May 2018

Liner Notes by Brian Chozick

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Sub Pop Records comes to town with present and past

El Paso is almost having a South by Southwest-style Sub Pop Records showcase in May — the shows are two days apart and the although Fleet Foxes are no longer on Sub Pop, we still get a double dose of label-related shows. The first up is at Tricky Falls May 8 with Beach House, whose newest record comes out a mere three days after the show, the aptly titled “7,” their 7th career release. The duo from Baltimore consists of vocalist and keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist, keyboardist, and backup vocalist Alex Scally. They can best be described as dream pop with a layering of keyboards, organs and guitars to create a very ethereal and dreamlike sound. Then only a couple days later we are treated to the Fleet Foxes at Abraham Chavez Theatre, who last year made their Nonesuch Records debut with “Crack Up.” The band shares the home town of Seattle with their original label and provides a very indie folk soundtrack for our lives, with beautiful harmonies and bountiful acoustic guitars. All this and we are only ten days into May. Here’s to a great summer music calendar.

Eels, “The Deconstruction,” PIAS

One would think that the son of famed quantum physicist Hugh Everett III would have an unbelievable work ethic, and one would be right. Mark Oliver Everett is better known simply as E, and even more familiar as the lead singer, songwriter and general mastermind of his band the Eels, who took nearly four years off since his last disc. This is his 12th release, and usually he only waits two years between new works. You don’t have to be a quantum physicist to know why this new one took a bit longer. It all makes sense after one listen to the incredible new record “The Deconstruction.” He continues doing what he does best, defying commercialism, throwing conventional music-making aside, and creating beautiful lush arrangements. This time he only goes into grooves, hooks, loops, at least for a few cuts, instead opting for gentle piano, acoustic guitar, and some serious pulling of the heart strings. He even makes time for a brief lullaby to his son Archie. There is nothing to deconstruct here: It is unbelievably simple. This is the same Eels as we have come to know, love, and been able to rely on for fantastic music over the last two decades.

Pat DiNizio, “This is Pat DiNizio,” Sunset Blvd Records

The world of popular music has lost some very iconic names lately, from David Bowie to Prince to Tom Petty. Last December we lost another force in music, recognizable to anyone who held college rock close to their hearts. He was the Smithereens frontman, Pat Dinizio. The Smithereens were a staple of alternative radio in the mid to late ’80s and as a unit they rounded out their career with a single disc of originals and three separate discs covering The Beatles and The Who, and remaking Christmas classics. This wasn’t enough for Dinizio, who released four solo collections of his own starting in 1997. One of the latter has been reissued in celebration of his life. Sunset Blvd. has reissued 2005’s “This Is Pat Dinizio,” putting the limited double CD version back in circulation. The set includes a disc of 18 bonus cuts. They are primarily of him doing what he loved to do, interpreting his favorites from the Beach Boys to Simon & Garfunkel to Jimmy Webb, and even putting a new spin on his band’s classics. These are done simply with no accompanists other than a jazz pianist who also handles the melodies. There is no doubt after hearing this you will be digging through your collection to find that Smithereens album you know you used to have. If you were lucky enough to have seen that magical Mesa Inn show from the ’80s, you will recall with pride they were “Top of the Pops.”

Various Artists, “Johnny Cash Forever Words,” Legacy

It’s been a decade and a half since he has passed and his music and words still make Johnny Cash the perfect candidate to pay homage to. Since the late ’50s his brand of country — a hybrid of rock n roll, folk and country music — has moved countless generations. This celebration is very different than simply a reworking of his material; These are unknown poetry, lyrics, and letters of his set to music by luminaries of the music industry. The rock and country side are represented with the likes of John Mellencamp, Elvis Costello, the Jayhawks and the late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. Not to let things stray too far from familial roots is Rosanne Cash, his eldest daughter, interpreting her father’s “The Walking Wounded.” Johnny Cash’s words will live on forever and this set is sure to be just the beginning of the story of the words left behind.

Collectibles: Rob Zombie, “Rob Zombie Vinyl Box Set,” Universal Records

Alice Cooper was the first, then Kiss got into the blood and guts game, and before Marilyn Manson was trying to give us the chills there was White Zombie, who took a few ghoulish parts and a few erotic bits and blended up their own homemade brew. That band dissolved after only four albums, but the mastermind behind the freak show, Rob Zombie, went on to have a flourishing solo career. Right from the start his debut sales numbers surpassed his last effort with the original gang. Since then his catalogue has swelled, and he is tapping on a dozen’s door. It is this collection of material that is being cherished with Universal Music’s lavish box, simply titled “Rob Zombie.” Probably the most important thing to know right out of the gate is that only 1,000 of these are going to be pressed, so most likely they will be snatched up in pre-order, and hitting the secondary market may be the only option of obtaining one. This incredible package is going to include 11 solo albums on 15 audiophile-quality 180-gram LPs, and will include for the first time a brand new live set. Each copy will be foil-stamp numbered, individually hand-painted and contain a vacuum-formed Creeper Robot mask, plus collectible lithographs, a turntable mat and a whole lot more. Rob Zombie may share a name with the slow moving undead but make no mistake, this box is very lively and will go extremely fast.

Brian Chozick is owner of Tumblin’
Dice Music. Drop him a line at
tumblindicemusic@netscape.net

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