Friday, March 3, 2017

What Are You Listening To?

So you were listening to the Mael brothers as a ninth grader?... that's cool. I'll see your Sparks and raise you 10cc. Remember how cool they sounded when they first came out? “Load up, load up, load up with rubber bullets. I love to hear those convicts squeal; It's a shame these slugs ain't real” just switch out convicts with water protectors or protesters and you have a song that's a perfect fit for these politically charged times. Lists were so trendy on FB this past summer. I like this game, it's fun to see what everyone listens to, especially musicians and music writers. I'll see your list and raise it with a list of my own. Obviously and by the very nature of this blog, I favor music produced by musicians native to or based in Albuquerque or anywhere else that falls within the boundaries of New Mexico.

The amount of local music available is staggering. It's a pursuit that requires countless hours of searching, listening, recording and curating. This translates into about 80% of what I listen to being local. It takes a train to get me off this track. When I do branch out, I tend to favor non-commercial music that somehow still manages to sound commercial. I'll see your Skyhooks and raise you Split Enz. Funny how music once deemed radical and daring now sounds so ordinary. I dig experimentation but it's the familiar that keeps me coming back. What am I listening to right now besides local music?.... plenty of doom metal for one. I've rediscovered my love of metal music. The hair farmer arena rock metal bands of the 1980s almost killed it for me, but metal is back and in a big way.

I stumbled upon Stoned Meadow of Doom, a YouTube channel dedicated to doom of every sort. It's so heavy that just listening puts you in danger of gravitational collapse. Stone Meadow of Doom draws you into a world of spiraling bone grinding heaviness. Name yer poison: traditional, stoner, funeral, epic, sludge, drone, death and black.... plenty of doom to go around. Myself, I prefer the comfort food of doom sub-genres: Stoner Doom, which lacking the claustrophobic and suffocating sense of malice that envelopes death or black metal, administers a pleasant narcotic effect. It's a hypnotic lullaby that puts you on the nod. A style inspired in part by San Francisco proto-metal pioneers, Blue Cheer. It's nature's Oxycontin soothingly delivered via electricity and amplification.

  1. Lee Van Cleef ~ Holy Smoke.
    This is not the spaghetti western film star but rather the stoner/psych/doom band from Naples, Italy. Stoned Meadow of Doom calls their latest album “Holy Smoke” “Forty minutes of pure and sacred fascination that dilates the conscientious borders and gives off lucidity to the marrow of narcosis” Marco Adamo on guitar, Guido Minervini drummer and Pietro La Tegola on bass.... heavy psych without annoying vocals, showcasing a heavily distorted guitar that sounds like Adamo is dragging the bottom of a lake in search of bodies.

  2. Hey Satan ~ Hey Satan
    Has anyone else noticed that power trios sound much bigger than they used to? How many riffs could Satan riff if Satan riffed riffs? Hey Satan, a Swiss trio answers that question with their eponymous new release “Hey Satan” Riffs upon riffs upon riffs. A wall of doom constructed around a foundation of classic cock rock swagger and sludgy stoner ooze, seemingly inspired by Nine Inch Nails and the first wave Seattle grunge bands more than the heavy metal most Stoner doom outfits favor. Hey Satan is the Stoner version of Mudhoney.
  3. Thou at Hellfest
    Hailing from Baton Rouge, La. Thou's line-up has remained consistent throughout the years. Formed in 2005, a prolific sludge metal band, sporting a hefty discography. Thou gives off an evil vibe that runs counter to the band's true nature. Sure Bryan Funck sounds evil as fuck, but these fellers are as safe as mother's milk. Thou has a tenuous connection to the local scene having recorded a split “Dwell in the Darkness of Thought and Drink the Poison of Life” with 'Burque's own The City is the Tower.

  4. Acid King at Hoverfest
    A stoner metal band from San Francisco, Acid King has been around since 1993. The band revolves around founding members: Lori S., guitarist/vocalist and Joey Osbourne, drummer. The band's name was inspired by the highly publicized murder case of Ricky Kasso, an acid head who murdered one of his friends. He was known as the “Acid King” due to his chronic hallucinogenic drug use. Lori S. who according to Wikipedia “is known for her hypnotic vocals and heavy, low ended guitar sound” was formerly married to Melvins drummer Dale Crover.

  5. Witch Mountain at Hoverfest
    Captures the next to last appearance with Witch Mountain for mesmerizing lead vocalist Uta Plotkin. Witch Mountain is a doom metal band from Portland, Or. “When we started Witch Mountain in 1997, doom metal was one of the most uncool styles of music you could play. We were absolutely ignored by the local press in those days” New singer Kayla Dixon has a theatrical background and a really soulful voice but her over the top showboating style is so gauche when compared to the majestic stage presence of Ms. Plotkin.
  1. Manic Hispanic ~ The Menudo Incident
    Revolving around the recently departed Mike “Gabby” Gaborno, Manic Hispanic was a SoCal punk parody supergroup made up of former or current members of The Adolescents, Agent Orange, Death by Stereo and The Cadillac Tramps. All the members were Mexican-American or part Mexican,, "we're not cholos or gangsters, but we come from that heritage and we're proud of it." thus the band's penchant for covering punk rock standards with a Chicano twist. Gabby Gaborno, proof positive that all true Chicanos from El Lay sound just like Cheech Marin, passed away in January of this year after a long hard battle with liver cancer.

  1. Karen Dalton ~ Pine Street Recording
    Recorded on a reel-to-reel in Karen's Colorado home in 1963. Karen on vocals, long neck banjo and 12 string guitar. A beautifully recorded and preserved intimate document of one of the period's most enigmatic, heartbreaking and wonderfully talented musicians. “Dalton could sound like Billie Holiday, and she had the striking beauty of a Walker Evans dustbowl portrait. Bob Dylan called her his favorite singer from the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960s”
  1. The Kossoy Sisters ~ Bowling Green
    Ellen and Irene Kossoy, identical twins with a knack for close harmony. Their quintessential version of “I'll Fly Away” was featured in the Coen Bros. movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou," only to be replaced on the soundtrack album with a version by Allison Krauss and Gillian Welch. According to Ellen, the use of two different versions of "I'll Fly Away" is still a bit of a mystery. "As far as we know, (Krauss' and Welch's version) had been recorded before the movie came out and using us in the movie was a later decision. We think it's (director/writer) Ethan Coen who made the decision to use us, but we're not absolutely sure about that."

  1. Le Butcherettes ~ Sin Sin Sin
    Formed in Guadalajara by American ex-pat Teri Gender Bender i.e. Teresa Suárez. Le Butcherettes has evolved into a vehicle for Teresa to showcase her prodigious talents as a guitarist, songwriter and vocalist. “Sin Sin Sin” introduced her to a new legion of fans north of the border that Trump loathes so much. Fuck him. Jettison your hateful ideas about lines of demarcation and such, embrace the difference. Teresa is proof that two cultures can not only coexist but thrive by soaking in the best influences of both.
  1. Jenny and the Mexicats ~ 'Ome'
          Formed in Madrid, Spain, a multicultural band made up of musicians from Mexico, Spain and
          the U.K., the Mexicats a.k.a. “Pachucos y la Princesa” have relentlessly toured Mexico and
          now have their sights set on cracking the U.S. market. Jenny Ball began playing the trumpet
          at age 7 and began singing at 15, alongside teaching herself to play the guitar. Jenny sings in
          English but also has a soulful command of the Spanish language, making her a dual threat.
          Capable of tugging at your heartstrings in two languages.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 50

The Subject was Alex Rose

"Crescit eundo," our state motto, a Latin phrase which translates as "It grows as it goes." could also apply to a slew of talented musicians who've fled our fair state. It's no secret, if you're going to “make it” you've got to get out the hell outta Dodge. Episode #49 touched on a pair of such musicians (Amy Linton-Henry's Dress and Lucia Garcia-Electric Grandma) This time around the focus is on Santa Fe's own Alex Rose... the musician behind noteworthy Santa Fe / Albuquerque bands Mistletoe and The Bum Out Patrol. Simultaneous to his role as front man for the aforementioned bands, Alex also made a name for himself both in Santa Fe and Albuquerque due to his work as a studio engineer and producer. This led to his moving to Seattle in pursuit of a career in music production.

Mistletoe was a project formed by high school friends Alex Rose, Javier Romero and Mark Heyman. This version of the band recorded an album 'Sorry It's Been So Long' in 1999... Self released, well realized.... bold ideas delivered via adequate resources. Seven intelligently infectious songs about girls and other hazards. The lyrics exhibited an underlying bitterness and yearning beneath a sweet exterior while focusing on the emotional fallout of missed opportunities and unrequited attraction. The musical similarities between early Mistletoe and early Weezer are glaring, but keep in mind that in 1999 it was de rigueur among the rock & roll set to draw on River Cuomo for inspiration. Mistletoe worked that formula. Oh! Ranger aping Weezer was good for three decent albums. Starsky did it to good effect.

Mistletoe's stock shot up with the addition of Westin Glass on drums and Brian Rains on bass. A move that allowed Alex Rose to switch from drums to guitar. This totally changed the dynamics and fortunes of the band in ways they never would've imagined. “The band started to develop a bigger, more rock sound as we became a tighter live band and started touring a lot,” says Rose. “That was really fun, but I also wanted to do something smaller.” This growth spurt led to Mistletoe appearing on the same bill as The Breeders, Superdrag, The Shins, Pedro The Lion (just to name a few) Another change that took place was a move to Albuquerque. Cracking the 'Burque scene gave Alex Rose an opportunity to showcase his studio skills by working on a number of recordings with local bands. 

Alex and Westin began honing their songwriting skills “I usually walk around with songs in my head that don’t exist yet.” said Rose. “I finally started capturing a handful of them around this time.” Some songs didn't quite fit the Mistletoe mold. This led to the formation of The Bum Out Patrol. Alex and Westin shared front-man duties with one singing and playing guitar while the other played drums and vice versa. B.O.P. grew beyond being a mere side project, performing shows with Enon, Limbeck, The Decemberists and The Frogs. More of a live band, Bum Out Patrol's recorded output was sparse. Three hard to find demo tracks released online is all you'll find (Through the Windshield, Until the Summer, Before You Drive Away... which was later included on the Model Photographer album)
Mistletoe 2.0 released 'This Is Evidence' in 2003. The new album went a step beyond “Sorry It's Been So Long” the growth and maturity evident from the opening track. Driven by muscular guitars, adorned with a few subtle unexpected chord-progression shifts and keyboard textures, the combination of which packed a marvelous rock 'n' roll punch. It's a triumph of musically pleasant, lyrically fascinating songs, tight and vibrantly on the emotional money with the band demonstrating an instrumental expansiveness comparable to the acts that influenced them. (Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Death Cab for Cutie, Big Star etc.) If a mash-up of 1970s influenced power pop, indie alt-rock, shoegaze and emo is what you’re buying, “This is Evidence” was an easy sell.

In retrospect “This is Evidence” was a platform for Alex Rose to show off his production and recording skills. The added depth of production makes the album a sweeping local epic. That being said, this is not the type of album that’s trying to change your life. It somehow manages to achieve a seamless time warp that reflects brilliantly on the past, the present and all concerned. Adventurous yet familiar. “Towards the end of three years in Albuquerque, Rose had two thriving bands and had become a sought-after recording engineer, making records with many of his favorite local bands. Despite this success and the admittedly charming southwest locale, there remained a growing desire to escape the home state for the greener pastures of the Pacific Northwest” 

Relocating to Seattle in early 2004, Alex Rose began working on a solo act that included songs from The Bum Out Patrol's repertoire as well as newer songs that would later turn up on “Model Photographer” (“We Stayed Home,” “Cassette Tape” and “Don’t Be A Moper.”)“Most of the songs were written right before or after I moved from Albuquerque to Seattle,” says Rose. “I was thinking about the future a lot, but I often felt unable to escape the past.” Alex soon found himself playing guitar for Heather Duby and keyboards with Minus the Bear (having worked on their album, Menos El Oso) A reunion with Westin Glass (who also relocated to Seattle) and the addition of bass player John Bagley, proved to be the impetus that led to Alex's solo act evolving into Model Photographer.

Sonicbids bio: “It is an album of honest and direct songs that give the listener a glimpse into the internal world of a musician entering his mid-twenties”One would be tempted to say that “Model Photographer” was either Mistletoe's third album or The Bum Out Patrol album that we never got. Either way, it wouldn't be a far fetched assessment. The album was well executed, the result of Alex Rose having meticulously tweaked the tracks over the course of two years. Completed in 2007, the album was initially released for free online prior to its proper release on June Records. “When I was young and discovering music, I wanted to believe my favorite songs were about real experiences” said Alex Rose. “Since I began writing songs, I have always wanted them to feel like that.”

Versus Magazine wrote: “Sans braces and a Led Zeppelin t-shirt, Model Photographer was much like my first date: young, talented, nervous, and about to steal my heart ... With melodies that promenade hand in hand with sultry vocals, each tune was sweet and sour with tales of almost love” Sonicbids bio: “Much like the contradictory conditions during which they were written, the songs themselves display a certain duality: they are both expansive and intimate, bold and delicate, detached and eager. Rose’s bittersweet vocals and fuzzy guitars blend dreamily with the propulsion of John Bagley’s bass, Westin Glass’ drums and the occasional keyboard overdub.” Due to circumstances, a follow-up album slated for release in 2008 never came to fruition and Model Photographer fell by the wayside.

Alex jumped at a chance to become a full time member of Minus the Bear, a Seattle based indie rock band he joined in 2007, replacing keyboard player Matt Bayles. Having worked with the band on “Menos el Oso” in 2005, Alex contributed to “Planet of Ice” in 2007 and all their subsequent album releases. He eventually took on a more prominent role in the composition process, even taking over lead vocals on a few songs. Minus the Bear's sound is described by Paste as "Pele-esque guitar-taps, atmospheric keyboard textures, quirky odd-time signatures and electronics with sophisticated time signature composition. It’s fresh, frantic, uproariously fun stuff - and ferociously well-played” I'm not sure if “Pele-esque” refers to the Brazilian soccer legend.

In 2006, Westin Glass formed The Reformation which primarily consisted of Westin (playing all the instruments) though it came to include ex-Model Photographer bassist John Bagley and drummer Patrick Huerta. This resulted in two albums “Floral War” in 2007 and “Living the Dream” in 2008. Drawing on influences ranging from late-90 s post-punk to shameless alternative radio hits both drew comparisons to The Foo Fighters, Nada Surf and Kings of Convenience. Concurrently, Glass was also tour drummer for Say Hi To Your Mom. Based in Seattle, Say Hi is Eric Elbogen, who records at home playing all of the instruments and providing vocals. Since 2008, Westin Glass has been a member of Portland based indie band The Thermals, a band formed in 2002 by Hutch Harris and Kathy Foster.

Minus the Bear is still going strong after sixteen years having just released a new album “Voids” Alex Rose is currently taking time off in London. Affording him time to work on his solo project, Nghtblnd (a reference to retinitis pigmentosa, an affliction that renders him blind at night) “It’s rare, and nobody really knows about it. As a kid, it caused me some turmoil. I grew up in Santa Fe, NM. A lot of my friends liked to go on night hikes in the woods, but I couldn’t do it. There were no street lights in a lot of areas; it was pitch black and I couldn’t see” Alex has posted a handful of Nghtblnd demos on Soundcloud as well as tracks he's worked on including: Slowbirdband, Minus the Bear, Rusty Maples, Nouela and there's even a remix of Britney Spears “I Wanna Go” Click play and enjoy.

The shiny roadsters of today will fill the junkyards of tomorrow”

Alive ~ Constant Harmony
Arsonist ~ Manuka Piglet
Don't Be a Moper ~ Model Photographer
Lordymine ~ The Haptics
Patty Mayonnaise ~ Mistletoe
Brighton ~ Firstone
Lipbiter ~ Pancakes
Gold ~ Electric Grandma
Through the Windshield ~ Bum Out Patrol
Hollywood Happy ~ Hurdle
Rise and Shine ~ Pilot to Bombardier
Hover ~ Mistletoe
Gone ~ Model Photographer
Loveless ~ Constant Harmony
What the Wonders ~ Electric Grandma
Until the Summer ~ Bum Out Patrol
Radio On ~ Full Speed Veronica

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Off the Rack: Henry's Dress

There's a bend in the wire, I can't ring you today.

I'm sure ya'll remember Henry's Dress, they were Albuquerque's great rock hope prior to the Shins. Formed in 1993, Amy Linton and Matt Hartman effortlessly shared lead vocals and took turns playing guitar or drums, accompanied by Hayyim Sanchez on bass. Long before experimentation came to define the Duke City music scene, Henry's Dress created a cutting edge sound unlike anything else. Noisy little songs played with an appealing DIY sloppiness. Screechy feedback masking an underlining pop sensibility. A muddy mix meant that Amy's vocals (more so than Matt's) were usually buried in the din. Making it a chore to try and discern just what was being said. All this only added to the band's appeal as they banged around 'Burque for the first few months they were together.

Before their hometown could warm up to them, Henry's Dress relocated to the Bay Area following Amy Linton's acceptance to the San Francisco Art Institute. Once there, they were signed to Slumberland Records, releasing their first single “1620 b/w Stumble” in 1993. “Henry's Dress were that rare band for us - a group that we discovered through a demo tape, and then only through Amy Linton's heroic perseverance in getting a very busy Papa Slumber to listen” Papa was label manger Michael Schulman, who left Amy a phone message “Wanna do a record?” Slumberland Records started out as a collective effort formed by band members of Velocity Girl and Big Jesus Trash Can in Silver Spring, Md. Under Schulman's direction Slumberland relocated to Berkeley, Ca. in 1992.

Plenty of hoopla surrounded Henry's Dress when they signed with Slumberland, leading some in Albuquerque to believe that they would be the band to finally bust out of what was rapidly becoming a fruitful local music scene. After the move Matt offered this observation on the local scene: “When we lived in Albuquerque, most of the popular bands there were of the Amphetamine Reptile school of Jesus Lizard. But I guess we left kind of on the cusp of an expanding scene of music that began to at least loosen up and get into different kinds of things. It's been kind of interesting to see how that's evolved. Last year, I spent a good two or three months in Albuquerque, but I didn't really see much music. Some good bands there are The Drags, and this band Flake that we did a split single with.”

This set the stage for their eponymous EP release “Henry's Dress” which was well received. “This EP documents the band's middle period, branching out from their initial interests in Loop-meets-MBV pop heaviness into the more mod/punk sounds that would fuel their later efforts. Anyway you slice it, this record is a smash. The band would go even further down the mod/punk route with their subsequent album "Bust 'em Green," but this EP represents a raw, immediate document of a band finding their footing and their own unique sound. And best of all - it still sounds freaking great. Their fantabulous (sic) first ep that set a new standard for LOUD. Smashing MBV-meets-Who-flavored mod/punk/sonic pop. Perfect.” (in case you're wondering, MBV stands for My Bloody Valentine) 

Trouser Press weighed: “Henry's Dress is simple, gentle garage pop carpeted wall-to-wall with an excess of surly feedback. The easy tempo and the heavy guitar wash place the songs midway between Psychocandy, Loveless and some of the early Creation catalog, but the mass of sound often eclipses the fragile melodies. The entire effort is likable on a general drone level, but the band's real promise is barely hinted at. The full-length Bust 'Em Green is eons ahead of its predecessor, marking a much more distinct territory for Henry's Dress. The band had grown by leaps and bounds, “The feedback still lingers in places, but it's been restrained to blend rather than blanket, a progression thankfully in tandem with the band's vastly improved and thoroughly impressive pop instincts.”

Trouser Press: “Nearly every song here is a gem in its own right” Despite the critical acclaim, by the time their full length album “Bust 'Em Green” came out in 1996, Henry's Dress was on the cusp of a break up. The band's rigid adherence to the noise pop formula left them little room for progression and Amy was rapidly outgrowing her band mates... musically speaking. Henry's Dress like so many 'Burque expats before them, faded from the scene. Matt Hartman and Hayyim Sanchez moved on. Amy however, was just getting warmed up. Their quick departure from Albuquerque probably explains they're better known in San Francisco than in their hometown. Which is a shame because Amy Linton is easily one of the most talented and accomplished musicians to ever come out of the Duke City. 

Post- Henry's Dress, Amy formed The Aisler Set, a band characterized by its jangling guitars and melodic power pop song structures. Signed by Sumberland and doted over by music scribes, Amy's new project quickly rose to a level of success barely imaginable with Henry's Dress. The Aisler Set's first album “Terrible Things Happen” was released in 1998 and garnered glowing reviews from CMJ. The album's success led to a tour of Japan in 1999. Their second album “The Last Match” made it to's Top 20 for the year 2000. declaring “Linton has cleared the cobwebs off the Pop conundrum and dolled them up in a perfect dress.” Greil Marcus at wrote: "They make dream pop feel as easy to make as a can of soup, and as dangerous: Watch that jagged edge."

More praise followed from The New York Times, NME, Gear and Alternative Press. The Aisler Set then toured in support of Sleater Kinney and Bratmobile. A 2001 European tour resulted in an invitation to record a session for John Peel. In 2002 following an East Coast tour opening for Belle and Sebastian (Stevie Jackson was quoted as saying: "They are one of the best groups in America as far as I'm concerned") The San Francisco Chronicle included The Aislers Set in its list of “Young Artists on the Verge”.... "The Aislers Set's reinvention of '60s pop resurrects walls of garage guitars and rich, Spector-esque sound, insouciance combined with insightful lyrics. But this quintet makes the past feel contemporary, borrowing from punk and pop to create a 21st century cool sound"

As The Aisler Set ran its course, Amy collaborated with Stewart Anderson of Sumblerland label mates Boyracer (formed in Leeds, England, Anderson was the only constant member of the band. There's an iconic photo of Amy playing drums for Henry's Dress while wearing a Boyracer jersey) The lo-fi, shoegaze idie duo recorded a single in 2000 as Linton & Anderson (“The Lights are Out”) on Sumberland. They kept a low profile until 2015 when “Looking For a Stranger On The Shore” was released on Emotional Response Records. Amy now living in Brooklyn was mentioned in 2012 by the Riverfront Times (a St. Louis weekly publication) after her home was burglarized and her extensive vinyl collection was cherry picked of hundreds of her most valuable records.

While still a member of Henry's Dress, Amy Linton also played drums for Go Sailor, a Berkeley based band that included Rose Melberg (Tiger Trap & the Softies) Go Sailor released three singles and one full length compact disc (on Lookout! Records) AllMusic noted that: “The band and Melberg's songwriting are as keen as ever, and Go Sailor does nothing but deliver on the jangling four-chord structures and indie pop hooks her fans have come to expect” Two of Go Sailor's songs were later featured on the motion picture soundtrack for “But I'm a Cheerleader”a 1999 satirical comedy directed by Jamie Babbit and starring Natasha Lyonne as a high school cheerleader whose parents send her to a conversion therapy camp to cure her lesbianism. Boy Howdy!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 49

"Mission to Albuquerque"

“Nothing could be finer than a 49er, start a fire with an old spare tire and a few pieces of coal....” Here's the skinny on Episode #49, Dirt City Chronicles, the podcast. Brought to you by the fine folks at Dirt City Chronicles, who's motto is: “If it ain't from New Mexico, it ain't shit” Forty nine episodes in and the irrepressible Henry's Dress make their Dirt City debut. My bad. Also, Pilot to Bombardier checks in with a nifty version of The Cars “Just What I Needed” Pilot to Bombardier, in my opinion (and that of others, just ask Brett Maverick a.k.a. Capt. America) was one of the best Albuquerque bands ever. They're reuniting on Jan. 28th. 2017 at the Launchpad. (w/Leeches of Lore Holy Glories & Nuzzzle) If you missed them the first time around, here's a chance to atone for that mistake.

Pilot to Bombardier evolved from Roman Candle Choir and Fever Hot (one of their songs is included on Socyrmom's “Ouch! Welcome to Albuquerque “ compilation) The core of the group consisted of Travis Williams, Sean McCullough and Miguel Villareal “Migs” augmented by a rotating roster of bass players (Rhian Batson, Liam Kimball, Forest Agee) Two former members of Fever Hot (Jack Sparacino & Rhian ) moved to Chicago and formed the South of No North (don't mistake them for the darkwave band from Greece or the band from Brussels that go by the same name) Rhian eventually returned to 'Burque, teaming up with Sean McCullough, Chris Moffatt & Nate Santa Maria in The Oktober People. Described by the Dallas Morning News as “a well-oiled Albuquerque outfit"

Pilot  To Bombardier's discography begins in 2000 with the five song demo ep otherwise known as “The Pilot demo” (Sean, Travis, Migs w/Liam Kimball) That was followed by a split 7” with a Chicago based band, the South of No North, a band that took its name from South of No North a collection of short stories by Charles Bukowski, the so-called "Poet Laureate of Skid Row", originally published in 1973. (“Valentine” featuring Migs on bass being Pilot to Bombardier's contribution) Between 2002-03 Pilot to Bombardier recorded three tracks for a Science Project Records compilation album. On the previously mentioned Cars cover “Just What I Needed” (recorded in 2003,w/Migs on bass) they worked with the Santa Fe wunderkind, Alex Rose, who handled the basic tracking.

A demo version of “Moving Day” was recorded at Stepbridge Studios in Santa Fe in March, 2003. To my knowledge, Pilot to Bombardier never released a full length album and unlike so many other local bands of yore, they're not available on Bandcamp or Soundcloud. Thankfully, the band does have a website that's still active, complete with audio tracks
Can I get a woot woot? Beside The Oktober People, Sean McCullough is or has been a member of Sad Baby Wolf and The Bellmont. Not sure what became of the other members of Pilot to Bombardier, though their web page does make mention of Travis moving to Dallas to pursue his medical degree and Miguel traveling to Bolivia “to witness firsthand the production of coca plants.

I'll wait til the weekend saves us all

Lucia Garcia in her own words is a “singer, songwriter and inter-dimentional super deva” as opposed to “diva” an operatic term used to describe a distinguished female singer i.e. prima donna. Deva is a divine being or god in Buddhism. A member of a class of divine beings in the Vedic period, which in Indian religion are benevolent and in Zoroastrianism are evil. Lucia is described as a renaissance woman, a creator and traveler from the mysterious mesas of New Mexico. A musician on a mission with a passion for creation. Ms. Garcia, Electric Grandma if you please, explains her pseudonym: "I'm very like a grandmother. I have traits that you would think a grandmother would have. I have a very old soul." Lucia's recipe for creating music is firmly planted in the thoroughly modern electric rave culture of today's millennials, with a tip of the hat to the glittery disco divas of yesterday.

Hailing from Albuquerque, Lucia is now based in Savannah, Ga. along with her fiancé and musical collaborator, Matt Duplessie- designer, songwriter and producer. A trained pianist (check out her 2013 release, Piano Compositions Vol. 1, available for streaming on Bandcamp) Lucia also plays keyboards with eight-member Savannah band Word of Mouth. Bill DeYoung writing for Connect Savannah, an arts & entertainment weekly publication describes Word of Mouth's music as “an amalgam of styles, including hip hop, electronica and straight-ahead rock” and Electric Grandma as “synthesizer-driven dance music, soundscapes created from a nuanced balance of software-crafted beats, an arsenal of keyboards, guitars and other instruments, and Garcia's airy soprano vocals”

Lucia has released a series of solo recordings on Bandcamp beginning with the aforementioned “Piano Compositions Vol. 1” and a single “Gold” in 2013. Her solo album “Electric Grandma” also released in 2013, was written, played and recorded by Garcia and Matt Duplessie. Music scribe, Bill De Young cut to the chase: “She's not nearly old enough to be anyone's grandmother, but Lucia Garcia — who calls herself Electric Grandma — certainly crackles with electric energy” "I really wanted to make it dance-y, because I feel that dance is one of the strongest forms of prayer that we can give," is how Garcia explains it. "You're just fully immersed in the feeling of the dance. And I think when you take your mind out of it, that's what really brings you closer to God."

Since the release of “Electric Grandma” Lucia has followed up with a pair of ethereal electronic dream pop singles “Living in a Dream” and “What the Wonders” Lucia continues to evolve as an artist.... "Growing up in New Mexico there were so many outdoor raves and parties. My brother is really big in the rave community out there. Electronic music was part of my upbringing. It was a dream of mine to learn these electronic programs, because they looked so alien to me, literally. It just looked so foreign. And then when I met Matt, he'd already been producing for a while. He really knew the programs. So he really helped me delve into it, and start learning the intricacies. It goes so deep, I'm barely scratching the surface of what these programs can do." 

Here's an interesting tidbit: “Born in the mysterious mesas of New Mexico, Lucía García has always been inspired by the vast and colorful textures of her homeland. Since an early age, Lucía has always had a heightened awareness to subtle energies, and through this gift has made it a mission to help raise the vibration of the planet through the sacred frequencies of music, with analogous lyrics carrying a positive message of evolution, human/god potential, and the science of spirituality.” Ain't nothing but a party ya'll.... just with an evolved consciousness and an unwavering sense of spiritual commitment. In Lucia's hands dance becomes an avenue of atonement. That being the factor that separates Lucia Garcia from the Cuylear sisters of Lindy Vision, with whom she shares a musical genre if nothing else.

Wherein (stylistically speaking) the ladies from Lindy Vision go down a hedonistic road to ruin, jaded and faded. Lucia works a similar vein seeking spiritual enlightenment. Making the world a better place with electronic music as a vehicle of change. They're both living for the weekend, but Lucia preaches that facing yourself in the mirror after tossing aside all your inhibitions and giving in to your deepest desires is easier to do if you're spiritually grounded. Either way it's all about perception and image. Both Lucia and Lindy Vision favor slick music videos, high end production adorned with glossy effects. Its an approach looked down on by those who perceive themselves as “serious artists” Not that there's anything wrong with using all the tools at your disposal. We live in the digital age, get wise bubble eyes. 

En serio homies, do yourself a favor, give this native Burqueña a listen. Lucia isn't very well known in her home state and that's a fucking shame. She's cutting edge, innovative and absolutely adorable.... how can you go wrong? Lucia Garcia is available on Bandcamp, CD Baby and YouTube (check out Lucia & Matt live on Connect Sessions, which includes an interview conducted by Bill De Young of Connect Savannah) 

Ralph Rook ~ The Scrams
Heartless Death Machine ~ Rock Jong IL
Fantasma ~ Iceolus
Five Years ~ MHTH
Selfish ~ The Dying Beds
And Remember If I Attack You (It's Nothing Personal) ~ Fukrot
Giant Green Ants ~ Black Maria
Held Whole ~ Lilith
Sugar Bowl ~ Henry's Dress
Barnstorming Sleight of Hand ~ Roñoso
Brink of Reality ~ Electric Grandma
Roll On ~ The Blackout Disciples
I Wanna Be Your Dog ~ Sweet Nothin
Just What I Needed ~ Pilot to Bombardier
Down Again ~ The Elevator Boys
Romantic Minds ~ Abandoned Mansions

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Dirt City Chronicles, Year in Review: 2016 Oct.- Dec.

Death metal is much maligned, due mostly to its inherent preoccupation with subject matter such as; death, suffering, destruction and mayhem..... did I mention death and suffering? The primary characteristic of Death metal that sets it apart from other sub-genres are the vocals. Typically, lead singers will employ a hoarse roaring grunt, sometimes referred to as death growls, which should never be confused with vocal fry, a technique used in other forms of black metal. “The vocal fry register (also known as pulse register, laryngealisation, pulse phonation, creak, croak, popcorning, glottal fry, glottal rattle, glottal scrape, or strohbass) is the lowest vocal register and is produced through a loose glottal closure which will permit air to bubble through slowly with a popping or rattling sound of a very low frequency” Though unproven, growled vocals may have been a part of Viking music.

The difference between the genres is in the details. What primarily separates Black metal from Death metal is the former's adherence to ideological Satanism (not necessarily practical Satanism) Defining the term 'black metal', Euronymous (a founder and central figure in the Norwegian black metal scene) said that it applies to any heavy metal band who are theistic Satanists and write Satanic lyrics. Such extreme ideas repeated by other scene members, eventually caused it to implode upon itself. Not all the musicians and fans were mother loving Satan worshipers, many were bandwagon believers who dropped all pretenses of allegiance to Beelzebub once the shit hit the fan with a pair of highly publicized gristly murders involving key figures in the Norwegian black metal scene.

The entire charade ends with an emphatic chant of “Who's Walmart is this?” to which the now frothing associates yell back “My Walmart!” They should just hand out amphetamine pills at the start of every shift. Wash them down with those Little Hugs fruit drinks that Walmart sells by the millions. Not all stores do the cheer anymore, mainly because it scares the shit out of customers. All in all, Walmart radio isn't that bad. It's a carefully formatted station that mixes Contemporary Hit radio with the that old format warhorse, Good Time Oldies.... sprinkled with just enough country music hits to keep the redneck associates happy. No actual commercials are played, just Walmart ads and friendly reminders designed to keep associates productive and focused. Walmart has licensed tons of music since the days of Walmart Music, so the playlist varies more than that of your average “Hot mix” station. Plenty of hit songs, lots of Beatles, Stones, classic rock, classic oldies and what have you.

Do you have any idea how surreal it is to hear “Sold in a market down in New Orleans, Scarred old slaver know he's doin' alright, Hear him whip the women just around midnight” played overhead in a Walmart at 3a.m.? It gives me the whammy. I still say that the song selections are meant to carry a subliminal message. The Beatles “Don't Let Me Down” plays at crunch time, just as associates are struggling to complete their daily tasks. “When Will I Be Loved” kicks in just after that (I've been cheated, been mistreated) Paul Revere's “Hungry” comes on right before the lunch break and The Guess Who's “No Time” just as the lunch hour comes to a close. Invariably associates will call in with requests for “Proud Mary” ..... “Workin' for the man ev'ry night and day and I never lost one minute of sleepin' worryin' 'bout the way things might have been” or “Working in a Coalmine”.... “Five o'clock in the mornin' I'm already up and gone Lord, I'm so tired How long can this go on?”

The city's music scene also has an inspired progressive side, which we'll be exploring in this episode. I'm partial to DAMN Union a collective of musicians anchored by Danny Graves and Aaron Ransbarger, both formerly of The Rawdogs. Build around jam sessions referred to as The Dona Ana Music Night Union (DAMN Union) the lineup is fluid. I'm reading this off their Facebook page... the current touring roster consists of Graves, Ransbarger, Larry Ramos, Tucker and Andrew Levi Hiller. Other notable members include: Audra Rogers, Neeshia Macanowicz, Joe Hecker, Mike Granado, Ben Cantrell, Chuck Drexler. A variable super group of sorts, especially so when Sean Lucy joins the proceedings. Casting egos aside for the betterment of music, a collaborative effort that sparkles like the starry skies of Southern New Mexico.... the results speak for themselves. 

Sean Lucy is the last of the cosmic cowboys, taking up where Gram Parsons (the original cosmic cowboy) and legendary troubadour, Townes Van Zandt left off. Michael Murphy, another singer/songwriter with New Mexico ties describes cosmic cowboy music as “The cross pollination between Hippie and Cowboy. Early 70s hippie stuff combined with kind of the red-neck mentality. Texas accents and Country music” Boy Howdy. DoStuff Media: “This blonde cowboy hails from Texas, where lots of good things come from.... and then they stay gone” We'll stake a claim on the technicolor cowboy, Texas' loss in New Mexico's gain. Sean is a prolific songwriter with an extensive discography, Eleven albums starting with “The New Vulgarity” released in 2006 leading up his two latest releases, “King Clone Creosote” and “Pearl Snaps & Blunt Wraps”

Pickin' On is a series of tribute albums recorded by studio musicians in a bluegrass style. The series logs in at over one hundred albums, running the gamut from Three Doors Down to Hank Williams Jr. plus everyone and anyone that you can imagine in between. It's hit or miss. When it's good, (Van Halen's “Ain't Talking 'Bout Love” or The Offspring's “Gone Away”) it's really good. The bad stuff amounts to little more than the bluegrass equivalent of a square peg being forced into a round hole. “The Pickin' On series isn't alone in this world. Iron Horse a bluegrass band from Killen, Alabama has perfected the same formula for turning alt-rock songs into bluegrass tunes. It's the Sound-a-Like marketing technique of the early 1970s reinvented for the Americana set. The local tie-in? both Iron Horse and Pickin' On have covered The Shins, with good results.

I will without the least bit of hesitation, admit to crying whenever I hear either Fast Heart Mart or The Handsome Family's original version of “My Sister's Tiny Hands” It's a song that fucks with my emotions. “We came in this world together, legs wrapped around each other. My cheek against my sister's, we were born like tangled vines” We all know the feeling of having someone ripped from us. Such pain being the vehicle that drives this heart rendering tale of sorrow and vengeance. “Every creature casts a shadow, under the sun's golden fingers” Makes ya' wanna grab a sharpened stick and start killing snakes. Fast Heart Mart (Martin Stamper) having completed a series of concerts in Germany and Finland, is still based in San Diego, with his most recent performances taking place at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass held in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

It took ten years for Kyroburn to drop their first album “Enigmatic Existence” on the Continental Entertainment label in 2005. Recorded at Krank Studios in El Paso, produced by Eddy Garcia (Pissing Razors, he also produced the 6-track N-Cyde demo for the band. Which included a cover of the Simple Minds, Don't You Forget About Me) “Enigmatic Existence” is triumph of crisp, clean production, strong, muscular instrumental performances, and the barking vocals of Todd Brashear. While the exact parameters of this organically appealing sound have been explored before (Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad) It doesn't detract from the album's overall appeal. Kryoburn carefully culled their influences from the very best of the alt-metal rockers from that period with highly effective results.

AllMusic's take: “This 2005 release is generally decent, at least if one enjoys a big dose of crushing brutality. Not every artist who comes along is obligated to be groundbreaking or innovative” Kyroburn wasn't having any of that “trendsetter” bullshit and once they dropped the hammer on their audience, it's not likely that anyone had any fucks to give about innovation. It's nothing but a party ya'll. Whatever momentum Kyroburn may have garnered after “Enigmatic Existence” quickly dissipated as the band suffered a number of setbacks including a round of personnel changes which left them pondering their own enigmatic existence. “When artists who wear their influences on their sleeves, function as followers rather than leaders, the question becomes, Are they good followers?” 

Behold Boar Worship's oozing sludge emanating from anguished speakers already tortured beyond repair by repeated plays of Inappropriate Necessity. For those who love sludgy stoner rock, Boar Worship is the musical equivalent of comfort food. A relentless static charged sound so dense and heavy that you could cut through it with a knife. This experimental doom outfit was formed in Albuquerque (2009) relocated to Oakland, Ca. and is currently based in Denver, Co. The release of their debut album “The Decline and Fall of the Christian Empire” in 2009 introduced us to their droning rock of ages and a Brahman inspired dogma designed to lift the curtain to those seeking enlightenment. I'm reading between the lines, but hear me out anyway. “Pro Death” an ep released in 2012 touches on the rejection of lower worship by the militant faiths as a way of explaining why they have conquered and kept a permanent dominion over the world's god fearing masses.

This search for profound spiritualism culminated with the release of “Boar Worship” in 2015. “The interior truths, the divine secrets, the real way of salvation are known only to a few. The great majority of men, being timid and ignorant are concerned mainly in propitiating the powerful and malignant influences by which they fancy themselves to be surrounded” The supremely dominant principle of modern times is that the world is on a course of continual evolution... though the current political climate in our nation leads one to think that Devo got it right, devolution not evolution is our destiny. As we gear up for the coming apocalypse, my soundtrack of choice for end of the world warfare shall be this beastly sound. Beats Wagner’s “Ritt der Walküren” every single time. “Boar Worship” is not for the weak-kneed or faint of heart. If you suffer from delicate sensibilities or are easily offended just stick with Slipknot or some other equally cartoonish band

Many have tried to compose a complete history of Albuquerque's music scene and many have failed. The downfall of most music scribes attempting this is that they fail to grasp the complex nature and immense depth and variety within the Duke City's local music scene. A little over a year ago I took on this challenge and set out to write as complete a history of 'Burque's garage / punk / soul beat scene in the 1960s as has ever been written.... I'm leaving it up to you to determine whether I failed or not. While not on the scale of Doctor Zhivago, it is of epic proportions. The size of which led my older sister (a retired librarian and school marm) to say that there were too many words. Well, powder my fuse. Imagine that, a librarian complaining about too many written words.

When writing pertains to historical facts, leaving something out for the sake of brevity is akin to writing a history of the Civil War and ignoring The battle of Gettysburg. If there's anything that I've learned from years of reading Rolling Stone, Creem, Goldmine, Bomp and Trouser Press, it's that pertinent facts such as recording labels, session players, release dates etc. are the holy grail for a music completist. Leave them out at the risk of killing your music nerd street cred. I blame Twitter for this aversion to reading. That social networking service favored by none other than Donald Trump has conditioned users to peruse snippets of text enhanced with emojis. Anything longer than a single line of text is too fucking long. Shortened attention spans, the bane of writers. Fuck Twitter.