2016 September

Who Shot Ya by Living Colour

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Notable new releases include albums from eclectic rapper M.I.A. “A.I.M.” (evidently her last), Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have “Skeleton Tree” which also accompanies a feature film “One More Time With Feeling”, Jack White has a career spanning compilation “Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016”, clipping. features two rappers that are also in “Hamilton” and their 2nd album “Splendor & Misery” is a dystopian science fiction opera and finally The Beatles dropped a live album “Live at the Hollywood Bowl”.
 
Living Colour released an EP today “Who Shot Ya”, which is driving this week’s write-up.  Any new material from Living Colour is a cause for celebration.  Their last album came out 7 years ago so they are overdue for some new music.  While the EP only has three songs on it (along with remixes) and one of the three is a cover of the Jacksons’ “This Place Hotel”, it’s all good because it still has Corey, Vernon, Will and Doug playing together.  Living Colour has been around since the ‘80s, most of you are probably familiar with their biggest hit “Cult of Personality”.  However, this band is vastly underrated, the talent of each of these four guys is truly phenomenal.  For various reasons, they’ve only put out 5 albums over the past 28 years.  The first two albums featured Muzz Skillings on bass who was replaced by Doug Wimbish in the early ‘90s.  Hailing from NYC, the band also features Vernon Reid on guitar (underrated guitar god) and Corey Glover’s incomparable vocal abilities on themic.  And then of course the monster rhythm section of Will Calhoun on drums and Doug Wimbish on bass.  The band was finding their way, regularly performing at CBGB’s, when Mick Jagger took notice of them.  He produced a demo for the band and helped get them signed to Epic.  Their debut album “Vivid”, featuring “Cult of Personality” brought a lot of buzz and even a Grammy award.  Plus the band got to open for the Rolling Stones on their stadium tour that year (which I attended).  Of course since then, there’s only been four more albums.  The band broke up for a while from ’95-’01, before getting back together.  While they are still touring, they are not releasing a lot of new music.  So that’s why I’m featuring a few of the EP songs today, along with a track from their second album just so you can hear how good these guys were.
 
“Regrets” – This track settles into a nice groove, and is a slower and more simple song from the band.  Vernon Reid plays some great riffs and the rhythm section is locked in as always.  There’s plenty of space for Glover to show off his vocals as well.  My favorite lyric on this song is “I raised some hell; it felt like hell raised me”.  During the last minute, the band kicks it up several notches and you’re also treated to a very nice guitar solo from Reid.  This song would play great live.

 
“This Place Hotel” – Yes they covered the Jacksons, but who cares especially since they put their own stamp on this song.  Calhoun/Wimbish lock down a monster groove on this track, and Glover really gets to let loose with his vocals.  The lyrics are a little more simple than you’d typically hear from the band, but Glover takes the opportunity to put his stylistic stamp on them.  Reid also gets some space to throw down another solo near the end.

 
“Pride” – Reid is scorching from the first note on this track, and Calhoun/Skillings lay down a monster rhythm.  Keep in mind this song’s was recorded over 25 years ago.  Glover supplies his usual stellar vocals, but the band is really driving this song, there’s some great playing on here.  Reid demonstrates why he’s one of the most talented guitar players out there.

Nonagon Infinity by Bottomless Pit

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Notable new releases this week include new albums from noise/rap innovators Death Grips “Bottomless Pit”, a punkish yet very focused effort from White Lung “Paradise”, and an interesting collaboration-filled release from Montreal-based producer Kaytranada “99%”.  There were also new singles released this past week by both Radiohead and the Red Hot Chili Peppers – I recommend checking both out.  There was nothing notable or interesting released by Drake – and yes, I’d be happy to say that to his face.  I’ve no clue why he’s popular, do people just feel sorry for his lack of real talent?
 
Well, I touted their new album dropping last week and lo and behold here they are a week later in my write-up – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.  Their new album is titled “Nonagon Infinity” and it’s a very interesting record.  First for some background, these guys formed five years ago in Melbourne, Australia and have just released their 8th album – yes do the math that’s 8 albums in 5 years.  NIN have been going for 28 years and have released only one more album than KG&LW.  These guys have a psych-rock garage sound and are quite experimental with their records.  Last year alone they released a 4-song jazz-prog epic where each track was 10:10 long and a second album recorded only on acoustic instruments.  “Nonagon Infinity” is nothing like either of those, this is their loudest, most focused and ferocious effort to date.  The most unique thing about “Nonagon Infinity” is that it’s designed to flow continuously from song to song with no breaks in an infinite loop – the last track seamlessly works back into the first track on the record.  This also means the songs are similar in pace/tempo and there are some repeating elements from track to track.  Nevertheless it’s a very fun and exhilarating listen – not to mention a great workout record.  The band really pulled it together on this effort and came out with something pretty special.  I’m highlighting 2 of the 9 tracks below.
 
“Gamma Knife” – This song starts off fired up and swinging and stays on that course throughout its 4+ minutes.  Buzz saw guitars, hoots and hollers, some wailing harmonica and a solid rhythm section provide the backbone for this track.

 
“Mr. Beat” – Besides a cool title, this track has a great repeating riff/chorus that just becomes a lockdown mantra in your head.  The singer sings right on the bassline during the chorus and there’s some cool organ work on this song.  Really, the chorus makes the whole song, along with the organ breakdowns.

 
“Brace For Impact (Live A Little)” – Probably the song with the best groove on the album, this song brings out a lot of different instrumentation.  Ringing guitars, a solid bassline, horns, organ – it’s all here on this track. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cBnlhhG4 – live version on Colbert’s late night show
 
“In Bloom” – If this sounds familiar to you, it’s a cover of Nirvana.  But the only part that would sound familiar are the lyrics.  Simpson makes this song his own, completely changing up the arrangement and it sounds perfectly at home within the context of his album.  The soft approach with the lyrics is very effective.  Sturgill grabs a hold of this song, wrestles it down and completely makes it his own.