Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Ten Pound Heads

Ten Pound Heads play purist, dark, artsy, ballsy rock with the kind of lush, gorgeously intricate arrangements you hardly ever see anymore since record labels stopped putting bands up in the studio for months on end. Layers and layers and layers of guitar, ringing, roaring, clanging, pinging, strumming: you name something a guitar can do, it’s on this cd. Sometimes psychedelic, sometimes startlingly direct, either way this is a stunningly smart, potent album. Songwise, the whole cd has an indelibly New York noir feel, both lyrically and musically – this is the great long-lost mid-70s Blue Oyster Cult album, only smarter.

 

The first cut is All Hands On Deck, a darkly growling, pounding midtempo rocker more than a little evocative of Steve Wynn’s great first band the Dream Syndicate at their mid-80s peak. There’s a long outro where finally at the end the band falls out marvelously, dropping down to just the hypnotic acoustic guitar lick that’s been propelling the whole thing. This World follows, a sad, downbeat ballad with a thoughtful blend of acoustic and electrics.

 

Johnny Box O’Doughnuts is a big garagey riff-rocker, a spot-on funny noir New York character study about a wannabe gangster. Another riff-rocker, the wah-wah driven Snake in the Grass sneers at the creeps who make up a large percentage of the drug underworld. The beautifully ominous Paint Manhattan Black motors along on a fast eight-note new wave bassline over an eerie current of organ and guitar. Sweet, brief heavy metal outro. The tensely suspenseful Back to L.A. maintains the gleefully evil vibe, getting several steps closer to completely unhinged on the pummeling Hell or High Water. Finally, we get an extended guitar solo and it hits the spot head-on.

 

With its understatedly melancholy, George Harrison-inflected chorus, One for the Record speaks for generations of good musicians who put on thousands of good shows but never quite made it (one suspects this may be true of some of the band members). After the tongue-in-cheek My Guitar Is an Alien, the cd wraps up with the brooding What You Said, hauntingly stark electric guitar over funereal drums. Behind the board, Martin Bisi does an admirably purist take on what Sandy Pearlman (fans of the Dream Syndicate – or the Clash, for that matter – will appreciate the reference) might have done in the producer’s chair. If nothing else, this album has lasting power: it will be a hit with the cognoscenti and haunt some of the best obscure corners of the internet for as many years as it’s around. Watch this space for NYC area live shows.

February 19, 2009 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. This album rocks like nothing I’ve heard since The Pretty Things did Roadrunner, but this is Roadrunner on steroids. Fabulous.

    Comment by gaz regan | February 20, 2009 | Reply


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