Record Reviews 

Memphians keep making records.

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Giorgio Murderer

Primitive World

Goner Records

Robert Watson had a breakout year in 2013 with his solo project Buck Biloxi and the F***s, playing numerous garage rock festivals around the country and releasing a handful of singles in the process. With his latest project Giorgio Murderer, Watson has progressed, but he hasn't exactly matured. The title track, "Primitive World," is a mid-tempo garage rock thumper, covered in synthesizer and clocking in at just over a minute. There are three more songs on the EP, but "Primitive World" is definitely the breadwinner on this slab, although the song "Nobody Likes You" is also a fine piece of garage punk songwriting. This is how home recordings should sound, and if Watson is approaching this project with the same drive he's put toward Buck Biloxi, we will probably be seeing more soon from Giorgio Murderer. Fans of Angry Angles, Digital Leather, or the Lost Sounds should seek this one out. Extra points for coming up with a "so stupid it's genius" band name. — Chris Shaw

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The Switchblade Kid

Switchblade Kid 3

Jukebox Records

The Switchblade Kid has been playing in Memphis for a few years now, led by local music-scene veteran Harry Koniditsiotis. Koniditsiotis told the Flyer earlier this year that last year he focused a lot on music videos, and this year he was planning on ramping up his recorded output. The "Switchblade Kid 3" single that was just released on Jukebox Records is some of the band's best work, with the A side featuring two extremely well-written garage rock songs. "Switchblade 3" is a classic Memphis garage rock song while "Sore Subjects" is a full on power-pop crusher, and though the songs sound different, they fit perfectly together. The B side, "I'm a Hog for you Baby" is a cover of the Coasters classic and Switchblade Kid nails it, adding some female backup vocals for good measure. Housed in a full-color Jukebox Records sleeve and on clear red vinyl, this thing looks as great as it sounds and is in serious contention for local single of the summer. — Chris Shaw

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Heavy Eyes and Werwulf

Split 7"

Soul Patch Records

Heavy Eyes won the coin toss and take Side A in this split release from Soul Patch Records. Framed by a chorus of Memphis bugs, Heavy Eyes' "Shadow Shaker" tends the eternal verities of proto rock: wooly humbucker guitars through fuzz and tubes, stripped-down riffs the works. They get so much right: the vocals, that gnarly upper-mid-range, Geezer Butler bass sound, the vinyl. All the good factors are in place. Once the drummer takes that ride cymbal and throws the damn thing in the river, this band will make a perfect record. I look forward to that. Werwulf's "Howl at the Moon" gets the flip side. Werwulf takes a more psychedelic approach in the manner of Slade. A reliable (cymbal-free) beat kicks the track into gear and is soon followed by a garage-y guitar that rolls in on a cloud of reverb over a properly sludged-out bass sound. The bass sound is what keeps this track out of the Jack White playbook. The guitar break is a fine example of post-serious-guitar-solo soloing. The Midnight Rambler beat change between swing and straight might be accidental, but is something every rock band needs to master. Heavy Eyes and Werwulf are upstanding members of Memphis' rich bong-metal community. — Joe Boone

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Live from Atlanta

Liberty and Lament

It's too easy to make recordings now. So many releases amount to internal dialogues enabled by relentless multi-tracking on a computer. It's best not to think how many people are accustomed to the digital click setting the beat. What's lost is the sound of a band playing together. The energy of humans working together is absent in the layering. You can still find that energy in live music. If that band has been on the road, then look out. That vitality is immediately apparent in Lucero's Live from Atlanta, which is out this week. Lucero bothered me for a long time. It took them a while to dry and spread their wings. Adding Jim Spake on saxophone and the musically omnivorous Rick Steff to the mix changed the game. Ben still sounds like he's going to shout himself to death at any second, but that's part of his charm. And Roy Berry. Normally live records have an atmospheric tone that sounds thin compared to a studio mix. This record keeps it's mics close enough for the rhythm section to punch like it should. Any Memphis musician who has played up North is shocked to see a bill with five acts playing 45-minute sets. Memphians are used to playing for hours. Lucero keeps it River City, filling up two CDs of material from three nights in November 2013. Anybody who says hard work doesn't pay off for Memphis musicians needs to rethink that position. Lucero earned a serious following through continuous improvement for more than a decade. This album is testament to that discipline and talent that created it. — Joe Boone

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Grace Askew

Scaredy Cat


Speaking of people working together to make records, Grace Askew has earned a cornucopia of good responses for her Scaredy Cat. We recently interviewed Askew before the release of this record, which was cut at the newly refurbed Sun Studio with engineer Matt Ross-Spang. She cut the tracks live in the spooky air of the old room with lead guitarist Logan Hanna. You can hear the balance of the room and the magic of the microphones. Musical workhorses Mark Stuart (bass), Kell Kellum (pedal steel), and Adam Woodard (piano and accordion) added carefully placed accompaniment over the original live tracks. The tracks support the air and the vocal without interfering acoustically or compositionally. In light of the sound of contemporary pop and country records, this record firmly establishes the less-is-more thesis. The space in the arrangement is left for Askew's voice, which took her just far enough in The Voice to show the whole worlds that she's not kidding when she takes on a vocal. Her independence is fascinating. There are times when her persona seems a little contrived. But, like Jimbo Mathus, that is part of a process that lets musicians explore music that comes naturally from culture rather than chasing the market. — Joe Boone

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