Friday, August 31, 2012

Cobalt & the Hired Guns - Live Video and Photos from Bowery Electric, NYC 8-17-12

After some lineup changes, Chicago's Cobalt & the Hired Guns (CATHG) regrouped with a fabulous new album, Everybody Wins!, which came out in June. The band played Union Hall in July and came back through a few weeks ago for a show at Bowery Electric.

Friends since they were just little buckaroos, the boys of Cobalt & the Hired Guns have always aspired to create an album to match their rambunctious live shows and it's finally here! Their new record, "Everybody Wins!", aims for the rafters with a cherry bomb explosion of poppy punk, barroom ballads, power pop, ska, horny rock and good humor. Following up 2008's "Jump the Fence" -- their first Carbon Neutral album- Everybody Wins! continues the tradition of the band's commitment to art and environmentalism- and includes their fullest lineup of 20 different players (not all at the same time). The repertoire for this five-to-twelve piece from Chicago has been described as Americana, Punky Pop, or just Good Ol' Fashioned Rock n' Roll. They've been compared to The Hold Steady, The Clash, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, The Fratellis, Frightened Rabbit, Backyard Tire Fire, and "Wilco on Xanax covering The Clash".

Cobalt & the Hired Guns

Kestrels - "A Ghost History" CD Review / Live Photos From Pianos, NYC 8-10-12

Kestrels - 'A Ghost History' CD Review / Live Photos From Pianos, NYC 8-10-12
A few years back, there seemed to be a number of UK bands (The View, Young Knives, The Pipettes, etc.) heading over to NYC who were hyped by the press as the “next big thing”. The View and The Pipettes didn’t come close to living up to their press hype and I don’t think any of these bands ever made it back to NYC after their first tour. The Kestrels aren’t from the UK (they are from Nova Scotia) but have a "UK sound" that crosses the Factory Records sound of Joy Division/New Order with the fuzzed-out noise of Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. With the release of the band’s second disc, A Ghost History (which came out June 5th on Sonic Unyon Records), Kestrels has all the melodic hooks and raw energy to be the “next big thing”.

Kestrels is the brainchild of singer/guitarist Chad Peck and the trio is rounded out by Peck’s brother, bassist Devin Peck, and drummer Paul Brown. Recording of the new disc has been in-progress since 2010 and, to shake off writer’s block, Peck recorded additional material for the album in an unlikely place, the Manhattan apartment of Tim Wheeler, front-man/guitarist for seminal 90’s Irish indie band Ash. Wheeler, whom Peck cites as a defining influence on him as a musician and friend, adds a guitar solo on the track “Dumb Angel.”

The Brian Wilson reference (“Dumb Angel”) is indicative of the band’s multi-layered sound, which is then coupled with the dynamic ebbs and flows in intensity both within and between the different songs. While the album thematically shifts from vivid to ambiguous imagery, A Ghost History’s music too diversifies from bombastic sounding to more subdued overtones throughout. “There was definitely a intent to make it dynamic without sort of doing a typical Nirvana ‘loud, quiet, loud’ type of thing,” Peck explains. “There’s a definite flow to the album that I feel warrants repeat listening. It may be hard in a ‘singles’ culture to have a patiently paced album but it was important to me and for all of us to have that flow.

The disc starts out strong with “Drowning Girl” which combines Peter Hook style bass-lines with stiff-backed drumming and some pretty cool guitar leads and roaring histrionics. The band goes follows this first track with “Dumb Angel” which has a big J. Mascis style guitar-grunge sound which builds in waves around ringing leads, melodic hooks and big harmonic choruses. “There All the Time Without You” is one of the disc’s strongest tracks (and it is also the first single) due to its strong musical hooks and harmonies. These songs are pretty indicative of the sound of this disc and the disc closes with “The Past Rests” which sounds like an exuberant Brit-pop number with big guitars and even bigger melodies. As much as these songs hit hard – the band hits the songs ever harder in their live set. Photos from the band’s show at Piano’s earlier this month follow the video.

The disc’s lyrics are almost buried beneath the band’s wall of melodic sound but are pretty introspective upon a deeper listen. Peck, who by trade is an English teacher for secondary school, was inspired lyrically for this album by 20th Century French philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s essay "The Vital Illusion". “There’s a lot of reference to the past and memory in the lyrics of the new album. The ghost part in the album title isn’t really about ghosts like Casper or anything. It was just more about the phantoms in my memory. The people that I remember, are they actually how they were or have I created some new personality or new memory of them that wasn’t there to begin with?

Kestrels are one of those bands that you should see soon as they will be quickly be on to playing bigger venues. In the interim, hopefully there will be another club tour in the Fall.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

ANTiSEEN - "New Blood" CD Review (Switchlight Records)

G.G. Allin passed away almost twenty years ago so it is somewhat hard to believe that like-minded NC “destructo rock” band (and one-time G.G. Allin backing band) ANTiSEEN hasn’t imploded. I’ve read about some crazy-violent ANTiSEEN shows that have been fueled by vocalist Jeff Clayton cutting himself – both with his ‘trademark’ barbed wire bat and handy beer bottles. Clayton’s forehead is apparently all scar tissue at this point so he no longer feels the pain of his nightly assaults.

Formed in 1983, ANTiSEEN has spent the last thirty years thundering on with their Lynyrd Skynyrd-meets-80’s hardcore attack and their politically incorrect view of the world. The band has dozens of releases under their belt and their latest one, New Blood, came out in June on Switchlight Records. This time out - core members Jeff Clayton (Vocals) and Joe Young (guitar) are joined by Jon Bowman (bass) and Phil Keller (drums) and the thirteen tracks on New Blood compile the band’s singles from 2008 – 2011 along with a couple of new tracks.

The majority of tracks on this new disc follow in the band’s long-established scuzzy, groove-oriented, southern punk sound. Some of the standouts are “Reconstruction” – a Southerner’s view on the post-reconstruction South, “The Mysterious Green Mist” and the grinding blues of “Sweet Blood Call”.

There are also a couple very strong cover songs – The Ramones’ “Chainsaw”, The Sonics’ “The Witch” and the traditional bluegrass number “Black Eyed Suzie” (which features Joe Buck from Hank 3’s band). There is also a live version of the band’s post 9-11 military anthem “Pledge Allegiance to the Bomb” which runs into “Death Train Comin’”.

(Note: this isn’t the version on New Blood but is very close)

The CD is limited to 1,000 copies and the LP version is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies, on orange colored vinyl, and includes free download code.

One reviewer described ANTiSEEN as “critically reviled but deeply loved by its niche audience”. For anyone who wants to get in on the action, here are ANTiSEEN’s upcoming tour dates:
Aug. 31 – Broadway’s, Asheville, NC
Sept. 01 – Muddy Roots Fest., June Bug Ranch, Cookeville, TN
Sept. 22 – Slim’s, Raleigh, NC
Oct. 05 – The Highlander, Atlanta, GA
Oct. 06 – JJ’s Bohemia, Chattanooga, TN


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kiss - "Destroyer Resurrected" CD Review

Kiss - 'Destroyer Resurrected' CD Review
I really wanted to write this album off as a cash grab after the planned 2CD deluxe reissue of Destroyer got scrapped and the 'Resurrected' edition adds just one bonus track - taking the original 34 minute release up to a running time of just over 37 minutes. What makes it hard to dismiss this release is that Bob Ezrin's remaster adds so much clarity and depth to the music that I'll probably toss out my original edition of Destroyer, which sounds compressed and muddy by comparison.

I'll come back to the sonic clarity momentarily but wanted to start by noted Ezrin's changes from the original recording:

- "Sweet Pain": A second version has been added as a bonus track which includes Ace Frehley's guitar solo as, evidently, the guitar solo on the original issue was played by Dick Wagner (from Alice Cooper's band). Unfortunately, this track serves just as a historical reference as Wagner's solo is more recognizable and distinctive. What is somewhat strange though is that the Wagner track is the disc's "bonus track" while the version with Ace is slotted in the original running order.

- "Beth": There is a extra "Ohhh" added that is hard to catch if you aren't looking for it. (In an interview with KissFaq.Com, Ezrin says "There was some stuff Peter did -- that little "Ah ooh" at the end. It actually occurred twice on the master tape and I only used one of them.") The real treat is that you can hear Wagner's acoustic guitar work throughout the whole song rather than just at the end.

- "Detroit Rock City": Paul's vocals have been changed from "Movin' fast, Down 95" to "Movin' fast, doin' 95".

Lastly, the disc's cover art has been reverted back to Ken Kelly's rejected art for Destroyer.

Getting back to the disc's sound quality - the remastered album is louder than the original though not 'bricked'. The separation between the instruments is significantly improved and the bass and drum tracks sound like they have been brought forward giving the disc a clean and crisp bottom-end. The orchestral instrumentation is much more distinctive ("Beth") and the non-traditional instruments (harpsichord and calliope) have also been pulled out from the original disc's wall of effects and give additional color and depth to the music. Lastly, the backing vocals and harmonies on "Great Expectations", "God of Thunder" and "Sweet Pain" have also been brought up in the mix.

While audio purists may liken Ezrin's remaster to the coloring of "Citizen Kane", the end result is that Ezrin has breathed new life into Destroyer. After all the 'throw-away' pseudo-remasters that have come out over the last twenty years, this is the first remaster where I think it is worth considering replacing a previously purchased CD.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Von Shakes - "Almost Nobody" CD EP Review (Power-Punk)

Von Shakes - 'Almost Nobody' CD EP Review (Power-Punk)
I hadn’t heard the band Von Shakes prior to receiving a review copy of the band’s latest EP “Almost Nobody” (which was released March 2nd). This new four-track (15 minute) disc is an enjoyable slice of power-punk that is reminiscent of bands like Rooney and Weezer. This is high-energy, guitar-driven rock with the focal points being Paddy Brazel’s vocals and the band’s slashing guitar lines.

Von Shakes was formed in Dublin by childhood friends Brazel, Hugh O’Reilly (guitar), Cillian McSweeney (bass) and Aaron Masterson (drums) who moved to New York to try and break out. Paddy Brazel said “We love Dublin, we love Ireland, we love the scene, but we just got sick of playing the same spots. It’s a small pond. Unless you break out, you will play those same spots until you die.” Masterson went back to Dublin earlier this year and new member Ryan Normandin (from New Hampshire) joined the group.

Three of the four songs on the new EP are studio tracks and the fourth new track, “Coming Down”, was recorded live.

The three studio tracks - “Pale”, “My Side” and “Talk and Crawl” - are upbeat, edgy rock numbers, each of which captures a sense of urgency and energy. Each of these songs features strong hooks and memorable guitar leads which build up to anthemic, sing-along choruses. While all three tracks are very strong, my favorite is “Talk and Crawl”, as it shows the band’s versatility. This song highlights rolling guitar lines that build up beneath the vocals and there are rises and falls in the song’s intensity levels (the other two songs are played b*lls out). The disc’s finale, “Coming Down”, shows that the band generates the same energy and intensity live that they do in the studio. My only ‘complaint’ with the live track is that I would have liked to have heard more bottom-end in the mix (…but that is a function of the mix, not a fault of the song).

Von Shakes are playing a number of local shows over the next few weeks and are also going back into the studio next month for what I would assume will be the band's second full-length. NYC seems like a tough city to make it as a band but Brazel said “When we feel we’ve grown, we’ll visit home, but not before then. Not till the Bowery Ballroom is sold out in advance with 100 ……looking through the window”.

Von Shakes Fall Tour Dates
Sept. 08 - State College, Pennsylvania - Kildare's State College
Sept. 12 - Hartford, Connecticut - The Half Door
Sept. 15 - Brooklyn, New York - Kitty Kiernans
Sept. 17 - Utica, New York - Hi Lo Recording Studios
Oct. 03 - Pomona, New Jersey - Richard Stockon College of New Jersey
Oct. 05 - Allentown, PA - Muhlenberg College
Oct. 06 - Manhattan, New York - Arlene's Grocery
Oct. 13 - Cobleskill, New York - SUNY
Oct. 16 - Utica, New York - Mohawk Valley
Oct. 17 - Manhattan, New York - The Delancey

Von Shakes

Neurosis Post Artwork and Track List for Forthcoming 10th Disc, "Honor Found in Decay"

Neurosis Post Artwork and Track List for Forthcoming 10th Disc, 'Honor Found in Decay'
After a five year absence from the studio, Neurosis' tenth disc, Honor Found in Decay, is scheduled to drop on October 30th.

Neurosis forged the songs on Honor Found In Decay with Steve Albini, marking their fifth collaboration with the engineer in their longstanding relationship. Their monolithic sound captured at Electrical Audio studios, Chicago, the seven tracks were then mastered by John Golden at Golden Mastering in Ventura, California.

Aesthetics have always been paramount for Neurosis and with Honor Found In Decay, Steve Von Till, Scott Kelly, Noah Landis, Jason Roeder and Dave Edwardson's musical vision is brilliantly evoked by Neurosis' visual guru Josh Graham. And with that, we proudly unveil the cover art and track listing for this prodigious album, which is shaping up to be one of the biggest releases in the band's extensive history.

Honor Found In Decay
Track Listing:
1. We All Rage In Gold
2. At The Well
3. My Heart For Deliverance
4. Bleeding The Pigs
5. Casting Of The Ages
6. All Is Found... In Time
7. Raise The Dawn

Neurosis have been invited to perform at ATP's Nightmare Before Christmas at Camber Sands Holiday Camp, England on November 30th through December 2nd, which Steve Albini’s band Shellac have been asked to curate.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

ON AN ON (x-Scattered Trees) Release "Ghosts" As Free Download / Dates Announced with Reptar and Rubblebucket

ON AN ON (x-Scattered Trees) Release 'Ghosts' As Free Download / Dates Announced with Reptar and Rubblebucket
Newly-formed indie group ON AN ON are pleased to unleash "Ghosts," the first song off their forthcoming debut album, Give In, which is due out January 29 on Roll Call Records. Consequence of Sound declared that this first track "has all the textures we can expect from this new outfit, haunted yet exquisitely exposed...strewn with scattered electronics and hazy atmospheres."

ON AN ON is scheduled to hit the road in September, supporting Reptar and Rubblebucket. Tour dates are below.

The sound marks a new direction for ON AN ON's three members - Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci and Ryne Estwing - who had been performing together for the last few years with the indie group Scattered Trees. It was only this past March during the annual SXSW festival that they decided to follow their instincts and change course, with conservative compromises being a thing of the past.

Just two weeks later, the band hunkered down in a Toronto studio with acclaimed producer Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene). With a knack for genre-melding, and a boundary-pushing mindset, Newfeld would prove to be the perfect match for the trio's new caution-less approach: synthesizers, scattershot electro beats and ambient ear candy would give guitars, bass and drums a newfound ghostly sheen. The end result was Give In, ON AN ON's ten-track debut album - a dream-washed textural journey armed with a biting perspective on life, love and the commonality of loss.

ON AN ON TOUR DATES (w/ Reptar + Rubblebucket)
09.11 -- Chicago, IL -- Lincoln Hall
09.14 -- Minneapolis, MN -- Icehouse (Headline Show)
09.22 -- Santa Ana, CA -- Constellation Room
09.23 -- Los Angeles, CA -- Echoplex
09.26 -- Austin, TX -- Beauty Ballroom
09.27 -- Little Rock, AR -- Juanita's


Friday, August 24, 2012

Marty Friedman - "Bad D.N.A." CD Review (Prosthetic Records)

Going back to my college radio days – at one time it was really ‘cool’ to be into Brian Eno. Trying to go with the flow, I picked up one of Eno’s ambient CDs and it seemed like background music…pleasant background music but none of it stuck with me. Unfortunately, most instrumental/soundscape albums leave me with a similar feeling as the ones that I have listed to recently have either been “boring background music” or highlight a musician’s technical prowess – which again is pretty boring, once you get past the first few minutes.

Getting back on track with this review, last week Prosthetic Records reissued former Megadeth guitar-shredder Marty Friedman’s 2010 all-instrumental solo disc, Bad D.N.A. This eleven-track disc was previously released only in Japan (on Avex Trax) and there was apparently a bonus track that was part of an early pressing that is included on this reissue. As I hadn’t kept up with what Friedman had been doing post-Megadeth, Megadeth fans should be “warned” that the majority of songs on this disc are of a prog-metal bent that is similar in sound to, but a bit more AOR-oriented than, Dream Theater.

The disc’s first five tracks are all of a similar bent – Friedman shows off his technical prowess and he shreds and takes flying runs better than most guitarists out there. Unfortunately, as a “three-chord” guitarist, these tracks all start to sound the same after a while and the only one that stood out was “Glorious Accident” as the riffs got a bit thrashy. Friedman shifts gears completely on “Random Star”, which starts with some slow jazz leads and electronic burbles before kicking into a mid-tempo prog-rock number. Moving on from there, “Picture” is a rock power-ballad with some soaring Eric Clapton style leads. Friedman jumps back into the shredding prog-rock that started out the disc on the next two tracks – “Battle Scars” is the standout of these two tracks as it combines grinding riffs with soaring, memorable melodies. “Exorcism Parade” is both the best and most striking cut on the disc as Friedman combines thrash riffs and soaring leads with some off-kilter noodling. “Time To Say Goodbye”, which is a Andrea Bocelli cover, has similar soaring lead but the instrumentation around these leads just isn’t as striking.

While this disc isn’t my cup of tea – it is probably a (serious) guitar player’s wet dream. Check out the videos below and see for yourself.

Marty Friedman

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Heroes of Popular Wars (band) Post New Video for "American Loser"

It has been a while since I've heard from Brooklyn-to-LA transplants Heroes of Popular Wars but the band just resurfaced with a new video for their song "American Loser" - a brilliant bit of political satire on this run-up to the election. The UK-based blog "The Devil Has the Best Tuna" described this song as "a two-part pop song/dirge that sounds like Kevin Shields playing tug of war with 80's Peter Gabriel".

The band describes this video as "Created by Anon, a secret project of a NYT magazine editor who's too chicken to put his name to it. Already getting a 'lil attention from blogs like Grimy Goods, Captain's Dead, Vinyl District and Ryan's Smashing Life!"

Heroes of the Popular Wars

Two Gallants - "The Bloom and The Blight" CD Review (ATO Records)

After an extended period of inactivity, San Francisco duo Two Gallants is back with their first album in five years – The Bloom and the Blight – which also serves as the band’s debut for ATO Records. Wikipedia refers to the band as a “folk rock duo” but there is an explosive record whose lineage is equal parts 90’s grunge (Meat Puppets and/or Dinosaur Jr. are immediate points of comparison) and gritty alt-country with only a slight element of Dylanish folk thrown into the mix. The aptly titled The Bloom and the Blight is a meditation on past and present – melodic fury matched with the eloquent, confessional lyricism that has made Two Gallants an enduring favorite of both fans and critics.

Our past albums have been a lot more folk and blues-based, and I tried to move away from that to some extent,” guitarist/vocalist Adam Stephens says of the band’s fresh direction, “I wanted to find a rawness in the music and take us back where we’d come from, from punk rock and grunge in particular, to our childhood, in some ways. We had taken time off, and we did different things, played in different bands. And in doing those things, being apart and redefining ourselves in that way, we were able to come together with a fresh approach.

A number of tracks on the disc follow a verse-chorus-verse structure with exploding choruses. The opening track, “Halycon Days”, kicks off the album on a strong note with a frenetic alt-rock number which builds up a fuzz-drenched wall of guitar noise on top of a sludgy bottom-end. This is followed by “Songs of Songs” which is an alt-country number with exploding choruses. There are a couple of other alt-country numbers on the disc – which includes “Willie”, an alt-country boot stomper – but the disc is weighted toward the fuzzed-out grunge of tracks like “Ride Away” and “Cradle Pyre”. The band keeps things fresh by switching gears with a whisky-blues/folk number on “Broken Eyes” (this disc’s first single), hazy psychedelic space rock on “Decay” and winds up the disc with the gritty acoustic number (which sounds somewhat like Beggars Banquet era Stones), “Sunday Souvenirs”.

The Bloom and the Blight will be released September 4th and the band is also heading out on an extensive tour in September, which includes shows at Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg later in the month. Pre-orders for the new LP come with a bonus 7 inch record that includes a cover of Abner Jay's "I'm so Depressed" on the A side and on the B side an etched in design drawn by Tyson.

Two Gallants’ September 2012 Tour Dates
1: Los Angeles, California / FYF Fest
2: San Diego, California / The Casbah
4: Tucson, Arizona / Club Congress
5: Phoenix, Arizona / Crescent Ballroom
7: Dallas, Texas / House of Blues
8: Austin, Texas / 29th Street Ballroom
9: Houston, Texas / Fitzgerald's
10: New Orleans, Louisiana / One Eyed Jacks
11: Birmingham, Alabama / The Bottletree Café
12: Atlanta, Georgia / Terminal West
13: Asheville, North Carolina / Grey Eagle
14: Nashville, Tennessee / The High Watt @ Americana Music Festival
15: St. Louis, Missouri / Plush
17: Cincinnati, Ohio / MOTR Pub
18: Bloomington, Indiana / The Bishop
19: Cleveland, Ohio / Beachland Tavern
20: Buffalo, New York / The Ninth Ward

24: New York, New York / Bowery Ballroom
PAPA is opening the show and advanced tickets are $20

25: Brooklyn, New York / Music Hall of Williamsburg
PAPA is opening the show and advanced tickets are $20

Two Gallants

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Win the Ultimate Theater Weekend With the Launch of the 22nd Edition of Season of Saving Guide

Win the Ultimate Theater Weekend With the Launch of the 11th Edition of Season of Saving Guide
Help us celebrate the launch of the 22nd SEASON OF SAVINGS Book!

At the end of each week in September, a winner will be chosen at random to receive tickets to a participating SEASON OF SAVINGS show and dinner for 2 at Tony’s Di Napoli. In the 5th and final week, one Grand Prize winner will be chosen to receive the Ultimate Theatre Weekend. The Weekend will include tickets to 3  participating SEASON OF SAVINGS shows over the course of the weekend (1 Saturday matinee performance, 1 Saturday evening performance, 1 Sunday matinee performance), as well as dinner for 2 at Tony’s Di Napoli, hotel accommodations and a Broadway Gift Bag.

Anyone who wishes to enter the drawing for any of the prizes will be able to do so on the SEASON OF SAVINGS Facebook page (link below). Multiple entries can be earned by “sharing” the contest with their friends and followers. All winners will be chosen at random.

A Night Out in New York City
- Tickets to a participating SEASON OF SAVINGS show
- Complimentary dinner for 2 at Tony’s Di Napoli

Grand Prize: The Ultimate Theatre Weekend
- Tickets to three participating SEASON OF SAVINGS shows: War Horse, Phantom of the Opera, Mary Poppins
- Complimentary dinner for 2 at Tony’s Di Napoli
- Hilton Hotel accommodations for one night
- A Broadway Gift Bag

Monday, August 19: Release of SEASON OF SAVINGS book
Friday, September 07: Winner #1 selected
Friday, September 14: Winner #2 selected
Friday, September 21: Winner #3 selected
Friday, September 28: Winner #4 selected
Friday, October 5: Grand Prize winner selected

Season of Savings Facebook Page

Sally (the band) - "We Are In a Car" EP CD Review (Twee Pop)

Sally (the band) - "We Are In a Car" EP CD Review (Twee Pop)
Sally is charming twee-pop band from NYC that released their debut EP, “We Are In a Car”, last month. All of the songs on the new EP are written from the perspective of “Sally” – a fictional character whose heart has been through Hell and back, and then to Hell again. Sally (the band) consists of songwriter/guitarist Jordan Cooper, vocalist Kristen Gudsnuk, drummer/percussionist Will Kastner and bassist Steve Rauscher.

While all of Sally’s songs chronicle the ‘perils’ and frustrations of relationships, this is by no means an ‘emo’ album. Kristen Gudsnuk (who also drew the cartoons below) chronicles these tales in innocent and childlike voice while the other members of the band create a catchy indie-pop backdrop, which is complete with accordion, glockenspiel, kazoo, and melodica. These catchy melodies though ‘hide’ the lyrics so you can be humming along to each of the songs after a listen or two without really noticing that you are singing about Sally’s neuroses and frustrations. One of my favorite numbers on the disc is the charging pop/rock number “Friends are Foes” which contains the lyrics “Girls are stupid, shallow brats / And guys make me want to die / I can't be a part of that / So I'll just be all alone tonight”.

Sally is working on their debut full-length and there are a number of songs over- and-above what is on the new EP posted on the band’s website (link below).

Sally (the band)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Conveyor Plays Homcoming Show at Glasslands Gallery on August 22nd / Bill Murray Invited to be "Merch Guy"

Brooklyn art-punk band Conveyor has already had a terrific 2012 with the release of their debut self-titled album in July on Paper Garden Records and a national tour that spanned over 30 cities in the Midwest, the South and both coasts as well as stops in Montreal for The Fringe Festival and Toronto for NXNE. Conveyor returns to their hometown of Brooklyn headlining at the Glassland Gallery this Wednesday, August 22nd, along with Field Mouse, ABADABAD, and Y/Y. Show starts at 8:30pm (Conveyor takes the stage at 11PM) Tickets are $10 and are still available at the door.

Conveyor is a Brooklyn-based music project spawned by the fated juncture of a wandering tarot of musicians in Gainesville, FL. Was it kismet or perhaps a primordial summon which led these gentlemen purveyors of sound to individually tune in and migrate North to the bustling seductress known as New York City? Their retort is "Sun Ray", a debut EP birthed and released in the warm embrace of Spring 2011. Brimming with lucid, homey synths layered over acoustic guitars and harmonious vocals, they channel extraterrestrial bible-thumpers drenched in love, spouting acid-soaked pop unabashed to beam with the simultaneous embrace of life/death realities backed by a polyrhythmic, pulsing backdrop.

Conveyor has invited Bill Murray to be the "merch guy" at tomorrow's show through a series of open letters (Letter #1 is below). I have to say that I'm feeling "slow" as I don't get the joke.
Mr. Murray,

I am writing to you on behalf of the greater entity of Conveyor, a Brooklyn-based art-pop band. If you’ve been following us in any capacity, I’m sure you’re aware that for the past six weeks we’ve been on a nationwide tour in support of our recently released debut record. You will be happy to hear that the tour has been a success and that we have returned to Brooklyn irrevocably altered. Here are a few highlights:

In San Antonio, Texas, a man named Frank offered me a voluminous amount of tequila which I graciously accepted while attempting to coerce a stoned girl who had crawled into the backseat of our van back into the bar with the lure of additional Schedule-I controlled substances.

In the Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park in northern California, the four of us tried to encircle a redwood tree by linking arms, to no avail. You wouldn’t believe how big those trees are, unless of course you have been there before, in which case: can you believe how big those trees are?

In Chicago, Illinois, we stayed with Evan’s sister.

In Johnson City, Tennessee, we stumbled into the annual Grateful Dead Jerry Garcia Birthday Tribute Concert at the Galaxy Lounge. The bass player was wearing a sequined dress, an androgynous person gyrated wildly against a four-foot statuette of a yellow-eyed alien, and a small group of artists exhaustively painted rainbow watercolors of Jerry Garcia’s face.

In any case, as you may have noticed, we have planned a unique homecoming performance on the night of Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 at the Glasslands Gallery at 289 Kent Ave., Brooklyn, New York. It would be my pleasure to offer you a spot on our guest list; however, as guest list spots are in short supply and high demand, I would add the caveat that you please aid us by selling merchandise (or, “merch”) before and during our performance. It’s not an onerous task, and I would be happy to personally give you a quick overview before the show begins.


T.J. Masters


Those Darlins Release Cover of Iggy Pop's "Repo Man" from Upcoming 'Repo Man Soundtrack' Tribute (American Laundromat Records)

Those Darlins Release Cover of Iggy Pop's 'Repo Man' from Upcoming 'Repo Man Soundtrack' Tribute (American Laundromat Records)
American Laundromat Records had a blast working on a tribute to one of their favorite flicks of all time - the 1984 cult classic "Repo Man" written & directed by Alex Cox and starring Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez. The original soundtrack celebrated the southern California punk movement of the late 70's/early 80's with bands Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies, The Plugz, and Iggy Pop. American Laundromat Records recruited an outstanding group of artists to rewire these now-classic punk tracks, including; Those Darlins, Matthew Sweet, Amanda Palmer, Mike Watt, The Tellers, Black Francis, Weekend, Polar Bear Club, Moses Coltrane, New York Rivals, and The Suicide Dolls. The album officially releases September 18, 2012.

Earlier today, American Laundromat Records announced the release of an exclusive iTunes advance single from this upcoming album. Those Darlins cover "Repo Man" which was written and originally performed by Iggy Pop for the cult 1984 film. Those Darlins recorded their cover with Ed Rawls and Justin McNeight at The Living Room in Atlanta, GA where they recorded their latest full length release Screws Get Loose.

For anyone who wants to hear the original version:

Below is the track list for the tribute disc and pre-orders (which include a pine-tree air freshener) are available through American Laundromat Records' website.

"A Tribute to Repo Man" Track List
- "Repo Man" - Those Darlins
- "TV Party" - Polar Bear Club
- "Institutionalized" - Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra
- "Coup d'Etat" - New York Rivals
- "El Clavo Y La Cruz" - Black Francis & Spanish for Hitchhiking
- "Pablo Picasso" - The Tellers
- "Let's Have A War" - Mike Watt & The Secondmen
- "When The Shit Hits The Fan" - The Suicide Dolls
- "Hombre Secreto" - Matthew Sweet
- "Bad Man" - Moses Coltrane
- "Reel Ten" - Weekend

Sunday, August 19, 2012

White Violet - "Hiding, Mingling" CD Review (Normaltown Records)

DOWNLOAD: White Violet - "Lays Around Lazy"

Athens, GA’s White Violet is the brainchild of Nate Nelson, who's known for both his production work, as a touring musician (he's played with Maria Taylor and Nik Freitas, among others), and for his solo albums (the first of which, 2004’s Random Acts, was released when he was only 16). Nelson has joined up with Vaughan Lamb, Brad Elliott (Friendly Foes) and Josh McCauley (Maserati) to form White Violet and the band released their debut CD, Hiding, Mingling on August 14th (Normaltown Records). Everything on Hiding, Mingling originated as "Nate Nelson" songs but it didn’t end that way.

Hiding, Mingling is a mellow and melancholy disc with only a few cuts breaking free from the weight of the day and the weariness of the night. The band describes this disc as being for “the tired fighters, the weary and romantic…for those who struggle between breathing in new life and exhaling a sigh". Andy LeMaster (who has both produced and played with Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes) gives the songs an organic sound so that you can clearly hear the slide of the guitar strings and the brush of the drums.

Nelson sings with a quavering tenor (similar to Conor Oberst) and the minimalist instrumentation on most of the tracks highlight Nelson’s vulnerable and introspective lyrics. Opener “White Wash” is a hushed and rolling requiem for lost friends. This track is followed by the “4AM” which, as the song title suggests, is a song about late-night introspection which features gauzy and sparse electric guitar lines beneath Nelson’s vocals. The acoustic “Station” highlights the sadness in Nelson’s voice and is brilliant in its simplicity.

Some of the tracks on this disc break free from the melancholy and add a spark of light to the darkness. “Lays Around Lazy” has a pulsing beat, ringing guitars and Big Star style harmonies (from Maria Taylor). “Everyday Listening” is another upbeat track which features ringing guitars and a good beat. “A Book” is a psychedelic-tinged, alt-rock number which is powered by reverb-drenched guitar lines. The disc comes crashing back into the darkness on the final number “Ghost, Teacher, Girl and I” and the song’s uneasy dissonance ends the disc on a somewhat disconcerting note.

White Violet

Saturday, August 18, 2012

D.O.A. - "We Come In Peace" CD Review (Sudden Death)

STREAM: D.O.A. - "He's Got A Gun" (hosted on

D.O.A. - 'We Come In Peace' CD Review (Sudden Death)
According to Wikipedia: “D.O.A. is a hardcore punk band from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. They are often referred to as the "founders" of hardcore punk, along with Black Flag, Bad Brains, Teen Idles, and Middle Class.

While I’ve “been in the room” for a few shows that D.O.A. played in Washington, DC in the 80’s, I don’t think I’ve ever focused on the band’s music. These shows always seemed to bring out the “boot boys” who were always looking to give someone a beat-down so my focus at these shows was on making sure that I wasn’t their next target. So…35 years and 14 albums into their career, We Come in Peace is my first real exposure to D.O.A.’s music. Not having any history with the band, it is interesting to have read the Wikipedia quote about being “founders of hardcore” prior to listening to this disc as the current lineup of D.O.A. sounds closer to the punk-rock/roots-reggae hybrid of Rancid than the aggressive hardcore of Black Flag and Bad Brains.

For anyone who needs a primer on D.O.A. (like I did), D.O.A. seems to have an ever-changing lineup centered on guitar/vocalist Joey ‘Shithead’ Keithley. For We Come In Peace, Keithley is joined by Dan Yaremko and J.J. Heath and this new disc was released on Keithley’s Sudden Death label at the end of July. The fourteen songs on this disc include an acoustic remake of “General Strike”, which was first released by the band in the early 80’s, a cover of The Beatles’ “Revolution” and a cover of Toxic Reasons’ “War Hero”.

Over the years, I’ve read a bit about D.O.A. taking the stage for a range of causes which have ranged from some of the early Rock against Reagan protests to, more recently, some of the Canadian “Occupy” protests and Keithley’s leftist beliefs and ‘take action’ outlook (Talk - Action = 0) dominates the lyrical themes on this disc. The disc opens with the melodic rocker “He’s Got a Gun” which has a big chorus and more hooks than an old-school Misfits tune. The catchy riffs almost hide the poignant lyrics of a nut with a “fever to use that gun” influenced by “a tea party” and “smear talk media”.

“Boneyard”, which is the disc’s second cut, is a hardcore number with some guitar work that sounds like it could have come off one of the early Dead Kennedys album. The band continues to mix things up with “Dirty Bastards”, which sounds like a Flogging Molly-style ragged but right chant-along number – complete with bagpipes. The band continues to dip back into the melodic hardcore sing-along numbers (“Do You Wanna”, Who the Hell Do You Think You Are”) but take a radically different direction with “Lost Souls”, which is a mellow LA-cowpunk/roots number where Joey sounds David Johansen fronting the Dream Syndicate.

Some of the other standout numbers include the roots-reggae of “War Hero” and the ska-punk of “We Occupy” which features Jello Biafra on guest vocals. While I’m not familiar with the electric version of “General Strike”, this new acoustic version is a nice way to wide down the disc.

Joe Keithley
Sudden Death

Friday, August 17, 2012

California Wives: Chicago New-Wave Quartet Releases "Blood Red Youth" from Debut Album as Free Download / Show at Webster Hall on Sept. 22nd

California Wives: Chicago New-Wave Quartet Releases 'Blood Red Youth' from Debut Album as Free Download / Show at Webster Hall on Sept. 22nd
Chicago new-­wave quartet California Wives has announced the release of its debut Art History LP, out on September 4 with Vagrant. The band worked with producer Claudius Mittendorfer (Interpol, Neon Indian, Wild Nothing) for the eleven tracks that present a cohesive gallery of modern‐day pop portraits framed with a retro '80s fit. The new Art History LP follows the band's 2010 EP "Affair", which won over local and national press, with My Old Kentucky Blog raving, "This could be the next buzz band everyone is talking about." Joy Division / New Order's Peter Hook also took notice, appointing the band to open his headlining set at The Light at Chicago's Metro Cabaret.

Lead-off Track from Art History

"I felt like I was asleep for years," says California Wives' lead vocalist / keyboardist Jayson Kramer of his decision in 2009 to leave behind a promising career in medicine for a professional go at music. "I was completely honest with myself for the first time in my life and recognized that I had no desire to go on with medical school." Around this time he moved back to his hometown of Chicago where he was introduced to drummer Joe O'Connor, and bassist Dan Zima. It was via their shared appreciation of music and compatible chemistry that California Wives was formed in 2009, with the current lineup being cemented in 2012 upon the new addition of lead guitarist Graham Masell.

California Wives are playing Webster Hall on September 22nd along with Stars and Diamond Rings. Tickets are $29 in advance and $34 (DOS). Every ticket includes a digital version of Stars' new album The North.

California Wives

AWOLNATION Post Free Live EP & New Video for "Kill Your Heroes"

Aaron Bruno, front man for Los Angeles' Under the Influence of Giants, formed AWOLNATION in 2009 and the band has played a number of high-profile shows at Brooklyn Bowl, Santos Party House and the Brooklyn Waterfront. AWOLNATION's debut CD Megalithic Symphony came out last year and the band has recently released a new live/b-sides EP as a free download as well as releasing a new video for "Kill Your Heroes" (from the band's debut disc).

AWOLNATION is heading out on a Fall tour (which skips NYC, strangely) with Imagine Dragons and Zeale. Here are the band's September tour dates:
09.08.12 - New Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Piazza at Schmidts
09.10.12 - Portland, Maine - State Theatre
09.11.12 - Hartford, Connecticut - Great Hall @ Union Station
09.12.12 - Rochester, New York - Water Street Music Hall
09.13.12 - Pittsburgh Pennsylvania - Altar Bar
09.15.12 - Covington, Kentucky - Madison Theater
09.18.12 - Detroit, Michigan - St. Andrews Hall
09.19.12 - Columbus, Ohio - Newport Music Hall
09.21.12 - Indianapolis, Indiana - The Egyptian Room
09.22.12 - Saint Louis, Missouri - Pageant
09.23.12 - Kansas City, Missouri - Uptown Theater
09.25.12 - Minneapolis, Minnesota - Varsity Theater
09.27.12 - Denver, Colorado - Summit Music Hall
09.28.12 - Denver, Colorado - Summit Music Hall


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Heidi Marie (Canfield) - "Demo EP" CD Review

Heidi Marie (Canfield) - 'Five-Song CD' EP Review
Heidi Marie (Canfield) is a Vancouver, WA based singer/songwriter who (thankfully) doesn’t seem to want to fit into the typical female singer/songwriter (aka Indigo Girl) clich√©.  Her new "Demo EP" (which is streaming on her website) falls into the pop/rock genre but the songs have an edge.  Most of the songs utilize prominent piano, which leads to easy comparisons to Tori Amos (though Heidi Marie has a bit more pop/gloss around her music) but there are a couple tracks with driving rhythms and metallic guitar riffs that inspire comparisons to artists like Vixen and Lee Aaron.  Regardless of the comparisons, Heidi Marie’s music should strike a familiar and positive chord with fans of Top 40 radio.

All of the songs on the EPs are different variations of “breakup songs” – any and all of which will probably turn up on whatever shows have taken the place of what used to run on the WB Network.  “How Do You Deal” starts with a multi-layered instrumental build-up before picking up steam with a dance club beat and ultimately heading into the Vixen-style pop-metal body of the song.  “Toxic Love” is a sultry number with a pulsing dance-floor beat.   “Bring Me Down” moves back into the rock n’ roll and is a burning guitar-driven number which is probably the strongest track on the disc.  Changing gears, “Lost in the Memories” is a piano-driven torch song where Heidi Marie’s plaintive vocals are backed with symphonic strings.  The EP closes with another pop-metal song, “Sing to Me Tonight” which follows in the same spirit as “Bring Me Down”.

Heidi Marie (Canfield)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

World War IX - "Bender Royale" CD EP Review (Hardcore)

STREAM: World War IX : Bender Royale

Wold War IX - 'Bender Royale' CD EP Review (Hardcore)
Brooklyn punks World War IX play sardonic, hardcore punk in the spirit of Damaged-era Black Flag. The band’s new 5-track EP, "Bender Royale", blasts by in 8 minutes and all of the songs are well under the two-minute mark. The band is led by self-proclaimed G.G. Allin obsessionist, comic book artist and guitarist - Justin Melkmann – and has been kicking around the scene since 2002.

Like all good hardcore bands, World War IX has been through a number of lineup changes over the last ten years and this disc features newcomers Filthy Phill on vocals, and Brian “Chinatown” Jackson on bass. All of the songs are shout-alongs and Phill delivers his vocals with a snarl. The band has an outlook on life somewhat like The Meatmen and seems to be equal opportunists in their dislike for everyone and everything around them. Songs rail against “Sore Winner[s]” (which has the classic line – “Even if you win, you are still an assh*le”) and “Keyboard Commando[s]” (for anyone who doesn’t know what this means – try reading the comments on Blabbermouth). The band starts to lighten up a bit with their homage to oi (“Oi Revult”) and end things with a tribute to drunken benders (“Bender Royale”).

World War IX Live Shows
Sept. 08 - The Trash Bar, Brooklyn, NY
Oct. 06 - Sinclair's Pub, West Babylon, NY
Oct. 20 - The Acheron, Brooklyn, NY

World War IX

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wild Cub - "Youth" CD Review (Keegan DeWitt + Jeremy Bullock)

Wild Cub - 'Youth' CD Review (Keegan DeWitt + Jeremy Bullock)
Film composer Keegan DeWitt radically changed his sound with the release of his 2010 7”, “Two Hearts” / “Reluctance”, as his songs moved from ‘singer/songwriter’ to driving, dance-inflected pop. Multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Bullock (Pico vs. Island Trees, Jessie Baylin, Madi Diaz) was part of DeWitt’s 2011 touring band and the pair of musicians have used the shimmery “new romantic” dance pop of “Two Hearts” as a jumping-off point to record a new 13-track full-length under the name Wild Cub. The band’s debut disc, Youth, was recorded last fall in Bullock’s home studio and drops on August 14th (Big Light Recordings).

Most of the songs on Youth remind me of the early 80’s “new romantic” Brit-pop (though Wild Cub doesn’t suffer from the excessive ‘over-production’ of this era). The music is atmospheric and hazy and the pulsing drums, polyrhythmic beats and a fluid (almost funk) bass line weave their way through the different songs. Keegan DeWitt’s vocals are (mostly) mixed at the same level as the music so his urgent vocals almost become one with instruments, guiding and pushing each of the songs. In keeping with the disc's continually changing soundscapes, DeWitt’s vocals are brought to the forefront on the big-sounding 80’s alt-rock number “Summer Fires / Hidden Spells” and the 50’s crooner “Drive”.

The production is warm and intimate which brings out both the exuberant (“Thunder Clatter”) and reflective/melancholy (“Streetlights”) sides of Wild Cub’s “late night driving songs", along with all points in-between. In an interview with, DeWitt described the songs as capturing individual moments - as “if you picked up a still photograph and there was air running through it, like a GIF.

Youth is a collection of captured moments like moving photographs: late night drives, the limitless feeling of falling in love, the freedom of finding a true friend and co-conspirator in an immense world, the cool ocean meeting your toes on a hot summer’s day. The disc’s lead-off track, “Shapeless”, sets the evocative and cinematic tone that permeates the album. The taut dreaminess of “Straight No Turns” and “Hidden In The Night” evolve into sensuous, dance floor-ready electro-pop, while “Jonti” – with its soaring, cathartic chorus “I see it now, it’s brighter when the lights are out” – and “Wild Light” – all quirky, staccato organ and lyrical guitar-led charm – are playful art pop sing-alongs. The rich, melancholic soundscape of “Drive” highlights Youth’s moody romantic atmosphere.

Wild Cub

Poison Idea - "The Fatal Erection Years (Pick Your Kings)" CD Review (Southern Lord)

Poison Idea - 'The Fatal Erection Years (Pick Your Kings)' CD Review (Southern Lord)
Portland hardcore stalwarts Poison Idea are the beast that will never die. While guitarist “Pig Champion” died in 2006 and one-time drummer Steve "Thee Slayer Hippy" Hanford was arrested for a string of pharmacy robberies in 2008, the band continues to soldier on under the leadership of vocalist Jerry A. Poison Idea made their recorded debut in 1983 with “Pick Your King”, a 7” (which was issued with a two-sided cover showing Elvis on one side and Jesus on the other) that blasts through thirteen song of hardcore fury in sixteen minutes.

As part of Southern Lord’s reissue program, the second in a series of Poison Idea titles, The Fatal Erection Years (Pick Your Kings), comes out on August 14th. This new 45-track disc contains the “Pick Your King” EP, the band’s 1984 follow-up Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes 12”, “Laughing Boy” (from the "Drinking Is Great" compilation 7”), “Typical”, “Die on Your Knees” and “I Got a Right” from the impossible to find 1985 Cleanse the Bacteria compilation LP. The disc winds up with a 19-track live set that was recorded for a previously unreleased live album at The Met in Portland, OR circa 1983. The audio has been remastered and restored by Jack Control (World Burns to Death, Severed Head of State), and the poster/booklet contains liner notes from Poison Idea vocalist Jerry A, and tons of photos, flyers and more from the band’s early days.

The thirteen tracks on “Pick Your Kings” are predominately old-school hardcore numbers that are dominated by Jerry’s hoarse bellow and Pig Champion’s speed/thrash riffs. Beneath all of this – the drums pound away but there is no sign of a bass in the mix. The only track that breaks from the full-out hardcore assault is “I Hate Reggae”. The band seems to have more of a metal edge on the Record Collectors are Pretentious Assholes tracks. Pig Champion’s riffs are more ‘metallic’ and Jerry’s voice is more balanced and his vocals are more controlled. On these tracks, the bass is audible and an integral part of the band’s attack (check out “The Rich Get Richer”). Songs like “Time to Go” and “Thorn in My Side” show how the band’s songwriting abilities has grown by leaps and bounds. Taking things one step further, the four compilation tracks show the band moving into Black Flag territory.

The 19-track live show captures the sound of the punk sound of the early 80’s perfectly. The recording is reasonable and supposed to be from the soundboard but one has to remember that many soundboards at punk venues were held together by string and bubblegum. (I remember a Husker Du show that had to be stopped when the band blew out the board.) The band reminds me of Black Flag’s live show – and they do a similar deconstruction of “Louie Louie” along with scathingly funny “My Hard-On Withers in Your Face”. There isn’t a lot of dialogue between Jerry and the audience but Jerry introduced the punk-rock putdown “Slam Dance Jam” by saying “By the way, we are Adam Ant”.

While the video that follows is a different show than the bonus live show - it is a good representation of how Poison Idea sounded live in 1983.

Poison Idea is back on the East Coast (I think this is the band’s first NYC show in 10 years) to play the Power of the Riff Festival at Warsaw on September 1st. Fans of old-school hardcore (like Negative Approach, who is also playing the Power of the Riff East show) owe it to themselves to give this disc a listen.

Poison Idea