Saturday, March 28, 2015

Diamond Rugs Cosmetics Interview & Show # 553

What do Deer Tick’s John McCauley, Robbie Crowell, Ian St. Pe (formerly of The Black Lips), Hardy Morris of Dead Confederate, Bryan Dufresne of Six Finger Satellite, Steve Berlin of Los Lobos and a trash bag used as an instrument all have in common? You can find all of this on Cosmetics, the sophomore album by the band Diamond Rugs. The term supergroup is tossed around in articles about this band that seems to focus on all the outside elements that make up this band and while that is important, it is the songs themselves and their content that make this album and band so striking. Building on 2012’s self-tiled fourteen-track release, Cosmetics adds more groove, soul and chemistry to Diamond Rugs aesthetic. The album opens with “Voodoo Doll” a song that starts with a lone raunchy guitar riff, drum count in and a sneaky laugh before brassy horn sections come in. Trying to explain the instrumentation of this song by itself could give you the wrong impression of what to expect on Cosmetics. The chorus of the song brings in organ and synthesizer, used in such a subtle way it adds to the song’s make up, not getting lost in the groove of the actual song. Drawing comparisons to The Replacements “I Don’t Know” from 1987’s Pleased To Meet Me, “Voodoo Doll” sucks you in with its inexplicable groove.

“Thunk” comes in next echoing a similar raw garage-soul vibe as the album’s opener. Sung by Hardy Morris in between horns, piano and crunchy guitar riffs, as the lyrics evoke a story about someone that doesn’t quite know why they are involved in a certain situation, but still remain there. With lyrics such as “I never thought I’d be your problem/By the way/The way you talk I should be long, long gone” this point is proven more so. Additionally, there are some guitar lead lines that seem to reflect the influence of the Los Angeles punk band The Plugz, perhaps best known for providing the soundtrack to Alex Cox’s 1984 film Repo Man (but more on that later). “Thunk” and “Voodoo Doll” both share the same undefined charm. An interesting side note on The Plugz, Steve Berlin was also featured as a guest musician on the band’s second album Better Luck in 1981.

“I Couldn’t Help It” brings in a different type of vibe with pulsating basslines, acoustic guitars and McCauley’s vocals, which deliver a song with many melodic, mellow moments. “Meant To Be” brings in a laidback melody in a fuzzy, swampy, blues garage romp, “Live and Shout It” features vocals by both Ian St. Pe and John McCauley within its playful dynamics, loose jangly rhythms and a “believe it if you say it” message. “So What” attacks with a garage-punk aesthetic, walking basslines, swelling synthesizers and witty lyrics that state “I love you/So what”, while “Ain’t Religion” brings in smooth grooves and melodies. The acoustic guitars, drums and subtle basslines dominate the verses of this song. Lyrically, the song is as guitarist Ian St. Pe said in a recent track-by-track article with Relix “not all set in stone. But it is love that two people share and perhaps that does come from above.”

The chorus of “Ain’t Religion” provides a guitar line to the song, soaked in reverb, one that is reminiscent slightly to the song “Reel Ten” by The Plugz. This song was used as part of the soundtrack and score to Alex Cox’s 1984 film Repo Man. In the film the main character Otto finds himself amongst a collection of troublesome characters in a world that involves car repossession, aliens and punk teenagers. There is also a search for a car that has a high reward attached to it. In the film the car floats supernaturally away at one point, just like the guitar lines played here in this song’s chorus. “Ain’t Religion” searches and floats with a hard to define, unexplained, yet effective melody. This song’s lyrical and musical content ride to a degree in a Repo Man-like spirit, as it cruises its way in at track number seven on Cosmetics.

“Blame” bounces with a countrified rhythm, drawing comparisons to Gram Parsons musically in some reviews. Lyrically the song with its sharp witty lyrics such as “Say what you will/But I blame me on you” also help to drive this song in a be careful what you wish for type tale. “Motel Room” sung by John McCauley, ends the album in a collection of soulful horns, distorted guitars, murky bass rhythms and sleazy tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Some say it is the best of the eleven tracks found here, but this song along with the other ten tracks all add to Cosmetics, well sequenced, no frills approach.

While many may have thought that Diamond Rugs were a one-time thing made up of musicians from other successful bands in their own right, they are not wearing anything to cover up themselves on Cosmetics. Diamond Rugs mix all the right musical chemical compounds and a boozy six-pack charm to construct a sound and album that can make you feel good. There are many different kinds of cosmetics out there, but Diamond Rugs Cosmetics are the kind we should all get behind.

Check out the interview I did with Diamond Rugs bassist Robbie Crowell here:

Saturday Night Playlist:

1. Bipolaroid - Supernatural Beauty
2. Threads Of Fybre - Believe Me
3. Prefab Messiahs - Bobb’s Psychedelic Car
4. Of Montreal - Virgilian Lots
5. Feral Trash - Dead Weight
6. Pink Wine - Can’t Get Out
7. Paul Jacobs - That Feeling
8. The Cynics - Born To Lose (Live)
9. George Jones - If I Don’t Love You Baby (Grits And Groceries)
10. Deer Tick - Main Street
11. Diamond Rugs - Thunk

Robbie Crowell Diamond Rugs Interview

12. Diamond Rugs -Blame
13. Los Lobos - Kiko And The Lavender Moon
14. Matt Mays & El Torpedo - Rock Ranger Record
15. What Seas What Shores - Twice, Twice, Twice
16. The Nervebreakers - Why Am I So Flipped?
17. Average Times - Popsicle
18. King Creep - I’m No Good
19. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - East Side
20. The Paupers - If I Told My Baby
21. Indian Wars - Windshield Wiper Blues
22. Bloodshot Bill - Gee Whiz
23. Blimp Rock - Let’s All Stay In Tonight
24. Active Dog - Nothing Holding You
25. The Scissors - Mystery Movie
26. The Pointed Sticks - Real Thing
27. Nick Lowe - Burning
28. Television - Friction (Alternate Version)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 28. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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