Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fourmanchu - Stereosleep -- Iota - May 28 2012

Stereosleep - This double bill played Saturday night on the main stage of the Black Cat, so I give them both credit for providing live entertainment to those of us who don't know a holiday weekend from a Tuesday afternoon in June. First up is a four-piece band with two guitarists with one handling nearly all vocals. The instrumental intro has me thinking of some sort of Mogwai/Scratch Acid jam band covering Wire's "Mercy". They lock into this sort of psyche/dirge rock groove a few more times during the set which somehow sounds unique even though the components are likely in a thousand albums I own. But that is the nature of group music, and these guys manage some intriguing sounds. They mix it up a bit with more standard rock fair, but there is usually something creative going on or a bit of sonic energy to burn at the least. Some melodies are comfortable in a classic way, and why I am reminded of UFO, I cannot fathom, but there is plenty to digest. Even a jangle song sounded dark and murky, which is a great way to alter that familiar approach. Quite an interesting 45 minute set, this. I am glad to see these guys playing out so much. And although I am not sure they have a formal plan, that is often a strength. So with more live shows where they continue to find themselves along with thoughtful writing sessions, there is a world of potential here. And enough of it is realized at this moment, that they are well worth a look.
Fourmanchu -This band sounds more like they have a plan in place. And based on their 65 minute set, it is a plan they execute well. They also are a quartet, but with one guitar and a piano. The lead vocalist plays the piano on a few songs, focusing exclusively on vocals for the majority. And when that happens, you expect a higher quality of vocal work. That is exactly the case here as there is a Matt Bellamy/Muse quality to his singing with the band occasionally rising to that style of rock music as well. They mix it up a bit with a few slower pop-rock numbers along with some startling driving rockers. One song sounded like Budgie with smoother vocals (maybe like Iron Maiden's first vocalist, Pat), and that is not a comparison I make much. The key is that the guitarist is capable of riffing out like Wilko Johnson, although in a more contemporary manner. The rhythm section is solid and capable of banging it out like the first band, or pulling back a bit. They did a Jack White cover and a couple more as they mixed it up a bit for those that saw their set on Saturday. They should appeal to a lot of varied music lovers and can easily hold their own on a variety of bills with high quality bands. I'll be back for a future show.

Internet Fun - I did get a little tired of looking at the dead animal, the guitarist for the first band had on his guitar strap, which reminded me of seeing Ted Nugent back in the days he channeled his luncacy a little better than he does now. But what was really bizarre, was that I was reminded of this show months ago when a guy from Europe wrote me to discuss a Uriah Heep show I had reviewed. He wanted to know information from the 1976 show I had seen, as he was a Uriah Heep historian. I had a couple of things for him (as a friend met them backstage even), so we exchanged info. This was not too surprising, as I STILL get Gary Thain searches. He was their bass player who died in 1975 at the age of 27. The one real surprise was that the guy I was writing to provided me with a photo of a ticket stub for the Ted Nugent/Uriah Heep show I attended (Rex Smith was the opener).

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