Sunday, March 25, 2018

Short Rounds: 6 String Drag, the Doors, Nick Moss Band & Jack White (2018)

6 String Drag's Top of the World
New album releases in 150 words or less…

6 String DragTop of the World (Schoolkids Records)
Americana pioneers 6 String Drag released two classic “No Depression” LPs during the ‘90s, the second of which – High Hat – recently receiving a 20th anniversary reissue. By the end of the decade the band, fronted by Kenny Roby and Rob Keller, had broken up. Fifteen-plus years later, the pair put together a new band and picked up right where they left off. Top of the World is their second post-reunion disc and, kids, it’s a scorcher! “Reckless country soul” best describes the new LP, a fierce stew of simmering country punk with British Invasion roots and more than a few honky-tonk ghosts bursting out of the grooves. If songs like the rockin’ “Small Town Punks” blend the Who with the Bottle Rockets, the grandiose “Waste of Time” matches lush ambiance with bluesy lyrics while “Wish You Would” lopes along like Roger Miller with a hipflask of Jack Daniels; highly recommended! Grade: A   BUY IT!

The Doors' Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970
The Doors – Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 (Rhino Records)
The hardcore Jim Morrison faithful have to be dizzy with glee about the release of the Doors’ Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970. A two-disc set with CD and Blu-ray, the album represents the last Doors concert ever filmed, a better-than-average performance in front of more than a half-million fans at the Isle of Wight Festival in England in August 1970. The concert tracklist is about what one would expect, with inspired readings of “Roadhouse Blues,” “Light My Fire,” and “Break On Through,” as well as an extended medley of “The End” that perfectly captures the death throes of the psychedelic rock revolution. Eight months later, the Doors would release the smash L.A. Woman; a few months after that, Morrison’s death would effectively end the band. As an archive releases go, this one is aces, and if you’ve ever loved the Doors, you’re going to want a copy. Grade: B+   BUY IT!

Nick Moss Band's The High Cost of Low Living
Nick Moss Band – The High Cost of Low Living (Alligator Records)
Bluesman Nick Moss has been kicking around the Windy City for better than two decades, making his bones playing with legends like Jimmy Dawkins and Buddy Scott. Breaking out on his own in the early ‘00s, Moss has released nearly a dozen critically-acclaimed studio and live albums on his own Blue Bella imprint. Hooking up with skilled harp wrangler Dennis Gruenling, Moss signed with the esteemed Alligator Records and delivered The High Cost of Low Living, the traditional-styled Chicago blues LP we knew he could create. Layering his fiery guitar licks alongside Gruenling’s raging harp, the two crank out a joyful noise on original tunes like the jump-n-jive “Get Right Before You Get Left” or the swinging title track, while “Count On Me” is part honky-tonk rave-up and part juke-joint jam. With their Alligator label debut, Moss, Gruenling and a talented crew update the Chicago blues for the 21st century. Grade: A+   BUY IT!

Jack White's Boarding House Reach
Jack White – Boarding House Reach (Third Man Records/Columbia Records)
Too much of Jack White’s third solo album, Boarding House Reach, sounds like the former rock ‘n’ roll innovator has lost his fuckin’ mind. It’s not that I mind noisy music – when used properly as an accent or punctuation, noise can be an effective tool in an artist’s arsenal. But White sounds like he discovered the special effects button on the producer’s board and gleefully litters his songs with electronic beeps, harsh sirens, and other unnecessary aural irritants. Combined with nonsensical narrative voice-overs, altered vocals, and embarrassed attempts at “rapping,” White creates a sticky musical morass that is neither edgy nor entertaining. There are some interesting things going on musically in songs like the funky romps “Corporation” and “Ice Station Zebra” or the rockin’ “Over and Over and Over,” and White’s fretwork still bites like a hungry gator, but there’s too much clutter and not enough butter in these grooves. Grade: C   BUY IT!

Previously on That Devil Music:
Short Rounds, February 2018: 6 String Drag, Tinsley Ellis, Mabel Greer's Toyshop & Wishbone Ash

Short Rounds, January 2018: Ethiopian & His All Stars, Gladiators, Moloch & Phil Seymour
Short Rounds, December 2017: Flat Duo Jets, Focus, The Original Blues Brothers Band, Uriah Heep & John Wetton

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