Friday, April 29, 2011

The Hitchers - "Tees Valley Deadbeats" CD Review (Spectra Records)

The Hitchers - 'Tees Valley Deadbeats' CD Review UK punkabilly band The Hitchers, who sound like the bastard love child of Squeeze and the Stray Cats, released their first domestic disc, Tees Valley Deadbeats, earlier this year (Spectra Records). The band quoted “We’ve been playing our own style of punk rock’n'roll, with the ambition to capture the infectious buzz of punk rock with the fun and style of the 1950s rock ‘n’ roll years.” While this disc was previously available only as an import, the band and their music aren’t strangers to the American shores as they have been written up in Kerrang and toured across the US on multiple years of Warped Tours.

Given that The Hitchers are a three-piece band with a stand-up bass and “Slim Jim Phantom” style drum kit, this leads to an immediate comparison to the Stray Cats but The Hitchers push beyond the Cats’ greaser rockabilly sound. Singer/guitarist Ritchie has a smooth, melodic voice that is closer to Glenn Tilbrook than Brian Setzer and the band frequently sings in multi-part harmony which gives many of the songs a 50’s doo-wop feel. The band even goes into Beach Boys style vocals on “Wasted (And I’m Living Proof)” where the upbeat vocal harmonies mask dark lyrics.

When the band is channeling the Stray Cats, they have both the hooks and the swing that the Stray Cats used to take the US by storm with Rant N' Rave. Some of the stand-out tracks are “Shake Ruby UB” (which has a “Rock This Town” style vibe), “Anti-Protest Song” (which gets a bit more into Clash territory) and the disc’s leadoff track “Bop Til U Drop”. The band moves into power-punk (ala Green Day) territory with “Berwick Hills 90210” which features some slashing guitar work from Ritchie and a nice drum lead-in from Mikey. The band breaks out their 50’s Rock n’ Roll influences with some serious doo-wop harmonies on “Rum to Talk to You” and “Me & London” and “Rotten Baby”, where this last track combines Chris Isaac style “crooner” vocals with exquisite multi-part harmonies. This is a disc that really needs to be heard and the stylistic touch points mentioned above only scratch the surface of the band’s sonic repertoire.

In a ‘09 interview with Metromix, the band was asked: "What’s next for The Hitchers, as far as recording, touring, etc.?"

The Hitchers: "Wait and see. Hopefully more of both. “Tees Valley Deadbeats” is going to be released in the States soon, so hopefully lots more shows on Randall Island (referring back to a ’05 Warped Tour show) with boobs."

The Hitchers

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Country Mice Release Second Free Download from Forthcoming CD "Festival" (Out June 7th)

DOWNLOAD: Country Mice - "Morning Son" (from Festival)

STREAM/DOWNLOAD: Country Mice - "Festival"
(Download link from

Country Mice Release Second Free Download from Forthcoming CD 'Festival' (Out June 7th)Breaking away from the close-knit ties of friends and family in rural Kansas, Country Mice front-man Jason Rueger moved east, not to Nashville, where you might expect a country boy to venture, but to Brooklyn. It doesn’t take long to hook up with fellow Midwest transplants Ben Bullington (guitar) and Kurt Kuehn (drums) as they all quickly band together, finding comfort in their shared sense of displacement. Eventually, as the trio becomes more assimilated to their new surroundings, they recruit upstate New Yorker Mike Feldman (bass).

As Country Mice, they rally together to craft apocalyptic ballads through amplifier hazes that thicken into funnel clouds, drums that stomp-clap sedately before the storm peaks, and bass tones that thicken the bloodstream. Rueger draws on his small town rearing with sophistication beyond the ordinarily romantic and reductive Americana troubadour, and his songwriting is anything but dime a dozen.

Strong traces of Neil Young and Wilco are mixed into modern experimental guitar sounds that any fan of mid-90’s Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. will love. Living and gigging in Brooklyn, Country Mice begin to fully develop their sound, which becomes by influenced the other hardworking bands of Brooklyn's fast-paced scene. With the release of two 7” singles and a limited edition cassette on Brooklyn-based indie labels, Country Mice embarked on several national US tours, played CMJ and recorded and recently released a Daytrotter Session.

On March 28th, the band unleashed a new single “Festival” and their debut album Twister is due out on June 7th. This is a record that sonically chisels through the calloused shell of glossy rock & roll to find the dissonant live wire beneath and play it for all its worth. It tells a tale of strained memory: the hardships, joys, and love of growing up in a small town in the Midwest, with the hopes and dreams of traveling the world – a record for every kid seeing the big world from his small bedroom window.

1. Ghost
2. Festival
3. Morning Son
4. Rabbit On A Leash
5. Close Behind
6. Clover
7. Worn Hearts
8. Bullet of a Gun
9. Shasta

Country Mice

The Felice Brothers: "Celebration Florida" CD Review (Fat Possum) // Show at The Bell House on May 18th - 19th

The Felice Brothers "Ponzi" by fatpossum

The Felice Brothers: 'Celebration Florida' CD Review (Fat Possum)On May 10th, The Felice Brothers are releasing their fourth disc, Celebration, Florida, which also marks their debut on the Fat Possum label. This disc is an adventurous step forward for the band as they combine their core "Americana" sound with elements of acid jazz, bass-heavy dance beats, pounding tribal drums and a mixture of sound bites to come up with an eleven-track offering that is both darkly beautiful but subliminally disturbing.

While the majority of The Felice Brothers past work was recorded in a converted chicken coop in upstate New York, this new disc was recorded in the gymnasium and theater of Beacon, NY’s old high school and it is richly textured with unexpected instrumentation flowing in and out of each song. The disc starts off strong with the roaring "Fire at the Pageant" which combines a stomping rhythm with Ian's off-kilter narrative and mixture of children's schoolyard vocals which cuts away to an acoustic outro. One of the other adventerous cuts is "Ponzi" which starts with soundbites from the movie Charade and includes elements of electronica and acid jazz. There is still enough elements of rustic Americana on this disc to keep the Bob Dylan/Band comparisons flowing for another few years and one example of this is the disc closer "River Jordan".

The band hasn't lost their dark, narrative story-telling ability and continue to weave grim tales of loss and dispair. Among the tales on Celebration Florida are: a late night host recounting his rise to fame to his honeybee while traveling in a private jet ("Dallas"); shady degenerates who get lost in a mystery concerning a Honda Civic ("Honda Civic"); a young girl who crimps her hair and spies her dead father driving down the road ("Fire at the Pageant"); and a Wall Street scandal that hits a little too close to home ("Ponzi").

The Felice Brothers played two sold-out shows at Maxwell's in March and are coming back through in May for two shows at The Bell House. The shows are on May 18th and 19th and the opening bands for both nights are Shovels and Rope and Rig 1. Advance tickets for each of the nights is $20.

The Felice Brothers

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

David Bowie - "Toy" CD Review (No Label)

David Bowie - 'Toy' CD Review (No Label)I love the alleged “mystique” when news of a bootleg hits the mainstream media. The bootlegs that I can remember creating significant media hype are The Minutemen – Just A Minute... Men (which was a live radio broadcast that was bootlegged by a disgruntled DJ after the band had the ‘audacity’ to release part of the session themselves); The Misfits – 12 Hits from Hell (there were so many promos in circulation, how can anyone not think this would have gone viral); Metallica – “I Disappear” demo (gee Lars, a studio demo is leaked and you think the problem is the vehicle used to distribute the song??).

More recently, there were a number of studio tracks leaked from Guns N’ Roses’ then-forthcoming album Chinese Democracy (now $1.99 at Best Buy) and the latest leak is David Bowie’s (unreleased until now) 2001 album Toy. The website TorrentFreak tracked down the uploader who said: “Myself and a few friends were very angry that certain people only seem to want to profit from recordings like the Toy album, so when we saw the eBay auction and heard of someone else selling discs for $55, I decide to upload it and give it away.

The story behind this 14-track/60+ minute disc is that it was planned for release in 2001 but shelved due to a dispute with Virgin. With Bowie going ‘quiet’ this past decade, this is the first new studio material since 2002’s Reality and the version of Toy that is circulating is studio quality ( 256 kps, unlike the GN’R leaks). Where this gets especially interesting is that the disc is a mix of (then) new material and radical reworkings of some of the earliest material from Bowie’s back catalog.

Here is the track list:

1) "Uncle Floyd" - 6:15
>> This track appeared on 2002’s Heathen under the title “Slip Away” without the intro sound bite from the Uncle Floyd show and with subtle differences in the music and lyrics.

2) "Afraid" - 3:29
>> This track appeared on 2002’s Heathen in essentially the same format.

3) "Baby Loves That Way" - 4:38
>> Originally released in 1965 as the b-side of the single "You've Got a Habit of Leaving" under the name Davy Jones & the Lower Third. This new version is about a minute and a half longer than the original version but, aside for some studio banter toward the end of the song, this version is rather close to what was ultimately released on the "Everyone Says Hi" UK CD single.

4) "I Dig Everything" - 4:53
>> Originally released in 1966 and served as Bowie’s last recording on Pye. The version on Toy is about two minutes longer than the original version and remains unreleased.

5) "Conversation Piece" - 3:53
>> Originally released in 1970 as the b-side to “The Prettiest Star” and later included as a bonus track on the Ryko issue of Space Oddity. The version recorded for Toy is close to the original but runs a minute longer. This version was included on the bonus disc for Heathen.

6) "Let Me Sleep Beside You" - 3:14
>> Originally recorded as a single in 1967 which was rejected by the record company and ultimately released on one of the many singles compilations from the Deram era and, more recently, included on the deluxe edition of David Bowie’s first album. This version is a good bit heavier than the original and remains unreleased.

7) "Toy (Your Turn To Drive)" - 4:46
>>”Toy” (aka “Your Turn To Drive”) is one of the new tunes written for Toy and was released on iTunes as a non-lp single in 2003.

8) "Hole In The Ground" - 3:30
>> Allegedly from the Space Oddity sessions (1969).

9) "Shadow Man" - 4:41
>> An outtake from 1971 that can be found on a few bootlegs in both demo and studio form. A slightly different and longer version than what is on the Toy bootleg was included on the “Everyone Says Hi” UK CD Single.

10) "In The Heat of The Morning" - 3:51
>> Like “Let Me Sleep Beside You”, this track was originally recorded as a single (1968) and subsequently released on one of the many singles compilations from the Deram era and, more recently, included on the deluxe edition of David Bowie’s first album. This version remains unreleased.

11) "You've Got a Habit of Leaving" - 4:49
>> Originally released as a single in 1965 under the name Davy Jones & the Lower Third. This new version is significantly longer than the original version and is close to what was ultimately released on the "Everyone Says Hi" UK CD single.

12) "Silly Boy Blue" - 5:33
>> Originally released in 1967 on David Bowie’s first album. An early demo recording along with numerous live recordings can be found on the bootleg circuit. This new version remains unreleased but is close in comparison to the live version found on the Jewel bootleg CD.

13) "Liza Jane" - 4:48
>> Originally released as a single in 1964 under the name Davie Jones with the King Bees. This new version has been reworked into a jazz number but (unfortunately) remains unreleased.

14) "The London Boys" - 3:47
>> Originally released in 1966 as the b-side to the “Rubber Band” single. While segments of this song were posted to BowieNet, this version remains unreleased.

I found the list of musicians playing on this disc (below) on an online discussion group so I can’t vouch to its accuracy but it is probably pretty close.

David Bowie: vocals, keyboards, stylophone, mandolin
Lisa Germano: acoustic & electric violins, recorder, mandolin, accordion
Holly Palmer: backing vocals
Emm Gryner: backing vocals
Sterling Campbell: drums
Mark Plati: bass, guitars
Gerry Leonard: guitars
Gail-Ann Dorsey: bass
Mike Garson: piano
Cuong Vu: trumpet
Earl Slick: guitar

David Bowie

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

PALEO: Iowa Indie-Folk Musician Plays Two Local Shows In Advance of June Album Release

DOWNLOAD: PALEO: "In the Movies" (from Fruit of the Spirit - out June 21st)

(photo: Cary Norton)
PALEO: Iowa Indie-Folk Musician Plays Two Local Shows on April 27th and 29th "Howling world-weariness and manic, bat-shit happiness, recalling both the magical weirdness of Neutral Milk Hotel and the disturbed genius of Elliott Smith.” – Flavorpill NYC

Living in a car for over five years, booking his own shows, producing all his own music, Paleo (aka David Strackany) has become something of a mantlepiece in the American house show circuit. His tour history is a database for kindred spirits: over 700 shows across the US, about 150 a year since 2005. And while his self-released first record, Misery, Missouri (2005) earned him high marks from a number of sources, Paleo gathered most of his notoriety through his songwriting mecca, The Song Diary. Easter Day 2006 to Tax Day 2007, he wrote and recorded 365 songs consecutively. Paste called it "a streetfight of freakish prolificacy" and Daytrotter's Sean Moeller playfully crowned him their "Poet Laureate."

Holing up in Davenport, Iowa, the twenty-something got taught the ropes of analogue recording from the original Daytrotter engineer, Patrick Stolley. Stolley's place is a minefield of old analogue gear, a phalanx of synths and amps insulate the walls, piles of grease-thirsty old tape machines, bells, whistles, six-strings, four-strings, twelve-strings, no strings. With this wonderland at his disposal, the young magi decided to try something which'd never occurred to him before: collaboration. Friends strode in from around the region – Chicago, Minneapolis, Iowa City, Rock Island, and Lawrence – and with next to no rehearsal and no lead sheets, they huddled for a three-day creative blitzkrieg. Electrofolk artist Cloud Dog lends samples and howls in the background, the bastard folkies from Minnesota add their sad, quirk-pop sensibility, and a revolving door of drummers and percussionists take turns on the kit. Strackany just let the tape roll, and together they bottled a mischievous, mercurial record sparking with imperfection. Fruit Of The Spirit will be available on June 21st in both CD and Digital formats through the Brooklyn imprint Partisan Records.

PALEO kicked off his 2011 Spring Tour last month at SXSW and is playing two local shows later this week.

Wed. April 27 - Pianos, NYC (w/ Grimis, Kenya Movie Screening and Basement Band). Cover is $8 and PALEO is playing at 11PM.

Fri. April 29 - Knitting Factory, Brooklyn (w/ LAKE, AgesandAges and April March & Julien Gasc). Tickets are $10 advance / $12 day of show.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Karen Rockower Plays Cake Shop on Wednesday, April 27th

Karen Rockower Plays Cake Shop on Wednesday, April 27thBased on recent Twitter postings, it sounds like art-punk band Bugs in the Dark are "re-emerging" after a period of inactivity. During this downtime, guitarist/vocalist Karen Rockower recorded a stunning solo disc, Whales Standing, which led to comparison to artists such as Joanna Newsome and Hope Sandoval.

Karen is playing a full-band solo show at Cake Shop on Wednesday night along with Ovlov and Diehard. Tickets are $7 and Ovlov kicks off the night at 9PM.

Karen Rockower

EULA: Live Download and Photos from Show at Bruar Falls on 4/16/11

DOWNLOAD: EULA - "Dirty Hands" (Live at Bruar Falls, Brooklyn 4/16/11)

EULA: Photos from Show at Bruar Falls on 4/16/11I wasn't previously aware that Bruar Falls had a hard curfew at Midnight (on Saturday night, no loss) so New Haven, CT art-punk band EULA played a blistering but abbreviated set at their record release show last Saturday.

The band has a new 10-track disc Maurice Narcisse and the new material sounded great live. A live version of the track "Dirty Hands" (from the new CD) is posted above. It has been a little while since I've seen EULA play live and Aylse's guitar work seems to have gotten more angular and jagged and the bass and drums rumble aggressively like a pile driver. All-in-all, the band's sound has moved past the 'Sonic Youth-like' free-form dissonance to a much more targeted attack that is close in spirit to bands like Gang of 4 (EULA covered "To Hell With Poverty" at the show) and Big Black.

Check out QRO Magazine's in-depth review of Maurice Narcisse. Below is the video for the first single from the new disc, "Texas Stampede".

EULA: Photos from Show at Bruar Falls on 4/16/11EULA has a number of upcoming area shows over the next few months:

May 10th - Cake Shop, NYC (with Sarin McHugh & the Everymen)

June 3rd - Bruar Falls, Brooklyn (with Ben Franklin)

June 4th - Hillstock Music Festival, Brooklyn (Emerson Place & Myrtle Avenue)

June 21st - Spike Hill, Brooklyn


Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Trews: "Hope & Ruin" CD Review (The Trews Records)

DOWNLOAD: The Trews - "One By One"

The Trews: 'Hope & Ruin' CD Review (The Trews Records) Earlier this month, Toronto roots-rock band The Trews released their fourth studio disc, Hope & Ruin, on The Trews Records. While the band hasn't yet gotten a solid foothold into the US market, they have had ten "Top-10" singles in Canada, earned two gold records and toured with a variety of bands ranging from Guns N' Roses to Robert Plant. I remember the band playing Mercury Lounge a few times over the last couple years but I never caught any of their shows so Hope & Ruin is my first exposure to their music.

The Trews seem to garner a number of comparisons to the band Train but, as the only song I know by Train is the utterly deplorable "Hey Soul Sister", I think a more valid comparison is one of the 90's "modern rock" bands like Hootie and the Blowfish or Matchbox 20. The Trews' music combines Colin MacDonald's soulful lead vocals with rich vocal harmonies that are layered on top of hook-laden melodic pop tunes and rockers. According to Colin, "We were always big fans of CCR and REM and stuff, and those influences had to come out sooner or later. At one point we wanted to take everything off the record that sounded remotely heavy. We wanted to make a total roots rock album."

This new disc was written and recorded in The Tragically Hip's Bathhouse studios in a collaborative and organic process that the band describes as taking them back to their early days. Guitarist John-Angus MacDonald said "We didn't want to have everything super hashed-out ahead of time.we were just working, making music that we wanted.. and not just beat[ing] the old formula to death."

A number of songs have introspective lyrical themes about love, loss and heartbreak. The first single from this release is a pop-rocker, "Hope & Ruin", about the ups and downs of life.

While my musical taste leans more toward the rockers ("The World I Know", "Misery Loves Company" and "People of the Deer"), the mellower tracks were memorable as well.

The Trews will be touring the U.S. this Spring.

The Trews

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tommy Bolin -"Teaser Redux" CD Review (Samson Records)

Tommy Bolin -'Teaser Redux' CD ReviewWhile guitarist Tommy Bolin has yet to obtain the posthumous, “larger than life” profile of Jimi Hendrix, similar to the Hendrix catalog, there have been a steady stream of live and studio archival material from Tommy Bolin’s various projects released over the past decade. In a recent MetalSuck interview, producer/custodian of the Bolin archives Greg Hampton was asked to compare Bolin’s guitar playing against guitarists of his day: “Definitely one of the greats, no doubt. He was definitely as good as those guys, as the Jimmy Pages and the Jeff Becks. A lot of people thought he was supposed to be heir to the whole Hendrix thing, because of his versatility. He never got a chance to get to that point.

This latest release, Teaser Redux, is a collection of alternate takes from the June – July ’75 sessions that resulted in Bolin’s hallmark solo debut Teaser (originally released on the Nemporer imprint and strangely out of print for years). I have a number of friends who play guitar and the older ones still ‘worship’ Bolin’s playing as he lays down fluid leads and intricate solos across a variety of style that range from reggae to Latin to jazz fusion. Teaser Redux is a loose and relaxed run-through of all of the tracks that ultimately ended up on Teaser along with two versions of “Crazed Fandango” (a Teaser outtake; I believe both versions were previously released on the Whips & Roses compilations).

Where it gets interesting is that most of the Teaser tracks are extended versions and the running time of the original disc has been extended by 23 minutes. While most of the tracks have been extended by a minute or two, the real bonus is that the running time of “Wild Dogs” and “Lotus” has more than doubled. “Wild Dogs” features some brilliant guitar work on the extended portion and Bolin goes into a mid-song solo after asking “Why do you keep playing the parts I don’t sing on?” and then following this with scat guide vocals.

While a domestic release of the CD version of Teaser continues to ‘spin’ in legal limbo (…I’ve heard the sound on the Japanese import isn’t that good), Teaser Redux is a worthy stop-gap. Long-time Bolin fans will likely find these demos/working versions worth picking up as well.

Tommy Bolin

Noel Redding - "The Redding Experience" DVD Review (MVD)

Noel Redding - 'The Redding Experience' DVD Review (MVD)Next month, a previously unseen interview with guitarist/bassist Noel Redding will be released by MVD Entertainment under the title The Redding Experience. This interview runs about 40 minutes and was filmed in 1988 at Redding’s home in Ireland.

While Redding was an accomplished guitarist and played with bands ranging from Fat Mattress to the Noel Redding Band (with Thin Lizzy guitarist Eric Bell), he is best known as bassist for The Jimi Hendrix Experience. This interview with Redding is fascinating as he is very articulate and compelling as he talks the early history of the Experience in a matter-of-fact style. Producer Will Scally explains how the interview came about. "I had known and been friends with Noel for many years and always found him a very upfront, straightforward guy. We often spoke about doing an interview; he wanted to speak about the band, money, drugs and the death of Hendrix and much more – even speaking about the possibility of Hendrix being murdered. He was on good form that day and wanted to record this for posterity."

Redding starts his story with having been recruited into the Experience by manager Chas Chandler after auditioning for Eric Burdon’s New Animals. He goes into some detail about agreeing to switch over to bass and, after ten days of practice, going out on the Experience's first tour. He reminisces fondly about recording the Experience's first two discs (Are You Experienced (1967) and Axis: Bold as Love (1967)) but also talks about how the Electric Ladyland sessions degenerated into all night parties and never-ending overdubs. Somewhat humorously, Redding mentions that he never liked the songs “Hey Joe” and “Purple Haze” but preferred “Can You See Me” and “Fire”.

Redding notes that manger Chandler quit midway through the recording Electric Ladyland and there is the implication that Chandler held the band together. He goes on to talk about how the band unofficially broke up in 1968 but stayed together for one final “contractual obligation” tour. While Hendrix and Redding had some well-known personality clashes, Redding sounds like the two managed to bridge this gap as he was invited to join Band of Gypsys immediately prior to Hendrix’s death after Billy Cox was sidelined after an acid freakout. (Note: I would assume that Redding means the reformed Experience rather than Band of Gypsys).

Redding hasn’t been quiet over the years that he finds the circumstances surrounding Hendrix’s death to be suspicious. In Chris Welch’s 1973 biography of Hendrix, Redding says “I'm not really sure about his death. I think the night before he dropped some acid. I don't know if it was an accident or suicide or murder. I was in the States and I heard that Bill Cox freaked. He was convinced somebody was trying to kill him.” Redding briefly touches on these suspicions in the interview when asked if he thinks Hendrix may have been murdered.

As the Hendrix legend has grown larger-than-life since his death, it was an enjoyable experience to watch Redding tell the story of the Experience from the perspective of someone who was there.

Noel Redding Obituary with Detailed Bio

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bobby Birdman Announces New 7" // NYC Show with YACHT on April 27th

DOWNLOAD: Bobby Birdman - Only For A While (from 2009's New Moods)
STREAM: Bobby Birdman - "Dub Walk" (click-through to KRecs Tumblr page)

Bobby Birdman Releases New 7 Inch // NYC Show with YACHT on April 27thBobby Birdman (aka Rob Kieswetter from YACHT's backing band The Straight Gaze) announced a new digital 7" ("Don't Walk Away" / "Dub Walk") and is opening for YACHT at Webster Hall on April 27th.

"Don't Walk Away" has a pulp-noir vibe which features Birdman's clear vocals on top of surf-guitar lines and an underlying pulsing bass. K Records said: "[t]his “Dub Walk,” if you will, is the B side of Bobby Birdman’s upcoming Dub Narcotic Disco Plate entitled “Don’t Walk Away” (DBN124, dropping on 6/21/2011). “Dub Walk” features none other than Selector Dub Narcotic, the nom de plume of Calvin Johnson, remix superstar." Johnson deconstructs the songs down to its most basic form (bass and drums) and swaps Birdman's vocals for what sounds like a keyboard and occasionally fuzzed-out vocal snippets. These slow-burning grooves will either get the dance floor moving or the make-out session started.

Getting back on track, Bobby Birdman is playing with YACHT (who will be previewing their new album) and Light Asylum at Webster Hall next Wednesday (April 27th) and tickets are $16.

Bobby Birdman

The Handsome Men Make Their NYC Debut at Arlene's Grocery on May 5th

The Handsome Men Make Their NYC Debut at Arlene's Grocery on May 5thNJ indie-rock band The Handsome Men are making their NYC debut with a show on March 5th at Arlene's Grocery. The Handsome Men are headlining the show and go on at 11PM (knowing how Arlene's runs, they will likely play after midnight) and tickets are $8. Sharing the bill is Mikey Jukebox (x-Longwave), Giftshop, Ramon and Dylan (2010 digital EP available as free download), Samual Saffery and Stoned Fire.

The Handsome Men started playing live earlier this year and have posted a couple tracks in advance of the release of their first EP. The band has an agit/post-punk sound on the two tracks posted which take me back to my college radio days in the mid-80's but the songs don't sound dated at all.

The Handsome Men

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Grail, Cauldron and Wizardry Play Union Pool on May 4th

Holy Grail, Cauldron and Wizardry Play Union Pool on May 4thA double-bill of Cauldron and Holy Grail should make for a hot show. Tickets for the show at Union Pool are $10 and like-minded local band Wizardry is opening the show.

Rising stars of metal Holy Grail will be teaming up with Cauldron for a North American trek. The tour touches down in Brooklyn, NY on Wednesday, May 4th at Union Pool. Holy Grail will close all U.S shows and Cauldron will close all Canadian dates. Holy Grail has been touring in support of their critically-acclaimed Fall 2010 release, Crisis In Utopia, and Cauldron is touring behind their 2011 disc Burning Fortune.

Only assembled a few years ago, Holy Grail is already at the forefront of the new wave of metal that pays homage to such legends as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Dio. The band's debut EP "Improper Burial" (released in late 2009), featuring just two original tracks and two covers, earned Holy Grail significant press accolades including a 2-page feature in hometown paper LA Weekly, a spot on Decibel's "25 Most Anticipated Releases Of 2010" list and inclusion on Metal Hammer's "Guide To The Best In The Upcoming New Wave Of Trad Metal". Holy Grail was also recognized with a nomination for Metal Hammer's 2010 Golden God Awards in the "Best New Band' category - quite an honor since they hadn't even released a full-length album yet! Metal Hammer sums it up best: "With a killer name, awesome logo and a sound that is more metal than metal itself, Holy Grail are one of the most promising traditionally inclined metal bands to emerge from the US in the past decade...This is metal played with conviction and belief and you're going to love it."

Holy Grail / Cauldron Tour Dates

15 -- West Hollywood, CA, Viper Room
16 -- Oakland, CA, Oakland Metro Opera House
17 -- Portland, OR, Dante's
18 -- Seattle, WA, El Corazon
19 -- Vancouver, BC, Media Club
21 -- Calgary, AB, Republik
22 -- Edmonton, AB, Brixx Bar & Grill
25 -- Winnipeg, MB, Royal Albert
26 -- Thunder Bay, ON, Crocks
28 -- Toronto, ON, The Wreck Room
29 -- Quebec, QC, L'Agitee
30 -- Montreal, QC, Il Motore

1 -- Allston, MA, Great Scott
2 -- Hartford, CT, Webster Underground
3 -- Philadelphia, PA, Trocadero
4 -- Brooklyn, NY, Union Pool
5 -- Washington, DC, Red Palace
6 -- Columbus, OH, The Summit
7 -- Chicago, IL, Subterranean
8 -- Minneapolis, MN, Triple Rock Social Club
9 -- Kansas City, MO, The Riot Room
10 -- Denver, CO, Three Kings Tavern
11 -- Salt Lake City, UT, Club Vegas
12 -- Mesa, AZ, Nile Theatre

Holy Grail

EYEHATEGOD: "Live" DVD Review (MVD Visual)

EYEHATEGOD: 'Live' DVD Review (MVD Visual)Now into their twenty-third year as a band, veteran sludge metal outfit EYEHATEGOD have just released a 90+ live DVD which contains two complete live shows along with an assortment of bonus tracks. Both shows feature well-recorded, multi-camera footage that capture EYEHATEGOD in all their miscreant glory.

The first show was recorded on the band's 2010 tour at the "scum owned and operated" venue Now That's Class in Cleveland. The band plays a lumbering fourteen song set which includes "Dixie Whiskey", "White N*gger" and the set closer "Methamphetamine". This show was obviously filmed by someone well familiar with the band's music as the camera angles range from on-stage close-ups to B&W cut-aways and capture both the energy of the band and the fist-pumping, ravenous fans who have packed the front of the stage. Below is a live video from the DVD for the song "Jackass in the Will of God" (from the album Kerrang).

The band wrote about this show in a tour diary (posted on "Openers are the Atlas Moth, Keelhaul, and Strong Intention. Keelhaul played in the basement of the club, unleashing an assault of heavy, yet intricate riffing that we couldn’t begin to figure out. Anytime we play in Cleveland, we play with them; they are like extended family. Tonight’s crowd is a turbulent ocean of flying bodies and the usual blood and broken stuff. A huge skinhead that nobody wants to fuck with and who we guarantee has never heard of us before keeps getting on stage, gets pushed off, gets back up, and is taking up way too much space on a stage with only barely enough room for five. He decides he’s gonna lay down in Mike’s zone. Bad move. At first none of us knew what to do with this dude, then Mike starts spitting all over him while he was laying on stage, which then escalated to the guy catching the iron base of the mic stand in the back of the neck. He finally got off of the stage. All in all, a great night, all captured on five camera angles by our friends at Digital Live. The night ends with the fucking bonehead getting in a fight (surprise surprise!) with some guy, then a bouncer, and then the owner of the club. Wild."

The second show was recorded at the Otto Bar in Baltimore on 10/23/09 and this show's eleven tracks has no overlap with the Cleveland show. Highlights from this show are "$30 Bag", "Kill Your Boss" and "Serving Time in the Middle of Nowhere". Mike IX Williams interacts a bit more with the audience at this show with some crowd baiting ("If you're gonna throw shit at us at least throw money. Quarters are fine.") and calls for "heroin and black girls". This too is a solid show - it appears to have been filmed from the house cameras which gives it a bit more gloss with some of the "above the crowd" camera angles. (Unfortunately, I couldn't find any videos from the DVD posted online for this show so I've included an audience video from the show for the song "Kill Your Boss".)

There are six bonus tracks which include three songs filmed live in Vienna, Austria in 2010 ("Shoplift", "Run It To The Ground" and "Shinobi") and three videos ("Sister Fucker" and the disturbing promo videos for "Anxiety Hangover" and "Age of Bootcamp").

In an interview with the website Global Domination, Mike Williams described EYEHATEGOD's music as "Punk Rock Sabbath. Southern Rock Black Flag. Hardcore Blues. Heroin Metal...Besides music we’re all influenced by shitty jobs, crap record labels, cheap speed, cheaper LSD, bus fumes, sidewalks, old people, long van rides and hospitals."

While musical trends come and go and numerous bands change their sound over time, I have no doubt that EYEHATEGOD will continue to pump out self-loathing Southern sludge for years to come. Both fans of EYEHATEGOD and bands like Down and The Melvins are going to want to pick this release.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Residents: "Not Available" CD Review (MVD Audio)

The Residents: 'Not Available' CD Review (MVD Audio)After Ralph Records shut its doors last summer, The Residents' back catalog releases have been coming out on MVD Audio. The label issued Meet the Residents (originally released in 1974) earlier this year and followed this up with an extended version of Not Available (recorded in 1974 but not released until 1978). This new release of Not Available extends the disc's original running time from 35 minutes to 42 minutes by including pieces of songs that were edited out of the original version.

Not Available is The Residents' first concept album and the disc contains four long songs along with a shorter "Epilogue" which tells the story of a dark love triangle. The liner notes describe this release as an exercise in group therapy: "By enacting this pseudo drama within a psycho drama, the internal conflict, still not completely understood by all of the participants, became much more clear, as the player characters instinctively acted out their roles. The love triangle between Edweena, Porcupine and Catbird became obvious ("Can two be more than three?") as well as Remus's role as the distant and objective commentator ("The aching and the breaking are the making of a soul."). The purpose of the Enigmatic Foe was of course still unclear when the rehearsals began, but once the Porcupine's breakdown was known ("He thought the end was overdue, but day broke him instead..."), the role of the noble Foe, as Porcupine's stand-in for the operetta's climatic duel scene, became clear.

As the faux piece reached its peak, the trio - two holding pistols while the third hid in a bush - came to a realization that the lovely young Edweena had eloped with the independently wealthy and no longer uninvolved Uncle Remus. At this point, the tension, previously thicker than frozen mayonnaise, was shattered by the Porcupine, emerging from the shrubbery to paraphrase Shakespeare ("To show or not to be shown...").

With illusions of love shattered, the three were then able to forgive, embrace and even welcome the traitorous Remus back to the fold, once he had returned from his less than blissful honeymoon.

This release shows a striking maturity in the band's songwriting over Meet the Residents as the pieces on Not Available flow together with a dark, discordant surrealism. The music ranges from orchestral to avant-jazz no wave and there are a number of "songs" within songs which are often separated by garbled and twisted vocals. This is a work of demented genius and one can hear how these songs served as a 'jumping off' point for later-day tracks like "Walter Westinghouse" (from Fingerprince).

The added seven minutes on this extended edition adds a noticeable color to each of the songs and makes this reissue worth picking up, even if you already own a copy of Not Available.

The Residents

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jeffrey Lee Pierce: "Anarchic Blues - Live In Slovenia 1994" CD Review

Jeffrey Lee Pierce: 'Anarchic Blues - Live In Slovenia 1994' CD ReviewI’ve seen The Gun Club perform live about a half-dozen times and the band makes both my “Top 10” best and worst concert lists. When they were “on”, I haven’t seen another band that could top their swamp-rock blues sound. When they were “off”, it was a complete train wreck. The last time I saw Jeffrey perform live was one of the Jeffrey Lee Pierce Quartet shows and it was, unfortunately, a train wreck where Pierce was noticeably fighting with guitarist Romi Mori and kept turning up his amp to drown out her playing. Over the last decade, there have been an increasing number of (mostly) quality live recordings surfacing from The Gun Club but there has been nothing (until now) from Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s solo tours.

Earlier last month, Music Melon Records released Anarchic Blues which captures a live recording of Pierce in Slovenia on November 6, 1994. This show was originally broadcast live on “The Jane Weber Show” and it is a clear soundboard recording that runs just over an hour.

Pierce is definitely “on” for this show but this isn’t the sweaty exorcism of the Wildweed live shows but rather the “Ramblin' Jeffrey Lee” delta-blues storytelling found on Pierce’s second solo album. After the breakup of the Lucky Jim lineup of The Gun Club in 1994, Pierce toured as an acoustic duo in Europe behind his 1992 solo release Ramblin' Jeffrey Lee with Cypress Grove and Willie Love along with guitarist Cypress Grove (a.k.a. Tony Chmelik). The duo’s set list focused predominately on material from this disc along with some Gun Club and blues covers.

Here is the complete track list:

- St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy/arr. by J.L. Pierce & Cypress Grove)
- Pony Blues (Son House or Charlie Patton)
- Titanic Blues
- Sto' Gallery Blues
- My Black Mamma (James McCoy)
- John Henry (trad.)
- Juniors Got A Jap Girl For Christmas
- Crawl Out Your Window (Bob Dylan)
- John Hardy (trad., arr. by J.L. Pierce) / Mother Earth (J.L. Pierce) / Lucky Jim (J.L. Pierce)
- Not Supposed To Be That Way (Willie Nelson)
- Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town (Mel Tillis) / Long Long Gone (Frankie Lee Simms)
- I Am A Rock (Paul Simon)
- Breaking Hands (J.L. Pierce)

This disc is a great companion piece to the '9 Lives' reissue of Ramblin' Jeffrey Lee (which contains five previously unreleased bonus tracks). Evidently there is more material in the “can” as Cypresss Grove is quoted on as saying “Anyway, all the shows were recorded, and a live album of that final tour is coming out in February 2007. I get asked a lot of questions about what is happening with the album, so I thought here might be a good place to answer them! It is to be called “Spanish Flang Dang” and will feature performances from most of the shows. Me and Edwin (the tour manager) spent many hours listening to all the DAT’s, and think we have pretty much come up with the best stuff – although as always, opinions may differ on that.

Jeffrey Lee Pierce

Pentagram - "Last Rites" CD Review (Metal Blade)

Pentagram "Call the Man" by Metal Blade Records

Pentagram - 'Last Rites' CD Review (Metal Blade)Earlier this month, Pentagram released their seventh studio disc, Last Rites, which reunites a now clean and sober Bobby Liebling with Relentless-era guitarist Victor Griffin (Place of Skulls). In keeping with the ‘tradition’ of an every-changing lineup, Liebling and Griffin are joined by Greg Turley on bass (who played with Pentagram in the mid-90’s) and Tim Tomaselli on drums (Place of Skulls).

In closing out their fourth decade as a band, Pentagram haven’t sounded this good in years. This disc isn’t a return to the classic riffs of Be Forewarned (1994) but nor does it sound ‘phoned in’ like the band’s last studio release, Show ‘em How (2004). Victor Griffin’s muscular, blues-based stoner riffs, intricate leads and “Drop B” tuning add a lot to this disc and Liebling’s distinctive voice has lost little of its power.

Like most Pentagram discs, Last Rites is a split between re-recorded tracks from the 70’s and newly written tracks. “Walk in Blue Light” and “Everything’s Turning to Night” were originally released in demo form on the First Daze Here and First Daze Here Too compilations. “Call the Man” is from demo tapes from 1971 and “Into the Ground” and “Nothing Left” are from Liebling’s pre-Pentagram band, Stone Bunny.

The new material is good but somewhat of a mixed bag. Victor Griffin takes lead vocals on “American Dream” and this is a political song about the decline of the middle class. “Death In First Person” starts with a creepy “Alice Cooper Band” spoken word intro from Bobby before Griffin kicks in with the power riffs midway through the song. “Windmills and Chimes” is an “odd” number as I wouldn’t have expected Pentagram to record an alt-rock power ballad. The most interesting track is “8” which starts with some of the more creative drumming on the disc.

Pentagram has come a long way since (from the Washington DC City Paper) the days that Bobby required the City Paper interviewer to : 1) Always call after midnight; 2) all references to black magic and human sacrifices were to be off the record; and 3) at each 40-minute mark, Liebling would have to pause to smoke crack.

Last Rites is the first of a three-album deal with Metal Blade and, if they can hold this lineup together (and Bobby stays straight), they might reach beyond their core group of fans to become the “American Black Sabbath” (which is a label that has been following the band for years).


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

EULA Plays Record Release Show at Bruar Falls on Saturday, April 16th

EULA Plays Record Release Show at Bruar Falls on Saturday, April 16thNew Haven, CT art-punk band EULA is playing a record release show next Saturday at Bruar Falls for their new 10-track disc Maurice Narcisse which comes out on April 26th.

I've been a huge fan of EULA since catching their live show at Crash Mansion a few year back and the band has been winning over fans with frequent trips to NYC. Young & Pretty Blog recently posted an exclusive interview with vocalist Alyse Lamb and described the band as "EULA, a trio from New Haven, CT, in addition to Lamb, consists of: Jeff Maleri (bass, vocals) and Nate Rose (drums, vocals). Their sound is sexy, rough, and wild. Onstage, they are full of vigor; like a teenage garage band playing louder after their mom yells at them to unplug!"

EULA's record release show is next Saturday at Bruar Falls and sharing the bill are Pow Wow, Ghost Bunny and Shark?. Cover is $6 and the show starts at 8PM.


Jeremy Jay: Stream "Dream Diary" / Disc To Be Released April 12th on K Records

DREAM DIARY by Jeremy Jay Official

"On Jeremy Jay’s "Dream Diary" the sway of the heart is in overdrive with the freedom of youth and bright horizons (especially at night); oh, and don’t forget love. These are the major themes of "Dream Diary". Recorded with the powerful yet lithe trio of Jeremy, guitar and keyboards, Derek playing electric bass guitar, and Michael on drums, they kept the room alive at Stagg Street Studios in Los Angeles, Ca. with the majestic pop perfection that unfolds as "Dream Diary" draws you into its spell. Synth driven, and a bit moodier than his past work, this album will take you by the hand and walk with you towards a beautiful sunset, and then walk right past it. " - Press Release

K Records
Jeremy Jay

Saturday, April 02, 2011

High Horse - CD EP Review (w/ members of The Necronauts and Stereotyperider)

High Horse - Shitty Things by TMI Top 5

High Horse - CD EP Review (w/ members of The Necronauts and Stereotyperider)There must be something in the water in Mesa, AZ as Billy and Dale Goodman (from The Necronauts) have teamed up with Mike Upsahl of Stereotyperider to release a seven song EP (under the name High Horse) of high-energy garage rock. Formed in early 2010, High Horse had only played one show before they hit the studio last July, recording the seven-song, self-titled EP. This isn't the 'dirty', in-the-gutter side of garage rock but rather the 'get the party started' sound of bands like The Fleshtones.

With the melodic hooks and sing-along choruses of each of the songs, one may not immediately notice how musically 'busy' this disc is. All three members sing (often in multi-part harmonies) while Billy Goodman plays crunchy garage-rock chords and angular rhythms that zig and zag around Mike Upshal's reverb-ladden Fender Rhodes and Dale Goodman's pounding backbeat. High Horse's music doesn't share much in common with The Necronauts' lo-fi, free-form indie-rock (outside of a shared pension for off-kilter song titles) as this twenty-two minute multi-layered EP is razor tight and sounds like the work of a larger band.

The band recently released the first video from the new EP for the song "Shitty Things" which was filmed using an iPhone and a couple of flip cameras.

The EP is available on CD and a vinyl 10-inch but there's no real need to choose a format. As Upsahl explains it, "We just slide the CD in a clear case inside of the 10-inch. The deal we have is if you buy the vinyl, you get the CD for free; and if you buy the CD, you get the vinyl for free. So either way, you're getting both."

High Horse

Hammer No More The Fingers: J. Robbins Produced Indie-Rock Band Plays 285 Kent and Pianos This Weekend

Hammer No More The Fingers: J. Robbins Produced Indie-Rock Band Plays Glasslands and Pianos This WeekendIn 1993, Simple Machine record label (out of Washington, DC) started a "Working Holiday" monthly record club that featured bands which included Scrawl, Lungfish, Lois, Jawbox and Superchunk. Hammer No More The Fingers would have fit perfectly alongside this collection of 90's indie-rock bands as the band plays high-energy "college rock" which is tempered by a dark edge beneath the catchy hooks.

Hammer No More The Fingers wrote their second LP, Black Shark, while playing over two hundred dates over the past two years in support of their debut full-length, Looking For Bruce. Again working with acclaimed producer J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines) Hammer effortlessly mixes precise instrumental sparring with buoyant choruses and beautiful harmonies, rendering a more mature work that still retains the youthful quirks and charm that they’ve had since they were youngsters playing in the soil. Bryan Reed of the Columbia Free Times says Black Sharkboasts a smoother, more spacious and more arena-ready sound than its predecessors. It’s loaded with whip-smart hooks, the best melodic phrasings the band has yet put to tape.

Hammer No More The Fingers are playing 285 Kent (right beside Glasslands) on Saturday, April 9th along with Spanish Prisoners, Red Wire Black Wire and Deleted Scenes. Tickets are $7 and the show is all ages.

On Sunday night (April 10th), Hammer No More the Fingers are playing Pianos along with Deleted Scenes and Manner. Manner kicks off the show at 9PM and tickets are $8.00.

Hammer No More The Fingers