Storming through this week I’ve had to make some concessions because of time restraints. Really it has nothing to do with anything to do with this part of my life but it is relatable across the country, if not the world, with being forced to cut down on things for lack of resources. It’s a temporary change that has its challenges but I’ve been there before and bouncing back is what I do. We all move forward and upward, no matter what the challenges and this year has proven to be full of grueling burdens.
I’ve been attempting to digest an album here by a Portland, Oregon band called The Rakes. They’ve released a self-titled debut album and after a few listens, it’s kind of grown on me. Not in a yeah-I-can’t-wait-to-catch-them-live-again type feeling but more of a wondering-if-that-band-is-playing-while-I-get-drunk sort of vibe. The quartet plays with the male/female dual vocals and for some reason, their loud guitar rock conjures imagery of Patrick Swayze in a bar checking patrons for IDs. Yeah, it’s that Roadhouse feel, and everyone knows how I love that expensive B-movie. But The Rakes could be that band that you find playing at a local bar giving patrons what they need: an over excessive weekend of drinking and dancing to forget their mundane lives.
Moments come and go with expectations but either fall flat or possibly deliver something quite unexpected. Filled with those uncertainties I’m left wondering, puzzled actually on how I sometimes let those lingering questions get the best of me. Now as for Body Double and my expectations, yes, I’m still left with nagging questions I do need answers to.
The band, fronted by singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Candace Lazarou, reeled in listeners with the release of “The Floating Hand,” the first single off the debut album Milk Fed (Zum). With its mechanical drum pattern, deep bassline, and Candace’s lower register, it’s easy to be intrigued. When guitars following the same rhythm pattern seamlessly attack, yes, listeners are totally in! What we find here throughout her album are in fact songs, but some tracks experiment with dissonance, feedback, extended notes, vocal delivery, and much more. That’s one thing I’ve culled from, “Head Axe,” the first track alone. The backing harmony on the track is completely odd but fitting. There’s even what may be a keyboard that makes its way in towards the end of the song, which I hoped to hear just a bit more of. It’s interesting and Candace’s vocal delivery is strangely fitting as she drags out her words, squeezing in square pegs in round holes.
There are moments though when Body Double’s sound is akin to the aged rock of grunge enthusiasms, much like on “Ready To Die” but it’s straight delivery is broken up by keyboards that allow for a dynamic shift. And while I’m sure some may not get it, “Waiting” is the track that deliberately juxtaposes thick & distorted bass notes with jangly guitars that linger in the distance. It’s a clever way of including facets of sound that Body Double is one with and letting it all dissipate with notes going haywire into feedback. Then “Bitch On Wheels” comes along with a repetitive rhythm over heavy distortion. It’s not repetitive for repetition’s sake, it delivers with powerful effect without the need for explosiveness. Candace’s voice is run through an array of vocal effects and accentuates the music around her.
I realize Body Double isn’t just about experimentation though, as “Embrace The Bomb” takes a similar but different approach. It’s direct in its rhythm guitar play, and enthusiastic with a post-punk fervor while the slower drawl of “Bad Vibrations” has Candace volleying her vocals with that of another. The rhythm section drives the band on this one as harmonies abound and are pretty relentless. It’s easy to fall in love with this track.
My initial assessment may have been wrong about Body Double, although at this point I’m not even quite sure what that was. What I do know though is the band plays with repetition throughout Milk Fed without becoming repetitious. There’s much rhyme and reason to the experimenting and thoughtful instrumentation throughout, I’m glad I’m able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Somewhere out there, there are those that could give a rat’s ass about the status quo or even what’s expected of them. People will follow their heart’s desires. When that happens, we’re all usually the better for it. Those of us that want to, can live vicariously through their continued endeavors.
Enter The Archaeas, a trio, a punk outfit, ready for world domination with its self-titled debut (Goner Records). Guitarist/vocalist Violet Archaeas is unapologetic with the band’s roots which lie somewhere between early Guitar Wolf and King Khan albums. Listening to the new album, it all makes sense as that band, which also includes Chase Archaea on drums and Chyppe Archaea-Crosby on bass, move with a firm and direct vision tearing through each of the 10 songs here.
From the start on “Trapped,” the band moves with a singular vision creating a cacophony of sound with instrument levels set at 11 and obliterates everything in its path. While it’s abrasive, it’s welcomed. The band moves through this and the remaining tracks with an unhinged fervor at deafening levels that are in fact, inviting. From track to track the band unleashes a fury that hasn’t been heard in some time. “Last Cigarette” changes things up a bit, opening with frantic guitar strumming allowing listeners to believe the band is moving at one pace but then goes another. Violet’s vocals are pretty captivating and the melody doesn’t get lost in the beautiful noise the band makes. Yeah, Violet knows how to control it all.
Then there’s the rhythm of “Faces” that just doesn’t let up with guitars blaring at full volume. Yes, this is that garage rock that many of us have longed for and continues with “Witch.” The band changes up the structures but the furiousness remains throughout. There’s nothing stopping the band’s sonic excursions from song to song, except when the album comes to its eventual end. The Archaeas’ obvious play at reviving a lost art isn’t lost on me. The band has set the bar for all of its contemporaries and I highly doubt anyone would be able to match the group in energy, explosiveness, and obviously, fury. Yeah, I said it; you can’t fuck with the Archaeas.
If there were ever a time for someone to procure the ability to exude freedom of expression, there really is no better time than the present. We can all rest assured that nothing is going to get any better in 2020 and this year is a complete and utter fucking bust! So do everything and anything you want to do artistically.
This seems to be the case with Heather Galipo, under her pseudonym CrowJane, who has released the new debut album Mater Dolorosa (Kitten Robot Records) this week. There is an array of imagery and haunting sounds that emanate from the recordings here, most are dark & brooding, with hints of sunlight through cracks in the musical ceiling. There isn’t a particular formula CrowJane sticks to from song to song, instead opting for an exploration, a majority of the time, revolving percussive textures around vocals and allowing the soundscapes to take on a life of their own.
Opening with “Estrella,” the track takes on a life of its own with thundering percussion, fitted with CrowJane’s haunting spoken words above it and backing vocals that are ghostly. This is an artistry that strays as far away from the mainstream as possible, creeping around the fringes, feeding off whatever it finds. With “Terminal Secrets” we find CrowJane overdubbing vocals for off-kilter backing harmonies that set the tone for sweet vocal delivery. It comes unexpectedly as distorted guitars wail in the distance and provide an eased backdrop for CrowJane’s words. But it doesn’t always go the path of direct experimentation because we find the ravaging pop songstress CrowJane is on “Killer of Peace.” The song is wrapped in a cloth of percussive ambiguity but it can’t hide the beauty of the acoustic guitar & piano that’s balanced alongside CrowJane’s words.
Things only get interesting from this point on as we find CrowJane reinterpreting James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” here simply titled “Mans World.” The sound is distinctively CrowJane and aside from the lyrical content, belongs to her only. She wades through the dark waters of Brown’s words, screaming at times with blood-curdling effect. Drums and guitar edge around CrowJane’s voice allowing it to dominate. The weight of the track’s heaviness is prevalent.
Mater Dolorosa is a heady and heavy release that’s allowed CrowJane the freedom to express every ounce of emotion from track to track. I’m left wondering “Where does CrowJane go from this point on?” I’d like to see how the story unfolds.