Dirty. That’s the operative word that comes to mind while listening to Philadelphia’s The Mary Veils. What began as a solo endeavor for Brian Von Uff has taken on a life all its own with the inclusion of band members Evan Wall, Andrew Mann, and Justin Mansor. The group has released Somewhere Over The Rowhome EP (PNKSLM Recordings), the follow-up to 2020’s debut full-length Slacker Paint, and on the quick-paced delivery through four songs, the band makes sure to create grimy garage rock that’s consistent and evocative. Of course, we could focus on cheap similarity to other groups but The Mary Veils aren’t deserving of cheap comparisons. Instead, the band is reminiscent of a sound revamped by labels like In The Red and even Estrus. The sound the band delivers is dark & seedy but alluring. Everyone can benefit from listening to the group’s new release and even looking back at its debut.
There’s a healthy amount of experimentation going on throughout Unwire Rewire Rewire, the latest offering by the UK’s Fritch, and I’m afraid I may have to offer lazy comparative effort here. This isn’t Fritch’s first release, but it is the first I’ve come across. There’s little to no information I’ve been able to unravel regarding this but the compositions on this 7-song release are riveting beasts of songs that reveal themselves the more we listen to them. While this isn’t an easy listen, it is a dense collection of tracks but it’s songs like the almost 8-minute “As Starlings Do” that are enthralling. It’s mechanical, alluding to the operatic, while completely bastardizing the track into moments that mesh the experimentation of earlier Xiu Xiu with the beauty of Son Lux. There’s a darkness, a heavyweight throughout out, and then almost halfway through bombasts with tribalistic drums & percussion with awe-inspiring vocal displays. At less than two minutes, “Severance” drips with heaviness and beauty through a madman’s point of view. But it’s “Another Monday Evening In Space” that stands apart. Sweet vocals over just a few piano notes evoke an uneven and unending melancholy. I’m thankful this isn’t Fritch’s first release, I’m given the ability to explore the music that came before it.
Are introductions truly necessary at times? Well, maybe a reintroduction for the uninitiated or those that may not care about any music before the last decade or two but yes, everyone should know Barry Adamson. He’s that former Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Magazine, Birthday Party member who’s been partly instrumental for post-punk. But the Englishman has never been a stranger to creating music of his own, composing for film (Gas Food Lodging, Lost Highway, Natural Born Killers), as well as contributing music for video games (Alan Wake). The storied musician has created a healthy catalog all his own as well with 9-11 albums – depending on who you ask – as well as more than a handful of EP releases. This isn’t a history lesson though, it’s about his music.
Adamson has just released his latest, Let’s Steal Away EP (Mute), a 4-song release filled with drama and class. Recorded the same time Adamson was working on his autobiography, this release may serve as its soundtrack; colorfully exposing each song with vibrancy and cinematic effect. The music sometimes relies on spaghetti western-like and country influences but reaches much farther. The title track’s animated rhythm, trembling guitar’s reverberations and distant backing harmonies give way to his rich vocals. While “Broken Moments” shifts in sound, it’s Barry Adamson’s voice that keeps songs linked together as guitars slide on this delicate pop song, and harmonies soar within the backdrop. Adamson’s deep baritone is thick over this textured track.
The slow drawl of “The Climber” is inviting as it drips Adamson’s candy-coated voice throughout the expansive track. It’s filled with imagery over a beautiful musical landscape as listeners are eloquently transported through time & space. His bass is front & center, falls into the background, and back to the foreground. The EP closes with the scorching “Sundown Country” which has more in common with Willie Dixon & Elmore James than any of his contemporaries. Harmonica blares throughout the bluesy delivery of the song. There’s heat throughout and Adamson matches it, line by line.
If there’s any problem with Let’s Steal Away, it’s in its brevity. Without a doubt, regardless of preferential musical genres, Barry Adamson delivers an eloquent display of songwriting just within four songs. If you’re not impressed, your musical taste is obviously lacking. Adamson is where the magic began, and he continues to deliver music as if he was touched by the hand of God Himself. (photo: Mark David Ford)
Surprise! It’s an album. Throughout the last few years, Ceschi has been particular about releasing albums, but more specifically, he’s set out on creating a trilogy of releases. It began with Sad Fat Luck, then the scorching Sans Soleil, to be followed by a third. He’s just surprised us all with This Guitar Was Stolen Along With The Years Of Our Lives (Fake Four Inc.) but this one isn’t the album to end the trifecta, instead offering a 10-song release of guitar inspired tracks. Now while Ceschi has found himself firmly footed within Hip-Hop culture throughout the years, he’s balanced it to include ballads and songs filled with guitars and varied instrumentation. Ceschi is more than an emcee, he’s a musician.
This Guitar Was Stolen… is a beast of a different nature altogether as he walks unpaved roads filled with emotion and gritty with reality. The opening “Long Shot,” is initially delivered with acoustic guitar & strings, accentuated by horns as Ceschi offers up lyrics wrapped around perseverance, never relinquishing his grasp while asking others to never give up on him. It sets the tone for the release as he maneuvers in singer/songwriter mode with an unrelenting fervor. But it’s the punk inspiration of songs like “Consider It A Win” – moving in full band mode – capturing anthemic energy as horns blare in the distance. The youthful vigor of the music itself, along with the aggressive percussiveness captures the feel of his words, overcoming his own emotional turmoil. It’s easy to get lost within the song itself in so many ways.
The reinvigorated Anonymous Inc., Ceschi’s earlier project along with brother David Ramos, Max Heath, and Danny T. Levin dating back a couple of decades, appears on a couple of tracks of the album as well. First, it’s on “Heaven At Your Fingertips,” filled with hallowed backing harmonies with reflections looking back at those that have left, and then later with “Give me An Inch,” which also features Child Actor. Here Ceschi eschews ego for the song itself; fitted with loads of percussive melody, grandiose guitar riffs, as well as sweet harmonies in the back and foreground.
There are so many aspects within Ceschi’s music. Rapping is one thing he sometimes can’t avoid, but that is if the song requires it. As strings roll around “Teach A Rat To Fish,” Ceschi tries to find the sense through life with his words. When he spits “They say you teach a man to fish and he’ll gut you meticulously and swift…” everyone understands. It’s the fear of trusting, the fear of loving, the fear of living. But it’s the stark melancholy surrounding “If I Woke Up” that’s striking. Ceschi questions choices & forgiveness as guitars and wind instruments take hold. This in of itself is brilliance. At just over a minute and a half “Lucky To Know” closes the album out, and just as he jabbed at anthemic punk earlier on, here he does the same, singing to his thankful heart’s content of lost friends.
Whatever anyone may think of Ceschi, there shouldn’t be any doubt left surrounding This Guitar Was Stolen Along With Years Of Our Lives. Individually, the songs ring out with poignancy. And collectively? Well, that’s easy; it blazes with magnificence and ingenuity.