Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dirt City Chronicles- Year in Review 2012

8 Tracks- The Tropopause Lounge,     Jan 1st. 2012
A mixed bag of Albuquerque bands, Small Flightless Birds, Man About a Horse, Lousy Robot, Sunset Gun, Rondelles, GoMotorCar, I is for Ida, Satellite Decoder

The Flux Main Stream,     Jan 5th, 2012
Martin Stamper (Fast Heart Mart) continues his musical sojourn across America. A journey that brought him back to  Albuquerque and has included stops in Las Cruces, Tucson and San Diego.  The Flux Main Stream features homespun performances, direct from a cozy living room, sitting next to a Christmas tree and surrounded by strategically placed vinyl albums and cd's.

8 Tracks- before you drive away    Jan  5th, 2012
Eclectic playlist featuring New Mexico bands, Romeo Goes to Hell, Canyonlands, The Coma Recovery, Stupid Beautiful Radio, Bum Out Patrol, The Foxx, Volume Volume, Oh! Ranger.   I miss this feature, I may just revive it.

Death By Misadventure: Layne Staley     Jan. 11th. 2012
There was nothing spectacular about Layne Staley, other than his voice and uncanny ability to channel inner pain into poetic song lyrics. Like so many other musicians from Seattle's grunge scene, he was ill equipped and unprepared for the sudden fame and wealth that came his way.

They entered the dark room, illuminated by the flickering light of a television, and on the couch sitting upright was Layne Staley. He had been dead for two weeks and had basically decomposed into the cushions.

Layne was surrounded by drug paraphernalia, a stash of cocaine, two crack pipes, numerous spray paint cans and syringes. In his hand was a syringe loaded with heroin. Nancy McCallum approached and spoke to Layne in a soft voice as she tried to clean up around him.

The Shins- Port of Morrow,     Jan. 12th 2012
Lowered expectations equals lower stress levels, but the world is much different now than it was in 2007. In an ever changing musical landscape dominated by dub step and auto tuned madness, The Shins are nothing more than an after thought. I fear that "Port of Morrow" will set sail and slowly sink in the murky waters of apathy.  With James the only remaining member with an  Albuquerque connection, should we really give a fuck anymore? 

The Quixotic Quest, Jan 16th  2012
If you want cd quality buy the compact discs. Or better yet, buy vinyl ((I hear that's the purest of all sound mediums) I'm not a purist when it comes to sound. When recording, I set my recorders to near cd quality and  don't give it another thought (especially if I'm not paying for it)  While serving In the military, I fell in with a group of audiophiles. 

Each one would spend thousands on a system and then everyone would gather round to listen (while getting fucking hammered) I recall my friend Steve telling me "Listen... listen to the hi-hats, do you hear the hi- hats, can you hear the cymbals? I couldn't hear shit!, I was leaning into the wind and ready to pass out on the floor.

What Makes a Baby Wolf Sad?    Jan 26th, 2012
Sad Baby Wolf recently released two original songs, if  you haven't heard them, shame on ya' they're all over the interwebs. "Survival Guide" uses low key brooding vocals, over a bed of dissonant instrumentation to good effect. This track gives a nod to the sound that is so uniquely 'Burque (best exemplified by The Mindy Set, The Giranimals, The Oktober People, Of God & Science, The Breaktones, A Man About a Horse and Soular) 

"8th. Level" sounds like Flake Music (more so than The Shins) Marty sings with an every man's voice that is strangely effective despite its limited range.  The indie vibe of the music doesn't mask the band's experimental tendencies. It's more than obvious that James Mercer wasn't the only one listening to the Elephant 6 collective. "8th Level" skirts the boundaries of noise-oriented pop with a healthy dose of feedback samples, the good chemistry in Sad Baby Wolf is evident and it looks good on them.

Sad Baby Wolf- Videos  Jan. 29th, 2012
A series of videos from Sad Baby Wolf, all compliments of YouTube (where would we be without it?) The first video is an audio only version of "Survival Guide"  followed by a performance at  The Pony Club in Portland.  "Roaming" features Neal effectively using a ringing slide guitar sound to propell  the song like some giant Slinky.  Marty's understated vocals  travel well across the intimate space in which the band performs. 

There's also three songs from the band's July 8th 2011 performance at Low Spirits in Albuquerque.  Charged with coiled energy, Sad Baby Wolf rolls out another version of "Roaming", this one features Neal playing a lap steel guitar. The mix is a little muddy, but they do get their point across.  "Electric Sounds" switches over to a straight ahead indie rock vibe. "8th Level" is the live version of a song they released as a single (along with Survival Guide)

Disguster is Beyond Disgusting     Jan. 30th, 2012
Let's clear one thing up before I proceed any further. I'm writing about Disguster the punk rock band from Fullerton, Ca. A band that Gary Schwind of The Orange County Music Examiner calls "a high-octane, well-lubricated  rock n roll machine." Just what kind of lubrication is left strictly to your imagination (liquor, spit, motor oil, KY Jelly, bacon fat) 
There is another Disguster on the national music scene, a turgid group of black (as in Satanic) metal heads from Massachusetts. If that's who you were interested in, then read no further.  Disguster would have you think that they are disgusting.   On the surface and judging by their song lyrics that would seem to be the case. Or as their drummer puts it "We call ourselves Disguster because Disgust wasn't  disgusting enough."

That Dirt City Sound Episode 24,  Feb. 7th, 2012
 That Dirt City Sound Episode 24 (a.k.a All's fair in Love or War) features tracks from the 2007 Pin-Up Calendar Companion Cd "New Mexico Rocks" compilation album, de*tach records compilation (2004) and The Jenny Clinkscales Band's 1998 "Mind if We Join You?"
I recently came across a stash of twenty or so unopened compact discs by local bands. They've been sitting in my closet for almost three years, it's time that they saw the light of day.

Death by Misadventure- Brad Nowell,  Feb. 8th.  2012
It was roots music, an eclectic fusion of punk and ska, interspersed with Spanish lyrics that instantly made Sublime unique. Bradley Nowell could channel all the dysfunctional, mind fucking problems faced by the homeboys and turn them into songs that celebrated SoCal culture. (in all its obnoxious, macho, violence prone glory)  Just like Brian Wilson,  Nowell had a knack for creating music that was uniquely Californian. 

Nowell looked down on non-users who tried to get him to quit "You guys don't understand because, you don't do heroin." Bradley equated the rush of a heroin high with the same rush he felt when surfing, they were one and the same. His addiction was a badge of honor, a rite of passage, if afforded him membership to an elite and ultra hip society.

Dirt City Babylon,  Feb. 10th, 2012
David Lee Roth once complained that after Eddie & Alex Van Halen got married all they wanted to do was stay home with their wives. I agree, that's not rock and roll, that's fucking domestication. The best rockers are the party animals, unfortunately they're also the ones that die off.

I'll use Sublime as an example (I just wrote about them so it's still fresh on my mind) In 1995 they were signed to co-headline the inaugural Vans Warped Tour (on the strength of their hit "Date Rape") The band's over the top behavior and drug use soon caused friction with tour organizers.

Bud Gaugh later summarized: "Basically our daily regimen was wake up, drink, drink more, play and drink a lot more. We'd call people names, nobody got our sense of humor"  (hate is so misunderstood as a comedy medium) Gaugh went on, "Then we brought the dog out and he bit a few skaters and that was the last straw."

That's fucked up, but it also makes writing about Sublime, a whole lot easier than say Soular. Which I assume was a nice band made up of some nice musicians, and that's fine unless you're trying to write about them. Rock & Roll Babylon hypes itself, it also makes the writer's job easier.

The Miss Alans,   Feb. 17th   2012
In the heart of the San Joaquin Valley a sound was born in the unlikely agricultural hub of  Central California.  In the 1990's a handful of Fresno-based bands emerged.  Adhering  to a shared vision of dreampop and shoegazer glory,  they developed a sound greater than the sum of their influences.

If you're thinking "Bullshit! I never heard of them" trust me, I feel your pain. Failure to  launch is a term that Duke City bands know all too well. Fresno's shoegazers also found themselves strapped to a rocket with nowhere to go.  The Miss Alans..misfired, Sparklejet.. sputtered, Supreme Love Gods..unloved, The Sleepover Disaster.. missed their wake-up call.

Trying to describe the "Fresno Sound" is like trying to describe the sound of the wind. Simply put, it was the music of hazily low-key psychedelic dreampoppers. "A bracing swarm of guitars and off-kilter expressiveness."  A trippy sound that often seemed to wobble like warped vinyl.   "Come as you are" was the order of the day. 

Fresno musicians have been quoted as saying that "Fresno is cultural wasteland" musicians have often said the same about 'Burque. In either case there's an element of truth." Fresno was once ranked dead last in a study of the smartest cities in the United States. I couldn't tell you where Albuquerque placed, but I bet it wasn't much higher up the list.

Kalifornien über Chaos     Feb. 23rd.  2012
Ranger was joined by a host of anonymous musicians.  Their identities didn't really matter, in fact, the music itself didn't matter. It was just the means to an end. A student of the Third Reich and military tactics, Ranger wasted no time in forming an inner circle of like minded teenagers. He even authored a four part code that they adhered to: 1. be yourself  2. live your own life  3. fuck social values   4. fight for freedom. 

It didn't take long for legit club owners to ban FFF from their clubs. The Cathay de Grande in Hollywood was one of the few where they were allowed to perform. The band would close out their show with "March of 42" an upbeat little ditty that jacks the melody of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" Ranger starts out "Across the pages of history, Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!" the song would signal the start of an orgy of violence and property damage. "Where were you in '42, when there was no place for Jews."

Ranger would goad them on, a  warrior of the wasteland, the new Lord Humungus, the ayatollah of rock-and-rollah. The music was the dog's ass, a wretched piece of shit. Ranger sang with an affected British accent that would suddenly vanish halfway through most songs. The guitarist sounded like he would rather be playing in a Sunset Strip glam metal band, it was fucking horrendous. Fight for Freedom recorded one album, "Ganglife" (cassette only release) A vile and repulsive document that abides by part three of the code: fuck social values.

Saving Worth Wagers    Jan. 27th,  2012
The band chose to take advantage of the down time to rehearse in Mike's garage. As they set up the equipment, Liam Davis reminded Worth Wagers to wear his Chuck Taylors.  The rubber soles of those iconic high tops would serve as an insulator, sparing Worth from the full electrical force. That fateful reminder would save Worth from instant death.
As the band counted down for their first number, Worth while holding his guitar, put his mouth to the microphone. Instantly volts of electricity jolted his body. The guitar strings and frets seared his hand.  He fell straight back having received a massive electrical shock.
Worth's vital signs were weak. As Liam Davis checked his pulse, Worth stopped breathing. Lacking any CPR training the band members stood by, watching in horror as he lay dying.

Been There, Done That      Feb. 28th   2012
I was once a vinyl junkie, more from a lack of options than a love for the format. My vinyl collection once numbered over a thousand  lps.  Although, by the mid-80's I had jettisoned all my vinyl. I sold off the best part of my collection, but  In most cases, I simply abandoned large portions in whatever apartment I was vacating at the time.
It seems that in order to amass and maintain a substantial collection of vinyl records, one needs to have a permanent address.  An unstable or dysfunctional lifestyle does bode well for vinyl collections. Nevertheless, I still have a tiny collection of vinyl.

Happy Leap Day!    Feb. 29th, 2012
I've lived in two places during my lifetime, New Mexico and California.... I celebrate both.  Harry Vanda and George Young (the two Aussies that formed Flash in the Pan) said it best "Up above the sunny skies in south California, There's a wounded rocket flying high, heading homeward.... It came from a hollow, under a hill, And soon there'll be nobody left to kill, In California." Rest assured when that nuke hits, the surf will be fucking awesome!

8 Tracks- Nod your head and swing that chain    March 1st.  2012
Local bands, The Mindy Set, Dirty Novels, Oh! Ranger, The Meek

8 Tracks- Float Away Without a Trace     March 3rd. 2012
Local music, Oh! Ranger, Mistletoe, Scared of Chaka, Stoic Frame, Occult Morphinas

Van Life: Fast Heart Mart    March 11th   2012
Fast Heart Mart (Martin Stamper) eminent sidewalk musician, who formerly made his residence in Albuquerque, but now belongs to the world, checks in with some interesting videos. Martin has been living in San Diego since December (can't say I blame him.)
Here's Martin performing "Depression Proof" from the inside his trusty van, followed by a tour of his iconic home on wheels.  For those of you out there who don't know about Fast Heart Mart, there's a nifty introductory video Martin shot at Joshua Tree.

Sleaze Rock   March 11th.  2012
Sleaze Rock, is a new feature at Dirt City Chronicles. It's inspired by  former Albuquerque resident Mike Judge, and his cartoon characters, Beevis & Butthead who always took great pleasure in skewering music videos of dubious quality. While I like to think that I have a discerning ear for good music, I'm also a big fan of bad music. The worse, the better and there's no shortage of horrendously  ill advised music videos on You Tube. 
Electric Black Horse-Capricorn Girl,  Juggernaught- Mountain Man, The White Trash Cowboys- White Trash Cowboys, Emilie Autumn and Spreng of ASP-Liar

Death By Misadventure- Andrew Wood,   March 12th 2012  (this edition of Death by Misadventure actually features three segments, Andrew Wood, Shannon Hoon & GG Allin)

I've touched on this before, many Northwest rockers of the 1990's were poorly prepared for the pressures of stardom.  A few Seattle based vocalists, survived the rise and fall of grunge rock.  As most dull boys tend to do, they played it safe and lived to tell the tale. However, they all paled in comparison to Andrew Wood. The Love Child was born to be the stardog champion, he had the looks and charisma that all his contemporaries seemed to lack.  A natural showman, Andrew craved and thrived under the spotlight. 

On the degenerate scale of outlandish drug use, Shannon Hoon ranks in the middle. Not that he didn't try, rather his time ran out before he could fully explore his capacity for depravity. There was something pathetic about Shannon, it might have been that Blind Melon was so obviously a flukey one-hit wonder.  Whatever it was, his death drew more derision or contempt than sympathy. His life hardly caused a ripple, his death barely raised a blip.

Throughout his musical career Allin had promised to commit suicide onstage. Whether one believes that  he actually carried out this threat or not,  depends on how you choose to define  "onstage." GG Allin considered the entire world his stage.  GG Allin exited this world in the middle of a party crowd, but he might as well have been on the moon."I've hit the bottom of the glass, there's just one way to go, the world I've chosen for my own is one you'll never know, when I die, when I die, down to Hell is my final destination"


For a Song: Hey Joe        March 17th   2012
The Leaves, a Los Angeles garage punk band recorded the first rock version of "Hey Joe" in 1965. They gave the songwriting credit to Dino Valenti. Their first version was poorly recorded and ended up sounding like a demo, it flopped. They went back to the studio and recorded a cleaner version, this one hit.  In 1967, The Music Machine deconstructed the song, turning it into a psychedelic sludge fest. Sean Bonniwell brazenly mixed original lyrics with improvisations like "I guess I'll take my life down in Mexico" or "Hey Joe you can't die until you talk" and my favorite "I see that death is the glove that fits the hand of time" (all the band members wore a single black glove, a quirk made famous by Bobby Jameson and of course Michael Jackson )

8 Tracks: Hey Joe   March 18th.  2012
Eight essential cover versions of Hey Joe

Sleaze Rock      March 22    2012
Shabby,  dirty,  vulgar and tawdry. It's time for another edition of Dirt City Chronicle's "Sleaze Rock Specials."  I Love YouTube, let me count the ways... 1, 2, 3, 4  as in four morally suspect videos of shoddy quality. Go ahead and watch them, what happens in the Dirt City stays in the Dirt City. 
S.Mouse- Poo on You, Nico- All Tomorrow's Parties, Our Broken Garden - Seven Wild Horses, Nachtmahr- Mein Name

Boyd Reno is John Center     March 31, 2012
He's also Gray Beast, a musical collaboration with childhood chum, Lucas Spider. Both musicians jettisoned the Duke City for Seattle long ago, that doesn't mean that we don't miss them. This post is a teaser for a subsequent article that should tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Albuquerque's late, great  Oh, Ranger!