Thursday, June 26, 2014

recommended gigs

Thursday June 26 - The Astaires at the House of Blues

Friday June 27 - Fuzz Solow at the Dive Bar

Saturday June 28 - the Swamp Gospel, the Psyatics and the Gentlemen of Four Outs at the Hard Hat

Wednesday July 2 - The Black Jetts with Black Pussy and Mothership at Triple B

Thursday July 3 - the Laissez Fairs with the Astaires and Sister Lip at the Dive Bar

Saturday July 5 - the Dashabouts at the Container Park
Saturday July 5 - the Astaires at the the Beauty Bar with Ringo Deathstar

Sunday July 6 - Thee Swank Bastards at Pussyrama at Artifice

Tuesday July 8 - Loud Pipes and B-Lines at HellPop

Thursday July 10 - The Lucky Cheats w/Rev. Horton Heat at Triple B

Friday July 11 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down with Water Landing, 3D6, Pete Stein and Karate in the Garage
Friday July 11 - Whiskey Breath at the Dillinger

Saturday July 12 - Fuzz Solow with Black Water Soul, Whiskey Southern Band, Low Volt and Steady Extras at the Dive Bar

Tuesday July 15 - The All Togethers, Vegascendents, the Kountry Kitten Burlesque Show - at the Dive Bar

Wednesday July 16 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Griffin

Friday July 18 - the Psyatics at the Double Down
Friday July 18 - the Loud Pipes at the Triple B with Planes Mistaken for Stars, All Eyes West, Illicitor, Mercy Music and Fredward

Saturday July 19 - the Swamp Gospel at the Double Down

Tuesday July 29 - Beau Hodges Band at Brooklyn Bowl with Dusty Sunshine and Kalsey Kulyk

Wednesday July 30 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Saturday August 2 - The Swamp Gospel at the Double Down with garage legends the Sloths

Friday August 15 - Deep Purple at Fremont Street Experience 3rd St Stage 9:00pm

Sunday August 17 - the Loud Pipes and Zig Zags at the Dive Bar

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mothers of Invention – We’re Only In It For The Money

This has always been my favorite Mothers and Zappa album – most likely because it was the first I heard and, while it has plenty of weirdness, there are some great, catchy songs, as well. The record has lots of abstract noise, dialogue, late 60’s studio tricks, starts’n’stops and plenty of commentary on the times – making fun of the hippies, the phony hippies, the politicians and the square establishment. Apparently, Zappa was not enamored by the hippie scene but he truly hated the vehemence and violence which was heaped upon the freaks – here, one second he will be deriding them and the next railing against the police, military and even the parents’ reactions to the kids.

Musically, this is a wild mix of acid rock, pop, surf, doo-wop, classical and experimental – which was not unusual for Zappa! Unlike some of his work, here he concentrates mostly on short, melodic songs. Yes, they may jump around and they certainly have odd bits, but most are songs that you can sing along with. There is a piss-take on “Hey Joe” called “Hey Punk” (referring to the hippies, not to later punk rockers) that devolves into a noise-fest with two separate dialogues just barely audible of band members talking about how exciting it is to record and what they will do with their new-found fame! This has definitely been remixed/remastered and it is quite different from the vinyl version and lyrics that were “cleaned up” on the original release are quite apparent here – “fucks” and “don’t come in me” and etc. The mix seems most changed in “Let’s Make the Water Turn Black” – and now that I listen again, most of what was side two on the album - not particularly better or worse, just not the same.

“It’s His Voice on the Radio”, “Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance”, “What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body” and “Mother People” are all highly melodic, although, as I’ve mentioned, the song will suddenly veer off on a noise tangent before returning to the melody – nicely disconcerting! It all ends with another batch of noise, “The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny”.

The CD that I have includes Lumpy Gravy, produced simultaneously with We’re Only In It For the Money, and consisting of two musical suites (each comprising one side of the vinyl album) that contained orchestral performances (written and conducted by Zappa), snippets of surf music and spoken dialogue. No actual “songs” – although there are bits that taken from WOIIFTM songs – so this is certainly more challenging and, to my eyes, a bit less listenable. It’s Zappa – if you know his work, you probably know what to expect from a conceptual, orchestral piece from him.

I’ve since heard/read that there are better sounding reissues of these records but this is a fun romp through Zappa’s demented little mind!

Mike Chandler is fundraising for his book

Help support the Outta Place/Raunch Hands singer by contributing to his indiegogo campaign to publish his book here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rocket From the Tombs - Life Stinks

I don't know if this has been reissued yet but if not, it should be! This was a bootleg vinyl LP of a radio appearance by the band, released in 1990. I was lucky enough to get a copy with a bonus 7" included.

Opening with an instrumental bit of "Raw Power" (these cats were definitely Detroit high energy freaks, as well as lovers of early Velvets), this blends into their original "So Cold", which would later become "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" for Pere Ubu. Dave Thomas (Crocus Behemoth) is particularly vicious here, as the band pounds the song into submission. As best as I can tell, this is the line-up with Peter Laughner and Gene O'Connor (Cheetah Chrome) on guitars, Chris Willis Bell on bass and Johnny Madansky (Johnny Blitz) on drums. Maniacally frantic rendering of "I'm Never Gonna Kill Myself Again" (later "Caught With the Meat In Your Mouth") is followed by "What Love Is", with a few minor variations, but not much different than the Dead Boys' later version. The fantastic title track has even more added racket here, which makes it even more potent.

A short intermission by Laughner imploring locals to take up instruments and start new, local music before the group returns with "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" and this is a bit different than "So Cold" - have I been mixing up songs or are these two just that similar? Still, some subtle difference from Ubu's take on it, not the least being the smash'n'bash rave-up ending tagged on. The always superb "Final Solution" is as arresting, powerful and dramatic as ever - one of my all-time fave numbers - and is followed by the pulsating "Muckraker". After an entreaty to the audience to "get up and dance", they blast into a high-energy number, "Frustration" that has some truly interesting and melodic guitar lines. A short bit from "Pinball Wizard" opens up "Seventeen", practically a pop tune, with bits and pieces stolen from various sources, including other Who numbers and the Raspberries' "Go All the Way'! The incendiary (hah!) "Down in Flames" was retained pretty much intact by the Dead Boys (great two guitar mayhem here!) and they close the set with a tribute to their heroes, "Search and Destroy" with Crocus truly teetering, shrieking, over the edge - pretty phenomenal.

The "bonus" 45 has "Ain't It Fun", with some biting leads and sounding much less tongue-in-cheek than the Dead Boys recorded take, and I don't remember the line "when you tell her she's just a cunt" in theirs! "Transfusion" is a simple lick that gives Crocus and the guitars a chance to show off, in their own unique ways. Love the trade-offs between Laughner and O'Connor with lots of use of dynamics from everyone. Ultra cool!

Of course, fans of the Dead Boys and Pere Ubu should have this, but also anyone who is interested in what the desolate mid-west managed to produce in the early 70's needs to hear this! Terrific rock'n'roll!

Trevor and the Jones - There was Lightning

As Las Vegas' premier (only? I know the Laissez Faires will be another contender) psychedelic band, Trevor and the Jones have made a name for themselves in the local scene. I have ranted'n'raved about their live show a time or two and the recording does a fine job of capturing their essence.
Led by singer/guitarist Trevor Jones, he is joined by Joe Lawless on guitar and keys, Chris Montijo on drums and, on this CD Dale Gilbert on bass, although he has now left the band.

Although they lean primarily towards the slower, psychedelic numbers, they, smartly, open with a ravin' commentary on the music scene, "Dig This". Pumpin' bass and drums, fuzzed-out guitar lines and a good jolt of energy makes this a cool start. There's a slow, deliberate groove going in "Sneak", with some neat 12-string riffs intertwining. Slowing down things even more and leaving things wide open, "A Familiar Way" is a stoned-out ballad with some cool Hollies-like 12-string at the end (yes, these guys really like their 12 string guitars!). "Grooving at the Speed of Light" picks up the tempo a bit and adds nice harmonies and backing vocals along with psyched-out, effects-laden guitars. They build this into a rockin' jam with really cool guitar interplay - both Trevor and Joe are fine players.

We get a straight-ahead rocker in "It's Exhausting" that has another hot dual-guitar duel and "Other Things" continues in a similar vein but with some very hip, layered vocals. Not to be egotistical and I am positive that it is a coincidence, but "It's Getting Early" reminds of one of my old Thee Fourgiven garage/psych tunes, so of course I like it! Driven by incessant beat, there's more 12-strings and cool melodies and harmonies. "Show Yourself" sounds to me pretty Pink Floyd-ish, from song construction to guitar tones to the lengthy (10 minute total) instrumental ending. There's a more light-hearted pop tune in "Reality's Mine" before the final jam, "Superslow". This is a repetitive, drone-y number that sucks you in as it becomes a tumultuous psych/noise extended jam that, at (again) 10 plus minutes, can be a bit excessive, especially in a live setting.

Still, very groovy modern psych from the desolate desert of Las Vegas. They have only gotten better since this recording so be sure to see them live.

Crawlspace - The Spirit of 76

While on other outings Crawlspace appeared to be a rock'n'roll band with a penchant for noise, on The Spirit of 76 they seem to have succumbed to the call of Cthulhu and embraced chaos fully. Like a mix of the Shaggs and the MC5, although whereas the MC5 would teeter on the edge of madness, Crawlspace freely leaps into the void. As with Kenne Highland's (fellow Gizmos) cover painting, the spirit of Rob Tyner and American r'n'r blends with pure primitiveness.

Here Crawlspace is comprised of Eddie, Greg Hajic and Joe Dean and maybe due to the fact that there is no "official" drummer, it is all considerably more chaotic than, say, Ignorance is Bliss, that had the great Bob Lee holding things together.The opening "Theme For a Wet T-shirt Contest" is almost indecipherable - not that that's a bad thing! They do give O. Rex a run for their money on Kenne Highland's "Califawnia Gurls", though this version may be a bit more coherent than the original and, after more than 30 years in the state, Eddie has more right to the frustration of the tune than Highland did after just visiting. I'm not familiar with the Mark Lindsay song "Just Seventeen", but the loose, primitive beat (that barely keeps time) and trashy garage abandon has to be far rawer than the original! Mixing Patti Smith and the Leaves, "Hey Joe" has layers of guitar (including a hip slide part) but no percussion save for some buried tambourine. Patrick Sky's "Fight For Liberation" is a banjo-led, Irish sing-along freedom song followed by the original "Take Your War on Vacation", the closest to a straight rock'n'roll tune here.

The classic Holland/Dozier/Holland "Leaving Here" is turned into a shambolic, disquieting detonation that somehow maintains its backbeat. Even more unlikely is Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'", which starts off pretty straight forward before dissolving into a racket of disjointed drumming and vocals fighting each other to remember the words and keep the song on track, all with limited success as it eventually turns into a wash of percussive morse-code-ish guitar and bass explosions. Never losing their sense of humor, we get Bid Daddy Roth's "Rat Fink" before another original composition, "Never Never", a Velvet-y, down-tuned, drone-y number which allows everyone to make some explorations.

I'm afraid that I don't know Mike Pocius or his "Chemicals in the Mail", though musically it is essentially "Fortune Teller" with a very different subject matter! They return to their punk rock roots for the Saints' "Erotic Neurotic", which is cut short but reasonably true to the original. After swiping "Two Headed Dog" for a moment, the band melds into a riotous take on "Sympathy For the Devil" with the band seemingly never sure whether they should keep going or not - though they soldier on before becoming an unrelated free-noise-jam and ending with minutes of white noise.

This is Crawlspace at its most challenging - which makes it a truly interesting record, but not easily accessible. But if you appreciate musicians who aren't afraid to take chances, look into Crawlspace!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Crawlspace - Ignorance is Bliss

Here is yet another record that I have meant to write about for ages but just never got to though I was reminded again after the Gizmos' weekender. Crawlspace is Gizmo Eddie Flowers' brainchild and has
gone through many incarnations, but here Eddie plays some guitar as well as lead vocals, and Greg Hajic and Joe Dean are mainly guitar and bass respectively, though they switch at times and the terrific Bob Lee is on drums throughout most of the record.

Eddie and I used to prowl through used comic book stores when we first moved to LA, as is evidenced in "(I Am) The Watcher" - although I'm sure it is about more than just the Marvel character. It is a solid rock tune with a great, noisy break and "Blame It on the Universe" reminds me a bit of the Lazy Cowgirls, especially in rhythmic, clapping bridge. "Whatever Happened to Gloria?" is a good stomper that ends abruptly and then there's a vaguely dissonant, cymbal-crashin' "(Here Come) Them Sexy 60's" with some hep dual guitar duels. I always wanted to do "First I Look at the Purse", but Eddie really did with this swingin', fuzz-tastic version.

Sounding a lot more like the psycho-noise Crawlspace is "Vote Yes on 69" - a cool piece of Velvet-y drone-y repetitiveness that gives Eddie a chance to talk in tongues over the proceedings. A Beefhartian title "Women in Cemetaries (Throwin' Monkeys)" is a cacophonous rocker, as is "The Girl's Gettin' Lower". A little slower and groovy is the jazzy blues of "Rt. 1 Box 22N" with Hajic playing some cool licks behind Eddie's stream-of-Crawlspace monologue. "Mark of Death" is a short'n'heavy cover (though I don't know the original) that ends is guitar cord (not chord) noise that is followed by an MC5-ish fast rocker "Sara Jane!". Don't know if he would agree with me, but "Not a Heartache" reminds me of "Clash City Rocker" mixed with Chuck Berry! Bob Lee provides a Bo Diddley-ish backbeat for the aural bedlam that makes up "Some Shitty Girls", giving a groove to the pandemonium.

All-in-all, this Crawlspace outing is probably more accessible than some (like Spirit of '76, which I will get to soon) and is a damn cool piece of squawk'n'roll! On Gulcher Records, man!

Slade Alive! The World's Greatest Albums - The Ultimate Critical Review

I've always loved early Slade and Slade Alive! is a monster representation of the group in its proper setting - in front of a group of ravin' fanatics who obviously loved everything they did. I got this DVD mainly because I never had the chance to see them live but I loved all of the footage that I had seen and wanted to see some more.

Here there are critics discussing the album song-by-song and generally loving it, though they all pan "In Like a Shot From My Gun", a song that I love. Funnily enough, they talk about "Know Who You Are" as if it were showing the growth of their songwriting, even though it came from an instrumental on their first album! Interestingly, a number of the songs from the record were also recorded for a TV show, and bits of the footage are included in the critical review portion, which is great. I did learn something in that I did not know that at the time this record came out, they already had hits and were riding the charts with "Cos I Luv You". I was a little late to the Slade game and thought this album was much earlier than the chart smashes.

The bonus material has all of the offerings from that ferocious live TV appearance, where they start stomping and threatening to destroy the stage right from the intro of the blazingly fast take on "Hear Me Calling", that they unfortunately cut short just so they can do the long ending! Noddy's guitar sounds monstrous on "Look Wot You Dun" and the band is fantastically visual, even besides their wild outfits - real rock'n'roll! They do an excellent "Darling, Be Home Soon" - just as pretty and powerful as on the vinyl - but I just wish the camera man would show more of Dave Hill! James Lea takes up a violin for "Cos I Luv You" and Dave moves over to bass - Lea seems a little uncomfortable trying to seriously play this while stompin' along to the tune, though he does a credible job on a song that I would never imagine they would have done live. Noddy's voice is blood curdlin' in "Get Down and Get With It" and they end, as they do on the record, with a dissonance-drenched "Born To Be Wild".

The high quality live TV footage make this damn near essential for Slade fans - great fun!

John Terrill - Frowny Frown

John Terrill (JT) was the man who provided the backbeat for the Gizmos reunion shows as well as for
Indiana legends the Dancing Cigarettes. Eric Weddle, who honked on his sax for the Gizmos, released this CD, John's pop opus that spanned ten years in the making and is an incredibly ambitious piece of work.

John obviously has wildly eclectic tastes and likes a little bit of a lot of things and it all comes through on this album. Primarily 60's styled melodic, harmony-based pop music, ala the Beach Boys or later, mellower Velvet Underground, JT includes lots more, from extremely effective percussion to clarinet, sax, trumpet, cello, harpsichord, and everything else that he plays himself. All of this and other items (studio effects like backwards tracking) gives hints of psych-era Beatles, Who-pop, Dylan and hints of lots of other bands and songs.

What we get is almost an hour's worth of quality pop that I think the cats from International Pop Overthrow would go ga-ga over. Well crafted tunes and well thought-out production. Mighty impressive!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fearless Leader - Deranged

Alright, Fearless Leader is a band of reprobate scum-rockers from LA, known for their outrageous make-up and costumes (think: buckets as platform shoes), use of fire and for sticking spam up their butt and then eating it. Not for the faint hearted or those easily offended. Oh, and they play music, too - more or less.

Deranged is their latest, recorded even as members of the band live is different parts of the country. The sound is filthy, noisy punk rock with incredibly un-PC lyrics and song titles like "Brick Shit House", "Sex Change", "Nasty Bitch", "Mind Fuck" and "Looks like a '10' Fucks Like a '2'".

While their names have been changed to protect the guilty, the guys are actually pretty damn good players - they just go out of their way to make the band loose, crazy, cacophonous and fun. There's layers of guitars - power chords, fuzz-turbulence, caterwauling clang'n'clatter, wah-wahs and, on "Have a Good Time" there's even some honkin' sax from LA sax-master Mark Mylar. Strangely, the title track is sung by a non-member, LA stalwart Mike Snider, who also plays bass while the guitars create a boisterous blare that threatens to take over the song.

This is an explosive din of an album - crazed and truly "deranged". Get it - if you have the nerve!

The Down-Fi - Beehunter

On this 2012 CD/EP only Craig and Sam remain from the previous line-up of Down-Fi and Craig has
moved back to bass and they are joined by Blane Slaven on drums. The sound here is pretty excellent and BIG and the oddly titled "I Am the Muon" comes off as a blend of PIL and RFTT, with some new-wavey keys thrown in to great effect. "Everything Now" is straight punk'n'roll with a cool call'n'response chorus. Power chords with almost a disco drumbeat make up the high energy "Read It and Weep" while "Godot" is pure pop for rock'n'roll people who are not afraid of guitars being let loose on their melodies. Marchin' drums and huge guitars propel "Right Next Time", making a rare political statement.

It sounds like the Down-Fi must have been pretty monstrous live, but no need to weep as now there is Deezen and the DF left behind quality recordings like this one!

(I have found out that the Down-Fi is still active and will have new recordings out soon! Stay tuned!)

The Down-Fi - America Now

At some point I'm gonna find out the chronology and history of this young man, but here is another band from Craig Bell (ex-Rocket From the Tombs), this time originating in Indianapolis, Indiana, his current town, so I take a logical stab that this was his band before Deezen. Here Craig is on guitar along with another current Deezen-ite, Sam Murphy, and Jason Bambey on bass and Mike Theodore on drums.

This opens with a clever, catchy chord progression leading into a power-pop classic (at least in a better world than this one), "Let It Go". In "Tears in Her Eyes" it sounds to me like the Velvets doing a rockin' pop tune with drivin' drum work by Theodore. Their car song, "'62 Hawk" reminds me of a punky-blues in the vein of Jayne County and then they slow things down for the melodic ballad (nice bass work from Bambey) "Don't Keep Me Waiting" that includes some strong dynamics. "You Be You" is a plain rocker and the Bell revisits his past with a RFTT number "So Cold" that later became the basis for Pere Ubu's "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" - a powerfully dark and dramatic number that builds into a cool guitar workout for Sam's excellent playing.

Back to the upbeat pop for "Today" and then, based on the movie, "Network" is a pulsating, loud, shout-along tune. Punk-rock jungle drums mix with rollickin' bass on "Shit City" and then the CD finishes with a flourish with the anthemic title cut that kinda reminds me of the heavier parts of "Heroin".

Bell always has some cool tunes, mixing garage, pop, new wave and punk and always seems to fund good players to work with and this is no exception. I'm waiting for Deezen to record, but this is pretty damn close!

(I have found out that the Down-Fi is still active and will have new recordings out soon! Stay tuned!) 

Tom Waits Live From Austin - Romeo is Bleeding

I'm in the process of reading two books at once - in my "spare time" - one of them being a Tom Waits retrospective. This reminded me that I hadn't watched this terrific DVD in ages and that I never wrote about it. This live show from 1978 is before he went into his noisier direction and was still the jazzy/scattin'/hobo prophet. I actually prefer thus era and his band on this tour was pretty stellar.

Opening with "Burma Shave", Waits is posing between two dirty, lit up Union 76 gas pumps with an old Chevy on stage behind him while the band - guitar, stand-up bass, drums and trumpet - riffs on "Summertime" as he raps a vague version of his song and eventually scats a bit of the Porgy and Bess number.

He takes to the piano for a version of "Annie's Back in Town/I Wish I Was in New Orleans/Ain't Gonna Rain" and then he picks up a great, old, funky, big-box Gibson guitar to pound on rhythmically while the band grooves behind him on "A Sweet Little Bullet From a Pretty Blue Gun" and he poses in unlikely and uncomfortable - but highly visual - stances.

"On the Nickel" brings him back to the piano and he gives a bit of the background of the story as an introduction to the tune. The audience is very appreciative throughout and gives each solo the "proper" jazz applause. Waits moves up front to just take the vocals on "Romeo is Bleeding" which has him doing the words to a jazz jam that sounds nothing like the recorded version of the song - though funnily enough the sax man is reading charts even though it sounds fairly free-form.

Tom introduces "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis" with "Silent Night" from the piano and pretty much talks the song rather than singing it. A street light appears on stage and with a sax solo in the background and wearing a trench coat, Waits talks of living in the Chelsea Hotel in NYC as he tells the tale of "Small Change"and closes out the night.

As I said, I love this period of his work and was sorry that I never had a chance to see him so this is an excellent document of the time period. Fine stuff!

Friday, June 20, 2014

It Happened...But Nobody Noticed - compilation CD

This compilation of New Haven, CT. bands was originally released in 1982 and has been reissued with extra tracks by Craig Bell. As I'm looking online, there is a companion documentary, as well, and there has been at least one related live show. Mighty impressive! There is a booklet included with photos, member info and contact info for all of the bands, as well - nice package!

This two-CD set is jam-packed with varied high-quality tunes, from the fairly silly, fun new wave of Poodle Boys' "Pop Party" and the Subdueds' "Subdued Theme" to the pop of Scout House's "Talkin' About You" and Hot Bodies' Shoes-like "In the Inside" (featuring Kerry Miller from Craig's current band, Deezen). More new-wavey quirkiness from The Furors and Craig's own Saucers and their "Muckraker" (originally done with Rocket From the Tombs - love the wacked out instro break). The Snotz' "That's Life" has more than a passing resemblance to "Sweet Jane" mixed with "Is That All There Is" (among other songs), but with their own bits thrown in to this 60's-styled pop ballad. There's a bit of Farfisa-fueled garage power in the TV Neats' "Dear Abby" and pure goofiness in International Q's glossolalia-inspired "Small Talk". Things get a little more esoteric with Troupe Di Coupe's "Funeral Row", with its soundtrack-y congas and horn section. Rawer and a little more "punk" is No Music's "Same Old Shit" while October Days' "Do the Right Thing" is more atmospheric, in kind of a Pere Ubu way. The bassist for the Bats is nicknamed "Riff", and his playing on "Living In Alaska" makes it obvious why - cool, upbeat and rockin' all the way through by every member of this three piece.

Disc 2 opens with the Stratford Survivors (featuring Mad Mike Czekaj of the Fuzztones, Headhunters and Alter Egos, among others) and their hard hittin' catchiness of "It's Not Enough". More new-wave weirdness in Disturbance's "Somebody Move" and pure power-pop in the Excerpts' "Give Me a Second". Epitome thrown a bit of everything into "Baby No More Tears" - hard hittin' guitars, pop melodies and a smattering of noise, all to good effect. Waves of feedback open Valley of Kings' drivin' "Today You're Laughing", a hip piece of psych-surf. I'm sure my bands appeared on some of the same comps as the Not Quite and their super-cool, high-energy organ-fueled retro-garage. The Sabres are definitely garage-y, as well, but with a bit more new-wave influences, and Dada Banks' "communism" is pure early new wave (with a tag-ending of "Wild Thing"), as is the Radio Reptiles' "The Man in the Chinese Puzzle", while the Cadavers' "Do Ya Wannit" is a bit of low-fi, smash'n'bash pop. Craig Bell relinquishes the bass to (his wife?) Claudia Bell and takes up with guitar in The Plan for their garage-pop "I Love NY I Hate NY". More garage-psych-pop (terrific melodies) in Happy Ending's "Planned Community" with the added plus of some sweet saxophone and the proceeding conclude with the power-pop of the Reducers' "Out of Step".

Who knew that New Haven was such a hot-bed for new music in the early 80's? Great comp of a variety of music and great time capsule.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Saucers - What We Did

Another amazing event from the Gizmos weekend was the chance to play shows with one of the
members of Rocket From the Tombs, bassist Craig Bell, in his new band, Deezen. I am a huge RFTT fan (I can't believe that I haven't written about the record of theirs that I have) and, of course, their famous spin-off bands, Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys. But, Craig had his own great combo after the break-up of Rocket and his relocation to New Haven, CT.: the Saucers. To make this world even smaller, it turns out that their first gig was with the Survivors, with my old pal Mike Czekaj, from the Fuzztones and Alter Egos!

This CD is made up of songs taken from three separate recording sessions, each with slightly different line-ups as people came and went around Craig and drummer Mark Mulcahy - and there's a nice booklet with the CD that explains all of the details. All are cool and I wouldn't say that any were necessarily better than the other, but all have good songs and sharp playing.

Craig was the primary (but not only) songwriter in the band and the CD opens with a great cut of his, "Muckraker", with the original line-up consisting of keyboardist Malcolm Doak and guitarist Malcolm Marsden fleshing out Craig and Mark's rhythm section. When advertising for members for the band, Bell cited the Velvets, Kinks and Eno as influences ad they all make their mark on this tune, with its quirky, new-wave-y keyboard parts, incessant beat and angular, noisy guitar lines - not dissimilar from early Voidoids and pretty damn great. There's some obvious 60's garage influences in Marsden's "Orpheus", without being retro, while "Annie" is damn near poppy!

"Frustration" is a bass-driven instrumental, kinda reminiscent of RFTT, and has some nice synth-noise and "Slow Down" is quite Velvet-y - almost a cross between "Femme Fatale" and the organ-dominated "Ocean", with some clever twists and turns. The final cut from the first session is a new take on the fantastic epic, "Final Solution", made famous by Pere Ubu, but done justice here with a drivin' rhythm and plenty of keyboard and guitar dissonance.

When they got back to the studio a year later Doak had left and was replaced with a 2nd guitar player, Seth Tiven. "Roadmaster" is quite rockin', filled with energy and some RFTT-ish chords, catchy vocals and lots o punk-punch. There's an update on "Muckraker" with some raw, two-guitar attack, another take on "Frustration" and then the manic "I Didn't Get It". Marsden provides the title track - a new-wave-y singalong with a wacky breakdown, as well as "Take a Chance", a snappy number epitomizing late 70's punk.

From the 1980 session - with Katherine Cormack joining on keys and guitar after the departure of Marsden - we get the pure 60's pop of "A Certain Kind of Shy" and a damn great anthem "She's Alright" that throws in garage, new-wave, punk and pop elements so that there's something for everyone and still manages to make a superior tune. There's Who-like chords and catchy riffs highlighting "Mirrors" (theme song for the band?) and the bouncy bubblegum of "Quiet Boy" before the high energy garage romps of "Hypnotized" and "I Need Drugs". The proceedings close with a live cut from their practice loft, the terrific "Why Me" - powerful and memorable - making it all that much more of a shame that they split while writing such good tunes.

A very cool example of early punk/new-wave coolness that was happening in all kinds of odd parts of the country, like New Have, Connecticut! Fine, fine stuff!

recommended gigs

Thursday June 19 - The All Togethers at the Gold Spike

Friday June 20 - the Super Zeroes at the Hard Hat
Friday June 20 - Eddie Bear and the Cubs and the Loud Pipes at Exile on Main Street

Saturday June 21 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down
Saturday June 21 - the Pluralses,  Fredward, Leather Lungs, Headwinds, Surrounded by Thieves @ the Hard Hat Lounge

Tuesday June 24 - Bogtrotters Union with Alex and His Meal Ticket, Tyler Gregory, Gospel and the Wolf and more at the Artistic Armory

Wednesday June 25 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Thursday June 26 - The Astaires at the House of Blues

Friday June 27 - Fuzz Solow at the Dive Bar

Saturday June 28 - the Swamp Gospel, the Psyatics and the Gentlemen of Four Outs at the Hard Hat

Wednesday July 2 - The Black Jetts with Black Pussy and Mothership at Triple B

Thursday July 3 - the Laissez Fairs with the Astaires and Sister Lip at the Dive Bar

Sunday July 6 - Thee Swank Bastards at Pussyrama at Artifice

Tuesday July 8 - Loud Pipes and B-Lines at HellPop

Thursday July 10 - The Lucky Cheats w/Rev. Horton Heat at Triple B

Friday July 11 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down
Friday July 11 - Whiskey Breath at the Dillinger

Saturday July 12 - Fuzz Solow with Black Water Soul, Whiskey Southern Band, Low Volt and Steady Extras at the Dive Bar

Wednesday July 16 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Griffin

Friday July 18 - the Psyatics at the Double Down
Friday July 18 - the Loud Pipes at the Triple B with Planes Mistaken for Stars, All Eyes West, Illicitor, Mercy Music and Fredward

Saturday July 19 - the Swamp Gospel at the Double Down

Tuesday July 29 - Beau Hodges Band at Brooklyn Bowl with Dusty Sunshine and Kalsey Kulyk

Wednesday July 30 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Saturday August 2 - The Swamp Gospel at the Double Down with garage legends the Sloths

Friday August 15 - Deep Purple at Fremont Street Experience 3rd St Stage 9:00pm

Sunday August 17 - the Loud Pipes and Zig Zags at the Dive Bar

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Brothers Gross - Get Soaked and Draw Blood (demo)

Kyle Gross also fronted me this demo CD of two bands that he & Timmy are involved with - their main project, the Brothers Gross, and Draw Blood, which has Dana Lynn on lead vocals and is a bit more metal-y, though still damn catchy.

The songs alternative between the bands so starts with the terrific "Runaway" by BroGro (as they call themselves) before moving into the punk metal of "End of My City", with Dana's highly melodic vocals carrying the tune. Back to BroGro with "As the World Goes Round", with its mix of Stooges stomp, new-wave vocals and garage-y lead - kinda bizarre but damn freakin' cool at the same time! Draw Blood "Give It Right Back" is minimalistic drivin'' rock'n'roll, not unlike a more powerful Garbage or something along those lines. Probably the most low-fi number here is BroGro's "Girl Like You" which weirdly strikes me as a mix of the Boys and Vom! Damn amazing! The CD gives us a fake conclusion with Draw Blood's oft-kilter but highly melodic "Bleed" before they blast through Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation".

Hell, it seems like anything these brothers are involved with is pretty freakin' hot, so be sure to search them out wherever you are!

The Brothers Gross - Ready to Roll vinyl EP

I also had the good fortune to play with the Brothers Gross in Indianapolis over the weekend and this EP gives a good indication of their glam/power-pop/punk sound. Driven by stylin' 60's-soundin' drummer/lead singer Kyle Gross and brother Timmy (guitar and genetic backing vocals) and aided and abetted by Banko on bass and Skrem on 2nd guitar (though they were a 3 piece with a sit in drummer when I saw them), they prove that they really know how to write a catchy tune with this record.

"Runaway" is a bit punkier in speed and attitude, though still insanely memorable and "What Have You Got" is a pop masterpiece in the style of bands like the Boys, though even a bit cleverer! Really fine songwriting here! The only complaint is that the songs are way too short - this is over before you've had a chance to really absorb just how good it is.

I guess the only solution is to see them whenever you can! Another excellent mid-west group of misfits!

Apache Dropout - Heavy Window

A major highlight from the Gizmos Indiana weekend was getting to play with Bloomington's fantastic
Apache Dropout. I've already raved about their live shows on my Facebook page and this blog but I also got this latest CD and while it doesn't quite capture the mania of their gigs, it is a very cool package.

The sound here is a little low-fi so you don't quite experience the primal/proto/primitive thump of their Monks-like rhythm section (drummer Seth and bassist Nathan make quite a team) but you are immediately drawn into their raw garage sounds and Sonny's psychedelic Roky Erickson shrieks and tripped out fuzz leads that sound like a theremin on acid! This is an entire package, though, from the comic book advertisement cover to the b-movie snippets between songs - this is wonderfully trashy rock'n'roll.

Nathan has a helluva fuzz tone on his bass and he gets to show off in "Heavy Window" as he trades off crazed licks with Sonny. The staccato, fuzz madness of "Trash is Treasure" was another memorable feature of their live show and the proto-stomp comes through here - as it does on the Velvets-y pop of "Movie Magic" that comes drenched in layers of noise. More VU-type incessant rock in "Little Georgie" that lets Nathan get a little loose, as does "Tired Old Story", where Sonny also gives up another crazed solo. There's a bit more concentration on melody - and even an acoustic guitar! - in "Crystal Ball", though the vocals are still drenched in effects, making it sound like you're on drugs as you listen!

More drivin' riffs propel "Left the Nest", giving it a feel like the Velvets' "Train Comin' Round the Bend" with more action - and a slide guitar! "Detective" is a freaked-out re-write of "Sweet Little Rock'n'Roller" with a pulsing rhythm that is a hook in and of itself. Pounding into your brain like a bad trip is "Radio Double Agent", where Seth finally smashes some cymbals to great effect as washes of noise float through the atmosphere and Sonny bequeaths a truly psychedelic solo. They mix the Monks with bubblegum for the finale, "After the Space Age" and even add a lead stolen (sorta) from "Telstar".

As with most bands, live is where it's at with Apache Dropout, but if you can't see 'em, or if you want a souvenir, this is a fine slab of rockin' psych-rock'n'roll!

The Sleaze-aholics

Ran into Alien Rock (Allen Clark) - ex of the Lazy Cowgirls, Crawlspace, Hot Damn, currently still with Fearless Leader - at the Gizmos reunion shows over the past weekend and he hipped me to this new project that he's doing with his wife Zaida (Zebra Stripes) and guitarist/lead vocalist Rick Shaul. As with any of his combos - and apropos of the name - the band is indeed sleazy, with songs like "Sleaze Dog", "I Don't Wanna Fight, I Wanna Fuck" and "Crack Ho on Arrow". Musically, they kinda remind me of a noisier version of Nashville Pussy (Rick has a voice similar to Blaine's), with some wild punk'n'roll lead guitar lines nearly overwhelming (in a good way) the songs.

Allen and Zaida's son, Allen, Jr., who has been playing drums with his parents in clubs since he was three years old, sits in on "Meth Lab Across the Street". They slow down things slightly for a sex-beat in their theme song "It Ain't Easy Being Sleazy", and then burn it out for "Girl" and "Hot and Heavy".

Not for the faint of heart or the easily offended, but if you dig noisy, offensive punk'n'roll, check 'em out! (And male fans will certainly not mind Zaida's choice of attire in the photos!)

Sonic Daze - First Coming

I first heard of Italy's garage combo Sonic Daze because bassist/lead singer Massimiliano (Max) came to
Bloomington, Indiana and decided that it was time for the Gizmos to reunite, and he managed to pull off this unlikely event and even played bass with the band! In the course of hangin'n'rockin' of course he mentioned his main project back in the old country and gave me a copy of this, their new (only?) CD, assuming that I would dig it. And right he was!

This is a rockin' slab of garage punk'n'roll - definitely plenty of 60's influences but with heavier guitars and plenty of punk punch. Joined by Vittoriano on slashing lead guitar, Serena on buzzsaw rhythm and Giuseppe on frantically poundin' drums, they blaze through this all-too-short 6 song CD. Hints of punk/garage like DMZ mix with poppier punk like the Boys and tons of crazed high energy.

"Hear Me Calling" has some wild riffs and a cool strart'n'stop groove that reminds me of something - maybe a Teenage Head tune? - that I'm can't put my finger on, but it's still all their own. A rawer Psychotic Youth comes to mind in "When the Sun" with its harmonies and backing vocals and "Amorality" flies along Max's basslines with an absurd amount of intensity. Appropriately dedicated to the Barracudas, "So Many Colours" isn't quite as manic, though still mighty rockin' and has even more melody and harmonies and damn-near bubblegum (in a good way) progressions. Man, almost everything sounds as if you should have heard it before, even though you know that you haven't, like the crazily catchy violence of "Come Back Tomorrow" and the closer "Get Out of the Way", another perfect mix of 60's garage and 70's punk.

Well, now I've got another reason to get back to Italy one of these days, since I doubt that the Daze will be touring America any time soon! Great, fun record!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Gizmos World Tour Diary Saturday June 14, 2014 - Dayton, Ohio

The Giz-men all slowly awoke at sax-man Eric's house in Indy, had breakfast and killed a little time before getting out of the Weddle's hair and heading off to Dayton, Ohio. Uneventful trip other than a stop at Fricker's restaurant, which Kenne and Ted thought was pretty hilarious. Got to Blind Bob's in Dayton mid-afternoon and did some more hanging out and wandering the area, which seemed to be a college-y, hip part of town, with a guitar/record store two doors down (where we get a couple of necessities and signed their Gizmos poster), a vintage store, a Goodwill, a park and other cool mom'n'pop stores. A good meal at the club and eventually the other bands started showing up with equipment. Everyone was pretty low-key from lack of sleep but kept each other company until the opening band, the Give-Ups appeared around 10:00 (we were told that the show was supposed to start at 9:00). I'm not a big fan of this kind of hard-core, but they were tight musicians people did seem to dig them.

Apache Dropout were up next and, if anything, sounded even better than the last couple of nights. Again, the minimalistic, almost cymbal-less drumming and thumping fuzz bass reminded me a lot of the Monks crossed with the Velvets while singer Sonny screamed like a Roky Erickson-possessed banshee! Sonny and Nathan did do some fine harmonies, as well, and each had some wild fuzz licks. The interaction between the three was really top-notch, as they would at times all follow Seth's primo-primitive beat or they would trade off riffs - Nathan walking on his gold-top Epiphone Jack Cassidy bass while Sonny played rhythm on his Les Paul gold-top and vice-versa. Sonny could whip up a wall full of noise when needed - he used a number of effects to vary the sound - and when Seth would go to the cymbals, because they were used so sparingly, it was particularly effective. Really a knock-out band!

Of course, Deezen were in top form again, as well, with a boatload of fuzz/garage/surf-styled licks and songs ranging from a Pagans cover to the garage pop of "Don't Die" to the new-wavey "I Need Drugs" to the cool dynamics and starts'n'stops of "Another Nail in the Coffin" to the slower 60's groove of "Wrong Kind of Love". Singer Cary rocked'n'raved like a man half his age while Craig and Kelsey smoked the rhythm, Ed/Fez fed up hip, Farfisa-styled lines and guitarist Samuel wailed on his SG with enough fuzz and noise to break it in two! Unfortunately, they don't have anything released yet, but keep a lookout for these cats and kitten - very cool garage mania!

The New Regrets were another hard-core band of damn nice guys but it's just not my style - no offense meant! But the audience were on their side and they got good reaction.

The Gizmos finally were able to start setting up at about 1:30 am. We were a little worried because we were told that the club closed at 2:30, but since no one was saying anything to us and the sound man was taking his time, we hoped that there wasn't anything to stress over. The crowd had thinned a little by now - don't blame them - I was almost falling asleep myself! - but still had a decent amount of people and they were with us as we started "Gizmos World Tour". After a brief spat of "moshing" during "America First" (thankfully that didn't continue), the club turned on the house lights, but still didn't say anything, so we just kept going. After a few more tunes we finished "Ballad of the Gizmos" only to have the PA shut off and told that the show was over and everyone had to leave. Obviously, that didn't go over too well as we had people who drove up to ten hours to see us so finally the club relented and let us do one more, "Muff Divin'". Blasted through it fast'n'furious and then they threatened violence to anyone who didn't leave immediately. So, not much chance for after-gig socializing and since the 4 Gizmos were going separate ways, we said quick goodbyes to each other and the great musicians that we had with us - Max, John and Ian - along with the other bands and headed off into the night.

Quite a large number of people were taking pictures and videotaping so keep an eye out on The Gizmos Facebooks page or the Gizmos World Tour 2014 page for these and info on upcoming events.

Huge thanks to Max Demata, Marvin Goldstein, Ian Brewer, John Terrill, Eric Weddle, Apache Dropout, Deezen, the Cowboys, the Brothers Gross, The Give-Ups, New Regrets, Bob Richert, Kenne Highland, Eddie Flowers, Ted Niemic, Davey Medlock and everyone who came to the shows for making this a very memorable trip.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Gizmos World Tour Diary Friday June 13, 2014 - Indianapolis, Indiana

The gathering of the Gizmos became a major expedition as everyone was collected from their different crash pads. Sleep was elusive for most of us, so we were a little shakey and shaggy, but non-the-less ready to start another rock'n'roll day. Lunch in Bloomington, where Max interviewed me for Italian radio, then off to Indy in Ted's bright yellow Hummer! Headed to sax-man Eric's cool, old house and hung there until time for dinner - where I met up with several member of my family and had a great time catching up - and then off to the club, the Melody Inn.

There was an early show for a Hillbilly Happy Hour with the Cousin Brothers - cats doing modern songs with bluegrass instruments (in a similar fashion to Las Vegas' the All Togethers, although they do mostly originals) - and this was supposed to finish at about 9:00 but actually ended closer to 10:00, so our show ended up running late.

The Melody Inn was a smallish but cool club with an oddly shaped stage (especially for a band of the Gizmos' size) but decent sound and cool employees. Opening our show was the Brothers Gross, a sorta glam/punk/pop trio made up of two brothers, Kyle (on drums and lead vocals) and Timmy (guitar) tonight with a sit-in bassist. They had a somewhat glammy look and a cool pop sound with solid playing (especially Kyle's organized Keith Moon-ish playing - reminding me of the Fuzztones' Mike Czejak). Dug them a lot!

Apache Dropout joined us again and again gave us a great slab of Monks-like primo-primitive beat music and psych-noise. Really superior tunes, including one that continues to remind me of the Velvets "Train Coming "round the Bend". Every night they seemed to sound better and more cohesive and the interaction between Sonny (guitar), Nathan (bass) and Seth (drums) was a pleasure to behold. See them if you can!

Also making another appearance was Deezen, with their terrific modern garage-mixed-with-new-wave sound. A similar set to the night before except with an addition of the Gizmos tune "Gimme Back My Foreskin"! An honor to have cats (and kitten) of this caliber covering one of our tunes and giving it their own twist. Fun stuff!

Then it was our turn again and we went on to a club that was about 3/4 full (as opposed to the solidly jammed gig the night before). But the crowd was with us right from the start and gave us great response. We made a few mistakes - as the Gizmos should - and since I had a few drinks in me, I was a little more obnoxious and boisterous than I might have been otherwise. A rockin' set, with an appropriately noisy and jammy "Black to Comm" followed by a closer of "Kiss of the Rat" - done three times in a row! Ted brought up Glucher-man Bob "Bear" Richert, the man responsible for the Gizmos records and much craziness ensued.

More socializing with friends and family into the early hours of the night and eventually we headed back to Eric's for an early morning (3:30 or so) crash. Another totally fun evening!

Gizmos World Tour Diary Thursday June 12, 2014 - Bloomington, Indiana

I was convinced pretty much right up until the time that we started playing that the oft-attempted Gizmos reunion would never happen, so I was a little out of the loop on all of the preparations. Even when I actually got on a plane to Indianapolis, I was still a little hesitant. The flights delays did not seem to be a good omen, as it meant that I didn't get to my hotel until about 3:30 in the morning of the first show! But, the fact that my guitar made it in one piece was a good sign so I got as much sleep as possible and took a shuttle from Indy to Bloomington.

I was picked up at the station by the man who was responsible for the reunion, Massimillano Demata (Max), a visiting professor from Italy in Bloomington doing research (as well as bassist for Sonic Daze in Italy and for our backing band), and none other than the Mr. Clean of the Gizmos, Ted Niemic, who I haven't seen since out last Gizmos gig in Cincinnati. We headed to Magnetic South, the clubhouse for Apache South and their label as well as their drummer Seth. I was led into their basement practice room (with Max video-taping) and was greeted by the head Gizmo himself, Mr. Kenne Highland, for the first time since his first wedding in 1978.

Also in attendance was Eddie Flowers (sorry about the wire), who I have seen occasionally in LA, though it has been many years, along with drummer John (JT) Terrill (Dancing Cigarettes), Max (Italy's Sonic Daze), Ted and, in the following picture, original Gizmo, Davey Medlock. Along with guitarist Ian (not pictured here - from the Panics) they were already working on songs so we immediately went through our set and I think everyone was impressed at how well it went.

After gathering for lunch (in which Kenne informed the waitress of our band status, as he did with most people we encountered) we headed to the Bishop, the site of the first show. Nice sized club with a good stage and a real sound system and sound man, did a check, and then hung out talking with friends (including some from Italy), fans and later-day Gizmos until the show started.

The Cowboys were up first and as the spastic (and I mean that in a good way) singer donned a pair or 79-ish new-wave glasses and started sucking on a Tootsie Pop as the guitarist blasted out some Robert Quine-ish noise/riffs with a rhythm section of a walking bass and lossely-solid drums, I was hooked right away. Really fun new-wave noise!

Next up were Deezen, featuring Craig Bell from Rocket From the Tombs, who were doing some fine garage rock with early punk energy and catchy songs. Dug the keyboardist's Stan Lee t-shirt, the guitarist's 60's noise and the female drummer's solid playing as she kept the set moving with little to no lags in between numbers. Their set was a mix of old and newer tunes, including the Tombs' "Never Gonna Kill Myself Again", that later became the Dead Boys' "Caught With the Meat in Her Mouth". All great players and a super fun set.

From there we got local boys Apache Dropout, who were helping us out with equipment as well as a practice place. This garage 3-piece has heavy 60's influences from bands like the Monks (the mostly cymbal-less, incessant drums - Seth - and fuzzy bass - Nathan), the Velvets and the 13th Floor Elevators (dig lead singer Sonny's Roky-esque shrieks!). More high-quality songs and a wide variety of tones from these cats. Just excellent!
Then it was time for the return of the Gizmos! We were impressed by the packed club and did our best to put on a Giz-tastic gig. We did every song from the three original EPs, along with an "encore" (we never left the stage) of the MC5's "Black To Comm" (with sax-ist Eric joining us, as he did on "Hey Beat Mon") and, because the crowd was clamoring for more, a very, very rough version of "Ramblin' Rose" (shades or original Gizmos' jams!). We left the stage soaked in sweat and happy with the support we were given. (I forgot to mention that I somehow blackened Max's eye with my guitar during the set. I'm not used to so many people on stage with me. I always said that playing in a band with me was a contact sport!)

                                                                   (Eric and Ian)
Lots of socializing after the set and eventually we are brought to various places to crash and try to sleep off the sweat-and-fun-filled night.