Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Josephine Street Yacht Club

 “Everything that you had to say was in your quiet way”

Life is such, that along the way we lose the ones we love. The cruelest loss of all is when those blessed with creative vision are taken from us. Jim Phillips was such. The guiding force behind popular Duke City alternative rockers, Lousy Robot, Phillips passed away on May 12th, 2015 at his Albuquerque home, which he referred to as, the Josephine St. Yacht Club (named after a song by I Love Math) Jim was born in Golden, Co. raised in Memphis, Tn. and moved to New Mexico after college. Phillips was also an accomplished writer (Weekly Alibi, Local IQ, New Mexico Compass) and an aspiring urban farmer who successfully cultivated backyard crops in the heart of Old Town.

Behind every successful band (regardless of genre) is an exceptional person (or two) of exceptional talent willing them on. For Lousy Robot Jim filled that role. Jim's perpetually muted vocals brought life to the band's calculated beats and poetically cynical lyrics. Laid out in a series of three minute primers on love and life for those living in a permanent state of quiet desperation. Wry anthems that dwelled on finding liberation in being nothing special. 

Rolling Stone magazine described them as, “post-punk power pop” though I like to think of them as “pop-punk nerdcore” No matter... Lousy Robot defied being pigeonholed into any one genre. On 'Burque podcast, Ten Drink Minimum, Phillips described Lousy Robot as “me and Dandee Fleming with revolving keyboard players (primarily Jack Moffitt and Ben Wood) and five thousand drummers. (the actual count is six with Joey Gonzalez being the latest)

Moffitt, the band's longest tenured keyboardist is perhaps best known as a software developer, who co-authored streaming media server Icecast. Jack is or has been involved with various high profile projects that I won't even pretend to understand. (XMPP, Erlang, Mozilla, Ogg Vorbis) He left Lousy Robot prior to the recording sessions for Hail the Conquering Fool, Lousy Robot's last album.

Formed in 2003, Lousy Robot garnered national and international recognition with snippets of their songs appearing on several cable network programs (HGTV's My First Place, Travel Channel's Extreme Restaurants, Man v. Food) and one porn video that according to Jim led to a rush of compact disc orders from around the world.

The band recorded three exemplary albums “The Strange and True Story of Your Life” (2005, Traveling in Place Records) “Smile Like You Are Somewhere Else” (2006, Socyermom Records) and Hail The Conquering Fool (2011, Hit Records) all were recorded in Dallas, Tx. or Knoxville, Tn. With John Dufilho producing. Dufilho having been convinced to work with the band after a series of e-mails from Dandee Fleming (Lousy Robot opened for Dufilho's band Deathray Davies at the Launchpad.)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 22

  “If it's too loud, you're too old!” 

It only took a second or two after strolling through the doors of Hastings Music at Fair Plaza, for the strains of “Breed” to stop me in my tracks. Dumbfounded, I idled up to the counter and asked the clerk, “Who is that?” he might as well have responded in gibberish, “Nirvana, they're from Seattle” History in the making, a momentous moment taking shape and there were no copies to be found. Not in any format: cd, cassette, vinyl.......All Sold Out.

To my good fortune, later that same week, my nephew and his homie (who went by the rather unfortunate nickname of N*gger Ray) needed a ride. I didn't dwell long on his hideous sobriquet or its origins as Ray pulled out a cassette and poppedit into the player. “It's Nirvana” he tells me.... Ray's copy was dubbed from a dub (copies of copies were floating around town within days of its release) I quickly arranged to buy a third generation copy for $5, which I received the next day.

“Nevermind” no album info, no tracking order, just Nirvana scrawled on the label in ink. The course of rock and roll changed in September of 1991, although two years later in 'Burque, you wouldn't have know that. Heavy Metal with all its vocal and guitar histrionics was still in full effect, despite “grunge” bands dominating the national charts. All of which justified releasing, “Home Grown” a one-off cd compilation released in 1993 by the combined forces of Senor Buckets, Maloof Distributing and the much lamented Z-Rock 105 FM.

From its humble beginnings as a single rock station in Dallas, Tx., Z Rock (owned by the ABC Radio Network, now Cumulus Media Networks) grew to anchor the network's 24 hour satellite format, also known as “Satellite Music Network” Programming features such as Blistering Leads, Wounded Radio, Back Rockwards, Bad Ass CD Side and Old Stuff For an Hour, kept the dweebs locked in. Loud and obnoxious personalities were the norm, with on air hosts such as Crankin Craig, Sharkman, Dave Bolt, Loud Debi Dowd, Madd Maxx Hammer and Scorchin' Scotty crammin' it down your throat on a daily basis.

Albuquerque's Z-Rock was based in the studio complex at the corner of Edith and Baker Lane NE in the North Valley. At the time I lived at the north end of Edith NE and every so often I would come across some random hesher wearing a black leather jacket in 90+ heat, trudging up Edith towards the station on a pilgrimage to collect some free shit or to loiter at the gate, as if hoping to catch a glimpse of Loud Debi herself.

Z-Rock of course broadcast via satellite from their flagship studios in Dallas, Tx. See race fans, Z-Rock was America's first coast to coast rock network (i.e. radio version of TBS & WGN) marketing nationally for local broadcast with local ads inserted. Z-Rock's network became the template de rigueur for modern over-air broadcast media. So, while these loudmouthed knuckleheads were rebelling against everything we had..... they were also clearing the path for the sanitized, dull as dishwater radio stations that most of us hate so fucking much.

You may recall Z-Rock's slogans “If it's too loud, you're too old!” “Lock it in, and rip your knob off” “Flip us on and flip them off” Even a character on Funky Winkerbean wore a Z-Rock t-shirt and the staff somehow managed to squeeze in several volumes of “Z-Rock Magazine” (I used to get mine at The Sound Warehouse) But alas, the times and demographics, they were-a-changing. Attempts to tweak the format to the rapidly changing music scene ended in failure. In 1996, after ten years, ABC Radio pulled the plug on a great rock radio experience.

Stations that were part of the network (New Mexico had two affiliates that I'm aware of, Albuquerque and Deming) were given the option to adopt the Z-Rock brand and imaging for free. Some stations did and there are still three U.S. stations flying that freak flag high (Chico, Ca., Lexington, Ky. Salt Lake City, Ut.) Z-Rock's spot was filled by the defunct 107.9 The Edge (not to be confused with 104.1 the Edge, an ABQ station that doesn't stray too far from the Z-Rock model) In Deming, KDEM-FM dropped Z-Rock in '96 switching over to an oldies format.

Vinyl and cassette compilations were handy marketing tools and “Home Grown” was one of those collections that rock stations across the country invariably slap together under the pretext of handing out “free stuff” Headbanging like they were fucking immortals, eight motley crews all banging out old school heavy metal beats, updated just enough to draw a few punks and goths into the mix. New trends in music are a way of life. The flow of ideas and influences makes change as inevitable as that old muddy river that keeps on flowing, across this dusty land, like it don't give a shit.

Damage- Kick it Out
Fallout- Shelter
Petting Zoo- Leviathan
Captain Tripps- Live Forever
Conspiracy- The Odyssey
Sly Dog- Naive Little Bitch
Tryax- Crossed Signals
Screamin' Jesse- Scary Monsters
Raging Fury- Traveler in Pain
Enforcer- Cry For the Stranger
Fallout- Drained
Angels in Exile- Eyes to the Sky
The Touch- Looking Back
Angry Babies- God Doesn't Want Your Money
SeventhSign- Beholder
Deceiver- Cutthroat

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 21

“Rain hissed on the freeway. It ate the old warpaths, ran into the ditches. Soaking. Spreading. Penetrating.” Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction

Mitch Hedberg once said “My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them”
Greetings from the land of the big mañana.... The hissing of summer lawns signals a change in the weather. We've been blessed with a March that came in like a lamb and went out like a.... lamb. April has been borne of the Zephyr. Gentle and serene.

The lack of southwesterly haboobs has given us a much needed respite from the usual sandblasted spring weather pattern. You don't need a weather man to know that even under optimal conditions, New Mexico is dry as a bone. Unlike Californios (or future New Mexicans as they're known in Santa Fe) we figured out (more or less) how to get by on meager rainfall and below average runoffs.

All day I've faced the barren waste without the taste of water... cool, water. The Gaia Theory observes that species thrive which live in harmony with their natural environments, while those that do not are eliminated. Humanity is the dominant species and we're living in disharmony with our environment.

These crackers are making me thirsty. “Hold mighty man, I cry, all this we know. He spreads the burnin' sand with water, he's the devil, not a man” I'm here to tell you now each and ev'ry mother's son, You better learn it fast; you better learn it young, 'Cause, the big monsoon it never comes and It's a hard rain a-never gonna fall

 We Ain't Done Dancin'

Unbeknownst to many, a viable music scene has taken root in Las Cruces and there's talent-a-plenty to be found in “a place hysterically optimistic politicians call, the Borderplex” This movement for the most part revolves around The Doña Ana Music Night Union or DAMN Union, a collective fashioned from the members of Music Night, a weekly happening at The Farm in Las Cruces.

DAMN Union consists of Danny Graves and Aaron Ransbarger, both former members of The Rawdogs, one of the few Las Cruces musical aggregations that aggressively pushed the proverbial envelope beyond the ordinary. The city of the crosses, is for the most part a burg given to the all the comforts of convention. All of which made The Rawdogs stand out like Don Schrader walking down Central Ave. in Albuquerque.

Audra Rodgers, David Tucker, Joe Hecker, Larry Ramos and Neeshia Macanowicz make up the DAMN Union roster on any given night. Singer/Songwriter, Sean Lucy (picture Fast Heart Mart, had he been raised in the desert Southwest instead of Virginia) joins in every now and then. Lucy is a prolific musician with eight albums to his credit (all are available on Bandcamp) Sean Lucy's albums “King Clone Creosote” & “Neon Angel in the Halls of Heartache” combines the musical forces of both Sean Lucy's Family (a collective not unlike the DAMN Union) and those of DAMN Union regulars, Danny Graves, Aaron Ransbarger, Audra Rodgers, Larry Ramos. Duke City drummer Kris Kerby ( I Cum Drums, Tendorizor) took part in the “Neon Angel” sessions.
DAMN Union has two albums out on Bandcamp, Take Me With You (2013) and Blacktoe Sessions (2014) on which they revist two Rawdogs classics, “Say You Mine” (also known as Violent Hand) and “Her Face”, but sadly not their languid yet powerfully ominous signature tune, “Cold Iron”. Aaron Ransbarger, a multi-instrumentalist (as are all the members of DAMN Union) has a singing voice that draws your attention like magnets draw metal flakes. That voice is in full effect on both DAMN Union albums, though the lead vocals interchange between Ransbarger, Danny Graves and Audra Rodgers.

Danny Graves has an album out on Bandcamp as well, “Dan and the Working Band” which he describes as “a mash up of horrible and beautiful emotions.” It's a concept album not unlike Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle album and much like that 1968 classic, Graves reminds us that “To get the most, one has to listen from start to finish”

I've always said the same about this very podcast. For full effect, listen all the way through. Rustic country and heartland rock, dry as dust vocals infused with a rootsy feel more western than country. Throw in some tunes from Cruces stalwarts such as CW Ayon, The Raggies, Dusty Low and the results are far from your standard ranch stash.

Aaron Ransbarger & the Damn Union Violent Hands (Say You Mine)
Janos- Coyotes
Sean Lucy & the Damn Union- Everybody's Got to Live
Dusty Low- Hey Ya'
Soulshine- Sweetest Thing
CW Ayon- After While
Chicken Lunch- Take Me Back to Lordsburg
Danny Graves & the Damn Union- Ella
Aaron Ransbarger & the Damn Union- Turn Away
Janos- Tom Petty
Sean Lucy & the Damn Union- Bordertown
The Raggies- Mujeres de Juarez Blues
Dan Bern & The Bends- Fiesta Time
Rawdogs- Whiskey
Danny Graves & the Damn Union- Blackbird of Cheyenne
Dusty Low- Dusty Low

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

CW Ayon Blues Redux

Much of what I do is retrospective and with seven well received albums under his belt, it's time to revisit New Mexico's native son,  CW Ayon. If the blues are epitomized by an image of the itinerant musician making his way from one juke joint to another in search of an audience then Coop fits the bill. Keep in mind, unlike many New Mexico musicians who moonlight as musicians while holding down day jobs.... CW Ayon to my knowledge is a full time musician.

Not that he's riding in boxcars or hitching rides in the back of pick-up trucks, come on, it's 2015 a man's gotta have a place to plug in his phone, tablet, laptop etc. A bluesman better have Expedia bookmarked and some plastic handy if he wants to stay on the road. CW stays busy and over the past few years he's expanded his range away our lonely corner of the state, across this great land and beyond. Case in point, Coop just returned from a successful turn at the Terri' Thouars Blues Festival.

If you judge a man by how well he's received when he's far away from home, then without a doubt CW Ayon is the real deal. Here in the sticks of New Mexico we already knew that. Now the world wants in on the fun. The French refer to CW as “Le Chant/harmonica/guitare du Nouveau Mexique” which sounds a lot cooler than “guitar picker” Not Coop's first international foray, three years ago he sallied forth to Australia with Old Gray Mule (CR Humphrey) blues picker extraordinaire out of Lockhart, Tx.   Well, Well, Well.

CW has skillfully crafted a prodigious, yet readily accessible catalog of recorded works. My aim is get ya' up to speed in seven paragraphs. Gone (2009) was recorded in Las Cruces at Nasty Cactus Studios as such it bears a heavy “rock” mix to its advantage. As one overreaching reviewer put it “If the Black Keys and The White Stripes were to have a desert-borne bastard son, he would sound precisely like C.W. Ayon” Boy Howdy! probably not the best way to get that across.

Although, I did like the “speaking in the tongues of Tecate” quip.... that's a keeper. “Gone” is still my favorite CW Ayon album. The urgency of Gone's gritty vocals, gnarly guitar and tub thumping bass drum was what first drew me in. I understand why Coop moved away from this sound It's only logical that his natural progression as a musician was bound to lead him down a different path, musically and spiritually. (that trite comparison to The Black Keys and Jack White can wear thin in a hurry)

Is What It Is (2010) and Ain't No Use in Moving (2011) finds Coop flexing his musical chops while fully embracing the Hill Country blues of Mississippi. This style of blues calls for a more subtle approach, a repetitive cadence building to a near drone, designed with one purpose in mind.... to raise the dead and breath fire into the living. “Didn't move her head, Didn't move her hands, Didn't move her lips... just shook her hips” Please, no walking dead on the dance floor and what'd I tell ya' 'bout snappin' photos in my juke joint goddammit!

This brings us to Lohmador (2012) an album that firmly established CW Ayon as a force in the tight knit community of New Mexico-based musicians. Lohmador is an album of subtle nuances and it would be easy to miss the Native American influences that CW effortlessly throws into the mix. It also serves notice that CW Ayon is in no way a novelty “one man band” Far from it, with Lohmador Coop blazed a trail across the genre strewn landscape of America sewing the seeds of innovation.

The Blues & Native American music are not all that dissimilar and CW continues to work Native influences into his music and live performances. Vincent Craig's classic Rita (aka The Candy Bar song) is part of his repertoire. “She said, you got to steal a candy bar” from his Dine homeland to Alaska, Craig's legend as a comedian/singer/songwriter grew word of mouth. Also known for creating the comic strip super hero “Muttonman” Craig sadly passed away in 2010. Long live the Muttonman.

It all points towards CW Ayon's continuous growth and maturity as a musician. Live at the Rio Grande Theatre (2013) shows CW working his way through a set of album tracks and concert favorites in front of a sedate hometown crowd in Las Cruces, N.M. Whether, it's up close at Sparky's in Hatch, N.M. or at the Terri'Thouars Blues Festival, Coop is so steady and consistent during a performance that it's hard to find fault.... if by happenstance you're looking for any
Setting Son (2014) shows continued progression in a genre that measures progression in generations rather than albums. “Setting Son” features Coop's best vocal work yet.... the vocals flow with an urgent energy that in all seriousness brings to mind a modern-day Robert Johnson. Throw in some vibrant slide guitar and it's easy to see that signing with the Chi-Town label, Solitary Records has had a powerful effect on the finished product.

Enough to Be Proud (2015) still has that new car smell and to be honest I'm still digesting the tracks. I will say this, it's powerful and though not a radical departure from Setting Son, it does have a self propellant, kinetic drive that pulls you from one track to another with ease and comfort. CW's vocals lack the concise clarity of Setting Son but that's offset by his superb playing. Blues for the people, by the champion of the people and just like that chicken wing, it ain't nothing but good.

CW Ayon's music is available on CD Baby, Bandcamp, Solitary Records, YouTube and Frogtoons....

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 20

                                     “Pull me down, I'm lifting off the ground into space”

Anne Tkach died in a tragic house fire in Webster Groves, MO. April 9th, 2015. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation. Unless you followed Albuquerque's music scene through the mid to late 1990s you're probably not familiar with Anne and her prolific musical legacy.  I didn't know Anne, though I was fortunate enough to have caught a couple of Hazeldine's live performances before their local concerts grew sparse.

One could be excused for not noticing Anne playing bass on stage during her days with Hazeldine. Tonya Lamm's achingly endearing vocals and Shawn Barton's seductive radiance got all the attention. Even Jeffrey Richards had a je ne sais quoi about him. Not that Anne wasn't beautiful nor lacking in stage presence (a friend of her's Ryan Adams, wrote this on Facebook about her: "I'll never forget watching Anne Tkach play bass for Magic City, duck walking across the stage, putting her foot on the monitor, playing the most badass bass lines in the world, all while wearing a dress”

Anne was a consummate professional musician with a distinctive style of her own. This becomes readily apparent as you listen to the extensive catalog of recordings she participated in. Anne could hold her own regardless of genre (case in point; check out her work with Magic City, available on YouTube)  A native of Webster Groves in the St. Louis area,  Anne followed the trail west to Albuquerque, where she became part of a band that many local music aficionados consider the best to ever come out of these here parts.

Hazeldine in all likelihood was named after Hazeldine Ave. which runs from Broadway to I-25, picks up on the eastside, cuts off again at Roosevelt Park, runs past CNM then dead ends at University Ave.  I don't know the story behind the origins of the band's name (they were originally called Blister) an apartment or a practice space perhaps. I always wondered the same about the John Street Rockets.

 Anyhoot.... Hazeldine rose to prominence once a couple of their tunes were included on a pair of Bloodshot Records compilations. This would lead to four outstanding albums  How Bees Fly (Glitterhouse, 1997) Digging You Up (Polydor, 1998 Double Back (Glitterhouse, 2001) Orphans (E-Squared 2002) a sizable national following and serious critical acclaim everywhere (they're still revered in Holland and Germany)

Eventually, Anne returned to Webster Groves, catching on with St. Louis fan favorites Nadine in 2001 (fronted by highly acclaimed St. Louis, singer/songwriter Adam Reichmann). Nadine broke up in 2003 with Anne hooking up with a number of St. Louis based bands: Ransom, Bad Folk, Magic City, The Skekses, Lost Monkey, Sole Loan and most recently Rough Shop.  A former classmate summed it up; “Her versatility as a player was remarkable; that was clear from a single listen to her onstage or from scanning the diverse nature of acts that wanted her membership”

My intention was to try and post a track from as many of the bands Anne was involved in as possible. That proved problematic, for one, there's nary a track online from Nadine during the time she played with them, (Magic City and Rough Shop are well represented) ultimately I chose to post nothing but Hazeldine with the exception of a Rough Shop track on which Anne sings lead vocals. It's at the end, you can jump to it or listen to the entire playlist.... I recommend the latter.
                                                           Anne Tkach, que en paz descanse.                    
Right to Feel
Summer Wine
Whiskey in the Jar
Drive (live)
Fletcher's Bar (live)
Realize (live)
Digging You Up (live)
Married Man (live)
Dear Mama (Rough Shop w/Anne Tkach on vocals)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 19

And the Hits just keep on comin'....  Just before Flake Music segued into The Shins, 'Burque's music scene was caught in a quandary brought about by the numerous stops, starts and near misses that had raised hopes that one day soon a band would bust out of Albuquerque. Only to see those hopes dashed, time and again.  What to do?

The garage band model was out, replaced by visionary bedroom savants armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of the current indie rock scene, working their magic at home before springing their twisted tweaker tunes on the masses.  New was back, because newer is always better, that's the American way.  A new generation of musicians feeding the pipeline, but with more ambition, confidence and intuitive skill. The Libertines upon the scene, thumbing their noses at the kings of corporate cool. Not that anyone of them would have turned down a deal  from a major label.

“Men haunted by a vision of great achievement, who cannot be bothered with conventional success, because they reach for transcendence” It's delusional, I know. It's a New Mexican condition, the desperate need for validation from the rest of the nation. The need to join the major leagues. UNM athletics (men's basketball in particular) pursues this as an act of sheer folly and quixotic madness, resulting in a sense of gratification equivalent to that of drilling a dry hole in Little Texas.

After Nirvana broke, every Seattle band wearing flannel (which is to say most of them) suddenly found themselves entertaining offers from corporate Satan. Why wasn't that happening in Albuquerque? Who would be the first penguin reckless enough to break the ice?

The music industry insiders working the business end, men with nothing creative to offer, yet deemed important to the process  had dropped the ball. The system let everyone down, which is fine because that system is fucked up beyond all recognition now.  Digital downloads (both legal and illegal) having sheared the bolts that held the machinery together, sinking the conventional music industry faster than your hopes for getting laid at your prima's  Quinceañera.    

Say Don't Spray It:
A snarky homage to the music of our homeland    ~ Panza de Leon ~
Nothing if not persistent    ~ Battle Station Zerox ~
Sturm und Drang   ~ Klaus Kinski Kronikles ~
Just a spud boy searching out the meaning of life   ~ Lick ~
“An infinite scream passing through nature, oozing past like an amplified lowrider.  A transcendent soundscape for our angst filled days, exploding with brooding fury and hot buffalo breath passion.   ~ Dirt City Chronicles ~

Ray of Light- Monster Paws
Through One Eye and Out the Other- Your Name in Lights
Dreams- Unit 7 Drain
Field of Fire- The Oktober People
Have You Ever Been Afraid of the Future- Lousy Robot
Everything Is- Sad Baby Wolf
Eye Bear- Gingerbread Patriots
When I Had it All- Monster Paws
Into the Sun- Mondo Vibrations
Cross My Heart and Hope You Die- Lousy Robot
Brighter, Brightest- Your Name in Lights
Takes You Down- Unit 7 Drain
Suicide Shy- The Oktober People
Big Grrr Things- Gingerbread Patriots
Let the Morning Come- Mondo Vibrations
King of Whiskey Throne- Lousy Robot

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Brief History of Local Music

Starting with the founding of Norman Petty's studio in Clovis and on through the trials and travails of Albuquerque's exiled “big hair & spandex” headbangers on Sunset Blvd. It all makes a little more sense laid out in chronological order.
This is by no means a definitive listing of Albuquerque/Santa Fe/New Mexico bands and musicians. I've touched on the highlights by using a simple criteria (local bands or artists that achieved some regional or national fame while leaving behind at least a modest catalog of recordings)

This timeline ends at 1990, the bellwether year for local music. It was the start of something totally new and exciting and it all began with the break-up of Femme Fatale that same year. Not since The Fireballs staked out a claim on the national music charts had a band from New Mexico raised such a ruckus outside of the state. Their initial success led to a score of New Mexico musicians hitting I-40 in ragged caravans, heading west to El Lay, the hair farmer equivalents of John Steinbeck's Okies of yore.

The demise of Femme Fatale indirectly led to a redirection of efforts by local musicians. If a band that had everything going for it.... sex appeal, major label, MTV, big riffs, big hair. (all skillfully presented with a glossy veneer not usually associated with local acts) Couldn't make a go of it in Los Angeles, then who could? Reality check, lowered expectations... call it what you want, but it did usher in a new movement in local music..

Meanwhile back on the ranch, Joe Bufalino and Associates, a booking agency, still had a firm choke hold on local live music venues. Nobody could play anywhere in the Duke City without signing a one year contract with Bufalino and paying him up to a 15% fee for his “services” Cookie cutter cover bands (known locally as “Buff bands”) were losing their appeal. The emphasis now was on original compositions, stripped down instrumentation, no more glam rock bells & whistles.... come as you are. Local bands started finding alternative venues, sidestepping Bufalino while playing to a more experimental group of listeners than your average inebriated barfly.

You could say that in fact there were numerous variables at play in Albuquerque in 1990. The DYI, Indie, LoFi movement was sweeping across the country. Arena rock was waning in popularity and some Seattle based bands were starting to make some noise. It was rock and roll's last big wave, the one before the world wide web became a matter of fact and a way of life. Between 1990 and 1999 there was an explosion of bands on the local music scene, more than ever before. The size and scope of that timeline is mind boggling, so it'll have to wait for another day.

Just as Internet Explorer is the browser that you use to download a better browser, Albuquerque is the city where musicians hone their skills before moving on to bigger and better things. Eventually the same trail that led local musicians to the Golden State, forked to the northwest as San Francisco, Portland and Seattle became more desirable launchpads (along with Austin, Tx. and to a lesser extent, New York City) Despite this continuous exodus of talented musicians, the music scenes in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe keep right chuggin' along. Enduring, self sustaining and never boring. Coming from the most humble of starting points, Albuquerque now garners a well earned reputation as a “hip music locale” I must say, that both 'Burque and Santa Fe wear it well.... oh yes they do!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 18

Here come old flattop, he come grooving up slowly. This joo-joo eyeball, is firmly focused forward. You got to keep up with the times, rummaging through crates online beats the hell out of pounding the pavement between terrestrial music stores.
My Space was a godsend. Give me what I like and what I like is having a catalog of local music at my fingertips.

Recording software that allows users to capture online streams as they ooze from the speakers, combined with broadband servers, totally turned the world around. Music downloads, once queued up round the clock on Audio Galaxy or KaZaa became a thing of the past. I could argue over the semantics, but I won't. Just don't give me that look.... we all did it.

The main drawback to Napster 1.0, Audio Galaxy and such, besides the shady legality of “Free downloads” was the absence of local musicians and bands (unless you happen to call NYC, Los Angeles, Minneapolis or Seattle home) My Space not only fixed that, it also allowed you to tag and search for music by locale.

If MySpace music was the 800 pound gorilla in the room, then YouTube quickly became the 12,000 pound elephant. Once YouTube to mp3 software was added to the arsenal of sound capturing apps, all hell broke loose. Quasi-legal downloads using quasi-legal software.... who saw that coming? Not the record labels, for sure.

YouTube, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Reverberation, Last FM, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify... it's never been easier. Ala Verga! Icky & The Yuks are on Spotify... think about that. Archive the fuck out of this era, because the internet as we knew it back in 2000 is long gone and the web as we know it now, will soon be gone. To be replaced by some over regulated, homogeneous version of the networks that made television no fuckin' fun what so ever. Here we are now, entertain us.

You don't truly realize the musical depth and scope of Albuquerque until you go on YouTube and start searching. There's lots of it and it's almost all THERE. 60S garage punk from Lance Records, THERE. Every band that Randy Castillo ever joined, THERE. A truly obscure, cassette only album from 'Burque metal band Triax/Tryax (sadly, minus Troy Romero) THERE. The Crawling Walls full “Inner Limits” album from 1985.... also THERE. Linclon St. Exit's 1968 lp “Drive it”, released on Mainstream Records (Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes' label) THERE. Every band ever started by Scott Allen Parson, THERE. And you may ask yourself, where is this beautiful music? Not HERE, not today.                                          

Action Figure- The Dirty Hearts
Gettin' a Raise- Scenester
Libertines in my Scene- The Dirty Novels
Call to Rise- Stoic Frame
Idiot's Guide 2 Saying Goodbye- The Hollis Wake
Audience Reaction- The Dirty Novels
Anne Taylor Must Die- Hit By A Bus
Let's Start Over- Oh! Ranger
briansong- The Bellmont
Spinning the Roulette God- Stoic Frame
Cali Girl- Left Unsaid
Chewbacca- Oh! Ranger
Gasoline Barbie- Scenester
Situations- The Gracchi
The Suicide Kings- Left Unsaid
Pale World- Stoic Frame
Yum- Scenester
Contradiction- The Hollis Wake
Voice of Reason- The Eyeliners
Less Clouded- Hit By A Bus



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 17

Albuquerque, N.M. “Mile High and Loud as Hell” Dirt City Chronicles is a gritty, low budget repository of local music, produced by the plethora of New Mexico based musicians and beyond. So, sit back, pick the grit out your teeth and tap along to an eclectic cacophony of original music, thirty plus years in the making.

I was aware of a growing buzz around a local band, Angry Babies. Nonetheless, finding a review of the band's 1992 album “Mr. Toyhead” in Creem magazine (briefly reincarnated as a glossy after its initial demise in 1988) was an unexpected surprise. The gist of the short review being: Strange things happen out in the desert and there's a an “odd” music scene taking shape in Albuquerque. Someone at Creem had their ear to the ground, listening for hoofbeats.
I'm tying up some loose ends after a three episode flashback to the 1990s. Man I loved the 90s, best five years of my life followed by the worst five years of my life.... Hoo-ah!
Truth be told, while I'm well versed 90s music, I have no clue as to the drug culture of that era. See, I was clean and sober for nearly the entire decade. No shit, from July of 1989 until Nov. of 1998, I walked a straight edge.
My steadfast perseverance was finally broken by an unexpected find. While rummaging through the cabin of an airliner parked on the Sunport tarmac (I worked for a Lufthansa subsidiary, Sky Chef) I came upon a small baggie stuffed full of purple bud, apparently abandoned by a panicked passenger.
It didn't take long for me to drain a can of Canada Dry Pale Ginger Ale and fashion it into a rudimentary Steve-O (UNM 96-97) certified smoking apparatus. Damn near ten years of clean time, up in smoke. That's how I kicked the 90s to the curve.

“If I was Young, I'd flee this town” Hold on as I double clutch this beast and slip it into cruisin' gear. Let's set the controls for El Quinto Sol..... the heart of that forsaken outpost on the very edge of Mesoamerica known as New Mexico. Mayan Prophecy be damned, we still bask under the fading light of Nahui-Olin. Give me some heat, man, give me some heat over here.... Namaste Ya'll. ~ Dirt City Chronicles ~

Don't Burn Babies- Foma
Gone- Lousy Robot
Bogus Journey- Feels Like Sunday
Kurt's Theme- Foma
Hide Your Tracks- The Bellmont
Beat on my Bones- YaYa Boom
Circumspect- The Giranimals
Blue Collar Butterfly- The Oktober People
Across the Deep- Unit 7 Drain
The Jupiter Influence- The Oktober People
Elephant Gun- Beirut
Blood Blister- YaYa Boom
Hija- Animals in the Dark
eMef- Of God and Science
For Shelly- The Giranimals
O to the City- Animals in the Dark
Audrey on the Island- Unit 7 Drain

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 16

Veteran KOB anchorman, Tom Joles got into a verbal/physical altercation shortly before a broadcast. According to an eyewitness, “Joles interrupted while a young reporter was being counseled by News Director Michelle Donaldson. Reporter Stuart Dyson intervened, Joles traded F-bombs and punches with Dyson and photographer Joseph Lynch”
After order was restored, Joles packed up his belongings and left the station. Donaldson gathered the news staff and told them how her heart breaks for Joles and that he’s having a tough time adjusting to the modern era of TV news. KOB then issued a statement explaining Joles absence from the newscast as a “cool down period”
This is just damn fantastic. Look out – Howard Beale, Tom Joles is gonna getcha'. The online comments (not surprisingly) leaned towards Stuart Dyson more than deserving a punch in the face. Not a fair assumption by any means. Tom Joles (for reasons we'll never really know) had a cleansing moment of clarity and a wicked roundhouse right.... since Stuart did not take a knee, I will score that round 10-9 Joles.
Dyson as many of you may not know, was once a member of the Gutterleaves, an early 1990s cow punk outfit. This was long before he honed his skills as an investigative reporter at K-Circle-B in Albuquerque. Stuart is a much better reporter than musician as his KOB bio states “He plays guitar and sings with a wandering herd of local musicians who are much better than he is, although he makes up for his ineptitude by writing murder ballads and songs about cowgirls and moonshiners”
There's a handful of tracks on this episode from the Ubik compilation album “Carport Thunder Vol. 1” (to my knowledge there was never a Vol. 2) This rare cassette only release showcased what at the time (1991) had to be considered as the Murderer's Row of Albuquerque local bands (A Murder of Crows, Ant Farmers, Gutterleaves & Saddle Sores)

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 16 is a high fueled melodic roar, audio octane for speed heads and gear jammers who keep hearing police sirens above the music. Perfect for hanging out in parking lots, smoking schwag, sippin' Schnapps and cranking Ant Farmers out the speakers in the old Ford ...... till some fuckin' old-timers put the kibosh on the party by calling APD. Hands up, don't shoot! ~ Dirt City Chronicles ~

You're on my Mind- The Withdrawals
Dr. Smithus- Ant Farmers
Everything's Fine- Strawberry Zots
Liberty- Cracks in the Sidewalk
Slackin' Off- Beat Fetish
Baby Needs- Angry Babies
Need- The Affections
Mary- Steve
Gravity- Saddlesores
The Ford- Ant Farmers
At My Home- Gutterleaves
99 Demons- A Murder of Crows
The 155 (True Faith)- The Rails
Blast Valve- Flake Music
Paper Doll- Steve
Mama Had a Peterbilt- Saddlesores
Elvis Bird- Ant Farmers
Melancholy- Saddlesores