The Weekly Jive

Posted September 10, 2008 in Music

Lindsey Buckingham–Gift of Screws (Reprise)  

Every so often, music magazines publish lists of the best ________ (fill in the blank), ultimately leading to debates between critics and fans. After Rolling Stone published its 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time issue in 2003, I took issue with some glaring omissions. One was Lindsey Buckingham. Longtime Fleetwood Mac followers will back me up. Thanks to a unique finger-picking style, the man has a distinct, instantly recognizable electric guitar sound which really comes to the forefront during solo albums. There’s also a manic intensity few can match, and each is in evidence here. Major gaps tended to bookend past Buckingham discs because every time he’d start work, the Mac crept back into the picture and those songs morphed into band compositions. Now he’s making up for lost time. Under the Skin, a solid, mostly acoustic effort (plus the usual layering, overdubs and studio trickery) arrived in 2006 and a live CD+DVD came out earlier this year. The rocking Gift of Screws trumps all predecessors with strong pop melodies and memorable solos. Drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie guest on a handful of tracks. Folky freak out “Time Precious Time” recalls Buckingham’s live “Big Love” revamp. Wife Kristen contributes lyrics to “Love Runs Deeper” (not a cringeworthy Linda McCartney-type ordeal) capped by a sizzling solo. Standouts include the lush, reverb-drenched “Underground,” piercing guitar riff-driven “Wait for You,” a jubilant “Right Place to Fade” (think “Second Hand News”; it’s another of the studio wiz’s layered voice extravaganzas), chiming “Did You Miss Me” and the spare, almost gospel-tinged closer “Treason.” (George A. Paul)



War Tapes—War Tapes EP (Sarathan Records)

Billy Mohler (Macy Gray, Jimmy Chamberlain Complex, etc.) is a world-class bassist. Yet he modestly moves onto drums to complete War Tapes alongside his wife Becca (bass/vocals), her kid brother Neil (vocals/guitar) and Matt Bennett (guitar). Their band-as-family approach shows as, while it’s all-but impossible to discuss War Tapes without mentioning Interpol and Editors, they’ve moved away from the partisan ‘Pol-itics of their early recordings to create something altogether warmer and more organic. The skinny-tied chiming guitars and late-night loneliness remain, but now Neil’s allowing a ragged humanity into his previously deadpan vocals and there are more (and more poppy) bro/sis harmonies and Robert Smith-y six-string silver linings. War Tapes are of a type and utilize familiar dynamics, but there’s rare, labor-of-love authenticity here. Fashionable, fervent and urgent, it’s easy to hear why they’ve already opened for Smashing Pumpkins, Tiger Army and The Bravery. (Paul Rogers)


Talkdemonic—Eyes at Half Mast (Arena Rock)

Outside their native Northwest digs, the Portland-based duo Talkdemonic seem an after-thought when they should be at the head of the instrumental-only class. They don’t sing, but Talkdemonic music speaks loudly, and beautifully, and Eyes At Half Mast is the most expansive yet still Swiss-clock-precise statement from Kevin O’Connor and Lisa Molinaro. The two don’t rely on—though they’re quite capable of—rote soft/loud crescendos for drama, instead fashioning intricate chamber pieces (like Rachels with drum-muscles) or ebb-and-flow tensions that eschew formula rather than seek it out. Texture is king, and though only three of 14 tracks surpass three minutes, even the briefest feel epic: when Molinaro’s fuzzy viola—multiple lines woven into a warm sonic quilt—and O’Connor’s furious cymbals combine with waves of keyboard wash, accordion, banjo and/or analog synth noise, the effect is often more dramatic than guitar-centric or multi-member instro acts. But its O’Connor’s programmed beats and dexterous percussion (he can sound like Mice Parade’s Adam Pierce or John Bonham) that turbines Talkdemonic. And through some kind of voodoo, it all makes this music rock, only in some wholly untraditional—but almost always compelling—way. (John Schacht)



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