Saturday, June 29, 2013

Famous Underground - "Famous Underground" CD

Lost in the eighties butt-rock

Featuring former Slik Toxik members Nick Walsh and Laurie Anne-Green, Canadian hard rock act Famous Underground's radio-friendly rock/metal sound is straight out of the past. With wailing, melodic vocals that are purely Sunset Strip-style, Famous Underground are certainly adept at melodic heavy rock songs. "Dead Weight", for example, could be Guns 'N Roses if Axl hadn't totally lost the plot way back when. 

There are 11 tracks here, all well-produced slabs of clean and anthemic classic rock. Famous Underground have all the right moves and attitude aplenty, but as for content? I get nothing. Insipid lyrics ("Hell To Pay" a shining example) and a well-trodden sound do not a world-class band make.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Jarboe - "Live In NYC" DVD

Stylish, dark, and enchanting former SWAN spreads her wings

For her first New York performance following her split from SWANS, Jarboe and band conjure a bewitching, elegant, and edgy presence for this 2000 show. Shot with several cameras in an intimate setting (the Knitting Factory), this 60-minute video showcases Jarboe's dark solo material as well as some re-tooled revisions of her work with Swans and (The World Of) Skin.

Opening with the esoteric art-rock of "Surrender" and "We Are The Prophecy", the band hits a crescendo with "My Buried Child". As well, "Euphoria/Demons Out" is a cathartic expression of reckless abandonment to a primal force, and features a wild on-stage appearance by the incomparable Kembra Pfahler (The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black). "Dear 666" is a swampy blues number that showcases Jarboe's diverse vocal stylings, while the stripped-down and mournful "One Thousand Years" is a beautiful lament, remaining faithful to the original Skin recording.

"Live In NYC" is an effective look at Jarboe's live persona just post-SWANS, and any fan of her unique and beguiling blend of weird and personal musics will be glad to have witnessed it.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Secret Policeman's Ball - "Teenage Crimewave" CD

Silly name, cool post-new-wave indie

Well, I'd like these folks better if they would call themselves "Teenage Crimewave" -- much more fitting for this band's attitude. Anyway, it's a 4-piece out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, but leave the regional thing out of the equation, as you won't hear anything necessarily "Tennessee" in ASPB. Indeed, this is heavy-duty modern rock with a big city swagger. Vocalist Nikki brings a nicer, melodic new wave sound, then steamrolls it with an incisive rock shout that can hold it's own against prime Kat Bjelland or any other "chick screamer" you can conjure. "Try To Find Shon A New Hat" showcases this screamy side, with an old-fashioned hardcore noiseclot that runs for around 40 seconds. Love it!

Songs like "A Flock Of Beagles" do present a tinge of 80s-inspired shoegazey rock, while (the likewise wonderfully-titled) "A Young Stephen Dorff", smacks of Blondie fronting Interpol, if you can imagine that. ASPB have the new wave-meets-indie sound down well, and their dynamic may throw off some folks, but I like the schizophrenic nature. Excellent!

"The Phantom Father" DVD (director: Lucian Georgescu)

Superb and intelligent Romanian indie film

This Romanian indie (thankfully, in English) has a lot going for it, namely a sparklingly warm performance by lead actor Marcel Iures. His portrayal of a an American professor who's given it all up to research his bloodline in rural Romania is quite enjoyable. "The Phantom Father" is a well-done film with charm and heart.

Iures' character, Robert Traum, meets Romanian archivist/librarian Tanya, who assists him along his journey. She becomes his sort of foil, and the two find common interests along the way. The cinematography is beautiful, acting natural and instantly believable, and the story is interesting and perfectly plausible. Superb work, and easily recommendable.