An alter ego is a chance to set yourself free.
A chance to create a character, a persona, that isn’t you.
Or almost isn’t you. Nonetheless, your alter ego can say or do things you normally wouldn’t. Behind the mask you are only playing a role and are ageless – just ask KISS in costume, septuagenarians they now are otherwise.
In the case of Head, the quintet is five alter egos, led by Lyric. She has the toughest job in that the group’s second album, Dear Father, winds up a grim story about sexual and physical abuse. She has put herself on the line, which means that as allegorical as it might be, Lyric’s story still reads like therapy. There is some terrifying reality, sexual confusion, violence, drug and alcohol binges, revenge that is not satisfactory and no resolution that concludes facilely with a happy ending. Most of this is told in a longer, more detailed form you can access, but to which the songs only can allude. On their own, the songs, 10 with lyrics and a concluding instrumental that might serve as an overture if it was at the front, deal mainly in subjects – sexual confusion, for example – rather than specific points in the story.
That’s OK. You don’t really need the story. It serves as an inspiration and is an outline that gives Dear Father its shape, but the songs can stand on their own. Although Lyric points out the influence of Nine Inch Nails, Dear Father is not so much industrial or electronic as it is progressive rock of the kind Genesis became later in its career. Dense with a mingling of keyboards and guitar. Accessible but still not obvious.
There is a lot going on, which means it’s busy, which, in turn, makes it hard to highlight specific songs. Road To Ruin, which starts, has the brightness and energy you’d expect while allowing Lyric to set up her tale, the title track is tuneful but not baldly catchy and basically is a pivot to the whole story as it is the most emotional track, She might be the most straightforward song of a challenging batch.
It took a long time but I finally was able to hear Jeff Wyatt And The Wreckin’ Crew’s six song Off The Floor. I’ve always liked Jeff since I heard his lyrical and sympathetic guitar playing on a Barry Greenfield album. He’s since experimented with different genres but seems to come back to blues. As a player, Wyatt isn’t flashy or as modern as Walter Trout or Joe Bonamassa but neither is he a purist, a fact born out by two nuggets, Crossroads and Roll And Tumble, and two instrumentals Butt Burger Boogie and Bodhi Surfin’.
The blues songs seem augmented by seldom heard lyrics and personalized arrangements that revive them, while the instrumentals are what the titles suggest, a blues shuffle and the latter a surf-rock that probably gets approved by Dick Dale , king of the surf guitar, and is as nimble as Wyatt gets. For the album, he opts for slide, which he plays cleanly (as opposed to the dirty sound Wyatt has used in the past) and also has grown more confident as a vocalist. There is more bluster than in the past.
The Wreckin’ Crew is the rhythm section of Phil Howell and Vince Iormetti, which means there is little lost in translation. No meandering jazz solos to confuse matters, no elaborate statements. This is a blues trio, simple and straightforward, recorded live. Hence Off The Floor, some glitches and all. If that means it’s honest, that’s another likeable thing about Jeff Wyatt.