with Billy Lord
294 Great Island Rd
Narragansett, Rhode Island 02882
with Mecca Lily, The Strattones, and The Conversation
Deadlands – Faceless Angels
Deadlands play dangerously close to a line that would put them into the schmaltzy bar-band blues category. What saves them from that awful fate is a skill for invoking the ghost of early ZZ Top in order to bring some character to their tracks. As often as the generic “Before You Were Born” and the “Mustang Sally”-baiting “Discotex” make me want to scream, tracks like “Bottom Feeders,” “Libby Prison Blues,” and “Fink” prove that there’s much more at hand with Deadlands than Thursday-night-dive-bar status. There are glimpses of real blues-rock genius on Faceless Angels. If you queue up those stellar moments and skip past the cheese you are certain to find something to enjoy on this record.
Junior Varsity Arson – Self Titled EP
Junior Varsity Arson is the musical project of four long-time New England rock stalwarts, Guy Benoit (Thee Hydrogen Terrors), Kraig Jordan (The Masons), Dave Narcizo (Throwing Muses), and Don Sanders (Medicine Ball, The Masons). What do you get when you throw these four guys in a room together? Not exactly what you would expect. Instead of heavy art punk, you’ll find something more akin to Devo or They Might Be Giants, as spoken/ sung by an odd combination of the guy from Cake and William S. Burroughs. If you have any taste at all you will agree that this is an oddly appealing recipe. The five songs that comprise JVA’s self-titled, debut EP roll by like some strange beat poet’s LSD-induced hallucination. “Her Parents Love Me” starts off quirkily with, “Her parents love me/ I’m such a big improvement/ over the white supremacist. Her parents hated him/ He ruined every holiday,” and continues on with a strange, American gothic love story. “Brown Jacket and Purple Keds” is a song about… actually, I have no idea what this song is about. There are references to shopping at Target, a museum, a Volvo, and shit-stains on the floor. I have to admit that I lost the story line pretty quickly. And so it goes for another three tracks of stream-of-consciousness lyrics spoken and sung over kitschy keyboards, guitars, and drums. Junior Varsity Arson’s debut sounds spontaneous—like a gang of accomplished musicians getting together on a Saturday night, simply enjoying playing together, all wondering what will come out on the other side. Thankfully, what came out the other side is utterly entertaining.
Matt Fraza – Let Trouble Go
As I’m driving down Storrow Drive one fall morning, I slide Matt Fraza’s new album into my player. The opening track is mellow folk melody that puts me in mind of a quiet house concert with a cup of coffee in hand, resting on a couch and surrounded by friends. It’s familiar, relaxing, like a stroll down the quiet roads I grew up on. Much of the lyrics lack a regular format, and have a more stream of consciousness feel to them, reinforcing the casual feeling I get when listening to songs like “Forever.” At first I was a little put off by this, but on the second third runs through the album, I think I get it—Matt, Kraig Jordan (bass, lead guitar), and Tom Chace (drums, keyboards, vocals, bass) have some stories they want to share, and it’s about the telling of the tale, not making sure it fits into a certain mold.
Sick Pills – Sickening
Classic-era punk, particularly of the UK variety, presented us with a lively alternative to bloated arena rock, and the best of its purveyors, particularly the Buzzcocks and The Jam, also offered up some pretty snappy tunes to go with the attitude. This propensity carried forth into the so-called college rock of the ’80s (aka indie rock), and we find plenty of that attitude and tunefulness here, particularly on the opening track, “Wormfood.” But the same opening gambit tropes which seemed so refreshing and new a generation ago have now become cliches: telepathic guitar lines; anti-love songs; stop and start dynamics; brawly Pistols-like chaos; sludgy intros; machine-gun staccato; cinematic whangdoodle; abrasive textures; pounding clamor; grudging grindoramas; feedback-laden echoplex tunings, and so forth. No bad, all in all—just lacking in anything genuinely novel.
When I was a youngster I used to get so excited when the mailman would show up with whatever useless gadget I had ordered from the back of last month’s Star Wars comic book. The anticipation of receiving that bauble was often more fun than actually getting it (and by the way, those damn X-ray glasses never did work…). Of course today I’m a cynical old man who doesn’t get worked up over much, EXCEPT for when my mailman brings me the latest batch of fresh CDs from Motif to be reviewed. Today’s accumulation included a very unusual offering from the good folks at 75orLess Records, titled Let Trouble Go by Perryville, Rhode Island’s own Matt Fraza.
I have to admit that at first blush I didn’t know quite what to make out of this very raw and loose rock ‘n’ roll collection. Perhaps to the uninitiated, Fraza’s vocals may seem slightly pitch-challenged and somewhat monochromatic. The record’s overall production might be politely labeled unadorned or sparse. But I submit that those are the same people who didn’t appreciate Lou Reed’s vocal drone, or who could never quite get past Bob Dylan’s nasally affectation. In fact, those are the kind of people who probably never understood what rock ‘n’ roll was all about in the first place. But Matt Fraza understands the loftiness of rock and all that it entails. How could he not? He waited almost four decades to release Let Trouble Go, inexplicably his first! Clearly he’s not concerned with pop culture trends, and nicely auto-tuned, Pro-tools recorded garbage aimed at the teenie bop brigade. No, this is serious music, written and performed by a serious man who goes for raw emotion rather than neatly-packaged.
The album kicks off with a straight ahead roots rocker “Seventeen,” which sounds like an unholy marriage of The Band with Graham Parker. “Lord only know I need you by my side, Lord only know I need you by my side, so c’mon pretty baby and take me for a ride.” We’re not reinventing the wheel here, folks, it’s just good old fashioned rockin’ fun: “Too Much Love” straddles that tenuous line between Jerry Lee Lewis/’50s boogie and punk rock. If The Killer went straight into the studio with Mick & Keith after a night of binge drinking their weight in Brewmeister Snake Venom (Google it … ) they’d likely come out with something sounding pretty close to this. “I’ve got too much love, I’ve got too much love inside of me, well that must be why I wanna get with every girl I see.”
Featuring some very tasteful electric organ from Tom Chace, “Libertine” is Fraza’s ode to the adage: “If it feels good, it can’t be bad.” In that great talk-sing style of Fraza’s, the song starts with his declaring: “Whatever you want just go ahead and do it – Whatever you want just go ahead and do it – You can live off sin or take heroin, just do it.”
Setting aside the frenetic rockers, Matt Fraza lowers the tempo on the title track “Let Trouble Go” and in doing so, gives the listener a rare glimpse of the man in perhaps his most vulnerable of all the songs. While earnestly strumming a sweet sounding guitar, Fraza creates a heart-on-sleeve moment, akin to those times Keith Richards steps up to the mike to bellow out one of his soul-crunching ballads that only he could pull off with such raw sincerity. “Don’t you think that maybe father, in this life, we could all find peace?…Don’t you think that maybe father, just like a dream, we could let trouble go.”
Granted Let Trouble Go does have, as his press kits claims, “echoes of Nilsson, Lou Reed, and The Glimmer Twins…” But Matt Fraza waited a lifetime to commit to tape what clearly had been playing in his soul for quite some time. When an artist’s work is synonymous with the man, that’s a true hit. And on that score, Let Trouble Go is a smash.
Fundraiser for OMF Skatepark
North Main Street
Peace Dale, RI
75OL-190 Matt Fraza – Let Trouble Go CD
$9.99 S&H Included
$9.99 S&H Included
2. Too Much Love
4. Sunset’s In
6. Let Trouble Go
8. Tell Me
9. Hit the Wall
Let Trouble Go is the debut album by actor, surfer, and songwriter, Matt Fraza. A literate, melodic, and emotionally direct transmission from the witch-haunted wilds of Perryville, the record was captured by Kraig Jordan at Plan of a Boy, and features the production skills, voice, drums and keys of Warren’s nifty man, Tom Chace.
with Blindfire, Trespassers, Clear Skies By The Devils Hand, Headstone
201 Westminster Street
$10 adv, $12 doors – All Ages