Friday, July 29, 2005

CD Review: The Dreadful Yawns

Mix indie rock, shoegazer rock, Britpop, and classic rock and what do you get? In The Dreadful Yawns case: music that is known as Americana, though I prefer to use Gram Parsons' term for it - "cosmic American music". How do you go from the mixture above and end up playing alternative country? Singer/guitarist/songwriter Ben Gmetro started listening to lots of Byrds albums along with a helping of British folk rock players like The Fairport Convention and Nick Drake. The Cleveland based band released an album titled Early in 2003. Their second album has been released by Bomp and is self-titled.

Sweet steel guitar from guest player Al Moss ushers in the first track, "You Sold The Farm", and you immediately know this is not an album you can just put on as background music. It requires involvement in one's listening as the nuances have nuances that don't raise much above a whisper on many of the songs imparting a mystical feel to the proceedings that's rather elegiac. The Dreadful Yawns can get your feet tapping at times, like on the choogling "Get Yourself Back Home" and the power pop of "Better Things To Do", but most of the songs are quiet, yet deceptively laid back. There's a good amount of tension even on a cut like "Part Of Your Past" where the band sounds like they could barely move their hands to play their instruments. It's a tribute to them that something so spare could have so many undercurrents.

There's a nice and happy song about being dead, "Back In The Ground", but everything's all right since "the children live on". "The People And The Sky" will give you a good dose of country psychedelia without any corrupting whimsy. "Drinking Song" features one of the weirder lyrics I've heard in the last week or so:

I'm not the same person you were used to
Feels like I'm wearing a Halloween costume
Trying not to scare little kids
Me and my T-Rex wig
It's getting hard to look in the mirror

Finally, "Lullaby" makes most dirges sound like speed metal compared to it. It's like Sufjan Stevens, but without the banjo or silliness.

Ben Gmetro, Dave Molnar, Mike Allan, and Charlie Druesedow have certainly made an interesting record. The Dreadful Yawns is the kind of album that comes in and sits a spell. Soon time is suspended, the album is finished and you're wondering where the hour went so fast. Influences...sure there's a big helping of Gram Parsons, Byrds, and Grateful Dead in the mix. I'd say those are some mighty fine folk to draw inspiration from, wouldn't you?

No Pong

I'm a little bummed out. Todd A had been hinting there might be a big ping pong tourney at Todd K's this weekend, but it's not happening. That's what I get for not going last Saturday when I had the chance. No worries though. There will be other weekends for me to see if I can hold my own against those Nashville cats. In the meantime, I'll be practicing up.

Was Your Life Saved By Rock N Roll...bmarkey Wants To Know

Visit the Big Green House if your life was saved by rock n roll, yes rock n roll.

Toby Holmes, Where Are You?

My friend Shrub at the Goblinhaus sent me this today - a drawing of Toby Holmes, probably done by the Gonz who was fond of giving people nicknames like mesquite ass. It's been a long time since Toby married a rich girl and moved away and the old crew misses him a bunch. I first met the dude when I went to see the Nuge on the Penetrator tour where he went nuts buying souvenirs, even purchasing a Nugent headband that he would wear to school the next day. I wouldn't cross paths with him again until Van Hager came to town on the 5150 tour. The Gonz and me were leaving Municipal when we noticed a compact truck brokedown in the middle of James Robertson Parkway - it was Toby. We pushed his truck to a parking lot and headed home. I dropped the Gonz off and then took Toby home. I drove him to the trailer court where he lived with "Heavy Metal Weekend" playing on the stereo. A few years later and his small trailer he shared with his mother and sister would become ground zero for many nights watching movies, playing video games, and even Dungeons and Dragons games (it may sound dorky, but with Toby as the dungeonmaster every game was like an LSD freakout). Before this happened he lived in Florida for a few years, but he still kept in touch with the
Gonz and I remember how excited Gonz was when he learned Toby was coming back to the 'Boro. We had all gotten into skateboarding and playing in the punk band, The Dislocated so when he arrived back in town with a Zorlac Metallica board we were all stoked. He came back just in time to get hurt slamdancing to our debut show at the now long gone dive bar Jabbs. I spent alot of time with Toby over the next several years riding skateboards, going to rock and roll shows, playing video games, fishing, discussing the "stoking Buddha" of Zen, going to parties, and just plain old hanging out. After The Gonz got hitched Toby helped me start a couple of bands and soon we were making trips into Nashville playing shows at the Cannery, The Pantheon, and Lucy's. He was the brother I never had. He needs to come back and pay us a visit so we can call him "mesquite ass" again for old times sake.

The picture of us in the pool? That's Gonz to the left of the screen, Toby is in the Batman shirt sliding down the pool wall, and that's me clutching my leg. I was riding a Kelly Rosecrans Vision board. And don't worry, we were only faking.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Anti-Society Issue No. 1 1974

You knew I was going to start putting these up no matter if you wanted to or not. Well, you know...what can I say; it's my blog, it's my rhyme. Here is the very first Anti-Society published. I think I made fifty copies of it and distributed it for free at Lucy's Record Shop in Nashville, TN. Why did I start a fanzine? Boredom alongside the rather idealistic idea that I could change the world. It sounds a bit grandiose, but I was in my twenties and full of fire (not that I lack fire these days, mind you). I just knew that surely there were others thinking the same sorts of thoughts out there. Most of the writing was done by myself. Most of the pseudonyms are mine: Wally Thunders and Vincent Van Gogh Gogh are me as are any uncredited pieces. The Masked Man was DD Blank. This came out in 1993. I wonder if any of the ones I stapled together then still exist? I remember getting a thrill seeing people read them after I had distributed them right before some punk show...I think I had gone to see the Voodoo Glow Skulls.

Just click on each individual page for views you can read. And just marvel at how fast twelve years can go by. I'll put the second issue up sometime in the next few weeks.

Nothing To See Here, Just Move Along

I was rummaging through some files (is it possible to rummage through computer files?) when I ran across this piece of rather florid writing I did. I guess it was going to be the introduction to something but luckily it never got anywhere. So instead I figured I could submit it here. Perhaps it will draw a laugh or too.

Hurtling through the cosmos at the speed of light. I wonder about the fate of time and is it chilled and served with ice? The comet currents and landslide debris not subject to the gravitational pull of the sunsets of an infinite pitch-black tableau beckon and call. Weapons of mass construction and torture cannot be defiled by random thoughts; only purity and clarity carry such covens of consideration on the wind. The gods play dice, but it's not known as gambling because there are no free drinks. Their only other concern is judging the superlative curses said in vain on a small blue planet so far on the edge of insanity, it's yet to even be named by the vainglorious ones. That's where my check gets cashed. You've heard of chaos run amuck? I'm not that messy, in fact I like to think I'm very clean in my own wonderful way. So I've identified myself. One among billions for sure.

On a completely unrelated note:
I don't how many of you remember my Anti-Society (my old fanzine) pieces I posted, but now that Blogger will upload pictures direct I'm toying with the idea of unleashing entire issues on an unsuspecting world. Let me know if anybody would like to see them. I promise that the writing is not like what's above.

Tommy, Can You Hear Me?

He may not be deaf and dumb, but this is amazing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Ghost Hunters Returns To Sci-Fi Tonight

TAPS is back as a new season of Ghost Hunters starts tonight on the Sci-Fi Channel. I had about given up on the show ever coming back even though I had heard that its ratings were good. Here's a quick overview of the show: a couple of plumbers along with some associates hunt ghosts by night. I like the fact that they approach things from a skeptical stance quickly trying to come up with natural reasons for the paranormal activity. I like that approach because I don't believe. Nope. Until a ghost comes up to me and says "how do" I will continue to disbelieve. I need some proof. Which is what makes Ghost Hunters fun for me. Has the show ever creeped me out? Not really. When they do find evidence for a haunting it can be compelling, but they've yet to win me over completely. Perhaps that's why I watch. Somewhere inside me there must be a tiny bit that wants to believe.

The Soulfish Stew wife believes. She assures me that ghosts are real. I have no reason to doubt her lucidity. The only thing even remotely paranormal I have ever experienced happened several years ago. I had a dream on a Wednesday night of an old tree with a hangman's noose swaying from it empty in the breeze. My friend Toby lived in this old house in Murfreesboro. He had the upstairs apartment. I went over there Thursday to play a video game. We liked the game so much I came over again Friday. It was then that we started to smell a bad odor. We figured it was rotting leaves. He called me up Saturday to see if I could stand to play the game one more day since it was due back at the rental place that evening. I came over along with another friend who lived just across an alley from Toby's. The smell had gotten worse in the entryway, but you couldn't detect in Toby's place. After we played a few games we heard sirens. That was no big deal since he lived close to the hospital. But they got louder and were soon at earsplitting volume. They had stopped in front of Toby's.

Soon the entryway was filled with emergency personnel. We couldn't tell what was going on. Finally our other friend, Jay, decided to go back to his place. He got a look into the downstairs apartment and it was a look he regretted because he found out why the entryway smelled so bad. The guy living there had hanged himself a few days earlier. I immediately remembered my freaky dream of a noose and wondered if there was any connection. I had never even seen the downstairs neighbor, but of course the noose was empty in my dream. Strange coincidence, I'll accept, but a legitimate visitation from the other side is pushing it. I'm just glad I've never had any other coincidental dreams.

Mixtape From Hell

Beware the past. When you least expect it you find might yourself face to face with something like this mixtape from hell. I made it when I was a sophomore in high school for my friend Gonz. He must have been cleaning out some shoeboxes or something the other day since he found it and scanned the cover for me. He thought the "stereo" label was humorous. I thought it was funny that I ever thought Quiet Riot was any good. By the time Critical Condition came out we were calling Kevin Dubrow "Old Yeller" and I don't think anybody I knew even bought the record. There are only so many Slade covers one can take. Plus Dubrow managed to alienate most of the group's fan base with his insanely stupid comments in magazines like Circus and Hit Parader about most of the other big heavy metal bands from Los Angeles. It didn't do you very much good to alienate Van Halen fans in those days.

There was just that brief window of time when Metal Health was just what a snotty fourteen year old kid needed to crank up every afternoon after enduring another long school bus ride home. If I remember correctly; Metal Health was the best selling debut of its time surpassing the first Boston album. Yes, I know Quiet Riot put out two records before Metal Health with Randy Rhoads, but those were not released in America. The Randy Rhoads connection was what compelled me to buy Metal Health before it became a huge hit. So I had to make a tape of it for Gonz since he was a metalhead like me. When the album wouldn't fill the whole side of the tape I decided to add some Molly Hatchet to it.

Once again, school bus riding plays a part. When I was in 7th grade I rode bus 84 and its driver was a young dude into Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Steve Martin. He was always blasting music on the 8 track player, usually Hatchet's first album. I was one of the last kids off in the afternoon and I spent many days with my face pressed against a window gazing out as "Bounty Hunter" played. I got into punk rock by my junior year of high school, but I've never stopped loving the Molly Hatchet album. Flirtin' With Disaster was the hit, but it just was never as good to my ears. After throwing on the title cut from that album I still had some time left on what was sure to be the best tape ever.

Eddie was calling Gonz's name. Did you know that his mother went to see Iron Maiden with him once? I believe it was the Powerslave tour. She didn't go to keep an eye on Gonz. She went because she liked Iron Maiden! I slapped "Revelations" on the mixtape since it was one of my favorite songs of the time. It reminded me of early era Black Sabbbath. A few years later during our high school senior talent show a dude would ride a unicycle while the song played. We thought that was completely righteous and proper. A couple of Iron Maiden songs weren't enough to complete the tape. Somewhere in my zit incrusted head I must have thought Billy Squier was the perfect artist to follow Iron Maiden on a tape.

I'll stick by Don't Say No. It was a swell slab of pop rock petroleum product with crunchy catchy songs throughout. But Emotions In Motion is one flea bitten dog of a record from the terrible Andy Warhol graphics on the outside to the listless rock music within. Hopefully Billy is making tons of dough off people sampling "The Big Beat" from his first solo album The Tale Of The Tape since ever since he appeared wearing pastels and dancing like a goof in "Rock Me Tonight" his career has been one big downhill slide.

I finished the mixtape from hell off with a pair of cuts from Aerosmith's straight to the cut out bin classic Rock In A Hard Place - their one and only album sans Whitford and Perry. It's much maligned, but I'll take it over their "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" crap anytime. It has a good post drug abuse but still strung out vibe.

The mixtape from hell might not have had the best music on it. My attempts at copying the band's logos shows just how fast I went from being somebody whose artwork was often praised (8th grade) to somebody that could barely hold a pen. I must have spent like what..five minutes on the Wally Records logo if that much. But the mixtape from hell has a pull on me with its ghostly voices from the past more powerful than the music inside. Voices that whisper of days spent daydreaming while doodling electric guitars and band logos on notebooks, wearing parachute pants and bandanas, eating Twix bars for lunch, reading Creem, of thinking I knew it all when I didn't know a thing, and wishing I was a singer in a rock and roll band. Finally, lest we forget, home taping is killing the recording industry and high school always seems like hell until you get out.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Yep, like Peter in Office Space I did nothing. It was a Seinfeld episode run amuck at my place for a solid week. Even amongst a bunch of nothing I did do something (besides watch Good Times). I began my vacation with a trek into the heart of darkness, Murfreesboro, to catch another show by the hottest band in the land; The E-1's. I decided to pay a visit to the local Hastings store before the gig. Now I knew the new Harry Potter book was coming out that evening at the stroke of midnight, but I was still unprepared for the amount of nerds milling around the place at 8 PM. I could understand the children in costume - they're young and excited and many of them had grown to adolescence reading the Potter books, but as geeky as I am I can't fathom why middle aged adults were capering all over the store looking like rejects from a renaissance fair or the loony bin; take your pick. I tried to do my usual browsing, but I couldn't take it. I might read the occasional comic book but this was too much. To quote the title of a very geeky cult television classic that starred Chris Elliot: Get A Life, please!

The only thing that could fix me was a draft of Guinness at the Wall Street club where The Exotic Ones were going to play later that evening. The draft was incredibly overpriced and the bartender didn't know how to pull it (is that the term?) properly, but I was desperate for an adult beverage so I didn't mind. I had a good time hanging out with the band before they hit the stage to rock a pretty decent size crowd. Highlights were "Shock Wave" during their sound check, "Jack's Surf Shop", and as always watching the maniacal Zoomga performing his theremin solo on "Green Slime". It was a fun and fast set and it looked like they won over some new fans.

My biggest project was supposed to be teaching my 6 year old daughter Emmy how to ride her bike without the training wheels. That turned out to be a piece of cake. All I had to do was take the training wheels off. She did the rest. She's spent the last week learning how many different ways to describe skinned knees and elbows, but she's not doing too bad considering she's really outgrown her bicycle. We'll take care of that soon.

One thing I love about being off during the third week of July is that I'm able to watch the final stages of the Tour de France live on OLN. It was a little dull this year since none of Lance Armstrong's rivals tried to challenge him (they were beat down in the Pyrenees), but it was great to see Hincapie and Savoldelli get wins for the Discovery team. Lance showed them he deserved the yellow at the final time trial. 7 year in a row - just amazing. ESPN may not think cyclists aren't athletes, but the Wally household knows the score. We'd like to see the talking heads at ESPN ride a bike up a mountain in the Alps.

I spent a lot of time playing with the soon to be 6 month old Liam. I played my guitar often. I watched cartoons with the 3 year old daughter Harper Lee. I listened to the Soulfish Stew wife talk about what she was blogging about while all I did was check my email. I decided I needed to break my book reading blues so I read two Hemingway books (technically re-read) and am now on his short story collection. Imagine my surprise to see that Ryan at The Emerson Street Tavern is also talking about Hemingway. The Jungian synchronicity in my life abounds.

Today I've found out that I am now a middle-aged member of Generation X. I had just about forgotten all about that term. I was into it at one time, but then I went to see Reality Bites. Damn, I hate that film. I refused to identify myself with any group from then after. Plus, after I got out of the movie theater that day my car wouldn't start. The almighty gods of slack had spoken and their message was clear: all of this generational talk is just nonsense useful as a marketing tool only. Being true to yourself and others is what matters. And as messed up as the Harry Potter nerds were on that first night of my vacation I'll give them that much: they were nerds - truly.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Well, you know...what can I say?

Earlier this year I said there would be no jive in 2005 and I didn't lie. Good Times is back on the air in primetime at TV Land. I've been saying "Dyno-mite!!!" all weekend as I watched quite a few episodes during the TV Land marathon. Good Times was a staple for me growing up. I may not have been black, but I could certainly identify with the poverty of the Evans family. The period between 1974 and 1979 was lean all over. There's usually a meat dish served at supper in our house today, but when I was a kid you only got cooked meat twice a week at best. My family just couldn't afford it. Milk was also something of a luxury. So when J.J. would lament that there was no ham to eat I could empathize. I was enthralled by the fact that they were living in Chicago - the opening and closing credit sequences were otherworldly to a kid living in Murfreesboro, TN. I knew I didn't want to live in the Cabrini Green projects pictured, but Chicago was just so huge on my tiny televsion screen. When I was a kid, J.J. was the natural favorite - the ebony prince was the king of cool. But as an adult, James Evans Sr. is the man. It's a shame his character was killed off due to a behind the scenes dispute over the show's direction. The show didn't jump the shark though - there are incredible episodes to be found throughout the series' run. I especially get a kick from Dap Sugar Wille playing the hustler Lenny. Look for him during the season Esther Rolle was not on the show. Look for a larger post on this great show from me sometime soon. Now we need to get What's Happening! back on the air.

Friday, July 15, 2005

I've Found A Religion I Like

Well, here's the first sporadic if any post of the vacation - I've found a religion I like at the First Church Of Galactus. Come worship with me!

Vacation Time

Vacation time is here so postings will be sporadic if any between now and July 25th.

Planet Of The Apes

So this is how the planet of the apes really gets started.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Essential Ghoul

Okay I'm not quite as bored as I was after finding this nifty blog: The Essential Ghoul's Record Shelf - an examination of music's fascination with the macabre.

So Very Bored

Am I bored with blogging or just everything in general? Maybe it's a case of the pre-vacation blahs. I actually get rather tense before time off from work. Will I manage to catch up with the stack of papers needing my attention? Will I come back to find myself perpetually behind the times? There's also the fact that I will do absolutely nothing while I'm off. Well, it won't be nothing. I'll spend more time with the kids than usual (we're gonna be taking the training wheels off of the 6 year old's bike), I'll work on getting caught up on some assorted home projects, and I'm going to try to find some time to write some new horror short stories for That's plenty for me, but it will be nothing to compare to others in the office. I'm sure they'll be enjoying lavish vacations of which they will take copious pictures they will make me view. Then they will inevitably ask me what I did for vacation. My answer will be sure to disappoint them. This is something I should not even worry about at all, but it does for some reason. That could be part of the ennui I'm feeling. I have discovered that I am an autumn person. Summer only brings me down. There's too much lawn mowing to do. Too many people wanting to show me their vacation pictures. I keep trying to start reading a book (too many to mention at this date), but I always put them aside before I can get too involved. So please forgive the lack of recent posts. I'm mentally fatigued and hopefully a week off from the job will recharge my brain.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

More Bloggy Goodness

More bloggy goodness I need to add to the sidebar:

The Emerson Street Tavern where you can the lyrical musings of a guy named Ryan. From his latest post:

And so the middle years-like college-appear too to be free verse. My rhyme scheme is internal and I slow dance to the cadence of my own voice. (What is that static?) I slow dance on the vaporous trails of a fine cigar, on the drifting burn of a good whiskey, on the occasional drum roll of thunder and spitfire of night lightning. Sometimes, if the verse is right and it meanders along in total silence-a back roads drive on a cool Tennessee night-I slow dance to nothing at all, as if no one were watching.

That's pretty good writing right there.

Another talented writer in the Nashville blog area is the Gas Guy who writes about his experiences as a gas station attendant. While I never worked for a gas station I did work in retail and many of his tales remind me of those days.

Last, but not least is Lessons From The Kissing Booth. You've got to like a person who drops "Ozymandias" references into her everyday speech.

Zen Of Ping Pong

Todd A often writes about his ping pong matches at his site and that has inspired me to write a little about ping pong here. I play approximately 100 minutes of pong every week where I work. That's two ten minute breaks a day if my math if correct. We play all out too. It's not a case of a couple of people just pinging the ball back and forth. Many people start playing the game here, but very few stick with it. There is no grace period for newbies. The ball will get slammed in your face every time until you step up your own skills. I began like many here do. I was just sitting in the cafeteria one day and another player was needed. Luckily, I was gifted with excellent hand-eye coordination and soon I was holding my own against the ping pong monsters here. I had a long way to go as far as learning about true paddle control, different kinds of spin, and the science of angles but I've come a long way. I'm not the best one here, but I'm easily in the top ten percent. The game itself never gets old. I'm constantly learning new techniques and shots. I also try out new strategies. When one is good enough at the game you can even give your opponent points early just to see what they've got. Twenty minutes a day I'm free from my desk and the only thing that matters is a small orange ball. My mind is at rest and I am one with the pong cosmos. It's a beautiful thing. Now I just need to arrange some matches between Todd A, his friends, and myself.

Middle Class London Boys

The terrorists in London turn out to be suburban kids from middle class families and the uncle of one of them cannot understand it at all. I guess that's as good a proof as any that "desperation" is not the prime motivating factor. When world views collide there's bound to be friction. The question for us is: which world view would you rather live with?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Future Topic For What Mo Hates

What will probably be a future topic for the Soulfish Stew wife's blog What Mo Hates: Derek Jeter didn't make the All-Star team this year. Rob Dibble wrote a column on that very issue today and it's right on. Major league baseball is swiftly descending into joke status. I remember a few years back when Vince McMahon of World Wrestling fame testified that professional wrestling was not a sport, instead it was entertainment. Major league sports in America today should probably do the same. Lest you think I'm some huge Yankees fan - I'm not. My favorite team has been the Kansas City Royals since the early 70's (shed a tear for me for the last decade and a half, okay) and the wife just thinks Jeter is cute.

Random Thoughts

Odds are that people who believe in ghosts also like to smoke.
All of the books in the Smithville library about ghosts smell like
stale cigarettes.

Rex L. Camino's posts about Memphis this week have made me
homesick for the city of my birth. The truth is I only lived there as
a small child and spent most my life in Murfreesboro except for a
year in Mississippi and the last 5 years here in Smithville. Still,
Memphis has always loomed in my imagination. I would visit the
city often as a youth since most of the relatives on my mother's
side were from the Memphis area. It was so big and so full of
possibilties. I once jumped over a VW Beetle on a BMX bike
one summer visiting my cousins. They had made a huge dirt
ramp at the bottom of a hill and we spent hours leaping out
into space over the Bug.

From Parenting 101 -
When you ask a small child if they need to use the potty and they
tell you no you can always count on them messing their pants
within the next five minutes.

The new season of Reno 911 has only been moderately funny.

I'm trying to learn Japanese so if I start ending all of my sentences
with verbs you'll know why.

Yesterday's stage ending pile up at the Tour De France made for
an exciting finish and as Robbie McEwen said, "a waste of a day"
for many of the riders. I know many people dismiss bicycle racing,
but there's plenty of drama in the Tour, although I'm sure if they
all had to jump over VW Beetle's every few miles more Americans
would be interested. As for the 6-time winner from Texas, Lance
Armstong, he should cruise to win number 7 barring some unforseen
accident. I read that he avoided another crash today and that
McEwen won today's stage. I'll have to watch the repeat coverage
on OLN tonight.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Scum Of The Earth

No, I'm not talking about the punk band from WKRP In Cincinnati - I'm talking real live scum terrorists are at it again. By now you know that London has been hit with multiple bomb blasts which completely pisses me off. I stayed in Russell Square both times I visited London and will likely stay there when I visit London again. Instapundit has plenty of links about the bombings including many from London bloggers. My heart goes out to the victims of this nefarious plot. It's becoming more and more clear this war of terrorism can be boiled down to Ayn Rand Objectivist terms - the Atilla's and witch doctors have joined forces to strike at capitalism and we cannot let them win or another Dark Ages will descend.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Atomic-Age Tales For Monster Kids With The Exotic Ones


The E.C. Comics cover homage should hip you right away to what The Exotic Ones are all about: B-movie monster rock straight out of the local neighborhood mad scientist's laboratory played with enthusiastic garage band abandon. The Exotic Ones are a Nashville supergroup blending members from The Secret Commonwealth, The Reverbians, and Trauma Team. There is The Tartan Phantom on guitar, Mr. Ghoul on bass, Zoomga plays guitar, Space Fink pounds the drums, and The Purple Astronaut with the keys, with vocals and theremin playing by most all of them. There's also the powerful spirit of "Hollerin' Jack" Jack Hunter Daves Jr. who sadly passed away last year to help guide The Exotic Ones toward thrill club rock and roll perfection. That's him on the CD cover playing with the Frankenstein's monster model.

Atomic-Age Tales For Monster Kids is a musical teaser for a full length album to come. It was put together specially for Wonderfest, an annual horror convention in Louisville, Kentucky, and since I couldn't attend the event I was lucky to get my hands on a copy. It contains 6 original songs representing a good cross section of Exotic Ones material. There are apes gone wild, a mad horror show host (Chiller Cinema's Doctor Gangrene), zombies, werewolves, gunslingers, and the Lost In Space robot all making appearances over the course of this mini-album.

A song like "Ape Wild" which mentions Lancelot Link and Bear from B.J. And The Bear is ahead of the game to start with, but once you top it off with some infectious music you've got a potential epidemic of people making ape noises waiting to break out. SecretChimpLive shows usually feature middle aged zombies rushing the stage when "Dawn Of The Dead" is played and it does have a nice lifeless quality to it with what sounds like a disembodied marimba playing along. The Exotic Ones save the biggest thrill for the last with "B-9 Robot" which veers into the punk pop zone of outer space before losing contact with Alpha Command for good. It's exuberant and fun just like Lost In Space(The TV series and not the movie).

The other three cuts on the album, Chiller Cinema theme song "The Doctor Is In", "On The Prowl", and especially "Gunslinger Man" are also great tunes. It's obvious there's a lot of love for the subjects The Exotic Ones tackle. You can't fake sincerity. So if you dig 60's flavored garage tunes, if you know the Secret Chimp handshake or the individual names of the Banana Splits, if you ever wanted to live on 1313 Mockingbird Lane, have a copy of Harlan Ellison's Horn Book,

or simply love the transcendent power of rock and roll you will probably love The Exotic Ones. Don't let the horror themes scare you away. Visit The Exotic Ones website where all sorts of groovy madness can be found along with instructions on how to acquire your very own copy of Atomic-Age Tales For Monster Kids With The Exotic Ones.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Polyester Was Good Enough For Me

The first job I ever had was at McDonalds on Broad Street in Murfreesboro, TN. It wasn't too bad as far as first jobs go. I worked there through the spring and summer of 1985. I actually went back in 1990 because a friend had become one of the managers and I needed cash to pay for a trip to New York City. Both times I worked there the uniforms sucked - terrible polyester fabric and pants with no front pockets (so your hands would always be busy wiping down the stainless steel or cleaning the grill), but I didn't mind too much that they sucked. If you worked in the kitchen area you would get filthy so why would you want to be wearing something nice. Well polyester isn't good enough for this generation - check this out. I guess it's a nice idea, but no matter how cool the uniform looks the person will still be working at a fast food joint. And that is forever uncool among teenagers. Period.

Black Mascara Glam - The Black Halos


If you were posed the following question how would you answer? You've been asked to go out to see some local new bands and you've got two choices. When you ask who do they sound like you're told one of them sounds like Blink-182 and the other one sounds like the New York Dolls cross dressing with the Dead Boys. Which band would you go see? If you don't even know who the New York Dolls or the Dead Boys are I suggest you go shopping at your local Gap for the duration of this review. If you said there is no choice in the question you're right. Only a pubescent acne machine would even harbor thoughts of wasting an hour or more of a lifespan to see some group aping Blink-182. Hell, life's probably too precious to waste on a group worshipping at the altar of Stiv Bators and Johnny Thunders too, but unless you're after some grand epistemological journey you might as well indulge yourself and have some fun being terminally pissed off. That's where Billy Hopeless and the glitter glam and black mascara leather of The Black Halos come into the picture.

The Black Halos are back after a brief hiatus that saw two members replaced and they are as glammed out and punked up as ever. They have a new disc out titled Alive Without Control produced by expert volume knob twister Jack Endino who has managed to escape the long shadow of the Seattle grunge rock he is most famous for producing. This album is, and I hesitate to think it, almost too loud. Which means it takes a few listens to let the subtleties seep in - okay I'm bullshitting you since this is about the most straight ahead punk raucous beer party rock I've heard in a long time, but it did take a few plays before I could decipher Billy Hopeless's whiskey soaked vocals. Maybe I'm just a little slow at interpreting Canadian, eh. The Black Halos definitely hold onto their title as the best Vancouver export on Alive Without Control.

"Three Sheets To The Wind" explodes from the speakers and sets the tone for the anthemic odes to follow as they announce that they "don't know a single hymn". They borrow a guitar intro from Dramarama for "Last Call At The Toothless Saloon" before leading us into a rousing chorus that sidesteps Stiv Bators and heads for Dee Dee Ramone vocal territory. "Darkest Corners" we're told are the only places that The Black Halos are home and that's good to know since you need to go see them play live to fully appreciate their Dolls/Dead Boys homage transcending rock and roll. Other choice nuggets: "Tight" which speeds along with hydrochloric intensity, the anti-love song "Broken", and a cover of Tom Petty's "I Need To Know" which demonstrates what a sturdy songwriter Petty is as the song is a fitting end for an album's worth of songs where the politics are personal alienation.

Alive Without Control is available through Liquor And Poker Music. If you're tired of being an American idiot, then grab yourself a couple of toofers (a toofer is a case of beer in Canadian speak), then get this album for an evening of drunken rock and roll. I notice the people who had never heard of the New York Dolls or the Dead Boys have returned from the Gap so I guess this review is through. But thanks to The Black Halos I'm sure there will be fewer customers for the Gap the next time around.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Happy Fourth!

Yeah, I know I haven't been posting as much as I usually do, but I've been super busy with other things. Rest assured I'll be back after the holiday with plenty of stuff for you.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July weekend!!! Be sure to get drunk and play with fireworks - that's what freedom is all about. Happy 229th birthday America!