Jerry Joseph is an old-school rock iconoclast, the type for whom opinionated is a politely remote descriptor, but then fades away into a hail of guitar and the spiked delivery of a particularly on-point lyric. And when he’s on—and with his trio, the Jackmormons, there’s no fear of off—he’s a ferocious live show, like Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty fronting Crazy Horse, and with a world-weary purview that’s emotional, heavy and leaves just enough room for slivers of optimism. Joseph is above all prolific. He has more than 30 albums to his name and some 250 potent original songs, which will form the bulk of what’s sure to be a barn burner of a set at Rough Trade NYC tomorrow night. This time around, he and his Jackmormons (above, performing “Savage Garden”)—Steven James Wright on bass and Steve Drizos on drums—come slinging Weird Blood (stream it below), Joseph’s third album in as many years with Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools as a shrewd producer. Joseph is the first to admit the Weird Blood songs evoke a time of year and a state of mind. “I rented a tiny house about a mile from my home so I could write but be home for dinner and kid bedtime,” he writes in the album’s accompanying notes. “I ended up writing a fistful of songs. It was cold early January but a perfect place to write. Weird stuff was happening in general, one of those weeks where I had my copy of Black Star and David Bowie died. I tend to do the mad scribble thing when I write.” Indeed, Weird Blood runs the Josephian gamut: “Sweet Baba Jay” and its spooked folk rock, “3-7-77,” which feels like it’s trying to escape from its own untidy blues-rock framework, “Wild Wild West,” a tune of his that’s been around for more than two decades and really unfolds live, and “Think On These Things,” a common Joseph show opener but tender enough an anthemic rock song that it’s willing to let in just enough light to be called uplifting. You’ll get a range of styles, plus snatches of songs from one or more of Joseph’s constellation of influences, from Leonard Cohen to Bob Marley. But most of all you’ll get Joseph, who’s earned the right to be called an original, and if you’re in the right frame of mind, could front the best band in the world on any given night. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson
Tag Archives: Crazy Horse
Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons – Mercury Lounge – April 30, 2017
Jerry Joseph isn’t one to sugarcoat: As longtime friend Widespread Panic bassist (and sometime bandmate) Dave Schools has put it, his music can be “an absolute emotional slaughterhouse.” Which is not to call it dour—a Jerry Joseph show is a master class in old school, highly emotional rock and roll energy—just that when you experience it you’re often in for a scorched-earth kind of evening, no-holds-barred, no-punches-pulled, no-edges-filed-down, no phony sanctimony. He’s an iconoclast, for sure, and the less he seems to care about how some take to his abrasive sentiments, the more his music deepens and becomes more soulful. It can sound ferocious and cynical, tender and fragile, world-wise and world-weary. And he’s crazy prolific. Each time Joseph returns to New York City he’s got new songs that sound of a piece with everything he’s done over a 30-plus-year career—and yet don’t repeat himself.
One of Joseph’s masterstrokes was finding bandmates who could be an extension of this personality and translate it into feral rock—jammy and shape-shifting. The Jackmormons, now again a trio after a stretch as a quartet, returned to Mercury Lounge Sunday night for a rare local long-play, meaning it wasn’t over and done within a tight hour and had ample room to stretch out, welcome friends and do what they do best: rough-scuffed folk rock played at times with Crazy Horse–like abandon and paint-stripping guitar. Whether it was the anthemic, gospel-y “Think on These Things” to open or the roiling “Soda Man” or a long, gnarly jam out of Bob Marley’s “Positive Vibration” that burrowed its way into the metal-scraping “Brother Number One,” every tune took its time, unhurried, and yeah, with incendiary guitar solos, chunky bass and crashing drums but none of it out of place or feeling extra. A lot of bands jam because they want to expand a song with improvisational solos or groupthink, but Jackmormons jams seem to go long because the emotional weight of a lot of this material commands a full workout. As an audience member, you’d rather be drained instead of left too heavy.
This show was a benefit for Joseph’s forthcoming trip to Iraq to work with refugee, cultural and educational organizations—a very Jerry Joseph think to do—and summoned some extra friends to accompany Joseph, bassist Steven James Wright and drummer Steve Drizos. Among them were the sage Mookie Siegel, dappling the music with heavenly organ and piano, and the ace Jamie McLean, bringing a red-meat blues-rock sensibility as a foil for Joseph’s own teeth-bared guitar playing. Especially remarkable was how well both of them became an extension of the Jackmormons, a trio that at times couldn’t seem to possibly hold more personality, and yet, there they were as part of the band, deep in its thrall. Potent stuff, you’d say with a chuckle, like calling an erupting volcano “potent stuff.” —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson
Tags: Bob Marley, Chad Berndtson, Crazy Horse, Dave Schools, Jamie McLean, Jeff Crosby, Jerry Joseph, Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons, Live Music, Lower East Side, Mercury Lounge, Mookie Siegel, Music, New York City, Steve Drizos, Steve James Wright, Widespread Panic
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Cate Le Bon – Rough Trade NYC – May 5, 2016
Cate Le Bon is an alt-folkie with an art-punk problem. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Or maybe it’s neither and that she’s sort of an outgrowth of ’60s psych pop with a generous helping of unknowable, but still accessible Nico-style experimental rock. Or maybe you’re already pigeonholing her. Genre smashing is itself a pigeonhole: It implies a sort of off-the-rails collision of ideas and splattering of preconceived notions of what an indie-rock or indie-pop act might sound like. And as you watch Le Bon strut her stuff—torture that guitar, head bang, smile mischievously, artfully tease her bandmates in a faux flirty way—there’s no question she’s not only not off the rails, but of course well in command of whatever you call this, which can be poppy or delicate, sweet or tangy, angst-y or gnarly, but is definitely rock and roll with a touch of cultured madness.
Two of the songs late in her hour-long set last night at Rough Trade NYC, “Cuckoo Through the Walls” and “What’s Not Mine,” ended with protracted excursions, Crazy Horse–style peels of guitar noise and screwy-sounding sonic effects that Le Bon appeared lost in, and then smiled about, resolving guitar chaos into calm, goosing the audience that it was OK to look up from the bliss and applaud. Le Bon’s performance—including her usual three-person backing band mixing drums, percussion, basses, guitars and keys—was organized around the just-released Crab Day, perhaps her most complete expression yet in album form. So many of its songs, including that scraped-beautiful “What’s Not Mine” and its stabbing beat, the chilly “Wonderful,” the remorseful “Love Is Not Love” and the psychedelic and sinister “We Might Revolve,” find her not so much battling demons as trying to rationalize a whole set of wrongs and disappointments—trying to take the high road regarding certain problems, but maybe struggling to hold back the feral-cat anger, too.
The album sits on that tension, but Cate Le Bon the live show harnesses it, and you feel it in every song. That’s not to say she’s overwhelmingly heavy, either. Most of her songs feel like flexible things built to be stretched a bit. And where the band really connects isn’t in overindulged jamband-style progressions or endless build, build, build—that wouldn’t suit them—but in those snatches of improvisation and moments when it yields to a throbbing rhythm and the glory of a guitar squall, with or without Le Bon’s solemn, dark-tunnel vocals soaring above. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson
Photos courtesy of Silvia Saponaro | www.saponarophotography.com
Tags: Brooklyn, Cate Le Bon, Chad Berndtson, Crab Day, Crazy Horse, Live Music, Music, New York City, Nico, Photos, Review, Rough Trade NYC, Silvia Saponaro, Williamsburg
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Turin Brakes – Mercury Lounge – March 10, 2014
Near the start of their set at the Mercury Lounge Monday night, Turin Brakes lead singer Olly Knights explained. “I’m a simple man … I’m explaining things simply.” It was a joke, one of many classically British understated bits of humor sprinkled throughout the show, but it also perfectly described the evening’s music. Together with guitarist Gale Paridjanian, and their more-than-capable rhythm section, the London duo crammed 15 years worth of simply stated indie rock into their set.
They opened with “Time and Money,” the lead track off their newest album, We Were Here, showing off earthy harmonies and high energy on a gothic Southern rocker. Knights assured the enthusiastic crowd, which had come out on a Monday to see a band that hadn’t played in the U.S. for 4 years, that there would be plenty of old songs and new ones, and the band delivered on that promise, grabbing from their entire history and showing off a range of styles from straight rock, stripped-down folk and everything in between. Many of the highlights found Paridjanian showing off his slide-guitar skills, like on the very elegant cool-down segue into “Blindsided Again,” which did some Pink Floyd-esque boundary breaking while Knights sang about time “ticking like an atom bomb.” Even better were the moments of both on acoustic guitar, Paridjanian with beautiful slide playing to complement the vocals on songs like “Stone Thrown” and “Future Boy.” “Emergency 72” anchored a highlight-filled second half of the set, with a Crazy Horse vibe that ended in a mallet-on-drum-fueled climax. The show closed with “I Let Somebody Under My Skin,” which began slow and folkie, building to a big rock out before twisting into a trippier section and then into a bass-and-drum big finish that was not-so-simple-after-all impressive.
The early set at the Merc sometimes feels constrained, bands racing the clock and tripping over themselves in the process. Not the case last night, Turin Brakes completely at ease, crammed just enough music into their allotted time. It’s always interesting to see how bands tread around an encore at Mercury Lounge, seeing as there’s no backstage to retreat to. Turin Brakes played it coy, naturally, allowing that they’d return for a couple more songs if asked. The crowd played along, but their ovation was honest and heartfelt—they’d waited four years, after all. In turn, the audience was rewarded with a beautiful “No Mercy,” the band clicking over Paridjanian’s otherworldly slide once again, Knights’ voice as strong as it had been all night, simply great. —A. Stein
Although Rob Drake, Carlin Nicholson, Mike O’Brien and Neil Quin perform as the backing band for Broken Social Scene’s Jason Colett, they also make roots music infused with tight harmonies and heavy hooks for themselves under the name Zeus. The band’s melodies and guitar work have earned them comparisons to the Band and Crazy Horse, respectively, which you can hear on their second album, Busting Visions. And while those groups are from the ’70s, NPR Music says, “Zeus has nostalgia in its corner, but the band doesn’t slouch on songwriting.” See Zeus (above, performing the very catchy “Are You Gonna Waste My Time” for thevergeonline.com) tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge.
Tags: Busting Visions, Carlin Nicholson, Crazy Horse, Jason Colett, Mercury Lounge, Mike O’Brien, Neil Quin, NPR Music, Preview, Rob Drake, the Band, Video, Zeus
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The Young – Mercury Lounge – June 27, 2012
About halfway through the Young’s explosion of a set at Mercury Lounge last night, the Austin, Texas, band’s frontman, Hans Zimmerman, thanked the audience for coming out: “Only the mutants come out on Wednesday night.” I’m pretty sure calling the audience a bunch of mutants was a term of endearment considering the group played a dark, mutant rock and roll that transformed a Wednesday night into an otherworldly journey. After Zimmerman asked for “more reverb in the house,” they opened up in full-instrumental form, jamming a jagged Crazy Horse–type theme, with all four members facing one another, completely enshrouded in darkness.
Clearly this was going to be one of those “twist in some earplugs, we’re gonna rock the bejeezus out of this place!” sets. Like fellow Austin bands White Denim and Bright Light Social Hour, the Young were not tightly bound by composition, letting nearly every song expand in guitar solos and penetrating rhythms. Working mostly off their newest LP, Dub Egg, and standing before a disproportionately sized bass amp, they filled the room with music, oozing into the spaces among the audience and seeping right into the skin.
The show ended with a mighty two-step of major rock riffs: “Talking to Rose,” about “an implement we use to get high,” intoxicated on its own with a severe intensity, and the closing “Livin’ Free” was the loudest and best, an insatiable jam that swallowed everything in its path. The closer felt like 12 minutes when it was nearer to three. The whole set was over too quickly but it promised more to come from the Young—another great band for mutants and nonmutants alike. —A. Stein