Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Saw Brian Setzer Last Night

Yes, I was front row center for Brian Setzer's orchestra last night. Yes, they were tickets my wife purchased, however, let me point out that I clearly have a soft spot for Americana ( from The Blasters to X to even QOTSA, one cannot be from Los Angeles without an appreciation for Rockabilly, Blues, and Country) and who doesn't love a Gretsch guitar, stand up bass, and Stand up Drummer? No, it's not innovative. It's musical "comfort food"- but would you say people eat more Burgers or more Pate? Just like a burger, if it was done right, it's satisfying, and actually good for you- and Mr Setzer, despite starting to look like Buck Owens on Hee Haw, serves up some "good for you" jazz chords, and alternate blues scales in each and every traditional song he plays. There were 4 year olds in the audience, and I think it's far, far more righteous for them to see Brian Setzer than The Wiggles, right? If it were your kid, what would you start them out on to set them right? Would you send them straight to Jacques Brel and Lou Reed?  How about John Zorn and Mike Patton? If you would, I don't pity your kids, I pity you, because your kids are going to give you such problems.... I think that all things considered The Brian Setzer Orchestra is an excellent choice for Family Fare. If the Beatles were to re-unite, sure, that'd about cover it, as well, but then you'd have to explain both death and the coming zombie apocalypse to your kids, and that's hardly a good Christmas, now is it?
Still, my kids are grown, why am I going, right? Because I'm still a human being with needs, ok? Jeez, lay off with your vigorous steep learning curve, will ya? ( Don't get me wrong, I know that nobody cares, and are skipping this post to read the Scott Walker review, or are Russian porn bots, but this is fun for me to pretend it's a debate) I went eagerly to see Brian Setzer because I'm not opposed to comforts, especially when they are guilt free, and the guy does make it pretty darn guilt free. Hot musicians playing challenging music? Yup. Using music to communicate complex emotions? Yup. Dance based rock and roll/ Ah, Yup. So, why wouldn't you see the Brian Setzer Orchestra?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kylesa- From the Vaults Vol 1

Wow, more like volume 11... I forgot how aggressive and loud Kylesa used to be....
OK, so this is a stop gap release by the band. Normally, that's a very bad sign, and while it's not a good sign, here,  it is more necessary than it might otherwise be. See, normally, a band releases a collection of B sides and rarities when they're stymied and running out of steam, and generally about to break up. It's one step away from a "greatest hits" LP which is a sure sign of a band that's either entirely gone corporate, or is completely out of ideas.
Then, there's a the Re-Mix Album which is either a cash-in, or an admission that they've got no idea what to do next. That's in opposition to a Dub, which is fueled more by external voices hearing something in the music that the band didn't and so is less about band dynamics than it is about perception.
So, this is a collection of rarities and B sides by Kylesa, and earlier I said it's more necessary than most- that's because there's two distinct sides to Kylesa- on the one side, they're an incredibly loud, dense psychotronic sludge band- like Tragedy or Buzzoven meets Sleep or something, but on the other side, they're a mainstream metal band that can play a gig like Bonnaroo with Phish heads in the audience. So, showing people who might have stepped in with Spiral Shadow, and are expecting a psychedelic Foo Fighters out of them that they come from a darker, grittier and louder place is probably more necessary than hearing some band's noodlings from when they were stoned in the studio.
So, for them that don't know- this is the Kylesa of yore- sludge metal from a decidedly psychotronic, as opposed to psychedelic place- the difference is that this isn't a mellow thing about chemically altered good times- more like a medicinally impaired dysfunctional mental state. This is like Mike Tyson on Zoloft and mixed drinks, having a 10 second psychic moment of lucidity, not like Jeff Bridges chilling on beer and weed having a ten minute blissful trance. What makes it still beautiful is that they're able to find moments of transcendence in crushed out sludge. I dig them because they find the sweet spot between the joyful stoners like Torche and the tribal rage of Neurosis. ( Actually, that'd be a hell of a gig- Torche opening, Kylesa warming up, and then Neurosis headlining)- that's a sweet spot previously occupied by QOTSA, so yes, I dig them a lot. This album is more necessary than it otherwise could be because it brings up the Neurosis end of the spectrum, but it still is filler. They're biding time trying to come up with a worthy follow up to Spiral Shadow ( which is a titanic monolith to try to meet). It will be worth a lot less if the next one isn't a great just-left-of-mainstream LP, because then it'll be the closing of a loop back to the beginning on Kylesa. ( Which, BTW is why I'm not holding my breath on the new QOTSA LP- bringing Dave Grohl and Nick back in so publicly smacks of retread more than return. I hope I'm wrong, and I'm blown away, but there's something that's warning me this may end up being a grunge cabaret nostalgia act) So, if you get this, it's because you really dig Kylesa. Otherwise, let's hope the new LP comes soon....