February 2020

Liner Notes by Brian Chozick

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

 

Legendary KISS stops at UTEP
as it rides into the sunset

This one isn’t happening until early March so you have plenty of time to act now and not have a “What, when was this?” moment. On March 9, UTEP welcomes to town the legendary KISS. This is not the first time the band has claimed it is the last time, but this is called the “End of the Road Tour,” so maybe it actually is. The show is sure to be entertaining either way. Their opening act is David Lee Roth, the on-again, off-again lead vocalist of Van Halen. This is a life comes full circle moment, since Kiss co-founder, loudmouth and bassist Gene Simmons has always claimed that he actually discovered Roth in 1976 with his band in a small New York club. Neither Kiss nor Roth has had new material for close to a decade, but that doesn’t really matter because they have a rich back catalogue of hits. Maybe even more importantly, they are masters at putting on a spectacle, so buckle up tight and get ready for a wild ride as both may actually be at the end of the road.

The Stereophonics, “Kind,” Parlophone /Elektra Records

It’s been almost two years since their last release and only two-and-a-half decades since their debut, so hopefully somewhere in between you discovered for yourself the brilliance that is the Stereophonics. Europe has known their genius pretty much since the beginning and I haven’t shut up about them ever since I took this gig. This one, like its predecessor, is being released by Warner Brothers Records. No treasure hunt is needed to find it, so, let’s talk about how they somehow just keep taking their game to another level with every release. Frontman and co-producer Kelly Jones’s vocals are in full double-bourbon, triple-pack-of-smokes scratch mode and he sounds better than ever. As with their past efforts there is some slide guitar, an organ and a few more stripped-down acoustic cuts, but the newest entry is a welcome dance groove that permeates through their second single, “Bust this Town.” The disc is simply titled “Kind,” and features Black Crowes and Jayhawks producer George Drakoulias and Tom Petty side man Benmont Tench, so you know with those kind of friends it’s got to be amazing.

Art Alexakis, “Sun Songs”
The End Records

Alexakis has always done a really good job of wearing his heart on sleeve — some might say a little too good. On “Sun Songs” the new and very first solo album by the Everclear frontman, things really haven’t changed as we learn even more about a day in the life. He claims it isn’t entirely autobiographical but that is hard to believe for at least 90 percent of the disc. Especially with cuts like “Arizona Star,” which give us a deep insight into his wonderful life as a father with his 6-year-old daughter, who just happens to be named Arizona Star. Then there is “House with a Pool.” Without going into too much detail, the singer recently revealed he had one installed. Sadly, “The Hot Water Test” is the unfortunate telling of his recent MS diagnosis. The sound is very reminiscent of the band he has been with for almost three decades, except it has a much more acoustic feel. He has also really taken the word “solo” to new heights: He wrote every song, plays every instrument and of course handles the mic himself. He did get some help when it comes to production, so he only gets a co-producer credit. Overall “Sun Songs” will brighten your day as it seems things are mostly looking up for Art, and he has finally found his happy place.

The Who, “Who,” Polydor/
Interscope Records

It’s very risky to wait over a dozen years to release an album of new material when both surviving band members are in their mid-70s. The fact that the word “surviving” is used at all gives you a clue. But this is The Who we are talking about, and time off was all they needed to create amazing new material. The new disc, simply titled “Who” (sure some more creativity could have been used there but don’t let that worry you), answers the relevancy question right from the start, with “All this Music Must Fade,” a track that could have been pulled from any LP in their heyday. Pete Townshend (age 74) is on guitar front and center, and also pounding drums. Roger Daltrey (age 75) is strong as ever on vocals. There’s some tongue-and-cheek commentary about how it all doesn’t matter anyway. The album is filled with plenty of explosive moments that remind you why they are an essential piece of British Invasion history. “Who” proves who the band is that can still make incredible music after half a century; it’s “The Who,” who else could it be?

Collectibles: Old 97’s, “Mimeograph,” New West

Over this past holiday season, I found myself constantly listening to one of the most amazing original material holiday albums ever released. It was 2018’s “Love the Holidays” by what should be everyone’s favorite cow punk/alt. country band and home state favorite, the Old 97’s. Which got me going straight down their rabbit hole. As I dug through my archives, I came across an EP that isn’t known by most, but absolutely should not be overlooked. “Mimeograph” was released over a decade ago as an ultra-limited souvenir piece sold on tour. The bad news is it consists of only four tracks, but the good news is they are all fantastic, unexpected remake cover tracks. They are all over the map, with probably the least-known song and band found in their choice of the Fratellis, “For the Girl.” They also go the legendary route taking on David Bowie, but then throw us a curve by choosing “Five Years.” They give R.E.M. a run for their money with their version of “Driver 8.” If for some reason you aren’t sold yet, the ultimate cherry on top is the Rolling Stones “Rocks Off,” complete with horn section, which should be a staple of all their live shows. It was released on CD and 10-inch vinyl — let the hunt begin.

Keep an eye out for these new
and upcoming releases:

Green Day — “Father of All...”
Ozzy Osbourne — “Ordinary Man”
Stone Temple Pilots — “Perdida”

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

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