Two new recordings, one from 2016 and a farewell to Chuck Berry


This week’s Sound Check features recordings that are different, to say the least. Read on!

‘Light of a Strange Day,’ Hite (Six Degrees Records, )

This March 24 CD, likely available in other formats, is the new project from Julia Easterlin. I hadn’t heard her previous recordings or shows, but they involved looping and layering her voice.

This one is more organic in nature, with Easterlin and her studio cohorts using baritone ukulele, pianos, saxophones, synthesizers and more to support the vocals. Things are mostly low-volume and trippy.

My favorites include the multi-vocal “Eliza Jane,” the instrumentally layered “Light,” the strings-sounding “Lockstep,” the pulsing “Miss You” and the piano-based “Try.”

This one’s not my bag, but lovers of adventurous music may dig it.

‘The Ghost of Hope,’ The Residents (Cryptic Corp/MVDaudio, )

This March 24 recording from those top-hatted, eyeball-helmet-wearing guys, The Residents, continues a career of making albums based on narrative themes. This time, it’s a historically accurate recording based on train wrecks. Specifically, the group members discovered news articles about the dangers of train travel in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The CD is in a nice book-like case that contains facts about train crashes upon which the album’s “songs” are based, followed by lyrics. These are intoned in between regular-guy and robot voices, and tell the tales of seven train crashes. The backing mostly consists of random noises, including train whistles, horns honking, screams and a bit of Crimson-esque progressive playing.

This recording would likely be an impressive stage show, but not frequent-listening material.

‘Hex City,’ Churchwood (Saustex Records, )

This CD came out in mid-November, when I guess I was busy with gift listing or something else. Churchwood (Bill Anderson/guitars, Joe Doerr/vocals and harmonica, Adam Kahan/bass, Billysteve Korpi/guitars and Julien Peterson/drums) is an Austin-based, experimental avant-garde “blues” band. This is their fourth full-length release.

The minor-key notes on “You Let The Dead In,” not to mention the lyrics and the rush to hardcore speed toward song’s end, mark this as an unusual recording. Other far-from-regular blues favorites include the darkly swinging “Dogs,” the spooky-progressive “Hallelujah” (that won’t show up on any singing competitions), the jumpy “Metanoia” and the shifting “Woden’s Day Blues,” which contains elements of Black Sabbath and power-pop.

This is interesting music (like a louder Captain Beefheart), and fans of such will likely enjoy it.

RIP, Chuck Berry

These artists weren’t influenced by him, but Chuck Berry, whom I saw at the Coast Coliseum years ago with Irma Thomas, Del Shannon and Bo Diddley, was one of the fathers of rock ’n’ roll. His influence and songwriting were undeniable.

Ricky Flake, a music fan and former punk rocker, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at flakericky@gmail.com