Buzz Osbourne of Melvins @ RIBCO 2013 photo by Matt Erickson

After thirty years in the game, one might imagine Melvins would slow down, burn out, or fade away. Having pioneered the grunge rock and sludge metal styles of the early nineties, and inspiring a wide-eyed young Kurt Cobain and his contemporaries to follow in their footsteps, the Washington-based trio (sometimes quartet) led by guitarist/singer Buzz Osbourne and drummer Dale Crover still show no signs of fatigue in 2017.

Jessica Lee Wilkes. Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins.

Lone Wolf, Jessica Lee Wilkes' debut recording as a solo artist, offers not the slightest hint of doubt. Its five tracks are a 12-minute blast of full-throated, deep-groove 1950s-style rock, with the bassist/singer/songwriter belting in an unvarnished, brassy voice that sounds wholly natural.

Listening to the new EP, it's hard to believe that Wilkes - who will perform at RIBCO on August 11 - questioned herself a lot. She spent the past half-decade playing and singing in J.D. Wilkes & the Dirt Daubers, but - unlike her music-biz-vet husband (the leader of the aforementioned band) - she's relatively new to performing and recording.

Making her introduction to the world in such an abbreviated form, she said in a recent phone interview, was partly a function of money, but it was also an acknowledgment of inexperience. She had plenty of songs for a longer recording, but she didn't want to get in over her head.

"I wanted to see if I could do it at all," she said. "This was sort of like my first little test run ... , a way to get my feet wet and try to see what I'm capable of as an independent artist."

Mondo Drag

Describing the evolving musical philosophy of Mondo Drag, keyboardist/singer John Gamino said the band is learning patience: "Letting parts breathe. Kind of letting the listener ease into something. ... Letting things develop. Not rushing them along too much."

Patience has also been required in other ways for the Oakland-based psychedelic/prog band that got its start in the Quad Cities and will return on July 9 for a show at RIBCO. (Three of the band's five members hail from the QCs: Gamino and guitarists Nolan Girard and Jake Sheley.)

In 2011, the year after Mondo Drag's New Rituals debut was released, the rhythm section left. The follow-up album was recorded and co-produced by Pat Stolley in the Quad Cities in late 2011 and early 2012 with Zack Anderson and Cory Berry (both of Radio Moscow), who then moved to Sweden as members of Blues Pills.

"So we didn't have a band, essentially," Gamino said. "We didn't have a rhythm section. We couldn't promote the album on tour." And the record didn't have a label, either. He added that the group had difficulty finding compatible musicians in the Midwest, so in April 2013 Mondo Drag set out for California.

Sophomore album Mondo Drag was finally released this year (on RidingEasy Records in the States) - three years after it was finished.

D.R.I. Photo by Colin Davis.

The seminal crossover-thrash band D.R.I. released its seventh studio album, Full Speed Ahead, in 1995, and fans hungry for an eighth album ... well, they'll need to keep waiting.

Founding vocalist Kurt Brecht, in a recent phone interview promoting D.R.I.'s May 30 appearance at RIBCO, said the band isn't against the idea and has made fits and starts. It recorded four demos in 2004 and released a Web-only track from those sessions. And, he added, founding guitarist Spike Cassidy "was saying something about recording the next time we're in L.A. with the engineer that used to do our old albums when we were on Metal Blade Records."

But, he said, if something comes from that studio time, it will likely be an EP. "Not that we couldn't write a full album," he said. "It's just we've been so busy touring and stuff, we don't want to stop to put out an album. ... We're just so happy to have an unlimited amount of dates thrown at us all over the world to play, so we don't want to slow down." Plus, without a current record deal, the band is under no obligation to release new material - and getting a record deal or self-releasing an album would require energy that could be devoted to touring.

Bedroom ShrineFor all of about six seconds, the Quad Cities band Bedroom Shrine's new album No Déjà Vu seems content to set a mood.

The first sound on "Brown Recluse" is the whirring of a tape machine, whose unsteadiness makes the opening notes of acoustic guitar tremble plaintively.

But before that old-time folk vibe can register, the wind chimes tinkle softly, leading to some gentle feedback that builds to the simultaneous entrance (at the 19-second mark) of hand claps and electric slide guitar. Those two elements pull against each other, the hand claps establishing a pleasant groove with the acoustic guitar while the slide concisely articulates its grudge.

The instrumental is clearly meant as a table-setter, but it illustrates that Bedroom Shrine has no interest in dawdling. At all of 85 seconds, the track musically sketches out the band's Facebook blurb of "rock 'n' roll gets lonesome" and scurries off.

That's the basic method of the album, whose 12 songs run a total of 32 minutes. That by itself means nothing, but it relates to both the album's charm and its shortcoming: The vivid, sharply drawn songs leave you wanting more (good!), but they also feel like sketches that would be even better given the time and space to grow into more-mature form (less good!). It's telling that the only two songs that run more than three minutes - "You're Gonna Lose" and the title track - feel most like they've reached the ends of their natural lives.

Bassist and singer Devin Alexander attributes The Post Mortems' two-instrument setup to laziness, but it's not ordinary laziness - as there's very little that's typical about the Quad Cities/Iowa City band.

From its bass-and-drums-rock conceit to its gear to the seven-plus years it took to record its new album Cracked & Crooked, The Post Mortems have often traveled through bramble and brush.

But as arduous as that has often been for Alexander and drummer Al Raymond, the band's March 7 album-release show at RIBCO should provide plenty of proof that the journey has borne fruit. The record successfully hews to The Post Mortems' two-man core while pushing past the boundaries of what should be possible with only a traditional rhythm section - maintaining a minimalist identity while giving listeners much of they dynamic range and texture they expect from a larger outfit. And Alexander said his recently debuted live bass rig should be a revelation to longtime fans of the band.

The Weeks. Photo by Emily B. Hall.

The title of The Weeks' Dear Bo Jackson does more than name-check the famous two-sport professional athlete - an All-Pro running back in the NFL and an All-Star outfielder in Major League Baseball. It also articulates a mission statement for the Nashville-by-way-of-Mississippi band.

"Bo Jackson, as good as he was at baseball and football, he was just called a ballplayer," said guitarist Sam Williams earlier this week. "Bo Jackson just kind of does what he wants. That's sort of what we were going with, musically. ... I just want to be a rock band. ... I think this record has a lot of different genres. We kind of skip around a lot."

To extend the metaphor, Williams said "the bashing rock-and-roll songs" represent The Weeks' football career, while the slower songs are baseball. "They take a little longer to develop," he said, but they have their share of "triples and homes runs."

Of course, bands hate being pigeonholed, but The Weeks make good on their chutzpah. When the latest edition of the Communion tour hits the Quad Cities on January 23 (at RIBCO), the bill features a pair of throwback bands. Both The Weeks and The Dough Rollers play rock that neither needs nor warrants additional modifiers; it's music largely out of time.

On Minus Six's new album Come Out from Where You Hide, "Grassfed" boldly announces itself with gorgeously intertwined fast runs on sax and piano - downhill, then up, and back down again, a deft flash of early jazz grafted onto verses of piano rock. The instrumental breaks elevate the whole, with pianist Kevin Carton and saxophonist Matt Sivertsen given the space to playfully develop and explore.

It's telling that these sections represent the whole of the song's progression, as the verses and chorus are (relatively speaking) inert - which is where the album falters as a whole. The dominant style and overly consistent mix don't sustain interest over the course of the record, and fertile detours don't come quite often enough.

Local H's Scott Lucas. Photo by Wade Hawk.

It would have been the perfect time for Scott Lucas to close the door on Local H.

In February, he was mugged in Russia, an attack that left him with damage to his vocal chords - and they still aren't fully healed. In August, Local H announced that drummer Brian St. Clair was amicably leaving the guitar/drum duo after 14 years.

On the plus side, the band was coming off Hallelujah! I'm a Bum, which one PopMatters.com author dubbed the "best rock album of 2012," and which TinyMixTapes.com called a "watershed album ... . Not only is it the most intricately arranged and carefully structured of the band's 20-plus-year history, but it is also their first to delve so deeply into the polluted waters of partisan politics. ... Musically, Hallelujah! is on par with the best entries in the H catalogue. Lucas has a knack for crafting heavy rock with strong, distinctive hooks." As epitaphs go, a band could do much worse.

But when I asked guitarist/vocalist Lucas last week about shelving his Chicago-area band given the events of 2013, he said he never seriously considered it. "This would be the second time in my life where I would sort of think that," he said. But "at this point it's kind of hard to separate myself from the band. When I'm dead, you won't have to wonder what I thought and what was going through my mind. All you have to do is put on these records, and you'd know. ... This has never been a job for me. I honestly don't know what else I would do. It is part of me, and it always has been."

The Effie Afton

The defining characteristic of the self-titled EP from the Quad Cities band the Effie Afton is a pillowy softness - from the singing to the playing to the layer of gauze over the whole affair. Its four songs over 17 minutes are on the somnambulant side, even on the up-tempo "Great Divide" and the standout closing track, "Say Goodbye." But in a sly trick, this vibe masks a striking evolution over the course of the EP.

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