Darryl Kirk is a graphic designer and drummer from Christchurch. He’s always been attracted to the weirder side of music, music that isn’t contrived to just sell some units. Sincerity and performances you can believe in are more important than the perfect melody without a soul. Darryl is currently playing drums for art rock weirdos Squirm and a new hard rock/punk outfit called Felony Stretch with ex members of Pumpkinhead and Future Stupid. Here are five albums he’s loving right now…
1 – Little Feat, Sailin’ Shoes: This album is a slippery slice of southern roots rock. Deceptive grooves move under Lowell George’s classy guitar work. His slide playing and songwriting is top quality throughout. Easy to Slip is a highlight showcasing the rhythm section’s cunning grasp of swing piled up against George’s multi layered guitar parts. Also much admired is the debauched trucker anthem Willin’. The predecessor to the better known, but to my ears much less impressive Dixie Chicken, this is a fine collection of tunes sublimely rendered by a band in top form. The disappointing stylistic changes that followed and the diminishing influence of George makes this album their career peak for me.
2 – Big Star, Radio City: Never far from my stereo the second album from Memphis’s Big Star is a gritty and loose bridge between their slick debut and their more eclectic and dense third album. A gumbo of British Invasion and West Coast pop infused with Southern roots influences Alex Chilton’s guitar playing is a thrilling ride on the edge of the sonic abyss, often wayward but never dull. The clever rhythmic interplay of Back of a Car disguises a slight lyric. Daisy Glaze is a bi-polar mix of languid motifs giving way to hard percussive lead lines and tempo shifts. The songs are about the small distractions and deviations of life on the streets and the hidden barbs of affairs of the heart and speak of things we can all understand. September Gurls, the album’s best known track is a strange little love song with a contradicting element of offhand emotion and regret concealing a darker sort of relationship with a girl who may not be all there.
“September girls do so much
I was your Butch and you were touched
I loved you, well, never mind
I’ve been crying all the time”
3 – Massive Attack, Mezzanine: Being a bit picky about anything that doesn’t fit squarely in the rock or alternative rock fields and I’d be the first to admit it is usually other people who have turned me onto things like elements of electronica, jazz, country and classical. Falling for this album came via my wife, which is surprising given her mostly very mainstream pop tastes. I was aware of Blue Lines and Protection, but somehow missed the boat on this fantastic album; it wasn’t until I moved in with my wife a few years ago that I finally got with the program. It rewards with every listen. Darker musical textures are employed with more force than in previous albums summoning images of dreary London afternoons and rain in the streets. Although some sonic signposts to the past linger, it is largely a move away from the more jazz inspired styles that informed their previous albums.
4 – Stevie Wonder, Innervisions: Is there nothing this guy can’t do? Through a hot streak in the early-mid seventies Wonder released several classic albums. Innervisions is my favourite, covering Latin feels, hard driving funk and soul. The songs are fantastic and all the more impressive for the fact that Stevie did almost all of the instrumentation himself. At its core the music is real. Covering social issues as well as more traditional affairs of love and life. Living for the City is the heart of the album; it is a commentary on social injustice and racism. A powerful piece. The album stands alongside Music of My Mind, Talking Book and Songs in the Key of Life as a golden period for Stevie. Having assumed almost full responsibility for the songs, it’s a reflection of the loosening grip of Tamla Motown on his work.
5 – Neil Young , Zuma: Having seen Neil’s concert in Auckland last week, this album among a few others has been one of the most played in recent weeks. Alongside Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Tonight’s the Night and Ragged Glory, Zuma rates as one of the best of the collaborations between Crazy Horse and Young. The Horse are the rock band that shouldn’t work, simply because of their drummer. Crazy Horse defeat the old chestnut that a band is only as good as their drummer, and the reason is because he is the right guy for the job. The songs are an upward arch in emotional tone from the preceding “Ditch Trilogy” although the album still contains some dark and introspective moments. Danger Bird’s foundation is built on a lover’s betrayal. Cortez the Killer is a wandering epic that starts as a historical account of a Spanish Conquistador, then switches into a first person narrative of separation and loss. The closing track Through My Sails offers a lyrically and musically calming balm, featuring harmonies from CSN, it appears to be a rest in peace to the last few albums, then came American Stars ‘n Bars so go figure. Shakey? I’d say twitchy to get on with the next thing, whatever it might be.