I was trying to get into the holiday spirit while shopping for a Veteran’s Day gift and encountered the evil warlock himself, Santa Claus. It seems like it happens earlier and earlier each year, like global warming is causing all the reindeer and the entire Claus family to migrate south because the North Pole is melting. I actually like Christmastime … in December. Some places even try to cut into the Halloween festivities by devoting an aisle to decking the halls. I get that especially in a slow economy, the holiday season acts as a virtual bailout to retail America. That said, it’s just not right that it occupies a fourth of the year. It seems like only yesterday it was summer. At least show some respect for the one day white people and Native Americans got along before the advent of tax exempt casinos, and wait till Black Friday!
That said, this issue I’m going to talk about Christmas gift ideas. There have been some great releases from the past year, and the best thing about the local releases is that with many of the bands, you can go out and see a great show, pick up a CD, and have a stress-free shopping experience. Then you can spend Black Friday with me walking around mall parking lots holding your keys out and annoying the snot out of overzealous Christmas shoppers looking for parking spaces – living the good life.
Lolita Black – Flesh, Blood, and Bone (Fireheart Records)
Lolita Black’s sophomore debut, Flesh, Blood, and Bone, doesn’t so much begin as jump out of the speakers and attack with grinding guitars, bass, and drums pummeling the rhythm to oblivion on “Black Witch.” Drummer Kaleigh Meleise powers “Tightrope” as the song speeds down a dark road with Bob Otis’ guitar churning in and out. “Two Lane Blacktop” starts like the type of ballad I’d imagine plays on a loop in the elevators of Hades. Scarlett Delgado’s vocals punctuate the tunes like a siren luring you deeper into a nightmare that never sleeps. “Fireheart” is another barnburner till the mid-song breakdown where it almost has the feel that Delgado is chanting while the band continues to pound the notes till there is nothing left. There are a couple of tunes on Flesh, Blood, and Bone, like “Red Descent” and “Murder Song,” that sound like a modernized Black Sabbath on amphetamines. There isn’t much happiness and sunshine here, but Lolita Black turns to the darkness for strength. Flesh, Blood, and Bone is perfect for that lover of metal-punk rock on your shopping list. In addition to Lolita Black shows, the album can be purchased online at lolitablack.bandcamp.com and at Armageddon Records on Broadway Street in Providence. Lolita Black is on my list of must-see bands that everybody should experience.
Lolita Black, Atriarch, Queen Elephantine, Balam rock the Black Box on Empire Street in Providence on November 15.
Route .44 – Poisoned The Well
Route .44’s third release, Poisoned The Well, comes out of the gates with the band’s trademark swing. Route .44 is like a fusion of rock ‘n’ roll meets old time swing jazz. Singer/Guitarist Ian Lacombe’s vocals can go from a gruff Tom Waits style on “Change Is What You Said” to crooner of the apocalypse on the next number, “Let the Waters Flow.” The latter’s political overtones in the narrative harken back to Route .44’s previous release, This Is My America. That is not to say the music is dour. It may have an element of darkness, but remains very danceable with saxophones and violins punctuating the grooves. “Remember the Lusitania” even starts out with a dub ska beat in the verse. The band Morphine always comes to mind as a reference and rightfully so, as Morphine is one of Lacombe’s favorite bands. I always thought that Route .44 pushed the boundaries more, though, in terms of incorporating different influences. For example, “PTSD” starts off with a big guitar riff and Morphine did not believe in using guitars. Route .44 even works in some funk flavor on “Shame,” which has a jam feel without overdoing it. “Blues for Babylon” and “Stepping Stone” are two more standout tracks that combined the dancehall swing of the Squirrel Nut Zippers with the aforementioned feel of Morphine. Poisoned The Well is a step forward for Route .44 without sacrificing any of their strengths. Like all good bands, no matter how good the biscuit sounds, Route .44 is a band that is best experienced live, so keep a peep out for the next time they play!
Fall and Bounce – Knickknack Avalanche
The debut from Fall and Bounce, Knickknack Avalanche, fuses alternative, blues, and good old time rock ‘n’ roll into a tasty cocktail. “Stones” roars out with modern rock guitars hammered home over a pounding blues beat as singer Malyssa BellaRosa snarls sweetly, but with plenty of bite. “Crossroad” and “Drunk Txt” have similar shuffling vibes propelled by the rhythm section of Christine Hauck and Jamie Craighead with guitarist Bill Reed’s fuzz-drenched guitars adding the icing to the cake. BellaRosa channels her inner torchlight blues singer on the sparse, but heavy, “Storm.” Fall and Bounce reminds me of everything from Alice in Chains, if Layne Staley ever got clean and found redemption, to Concrete Blonde. Knickknack Avalanche definitely has the undercurrent of a breakup album as far as thematic reference. Fall and Bounce plays out regularly and is well worth checking out. Pick up a copy of Knickknack Avalanche while you are at it!
Fall and Bounce is at Dusk in Providence on November 16 with VulGarrity. Fall and Bounce also will be at The Apartment in Providence on November 30.
Party Pigs – Born Pig (with Mr. Born Casual, Zak Drummond)
Party Pigs won’t have a new release to put under the tree for that Pighead on your shopping list, but the band has been very busy. Chris Annunziato elaborates on what has been going down in Pig Nation. “We just spent some time in the studio at Machines With Magnets. The record is mixed and ready for a label to sweep us off our feet … haha. We’ve been experimenting lately with adding other musician friends on some tracks, trying to add a little ‘The Last Waltz’ to the flavor of Party Pigs.” Party Pigs plans to close out the year with a show booked at Machines With Magnets on November 16 with fellow local rippers Woozy. In addition, Party Pigs have a big Thanksgiving Eve show coming up that they are calling “Born Pig.” The show will feature multiple sets by Party Pigs, and in between sets and after, local booty popper DJ Zak “Pizza for Breakfast” Drummond, aka DJ Born Casual, will get those asses shaking on the dance floor! It is a 2 a.m. night, so come out and sweat off some calories to make room for all the turkey!
Born Pig featuring Party Pigs DJ Zak Drummond (aka Born Casual) takes over the The Speakeasy of the Local 121 on November 21.
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