When actor Keanu Reeves performed his music down under, he hired one of Australia’s leading visionaries, Isaiah B Brunt, to whip his music into shape. When American Idol’s Randy Jackson took a touring band there, he also tapped Brunt…as did Julio Iglesias. When Brunt went to work on his own self-released CD, though, he left his home continent to record A Moment In Time in New Orleans with bassist George Porter, Jr. of The Meters and sax man Jeffrey Watkins (James Brown’s former Musical Director). Plus, this time Brunt’s got brass, a whole parade’s worth of big brass that punctuate his songs with funky staccato surprise and syncopation. Brunt’s voice has already been compared to that of Delbert McClinton. His guitar work has been compared to Lonnie Mack. His compositions—especially “Lost Jacket Blues,” “Travel Back In Time” and “Party Late All Night”—are instant classics. Add drums, piano, trumpet, trombone, flugelhorn, sousaphone, mellotron and clarinet and you’ve got a kitchen sink full of sound to sink right in to. Brunt makes it easy. Plus, the dude’s a fashion plate, fully cool to the nth degree. And that accent!
The blues of The Bob Lanza Blues Band on their fourth CD, Time To Let Go (Connor Ray Music), is etched in tears and, thus, that much more intense. Lanza was grieving over the deaths of his mother and brother during this recording. Rather than stop, he threw everything he had into his stinging lead guitar and howling vocals on five originals and six covers. This New Jersey boy, who grew up learning the blues at the knee of Johnny Copeland [1937-1997], whether he’s interpreting Hank Williams (“Mind Your Own Business”), Muddy Waters (“Walkin’ Through The Park”), Percy Mayfield (“Love Me Or Leave Me”), Willie Dixon (“Go No Further”) or Ronnie Earl (“Follow Your Heart”), imbues his blues with a ragged glory.
Tracy K, from the wilds of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is one of Canada’s best kept secrets. She recently self-released her fourth CD wherein she asks that musical question, What’s The Rush? An accomplished singer/songwriter/harmonica player, she’s written eight beauties and finishes by covering Randy Newman’s “Guilty” (“you know how it is with me baby/You know I just can’t stand myself/It takes a whole lot of medicine for me to pretend I’m somebody else”). When she sings that profound last sentence, there’s a sob in her voice that not only befits the 1974 iconic original but stands up to the more famous and celebrated interpretations by Bonnie Raitt and Joe Cocker.
I used to write about metal for a living. I still listen to certain bands when they come up in my annual lifetime rotation (Pantera, Testament, King’s X, Metallica, Faith No More, Living Colour and Appetite For Destruction by some band that quickly turned to shit) but, for the most part, my metal days are long behind me. That said, the new Candiria somehow made its way to my house so I spun it and damn if it didn’t blow me away! Not too many metal bands have the talent to pull off complex jazz interludes. Brooklyn’s own Candiria does. And they do. They’ve been confounding headbangers for years with their unusual tempi, all-out dissonance, psychedelia and sonic experimentation. Lead singer Carley Coma has now fashioned a concept album of sorts called While They Were Sleeping (Metal Blade Records) and when he’s not barking like a dog hardcore-style, he’s scatting. Take “Mereya,” for instance. Halfway through a punishing barrage of power chords, they switch into a discreet jazz section that is so jarring to the senses, bassist Mike MacIvor claims it induced nausea in the studio. Coma is chronicling a failed musician’s attempt to break out of his box. To that end, “The Whole World Will Burn” was written in response to events earlier this year in Ferguson, Missouri.
This is a band who survived a horrible 2002 van crash while touring upstate New York which resulted in 2004’s What Doesn’t Kill You. They’ve also survived numerous personnel changes and lawsuits. New drummer Danny Grossarth and new guitarist Julio Arias seem to be a perfect fit. Don’t be afraid of Candiria. They just might open up a whole new hardcore aesthetic to complacent musical worldviews everywhere. Or you’ll hate ‘em.