When examining the profundities of the arts – and specifically, those statements of universal transcendence stemming from the music that has enhanced our lives for all these years – there is one statement that, for us, carries as much truth, as much weight, as much direct definition of the undefinable, universal, shared nature of our consciousness as any other.
“There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.”
Truer words have never been spoken and – with apologies to Mr. Eddie Cochran – more moving sounds have never been amplified. The summer, for us, is the domain of bands like Blue Cheer, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and similar bands – even a few that don’t have a color in their name. Our brain – no high-functioning device even within optimal temperature range – reacts to the stifling, sadistic sun with an unquenchable desire for drums, distortion and vocals that say, “C’mon, baby – don’t fear the shrieker.” Luckily for us, there is no shortage of bands born to sate said desire.
Take Blues Pills and call me in the morning. We’ve been hooked on repeated, recommended doses of their international air-raid siren sound since being introduced via the wizardry of Beyond Beyond is Beyond some months ago. Yet contrary to the frigid facts of their formation – half from Sweden, half from Iowa, all no strangers to the lands of the ice and the snow – the summer provides the perfect prescription for overdosing on these overdriven pills.
“Bliss” is the name of the song that serves as the title track of the band’s unfuckwithable four song EP, and “Bliss” is precisely what the song – and Blues Pills in general – delivers. Blues Pills’ sound is one that seems to have been born fully formed, warmed in the womb of brain-melting riffs and spectacular shriek. Easily one of our favorite releases this year, we’ve no problem admitting our pill-popping Blues Pills addiction and look forward to the sounds that stem from scoring a refill.
Summer shines brightly on Dirty Streets as well, another out-of-nowhere blast of instantly infectious rock and/or roll music that has been infected our ears. We’re tempted to say that we fell in love with Dirty Streets the moment we heard they were from Memphis and that they love The MC5. This, of course, would be untrue. We fell in love with Dirty Streets after we heard they were from Memphis, love The MC5 … and love Humble Pie.
Luckily, our love was not in vain, as exemplified by the band’s easy-to-love debut LP, “Movements.” To begin at the beginning, even the cover of the album captures visually our need for a summer soundtrack that is buried up to its neck in waves of sound, walls of drums, and wailing songs of dirt and desperation. Dirty Streets do all of this and more, letting loose a straight-no-chaser, Tennessee-whiskey shot of rock music, as confident as you’ll hear all year.
But in between the rock and roll party that is “Movements,” there emerges the sense that when the party is over, Dirty Streets are still there, sweating it out and working hard on the next unforgettable hook, the stinky, sticky kind that gets deep, deep in your brain and doesn’t let go easily. These hooks are absolutely all over “Movements,” littering the Dirty Streets and giving their gutter of guitars the fit and feel of angel wings. With these “Movements,” we all get lifted.
Somewhere further up in the atmosphere, where the skies actually are cloudy and grey, you’ll find Overcasters, rolling about with all the subtlety of a thundercloud. As befits their name, Overcasters vie for a vibe we would describe as somewhat less than sunny; they describe their sound as “Post-Space Blues-Noise Pop,” their influences ranging from The Black Angels (who?) to our shared, surely underrated heros of Catherine Wheel. It makes sense, then, that the result is a sound that’s black metallic, shined to a scorching sheen, dangerous and altogether undeniable.
“Storm of Crows” is the opening incantation on the band’s collection of “Curses/Prayers,” and in these hellish temperatures, the perfect summoning for the reign of something other than the Sun. It’s strange that we find the dark disposition demonstrated by these Overcasters to be so damned smile-inducing, but what can we say? We may be crazy from the heat – we’ve often been accused of worse – and we’re certainly still searching for the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night-sky.
” … When I watch a performer, I don’t know what image he or she is perceiving. But, the fascinating thing is, as long as I perceive that person perceiving, I will fill in my own image. My imagination will take hold of my perceiving that person perceive and do it’s own thing, seeing around to the hidden side of that performer’s psyche. My own psyche meets that person’s psyche and fills in the image. We create a communion of images, which need not be identical. That’s the fun part – I fill in my own images and make the experience personal (which takes me back to anima, the archetype of personal, felt experience. Anima itself is paradox because it is the general, universal archetype of personal, individual felt experience.” – Jared Dorotiak, “Images Are Everything,” (via SoulSpelunker)