Holy WaveFreaks of Nurture(Reverberation Appreciation Society)
This is boring, '80s-tinged pop-rock somewhere between shoegaze and the paisley underground sound—but with the worst part of the '80s overdone, especially the reverberated production. Does Holy Wave sound more like The Chesterfields or do they sound like Simple Minds? It's a hard call and further listening isn't going to yield any meaningful decisions on what family of music Holy Wave belongs to. Simply put, Freaks of Nurture feels too safe and—with the exception of “Sir Isaac Nukem,” a groovy standout—this collection of songs doesn't ever get to rockin'. If not for the utter lack of any risk-taking, you might think Freaks of Nurture is too contrived to succeed but even contrivance can be a risk. So many releases these days have songwriting, sound and production inspired by the popular music of the '80s, which is just misguided. Someone really ought to address this '80s influence that pervades and largely dumbs down so much of contemporary music.
Holy Wave: “California Took My Bobby Away”
Arthur Vint & AssociatesThrough the Badlands(Ropeadope)
Two notable things about Tucson-born drummer Arthur Vint: He is reportedly an in-demand session drummer in NYC where he has lived for eight years; Vint's “day job” is tending bar at The Village Vanguard jazz club. Oh, he also has a really nice mustache. Through The Badlands is Vint's first release as a band leader and the top-tier, full sound of his debut album betrays the hours the man has evidently spent in recording studios playing on other musicians' projects. There is a distinctly cinematic vibe in a lot of these songs, more specifically a Spaghetti Western feel, particularly on “Radford” and the title track. While songs like “LKP” and “Maski” are in the style of early Coltrane, the majority of the compositions on Through The Badlands have roots in '70s jazz-rock like Return To Forever and, as noted by the ever-astute August March, Weather Report. Low-desert jazz with NYC cool.
Hit BargainHit Bargain(Self-Released)
Exciting rock and roll with a singer who sounds something like Johnette Napolitano's earlier incarnations and a band that would fit into the early LA punk scene as well as the subsequent hardcore scene. Though the band seems driven by performance artist/singer Nora Singh, Hit Bargain has notable musicians Mike Barron, Cordey Lopez and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart's Anton Hochheim as its backbone. From their sound to their rewrite of Die Hard in “The Circuits That Cannot Be Cut” to their Facebook page's Bruce Willis demagoguery, Hit Bargain has LA written all over it. I should mention that Hit Bargain plays “Queencore.” Let me know what you make of that. Hands down the best thing to come into this reviewer's hands in months, Hit Bargain promises to follow this EP up with a full-length release sometime later this year.