The Aristocrats — Culture Clash
(Boing! Music LLC , 2013, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2013-07-14What more can one say regarding one of the most seriously talented three-piece bands playing today? Two thirds of the group is still out on the road cavorting with Joe Satriani while guitarist Guthrie Govan continues his ace-in-the-hole role for the European leg of Steven Wilson’s The Raven Who Refused to Sing his tour. In January of this year the trio tracked pieces for a new album with a high penchant for democracy and telepathy. At times the group has embraced a classic Steve Morse band approach to song writing, with strong riffs coming either from bass or lead guitar. This approach is evident on the title track, one of three songs written by clinician Marco Minnemann. Across the disc, Govan has all the swagger of your Steve Vai but none of evasive attitude which can make a guitar god’s licks fatiguing or hopelessly frustrating. There is also a strong sense of Eric Johnson’s melodic influence on quite a few tracks as heard on the title track as well as Mike Keneally-esque sensibilities (clearly guilt by association of course!). You can tell bassist Bryan Beller’s compositions due to the emphasis on heavy groove and a relentless bass line. I mean the man struts his chops with finesse and precision across the disc making it a joy to listen to the underside. Also it helps when your drummer can play guitar too, which helps in the composition department as heard on “Desert Tornado.” On this track, Marco has been clearly considering what his guitarist would do with a part conceived one way but played another. Beller’s “Louisville Stomp” takes us into roller coaster rockabilly hell, making me consider what Chris Spedding or Brian Setzer would do given a crazy ass phrase like this! The trio has definitely moved forward from their first set of recordings. By firming up their band identity they give the Dixie Dregs a run for their money, but without benefit of a southern rock or Mahavishnu reference. Let’s face it: these guys got serious training, chops and natural chemistry that makes your ears bleed with all the finesse playing.
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more