Friday, April 24, 2020

Short Rounds: Datura4, Dream Syndicate, Drivin' N' Cryin', Bryan Ferry, Game Theory & Supersuckers (2020)

Datura4's West Coast Highway Cosmic
New album releases in 150 words or less…

Datura4 – West Coast Highway Cosmic (Alive Records)
Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t dead, it’s just been hiding “down under” in the form of Australia’s electrifying Datura4. Fronted by the legendary Dom Mariani (DM3), the band’s fourth long-player continues Datura4’s pursuit of the hard rock Holy Grail, a soaring blend of modernized psychedelic-rock with jagged veins of blues, boogie, and throwback ‘70s-inspired sounds delivered with all the subtlety of an angry Tsunami. The Moog-storm that opens the title track deceptively leads into a droning rocker with prog overtones while “A Darker Shade of Brown” is a delightfully bluesy bit o’ dinosaur-rock with plodding rhythms and screaming guitar. The guitar-driven “Rule My World” is a greasy slab o’ booger-rock and the chiming guitars and spry keyboards of the melodic “Give” deliver a superb rock ‘n’ roll listening experience. Rather than sit and pine for those classic rock days of yore, pick up on what Datura4 is laying down right now! Grade: A   BUY!

Dream Syndicate's The Universe Inside
Dream SyndicateThe Universe Inside (Anti- Records)
Steve Wynn and his ‘Merry Pranksters’ have delivered a masterwork with The Universe Inside. Really just a single, lysergic-fueled performance “cut-up” a la Burroughs into “songs,” the album redefines the quantum possibilities of psychedelic-rock for the modern age. These aren’t songs so much as magickal incantations. The low-fi vibe provided the mesmerizing “The Regulator” belies the overall karmic weight of the 20-minute jam while “The Longing,” at seven-and-a-half minutes the shortest song here, offers a dreamy pop experience that will have you skipping on clouds. “Apropos of Nothing” is a delightful Gregorian-chants-meets-Indian-raga trip while the rumbling bass lines and exotic rhythms of “Dusting Off the Rust” provide a whirling dervish-level ecstasy. Album-closing “The Slowest Rendition” is a peyote-tinged fever-dream of instrumental cacophony and muted vocals. The Universe Inside is comprised of aggressively beautiful music hiding in plain sight beneath your consciousness, offering hours of discovery of its many sonic landscapes. Grade: A+   BUY!

 Drivin’ N’ Cryin’s Live the Love Beautiful Live
Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ Live the Love Beautiful Live (Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ Records)
The only thing better than a new Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ album is a new LIVE D’n’C album! The Atlanta-based Southern rock lifers released Live the Love Beautiful, their first full-length LP in ten years, in mid-2019. Live the Love Beautiful Live documents an onstage performance of the album, including a smokin’ cover of the Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” released as a digital single with proceeds going to the family of the late Jeff Wall of Guadalcanal Diary. D’n’C stalwarts Kevn Kinney and Tim Nielsen have kept the band going for 30 years, and you either get ‘em or you don’t…Kinney is an imaginative songwriter with an unusual voice, and the band’s eclectic mix of rock, country, folk, and blues is on full display here. As such, this live set is unlikely to attract many new listeners, but represents a welcome addition to the band’s catalog for longtime fans nonetheless. Grade: B+   BUY!

Bryan Ferry's Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974
Bryan FerryLive at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974 (BMG Music)
There was a time I would have paid to hear Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry sing the phonebook; this vintage live recording dates back to those days. Recorded in December 1974, months after the release of Ferry’s second solo LP, Another Time, Another Place, this set includes a handful of songs from that album and a few from his 1973 solo debut, These Foolish Things. Roxy Music was still very much an ongoing thing, and Ferry is backed here by bandmates like guitarists Phil Manzanera and John Porter, multi-instrumentalist Eddie Jobson, and drummer Paul Thompson, and if they only revisit a single Roxy cut (“A Really Good Time”) they collectively have a lot of fun on raucous covers like “Sympathy For the Devil” and “Tracks of My Tears.” Ferry’s voice is an acquired taste, especially on “standards” like “The ‘In’ Crowd,” but if you dug him then, you’ll dig this now! Grade: B+   BUY!

Game Theory's Across the Barrier of Sound: Postscript
Game TheoryAcross the Barrier of Sound: Postscript (Omnivore Recordings)
Having restored the catalog of beloved ‘80s indie-rock darlings Game Theory with a series of bonus-packed CD reissues, Omnivore Recordings rewards fans with a big fat kiss in Across the Barrier of Sound: Postscript. Comprised of studio recordings from the final incarnation of the band (which included Michael Querico of the Three O’ Clock) along with Scott Miller’s home recordings, live performances, and demos, Across the Barrier of Sound boasts of nearly two-dozen unreleased tracks in providing the final word on Game Theory. Although Miller’s songwriting genius was clearly influenced by touchstones like the Beatles, Big Star, et al songs like the buoyantly folksy “Idiot Son” or the whimsically beautiful “Inverness” display an originality and maturity of vision that Miller would take with him into his second chapter with the Loud Family (reissues, please?!). Covers of the Fab Four, Todd Rundgren, Big Star, and Eno only sweeten the pot here. Grade: A   BUY!

Supersuckers' Play That Rock ‘n’ Roll
SupersuckersPlay That Rock ‘n’ Roll (Acetate Records)
Play That Rock ‘n’ Roll, the turbocharged new slab o’ red-hot wax from Eddie Spaghetti and his droogs in Supersuckers, reminds of bands of yore like Zodiac Mindwarp and Hanoi Rocks. Songs like “Ain’t Gonna Stop” and “You Ain’t the Boss of Me” evince the gonzo energy of the Love Reaction while “Bringing It Back” and “Die Alone” perfectly capture the ramshackle sound of Finland’s favorite sons (meanwhile, “Last Time Around” channels Motorhead). Spaghetti’s a rock lifer, so he manages to imbue each performance with his unique, Zen-like dedication to blowing the roof off of every studio, rehearsal space, and concert hall he conquers. Eddie’s six-string razor cuts and burns like a laser while the band crashes and bashes behind him with reckless abandon, creating a joyous din. There’s nothing in these grooves but pure, unvarnished rock ‘n’ roll, greasier than a chicken wing and crackling with high-voltage cheap thrills. Grade: B+   BUY!

Previously on That Devil
Short Rounds, March 2020: The Bluefields, Dave Clark Five, Marshall Crenshaw, Gwil Owen, Gary Moore & Watermelon Slim
Short Rounds, February 2020: Beach Slang, The Bar-Kays, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, Delaney & Bonnie, Mott the Hoople & Television Personalities
Short Rounds, January 2020: The Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Dana Gillespie, Manfred Mann, Mick Ronson & An A-Squared Compilation
Short Rounds, December 2019 (Holiday Gift Suggestions): Cindy Lee Berryhill, Black Pumas, Alice Cooper, Robyn Hitchcock & Andy Partridge, Handsome Dick Manitoba, The Muffs, Harry Nilsson, The Rosalyns & Bobby Rush 

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