Another week rolled by and we’re almost 1/4 through the year. Where does the time go? I find myself surrounded by people who are sick all the time and it’s difficult to navigate through the haze of sneezing individuals, coupled with those that are hacking up lungs. Just stay home, watch TV, read a book, listen to music, or just sleep. Stay away from the rest of the world. But I digress from the point at hand. Where do older musicians go when they’re seemingly past heydays? They don’t go anywhere, it’s just that sometimes taste in music may change or they quietly fall into normal lives, away from the road. It happens to many, or rather, it happens to most. Fortunately, scribes are still willing to pen items that cross paths, for the good, the bad, or the ugly. I’ve already set the wheels in motion for this weekly take on new releases. Begrudgingly, I move forward here. Is it worth it?
This week sees the release of Tornado Juice (Thrill Jockey), the newest effort by Brother JT, known to his friends and family as John Terlesky. Now Terlesky has never faded from music although his old outfit Original Sins is a thing of the past. He ran with the Sins concurrently as solo releases of Brother JT surfaced. I’m not willing to count how many albums are under his belt because they seem too numerous to figure out (By all means, go right ahead if you want to here.) But it’s Tornado Juice we’re focused on here. From the get-go here it sounds like Terlesky hasn’t lost a step, pulling together a noisy guitar racket underneath a clear cut melody on “T.M.I.” And that seems to be one thing the good Brother JT is able to pull off from track to track as he utilizes your basic guitar-bass-drums combination with catchy rhythms, additional keyboards here and about, all the while constructing great song structures that show no hints of fading away. There’s an appeal with a number of songs on this collection. The grand “Zabriskie” is one I keep coming back to, possibly because of its large, heavy, classic sound it brings together. The descending chord progression is sure to hypnotize as would JT’s sorrowful vocal delivery. Brother JT is more than an indie rocker, strip away the noise and you’ll find a penchant and urge for writing large classic rock songs. Just give “Mississippi Somethin’,” which may have that botonous verse-chorus-verse combination but its easily addictive to listen to. “Peaks and Valleys” has so much going on within the structure of the song which many will appreciate, with varying dynamics and melodies. I can’t help but think Tornado Juice is a tumultuous album rife with something for every and anyone. If someone doesn’t enjoy it, they’re wrong and a complete idiot. As I can tell here, Brother JT’s got the juice.
Settling into life’s grand design is what many do. It’s also what many don’t. Surprised by the newly released self-titled album by the Messthetics (Dischord), a group comprised of Brendan Canty & Joe Lally (Fugazi), along with jazz/experimental guitarist Anthony Pirog. Now while I was intrigued by listening to Fugazi’s rhythm section but instead of having Ian MacKaye’s blaring guitars, here they settle in with Pirog, a guitar virtuoso who knows his way around multiple genres. There isn’t any wasted time here and these three get right down to it, exploiting every nuance and opportunity to fill every crevice with notes, dissonance, and every sonic indulgence. Crafting the perfect rhythm is what they’ve accomplished with “Mythomania,” a repetitive jam that crazily thwarts any urge to stay in one place. Listeners might lose Canty’s percussive work underneath guitars but will soon realize the track moves with fluidity. On “Serpent Tongue” the trio moves quickly, bounding through rough musical terrain with their instruments, leaving no space to breathe. Rhythms, solos, quick tempos, it’s all pieced together well allowing Pirog to move in and out seamlessly with his guitar antics. But this album thankfully lacks tunnel vision, fitting it more than one tempo, one landlocked direction, again, allowing fluidity from track to track. “Once Upon A Time” gets ethereal, while “Your Own World” and “The Inner Ocean” showcases the group’s ability to leave open spaces allowing a song to breathe. But that’s not to say the band is above playing up their love of prog, as “Quantum Path” is an ode to the genre, which is sure to level buildings and everything in its path. The self-titled release holds a lot together within just the 9 songs compiled here. We’ll be listening to this for years to come.
Also out today is the new(?) one by NYC producer Yarley G. While Vivid Echoes may be a compilation of a number of singles, most tracks hit with the potency to affect every subgenre it touches on. Not every track may have the urgency of others but when they do, it’s burning down to a cinder. Hip-Hop, Pop, EDM, Soul, and R&B are all smashed alongside one another on one album so it’s sometimes difficult to gauge. “Rise,” just the opening tack alone, which features D’Wayne Read, Angel Demone, and Skyzoo is all that I need. It brims with so much heat, it’s enough to keep a half a block warm for the winter. Lyricism isn’t lost here as these wordsmiths pull from the gritty reality of the counterculture. “Penthouse” is a soothing distraction, a love song for the everyman. Vivid Echoes deserves short splatters of listens. With so many genres, it’s sometimes difficult to see where Yarley begins and where he ends. You won’t mind though.