CREEDENCE BLACK FLAG REVIVAL: Six Star General.
Warren-based trio Six Star General return to action with Spaceship to Planet Cookie (out this week on 75 or Less records), their fifth release since forming back in early 2004. Spaceship stays the course and follows the SSG blueprint of succinct and sludgy rock previously found on last year's Already On One and the 2006 releases Ice Machine and their self-titled debut. Planet Cookie is fuzzy and unrefined, and these guys wouldn't have it otherwise, with guitarist Kyle Jackson utilizing plenty of wah-wah and once again wearing out his Crybaby pedal throughout the 13-track, 28-minute disc. Jackson and bassist Mark MacDougall share the same shredded larynx that recalls Eric Bachmann's early days with Archers of Loaf, and drummer Jason Almeida ably complements the ruckus, underlining the tight-knit bond between the three childhood friends. "Jay and I met in the fifth grade and Mark grew up around the corner from me," Jackson told me earlier this week while chatting up their CD release show at Jake's this weekend.
I asked Jackson and MacDougall about the recording process five albums later. "Our goal for each album is to make sure we're well-rehearsed and knock them out in a few takes," Jackson said. "We start with a basic bassline and build off of it."
"Everyone contributes their own ideas and once it all seems to click, we add some words and move on," MacDougall noted. "Most songs we leave under two minutes in length, other times we take two shorter ones and combine them. We've recorded all our records live in the studio, and only overdub the vocals. It gives the record a raw sound that we like."
The band clearly has an affinity for SST-era bands like the Minutemen and Dinosaur Jr, apparent on songs such as "Something Ripped" and "Fixin' the Fan with Bo." Eleven of the 13 tracks clock in at under three minutes, and SSG boasts having never played the same set twice.
"For a band like us that doesn't really tour because of family and job obligations, playing out locally two or three times per month can get routine," Jackson said, "so we're always working on new material and change up our live sets as much as possible. There is an obvious shortage of official venues, but no shortage of good bands to play with in Providence, and even though each band has their own style, we all understand playing music is not really going to pay the bills. If you have that in common, you tend to see eye to eye on many other things."
Six Star General will be recording some live gigs in anticipation of a new release, as well as an EP of new material by summer 2009. And they may be pulling out a few of the covers found on their 2007 B-side/outtakes release, Sick Stars Sister Cyst, including retooled tracks from CCR to Butthole Surfers to Jonathan Richman.
"We'll be playing most of the new record with only two breaks," MacDougall said, "loud, fast and perfect for people who love rock and roll but have short attention spans.
"If you like Creedence and Black Flag equally, you will leave happy."
SIX STAR GENERAL + COMA COMA + THE PROPELLERS | SUICIDE BILL | Jake's Bar & Grille, 373 Richmond Street, Providence | December 26 @ 7 pm | 21+ | $5
THE BEST LOCAL DISCS OF '08
ZOX | LINE IN THE SAND | SIDEONEDUMMY
All is quiet at Zox headquarters while bassist Dan Edinburg and violinist Spencer Swain focus on the instrumental prog-rock mayhem of Cowgirl, which sounds like the polar opposite of anything found Line In the Sand, released to national acclaim way back in January. The disc finds the foursome at their well-honed finest with plenty of catchy, uptempo numbers to accompany the acoustic hit single "Goodnight." Tracks such as "Another Attack," "When the Rain Comes Down Again," "I Miss You," and the title track are bouncy indie-pop gems just like their 2005 breakthrough smash "Can't Look Down." Swain reports the band is only on hiatus and not breaking up after a busy summer touring extensively behind the album. Pick up Line In the Sand everywhere, including iTunes and sideonedummy.com.
THE LOW ANTHEM | OH MY GOD, CHARLIE DARWIN | SELF-RELEASED
The accolades continue to pile up for the trio of Ben Knox-Miller, Jocie Adams, and Jeff Prystowsky, who have hit their stride with their third full-length, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin. The disc encapsulates earthy folk vibes and sparse ballads, from serene album openers "Charlie Darwin" and "Ohio" to the rugged toe-tappers "Champion Angel" and a feisty rendition of Tom Waits's "Home I'll Never Be." But it's a solemn and plaintive love song like "(Don't) Tremble" that allows vocalist Knox-Miller to shine through a whisper. Charlie Darwin was released in September and received serious exposure through NPR's World Cafû, along with five CMJ shows in New York and a recent Best New Act award at the '08 Boston Music Awards. Pick it up at lowanthem.com.