Saturday, July 31, 2010
It's been a productive time for Ben Weasel. Taking time out for a second from his most recent spate of serial label-hopping and band-member tossing, he has drafted Danny Vapid back into the fold and knocked out another Riverdales record. Weasel has said that the last Riverdales record was intended to be a double and that Tarantula should be considered the second half. Noted. Of course, there is all the hoo-hah about this being a double guitar-ed Riverdales and Invasion USA wasn't, but whatever. Sadly, while Tarantula is ok, I'd really rather hear Noise By Numbers or Screeching Weasel. Production is good. Sounds like The Ramones. And it's on Recess, which is pretty cool. Buy it here if you like. I think I'm going to listen to Teenage Bottlerocket instead.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tompkins is another guy that has been around a bit. The 90s comedy drought separated a lot of the wheat from the chaff. Those that stuck it out have done pretty well for themselves in recent years. Tompkins is from Philly, but was pretty dug in on the Left Coast, where he was part of Mr. Show and also worked with the Tenacious D and Daily Show camps. There have been records and the odd Comedy Central special here and there, but most of the recent Tompkins presence has been in the podcast end of things. There was a record late last year called Freak Wharf that was pretty good. It came out courtesy of your friends at AST Records, as does this EP. If I understand the banter correctly, this may be extra material from the taping that fostered Freak Wharf. It does have the title track, a sort of oldie that comes up after some crowd work. You can get it in a three-fer deal over AST way, along with the Greg Proops EP we dug earlier this month. Check the deal out here. Those that care to can stay tuned in to day-to-day Tompkins goings-on here.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
You can't swing a dead cat around JS-NYC without running into an accolade for Austin Lucas. Since the good folk of Southern Lovin' dropped Somebody Loves You in the lap of JS-NYC, the proud son of Bloomington, IN has received the volume of spins commensurate with a man who has perhaps the best tenor in contemporary country music. While that may be a little much, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone this side of Ricky Skaggs who brings more to the table in the Top 40 country era. I'm sure there is probably a bluegrasser out there who might top AL, but know that competition is slim.
Collection compiles the import At War With Freak Folk 10" with a handful of split and comp tracks. At War is demo versions of material that would eventually be released on Somebody Loves You. Not radically different from the later versions, but well worth the listen. The comp stuff is from the Takers and Tim Barry splits, along with the Dolly Parton cover and an unreleased track. And it's like $9, so why not high thee thither with the quickness and put an end to the hyperbole. Here's a a link.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Of all the great records that I got from If You Make It in the last couple years, the debut record from The State Lottery was definitely one of the best. Cities We're Not From was a great slice of post-college indie rock based in rock of the classic variety, but in an entirely genuine fashion. The mixed gender franchise knocked it out of the park. The new record, When The Night Comes (which I'm ashamed to find escaped my radar when it came out last fucking Fall), ups the horn, and by proxy Springsteen, factor in the proceedings. Niki McUmber wields the brass for The State Lottery and kills pretty much every track she blows on. I'm pretty sure she's the female on Future Selves, and if that is the case, she may very well be MVP of the franchise.
And what a franchise it is. The Springsteen seed has grown anew in the gardens of The Hold Steady and Jason Anderson in recent history with good results. There is the companion hackneyed minstrel crap like The Asslight Anthem, but most of those that have drank of the Bruce juice have done so in a pleasing fashion. When TSL aren't making the big rock ala Springsteen and keep the horn at bay, they rock in a pleasant The Riot Before meets Superchunk sort of way that is pretty top-notch. I blew it and missed their set last week, but while you are taking the time to grab When The Night Comes over at If You Make It, check out the live footage from the Ridgewood show. Maybe think about dropping some coin for their good works. You can get vinyl over at Salinas. As the band members are spread to the four corner of the US, I would expect future shows are going to be scarce, but keep an eye here at the TSL web presence and hope they get back on the road or in the studio soon.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
This record had been on the radar for a minute, but seemed to get lost in all the internet gossip and/or mudslinging that came in the wake of the Nas/Kelis divorce. Of all the contrived pairings that have sprung up in recent years, this one seemed to make the most sense. Both parties are the sons of famous musicians, although the Marley legacy may very well hold a heavier weight in the equation. For the average American, though, the Nas factor may be the reason why the average head is checking in. I haven't followed Jr. Gong's career for long, but will give high marks to Welcome To Jamrock and Traffic Jam as top-notch crossover material. I am a much bigger fan of the Grants Pen spawned Supercat/Burro Banton era of dancehall than I am the new school of Jamaican Ying Yang twin schlock that I hear most of the time and the young Marley definitely can chat with the best of the old school. The pairing with Nas is somewhat unexpected, but not without its high points.
Probably the most surprising thing about Distant Relatives is how adult it is. Not Rudy Ray Moore, more grown-folks Curtis Mayfield kinda adult. Both parties are no stranger to addressing society issues, I'm just surprised that it's over tracks that are as mellow as they are. This is a real big-picture project, there are guest spots from the likes of our dear locked down Weezy, but it's on a track with Joss Stone. More often than not, the guest spots are from the likes of African rapper K'naan, Dennis Brown or even Stephen Marley. Again, far from bad, but not the tact I would have expected the duo to take. The JS-NYC horse sense is impeccable, as Distant Relatives hit the charts at number five, and they were on Kimmel fairly recently, so it would appear this project might have some legs, despite the JS-NYC perceived lack of ragamuffinery. Grab a copy and find out more about the charitable contributions that are slated to benefit from the project here.
Monday, July 19, 2010
I was pretty sure I hated Greg Proops. I'm not sure whether he was actually the guy from that horrific all-improv comedy show that used to be on Comedy Central, although I'm pretty sure I'm correct in that assumption. I love comedy almost as much as I like music, but while I barely tolerate jamm-y (not Jam-y mind you) rock franchises, I absolutely loathe improv comedy. I guess I may have sold him short, as Digs In! is pretty bad ass. That shitty improv stuff could be argued to show Proops as intelligent, but listening to this, it's obvious he's pretty smart to boot. Think a foppish, less smug David Cross.
Let us point out that Proops well predates Cross in the comedy scene and has maintained quite an international presence in his twenty-some years of comedy. This recording is taken from the release party for his last record Elsewhere, which dropped almost a year ago now and was digitized at Largo in LA, where Proops also hosts a regular night with accompaniment from by Mr. Jon Brion. Proops Digs In shows that Proops is Bill Hicks smart, but he also can get Jim Norton raw. I reference the four minute jag about the penis of Tom Jones that comprises Track 5 of this little number for corroboration of both comparisons. Decide for yourself. The Proops web presence here will both familiarize you with the Proops mystique and allow you to familiarize yourself with his oeuvre.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
For one hell of a great band, it's certainly hard as hell to get those Tiltwheel guys to drop a record. Granted, there is a strong argument to be made that Davey is Tiltwheel (with all respect to J. Wang) and that maybe it's him that's dragging his heels. He's learned from the best, as the comradeship with Team Leatherface has not fostered much in the way of recorded output. Of course, the new(est) D4 record took forever, too.
Recent times found Leatherface dropping their latest and now the unholy trinity has been completed with the release of The High Hate Us. It's on A.D.D. and it is almost worth the wait. Not eleven years worth of wait (and yes, I know about the OWTH split) but still pretty great. Davey is still the best worst guitar player and songwriter out there. There is a hell of a lot of Bivouac-era Jawbreaker in the Tiltwheel sound and it is delivered in the power trio paradigm that all the best music comes in. The song titles are more than a little much (buy it and see), but the songs themselves are top-notch. Vinyl nerds will have to wait a bit, as something has gone awry in production, but you can get it from the expected MP3 vendors and on CD from A.D.D. here. Do that now and harass Davey about those fools hauling their carcasses out East.
Oh, and for the record: no they don't. Not by a long shot.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Oh, Dopamines! How I love you so! Adding to Ohio's rich legacy of rock goodness, the Dopamines add another full length to the canon. This time it's called Expect The Worst. Fatalist title-age aside, I'd buy it immediately, perhaps with in conjunction with a number of cold brewed beverages. The Cincinnati three has certainly heard a Dillinger Four record or two in their day, but they pay homage rather than plagiarize. This isn't PMA material, more DUI.
In fact, were you to be short on records to play loud while indulging in vice on a hot Summer night, you could do far worse than this record. Expect The Worse is the first Dopamines release for Paper & Plastick. I expect it won't be the last, as if there is any justice in the world, this little number should move some serious numbers. Times are troubled, so help this over-educated, underemployed bunch of Buckeyes out and pick up a copy of this from P&P. Here's a link. You can get beer coozies and shit, too. Fun!
Our heroes will be at Lost & Found on 8/16. Those in their right minds would do well to be there.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
My review of the stupendous new Glossary record, Feral Fire, is up currently at PopMatters. Here be a link.
Thanks to Sarah Zupko at PopMatters and to Glossary for being awesome.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
It's always nice when America's Finest Rock Band, aka The Figgs, drop some new tunes in our lap. And so they have. The Man Who Fights Himself marks the 10th studio full-length (in 23 years) from our Saratoga heroes. In keeping with its number, there are 10 songs, all of whom are pretty great. They aren't all 10s, but they are a hell of a lot better than most stuff that claims to be rock music in this day and age. You get the expected level of rockness, along with some Joe Jackson/Knack-y turns, a little vocoder, plus the drummer sings one and has a theme song, so why not cut to the chase and snap this up stat-like. Here's a link. Buy it now. The guys have kids, fer chrissakes.
Friday, July 9, 2010
I was never the hugest fan of the whole garage thing. I like The Sonics and Nuggets comps as much as the next guy who has maintained hair height and improbable sidenburns, but didn't throw myself into that scene beyond the odd Mummies or Devil Dogs show. As I have decided to try to read all the music non-fiction I can of late, I've been Strand-ing it up a lot. I had actually picked We Never Learn up there a couple times, but always figured it'd be around and put it back. Third time was a charm, plus I figured that Steven would get a name drop, so home I took it.
We Never Learn is pretty well done. Like I said, I'm not a huge fan of the genre, but it does as advertised, covering the years from 1988 to 2001. For the uninitiated, Davidson helms the (now reactivated?) mighty New Bomb Turks, affording him firsthand knowledge of the garage scene through its roots, rise and nadir. He's also a pretty decent scribe, having written for the Voice, Seattle Weekly and a gang of others. Crypt Records, Lone Gone John, The White Stripes and a gang of other relevant polarizing topics are covered pretty objectively. Never do things go into straight up shit-talking, but spades are called as such and there are some typically awesome insights from Blag Dahlia, so I'd recommend picking this up. We Never Learn isn't going to win a ton of new converts to explore the genre, but if you have even a passing interest, it's an entertaining read. If it sways you, there's also a download code for a 20 song comp Davidson threw together for those of you that prefer musical annotation to their tomage. I have to make an 11th hour condemnation of the term 'gunk punk', but questionable nomenclature aside, you can (and should) pick up We Never Learn here from Davidson.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
It's been a long time since I've seen the Old 97s. It's a shame, as I've seen a ton of their shows and they have been known to be one of my favorite bands. Recent years have found the singer desperately trying to reconcile his solo aspirations against the fact that the band that made him what he is more popular. And just plain better, frankly. I'm not exactly sure what makes the Old 97s records so superior (and truth be told, I think it's been downhill for the last couple of records) but that is the truth, and they do have a host of great songs. They are also pretty damn good live (when both singers care) and when you take all the assholes out of the city and make the show for free, you can pretty much guarantee my presence. And so it was. To sweeten the pot, Eric was in attendance, and Steve and Annie were down from Albany, so things looked promising for a good time.
All in all, it was. The company was good, as was the beer. The whole show was sponsored by Texas On Tour. who brought a small village of Texas-ity to the proceedings with a bunch of stands and the music stage that hosted our heroes. A gent by the name of Ryan Harkrider opened the proceedings in a solo acoustic capacity that garnered little to no love from the Johnsons in our midst. Nothing really caught on for me, either, and I (like many others) failed to snap up one of his free cds, so I guess we'll have to call that a loss. The Old 97s were up in short order, knocking out an hour or so of tunes while we put a dent in the adult beverages. Musically, the cards fell where I suspected they would. The good songs were good and the older ones were somewhat less so. The crowd was pretty receptive for what it was, but either the snore factor of the last couple records or the holiday worked against them. I'd say there were probably 200 in attendance, all told. Works out fine for me, and I'm pretty sure no one was working against draw, so I'd say it was a win all around. Saw Alex (who I saw my first Old 97s show with a million years ago) for the first time in forever, as well as the lovely Juliet of the Unified Scene and was home in the A/C by 10:30, independent of the NYC populace at large. Good times. Thanks to Eric, Steven, Annie and Texas On Tour for an awesome free 4th.
Monday, July 5, 2010
I've known Tim of the Supertones for a couple years now. I met him through the OnPoint crew and he's always been a solid dude who was fun to talk NYC music with. I had never seen The Supertones play, but luckily the planets aligned and they were playing up the street at Otto's over the sweltering, but gloriously empty NYC over the 4th Of July weekend.
At this point, I sadly should point out that this isn't the crappy Christian ska franchise, although the surf sensibilities of all the players do speak to the Left Coast lifestyle. The room was pretty much full and the Supertones were pretty damn hot. I hadn't seen Simon play since some Bar Sinister shows a million years ago, and it was pretty funny to see him on 12 string bass. He's got this ham-handed thumper way outclassed, so I can't hate but I can't say I would have ever seen that pairing. Then again, I never thought I'd see him playing with Jon Spencer either, so what do I know. Not sure when the next live show is, but know that they are a great time live and grab their cd here.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
As you may have gleaned from a previous post, Ms. Wagner was both a tour and bandmate of Austin Lucas on his most recent batch of dates. She and Austin were selling a tour cd package with both of the demos on separate cd-rs for the econo price of $10, so I snapped one up. I had missed both of her opening slots on the AL dates, but was pretty impressed with her pipes and plucking with Brad and Austin. And of course, I had to have the new AL demos, so it was a win for Team Wagner from the jump.
It was good for me, too. Wagner hails from Orlando, but plies her trade in a early Patti Griffin/Nora O'Connor vein. She doesn't sound markedly like either of them, but I'd say there is a shared aesthetic sensibility and the closing Once In A While is a track a lot of people would like to have in their set. I'm not sure how much she gets out of FL, but these four songs would be enough to get me off the couch if she came back. See what you think via her web presence.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
When Austin came through town a couple weeks ago, he had this tour cd-r that he was hawking. It's actually a double cd-r, lavishly packaged (see left) in a sandwich bag with tour/bandmate Christina Wagner's companion recent demos. It's iTunes priced, as a $1 a song, and worth one less drink if you see him. Austin is looking for a new label and if the five songs here aren't enough to find him one, a lot of people should be hanging it up, as our Mr. Lucas has them well outclassed. The five tracks find him in as good a voice as ever, with the typical bass/banjo/guitar sometimes with understated kit backing. If I had to pick a best track, I guess it would be the opening Sleep Well, but it's all pretty aces and for $10 for 2 cds, you can't really go wrong. Help the guy out on tour and pick the New Home demos up if you can. He starts a West Coast run in the next couple of days, irritatingly enough for this NYer with Cory Branan. See where you and Austin can cross paths here.