Album (and EP) Review: Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets — ‘Lay it on Me’ and ‘Walkabout’

Sometimes, when two great musical forces meet, the results can be disastrous, or at least unimpressive. I don’t count myself as a fan of the ill-advised Lou Reed and Metallica pairing, 2011’s Lulu. And when the sometimes warring factions of Yes got back together for Union, the resulting album was a forgettable, bloated, too-many-cooks affair.

Lowe’s Straitjackets

Though he’s known primarily for his 1979 hit single “Cruel to Be Kind,” singer-songwriter Nick Lowe is a revered figure in rock and pop music. A key figure in the British punk and new wave scenes of the late 1970s and early ’80s, Lowe has since turned his own music in a more low-key direction.

¡Veinte Preguntas para Los Straitjackets!

I first saw Los Straitjackets onstage in February 2004. Their music and image is – to use a Hollywood term – “high concept.” Picture this: a four piece band, all clad in matching black turtlenecks and slacks, Chuck Taylor Converse high-tops, customized medallions around their necks, and – wait for it – faces hidden behind

Los Straitjackets: A New Twist on an Old Sensation

Legendary instro-rockers Los Straitjackets have taken worthwhile stylistic excursions before. While their primary métier is surf music, they joined with a host of vocalists for 2001’s Sing Along with Los Straijackets. And their upcoming release–Rock en Español, which should hit the streets by the time you read this–will feature vocals by the front-men of Los

Musoscribe at 12

This month marks the 12-year anniversary of this here Musoscribe site. I’ve been writing much longer than that, but I started archiving/posting my work online in June 2009. It seems like a lifetime ago. As I’m currently consumed with finishing my second book, I’d like to pause a beat and take the opportunity to glance

Album Review: The Neptunas – Mermaid A-Go-Go

There’s something inescapably, relentlessly cool about surf rock. The style had its heyday in the early ‘60s, but it’s never gone away. And for good reason: there’s something irresistible about a strong signature melody, instrumental music so hooky that vocals aren’t even necessary. And when the vocals are employed, done right, they only add to

Album Review: The Krayolas – Savage Young Krayolas

In the shady corners of rock’s history, there have been more than a few retro purveyors who managed to breathe new life into well-trodden styles. Occasionally, they’ve done more than bubbled under commercially: Sha Na Na and the Stray Cats are among the comparatively few who broke out in a big way. More common –

It’s a Goolie Get-together!

A little over a year ago I was tapped to write liner notes for the first-ever reissue (on CD and vinyl) of The Munsters, a cash-in album that’s actually pretty good. That gig eventually led to me getting another assignment with a similar theme: the liner notes for Groovie Goolies. As readers of a certain

Album Review: Turnstyles – Cut You Off

Members of Jack Oblivian’s band, Seth Moody (guitar) and Graham Winchester (drums) are Turnstyles. From Memphis, this group/duo deals in the rocking yet cheerfully loose vibe that characterizes many of the Bluff City’s rock legends. Listeners will hear echoes of Tav Falco, post-Big star Alex Chilton and the like, but Turnstyles are a shade or

Album Review: Roomful of Blues — In a Roomful of Blues

There are a handful of retro (or, if you prefer, classic-minded) acts that transcend nostalgia, doing something special. They trade in forms that had some great popularity in the past, but they continue, making new music in the style, adding their own personal spin. NRBQ is one. Los Straitjackets are another. And Roomful of Blues