Stan Ridgway Neon Mirage (A440 Records)Stan Ridgway’s unique singing style first gained fans during his time as frontman for Wall of Voodoo, but it wasn’t until the band broke up and he took center stage that his true vision could come through. He follows in the tradition of American troubadours before him like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan (in fact, he covers Dylan’s “Lenny Bruce” on Neon Mirage), but he hasn’t forgotten the synthesizer experiments of Wall of Voodoo, or his long-time fascination with movie soundtracks.His new album (the first in six years) finds Ridgway mining some dark emotions, inspired by the loss of several friends and family members in the time since 2004′s Snakebite. It starts off with “Big Green Tree,” which features traditional folk instrumentation. The third track, “Desert of Dreams,” features jaunty jazz horns, which segues into the beautiful “Halfway There”a critical favorite. Ridgway’s neo-cowboy-drawl never seems defeated, but his emotional investment is evident. No one would mistake these songs for manufactured radio hitsthey’re too honest, and too unique. The rest of the album is just as surprising. Read the rest of this entry »
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The Creepshow They All Fall Down (Stomp Records)For those who are unfamiliar with the Toronto psychobilly group The Creepshow, here’s a quick introduction. While touring in Europe for their 2006 debut, Sell Your Soul, the band stopped for what they thought were cops in Spain. Instead, the “cops” stole their equipment (and pretty much everything else). Instead of booking the next ride home, the band rallied and finished the tourall five weeks worth. That same tenacity and dedication led to the Creepshow being the first Canadian band to sign with Cali punk label Hellcat Records (current home of Rancid). The band’s new album They All Fall Down shows off the band at its best: varied, incisive, and deeply personal while simultaneously seeming universal.Like many psychobilly groups, The Creepshow has some horror-themed songs, and the examples on this album don’t disappoint. The title track is a fast-paced rocker based around a cheerfully nihilistic end-of-the-world scenario, while the foot-tapping “You’ll Come Crawling” envisions a relationship gone terribly wrong. However, the latter song also shows off the emotional notes that singer Sarah “Sin” Blackwood can hit with her punk snarl. Accompanied by Sean Sickboy Mcnab, Matt Pomade Gee, and Reverend McGinty, the group continually goes in directions you wouldn’t expect. Notably, the ballad “Sleep Tight” shows off the band’s pop chops, as Blackwood narrates another bad relationship while channeling a raging Nancy Sinatra.Fans of female-fronted rock and horror punks alike will find much to enjoy in the Creepshow’s latest effort. The album hits American record stores tomorrow, October 5.