Thursday, April 10, 2014

That's Not Jazz! The Strypes, Lydia Loveless

Lydia Loveless - Somewhere Else (Bloodshot Records, 2014) Singer-songwriter Lydia Loveless is as unclassifiable as can be at the moment and its suites her music well. Aspects of country music, particularly the outlaw country of iconoclast Steve Earle are combined with a decidedly punk approach to her uptempo performances.  Combining these disparate influences and you get a musician that is a dynamo of sorts, moving from ballads to rock without skipping a beat. “Really Want to See You” recalls early Lucinda Williams with its rollicking beat and spitfire lyrics, while “Wine Lips” moves into more radio friendly territory without losing any of the music’s authenticity. Moving into softer ballad territory “Hurts So  Bad” wears it’s heartbreak on it’s sleeve, while the explicit “Head” takes the music into a fearless exploration of misogyny and objectification of women. Since Lydia Loveless is so good so young (24 years old), she must have an old soul that allows her to write songs so emotionally resonant. Fans of no BS rock ‘n’ roll and country music will be thrilled to hear her. Somewhere Else - amazon.com

The Strypes - Snapshot (Island/Def-Jam, 2014) Another group with an old soul is the Irish band The Strypes who began as teenagers, exploring the rhythm and blues roots of rock ‘n’ roll much like the musicians of the 1960’s did when artists like The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds feel under the spell of American blues music. After playing clubs in Ireland their music began to snowball and they started to develop influential patrons like Elton John, whose management company signed and helped them acquire a deal with Mercury Records (in Europe). The resulting album is enthusiastic if a bit overproduced. Their rough edges are sanded off, but the music still works fairly well. Their single “Blue Collar Jane” and the rest of their originals are a bit generic, but they are played with passion, sounding like a modernized version of Van Morrison’s first band, Them. Their covers reflect their interest in blues, taking cracks at Bo Diddley’s "You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover" along with the blues standard “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.” Their most successful cover however, may be Nick Lowe’s pre-punk rocker “Heart of the City” which barrels forward relentlessly. Despite being a little wet behind the ears, this was a really solid debut album. To hear young men playing blues based rock ‘n’ roll is a treat, and their future is seemingly limitless as they look to further develop their own personal sound. Snapshot - amazon.com