HITTING THEIR STRIDE: Lucky 57.
Spinning the local music CD lazy susan has turned up some pretty cool surprises. One of them, a band I’ve unduly neglected in this column is New Bedford’s elder statesrockers BAYLIES BAND. They’ve been together since the early ’90s, longer than virtually every rock band in the area, outlasting a subset that likely numbers in the thousands. That they’re together at all is a testament to the powerful sense of brotherhood being in a band involves. Together, they’ve weathered the gamut of obstacles confronting human nature, from cancer and drinking to marriage and madness. Their most recent album, Risibility and Discourse, combines the band’s wide-swinging polarities. In an accompanying note, Eric Baylies wrote of his band, “Being sort of under the radar has been both a burden and a blessing for us, allowing us to find our own voice after deciding who we wanted to sound like . . . Can or King Crimson vs. Melvins, and finally sounding like ourselves, for better or worse, commerce be damned.”
Risibility and Discourse is a lot like Baylies describes, equal parts Can and Melvins, many parts eccentric iconoclasts. The record starts up with the 16-minute “Magnum Opus,” a tune that displays its yin and yang, then lurches into the minute-plus proto-emo rocker “Let’s Get Stabbed,” a scorcher that enjoys five similar-length reprisals throughout the record. The band’s progressive voyage feels both whimsical and courageous, as it journeys across ragged rock terrain without regard for modern or delicate sensibilities. Whether it’s under the radar or not, it still deserves the attention of area rock nuts.
Roots rockers LUCKY 57, the former hosts of the worthwhile “Your Roots Are Showing” series, just put their best record out. It’s titled Seven Mile River and it’s on the Looseground label. Produced by singer Kip McCloud and recorded by the band’s lap steel wiz Sue Metro, it features lots of other great musicians located somewhere along the Providence/Boston axis, including Dave Minehan who mixed the disc, drum icon Malcolm Travis, Pete Weiss, and Thalia Zedek, who sings on the closing piano ballad “These Days.” It’s the band’s most widest-ranging work by a country mile. Just ask the Boston music community, who named them the city’s Best Americana Act.
Another disc that deserves notice is FRED KENDALL ABONG’s newish Moonman on local imprint 75 Or Less. It’s a compilation of tracks from the last few years, most of which were recorded in Newport with Scott Rancourt, and the others created in a variety of settings and under diverse circumstances. Three tunes, including “The Bomb” and “One the Beach,” were recorded with Rancourt and the Masons’ Kraig Jordan. They hail from an unreleased Abong album titled Song of the Yeoman. I’m not quite sure why the album never came out, but the songs sound great, with Abong sounding like a local version of Paul Westerberg. Check out the 75 or Less website for more information.
And speaking of compilations, a couple of reissues of local interest are back on the shelves — if anybody buys records off “the shelves” anymore. 75 Or Less has put out the Lame Drivers’ Captain Amazing EP with bonus tracks. The original was recorded a few years back and only released in limited quantities on homemade CD-Rs. Now you can get the whole beautiful thing in all its fuzzed out, melodic glory. It recalls the sound of classic indie rock: GBV, the Replacements, and lesser-knowns like Cleveland icons Prison Shake or Death of Samantha.
Back in 1995, DUKE ROBILLARD released Duke’s Blues on the Virgin/Point Blank label. But of course, as they all do eventually, that entity went belly up and the disc, one of Duke’s most visible, lauded, and best-selling (moving 50,000 copies), disappeared from print. But he finally got his meathooks back on it and has reissued it on his own Stony Plain label. Best of all for Duke fans, it is as advertised: pure, uncut, straight-ahead blues.