Super Witch — Has Risen (self-released)
Super Witch had the distinct honor of opening the Black Flag, Black Oak Arkansas show that went down at the Young Avenue Deli last year, a performance that pretty much served as the Midtown metal band's coming out party. On Has Risen, Super Witch ride the line between stoner rock and modern metal, cranking out 10 songs of heavy-hitting, adrenaline-raising, metal thumpers that they call horror rock. Bands like Super Witch are what the recording studio Rocket Science Audio was made for, and so it makes perfect sense that the group enlisted Kyle Johnson to engineer four of the songs on Has Risen, giving the album a primal, live sound. The rest of the record was engineered by Dik LeDoux at M.A.P. Studios, and while LeDoux's mixes are noticeably cleaner, the result is still pretty much the same.
The song "Spaceship Cadillac" was almost certainly written by Super Witch guitarist/vocalist Eldorado Del Rey, a Memphis songwriter who's been known to name-drop Cadillacs in his other band, Eldorado and the Ruckus. Overall, Has Risen is a solid release from a new band on the Memphis metal circuit. The songs are fully realized, with pretty amazing titles like "The House that Dripped Blood" and "Island of Lost Souls" thrown in for maximum effect. I could see them on the next Rob Zombie film soundtrack. I could also see them getting mad at me for saying that.
Favorite Track: "Smash Your Own Face"
Candice Ivory — Love Music (self-released)
Love Music is the latest album from Candice Ivory, the Memphis singer who now lives in St. Louis, Missouri. Recorded at the Electric Room in Memphis, and R&R Music Labs in St. Louis, Love Music is a collection of 12 "avant soul" recordings that make for a layered album that's not easily digestible on the first listen. Although the record's title suggests a positive outlook, there is an inherent sadness throughout Love Music, especially on songs like "Hitchhiking in a Dali Painting," "Old Friend," and "Dead Girl Walking." That doesn't make this record depressing, and great songwriters have the ability to take their listener on an emotional journey throughout the course of an album, something Ivory does on Love Music with ease.
"Love Music is a record in the good old sense of the word — it holds together as a whole thing and takes the listener on a trip from start to finish, from euphoria to heartbreak and finally, a little wiser for the journey, to new hope and understanding," writes Pat Burke in the liner notes of Love Music. And while he's certainly right about the heartbreak part, I don't know that I have new hope and understanding after listening to this album. If anything, I'm left a bit confused, which, in a way, is the most appealing part of Love Music; it's an album that allows the listener to draw their own conclusions after listening.
Favorite Track: "Hitchhiking in a Dali Painting"
Jack Oblivian — Dream Killer (Mony Records)
The inaugural release on Jack Oblivian's Mony Records comes in the form of a demos and outtakes cassette tape called Dream Killer. While it's unclear whether Jack Yarber will turn Mony into a full-fledged label, his first release is a must-have for any fan of his, or Memphis rock-and-roll in general. With 21 tracks spanning songs written with the Sheiks and as a member of the Loose Diamonds, Dream Killer is a glance into this Memphis musician's impressive solo career, and proves that the Disco Outlaw is at the top of his game, even when he's recording demos.
This thing would make for a killer LP (hint, hint), but for now you'll just have to settle for the cassette, which comes with a full-color booklet featuring comic-esque art from Michael Watson. While garage rock has never been a perfectionist's genre, it's truly remarkable that someone like Yarber can crank out this many hits and make it seem as effortless as just hitting play on a four-track. With so many new garage bands cropping up in Memphis, it's a great sign that one of the forefathers is still at the top of the food chain, even if he's just releasing demos that didn't make an album's final cut. I think I speak for everyone when I say we're ready to hear any other demos Jack has laying around.
Favorite Track: "Boy in a Bubble" and "Guido goes to Memphis."