The Holy Fire, In The Name Of The World
The new EP from The Holy Fire is pure, lively rock with driving rhythms, take-no-prisoners vocals and progressive touches. Each song is a little seismic world of its own, full of sound and fury and signifying something, with lyrics like these: “And kiss me right here with your mouth all sick from/Smoke and beer/As the bombs are going off in the distance/Outside the windows.” Good songwriting, soul-stirring sound, and serious (if sometimes obscure) lyrics wrapped in music that never lacks a sense of fun make this a worthy aspirant to a place on your modern rock shelf.
Jeremiah Lockwood, American Primitive
Jeremiah Lockwood is an avatar of urban Americana. The native New Yorker, who developed both his musicianship and his street cred playing in the subways with a well-known local bluesman called Carolina Slim, takes gritty blues, banjo music, low-fi folk and a honky-tonk drawl and twists these thick roots into the musical equivalent of a Clive Barker horror story – strange, disturbing, and hard to put down. Even the sweet songs, like “Love in the Dungeon,” with Elizabeth Harper on harmony vocals, sound skewed. Lockwood’s nasal, Axl Rose voice, Stuart Bogie’s clangy production, and the unexpected arrangements, which include horns as well as stringed instruments, all contribute to the distorted effect. The rhythms sway and totter as if drunk – “Going to Brooklyn” sounds like it might grind to a halt at any moment. “You Are My Shadow” is Lockwood’s update of “You Are My Sunshine” – it starts like the old chestnut, then wings off into a vortex of odd chord changes. His cover of Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want Me To Do” features a guitar solo and an antic sax that keep threatening to wander into another key. The banjo-blues “The Moon Is Rising” sounds like something Led Zeppelin might have done if they’d taken different drugs, and “Stolen Moments” is Residents-weird.
The CD, on local label Vee-Ron Records, may not be to everyone’s taste, but if anything in the above description appeals to you, it’s surely worth checking out.
Scott Weis Band, Have a Li’l Faith
On the flip side of the blues, The Scott Weis Band crunches in with a new CD of horn-driven Memphis soul and muscular, gravelly blues-rock. Has there been a lack of Joe Cocker in your life lately? How about that guy from The Commitments – whatever happened to him? Pop in this CD and get your fix. Deeply soulful, full of authentic religious feeling and chunky grooves, this is satisfying stuff.
OUT AND ABOUT: Jefferson Thomas churned out a tight, melodic and altogether impressive set of original, seventies-style soulful rock at Arlene Grocery last night… The St. Cecilia Chorus, which includes singer-songwriter Ari Scott, celebrated a hundred years of musicmaking with sparkling performances of Vaughan Williams’s Dona Nobis Pacem and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony last week. Their legendary conductor since 1965, David Randolph, is still going strong into his nineties… New York City’s equally legendary CBGB is really – really, this time – going to be closing down in a few months. You still have time to catch my band, Whisperado, playing at CB’s Lounge on Saturday, May 13. For you out-of-towners, it’s a perfect opportunity to come and say goodbye to the old dump.