Gerry works with ‘Vive Le Rock’ magazine and promotes a nicely eclectic range of music performers as ‘Mule Freedom’. Here are some of his latest prodigies, with some ‘observations’ on their latest albums from Alan Dearling:
Neverland Ranch Davidians
This is an album full of music that rises from the swamplands of the USA. It conjures up a Stephen King-type of range of sounds. Often feral, veering from the short, screamer-style punkish tracks in the style of The Cramps into lengthier rumbling tracks, full of fuzz-filled intensity and menace. This is a trio courting controversy. As Mule Freedom’s PR sheet suggests, “The Neverland Ranch Davidians don’t care a hoot for the niceties of popular culture, their chosen moniker a collision referencing two late 20th Century icons, Michael Jackson and ‘Waco Saviour’ David Koresh.”
At their darkest, they are pretty formidable. That’s their strength. They are grungy and seemingly from an alien planet. It’s in their darker tracks like the opener, ‘The Gospel’ and ‘Stigmata’ that they excel, and in the never-benign, ‘Aqua Velveteen’ with its lines like:
“They said, is it a boy? Is it a girl? Whatever it is, it’s Aqua Velveteen.”
‘Aqua Velveteen’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnGqahPKI74
A clue and a touchstone for NRD’s is that frontman, Tex Mosley was conscripted to play with his band, The Neighborhood Bullys by none other than Suzi Quatro on her ‘The Spotlight’ album, which included a version of Goldfrapp’s ‘Strict Machine’ that reminds that how at her best Suzi can make the Velvet Undergound sound like MOR-music! Some of the tracks are fairly predictable punk soul-band fare, like ‘Rat Patrol’ and ‘Fat Back’, but their version of the Ray Charles song, ‘I Believe to My Soul’, is exquisitely warped and twisted. They would make an interesting support band for somebody like Dr Feelgood…there’s certainly something of a riot going on…
If you enjoy ‘uncomfortable’ music played with menace and originality, this is your Trip!
Tex Mosely adds: “Rock ‘n’ Roll is still respected and celebrated in Europe, so we were happy to catch the ear of a cool Euro label like Heavy Medication” (which was established by American ex-pat in Warsaw in Poland in 2018).
The Higsons: Run Me Down – the complete 2Tone Recordings
Forty years on from the release of The Higsons’ single, ‘Run Me Down’ we have the Record Store launch of an album of tracks recorded for Jerry Dammers’ 2 Tone label. Charlie Higson and his mates had formed the band at East Anglia University in 1980 and were part of the New Wave of post-punk music which gave a nod in the direction of earlier ska music (and indeed The Specials). Charlie’s vocal stylings are reminiscent of the slightly sneering cocky-boy sounds of much punk and 2 Tone music. It’s a tad off-kilter, but the overall sound of the Higsons still sounds quite vibrant and fresh over 40 years on. Punk-funk. Hi NRG. Big, brash brass, good beats, rumbling, funky walking bass lines and syncopated drums. There is one heck of a lot of going on. Plus a generous helping of ‘oohs and ahhs’ on the vocals.
The release features three versions of ‘Run Me Down’, but for me, ‘Ylang Ylang’ is probably the standout, and most interesting track. Real odd rumblings in the jungle.
“Sleeping all day – in a tent drunk…
Take my love and run.”
Charlie Higson has become a successful TV scriptwriter, featured on ‘The Fast Show’ and elsewhere, and Terry Edwards is a go-to session musician and performs with Simon Charterton and friends in the ‘Near Jazz Experience’.
‘Ylang Ylang’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ji2vCdodLVw
Angus McOg: Cirrus
Tinkling piano, falsetto vocals. Aural images of floating clouds high up in the sky. A lot of tracks drift along with Antonio Tavoni (aka Angus McOg) singing in an intonated Italian English. Americana UK magazine reviewed the new ‘Cirrus’ album as:
“Melodic and easy-going indie folky Americana.”
That sounds pretty accurate. The music is often elliptical, lilting and rather under-stated. It’s pretty, it glistens and is largely easy listening. It’s full of gentle soundscapes, perhaps offering a reminder of John Martyn or solo Robin Williamson’s Gaelic music. But if John Martyn provided ‘Grace and Danger’, McOg provides just the ‘Grace’ part. There’s some beautiful trumpet parts from Enrico Pasini and greater signs of vigour on the track ‘Chances’, enlivened by some guitar histrionics.
But, this is not really my musical bag. If you like musical lightness…then maybe it will be for you. https://www.facebook.com/angusmcog/
CUT: Dead City Nights
Also hailing from Italy, CUT is an outfit whose music should be played LOUD! They have produced the tracks on this, their seventh album, without being able to take them out on road-tests with an audience. But, they should not be worried. This is a strong set of post-punk rock ‘n roll. Singer Ferruccio Quercetti says: “We are waiting for you to show up on the ‘Dead City Nights’ tour to rediscover these songs in their second life on stage.”
It’s really easy to picture the band in full flight, sweaty, noisy and surrounded by pogoing, manic fans in a musical mosh pit. They have a jazz undertow imbued in their music, plenty of hypnotic repetition, blends of Hawkwind riffs, intertwined with strangely idiosyncratic Talking Heads’ vocal phrasings. Discord and dis-chords. It’s easy to imagine Ferruccio ferociously screaming, “You’re all going to Die!” The album is like its title: Dead City Nights, full of grungy nihilism. Darkness. As in the track, ‘Sacred Path’, “I’ll never kill the pain.” This ripples over into the concluding track, ‘All Dreams are Gone’ with splintering sounds of a train-time rhythm sounding a bit like ‘Pretty Vacant’.
Refreshingly dark sonic attacks, whispered lyrics live from the crypt, walls and wails of feedback in a Dead City Night…and as Ferruccio says: “…everything is still dark around us…but at least we have made sense of all this night-time.”
Prepare to be unsettled…and enter into the dark, horror-worlds of CUT!
‘Dead City Night’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndvcRYrSl9M