ACCORDING to Mark Eitzel, frontman of critically acclaimed though sadly dormant San Francisco sadcore band American Music Club, his 10th solo album is about celebrating music, history, misogyny, gay pioneers, carpenters and death.
Sitting in the producer’s chair is guitar supremo Bernard Butler, who also plays guitar, bass, keyboards and drums.
Opener The Last Ten Years is outstanding, with Eitzel’s trademark blackly humorous lyrics creating an infectious sense of momentum. “I’ve never been to hell/but they have got my number,” he intones.
Elsewhere Nothing and Everything has shades of Eitzel’s sublime Last Harbour, while Sleep From My Eyes finds his voice in fine fettle. Yet there’s a nagging sense of diminishing returns from one of the greatest rock singersongwriters.
The songs sound great but they lack the hooks, distinct melodies and lightness of touch that made his ’80s and ’90s compositions so special.
Aaron Lee Tasjan Silver Tears (New West Records) 4/5
HAVING knocked around for years in numerous bands including Semi Precious Weapons, the New York Dolls and the Madison Square Gardeners, Aaron Lee Tasjan’s latest album is a masterclass in modern country-tinged songwriting.
Based in Nashville and sporting a sparkling suit and stetson on the album cover, Tasjan’s eclectic songs run from Travelling Wilburys-style shuffles like Dime to conversational opener Hard Life, which echoes country legend John Prine and Harry Nilsson.
While the serious Refugee Blues seems earnest enough, other songs find Tasjan performing with his tongue firmly stuck in his cheek. “I sing jokes/And call ’em songs,” he opines in On Your Side, while on the Kris Kristofferson imitating 12 Bar Blues he quips: “How many roads must a man walk down/To find an affordable bar in the city of Los Angeles?” Brimming with confidence and raw talent, Silver Tears is an impressive record.
Adam Betts Colossal Squid (Blood & Biscuits) 4/5
DRUMMER with Londonbased avant-garde noise-rock outfit Three Trapped Tigers, Adam Betts’s debut solo album is an extraordinary piece of work.
Recorded live in one sitting, the record’s seven instrumental tracks are propelled forward by his expert drum work, on top of which he adds layers of synths, samples, effects and God knows what else, all triggered manually from behind his drum kit.
To create this musical madness Betts mashes up all kinds of genres, including jazz, industrial music and electronica.
Opener Drumbones is made up of rapid fire, staccato beats, with an unrivalled level of energy and intensity, Hero Shit employs hip hop-style beats, while the sci fi Substance Enthusiast could soundtrack the action sequences in the Terminator films.
Full of movement and vitality, Colossal Squid is both deeply experimental and catchy as hell. Definitely not for the faint-hearted, though.
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