Lakes – A Coliseum Complex Museum


            The Besnard Lakes’ (Jace Lasek – guitar and vocals, Olga Goreas – bass and vocals, Sheen Ko – keyboards, Robbie MacArthur – guitar, Kevin Laing – drums) last record, Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO, is one of the most beautiful records of 2013. Their new album, A Coliseum Complex Museum, is already running high on my list for the most beautiful album of 2016.  It’s lush with Beach Boys-style harmonies, smooth bass, epic drumming, and guitars that float throughout it like warm desert winds caressing a red rock formation.

“The Bray Road Beast” is the album’s opener. It immediately tosses you into their smooth lake of shimmering psychedelia. The first single, “Golden Lion,” chugs along like a Grateful Dead track until it blossoms into a glorious bit of arena rock. “You are the golden lion.” is the chorus. The Besnard Lakes want us to know we are majestic and strong (much like the guitar solo on the track).

“All the pressure of our plans together make our hearts turn to shades of gold,” claim the Besnard Lakes in “Pressure of Our Plans” – a stunning love song with dual male-female vocals and levitation-inducing synthesizers. The vocals on “Towers Sent Her to Sheets of Sound” almost get lost behind the drums at first, but kick in with lovely precision just when you think the track is going to be menacing. The bass work on it is superb as well, rolling you along as smooth as a skateboard.

I’m still not sure what “The Plain Moon” is about, but I do know it has the biggest bass and drums on the record. It’s like a thunderstorm you hear miles away on a summer night. The male-female vocal harmonies on it are superb.  I know that “Necronomicon” refers to the fabled Book of the Dead (popularized by the Evil Dead movies), but the song is far too pretty to raise any Elder Gods from Stygian depths. I also know what a “Nightingale” is, and that the song named such is a bit sinister (although the bass line in it is almost a blues walk).

The closer is “Tungsten 4 – The Refugee.” The guitar work throughout it is quite good (The end solo is killer.), and the track sounds like a Tom Petty song if Tom Petty’s main influence had been Roky Erickson instead of Bob Dylan.

This is a gorgeous album. Wander through its complexity like a museum, and lose yourself in the coliseum-sized sound of it.  The Besnard Lakes will soon embark on a tour of the UK and Europe.  I hope they’ll be back to North America in time to play Levitation Austin this year.

Keep your mind open.

All Them Witches – Dying Surfer Meets His Maker


A friend of mine introduced me to All Them Witches (Ben McLeod – guitar, Michael Parks, Jr. – bass, vocals, guitar, Robby Staebler – drums, Allan Van Cleave – keyboards, violin) when she sent me their 2014 album Lightning at the Door and said, “I think you’ll like these guys.” I’m not sure if she thought I’d like them because their name involved witches and she figured that would go along with my love of old horror movies or if their psychedelic desert rock would intrigue me. She was right on both accounts.

Their new album, the intriguingly titled Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, rises and ebbs like waves and can easily lull you into some sort of trance. The opener, “Call Me Star,” builds to an almost menacing drone and slips right into “El Centro,” which is over eight minutes of psychedelic greatness. McLeod pulls in riffs that could’ve been used in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune movie if it had ever been made. Van Cleave’s synths add a touch of weird playfulness that is somewhat disturbing (in a good way), Parks’ bass sounds like a ghost, and Staebler beats his kit like it will power a rocket launch.

“Dirt Preachers” is the first single off the record. It starts with a weird bass dirge and then moves out at a pace best suited for late night high speed driving. It has a great Led Zeppelin-like breakdown in the middle that is outstanding. “This Is Where It Falls Apart” might be about a relationship. The blues harmonica, sad drums, and distant vocals seem to relate that something is coming to an end, but it may be the end of this reality for all I know. The track is like a half-awake dream.

“Mellowing” lives up to its title, and McLeod’s work on it is excellent. Van Cleave is all over “Open Passageways” with spooky synths and even better violin work that makes the track sound like something you’d hear on a Scottish moor just before a banshee steps out of a tree next to you. “Instrumental 2 (Welcome to the Caveman Future)” would be great for a live-action Thundarr the Barbarian movie considering the title and how it drifts from thudding rock to mystical tones. “Talisman” sounds like a mix of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Jesus and Mary Chain.

The closer is “Blood and Sand / Milk and Endless Waters.” I have a feeling the first half is war-themed, with the second half being the images seen by a wounded or dying soldier on a stormed beach. It’s definitely trippy enough for that.

This is a great way to start off your psychedelic music collection for 2016. All Them Witches are about to take off on a tour of Europe for the spring. Catch them if you can. They’ve moved up high on my list.

Keep your mind open.

DJ set list for January 17, 2016

I’ve been a volunteer DJ for the University of Notre Dame’s radio station WSND 88.9FM for over a decade.   They have live streaming content there throughout the day.  The station airs news and classical music throughout the day and specialty programming at night, such as Celtic music, blues, jazz, show tunes, and their college rock show – Nocturne.

I get many requests for my Nocturne set lists, so I thought I’d post them here.  I’ll also post early warnings of my future sets, which you can stream live through the WSND site.

January 17, 2016:

  1. Screaming Females – Empty Head
  2. Husker Du – Actual Condition
  3. The Dead Weather – The Difference Between Us
  4. Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor – Long Lovers Sun
  5. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Cold Cadaver
  6. The Besnard Lakes – Golden Lion
  7. My Bloody Valentine – Soon
  8. Chelsea Wolfe – Carrion Flowers
  9. The New York Dolls – Lone Star Queen
  10. The Stooges – Funhouse
  11. The Damned – Neat Neat Neat (live)
  12. Hymn 4 Her – Burn This
  13. Rob Ickes – Can’t Find My Way Home
  14. Motorhead – Orgasmatron
  15. Motorhead – Thunder & Lightning
  16. All Them Witches – Dirt Preachers
  17. David Bowie – Lazarus
  18. David Bowie – Ashes to Ashes
  19. Franz Ferdinand – Darts of Pleasure
  20. Carlo Savina – I Due Gringos Del Texas (Main Titles)
  21. Temples – Test of Time
  22. Dan Auerbach – Keep It Hid
  23. Mynabirds – Disarm
  24. Hot Chip – Dancing in the Dark (radio edit)
  25. Neon Indian – Annie
  26. The Breeders – New Year

Keep your mind open.

Holy Wave release European tour dates and single from upcoming album.

Texas psychedelic rockers Holy Wave have announced extensive European tour dates through the spring to promote their upcoming album Freaks of Nuture.

They’re kicking off the tour with a  record release party at Barracuda in Austin, Texas February 26th and then it’s off to Europe.  I’m hoping they’ll be back in the U.S. in time to play Levitation Austin at the end of April.

You can hear Holy Wave’s excellent new single, “California Took My Bobby Away,” right here on the Levitation Austin website.

Holy_Wave_2_720Keep your mind open.