Thursday, September 3, 2009

More Fun Than Goin' Downey Oshun, Hon!

FORETOLD – “Just The Tip” CD ’09 (Private, US) – The beat goes on. Anybody out there old enough to remember 1968? I’m sure if you are, you remember many things from that tumultuous time. The continuation of the Viet Nam War. The assassinations of Martin Luther King & Bobby Kennedy. But I’m wondering how many of you “older folks” remember a TV commercial for the Plymouth Fury automobile. It included a fairly gorgeous young woman named Cher singing a song called “The Beat Goes On.” Even if you do have a twisted enough mind to remember something like this, the next job for your obviously-over-taxed brain is to figure out why in the blue blazes Ray is bringing all this up now. The reason is simple. I have been on a serious run of picking up killer local releases out of thin air and…well….the beat goes on. Here’s the latest skinny.

Thumbing thru a Baltimore CD place, I see a disc with artwork that, at first blush reminds me of the first Audioslave disc. Then I look closer….FORETOLD – “Just The Tip”…and the sticker says “local metal.” I flip it over…not much info, just song titles. But listen people, you’ve gotta know how to let this stuff talk to you. Titles can tell you a lot. You know, if it looks metal and goes sportin’ a tune called “Eating The Decaying Flesh Of Satan’s Testes” you can pretty much bank on some death metal regurgitatin’ your way. I personally look for things that seem…what can I call it…different, odd, outside the box. The one that caught me here was “The Deer.” Hmm…that’s different. The disc was only $ 5.99 so I said why not and schlepped up to the counter. Would turn out ‘twas $ 6 and change well-spent.

FORETOLD don’t waste any time as they come crashing into “Scarlet Red” with thudding, down-tuned chords trading places with Kim Thayil-like riffing. Some Tom Morello kinda guitar lines snake their way into the business courtesy of Ed “Rattlesnake” Pindell & Andrew Dugan’s gutsy mid-range vox show he’s not kidding. “Come the fuck around,” indeed. I’ve gotta admit I was actually a bit worried about the next number based on the title. “Crab Mango” was hitting me like a little bit of a joke, but honey lemme tell ya…this is some serious shit. The verses sit nicely over a Tool-like mellow musical feel. The band is tight as hell here, with Kong Cameltoe (bass) & Ben McCracken (drums) in total lockstep. Dugan’s vocals here show a much smoother side than the first cut and the wah-wah guitar at the bridge is sweet. FORETOLD continues to impress throughout this album. Check out “Just A Step Away,” with it’s awesome Lifeson / Summers melodic guitar parts and when the band segues into the heavy sections, don’t tell me it doesn’t remind you of old-time CHAOS faves Mind Over Four. Or how about “What I Am?” Dugan delivers some mighty powerful vox, a bit reminiscent of a bit lower range Spike Xavier (M/4) and the melodies shared by both his voice and the guitar parts are going to be attached to your brain like somebody drove ‘em in with a rivet gun. Of the 10 numbers on offer, however, maybe my favourite is the final number, that strangely entitled “The Deer.” Completely acoustic, this one shows an emotion-wracked Dugan handing down a helluva vocal and backed by some strikingly-picked guitar, accelerating near the end of the song before it’s resolution.

It’s interesting to note that it took me to nearly the end of my maiden voyage thru “Just The Tip” before I realized that the album is remarkably free of guitar solos. While that may sometimes be a bone of contention for me, I was so captivated by the songs, the vocals and yes…the guitar work in general that they weren’t missed. Ed Pindell has a style that is thoughtful and lyrical and in that, he is painting with the instrument in a way that would probably make traditional solos seem superfluous. In a sense, although somewhat differently, this is similar to the great stuff done by the guitarist in Scandinavian band El Caco a few years back, as well as Tool axe slinger Adam Jones.

The bottom line is that FORETOLD has, without a whole lot of fanfare, produced a startlingly killer album here with “Just The Tip.” In doing so they’ve also kept alive this somewhat lucky (and, maybe just a tad talented…lol…RD) streak I have of uncovering some bad-assed local-type releases from several corners of the universe…and now from Maryland. (Read on below for a second!). As Cher once said (man, she was a hottie back then!) the beat goes on. Still, I liked Cuda’s better than Fury’s…but whatever. Top Of The Iceberg

NOTE: FORETOLD vocalist Andrew Dugan has also released a solo disc that, on a few samples, sounds very different albeit quite interesting. I’m waiting for my copy to arrive and a review of that shall follow, as well as, hopefully, an interview with Andrew himself.

ARBOURETUM – “Song Of The Pearl” CD ’09 (Thrill Jockey, US) – When I first cast eyes upon the cover art of this release by local Maryland band ARBOURETUM, 2 things came to mind. The first was a less chaotic version of the art that graced “Board Up The House,” the latest album by Ghengis Tron. The 2nd was the view of my very own house from the neighbors’ yard, the pointed roof rising into a cloud-swept sky. When I first cast ears upon it, however, I had a lot of different ideas swirling around and still do. To be honest, as ARBOURETUM moves through the stately “False Spring,” I hear everything from Wishbone Ash to an updated version of The 13th Floor Elevators to Neil Young’s old cronies, Crazy Horse. This 4-piece band (Corey Allender – bass; Daniel Franz – drums; David Heumann – guitar, vocals; Stever Strohmeier – guitar) have a good handle on a blend of rural-yet-heavy psych that’s never in a hurry. Sure, there are pensive moments like the spacey “Down By The Fall Line” as well as cochlea-destroying blowouts when the overdriven guitar solos take over in the aforementioned “False Spring.” Still, ARBOURETUM strolls along at a pace that makes headphone listening in the evening a revelatory experience, and Heumann’s haunting mid-range vocals enhance the proceedings nicely. Very cool stuff. The World Could Be Their Oyster


J.B. said...

Good one, Ray! I just found out about these guys through a friend.


raysrealm said...

Always diggin' local bands who are good. Makes me realize Baltimore isn't as bad as I think.