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Music Reviews & Other Fun Stuff
by Alan St. Laurent

The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan (V2/BMG)

Now I'm not one to pay much attention to the mainstream but this album did find its way to my ears recently. While The White Stripes aren't The Dave Matthews Band they do reach out to the Grammy audience somewhat and that's usually the only signal I need to stay away. Especially since everything else I've ever heard by them has just been no big deal. I know I know it's unfair to judge based on what a major label decides to put money behind but with so many other avenues to travel in the world of rock, in my head this is using my time wisely.

I guess I must have read a blurb about this record being terrible somewhere and that made me "hmmmmm" because usually that means it might have something. Plus, The White Stripes did perform on the Grammy's awhile back and THAT was ON FIRE! I figured LIVE was the only way to go with this duo. So I decided to give this one a listen even though it is a studio recording.

Get Behind Me Satan is NOT the blazing rock blast I remember seeing on the Grammy's but I can't get these songs out of my head! There are some standard bluesy riffs but Jack and Meg are stretching it out a bit here. They've added piano at times and have become much more minimal than we've heard in the past. They're not just bashing it out anymore.

Quirky tunes such as "My Doorbell" have made it to the shower and beyond with me. Overall the album has a matured innocence about it. It's as if Jack and Meg are really using years of recording experience to their advantage to churn out perfect pop songs but still maintain a childlike quality that's fun and entertaining.

When the disc is finished playing I sigh at what a delightful experience I just had. This one's gonna stay in my player for a while and there's no reason why you shouldn't give it a go yourself. I mean after all, Jack White is the one responsible for putting Loretta Lynn back on the map with her "Van Lear Rose" album last year. Another album that gets a gold star!

Monday July 18, 2005 @ Flywheel, Easthampton, MA - LIVE - Wooden Wand, Thurston+Kim+Steve, Afrirampo, Lightning Bolt

HOLY HUMIDITY BATMAN! This LIVE gig I attended was a Mother Nature endurance test beyond comprehension. I know you all must remember that week or so of total summer humidity we had in the northeast and this show was at the tail end of it. Flywheel, for those that haven't been there, is a tiny room that sells out after 50 or so people enter. No air conditioning and no windows! After each band the entire audience filed out to the street to take a breather. I was amazed we all made it out without incident when it was over. Phew!

Wooden Wand played first and I didn't even watch. The room was so heated I used the time they spent playing trying to figure out how I was going to endure the rest of the night.

Thurston+Kim+Steve of Sonic Youth were up next. They previewed 4 new songs that Sonic Youth have been working on in rehearsals. The kids were all sitting on the floor when they took the stage and stood up just before the rock was about to roll. Thurston told us all to stay seated if it was cooler. "We're not going to thrash. Save the thrash! Save the thrash." It was just so damn unbearable! Of course the kids stayed standing. In the presence of rock it's hard not to I guess.

3/5 of Sonic Youth took us through 4 new tracks that are just perfect. In this skeletal state they sounded as if their last album Sonic Nurse was definitely in the past. The new tracks had the same flavor of the last record but there's new ways of writing that taste now. It's difficult to describe as I only witnessed them this one time but I DO remember the last song chug chugging along instrumentally with a fantastic guitar line that changed again and again for quite a few minutes before the lyrics jumped in. The tunes are titled "Helen Lundeberg," "Or," "Do You Believe In Rapture," and "Pink Steam." Of course these are subject to change.

Afrirampo were up next direct from Japan. Two petite Japanese women that dress like they just left the cast of a Cirque Du Soleil show. Oh so summery with red toga type outfits and orange, yellow and red eye makeup. Oni and Pika play guitar and drums. They bashed it out even in the heat and a good time was had by all. They sound just like you'd expect really. Mad Japanese rock goddesses that can stir it up even in the humid oven we had to stand in to experience it. I feel they played about two songs too many because of the heat but that's neither here nor there really. One of the girls said it best from the stage, "Take me to snow mountain!" If you're curious you can go to http://afrirampo.com. Their newest album on John Zorn's Tzadik label is as close to their LIVE sound as you'll get. Hooky rock blasts that shift and shape at a moments notice. FUN!

Lightning Bolt was last and honestly by this time, I wasn't sure they were going to make it. Two guys, a drummer and a bass player, that are so forceful with their playing it was a miracle they were able to withstand the arid exhaustion. Lightning Bolt never play on the stage. They set up their stuff on the other side of the room or in a corner and just let the audience gather 'round them. This is the hottest rock you've never heard. The drums are at super speed and the bass sound is high and harmonic but on target! The synchronization between these two guys is impeccable. They're really working this stuff out and they know what they're doing. The kids just couldn't contain themselves even though the temperature had to be in the 100's in there. They thrashed and slammed insuring their own agony just as you'd expect from a Lightning Bolt audience. The band seemed to manage the heat pretty well. Part way through their set the drummer just couldn't take the heat anymore and stopped, got up and went to the back room for some water. He looked like he had just jumped into a pool! The bass player kept playing solo during this so they can obviously improvise when they have to. Lightning Bolt are from Providence and a new album is out in October on Load Records. http://loadrecords.com Lightning Bolt's own web address is http://laserbeast.com NOT a band to overlook if just for the fact that there's absolutely nothing like them out there. GO!

WWUH: September/October Program Guide 2005 ©

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