Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Album Review: Marah, Angels of Destruction

Rock n’ Roll used to be about “down” with the man and “up” the establishment. It’s used to be a young man’s game. Like it or not I have matured into the establishment. Consequently I shy away from reviewing rock records. However Marah, the band, have released their seventh album, ‘Angels of Destruction’ and it is compelling.

Based in Philadelphia, Marah has seen more than its fair share of personnel changes over the past fifteen years. Entertainment Weekly columnist Stephen King described Marah as, ‘the best rock band in America that nobody knows about.” Since their initial national release, “Kids in Philly” Marah have been a critic’s darling but seen little success outside of hipsters and record geeks. In spite of that horrible handicap, their latest album, “Angels of Destruction” is a superb example of an exceptionally well thought out rootsy based rock that brings together of bit of Springsteen’s “Wild & Innocent” album instrumentation together with an earthy Subdudes-like Americana sound and a Patti Smith or Velvet Underground street sense into an immediately accessible rock record. Heavy on pop-like melody lines the band leans on obscure lyrics amid layered arrangements. Its clear this band has a rock-n-roll heart; a sense of history as they steal from the best and make it their own. On first blush the listener can easily get into the songs and, with repeated listens, dig in deeper to the vast textures. All the songs on the album were written by the band with brothers David and Serge Bielanko contributing the most.

On the opening track, ‘Coughing Up Blood’ the band uses an up-tempo beat that carries throughout the album. This panoramic tune is propelled across a sonic landscape by drummer Dave Petersen brushes on the snare emulating a purring engine. ‘Angles on a Passing Train’ is a cityscape epic that slowly builds into a beautiful near ballad of movement amid an urban setting where David Bielanko sings, “Here we go, its just around the corner, Angles on a passing train, Step into the light” Throughout the album the band uses Christian imagery at arms length much like early and now later period Springsteen records. While the overt texture of the album is roots rock there is a faint underbelly of electronic sound effects that come to presence towards the end of the song.

By the firth track, ‘Blue but Cool’ the band is in the pocket of an exceptionally strong album. Amid a heart achingly moving melody line Bielanko sings, “Reelin’ from a tongue kiss on the outskirts of foreverness…I wonder what they think of this back at infatuationess. Now that we are home darling, how come we both keep starin’ at the front door?”

This should be Marah’s long predicted breakthrough album. Early in 1998 Lucinda Williams’ album, ‘Car Wheels on a Gravel Road’ came out very early in the year under Spin Magazine’s declaration that it was destine to be “the album of the year.” While Willliams is an enigmatic figure, Spin’s gesture came off as a premature bandwagon gaff. Marah’s ‘Angels of Destruction’ will be this year’s opening calling card that shines among a rather otherwise dreary release schedule.

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