Jim Jones Revue: The Savage Heart (Play It Again Sam)
Zen Mantra: How Many Padmes Hum? (Muzai records)
Jim Jones and his Revue offer no surprises, no charm offensive .. it’s the bare-bones rock’n’roll rampage of a band born with The Cramps and Bo Diddley playing at their birth, and Iggy and Jerry Lee Lewis at the first birthday party.
It’s easy to describe them as pilfering, low-life reprobates trying to wake up the neighbourhood, and the band would appreciate those compliments. But the Revue’s no-nonsense rock’n’roll purity has had the Daily Telegraph headlining a feature, “Britain’s last rock’n’rollers?”. Radio won’t play them but word of mouth (not internet chat, but people actually talking to each other) has seen the not-so-young rockers with greased-back quiffs move up from the toilet circuit to proper venues.
The Savage Heart begins with a blast of piano a la Little Richard, and with it, It’s Gotta Be About Me, shakes, rattles and kicks ass with Jones on full throttle, sounding like Lemmy doing an impression of Tom Waits.
There’s more piano on Where Da Money Go?, which is strangely reminiscent of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals pseudo-gangster mockery just with more guitars. And drums. Needless to say there’s no room for electronics, and while it wasn’t recorded in two days in a dingy building (as their debut was) it still whiffs of 1950s attitude, 70s raw power and the proto-goth rock of the Birthday Party in the 80s. Rock on.
I take a double dose of How Many Padmes Hum? to distill my energies after Savage Heart. Zen Mantra are a low-key New Zealand act on the Auckland-based Muzai records label (slogan: Independent Fighting Spirit). From the band’s name and the album’s title you can probably guess that Zen Mantra are a little out-there.
While there is some outlandish to this Sam Perry-fronted outfit (a lot of “staring at the clouds”) the appeal is the gloriously softness and melodic temperature of half an hour of languid, easy-to-peel sounds, with songs like Cloudgazer garnering such terms as dreamy. It’s pop with a laidback feel, and the single La La La La has, as you might guess, plenty of hooks and harmonies. There’s plenty to like but equally the formula can become somewhat tiresome over an entire album.
More: http://muzairecords.com, and also check out Muzai’s Facebook page.