28 February 2008
"I am stealth, I am secret, I've got a cover and I'm going to keep it."
So goes the line in Bad Luck City's song "Stealth." But it's hard to imagine this band's music really staying secret any more than one could imagine anybody staying seriously undercover "hunting ETs and chupacabras...by moonlight and candelabra."
Like many of the songs on the album, "Stealth" is serious and spooky, but balanced with a smart sense of humour, albeit something of a tragic sort of giggles. Light and dark take turns so deftly they almost seem the same thing. "Stealth" is about a self-proclaimed demon hunter, drink by drink and verse by verse, becoming more blurred as the story moves along until the demon and hunter blur into union. The layering of Hayley Helmerick's (Monofog) and Dameon Merkl's vocals brings a captivating and insidious execution to this song. But with no less than ten guaranteed FCC censor's heart attacks, this song won't be sailing the public airwaves.
From the slow and haunting melodies to the heart pumping, crescendo rising ones, every song on Adelaide is threaded with a delightful sort of creepiness. Weaving the line between recitative and ballad, the lyrics deliver stories of a longing stalker in "Suffer the Day," the forlorn "Widow Frances Colver," a regretful morning after "The Night Before" (a great cover of the Lee Hazlewood song) and the tragic tear-jerker end of a race horse "Distaff." All these, vignettes and snapshots of dark but lightly familiar characters and scenes. The music likewise, inseparably surrounds and carries the words. Even the artwork on the cover reflects Adelaide's setting of mysterious and dramatic places captured in a manner of playful yet elegant pencil-line accuracy.
With six people in the band not counting the additional vocalists and players of piano, trumpet and such on the recordings, you might think there'd be some unruly scrapping for attention and center spotlight. But no. Musical deference prevails. Pair that musical courtesy and talent with the remarkably clean mixing of sound and everything comes out sounding great.
Photo courtesy of Bad Luck City.
Album cover artwork designed by Jonathan Till.
Bad Luck City is rad
man, that sextet is cool
Radio 1190 loves Adelaide
and the Truth does too
Friday 29 February 2008
at the fabulous 3 Kings Tavern
with Monofog and Oblio Duo
27 February 2008
I was thinking about it though. I mean, New York Dolls! I love that band. A great band in their day, and those recordings still hold up as great today. Even if you take issue with that opinion, you can't deny them their status as a Highly Influential Punk Band. The glam and the hair, yes, the attitude and the music... all the genuine article.
'Round about 1990 I took a trip to New Orleans and went to the Preservation Hall. I didn't know too much about it except that it was some old jazz dive where the serious old jazz bands used to play. Cool. Except that I was surrounded by a bunch of sandaled midwesterners in hawaiian shirts weilding flashing Minoltas. The musicians performing were old black jazz musicians and I felt bad for them making their living in this surreal way. The music was good, but in that context, it felt all wrong.
I don't have a definite answer. I have been and expect I will be struggling with this troublesome aging rocker issue for a while. I've no doubts I've got company too.
22 February 2008
That's at Bender's this very Friday evening.
I admit being partial.
Go to the source.
I far prefer to write about things where I have first-hand knowledge. It's my opinion that if you’ve seen something first hand, and on more than one occasion, you’ve got more depth of perception and more likely that you’ve got something of substance to say. If I know the environment and the other people in that scene, I’m going to have a greater perspective than some performer or band I’ve only seen once. And if some of the musicians I write about are my friends too, well it isn’t odd to become friends with people whose work you admire. Is it?It is impossible.
“The heart of a melody can never be put down on paper.” I read this quote somewhere and I don’t know who to credit, but it sounds right to me. One can never get in words to the places where music can easily reach. Some people can write technically about music, and that can be useful, but it comes about as close to the heart of a melody as a list of ingredients describes what it’s like to eat your favorite meal. Though you might try to be objective, bringing music that matters to you in a review to other people really is never objective, but always personal.
It is love.
I think many times the better review turns out to be slightly more about the receiver of the music than the giver or the music itself. Even so, the attempt and the struggle to describe the heart of a melody in words, with some luck, compels fellow music lovers to find that melody and give it a listen for themselves. I’m grateful when I read something that makes me want to listen. And that is why I keep trying to describe the music I love.