By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Attica Blues (Mo Wax)
Much like the bizarre R&B/New Jazz album and song "Attica Blues" that brought saxophonist Archie Shepp acclaim in 1972, England’s trio Attica Blues has cultivated a style that’s sure to move you in all-new ways. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s the closest you’ll find to a fully realized expression in sampled music. You get full platters of hip-hop, down-tempo drum ‘n’ bass, jazz and soul, all involved in a way that pushes the bounds of electronica into the nowhere-to-be-found. Rather than the common blend of loose-ended samples that floods most soundbite music, these works are foremost about texture and feeling, crystallized through highly thoughtful orchestration and interpolations, as opposed to loops. Attica incorporates lush soul vocals from the talented young Roba El Essawy, often arranged to match intricate string progressions composed by Tony Nwachukwu, who along with D’Afro devises all the beats and other musical layers.
Mo Wax has released Attica’s "Contemplating Jazz," "Blueprint," "Tender" and "3ree (A Means To Be)" over the last four years, and it’s through these singles that the band has developed and maintained an ever-growing buzz. Luckily, all of those songs have found space on this 15-track long-player. Epitomizing Attica’s full scope is the record’s last track, "Enter," a high-energy drum, vocal and scratch ascension apparently inspired by the harsh reality of prisoners throughout the world, including inmates at New York’s Attica Prison. The insightful lyrics relate a profound understanding of the internal struggles we share in. The struggles that we call forth in our blues and "excursions through the inner mind’s eye" are expressed with sensitivity and agreeable provocation. (Carlos Niño)LINK WRAY
Link Wray: "My music has always represented something screaming, something dangerous, something not normal." Sporting black leather and black sunglasses, Link Wray proudly took distortion (he poked holes in his amp’s speaker with a pencil), feedback and the power chord out of the shadows and onto the charts with his hit "Rumble" (No. 16) back in 1958. And nowadays, thanks to one Quentin Tarantino, his old music has become a veritable cottage industry, popping up in the soundtracks of all sorts of Pulp Fiction (which used "Rumble" and "Ace of Spades") rip-offs. On Shadowman (previously available only as an Ace-U.K. import), the first thing you notice is that raunchy, dirty guitar. Link has been fairly reclusive since 1980, when he moved to Denmark, but now he has decided to bless us ‘90s, drum-machine-jaded heathens with this vicious slab o’ live noize. Elemental, crude, embryonic and basic, this musically subversive disc proves that you don’t need expensive, high-tech equipment — heck, you barely have to know how to play!
Wray was 65 years old when he recorded these songs live a couple of years ago. Basically, it’s hard-rockin’ power-trio billy-sleaze ‘n’ surf from Link, his Fender Mustang, some kinda deadly fuzz (with amp tremolo on 11), two (sometimes even three) chords and a well-used whammy bar, along with a drummer and a bass player. More than half the cuts are instrumental, with Link doing the vocals on the rest, including a totally twisted take on "Heartbreak Hotel" and a tender vocal-and-guitar-only (check that tone!) version of Hank Williams’ "I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love With You)."
Some great instrumentals here, including excellent surfage on "Moped Baby," a "Pipeline"-take complete with screaming Vox organ; the slow, stomping "Rumble on the Docks"; more (fast) surfing on "Geronimo"; a crunching version of Creedence’s "Run Through the Jungle"; the lonely and mysterious "Shadowman" (which would be a great soundtrack for a spaghetti-Western-biker film); and "Night Prowler," another big riff of instro crunch at throb tempo as Link explores his Fender’s switches.
And check out his leads, daddy: Link says more with three notes than any guitar teacher could do with a thousand. (Scott Richard Morrow)SUBLIME
Broad, tattooed bare backs or no, the entirely original ska-offshoot sound that Sublime’s three big bald guys without suntans invented was more notable for its hip-hop and hippie proclivities than its hardcore or heavy metal ones. Brad Nowell (R.I.P., heroin OD, May 1996) pulled off his lonely-Romeo sappiness better than D. Boon or Anthony Kiedis ever had, but his noisier moments could be a pain. There’s even a disappointing stiffness to "Saw Red," his lovey-dovey punk duet with Gwen Stefani on Sublime’s new-songs-and-old-rarities collection, Second-Hand Smoke.
Still, what a perfect album title for what at its best is a clambaked dub jam session. Remixes like "Doin’ Time (Uptown Dub)," stretched out with echoes that open up rhythmic space while boogie-woogie sax and ivories make the groove meatier instead of just turning it atmospheric, come off like ganja ghosts of Sublime’s past. Jah’s own music has almost never throbbed with that kind of aggression, but this band had reggae tendencies out the wazoo: deep, slam-your-body-down bass lines, erotically minded Latin dancehall toasts, billowing nasal whines, offensively minstreled fake-Kingston accents about "don’t start a rye-ott," guitar strings surfing the Sahara like the Grateful Dead at the pyramids.