Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fraser & DeBolt — With Ian Guenther [1971]

I've spent the last week digesting this. It's true, every bit of good criticism this has gotten is worth it. A true gem of folk music right here, and one that somehow DIDN'T explode when it was released on Columbia at pretty much the EXACT right time and still didn't sell a damn bit. This is also one of the truly great crossovers of country and rock and like John Gabree's review (included in this file) is 'one of the best pop records I've ever heard'. The lyrics here are damn poetic. Listen to the way they croon together on "Waltze of the Tennis Players" between the punctual, emotive playing of Guenther. "My love for you/ is an over night sensation/ Your love for me is an overnight sensation, too". The words are deftly simple and in a couple places hit you hard enough to weep. The songwriting is some of the best of the 70s, period. They apply an alto sax and piano to great effect on "Them Dancehall Girls", the albums most heard of track, and the most well produced. Everything else seems like it was recorded with no overdubs, but I'm not sure; it might as well be. Listen for the mild, playful wordplay on "Warmth"; notice the great guitar play on things like "Stoney Day" and "All My Paradise" which opens the album with an intro so slow and angellic as to make things almost surreal. Not even mentioning that they tackle a Beatles song (not even a year after it'd be realeased, and even better than the original!), or that a few of the tracks are mere snippets, this is one of the truly great folk/rock gems of the 70s, with many a song that could be placed on your mixtape of greatest love songs of all time. Drop everything else you're listening to if you haven't heard this. I wish I had sooner.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spirit Caravan — Jug Fulla Sun [1999]

Wino Weinreich is one of the most under appreciated and inventive guitarists you've never taken the time to hear out. When he wasn't busy with reviving The Obsessed (who will have their own place on this blog, sometime), or moving on to more political tunes (the first Hidden Hand record), he was cranking out riff after classic motherfucking riff on this debut from Spirit Caravan, the short-lived side project from Wino before he announced his arrival in Place of Skulls and the aforementioned. While he was always a fan favorite for the doom scene, he elevates himself to livingfuckinglegend within the first half of this album. I hate to sound stale by working in those overused adjectives that I did in the first sentence, here, but the guys ability to churn out head-banging, catchy leads is unrivaled and you'll know it right up front, with "hate on you can look real pretty," the albums first lyric of archetypal biker-rock. This, along with some of the shorter pieces here, rank among the man's best (and most FUN (which doesn't see enough love in metal)) song writing. The preceding break, with its 'primal' half-time drumming cannot help but form itself into a Vitus song of old when you hear it. Some may say this is treading old ground, but others would say you're not a doom fan. Song like "Courage" and "Fang" have such simple guitar melodies its a wonder that they work on the high level that they do; that is, live up to the stature of slower, less melodic pieces that he's known for (Born Too Late). But the wonder has a direct answer in Winos guitar tone, a thing that gets no love in this digitally-produced age of pussies. Listening to "Powertime" for the first time makes this seem obvious; a simple, Iommi-influenced riff that brings into being what may be Wino's most shining three minutes in his entire career, both vocally and otherwise. The following, and title, track only ups the ante, by simultaneously paying homage to Sleep (with its instrumental anticipation) while keeping things on the clean end for the first half of the song, before really smacking you around with its almost pop chorus. The only complaint, and it's very minor, is that the album wears a bit thin toward the end, especially with such a large amount of marijuana haze and whiskey-stained-vox within the first six tracks. Whatever... Every track has at least one completely menacing guitar riff, and Wino has never sounded so good. This is a classic album of newer-age doom from a guy whose entire career has revolved around a single, but undeniable, perfecting sound -- this is the culmination of that very tone.

Genre: Doom/Stoner
Label: Tolatta Records
Origin: Leather-lovin' Cali
Bitrate: 256k
Gonna ride in the cloud-swept sky