Gone, daddy, gone
Lo-Fi Lorraine & Her Bag of Tricks
I never really understood rockabilly's inability to stay good and dead. One slap-bass, hillbilly-rock rave-up way too often sounds like the next, something even Carl Perkins figured out around the time he discovered he was a revolutionary one-hit wonder. Not that the music's a dead-end--ask Ronnie Dawson, who dipped his rockabilly in blues around, like, 1956; or Jim "Reverend Horton Heat" Heath, who doused his in lounge and metal before Interscope cut him loose. But so many times, its young practitioners go nowhere faster than a dog in a cage; though I sometimes listen to Cowhide Cole's rockabilly show on KNON-FM, I've always suspected he's just playing one really looooooong single with occasional pauses for the causes.
But still the acolytes pour out of the local woodwork, sporting pomps and leather and convinced theirs is the Great Lost Cause. Slick 57 are the latest in the long line of young-man true believers who wallow in the history's garbage bin--the "production" is so awful, this record sounds as if it was recorded in a coffin--and perform the music as though it were fresh exotica instead of yesterday's leftovers, which has to count for something (dunnit?). Like the young punks who think it's still 1978 London, these four boys play it straight, sincere, and scrupulous, offering nothing much new because, damn it, that's just the point; they don't title one of their songs "Oldies" because they just stumbled across it. But just because you're doing homage doesn't mean you have to mimic the corpse: Guitarist-singer John Pedigo manages to sound like Buddy Holly, Elvis, Gene Vincent, Roy Orbison--this list could go on forever--if they were all in the body of one guy who couldn't sing on key with a gun to his head. Yelping the last syllable of every third line doesn't make you "authentic," just annoying. The rest of the band's competent enough--that is, if they're trying to sound that friggin' sloppy. Wake up and smell the late '50s, fellers. It's not too late.
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The Spirit of Christmas
Something about this local pianist's Christmas record too often recalls the soundtrack music to a Hallmark Hall of Fame weeper starring Jessica Tandy and that other Culkin kid; think a dying old woman, her grandson's Christmas wish, and a stepdad Santa Claus scientist with a cure. Is this the sound tears make when they hit piano keys? Maybe that's too harsh, especially around the holidays--surely Bucklin (the music director at Sipango) had nothing but good intentions when he sat down this summer to render 13 Christmas standards (among them "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "O Holy Night") for a new age. Then again, Windham Hill already has a dozen records like this in the discount racks, and the road to the North Pole is paved with good intentions.