CD Reviews


Bitterness, Spite, Rage & Scorn

(In the Red)


When the Moon Comes Up Wild

(Black Pisces)

Garage-rock revival adds a couple (odd) names to the list . . .

. . . meanwhile, back at the rockisback! central processing center, CEO Smedge Meinhart had a small problem on his hands: what to do with these two new bands that roughly fell into the same blooze-punk category as the White Stripes but were nowhere near as photogenic and were a damn hard Clear Channel sell. This Melchior kid, oy, he seemed to revel in unmarketable-ness; a self-styled cross between Billy Childish, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Iggy Pop, Melchior aimed to put the puh back in “primitive.” Songs such as the slide-guitar/heavy-mud garage number “Semi Famous People” and the piano/fuzz gospel-blues strut “Gatecrasher” could pass for Exile on Main Street outtakes, sure, but their grim, lo-fi vibe was closer to Pussy Galore basement version than the Stones’ classic. And the dude’s Foghorn Leghorn vocal squawk? Please. Meanwhile, Tijuana Hercules, a new project from butane-lunged belter John Forbes (Dirt, Mount Shasta), seemed just a bit too, ah, unhinged. Something about that Tom Waits-o-fied cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Do the Do” made Meinhart’s well-tanned skin crawl. Not to mention that the trio’s growing rep as stage demolition experts would preclude ’em a plum Leno gig. No, from the ramshackle Blues Explosion boogie of “Wrong Place/Wrong Time” to the swanky Memphis-to-N’awlins house-party rawk of “Chicken Feed” to the fuzztone, Sun Studio-esque skronkabilly of “Lucky Charm,” there was something just plain wrong about that Forbes boy. Getting up from his desk, Meinhart tossed the two bands’ promotional materials in the trash can. He was late for his luncheon date with Jann Wenner. . . . FRED MILLS


She Has No Strings Apollo

(Touch and Go)

My RealOne Player calls this “General Jazz.”

“Jazz,” maybe, but if this is “general,” then the brass at RealNetworks had better call the Marsalis brothers and tell them they’ve got some catching up to do. What Dirty Three do, what they’ve been doing for over 10 years now, is typically categorized as experimental or indie rock, but those tags don’t quite work, either. Seems to me that what this trio of international players does is orchestrate unrest—whole albums’ worth. In keeping with the 10 releases that have come before, She Has No Strings Apollo works more like a modern symphony with seven separate movements than an ordinary album with songs. “Alice Wading” is the requisite intro track; Warren Ellis’ slowly pulled violin strings are the sound of getting your feet wet, and Jim White’s conversational drum brushes are water pounding the shore. The eight minutes in between are like standing knee-deep in the ocean at the end of the world. Closing Apollo is the equally long “Rude (And Then Some Slight Return),” the last three or four minutes of which are, as Dirty Three fans will likely expect, a cacophonous mess. Mick Turner steps in with guitar here, his wild soloing and note stabbing like Crazy Horse Neil Young in, perhaps, a Mozart wig. Adding or subtracting gentle piano, thick bass, and organ, the remaining tracks play with tribal influences, folk tones, and gypsy songs. Recorded in just three days in Australia, Apollo is the result of three men mastering the art of the beautiful mess. LAURA CASSIDY


Mambo Sinuendo

(Nonesuch/Perro Verde)

’50s rock goes to the Caribbean.

It’s a pairing as natural as breathing: Ry Cooder, the man who kept the twang in American roots music through its lonely years, and Manuel Galbᮬ who injected electricity into the Buena Vista phenomenon and played the six string with Cuban doo-woppers Los Zafiros, keeping his Duane Eddy and Dick Dale fetish in check. On Mambo Sinuendo, the duo warms up the whammy bars for a trip through an imaginary ’50s Cuba, where rock ‘n’ roll and the mambo coexist happily. So there’s the tick-tock rhythm of Perez Prado’s “Patricia” and a torchy “Secret Love,” with its flame turned low, alongside Arsenio Rodriguez’s “Monte Adentro,” where Cooder takes a turn on the tr鳬 leaving Galbᮧs Fender to shine. The pair, both longtime veterans with nothing to prove, are happy to play off each other throughout the disc; there are no egos at work here. Instead they’re content to add little fills and touches that complement each other’s playing perfectly, as if they’d been doing this all their lives. With a more-than-able rhythm section behind the two, the album has the relaxed feel of an evening jam, even when the clattering bata drums enter on the wonderfully named “Los Twangueros.” Cooder and Galbᮠare just out having fun, cruising Havana streets that never existed, with the radio turned up and no particular place to go. CHRIS NICKSON