Aerosmith, Cold Specks, Phillips, Snuff and more

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The debut album from "American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips is "The World From The Side Of The Moon" and it's on Interscope. Let me put this into Dodger Talk: Phillips is like Jose Offerman and Adrian Gonzalez - both hit it a homerun in their first at bat as a Dodger, just as Phillips has knocked it out of the ballpark in his first try. Talk about radio ready, every song is supremely crafted, there's tons of memorable hooks and completely awesome rock star quality vocals from Phillips. He writes most of his own material, so he's gonna be around for a long time. It would be a waste of space to list all the songs on the album - every song is instantly agreeable and seems to be a hit. And I didn't have to watch the show. I can watch something good like "True Blood" or "Mad Men" which should've been on HBO.

Aerosmith's latest and zillionth album is "Music From Another Dimension" and it's on mighty, mighty Columbia Records. Let me tell you my Aerosmith story from 30 years ago or when this darn fine newspaper sent me to review their concert on a cold and windy night at the Ventura Raceway, located at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. Ronnie James Dio opened and was louder than a freight train passing very close by. By the time Aerosmith made it onto the stage, they - well, Steven Tyler anyway - was wasted more than 95% of the New Year's party animals. He kept tossing or kicking his mike and mike stand off the tall stage, freaking out his manager, sending him scrambling to retrieve the mike. 

Tyler started slurring dirty jokes to the point where even the band had enough and guitarist Joe Perry started a song, forcing Tyler to sing it. They made it - more or less through four songs when Tyler, kicked the mike off the stage and shouted, "That's it, mother bleepers!" and staggered off the stage. Before he made it out of sight, he got into a scuffle with his band mates. The concert goers were not amused and rioted and overran the t-shirt booth and took all the shirts, still Aerosmith still owes Ventura a concert. While we're waiting, this album is vintage Aerosmith and about as good as anything they can do, despite the fact that Tyler appears to be on borrowed time as looks to be about 100 years old, or half as old as Keith Richards which is, in any case, irrelevant. One time sex kitten Brigitte Bardot astutely noted, "It's better to be old than dead." A couple of the rockers include "Oh Yeah" and "Sweet Jesus," which contains the prophetic line, "...if your life's a blur...."

Snuff has a new one just out on Fat Wreck Chords - that's "5-4-3-2-1-Perhaps?" Snuff is a punk rock band out of Scary Olde England, at this since 1986. This is their first new one since 2003, so evidently, they're well rested. It's pretty much by the numbers chainsaw punk with definite Cockney accents - imagine if that annoying Geico gecko munched some crank and fronted a band. The screaming on "Mumbo Jumbo" and the always timely "I Blame The Parents" will have your finger twitching around the "Forward" button but those prove to be aberrations. All is quickly forgiven by the time "EFL" pops out of nowhere and sounds like an outtake from "Magical Mystery Tour," and an acoustic version ends it all.

The new one from Ellie Goulding is "Halcyon" and it's on Interscope and it's going to make zillions as she provides the soundtrack for the affectations of young folks trying to feel something about anything. This is a feeling bad by the numbers exercise that is transacted painlessly by Goulding's frequently spectacular multi-octave voice that fairly blasts out of the speakers, at once compelling and convincing and the answer to the unasked question: If no one tells you how to act, then how you gonna be? Her debut did OK to say the least - it went to the top of the charts and she got to sing at Prince William's wedding in Buckingham Palace. On this one, the songs are just average - Goulding deserves better material.

James Brooks' musical alias is Land Observations and the full length debut is "Roman Roads VI-XI" and it's on Mute Records. Here's something you don't come across everyday, if ever - the eight songs are each inspired by ancient Rome - Roman roads for the most part. It's all instrumental all the time and honestly, I wasn't feeling the love, but after I parked myself on the couch and let if flow over me, I found much that is somehow alluring and endearing about all this. On the other hand, should Otis Day & the Knights change gears into Land Observations and not play "Shout," during the toga party scene in "Animal House," well, that would've been a completely different film. One song, "From Nero's Palace," should realistically have vocals - people shouting "Stop that!" or simply basic screaming as Nero was one of those emperors you couldn't take anywhere. And the album ending "Battle of Watling Street" marks the defeat of Queen Boudica's famous uprising against the Roman invaders during which the XIV Legion took the lead as 10,000 Romans killed nearly 80,000 Britons in 61 A.D.

The new one from the prolific and happy Giants fans that are the Fresh & Onlys is "Long Slow Dance" and it's a Mexican Summer vinyl release. The band started in San Francisco in 2008 and this is their sixth album. I like them only slightly more than I like the StinkinGiants. It's tuneless dork rock - muzak really - featuring the droll vocals of Tim Cohen. If all the work-a-holic geeks with no lives on "Mad Men" had a side band, this is what they would sound like. Even guzzling your weight in Old Fashions wouldn't help this band, fully as dangerous as whistling in the backyard.

Al Spx is a female Canadian singer relocated to London who records as Cold Specks - her debut full length is "I Predict A Graceful Expulsion" on Mute Records. You can also call her 'knockout" as she belts out tune after tune with speaker threatening intensity. Still not over Adele? This lady is just as good but with a smaller bank account as she transcends her material - she could sing the phonebook and have the audience scrambling to invent some new adjectives. "Winter Solstice" and "Holland" are two of the keepers, each building into a captivating crescendo of exploding estrogen earning Cold Specks a spot on that year end list.

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Rockin' Roll Call
Bill Locey reviews music for the Ventura County Star, when he isn't reenacting the history of this great nation or teaching it to incarcerated youth.
He is the tall guy lurking in the back of all the local rock shows.
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