Posts

imgres-1

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.

mike b

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.

DEPECHE MODE DELTA MACHINE

Depeche Mode’s new CD “DELTA MACHINE”

Depeche Mode’s new CD “DELTA MACHINE” has the group back with the electro-grundge sound that harkens back to their mid ’90s material. The group now features a full-time drummer and Martin seems to play guitars most of the time.

DEPECHE MODE DELTA MACHINE

‘Welcome To My World’ opens the album with heavy beats and an ominus soundscape.

The first single release ‘Angel’ is as heavy with lots of clicks and buzzing chirps.

‘Heaven’ is the second single that features duets with lead singer Dave Gahan and lyracist Martin Gore.

‘Broken’ is a likeable mellow tune with a sinister electro beat.
“You can’t fake it, I can feel it, You were broken from the start”

‘Should Be Higher’ opens like a rush of fresh air at a slow pace with a big bass drum beat with a progressive drive.
“Your lies are more attractive then the truth”

‘Soothe My Soul’ is the third single release and perhaps my favorite and it’s danceable. A lusty song about knocking down doors and getting what ya need.
“There’s only one way to soothe my soul!”

‘Alone’ is a hypnotic track about looking back at past love and circumstance.
“I was there when you needed me most…”

On a scale of 1 to 10, lamest to greatest, I give Delta Machine a 7.
Will it be a classic? Probably not.
Would I listen to it again? Yes.

Depeche Mode play live at Shoreline on Thursday, September 28th with Crystal Castles opening.
For a great live preview performance, search for the Depeche Mode “Live On Lettermen” 2013 webcast!

-DJ Danny “On The Radio”

“Living In The ’80s”