Big John (5/11/2001)
John Frusciante, To Record Only Water for Ten Days (Warner Bros. 2001) - Red Hot Chili Pepper guitarist John Frusciante steps out with a solo release on To Record Only Water for Ten Days. The album is like other Chili Pepper efforts - spotty overall, but compelling in parts.
Let's lay it on the line. There are three killer cuts on the new album: The opening, "Going Inside" (which deserves substantial radio play), the instrumental "Murderers," and the concluding, "Moments Have You." The album is a showcase for John's many musical talents, with him singing and providing guitars, synthesizers, and drum programming on 15 original songs.
Frusciante first recorded with the Chili Peppers on their 1989, Mother's Milk, left the band during the mid 90's, and returned to the group in 1999 to record Californication, which has sold more than four million copies.
I have never claimed to be a big Chili Peppers fan. But I like to think that I know a great track when I hear one. And the deep groove of "Going Inside" certainly fits the bill. Drenched with Frusciante's feedback fuzz, "Going Inside" should be a big crossover hit. Listen for To Record Only Water for Ten Days.
Thou, Put Us in Tune (See Through Broadcasting 2001) - Thou is a Belgian duo consisting of the female/male vocal interplay of organist Does de Wolf and guitarist Bart Vincent. With a minimalistic techno sound, Thou continues in the vein of the strong springtime releases from Submarine and Hooverphonic.
Thou is rounded out by Bart Depoortere on bass and slide guitars, Kurt DeVylder on drums, conga, and keyboards, John Parrish on guitars, Richard Hunt on violins, Si John on flugelhorn, and Mauro Pawlowski on vocals.
The band has drawn comparisons to P. J. Harvey and Bjork, and most appropriately, Portishead. Says guitarist Bart Vincent, "At the time of our first EP, whenever anyone heard a female singer over a drum loop, it was referred to as the Bristol Sound." Bart continues. "We wanted to get rid of that style, because we are not merely a Bristol Sound band."
Yet in a strange move, the band recorded Put Us in Tune at Portishead's home studio in Bristol. Then to wrap things up, Portishead gave Thou the master tapes of their old rhythm tracks for the group to record over.
While Put Us in Tune does not partake of the somber trip-hop style emanating from Bristol, it certainly has an experimental sound, such as the fiddle-driven "Calling Me." And while "London" has a cooldown beat, my favorite track is "Up to Me," with its pulsing guitar beat and overdubbed vocals from female singer Does de Wolf.
For a slice of inventive continental rock, look for Put Us in Tune.
Kevin Gordon, Down to the Well (Shanachie 2000) - Kevin Gordon, hailing from Monroe, Louisiana by way of Iowa City (where he earned a spot at the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop) shows himself to be a true Delta rocker with Down to the Well. Mixing classic elements of Delta rock and blues against song writing skills honed in Nashville, Gordon flies his true colors.
After leaving Iowa and the Chicago blues influences of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, Gordon arrived in Nashville in 1992, where he secured a publishing deal. "The experience was not satisfactory," says Gordon. "That's when I figured out I wasn't going to be one of those people who cranks them out five a week."
Down to the Well is Kevin's second album, following Cadillac Jack's #1 Son. The album was produced by friend Bo Ramsey, and recorded at Studio III in Hum Depot in Nashville.
When Gordon gives thanks to renegade Nashville guitarist Webb Wilder in the liner notes, you know where he is heading. The title track is a polished blues rocker with searing harmony vocals by the under-appreciated Lucinda Williams (she of the classic, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road). "Time for the Sun to Rise" is electric acoustic number that quickly shifts into the boogie-woogie rock of "Deuce and a Quarter" (a song about an Electra 225 that opens with the line, "Buy a bottle/Get to feeling good").
Gordon provides vocals and guitars, and works with a core band of Joe McMahan on guitars and mandolin and David Jacques on bass. Rounding out the combo are Paul Griffith and Bryan Owings on drums, Kevin McKendree on keyboards, and Bo Ramsey on electric slide guitar and backing vocals.
Gordon tries his hand at a storytelling on "Jimmy Reed is the King of Rock and Roll," a Hank Williams-styled weeper, and a drifting discourse about someone who may or may not be the legendary blues singer and write for Mississippi. Explains Gordon, "This song came out of a verse I carried around for years. I don't know who it's about. It sounds like it's about Jimmy Reed, but it also sort of about hung over on Sunday morning. Not celebrating that experience by any means, but trying to get at it."
Gordon bands hit right in the pocket with "Water for Gasoline," a no-holds-barred rocker.
There's a core of people who make this kind of music, and you don't know anything about them - start with Kevin Welch and Fred Eaglesmith. All carry on the torch of Americana rock. Think Joe Henry with less mood and more jam. Or take spiritual cousin Terry Radigan, a female singer with more pop, but the same willingness to take the staid Nashville-hit making machine and shake it up. You should hear what these people are doing. Go find Down to the Well.
Soulbelly, Simple.Chaotic (Yellow House Recordings) - This one that I worked on, as it took several listenings to get into the groove. Yet Simple.Chaotic ultimately rewards the effort, with winsome vocals from lead singer Amy Cole.
Soulbelly is now based out of Las Angeles, although it was originally founded by two boys from Motown; Montfort on guitars and keyboards, and Shayne Mills on base. Rounding out the foursome is Nicholas Amoroso on percussion and keyboards.
The album was recorded by David Anthony at Desertdog Studio in Agua Dolce, California, over an eighteen month period.
Being from Los Angeles, the band is familiar with the success of No Doubt, so you'll hear stronger rock elements on tracks like "Must be Dumb" and "Dandelion."
There's no knockout punch on Simple.Chaotic, but it's the kind of album that grows on you with time.
For more information, contact:
2023 Rome Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90065
- Randy Krbechek © 2001
Check CD Shakedown for Weekly
Reviews of Music CDs and New Albums