Ohio Grass is available on Alive Recordings

Take ‘Er Easy Thursday: Buffalo Killers

Welcome to our weekly celebration of a fella by the name of Jeff Lebowski…The Dude…in Los Angeles. Now, he s most certainly a lazy man, but then there’s a lot about The Dude that does make a lot of sense to me. Nobody takes ‘er easier than The Dude, or His Dudeness, or El Duderino…if you’re not into the whole brevity thing. And in a world of uptight people and fucking fascists, nothing seems to bring him down for too long.

I don’t know if Buffalo Killers wrote “Nothing Can Bring Me Down” about The Dude, but it certainly could be his anthem.Just consider these lyrics: “Nothing gets to me now. Nothing can bring me down.”

 

Think about that for a moment. The Dude encounters:

  • guys that break into his bungalow and pee on his fucking rug
  • nihilists that want to cut off his johnson
  • a Fascist sheriff in a quiet little beach community AND
  • a cabbie who’s a fan of The Eagles.

And through it all, The Dude never gets too down. He just goes right on abiding and takin’ er easy for all us sinners. And I not only take comfort in that, but I find a good lesson in that too. Well, that about wraps ‘er up. Until next time, you take ‘er easy.

 

 

Rearview is available now

Incognito pick of the week: Off Orbit

Some people might classify me as a music snob, and they may have a point. There may be a bit of snobbery in my musical tastes, but…I don’t know. Think of it as quality control. In my defense, for a music snob, I sure do have a vast array of music in my collection. Also, it can be surprisingly easy to catch my attention if I am in fact a music snob.

Take Off Orbit (from Miami) for instance. This band reached out to me and pretty much had my attention by advertising itself as a rock-funk-jam-blues band. I’m a fan of all of those genres. “Transient” is a good example of the melange of sounds this band offers. It definitely has a funky rhythm – particularly noticeable at the beginning of the song. It turns pretty heavily toward the psychedelic jam-band sound. And there’s even a pretty good rock n roll guitar solo in this tune.

If that description sounds a bit like a musical gumbo…well, I’d say that’s a pretty good way to classify this band. After all, it takes a lot of things to make this band’s sound as great as it is…just like a good gumbo. Every song features layer upon layer of sound. Oh, and if you like that psychedelic jam-band sound, you’ll love the song “Perjury.”

If you’re like me, and you dig funky, bluesy jam bands, do yourself a favor and check out Off Orbit.

This is not the response you want when listeners hear the first song on your album.

Bands, your track listing is important

I know you’re expecting Trashy Tuesday. I also know that I don’t normally let anyting stand in the way of Trashy Tuesday. However, I have a couple deadline pieces due in a couple days, so I’ll just check in with this quick hitter.

I know that music has changed and people don’t always listen to songs in the order in which they appear on an album. That being said, even in a digital format, it’s important to have a real attention getter as your first track. I started listening to an album on Soundcloud last night, and was nearly ready to turn it off after about 20 seconds of the first song. Being the fair guy that I am, I decided to just skip the first song and move on to the second one. Ultimately, I found the album pretty good, but think about that previous sentence. I skipped the first song. Now maybe that’s just different strokes for different folks. Maybe lots of people really enjoy that first song. But here’s the thing. You don’t want to risk losing your audience with the first song on an album. There is an easy way to go about this. Lead with the one that gets the most consistently good response from people you play it for. If you need a good example of a great first song on an album, try this one on for size.

 

The Matadors - the evil powers of psychobilly

‘Billy Monday: The Matadors (Say You Love Satan)

Yes, it’s the day after Easter and I’m writing about an album called Say You Love Satan. No one ever said my timing was impeccable. Or is it? If The Matadors sounds like a familiar band, that tells me you are in fact, a loyal reader. I have featured this band once before on ‘Billy Monday.

I should say that this band earns points for kicking off its album with a song called “Shake Your Fornicator.” Hey, singing about fornication worked for Mojo Nixon. why not for The Matadors also? Besides, rock n roll has had songs about fornication forever.

 

If you had to describe “Three Wolf Moon” in just one word, rumbling (or rumble) would be a pretty good choice. The bass definitely gives the song its rumble. The overall feel is not unlike “Hot for Teacher.”

By now you know that one thing I like to include in my reviews is the perfect setting to listen to a given album. I would say the perfect setting for listening to this album is in a garage with a healthy supply of PBR tall boys and a hot rod. I should also say that in this setting, the spent tall boys would be thrown against the wall of the garage with no thought to pick them up until the effects of the PBR have worn off.

If you like rumbling psychobilly with a touch of evil, The Matadors will fit right into your collection. Say You Love Satan is available now.

This guy also uses a pitchfork

On how not to write

I know what you may be thinking when you see the title of this post. You may be wondering who I am to tell people how not to write. I know I’m not perfect when it comes to writing, but I like to think that I know a thing or two, particularly when it comes to writing about music. After all, I have been doing this for a good long while now.

I received an email about Lyla Foy‘s new album and it included this blurb by Stephen M. Deusner from Pitchfork.

“The result might be best described as a digital pastoral: sequences and synthesizers blending with live instruments to create the kind of introverted, outdoorsy reverie most commonly associated with acoustic folk. Foy’s songs are both lush and low-key, intimate and surprisingly intricate. She layers beats generously but carefully, alternating between buoyant (“I Only”, with its percolating intro) and bittersweet (“Only Human”, with its insistent snare tap). Except on the relatively aerodynamic “Feather Tongue”, which could easily be remixed into a throbbing dance number suitable for a meadow rave, Foy’s concern isn’t rhythm but texture and tapestry. The tempos are generally slow and rigid, which  fits the general atmosphere of the record and gives you a better opportunity to admire her craft.”

Take a moment to digest that. Yes, it has a lot of flowery language, but what does it really mean? Let’s start with “digital pastoral.” Whatever preceded that phrase, I’m willing to bet he lost a lot of readers right there. After all, who has any idea what a digital pastoral is…without having to scurry to the dictionary?

If, for some reason, readers were not lost at digital pastoral, I have to think that the next tripping point came at “meadow rave.” A meadow rave? What is that exactly? Look, I have to give the writer some credit for coming up with an original metaphor, but with how many people does a meadow rave resonate?

Here’s my biggest issue with the blurb. It is creative. I will grant that. But as a music writer, your job is to explain an album in a way that your readers can understand it without having to consult a dictionary. More to the point, it’s to encourage readers to go out and explore whatever artist you’re reviewing based on other things they may like. I read this blurb and thought a couple things. First, this review does nothing to help me understand what Lyla Foy is all about. Second, the writer made the review more about his writing style than the music, and that does an injustice not only to the artist, but also to anyone who decided not to explore the artist simply because the writer was so pretentious in his review. However, I’m not just here to complain. I’m also here to offer a solution. If you want a more concise review of Lyla Foy, try this on for size: Lyla Foy’s music is what would happen if Kate Bush collaborated with Stereolab. Granted, if I were writing a full review, I would write more than that. However, I just said in one sentence – with no flowery language - what the writer couldn’t manage to say in an entire paragraph.

 

Frames by Teenage Gluesniffers will be available soon

Trashy Tuesday: Teenage Gluesniffers

Teenage Gluesniffers is an Italian punk band (from Milan) that first made its introduction to me with its previous EP, which I reviewed in the 12th issue (March 2013) of the magazine. I liked the bands energy and the classic snotty punk sound that the band put out. Well, the band is back with another EP and the snotty sound is still there. So is the energy. This band isn’t interested in making pop-punk ballads, just songs played loudly and at a blistering tempo.

“The Raven” is an excellent song. It moves along at the tempo I’ve come to expect from this band, and then it reaches the bridge, in which the sound shifts a bit toward metal while someone narrates part of the poem by Edgar Allan Poe. At 4:10, this song is practically a marathon for Teenage Gluesniffers.

“My Armageddon” is another great example of the furious energy of the band. This song doesn’t slow down for a second. It is just 2:57 of rock that will make you pump your fist and sing along.

Frames is not available yet, but you can hear some tunes by this band on Bandcamp. If you’re a fan of punk, you will love this band.

 

Sing along if you don't wnat to do your job anymore.

Take ‘Er Easy Thursday: Hot Shorts

Welcome to another edition of Take ‘Er Easy Thursday, loyal reader. You’ve almost made it through another work week and your reward is a tribute to a man who doesn’t believe in work. An’ I’m talkin’ about The Dude here. The Dude…in Los Angeles. He’s high in the running for laziest worldwide, and that’s just one of the things we find so durned innerestin about him.

Now, if you’re a Dudeist, maybe you already live a life full of driving around, the occasional acid flashback…you know, the usual. However, if you’re not that lucky and you still have to go to a job every day, know that you’re not alone. There are many Dudeists out there who don’t have the necessary means for The Dude’s life of leisure. Still, we probably think every day about leaving our job and never going back.

 

Hot Shorts has written an anthem for us called ” I Don’t Want To Do My Job Anymore.” I mean the title says it all, but of course you can’t have a song that’s just a title. Then the band comes up with a line like “I’m not even that good at it.” Can I get an “Amen”? My only beef with this song is that it’s too short. But then, work – even when it’s recording a song – is hard. Which is why we celebrate The Dude. Who am I to blame the band for a short song about hating work when it says everything it needs to say? Because after all, any criticism I might have about the length of the song is just – like – my opinion, man.

Well, that about wraps ‘er up. Until next time, you take ‘er easy. I know that you will.

Mass Solace is available now

Incognito pick of the week: Blondstone

Eastern France is probably not the first place that comes to mind when you think about heavy rock bands. However, our pick of the week is just that: a heavy rock band from Nancy, France.

Blondstone is a band that might be hard to classify into a category smaller than just rock. I suppose you could file it into the doom rock category, or some subset of that. And it does have some elements of doom. But it also has elements of groove rock. For a great example, just listen to “Oulala.” The bass line in this one will get you moving for sure. This song kind of reminds me of Deep Purple, especially since it is punctuated with some screams that would make Richie Blackmore proud.

This band isn’t afraid to change tempo pretty dramatically even within one song. In “On Your Own,” the verse is pretty groovy, but then in the chorus the band gets both faster and louder. I imagine that experiencing this song live would be pretty interesting. I imagine that in the chorus, a circle pit would form and bodies would start slamming into each other.

This band also dives a little into psychedelic sounds, especially in “Daze Me.” The instrumental breaks in this song sound a little trippy with some fuzzed-out guitar.

However you want to classify it, Mass Solace is a really good rock album. Like any good rock album, this one begs to be played loudly. Seriously, don’t be concerned with your neighbors. Crank the volume as loud as you can handle it because this is rock n roll, baby! And you know what they say, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old!” Mass Solace is available now.

The Smokin' Burnouts: music for Hell's cocktail lounge

Trashy Tuesday: The Smokin’ Burnouts

The Smokin' Burnouts (pretty much) had me at hello

The Smokin’ Burnouts (pretty much) had me at hello

You know in Jerry Maguire when Renee Zellweger says “You had me at hello.” Well, The Smokin’ Burnouts (from Austin) came pretty close to that with the introductory email sent to me. Why? Frankly, because The Smokin’ Burnouts is a great name for a band. It brings to mind those miscreants from high school who would gather under a tree (or wherever) and smoke.

I went to the band’s ReverbNation page and was immediately greeted with the raucous sounds of “Hill Country Express.” This is a bit like a Johnny Cash song…if it were performed by some combination of Supersuckers and Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers. It’s kind of a menacing tune that is equal parts rock n roll and rockabilly.

http://www.reverbnation.com/thesmokinburnouts

And if you think that’s menacing (trust me when I say I mean nothing negative by that), just listen to “Route 666.” About two minutes into the song, the band borrows a riff from AC/DC’s version of “Baby, Please Don’t Go.” Aside from that, I’d say that this sounds like the perfect song for Hell’s cocktail lounge.

If you like your rock n roll loud and fast (and perhaps a little evil), check out The Smokin’ Burnouts.

 

The Adventures of Cap'n Coconuts is available now

Mondo Monday: Frankie and the Pool Boys

The Adventures of Cap’n Coconuts showed up in my PO box recently, along with a few other releases from Double Crown. The album is introduced this way on the Double Crown website: “And just who is “Cap’n Coconuts”? Simian spy turned Hollywood cad, now a bouncer at a bar in San Francisco? Or star of a 60’s TV sitcom that apparently only Pool Boys leader Ferenc Dobronyi remembers. ‘He was my muse for this record. I wanted to write instrumentals that evoked the feelings that I get when I remember the music of my early childhood.’”

I’d say that particular mission was accomplished especially in the first song. It feels very much like a cartoon theme from the 60s. It’s a lively tune with a vibraphone part that would certainly get kids moving if it were part of a TV theme.

I wouldn’t say every song fits that description. The beginning of “Ripley in Love” sounds a lot like “Psych Out” by Satan’s Pilgrims. This song has sort of a spy feel to it. At some point in the song, it has a sort of Spanish feel…almost as if the spy who is the subject of the song is traveling through Spain.

Frankie and the Pool Boys didn’t fall into the trap that a lot of surf bands find…namely making every song sound pretty similar to the one that precedes it. Every song on this album has it’s own little twist from exotica (“The Golden State”) to the aforementioned spy sounds to a little swing (“Manx!”). If you want the perfect setting for this album, try this on. Make a pitcher of rum punch, sit on your patio with a couple friends and crank this album. It is the perfect soundtrack for sipping rum drinks on a sunny day.