Here at Ear Bliss Central we receive lots of music in the mail. Few incoming packages excite the innards as much as those with the Norton Records return address. The year 2014 marks 28 years in business for the Brooklyn-based operation whose motto is “Where the loud sound abounds!”. A label where the big beat continues to thrive, Norton Records is home to the music of yesterday year cats ranging from the late Hasil Adkins and Link Wray, to the Flamin’ Groovies and The Sonics, to Andre Williams and soul shouter Esquerita. Perhaps the coolest thing about the label, aside from its meaty and highly entertaining catalogue, is the fact that it continues to put out as many of its releases on vinyl, both the seven and 12-inch variety, as it does on compact disc. In addition to reissue type collections, the label also its own stable of contemporary acts. We took a look at three recent releases from that side of that side of the Norton house this week. Let’s dig in.
“Ears Wide Shut”
On its first album in five years called “Ears Wide Shut,” The A-Bones make garage rock & roll the way it’s supposed to be done, lo-fi, raw, loud, fast and most importantly, like it was recorded in a damn garage. The band has been pummeling ear lobes around its New York City base of operations and occasionally well beyond since the mid-1980s. By virtue of it being founded by Norton Records co-founders Billy Miller and Miriam Linna, The A-Bones could very well be considered the Norton “house” band. Given the glorious slop they’ve kicked out over the course of what is now eight longplayers, they also double as the perfect poster child for the Norton Records mission, that is to pay homage to the forgotten R&R and R&B derelicts of the past and also continue as a landing pad for bands aching to revive that same low brow cultural ethos. Whereas most all people in the land were spending this past Super Bowl Sunday partying and watching the big game, The A-Bones, all six of them including frequent guest Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo fame, were creating rock and roll mayhem in a Big Apple rehearsal room. The end product is the 13 songs comprising Ears Wide Shut. It is an album heavy on covers spanning the classic rock & roller “Henrietta” to a messy reworking of Arthur Lee’s “Luci Baines” cut in the early days with his band Love to Chuck Berry’s “Tulane” to digging into the Yucca Records archives to grab “Thunder” from Bob Taylor & The Counts. It’s all given The A-Bones treatment making for a pure platter of party-starter fun. Visit www.nortonrecords.com .
The recently departed Gerry Goffin would be flippin’ in his grave if he could give a whiff to the solo debut from A-Bones drummer Miriam Linna. The Brill Building sound comes alive on this 12-track outing of 1960s-styled, ear-pleasing girl pop & roll. As Ms. Linna herself describes, “This album is a collection of personal favorites from the mid-sixties (primarily) featuring unheralded, broody monsters from bubbling-unders (and overs) - we even recorded an original heart-buster which we hope you dig the most. Somewhere along the line, a gust of wind took off with my last name and I became a one-name person, like Cher. Or Rasputin, for that matter.” What began as Miriam cutting a single track with studio ace Sam Elwitt soon after took on a life of its own resulting in the foot-longer called Nobody’s Baby. So here we have Miriam dipping into the catalogues of a wide ranging collection of cool cats from Gene Clark (“So You Say You Lost Your Baby”) to Neil Young (“There Goes My Babe”) to Tim Buckley (“It Happens Every Time”) to the Ramones (“Questioningly”) to Bobby Darin (“Not For Me”) and delivering pure ear candy in the process. The album features Miriam on all vocals with Elwitt handling just about all the instruments. It has this writer hoping there will be more from where this came from.
Daddy Long Legs
“Blood from a Stone”
Brooklyn-based Daddy Long Legs play blues, straight out of the garage. The band’s sophomore release called “Blood from a Stone” is a stomper that swaps the suave side of the sound for the raucous and butt-shakin’ one. With Daddy Long Legs himself at the helm blowin’ that harp like a runaway freight train, Murat Akturk kicking out killer licks on the six string, and drummer Josh Styles propelling the whole shebang from his kit, “Blood from a Stone” is baker’s dozen of bluesy rockets definitely not for the faint-hearted.
On Friday night, the Long Island-based band I Am The Avalanche bring their summer tour to The Met Café in Pawtucket (1005 Main St.). Esquire Magazine recently declared the band’s latest album as “the sort of anthemic rock ‘n’ roll that used to get you all riled up, and still can, chasing those fleeting vestiges of your more passionate youth as you move forward into ‘real life.’” Somos and Rust Belt Lights are in the opening slots. Doors are at 8 p.m.
That same evening down South County way, the king of the surf guitar, Dick Dale, invades the venerable oceanside haunt Ocean Mist (895 Matunuck Beach Road, Matunuck) to no doubt deliver a buzz-saw blast of gnarly guitar licks. The very stellar Boston-based band Girls Guns & Glory set the stage for the legendary Dale with music beginning at 9 p.m.
As if not enough that Friday evening, you can catch a free show that same evening by garage pop maestros Sleeper Agent at Waterplace Park in downtown Providence. A sextet hailing from Bowling Green, Ky., the band has been on a non-stop tour since spring in support of their sophomore album, “About Last Night,” on RCA Records/Mom + Pop.
They are the self-proclaimed greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world. If you’ve ever caught The Supersuckers in the flesh (and they are no strangers to Ocean State club scene), you just might agree. The band brings its R&R assault to Manchester 65 in West Warwick (65 Manchester St.) on Saturday evening. Doors are at 7 p.m. The McGunks, Culver, and Galvanize are all in the opening slots.
Dan Ferguson is a freelance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on WRIU-FM 90.3.