(Touch and Go)
"Great Waves," a brilliant collaboration with Chan "Cat Power" Marshall on Dirty Three's seventh album, Cinder, proves the group can ebb and flow with complementary singers. Perhaps the instrumental outfit will eventually unveil its version of a duets collection. It's an intriguing prospect, not only because the one-off experiment is so successful, but also because the rest of the record plays so well that the Melbourne-based band might be looking for fresh challenges.
On Cinder, Dirty Three's signature elements (Warren Ellis' melancholy-soaked violin, Mick Turner's fractal guitar leads, Jim White's sneaky-loud percussion) merge somewhere between freeform improvisation and linear melodic progression. Past efforts have seen the group inject so much intensity into climactic passages that they became almost unbearable, but they have learned where to draw the line between adventurous and abrasive. At times, Cinder feels like a foreboding tropical country album, on which "high lonesome" means stranded on a remote island. Other cuts, tinged with Celtic folk and hiding deep grief in their jubilant flourishes, could score an Irish wake. Only "Great Waves," with its dire lines about "humans running for cover," communicates its content through words, but the other 18 tracks are no less evocative. ANDREW MILLER
Dirty Three perform Sun Oct 9, at Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie
Lightning Bolt are perfectly named. The Rhode Island duo's music slashes and crackles into your sensorium with alarming velocity and wattage, flooding your body with sinew-snapping adrenaline. It's impossible to listen to Lightning Bolt casually—just as it's inadvisable to enter into war nonchalantly.
Like previous Lightning Bolt albums Wonderful Rainbow and Ride the Skies, Hypermagic Mountain rarely allow the pedal off the metal. In fact, the new disc may be more intense than anything they've ever done. "Captain Caveman" rides a seesawing, prog-rocky chord progression on bass that meshes with threshing drum beats as furious as the knocking of someone mistakenly sealed in a coffin. "Megaghost" starts with some Black Dice–like echoed howls before shifting into fantastically swift and complex drumming and heroic bass shredding that'll give Slayer fans raging stiffies.
Throughout this collection of intelligently designed sonic catastrophes, Lightning Bolt ratchet up the intensity as they go; just when you think it can't get more pressurized, it miraculously does. The nine-minute "Mohawkwindmill" encapsulates Mountain's hyper magic: Propelled by furious drum tattoos à la Hella's Zach Hill, the song's like French prog immortals Magma jamming with now-wave hell-raisers Flying Luttenbachers before a malfunctioning nuclear reactor. Anyone know how to clean brain matter off a computer screen? DAVE SEGAL
GREEN MILK FROM THE PLANET ORANGE
City Calls Revolution
(Beta-Lactam Ring Records)
"Prog Rock is not dead" decries the liner notes from Green Milk from the Planet Orange's new album. I don't know if I stand behind that statement or not but it seems like its half-alive corpse has been shipped off to Japan and shot up with whiskey and adrenaline. Between Ruins, DMBQ, Acid Mothers Temple, and dozens of other great Japanese bands these days it appears like the west has once again been beaten at its own game. While not in any danger of dethroning King Crimson or any of their beloved genre's other sacred cows, Green Milk from the Planet Orange is of no exception.
At its best moments, City Calls Revolution is a searing rawk brain hemorrhage, induced by its choppy Sonny Sharrock guitar wailing, no-wave squealing, and gnarled Deep Purple grooves. It's a tenuous balance at best, though, and the band's abrupt turns can quickly devolve into what sounds like a sociopathic jam band peaking on some Mexican bathtub meth. After the aural beating you've just received, the album's laid-back closer "A Day in the Life of Planet Orange" (clocking in at nearly 40 minutes!) comes off as an extended melodic peace offering. Maybe life isn't so hectic after all? I don't believe it for a second. JOSH BLANCHARD
Green Milk From the Planet Orange perform Tues Oct 11, at Berbati's Pan, 10 SW 3rd
Superlungs is a great way to describe Terry Reid's vocal prowess, even if the titular song on this collection ("Superlungs My Supergirl") is actually a cover of a Donovan original. As the rock 'n' roll lore goes, guitarist/singer/songwriter Reid was offered the job of lead singer in two different bands, but passed up both opportunities owing, essentially, to a messed-up contractual situation. Which would be no big deal had the groups not been the New Yardbirds (which would become Led Zeppelin) and Deep Purple.
It's impossible not to compare Reid's voice with Robert Plant's, for they are certainly similar. But Reid refrains from the sort of wailing-diva vocal runs that Plant thrives on and stays on the subtler side of the equation. His songs blossom from a sparer sort of instrumentation (mainly elegant interactions of guitar, organ, and drums). Actually, all of Superlungs sounds kind of like Zep without the histrionics or quite as much self-confidence—had Plant covered his smoldering "Stay with Me Baby," the girl would certainly be frightened off.
Reid was also a bit of a dandy back in the day—at least if we're to believe his incredibly upbeat persona in "Sweater," which conjures images of the singer skipping while singing. He just doesn't seem the type with the stomach for the Page 'n' Plant "rock out with your cock out" hedonism Led Zep had at its peak. But, then again, Plant never played guitar and Page isn't much of a singer. Nope, Terry Reid's not a rock star, but he is an incredible rock artist. TAMARA PALMER