BP Recommends: Peter Hook & the Light, At the Drive In, Judith Owen, and More

June 5, 2017

PETER HOOK & THE LIGHT
UNKNOWN PLEASURES: LIVE IN LEEDS 2012 CLOSER: LIVE IN MANCHESTER 2011 POWER, CORRUPTION & LIES: LIVE IN DUBLIN 2013 MOVEMENT: LIVE IN DUBLIN 2013 [Let Them Eat Vinyl/Westworld Recordings]

Only a guy as singularly audacious as Peter Hook would task himself with reinterpreting four classic albums—all of which he had a vital hand in creating—on the road and without a net, and then release the results as a limited-edition set of LPs and CDs. But that’s what we love about Hooky: He essentially invented an unheard-of approach to punk-rock bass on Joy Division’s 1979 debut Unknown Pleasures, making use of the upper registers and repeating melodies that were plucked straight from a rhythm guitarist’s vocabulary, with the discerning ear of a self-taught bassist whose only desire was to rock, and screw the consequences.

Recorded with his band the Light behind him—featuring his son Jack Bates on bass, with Hooky himself taking up the requisite accents and filigrees when he’s not belting out the vocals—these four albums come damn close to what Joy Division and New Order, in their heyday, actually sounded like live. The musicianship is a bit more refined, of course, with Hooky’s voice a bit rougher around the edges than a young Ian Curtis or Bernard Sumner, but all the compelling dynamics are there, from the spacey, spread-out low end of Unknown Pleasure’s “Candidate” to the bright opening bass line, clean-picked to perfection, of Movement’s “Dreams Never End.” Pristinely recorded and impeccably performed, this is Peter Hook in his prime. If you’re gonna bootleg yourself, why not do it in style? — BILL MURPHY

MĚK
RED SPRITE LIGHTNING [Crown Town]

Ex-Alien Ant Farm bassist Tye Zamora has always been a superb talent both in the studio and onstage, which is why we were excited to find him in a new progressive alternative trio, mēk. The band’s freshly minted concept album seems less like a debut effort and more like a later release from an established band. Frontman Zamora shines with his drifting presence on “Dreaming,” gritty riffs on “We’re In Trouble,” and speedy fingerwork on “Rise & Fall.” —JON D’AURIA

AT THE DRIVE-IN
IN·TER A·LI·A
[Rise]

Reunion albums are always a risky proposition, especially when it’s been 17 years since your last one and your music is as customarily pugnacious and volatile as At The Drive-In’s. Hardcore post-rock in particular ain’t a young man’s game, but none of that seems to matter to ATDI; just take a listen to Paul Hinojos’ propulsive P-Bass lines on the single “Incurably Innocent,” or the way he locks up a seamless, punch-laced groove with drummer Tony Hajjar on “Continuum”—does this sound like a guy who’s lost a step? Didn’t think so. — BILL MURPHY

ALIEN KNIFE FIGHT
SOME GIRLS
[AKF]

When it comes to big sound, Monique Ortiz knows how to make a lot out of a little. Whether she’s riffing on her two-stringed slide bass or wildly plucking her fretless 4-string, Ortiz has an uncanny knack for making an impressive wave of sound in her drum and bass duo. On their latest EP, the Texas-based pair blends a bold mix of soulful blues and vintage rock that’s all ignited by Ortiz’s massive presence. —JON D’AURIA

ECHOTEST
FROM TWO BALCONIES
[julieslick.com]

Julie Slick and Marco Machera are back with a new album from their two-bass outfit Echotest, where they’ve switched gears from their previous two records’ predominantly instrumental vibe. With heavy pedal use and experimental composing still at the root of their sound, the duo welcomed talented guests to contribute to an album that uses vocal-based structure and hooks. “Supercell” and “Sense of Urgency” are two great examples of how well Slick and Machera complement each other as partners in low end. —JON D’AURIA

JUDITH OWEN
SOMEBODY’S CHILD [Twanky]

Leland Sklar’s playing on Welsh-born Judith Owen’s latest is a masterclass in accompanying a vocalist/pianist in the singer–songwriter genre. The brilliance of his bass lines on tracks like “Send Me a Line,” “We Give In,” “Arianne,” and “More Than This” may seem effortless and obvious, but Sklar’s virtuosity sneaks up on you. He complements piano parts, enhances vocal melodies, and establishes killer grooves with fluid tone and a pop sensibility that remains simply unmatched. —FREDDY VILLANO

ROBERT “BUBBY” LEWIS
1UP! ADVENTURES & QUESTS EPISODE III
[robertbubbylewis.com]

Robert “Bubby” Lewis’ long-awaited solo album has come to fruition, and the soulful bass ace has packed his church-grown chops, booming grooves, and vibrant personality into a 25-song powerhouse of a debut. Through short burst tracks and longer compositions, Lewis takes you on a journey using odd chord phrasings and finger-twisting lead riffs, all captured with his distinctive MTD bass tone. Even with lots of great guest cameos, some of our favorite moments come from Lewis’ lone bass moments. —JON D’AURIA

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