Blues from Elsewhere
Koby Israelite is equal parts Jimmy Page, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and John Zorn—except he plays the accordion, not guitar or saxophone. I’m not exaggerating; the title track of the aptly named Blues from Elsewhere sounds like Sephardic honky-tonk; Israelite squeezes notes atop crunching power chords in “Accordion is the New Guitar,” and he covers Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” with jump jive/power rock instrumentation and Annique’s keening vocals. “Johnny Has No Cash No More” is where Texas two-step meets barrelhouse accordion; “Crayfish Hora” sounds like gumbo-crazed Jews belly-dancing down Bourbon Street; “Just Clichés” could be a soundtrack for an experimental cartoon made in the 1930s; “Kashmir” has the trippy dreaminess of a lost Yes composition; and “East of Nashville” is really east—like Tel Aviv. My first thought was that only Sharon Shannon pushes the accordion to such innovative extremes. My second was that she’s a piker by comparison.
Problem with Dragons
There’s something about heavy music that really clicks when it’s doing what it’s supposed to. The guitars are riffy, fuzzy and played like actual battleaxes with actual blades on them; the vocals are almost Gregorian in their chant-like drones, the bass is sludgy and deliberate, and the drums are solid, simple and hit hard as fuck. PWD delivers on all these requisites in a respectable grunge/metal way, and even adds occasional weird space sounds or incidental noise. The lyrics—when you can hear them—range from disturbing World of Warcraft-flavored scenes of destruction to chilling Orwellian propaganda, which is perfect accompaniment for the somewhat mindless but incredibly resolute bashing and chugging that accompanies them. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the closing track, “Toast,” which revels descriptively in some sort of planetary destruction. High on the playlist of Gozer the Gozerian.
The Original Cowards
The Original Cowards in “Cowboy Killers”
(Dead City Music)
The newest album from The Original Cowards delivers the classic bluesy folk-rock that the local Northampton band has offered since its debut in 2009. In “Cowboy Killers” features the vocals of singer/songwriter John Crand on guitar, Chris Wilkey or Riley Godleski on drums, Marlon Adams on bass, and a smattering of other musician friends. With their newest work, The Original Cowards offer a cohesive and catchy set of track. Songs like “33” echo the laid-back sentiments of early ’90s garage bands, while lyrics like “when you’re lying in the gutter but you’re looking at the stars” reflect a bent for classic rock ’n’ roll. Drugs, love, and cosmic revelations are prominent themes for John Crand. This is a multifaceted band that, although sometimes formulaic in song structures, offers solid rhythms and refrains that will garner many a listen.