El Valiente is available now
OK, loyal reader. Let’s play a little word association. Just blurt out the first thing that comes to your mind. Ready? Accordion. Was punk rock the first thing that popped into your head? Well, it might be after you hear Piñata Protest. How to explain this band. Well imagine if you took the Tex-Mex sounds of Texas Tornados, and made them louder and faster. That’s a good start to getting a feel for this band.
“Life on the Border” is an interesting song. This one sounds more like the Celtic punk of The Mahones than the Tex-Mex sounds of “Vato Perron.”
Did you ever have one of those days or nights that you knew you would regret, but you didn’t care? Pinata Protest wrote a song about that. In fact, the song includes the lyrics, “tomorrow we’ll regret today.” The next time you’re going to have a tomorrow to regret, make this your anthem.
The band has two interesting cover songs on this album: “Volver Volver” and “Cucaracha.” “Volver Volver” is not quite the ballad done by Vicente Fernandez. Mind you, the tempo is slower than some of the other songs on the album…until the end where the song takes on a tempo that would make Three Bad Jacks proud. As for “Cucaracha,” I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard a version of the song quite like this one. It has the familiar horns, but it’s also loud both in the melody and the vocals, and like a lot of punk songs, it’s very short. It’s about as much fun as a one-minute song can be.
El Valiente (Cosmica Records, 2013) is available now.
Closed: 14 excellent roots rock songs
The classic question for people is: “If you were stranded on a desert island, what five albums would you want to have with you?” It’s really a silly question because if you were on a desert island, would you have anything to play those five albums? I like to put my own spin on that question and say, “If a flood came and wiped out your music collection, which five albums would you replace first?” Frankly, I think a list like that doesn’t have to be static. I think it’s perfectly fine to adapt your list to any given moment when you are asked the question.
If you were to ask me that question right now, I would have to include Closed by Drag the River. It’s an album and a band that I’ve heard a lot, particularly since my four-year-old son is a big Drag the River fan (he is a huge fan of Hey Buddies! and Live at the Starlight). I just listened to Closed on headphones for the first time in a long while, and it is an absolutely great album. There isn’t a song on it that I would ever consider skipping. To put it another way, it would be pointless to ask me what are my favorite songs on the album, because I don’t think I could name less than six songs when answering that question. This is 14 songs of honest roots rock penned by two amazing songwriters: Chad Price and Jon Snodgrass.
If you don’t have this album in your collection, you can get it for the low price of $8 at the Drag the River website. Maybe it will end up on your list of great flood albums too.
Right now, what would you put on your list of great flood albums?
For folks who like some trash in their pop
It’s not often that a band can be both trashy and still somewhat pop. Obviously, that particular description begins with Ramones and it’s hard to live up to what that band did. But there are some bands out there that are both trashy and poppy. Primitive Hearts is one of those bands.
The album begins with a Clash-like guitar riff at the beginning of “Won’t Wait Around.” This is pure lo-fi goodness with some really trashy and fast guitar, an excellent bass line (ask yourself when was the last time you noticed the bass line in a poppy song), and ooooh and aaaahs in the backing vocals that provide a real 60s sound.
Some of the songs on High and Tight should come with a warning that these songs will get stuck in your head all day. One of those songs is “Falling Apart.” You’ll probably find yourself doing a couple things when you listen to this one: namely, moving your head, tapping your toes, and singing along. Oh, and did I mention the song is only a minute and 25 seconds? It is a whole lot of goodness to pack into such a short time. Short songs are definitely the usual for this band. The longest song on this album is the closer at 2:47. Yes, that’s right. The longest song is less than three minutes. Still, this album is filled with ultra-catchy songs that should put you in a good mood if only because you’re dancing and singing along. If you’re not singing the lead vocals, I feel pretty certain in saying that you’ll be providing the background vocals as you listen. But don’t just take my word for it. Give it a listen.
Pick up Rhythm Dragons albums on CD Baby
They say that if you do something like music or writing, you have to catch the attention of your audience immediately. Rhythm Dragons do that for sure. The first song I heard from Rhythm Dragons is “Flat Top Billy,” which begins with a deep voice shouting “Hey greaser!” The song is pretty much what you’d expect from something that begins that way. It is a swinging song that talks about a guy who looks like he’s from 1959 and his car. And it ends with “Let’s have a PBR!”
On ReverbNation, that song is followed by “I Can’t Swing or Dance.” This is a song with the classic theme of being mismatched with your girl. She likes to wine and dine, he likes drinking. She likes dancing, he doesn’t. The irony in this song is that it has a pretty swingin’ melody. Well, after all, the narrator doesn’t say he can’t play swing: merely that he can’t swing dance.
Now, one thing that makes a good band is if it can take a classic theme and make it seem fresh. In “Booze and the Hugs,” the narrator sings about a relationship that has gone south. In this case, the narrator says he’s not going to open the door for his girl who’s been coming home late from boozing. It’s pretty cool to hear a guy sing a song like this because usually the guy is the one who’s misbehavior is described.
This is pretty straightforward. If you like Reverend Horton Heat, Chances are pretty good you’ll like this band too. Even if you don’t like Reverend Horton Heat, you’ll like this band if you like songs about cars, drinkin’, and chicks that are trouble.
Yes, loyal reader, I’ll admit that I am one of those guys. At least some folks routinely make fun of me for my lack of movie knowledge. You can quiz me about any movie in the last five years or so, and frankly, if I’ve heard of it, that’s a win for me. I haven’t always been this way. I used to love going to the movies. Now, I generally don’t even rent them from Redbox to watch in the comfort of my own home. So what changed? Well, here are some of the reasons I don’t watch more movies.
- A two-hour (or more) block of time is as rare as a Yeti sighting on my couch. I’m not alone in this. Lots
Have you seen this creature…on my couch?
of parents don’t have blocks of time to squeeze in a movie. Now, I could stay up later than usual some night and watch a movie, but I already sleep about 5.5 hours a night and then I go to a job where on most days it takes a Guayaki energy shot to keep me from falling asleep on my keyboard. I guess the other possibility is that I could watch about 30 minutes a night over the course of four nights.
- When the lights go down… I’ll just say it for the record. If you put me in a dark room without my sons, chances are pretty good I’m going to fall asleep. The first five minutes might be the only chance the filmmaker has to grab my attention.
- When does this thing end? I have been to the cinema exactly twice in the past five years. In both instances, I wondered when the movie was going to end…for different reasons. When I saw The Dark Knight, I was wondering when it would end because the movie is soooo long. Then last year, I did a guest blogger spot on 3guys1movie and the film we saw and reviewed was Martha Marcy May Marlene. It’s not an incredibly long film, but I regularly checked the time on my phone because I kept waiting (and waiting) for something interesting to happen. By the way, I’m still waiting for something interesting from that film.
- I paid $13 for that? I’m not alone in thinking that $13 seems like a lot to pay for a couple hours of entertainment. Although a movie is still way cheaper than any professional sporting event except baseball. The real trouble, however, is that when I do go to a movie, I often end up with more questions than answers. Look, maybe I don’t need all the answers. Maybe that’s part of the magic of movies. However, if I lay $13 down on a movie, is it too much to ask that the filmmaker answer some of my questions? So why not just wait and see it as a rental? I guess that’s because I rarely feel like I need to see a movie.
Alien drone: “Boss, you may want to rethink invading a planet that’s covered with the thing that kills us.”
I can suspend my disbelief but not kill it. I know part of the magic of movies is that you realize you’re watching a story unfold. Not everything in it has to be believable. The trouble is that too many Hollywood folks put way too much stock in that. I know it was a while ago, but the movie Signs is a good example. So, these aliens are advanced enough to build ships to come from their world to ours. But…no alien in the development of this project said, “Boss, this planet you want to invade? Yeah, the thing is, most of that planet is covered with the thing that kills us.” Think about that. Excellent design, but no common sense. Shyamalan is basically asking us to accept that earth was overtaken by a bunch of engineers. Oh, and the fact that these aliens are completely stymied by plywood on the windows and doors. To quote Lisa Simpson, “You can’t expect us to swallow that tripe?”
Yeah, I don’t see a lot of movies. You could easily stump me on the topic. That being said, I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I will go to the movies with you…if I can bring my pillow.
Soulful ska from Nashville
I came across this band while randomly browsing music (as I frequently do) on ReverbNation. I was immediately smitten not only by the catchy melodies, but the soulful feel in “Pressin’ On,” the first song I heard from this band. Dani Casler sings with soul to go along with some excellent horns and a really cool bass line. Let’s face it. There is just something about a woman who sings with soul. Sure, there have been a lot of great male soul vocalists, but for me there’s just a little something extra when that soul comes from a woman. If I had to compare her to anyone, I’d put her somewhere between Elyse Rogers of Dance Hall Crashers and Ruby Velle.
Quick, loyal reader. What’s one of the best things about ska? That it gets you moving. I’ll tell you one thing. If “Down to the Hall” doesn’t get you moving your two-tone wingtips, I’m not sure what will. This is an upbeat treat with a great sax solo. Some of the lyrics in this song are “Everybody gonna skank til they fall.” This song alone might get you to skank until you fall.
Now, if you don’t have enough reason to love this band, consider this. This band has an anti-love song that is not just great for Valentine’s Day. Instead of lauding love, this song calls love the worst thing to happen to anyone and blames love for ruining everything on the radio. Let’s face it. There is never any shortage of sappy love songs on the radio. Do I wish this band had more songs available on ReverbNation? Of course. This band has left me wanting more. Do I really like the songs they do have available? Absolutely. And if you like rocksteady, you’ll like what you hear on ReverbNation too.
Funk…and then some
Yes, I know we already had one dose of funk this week, but I really think you can never have too much funk. Besides, since I first heard this band, I have not been able to get enough of T-Bird and The Breaks.
My introduction to this band came when I was doing a search on Bandcamp for drinking songs. That led me to the song “Somebody Had a Drinking Problem.” Now this song isn’t strictly a funk song. It’s leans more toward R&B and doo-wop, but I’ll say this much. It’s not easy to find a drinking song more catchy than this one. In any case, that led me to explore more of this band.
That further explanation led me to some excellent funk like Never Get out of This Funk Alive. This album features the essentials of funk: horns, bass, and some excellent organ. But that’s not all! No, loyal reader, it also has some great vocals. T Bird’s vocals are a raspy growl that remind me of Dr. John and Jon Spencer. If you want a really good example of the funk this band lays down, check out “Spread the Love.” It’s a pretty easygoing melody, but it has some serious funk. This is one where the vocals really remind me of Dr. John.
T Bird and The Breaks is not a funk band exclusively. The band’s sounds also include soul, and R&B, and hip-hop. That being said, there is enough funk in this band to get you to move your backside and get sweaty…particularly on Never Get out of This Funk Alive.