bull fighter meet magical bull

bull fighter meet magical bull

When your group is formed around the basis of reconstructing rock and roll music and keeping only essential elements id say you have some serious work ahead of you.  For US Maple’s 1995 first full length it was a chance to prove just that. 

Recorded by Jim O’Rourke it can certainly be a slightly challenging outing if your not used to squigly guitars.  Not to mention Al Johnson’s crazy vocals that fluctuate between hauntingly soft, to odd moaning then to loud histronics. If that doesn’t sound very rock and roll your right it really doesn’t. After a couple songs though and you’ll really start to get the feeling that beneath everything theres a rock and roll heart pumping.  Even arguably the album’s best song  “Letter to ZZ Top” is an homage to classic rock. 

As far as points of reference this certainly has the 90’s guitar rock feel to it however loose it might be.  The math rock term is of course thrown around with this group and is fairly applicable.  Although not as precise or fast as most math groups it certainly holds true.  Royal Trux put in a blender with Jesus Lizard and mixed at varying speeds might put you somewhere near their sound.  Releases that followed would slowly morph them toward more “conventional” structures but no less interesting.  This is one of the best.

Rating:”Ants on a Log”(celery, peanut butter, raisins) an odd combo that at certain times can be very delicious but no less weird.

Sounds Like: When you get too drunk and things start to blur together.

zoobilee zoo

zoobilee zoo

 

The UK’s This Town Needs Guns are starting to garner some pretty notable press these days.  It isn’t hard to see why as they play a suddenly now back in fashion math rock/ indie rock lite made popular in the 90’s by the Kinsella boys (Cap’n Jazz, Joan of Arc).  The four piece made quite a good impression on a lot of people with their first effort and split with Cats and Cats and Cats. 

Animals finds them with a more stripped down layed back approach that lends itself fairly well to Stuart Smith’s soaring fallsetto but the band seems to have lost there previous fire dropping the more distorted guitar work for a more clean toned dexterous finger picked and tapping style.  This certainly sounds more interesting and in theory and listening it is but once you step away its hard to recall anything you just heard.  Exceptions are made as on the album opener “Chinchilla”, which has a sort of middle eastern feel and an excellent structure. 

Major fault should not be placed on Tim Collis though as he does add his own style and flair to the proceedings. It just seemed like his runs should be more memorable and sometimes that cant be helped. Singer Stuart Smith’s performance however i believe to be the true culprit.  Its frustrating because on previous outings Smith sings with conviction, this release he sounds subdued and lifeless. This is a bold claim and what a lot of people argue about when it comes Animals.  My thoughts are that he recycles the same long drawn out notes and melodies for each song.  While the guitar and drums are locked in battle Smith is content to sit back and croon.  This really hurts the individual songs.

This is an album i really want to like and have listened to it so many times for the simple fact that it includes excellent guitar work,  fast technical drumming, and tasteful singing.  These are a few of my favorite things…hmm where have a heard that before?  I understand a lot of people like it and i understand why but the faults are just a bit too much for me to stomach.  A good follow up but not where they could be with more variety, heres hoping.

 

RATING: French fries that while hot are tastey, if not a bit too salty. Unfortunatly start getting cold faster than you can eat.