Rock, August 2022

hfnalbum.pngThe Black Keys
Dropout Boogie
Nonesuch 0075597913439; LP: 0075597913576

The Black Keys are 20 years old and the reason for the guitar and drums duo's continuing success is they have rhythmic chemistry, songwriting chops, and while tapping down into the blues-rock motherlode, they always sound fresh. It's apt then, that ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons guests along with fellow six-stringers Greg Cartwright from Reigning Sound and Angelo Petraglia from Kings Of Leon. On 'It Ain't Over' they come over like Steely Dan moonlighting in a blues bar and 'Burn The Damn Thing Down' is an ancient 12-bar tune galvanised by fuzz guitars. Black Keys have been described as 'America's most trusted band', which doesn't sound too exciting in itself, but it is when they deliver albums like this. MB


Church Of The Cosmic Skull
There Is No Time
Septaphonic Septaphonic 6 (CD or LP)

This seven-piece group reminds one of a slimmed-down version of psychedelic gospel outfit The Polyphonic Spree or an American cult you might end up joining despite yourself – with singer and guitarist Bill Fisher the bearded, long-haired leader. But they actually hail from Nottingham. And despite these trappings, they play an invigorating mix of neo-prog, hard rock, and classic pop tunes with intricate vocal arrangements. 'Last Words Of A Dying God' is like a rock 'n' roll Carmina Burana and the two-part 'Hills And Valleys' features guitar riffing with lashings of effects, but their alchemy is most potent on the complex, exultant 'Seven Rays Of Colour'. MB


King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Omnium Gatherum
KGLW KGLW-013CD (two discs); LPs: KGLW-013LP

Melbourne band King Gizzard are renowned for a certain relentlessness and on this album's lead single, the 18-minute 'The Dripping Tap', their juggernaut momentum and vocal incantations – like Hawkind and Neu! but faster – are so exhilarating that if your serotonin levels don't rise, best call your GP. Thereafter on this double-CD they confound expectations by veering off in different directions. The breezy groove of 'Gaia' starts like The Doobie Brothers and concludes in a guitar firestorm; there's the eccentric, sunny pop of 'Garden Goblin' with its cheesy synths; and they get close to funk, hip-hop, exotica, and even heavy metal, on 'Predator X'. MB


Gary Lucas & Peter Willems
Double Dare Volume 1 & 2
Zennes CATALOG ZR2203014; LP: CATALOG ZR2206015

This is a compilation of two recent EPs by Lucas (who has worked with Captain Beefheart and Jeff Buckley and has been dubbed 'the guitarist of a thousand ideas') and the young Dutch singer and double-bass player. The pair bonded over acoustic blues jams – Lucas sings Skip James's 'I'm So Glad' over fluid fingerpicking – but this is music of unfettered imagination that transcends stylistic boundaries. They take on The Velvet Underground's 'Hey Mr Rain', and country star Gillian Welch's 'Scarlet Town', with Lucas's guitar and electronics blowing across like stormy weather. The album closes with a sparse, sinister take on Schubert's 'Der Leiermann'. MB