Earth- Primitive and Deadly- A Review

EARTH – PRIMITIVE AND DEADLY – A REVIEW

The evolution of a band is sometimes rather subtle. The synthesis of influence and the progression of skill is, for the most part, abruptly prominent over the course of a handful of albums. This being said, Seattle-based Earth has proven that this isn’t always the case. Listening to their eighth album “Primitive and Deadly” conjures many questions. Where did this come from? Is this the same band? And, most importantly, why did they decide to release their opus now?

In their early years, Earth were a drone band through and through; resulting in many almost unlistenable albums, and the creation of “Earth 2” which is widely considered to be the finest example of drone music ever recorded. After a six year hiatus spawned due to Dylan Carlson’s ongoing and well-documented personal issues,  Earth returned with a more brooding and immense sound inspired by classic country artists, Ennio Morricone, and post-rock. After a series of albums, including 2012’s masterful two-part “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light,” Earth come back swinging for the fences with “Primitive and Deadly.”

Though very much an Earth album, “Primitive and Deadly” features a multitude of creative textures that have been absent in their discography that makes you wonder how different their previous albums would have been. Featuring a sonic thunder that has been tested since “Hex: Or Printing The Infernal Method,” the cohesion of Earth’s current lineup has never been so tight. Randall Dunn’s keyboard proficiency is accented perfectly with Carlson’s winey-yet-weighty guitar fills, and leveled effortlessly with second guitarist Brett Nelson’s thunderous undertones. Adding Adrienne Davies cymbal-heavy drum sledging and Bill Herzog’s fuzzy and tense bass only adds to the atmospheric high featured from start to finish. The chugging, yet endearing instrumental opener “Torn by the Fox on the Crescent Moon” is the heaviest track the band have crafted since their formation, and yet it doesn’t seem like a band trying to be sonically overwhelming anymore. From there, the harmonics featured on the second instrumental track “Even Hell has Its Heroes” are completely unexpected. At its core a blues track, the song’s abundant feedback serves merely as a backdrop as the rest of the band swings in and takes control.

An interesting addition to this album are two separate vocalists. The first, and most notable, is former Screaming Tree’s front man Mark Lanegan who, despite releasing a wide range of solo albums and collaborative efforts since the Screaming Trees broke up, has never felt more at home on an album than he does on “Primitive and Deadly.” His post-apocalyptic soothsaying on “There Is a Serpent Coming” needs his whisky-drowned growl for it to be taken seriously, and is clearly the most significant experiment the album has to offer. Rose Windows’ Rabia Shaheen Qazi’s fierce vocals on the album’s 11 minute centerpiece “From the Zodiacal Light” takes the band into a higher level of instrumental nirvana that has never been tested by the band before. The minimal and relatively eerie closer, “Rooks Across The Gate” offers an album-wide retrospective of a band that, despite an abrupt change in skill and cohesion, are an incredible force in the music world that have finally looked beyond the abyss of yesteryear.

ALBUM RATING: A (MANDATORY)


I’m a Salem-based writer with a flair for visual arts and all things music. I’ve been working diligently at Salem State University to further my education and have served as the Managing Editor for North Shore Art*Throb for over a year.

I’ve been a very big fan of wordplay for as long as I can remember, and part of that is easily attributed to the eclectic array of music I grew up listening to. Artists like Talking Heads, David Bowie, R.E.M., and Lou Reed were on heavy rotation while I was younger, and their bizarre and (at times) playful lyrics sparked a love for writing that continues today.

The only thing I love more than listening to music is sharing it with others, and I hope that some of my reviews help some people expand their musical horizons and get over the whole “there’s no good new music” cliché. Some personal favorite artists include Peter Gabriel, Tom Waits, Scott Walker, Beck, and Animal Collective. 

Visit Chris's Creative Professional page

Big Ol Dirty Bucket - Bucket Express - A Review

By Chris Ricci

It’s pretty hard to deny the pure instrumental bliss and entertainment that encapsulates the funk genre. My first personal funk experience came in 2009 when I saw George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars play in Boston. Before the show, I would safely say I thought I was pretty familiar with the music of both Parliament and Funkadelic. However, watching the five minute tunes I knew by heart turn into 17 minute mind-boggling experiments both instrumentally and visually was as unexpected as it was welcomed. With this in mind, I’ve come to accept the fact that there are two kinds of funk: there’s the limited funk you can hear on a CD or a record, and then there’s the live funk where the musical beast really stretches its claws. If Big Ol' Dirty Bucket’s mastery of the album-based funk on their sophomore album is testament to their prowess, then the sky is the limit when it comes to their free-form abilities.

Photo by Todd Brick Photography

Photo by Todd Brick Photography

The brilliance of the group is noticeable early-on in their production. The balance of the instrumentation and vocals on “Bucket Express” stress the undeniable fact that Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket are a summation of their parts. The cascading horns blend almost too perfectly with the beautifully tuned guitar (most noticeably on “Boss Hogg”), to the point where it’s even hard for me to decipher which one is which. The same goes for the keys and bass guitar work; the synthesis between the two is eerily reminiscent between Bernie Worrell and Cordell Mosson in Parliament, both booming and low, but fluid and impossibly rhythmic.

The playful and inviting lyrics on “Bucket Express” are only intensified by the wonderful delivery of the vocals. Lil’ Shrimp’s powerful vocals harkens the likes of Gloria Gaynor, Tina Turner, and Grace Jones and carries the already flawless instrumentation to a different level of funkiness. This being said, the closing track “Vidalia” features her at the top of her vocal game, and serves as one of the best album closers in recent memory. Big Daddy Disco’s complexity and speed is reminiscent of The Roots’ Black Thought (most notably on the titular track), and provides an excellent vocal balance that is sadly absent in most contemporary funk

Photo by Social Palates

Photo by Social Palates

It’s, honestly, quite hard to rank any one aspect of “Bucket Express” higher than another. The auteurist instrumentation highlighted by Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket is balanced in a way that forces the listener to accept all the parts that make the whole, and it’s honestly quite genius. This, combined with two inherently different but similar vocal styles, creates a funk experience that would make George Clinton jealous. In short, “Bucket Express” is a must-listen for not only fans of funk, but fans of fun music in general. However, as stated earlier, there’s two ways to really dig the funk: in the studio, and live. Even at 59 minutes, “Bucket Express” seems short; but, after a few listens, it’s clear that many of these tunes were meant to be heard loud, and heard live. That is where the true talent of Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket lies.

 Long live the funk!  


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JUST ANNOUNCED! The official album release party for 'Bucket Express' will be on Halloween night in Salem MA. at the newly refurbished Ames Hall right in downtown Salem. This show will also feature Danny Bedrosian's Secret Army with members of Parliament Funkadelic! 

Tickets and information can be found HERE

What exactly is a Fishing the Sky? by Chris Ricci

By Chris Ricci

It was a few years ago, but I remember it as if it was just the other day. I was walking with a good friend of mine in Salem and, because of our yearning for some snacks and maybe a drink or two, we decided to check out the Gulu-Gulu Café. As we walked through the front door, we saw the strangest sight: a group of men walking around drums hitting each one as they passed by while ethereal instrumental ambience filled the room. The succession of the drumming increased as the song reached an incredible climax. The room was in stunned silence, which was broken by a very simple statement from the man in the middle “Hi, my name is Rob. This is Fishing the Sky.”

Photo by Social Palates Photography

Rob Hughes, the multi-instrumentalist behind the project, has always had a flair for music. “I started playing music when I was about 15” he said. “I played in bands all throughout high school, I went to UMass Lowell to study music for two years before switching schools, to Salem State.” However, after the switch, Rob changed his focus of studies from music to philosophy. “Formal music education wasn’t for me” he said. This being said, his passion for music never truly faded, it just began to change. “I had always been in ‘traditional’ bands, your usual rock n' roll bass, drums and guitars set up” he said. “However, I was realizing it was possible to make full sounding music on my own. I started to turn to my laptop to create and play music. That's how Fishing the Sky got created.”

Though not a Salem native, Rob admits that the North Shore has had a profound impact on his musical growth. “I grew up in Peabody and moved to Salem at 23” he said. “When I was growing up there was an incredibly strong DIY punk/hardcore/old school emo scene in Salem, primarily based at the Salem Elks Club that had a huge influence on me not only musically but personally as well. I don't even know if I'd be playing music if it wasn't for that.” Not only this, but his contact with local musicians (like Qwill or Forrest James)also helped encourage him to branch out and try things in a different manner. “I don't think the conversations, jam sessions, musical discussions and collaborations with other awesome Salem musicians would have happened were I not living in the same city with them” said Rob. “They've really helped to push me branch out from my comfort zones and think more deeply about what it is I do.

Despite being a project full-on in the digital age (where downloading and streaming are king), Rob has a set of principles that haven’t changed since he started. “ The DIY principles I ascribed to at 17 to get people out to shows and listen to my music are essentially the same “ said Rob. “Get it in people's faces and get it in their faces often. If anything it's made exposing people to your music easier.” He continied by adding that “yes, there's more noise (FB newsfeeds, Tumblr, Twitter, whatever) but it's never been easier to bring your music to people.” His new album “For You” was funded on August 20th through a successful Kickstarter campaign, and promises to bring a mini making-of documentary along with it. The projected release date for the new album and documentary is November of this year. Rob is very excited about the release, and promises one of the best songs he has ever written. When asked if he could be remembered by one album or song of his, Rob said “If I had my way it would be a tune from the new release called ‘Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.’ It's probably the best Fishing the Sky song I've ever written. I think it actually does encompass everything that is Fishing the Sky.

Rob Hughes shows no sign of slowing down, and the local music scene is a lot better because of that. He made it clear that his long-term goals musically are rather simple: “Play shows. Release music. Whack drums.”

For more information on Rob’s music and Fishing the Sky, check them out at the following locations:

http://fishingtheskyband.bandcamp.com/

http://fishingtheskyband.tumblr.com/

https://www.facebook.com/fishingtheskymusic


Meet Chris Ricci

I’m a Salem-based writer with a flair for visual arts and all things music. I’ve been working diligently at Salem State University to further my education and have served as the Managing Editor for North Shore Art*Throb for over a year.

I’ve been a very big fan of wordplay for as long as I can remember, and part of that is easily attributed to the eclectic array of music I grew up listening to. Artists like Talking Heads, David Bowie, R.E.M., and Lou Reed were on heavy rotation while I was younger, and their bizarre and (at times) playful lyrics sparked a love for writing that continues today.

The only thing I love more than listening to music is sharing it with others, and I hope that some of my reviews help some people expand their musical horizons and get over the whole “there’s no good new music” cliché. Some personal favorite artists include Peter Gabriel, Tom Waits, Scott Walker, Beck, and Animal Collective. 

Visit Chris's Creative Professional page

More reviews from Chris

Iggy Azalea - The New Classic - A Review

There’s absolutely no denying Iggy Azalea’s ambitious drive in the rap game. And even if you did deny it, Iggy’s lyrics constantly proclaiming her prowess on “The New Classic” will eventually make you accept it. 

Let’s get real for a few minutes, though.

The Australian born Iggy’s first album is, on the surface, a massive hodge-podge that owes a major thanks to T.I. and his Grand Hustle Record label. Being one of the major purveyors in Atlanta rappers and Trap artists, Grand Hustle’s influence is all over “The New Classic” ranging from the generic Killer Mike and B.o.B. synth based instrumentation on “Don’t Need Y’all” and “100” to the guest appearances by T.I. and Watch The Duck.

The overwhelming lyrical narcissism prevalent across the entire album becomes boarder-line campy and begs the obvious question: can Iggy rap about anything besides herself? Lines like “I’m already in love with myself” and “first thing’s first, I’m the realist” are rather gaudy for an introduction from a budding young artist, and sets the bar pretty high for any future albums she may have. Her delivery doesn’t really take off until the album’s midway point, and she isn’t necessarily a bad rapper. It’s just very hard to take her seriously amidst the “me me me” subject matter that serves as a form of irony for the album’s title: Is this album a “new classic” because she says so, or is it because she considers herself to be a “new classic” throughout? The world may never know.

This being said, the production and instrumentation throughout “The New Classic” makes it a worthwhile listen. Watch The Duck’s trapstep brilliance resonates fairly well on “100,” and the impressive laundry list of live musicians on the album gives the album an interestingly polished 80s vibe at points. However, take away the 30-plus engineers, artists, and writers, and you have a semi-obnoxious self-indulgent album that doesn’t really deliver on the promise of it being a new classic. Such is the tragic tale of a contemporary summer toe-tapping artist. Here’s hoping for the instrumental version of the album. 

Album Rating: D (just listen to the singles on the radio [while they’re relevant])


Meet Chris Ricci

I’m a Salem-based writer with a flair for visual arts and all things music. I’ve been working diligently at Salem State University to further my education and have served as the Managing Editor for North Shore Art*Throb for over a year.

I’ve been a very big fan of wordplay for as long as I can remember, and part of that is easily attributed to the eclectic array of music I grew up listening to. Artists like Talking Heads, David Bowie, R.E.M., and Lou Reed were on heavy rotation while I was younger, and their bizarre and (at times) playful lyrics sparked a love for writing that continues today.

The only thing I love more than listening to music is sharing it with others, and I hope that some of my reviews help some people expand their musical horizons and get over the whole “there’s no good new music” cliché. Some personal favorite artists include Peter Gabriel, Tom Waits, Scott Walker, Beck, and Animal Collective. 

Visit Chris's Creative Professional page