New York Music Daily

Love's the Only Engine of Survival

Tag: travis band

More Brown Acid For Halloween Month

Halloween month this year is turning out to be a long, strange trip around here. In celebration of the creepiness coming up at the end of the month, there’s a sixth compilation in the Brown Acid series of obscure proto-metal and heavy psych treasures, most of them from the 60s and early 70s.

Most of the dozens of bands anthologized in the series never made more than a few singles at best. Many made only one. Some of those 45’s sell for thousands of dollars on the collectors market, but the Brown Acid folks have made them available for people who don’t have hedge funds or trust funds. And they actually pay royalties to the surviving artists. Imagine – buy the vinyl and you’re actually helping support some old weedhead.

The most recent vinyl release Brown Acid: The Sixth Trip – streaming at Bandcamp – is the most R&B, psychedelic soul and funk-influenced volume to date. It kicks off with No Parking, by San Franciso band Gold, which welds frantically scampering Blues Magoos garage rock to amped-up R&B. Like a lot of these singles, it’s mixed in mono, an effect which actually helps hold the convulsive outro together.

Inferno, by Canadian group Heat Exchange, comes across as a more nimble version of Cream, with tasty twin leads from guitar and organ and a shockingly good, biting alto sax solo before the wah-wah kicks in. Lovin’ You, by Travis (not the late 90s British arena-rock band) is a slinky,psychedelic soul groove that could almost pass for very early Hendrix. Enoch Smoky’s It’s Cruel distinguishes itself with one of the tastiest, fattest basslines in the entire series: don’t let the fact that it’s basically a supercharged Brill Building pop tune scare you off.

Backwood Memory’s Give Me Time is a vintage psychedelic soul nugget: it’s too bad the band never connected with a record label that could buy some airplay. One of the funnier titles in the collection, Luvin, Huggin & More, by Flight, sounds like a prototype for Bachman-Turner Overdrive recorded on somebody’s home stereo, guitars pinned in the red. Which comes as no surprise – six years after “releasing” this in 1974, bandleader Victor Blecman had a left-field new wave hit with Space Invaders.

Midnight Horsemen, by Truth & Janey, has a loping, funky beat and a doublespeed bridge that almost falls apart: if REO Speedwagon had started out in the 60s, they might have sounded something like this. My Life, by West Minst’r, is the most generic riff-rock track here, although the befuddled lyrics are really funny.

Purgatory’s Polar Expedition is a hippie blues bounce that could be Brownsville Station covering the Doors. Boston hippie Johnny Barnes’ Steele Rail Blues could be early Thin Lizzy. before the label censors edited out the weed references: it’s the one track here that could have been edited down to two minutes fifty seconds without sacrificing anything. The album winds up on a high point with Chicago rockers Zendik’s wickedly catchy, 13th Floor Elevators-tinged There No Peace. The biting diminished chords and “god is dead” mantra make you wish there was more material from this talented, insightful crew.

Devil’s horns raised to the skies for the tireless playlisters here who’ve dedicated literally thousands of hours to giving this music the audience it’s deserved for decades but never reached until recently.

Et Tu Bruce – A Tuneful Throwback to 90s British Rock

British band Et Tu Bruce are a throwback to an earlier era, when bands signed to big record labels, played stadiums and released videos that were shown on tv. Their wickedly catchy songs scream out to be blasted from the windows of cars rolling down the interstate (or the M4). If you miss those days, or the kind of music that was coming out of the UK about twenty years ago, you might want to head over to Subculture tonight, where the band kick off their American summer tour (opening for what’s left of the Zombies) with an intimate show at 9 PM. Tickets are an un-stadiumlike $12.

Their album is titled Suburban Sunshine (the band seem oblivious to the Sharon Goldman cult classic) The opening track,. Dress Me Up in Bruises is basically an Oasis ballad played doublespeed. It’s got all the elements that made that band familiar to if not exactly beloved by millions: dense layers of luscious electric guitar textures, an epically anthemic singalong quality and somewhat less attitude. They follow that with Memories Remain, a subdued, digitally retouched 60s psych-folk ballad in 6/8 time. This City picks up the pace again: it would be Oasis if that band had stolen their ideas from ELO rather than straight from the Beatles.

Never Seen You Cry has guitarists Jamie White and Matthew O’Toole setting Everlys-influenced harmonies over a staggered country backbeat propelled by the Bruce brothers’ rhythm section (Darryn on bass and Craig on drums). The best song on the album is the deliciusly jangly, artsy fast/midtempo anthem Miracle Crash. The Turning of the Screw looks back to the gentler side of the 90s and bands like Travis, while Stars Fall mucks around in the early 90s Cali mud (think Counting Crows but without the annoying vocals).

“I like myself better when I’m by myself,” White muses on I Keep Forgetting, in between judicious, terse soul guitar licks. The album winds up with It’s All Nothing, which sounds like Supergrass playing something from Odessey and Oracle. As consistently strong as this band’s tunes are, the lyrics go in the opposite direction; and whoever is struggling to keep those simple piano chords in time with the rest of this tight outfit could use a lesson or two…or at least a click track.