Friday, March 25, 2011

The Bohiems- Taos

Taos has long been out of step with the rest of New Mexico, nearby Taos Pueblo played a key role in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.  Resistance to Spanish occupation would continue there well after the re-conquest of 1692. In 1847 as the rest of New Mexico was settling into life under U.S. occupation, Taos residents rose up in revolt, the uprising was quelled but not before the newly appointed U.S. Governor, Charles Bent had been killed. The Taos Society of Artists was established in 1915, this led to the growth of a thriving art colony, that would define Taos as the mecca for artists from around the world. Planet Taos follows its own orbit, the pursuit of art coupled with a strong self reliant nature has fostered a vibrant music scene. In the early to mid-1980's three memorable bands sprouted out of the Taos scene, The Refrigerators, The Muttz and The Bohiems.  All enjoyed a medium of success, all wound up falling short of their own expectations. The Bohiems came together in Taos, David Garver (vocals,guitar) his then wife Kim Garver (vocals) David's brother Tim Garver (drums) Mark Nettleton (guitar) and Rick Montano (guitar,bass) The group had talent, they were on track for stardom so they hired a manager who advised them to move to Los Angeles.
Arriving in SoCal in 1985, they played a few gigs, but soon found themselves struggling. There was no recording contract and the logistics of living in L.A. began to wear on them, Kim explains: "We lived far-flung distances from each other so rehearsal was tough." Kim looks back wistfully; "We might have been on the verge of making it, but all the things we needed to make it just weren’t happening." The Bohiems returned to Taos, they continued to play local and area gigs, Rick Montano would leave the band with Kim replacing him on bass. They released "Taos" in 1989,  it was produced by The Bohiems and Phil Appelbaum. The album was recorded live during two local concerts in the summer of 1989. At first glance it would be tempting to dismiss them as just another hippie jam band. That however, is not the case, The Bohiems music is much closer to bands  like The Cult, The Alarm or Crazy Horse. This is evident on the first track which sounds like a holdover from the band's Hollywood set. "Can't Wait" is the perfect song to open with "When I close my eyes, you're next to me" The guitars build up a wall of sound, as David begs and yearns for love that's just out of reach. "Days slip away, got to find a way to be with you." You can see what their manager saw in them, they certainly had a harder,  glam metal edge.
If "Can't Wait" is a showcase of their strengths, "Honey Babe" exposes their flaws. An ode to freedom and perestroika "She celebrates somewhere in a Moscow Square, is it independence over there?" or a celebration of the American way "Well hey, yeah baby, I guess I love this country" cue the Bic lighters "Hurray for independence,  but just bring me my Honey Babe" ultimately the brittle lyrics collapse in on themselves.   "Martyrs and Saints touches on the band's move to California as channeled through The Thrill Kill Kult and George Thorogood. "The city is Los Angeles, it's eight o'clock in the morning and the ground is shaking"  David takes us on a tour of Hollywood Blvd. "Lord the greatest story, a simple song or nursery rhyme, every good intention is laced with evil and laced with sublime." An excess of guitar noise clutters the landscape as the song sputters and comes to a stop on the side of  the Hollywood Freeway, the gauge reads empty.  "Space" is probably another gem from their Hollywood days, it's their best song, coherently poetic, a bit restrained, yet it crackles with muscular electric guitar. "The space I give, I bet my mind that light is gone, so it's dark, truth is dark and far away." David signs with calm urgency  "When I lose the best things I have found, it tears me apart, when you come into my heart I scream, alone deep inside." with "Space" you realize just how close The Bohiems were to building something amazing.
"You Can Rely" is brief, anthemic guitar rock,  "Love Help Me See" sounds just like "You Can Rely" with blander lyrics. "Holding Up the Sky" is The  Bohiems best known tune, it would get airplay on KZRR-94-Rock in the early 1990's. "Theres a rumble in the distance and all hell is breaking loose" it's a tale of redemption and hope. "Save me, cry that heaven don't fall down on me" the song features some of David and Kim's best vocal work. We also see a pattern develop as Kim becomes more assertive and her vocals really start to shine through. Kim sings lead on "Iseult The Fair", a folk rock number that foreshadows her later work with Burning Joan.  I never understood why Kim didn't get more of the spotlight, she has a fine voice. Kim and David would go their own ways and now as Kim Treiber, she fronts her own band, Kim and The Caballeros, which she describes as "A big ol' twangy country band"  The remainder of the album has its moments, "Michael" is  a  ballad, that borrows heavily from Neil Young and Crazy Horse, it even includes a chorus from The Needle and The Damage Done.  On "Whiskey Window" The Bohiems do their best Thin Lizzy impression, which is to say, not very good. "Meteor" is loud,but amounts to a whole lotta of nothing. "Noel" is a nice take on a Marty Balin-Grace Slick style ballad, that features some truly beautiful vocals from both David and Kim. The Bohiems were at their best when they first arrived in Los Angeles. They returned to New Mexico feeling defeated, to their credit they worked hard to re-invent themselves. However, when the group broke-up they were still a work in progress.  Add The Bohiems to the list of talented New Mexico bands that have failed to launch.