Friday, July 8, 2016

The Muscle of Love

There’s nothing as unstoppable as a freight train full of fuck-yeah.” 
Much like Alice Cooper, Molly Hatchett, Bettie Serveert etc. Jenny Clinkscale wasn't an actual person. The band, described by its label as “equal parts glam, cock and shock rock” took its name from singer/guitarist Jen Sincero's first name and singer/guitarist Amy Clinkscale's last name. Formed in 1997, Jenny Clinkscale started blowing minds almost immediately... leading the Albuquerque Journal to praise them in this manner... "the group has a power that few bands are willing to wield these days." Jenny Clinkscale came together during a period in 'Burque's musical history that Journal music writer Kenn Rodgriguez once described as “atrophied” and mired in “musical doldrums”

Naturally, it was anything but. “Lack of middling bands makes it seem as if nothing new is coming up on the local scene” Kenn lamented, while naming off a list of “big bands” working the local scene: Giant Steps, January's little Joke, Flake, Scared of Chaka, Naomi and Hazeldine, Jenny Clinkscale, The Honeys, The Gluey Brothers (who were hanging around Santa Fe at the time) That's not a shabby roster and he left out more than a handful of excellent bands: The Withdrawals for instance. It all comes down to perception, it's hard to take in the big picture when you're gazing at your shoes, “You raise up your head and you ask, "Is this where it is?"

What the Jenny Clinkscale band brought to the local scene was entertainment value.... you put down your hard earned moolah and in return you witnessed a rock and roll testimonial unlike any seen before or since. Jen Sincero, the self anointed “rock goddess” had cut her teeth in NYC with Crotch (Sara Rotman and Mike Mellett) Crotch dropped one epic tongue in cheek video for their single, “Power Tool of Love” in 1994, then dropped from sight. The video includes a cameo by Adam Ant, Jen's mother and a hair bikini. Dear old mom gets catcalled by construction workers and Jen has no recourse but to take matters in hand. “and then something happened, I felt the biggest burning hunk of man muscle I ever felt in my life” 

  “You're here. I'm here. I love you. I'm gonna pee all over the floor about it.”

Naturally..... Jenny Clinkscale revolved around Jen Sincero and Amy Clinkscale, accompanied by a revolving cast of local musicians (at least 15 different musicians according to Jen & Amy) this included: Leonard Apodaca, Dead Leonard, owner of The Atomic Cantina and co-founder of Socyermom Records. Elijah Mink, a drummer from Seattle who responded to Jen's best selling book: “Don't Sleep With Your Drummer” by stating, “I don't know what I did to her” By the time Jenny Clinkscale hit the studio to record their one and only album “Mind if We Join You?” the line-up consisted of Marcos Garza and Freddie Weinstein.

Additional musicians included: Justine Flinn, David Cragin and Ronnie Wheeler. Produced by Stacy Parish, Art Direction by Jen and Leonard Apodaca. A local classic, “Mind if We Join You?” is a skillful mix of mid-90s alternative rock influenced heavily by Liz Phair and P.J. Harvey (obviously, seeing how Jen's other band from this period, 60 Foot Queenie derived its name from Polly Jean's song “50 Ft. Queenie” 60 Foot Queenie, formed in Los Angeles is not to be confused with 50 Foot Queenie, a P.J. Harvey tribute band) 60 Foot Queenie wasn't much of a departure from Jenny Clinkscale. Not long after that, Jen ditched the rock & roll lifestyle, declaring herself a failed rock star goddess.

“When my plans to become a world-famous rock star didn't pan out, I decided to try being a lesbian instead, didn't pull that off either” Jen set about becoming a writer (of books and such) She's since authored several tomes starting with “My Life as a Rock Goddess” 2001, “Don't Sleep with Your Drummer” 2002, The Straight Girl's Guide to Sleeping with Chicks” 2005 and “You Are a Badass: How to Start Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” 2013. As a success coach, sex advice columnist and New York Times bestselling author, Jen has found the success and acclaim that eluded her as a rock musician. (The Huffington Post describes her as a “motivational cattle prod” who's goal in life is to encourage people to live “lives of unbridled awesomeness”)

  “Rub Till It Bleeds”

Sincero also hosted of her own nationally syndicated sex advice column, Living in Sin. “the sexpert with the carnal knowledge you need. Ask her your question. Cuz there's no such thing as being too good in bed” A NSFW endeavor with entries such as one titled: “Taking it to the Rim” it went like this, Dear Jen, I have recently discovered that I love rim jobs, both giving and receiving them. Yet, no matter what I try, I can't seem to get anyone to try it. How can I convince them? Jen's response? “Leave it to the human being to evolve into a species that's terrified of its own butthole. But don't despair, As you said, you only recently discovered how much you love having your butt licked. Lord only knows what other undiscovered delights are out there”

Jen's advice was always insightful and compassionate. Cuz, people got problems: “Dear Jen, I love to watch porn and have fantasized about group sex with my wife and this is causing a problem in my marriage” Dear Jen, I’ve been in love with my neighbor. We recently hooked up a couple of times - he kissed me for the second time and I blew him twice. Dear Jen, I'm a 20 year-old, bisexual-leaning lesbian who has not done anything sexual with either gender. I get turned on easily and love to masturbate all the time. One titled “Holes and Poles” is worth sharing: Dear Jen, I have a question that's been driving me NUTS. I can't decide between boys and girls. It's killing me. Have you ever felt this way?

She also appears on The Blog at The Huffington Post “Without your questions, she is like a flip with no flop, tuna with no mayo, a columnist with no column” Some of the highly entertaining entries included: Don't Let the Holidays make you their Bitch, The Tao of Houseguesting, Watch Your Mouth Dude, Live Like Your Life Depends on It, How to Stop Dating the Wrong People, Threesome's a Crowd and Merrily Skipping into the Unknown. In 2011, Jen packed all her belongings in storage and traveled around the world as a member of the NPA (No Permanent Abode) promoting the Zen of Jen “We humans can get used to anything. The problem is that we often use this glorious ability of ours to stay stuck in mediocrity. Oh the years we waste adapting to lousy marriages, soul sucking jobs, being friends with people who are rude to waitresses...” 

Your Brain is Your Bitch
Dear Jen: I'm sleeping and right in the middle of a good dream, like all at once... I wake up from something that keeps knocking at my brain. Before I go insane, I hold my pillow to my head and spring up in my bed screaming out the words I dread.... I think I love you (I think I love you) You are fucking awesome. What is wrong with me?_ Cosmic Cold Cut
Dear Jen: I wanna be a bad ass too, I want to move out of Loserville and into a penthouse in Awesome City.... am I capable of overcoming my weeny dog tendencies and becoming a pitbull? I want to take a bite out of life._ Last Guy in Guyville

You can keep up with Jen Sincero at Online, Jen has more memes than Bad Luck Brian and more quotes than Winston Churchill, here's some of my favorites:

“You are loved. Massively. Ferociously. Unconditionally. The Universe is totally freaking out about how awesome you are. It’s got you wrapped in a warm gorilla hug of adoration. It wants to give you everything you desire. It wants you to be happy. It wants you to see what it sees in you.”

“You are responsible for what you say and do. You are not responsible for whether or not people freak out about it.”

“It sucks being in love with someone and never being allowed to show it.”

“If you work with great people, it will be a great experience. Even if you're shoveling shit.”

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

“Faith is the muscle you use when you decide to blast outside of your comfort zone and transform your life into something that’s practically unrecognizable to you in your present reality.

If You want to Kick Ass, You must first pick up your foot

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 40

Vision Quest
 The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world”

Hello Visionary! We now have the technology at our fingertips allowing us to better gauge the popularity of local artists. Two readily available yardsticks by which to measure the adoration of our hometown idols are Facebook and You Tube. Using this criteria, it's no contest.... Brokencyde (yes, those butt pirates are still out there) reps the Duke City better than anyone else. It's not even close, their FB page clocks in with over half a million likes. These standard bearers of bad taste also reign supreme on You Tube. Their video for “Freaxx” has over 10 million views, “Booty Call” w/E-40 claims over 4 million views. “Get Crunk” over 12 million views. “40oz.” over 3 million views.... etc.

How do you like them apples? Love 'em or hate 'em (I lean towards the latter, though I do begrudgingly tip my hat to them) Brokencyde have achieved a level of success matched by just one other band with Albuquerque roots... The Shins. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. This however isn't about the sultans of screamo. I'm just using them as a barometer by which other local bands can be measured by. With this in mind and with The Shins no longer associated with the land of enchantment, who comes in second? That would be Lindy Vision (formerly known as Black Natives) who are closing in on 4,000 FB likes, though on You Tube they lag far behind (just one video “Pink + Black” has pulled in over 1,000 views) That's a crying shame. 

You almost wouldn't expect Lindy Vision to hail from Albuquerque. Visually they present a stunning and exotic image not normally associated with 'Burque or New Mexico for that matter. The three Cuylear sisters, Dorothy (Dee-Dee) vocalist, songwriter, keyboards. Natasha (Na)- guitar,vocals and Carla - drums are strikingly beautiful in a head turning, jaw dropping sort-a-way. Equal parts K-pop divas and new wave rave queens. Raised in Southern New Mexico now making their homes in Albuquerque. Their mixed heritage (Native/African American) sets them apart.... but it's the music that seals the deal. Disco beats for millennial shoegazers. A soundtrack for the debauched rave set. Stripped down intelligent synth pop loaded with sex appeal and danceable rhythms.

I've got the white noise it drives me insane” Lindy Vision's name derives from a passage in Malcolm X's autobiography where he (along with co-author Alex Haley) describes the “Lindy Hop” dance culture (a predecessor of the modern dance club scene) “The spotlight would be turning pink, yellow, green and blue, picking up couples lindy-hopping as if they had gone mad” In this sense, using modern vernacular, Lindy can be defined as "turnt up " Positive/Negative... as the party rages on, we feed off the contradictory nature of a world divided into either fun or serious things... pink + black. Innocence pitted against the relentless need for a stimuli, be it sex, drugs, music. All the while, facing a dilemma: that eventually those turnt up must turnt down “You want the white horse to come save you now”

The Cuylear sisters are far from random, they have a vision. They've built a template for success and are now in the process of tearing shit up. Their presentation is slick, professional and visually stunning. Their fans, referred to as Visionary or Visionaries, (in the same manner in which Lady Gaga refers to her fans as Little Monsters) “You are a Visionary if you believe in us and what we are doing OR if you are doing what you believe in regardless if it is the norm or not” The key to simplicity is divine. Dorothy gets this “People think that we're going to sound like something, and we surprise them and sound like something completely different so I think that's kind of the beauty of being ethnic and being in this profession and being from New Mexico”

To be realistic today is to be visionary. To be realistic is to be starry-eyed” Lindy Vision's discography is short and sweet. All their music is self-released. “Pink + Black” a five song ep was released in 2014 followed by their debut album “Luck + Life” in 2015. On “Luck + Life” Lindy Vision jettisons the baggage that accompanies associations with genre tags and categories. Dee Dee skillfully navigates “the perils of contentedness and the possibilities within despair” as she guides us through a pulsating emotional landscape singing in a voice that betrays a weary young soul with time worn problems. “Daybreak, don't want to know about the mistakes, don't want to know where your hands have been” If you're a fan of local music, you can't do without it. Currently, the band has finished work on their second album, “Lindy + Vision” which will be available on July 22nd. 2016.

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 40, the second in a three part series spotlighting the women involved in Albuquerque's local music scene. Boy Howdy!

Meet in Air ~ The Glass Menageries
Resident ~ Bigawatt
Stop Moving ~ Lindy Vision
Wild Night ~ Lady Uranium
Disco ~ The Foxx
Orale ~ 5 Star Motelles
Get Away Smooth ~ The Jenny Clinkscale Band
Headache ~ The Eyeliners
Fort Surrounded ~ The Rondelles
Bastard Son of Medora ~ Hazeldine
Lake Havasu ~ The Grave of Nobody's Darling
Oh No ~ Jenny Wren Sounds
Holy Ghosts and Holy Smokes ~ Animals in the Dark
Secret Spy ~ The Eyeliners
Getting High Off the Lows ~ The Jenny Clinkscale Band

Friday, July 1, 2016

I'm Queen

I find it hard to articulate... I find it hard to pronounce these words”

She was 12 or 13 when it started, a victim of bullying at a middle school in Denver. One particular boy liked to tell her she was fat — "piggy," to be exact. Without thinking, she grabbed the nearest lunch tray, swung it and connected it to the boy's face. "He was knocked down to the floor, I kicked him in the stomach. I kicked him. I kicked him and screamed at him. The teachers came up to me and pulled me off. "From that day forward people would say, 'You don't want me to pull "the Teri" on you.” An alter-ego was born.

Take Liz Phair's cocksure sexual self awareness, give it a garage punk beat, filter it through the experiences of a young Chicana growing up in Denver, before being abruptly uprooted to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mx...... mold it into unruly three minute discourses on alienation, displacement and the never ending war against misogyny (in this case the machismo culture that infects Mexican society) and you have Teresa Suarez, aka Teri Gender Bender, the clever, sensual and mesmerizing musician behind Le Butcherettes. She's a unique musical bi-product of clashing cultures, who rages against the machine with rancor and honesty. Teresa sings in her native language... English, though she's equally proficient in Spanish. Her unmistakably American vocals, give away her extensive musical influences.

The Tapatio whirlwind wields a guitar like a cleaver.... all down strokes and slashing riffs (Teri asked her father to buy her a guitar at 10 years old after she had dreams about playing the guitar) On stage she demands your attention. Seeking to satisfy her need to feed your soul, punishing her instruments.... smashing her keyboard, then tossing it aside like an inattentive boyfriend. The uninitiated are taken aback. The divide between her and the audience melts away, Teri stage dives backwards into their midst, arms outstretched. She begs for punishment and finds only admiration, love and an occasional call to “show us your titties” Teri builds to a raging orgasmic climax. The fans eat it up. It's a mental health balancing act not seen since sullied Mexican pop diva Gloria Trevi was titillating the masses. 

"There's so many demons I have inside — they're little gods," she said as she mimed the act of holding a baby when asked about her songwriting approach. "There's a god of evil, the god of good, the god of sex, the god of lust. With music, I tap into those god demons. It's therapy" Los Angeles Times, Todd Martens

Born in Denver to an Hispano American father and Mexican mother, Teri's life changed dramatically when her father died of a heart attack and her mother decided to move back to Mexico. “They considered me different, like a weirdo, because my Spanish was not Tapatío; I had an accent. They called me gringa (slang for American) I felt alienated.” You can only smash so many boys in the face with a lunch tray, Tori quickly learned to channel her seething rage into other outlets such as music. Formed in 2007, Le Butcherettes gained notoriety using visual elements such as meat, pig heads, and blood. “It was a metaphor of the people’s perception of women as pieces of meat, when in reality, they’re the pigs” Teresa's intense demeanor isn't for the faint of heart and eventually it led to tension with her drummers starting with Auryn Jolene, who formed one half of the original Guadalajara duo.

Distressingly, their differing views on radical feminism led to Auryn treating Teresa in an abusive manner. At one point Auryn went so far as to declare to the Mexican media that the band was over.... all of which came as a surprise to Teri, who had no intention of putting Le Butcherettes on hiatus. Teresa may have languished in Guadalajara had it not been for a chance encounter with Omar Rodriguez-López (originally from El Paso, Tx., of At the Drive-In and Mars Volta fame) Omar just happened to be present at a dive club in Guadalajara where Le Butcherettes were one of five acts playing. Just before the proceedings were to get underway, there was a power outage. The bands scheduled to preform opted not to play with one exception.

With bullhorn in hand, Teri Gender Bender literally dragged her drummer onstage. Le Butcherettes played a complete acoustic set. This caught Omar's attention, who was drawn in by the Teresa's "dedication to the spirit of the moment." Rodríguez-López, wasted little time signing Le Butcherettes to his own label. This first break brought about a series of changes. Lia Braswell, blonde and lanky, a drummer from Southern California (she also plays with Gothic Tropic) replaced Auryn Jolene. Lia fit in well, but eventually it was a bit much (Lia admits having been "frightened," when Teri would suddenly start urinating on stage. Onstage their chemistry was captivating, a bit like The White Stripes if Meg White had fronted the band and played guitar with Jack White behind the drum set. 

Next up was Normandi Heuxdaflo. A rather odd fellow, Normandi performs in what resembles a luchador mask made from a leatherhead era football helmet. (Teri claims the mask represents men oppressed by feminism) Heuxdalfo was brought in on a temporary basis after Auryn's departure, but he quickly made himself at home. Teresa explained in an interview how he came to see himself as not just a permanent member of the band (which he wasn't) but also as its front man. While their relationship was contentious, on stage they clicked like clockwork. Normandi's beefy beat propelling the band at break neck speed. After the sessions for the “Sin Sin Sin” album, the palpable strain took its toll and Normandi was sent packing. The split, same as with Auryn Jolene was not amicable to say the least.

Following the band's discovery by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and their signing to Nadie Sound. Le Butcherettes relocated... first to San Diego and then to Los Angeles, Teri's current home base (her mother left Guadalajara and now lives in El Paso, Tx.) Teri then teamed up with bass player Jonathan Hischke and drummer Gabe Serbian for a series of concert dates, though she's currently backed by drummer Chris Common and bassist-guitarist, Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez, Omar's younger brother. He is best known as the keyboardist and percussionist of The Mars Volta and the drummer for Zechs Marquise. Bosnian Rainbows, a collaboration between Omar and Teri resulted in a well received album release in 2013 and a subsequent tour.

And while the band's fame is of the cult variety, Le Butcherettes has a host of influential fans, including Garbage's Shirley Manson and Henry Rollins of Black Flag notoriety. Rollins, a master of rock intensity himself, praises, Suarez's "powerful intellect" and compares her stage presence to that of Iggy Pop. "She's something," he said. "She's a star. It's like a great character in a movie. You want to know what happens when the movie is over. You want to know the rest of the story with her." Los Angeles Times, Todd Martens

Le Butcherettes' discography is a mixed bag of rage fueled, garage punk inspired rock and self indulgent oddities, combined with Teri's brand of modern feminism... all presented with a decidedly American slant. One thing is for sure, Teresa Suarez has shown a growing maturity and sophistication both emotionally and in her music. This could be the result of Teri finally finding her rightful place in this world. From my own experiences, living between two cultures and two languages has its rewards and pitfalls or as many folks caught in that predicament will attest to: You're neither here nor there. Too gringo for the Mexicans and too Mexican for the gringos. Seeing how Teri is hard wired, nothing comes easy, not for her nor her fans. But, don't be afraid homies, dive right in, she won't hurt you.

“Kiss & Kill” ep. recorded in 2008, released for download on Bandcamp in 2015 is the only recording available from the Guadalajara period when Le Butcherettes was a duo consisting of Teri Gender Bender and Auryn Jolen. “Sin Sin Sin” was the band's first fully realized album, recorded after Teri joined forces with Rodriguez-Lopez Productions. It's also the only recording featuring Normandi Heuxdalfo. “Cry is for the Flies” released in 2014 is another Rodriguez-Lopez Production, features Lia Braswell on drums, Henry Rollins spoken word on “Moment of Guilt” and Shirley Manson (Garbage) vocals on “Shame, You're All I've Got” “Chaos as Usual” is a split ep w/The Melvins released on the Amphetamine Reptile label in 2015 and last but not least “A Raw Youth” produced by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and featuring Chris Commons, Jamie Aaron Aux, Iggy Pop, John Frusciante, Deantoni Parks(Mars Volta) and Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez, is Le Butcherettes latest release.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 39

An Exaltation of Larks” 
If you follow Albuquerque's music scene, you can't help but notice the omnipresent Mauro Woody. A singular songwriter and vocalist who draws listeners into an inviting aural comfort zone. Hugely talented yet accessible, confident, vulnerable and fragile all the same. In her own modest fashion, Mauro has firmly established herself as a unique and powerful voice on the local scene. Mauro's bewitching delivery, accented with a variety of vocal nuances lends itself well to the swirling textures and precise structures of dream pop. That's not to say that she's not at home outside that genre. “Blue Flowers” for instance, rooted in Appalachian folk tradition is delivered as a comforting lilt, a tonic for anguished souls that descends into a dialogue of ghostly whispers at the end.

A stark contrast to the vocal style Mauro used with her first band, Animals in the Dark. Back then she sang with the stridency of old school punk chanteuses such as Penelope Houston or Poly Styrene mixed with vocal elements reminiscent of Cindy Wilson & Kate Pierson from the B52s. Since then her singing style has evolved. Presently, Mauro favors more refined vocals adorned with scintillating instrumental fills, alternatively switching to something that resembles the deliberately witchy voice affected by Kate Bush on “Wuthering Heights” While Mauro is also fully capable of veering off into Liz Fraser phonetic gymnastics, she rarely takes that plunge.... “Dustlands II” (the bonus live track from the five song ep, “Vulpes Vulpes”) being a pleasurable exception.

As previously mentioned, Mauro started out with Animals in the Dark, self described as “a psychedelic garage rock band with wide influences” which included her brother Brahm Woody on bass, Tianna Yazzi on guitar and drummer John Butler. Animals in the Dark toured extensively, releasing a demo “Winter Demos” an e.p. “Animals in the Dark” an album “Frozen in the Headlights” before breaking up. Mauro segued into dream pop indie rock outfit, The Glass Menageries joined by Gena Lawson, Brahm Woody and Chris Newman. The Glass Menageries have released one album to date “Edge of a Knife” Co-produced by Harry Redus-Brown (Unit 7 Drain) mastered by Carlos Jose Rafael Garcia (Carlos the Tall, YaYa Boom,Youngsville) The band is currently in the midst of an extended hiatus.

Harry Redus-Brown also makes a guest appearance, playing guitar on the seven minute opus “Foxy” a shimmering triumph, that sticks to you like a deep haunting dream. Mauro met Gena at Titwrench while performing with Milch de la Maquina, an experimental female group, one of the side projects she's involved in, which includes Lady Uranium (Mauro's solo outfit) The 5 Star Motelles “an all girl garage doo wop band” Chicharra (three female bass players and a male drummer) A new release from Chicharra is in the works. Lady Uranium, while not as radically experimental as Milch de la Maquina, does diverge from Mauro's previous works. It's a vehicle for experimentation, allowing Mauro to deconstruct the constricting concept of musical genres.

Mauro Woody is also involved in Melanthius, which she describes as “an all wizard band” with her brothers Brahm and Dhaveed w/ Eric Wellman. Psychedelic prog music that brings memories of the mid-1970s rushing back for old guys such as myself. Last but not least, Mauro also teams up with Gena Lawson as Merma & Roberta, a harmonizing duo of Jersey housewives with a taste for Alpaca butter and Designing Women. Fraser McAlpine (writing for BBC America's music blog “Anglophenia”) describes the daunting task faced by writers attempting to interpret Liz Fraser's unique vocal style “Elizabeth's voice is the kind of thing that forces music writers to reach for the thesaurus, eager to find a new word to describe things that spin and wheel around in the air like a flock of starlings” or in the case of Mauro Woody, “an exaltation of larks” Pass me some of that Alpaca butter, I'm done here.

  A to Z, women in Albuquerque are doing it. That hasn't always been the case, throughout the 1960s, 70s, 80s and into the mid-1990s women (with a few rare exceptions) were absent from the local scene. We've since witnessed an amazing turn about, women are now firmly planted at the forefront of Albuquerque's local music scene. This has brought about a shift towards more experimentation and genre bending than ever before. Events such as the Denver based Titwrench Festival, the local Gatas y Vatas festival (which expanded to Oakland, Ca. In 2015) ABQ Zine Fest and venues such as The Tannex, are all spearheaded by women bent on building not just a cohesive musical scene but an inclusive and varied artistic community. This installment of Dirt City Chronicles (the podcast) is the first of a triumvirate showcasing women's contributions to 'Burque's local music scene. Three hours that are but a sampler of the astonishing and varied music produced by our better half. Beam me up, there is intelligent life here after all.

White Horse ~ Lindy Vision
Home ~ Red Light Cameras
Blue Flowers ~ Lady Uranium
Blue Winner ~ Star Canyon
Idiot ~ Lindsay Jayne
Nose Ring ~ Weedrat
Foxy ~ The Glass Menageries
Pink and Black ~ Lindy Vision
Past Perfect ~ Bigawatt
Down by the Water ~ Chicharra
Beat on my Bones- YaYa Boom
Bogus Journey ~ Feels Like Sunday
For Shelly ~ Giranimals
Get Your Gun ~ Animals in the Dark
The Ones ~ I is for Ida

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 38

Sugar Loaded”

Broadcasting from cheap and sunny, Albuquerque N.M.... Dirt City Chronicles. Your active rock music podcast, streaming over the interwebs, across the USA and around the world. “Nothing could be finer than a 49er” and I'm not talking about football. I make it a point not to repeat songs, but on this episode I'm throwing that self imposed rule out the window. Untethered by convention or morality, the heart of rock & roll is still beating. The product of the working class, chafing at the chains of conformity cast upon us by a polarized society that is goosestepping it's way to a bad end. I present to those who have no fucks left to give, a soundtrack for your many moods. Repeat play as often as necessary.

“Ouch! Welcome to Albuquerque” came out in 1999. That iconic double disc set from Socyermom Records introduced a grip of music lovers to Albuquerque's music scene and it introduced me to Electricoolade and Frankie Medina. Española N.M. The self declared lowrider capital of the Southwest has a rock & roll musical legacy that most New Mexicans are unaware of. Going back to the mid-1960s, The Moving Morfomen (also known as The Morfomen) guided by the totally self confident musical genius of Dave Rarick (an underrated New Mexican rock & roll icon if ever there was one) resoundingly stamped their brand on the regional music scene.

The Morfomen weren't alone, The Defiants scored a minor regional hit with “End of the Highway” and The Era of Sound earned their indelible slot on 60s garage rock compilations with “The Girl in the Mini Skirt” (Cottonmouth i.e. The Wumblies, called Española home before they set off to find neither fortune nor fame) Everybody's doing something...Soda riding like Pops was doing” Channeling the past and predicating the future.... displaying more swagger than Swaggy P... Frankie Medina burst out on the local scene with Electricoolade, an alt-rock outfit from Española that Flipside, a “legendary” punk rock magazine once compared to The Replacements & Elvis Costello's Attractions.

Flipside described Medina as having “a Westerberg-ish howl and Prince like vocals” they sorta nailed it on the Prince influence. Beyond that, the magazine's review of Electricoolade's debut album “Super Hero” is loaded with generalized comparisons. The anonymous author, having perused Cd Baby's “Sounds Like” tags for inspiration (seemingly without doing any actual research on the band) gave the album a cursory listen and not having achieved the level of smugness usually associated with Flipside, tossed in a jab at the city different. “Definitely an impressive effort from four kids from Santa Fe, a quiet town better known for its art than its music” BLAM! Santa, you got a taste of the bitch puddin.

Over at CD Universe, Electricoolade's second album “Taste Me” didn't fare any better. A house scribe wrote off Frankie's vocals as “Jovi-esque. He did however give Medina and band credit for “creating well-written music that bridges the gap between hair metal and mainstream/alternative. It appears that the band did have some redeeming pedestrian qualities. Check yo' self. By focusing on clichéd tags and comparisons, both these chumps totally missed the mark. Electricoolade was a work in progress. A hyperactive buzzsaw of guitars and influences.... fronted by one of the coolest rock vocalists to saunter down the road since Iggy Pop his self. 

Walking Down Congress (Sucking on a Red Bull)

  You can take the man out of España, but you can't take España out of the man. Too cool for school and Santa Fe, Frankie Medina and Calida Salazar (whom he met at a Santa Fe recording studio) set off for Austin, Tx. circa 2005. It's been their home ever since. With Frankie on guitar and Calida on keys, The Dirty Hearts honed the Española sound down to a razor sharpness.... chock full-o-attitude and swagger. Following the release of their debut ep “Five Canciones Five Pesos” and their self titled full length debut “The Dirty Hearts” Frankie and Calida became Austin's darlings. They netted scant attention from major labels, though the alternative press doted over them. 
Pigs” their second album on Socyrmom Records was designed with success in mind, it nonetheless failed to bust 'em out of the Austin scene. They've since gravitated back to New Mexico (though not on a permanent basis) With The Dirty Hearts currently on hiatus, Frankie and Calida are now involved in a similar project, The Angel Babies, named after Rosie Hamlin's hit tune from 1960. They have a self titled album out, available on Band Camp. Save for Frankie dabbling in his Spanish music roots, The Angel Babies are more an extension than a radical departure from The Dirty Hearts. They bring the same kinetic garage rock strut to the table that we dug about their predecessors.

Frankie teamed up with Keith Herrera (founder of Resin Records and former drummer for Albuquerque punk legends, The Drags) to form The Kill Spectors, a psyche punk duo that we can only hope we haven't heard the last from. (Their debut single Red River Street / Live Like a Dog was produced by popular Santa Fe musician, Jono Manson) Calida, a professional photographer as well as musician, has some solo recordings posted on Soundcloud. Stripped down instrumentation and vocals that echo the singing and songwriting style of obscure and mysterious Texas folk songstress Jasmine Star, a gal with a paper thin whisper of a voice and an aversion to having her face photographed. 

Record Store ~ The Dirty Hearts
Libertines in my Scene ~ The Dirty Novels
Blondie ~ Bring Back Dad
Don't Ask ~ Stabbed in the Back
Getting a Raise ~ Scenester
Burning Bag ~ The Gracchi
Audience Reaction ~ The Dirty Novels
U + M = Forever ~ Farthouse
High ~ Scared of Chaka
Bad ~ Scenester
Exile ~ The Scrams
No Action ~ Elevator Boys
Action Figure ~ The Dirty Hearts
Pack Your Pistol ~ The Dirty Novels
Gracchi Saturday Night ~ The Gracchi
Sweet Justice ~ Dead Town Lovers
Song ~ Farthouse
Blew One ~ Gusher
An Empty Apartment ~ Swale
Goat Throat ~ The Scrams
We Love the Burning Silos ~ The Burning Silos

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 37

Local Music at Your Fingertips

An unintentional underlying theme-o-death permeates through this episode. It's nothing to get hung about, the overall mood remains upbeat and optimistic. “The cold north wind is the bringer of winter, devouring one, strong and unruly. The Zephyr by contrast is the gentlest of winds, the messenger of spring... which we now await” Cover songs: Lousy Robot's ethereal version of “Dead Flowers” by the Rolling Stones. Steve Hammond's killer take on The Kinks' “Lazy Old Sun” A pair of David Bowie covers by Leeches of Lore (Life on Mars) and Pink Freud (Ziggy Stardust) from the David Bowie tribute show at the Launchpad in Albuquerque on March 4, 2016.

Let me tell you about Pink Freud.... as the name may suggest, they're a Pink Floyd cover band. There also appears to be two versions of the band according to their FB page. Pink Freud Southwest includes Rachel Ross, Chuck Hawley both N.M. music stalwarts, as well as Doug Bellen and Mikey Jaramillo. Pink Freud Midwest (based in Chicago) includes Carlos Del Real, Mike Marten, Julie Leuck, Gordon Patriarca. Vocalist Tony Orant ties things together by playing in both versions. There's yet another Pink Freud out there. This one is a jazz fusion band based in Poland, totally unrelated to the U.S. band(s). They don't do Pink Floyd covers.

Jen Olive splits her time between 'Burque, Los Angeles and England. Jen's latest album “The Breaks” features Andy Partridge (XTC), Mikey Rowe (keyboards, Sheryl Crow), Rob Brian (drummer, Siouxsie Sioux) just to name a few. Jen's previous venture, Warm Robot resulted in two releases, both on Apehouse Records, one in collaboration in Andy Partridge. All Music gave it a glowing review: “there's almost an echo of the lush textures and quiet elegance of early Butterfly Child (or even the Cocteau Twins!)” Boy Howdy! Her debut “Jen Olive” released in 2006 is self described as “nine poorly-recorded-but-someday-worth-lots-of-money masterpieces. A collector's item for sure”

Though we are blessed with a preponderance of talented women on the local music scene, there's always room for more... add Star Canyon's Cecilia McKinnon to the list. Multi-layered dream pop filtered through the glint of an oppressive sun reflecting off the sandy landscape. Echoing Mazzy Star/Hope Sandoval, Star Canyon consists of Cecilia McKinnon-vocals,guitar and Ben Martinez- percussion “Star Canyon is your guide to love songs for the post-apocalypse and other bad road trips” Lacking in wit, I lifted that description from their FB page. “Cheap Trick” Star Canyon's latest album was released in 2015. Their debut album, “Star Canyon” in 2013. Both are available at Bandcamp.

“Spiky Weapon of the Earth”

Anarcho Punk Folk.... is an apt descriptor for the musical trend of combining a punk ethos with unique folk instrumentation. Originally just Alex DenBaars and Beth Hansen working as a ukele and flute duo... unconventional instruments not usually associated with Punk or the Straight Edge movement. From those humble origins Arroyo Deathmatch has evolved into a five piece “hardcore-and-metal-influenced experimental anarcho folk band” Alex-vocals, Beth-flute,vocals Jett-washboard, Matt- bejota~accordion, Cameron upright-grandjo. “Evil folk for evil folks” Stubbornly acoustic, stubbornly sober, stubbornly honest... sworn to an ideal, totally committed to lighting a fire under your ass.

The music grips you. The distance between performer and audience is totally negated. Alex's fully throttled vocals force the listener to listen. No escaping or ignoring what's in your face. With every song, Arroyo Deathmatch builds to a seemingly chaotic crescendo, that is anything but. They're as tight as the Mothers of Invention. No shoe gazing aloofness, no jam band doodling. They electrify, without the use of electricity. The bejota is an instrument of their own invention. It sorta looks like an over sized banjo, but it ain't no banjo. For starters, it only has two strings. The grandjo on the other hand also looks like a big banjo, but its role within the group is similar to an upright bass.

Starting in 2009, Alex and Beth were accompanied by conventional instruments: guitar, fiddle and cello (Calen, Danny, Jes respectively) a lineup that held up through their first two albums, “Burned on Fire” and “Ballad of a Dead Dog” Their third album “Suffer the Weak” “represents the phase in history when Arroyo Deathmatch was a duo project” “May Demo 2011” saw the addition of the formidable Leon on drums and Twig on washboard. The split release w/Days N Daze kept that lineup in place. “All of Them Witches” marked the debut of Matt and the mighty bejota. “Through the Fear of It” introduced us to Jett on washboard. Cameron on the grandjo came on board for “Hidden Histories”

“Funny people making dead-serious music” Alex Denbaars also heads up The Goathead Record Collective. A “non-hierarchical, independent, folk and punk record collective” Formed with the goal of “providing access to recording equipment and sound engineers free of charge to local bands” Some local artists with Goathead connections include, Arroyo Deathmatch, The Leaky Faces, Vassar Bastards, Saugwa and Bird Friend. Chatterbox & The Latter Day Satanists from Colorado and Days N Daze from Texas. You won't find Tom Dooley hanging 'round these parts.... this ain't your Papaw's folk music. For full effect, play this music as loud as your neighbors can stand. 

Foster's Lager, Luc Longley, Cameron Bairstow or Hugh Greenwood.... nope. Guitarist Nathan Bickley is hands down the best Australian import to inhabit the Duke City. Bickley, co-host (alongside Ashley Veve Rammelsburg) of “Blowing Up” “the podcast about anything relevant for more than one second” arrived in Albuquerque (UNM in particular) by way of Norway, Venezuela and Australia. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in psychology from UNM in 2009. While his academic credentials are top notch, Nathan Bickley also has a knack for droning lo-fi psychedelic electronica that reminds one of an updated version of the “Dunedin Sound” associated with New Zealand's Flying Nun Records.

When it comes to music, Nathan has been busier than a one legged man at a Dance Dance Revolution contest. Constructing a timeline is difficult, on account that Bickley's musical ventures and the musicians involved often intersect and overlap one another. In no particular order here's a list of Nathan's projects: Small Flightless Birds (Nathan, James Sturgis,Will Bryne, Bon Baca) CanyonLands (Nathan, James Sturgis, Bon Baca, Adeline Murthy, Mark Campagna) Smoke Rings (Nathan, James Sturgis) The Gatherers (Nathan, James Sturgis, David Ramon, Bon Baca, Leigh Scariano) Ballets/Spice Boyz (Nathan, James Sturgis, Bon Baca, Andy Ward)

As you've probably gathered, James Sturgis is the one constant other than Bickley. Everything builds around Sturgis' mostly indecipherable vocals and the guitar interaction between Bickley and Sturgis is oh so sweet.  Ballets and CanyonLands have segued into Spice Boyz for some reason... same personnel. Bickley has also recorded under the alias of Daffodil Megasaurus. Train Conductor on the other hand consists of many of the musicians working with Nathan.... but, not Nathan. We could conclude that it's all just CanyonLands under different guises.... except there's just enough distinction between the varying projects to rule that out. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. The more Nathan Bickley and James Sturgis, the better off we all are. Music by all bands mentioned is available for streaming on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.

Dead Flowers ~ Lousy Robot
Lazy Old Sun ~ Steve Hammond
Death of Me ~ Jen Olive
I Remember You ~ Weedrat
Alibi ~ Star Canyon
Horses ~ Italian Rats
A Language That Goes Unspoken ~ Arroyo Deathmatch
Death-o-Flight ~ Icumdrums
Funky Russia ~ Alien Space Kitchen
Funeral ~ The Talking Hours
Knight of Wands ~ Anna Mall
Fool ~ Klondykes
Lozenges ~ CanyonLands
Life on Mars ~ Leeches of Lore
Ziggy Stardust ~ Pink Freud
Until it Ends, It Begins ~ Black Tie
I Can't Show You ~ CanyonLands
Failure Isn't Free ~ Arroyo Deathmatch

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Love Has Left the Building


The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes” or as the case be, Prince. The world mourns the passing of music's second most enigmatic celebrity (surpassed only by Jacko) He was totally fucking cool and bad exaggerated foppish mini-pimp decked out in puffy sleeves and every shade of purple imaginable. I gotta say though, I was never a huge fan. As for his status as musical genius, lest we forget, the Love Symbol formerly known as Prince, followed up “Purple Rain” (a trite, quasi-biographical musical, chock full-o- drama for yo' mama and bad acting) with the much maligned “Under the Cherry Moon” (a self indulgent, pretentious clunker, filmed in black & white, no less)

Prince Rogers Nelson was a revolutionary figure in music (less so in film) and his first five albums alone would have secured him a place in the annals of American music. “Purple Rain” however was what ultimately transformed Prince from a cult favorite into an unstoppable musical force. Burning him deep onto the psyche of music lovers worldwide. “Purple Rain” struck a nerve but after “Under the Cherry Moon” he was dishing out mediocrity as an entrée. Not that Prince wasn't on his game. He wrote chart busters for himself and others, boosting the careers of a handful of artists. (Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinéad O'Connor being the most memorable)

Prince's performance at Super Bowl XLI in 2007 was electrifying. (the bar for halftime entertainment having been set quite low..... Up With People, Tops in Blue, Aerosmith, the Janet Jackson / Justin Timberlake wardrobe malfunction) Opening with a thunderous refrain from Queen's “We Will Rock You” under storm clouds, then seguing into a muscular arena rock take on “Let's Go Crazy” The crowd rushed the love symbol stage platform in a scripted frenzy. Prince effortlessly worked in covers of Proud Mary, All Along the Watch Tower and The Foo Fighters' Best of You before closing with a rousing version of Purple Rain complete with audience sing-a-long. Shine on you crazy diamond.

It's rumored that he left enough recorded music behind to release an album per year through the foreseeable future. Here's hoping that's nothing more than wishful thinking. Prince released at least 39 albums while alive, few of those albums are still compelling. While prolific, Prince Rogers was also the king of indulgent doodling. I'd hasten to bet that hundreds of hours spent hunkered down at Paisley Park (an unyielding big box monolith jotting out of the prairie in Chanhassen, MN.) didn't necessarily result in a treasure trove of killer tunes. The Prince is dead and the lesson we should all come away with is simply this; Prayer has few if any medicinal properties. If you're deathly ill... go see a doctor.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 36

Yo!, Dirt City Chronicles, trawling (some might say trolling) the internet for music. Back with yet another edition of the only podcast dedicated to local (Albuquerque/New Mexico) music on the interwebs. Don't be fooled by imitations or knock-offs, this is the real thang. An uninitiated listener might consider the local music scene a shallow sea to fish from.... they would be wrong. If you take all 35 previous podcast episodes (this being #36 with #37 queued up) that's well over 37 hours of local music. It wouldn't be that much of a stretch to build a 48 hour plus playlist of nothing but local music with a negligible number of repeats. That's a playlist rotation on par with that of let's say..... Beatlerama, the all Beatles online radio station.

Disclaimer: I snipped and (or) padded some tracks in order to keep this playlist under 60 minutes. Some podcast episodes have clocked in at well over an hour. This resulted in YouTube advising me to trim 'em down in order to keep folks tuned in. An hour plus is asking too much, tune in, tune out... I get it. For $50 Facebook will boost my page allowing me to reach more people in the United States. No guarantees though and I have no idea how much of a bang you get for your bucks. Either way, for a non-revenue producing, labor of love venture.... any amount of money poured results in no return. That's money better spent making a dispensary run or buying tracks/albums online in support of local musicians.

Being liked gives me a sense of enormous well being. In order to drum up more likes, I did kick around the idea of emulating R. Stevie Moore's cassette club with a Dirt City Chronicles cd-r club, what with all those surplus cd-r packages gathering dust on my shelves. However, the cost of shipping nipped that idea in the bud. For those not familiar with R. Stevie Moore, he got his start in the mid-1970s by offering cassette only releases of his music by subscription. I once sent away for a “free”catalog from Floyd's Record Shop in Ville Platte, La. A process which required my mailing them a few postage stamps and a self addressed envelope. I could go that route, but seriously who out there still spins cds?

One Track Mind and Track Marks on His Arm

Few local bands of late have gained as much notoriety as Glitter Dick. Their Tom of Finland inspired record release flyer in 2012, was described by the Weekly Alibi as “borderline pornographic” it caused one UNM student to lose his shit, grousing that “the image caused him to lose his appetite” Deemed tasteless and pornographic by the administration, the flyer was banned from campus. Glitter Dick followed up with a poster featuring Tom of Finland, Robert Mapplethorpe and a few other artists.... which didn't help matters any. Posted around the UNM campus, they were quickly torn down, though the administration denying having anything to do with their removal.

In 2013, Glitter Dick then appeared on the syndicated court-tv show, “Judge Mathis” under the pretense of lead singer Kendoll Killjoy suing guitarist Magnum P. Nye. The band would later reveal that the television appearance was nothing more than a creative way of funding their debut album “Sparkling Richard” The video of that particular episode has since been pulled from YouTube. Johnny Wilson (The Gamits) conducted an interview with the band for his website “For the Love of Punk” he tried in vain to pry the details from Killjoy and bassist Dee Dee Ramen (Kenta Henmi) Ramen cut him off, advising Wilson that his wife is a lawyer while tossing in a curt “Don't Worry About It” True, she's a partner in the law firm of Maruchan, Ramen & Noodles.

Just when the whole Glitter Dick experience couldn't get anymore trite, lead singer Kendal Fortson aka Kendoll Killjoy turned up missing. The situation was serious enough that the band put out an all points bulletin asking fans to keep an eye out for their missing singer. Fortson, who had been booted from Stabbed in the Back prior to the formation of Glitter Dick eventually turned up, though his band mate were none too happy. Magnum P. Nye posting on FB: “Let's go ahead and call the search off and let this fun boy continue his quest for god/meaning of life/hamdingers/cocks/bat boy/the 4th hole/Ray Bolger or whatever it is he's doing now” he closed by adding “It's been real. Magnum P. Nye - signing off for good” Ray Bolger?

Kendal Fortson released a statement of his own: “Having nothing left in Albuquerque, I had decided it was time to move on and thought 'sneaking away in the night' would be a possibility” Amazingly, Glitter Dick was set to play at Edge Fest, on a bill that included The Killers, Cake, Bad Religion and Minus the Bear (a band that included Santa Fe's own Alex Rose) An opportunity kissed off due to Kendoll's ill timed walkabout. Magnum P. Nye now fronts The Russian Girlfriends, an onerous local band that partakes of the sacrament at the Church of The Boss. You know how Dread Zeppelin was once a Led Zeppelin parody band and now they play it straight. Well I'm not sure if Russian Girlfriends are seriously aping Springsteen, a Springsteen tribute band or just a Springsteen parody band.... Note to self: Suzi de Sade, drummer for Glitter Dick served in the same capacity with The Teenage Werewolves.

If music be the food of love, play on

Get Action! play what they refer to as “burrito rock” others may slap them with whatever tag they please... but that works for me. These veterans of 'Burque's music wars take their name from the second album released by those wacky, incomprehensible Japanese punks, Teengenerate. It all makes sense once the needle drops. Scott Brown, Bill Bunting, Ashley Floyd, Ben Levine and Zac Webb cut their teeth with some solid local bands: The Gracchi, Ten Seconds to Liftoff, The Foxx and Scared of Chaka. You know them and they know what you like, crackling garage rock, vented without inhibitions or mercy. Check 'em out May 7th at The Launchpad (w/ Russian Girlfriends) and June 24th at Burt's Tiki Lounge (w/ Dying Beds, Weedrat & Alien Space Kitchen)

Kewl (that's how you spell it nowadays) cover of Tommy James' “Crimson and Clover” from Steve Hammond. He's simply the best Kansas has sent us since Gen. Kearney planted the stars and bars in the Santa Fe plaza. Steve's version of that epic classic comes via Lorchestral Recording Company's “Cover of the Month Series” featuring covers of Miles Davis, Wire, Melvins, Hank Williams, They Might Be Giants, Beach Boys, Kinks and others. Steve Hammond really needs no introduction around these here parts, seeing how he's the man behind Leeches of Lore, not to mention his work in Retard Slave, Tenderizor, Knife City, Filthy Jim, Black Ale Sinners. The man has an extensive catalog to back up my glowing attaboys. Don't take my word, see for yo'self.

I'm not even sure if the Teenage Werewolves “Your Cure for the Cramps” are still active. Though touted as a Cramps tribute band, their live shows went beyond that. The Wolves were (are) fronted by Los Angeles based singer, songwriter, sound engineer, music producer..... Jack Atlantis (the Show) who “has worked in practically every genre of music from 'Qawwali Pakistan Punjabi' to 'Greek Punk Rock” (i.e. The Barb Wire Dolls, who set up shop in Deming, N.M. for a few months back in 2012) Jack produced their breakout single “Revolution” You may just recognize one of the Werewolves as none other than the hardest working man in rock & roll: Billy Miles Brooke (Tragic Romance, The Dirty Novels, Pan!c, Loving the Alien and so much more)

Albuquerque's legendary garage rock combo, The Drags clock in with two tracks of their own and I've also included a cover version of “My Girlfriend's in The FBI” by New Kind of Mambo, a Portuguese duo who sing in English and copped their name from a single by Big Maybelle. How do you like them apples? Given their extensive discography and worldwide acclaim, I must admit that I've sorta taken The Drags for granted (same with The Eyeliners) Not anymore. I recently delved deep into their catalog and fuck me, I love this band, and to think.... I still have a copy of “Dragsploitation...Now! that I've maybe played twice. Charging from the bass knives to the treble, Dirt City Chronicles, keep those cards and letters coming in... all suggestions are welcomed and duly ignored. We're done here, peace out homies.

Instantly Recognizable ~ Get Action
Audiophile ~ Glitter Dick
Monday Night Raw ~ Weedrat
Psycho Punk ~ The Dying Beds
Crimson and Clover ~ Steve Hammond
Cars ~ Bring Back Dad
Surfin' Dead ~ Teenage Werewolves
I Like to Die ~ The Drags
Johnny T's O.D. ~ Glitter Dick
Lucky Boy ~ Alien Space Kitchen
The Scratch ~ Mother Queen Death
Why ~ Red Light Cameras
Life is a Gift ~ Colin Robinson
BTSD ~ Klondykes
Ghost ~ Weedrat
Quitter ~ The Talking Hours
My Girlfriend's in The FBI ~ New Kind of Mambo (Drags cover)
Except You ~ Get Action
Tastes Like Poison ~ The Drags

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Dirt City Chronicles Podcast Episode 35

I knew you'd understand what looks good with a black armband”

First post of 2016.... it being three months into the new year and all. I plead guilty with an explanation. Dirt City Chronicles, after 16 years exiled to the bootheel country of SW New Mexico is now back in Albuquerque. With turnarounds to Amarillo and Deming and a 24 hour motor trek from the Duke City to Appleton, Wisconsin out of the way, I can finally settle back into my regular routine of gutter sniping. From the desolate outbacks of New Mexico to the outskirts of Albuquerque's westside, Dirt City Chronicles is back up and streaming in glorious, compressed stereo. Boy Howdy!

As a rule of thumb, post rock i.e. emo/screamo/math rock bands drew the ire of local music aficionados. Looked upon as a blight, the boys of angst never received their due nor garnered praises worthy of their respective musical talents and recording output. The locals didn't warm up to them, maybe it was the indecipherable lyrics or the swirling racket over which they screamed. Whatever it was, you can't unring that bell. Oh! Ranger, Kid Crash, Your Name in Lights, Pilot to Bombardier, Dear Oceana, The City is the Tower..... we can sing their praises now, it's ok. As a whole, they combined to create a definitive Albuquerque sound that went shamefully unnoticed. Archabald belatedly carries on that tradition.

Revolving around the talents of vocalist Randy Bowen and guitarist Andy Othing (who moonlights as Lowercase Noises, an ambient music project that he's fronted since 2010) Archabald brings to mind Soular, one of the Duke City's many under the radar bands. Bowen and Othing break much of the same ground. Randy Bowen sounds enough like Marsh Shamburger to cause a trained listener to wonder where they've heard that voice before. If you're not familiar with Soular, search for 'em on YouTube. “Relativity” and “Cannibal Heart” were first released as teaser tracks for Archabald's latest long player, “Relativity” released in Feb. of this year. It's Archabald's third album and their most fully realized to date. Don't just take my word, stream it at Bandcamp and perhaps purchase a copy.

I've also slotted in two tracks from The City is the Tower.... described on as “4 drunk dudes from Albuquerque, New Orleans, Boston and Denver” Humor is in short supply in this genre, The City is the Tower understood this and worked it, tongue firmly planted in cheek. Some members of The City is the Tower went on to form Dead Cousins, a loud band, lacking most of the subtle nuances of its predecessor. “Party Ideas” The City's “chart bending debut” is still available for download at Media Fire as a zip file. The link can be found on the band's Facebook page. By the way, James Whitten, mixed and mastered The City's 2010 split 12” release (w/ Thou) “Dwell in The Darkness of Thought and Drink the Poison of Life”

All this weirdness goes by just like a parade”

A Not Quite Perfect Film” and “Fragile” presented here in modified form, were culled from the “last postcard from Chateau Marmont” aka “Oddities, Obscurities & Obscenities” a well timed retrospective collection from Lousy Robot, partially compiled by Jim Phillips, completed by Dandee Fleming and John Dufilho. Spill no tears, though meant as a tribute to Jim Phillips, who passed away in May of 2015, “Oddities, Obscurities & Obscenities” isn't a solemn affair. It's a joyous collection of long forgotten demos, alternate versions and covers. This addition to the Lousy Robot discography (their fourth album and the first since 2011) brings closure to fans of the band. “You give the longest compliments that I've ever heard, but not me I sing and murder my days one at a time”

Chicharra's “Are You” is arguably the best recording by local musicians this year, my favorite for sure. The same can be said about their just released album “Chicharra” a cassette and digital release that delivers a spongy yet muscular beat that slithers in and out of your headphones. A triumvirate of bass players and vocalists (Mauro Woody, Monica Demarco, Marisa Demarco.... John Butler sits behind the drum kit) make Chicharra unlike any other band around these parts (what with the troika of bass guitars and all) You don't see or hear that every day. Two videos accompany “Are You” (one features dancer Reba Heloise doing the Sand Dance on a sand bar, on a below freezing day) Watch them.

Short bursts of sustained anger are the best form of expression.“Who the hell are you to tell me how to feel?” Weedrat is punk rock distilled in its purest form, as potent as Pappy's corn squeezins “Fuck your stupid job and life, Fuck your dog and fuck your wife” is a mantra that we can all live by. You feel me on this.... Weedrat gets in your face in order to deliver a message. We all take a big bite out of the same shit burger.... but we don't have to like it or keep quiet. Given your turn at the podium, grab the opportunity and fuck things up. If it's too loud, you're too old or already dead. “It's just a bad day, it's not unusual, I just need some sleep” They're preaching to the choir, but no sleep till peace.

A Not Quite Perfect Film ~ Lousy Robot
Worry Don't Worry ~ Jen Olive
Pastel Daydream ~ Azula
The Warnings ~ Sad Baby Wolf
Snacktualize it ~ The City is the Tower
Are You ~ Chicharra
Relativity ~ Archabald
Tectonic ~ Starsky
Don't Tell Me ~ Weedrat
The Quiet Few ~ Beard
Tangled Threads ~ Litter Brain
Bad Day ~ Weedrat
Meeting Monsters ~ Kid Dinosaur
Fragile ~ Lousy Robot
Cannibal Heart ~ Archabald ~ The City is the Tower
Tin Ceiling ~ Starsky

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles, Year in Review: 2015

Year In Review: October 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 29

An old fashioned “battle of the bands” takes center stage on this edition of Dirt City Chronicles, the podcast. The combatants in this instance represent New Mexico's polar opposites. North vs. South. It's an imaginary rivalry for the most part, made up by the state's broadcasters in order to drum up interest whenever the Aggies and Lobos face off in athletics. Other than that, it's doubtful that the average New Mexican gives the idea much thought. The very definition of what divides Northern and Southern New Mexico is not very well defined. New Mexico doesn't always lend itself to a clean North/South division. It's far more complicated than that. For instance, Clovis is further north than Socorro, yet Clovis is solidly in the southern camp and Socorro staunchly sides with the North.

When a community was first settled and by whom, plays a big part on what side these “border” communities identify with. Belen is firmly aligned with the north, though its located just a bit further north than Clovis. Vaughn, Duran and Yeso are south of Belen, yet are culturally Hispano communities that identify with the north. Fence Lake, Pie Town & Quemado are north of Socorro and they're culturally connected to the south. If I were to draw a boundary across the state separating the north and south, I would start at the Arizona border, north of Fence Lake, continue north of Alamo, jot down to include Magdalena in the south, skirt south of Socorro and San Antonio, swing north to include Corona in the south, northeast to Ft. Sumner continuing northeast to House and then east to the Texas border.

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 30

Due to the success of Norm Petty Studios, West Texas got off the starting line early compared to the rest of the region. In 1957, both Buddy Knox and Jimmy Bowen (who had played together in The Rhythm Orchids) hit the national charts with million selling singles. Bowen's “I'm Sticking With You” and Knox's “Party Doll” coupled with Buddy Holly's #1 single, “That'll Be The Day” set off a stampede of musicians headed to Clovis, N.M. As Goldust Records founder, Emmit Brooks put it: "After Buddy Holly and the Beatles, there was a feeling out there that anyone could get a hit and make a million dollars," El Paso caught the fever and before long a burgeoning local rock & roll scene was starting to bubble up from the dusty landscape.

The arrival in 1957 of itinerant blues guitarist, Long John Hunter (who set up shop at the Lobby Club across the river in Juarez) helped to kick things off. Much like Al Hurricane in Albuquerque, Hunter was grounded in another genre, yet still played a part in helping rock & roll gain a toehold. His single “El Paso Rock” released on Calvin Boles' Yucca Records in 1961 helped spark El Paso's pre-Beatles infatuation with instrumental rock. Countless El Paso musicians made nightly treks across the border to the Lobby No. 2 Cafe and Night Club to watch Long John lay down some rattlesnake moan. A disciple of the East Texas blues guitar tradition, Hunter would often allow young musicians who could work up the nerve, to take the stage with him (including a very young and nervous Bobby Fuller)

Star Mountain Babylon

Then in 1963 a funny thing happened... El Paso went bonkers for surf music. No easy way to explain this. The Gulf of Mexico is 700 plus miles away (though the closest beach to El Paso is actually Puerto Peñasco in Mexico...about 500 miles) Almost overnight, every band worth a lick in El Chuco, started playing like Dick Dale and The Deltones. A period well documented by Norton Records' compilation series “El Paso Rocks” Having tossed aside his aspirations towards emulating Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran. Bobby Fuller planted himself firmly at the forefront of this curious turn towards instrumental surf music in the desert. “The Bobby Fuller Instrumental Album” compiled by Rockhouse Records (a label based in the Netherlands) adds further credence to this strange turn of events.

I realize that historically, El Paso has ties to Cali, specifically Los Angeles. But this is fucking nuts. If not for the British Invasion, who knows how far this “sand surfing” craze may have gone. One thing for certain, this odd mix of borderland bands produced instrumental surf music roughly the equal of what was streaming out of SoCal at the time. Bobby Fuller's “Thunder Reef” “Our Favorite Martian” “Wolfman” and “Stringer” The Pawns “South Bay” The Sherwoods “Tickler” The Impostors' Surfaris spoof “Wipe In” Four Dimensions “Sand Surfin” The Four Frogs “Mr. Big” The Chandelles “El Gato” The dichotomy of “surf in the desert” was resurrected in 1978, when for some strange reason “Big Wednesday” John Milius' coming of age surf movie filmed several scenes in El Paso.

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 31

Frogdeath Records definitely reflected the personality of Steve Crosno. From the label imprint which depicted a bullfrog listening to a phonograph (ala RCA's Little Nipper listening to his master voice) with a heavy boot looming overhead, to the puns and mispronunciations printed on the label. It all added up to the work of a smart ass genius. Frogdeath had a limited run, probably no more than a dozen known releases. Working on the fly (and on the cheap) with Crosno wasn't easy as Danny Parra (Danny & the Counts) recalls: “ We recorded “For Your Love” b/w “It’s All Over” in a single live take in Steve’s home without a drummer! Unbelievable! The recordings were meant to be a dry run but Crosno decided to put them on vinyl since he could promote them on KELP”

After that initial haphazard session, Danny & The Counts butted heads with Steve over the direction their music was taking. “We ultimately made it clear to him, that we wanted to pursue the English music trends as a group and abandon R&B. He wasn’t happy about this because his whole market niche was R&B …. so we had an eventual parting of the ways.” said Parra. Crosno's radio show and “Crosno Hops” a mobile sock hop that hit every podunk burg within driving distance of El Paso, revolved around r&b/soul numbers. Fuzzy, hyper, garage be bop don't cut it on the dance floor when you're looking to rub up on a gal. The homies in Segundo Barrio pined for Tex Mex Soul, James Brown and golden oldies... Steve Crosno delivered the goods and in their eyes he could do no wrong.

The Plural of Aggies

In the early 1970s, bags in hand and tongue firmly planted in cheek. Calvin Boles closed up shop in Alamogordo and took off to Nashville with the idea of recording and promoting country artists. He already had one client... his son-in-law, Robyn Young (Faron Young's son) To mark his arrival in the Mecca of country music, Boles released a novelty single that will forever rank as one of the rankest, musical endeavors of all time. First a little background info. Break-in records, were made popular by Dickie Goodman with his hit recordings of “The Flying Saucer, Pts. 1 & 2. The basic premise has an official sounding interviewer (Goodman) asking questions, which are answered by brief snippets of POPULAR songs (note the emphasis on popular) Even at its best, it's pure cornball.

For “Calvin Boles in Nashville” b/w “Calvin on Stage” Boles hired Johny (Single N) Caraway, who Paul Pearson of Dead Horse Radio points out “was no Dickie Goodman” Caraway in a serious “radio voice” asks a series of questions to which Calvin answers with break-ins from his own vast repertoire of “unknown to the world” songs. It's cringe worthy right up until Ernest Tubbs breaks in at the end with “Go on home, you don't belong here with me” followed by a round of canned laughter. Paul Pearson: “A break-in comedy record featuring nothing but Calvin Boles tunes as break-ins....probably wasn't the most effective strategy” Calvin's Nashville venture flamed out quicker than Kingsford Match Light briquets. A thousand guitar pickers in Nashville and Calvin wasn't meant to be one of them.

Year in Review: November 2015

Dirt City Chronicles_Cassette to MP3: Best of, Bobby Fuller Four

Throughout the Mustang recording sessions Bobby Fuller agonized over what was becoming of his music. Accustomed to calling the shots, he found himself butting heads with Bob Keane. This ate away at Bobby's self confidence. The egocentric Fuller had always plotted his own course, now it dawned on him that by signing with Bob Keane, he had conceded that right. The most glaring example of this was the band's new name “The Bobby Fuller Four” changed at Keane's insistence. “Let Her Dance” the band's near breakout single was also a source of friction. Bobby felt that Keane had taken liberties with his original composition “Keep on Dancing” when in fact Bob Keane had transformed Fuller's clunky original into a pulsating, bass propelled radio friendly ditty.

Next, Keane's A&R man, session musician, arranger, producer Barry White (the make-out music maestro) was brought in to work the sessions for “The Magic Touch” and “I'm A Lucky Guy”, John Barbata (of The Turtles) sat in on drums, replacing DeWayne Quirico who had been unceremoniously shit canned. Bob Keane felt that lacking a strong follow-up to “Let Her Dance” song mills such as The Brill Building were his only viable option. Written by Brill Building veteran Ted Daryll, “The Magic Touch” was an Motown-esque number that should have been a big hit. It failed to launch. Bobby was unhappy with the final mix, which he deemed as “too thin, with not enough oomph” He bitterly vented to his brother Randy "It doesn't even sound like one of our songs"

Your Ever Loving Punks_The Standells

Though touted as the “Godfathers of 60s punk” The Standells lineage stretches well beyond the “garage rock” era. For starters, though The Standells helped launch a thousand garage bands, they weren't a “garage band” at all. By the time “Dirty Water” hit the charts and made them the standard bearers for U.S. 60s punks, The Standells had put in work and were in fact, accomplished professional musicians who knew their way around a studio. The band clearly went through two phases during their prime, the pre-Dirty Water period and the post Dirty Water, 60s punk period. Almost overnight, The Standells went from being a talented plug 'n' play rock & roll combo to snarly trend setting raconteurs. Though in truth, their punk persona was as fake as the hippies & beatniks on “Far Out Munsters”

Larry Tamblyn, co-founder of the band is the younger brother of actor Russ Tamblyn. Russ had worked in movies since 1948, he was nominated for an Academy Award in 1957 for his work in “Peyton Place” He's the father of actress Amber Tamblyn and is still active, having appeared in relatively recent movies, “Drive” and “Django Unchained” Larry had been active in music since 1958, having released a string of doo wop singles on Faro and Linda records. In 1962 he formed The Standels along with Tony Valentino (Emilio Bellissimo, who had arrived in the US from Italy in 1958) bass player Jody Rich and drummer Benny King (aka Hernandez) Larry came up with the name “Standels” as a tongue in cheek take on the long hours spent standing around waiting for auditions at record companies.

Dirt City Chronicles Cassette to MP3: Best of The Standells

Another exemplary compilation from Rhino Records. As I've mentioned before, nobody does it better. Audio quality, liner notes, track selection... it's the bees knees. Not everyone feels the same way about Rhino's efforts. Larry Tambyln, who coined the name “Standells” and co founded the band has voiced his displeasure with Rhino's description of the band as “a clean living fun bunch of bananas” Larry likes to point out that The Standells were indeed hip and happening. They were after all, the first SoCal band in the 1960s to have long hair (which they promptly cut in order to land a gig at PJ's, notorious for its “no long hair” and matching suits dress code) Larry doth protest too much, the band's pre-Dirty Water recordings and publicity shots do present a clean cut, albeit lame bunch of bananas.

Larry Tambyln especially had a bone to pick with Harold Bronson, who researched and composed the liner notes. Stating that Bronson never met with him or any members of the band to verify any biographical info. Bronson noted that “The band included one guy who spoke with a very unhip broken Italian accent” That would be Tony Valentino, fresh off a pasta boat and as evidenced by Dick Clark's interview after The Standells performed “Help Yourself” Valentino spoke in a monosyllabic manner that brought Balki Bartokomous, Bronson Pinchot's immigrant character on the television sitcom, Perfect Strangers to mind. Harold Bronson also pokes at them for having “a Mouseketeer in the band... that's Dick Dodd, though Dick was cool, upping the band's “cool” quotation by a 100%

Year In Review: December 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 32

“May we never part” was the rallying cry. The search for one true love, the crusade for which all were destined. In Southern New Mexico nobody wrenched a heart like the goosestepping maestro of teener heartache, Frank Thayer. A Senior at NMSU, Thayer in collaboration with homespun producer and music engineer, Dennis Adams recorded a series of teener pop ballads that distilled sadness in the same manner that a bootlegger distills spirits from sugar and corn grain. Standing atop the burning pyre of unrequited love, Thayer pined for the women that he obviously scared off with his moody and obsessive nature. Frank is fascinating “partly truth and partly fiction” a man ahead of his time and yet hopelessly stuck in the past. Which is why, in my opinion Frank Thayer defines teener pop so well.

Teener pop was a conscious attempt by the record industry to turn back the clock. To white wash the negroid influences of mid-1950s rock & roll with a sparkling double coat of copacetic conformity. Teener was so chock full of loneliness and despair that it's a miracle American teenagers didn't hang themselves en-mass. La douleur exquise. “I miss someone who isn't mine to miss. I dream about someone who isn't mine to dream about. I love someone, who isn't mine to love” Turn off the water works baby, that don't move me no more. U.S. teeny boppers had to grow the fuck up and two forces were combining to drag them kicking and screaming into adulthood, Vietnam and Beatlemania. The words of love fade like darkness itself at the coming day. “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 33

Being the inquisitive type, I like to compare the regional scenes to one another. At the time most of this music came out (1959-63) Albuquerque's local scene didn't amount to much other than The Knights and Al Hurricane. By comparison, El Paso was blowing up. A couple of factors were in play. With Ft. Bliss shuttling in draft era troops by the thousands for basic training, there was always a demand for entertainment and literally speaking, the music would never stop. (Long John Hunter was working 13 hour shifts at the Lobby Club) As far as the number of venues available to local musicians, El Paso, had the Duke City beat by a country mile. El Paso also fostered a long reputation as a rough and tumble “bordertown” while Albuquerque in the early 1960s was basically Des Moines, Iowa with Mexicans.

Ooh! I meant to say Hispanos, my bad. The rocking side of the border gets the Dirt City royal treatment on this go-round. This episode comes fully loaded with both the familiar and the obscure. The fifth installment in a six part series covering the local scene in El Paso, Las Cruces and beyond.... but no further north than Clovis N.M. Call me provincial, call me archaic, I don't really care. Let's see what the cat drug in: It's a shame that Lloyd Nash's “The Quiver” didn't start a national dance craze, sounds much sexier than the Twist or The Mashed Potato. I did manage to sneak one Albuquerque band in,The Knights' “Cut Out” made the cut, mainly because I couldn't fit it into any of my other playlists. It's a rocking little number that I want my jockey to play...

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 34

Chuco got soul..... that sweet soul music, enunciated by the disciples of James Brown, powered by horns sections that washed away the gloom. Beautiful friend, this is the end.... of a six part series covering the El Paso/Las Cruces, borderlands music scene in the 1960s. I feel like a time traveler, having been deeply immersed in 60s culture for weeks on end.... Farfisa organs rattling 'round my brain. I thought that I knew 60s rock and soul music, but I knew nothing. “Can't see a thing till you open your eyes... clear my eyes, make me wise” and a tip-of-the hat to YouTube, our great, infinite smorgasbord of musical gluttony. Nothing expands your musical knowledge like knowing where music has been. “The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”

For reasons lost to time, El Paso Mayor Judson Williams declared July 9th 1967 “Steve Crosno Day” A high honor for a young man at the very pinnacle of a career that would span six decades. Indisputable evidence that Steve ruled the local airwaves, broadcasting on KELP, El Chuco's Top 40 juggernaut. Local entrepreneur, Bernard Tanchester, perhaps sensing an opportunity to make a quick buck, lured 4,000 loyal Crosno fans and “the seven hottest R&B bands in the area together under one roof” to a steamy El Paso Coliseum for the landmark event. The evening's proceedings were recorded for posterity and resulted in an iconic album “Steve Crosno Day, July 9th 1967” a veritable time capsule of a time and place, long ago, but not so far away. “The best thing I can do is shut up and play music”