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Album Review: Natural Child – Dancin’ With Wolves

Natural-Child-In-LAFor the current crop of garage rockers its not 1965 anymore. Many of the bands who have been champions of scenes like the now virtually defunct San Francisco one have moved on from their raunchy roots to embrace a more sonically sophisticated 1969 feeling. Mikal Cronin and Thee Oh Sees have embraced lush string arrangements, The Fresh & Onlys have become a pop band, and Ty Segall’s decision to go acoustic on last year’s “Sleeper” had a tinge of the controversy that Dylan brought by famously deciding to do the opposite. Chances are if you were a lo-fi mainstay in 2009 you’ve upped the fidelity quite a bit by this year. Evidence of this especially rings true with the release of the fourth album by Nashville good ol’ boys Natural Child. On Dancin’ With Wolves the three piece has added two new members, keyboardist Benny Devine, and pedal steel player Luke Schneider, and has produced ten tracks of boozy, groovy, country bliss.

On their earlier releases Natural Child channeled the raw riffs that made their forbears superstars. Their debut album “1971” made no secrets of their influences with song titles like “Let It Bleed” and a stomping blues about an intoxicating lover named “Yoko.” Guitarist Seth Murray, Bass player Wes Traylor, and drummer Zack Martin pounded out southern flavored jams for two more records after that slowly moving out of the garage and into the studio. The two albums released in 2012, For The Love Of The Game and Hard In Heaven, show a band eager to put out music, and whose talent is increasing exponentially. Natural Child’s brand of country rock emphasizes a band with strong roots in the South. The twin lead vocal harmonies of Seth and Wes give the songs a jamboree vibe, and the grooves that the trio root themselves in are simultaneously rocking and rolling.

Dancin’ With Wolves keeps the rock n’ roll freight train choogling along, but is driven mainly by straight up country. Natural Child channels less of the Stones, and more of the likes of Waylon Jennings, JJ Cale, and the Allman Brothers. The album opener “Out In The Country” sits back into a lazy ride on the bayou. Devine’s keys punctuate Murray’s guitar gracefully, and the song feels like a summer evening jam session in a smoke filled houseboat. On the next track the boys remind you that they can kick it up a notch. “Don’t The Time Pass Quickly” showcases their new pedal steel player who hovers over the top of a racing rocker. Other standouts like “Country Hippie Blues” and “Saturday Night Blues” demonstrate the lyrical prowess of the Nashville crew. Natural Child’s stories are timeless, yet current. “Country Hippie” sees the longhairs explaining their pot smoking ways to their more straight-laced Nashville-ites. On “Saturday Night” the group explores the familiar feeling of being stuck at home on the weekend with no cash or prospects.

Most of the tracks on Wolves demonstrate Natural Child’s mastery of stoned down home blues. However, the band shows their range on the jazzy “Bailando Con Lobos.” Complete with Spanish lyrics the boys bounce around on a difficult timing, while the steel guitar whines hauntingly and the organ packs a punch of melody. There are few dull patches in the forty minute album. Unfortunately a brush track is much too heavy in the mix on Tom T. Hall’s “Nashville’s A Groovy Little Town,” the only cover on the record, to distract from an otherwise fun jangly tune. At other times when only one member steps up to the mic the sound loses some of it’s fullness; like on “Rounder.”

On the whole Natural Child’s Dancin’ With Wolves shows a mature and talented group of young musicians, who like their peers have had faith in their fans to be able handle more than just 1-2-3-4. Garage bands, given time, have always evolved into more, and with Natural Child Nashville rock n’ roll is in capable hands.

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Updates from the RPM Department

Greetings, KZSCers!

There’s a lot going on in the RPM department right now. We’ve been flooded with so many great releases in the past few weeks that some may have flown under your radar. Here’s a roundup of best releases has received as of late:

Tensnake – Glow: Ranging from house to disco and taking sonic queues from the likes of Disclosure and Daft Punk (even going so far as to feature Nile Rogers on a track!), Tensnake delivers 16 tracks of hip-shaking goodness for your worthy ears. I am sure it will be throughly rinsed out on KZSC’s electronic shows.

Patten – Estoile Naiant: On the more experimental, ambient side of the electronic palette, Patten has created a lush maze of sound to sink into. Using elements of drone, techno, drum and bass, and found sounds, Patten creates a deep sonic universe in which you can easily immerse yourself in.

Thomas White – Ariose EP: Built for the club, Thomas White’s Ariose EP turns up by combining trapped-out percussion and hard-hitting bass with smooth chords and range of unique samples. This is absolutely one to play loud!

I also thought I’d include one last one from up-and-coming 17-year-old producer Dolphin Tears; some classic Jersey Club:

Considered your itch for new music scratched, KZSCer’s! Until next time!

Ambrose Akinmusire

Ambrose Akinmusire Does it Again

 Ambrose Akinmusire (ah-kin-moo-sir-ee)  and his new album The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint really cooks! His second release on Blue Note records since his debut in 2011, Ambrose truly takes you on a auditory exhibition for over an hour with his emotionally-packed new compositions. Featuring collaborations with artists such as Becca Stevens, Theo Bleckmann and Charles Altura on several tracks, Ambrose Akinmusire continues to paint a dramatic narrative for the listener as his musical career continues to unfold and flourish.

Oakland’s own, Ambrose has received countless awards for his musicianship and compositions since beginning his career as a  jazz trumpeter. Winning the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition in 2007, as well as the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition,  one could say Ambrose Akinmusire is one of the most decorated young musicians in the world today.

His newest album is no disappointment – Check it out as it hits the streets March 11th!

AmbroseAkinmusire_ImaginedSavior_cover Personnel on The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint:

Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet
Walter Smith: tenor sax
Sam Harris: piano, Mellowtron
Harish Raghavan: bass
Justin Brown: drums

 

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Bloomfield Box Set Revisits 60′s Icon

In the 1960′s there were few guitarists more prolific and higher profile than Michael Bloomfield. Cutting  his teeth with blues masters like Muddy Waters, session playing for Bob Dylan’s famed Highway 61 and backing him up at the legendary “electric” Newport Folk performance of 1965, then serving an essential role in the white rediscovery of the blues with the Paul Butterfield Band before playing at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival with his own band Electric Flag. What could be considered a career of legendary status for most, it was not a bad decade for Mike. In the 70′s he continued to do session work, collaborating frequently with fellow Dylan alum Al Kooper. Plagued by constant insomnia and personal demons, Bloomfield would die of an overdose in 1981. In an effort to elevate his old friend to the legend status he deserves, Al Kooper put together “From His Head to His Heart to His Hands”, a 3 CD box set showcasing some of his finest work. The DVD documentary, ” Sweet Blues” is included as well, profiling Bloomfield at work through all phases of his professional career. For anyone interested in blues, the San Francisco music scene in the late 60′s or the blues revival in America, this is as good a place as any to start. And when you hear his electric guitar, give a nod to Michael Bloomfield.

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Brootalisk’s Top Ten Loud Rock Albums of 2013

When each year is over, I’m always at a loss for how to summarize what a phenomenal year it’s been for metal, and 2013 was no different. It was the first year ever that a metal album was named the best record of the year by Metacritic, that Justin Bieber made his love for Metallica known, and that a metal cover of a pop song was voted to be the best out of 30 other covers. Normally, I wouldn’t give a flying fuck about these sensationalist news articles that exist only to get ratings and views. However, my recent trip to New York for the CMJ convention really taught me a lot about where the genre of metal stands right now in the grand scheme of things. To put it short: we metal heads NEED these kind of attention whoring events. With the music industry as a whole becoming less and less of a viable and sustainable option for many, the metal genre too is hurting because it’s not receiving the attention (and therefore sales) that it used to get back in the ’80s and early ’90s. That’s why I encourage people like Justin Bieber to wear a Metallica shirt, or for Kanye West to don “heavy metal” pants, no matter how atrocious they are. At least the metal genre is garnering more attention now than it has in the past decade. And while you may discourage attention from “non-trve” fans, keep in mind that the more attention the genre gets, the more sales, and thus money, it receives, which in turn emboldens upcoming artists to make new and exciting material, which (hopefully) garners more attention, and so on, until the circle of life is complete. /endrant

With that long winded tirade out of the way, let’s get back to what we’re all here for: me showing you a list of pretentious albums that you probably don’t care about but feel like you should because they’re my favorite albums of 2013. If you think you know better than I do, feel free to reply below, and I’ll take your choice into consideration as I cure cancer and solve world peace.

 

Entities

10) Pomegranate TigerEntities

Entities isn’t just a great album; it’s a great instrumental album, something that is becoming increasingly difficult to do in today’s over saturated instru-metal genre. What ‘s even more impressive is the fact that Pomegranate Tiger have managed to create an album that’s just as technically advanced as the frontrunners of the genre (see: Animals as Leaders, Scale the Summit) while also being a coherent piece of art. And it’s exactly that: the progressive metal outfit have created a work that doesn’t just flaunt their prowess, but progresses the waterlogged brand of music, something that was desperately needed.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 5, 11

 

 

 

 

 


Gorguts-Colored-Sands9) Gorguts
Colored Sands

I remember seeing Gorguts last year when they played with the Death to All group in San Francisco and thinking to myself, “This does not sound like a band whose last album was released eleven years ago.” Indeed, a year later, Gorguts has come out to show all the posers how it’s done with Colored Sands. With the record, Gorguts combines a few tricks they’ve learned with the trademarked technical brutality that they are just so damn good at. Couple that with the prowess of Kevin Hufnagel (of Dysrhythmia fame), and you’ve got one undeniably sexy record.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 3 9

 

 

 

 

 

Russian-Circles-Memorial8) Russian Circles – Memorial

Arguably the most elegant release this year, Memorial is an amalgamation of everything Russian Circles has been up to this point. While “Deficit” showcases their inhuman capacity for catchy hooks, “1777” extracts itself from Russian Circles’ earlier moments featuring beautiful soaring melodies that transcends everything in its class. Unfortunately, Russian Circles apparently suffers from a short attention span, as the album is well under normal LP length times. Clocking in at 37 minutes, its just 7 minutes longer than Between the Buried and Me’s Parallax EP. An unfair comparison maybe, but it is worth noting. Nevertheless, less of a great thing is a good problem to have, and it’s still an achievement in of itself to accomplish so much with so little.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 3, 6

 

 

 

 

 

pth7) Protest the Hero – Volition

Tell me, what were you thinking when Protest the Hero successfully funded their newest album Volition via Kickstarter? Were you thinking that the album would be as good as it was? Because I sure as hell was not. I was half expecting Choady to just run off with the money and buy as much cheap booze $300,000 could get him. Instead of shitty liquor, we’ve gotten Volition in return, and what an investment. The album’s chock full of what you’d expect from P T to the motherfucking H, but it’s also got a much more mature feel than their last effort. The record also harks back to the good ol’ days of Kezia, and even has a direct reference to Fortress in “Animal Bones,” which, if we’re being honest, I am a huge sucker for.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 5, 10


 

 

 

 

Altar-of-Plagues-Teethed-Glory6) Altar of Plagues – Teethed Glory and Injury

While Altar of Plagues is regrettably no more, we can celebrate their previous existence with their unforgettably enduring swan song that is Teethed Glory and Injury. During the album’s intense 48 minutes, you can definitively detect the painstaking detail that went into each and every note of the album. This record will chill you to your very core. It will rattle your mind. There is nothing easy about this album, which makes it that much more great. Unlocking an album of this magnitude takes time, but it is time well worth investing.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 5, 9

 

 

 

 

 

Vertikal+cult_of_luna5) Cult of LunaVertikal

My deeply personal inner struggles with the ISIS disbandment has left many emotional scars on me, causing me to have trust issues with post-metal bands. However, there is one outfit that I can always have confidence in: Cult of Luna. With Vertikal, they’ve solidified what I’ve always known: they’re the best active post-metal ensemble right now (come at me Neurosis). And what a way to showcase their vast expertise and knowledge: Vertikal is a concept album that, at its core, deals with a government who is corrupted in a big-brother fashion. With the NSA scandal, never before is such a notion as relevant as it is today, and Vertikal was released before that defamation even occurred. Either Cult of Luna are indeed really good at writing concept albums, or they’re psychics from another dimension. I’m leaning towards the latter.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 6, 8

 

 

 

 


Deafheaven-Sunbather4) Deafheaven
– Sunbather

No band on this list, and potentially in all of metal, shows more blinding potential than San Francisco’s own Deafheaven. Everywhere I look, George Clark (vocalist) is right there with his creepy ass stare. Hell, they were even in an Apple advertisement for fuck’s sake. Combine their increase in popularity with an entrancing live performance, and there’s only one thing missing for this band to blow up: good music. HAH. Just kidding. Sunbather kicks monumental anus. The record perfectly treads the line between uplifting affection and sinister despair. 

Recommended Tracks: 1, 5, 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ovid's Withering Scryers of the Ibis3) Ovid’s Withering – Scryers of the Ibis

Talk about coming out of nowhere. By the time I had heard this album for the first time, I already had my top ten list nicely made and organized, and Ovid’s Withering throws their debut album right out of left field to fuck everything up. And I couldn’t be happier about it. Scryers of the Ibis is everything I have ever wanted from a technical metal record, and more that I couldn’t have ever dreamed of. From the absurdly destructive riffs to the intricately and impeccably placed electronic segments, Scryers of the Ibis is one of the greatest debuts of any technical metal outfit in history. Period.

Recommended Tracks: 4, 8, 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leprous Coal2) Leprous – Coal

Coal is arguably the most criminally overlooked album this year. It’s also one of the best progressive metal albums in recent years. No more is Leprous just Ihsahn’s “back up band.” Gone is the looming moniker of “Opeth wannabes.” Leprous is a genuinely original band with a hell of a lot of talent, and Coal features every aspect of their incredible musicianship. From Einar’s soaring vocals to the ridiculously catchy rhythms by bassist Martin, this album has everything you would ever want from a progressive metal record. Also, I don’t care what anyone says, but “The Valley” is undoubtedly the best song of the year.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 3, 5

 

 

 

 

 

TheOcean-Pelagial1) The Ocean – Pelagial

Ultimately, there’s not much to say about a #1 album of the year except to simply yell through your computer LISTEN TO THIS GODDAMN ALBUM OR I WILL SHOVE IT INSIDE YOUR EARHOLES. Assuming you have listened to it, here’s a reason why this is the definitive metal record of the year: it’s a concept album about the motherfucking depths of the ocean written by a band called The Ocean. All kidding aside, Pelagial is, in this humble writer’s opinion, the epitome of a perfectly executed metal record. It’s coherent in every sense of the word. Each song flows flawlessly into each other. Everything is meticulously placed where it should be while still feeling natural and organic. It is the perfect mix of experimentation and execution. There will never be another record quite like Pelagial, and because of it there will never be another year quite like 2013.


Recommended Tracks: 2, 4, 9

Yuppies

YUPPIES – s/t

YUPPIES s/tBoredom. It’s all around us — in our classrooms, at the park, in our bedrooms, choking up our thoughts and actions like static on the TV screen. Disaffected youth toss cigarette butts into the streets in front of the local 7-11, spitting half-baked rhymes at passersby while their parents cower in cubicles, scratching their heads in the composition of a late-night email. Mid-level camaraderie congresses around the coffee pot at noon and there’s talk of prime rib and real estate and ‘the market’. In Omaha, Nebraska, no one knows boredom with more intimacy than Yuppies. In the summer of 2007, Jack Begley, Kevin Donahue and Noah Sterba came together very deliberately to end their boredom forever by performing punk rock live to a basement of kids who were bored just like them. With the addition of Jeff Sedrel on the bass in 2010 and a tour-heavy three years to follow, the rawness of their particular cut of rock n’ roll gristle was cooked through in the form of a self-titled debut on Dull Tools, a label run by fellow no-wave drill sergeant Andrew Savage (Parquet Courts). Vocalist Jack Begley forewarns listeners that we’re going for a ride, whether you like it or not, and nothing cures boredom like a swift kick to the gut and a crash test to the tympanic threshold. The sprawling, screeching manifesto to all that is death-proof in punk rock is recorded almost entirely in one take, lurching into song after song without ever skidding to a stop until we passengers throw the record out the window. It’s a flesh-singing, ball-tearing scrap of angular rock n’roll damage and it fuckin’ rules. Grip your copy of Yuppies through the label or check out their bandcamp next time boredom strikes, ’cause not all idle hands can work the blood and sweat out of an electric guitar like these Nebraskan devils can.