Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Music of the Spheres

Seems like it's been a dry year in the 'Inspirational Rock' category. Much depends upon where you need your inspiration, I suppose. I need it in the weight-room, and the current musical powers-that-be aren't providing a whole lot of drive. After wearing Satellite thin, I was expecting the next adrenaline surge from P.O.D.'s new effort. Payable On Death disappoints, alas. The crunchy guitar is definitely there, a relief for those of us who cringed while their guitarist Marcos Curiel left in an emotional blizzard of controversy. But the singing and harmonies are strangely relaxed, as if the band has been mining not just the Rastah sounds but the, ah, "lifestyle" as well. Hey, fine by me. It just doesn't up my reps, is all.

I'm happy to report I've had some help from JPUSA bluesman Glenn Kaiser and his band. Blacktop is straight-ahead blues, sung by a street-preacher who knows his medium. Kaiz might not yet evince the tallowy compassion of, say, Pop Staples, but he's in terrific form here, and like most bluesmen is steadily improving with age.

The other Divinity student who's got the groove is Don Ross. His live performances are incredible, but if you can't manage that, his Robot Monster does manage to pass along a good deal of his "in-person" energy. Not to be missed.

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