Ancient Empire: Wings of the Fallen

67171265_2461857220754940_7734590682475528192_nAncient Empire’s new album will come out from Stormspell in early or mid-August.

This nifty preview of its cover art (above) suggests a sincere metal homage to Judas Priest’s Sad Wings of Destiny and Angel of Retribution.

Also, check out the previous track from Ancient Empire with a “wings” theme — namely, “Wings of Steel” (one of my favorites) from When Empires Fall.

Rock on, Ancient Empire!

Album Review: Lulu Lewis — Genuine Psychic @lululewismusic

a0228205527_10

Lulu Lewis serves up a refreshingly quirky blend of art rock on Genuine Psychic. It should make many of you sit up and take notice.

Founded by a husband and wife duo — Pablo Martin (Tom Tom Club, The Du-Rites) and Dylan Hundley (Metropolitan) — Lulu Lewis have established themselves as one of New York’s most versatile underground rock bands over the past three years.

Genuine Psychic is their full-length debut album, presenting us with a highly inventive and unique sound. Call it “Harlem Punk Rock” (a blend of post-punk and goth and soul) — because that’s how they describe what they’re doing. And a rebel punk sensibility definitely infuses each of the tracks here in a highly appealing way.

The sound and style of spiffy singer Dylan Hundley will remind many of us of Emily Haines from the superb band Metric. I am a huge fan of Haines and Metric, and therefore I find very much to like here. Genuine Psychic is likewise a musically intelligent and entertaining offering from the similarly-talented Hundley and Lulu Lewis.

There isn’t a bad track on Genuine Psychic. Each one is terrific, and the album gets even catchier the more you listen to it. If you like your pop whip-smart and off-kilter, this is a disc for you. And Pablo Martin’s clever production has hidden depths that reveal themselves on subsequent listens.

The album is extremely well paced, with chill-out tracks like the ironically-named “Moving Fast” followed by great weirdo-groovy rock-out sessions like the hilariously fun “Intelligent Life.”

The album itself debuts this week, and so Lulu Lewis are playing a release show with the Messthetics at Union Pool (Brooklyn, NY), July 12, 7 p.m. (It should be good, but what I really want to see is them do a show in Brooklyn with Cardi B.)

Lulu Lewis balance their sharp insight and dark poeticism with an appealing air of playfulness. Haunting goth-rock tracks live alongside tongue-in-cheek, synth-driven new wave. It’s all connected by a sonic world of snazzy guitars, crispy rhythm, and ironically lo-fi flourishes. Genuine Psychic recalls rock sounds of the Bowery’s grittiest days, with a perspective that builds on the past rather than copy it.

There is much to enjoy here, so try it out, if you truly are musically adventurous and you do want to have some real fun.

Album Review: The Raconteurs — Help Us, Stranger

maxresdefault

The new album from The Raconteurs proves yet one more time what a generational talent Jack White is.

Help Us Stranger teams him up once again with Brendan Benson (vocals, guitar), Jack Lawrence (bass guitar), and Patrick Keeler (drums), and this magic combination brings out the supreme best from all of them.

Keeler’s drums, in particular, take this album to a whole new level, infusing the tracks with unstoppable momentum and musicality. His synergy with the violin on the last track “Thoughts and Prayers” is notably jaw-dropping.

The songwriting from Benson and White has a diverse range that assimilates and transcends the genre’s tropes. “Only Child” is just one example of how catchy and witty they can be, with their rock even rising to the level of high art. A clear example is the aforementioned “Thoughts and Prayers.”

The band’s all-around genius is especially exhibited on “Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying),” which takes a melancholy lyric and surrounds it with remarkably uplifting music. The sympathetic listener comes away supercharged to enjoy life at its fullest.

The Raconteurs rock in way that is rarely achieved by other bands, with the indisputable proof found in completely unhinged tracks like “Don’t Bother Me” and “Live a Lie” and “What’s Yours is Mine” and (my album favorite, with White’s trademark whoops of joy) “Sunday Driver.”

Go for a long drive and turn up the volume. One of the best albums of the year. Connaisseurs of exquisite guitar sounds will find much to feast on here.

Fireworks for the 4th — with Audioslave’s “Cochise”

You want fireworks? We got fireworks…

I drink to health,
while you kill yourself.
And I’ve got just one thing
that I can offer…

I’m not a martyr,
I’m not a prophet,
and I won’t preach to you,
but here’s a caution:

You better understand,
that I won’t harm your hand,
But if it helps you mend,
then I won’t stop it.

Go on and save yourself…

Miss America: Styx rocks the 4th

Great new footage with Gowan…

Well, are you really who we think you are?
Or does that smile seem to wear you down?
Is the girl who you once were screaming to jump out?
And the dream that you must live
a disease for which there is no cure?
This roller coaster ride you’re on…
Won’t stop to let you off…
Well, aren’t you Miss America?

Album Review: IZZ — Don’t Panic @izzmusic

91y2jie0ngl._sl1500_

It’s hard to resist the proggy captatio benevolentiae of the first two tracks on IZZ’s new album, Don’t Panic. Their unmistakable first impression is that the groovy bass guitar sounds exactly like Chris Squire playing for Yes in the 1970s. It’s so good, you’re guaranteed to smile. Trust me!

The multi-vocalist singing is terrific too, and also quite reminiscent of Yes. And, I don’t know whether to attribute it to Anmarie or Laura (or both), but there is a vocal timbre that reminds me of Neko Case singing with The New Pornographers. It’s really fantastic.

“Don’t Panic,” as the first track and as the title track, places front and center the famous phrase from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Very, very cool, and also gracing the prog proceedings with the right dose of whimsy.

Track two, “42,” invokes the number that is famously the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything (as we also learned from Douglas Adams). Well, the band didn’t give us a 42-minute song, but they pushed it past 18 minutes; so, how can you not help liking this album, only two tracks in?

Wait, it gets even better. While “Six String Theory” gives us yet more Yes nostalgia, by way of a Steve Howe-worthy (early Yes) acoustic solo guitar piece, suddenly things take an interesting turn with track four, “Moment of Inertia.” There are some nice bits in that track that immediately make you think of King Crimson, but eventually the track becomes what I think is IZZ being very strongly original.

Even better, the album ends with with “Age of Stars,” which also vocally invokes the pleasurable “Don’t Panic” life hack catchphrase yet again, as the album rides out to a perfect conclusion.

Thus, while the album’s first three tracks make things completely irresistible for lovers of early Yes, the best part is when IZZ close out the album with two tracks that present their inimitable selves in all their musical fullness.

It’s a total prog thrill ride, and immensely satisfying. You get the best of both worlds: prog nostalgia about yesterdays (see what I did there?), and yet also a remarkably clever and original musical creation for the present day. Well done, IZZ, and thank you for a first class musical experience.

Track Listing:

1. Don’t Panic
2. 42
3. Six String Theory
4. Moment of Inertia
5. Age of Stars

IZZ:

Paul Bremner: Electric & Acoustic Guitars
Anmarie Byrnes: Vocals
Brian Coralian: Electronic & Acoustic Drums and Percussion
Greg DiMiceli: Acoustic Drums and Percussion
John Galgano: Bass Guitar, Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Tom Galgano: Keyboards, Vocals
Laura Meade: Vocals