Sunday, October 17, 2010

Grand Halls 49

DIAMOND REO – “Dirty Diamonds” (Kama Sutra, 1976) – I remember when I moved into the house I’m currently living in. I mean, ok, we’re talking awhile back…like maybe 19 years and 2 wives ago. But that part of it’s my cross to bear, not your’s so I’ll stick with the basics here. I moved into this shell of a 1920’s home on my parents’ street after a stroke of luck (or maybe just a stroke) took the original owner, a delightfully eccentric old codger named Mr. Gus. Sheezus, bro, there was a lot of work to be done and I made a helluva lot of trips to the old hardware store (conveniently called “The Hardware Store”) on Philadelphia Road. The one time in particular my loot included a heavy-ass strain of paint remover. Funny thing is, had I thought a little bit I could’ve probably saved myself a couple bucks and just pulled this, the 2nd of 3 albums by Pittsburgh hard rock band DIAMOND REO off the shelf. Reason is, I doubt there’s anything made by man or beast that could strip the shellac like the unholy racket created by this fearsome foursome over the 30-some minutes etched into the vinyl of “Dirty Diamonds.” Truly, Frank Czuri, Warren King, Norm Nardini and Rob Franks were not going to confuse themselves in anybody’s mind with Rush or anything like that. I mean, there were no 10+ minute opuses about necromancers dwelling in the tracks of this ebon slab. No, DIAMOND REO instead went straight for the jugular with 3-4 minute sonic tree stumps, bar-room hard rock scalders with names like “Scratch My Back” and “Power.” The thing that really put these fuckers over the top, though, were the vocals of Czuri and Warren King’s guitar. The former comes at you like a steroid-ridden prize fighter, all punk attitude, nasty vox and a slathering dash of Bon Scott school boy leer, strapped together with a sense of melody that could pry back the top of a can of Iron City with one syllable. The guitar tone of King is absolutely ridiculous. It pure Gibson-through-Marshall crunch, drenched with a caustic, acetone volatility that would simply slice the flesh off a hippo. The force of this greatness is felt no better than in the opening volley, “All Over You,” truly one of the greatest, heaviest hard rock songs of all time. Truth be known, however, there isn’t a letdown anywhere throughout the course of this swaggering beast of a record. Could the same thing be said for the band’s debut, “Diamond Reo” or this sucker’s follow up, “Ruff Cuts?” Not really. I mean, they are decent heavy rock records and surely worth your attention but brothers and sisters, when that next job needs to be done & you need the industrial strength paint peeler? Look no further than “Dirty Diamonds.” Absolutely Filthy

Saturday, October 16, 2010

No Dime Store Souvenir Here, Baby!

SOUVENIR’S YOUNG AMERICA – “The Name Of The Snake” CD ’10 (Init, US) – I can picture it vividly…walking slowly through a forest, a draping canopy of leaves hanging tentatively over my head… the brisk autumn air has not yet gotten to these internal fronds and their summer green remains, only to have begun to feel the chill of the season. As that thought occupies my mind, I round a turn in the trail and I feel the shadows lift as the natural ceiling rises like the hand of a giant, fingers uncurling slowly and I stroll into the clearing. Sunlight bathes my optical reserve as the lush, layered colors of fall unfold in what seems to be both a moment and lifetime. The golden reds, yellows and browns stream into sharp relief on both sides of the gorge in front of me and I sit for a moment near the cliff’s edge, overtaken by both the majesty of the forest from which I've emerged, the magic-like transition and the spectacle now before me. All of this is the same kind of feeling I get when listening to the new record by Richmond VA’s SOUVENIR’S YOUNG AMERICA. Having been familiar (and quite inspired by) this band’s previous offering, 2007’s “An Ocean Without Water,” I was thrilled to find this little gem hiding in the “Various S’s” section of The Soundgarden in Baltimore the other night. I have to say that it was a $9 very well spent. SYA is a band composed of: Ken Rayher – guitars; Jonathan Lee – keyboards, electronics, organs, pianos; Graham Scala – guitars, electronics, acoustic guitar; Patrick DeWit – percussion; Noah Saval – harmonica. That’s pretty easy, to list the line-up and what instruments they play. What’s not so fucking easy is to explain what these cats sound like and that’s why I began this piece the way I did. This is an instrumental band that, through the 4 lengthy songs on this release are not as readily described through particular guitar riffs, snappy choruses or toe-tapping rhythms. More so, as with the landscape above, the vistas of SYA’s music are much easier to describe as layers of color and shaded, draped with melodies of power, beauty and heaviness. Think Pelican or, maybe even more, Across Tundras, replete with the kind of memorability and sign-posts often reserved for much more “accessible” stuff. Each of the 4 numbers here seems interconnected to the others, and yet they still somehow stand on their own, the record finishing incredibly strong with the acoustic-laden shimmer of “Dust (Erasing The Future)” and “Amnesia (A Victor’s History).” This is simply a fantastic and highly-original piece of work, harkening the listener to push “repeat” a shit-load of times without any threat of boredom. It is at once heavy, beautiful and overpowering. The inclusion of 3 additional numbers from the “September Songs” EP is only icing on the proverbial cake! Snakes Alive!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hang In There!

Been beset with computer problems which may keep The Realm from being updated for a week or so, but we should be back up and running asap. Keep watching this spot!