July 2019

Liner Notes by Brian Chozick

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Local: Speaking Rock digs in the Box with Some ’90s Rock

It’s been nearly a decade since we last saw these guys in back-to-back performances at the annual street festival, which made good sense because they were consistently releasing new material every two years. They’re slightly more dormant now, with the last disc surfacing three years ago. Fortunately for us that isn’t stopping Candlebox from hitting the road and on July 25 they play at Speaking Rock. The band rose to fame in 1993, with their two biggest career hits coming from their debut album. “Far Behind” and “You” dominated the rock charts that year. Their next two discs didn’t reach the same heights so they disbanded shortly after. That did not last long and in 2006 they re-formed. They have released a trio of studio records since then and are still going strong on tour. Get your weekend started without delay and revisit the early ’90s. The show is free so what do you have to lose?

National: Craig Finn, “I Need a New War,” Partisan Records

In 2015 he had “Faith in the Future” for his sophomore solo effort, and now it seems he may have lost that hope. The newest is “I Need a New War,” which in title alone would seem to take on a very different tone. But after the first listen it appears his outlook has only changed slightly. It has been five years since he was with his rock crew and, although that sound is dearly missed, he has been busy crafting some brilliant stripped-down classics. He has invited some horns back to the party and things get started with some harmonica blowing. This is his fourth time flying solo and the recipe once again brings Craig’s voice front and center and lets us sink our teeth into his unique storytelling. Like his previous work this can be incredibly depressing, but if getting moved by music is your thing (and I’m not talking about a dance floor), then this is absolutely your cup of tea. Drink up. It doesn’t matter if it’s The Hold Steady or Craig Finn, this is one artist that we should all go to battle with because genius like this doesn’t come around too often.

Duff McKagan, “Tenderness,” Universal Music

The machine that is Guns N’ Roses was certainly gathering dust for many years — so much in fact that most of us thought it had rusted out completely and would simply become a relic, but by some sort of divine power the beast was resurrected. This newfound life has sparked some creative juices in a couple of the members: Guitarist Slash climbed the charts last year with his band, The Conspirators, and now it’s time for bassist Duff McKagan to strike out on his own with his new CD, “Tenderness.” If you’re familiar with his band Loaded, then forget everything about it because this is a complete 180 from that band. This one wears its title on its sleeve, with anguish, trauma, the current political climate and gun violence. The last comes in the form of the tear-jerking song “Parkland.” This album is filled with 11 heart-wrenching singer/songwriter balladesque tunes. All have a very intentional alt. country feel complete with acoustic guitar, a plethora of pedal steel, gospel singers and a fiddle. It doesn’t hurt that the album was produced by Shooter Jennings, son of Waylon, and his backing band is used for much of the record. So if you are looking to get that party started, dust off G N’ R’s “Appetite” disc, but if you’re ready to be moved in a different way just try a little “Tenderness.”

Meat Puppets, “Dusty Notes,” Megaforce Records

Their connection to us comes by way of their 1994 B-side “El Paso City,” a fantastic countrified tale of our town. To others they are known by their hit “Backwater” from that same year. But oddly enough, most people first found their way to the Meat Puppets when founders Curt Kirkwood and Cris Kirkwood appeared as guests on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance. The Meat Puppets began close to four decades ago with a very checkered career. Record labels dropped them, and they had a few breakups and a voracious appetite for drugs. They began with an extremely punk sound, something that’s rare these days. The later years got a bit more psychedelic and experimental, and more prominently, had their unique Americana blend. “Dusty Notes” is their newest and most cuts find them riding out to the range, with some serious guitar picking and incredible harmonies. If you miss the good old days, hang out until the second-to-last track “Vampyr’s Winged Fantasy” satisfies that itch. The Meat Puppets have dusted themselves off from ’90s despair and have delivered some brilliant notes.

Collectibles: David Bowie, “Spying through a Keyhole,” Parlophone

It is hard to believe that the guy who sang about “The Man Who Sold the World” in 1970 left this universe only three years ago. His contribution to the world of music has been deeply missed in terms of new material, but if you are talking about the vaults, it is an entirely different story. Since his death the reissues, compilations, limited editions and expanded versions have been dropping like coins from a slot machine jackpot. The latest excavation, “Spying through a Keyhole,” comes by way of Parlophone records. This set celebrates the 50th anniversary of Bowie’s self-titled 1969 release. This ultra-limited edition, seven-inch box set features nine previously unreleased tracks and demo recordings, all making their physical debut on this collection. The cuts are spread over four separate platters of wax. These mono version recordings are mostly solo vocal and acoustic home demo performances. Of course there is special packaging, with 45’s presented similar to the way that Bowie would send them to publishers and record companies, with his own handwritten song titles on EMIDISC acetate labels. Parlophone Records has once again provided us with another great piece of the David Bowie puzzle, and they are sure to keep them coming.

Look for these new and upcoming releases:

Imperial Teen — “Now We Are Timeless”
Jesse Malin — “Sunset Kids”
Pixies — “Beneath the Eyrie”
Redd Kross — “Beyond the Door”
Violent Femmes — “Hotel Last Resort”

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

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