Friday, April 29, 2005

CD Review: Howling Diablos - Car Wash

Howling Diablos

The Howling Diablos have been playing the blues for years at Detroit blues club Sully’s backing up blues and R&B legends like Earl King, Johnny Adams, Albert Collins, and Bo Diddley to name but a few. They even took a young turntablist named Robert Ritchie AKA Kid Rock into their fold helping to create the style that brought him fame and riches. They might not have the fame, but the Howling Diablos have got acclaim. Detroit, Michigan natives know all about how well they can play the blues. Fans of the Mississippi based Fat Possum label are well aware of the Diablos frontman Tino Gross since he’s produced several of R.L. Burnside’s albums. Their new album, Car Wash, should bring the Howling Diablos even more praise.

The dirty groove of “Car Wash” leads off the record with Tino’s low growl lamenting washing Lincoln Continentals for a living. The next song is an R.L. Burnside cover, “Gone So Long”, which takes a body into a whole ‘nuther place. It’s gritty and funky with North Mississippi red clay all over it. The Howling Diablos don’t need to just cover the blues great though – “Broke Down” would fit right in to any Mississippi juke joint with Mike Smith’s slide guitar supplying soul power shake appeal. Mississippi isn’t the only part of the South that the Howling Diablos translate Michigan style. “Prison Train” gives off a good time New Orleans feel despite the songs darker lyrics. A few more highlights: “Mean Little Town” exudes an Exile On Main Street vibe, “Stop Running Your Mouth” has Tino laying it down right, and the legendary drummer from Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, Johnny “Bee” Badanjek, makes a guest appearance on three tracks. Johnny Evans’s work on saxophone and harmonica are also stellar throughout Car Wash.

So if you’re looking for some good, funky blues to listen to while dancing with your lady or maybe just drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, heading to the Car Wash would be the right thing to do. The Howling Diablos play the blues with sweat and feeling. It makes me think of what they would say if anybody ever asked them this line from “I’m Waiting For My Man”, “hey white boy, what you doing uptown?” The Howling Diablos would probably answer, “playing the blues, listen to us, and watch your worries disappear.” Car Wash is out now on Alive - Total Energy Records.

Former Child Star Makes Good

You probably know all about how Quinn Cummings, of The Goodbye Girl movie fame, came up with the baby toting device called a hip hugger, and if you didn't well now you do. I'll admit to having a big crush on her back in the '70's. I thought she was super cool in The Goodbye Girl since her character had more smarts than the adults. Whenever I see the film now I flashback to the time I saw the film by myself in the theater (I'm still perplexed that my parents that never let me do anything would let me go see PG rated films all by myself at the age of 10) wishing I could be in NYC visiting Lucy McFadden. It turns out that Quinn grew up to be smart (the hip hugger invention, plus escaping Hollywood) and now she's a blogger with The QC Report which is all about her adventures as a mother. You're probably asking what in the heck would I be doing reading her blog when I'm not a mom. Well, I am a father of three kids who happen to have the best mother around and Quinn's blog entries remind me of the same things happening to my wife. Plus it's always nice to see a former child star make good.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Classic Rot

I believe it was in 1987 or maybe it was 1986, but I got a phone call one night inviting me to participate in a radio station survey. This wasn’t just some telemarketing scam, I was invited to attend this survey session to be held at a very nice Nashville hotel and I would get a free supper plus, I believe, thirty-five dollars. All they wanted were my opinions and since I had plenty I knew I was perfect. I didn’t know how they would take it if I told them what Nashville needed was a good punk rock radio station, but that was what I was planning to say if they asked me.

I got to the hotel, a Marriot, just in time to pick up the free grub. Then I was led into a huge banquet hall with probably 300-500 more people. Soon a skinny lady took the podium and gave us the lowdown on what was about to happen. My bullshit detector went off immediately when she opened her mouth. She wasn’t from the South, unless it was the south side of Chicago. Why did a local radio station need somebody from Chicago telling them what to do? She explained that the station, 104.5, was thinking about changing their format to an all new and revolutionary one. My hopes went up briefly, but she dragged me down quick. The radio station wanted to switch from Top 40 to a “classic rock” format.

“Classic rock” had not been done in Nashville yet and I’m pretty sure it was fairly new across the country. I muttered something like, “great, just what Nashville needs, another lame oldies station” and the lady must have heard me because she then went into this long spiel about how “classic rock” was different from the oldies format, because the station would play new material from artists deemed classic. A classic station would play Jimi Hendrix, but also play U2. Then we began the survey.

We took some sharpened No. 2 pencils and started filling in little circles just like on a college entrance exam. The evil demographers would play snippets of songs and then we had to say how well we liked them. It was the standard not much, liked it, loved it kind of garbage. I’ll have to admit that I liked a lot of the songs, but I canned it all. Why? Because I could see this format choking the life out of rock and roll radio. The station might have been Top 40 which lives or dies by how decent pop music is at the time, but I was sure there would be other decent rock and roll stations changing to the vile “classic rock” formula. How could a new band break into such a time frozen format?

I had been fortunate enough to have a pretty good rock station, 103 KDF, during the early ‘80’s that would play Psychedelic Furs and then a few minutes later play some Ozzy Osbourne, plus there was always a steady diet of classic AOR radio there. Of course, I had an excellent college radio station too; 91 Rock out of Vanderbilt which was incredible until just the last ten years or so when they went segment crazy. There’s so many specialty shows on it, you never know when to tune in to something you might like. That’s a whole other story though.

I get done with the survey and get in the line to get my money. Somebody in the line makes the mistake of asking me what I thought of the format. “Isn’t it great?” they asked me. It was on then. I started getting totally belligerent about how crap like “classic rock” would kill rock and roll and how new bands wouldn’t get a chance. Some over sized lady in front of me brought up the fact that U2 would get played and they were new; a typical idiot fan who didn’t know anything pre-dated The Joshua Tree album. So I had to go into the history of U2 telling her the whole discography and how they wouldn’t have gotten beyond the Boy album if “classic rock” had been around then. I was brutal and mean, but I did surprise myself that I didn’t call her fat and stupid. I took my money which now felt rather filthy and I probably spent it on punk rock records that I found out about through listening to 91 Rock.

104.5 made the change becoming “104.5 The Fox”, despite all my penciling in that I hated everything. I was traveling around soon after when I discovered there were “Fox” stations all around. 104.5 wasn’t even a local Nashville station. It was just part of some evil corporate scheme to make aging baby boomers feel aglow with nostalgia for their youth in hopes they would then buy some of the crap advertised. In those days of pre-internet saturation and pre-satellite radio it often made for some sad radio listening hearing the same old crap over and over again. I might not have been there for the fall of Rome, but I can say I was there for the fall of rock and roll radio.

This post was inspired in part by bmarkey over at Big Green House. Feel free to drop in, just don't forget to wipe your feet.

Surely You Heard Them On The O.C.

TemperTemper

Have we hit post-post-modern yet? The new New Wave is all the rage and post-post punk is making its play for our ears and hearts. Influences are being assimilated and reassembled constantly, but nothing really new is being produced. Accessories don’t make a car new and this trend toward what I call glop rock (taking disparate influences and glopping them together) isn’t exactly producing the next Beatles. Temper Temper, from Milwaukee, are definitely in the glop rock brigade. They cite T. Rex, Gary Numan, The Misfits, Led Zeppelin, Public Image Limited, and A Certain Ratio all as influences. Does this produce something new, or are just dressing up an old Ford Pinto?

The album begins with a pulsing electronically enhanced beat leading to an industrial atmosphere that’s not too oppressive. We’re talking light machinery factory instead of a heavy machinery one. This is probably what made “Trust Me” perfect for The O.C. as it was featured on a recent episode. I guess the young kids go wild for Pat Fuller’s effete and affected English vocals. There is a permanent sneer in his voice and it gets tiresome fast. By the time the fifth song, “Delicate Pimp” begins you’re just wishing he would shut up and let the band play.

Musically Temper Temper isn’t too shabby. They could have easily took the easy route out and been goth poseurs, but instead they attack the glop rock aesthetic with fierceness and abandon. “Loaded Life” has some nifty psychedelic touches. I like the carnivalesque effects on “My God Is Gold” and “Bleed For Me Comrade” almost makes up for its stupid title with deft splashes of organ. “Cheap Little Target” sees the group heading into hippie jam band territory sounding like an updated Spirit at points. Temper Temper’s big weak point, besides Fuller’s voice, is that they can’t seem to write a good chorus. Right when you think a song is going to really begin to soar you’re left stranded on the launch pad. Only one song breaks that trend although “Sexy Little Cuts” also comes close and this leads to the question: is one song worth buying an album for?

“Heart Like A Fist” is a minor classic. It’s the one song where Fuller’s vocals fit it perfectly. It’s a protean slice of post punk stomping along with glee not afraid to have a sing-along chorus. It’s short yet it possesses the timeless quality of all great rock and roll. You don’t notice time when it’s playing, everything is put into suspended animation save the song and however you move to it.

There may be nothing new with Temper Temper’s style of glop rock, but they’re not tooling around in a Pinto either. With just a few adjustments here and there – more songs like “Heart Like A Fist” and “Sexy Little Cuts” – and they might find themselves riding in limousines often. Temper Temper’s self-titled album is available from Revelation Records and you can also find it in finer stores and internet outlets.

Hey, I Thought Of That First!

These scientists must have read my mind. I can see patent lawyers getting very rich.

Hasil Adkins RIP

The hunching wild man of rock, Hasil Adkins, has died at the age of 67. WFMU's Beware Of The Blog has the story. The world is a lesser place without the "Haze." Here's to cutting off heads psychobilly style. "You can't eat no more hot dogs!"

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

CD Review: Chatham County Line - Route 23

route 23

It’s long been a tradition for rock and roll musicians to end up playing country music. Conway Twitty and George Jones went that route and then there’s this great line from Ryan Adams’s song Faithless Street, “…I started this damn country band, cause punk rock was too hard to sing.” Chatham County Line bring some experience from rock and roll to playing traditional style bluegrass, but unless you’ve read their biography you would probably think they’ve been playing this music from the day they were born.

Dave Wilson plays guitar, harmonica, and sings. He also writes most of the songs. John Teer plays a mean mandolin, fiddle, and sings. Chandler Holt is on banjo and vocals. Greg Reading plays bass, pedal steel, and also contributes vocals. They also often back up Tift Merritt as The Carbines. Chris Stamey of Sneakers and db’s fame saw them opening for Tift one night as Chatham County Line and they were soon in the studio with him producing their debut album released in 2003. It was an enjoyable disc even when it seemed like it was reaching for subject matter. “Tennessee Valley Authority” was one of the most egregious offenders with its simplistic gloss over of a very contentious time in the Tennessee Valley. Thankfully on the new album, Route 23, Wilson’s lyric writing has improved and become more personal.

The title track is a great example of this telling the tale of a gas station forced to close after it is bypassed by a new highway. His father ran a hardware store in Charlotte, North Carolina that was forced to close for the same thing. “The only thing that changed were the seasons and the shapes of the hoods” captures the timeless nature of the South before the four land highways transformed the landscape. “Nowhere To Sleep” shows Wilson’s voice maturing gaining more of that quintessential bluegrass soul sound. The band keeps up sounding this good, they won’t have a problem “trying to raise their rent.” Another deft lyrical turn is “you’re in the arms of another and I’m in the arms of the law” from “Arms Of The Law” which would make a fine country song. Some other high points include “Sun Up” which features some fancy banjo picking and the slow spiritual number, “Take Heed”.

Chatham County Line won Best New Bluegrass Band at Rockygrass 2004 with good reason. They are refreshing with their traditionalism, yet not archaic. They will be touring almost non-stop this year so pick up their albums, and then go see them play. It’s only right that some former rockers are playing bluegrass. I’ve always considered the genre to be country’s version of speed metal. Route 23 is out on the great Yeproc label.

ccl

CD Review: The Robot Ate Me - Carousel Waltz

Carousel Waltz

Carousel Waltz by The Robot Ate Me is arriving just in time for the May flowers blooming. This wistful and yearning album makes perfect accompaniment for blissful afternoons watching sunshine shadows mellow into the dusk with the temperatures falling; the feel that everything is transmuting around you. Ryland Bouchard’s high tenor is pleasantly askew like a Daniel Johnston that’s actually had a few voice lessons. The album was recorded in Bouchard’s bedroom and the sound is hauntingly spare augmented by cello, trumpet, and trombone for a minimalist orchestral feel.

Feelings are what this album’s about – turning sorrow into joy. It’s a musical postcard saying “Hi, Love” sent out to lift our spirits. There is artwork in the sleeve showing a man with rainbow arms reaching out to dark clouds. Another drawing shows this same man, now with wings, with rainbow arms reaching out to pink clouds. It isn’t a Christian spirituality that’s embraced, but there is a general quest for a power higher. The song “Where Love Goes” asks “is there something more (we haven’t looked for) or is this everything? Will you hold me up, watch me sleep at night, and be my reason to live?” and while Carousel Waltz doesn’t provide any definite answers, the right questions are posed. The outsider motif shows up in “Lately” as Bouchard sings, “we aren’t like them” with “them” left up to the imagination, a smart artistic move.

This is quiet music, but it’s not peaceful. Its mysterious indie rock that doesn’t need to growl and it leaves the cynical irony that’s an epidemic these days completely out. It rewards close listening creating a melancholy so sweet you lay your head on the music like a pillow. “This Love Is Waiting” contains advice that could have come from a Zen Buddhist monk, “this life will come through if you don’t let it get to you” which harkens back to The Doors song, “Take It As It Comes”, from an Apollonian stance instead of Dionysian.

I hope my flurry into Greek mythology hasn’t scared you away. Carousel Waltz is simple yet complex. Deep yet shallow enough to still just be rock and roll. It’s serious, but still fun. Great for reflection or dancing a slow waltz. The Robot Ate Me have another low key winner to their discography. Carousel Waltz is available from the 5 Rue Christine label beginning May 10th. Get it and watch the flowers grow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Take That RIAA

You can get 200 free songs at Amazon. I wonder if the RIAA is aware of this? I've said it once and I'll say it again. There are so many great songs out there on the web - all free and legal - that you shouldn't be downloading anything illegally anyways.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Just Not Feeling Bloggy

I'm just not feeling very bloggy today. I thought I'd write a big piece about Joan Of Arcadia and whether or not it's jumped the shark already. So I think I'll just spread some sunshine with this link on the apocalypse.

Don't Eat The Rice

Don't touch the sushi! It's made of people! Soylent Green, here we come.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

John Davis is Johnny Flame

Thanks to Nashvillezine, here's a link to a site offering an album's worth of songs from Johnny Flame aka John Davis playing Beatles songs. John Davis used to be in a local Knoxville band, Superdrag. You may have heard of them before. Heh-heh.

Friday, April 22, 2005

We Are The Good Guys

I was acquainted with Lance Frizzell back in his punk rock days with Murfreesboro bands Inner Circle and At The Dumpster. He later joined Jet Black Factory, one of Nashville's best bands of the late '80's. He's currently stationed in Iraq with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment and I check his blog quite regularly. His post from today is right on the money.

Stereogum led me astray - Pretty In Pink 2 Not True

I fugured it wasn't true when I originally posted this on April 2nd. It was just too close to April's Fool Day. My pessimism has borne out as Stereogum has announced there will be no Pretty In Pink 2. At least we've still got Demi Moore living her life much like Jules probably would from St. Elmo's Fire.

I Could Use A Good Long Nap

Scientists have announced they may be on the verge of putting humans into long term hibernating states. It'd just be my luck, I'd end up like that woman in the Planet Of The Apes.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

CD Review - Love Tractor: Black Hole

Love Tractor

Why do people keep buying Paul McCartney albums? You know that each new one will be a pale shade of the greatness of years before, but still you plunk down your hard earned cash hoping to find a little spark of the glory of before. Not that it’s fair to single out Sir Paul exclusively; it’s the same for lots of artists, especially ones with long careers. The other side of this is when an artist that has been out of the game for awhile decides to give it another try, which brings us to the 21st Century version of Love Tractor.

Love Tractor was part of the great wave of ‘80’s bands from Athens, Georgia. I’m sure you’ve heard of a few of them such as The B-52’s, R.E.M., Oh-OK, Pylon, Dreams So Real, The Method Actors, The Now Explosion (now, “Nappy” that was a song), and The Side Effects. Rodger Lyle Brown’s book Party Out Of Bounds and the film Athens, GA, Inside-Out are both great sources if you want to learn the history of the scene. I lived up the road quite a piece, Nashville, but it was still close enough to go ape for everything Athens, GA. The Athens music fanzine, Tasty World, was distributed at the local record stores and Athens bands were always playing in Nashville. Love Tractor were one of the standouts with their combination of surfboard waxed instrumentals that seemed to emanate from some off planet surf spot mixed with pristine pop and the local Athens version of funk. They were known for throwing in Gap Band covers, but it was the pop masterpiece “Beatle Boots” off of This Ain’t No Outer Space Ship that forever endeared them to me. They made an album in 2001 called The Sky At Night(their first since 1989), but hadn’t been heard from since.

So when I heard that principal Tractor, Mike Richmond, had gotten Love Tractor started again I got that McCartney type feeling. I knew I’d have to get the record, but I was also sure it would stink when compared to the halcyon days. What drives a music fan to keep coming back for more when it is probably going to be bad? I suppose it’s the twin edged cut of memory and desire that usually leaves a spirit bleeding and sad. It’s the memory of the former greatness and that potential to once more be great and the desire to feel those same emotions that elated you in the past, a chance to recharge cells desperately needing a jolt. Journeying into the past is a perilous thing, but once I saw that the new Love Tractor album, Black Hole, was coming out on Fundamental Records I knew I was going to get it for good or bad. Fundamental Records has the Shockabilly connection to my heart, another great artist from the past. My memories were stoked and ready to hear Black Hole hoping Love Tractor weren’t going to lead me into one.

The blurb accompanying the album said that Richmond wanted the album to be “a kind of surreal, somewhat nonsensical, little bit scary trip” and I think he succeeded very finely. That’s right, Love Tractor have succeeded finely. Meet the new model, just as good as the old model, albeit different. Richmond had to recruit a new band since the other original members didn’t want to do anything anymore. Some of the best Athens players are on board; Tom Lewis (Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule, VOL), Billy Holmes (Uncle Tupelo, VOL), Ben Holst (Avenues, Velure) and Darren Staley (Squat). It’s a ride into some harder edged grooves than the ‘80’s band ever recorded with a copious dose of psychedelia also thrown in.

The tougher sound is right from the start on “Georgia Rain’ with the new heaviness lightened by some deft Rhodes organ flourishes. Billy Holmes brings out something called worm guitar for the prog rock “Another One” while “Epidemic” recalls the old Love Tractor style well. There may be no pristine pop on this CD, but “Knives And Guns” reminds me of mid-period Meat Puppets with its muscular swagger. “Black Hole” boasts FMM flavor; flute, mellotron, and moog. The real psychedelic standout is “Electric Chair”; it has soundtrack overtones along with electric ambient crackles like a shorted wire – truly weird and spooky. Richmond cops a Robert Pollard vocal sound for “Queen Of The Cesspool” that would impress the most cynical Guided By Voices fan. The only real misstep is on the musically tame, “Wizards In The Sky” due to lyrics that sound like they written after too many Dungeons & Dragons games. It has stone age demons, wizards, demons dropping bombs, dragons, and labyrinths. I expected a miniature Stonehenge monument to descend from the sky at any moment. Maybe the dropping bombs line is a sly reference to “You Dropped A Bomb On Me” by The Gap Band.

So memory and desire collided with Love Tractor and a bumper crop was harvested. Black Hole was a pleasant surprise and proof that an old group can learn new tricks without losing any of the inventiveness and artistic bravery of the past. Now I can’t wait for the next McCartney album.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

CD Review - David Fridlund: Amaterasu

amaterasu

David Fridlund has made intriguing pop music for years with David & The Citizens, but the time had come for a solo record. From Amazon: "I never planned a solo record, everything I wanted we already did with the Citizens." David says, "But the more people mentioned the solo idea, the more it grew, so when our Swedish booker Jesper Kumberg asked: 'isn't it time for that solo record' it all sort of fell into place." Kumberg has worked with David since early 1999, helping his band to over 200 shows and taken some praise for propelling David and the Citizens to dizzy heights and a Grammy nomination. "But we had run Citizens aground," Says David, "Admittedly; we were close to splitting, and probably would have if the work on this record had not got going." Fridlund may be a pop musician and Swedish, but this doesn’t mean he makes platitudinous fluff like a certain world’s most renowned Swedish group that stalked the Earth in matching disco suits many years before.

Fridlund’s music is piano based, evocative, cerebral pop that will lead you right down the path laid by a group like Belle & Sebastian , but with an element of bombast and unease. Amaterasu, which is the name of the Shinto sun goddess, begins with a burst of static that resolves into ocean spray before Sara Culler’s ethereal voice begins the proceedings on the minimal “Circles” before David joins in halfway through the song. There’s a British music hall bounce to the idiosyncratic “April & May” that will have you humming along. Each song seems to be interconnected in a vague lyrical way, and the music lends a quite mysterious aura to things that is oddly moving. Sufjan Stevens fans would probably like this album very much.

“Busride & Carsick” gets a nice touch of saxophone at the end and features the great line, “back in that small town where stupid is king” - I’ve lived in a stupid small town once and it’s not much fun. The best song on the record is the upbeat “3 Pictures (Of You & You & You) with frantic choruses that are actually sort of reminiscent of Sonic Youth in their Daydream Nation phase. I can just hear Kim Gordon’s breathy voice on those choruses right now. The album ends on a groovy note with some Herb Alpert type horns during the last measures of “The Past Floats Like Stones” for a tripping 60’s feel.

The emphasis on piano sometimes puts the image of a hipster Bruce Hornsby, but David Fridlund doesn’t need any goofball comparisons from me. He’s an extremely talented guy whose musical career should continue to attract accolades for years to come. Amaterasu is a pop prize that comes out in early May on Hidden Agenda Records.

The Return Of The Singular

Ron Rosenbaum has an incredibly good article about the phenomenon he has dubbed "The Return Of The Singular" over at Jewish World Review. Highly recommended reading for music fans, especially those of us who think Cornershop's "Brimful Of Asha" is a classic. It's on the 45!

Goblinhaus to be at Hauntcon in Dallas

My friends over at Goblinhaus will be at this year's Hauntcon in Dallas April 22nd-24th. If you happen to be in that neck of the woods, be sure to drop by their booth. I'm sure they'll have lots of horrible goodies.

Not enough Pope?

If you're not getting enough Pope news, you can always stop by the Blogdom Of God aggregator for plenty more.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pope Guido?

I heard the breaking news of the new Pope's election and I wondered if Father Guido Sarducci was eligible. Wouldn't he make a great Pope? I'm pretty sure he won't be the guy on the balcony later today (he is just a television character after all), but I'd convert to Catholicism if he was - you hear that Vatican?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Beer Drinking & Hell Raising

shga

This began as a review of the new CD 60,000 Years by Texas metal band Superheavygoatass on Arclight Records. It became something else entirely.

I think it was in January of 1986. I’d been out of high school for almost a year, but I was still hanging out at the local game room on Saturday nights. I might shoot some pool, definitely play a lot of pinball, and sometimes try my luck on either the Super Mario Brothers or 720ยบ video games. It was a usual night around midnight (the place shut down at 12:30 AM) when a couple of my old high school friends asked me if I wanted to go cruising around. Normally, it would be an automatic yes, but these dudes gave me the creeps and I just knew the evening would somehow end badly if I went. But since I had nothing better to do, I decided to take them up on the offer as long as I was the driver. We didn’t get 50 feet from the game room when one of them, T-dog, said, “Why don’t we go get my GTO, it’s a much better car to cruise in,” and so my sinking feeling continued especially when J.R. agreed.

So we drove over to T-dog’s house and grabbed his classic GTO. It was a candy apple red early 70’s model with a killer stereo. Maybe things wouldn’t be so bad. We picked up some beer, all of us under the drinking age of 21, and proceeded to head for the country. Riding around and drinking beer seems very boring to me now, but back then it was almost like a sport. Of course, you had to throw your empty bottles at mailboxes afterwards for fun. See Richard Linklater’s Dazed And Confused for a very accurate portrayal of typical teen redneck behavior. I wasn’t a redneck though. I was a punk rocker who didn’t fit in with the art of cruising, drinking, and fighting even if I did end up doing more than my fair share of it. It’s a typical small town lament. It soon became clear that it was just too damn cold for most people to be out, so we had the back roads to ourselves. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon was on the stereo and I wondered if or when the subject of dope would come up. I really didn’t relish the though of being stranded out in the middle of nowhere with a couple of stoned idiots,, plus I was having to think up excuses that I could use when I would surely be asked to take a hit. I wasn’t a straight edge punk or angel, but that night didn’t seem like the right night to be letting my mind go astray.

Luckily, both T-dog and J.R. weren’t holding and I wasn’t too worried about the little bit of beer consumption that had taken place. We hadn’t even seen any cops so I was beginning the whole experience as being extremely dull and uneventful which is not that bad a thing when T-dog decided to go all musical on me. My reputation as a punk was pretty well known – there weren’t very many people walking around with Circle Jerks shirts in Murfreesboro back then – but T-dog knew I used to be a big for starters, a big metal head, and that I also actually liked a lot more music, much of which I would have never owned up to liking (Suzanne Vega, anyone). So he started digging out tapes that usually didn’t mix with cruising. If I was pressed to name the quintessential cruise tape, ZZ Top’s Deguello comes to mind immediately; it rocked yet has a Texas roadhouse groove just perfect for drinking beer and raising hell. T-dog first puts on The Monkees. J.R. starts complaining, so T-dog looks to me for back up. “I just knew you would like The Monkees.”

Next it’s some Aerosmith, which would have been tolerable except it was their lousy live set that came out in the 70’s, followed by really terrible heavy metal era Alice Cooper, and then when I’m thinking the night can’t get any worse he unleashes Janis Joplin on me. Before all of the Janis fans spring to her defense, I recognize that she could really belt out a tune, but I have never liked her voice. I’m more of a Bessie Smith sort of guy. It’s a completely personal reaction which is exactly what T-dog got that night. “Stop it, please,” I begged, “I can’t take any more of her caterwauling.” You’d think I had just killed his mother.

“Get out of my car,” he growled. I thought he was joking at first, but it soon became clear he was serious. We were miles from any houses, it was freezing cold, and who knew where the nearest pay phone would be. Man, this was just not going to be a good night if I had to walk for miles in the freezing cold. I got out of the car and they went on, probably to go slash the tires on my car. I started to trudge up the road when it suddenly dawned on me that this particular nowhere was a few miles from a somewhere that might offer some warmth and a ride back into town. My good and real friend, the Gonz, had a house just across the cow pasture I was walking beside. It was probably a good five miles away by road, but if I cut across the pasture it couldn’t be more than a couple of miles. So I dodged frozen cow patties and made my way to the Gonz’s home. He was bummed about being awoken at 4 in the morning, but after I told him the Janis story he was cool. He didn’t care too much for her either. We got into his beat up Camaro, cranked up some Black Sabbath, and roared back to town. “I bet you’re glad to get out of the cold,” he said.

“The cold wasn’t that bad, I’m just glad to be riding in a car with some good music playing.”

Superheavygoatass's new album out on Arclight Records titled 60,000 Years would have been good to listen to while cruising. Its stoner rock with a Texas twang and chunky guitar chords thick as briskets perfect for testing out the low end of your stereo. They used to be known as simply Goatass, but Austin legend Handsome Joel added the Superheavy part to their moniker and super heavy they are. Fans of Kyuss and Sabbath type thunder rock need to check these dudes out. Russell Abbott is on vocals and guitar. Brent Boepple holds down the bass. Tim Hurt keeps the ride riding and the crash crashing. Derrick Halfmann kicks a little ass on guitar.

60,000 Years is supposed to have some sci-fi connection laced with a little Satanism, but I thought the lyrics were more than a little bit vague and minimal. The songs could use a little tightening up. Maybe label mates RPG can teach them a thing or two about brevity, but long jams tend to come with the territory of stoner rock. Highlights include “SSOB” which features a snappy guitar solo with lots of hammer-ons; sludge rock that kicks it into overdrive. Most of the tracks on the album begin with a slow bass line and then build brick by brick into total heaviness. “Built To Last” breaks that mold with a memorable riff that really grooves. “Ms. Underhill” is the epitome of beer drinking Trans Am music. Look for Superheavygoatass this summer as they tour the country spreading good heavy vibes to the masses.

I made it back to town with Gonz’s help and my car was just fine. T-dog met us in the front of his house and asked me where I’d gone. It seems that he went back for me after ten minutes or so. It was just a big joke, ha-ha. I should have slugged him, but I accepted his lame story and noted to self to turn him down the next time he wanted me to hang out with him. I got into my old Buick, cranked up some Black Flag and called it a night since the sun was now coming up.

Power Pop Site Is Starting A Primary Documents Archive

Power Pop is starting a primary documents archive for music fanzines beginning with Bomp. It's a great idea and Power Pop is asking for contributions.

DVD Review - Iggy Pop: Live San Fran 1981

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I expected chaos, tumult, and extra helpings of the Iggy dance. I didn’t really expect him to look like the future version of Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in his mini-skirt, fishnet stocking and garter belt. It was a much more interesting look than the crowd; there was hardly a punk rocker in sight. I’d like to know in what venue the show took place, but the DVD doesn’t tell us much beyond the city, date, and the players. Live San Fran 1981 has a bootleg feel to it that’s actually quite refreshing in this day of split second jump cuts and glitz.

The sound is raw, not taken from the board and visually the DVD is grainy – I doubt it would look good at all on a big screen television. But a document like this doesn’t have to be a thing of great beauty; we’re talking real rock & roll archaeology here. Iggy Pop was in a down swing, popularity wise, having peaked with the David Bowie produced albums, The Idiot and Lust For Life. This tour was to promote the Party album, his last for Arista. He was making decent music, but it lacked the fire of the new American hardcore punk scene, yet was still too uncommercial for American radio. A song like “Punping For Jill” just screams out “I’m trying for a hit”, but it couldn’t break big. Iggy’s live shows were where the action was anyways. What would he get hit with this time? Would he roll around on broken glass? Wear a ballerina’s tutu?

He had a pretty killer band with him in San Francisco that night: Carlos Alomar on guitar, former Blondie member Gary Valentine on guitar, Rob Duprey was also on guitar, Mike Page played bass, and Blondie drummer Clem Burke brought his stick twirling dynamics to the show. If the sound was better you could probably hear the interplay between the three guitarists better as they are rarely playing the same thing. Page provides supple bass lines. Burke is the one to watch though; he’s like an unleashed monster behind the drums rarely letting up. Iggy is rather subdued, much like the crowd, only bringing out the Iggy dance completely on “Rock And Roll Party”. Some musical highlights include: show opener “Some Weird Sin”, “TV Eye” which is amped up to a maniacal state, “Eggs On Plate” which actually gets the crowd to pogo a bit, and Iggy’s nod to the Reagan Revolution, “I’m A Conservative” with lyrics just as fitting today - I got bored so I'm making my millions When you're conservative you get a better break You're always on the right side When you're conservative. The set ends with “Pumping For Jill” which really should have been a hit.

If you’re into rock and roll’s not to distant past or a big Iggy Pop fan, don’t miss this DVD release.

This was also posted at Blogcritics.org.

The Old Tom Wolfe Bit

No, I'm not talking about electric kool-aid acid tests. I'm talking of the "you can't go homa again" Tom Wolfe, at least in a barely connective way. Instead of arriving back in the home town to see that it's all changed, I'm talking cerebral rearranging of memories OR WHY BOOTLEGS CAN BE A BAD THING. I found this great bootleg site which I'm sure most are already well aware of and I saw some bands I might like to hear. The Meat Puppets stuff was incredible, of course I never saw them play live. What caused my memories to suddenly be messed up was the one boot I heard of Van Halen on the 1984 Tour. That was my first big rock tour to see, in February in Nashville, TN. The boot I heard was of a Charlotte show also in February. The sound wasn't great, but I wasn't expecting much there. What sucked was Van Halen's performance - they were terrible!!! Sloppy, indulgent, full of crap....and when I decided to check gigs from the Hide Your Sheep tour for Diver Down I got the same result. I had thought of the 1984 show as a highlight of my youth and now it seems I was living a lie. Van Halen actually stink live. That's the last time I listen to a boot of a band I've actually seen live. I don't think my brain could handle any more disappointment.

Swervedriver Compilation Released

One of my all time favorite bands gets the compilation treatment:Swervedriver.If you never got to hear their incredible guitar wail - a cross between shoegazing noise and great pop songwriting chops - be sure to pick this CD up before it disappears.

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Heavy Metal Weekend

Now that New Wave has come back around again, heavy metal can't be too far behind. Some might say The Darkness is the first evidence of this, but they seem like a one hit wonder (in America at least) to me. All I know is if there's a metallic resurgence on the horizon, don't forget the Nuge. I wonder if he'd have concertgoers check their guns at the door? He's like the crazy uncle I had too many of on my mother's side.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Holy Hobbes!! The Complete Calvin & Hobbes Is On It's Way

Pre-orders for The Complete Calvin & Hobbes can be placed at Amazon right now!!! This is an awesome event, the best since The Far Side set came out a few years ago. Calvin was always the strip I read last - the honored spot for me. Today I read Frazz last and there has been some discussion about the influence Calvin & Hobbes had on Frazz with some feeling Frazz is an older Calvin.

Can you see the Calvin and Frazz connection?

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The Feud Is On Again

We residents of the great state of Tennessee knew it wouldn't take long for the Steve Spurrier versus Phillip Fulmer feud to ignite now that Spurrier's back in the SEC. It will make watching college thug ball that much more interesting in the fall.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Shazam Play Sparklefest Tomorrow Night

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If you're in need of a power pop fix and are in the Chapel Hill, North Carolina area tomorrow night, make sure to drop by Sparklefest 2005 which is filled with awesome power pop rock and roll, the most notable being Nashville homeboys: The Shazam as they take a break from the studio where they've been recording their latest rock and roll classic.

The festival started last night and will be happening tonight also if you happen to be close to Chapel Hill. In my case that's a big fat no, but I'm sure I can get the lowdown on how this year's event went.

Upcoming Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash compilations

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I was extremely happy to find advance copies of the upcoming Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash compilations in the ol' mailbox the other day. It may seem strange sometimes that I like such a varied cross section of music, but I grew up in a house in which one parent loved Elvis Presley and the other one idolized Merle Haggard and Hank Williams. Hee Haw and the Porter Wagoner Show were always watched - I liked Hee Haw for the jokes, but as a kid I never quite got Porter although RFD TV now shows Wagoner reruns and they are incredible, especially when it comes to the banjo and guitar playing talents of Buck Trent. That covers rock and roll and country, but how did I end up being a jazz fan? I suppose it was a combination of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and Jack Kerouac that led me there. So I've always had a thing for good music (translated...anything that moves me in some emotional or visceral way) and June Carter and Johnny Cash made some great music.

Columbia is issuing compilations for both this summer, Johnny for the umpteenth time, while this is the first time June Carter Cash has gotten the anthology treatment. The Johnny Cash Legend set comes in both a 4 CD version and a 5 CD deluxe one filled with his hits divided into thematic sides chronologically. It's all great stuff (no "Chicken In Black" in sight) with seven previously unreleased songs. It'll make a great introduction for the casual fan and completists will want it for the unreleased stuff. I already had much of the material contained on it, but it is nice to have it all in one handy spot.

The June Carter Cash comp titled Keep On The Sunny Side - Her Life In Music is simply a joy - a revelation of her immense talents that resided in the shade of her husband for most of her career. It begins when she is a mere 10 years old singing with "Keep On The Sunnyside" with the Carter Family and then proceeds through her entire recording including the complete contents of her rare 1st solo album, Appalachian Pride, ending with "Keep On The Sunnyside" from her award winning Wildflower album recorded just a few months before her death in 2003. Particularly poignant is "Far Side Banks Of Jordan" the duet with Johnny where June sings the lyrics, "If it proves to be His will that I am first to go And somehow I've a feeling it will be. When it comes your time to travel, likewise don't feel lost For I will be the first one that you see." June and Johnny's life together was a great love story with the music just being the thing that brought them together.

Both albums are a treasure trove of timeless American music. The June Carter Cash album is due out appropriately in June and the Johnny Cash album will be released in July.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

C is for Cookie, at least it was

Damn those PC mongers at the Children's Television Workshop, now they're going to take all of the joy away from Cookie Monster. The show has been going downhill ever since Roosevelt Franklin was booted from the cast. Most of the slapstick humor (originally used so little boys would watch the show)has been removed and that little creep Elmo runs the show. Don't even get me started about Snuffy.

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Dinosaur Jr. Reissues

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One of my favorite episodes of The Wonder Years was the one where Kevin joins a rock band called The Electric Shoes. On the night of their big debut Kevin utters something to the effect of, “We may not be good, but at least we’ll be loud.” Dinosaur Jr. was loud, extremely loud especially in the confines of a small club, but they were also good. Drummer turned guitarist J. Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow both formerly of Massachusetts hardcore punk band Deep Wound joined forces with drummer Murph from Connecticut punk band All White Jury to form Dinosaur in the fall of 1984. They added the Jr. to the name after a band of aging hippies named The Dinosaurs asked them to change their name. I suspect lawyers were involved.

The early days when they were just Dinosaur saw them alienate soundmen, club owners, and fans with the decibel level of their shows, but there was something unique going on underneath the maelstrom. They were fusing hardcore punk energy with Seventies style guitar bombast which at the time was revolutionary, even downright heretical. Another stylistic triumph was the laconic vocals of J. Mascis, sung like he could barely be bothered. They became label mates with Sonic Youth on Homestead Records which released their debut album in 1985. It still sounds strange today, but it was truly an oddity back then. Punk underpinnings meet hippie noodling, songs go through crazy tempo changes creating something new in the soon to be burgeoning college/alternative underground scene. Highlights of this first album are “Bulbs Of Passion”, Lou Barlow’s wistful “Forget The Swan” and “Repulsion” which was also the best track when it was included on the Homestead compilation The Wailing Ultimate.

Dinosaur Jr. would follow Sonic Youth to SST Records and release what most people feel is the quintessential Dinosaur Jr. album; You’re Living All Over Me. The noise was still there, but there was a better focus on song craft. Mascis, Barlow, and Murph were functioning as a cohesive unit on this record. The album opener “Little Fury Things” kicks the album off with a perfect example of the mature Dinosaur Jr. sound. “Sludgefeast” could have been a Sonic’s Rendezvous Band cut and that is a good thing. “In A Jar” is another classic, but it’s the cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” that usually gets the most notice. I remember when WRVU (the college radio station I liked to listen to) got numerous complaints from unhappy Cure fans whenever they dared to play the Dino Jr. version. You’re Living All Over Me was also Barlow’s songwriting swansong with the band. “Poledo” is a harbinger of what was to come with Sebadoh.

By the time Bug was recorded Barlow and Mascis weren’t talking to each other, which makes the Mascis penned Barlow sung “Don’t” hilarious with the only lyrics being “Why don’t you like me” repeated over a Stooges Funhouse type freak-out. Speaking of freak, “Freak Scene” became the alternative hit slacker anthem of 1988 with its mix of soaring riffs and endearing vocals. Other favorites are “Let It Ride” and “The Post” where Mascis serenades us in that Neil Young sounding voice of his about a woman that's "... my post to lean on, and I just cut her down." But after three classic records, Barlow was dumped from the band which he didn’t want to play in anyways and things would never be the same again.

Dinosaur Jr. would continue to make good albums, but it’s the first three in their discography that are the stuff of legend. How Dinosaur Jr., You’re Living All Over Me, and Bug could have been allowed to go out of print is beyond my comprehension, but that is fixed with these reissues by Merge Records. Much has been written about how these records were precursors to the chart triumph of Nirvana and while this is undoubtedly true, one shouldn’t go listening to these albums just to view the foundations of the alternative house of rock. They should seek these records out just to hear some great raucous rock and roll; music that didn’t depend on the past or future, but only on the loudness of now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Say Goodbye To Indonesia

If you have vacation plans to go to Indonesia, you might ought to reconsider them. The volcano gods must be angry. Should we consider sending Mariah Carey for a sacrifice?

Retro Meets The Geeks

Posting will be minimal today - one of my officemates is out indefinitely so my workload has doubled overnight. In the meantime, have some fun over at Retrocrush - the top 100 television theme songs article is very cool. If that won't hold you until I'm back tomorrow with a review of the Dinosaur jr. reissues from Merge Records, how about heading over to Kuro5hin where you can hang out with some of the coolest geeks around.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

CD Review: The Octopus Project - One Ten Hundred Thousand Million

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Batman and Robin were hanging out in the Batcave downloading some MP3’s when they came across the Peek-A-Boo Industries website and The Octopus Project songs available there.

“Holy Tortoise, Batman! This stuff sounds like Flying Lizards under a Tuxedomoon.”

“Good ears, boy wonder. You picked up on those stylistic cues as well as any hipster rock snob. I might buy you an iPod after all.”

The Octopus Project has created a sensation across the country with the party like atmosphere of their live shows impressing rock snobs, super heroes, and those of us who just want to dance sometimes alike. Balloons, bizarre party favors, and masks do give you the party feel, but it’s the music that really counts. Toto Miranda, Josh Lambert, and Yvonne Lambert’s music is a post everything mixture of guitar, drums, and electronic delight giving off more emotional resonance through instrumentals than most bands convey in the standard verse, chorus song format. The release of their second album, One Ten Hundred Thousand Million should see the sensation grow.

They have built off the barely contained chaos of 2002’s Identification Parade and expanded and refined the samples and beats to produce a singular joyful noise perfect for dancing or introspective contemplation. It’s a nifty trick that took tracking down a New Orleans brass band in one instance and recording the sound of the concrete steps in a stairwell in another. There is a childlike aura of experimentation and risk taking with The Octopus Project’s music that coincides with their visual appeal to make one delicious serving of tako never forgetting the extra wasabi.

One Ten Hundred Thousand Million gets off to a rousing start with “Exit Counselor” and its minute and 31 seconds dominated by drums which then segue ways into one of my personal faves, “The Adjustor” which has a trance like mechanical layering that is somehow very touching reminding me of the work of composer Philip Glass. The Octopus Project excels at controlled dissonance and wonderfully strange compelling tunes like “Responsible Stu” that wouldn’t be terrible out of place with the shortwave transmissions compiled on the Conet Project. The high point of the record is on the aptly titled “Music Is Happiness” with its debt to the drum and bass scene. “Tuxedo Hat” reminds me of a music box missing a few gears until the seagull sounds begin and then the song takes off into a whole other realm. Lest you think The Octopus Project do not know how to rock, there is “Six Feet Up” and its clattering heaviness much like Ministry in their “Stigmata” prime.

Meanwhile, back in the Batcave:

“Batman do you think The Octopus Project got their name from the famous conspiracy theory?”

“Robin, you’re wrong there. My sources tell me it is just a name and nothing more. The only conspiracy I can hear is one that’s wide out in the open – namely a conspiracy to rock!”

So listen to One Ten Hundred Thousand Million and be a super hero.

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Angry Face Central

You know...sometimes you've just got to vent and nobody does it better than Carnonymous at Angry Face Central. His stories about working at a car dealership alone make visiting his site a blast, but his take on celebrities that need to be brought down a notch or two are even better. Found this site through Citricritic so be sure to stop by there and say thanks.

If you've noticed some of my pictures disappearing, it's because their geocities home has exceeded its bandwidth. They should return shortly.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Just Another Manics Monday - Wally Reviews The Holy Bible

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When Manic Street Preachers The Holy Bible was released in 1994 I didn’t listen to it very much. I made the effort to track down an import copy since it wasn’t being released in the US, but the unrelenting brutal imagery of the lyrics was too much for me then. Like bassist Nickey Wire relates in the DVD that comes with the 10th Anniversary edition, I too was at a very happy stage of my life having just met my future wife. So I shelved it figuring I would come around to really listening to it some time in the future, which is the same thing that happened to me with Lou Reed’s similarly bleak Berlin album.

A few years ago, perhaps sparked by post September 11 fallout, The Holy Bible began to get regular airplay from me. The soul of the band and principle lyricist of The Holy Bible, Richey James, had long disappeared in Cardiff most likely taking his own life by leaping off the Severn Bridge and songs like “4st 7lb” - I want to walk in the snow And not leave a footprint I want to walk in the snow And not soil its purity - and “Die In The Summertime” - Childhood pictures redeem, clean and so serene See myself without ruining lines Whole days throwing sticks into streams - gained a potent power with the personal connection to Richey’s battle with anorexia and possible suicide respectively. I’m still quite snug in the cocoon of domestic happiness, but you can’t keep harsh reality from intruding and The Holy Bible is fearless in illuminating things we normally don’t like to see the light. There is truth in beauty and also unwelcome truth in ugliness.

“Yes” posits a world of consumerism run rampant - And I don't know what I'm scared of Or what I even enjoy Dulling, get money But nothing turns out like you want it to And in these plagued streets Of pity you can buy anything For $200 anyone can conceive a god on video. “Archives Of Pain” gives the case for capital punishment - If hospitals cure Then prisons must bring their pain Don't be ashamed to slaughter The centre of humanity is cruelty There is never redemption Any fool can regret yesterday Nail it to the House of Lords You will be buried in the same box As a killer, as a killer, as a killer - a right wing move which must have startled some of their fans. They also take on the evil of political correctness on album closer “P.C.P.” - Ten foot sign in Oxford Street Be pure, be vigilant, behave Grey not neon, grey not real Life bleeds, death is your birthright PC she speaks impotent and sterile, Naive, blind, atheist, sadist, Stiff-upper lip, first principle of her silence, Of her silence PCP, a PC police victory PCP, a PC pyrrhic victory When I was young PC meant Police Constable Nowadays I can't seem to tell the difference - but the lyrics on The Holy Bible with their claustrophobic density would all be for naught were it not for the incredible music composed for the album by James Dean Bradfield (is he one of the most unheralded guitar greats of our time?) and Sean Moore. Gone was the heavy metal Guns N’ Roses attack of their first two records, replaced by music just as heavy, but owing more of a debt to the British post-punk bands like PIL, Gang Of Four, Magazine, The Skids, and Wire. “Mausoleum” even gives a nod to American New Wave with its jittery Devo rhythms. I don’t know how such rousing choruses could be coupled with the lyrics on The Holy Bible, but every track sounds like a potential hit as the liner notes to the 10th Anniversary Edition attest.

The Holy Bible, has been reissued and in the Stateside case issued for the first time in a deluxe package including both the British mix and the mix that was intended for the American market – meaning louder drums and guitars for most part. A DVD is included featuring interviews with the surviving members of the group, live performances, and videos; a highlight being a performance on Top Of The Pops in which James Dean Bradfield wears a balaclava with James stenciled across the top while the rest of the band dresses in military garb reminiscent of Echo & The Bunnymen. The CD’s contain some bonus live takes proving the band could back up the studio recordings, some demos, and some very raw Radio 1 sessions.

The Holy Bible was a unique piece of rock and roll, a singular burst of alienation, despair, and cruel truths married to music that bludgeoned while lifting the listeners own spirits. Compelling, emotional, and visceral, unrelenting and paradoxically gentle at times – hear “This Is Yesterday” for the evidence of that. The Holy Bible ranks with the best music made during the 90’s or any decade for that matter. It’s time for a new generation to get religion, go out and get The Holy Bible today.

Bonus review:

I first heard about the Manic Street Preachers when my good friend DD Blank came back from London and made me a tape of “You Love Us” that he picked up there. It was a revelatory shock with its merger of the punk aesthetic and hard rock audacity; there was no question that I had to love them. I snagged the 12 inch single of “Motown Junk” on a record buying junket to Atlanta and even though I was both a Motown and John Lennon fan, I had to admire the Manics attack of those sacred musical cows. The Stay Beautiful EP finalized the deal. The rousing choruses of “Stay Beautiful” and its perfect alienated lyrics encapsulated everything I was feeling in my mixed up mid-twenties. Anxiety is indeed freedom. I borrowed my university’s library copies of Melody Maker that had any Manics related articles and never brought them back. I didn’t go so far as to slice the slogan “4 Real” into my arm like Richey James did when an NME reporter questioned the band’s sincerity, but DD Blank and I did start making our own stenciled tee shirts single-handedly trying to revive the DIY rock and roll spirit of Tennessee. The most profound event at the time was the back cover of Stay Beautiful which had a US address one could write to for literature.

This address turned out to be the PO Box of Nickey Wire’s brother Patrick Jones who has since gone on to fame as a poet and playwright in Great Britain. He was helping to promote the Manics by putting out a fanzine Counter Language filled with news about the band and poetry from Patrick and fans. Back covers had addresses of other fans and soon I was corresponding with others. I started my own punk rock band and a fanzine called Anti-Society full of mad situationist ramblings. The biggest thrill was getting some of my poetry in Counter Language #5 under the name of Wally Thunders. Time passed and I lost touch with Patrick after he moved back to England. Then I lost contact with the Manics fans I corresponded with and the initial burst of inspiration disappeared along with Richey. I still love the Manics, especially the quiet grace of Everything Must Go, but time keeps on keeping on. James Dean Bradfield makes a wistful comment in the DVD with The Holy Bible 10th Anniversary set about how young they all looked back in 1994. Manic Street Preachers will never be as great as they were in The Holy Bible era, but that’s okay – the music and memory will forever live on, a lightning rod that will never go out of style.

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portions of this review also appear at Blogcritics.org

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Royal Bangs

Tennessee is blowing up with incredible pop rock bands; The Royal Bangs from Knoxville being the latest to catch Wally's ear here at Soulfish Stew. I'd like to think they took the Bangs part of their name from me, but there's no relation. They played a show at The End last night and I'm sure you're kicking yourself now if you missed it. You say you've never heard of The Royal Bangs? Well, let's remedy that post haste. The Royal Bangs website is a little minimal at the moment, but there are some songs there. My favorite is Robotic Spiders Inside Your Secret Eye with its Bowiesque vocals. Completely charming and post modern rocking.

The Beastles

This joint is on the one - The Beastles: "Tripper Trouble". You can hear the whole album by dj BC here. I found the link to this musical meeting of the minds at Scenestars so please visit them.

It's $3 Bills You've Got To Worry About It

Another case of a stupid cashier thinking the $2 bill is counterfeit. This time it's at a Best Buy.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Duke On The Pogues

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Many years ago after a night of drunken carousing I found myself crashed at a friend's house. I awoke to the opening cut from The Pogues album Rum, Sodomy, & The Lash playing, a gentle way to begin a morning hangover and I've loved the music ever since, but my love of The Pogues pales compared to The Duke who has just posted a long piece on If I Should Fall From The Grace Of God; a must read if you're a Pogues fan.

As The Crow Flies

Thanks to fellow blogcritic, Mark Saleski of Mark Is Cranky, for leading me to this piece about poor old Sheryl Crow. I love it when they talk about what her albums are selling for at Amazon. Anybody that lives a jet set lifestyle that starts talking about the common people being cheated of money needs to be slapped upside the head as quickly as possible. It reminds me of a story (perhaps apocryphal) out of Atlanta about the Black Crowes. It seems the Crowes were having trouble finding places to play and Chris Robinson was whining about to local writer David T. Lindsey. David told him the Crowes should play in a parking lot somewhere, and Chris responded by saying there was no money in that. Do musicians play for love of music or love of money? Pass the hat to those who love what they do and the hell with the rest.

Dinosaur jr. walks again

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Man, I was one of the biggest Dinosaur jr. fans back in the day. I liked them when they were just Dinosaur (the jr. came about thanks to the aging hippie rock band The Dinosaurs who thought Dinosaur would confuse their fans who were probably all brain damaged from too many acid trips perhaps). Merge has reissued the first three Dinosaur jr. records and I'm looking forward to listening to them and reviewing them. Truthfully, I haven't listened to those first three records in ages except for maybe putting on Bug just to hear the transcendent noise of "Freak Scene". Will I still like the records? Stay tuned to Soulfish to find out - they should be some interesting reviews. Pitchfork Media has a review by Jess Harvell today which begins with this intriguing paragraph:

I'm shocked at the relatively low-key reaction to Merge's Dinosaur Jr. reissues. Do today's cardigan undergrad massive not appreciate one of the key DNA strands of what we once unironically referred to as Alternative Rock? Was this the final victory of new wave? Will no one else admit to sporting a homemade puffy paint Black Flag t-shirt for the whole of ninth grade?

It does seem like these albums are getting a muted response as is the Dinosaur jr. reunion. I know there is a community of Dinosaur jr. and J. Mascis fans out there; just visit this live music site devoted to him to see and hear. Maybe the slacker ethos of the band just took root and people can't get excited. Maybe too many people have read the Trouser Press entry on the band and think Mascis is overrated. I dunno, but I do know I will be playing the CD's loud when they arrive.

Will This Work?

Blogger has been letting me down the last couple of days so I'm of little faith this morning in anything but email posts getting through. Let this be a test.

The previous post was to have a bit on Kings Of Leon - basically that I really like the new "Bucket" song, but I'm sure there are still plenty of Nashville folks ready to badmouth them in a second. See, KOL didn't pay enough dues playing the club scene in Music City. Some people say they are pre-fab and this is true to a certain extent - how much more pre-fab could a band made up of brothers and a cousin be?

If this gets up, maybe I can return to some normal posting.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Open Source Audio

Man, I love open source audio. I know I've posted about the Internet Archive before, but it's worth posting about again. I could spend days listening to the old blues and folk available there. And it's free and legal - take that RIAA!

CD Review: Architecture In Helsinki - In Case We Die

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You might think a record titled In Case We Die would be a bummer, but Architecture In Helsinki’s follow-up to Fingers Crossed is simply aglow with beauty and wonderful music. Lyrics like “carve your name into my arm, cos I long to feel your name blood red” from “What’s In Store” may read as depressing, but we’re dealing with metaphorical weather bulletins on In Case We Die with lightning appearing in three songs. This Australian group have credited everything from Ennio Morricone, Scott Walker, Curtis Mayfield, Ethiopian pop music, Wu-Tang Clan, Randy Newman, Faust, The Zombies, Brian Wilson, rocksteady, to tropicalismo with inspiration for their sound. Often when you mix too many musical styles together all you get is a gray mush, but Architecture In Helsinki do things right producing a bright and intricate jewel of a record.

You usually don’t think of octets when you’re considering rock bands but that is what Architecture In Helsinki are; an octet made up of:

Cameron Bird - vocals, guitar, keys, bass, percussion,

James Cecil- drums, percussion, guitar, bass, keys, backing vocals,

Gus Franklin - trombone, drums, guitar, keys, percussion, backing vocals,

Isobel Knowles- trumpet, keys, percussion, backing vocals,

Jamie Mildren- guitar, bass, keys, percussion, flute,

Sam Perry- bass, guitar, keys, percussion,

Tara Shackell- tuba, trombone, keys, percussion, backing vocals,

Kellie Sutherland - vocals, keys, clarinet, percussion.

In Case We Die begins with a Morricone slice of musical pie called “Neverevereverdid”; an ethereal Yma Sumac like voice lifting off over the sonically dry (think Smiley Smile) instrumentation including tubas, xylophone, and wood block. The Dadaist blend is appealing. It feels intimate and even amateurish, but you know that novices could never make music like this. “It’s 5!” is a singular bit of pop with a frantic chorus that swells to a crescendo that Lindsey Buckingham would be jealous of, “could’ve sworn that wine and one and four made two, but it’s 5!” Martin Denny is evoked on “Tiny Paintings”; a nice warm up to the pop mastery that is “Wishbone” drifting down a synth river leading to an even poppier outro.

If whimsical pop is not your bag, Architecture In Helsinki also know how to play the funk game on “Do The Whirlwind” – it starts with some Human League sounding synthesizer before some Tom Tom Club style percussion come in for funk that only AIH could pull off ending with a full choir of voices before a flourish of jazz horns. The title cut is a 4 part mini-suite of music; something that definitely shows the influence of Brian Wilson. “The Cemetery” is like a one stop memory shop; we all end up in one eventually. Another highlight of the record is “Need To Shout” – a baroque exotica masterpiece, a melting pot of sounds the logical step from Sgt. Pepper’s in the same fashion as Smile. “What’s In Store” closes out the album carving AIH into the listener’s imagination as you’re left wondering on the deeper meaning implied on In Case We Die; it’s just absolutely entrancing, one of the year’s best albums available from Bar-None Records.

This same review can be read at Blogcritics.org. But you saw it first here!

The Shins to visit Nashville May 4th

According to Pitchfork Media, The Shins will play Music City at the Cannery Ballroom on May 4th. I was under the impression that the Cannery was now the Mercy Lounge, but what's in a name. Nashville is a regular stop for The Shins thanks to the efforts of Mike Grimes back in the Slow Bar days so come out and support one of America's finest bands.

Our Governor

Our governor, Phil Bredesen, caused a stir with his dissing of Hillary Clinton a few days ago as this new blog well documents. Bredesen doesn't bother me much, but I've always wondered why a guy with as much money as he has can't get his teeth fixed. I know that's incredibly superficial of me, but I always noticed that when British punk rockers hit the big time the first thing they would do would be getting their teeth fixed. Why can't our state governor do the same?

db's

Lost Bands Of The New Wave era has a nice piece on the db's along with a link to the db's site which has some exclusive material. I love my db's records, especially Like This.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Precursor To Manic Monday

I'm working on a review of the reissue of the Manic Street Preachers The Holy Bible for blogcritics.org, but I'm planning on letting Soulfish Stew have some exclusive stuff that I've never been able to find online - namely some photos of the shortlived Counter Language fanzine that was published in the US by Nicky Wire's brother, Patrick Jones, who has since gone on to fame as a playwright and poet in Great Britain. I contributed some poetry to one of the issues which is my unique connection to the Manics phenomenom. Here's a rather grubby looking picture of the front cover of one of the issues. It was printed on blue paper and since I don't have access to a photo scanner I first had to scan it into a pdf file and then use the photo resource from there.

CL

I plan on putting everything up next Monday so if you know a Manics fan let them know. I hope to fix the grubby look.

Rocky Top Brigade Sampler

In case you didn't know this, if you're ever hankering for a look at a Rocky Top Brigade Sampler you can visit here to see the headlines from some of the finest blogs the Volunteer State has to offer. They're even kind enough to show the headlines from this little bitty blog too.

Today Tennessee, Tomorrow The World

I didn't even realize I was nominated, but I'll take the recognition any way it comes.

"This site won a 'Best Blog in Tennessee' award!"

award

Tuesday Two-fer

Why don't we imitate VH1 Classic and do a Tuesday Two-fer here today. Are you with me? Thanks to Comfort Stand, I have discovered the greatness that is Messer Chups.

mchups

Messer Chups music is garage punk meeting horror movie soundtracks and it is the best monster music I've heard since The Exotic Ones started up. They are on the artist roster at Comfort Stand so go and download the four songs offered and prepare to be made happy. Then visit the Messer Chups site for lots of blood and gore. Man I've got to track down their albums!

Let's leave Russia to visit the Great Mid-West and listen to The Impossible Shapes out of Bloomington, Indiana. I downloaded "Survival" off their new album Horus and it's great in a completely different way - makes me think of garage mixed with prog rock. They've put out lots of records in a short time span and recently played SXSW so they're likely to bust out of Indiana soon so get into them now so you can bragg about liking them when nobody else knew about them.

horus"

Heck, unlike VH1 Classic, how about something extra: Something I Learned Today - a site devoted to "yesterday’s best punk, hardcore, garage & noise". Any site that takes its name from a Husker Du song better be good and Something I Learned Today is spotlighting the Weirdos currently.

Now go play outside on your swingsets people!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Comfort Stand

cs

I just discovered Comfort Stand recently and if you are in the mood for good free and sometimes very weird music you need to stop by this great site. Entire free albums await including one of demos by Edith Frost of Drag City label fame.

Pretty In Pink sequel rumored to be on the way

This may have just been an April Fool's joke a day or two late, but if Stereo Gum is right, we will be treated to a Pretty In Pink sequel. I'll go see it if it's true and probably hate it, but you never know. Heck I'm still waiting for John Hughes to issue PIP on DVD with the original ending where Duckie gets Andie.

Listless, but the monkey woman calls

I've been listless ever since I got back from Cincinnati. The time change and the long drive seem to have done me in. I did have an email today asking about the monkey woman though so that was neat. The monkey woman is an old myth about a bridge in the Smyrna, Tennessee area where your car would stall and an evil monkey woman would appear and scratch the roof of your car. The actual area is pretty spooky. I wrote a story using the myth and if you're really bored go check it out at goblinhaus.com.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Happy April Fool's Day!

I'll be on the road most of the day headed back to my hills in Tennessee. I'm going to try and find The Colonial Cottage this morning here in Kentucky which is supposed to have some incredible pancakes. From one fool to another: Happy April Fool's Day; be sure to play some pranks on the humorless.