Thursday, 9 August 2018

10 Χρόνια Κομμάτια

Από εδώ ξεκίνησαν όλα.

Είμαστε οι πρώτοι κι ακολουθάνε αναστημένοι χίλιοι νεκροί / Νέοι καιροί ξημερώνουνε πάλι, να η φωτιά, να η ζωή

1977. Είμαι 9 ετών, η οικογένεια ετοιμάζεται να μεταναστεύσει, από τη Λευκωσία στο West Lafayette της Indiana. Ο πατέρας μου ζητάει από το δισκοπώλη της γωνίας να του γράψει σε κασέτες κάποιους δίσκους για να πάρει μαζί του στις ΗΠΑ, εγώ αναλαμβάνω να μεταφέρω τις παραγγελιές στο δισκοπώλη και να παραλάβω τις αντιγραμμένες κασέτες.

Ο μπαμπάς Ελληνικά ακούει αλλά δεν είναι του λαϊκού, μέχρι Ξαρχάκο φτάνει. Θυμάμαι εκείνες τις κασέτες: Σπανός με Αλέκα Κανελλίδου. Χατζηνάσιος με Μπέσυ-Πασχάλη-Ουίλλιαμς-Μαριάννα Τόλη (LP χτισμένο γύρω από το Γιουροβιζιονικό σουξέ "Μάθημα Σολφέζ"). Και το "10 Χρόνια Κομμάτια" του Διονύση Σαββόπουλου.

Στα γήπεδα η Ελλάδα αναστενάζει, στα καφενεία μπιλιάρδο, καλαμπούρι και χαρτί

Δύσκολες μέρες στις ΗΠΑ. Μόλις έχω αρχίσει να μαθαίνω Αγγλικά αλλά είμαι αναγκασμένος να πάω Δ' Δημοτικού σε Αγγλόφωνο σχολείο, μοναδικός non-native speaker στην τάξη. Στο διάλειμμα τα παιδιά παίζουν softball και american football που δεν ξέρω ούτε καν τους κανόνες, όχι ποδόσφαιρο ή μακριά γαϊδούρα. Όλοι οι συμμαθητές μου έχουν έγχρωμη τηλεόραση εκτός από εμένα, εμείς μόνο μια μικρή ασπρόμαυρη μπορούσαμε να πάρουμε. Bullying. Όλα μου φαίνονται ξένα κι εχθρικά, κάθε μέρα γυρνάω από το σχολείο και αποσύρομαι μπροστά σε ένα φτηνό κασετόφωνο, δική μου μουσική δεν έχω ακόμα αλλά οι Ελληνικές κασέτες του μπαμπά είναι η διέξοδός μου, μια χωροχρονική σκουλικότρυπα που με γυρίζει μερικούς μήνες πίσω σε ένα μέρος πιο γνώριμο και ζεστό, πιο ασφαλές. Αγαπημένη μου από όλες, αυτή του Σαββόπουλου.

Η ζωή μου έχει γεμίσει μυστικά, στους διαδρόμους ψευδομάρτυρες καπνίζουν / Και οι φίλοι με κερνούν ναρκωτικά, και το κόμμα με τραβάει απ' το μανίκι.

Μεγαλώνοντας στην Κύπρο χούντα δεν έζησα, και ειδικά στην ηλικία των 9 είναι φυσικά αδύνατο να συλλάβω τα βαθύτερα πολιτικά νοήματα μέσα σε αυτά τα τραγούδια, ή να καταλάβω σε τι στο διάολο αναφέρεται ο Σαββόπουλος στα μικρά λογύδρια ανάμεσα στα τραγούδια όταν μιλάει για τη συγκέντρωση της ΕΦΕΕ ή για νεκροζώντανους στο Κύτταρο και σκηνές ροκ. Ξέρω όμως ότι αυτά τα τραγούδια είναι πολύ διαφορετικά από ο,τιδήποτε άλλο στη μικρή δισκοθήκη του πατέρα μου στο West Lafayette, αναγνωρίζω ότι έχουν βάθος και μιλούν για πράγματα ΣΗΜΑΝΤΙΚΑ (κι ας μην έχω ιδέα ποια είναι αυτά) και δεν μπορώ να σταματήσω να τα ακούω.

Επί δώδεκα μήνες το '77-'78 πρέπει να άκουσα το "10 Χρόνια Κομμάτια" γύρω στις 500 φορές, κάθε μέρα, κάποιες μέρες δυο και τρεις φορές. Ο Σαββόπουλος ήταν ο φάρος και το σωσίβιό μου το 1977, ο Σαββόπουλος με έκανε να αγαπήσω τη μουσική, ήταν η πρώτη μου επαφή με το ροκ όχι μόνο ως ήχο αλλά και ως φιλοσοφία. Ο Σαββόπουλος μου άλλαξε τη ζωή. Ίσως και να μου την έσωσε.



Friday, 3 August 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, Summer Holiday Edition


AMANDA SHIRES – To The Sunset
Long before becoming Jason Isbell’s wife, muse and savior, Shires was already an established musician in her own right and this is probably her most inspired solo album. Isbell holds a supporting role playing guitar and uber-producer Dave Cobb plays the bass but this is definitely a rock band Shires leads here, not a country band. (8)

DARON MALAKIAN & SCARS ON BROADWAY – Dictator
Daron tries really hard but without you-know-who this ends up sounding like a somewhat incomplete version of the “Hypnotize/Mesmerize” SOAD follow-up that never was. (7)

JEFFREY FOUCAULT – Blood Brothers
Country rock troubadour delivers an album decidedly more subdued than his previous couple of releases, chock-full of wonderful melodies and introspective lyrics. Americana fans please take note. (7)

LUCERO – Among The Ghosts
The diversity of artists bunched up under the “Americana” label is so vast that’s it’s impossible to define the genre, so let’s just say that this falls more towards the Tom Petty end of the spectrum rather than the Alison Krauss one. (7)

MIKE PATTON – 1922 (OST)
Soundtrack for Netflix adaptation of a Stephen King novella. Haven’t read the story or seen the movie, but the music sounds like John Carpenter fucking Angelo Badalamenti in the ass. (7)

PUNCH BROTHERS – All Ashore
Progressive bluegrass (prograss? Avant grass? Post-grass?). Strange band, strange album, sometimes beautiful but also a bit cold and distant in its acoustic string instrument virtuosity. (7)

SCREAMING JETS – Gotcha Covered
The world’s third best band with a name starting with the word “Screaming” covers other Aussie bands (Easybeats, Radiators, Men At Work, Hoodoo Gurus, Radio Birdman, Angels, INXS, Dragon, AC/DC of course…) and provides ultimate proof that Aussie rock is the world’s third best rock. (8)

THE RECORD COMPANY – All Of This Life
Rocking like a harder-edged Black Keys and occasionally venturing into Foghat/Five Horse Johnson boogie territory with some monster slide guitar, these guys will certainly shake your booty. (8)

ULTRAPHONIX – Original Human Music
Soulful, bluesy hard rock by the unlikely combination of George Lynch (Dokken) and Corey Glover (Living Colour) plus a kick-ass rhythm section. (7)

WILLIE NILE – Children Of Paradise
Can’t believe this guy just turned 70, he sounds like a young Joe Strummer doing a “Born To Run”-era Springsteen impression. This is truly a kick-ass album, probably the best batch of pure rock ‘n’ roll songs you’ll hear all year, definitely the best soundtrack to your summer holiday. (9)

Friday, 13 July 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, July 2018

THE HARDER STUFF

CONVERGE – Beautiful Ruin

Surprise EP, 4 songs, 7 minutes. Obviously left off the band’s last album for being much punkier and not fitting that tracklisting. It will melt your face off. (7)

DEAFHEAVEN – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

You can talk about “hipster metal” all you want but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a fuckin’ monster of an album, emotionally reaching deep and hitting home in so many different ways. Perhaps even better than “Sunbather” – don’t even bother with the “yes but is it metal?” debate, just open your ears and LISTEN for a change. (9)

FATES WARNING – Live Over Europe

Half this blog’s readers are metalheads, for a minute there I felt the need to justify this album’s score for the other half’s benefit but decided not to. (10)

LUCIFER – II

This time around Gaz Jennings (Cathedral) has been replaced by Johanna Sadonis’s beau, Nicke Andersson, so naturally the sound on “II” doesn’t just rock like on the debut, it rolls too. (8)

THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA – Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough

Less guitars, more keyboards, a touch of disco this time around. The songwriting remains top-notch and you’re unlikely to hear a better AOR record this year, but I prefer the previous, harder-edged albums. (7)


THE OTHER STUFF

CHARLES LLOYD & THE MARVELS FEATURING LUCINDA WILLIAMS – Vanished Gardens

Wow. Essentially a jazz combo but one that instills its bebop with southern roots rock brings respected singer/songwriter along for the ride. This is beautiful. (8)

COWBOY JUNKIES – All That Reckoning

A band responsible for a whole genre – Americana was born when the Cowboy Junkies decided to take country music’s roots and kick ’em in the butt by throwing some Leonard Cohen and Velvet Underground into the mix. And 30 years down the road, they release one of their best albums. (8)

JIM JAMES – Uniform Distortion

Solo album by My Morning Jacket mainman is a straightforward rock ‘n’ roll affair, the fuzzy way Neil Young goes straightforward rock ‘n’ roll sometimes. (7)

KAMASI WASHINGTON – The Choice

Bonus EP hidden in the center gatefold of physical vinyl copies of last month’s release “Heaven And Earth”, now available on streaming services as well. Same maximalistic approach to jazz, plus a lovely cover of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”. (8)

KINKY FRIEDMAN – Circus Of Life

Kinky’s certainly an interesting character and a very funny guy. He’s also a competent songwriter, if you’re into the Willie Nelson School of country music. (7)

THE END – Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen

Definitely uneasy listening, this is a noise/jazz/rock hybrid featuring two baritone saxophones and avant-garde singer Sofia Jernberg. If John Zorn had married Diamanda Galas, the band formed by their kids would probably sound something like this. (7)

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, June 2018 Part II


BEYONCE & JAY-Z (THE CARTERS) – Everything Is Love
The surprise album drop thing is getting a bit tired and so is their idea of turning their marriage into a reality show and mending it publicly through their albums: Beyonce’s “Lemonade” accusation was great, Jay-Z’s “4:44” apology was OK, but third time around I’ve got very few fucks left to give about this “we’re fine now” joint effort. (6)

DEATH GRIPS – Year Of The Snitch

This is Death Grips’ “Kid A”, too weird for me. (6)

FANTASTIC NEGRITO – Please Don’t Be Dead

From the Led Zep-infused “Plastic Hamburgers” to the “Come Together”-isms of “Bad Guy Necessity”, from “A Boy Named Andrew”’s exotic hook to the chilling “A Cold November Street” and the funky “Bullshit Anthem”, this guy’s singlehandedly dragging the blues kicking and screaming into the 21st century. (8)

HERE LIES MAN – You Will Know Nothing

Afrobeat meets superfuzzed, bigmuffed proto-metal. (7)

HOWLIN’ RAIN – The Alligator Bride

Bandleader Ethan Miller has described this album as “Neil Cassady rock” and I say he’s spot on. RYIL Ethan Johns and Ethan Hawke. (8)

KAMASI WASHINGTON – Heaven & Earth

I don’t know much about jazz but I know what sounds good, and this sounds GREAT. More than a jazz saxophonist, Washington is a genius arranger/bandleader who’s not afraid to venture into Stevie Wonder/Isaac Hayes soul/pop territory as he’s more about solid songwriting rather than just technical dexterity. (8)

KHEMMIS – Desolation

The yin to Pallbearer’s yang in leading the U.S. doom metal resurgence, these guys go full-on Epic (with a capital “E”) metal on their third album. Great guitars, much improved clean vocals, highly recommended. (8)

NINE INCH NAILS – Bad Witch

Most likely it’s an existential thing but somehow I can never give Trent Reznor anything less than a (7)

ORANGE GOBLIN – The Wolf Bites Back

Not sure why they’re still stuck with the “stoner” label (which they seem to be perfectly happy with, BTW) since, really, these are the children of Motorhead. (7)

WILKO JOHNSON – Blow Your Mind

Wilko didn’t die, he’s back to kick some ass and he sounds VERY alive. His guitar playing remains awesome, his band is rockin’, too bad he can’t really sing so minus one point. (7)

Friday, 8 June 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, June 2018


THE HARDER STUFF

GHOST – Prequelle

It’s so refreshing to find a metal musician with a brain inside his head that I want to give him a 10 just for that, let alone the tunes being catchier than the Black Plague he sings about. (9)

GRAVEYARD – Peace

If this album is any indication there was no reason for the band’s break-up, they just seem to have picked it up from where they had left it, only the drummer’s different. Apart from that, it’s the same competent retro pseudo-70’s boogie/garage rock. (7)

PANEGYRIST – Hierurgy

Devoutly Christian black metal (!?) with epic undertones sounds surprisingly better than expected, sort of like a cross between Arcturus and Bathory. (7)

REFUSED – Servants Of Death

2016 Record Store Day EP from an all-time great punk band now available to all on streaming services. Includes live tracks and a rare B-side. (8)

YOB – Our Raw Heart

Skull-crushing doom metal, dense, cathartic. (8)

ZEAL & ARDOR – Stranger Fruit

When the debut came out in 2016 we expressed the opinion that if he skipped the DIY and got a real drummer he’d be capable of greatness. So he went out and hired Kurt Ballou and a real drummer and he came up with greatness, not straying from his unique satanic black metal/gospel mash-up style but more, well, satanic. (8)


THE OTHER STUFF


COLIN STETSON – Hereditary (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Scary sounds for this year’s scariest movie. (8)

FATHER JOHN MISTY – God’s Favorite Customer

Officially released more than a month after being leaked, this still sounds pretty great a month later and it's a lot poppier than his previous one. Play it for the songs, not for the hype. (8)

JOHN PARISH – Bird Dog Dante

Adventurous guitarist, producer extraordinaire and long-time PJ Harvey collaborator returns with first solo album in a very long time. Polly Jean guests of course, and so does Aldous Harding. Very different from PJ’s own stuff but somehow appealing to the same ears. (7)

KANYE WEST – Ye

He’s lost it. Let’s hope he gets it back. (6)

LUMP – Lump

Beloved indie-folk star Laura Marling partners with producer Mike Lindsay for a series of dreamlike improvisations. Nice. (7)

NATALIE PRASS – The Future And The Past

On her better 2015 debut she sounded like she wanted to be the indie-rock Dusty Springfield, this time around she sounds like she wants to be the indie-rock Grace Jones doing theme songs for Disney soundtracks or something. (6)

NEKO CASE – Hell-On

Case is very different from every other female singer-songwriter out there and cannot be compared to anyone else. It’s not “Americana”, it’s not rock, it’s not country or folk, I really don’t know how to label this but I know these songs go deep and demand multiple listens. Mark Lanegan, k.d. lang and a whole bunch of others guest. (7)

THE LAST POETS – Understand What Black Is

Forefathers of rap return 50 years after the group’s inception and 21 years since their last studio album, and they’ve got plenty to say on this spoken word/reggae/jazz hybrid. (7)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Late Night Tales: Agnes Obel

I love this artist-curated compilation series, and Obel’s “mixtape” is among the most eclectic of the bunch with tracks by Henry Mancini, Lee Hazlewood, Yello, Lena Platonos, Ray Davies, Can etc. blending seamlessly into a beautiful collection of music. (8)

Friday, 18 May 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, May 2018 Vol. II


AMENT – Heaven / Hell
Pearl Jam bassist releases solo album, and this sounds EXACTLY like what you’d expect a solo album by a prominent Seattle grunge figure now in his 50’s to sound like. (7)

ARCTIC MONKEYS – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

“Tranquility Base” is the name of the spot on the Moon where the Apollo 11 landed in 1969. This album sounds just about as lively as a Hotel & Casino located there. (5)

AT THE GATES – To Drink From The Night Itself

A much stronger album than 2014’s “At War With Reality”, this is At The Gates REALLY showing their metalcore offspring how to do the brutal/melodic thing right. (8)

BEACH SLANG – Everything Matters But No One Is Listening

Both proper Beach Slang albums have made the Music Geek’s indisputably awesome year-end Lists in 2015 and 2016 respectively, so I guess that makes me a mega-fan. This collection of acoustic re-workings of older songs, however, heavily reliant on piano and cello and released under the moniker Quiet Slang, is interesting but sort of defeats the purpose by getting rid of the loud guitars and punk energy that made the band so great in the first place. (6)

BURN THE PRIEST – Legion XX

This is basically Lamb Of God revisiting their roots and releasing their own “Undisputed Attitude”. Includes covers of songs originally recorded by The Accused, Melvins, Big Black, S.O.D., Bad Brains, Sliang Laos, Ministry, Agnostic Front, Quicksand and Cro-Mags. If you’re a fan, you need this. (8)

CARLA BOZULICH – Quieter

Bozulich must be a very unhappy person, she’s been making some rather disturbing music since the Geraldine Fibbers days but this one reaches misery levels on par with Lou Reed’s “Berlin”. (6)

GRETCHEN PETERS – Dancing With The Beast

Peters releases one of the best country albums of the year: Top-notch songwriting, killer storytelling, subtle rock overtones, this is on par with Kris Kristofferson’s best work and anything Jason Isbell has released in the last five years. (8)

JESS WILLIAMSON – Cosmic Wink

Sort of like Patti Smith being in love and doing a Dusty Springfield tribute. (7)

LOREENA McKENNITT – Lost Souls

Not sure if it’s cool to like McKennitt and her somewhat cheesy new age Celtic folk but I do, she always manages to melt the cynicism away from my cold black heart. (8)

RY COODER – The Prodigal Son

Now in his 70’s and better known as producer of the Buena Vista Social Club and for his soundtrack work (e.g. “Paris, Texas”), Cooder here proves that he’s still one of the world’s top slide guitarists, delivering an excellent blues/gospel record with a strong political message. (8)

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, May 2018

DYLAN CARLSON – Conquistador
Evoking cinematic images of tumbleweeds blowing across the desert and scorpions silently crawling out of dead coyote skulls, this not only fits neatly into the Earth/Carlson canon but is, simply put, epic! (8)

ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER – Rebound

Fact: The album took its title from a goth club in Athens that apparently left an impression on Friedberger. I haven’t been to Rebound in almost 30 years because I always felt miserable in there (but maybe that’s the whole point of goth clubs), the problem is I didn’t have much of a better time listening to this album. (6)

FATHER JOHN MISTY – God’s Favorite Customer

The hipster’s hipster decided that he wants to be Elton John. That’s not a bad thing. Leaked a month ahead of the release date, we might have to revisit this one. (8)

FRANK TURNER – Be More Kind

Turner’s most accessible production and a bunch of great songs oscillating between the political and the personal, sometimes poppy, sometimes punky, sometimes folky. I really love this guy. (8)

IHSAHN – Amr

Prog rock with a black metal heart and a healthy sprinkling of Carpenteresque synthesizers. (8)

JANELLE MONAE – Dirty Computer

The true heir to Prince’s throne as the most prominent figure in Afro-futuristic sex funk is a woman. Features special guests from the mythical (Brian Wilson) to the super-popular (Pharrell Williams). (8)

LOVE – Forever Changes (50th Anniversary Edition)
(10+)

PARKER MILLSAP – Other Arrangements

4th album by baby-faced Oklahoman with gruffy tenor voice and solid guitar chops, this one rocks a bit harder than his previous albums. RYIL either Johnny Cougar or John Mellencamp. (7)

RIOT V – Armor Of Light

I love heavy metal and Riot has always been one of my favorite heavy metal bands but going on without Mark Reale just doesn’t feel right, the production work on the constant in-your-face double-bass drumming here gets annoying after a while, and releasing the “Thundersteel” album with a different title for the fourth time doesn’t help things either. (6)

WILLIE NELSON – Last Man Standing

Yes he is, he’s 86 and this is his 67th studio album, it’s bittersweet and funny and an all-around great country record mostly about death, but actually he’s never sounded more alive than he does here. (8)