3 GeminiiDragon (Nepotism Recordings/ Lightning In A Bottle Records) ****+
As much as I love Chicago-style blues, there’s something special about blues that arise from the murky bayous of Louisiana, an extra helping of soul and hot sauce. That is certainly evident on 3, GeminiiDragon’s new record. Here she channels her love for late 60’s/ 70’s blues n rock, from Muddy Waters and Albert King to Hendrix, ZZ Top, Fleetwood Mac and Cream. This is a burly, ferocious mix of modern blues, rock and soul; like the press info says, “blues on steroids!”
GD’s eclectic musical taste comes by way of her folks, and you can feel that range in her lyrics and voice, with an emphasis on mid-70’s soul. Of course having a killer band doesn’t hurt either; the muscular style of guitarist Christian Simeon’s catchy riffs, the chewy rhythm section of bassist Dougie V and drummer Eric Sasser, Malaysia Lewis’s vibraphone for added color, along guest appearances by Chad Rupp on harmonica and extra guitar from TJ Wong. In many ways 3 feels like some of my favorite albums of my teenage years; rock n roll colored blue.
If you dig artists like Gary Clark Jr., Samantha Fish or Alabama Shakes, this disc will speak to you loud and clear. You’ll enjoy a taste of Texas on You Ain’t Up To No Good, and Cherokee has a 70’s influenced blues/rock/soul feels as GeminiiDragon sings about a Native American friend and his stand for Native pride and independence in today’s world. Simeon’s guitar work on this song in particular is a real standout. Though it’s probably fair to call 3 blues powered rock, in many ways it transcends genres and it also has a great, big heart that you can’t help but notice- it really makes you feel alive.
If you like your rock n roll bluesy you really owe it to yourself to check out 3… yeah it’s blues, in the same way that Zeppelin was blues. Dig in, and dig deep.
HOT TRACKS: Cherokee, I Wanna Know, Last Train To Thibodaux
RED EARTH LIVE SESSION EP Lisa Oribasi (Royal Tea Music) *****
Here is the latest release for this Swiss multi-instrumentalist, and it’s far more charming than the title would lead you to believe. Red Earth Live Session, as I understand from the skimpy info provided, is a re-recording of her first EP as Lisa minimizes and reinterprets her songs. Taken at face value the tunes are friendly and uplifting, and quite lovely company.
The songs on RELS– and I assume the original Red Earth- are rife with sunny melodies and intriguing grooves, not unlike the first time I encountered Giulia Milanta. No point in pre-doing this stuff unless she was able to bring something new to the songs as Oribasi extracts entirely new facets from these tracks. Again, skimpy notes provided, but if this EP is ‘live in the studio’ we might assume that she has a band with her, and their performances are feathered in, a cross between folk and jazz with a pop-like melodic sense. Not sure who I’d compare Lisa to as a singer but her delivery is light and sweet, maybe like Suzie Vinnick.
I’ve never heard of Lisa Oribasi before, but I can’t think of a finer introduction to her music than Red Earth Live Session. The bio on her website gives you a feel for who she is as a person and artist. From that, and the music I’ve been listening to this afternoon, Oribasi is worth following.
HOT TRACKS: Water Queen, Red Earth
FOR THOSE WHO SLEEP DREAMS ONLY COME TRUE AT NIGHT Die Die Be (independent) ** ½
Well. This duo also hails from Switzerland as does Lisa Orbiasi, but their music couldn’t be more different. For Those Who Sleep is indie-electro-rock music and to call this a ‘challenging listen’ is an understatement. If you plan to give this one a spin, bring your sense of musical adventure.
Back in my college days and into my early 20’s I was no stranger to drugs. I only dabbled in mushrooms and LSD, and my last acid trip was around Christmas of 1981… I mention that here because listening to For Those Who Sleep seems like an aural experience on par with such recreational chemicals. Here is the description lifted directly from the press info included with my download; “Die Die Be consistently expands their experimental, refreshing, and gritty electro-rock with various aspects of art. The Lucerne-based duo also sees themselves as a sound, photo and film studio, as a commune, an agency, and as a gathering place for creative individuals of all kinds, actively promoting them as well.” While I applaud their embrace of total creative freedom, as a guy approaching his 66th birthday in a few months I freely admit that what I’m hearing on this album is beyond my grasp. I hear echoes of things I know and understand, but this is like hanging out in a Swiss record store when you only know how to speak English.
So to state the obvious, For Those Who Sleep Dreams Only Come True At Night is a disc I will be unlikely to visit again but can’t help but admire Die De Be’s ability to give zero fucks about what anybody thinks of what they’re up to. The album should come with a sticker- “Warning! Only For Those With A Taste For Maximum Adventure”.
OMNIVORE At The Plates (independent) ***
The description of this band struck me as odd, so naturally I had to investigate. Labelled “death metal’s culinary conjurers”, At the Plates carve out a lane all their own in a very crowded scene. Omnivore. Their new disc, combines doom n death to take heaviosity to a whole new level.
“Omnivore is inspired by my own personal life experiences” says band founder (guitar, bass, drums) Tony Rouse. “Several years ago I experienced some massive complications with my health, and it forced me to re-examine my lifestyle choices. While I don’t think people should cut themselves off from anything, I think it’s also important to live your life in balance.” ATP, which also includes Tyler McCarthy on lead guitar and Mario Alejandro on vocals, eschews breakneck speed for sludge and doomy Bronto-rhythms for a heavy and brutal sound that fans of early to mid-period Sabbath will find satisfying- I know I do. Vocalist Mario Alejandro’s death metal growl is the epitome of intense… I’m sure even he wouldn’t call himself a ‘singer’.
The central theme of Omnivore is ‘you are what you eat’, a curious combination of brutal sound and light-hearted lyrics as it follows their Garden Salads of Grief EP and 2020’s full length debut Starch Enemy. The new album’s opener, With Their Cutlets, is about a maniac killing his neighbors and turning them into dinner. The subtext is you never really know where your food is coming from. Terminal Filet Disease also ties in with the food-based theme, and serves as a message that if you’re unhappy with yourself, it’s never too late to change, with vocal contributions from Danica Amore (ex-Cab Ride Home)… I could go on.
What I like most about Omnivore is the variety of grooves and noticeable lack of blast-beat drumming. Open Buffet Surgery, a song about food addiction, sounds musically like something Black Sabbath would’ve come up with in the mid 70’s. Alejandro’s guttural vocal style takes some getting used to but hey, that’s death metal. As a guitarist Tony Rouse lays down some smokin’ riffage, and that’s what will keep me coming back to Omnivore.
HOT TRACKS: Open Buffet Surgery, With their Cutlets, Omnivore
COME SING WITH ME (feat. Johnny Rawls) Patti Parks (VizzTone) ****
This is Parks’ second time out with this label. Come Sing With Me is a thing of scorching, soulful beauty. Produced by Johnny Rawls (who also duets with Patti on 2 tracks) Come Sing With Me has a cozy warmth that, once it wraps itself around you, just won’t let go.
Patti Parks is a multi-award winning vocalist and Buffalo music Hall Of Fame inductee with a sensual voice that soars as she gets into blues, Memphis Soul, Gospel and Carolina Swag… she’s one of those singers that, as soon as her voice hits you, you stop and pay attention. There’s some fine blues on this disc- up-tempo stuff as well as sweet n juicy slow burning blues, and Johnny Rawls’ production exhibits just the right touch no matter what is being offered. After a hard day at work, particularly your first one at a new job (ahem) it feels damn good.
In addition to being a wonderfully talented vocalist, Patti is also a dedicated working nurse, receiving national recognition for “Nurse’n Blues”, a unique therapeutic program she founded in 2015. As a performer and nurse she fully understands the healing power of the blues, delivering her message with strength and style. With lighthearted double entendre lyrics and some savory harp work by Richard Rosenblatt over a slow grinding groove, Patti shows her sense of humor.
Highlights include the aching ballad I’m In Love With You Baby (co-written by producer Rawls and Patti’s husband Guy Nirelli) and the mid-tempo southern swing of How Much Longer, where Johnny trades vocals with Ms. Parks. She is called “a soulfully uplifting singer”, and with good reason- give this a listen and that’s exactly how it’s going to feel. She’s got more soul than any white chick has a right to, but there it is… Come Sing With Me is a winner.
HOT TRACKS: Hamburger Man, DJ’s Boogie, Why
BLACK SUN The Grand Master (Frontiers) ****+
Hard-driving classic rock with a Teutonic heart is what you’ll hear when you throw this baby on. Black Sun is the second album for The Grand Master, dense and chewy rock & roll with a strong backbeat, a hybrid of power and melody that takes no prisoners.
Since the band’s last album they have been joined by Danish vocalist Peer Johansson, described as a cross between Rob Halford, Jorn Lande and Udo Dirkschneider, an apt description as the melodic sturm und drang often recalls vintage mid-period Accept. Other than Peer on vocals the band includes mastermind Jens Ludwig on guitars, Brett Jones on keys, Mirko DiMaio on drums and Alessandsro Del Vecchio on bass and keys- production too I would think as his unmistakable sonic style is all over this one.
Musically Black Sun is pretty straightforward, and there is much power in this simple approach. The Grand Master forsakes the overly fancy stuff in favor of rhythmic riffs with a rhythm section in lockstep with the guitars all the way through. Peer is known for his work with Fate, Ureas and Pentakill, and Ludwig is pleased to have the leather lunged singer fronting this project. “I’ve been a fan of Peers for decades and own all the Fates albums he was involved in” he says. “It was great see the songs take shape from their original demo form and see how Peers’ voice has developed over the years.” Peers returns the accolades when he notes that “when I first heard Jens’ riffs, I was completely blown away.” It’s hard to imagine somebody saying ‘that singer sounds just like Udo’, but there are points on this album when you’ll be thinking exactly that.
The Grand Master’s sophomore album is muscle-bound fusion of power and melody that is a step up from 2021’s Skywards. There’s nothing fancy going on here; maybe you could compare Black Sun to a hamburger instead of prime rib, but it’s a great fuckin’ hamburger.
HOT TRACKS: Into The Dark, While The Sun Goes Down, I’m Alive