This month we take a look back at the recent Sonics / Mrs. Magician gig and of course, include a few reviews.
The Sonics — Live / The Irenic
A sold out house of just over 400 people greeted legendary Tacoma garage rockers the Sonics at the !renic on August 16.
Featuring three original members, Gerry Roslie (organ), Rob Lind (saxophone), Larry Parypa (guitar) plus new comers Dusty Watson (bass) and Freddie Dennis (drums), the band blazed through a 16 song main set and three song encore. Now in their seventies, the Sonics gave a high energy, quick paced performance that would put many younger groups to shame.
While the Sonics never scored any hits in their original 1960’s incarnation, their tunes have become standards in the ensuing decades.
The Irenic was a sauna, but the band had the cheering audience in the palm of their hands from the moment they walked on stage to open with their classic, “Cinderella.” While the set list contained all their best known songs, including the closing powerhouse of “Strychnine” and “The Witch,” as well as choice cover tunes, such as “Money” and “Louie Louie,” this was no mere look back. Also included were excellent new tunes from a forthcoming album, with “I Got Your Number (666)” amongst the highlights.
The band seemed thrilled at the crowd response, with Lind holding out the microphone for an audience sing along during the encore and the band promising to return to San Diego as soon as possible. On the strength of this show any fan of rock ‘n’ roll should make attendance at a Sonics concert a priority.
Opener Mrs. Magician, recently reunited after a six month break up, proved to be a good choice. They performed a very well received set, topped by their closing tune, “There Is No God.” Unusually for a local band, the crowd also sang along to their songs, a clear indication of how much they were missed during their brief hiatus. Welcome back Mrs. Magician.
Sometimes Julie — Head First
14 songs from singer-songwriter duo Monica Sorenson and Rick Walker, aka Sometimes Julie, with backing from the likes of percussionist Enrique Platas (Skelpin). The album sounds great, with a real mix of textures and moods to the material, from ballads to bluesy rockers. Not sure what order these tunes were recorded in, but the best tracks are in the second half. A couple of the songs are standouts: “What A Rush” in particular is a nice groove and piano backed mid tempo ballad, with a dreamy soulful quality to it and a nice change into Carole King territory at 1:30 and a nice song hook that includes a return to a piano riff at 2:00 that brings the whole thing together. Meanwhile, moody rocker “Carefully” is also pretty good with a loping rhythm, great counter melody backing vocals (the slight lift of the note at :59 for example) topped by a nifty piano solo from Charlie Recksieck (The Bigfellas). My favorite song here is probably the closing “Broad Brushed Skies,” it’s Latin rhythms and reverbed guitar not far from latter day 10,000 Maniacs tracks. Not everything here is as strong, but based on these songs and a couple of others, I’m looking forward to hearing more from this duo (and friends).
Produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Andy Machin at Bigrock Studios. www.sometimesjulie.com
Marshmallow Overcoat — The Very Best of (Garage Nation)
Whats not to like? 28 tracks, two LP vinyl set with full color gatefold sleeve — and each disc is a different color vinyl — you get blue and red! The album is called, the Very Best Of, which it in fact, is. But it could just as well be called the Anthology or the Definitive, as it is both the perfect introduction to the band as well as essential for long time fans as in addition to key songs from their seven albums and it’s chock full of rarities spanning 25 years, including a version of the Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows,” (the flip of their “Suddenly Sunday,” 1988 single) and Love’s “A House Is Not A Motel” (from the 2008 album, The Light Show). There are even new tracks. Yes, you hear the band progress across the decades and while recording quality “improves” and different influences/inspirations come in, none of the bands passion for sixties garage rock has fades in the slightest. Indeed it could be said that frontman Timothy Gassen is even more fervent today about his love of classic sixties inspired tuneage and he was already one of the music’s leading proponents two decades ago. http://www.purple-cactus.tv/garage-nation/marshmallowovercoat.html
The Ugly Beats — Brand New Day (Get Hip)
12 new tunes from Austin, Texas based quintet, the Ugly Beats. Formed in 2003, Brand New Day is their fourth album, and if you’re a fan of mid sixties influenced rock, then, yeah, this is essential. As usual, there is a nice variety amongst the tracks. “All of the Things” ups the jangle quotient a bit with a nice keyboard drone and harmony vocal. The album sports a pair of covers, including one sung in Spanish, a great version of “Los Gusanos” (1966), best known by Spanish rockers, Los Flecos. I really like this version, the vocals in particular. Also here is Tim Hardin’s immortal “If I Were A Carpenter” (1967), which adds a touch of country twang and bit of Johnny and June about the traded vocals between guitarist Joe Emory and keyboardist Jeanine Attaway. The slightest track here is instrumental “Beataroo,” nice enough, but easily eclipsed by the rest of the album. In any case, it’s followed by what’s probably my favorite track here, “Braced For The Fall,” which will make anyone who knows the name “Gene Clark” smile. Great 12 string work too. Indeed, a Byrds-y touch permeates the album. The whole thing ends on a high note with “Green Will Come,” which reminds me a lot of the Dave Edmunds/Nick Lowe era of Stiff Records. If you’re already a fan of the band, you know you need this, but new comers will also find Brand New Day as good a place as any to start when investigating the Ugly Beats — all three previous albums are well worth owning, this one just confirming that they are one of the best garage/ rock bands playing today.
Engineered by Bob widdenhofer, Seth Gibbs and Ryan Anderson. Mixed and mastered by M. Guerrero. www.gethip.com www.theuglybeats.com