Author: Stakerized

Sharp Practise
Steal With Pride
Ryeharbour Records
Street: 6.11.13
Sharp Practise = REO Speedwagon + The Who – Little River Band

“Sharp Practise” is a slang term more common among Brits, meaning behavior that is underhanded or dishonest but technically within the law. When Nigel Clothier started the band in 1999, he recorded a demo playing all the instruments himself, and took photos of himself as various members, to give the impression the band was already in place. Truth in advertising, if tongue in cheek! Honestly, I don’t know what to think about the band’s identity, but they know how to rock! On Steal With Pride, Sharp Practise’s fifth album, the playing is technically very adept and recorded skillfully to achieve a radio-friendly melodic rock sound. The songs are fairly generic, especially the plodding blues of “Hard Heart.” But here is a band that has enough talent to create their own intriguing rock persona, given some more original ideas. –Stakerized!

Death From Above 1979
The Physical World
Last Gang Records/Warner Bros.
Street: 09.09
Death From Above 1979 = Pink Mountaintops + QOTSA – Frank Black

After nearly a decade apart, Jesse Keeler and Sebastien Grainger are back together recording and performing as Death From Above 1979. “Cheap Talk” leads off the album, and it reveals the theme of the disc: the divergence between live and machine music, written and recorded, the created and the manufactured. You can’t get back what’s lost, no matter how hard you try. In “Always On,” which talks about living in the “always on” Internet age, Grainger sings “If we brought Kurt back to life/there’s no way he would survive.” This is a highly danceable dystopia—no Nirvana indeed. Even though they miraculously picked up where they left off, living in The Physical World is, among other things, sobering. As they say in “Right On, Frankenstein!,” “It’s the same old song, just a different tune.” They are even jaded about their own creativity, though they exuberantly rock hard as they express it. This musical monster they’ve created is no new Cobain, but it’s one mean mutha. –Stakerized!


Serial Lover Records
Street: 03.25

Mahalya = Superchunk + Better Than Ezra + Sonic Youth

Mahalya is a band with a pedigree, but you wouldn’t know it by their discography. The New Orleans musical collective—based around Richmond, Va. native, frontman Dave Fera—only released one album and EP shortly after inception in 1999, and then his side project, Big Blue Marble, was cut short by Hurricane Katrina. Fera is no stranger to major-label success. His first band back in the early ’90s, Seymores, had landed a record deal after their first show, a festival gig with Superchunk and Archers Of Loaf, with whom Mahalya has been compared. Fast forward to the present: Fera broke out of the self-described “funk” he’d been in and, along with bandmates, has cobbled together a set of songs that bottles all the original ’90s indie rock exuberance, updated with a newfound sense of melodicism and verve. It’s a great album to greet the opening up of springtime! –Stakerized!

The Pop Group
Citizen Zombie
Freaks R Us
Street: 02.23
The Pop Group = X + Gang of Four – XTC
After their 2014 re-release of their 1980 comp We Are Time and a collection of rarities, Cabinet of Curiosities, The Pop Group built up enough steam to write and record their first collection of new songs in 35 years, Citizen Zombie. It’s as political as ever, agitating against the extremes of the "zombies"—as they perceive them—in The Establishment, whether they be corporate, government, or just the "living dead" among the working class who play along in having the wool pulled over their eyes. What was once bracing can sometimes become grating. In updating their sound, it’s not as spacious but it’s more expansive. More than anything else, it goes to show that the more things (appear to) change, the more they stay the same. –Stakerized! 
Seek Warmer Climes
Street: 06.17
Lower = Iceage + Joy Division – New Order
This Danish post-punk quartet has been critically aligned with other Scandinavian bands, most notably Iceage, but this unit seems to have a flair for a theatricality some of the others lack, due to singer Adrian Toubro’s vocal flourishes. Not that he is any less geniune in his rage or angst than the others, but he understands, like Ian Curtis did, that being a rock n’ roll singer is to partake in theater, even if it’s highly personal in subject matter. The songs on this album are like a bracing Arctic breeze, chilling the cheek and turning the mind inward. “Lost Weight, Perfect Skin” could be a Morrissey song title, but there is a certain complacency of contempt that Toubro doesn’t indugle in, and it makes this collection all the more astonishing. –Stakerized!
Pere Ubu
Carnival Of Souls
Fire Records
Street: 09.08
Pere Ubu = Rocket From The Tombs + Red Krayola – Devo

The ghostly musical renderings of David Thomas, the singer/songwriter frontman of long-time Cleveland bizzarro band Pere Ubu, are more like strange narratives, stories told through a smoky, foggy lens of the imagined world than songs. By “singer” I mean he creates an off-kilter, high-pitched lilt that careens around the corners of verses like a carnival ride. Titled after the 1962 horror movie Carnival of Souls, filmed partly at Saltair, the album has more than one tie to the Beehive State. These songs were developed as an underscore for the film, and are a continuation of the trilogy that began with last year’s Lady From Shanghai. Thomas weaves together elements of poetry, sci-fi stories, ambient radio signals and religious mythology to create a truly uncategorizable musical vision. Two songs from Carnival of Souls will be featured on the TV show American Horror Story: Freak Show. The group, in the form of Thomas, drummer Steve Mehlman and synth player Robert Wheeler (sans guitar and bass), premiered the song “Road to Utah” and others at a house show in Farmington, Utah last December. Attending it was a musical transport, candles adding an eerie ambience. I also found this the perfect soundtrack for my Halloween hauntings. –Stakerized!

Spörk 2.Ö
Interspork Records
Street: 02.25
Spörk = QOTSA + The Fluid + Thunderfist
Sometimes good things come in twos, and the second release by local self-proclaimed “stoner rock” duo Spörk—the embodiment of synthetic, petroleum-based fast-food flatware—the musical equivalent of what passes for “journalism” in frontman Bill Frost’s television-addicted, sarcasm-singed, tube-top addled mind … Where was I? Oh yeah, the famed sophomore slump most bands encounter after what scant novelty of their debut (2008’s Ocho Destructo) wears off. In this case, it’s a full-on slouch, similar to the posture of dudes whose preferred “lady-killing” attire is trenchcoat and fedora. “Taco Tuesday,” the lead track, is a high-octane anthem for this kind of late-night loser, with an intro that sounds like background music at a Beto’s. From that point on, things go about as well as you’d expect. Nobody bothered to inform Spörk that it’s not only a different decade since the last time they got their shit together enough to put something out, but it’s also not the ’90s grunge era anymore. –Stakerized!
Ricked Wicky
I Sell the Circus
GBV/Fire Records
Ricked Wicky = Robert Pollard + Circus Devils – Guided By Voices
Hot on the heels of the second (for real this time, I swear, although I sure as hell hope not) breakup of Guided By Voices, frontman/singer Robert Pollard is back in yet another incarnation, this time aided and abetted by Todd Tobias (Circus Devils) and relative newcomer Nick Mitchell for what Pollard calls a “sophisticated arena rock band.” Pollard’s gift is for taking what might appear melodic, poetic and even crude sonic table scraps in the hands of more “major” talents, and creating a rocking feast, a beggar’s banquet. It’s apparent from the first note in the opener “Mobility” through a set of surprising sweep, that as the title implies, RP is always the ringmaster. –Stakerized! 

Alexander Ortega
Wallwalker EP
Street: 08.08
Alexander Ortega = Leonard Cohen + Nick Cave + Huun-Huur-Tu

You may have seen SLUG Magazine’s Managing Editor, Alexander Ortega, playing around town, including Friday night in-store local-band appearances at Diabolical Records and the busking area at the Craft Lake City DIY Fest. Now, his musical ability has coalesced into a three-song EP that is diverse enough to demonstrate several facets of his talent. “Broken Color System” uses some nimble finger-picking in minor tonalities as an intro to the foreboding “Year Of The Snake,” in which the vocals are sung in the overtone manner of Tuvan throat singers—with its sinister lyrics, it’s quite effective. “Inside Every Soul” tells of a meeting with Satan, and Ortega’s strumming adds urgency. His melodies and chord progressions are slightly repetitive, but one could imagine them as metal or punk rock arrangements that sound pretty cool, too. There’s a wildness that is contained within the acoustic guitar singer/songwriter format that makes it even more powerful. –Stakerized!