New York Music Daily

No New Abnormal

Tag: rain parade

80s Psychedelic Guitar Legend Russ Tolman Makes a Rare Stop in Brooklyn

Russ Tolman was the leader of one of the 80s’ most legendary guitar bands, True West. Though never as famous as their pals the Dream Syndicate – Tolman and Steve Wynn were in the equally legendary Suspects, and Wynn contributed some gloriously savage lead guitar to True West’s cover of Pink Floyd’s Lucifer Sam – Tolman’s songwriting was no less brilliant. And True West were every bit as incendiary live, fellow Telecaster player Richard McGrath dueling it out onstage with Tolman night after night. The band’s first two albums, Hollywood Holiday and Drifters are iconic: with its brooding layers of reverb guitar and Tolman’s ominous lyricism, the latter is easily one of the fifty greatest rock records ever made.

The original True West lineup hung it up in 1985; there were some sporadic but rewarding reunion tours in the mid-to-late zeros. All the while, Tolman has been releasing albums here and there, from Byrdsy folk-rock to low-key electronic experimentation. If he’s ever played Brooklyn before, it’s been a long time; if he hasn’t, then his show at Pete’s on Sept 14 at 8:30 PM will be his debut in the borough. Either way, he’s overdue.

Tolman’s latest recordings are a couple of singles. With it stomping beat and a whirling lead guitar line that brings to mind another great 80s guitar band, the Rain Parade, Marla Jane could be an upbeat track from True West’s peak era. Something About a Rowboat switches in a mandolin for the Tele Tolman might have played it on thirty years ago. Tunewise, this breakup anthem is just as strong – it’s interesting to compare Tolman’s flinty vocal delivery with the bravado of True West frontman Gavin Blair. Awfully heartwarming to see such an important, underrated artist from back in the day still at it and still at the top of his game.

Electric Eye Mashes Up Decades of Classic Psychedelia

Norwegian band Electric Eye play long, psychedelic, cinematic, mostly instrumental anthems that are equal parts spacerock, postrock and art-rock. The obvious influences are Australian art-rock legends the Church and Pink Floyd, although there are interludes on their debut album that very closely evoke paisley underground legends the Rain Parade as well as the Black Angels. The whole thing  is streaming at the group’s Bandcamp page.

The seven-minute opening track, 6 AM sounds more like twelve hours later, a clustering Øyvind Hegg-Lunde drum figure and Njaal Clementsen’s insistent, gravelly bass anchoring an interchange of metalish riffs from guitarists Øystein Braut and Anders Bjelland that contrast with sustained, clanging, lingering chords evoking the Church circa Priest Equals Aura while a series of drones and shimmering sheets of metallic noise shifts uneasily through the background. Lake Geneva doesn’t seem to have much of anything to do with Wisconsin, unless this slide guitar-driven anthem is meant to be a deep-water scenario, bubbling keyboard samples and weird narration interspersed amidst the long, sustained guitar lines, ringing and fading chords. The longest number here, Tangerine, features a guitar sitar and is sort of Within You Without You as the Black Angels might do it, but faster, with tinges of surf music and a series of long, droning crescendos.

Morning Light, another one-chord jam basically, is the closest thing to the Church here, its lingering, burning slide guitar leads set to echoey, dense atmospherics over an insistent beat. The Road hints at a roadhouse theme with a funk-tinged rhythm, an ominous on-the-run scenario akin to Thomas Simon at his most anthemic and rocking, or an especially animated mashup of the Church and the Black Angels. The band nicks The Rain Parade’s This Can’t Be Today for Kruskontroll…and then shift to more slide guitar-fueled, hypnotic vamping. The album’s concluding cut, titled Electric Eye, vividly evokes the Church’s Is This Where You Live, its slow, catchy, spare ambience building to an epic grandeur as the band adds layer after layer of guitar and keys. They pick it up with what sounds like a mellotron in the background, then get quiet with a tiptoeing bass interlude and end with a long wash of feedback that fades down gracefully. Turn on, tune in, you know the rest.