The Zips/Otto’s Shrunken Head/June 11, 2017
After the 1977 demise of Road Angel, a pub rock band in Glasgow, Scotland, John McNeill (later to be known as John Zip) formed a punk rock quartet called The Zips in 1978. The band caught the tail end of the original punk rock movement, playing all the local punk venues and releasing a few singles and EPs. As history would have it, MTV and the 1980s killed punk in favor of the more commercial new wave movement and with nowhere left to play, The Zips pogoed into the sunset in 1981. Time has a way of turning failure into success, and Zips tracks later appeared on compilation albums and the original singles fetched up to $427 on eBay. John Zip reformed The Zips in 2001 and in 2006 released a debut album, 27 years after the debut single. The Zips’ third and most recent album is 2015’s Down with The Zips.
Backed by a trio of local musicians (guitarist Brian Morgan of The Carvels NYC, bassist Sean Sanders and drummer Joe Dugan), John Zip led this version of The Zips through a well-rehearsed set tonight at Otto’s Shrunken Head. As in the past, it was four musicians, three chords, and two-minute buzz bombs for an impressively executed punk rock performance. The songs were constructed around pop melodies played through bombastic blasts. This was nearly 40 years later, so the set may have lacked the anger that the original band may have exhibited, but the energetic thrust and the cleverness of the songs was mighty. Put these guys on the road!
Raúl Malo/City Winery/June 12, 2017
Raúl Francisco Martínez-Malo Jr., known professionally as Raúl Malo, was born in Miami, Florida, where he spent many nights in neighborhood music rooms watching local flamenco-styled guitarists and dancers perform their dramatic zarzuelas. Malo co-formed the country rock Mavericks in 1989, becoming the band’s lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter. The Mavericks began playing both the local punk and alternative bars and the trendy rock clubs of South Beach, and evolved into a Grammy-winning, multi-platinum band. The Mavericks disbanded in the early 2000s, and Malo pursued a solo career, leaning towards Americana music, and also participated in the Los Super Seven supergroup, which took a progressive approach to traditional music from Cuba, Mexico and Texas. The Mavericks re-formed in 2012. Malo’s sixth and most recent solo album, Sinners and Saints, was released in 2010.
At the first of two shows at City Winery tonight, Raúl Malo performed solo, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar and, briefly, a piano. Nearly every song Malo sang has been performed by The Mavericks, but here these songs were given a stripped down interpretation. He seldom finger-picked his guitar strings; he mostly strummed chords. This simplicity allowed his rich baritone to ring out stronger than ever, and accented how he may be gifted with the most beautiful voice in contemporary music. Regardless of the lyrics, these intense vocals made every song, whether in English or Spanish, sound thoroughly romantic. Many songs sounded like they belonged in the Great American Songbook and others displayed a doo-wop leaning, two methods that prize both timbre and range, and Malo carried them well. Malo’s pinnacle moments may have been in his covers of “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City” (a Nilsson cover) and “Crying” (a Roy Orbison cover). Ultimately, a Mavericks show is longer, rocks harder and is more satisfying, but Malo was extraordinarily impressive as a solo artist.
Quicksilver Daydream/Mercury Lounge/June 14, 2017
Singer-songwriter Adam Lytle was born in Pontiac, Michigan, lived as a youth on a farm in Maineville, Ohio, and almost a decade ago moved to Brooklyn, New York. He led Wild Leaves through two EPS and many local performances, but with the band going on hiatus in 2016, Lytle began recording songs alone at home using an analog tape machine that he purchased from a dead man’s estate. Under the alias of Quicksilver Daydream, he will release a debut album, Echoing Halls, on June 16, 2017.
When he performs solo with an acoustic guitar at local venues like Pete’s Candy Store, Quicksilver Daydream is an intriguing although somewhat typical folk act. Performing tonight at Mercury Lounge as a band (with keyboardist Kramer Sanguinetti, bassist Brett Banks, guitarist Joey Deady, and drummer Cole Emoff), however, Quicksilver Daydream was a much more compelling outfit. Sanguinetti used a Mellotron for its electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape-replay ability, and the sound eerily recalled the earliest periods of psychedelic folk rock in mid-1960s. Over a set of nine songs, the band performed similarly soft, lilting songs with pop melodies and retro arrangements. Quicksilver Daydream even covered a song by Pearls Before Swine, which was perhaps the little-known founder of the psychedelic folk movement. The only objection to the performance was that at approximately 30 minutes, the set was too brief.
Adrenaline Mob/The Marlin Room At Webster Hall/June 17, 2017
Russell Allen was born in Long Beach, California, and was a jouster at a Medieval Times Dinner Theater before he started singing in the band Symphony X in 1995. Demo sessions for what was planned to be Allen’s solo album in 2011 turned into Adrenaline Mob, a band that has included drummers Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold) and A.J. Pero (Twisted Sister), bassist Paul Di Leo (Fozzy) and John Moyer (Disturbed), and rhythm guitarist Rich Ward (Fozzy), among others. Adrenaline Mob presently consists of Allen, guitarist Mike Orlando, bassist David “Dave Z” Zablidowsky (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Jeff Scott Soto) and drummer Jordan Cannata. Adrenaline Mob’s third album, We the People, was released on June 2, 2017.
Almost six years to the date after Adrenaline Mob debuted at the Hiro Ballroom, the band tonight headlined a few blocks away at The Marlin Room At Webster Hall. Adrenaline Mob had been mostly silent since shortly after the sudden death of drummer A.J. Pero on a 2015 tour, but the band is back, loud and wild as ever. Although the band was born decades later, here was textbook example of what late 1970s/early 1980s rock was all about: strong singing, dazzling guitar playing, hard-hitting riffs and grooves, a chest-thumping rhythm section and rock star showmanship. Most of the show was comprised of hard-edged rock and roll songs, with a few requisite power ballads for radio-tailored purposes. The set majored on heart and minored on rallying fist pumpers. These king-sized musical talents would do well to write a few more of the latter.