Friday, December 23, 2016

Dirt City Chronicles, Year in Review: 2016 Jan.- May

March 2016

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.

April 2016
“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'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.

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.

May 2016

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.

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.

“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.

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. 

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