Music News & Reviews

Two bands are set to give Cosmic Charlie’s a blast of nostalgia this week

Wax Fang, from left: keyboardist Zach Driscoll, founder and frontman Scott Carney, drummer Dave Chale and bassist Corey McAfee.
Wax Fang, from left: keyboardist Zach Driscoll, founder and frontman Scott Carney, drummer Dave Chale and bassist Corey McAfee.

Wax Fang

Opening: Johnny Conqueroo, Brenda. 9 p.m. May 12 at Cosmic Charlie’s, 723 National Ave. $10. 859-333-4817. Cosmic-charlies.com.

The Blasters

9 p.m. May 16 at Cosmic Charlie’s, 723 National Ave. $15. 859-333-4817. Cosmic-charlies.com.

Strap yourselves in, folks. Cosmic Charlie’s has some time-traveling in store during the week ahead.

Tonight, pop’s past and present collide with the return of Louisville’s Wax Fang. Over the past 12 years, the band made a habit of leap-frogging through various eras, but never has the resulting music been so stylistically comprehensive as on its new album, “Victory Laps.”

On the opener, “Pusher,” a sleek groove surfaces that recalls the 2005 Gwen Stefani hit “Hollaback Girl” (which, in turn, borrows liberally from Sugar Ray’s 1999 Top 10 single “Someday”) before retreating into a wave of serene cool that is pure David Bowie.

Slip on down to “Mystery Girl” and the time machine takes you back to the 1980s, with a psychedelic mash-up that sounds like a blend of Echo and the Bunnymen (especially in the whirling guitar sound) and Psychedelic Furs.

Then, on the closing tune, “Exit Strategy,” the years all intersect. The pop orchestration is fresh and modern (with a nod to the guitar work of Robert Fripp) but the vocals toss you back to Jack Bruce’s first solo albums after the 1968 dispersal of his supergroup trio Cream.

Such is the latest adventure of a band — founder and frontman Scott Carney, keyboardist Zach Driscoll, bassist Corey McAfee and drummer Dave Chale — that thrives on change. The retro grooving is especially curious given the futuristic feel and electronic icing that distinguished Wax Fang’s last full-length album, 2014’s “The Astronaut.”

Lexington power trio fave Johnny Conqueroo and self-described Louisville “shotgun house rock” band Brenda will open Friday night’s show.

Then on Thursday, Cosmic Charlie’s turns back the years for rock ’n’ roll of an entirely different vintage when The Blasters return to town.

Fronted by guitarist and songsmith Dave Alvin and his operatically voiced brother Phil Alvin, The Blasters came of age in the midst of a punk revolution that took over Los Angeles at the end of the 1970s. But the loud-and-proud Alvins weren’t punk. Their music was all high-octane, roots-driven rock full of the rebellious cheer that recalled pioneers Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Bo Diddley and numerous others.

The band cut four albums and a concert EP in quick succession between 1980 and 1985, but it was 1981’s “The Blasters” that defined the band’s elemental but atomically jubilant sound.

Dave Alvin left to begin a solo career in 1986. He periodically reunited with the band and cut two non-Blasters albums of blues and roots-based tunes with brother Phil in recent years: “Common Ground: Dave and Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy” in 2014 and “Lost Time” in 2015.

The newest post-Dave Alvin Blasters record is “Fun on Saturday Night” from 2012. Aside from Phil Alvin on lead vocals, harmonica and rhythm guitar, the current lineup boasts two more original members — bassist John Bazz and drummer Bill Bateman — plus lead guitarist Keith Wyatt, who joined in 1996.

Darrell Scott at Willie’s

He has toured the world with Robert Plant and is currently performing as an auxiliary member of the Zac Brown Band. He is a champion songwriter whose works have been covered by Brad Paisley, Dixie Chicks and Kentucky’s own Patty Loveless, but he doubles as a versed multi-instrumentalist. He has called Indiana, Southern California, Toronto, Boston and Nashville home, but he hails from London, Ky. His name is Darrell Scott, and he will be back on home state turf Thursday for a solo show at Willie’s Locally Known, 286 Southland Drive. (8:30 p.m., $25). Scott checks in with us to discuss his newest album, a collection of recordings spanning 15 years, in Sunday’s Living section.

  Comments