Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v07n15)
Rick On The Records - by Rick Zeigler
posted: Jul. 23, 2010
ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO-STREET SONGS OF LOVE
Alejandro Escovedo has had a remarkable, and remarkably varied, career. He started off in the mid-70's by being a founding member and guitarist for The Nuns, one of L.A.'s (and America's) first punk bands. He then went on to become a roots-rock trailblazer in Rank and File, one of the 80's great unsung groups. Next up were the True Believers, another unsung roots-rock band based out of Texas (where Escovedo resides to this day). Since 1992, he has pursued a solo career, with Street Songs Of Love being his 10th such effort. As time has gone on, Escovedo's talents have been praised by an increasing number of fans, including Bruce Springsteen and Ian Hunter (formerly of Mott The Hoople), both of whom guest here. And while many of his solo efforts have had a rather DIY feel and sound, this is certainly not true of Street Songs Of Love, which was helmed by Tony Visconti (producer of T. Rex and David Bowie, among literally hundreds of others) and mastered by Bob Clearmountain (whose resume is even longer than Visconti's). The result is a sound far bigger than on any of his previous work. All of this background wouldn't mean much, however, if the "street songs" presented here were mere career placeholders. Fortunately for listeners, this is far from the case, as Street Songs Of Love contains some of the finest compositions of Escovedo's career (with Chuck Prophet being a co-writer on most of the tunes). Supported by his band, the Sensitive Boys, Escovedo rips through a dozen songs showcasing the variety of his talents. Opener "Anchor" features a strong alt-country.rock guitar attack, while "Silver Cloud" follows with a speedy tempo, country twang, and gospelly female backing vocals. "This Bed Is Getting Crowded" is highlighted by a sturdy, rumbling bass line, while the title song is a dark rocker with a shouted chorus. The album is not completely full of hard-chargers, as "Down In The Country" and "Fall Apart With You" both take slow tempos and a softer approach. " Tender Heart" is filled with hooks Tom Petty would die for, while "Undesired" is both stately and "stadium-ready". Indeed, with the exception of instrumental closer "Fort Worth Blue," almost all of the songs on Street Songs Of Love sound ready for audience "sing-alongs".
MORELAND & ARBUCKLE-FLOOD
After three self-produced albums, Flood finally finds the country-blues duo of Moreland & Arbuckle with a nationally distributed work. And a fine piece of work it is. Less rock-oriented than fellow contemporaries like The Black Keys, Moreland & Arbuckle harken back to blues artists such as Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and Sonny Boy Williamson, all of whom combined traditional country sounds with a straight blues approach. Harpist/vocalist Dustin Arbuckle also owes an obvious debt to Paul Butterfield, but the music he generates with guitarist Aaron Moreland (along with drummer Brad Homer) sounds fresh and spontaneous rather than studied and codified. Moreland's guitar stylings also provide a unique edge to the group, as he largely employs a handcrafted four-string "cigar-box" guitar, with the bottom string feeding into a bass amp and the other three going into a guitar amp. The result is an electrifying sound that is both gritty and melodic at the same time. Whether playing a superb version of the traditional ballad "John Henry," the avant blues of "Before The Flood," an uptempo stomper such as "Don't Wake Me," or engaging in a slow jam such as "Can't Get Clear," Moreland and Arbuckle put blood and fire into each tune and approach they take. While many may opine about the dearth of good new blues, Moreland & Arbuckle show that such opinions are very premature. Along with Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, The Mannish Boys, and a few others, the blues still seem to be in good hands.
Rick Zeigler, along with his wife, Jeanne, owns Indy CD and Vinyl at 806 Broad Ripple Avenue. Back in his musician days, his band opened for the likes of U2, XTC, Gang Of Four, The Pretenders, Los Lobos, and, um, Flock Of Seagulls, among others. You can read all of Rick's reviews at www.indycdandvinyl.com. Email your music questions and comments to rick@BroadRippleGazette.com