Alt-Nation: Music to Stuff in Your Stocking

Blackletter – Digital Vinyl

Nobody is ever going to accuse Blackletter’s vocalist/keyboardist/songwriter Dave Laros of lacking ambition. The band’s debut release, Digital Vinyl, is a concept EP about a gunslinger’s descent into Hell. Concept albums have their pros and cons. The upside being the possibility for the album to tell an engaging story through great tunes. The con being there is usually plenty of shit one has to sift through in between those tunes. That happens here right off the bat with the opener, “Interlude / Deep Dark Night.” I have nothing on why the story starts with an interlude, but that part is a pleasant piano piece, albeit one I’d hardly picture anyone ever seeking out. The 2nd “Deep Dark Night” part is a thundering rocker in the vein of Wax Ecstatic-era Sponge smothered in glam and punk. “Six Seconds” adds a tint of blues to their goth glam jams. One just has to wait another minute through “Forgotten, Pt 1” to get to it because it is a concept album. “Station 15” is a stark, stripped-down gothic western ballad that both helps the story along and holds its own as a song. “Wasteland” reminds me of a Meatloaf rocker played with the intensity of the Stooges. Laros lyrics throughout Digital Vinyl succeed in both telling the story and being good lyrics in a rock ‘n’ roll song – a feat not easily accomplished by any means. Vic Foley adds swagger with his guitar shredding on “Six Seconds,” “Wasteland” and “Hell Hath Fury.” The closing “Hell Hath Fury” is intense like a prog-rock version of Metallic’s “Unforgiven” with a Nine Inch Nails bridge and a piano outré. Digital Vinyl is recommended for fans of David Bowie, Meatloaf and Hawkwind on your shopping list.

Blackletter will celebrate the release of Digital Vinyl with a show with Cactus Attack, The Sweet Release and Eric & Nothing at The Met Café on December 3. Digital Vinyl will be available on a customized USB drive containing their EP at The Met. Blackletter are planning a vinyl release for 2016.  

Jets Can’t Land – You Can’t Linger On (75orLess Records)

On their debut EP, You Can’t Linger On, Jets Can’t Land shoots up a hefty dose of ’90s indie rock fueled by feedback and flannel. The opening, “A 70’s Photograph,” is like what would happen if Camper Van Beethoven and Pavement got drunk in a practice space in Olneyville and decided to cut an album. On “Wasted,” Jets Can’t Land remind me a little of ’90s grunge rockers Seaweed with the tune’s hammer drop chorus. “The Falling Star” sounds like a tune Love and Rockets would write, but covered by Built to Spill. My favorite tune of the bunch is the closing jam, “I Can’t Do That Dave,” because it is a precisely crafted mess of ragged glory. I’d recommend You Can’t Linger On for that crazy uncle still wearing flannel as well as anyone still searching for Crazy Horse-inspired indie guitar swing.

Sonic Grifters, The Callouts and Jets Can’t Land rock the News Café in Pawtucket on December 11.

L.A. Guns

Tracii Guns has the distinction of co-founding both L.A. Guns and Guns N’ Roses. The “Guns” in both band’s names refers to him. While I hear the latter is waiting for lawyers to iron out details on what promises to be a lucrative reunion, the former is coming to West Warwick. I don’t know who is winning there.

L.A. Guns were on the forefront of the ’80s glam metal movement and enjoyed significant mainstream success with their self-titled debut, Cocked and Loaded and Hollywood Vampires. Let’s face it — hair metal was like a religion in these parts and is still huge around here. I never kneeled at that altar, but even I’m saying this show will be a hoot as a guilty pleasure!

L.A. Guns, Shots Fired, and Love & Opium rock Manchester 65 in West Warwick on December 11.

A Dying Breed – Self-Titled

Despite the name, A Dying Breed started as a band 26 years ago. This means that band is eligible and may very well be up for nomination in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the meantime, A Dying Breed is not waiting around resting on their laurels, as their new self-titled LP is about to drop and it rocks! A Dying Breed kick things off with “Dig Down,” which is reminiscent of the metal thrash of Suicidal Tendencies. “Wind Blow Cold” reminds me a little of local legends Kilgore, who probably formed around the same time as A Dying Breed. “Laying With Liars” falls more on the hardcore punk side of thing with a big chorus that has singer Josh Barone howling like Henry … Rollins that is. A Dying Breed is for the lovers … and also the lovers of hardcore punk with a metal edge on your shopping list.

A Dying Breed celebrates their CD release with a show with Wisdom In Chains, Reason to Fight and more at Firehouse 13 on December 12.

Email music news to mclarkin33@gmail.com

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