Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Deep Purple,
Concerto for Group
and Orchestra

I guess you had to be there. You should be glad you weren’t there. If you’re not glad you weren’t there you should schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist immediately. She won’t be able to help you, but she will take your money and urge you to come back so she can take more of your money.

The “there” I’m talking about was the Royal Albert Hall in September 1969, where Deep Purple collaborated with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on a concerto composed by organist Jon Lord with lyrics written by vocalist Ian Gillan. I will state from the outset that said collaboration was more than just a misbegotten child—it was a harbinger of worse to come from the likes of Procol Harum, Rick Wakeman, and Caravan. Deep Purple have a lot to answer for.

Rock music was moving in a classical direction at the time, a trend that would ultimately leave us cringing to the neo-classical abominations of Wakeman and, God help us all, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, who dispensed with the live orchestras in favor of their own adaptations of classical chestnuts. But Deep Purple were the first, the pioneers of pomp and circumstance, and hence occupy a place of honor in the Museum of Musical Monstrosities.

The Concerto for Group and Orchestra is composed of three movements, or four too many in my opinion. You get exactly what you’d expect, pretension piled upon pretension to create a veritable mountain of pretension you’d be a fool to scale without harness, carabiners, and jackhammer-grade ear protection.

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TVD Radar: The Dave Clark Five, All The Hits–The 7” Collection in stores 10/28

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Legendary group The Dave Clark Five announce All The Hits – The 7” Collection, a brand new 7” vinyl box set collecting some of the band’s biggest selling records, available 28th October via BMG. Pre order here.

All The Hits’ – The 7” Collection is the definitive selection of their biggest selling singles including “Glad All Over,” “Bits & Pieces,” and “Do You Love Me,” This new release of ten double-sided vinyl singles in picture bag sleeves was remastered by Dave Clark at Abbey Road Studios in London, and stands as a testament to the enduring popularity of the group.

Dave Clark says of the reissue, “Everyone knows that the 1960s music explosion really happened on the seven-inch vinyl disc spinning at 45rpm. So, for me it felt right to go back into Abbey Road Studios and remaster the DC5’s biggest hits from music’s most thrilling decade onto the original vinyl discs—20 individual hits on 10 double A-side singles in original picture sleeves. It all brings back the fun and excitement we had back then recording these tracks, and I hope you enjoy them too.”

Formed in the early 1960s, five working class lads from Tottenham, North London came together to become The Dave Clark Five (The DC5). Founded by one of the UK’s most prolific and celebrated musicians, songwriters and producers Dave Clark, the 5-piece consisted of Clark (drums), Mike Smith (vocals, keyboard), Lenny Davidson (guitar), Denis Payton (saxophone), and Rick Huxley (bass).

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Graded on a Curve:
Bruce Springsteen, Chapter and Verse

Celebrating Bruce Springsteen on his 73rd birthday.Ed.

Most artist compilations serve a single purpose—to give the listener who doesn’t want to spring for more than one LP of a musician or band something to buy. This is not the case with 2016’s Chapter and Verse, which offers both casual and hardcore fans of the Boss two great reasons to shell out their hard-earned shekels.

First, it includes five previously unreleased tracks of Springsteen’s early work—two with the Castiles, one with Steel Mill, and two 1972 tracks one of which, “The Ballad of Jesse James,” is a flat-out triumph. Second, it offers up a couple of recent brilliant Springsteen tracks that offer a damn good reason for lapsed fans like yours truly to check out what he’s been up to since we tuned the poor fellow out. I’ll say right now that they establish him, along with the rare likes of Neil Young, as a musician whose work remains not just exciting but vital.

Springsteen himself chose the eighteen tracks that make up this cursory overview of his long career, and frankly the whole contraption would collapse for sheer lack of meat—a simple cut from most of his studio LPs simply isn’t enough—were it not for the unreleased early tracks, which date the whole back to 1966 when Springsteen was a member of a forgotten garage rock band called the Castiles. “Baby I” may not be a song for the ages but it generates pure raw-boned excitement, and that goes double for the Castiles’ live cover of Willie Dixon’s “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover,” which jumps and shouts to the sound of one great Farfisa organ.

Meanwhile, Steel Mill’s “He’s Guilty (The Judge Song)” is a guitar rave-up that reminds me of early Grand Funk Railroad at their best. “The Ballad of Jesse James,” which is credited to the Bruce Springsteen Band, features some truly ‘eavy guitar and one great piano, and on it Springsteen sounds like Springsteen and belts out the lyrics like his life depends on it. “Henry Boy,” on the other hand, features some fancy acoustic guitar work and would have sounded right at home on Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ.

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 83: Madison Cunningham

Madison Cunningham has only just begun. At 25 years old, Cunningham has recently released her third record and it is definitely a well-crafted work.

She’s a born-and-bred Californian songwriter, but that’s only a part of her biography, there’s so much more going on. Madison is also an excellent guitarist with a penchant for funky chords and musical phrases. Even though internet sources lazily categorize her music as “Americana” or “folk,” any listener with open ears will hear that Madison’s influences and creations challenge and oftentimes transcend those niches.

Her latest album is titled Revealer, and Madison and I discuss just what’s being revealed and who’s doing the revealing. You’ll find that this young lady is comfortable digging into some of her more uncomfortable experiences if it means she’ll be rewarded with a new song. We also discuss her longtime producing and studio partnership with Tyler Chester, some studio tricks that led to some unique sounds, and where she hopes this musical road might lead her next.

There is a reason that, at her young age, Madison Cunningham has already been nominated for two Grammy awards and you’re about to hear why.

Evan Toth is a songwriter, professional musician, educator, radio host, avid record collector, and hi-fi aficionado. Toth hosts and produces The Evan Toth Show and TVD Radar on WFDU, 89.1 FM. Follow him at the usual social media places and visit his website.

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Graded on a Curve:
Bad Company,
Bad Company

I’m bad company, I don’t deny it. I tend to monopolize conversations. I’m loud. I laugh at my own jokes. I cut other people off mid-sentence. I cheat at penny poker, although I always get caught. And I have the annoying habit of boring people with long monologues on the Versailles Treaty.

But England’s hard rock band Bad Company are another beast altogether. Their members constituted a minor supergroup. Vocalist Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Burke hailed from Free. Guitarist Mick Ralphs came by way of Mott the Hoople, where he’d tired of their fancy Glam pretensions. Bass player Boz Burrell previously played with King Crimson. Together they hammered out some of the most lowdown, stripped to the bone music of the Seventies. They had no interest in bedazzling you with subtlety.

The band’s eponymous 1974 debut was one of the premier hard rock albums of its time, and gave teen listeners a no-frills alternative to such bands as Queen, Supertramp, and the Electric Light Orchestra, amongst others. There was scads of other hard rock bands out there, but few pounded it home the way Bad Company did—Grand Funk Railroad were just plain inferior product, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive—with such up-tempo songs like “Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” and “Hey You”—may as well have been the Archies. The sole populist band their superior was Lynyrd Skynyrd, thanks both Ronnie Van Zant’s extraordinary lyrical gifts and the Southern Rock touches, which added color but never detracted from the band’s hard rock sound.

Bad Company kicks things off with “Can’t Get Enough,” with Ralphs playing pile driver guitar while drummer Burke crushes stone like a guy on a slave gang. Rodgers makes it clear he has bad manners—he doesn’t politely ask for things, he takes them. “Rock Steady” is a slinkier-than-usual statement of purpose with Ralphs playing a cool guitar hook, perfect fills and a restrained but perfect solo while a pair of female backing vocalists toss in on the choruses. As for Rodgers, he demonstrates why he’s considered one of the finest vocalists of the era and an inspiration for the likes of Ronnie Van Zant.

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TVD Radar: 1990s Columbus, Ohio music scene doc That Looks Fun! streaming now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Don Giovanni has just released That Looks Fun, a documentary by filmmaker Jake Housh that gives movement to the sounds of deceased singers Jenny Mae and Jerry Wick (Gaunt) who both died tragically while combating their own demons. Both of their stories are chronicled in Bela Koe-Krompecher’s memoir Love, Death & Photosynthesis published by Don Giovanni Records and has just celebrated its second printing in a smaller paperback edition.

With That Looks Fun director Housh uses archival footage from the 1990’s Columbus, Ohio music scene with interview snippets with Bela that weaves the self-destructive story of Jenny Mae whose life went from being on the cusp of signing with EMI records to being homeless in just a few short years (Jenny Mae died in 2017 are a long struggle with alcohol and mental illness), as well as that of Jerry Wick who died tragically while riding his bicycle in 2001.

Housh, whose Oregonia Pictures has worked with both music artists as well as other documentaries, uses his own personal connection with Bela, Jenny, and Jerry to tell the brief but impactful lives Jenny and Jerry had on Bela who works as a social worker in Columbus after getting sober shortly after Jerry’s death. Housh’s familiarity (he is a songwriter in the long-running Columbus band, Moviola) helps the short film tell their stories with respect and bravery along with splashes of humor that all three friends enjoyed.

This documentary is being released to coincide with the Jenny Mae record What’s Wrong With Me: Singles and Unreleased Tracks out on September 30th via Anyway Records and Don Giovanni Records. It is a compilation of Jenny’s earliest recordings, singles and her final song “Not Another Bad Year.”

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TVD Radar: José Feliciano: Behind This Guitar opens San Francisco Latino Film Festival 10/7

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Cine+Mas SF kicks off its 14th annual Latino Film Festival with documentary feature José Feliciano: Behind This Guitar on October 7th at Landmark’s Opera Plaza just blocks away from SF’s historic Civic Center.

Emmy nominated, Addy and Telly award winning Frank Licari teams up with thirty year music industry veteran Helen Murphy, to bring you this compelling story of blind Puerto Rican singer, Jose Feliciano.

The film is co-directed by Khoa Le and the film was executive produced by Murphy, Licari and Le, edited by Paul Jaigua and assistant edited by Frank Bull with cinematography by Egor Morozov. Star commentary is provided by José Feliciano, Gloria Estefan, Carlos Santana, Emilio Estefan Jr., Frank Licari, Rudy Pérez, Rick Jarrard, and Jack Sommer.

Jose Feliciano is a name that is synonymous with decades of American and Latin music. It is synonymous with a presence that has bridged musical styles in a way that has never been equaled. José Feliciano is recognized as the first Latin artist to effectively cross over into the English music market, opening the doors for other artists who now play an important role in the American music industry.

SFLFF has scheduled a slate of over 80 films in a hybrid in-person and online format. Filmmakers from across the Americas submitted feature length, short, narrative, and documentary films made through a Latin American lens.

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Graded on a Curve:
John Coltrane,
The Atlantic Years
in Mono

Remembering John Coltrane in advance of his birthdate tomorrow.Ed.

John Coltrane’s Atlantic period presents an arresting convergence of circumstances. It was a time of raised profile and of considerable transition, the artist’s confidence audibly growing as he united jazz tradition and experimentation; most of all it was an era of major breakthroughs establishing the saxophonist as a leader in his field. The Atlantic Years in Mono doesn’t include the entirety of his work for the label, but it does ably document a thrilling era that brought Coltrane to a mainstream audience. 

By the time John Coltrane hooked up with the Ertegun brothers he’d already chalked up a significant list of achievements, serving as a powerful voice in post-bop’s development via the bands of Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis, guesting for a track on Sonny Rollins’ Tenor Madness, teaming with Hank Mobley, Al Cohn, and Zoot Simms for Tenor Conclave, and leading bands for Prestige and for one LP Blue Note.

Top billing came with Coltrane in 1957, and next was Blue Train for Blue Note, which many consider to be his first great album. John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio followed in ’58 (aka Traneing In for its ’61 reissue), and Soultrane retained the services of the Garland band. As Coltrane’s fame grew Prestige would later release nearly a dozen albums under his name from unissued sessions and elevated sideman dates, in turn possibly lending a false impression of the saxophonist as unusually prolific during ’57-’58.

Coltrane was constantly playing but was nowhere near popular enough to have that many albums produced in such a short span; indeed, his two ’58 records with Wilber Harden as co-leader, Jazz Way Out and Tanganyika Strut, are rarely discussed in spite of their being positioned directly before Coltrane’s move to Atlantic. Well, not quite; the closest correspondent recording to his ’59 Atlantic debut Giant Steps is Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.

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TVD Radar: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Live At The Fillmore (1997) 3LP & 6LP in stores 11/25

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The long-awaited Live at the Fillmore (1997)—Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ first live album in 13 years—is due November 25 on Warner Records. The album will be available in various formats and is available here for preorder.

Before starting the 20-show run at the Fillmore, Tom Petty outlined his plans in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle: “We’re musicians and we want to play. We’ve made so many records in the past five years, I think the best thing for us to do is just go out and play and it will lead us to our next place, wherever that may be.”

The shows at the Fillmore ended up being some of the most joyful, honest, inspirational and prolific experiences of the band’s career, creating a unique bond between the group and their fans. This album features more covers than originals, paying tribute to the artists and songs that shaped Petty’s love of music as he was growing up—before he became a legendary songwriter and performer in his own right.

Highlights include Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” J.J. Cale’s “Crazy Mama,” The Rolling Stones’ “Time is On My Side,” and more from The Kinks, Everly Brothers, Bill Withers, The Byrds, Chuck Berry, and Booker T. & the M.G.’s. The collection also features special performances with The Byrds’ front man Roger McGuinn and blues legend John Lee Hooker. Other standouts include extended versions of original tracks “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “It’s Good To Be King.”

“Playing the Fillmore in 1997 for a month was one of my favorite experiences as a musician in my whole life. The band was on fire and we changed the set list every night. The room and the crowd was spiritual… AND… we got to play with some amazing guests. I will always remember those nights with joy and inspiration.”
Mike Campbell

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Graded on a Curve:
Dead Kennedys,
Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

On September 30, Manifesto Records will reissue Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, the debut album from iconic Bay Area punk outfit Dead Kennedys on vinyl and CD in a freshly remixed version courtesy of Grammy-winning producer Chris Lord-Alge. Setting aside the question of whether the record actually needed a remix (it didn’t), nothing abhorrent transpires as these 14 tracks (there are no extras) blaze forth; those who love and own the original mix should test drive before buying, but for those looking to get acquainted with this band through their first and best LP, this edition will serve that purpose just fine.

It’s no secret that Dead Kennedys’ vocalist Jello Biafra and his bandmates, guitarist East Bay Ray, bassist Klaus Fluoride, and drummer D.H. Peligro, have been at odds, and for a couple decades now, all due to the most banal of reasons. That is, money. Of course, I don’t have a dog in that fight, though this doesn’t mean I haven’t formulated opinions on the subject. It’s just that my viewpoint on this particular falling out isn’t pertinent to the matter at hand, which is, you know, the music.

So, when I say that this 2022 Mix of Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables exists for the most banal of reasons—that is, money, it’s not a dig at the band, but simply an observation, as money is the reason for the vast majority of remixed and remastered records (and quite a few straight reissues). And in turn, I can’t help but feel somewhat blasé about the existence of this new mix.

But on the other hand, Fresh Fruit isn’t just the best Dead Kennedys album, it’s my personal favorite. And yet, I hadn’t listened to it in a few years, so that I had to pull my vinyl copy off the shelf for a couple reacquainting spins prior to checking the new mix. The bottom line is that the input of Lord-Alge (a professed fan of the DKs) is far from egregious. He’s essentially just beefed up and subtly streamlined the record for the Epitaph Records generation.

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TVD Radar: Paved Paradise announces October run of traveling record label expos

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Paved Paradise announces the third edition of its traveling label expo, further reimagining the record store experience through a series of outdoor events and communal celebrations.

From October 12th-23rd—featuring music, merch and more from Ghostly International, Numero Group, Secretly Group record labels Dead Oceans, Jagjaguwar and Secretly Canadian, and the brand new addition of Colemine Records and Sacred Bones—this forthcoming tour will bring the series’ widest selection of LPs, 45s, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs and other physical ephemera to independent venues, breweries and parking lots across the East Coast and Midwest.

Equal parts pop-up shop, block party, and roadside fruit stand, Paved Paradise will debut its tented wonderland in Atlanta, Cincinnati and Washington, DC and for the very first time this fall, in between return appearances to Nashville, Asheville, Durham, Richmond, Pittsburgh, and Detroit’s Third Man Records. Find the full list of dates below, and more information at pavedparadise.secretlygroup.com.

Following the previous success of Paved Paradise tours in fall 2021 and spring 2022, which spanned thousands of miles and thousands more attendees, the expo has expanded to include more music, friends, and Secretly family members than ever before.

In addition to the acclaimed catalogs and trusted tastes of Paved Paradise’s five flagship labels—Dead Oceans, Ghostly International, Jagjaguwar, Numero Group and Secretly Canadian—the Secretly Distribution affiliated Colemine Records will showcase its impeccable collection of independent soul music. Along with titles from stalwarts like Kendra Morris and Monophonics, attendees will find new Colemine releases such as GA-20’s Crackdown, Say She She’s Prism, and The Harlem Gospel Travelers’ Look Up!.

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Graded on a Curve: Nightfly: The Life of Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen by Peter Jones

Lovelorn music man Lester the Nightfly, a major player on Donald Fagen’s 1982 solo album The Nightfly, is a character with a complex identity. At first contemplation, he’s a jazz DJ on the nightshift during the golden, Camelot era of American life in the early ’60s, fielding calls from a cornucopia of after-hour nutsos while holding steady with his jazz heroes whose music he showcases across the night and out into the airwaves.

But upon further inquiry, Lester is made of deeper more profound soul-stuff. He wishes he “had a heart like ice,” so that he wouldn’t have to feel so much, wouldn’t get attached to someone outside of himself, wouldn’t fall in love. But his heart isn’t made of ice, he isn’t invincible, and he ultimately cannot be driven solely by the cerebral prowess in his possession. Lester is a reluctant romantic.

And so is Donald Fagen, known primarily for his work alongside Walter Becker in the jazz-forward rock group Steely Dan. Part of what Fagen’s solo discography speaks to is his intense musicality and identification with traditional pop songwriting, that of Bacharach and David and Henry Mancini—writers of legend. Where Steely Dan went heavy on the cerebrally obscure lyrical content, sometimes belied by their ear-catching musical accompaniment, Fagen’s solo discography, with four studio albums thus far, has steered more toward the traditional, but of course never sacrificing the signature snark.

Donald published his own memoir Eminent Hipsters in 2013 which was a mix of personal memory and tour diary showcasing the plight of the rock legend thrust forward into the future, now older and forced to encounter the modern world in all of its misguided TV-baby misery.

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Graded on a Curve:
Oasis,
(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

Celebrating Liam Gallagher, born on this day in 1972.Ed.

I’m of two minds about Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, which many consider the crowning glory of the 1990s Britpop movement. On one hand I can’t help but bask in its bold strokes, symphonic sweep, and big, soaring anthems. On the other, there’s this nagging voice in my head that tells me it’s a stellar example of cocaine-induced grandiosity, and all sound and fury signifying nothing.

On this 1995 LP older brother/songwriter Noel Gallagher eschewed the rawer sound of the band’s debut Definitely Maybe in favor of a slew of pumped-up arena rockers, and in so doing produced the biggest–both in sonics and sales–album to emerge from the Cool Britannia movement.

Gallagher’s formula was simple; he took a cue from McDonald’s and supersized everything. The key world is swelling, and the results sound just swell, that is unless you’re of the opinion that (What’s the Story) is all steroidal bravado and no content.

And I can understand those people who have come to the latter conclusion, because Gallagher doesn’t really have much to say. The lyrics are crap; they sound like placeholders for some real lyrics Gallagher was simply too lazy to write. He goes heavy on catch phrases, cliches, and the like, and comes up with more than his fair share of howlers; “Slowly walking down the hall/Faster than a cannonball” will stand forever as one of the dumbest couplets in the history of Western Literature.

But in the end I say to hell with the slipshod lyrics and simply revel in these soaring anthems to nothing: “Wonderwall,” “Champagne Supernova,” “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” and “Some Might Say” may not mean much of anything, but rarely have a bunch of empty gestures sounded so inexplicably… sublime.

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TVD Radar: Guns N’ Roses, Use Your Illusion
I & II
box sets in stores 11/11

VIA PRESS RELEASE | UME/Geffen celebrates Guns N’ Roses’ incredible musical legacy with Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I & II, the ultimate box set for the band’s 1991 multi-platinum releases Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.

Set for release on November 11, 2022, Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I & II Super Deluxes feature a total of 97 tracks, 63 are previously unreleased. Available in multiple configurations including a Super Deluxe Seven-CD + Blu-ray, a Super Deluxe Twelve-LP + Blu-ray, Two-CD Deluxe Editions of Use Your Illusion I & II separately, standard 1CD and 2LP versions of Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II separately. In all formats, the original studio albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II have been fully remastered for the first-time ever, from high-resolution 96kHz 24-bit transfers from the original stereo 1/2-inch analog masters. All versions will be available to stream and as digital downloads, with all configurations available to pre-order and pre-save, HERE.

Guns N’ Roses’ highly anticipated third and fourth studio albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II were originally released simultaneously on September 17, 1991. With the massive success of GN’R Lies and Appetite For Destruction, the band had the daunting task of a follow up album. Not only did the band deliver, Guns N’ Roses surprised the world by releasing not one but two new, full length studio albums. Upon release, Use Your Illusion I reached No. 2 and Use Your Illusion II took the No. 1 position on the Billboard 200 chart concurrently, selling over 500k in the first two hours of release, with an estimated sales of over 685k and 770k respectively within the first week of release.

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Graded on a Curve: Under the Reefs Orchestra, Sakurajima

Following a self-titled debut in 2020, Sakurajima is the new full-length from Under the Reefs Orchestra, the Brussels-based power trio consisting of guitarist and main songwriter Clément Nourry, saxophonist Marti Melia, and drummer Jakob Warmenbol. While they emerged onto the scene with an approach that was decidedly post-rock, their latest radiates a raw toughness, deepened in no small part by Melia’s bass saxophone, that reinforces comparisons to Morphine, though the non-vocal nature of these ten tracks lends distinctiveness. The album’s out September 23 on vinyl, compact disc, and digital through Capitane Records.

Sakurajima’s opener “Heliodrome” effectively sets the scene, the group bursting forth with a sinewy groove, Warmenbol lithe but large on the cans power trio-style, Nourry exuding a hint of spacy surf in his slide work, and Melia’s tone so low and serrated that it more than slightly resembles an amplified cello or bass fiddle (his solo in the track is a highlight)

The sharp execution carries over into “Ants,” though the cut’s strong point isn’t really the playing (either singly or collectively) but the writing, which structurally harkens back to the era of classic instrumentals (without going overboard about it) and provides a good home for Nourry’s touches of twang. The title track follows, beginning with a little snaky spy-flick saxophone as a prelude to a particularly wicked psychedelic guitar outburst, with the sax and drums locking down a pattern and then riding it with gusto underneath.

“Galapagos” is comparatively laid back as it unwinds, but still grooving, as the cut strengthens those Morphine vibes a bit. But don’t misapprehend that the music has descended into mellowness, as there’s always a modicum of intensity in Under the Reef Orchestra’s attack, and subtly ratcheted up in the back end of “Galapagos” to appealing effect.

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