Michael Landau

Rock Bottom

(Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group)

Ace guitar man has played on a ton of albums, for all sorts of people. For this effort he has decided to put together a four-piece with him on guitar and vocal, drummer Alan Hertz, son Teddy Landau on bass and singer David Frazee. Great players, so as ever it’s down to the strength of the material to assess the record’s desirability.

Squirrels – pronounced by Americans in one syllable, usually – has a fiddly beginning before the mewing Hammond and twisting guitar takes motion and a subtle vocal sets an eerie tone. I like tracks that hold something back for dynamic use and though this becomes heavier the grip is kept. At 2:36 some superb rock-blues guitar is unleashed. The daring arrangement evokes Steely Dan and we all know how their stuff grows on you. By the four-minute a solid groove is established and then the song is gone.

Bad Friend uses a pumping beat, to me Frazee’s love of Jim Morrison’s phrasing is evident, although his vocal tone is way different. This whole cut is torqued with tension, especially enhanced by the drummer’s skill. The angry guitar tone is perfect. Getting Old has a soft-shoe bass-led loping pace. It’s shot through with weird slivers of sound. Though slow-paced the flow is insistent. A pastoral bridge with acoustic guitar, then we are returned to the dark-alley vibe. these guitar fills are awesome without being flashy. We All Feel The Same uses an amp-tremelo’d guitar tread with an icing of damped-wah, Frazee sings superbly here, never shouting. Maybe the best vocal here. The guitar snipes like a bitch neighbour over the fence.

We’re Alright has an unusual stabbing tempo and semi-spoken vocal but soon cruising into bruise-rocker set to a syncopated rhythm. The Hendrix-inspired solo moment just bursts out of the track. Doomy fuzz bass brings in One Tear Away and the lovely chord sequence has an elegant sadness that only dear Robin Trower can do as well. Poor Dear is a choppy and tongue-in-cheek song going into tech and its effect and more, again the liquid axe fills hit home, Landau really does play to the song. Freedom is a delicate flower of a tune, sung with a regal tenderness by Frazee. Someone likes Deja Vue Crosby! Heaven In The Alley sounds ethereal and disjointed, over chorus’d guitar. Sounds like someone’s last minutes on Earth. Collection closer Speak Now, Make Your Peace is an easy rollin’ blues to start but a dark conspiratorial vocal takes any smile off your face. It’s moody as hell…

Not at all what you might expect from a renowned guitar honcho, this album showcases a dark-hued outfit making the most shadowy music I have heard since The Doors’ Strange Days. Frazee the singer makes his mark as a Master Of The Moody and this superb band frames his singing to perfection.

Pete Sargeant


(Thanks to the Mascot crew)

You can listen to 'We’re Alright' in this article.

Michael Landau's new album 'Rock Bottom' is released on Friday 23rd February 2018 on Provogue/Mascot Label Group. 

For more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2FmJMe8

Michael Landau