Album Review: The Angst Blues of Jon Wahl and the Amadans; Record Release Party: El Cid, March 23

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Any true music fan knows that serious listening can only happen with a decent hi-fi in a dedicated space free of distractions and the myriad, perhaps pointless, multitasking activities that fill every free second of our lives. While increasingly fewer albums today demand listeners’ undivided attention, it is fitting that The Angst Blues of Jon Wahl and the Amadans is initially being released on vinyl exclusively. For passionate fans and early adopters, enjoying the latest opus from one of Los Angeles’ most unique artists will require the deliberate act of cueing a record and devoting time to consume its beats, tones and emotional outpouring.  While the world has changed immensely in the 10 years since Wahl’s last release Iron Nails Run In (a CD), it is comforting that this musical visionary has not.  If anything, his previous explorations of the psyche were prescient, anticipating a less certain existence and a yearning for the interactions and experiences that feed our souls. 

The Angst Blues of Jon Wahl and the Amadans contains all of the trademarks that made the Claw Hammer front man/guitarist an avant garde blues hero to underground musicians restricted by the confines of their own musical scenes.  Intricately layered guitar parts, howling vocals and intense, tremolo-laden crescendos contrast with delightful melodies.  While Claw Hammer served up roller coaster thrills, Wahl’s latest is a slower, more granular ride through the mind of an edgy, contemplative artist seeking meaning and happiness.  Featuring five songs, the album carries a richness and intensity that belie its brevity.  Claw Hammer fans will immediately recognize Bob Lee’s thunderous tom-toms on a very special rendition of Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, however are also treated to a jazzy, funkiness suitable for dancing or strutting. Bassist William Tutton (Geraldine Fibbers) delivers a beautiful musicality that cements this seamless trio.

Jon Wahl and the Amadans will celebrate the release of The Angst Blues of Jon Wahl and the Amadans with a live performance at El Cid on Sunday, March 23.  They will be joined by the Golden Rulers and Extra Frothy Dynamite, featuring jazz punk legend Joe Baiza and Amadan emeritus Steve Reed.  Doors open at 8:00 p.m.; admission is $5.  El Cid is located at 4212 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA  90029.  For more information: http://www.elcidla.com/event/514889-jon-wahl-amadans-record-los-angeles/ . The Angst Blues of Jon Wahl and the Amadans is available from Elastic Records (www.elasticrecords.com).  Previews are available at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elastic-Records/340147318289

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