Hawksley, Steve and Ryan’s ’80s pop collaboration is pretty good
by Aidan Morgan
Thrash Rock Legacy
In the days to come, you may find yourself at a loss to sum up Thrash Rock Legacy, the debut album from Mounties. So here’s a handy phrase for such a situation: Finally, the collaboration between Hawksley Workman and the guy from Hot Hot Heat you never knew you wanted, and maybe you don’t, but the drums are awesome.
The album title certainly won’t help you. None of the tracks sound like thrash rock or any kind of legacy handed down by the thrash rockers of yore. Thrash Rock Legacy blends math rock with an early ’80s AM radio sensibility that will remind you of that time you ended up listening to your friend’s brother’s band do Rush covers because maybe they could pull some beer for you later. The difference is that Mounties could totally kill a Rush tune. It’s an album that sounds like wood-grain stereo cabinets, shaky VHS movies, carpeted basement floors and fake wood paneling.
Probably nothing exemplifies Mounties’ sensibilities like “Headphones”, a percussion-drunk ode to audiophilia that backs up its chorus with generously applied cowbell. The first half of the album is full of complex but poppy songs that could show up somewhere on year-end best-of lists. The back end is a little less coherent, but has its moments (the track “Hall and Oates” is good for a few chuckles). In interviews, the members have described their songwriting process as essentially lifting riffs out of jam sessions, and I find that the strength of individual tracks correlates to the degree to which they’ve tidied up their jams and tightened their song structure.
2014 is something of a creative renaissance for Workman, who’s also written an opera called The God That Comes, which I dearly hope is not what the title makes it sound like. People will probably listen to Mounties to hear Workman or Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat, but I think Thrash Rock Legacy’s real attraction is Workman, who packs massive power and precision into his drumming.
The Soul of All Natural Things
When I heard that Linda Perhacs was releasing a new record after 44 years of near silence, a part of my womanly soul sat up and took notice. As one of the few ladies to emerge from the psych-folk music and general Age of Aquarius that was the west coast in the ’60s and ’70s, she has a special significance for lady weirdos everywhere. The cult status of her one and only previous album, 1970’s Parallelograms, is broader than that. Her fans include Sufjan Stevens and Devendra Banhart, both of whom helped The Soul of All Natural Things come to light. The album is light and as gently trippy as a vintage crystal prism mobile hanging in a Williamsburg loft window. Sometimes it’s a little too New Age-y easy listening, but that’s made up for in beautiful melodies and adventures in the elliptical recesses of Perhacs’ legendary imagination. /Amber Goodwyn
The Wet Secrets
Naming a record Free Candy may have seemed like a good idea, but it’s baffling that Edmonton’s the Wet Secrets didn’t actually include candy with their third record. Talk about a missed opportunity.
Even so, the five-piece has captured a sound that’s a combination of shtick, sweet and sexy that will not disappoint fans of dance-rock.
No guitar? No problem. Trombones and trumpets are the perfect accessories for the hyperactive garage-rock grit and retro-pop doo-wop harmonies. Vocalist Lyle Bell, of dance-rock super-group Shout Out Out Out Out and trashy duo Whitey Houston, sounds almost unhinged while delivering bass lines straight out of a sleazy basement disco party. Creeper single “Nightlife” is proof enough of that. The saccharine elements carry over to the live arena as well. The Wet Secrets play in marching band uniforms, performing choreographed dance moves and oozing total fun. /Chris Morin
Arts and Crafts
When people talk about Zooey Deschanel, her music or her acting or her public persona or whatever, they’re closer to describing Sally Seltmann’s Hey Daydreamer than the She and Him singer and New Girl actress. Seltmann made this second album under her own name — she previously recorded under the moniker New Buffalo — with her husband Darren, of the great Australian electronic group the Avalanches. Together, the two Seltmanns flesh out a lush sound, full of synths and strings and harmoniums and bells and pedal steel, that gives a pretty shimmer to Sally’s songs. With her vocal delivery, though, the effect is preciousness above all else. Demure lines like “I want you to feel like a man” don’t feel right. On a track like “I Will Not Wear Your Wedding Ring”, I’m desperate for her to lay down a good “get the fuck out” instead of “I will not tell you anything but to go”. /James Brotheridge