“Blood Hot”, by Tess Parks: 100% Nugget Bucket Approved


By Hale Melvin

There’s something interesting about music strongly influenced by a time and place, but which exists outside of it. With this album, and Tess Parks in general, it’s late 60’s acid rock. While it’s 50 years removed from that zeitgeist, it’s a further distillation of it.

Somewhere between the late 60’s and today, production techniques got better and singers like Tess Parks came into existence.

What separates this album from the rest of the acid-rock revival pack really is Tess’s voice. Her guitar playing is there for sure, but her voice is the x-factor that takes it to the next level. It’s not a conventionally beautiful voice. It’s raspy, has a limited range, but damn it’s got a lot of soul. It’s the type of voice that ONLY works for the music associated with it, but for us right now that’s perfectly fine.

The opener – “Somedays” sets the tone for the entire album, you essentially know what you’re getting yourself into within the first 30 seconds. It’s mid tempo. There are handclaps. There is singing but it’s just melodic enough to not be spoken word. The lyrics are there but it sort of blends into the milieu. A little bit of reverb + delay and some droning bass lines and you’ve got yourself an album.

Blood Hot isn’t just reiterations of the same formula. The fifth track, “Stick Around”, breaks the mold with a more heartfelt delivery, strings, slower overall tempo, lack of distortion and for the first time and the storytelling nature of songs come into the forefront as definite visual is being constructed. Its a mid-album highlight.

Then things return to the formula, albeit with a little twist. The next number, “Open Your Mind” has a distinct Spacemen 3/Jesus and Mary Chain vibe to it. Something about the the fuzz and background guitar track is just super late 80’s British psychedelic revival.

“Goodnight Love” is another down-tempo acoustic number, and “This Time Next Year” has a moderately intense build-up crescendo but you’re still operating within a familiar context.

The album closer, “Love Around,” shifts the formula just a little bit and you realize “oh yeah, this was produced by Anton Newcombe”. The key difference is the drum beat is a little more active and the guitar has that unmistakable Newcombe style distortion paired with that Newcombe style melody that 90% of his songs sound like, which is a good thing.


Album Review: Juju by Siouxie and The Banshees

By Hale Melvin


Before Hot Topic, being goth was difficult. It was a full time job. You had to go to a few vintage boutiques and modify your own clothes. Your aesthetic was the result of meticulous layering and careful arrangements.

Zines were these local, highly treasured artifacts. Records, when you could find them, were the centerpiece of your life.

Goth has many many sub-genres, but Siouxsie and the Banshees transcends them all and their album JuJu is what solidifies Siouxsie Sioux as the queen of Goth.

The stringy, dangling notes of the intro Spellbound bring you in. You’re in for something different. It’s heavy without being loud, or all that fast. The melodies shift quickly and the pounding drums mix with the jangling guitars for something that feels aptly spellbinding.

It’s an affect that continues for the entire album. The track Halloween attacks with this unnerving hypnotic riff punctuated by complimentarily aggressive choruses that manage to up the ante.

The following track, Monitor, is the hardest of the album. Goth is a sub-genre of Post-Punk after all. Siouxsie Sioux’s voice mixes passion with despair and blend perfectly with the metallic guitar riffs.

Another highlight of the album, Arabian Nights, showcases her impressive vocals better than any other, which float above and intensify the tribal drumming and swirling guitars.

The album closer, Voodoo Dolly’s rising tension builds in waves, as the disjointed guitar rises and falls with the lyrics of creep into being. A dark frenzy reaches a dizzying crescendo with the Siouxsie Sioux repeating “Listen” over and over again. Which you definitely should if you are ready for some intensity. This unique album was certainly artfully crafted, but perhaps too morose for casual listening.