Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dirt City Chronicles- Year in Review 2012

Oh, Ranger! for America     April 2nd.  2012
The Indian School ditch, bears the high water mark of our expectations. The big ditch skater cults gave us one of the best bands that Albuquerque will ever see (even if they didn't, it's still a good lead-in) "Oh, Ranger!" you say? Naw! it was The Skunks. (Lead vocalist & guitarist- Boyd Reno,  bassist- Gil Sanchez, keyboardist-Lucas Spider and drummer- Noelan Ramirez)

The Skunks, traced their roots to a teen worship band that Boyd & Noelan played in. The addition of Lucas Spider and Gil Sanchez in 1998, put the final pieces in place. Tentatively they set out to test the rock & roll waters of their hometown. The Skunks were no stinkaroos and almost from the get-go their infectious music drew a devoted fan base.  

That Dirt City Sound Episode 25   April 4th    2012
Oh My God! some more Oh, Ranger!  I present the third and final installment  of my Oh, Ranger! trilogy. I feel a sadness wrapping up this project, these guys have kinda grown on me.  Actually I'm not quite done with them yet! I'm planning a feature on Noelan Ramirez and the many bands and musical projects he's been involved in over the years. That's for later and this is for now, Episode 25 of That Dirt City Sound (dedicated to the late great Oh, Ranger!)

Barb Wire Dolls: Hellas Good!      April 6th   2012
Hey, Hey! My, My! with bands like the Barb Wire Dolls around rock & roll will never die. Most of the time I have to go dig up my stories, but every once in a while, the story comes to me.  Just as the future of rock music was starting to look mighty bleak, the Barb Wire Dolls, fronted by Debbie Harry  doppelgänger, Isis Queen landed  in my hometown. This punk rock foursome from Greece, has touched down in America with all the subtleness of wayward Soviet space junk. They've hit the ground running, and the luv 'em or hate 'em bandwagon is gathering momentum with astonishing speed.

The Barb Wire Dolls have several things going in their favor that have allowed them to jump to the head of the line. (something that seems to have rubbed some U.S. punk fanatics the wrong way) Fair enough... I guess, but the total package presented by the Dolls is hard to beat. 1. Having a charismatic blonde bombshell as your lead vocalist, makes all the difference in the world.  2. They are the first commercially viable punk rock band to come along in some time 3. they're enthusiastic without being boorish 4. they play with the same "fuck you" abandon of the first wave punk bands. 

Yuckfest!   April 12th.  2012
104.1 The Edge is holding a cattle call, the local band that gets the most votes will open on the main stage at Edgefest, while five others will play the local stage.  Besides the usual suspects fresh from whatever Northeast Heights garage they spawned from, there's some well known bands in the mix. Battle tested groups with an album or two under their belts (Lousy Robot, Vertigo Venus, SuperGiant, Red Light Cameras, Anesthesia, Indemnified) are joined by some unlikely entries (The Noms, The Glass Menageries, Next 2 the Tracks,  Bat Wings for Lab Rats,, The Harlow Defense, La Junta, Gusher) 

 While it's referred to as  "Edgefest" there's nothing cutting edge about it.  Incubus (from the mean streets of Calabasas) is headlining, they'll be joined by  Bowling Green's Cage the Elephant and the wildmen of Winter Haven,  Anberlin.  There's no shortage of gruntcore metal amongst the entrants,  which proves once again that no matter how much locals try to guzzy up the old señorita with trendy dives and hipster boutiques, at heart 'Burque is just an uncouth, mullet wearing  ingrate.

That Dirt City Sound Episode 26   April 12th.  2012
This is you Albuquerque, twenty... count 'em, twenty bands from the Dirt City. What does this say about Albuquerque's music scene?  It says that there's a lot of bands out there and a large percentage of them are playing metal.

Sleaze Rock    April 13th    2012
This sleaze rock special "I love you so" by Cassius (the French electronica duo comprised of Philippe Zdar and Hubert Blanc-Francart. pitches an app for iPhone. It's a crappy fan video,  the highlight of which is a random girl placing a talking phone between her legs. Ooh-la-la!  
"These Boots are made for Walkin" from Belgium's Hellsonics, who are menacing in way that Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra never imagined. Part of the new wave of  Euro trash hellbilly band
 Drain S.T.H., (Sweden's all-female answer to Silver Chair) "Crack the Liar's Smile" Maria Sjöholm, the lead singer is now married to Tony Iommi. With those helicopters blades whirling around, I kept waiting for a Vic Morrow moment. 
"Waiting for the Big One" from Femme Fatale, fronted by raspy voiced Lorraine Lewis.  This cheesy crapola reeks of sexual innuendo. Lorraine would soon realize that this bunch didn't have the big one in them and she dumped the  chumps. Top YouTube comment:  "I got the big one your (sic)looking for baby." Menyhard1

The Graphic   April 17th. 2012  (annual state of the blog post)
If there's one thing I've learned over the past two years, it's that most rock musicians don't want to rehash the past. Those funky little downtown bands that they played in, while near and dear to our hearts were just youthful follies. Now with college degrees in hand, they'd rather not be reminded of their musical missteps. My e-mail requests for band info and interviews went unanswered, so I quit sending them. How do you write about a band if all you have is a jewel case insert to go by?

My solution to the problem was simple, "take whatever scraps of information I could dig up on the internet, add local color (while staying within the lines as much as possible) stir in enough cynical, smart ass bullshit to keep readers riveted... and publish." On a side note, if you quote a musician and he calls you on it, they're bluffing. Nobody remembers what they said ten years ago, that's wishful fucking thinking. The truth is that nobody out there knows any more or any less than I do.

Death By Misadventure: El Duce     April 19th  2012
Eldon Hoke shouldn't be remembered for anything, much less as an integral piece  to the Kurt Cobain murder conspiracy puzzle.  If not for an interview British film maker Nick Broomfield conducted with Eldon Hoke in 1997, the entire Courtney Love  murdered Kurt Cobain theory  would have died a well deserved death. That without a doubt, would have pleased Courtney to no end. Broomfield's interview and documentary ignited an eternal flame  forever fueled by nutcase conspiracy theorists. 

After his final performance on  April 18, 1997 at Al's Bar in Los Angeles.  El Duce proceeded on one of his customary drinking binges.  The following evening he showed up in the company of a man he claimed to have met that day.  Just one week had passed since his interview with Broomfield and Eldon Hoke was exhibiting signs of extreme paranoia. The two men shuffled off into the night to continue their debauchery.

The following day, Hoke's mangled body was discovered on the railroad tracks in Riverside, Ca.  I won't dwell on the irony of a man called El Duce being killed by a train that ran on time. Hoke had either  fallen asleep on the tracks, drunkenly stumbled or been pushed in front of an oncoming train by the mysterious stranger. The conclusion you draw depends on whether you subscribe to the Cobain murder conspiracy theories or not

El Vez: Con Safos!      April 22nd.  2012
It's early in the evening and  El Vez is standing in front of the big picture window facing the front drive at Graciasland. He's flanked by the Elvettes ( Priscilita, Gladysita, Lisa Maria, and Que Linda Thompson)  They are all mesmerized by the sight of Jerry Li Luis repeatedly ramming the gates with his car, while El's Akal rent-a-cops cower nearby.  A frantic El Vez  yells into the intercom "Pendejos you better do something, he's bending my wrought iron guitars!"

The first bullet hits Jerry Li Luis right between the eyes, but he doesn't drop, because the next 100 rounds that strike hold him up. He finally hits the ground with a cow pattie plop. "Ala verga!" screams El Vez "Lock the fucking door and draw the curtains" he yells at the Elvettes "that crazy chilipino has more holes in him than Johnny Thunder's arms." The Elvettes coo in unison, "Papi, you better wake up and smell the real flavor, 'Burque cops shoot and ask questions later."

The Taos Home Companion    April 30th   2012
Burton Jespersen has his feet firmly planted in Taos, "this old dirt road is in my blood, you can taste the wood smoke, the earth and mud. With New Mexico as a backdrop, Burton brings each song home.  His plaintive voice paints  pictures of "a big river carving out the land" His lyrical imagery  takes us to a space and place that he calls home "smell the wood smoke in the air, chamisas  blooming everywhere."

At the rate of an album every ten years, we may yet get another album or two out of Burton Jespersen before it's all said and done.  That's not a problem, here in New Mexico we understand long gaps, seemingly endless stretches of nothing and prolonged absences.  "The land of mañana" will always refer to old Mexico, but New Mexico still remains the land of "maybe mañana."

Sleaze Rock       May 2nd,    2012
Oh Boy! it's time for another edition of that guilty pleasure I call Sleaze Rock. No academic pretensions here, just talking smack and capping on bad music videos. I remind you that all YouTube comments posted are actual comments (spelling errors intact) and those are actual YouTube user names. Seriously!, benuranusdover, winstonchuchill, jamgoskat334 ..... like  I could make that shit up. 
"Happiness" by Pacifist, and it's a fucking bonafide tard fest of bad taste. Surrounded By Monsters,  "Dr Phuck"  hits your eardrums like a sharp icepick.  iwrestledabearonce - "You know that ain't them dogs' real voices"  Women shouldn't grunt like that, unless they're playing tennis or pulling a plow.  Yet, I feel strangely compelled to go into the kitchen and make this bitch a sandwich. Brokencyde-  "Freaxxx"   This isn't new but it still sucks the corn out of a pig's ass. Ha! you know that ain't them gurls' real voices!  

The Mighty Tragic Romance     May 5th  2012
Has it been that long since Tragic Romance broke-up?  It appears so, but hold on to your Aquanet (in the non-aerosol pump bottle, of course!) because this bromance isn't over yet. On June 1st. at the world famous Whisky A Go Go, Tragic Romance will reunite for a cd release party/ video shoot. Billy Miles Brooke and all the original members of Tragic Romance (with the exception of Britt) are back together to celebrate the release of the band's latest album "Hollywood Daze" The Tragic Romance catalog is mighty slim, so this is welcomed news for hardcore fans. 

For those of you not familiar with the band (they weren't local) there is an incentive to care. Billy Miles Brooke, the lead singer cut his teeth playing Albuquerque's bars and dives. He left for Los Angeles and then like the prodigal son, returned home.... to Santa Fe. Time waits for no one and Billy didn't dwell on the past, since his return to New Mexico, he's been involved with local rockers The Dirty Novels and Pan!c, thus keeping himself relevant and up to date. 

Billy Miles Brooke is hands down the hardest working man in rock & roll.  His highly acclaimed solo album "All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go" revisited that great era of music that began with The Stones' "Beggars Banquet" and ended with "Exiles on Main St." Billy Brooke recently took time to answer a few questions and to give us the skinny on Tragic Romance, one of those great bands that got lost in the music biz shuffle. Billy hits on a number of topics: The Strip, The Whisky, Gene Simmons, Prince, The Dirty Novels, Pan!c and kickball.

Unleash The Raggies     May 15th   2012
The painting  was titled "End of the World" and it depicted one big mother of an orgy.  Naked men and women, in living color and graphic detail, all entwined in every position imaginable. It was one endless human chain of sexual perversion and indulgence. I took it to be a parody of English painter John Martin's "The Great Day of his Wrath" which depicts the destruction of Babylon and the material world by natural cataclysm.

Inhibitions and modesty aside, that's how I want to go, and when the end does come (and it can't be soon enough) I'm popping "Raggie III- Madre de Dios" into the boombox and turning the volume up to 11. If these are indeed "the end days" then it's good to know that just as local music is slipping into the doldrums of apathy and complacency. The Raggies can come along and drop a solid package of party tunes to lively up yourself. 

Once again, The Raggies prove that they have what so many local bands are missing.... a fucking personality! (take note you limp dick charlatans) "Raggies III- Madre de Dios" is nothing short of  a hedonistic masterpiece devoted to the pursuit of epicurean pleasures. Jack isn't one to mince words, as he wryly wreaks havoc on the delicate sensibilities of those who prefer discretion. There's no beating around the bush (pun fully intended) If you seek subtle innuendo, then seek elsewhere, this is the adult table. Treat yourself, don't cheat yourself, buy this album, buy all their albums, buy some beer, get some weed. Live your life to the fullest, it's the middle of May, 2012 and the end is near.

The Silver City Blues Festival 2012     May 22nd.  2012
It's time to bust out your best fedora or Tilley hat and make plans to be in Silver City for the 2012 Silver City Blues Festival on Memorial Day weekend. This event has always been an exemplary exhibition of contemporary blues music. However, this year's roster of musicians seems a bit underwhelming. There is a wealth of talent lined up, just not as much as one would hope to see.

The Silver City Blues Festival, like The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has taken on a life of its own. People will attend, simply because it's something to do and a good enough reason to knock back a few. The few available hotel/motel rooms available can be had for a poor man's ransom ($150 a night at the Econo Lodge?) Don't let it be said that Silver City can't gouge with the best of the

Sleaze Rock    May 24th     2012
With this edition of Sleaze Rock I’m cutting against the grain.  Not all sleaze rock videos flaunt their dubious artistic value.  Some are asininely obfuscating in subtle ways, others are idiotically monotonous, simplistic and ill conceived. While some may shower them with praise, I call them on their shit. Keeping 'em on their toes, that's what I do.

Sleep Party People - I'm Not Human At All, Sonnets for somnambulists and nonpathologic reverie. Crookers- Lick my Lennon,  (something got lost in the translation, again!)  While She Sleeps- Be (lie)ve  Sir, I can tell are a connoisseur of music by the way you spell cack" Centhron's Dreckstück.  "Entschuldigen Sie, steht vielleicht 'Fick mich!' auf meiner Stirn geschrieben?, hehe... ich schreibe jetzt deutsch weil ihr mich nicht versteht.

Death by Misadventure: Bobby Fuller     May 31st.  2012
During the exuberant era that preceded the Summer of Love, Bobby Fuller was an anomaly. He was a clean cut  young man with a quiet nature with a blatant reverence for Buddy Holly.    Even as "I Fought the Law" hit the charts in 1966 (a song he had first recorded in 1964) His style of music was already viewed as passé.  This moment of triumph would later reveal that Fuller was already struggling to stay relevant.

In all likelihood, Fuller was also the first casualty of the 1960's counter culture movement. He was almost certainly a murder victim, although who killed him and why remains a mystery to this day. Murder conspiracies abound in rock & roll music, they're mostly unfounded theories pulled from thin air by nutcase fanatics. Fuller's case is the rare exception, upon further examination, the LAPD's hasty labeling of his death as a suicide does beg for an explanation.

For a Song: Dazed and Confused      June 7th    2012
"In 1990, Musician magazine quizzed Page on the subject, asking if Holmes was the original composer. "I don't know about all that," Page replied. "I'd rather not get into it because I don't know all the circumstances. What's he got – the riff or whatever? ... I haven't heard Jake Holmes so I don't know what it's all about anyway. Usually my riffs are pretty damn original."

All one has to do is listen to both versions back to back to know that Jimmy Page is lying through his fucking teeth. In many ways Holmes' version is superior to Led Zeppelin's (nevermind the rather abysmal versions recorded by The Yardbirds) Holmes' track is stark, punctuated by a series of caesuras or dramatic silences (which Page also incorporated)

Led Zeppelin's version is a wailing wall of ruckus, during which faux-cocksman Robert Plant moans and groans his way to a climax. It's not pretty, but then again, Led Zeppelin by its very nature was never meant to be pretty or subtle.  Keith Relf, who had far more in common with Jake Holmes than he did with Robert Plant, sticks to more traditional blues vocals, complete with harmonica solo.

The Song Remains Ingrained    June 12th   2012
Don't get me wrong, Jimmy Page is a great guitar player, a shitty human being,  a Satan worshiper, a recovering smack fiend, but a truly gifted musician, nonetheless.  Did he steal from a litany of musical sources? The evidence weighs heavily against him, but that doesn't diminish his greatest, though it could taint his legacy.
Like everything else that I write about, I dole out praise and dirt in equal portions. But, unlike some people, I'm not a Led Zeppelin hater. I celebrate their entire catalog, the band is one of the greatest rock bands ever.  Led Zeppelin changed the face of modern rock as much as the Beatles or Rolling Stones, their music is a testament to that fact.      
The Led Zeppelin Plagiarism Compendium is an online discussion board or forum, where rock music fans gather to slag, bag or nag about  Jimmy's alleged thievery. They've published a list of the songs in question. For no good reason whatsoever, I've decided to investigate the matter and post my highly opinionated and uninformed findings.

Kingdom Clone    June 14th  2012
The crux of the problem, for Lenny Wolf and Kingdom Come was that they sounded just like Led Zeppelin. A fact that rock music critics couldn't ignore, it wasn't long before the band found itself tagged with the derisive moniker of "Kingdom Clone"  The backlash from critics didn't derail the Kingdom Come express, at least not at first. In 1988 they signed on as openers for "The Monsters of Rock" tour featuring The Scorpions, Van Halen, Metallica & Dokken. As the music press continued to hound the band over their derivative "Led Zeppelin" style, the tour soured for them.
Lenny Wolf drew the ire of his fellow countrymen, The Scorpions, who took exception to his using parts of the stage reserved for them. Kingdom Come suddenly had all the appeal of a rotting corpse, they were dropped from the tour. PolyGram looking to hit again while the iron was still lukewarm, marched them back into the studio. The resulting album "In Your Face" went straight to the bargain bins and Kingdom Come went straight into the dustbin of history reserved for "one hit wonders"  

C.W. Ayon- Lohmador     June 21    2012
In the past CW Ayon has been compared to the White Stripes or the Black Keys, that's no longer the case. With his latest album "Lohmador" Coop has gracefully come into his own style. The most pleasant surprise about CW's new album is that his vocals, often buried in the thump & growl of his previous albums, are in full effect.  
In terms of studio production, "Lohmador" really hits the bull's eye.  The mix on "Lohmador" really favors Coop's strengths while, mitigating the  repetitive tendencies so common in the "one man band" genre.  The result is a sublimely textured musical document that flows with a fluidity rarely found in the aforementioned musical tradition.

Death By Misadventure- John Bonham    June 27th 2012
John Bonham was an average bloke, who lived a conventional lifestyle. He was troubled by the most mundane of circumstances. (marriage, insufficient income, no car, rent payments) Nonetheless, Bonzo held on to his dreams with steadfast determination. He was a rather conservative sort, who could play the ruffian if need be. Alcohol was his drug of choice and by the time he joined up with Grant & the boys, he was probably already in the early stages of alcoholism.

The cause of death was asphyxiation, which means he simply choked on his own vomit, having rolled onto his back sometime during the 24 hours he was left unattended. A coroner's inquest declared it was an accidental death, no other drugs were found in his system. The report theorized that John Bonham had consumed over 40 shots of vodka during the final day of his life.  John Henry Bonham, aka Bonzo was just 32 years old at the time of his death.

John Eric Johnson    June 28th  2012
There is regret in the passing of someone so talented, but the music itself didn't die. That's the beauty of recorded music, we'll always have it. Just as we'll always have the memory of a musician's  musician and a dear friend to so many, John Eric Johnson.

Dread Zeppelin    June 29th  2012
Putman & Ramsey came up with Dread Zeppelin, which one music writer described as "the musical equivalent of the witness protection program" In order to avoid any legal problems, Putman & Ramsey played it tongue in cheek. 

The idea of infusing Led Zeppelin songs with reggae was probably something they accidentally stumbled upon, as was their chance meeting with Elvis impersonator Tortelvis (real name Greg Tortell)  Dread Zeppelin quickly incorporated the sumo sized vocalist (he's nowhere near that big, he augments his girth with padding) into their stage show.

Legend has it that the band was cruising around Sierra Madre in their car, when Tortell, who was driving a home delivery truck for a local dairy, rear ended them. That's their story and they're sticking by it, it was even immortalized in one of the band's videos. The truth is that Greg Tortell was a delivery driver for a Sierra Madre dairy  (he still works there, although he was promoted to sales years ago)