Imagine you are traveling through the heartland in the heat of summer. After a long day in the car you are road weary, hot and sweaty. You stop at a classic roadhouse. Your goal is a greasy burger, a refreshing adult beverage and a brief respite before you travel on. The burger is fantastic, the beer is cold, and you start to feel human again. Before you know it, the place starts to fill up and a band takes the stage that proceeds to blow the roof off the place, treating you to a musical experience you won’t soon forget.
If you can envision the scenario and can imagine the music you would be treated to, you might want to pick up the new album from Zombie Garden Club on Bandcamp. Zombie Garden Club is the brain child of veteran musician Johnny Douglas a Canadian transplant to the Nashville Tennessee area. Douglas has been around the music biz for a number of years having songs of his recorded by the likes of Gregg Allman and Jeff Healey. Douglas has shared the stage with legends like B.B. King, Jerry Garcia, Roy Orbison and Steve Cropper (of Booker T & the M.G.’s fame) but always gravitates back to his solo projects to quench his creative longings.
What he has created in Zombie Garden Club is a modern blues record worthy of all the accolades this release will surely garner. Douglas likes to say that Zombie Garden Club “is all about fuzz tones, garage rock, Fender guitars and Vox Continental organs with a retro-modern vibe” but it is so much more. The recipe for Zombie Garden Club looks something like this; start with mid 60’s era Yardbirds, mix in a healthy dose of Texas blues in the vein of ZZ Top or Stevie Ray Vaughan and top it off with a pinch of Seattle grunge and voila… you have Zombie Garden Club. Track after track, this album delivers a healthy dose of the blues but sounds like a modern record and not a nostalgic throwback.
The stand out tracks on the album are ‘Ache of Love’, ‘Burn’, ‘Evil Baby’, and ‘Fuzzface’ but each and every track is a solid tune and this album is not to be missed.
Success is a relative term. Paul Newman once defined it as having the time to do what makes you happy and pleases your soul. If you have listened to my streaming radio program, ‘The Mad Music Asylum’ you might think I am mired in the past. I play the old tunes because they speak to me and they move my soul. When I was younger, new music was easy to discover. All you had to do was turn on the radio or visit your local record store every Tuesday to check out the new releases. Now days, it is much more difficult to discover new and interesting music in part, because there is so much of it, and not everything, hell, not even the best of it can be found in an accessible manner. The best new music I have discovered lately has been background music in television shows, movies, and commercials; and if there are credits, they go by so quickly you don’t have the time to figure out who it was.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my “job” is scouring music sites trying to hear something that moves me. I regularly check reverb nation, bandcamp, artist signal, soundcloud, radio submit and youtube (my modern-day equivalent of the record stores) in hopes of hearing something that is so good it makes me stop in my tracks. This past week, I was surfing youtube and a video popped up and from the first notes, I knew it was something very special. Upon further investigation, I discovered Will Dailey’s new release “National Throat”. Quite literally, it is the first complete album I have purchased on iTunes in over…. well maybe ever. I feel as though Mr. Dailey and I are kindred spirits even though I am probably old enough to be his fath…, uh, check that, …older brother. After reading that Mr. Dailey left one of the largest and most recognizable record labels in the world because of artistic differences I have to give him a lot of credit. Years ago, that would have signaled the death of his career but because the record labels have made themselves almost obsolete in today’s musical landscape, that is no longer the case. I credit Mr. Dailey for recognizing that a paradigm shift is underway in the music business and those who embrace the change, like Dailey, will be successful without a major label deal.
The album itself was funded by Dailey’s fans through Pledgemusic and he has crafted a record of which they should be very proud. From the opening notes of the reggae fueled ‘Sunken Ship’ to the marvelous use of horns on ‘Castle of Pretending’ and ‘Lookout Johnny’ to the awesome slide work on ‘Don’t Take Your Eyes off of Me’ this collection of songs has been allowed to live and breathe through Dailey’s songwriting genius and the brilliant work of producer Dave Brophy. In today’s overcrowded music marketplace, “National Throat” is truly a diamond in the rough and its success should prompt his former label to be singing “Will Dailey won’t you please come home”.
Stand out tracks: ‘Sunken Ship’, ‘Rescue’, ‘Lookout Johnny’, and ‘Don’t Take Your Eyes off of Me’
Visit Will Dailey's website at http://willdailey.com/
One of the hardest tasks in any creative effort is completion. Ask the thousands of would be screenwriters, poets, songwriters or visual artists and they will point to their stacks of unfinished works and confirm that molding a work of art into a cohesive final product is one of the most difficult aspects of creation. That being said, I must commend Philadelphia born actor and musician Jay Jacobsen on his forthcoming album, ‘The Ride’ due out on October 14th of this year. ‘The Ride’ is Jacobson’s fifth full length collection of songs and the follow up to 2012’s ‘Peace at Last’. The 11 songs contained on ‘The Ride’ are probably the most heartfelt of Jacobson’s career. And therein lies the rub.
Don’t get me wrong, Jacobson has crafted 11 songs with pleasing melodies and catchy hooks and overall, it is a pleasantly listenable album. The problems I have with ‘The Ride’ are not so much to do with Jacobson himself but with the music industry as a whole. I call it the American Idolization of the music business. Unfortunately, the industry these days is about money and not art so everything has to be carefully tested, focus-grouped, and sanitized to the point that artists like Jacobson have little soul left. For the emotional nature of these songs, I find the delivery to be over-produced, over-orchestrated, and sadly soulless.
Aristotle said the purpose of art was to arouse and purge emotion. Otherwise it’s just decoration and noise. I am sorry, Jay but when I listened to this collection of songs, I felt nothing. I’m sure it’s not your fault. I have seen you act and I know you can get in touch with your emotions but I just can’t help but get the sense that you had to hold back in recording this collection of songs. “Let’s make it as bland and banal as we can so as to appeal to as wide an audience as possible” instead of laying it out there and truly connecting with people on an emotional level. I guess as an artist, a choice must be made. Do you want to sell records or be respected by your peers? The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In this day and age, however, those who can do both are the true artists.
I am confident that ‘The Ride’ will appeal to a large group of consumers who like pablum and uninspired, pedestrian works of art but I would rather be moved and emotionally stimulated by the sounds coming from my stereo.
Uncle Duke; a.k.a. Rob Penland is the producer and host of "The Mad Music Asylum" a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio show and now a 24 hour streaming internet station.