The Greasemarks might be as fitting a name for a band as I’ve ever encountered. What better name for a rockabilly band – a genre known for songs about hod rods and drag racing? The tagline for this band on Twitter says, “Nasty. Authentic. 50s style rockabilly.” Not one of those claims is false. This band plays 50s-style rockabilly filtered through some gritty garage rock.
The rockabilly sound is prominent throughout the melodies (particularly the guitar and bass). These guys from Toronto play the kind of melodies that get couples swinging on the dance floor. “Plowin’” is a great example. This song sounds like it could have been recorded in the 50s. In fact, it sounds a lot like “Mystery Train.” The garage rock sound is mostly in the vocals, especially in the song “Bring Her Back (Don’t)”.
If you like the classic rockabilly sound with just a little grit added, The Greasemarks is a band you should get to know. It will sound great coming from the speakers of your hot rod, or at your local juke joint.
Ladies and gentlemen, The Bores…erm The Doors
I know that The Doors is a band that has meant a lot to a lot of people. I am not one of those people. Now, I should qualify this by saying that I don’t hate The Doors. At best, I am neutral about the band. And that’s the problem. Whenever I hear The Doors, there is no reaction inside me telling me to crank up the volume. Neither is a reaction that it’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard (I have, after all been subjected to Robin Thicke, Daft Punk, etc.). I don’t know if I can even really explain my aversion to The Doors. At the time this band recorded, it really sounded like no other band. You could make the case that to this day no other band sounds like The Doors. The only thing I can say is that this band evokes no emotional response for me.
“But it’s The Doors!” is the argument made by fans of the band. Yeah, I know who it is. I’ve heard the band’s songs countless times. That doesn’t mean I enjoy them or want to hear them.
“But Jim Morrison was a true American poet!” is another argument you’re likely to get from fans. I just wonder if people would be so enamored with Jim Morrison if he had lived until 57 instead of dying at 27. Or let’s just say that he had lived another 10 years, but didn’t make the same kind of music as when The Doors started? It’s worth pondering.
So yeah, I know it’s The Doors. And I know the band’s place in the pantheon of American rock bands. But if you try to plead the case for the band, or if you play some of its songs for me, my response is the same. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
Oculus is available now for download on Bandcamp (vinyl in November)
Yes, I know, loyal reader. It’s supposed to be Funk Friday. Or maybe even Feel Good Friday. And here you see the pick of the week, which normally appears on Wednesday. Here’s what I can tell you. A wiser feller than myself once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I’ve planned to write about Borracho for at least three weeks, but let’s just say a whole lot of life happened. So, anyway…I do apologize for not delivering Funk or Feel Good Friday, but I think you’ll find this band worthwhile.
As I was randomly searching Bandcamp for fuzz rock (one of my biggest areas of exploration this year) one day, I came across this band. And you know something? These guys deliver the goods. LEt’s face it. One of the great things about fuzz rock (or stoner rock, or whatever you call it) is big, meaty guitar riffs. Well, you’ll certainly get your fill of those on this album. It doesn’t just sound like it was recorded in the 70s, it’s also formatted like a 70s rock LP with four songs longer than seven minutes long. I can see turning this over after the first two songs and playing Side 2 after enjoying the two songs on Side 1. All of the songs are a good example of the 70s sound, but “Know the Score” really grabs my attention with its wonderfully low, fuzzed-out sound. Just have a listen for yourself. And don’t miss the guitar solo in “Stockpile.”
If you’re a fan of Clutch, or anything on Small Stone Records, I have no doubt that you will thoroughly enjoy this album and the other offerings Borracho has available on Bandcamp. Do yourself a favor. Get this album, put it on, crank the volume, and share it with your neighbors. Who knows? This could be the new favorite band for everyone in your neighborhood.
The Frights: Raucous surf music from San Diego
They say good things come to those who wait, but in reality good things come to those who go looking for them. Take The Frights for example. I encountered this band while searching for garage-punk bands on Bandcamp. I would say the payoff was pretty immediate.
“Rip and Dip” is everything you Trashy Tuesday fans want in a song. It’s LOUD, raw, and short with a dash of surf added for good measure. One of the best things I can say about this song is that it sounds like the guys had a cab waiting outside when they recorded it. It has that kind of urgency and energy about it. There’s that, and there’s the fact that you can tell they didn’t do dozens of takes of this song. They got in there, knocked it out, and finished.
“Wow, OK, Cool” is a song that really gets my attention. This is trashy surf at its finest. It has a rumbling, psychedelic surf sound, and the vocals sound like they were recorded in a basement with a microphone wrapped in duct tape. (No, that’s not a criticism.) And the drums in this song are about as raucous as you’ll hear anywhere.
If you’re a fan of surf music with an edge to it, be sure to check out The Frights. The band has two EPs available for your listening pleasure on Bandcamp.
Alastair Chirstl: Classic rockabilly at its finest
If you haven’t noticed, we here at Incognito HQ pay attention to our readers. For instance, last week I solicited suggestions for ‘Billy Monday. Alastair Christl was one of the recommendations sent our way. Lo and behold, here he is as our featured artist.
My first impression of this rockabilly guy from Toronto was “Candy Shop.” There is no other way to describe this song than classic rockabilly. From the vocals and guitar to the pedal steel, this is rockabilly the way it used to be. At times the western swing melody reminds me of Junior Brown. And like Junior Brown, this song will get you two-stepping.
There must be something about Spanish-speaking places for rockabilly guys. (Maybe they’re beguiled by the dark eyes and hair.) Christl has a ballad called “Spanish Melody” that reminds me a lot of Chris Isaak.
When you go to Christl’s website (and you should), “Spanish Melody” is followed by “Catfight.” It would be hard to put two more disparate songs back to back. “Catfight” is a rumbling rockabilly tune. How to explain it? Well, when you go to a rockabilly show and you see that one guy out on the dance floor who’s not afraid to sort of toss his dance partner around…this is the kind of song where he gets to show off.
Alastair Christl has a voice that was made for rockabilly. It tends toward the higher registers, but that fits right in with the vintage feel of his music. Plus, he never sounds like he’s straining. He has as smooth a voice as you’ll find. If you like classic rockabilly, check this guy out. He’ll make you want to comb your pompadour up high and get on the dance floor with some cute rockabetty.
It’s time for another trivia contest here at Incognito HQ. You know the deal. Be the first to answer this question correctly with a comment on this post and we will send you the football shown in the photo signed by our August model, Samantha Hart.
When did Adam say he would drink Ballast Point Sea Monster Stout?
Be the first to answer the question correctly and win the football shown in this picture.
Loyal reader, I know you’re expecting Funk Friday, but I want to try something different today. It’s a Friday, and probably more than any day of the wee, this is a day we need good vibes to get us going into the weekend. And so, I present to you the first Good Vibes Friday. Leave your comments to let me know what you think of it.
Wookiefoot: thought-provoking good vibes
Before I get on to the music, allow me to say that I am a sucker for a good, unique band name. I like to think that a band put at least some thought into its name. Wookiefoot obviously put some thought into its name and didn’t just play Mad Libs to come up with The [nondescript noun].
As for why this band gets the inaugural Good Vibes Friday slot…well, it’s partly because of the band name, and partly because of the lyrics. Ready or Not is filled with lyrics that make you think and make you feel pretty good about being a human. The best example is the song “Don’t Stop!” This song is all about fighting your way through the hard times and includes the lyrics, “When you’re going through hell, don’t stop!” Frankly, it’s a message we all need to hear. Repeatedly. We should probably all make this a personal anthem. Hey, that’s a pretty good idea. Add this song (if not the whole album) to your phone or MP3 player, and whenever you feel like you’re going through hell, play it and sing along. Make it your theme song.
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AGGRO: Crannk the volume to Ludicrous
I didn’t go searching for a band from Japan to feature for Trashy Tuesday, but I sure found one. Not that it’s really surprising. There have been some great trashy rock n roll bands from Japan, and AGGRO seems like another one.
Let’s just run down the checklist, shall we? Raucous guitars? Check. Furious rhythms? Check. Shouted vocals? Check. Loads of energy? Check. Yup, it certainly seems like this band has everything a great garage punk band needs. And if you want an example of the furious rhythms, check out “Go Bang.” The way the drummer attacks his kit in this song, it seems impossible that he would have energy left after playing it.
Oh, and I forgot one thing in the checklist. Short songs. The longest song on this album is 2:53. That’s not surprising either. They put so much energy into each song, it’s hard to imagine these guys playing a five-minute epic.
But, as always, don’t just take my word for it. Give this album a listen. Just make sure you turn up the volume setting to “ludicrous” and blast it out the windows to all your neighbors. No, that’s not cursing. That’s your neighbors thanking you for enlightening them about AGGRO.
Governor Grimm and The Ghastly Ghouls: evil psychobilly from Ohio
This is yet another band I found doing a random search for psychobilly on Bandcamp. I don’t know if the name of this band would frighten people away, but I certainly hope not. (And by the way, If there is a prize for alliterative band names, I think this band has closed the competition.) Anyone who shies away from this band because of its name is really missing out. The guitarist plays like his ax is on fire and the rhythm section plays like they’re daring the guitarist to keep up.
The EP begins with ”No Escape.” This is about as catchy a song as you can find about someone “leaving a trail of bodies” in his wake after setting a town on fire. I don’t think you’d be wrong if you described the guitar sound as evil, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
Every song on this EP is uptempo, but I think “Raise the Dead” is most uptempo. You can work up a sweat just listening to this song.
The themes of the five songs on this EP are pretty familiar for psychobilly, but that doesn’t take anything away from the band or the songs. If you like psychobilly where the evil sounds a virtually tangible, Governor Grimm and the Ghastly Ghouls is a good band to get to know.
Loyal reader, you know I never get political. It’s not my bag. If you ask me, everything about politics stinks. However, I am making an exception in this case with all the talk of an impending attack on Syria. But fear not. I’m not going to sit here ranting and raving about politics, and I am going to tie this into music. To me the most succinct statements about war come from music. Think about “War Pigs.” This song was recorded more than 40 years ago, but what Ozzy sang then still rings true. The only thing is that the guys about whom these songs are written keep doing the same thing that made them the subjects of these songs. And they will, as long as they keep making money on the deal.
Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor.
The other song that comes to mind is from Steve Earle. Several years ago, I saw him perform in San Diego. He introduced this song by saying, “The thing about wars is that they’re always started by old guys that will never have to fight in them.” And yet, here we stand again. The old, rich guys are saying we need another war in which they themselves will not participate. It’s pretty small comfort that the best thing that might come out of another war is another song condemning money-grubbing warmongers. Mind you, I’ll never get tired of songs condemning money-grubbing warmongers. If only they took those lyrics to heart. Wait a minute? Did I just imply that politicians have a heart? Sorry about that.