Son of 76 -
Shake & Howl
On the kick off track entitled "Clean", Josh Hoyer, AKA Son of 76, sings "I'm trying to do things my way and still make ends meet", and that sums up a lot of who Josh is, a man who lives by and for his music, and clearly puts all of himself into it.
Son of 76 pulls together a nice blend of R&B, Funk, Soul, Blues and Rock, and has a really strong classic 70's R&B feel to it. While you can hear things that remind you of a thousand different bands or songs while listening, on the whole it sounds like so broad a collection of influences all at once, that it ends up not really sounding like anyone else except Son of 76.
As mentioned above, "Clean" starts off the CD, and while a good song, the verses and choruses go on for nearly 4 minutes before there's a bridge, which I was ready for when the 3rd verse started. by the time the bridge is over and it starts into a 4th verse, I was ready for the song to be over, but it kept going on...a bit too long for me, but otherwise great. "Dead Man" is a bluesy funk minor-key 1-4-5 that recalls the sound of Albert Collins. Some really nice turnarounds in Dead Man.
There aren't enough "o's"to describe just how smooooooooooooooth the song "Water" is. "Whiskey Queen" is another slow bluesy R&B groove type song with a nice sax solo and blasts of dirty guitar. Had I been producing the CD, I'd have reccommended leaving this song off.
For me, the disk really starts to pick up now starting with The Angels Must Be Tired", the rocker of the bunch. This one recalls the sound of Morphine. "Heavy Hearts In Leather Jackets" is the stand out track on the disk. A guitar-based Surf instrumental that doesn't sound remotely out of place where you'd think it might. While the sound is classic surf, it's played over a chord structure that is pretty non-tradtional surf style, and it makes it a much more interesting song, possilby moreso then any other surf song I've ever heard, and I've heard a lot of surt songs! The horn section in the middle of the song is awesome, and adds a lot of dimension. It's very simple which suits the song, but the 3 parts are so well arranged to fit perfectly. "Separation Nation" brings the disk back to it's R&B/Bluesy feel again. "Shake And Howl", the title track is up next, and it's a really strong track that wouldn't have sounded out of place on any album by The Blasters. A great song, but at this point, even with the break of some different musical styles in the middle of the disk, things overall are starting to sound the same about now, especially the vocal phrasing. "Grace And Love" features some great piano and guitar work, and the closer, "The Night" features an awesome B-3 solo.
Excellent production work by Josh and Charlie Johnson who recorded the disk at his Rolled Up Records studio here in Lincoln. Individually every song on this disk is great. Extremely well written, arranged and performed, Josh's vocals and vocal arrangements are great throughout. The only thing that was an issue for me is that maybe there could have been even more stylistic variety, but overall Josh has turned out an excellent effort for his first solo release.
- Tery Daly
The Killigans -
Brown Bottle Hymnnal
Trad-punk six piece The Killigans hail from Nebraska, the American central Great Plains State framed by Bruce Springsteen in his 1982 release of the same name. Perhaps, for many outsiders, Springsteen conclusively established the imagery of the place through his bare lyrics and bleakly romantic cover art, his own vision of a vast and lonely rural America echoed in Tom Waits songs such as ‘Whistle Down The Wind’ and ‘Train Song’. Whatever the case, The Killigans’ debut album Brown Bottle Hymnal shows them steeped in a raw fresh aura of hinterland. They are, perhaps, the only recorded example of an elusive species; the spiritually rural punk band.
And punk they are. Although their lyrics would no doubt earn a nod from Steve Earle and Jeff Tweedy, this is not ‘country’ – whatever that is – nor is it the critically-cherished style known as ‘Americana’. The Killigans owe something to Flogging Molly’s electric folk crunch and love of full-throated delivery but the accent is their own. Opening with the jaunty dockyard accordion of ‘Lullaby For The Working Man’, dual vocalists Brad Hoffman and Chris Nebesniak launch into a raucous lament for shafted underdogs that sounds like it could have surfaced in one of Woody Guthrie’s long-lost songbooks. The pace is maintained with The Dubliners’ trad favourite ‘The Holy Ground’, a prayer sung by sailors amongst themselves so that they may return again to the women and taverns that complement their other real addiction; the sea itself. People will still be singing this song in a hundred years and The Killigans understand this quality and do it justice.
‘Ballad For The Working Man’ is another vignette of proletariat frustration and restriction – “ The factory life is all I have, an all inclusive club … I know that I’m just an ordinary man, I’m none too smart” – but still holds onto the hope of defiance, spat out alongside the resentment: “We will rise up, stand up and fight”. The mix has electric and tautly strummed acoustic guitar complementing each other neatly and brings to mind the better Flogging Molly stuff.
There’s a hearty toast to The Dropkick Murphys on ‘Story Of Tom Mathine’ with it’s bar room call-and-answer verses and swaying singalong chorus, snare roll-driven pace and bawdy storyline in which the title character – “ a bully and a prick through and through “ – gets his just desserts at the hands of a no-nonsense, hard-drinking preacher.
The band takes a detour with the introspective ‘Season Of My Weakness’, a catchy mid-tempo folk rock number. Then it’s sleeves rolled up and straight back into the lowly bars with ‘Radney’s Ghost’, a theatrical pirate yarn of treachery and the cat, inspired by Melville’s Moby Dick: “ Being flogged on the deck was more than he could bear … Rad was dropped with a punch, spouted blood just like a whale “. All signs point to this one being a jawbreaker when played live.
The faded but beloved Dubliners and Clancy Brothers records come out again with ‘The Old Orange Flute’, the surreal tale of the fickle Orangeman Bob Williamson who runs off with a Catholic girl, taking his prized - but seemingly possessed - flute with him; try as he might, he can’t get the instrument to play anything but ‘The Protestant Boys’ and so a council of priests burn it at the stake. However, the flute has the last say: “ As the flames soared around, sure it made a quare noise, ‘twas the old flute still playing ‘The Protestant Boys!’ ”.
‘Lessons From The Empty Glass’ is a banjo-led instrumental that sounds like the soundtrack to the most gloriously fun and violent western TV series never made. Then the band really hit the highway with ‘The Old Road Down’, a big, brooding mid-American number that calls to mind Copperhead Road-era Steve Earle; “ Got everything I own inside this Chevrolet, going nowhere and that needle’s dropping fast, that woman broke my heart in St. Louis, shot ‘em both and drove into the west “.
The guitars stay cranked for ‘Apathetic Notions’, a curse against the exploitative status quo and the system that leads to “most of us exploited by the rich” not knowing “we’ve put the yoke on our own necks”. But as with their other political songs, there is a flame of hope through making such acknowledgments.
The album ends with the desolate and moving ‘ Desperate Cry ‘. This is the sort of song that John Mellencamp may have written if he had joined a punk band - “ Famer stands watching as his crops wilt away … cry out to the Lord God, ‘Help me Jesus I pray! “ - it immediately calls to mind the classic Rain On The Scarecrow. The spare arrangement, using only trumpet and acoustic guitar to accompany Hoffman’s bereft voice, flips the whole album upside down on its head.
Brown Bottle Hymnal is a significantly original punk rock release. Hoffman’s capacity to lead and hold a tune rivals the best of them and the lyrics are varied and engaging. It smells as fresh as approaching rain and a cracked can of cold beer. The Killigans have drawn water from the well and are irrigating their own fields.
- Will Swan
Manslaughterer is a fairly new band around Lincoln that has been pounding the eardrums
and brains of many innocent scenesters venturing into the world of "NO COAST POWER
VIOLENCE". They have been playing numerous shows around Lincoln and cities around the
midwest while sharing stages with bands like Municipal Waste, Catheter, Faggot, Ed
Gein, The Emerald, Wasteoid and many others. They've released a demo recently compiled
of 13 songs in a little over 15 minutes. This recording is a great representation of
their musical insanity that makes you feel like doing leapfrog jumps over the singer
while raging the circle pit. They cover a range of music from black metal buzzsaw
guitar riffs to complete choas power violence to headbanging jams of hardcore fury.
They blend in a lot of noise samples between songs which brings to mind of bands like
Gasp or Iron Lung, which isn't necessarily extreme harsh noise but just enough
disturbance to make the next song kick in so much harder. The vocals
seem to be screaming so loud that it just strains out every muscle holding the throat
together. The guitar is most of the time melodic but played real fast and has a real
black metal feel to it while the drums hold together fast blasts of thrash and
pummeling breakdowns that are far from cheesy metalcore drumming. They definitely have
that mid-90's hardcore sound mixed into thrash and black metal. Lyrics seem to focus on
the absurd of disease and knife fighting. Also, featuring the cover artwork of
Jeffmetal! This demo is a great release and this band will only get better as time
goes. For fans of In/Humanity, Gob (not the pop punk one), Gasp, Wasteoid, Asschapel,
Teen Cthulu, and Cavity. Expect a live cassette on Accidental Therapy.
- this has been a product of accidental therapy - Morkus Dalorkus
Axes To The Sky -
"II" (2005 demo)
THIS IS SO FUCKING METAL! Speed metal at its finest and hailing from the land of indie
bullshit. This is Axes second demo and quite far the best in their recordings to date.
They seemed to have found the exact sound they were going for this time around and
execute with pure intensity. They blend in 80's bay area thrash with speed metal and
death metal extremities. The songs on here range from 2 minutes to over 10 minutes,
each being diverse from one another and keeping this recording from ever getting
boring. Very defined dueling speed metal guitar riffage over tons of double bass. Lots
of guitar tweaking and solos placed perfectly throughout the songs and adding just the
right mosh parts to keep the pit going. The vocals really add to how awesome these
songs are. They seemed to get away from the Bruce Dickensen style high pitched vocals
to more structured tones and screams that have an interesting mix of Rob Halford, Joey
Belladonna, King Diamond, Glen Benton, and Chuck Billy.
Though, the vocals have weird twists and turns that combine actual singing and plenty
of screaming, growling, and hollaring. The drumwork is consistant and not too show off
to keep it from losing intensity. Great double bass and fills that keep rolling within
the songs and demand giant head bangs. Trembling low end bass sound with just enough
distortion to add power and stay heavy. I would have to say 'Stillborn' and 'Burn
Metal' are choice cuts on this disc. Evil and dark lyrics dealing with satanic demons
and party favors. (heh heh) Definitely for speed metal heshers everywhere who enjoy the
likings of Mercyful Fate, Testament, Death, Exodus, Possessed, Motorhead, Hammerfall,
and Anthrax. GET YOUR FUCKING AXES TO THE SKY!
- this has been a product of accidental therapy - Morkus Dalorkus
The Static Octopus –
Here Comes Nothing
You know, when it comes to matters of how the universe got started, I don’t really believe in the whole intelligent design theory, but I understand its appeal. If I walk into a room and find one hundred roses all laid out in a pattern that spells “IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO WRITE A GLOWING REVIEW”, it’s not out of the question to assume some intelligent creature with a significant amount of money (or floral shop credit) is trying to send me a message. If the theory of intelligent design is applied to songwriting, it seems like a no-brainer that great songs don’t just write themselves, nor do they evolve from less brilliant song-forms.
The Static Octopus writes highly-evolved and intelligent pop-rock songs. The ten cuts on Here Comes Nothing, their debut album, are intelligent because a listener gets the sense that every little detail in the writing and recording of the songs lends itself to careful consideration. For instance, certain songs such as opener “You’re A Curiosity” feature a wildly melodic and psychedelic solo over 12-string guitar arpeggiations. The songs are highly-evolved because they distill many of the finest qualities of rock n’ roll music into a fast and fun collection of tunes. These qualities are driving beats, chimey guitar hooks, harmonious vocal lines, and the punchy immediacy of Top 40 singles. On top of all that, the songs are infectiously catchy.
Most of the songs clock in under three minutes, which of course makes the ten songs fly by. They’re all quite upbeat and even happy-go-lucky, especially the entirely too-short “Magnetic North” which recalls the bounce of Herman’s Hermits’s “Something Tells Me I’m Into Something Good” with Pet Sounds-era Brian Wilson lyrics. Other tracks such as “Quality Western Star” show the band cleverly rewriting the familiar lullaby “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” into a Guided By Voices-esque ditty. What’s especially impressive about the power-pop brilliance of the disc is how lively the tracks sound considering that, according to the liner notes, singer and songwriter Tery Daly sang and played everything but the drums. Studio projects often have the tendency to sound stiff, but that’s not the case on this disc.
Considering all of the catchy melodies and intelligent song-craft, the title of the album seems ironic because Here Comes Nothing is most definitely something worth checking out. - Sam Segrist
The Lonely, The Determined, and The Fry Girl Stomp
Papers is something else. They have at least nine members, they wear fancy clothes, they have accordion, there’s a member named Junebug who often sports a Rollie Fingers mustache, and more. The group is certainly aware of the music of yore. Their album is a musical history lesson reflecting life’s struggle/victory ebb and flow. Papers take music to new levels with the philosophy: Why don’t we make each song sound like six or seven spliced together?
The absolutely enchanting “Katie’s Song” makes me think of a smoky pool hall/burlesque theater with light fixtures shifting. The bartender wears a pin-stripe vest and he’s drying off rocks glasses. His name is Vito, and he’s rather proud of being a bartender when Papers plays. Other times he longs for a boxing career.
Sparse and eerie is the awkward “Foreign Objects.” Its vocals sound British. I believe “Disco Romania” is worthy of Flamenco dancing. “Elian” exemplifies a somber motif. Although the bass sax has a lot to do with the effect, the addition of horns, drums, and guitar shifts the song into something more hopeful. In a similar vein is the haunting closing track, “The Chorale,” featuring layered vocals, spoken word, and a slow, tribal drumbeat. However, after the three-minute mark, the song displays resolve with staccato horn/sax, followed by bittersweet piano.
“Ashton” sounds like porch-rock, with low, low lead vocals. It seems an appropriate song for a parlor. I’m not really sure what kind of parlor this would be, but I imagine there’d be an old piano that plays itself. Papers would certainly be a hot commodity for a filmmaker, perhaps Guy Maddin, in need of a soundtrack.
“Headlong & Hellbent” declares “It’s raining lollipops,” which despite the pain it might inflict, sounds fantastic. It picks up steam at about three minutes; then rapping enters about 45 seconds later, followed by a galloping horns-laden part that collapses and begins again. It’s as if the song’s tempo is dictated by the wind. It’s such a fun way to hear music because it challenges expectations.
“Tribulation Pt. 1” is an excellent showcase of Tricia Klitsch and Tracy Nelson’s vocal interplay. The end of the song occurs abruptly, in a good way, with half the song’s most prominent horn phrase. Then the lullaby-esque “From the Water” begins, also featuring unusually low singing.
“Requiem For A Bitch” pulls the “Nope, this song is not done” trick. It’s like a bonus, i.e. winning a free round of miniature golf on the last hole, or matching the number to get a free pinball game.
Although it must be a ton of work, I think Papers benefit exponentially by having a truckload of members. It seems to create barrelfuls of fresh ideas and interpretations resulting in a grab bag of “genres.” It’s like a mix tape, except each song has similar ingredients. It reminds me of a Spam contest I attended, where each contestant had to use Spam to create something entirely unique and delicious. I’m not saying if Papers were a food they’d be Spam. I mean that each song has it’s own unique and delicious character. Note: The Spam-o-rama Roll-up won the contest; and if Papers were a food, they’d be a giant wedding cake with a circus on it.
Luckily I overheard the following comment at their CD release show: “This sounds like funeral music.” Indeed, I often imagine Papers as the band I’d like to have playing if I was aboard a sinking ship. - Joe Younglove
Prints of Apple Island
I just received a copy of the yet to be released "Robots Walking" e.p. from Prints Of
Apple Island, and WOW! Its 28 minutes of bliss that hasn't left my CD player since I got
Along with the disk was a rambling, possibly prescription drug-induced two-page letter from drummer Tmilan Anderson, including a history of the band, (including a recent line-up change) where their members attend school, what their majors are, what they do in their spare time, what painters they appreciate, their general appearance as human beings (Joshua Allen, keyboards & vocals is 5'8", blonde hair, blue eyes, and skinny to the point of malnutrition, Tim Anderson is 5'8" & a half, brown hair, hazel eyes, and fat to the point of malnutrition.), their preference for playing house-parties, their musical influences, all the instrument they play and how much they paid for them.(the entire investment in instruments to date: $156.33) their penchant for home-made instruments including salt shakers filled with gravel, and the status of the release (waiting on mastering and artwork) among other interesting tidbits of info. I hope these guys hit it big; this letter will fetch top-dollar on E-bay!
Although they don't claim either of these artists as an influence they most remind me of a cross between John Vanderslice and They Might Be Giants, although never at the same time. Unlike TMBG, however, Prints Of Apple Island is quirky without being jerky. In a show review I did of The Mathematicians a while back, I compared them to They Might Be Giants as well, but aside from both bands being keyboard driven bands with occasional forays into pop melodies, I wouldn't really compare Prints of Apple Island with The Mathematicians too closely. I suppose some of the lyrics of POAI song "Animal Boy At The Movies"
"Grasshopper in my forceps
Pinch him and he bleeds
This one completes the collection
It's the only one I need"
do start to approach the geekiness level of The Mathematicians, but that's as far as
it goes. If I were to compare them to any local band it would be more along the lines of
Eagle*Seagull or (the sadly defunct) Science Ninja Team, but even those are pretty lose
I found when listening to the disk that anytime I was trying to focus on the lyrics
some part of the music would always sweep my attention away from them and I'd suddenly
realize I hadn't been listening to the lyrics at all for a while, and the same thing
happened in reverse, when I'd try to focus on the music, or something that a particular
instrument was doing, some turn of phrase in the lyric would grab me and I'd be focusing
on them instead. Speaking of the lyrics, they're all great on this e.p., and
stylistically go back and forth between a literal style on tracks like A&P, Jibber and
Hester Prynne, and a more surrealist imagery or nonsense type style on tracks like Animal Boy, What If…, Test Rabbit, and Mexxed Missages.
The disk opener, "A&P", is one of the two songs that really remind me of John
Vanderslice. Great lyrics in this one
Crystals hang from her nose
And the sun filters rainbows on the snow
A deserted traveler left behind by the ones
Who should have been guarding her.
She's a queen
She's a queen
She's a queen to every little boy
With a magazine as his favorite toy
With his mind in the gutter
She's that kind of queen.
When the 2nd song "Animal Boy At The Movies" starts, for the first 30 seconds or so, it
sounds like it could be straight off of "Piper at the Gates Of Dawn", but seconds later
it kicks into that more TMBG side of the band musically, but with lyrics that can be
I can't decide if "Jibber", is more or less John Vandersllice sounding than "A&P", but since they've both great songs, who cares? For the first 1:30 of this song, the lyrics are borderline unintelligible, it sounds like one long sigh, but it's so pretty, it doesn't matter.
"Test Rabbit gets back toward the poppier side of the band, with a great up tempo song, perhaps the happiest sounding song about nuclear war ever written.
They saved the best song for last on this disk. "Hester Prynne", an ode to scarlet women everywhere, is a great song that brings the writing style of Dave Wakeling of General Public to mind.
Anyone who knows me knows I'm a big fan of lo-fi music, so I rarely comment on
production. In general I think that mixing and production style are personal choices,
and that within reason, there isn't really a wrong way to do it, or perhaps it might be
better t o say there's a VERY wide spectrum as far as what's acceptable and what's not,
production-wise. In the case of this e.p., I don't have a single bad thing to say about
the music, but I thought the production and mixing could have been better at times. On
Jibber, the drums are recorded so hot that both drums and cymbals are distorting, and
while this may have been done intentionally, I found it distracting. It's probably
better not to give people reason to think about what they don't like when listening to
your music rather than what they do like. Also on Jibber, the vocal harmonies later in
the song are panned hard left and right. Personally, that drives me nuts, not anything done
wrong, just a personal dislike for me, and probably not necessarily a problem for anyone else.
Short enough to leave you wanting more, but long enough to satisfy by far, Robots
Walking is an excellent first effort. The music is diverse from track to track, and
also within each song. Nice tempo and mood changes keep each song interesting. Whenever
this bad boy gets released, be sure to get down to the CD release show to check the band
out live, and pick up a copy of Robots Walking - Tery Daly
Crush The Clown
12 songs, sides A and B, warning of the majesty of the illusion one is about to
undertake. 1968, London's West End, but still working class (don't confuse with
Mayfair), delivers to Western Civilization vinyl that crackles and pops, sounds so
familiar yet, upon closer listen brilliance shines through in subtleties which no one
has dreamt before, sonically reducing the meaning of God, War, Life into an hour's worth
of black, grooved plastic lodged between such bright cardboard. Who was barefoot?
Orange soda. The girl with the curly hair. Destruction. Falling in love all too easy,
one may experience such bliss many times post-puberty, truly, deeply head-over-heels. I
must have her. She's beautiful. But to explain one's feelings, to actually put to words
the joy and pain and chronic anxiety, the disturbance of internal status quo. Quid pro
quo, Clarice, Quid pro quo. The give and take. The to and fro. The tug of war both
manifested in imagination and reality. Confusion? Temptation? Bernard never understood
like these clowns. Fenced in amongst the sheep, dreaming to roam free and flying too
close to the sun to master the self-deprecating fool's folly. Excitement. Boredom.
Bliss. Partitions of rooms literal to observations casually but representative of the
age old line one must not cross. Disaster and heroics both occur in threes. Father was
wealthy mother was happy so why were the children verified lunatics? Crackle. Pop. Rice
Krispies through acoustic horns, waves unseen through the air, a symphony of crushed
goodness enters the passages soothing the soul so tired and worn of late by shit passed
off as art and beauty. "Think of where man's glory most begins and ends and say my glory
is I had such friends." What did Yeats know of love anyway? Crush. Cherry lip gloss
smeared on one's chest, fishnets taught around one's throat. A bottle of scotch, a
cigarette and her lingering scent all contained in one's left hand. Did Winston Smith
realize the very symbol of anti-sex was what drew him to his lust for her? A hint of
scarlet around one's waist and empires may crumble. Was that the point? Or perhaps one
will always do that which he is forbidden: If love and emotion is forbidden, lust will
occur, if thought a crime then schemes will be hatched and dissent the natural
consequence of such degradation. Perhaps when Brian Jones is the only one smiling
between the buttons its significance seems more surreal. Does death warn us? Does love?
What are any of us but vessels to be filled? With what to fill us is the true question.
Love? Lovesick? Sick Love?
Some clowns paint hearts on their cheeks, some wear them on their sleeves. Clowns show
up at the strangest of times. The celebration of annum completed.
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Zowie
Happy birthday to you
Obviously, the most ridiculous song ever written. Yet sung more often than any other.
Why this? Why not sing the most beautiful song in the world for said occasions? Next
time sing her "Lovely as U R" and see the difference this thoughtfulness makes.
Nauseated? Sick love. A boy vomiting on a girl and she returning the favor. Killing
oneself to get even. What of this? Or is it Montagues and Capulets all over again, once
again the forbidden fruit in play? Love conquers all, doesn't it? It sure conquered our
hero and heroine. But not heroin. Clown. Face paint, idiots at rodeos. Wranglers and
ropers. Three cinnamon rolls in 5 minutes and gallons of mocha lattes. Driving all
night, throwing beer bottles at her garage at 3 a.m. knowing this will win her back for
sure. Following her to school one day which was against the rules. A letter to Jody
Foster? The Lincoln Bedroom? What's in a name? The slings and arrows ricochet off those
who know Truth. But what is the truth? Is it what you think and believe? Is it two
minutes of news spewed through telescreens each day? Or is it unattainable? Truth and
love? Are they concepts, goals rather than any synthesized point of view? Is the clown
more elusive than that? He is slippery, he is devious, he is evil. Playing tricks on us
all. Allowing our heroine to kill herself as such. And the priest who abetted her scheme
shouldn't be that clown's aide. Making ghosts appear to our prince, haunting his nights
and chambers. Blood can be washed from one's hands. Clown indeed as whole concepts of
love pour from his blue-blooded sword. Crush the clown. Crush the Clown. - Mark Bestul
The Zyklon Bees
Seven Mean Runs
Teen Hubris IS Viscera: The Zyklon Bees & The Pig Snoot Revival
"Dachau blues, Dachau blues, those poor Jews
The world can't forget that misery
'n the young ones now beggin' the old ones please
t' stop bein' madmen." - Captain Beefheart
I. Ray Gun Boogie & The Real Folk Death Blues
I was at the back of the record store, checking in "product," as the owners so rapturously referred to it. One of those days when working in a music store felt further away from rock'n'roll than washing dishes in an IHOP or cold calling people in the dead of night to ask them which hospital they'd go to if they were to suddenly have a stroke. Back there with my laser gun, zapping bar codes for D'Angelo and O-Town and trying to pretend I'm a spaceman with rocket fever, an intergalactic voodoo houngan who -- by zapping these OCD zebra stripes - can cause horrible agony to befall these pop stars. Then this tall, well-dressed black guy comes up and buttonholes me. Speaking in his best spy voice (perhaps he's hip to my powers), he beckons me from behind the counter & over to the blues section of the store. He flips through the CDs and makes a face. Not like he'd taken a sip of sour milk, more like he just couldn't see his way through a math problem. Then he shrugs: "Y'know, this is not the blues the brothers listen to, man."
I'm not sure what he's getting at. I'm afraid to look down at the rows of CDs because I'm afraid - like the nightmares of naked public speaking - that when I look, every face on the goddamn CDs will have turned white. I'll see Bucky Stimplett, with his banjo, or Ivory Rockenbach, with his big hollow body Bullrusher 9000, playing before an audience of blue haired mummies in a Florida trailer park. But there will be no John Lee Hooker, no Howlin' Wolf, no Skip James, no Slim Harpo. I mean, it was that kind of a day. So I take a deep breath and look. Thankfully, everything seems to be in order. I catch a glimpse of Hound Dog Taylor and Magic Slim and feel like this customer must be making a finer point. That, I can live with.
"The brothers, man," And his voice goes down to a subversive hiss. "They don't listen to any of this crap."
Well, I'd always suspected that maybe that sound that got the long hairs in a wiggle at the downtown college blues bar was maybe not what got the rent parties of Runtstump, Mississippi churning. But what the fuck did I know? I was a voodoo spaceman with a magic laser gun, but that didn't mean I had the lowdown on every goddamn thing, did it? I gulped and he was waiting for the question I had to ask.
"What DO they listen to?" I hated the sound of the word "they" the minute it left my mouth, but hey, he started it.
He was ready to impart to me the secret name of God and I tried to juggle my facial expression into the kind of tablet that deserved to receive it. He bent in, took a chunk of my thrift store dress shirt between two fingers, and said:
I'd never heard that name before. Not because I don't know the blues. I know the blues like every hipster who's been hooked on rock for thirty years knows the blues. Which means I know it historically and assume the living blues, the Friday afternoon FAC urban blues, is an abomination caused by assimilation, fusion, disposable pop culture, and some virus or parasite with "coccus" at the end of its name.
"My name's Ray," He said. "If you ever need any advice about what to order in this section, let me know."
He handed me his card. Then he danced his fingers over the CDs one more time dismissively, but spotted something. He yanked a CD out.
"Oh, and I used to really dig this guy back in Chicago."
It was a CD by Andre Williams, the most motherfuckingest insane purveyor of junkyard R & B to ever strut grooves into a stage. Andre Williams was born in Chicago in 1936 and recorded, wrote and produced records for Fortune in the mid-50s. His song choices -- as a writer and performer - were already showing his bent for grease, sex, and sex with grease. "Bacon Fat" and "Jailbait" are the two poles of his very thin globe. In the 1960s, he hung around Motown hit factory listlessly and fought with Berry Gordy on a nearly daily basis. He moved back to Chicago in the late 60s and worked at Chess, playing almost every night on the south side, in joints smothered in red shag, red fake velvet and red mood lighting. In his lavender suit, shaking it to raunchy novelties like "Bacon Fat" and "Shake a Tail Feather," Williams looked like the vomit of the gods.
But he was a footnote with the ego of an LA doughnut shop. To comfort his maimed ego, he plunged into the chasm of the dolls for most of the 70s and 80s, taking drugs like a man in cultural purgatory.
But from 1998 to now, he's recorded eight albums, for labels like garage rock mecca, In the Red; Alt. Country stalwart, Bloodshot; and that great corrector of rock history, Norton Records. His first great album of this renewed vigor was Silky, produced by a nine foot tall black man named Mick Collins, who also helmed the jaw-dropping R & B psychotics, The Gories, and now burns soul to the ground in populist shake machines, The Dirtbombs. So now, in every way that doesn't count, this record store customer and I were on the same page.
My neighbors at the time were Robert and Footsy. I wish I'd made up those names, but I didn't. Footsy worked at a meat processing plant and Robert sold drugs, badly. No pill he ever gave me did a damn thing. Maybe his crack was good, but I wasn't going to score crack from the black guy in my neighborhood in a small, Midwestern college town. Every afternoon, Footsy would come home on her bicycle with her purse full of pig snoot (her word), pig ears, and other pig parts she'd swept off the factory floor into her apron pocket. Robert and Footsy would set up the hibachi grill, buy a case of beer and sit outside in lawn chairs, spreading fireball barbecue sauce onto what's left of a pig when it's been stripped of its edible worth by machines. They had life dicked. I never saw these two without smiles on their faces. Footsy, in her spare time, pirated clothes from the Salvation Army down the street. Her basement was full of clothes. I don't mean full like there were clothes all over the floor, I mean cement-to-floor joists, vertical full. She washed ten loads every day and sold or gave away the clothes to friends and an extended family so confusing it would give Eudora Welty fits. Robert and Footsy were an amazing operation.
My girlfriend and I had a standing invitation to Robert and Footsy's house for these afternoon barbecues and, for awhile, we were doing it every day. At first we just bit right into these tender little chunks of whatnot Footsy offered us, but once they confided that this was basically industrial waste, we just licked the amazing sauce off and drank beer with them. They were from Chicago and there was always unidentifiable black music coming from their house. I never once had any idea what they were playing - obscure albums by Roberta Flack, Arthur "Hardrock" Gunter, Timmy Thomas, Eugene "Snooky" Young and his plunger trumpet, and this very early, rare Parliament album called Osmium that is now one of my favorite records. Listen to "I Call My Baby Pussycat" and your sex drive immediately becomes a time bomb.
So I got home from the record store, the day the secret name of god was revealed to me, and there sat Robert and Footsy as usual. I just stated the name outright, knowing they'd catch and run with it.
"Marvin Sease," I said.
Oh, this was a howl. Like a loose-bodied, Harlem Renaissance painting, party howl. They slapped themselves and changed sizes in those folding chairs ten or fifteen times.
Marvin Sease looks, for all the world, like Eriq La Salle in the Eddie Murphy vehicle, Coming to America. His career is made off the jukeboxes of bars so hep that no white person has or ever will venture into them. Marvin Sease is a jukebox hero. "Candy Licker," Sease's best-known wad, is a song whose lurid, greasy woofs, pants, and innuendo make Serge Gainsbourg records sound frigid by comparison. His albums, Bitch Git it All and Women Would Rather be Licked, are the fringe hits of a nether world that has no use for the showy fusion of Robert Cray or the soul survivor martyrdom of Albert Collins. Even calling Sease's music the blues will cause some purists to seize up on the spot, but if a black man grilling purloined pig snoots on his grill on a Tuesday afternoon calls it the blues, who the fuck am I to argue?
II. Sturm, Drang & Other Teenage Folk Tales
How do we know that The Zyklon Bees' new CD, Seven Mean Runs (Speed! Nebraska Records, 2005), is a blues CD? What if I told you its quality depends upon you understanding that, that it's a blues CD? This is not a Marvin Sease record. Johnny Ziegler is no Marvin Sease. Johnny Ziegler is no Andre Williams. But the most interesting blues extant comes from quarters of shaky authenticity - Pussy Galore, Soledad Brothers, The Scientists, Laughing Hyenas, Birthday Party, Jesus Lizard, Immortal Lee County Killers, The Kills, The Dirtbombs, The Bassholes, 68 Comeback, The Gibson Bros., The Neckbones, The Cheater Slicks, Juke Boy Bonner, Hex Tremors, The Oblivians, la la la. But do you really think it was any more than teen hubris created the consecrated, high-art blues in the first place? Robert Johnson was 27 years old when he died. Hank Williams was 29. The first 363 Jandek albums are, if you sift through and make a mix CD of the best cuts, as fine as anything Robert Johnson ever put to tape. Remember, all the great "albums" we have by Johnson are culled from the best of a repertoire that may well have included such effete junk as "Love, Love, The Coal's Gone Out" (a 30s equivalent of Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go") and "Polynesian Post Hole Blues" (a 20s equivalent of The Beach Boys' "Kokomo"). This man HAD to please the crowd, after all. His doomed life depended on it. And if you've got some idea the real folk blues has to be black, you're going to miss out on astonishing blues records by Jimmie Rodgers, Dock Boggs, Jimmy Martin, Wanda Jackson, Jolie Holland, The White Stripes, Black Sabbath, Ricki Lee Jones, Blue Cheer, and The Rolling Stones, to name but a few.
Back to the question, How do we know Seven Mean Runs is a blues CD?
First off, it looks like shit. I mean, you hold it in your hand and hope God rains fire on all who had to do with its design. The CD cover prematurely dismisses all that's inside. This self-deprecation has its charms, sure, but Marvin Sease would not be caught dead putting out a CD that looks this dreary. Is it supposed to be like an old 78 rpm record, like the ones that loser Buscemi played for Thora Birch in Ghost World? On the back there's a pretty girl, the bass player I'm told, and that helps some. There's something charged and erotic about her complete lack of definition. But not Marvin Sease charged. They've turned a photo of her into a black and white line drawing via Photoshop or some other trick of light, so her arm isn't connected to her shirt sleeve, which is alarming, and her left leg has too many lines in it, as if she's wearing a leg brace. Still, this back cover has some atmosphere, at least. It's got a cute girl primitively rendered -- Omaha, Nebraska's Venus of Fontenelle Forest no doubt -- and some hardscrabble scrawl Howard Finster would consider shoddy. It looks punk, I guess. But punk from the past. And what is punk from the past? It's the blues.
Secondly, it's a concept album, and not in that middlebrow Tommy, S.F. Sorrow, Sophtware Slump, American Idiot way. It's a concept album like Bob Dylan and The Band's Basement Tapes or Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, in which there is a nameless narrator who stomps across a primitive landscape (he can also be speeding in a muscle car and drinking from a box of chillable red wine) of wild Thomas Hart Benton elasticity, and must see his way through a gauntlet of tricksters, vintage drugs, mysterious figures from tall tales and scripture, and all forms of catastrophe, to decide whether his life will be bloody and blasphemous, or righteous and stalwart.
At the outset, our Huck is already pondering the big questions. He claims, "I wanna do what I should for the greater good, but I'm just a boy" in the opener, "Visceral Teen Rock," which comes on like Wayne Kramer or Frijid Pink's Gary Thompson fronting the Del-Tones. "On the day I was born…" Da-da-da-du-dum. He's a mannish boy. He's a natural born hell-raiser, Saint John the Conqueroo. He's the seventh son. Regardless, he seems familiar.
Just to make him not so instantly likable, let's say he's the "lonely teenage bronkin' buck with a pink carnation and a pick up truck" that Don McLean claimed to be in "American Pie" (though McLean always sounded more like he was hiding in the same closet as Janis Ian's Vassar-bound mope in "At Seventeen," through most of rock's pivotal moments) So we're on the road with this dissatisfied bumpkin, and he's nearing some crossroads. He knows a little scripture (mostly the brute, completely misunderstood God of the Old Testament), he's got a weary melancholy that belies his youth & he's got him a deathwish. He'll drown his baby on the banks of the Ohio, or he'll hang his self from a slippery elm until dead like Tom Dooley. He's torn twixt gospel and murder, that much is certain:
"And if I don't turn red, when I hear the slander
my face is a liar
Not too hard to hide the cards
easy to conspire." ("Visceral Teen Rock")
Throughout the whole record, guitarist/lyricist/songwriter Johnny Ziegler tells these tales to a big, empty hole. Familiar garage sonics -- a young man yelling down a well to make himself sound as wise and fraught as an older man might - prevail. It's the Memphis/Detroit garage sound, inspired by Howlin' Wolf and economics, perfected by Jeffrey Evans, Greg and Jack Oblivian, Jon Spencer, and Don Howland. God may not make no junk -- as the T-shirts says -- but when he does, Jesus promises to gild that tractor-seat lamp stand, that pimp hat, that quilted rooster-shaped toaster cover. God will bless the humility, the cheap microphones, the late-night cemetery vibe of a makeshift studio. It's in the book of Matthew. Look it up.
Most of the time, our everyman has the big-picture insight of Jack Ruby, a clod caught in the auger of history. In the methodical "The Locust Killer," The insect plague that destroyed his grandfather's dustbowl farm is still an issue to him. He halves and quarters the swarm in the fields, day and night, like a Faulkner character, to make up for the wrong done his forebears. The coda to "The Locust Killer" is the actual textbook blues, and serves as a signpost for the rest of this glorified field recording. For the last minute of the song, the band slows into a sinister indigo dirge and here links up old timey traditions with the hoodoo of punk LA -- The Doors and The Standells, The Gun Club (whose Fire of Love is the most obvious influence on Seven Mean Runs) X, and The Flesheaters.
But what our narrator has that Stagger Lee, Big Bad Bill and Jody (from prison hollers, martial cadences, ghetto slang, and Marvin Sease's "Candy Licker") probably did not, is an education. "I'd sweat a pond for one so fair," He waxes, lovelorn, in "The Locust Killer." "With your white page face and your cursive hair." In "Sanguintine," the CD's creepiest song, he becomes a deckhand Lord Byron, wandering through a William Blake painting:
"Sturm and drang, I've got it, but it fills my sails,
and if you don't have a rudder, it's just as well
You and me, we float together, just like Juno's swans,
And our legs are good enough for a long while, my sanguintine…"
Then we find him in a plush, decadent fin de siecle absinthe haze, a Syrette of morphine on stand-by, channeling Meatloaf ("On a hot summer night would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?"):
"You are my sanguintine,
Yes, that red, red humor, my choice for the hot summer night…"
In the course of his murderous teenage wanderings and ruminations, we encounter not only Juno's swans, but Emperor Nero, the Passover's bloody doorways, imps, succubi, Potter's field, Michael the Archangel, the lethal jawbones of asses, and - to show he's no bookish four-eyes and has been to the outdoor moving pictures once or twice - zombie cheerleaders. Our juvenile delinquent Verlaine is suitably embarrassed at the lack of rustic street cred this book learning costs him.
According to a lyric sheet the band provided, the Cramps-y surf instrumental, "Dr. Ventura" once contained this gruesome conflation of Blake, Baudelaire and the Bible's first Book of Kings:
"Jackals slurp at my spleen, whilst I bask in the ocean's steamy light.
The hot sun devours my soul and I fall into your gaze,
Devour! Devour! Devour! My soul becomes a hideous shade of obscene."
On the CD, the guitars grind out these apocalyptic sentiments wordlessly, the drum and bass hunching and shambling along in sympathy.
In less capable hands, lines like "There was an imp tugging at my hair" (from the CD's dank central masterpiece, "Chapman Road") might sound clunky, but somehow Ziegler's preternaturally exhausted voice gives noir weight to the purple patches. The hick drawl he applies to "hair" takes the curse off the spoilt Victorian child imagery.
There's sex, death, murder, deviltry, hellhounds, dire folk wisdom, coffin stench, hard-won redemption, and cerecloth to spare on Seven Mean Runs, the best blues recording to ever come out of Nebraska. It's that wee-hour rural graveyard drive you've always meant to take.
III. Candy Licker Blues
Here are the complete lyrics to the ten minutes and change of Marvin Sease's spectacular "Candy Licker":
"I'm not ashamed no more
I wanna do the thing
that your Lover
Never did before.
Baby, let me be
your Candy Licker, girl
I just wanna be
I'm not ashamed
I wanna be
Your Candy Licker, girl
Let me lick you up,
let me lick you down,
turn around baby,
let me lick you all around
Oh let me lick you, girl
like your lover should
(oh oh oh)
(oh oh oh)
I wanna lick you, girl
I wanna make you feel good,
like your lover should.
I wanna lick you till you cum.
I'm not lying, girl.
I just wanna be,
8 days a week,
your Candy Licker, girl.
I just wanna be,
8 days a week,
your Candy Licker, girl.
Spoken: You see, I'm Jody, baby.
And Jody ain't got no conscience.
Jody ain't got no pride.
But there is one thing I can say about Jody,
Jody knows how to make a woman feel good.
Aint' that right, ladies? Ain't that right?
Jody will lick you up, woo!
he'll lick you down,
turn around baby,
let him lick you all around
Oh, let him lick you
Like your lover should.
(oh oh oh)
(oh oh oh)
I wanna lick you, girl
You know what?
I wanna make you feel good,
like your lover should.
I wanna lick you till you cum.
Let me be your candy licker
I wanna be
I'm begging you
I wana be your candy licker
Spoken: Hey ladies, I wanna talk to you about most men.
When most mens cum, you know what, you think that
he give a damn whether you cum or not?
Baby I got news for you.
They don't give a damn whether you cum!
All they wanna do is go to sleep,
or smoke a cigarette.
But I'm Jody, baby.
I will lick you up,
I'll lick you down,
turn around baby,
And I'll lick you all around
Oh, I'll lick you good,
Like your lover should.
(uh uh uh)
I'm gonna stick out my tongue now
You know what?
I wanna make you cum.
I wanna make you feel good
I wanna lick you till you cum
I'm not lying girl.
Everybody say Uh uh uh!
Repeat uh uh
I wanna make you cum.
Let me be your candy licker, girl
Why cant I be--I'm beggin' you--
Your candy licker, girl?
Spoken: Now, here's another advantage Jody has on your husband. The husband HAVE to work, to pay the bills, baby. But check it out. Jody ain't got no job, baby! Jody ain't got no bills. While your husband is on his job, thinking about the bills, heh. You know where Jody is? Jody's at your house, givin' you a thrill. And I'm Jody.
Let me be,
I wanna be,
Your candy licker, girl!
Let me lick you up,
let me lick you down
turn around, baby
let me lick you all around.
oh let me lick you, girl,
Like your lover should
Uh uh uh
Uh uh uh
I wanna lick you girl
I wanna lick you in the morning. Uh huh.
And if that's all right with you baby-
You know what?
I wanna lick you in the evening
And if you really like the way I'm lickin you,
You know what?
I will lick you late at night.
Give me a chance
All I'm trying to do is prove my love to you, baby.
I just wanna be
your candy licker girl
I wanna be
I'm beggin you
I wanna be your candy licker girl
Spoken: Now I got something I wanna ask everybody. Do we have any Jody's in the house tonight? Come on, ladies, you don't have to be a man to be Jody, now Come on! You know what, honey, your man aint' going down on you, girl. Naw, because your man's got too much pride. You know, it's funny, I used to be like that too girl. And one day, my lady told me: "Marvin, you better get your shit together, man." And girl, I started going down. And ever since that day, I told my baby this
I wanna lick you up
I wanna lick you down
Turn around baby
I wanna lick you all around
Girl let me lick you good
like your lover should
oh oh oh
Get a lick girl
I wanna make you cum
Can I make someone cum right now
Can I, please?
Let me make you cum
like your lover should
I wanna lick you till you cum.
Spoken: all you ladies who got those sorry ass men out there, the ones that don't wanna go down. You better get rid of them motherfuckers. You know why? So you can feel good, girl. Like you should. Yeah, I used to be like that. Ashamed to go down. You know what I once said? "I ain't puttin that shit in my mouth" But I got hip girl. Yeah, I told my baby this,
You know what I told her. I told her
I'm your candy licker (2x)
Oh oh oh Woo
Oh oh oh
I wanna make you cum
Spoken: You know what I like about Jody
Jody won't sleep, oh no,
until he make you cum
Spoken:You know some women are hard to cum
But i like this about Jody
Jody will lick,
oh oh ohoh,
Until he make you cum."
Clearly, this is the greatest song ever written. Once that is settled, how do we defend it as an example of the blues? First off, we have an archetypal character, a Jody, who is coming to some conclusions about himself that are far from flattering in the big scheme of things, but quite understandably seductive. He's facing down all sorts of psycho-sexual and social demons. He's a rounder. He's a backdoor man. He's so far into pussy that he's about to crawl inside these women and perform his duties from the womb. On any given Saturday night, thousands of black partiers wriggle and writhe to his unquenchable need in the dark corners of those red shag bars.
Marvin Sease was born in 1946 and wrote, sang, and played nothing but gospel throughout the 60s and early 70s, and was unanimously ignored for his efforts. In 1986, he put aside the cross and began touring the south's "chitlin circuit" with a more secular agenda. In 1987, Polygram re-issued an early solo effort and added a new cut, "Candy Licker." The song was a smash and similar cunnilingual houserockers followed - "I Ate You for My Breakfast," "I Ate the Whole Thing," and "Do You Need a Licker?" were all huge hits. Play these delirious pimp symphonies next to Sease's work with The Gospel Crowns and I think you'll get a pretty good feel for that mix of the sacred and profane that gives the blues legs.
I first heard "Candy Licker" there in Robert and Footsy's front yard. They had the stereo speakers in the window, the volume cranked, and the record sounded like they'd played it about ten thousand times. I kept waiting for someone to complain, but a few other black neighbors just stepped out onto their porches, sat down, and grinned ear-to-ear until the song was over.
Robert and Footsy watched my face closely, assuming the white boy would crumble into dust upon hearing something so primal. I did my best to oblige, by sitting there with my mouth agape through the whole thing, my body visibly limp from the cultural pounding it was getting. But really, the song was too stupefying to take in right away.
"Now, you bring me what YOU call the blues?" Robert commanded slyly.
"No, man," I balked. "Not after that."
That was mostly show, because I was dying to play them some shit I thought was the blues. After a little more coaxing, I went into our house and brought out a stack of records - Gun Club's Fire of Love (I was going to play him a version of "Cool Drink of Water" that rivaled Howlin' Wolf's), The Oblivians' Sympathy Sessions ("Happy Blues" or "Can't Stand Another Night" would do the trick), a 45 of The Bassholes doing "Light Bulb Boogie," and The Cramps' Songs the Lord Taught Us (I couldn't wait to hear that version of Little Willie John's "Fever" blasting from the window). This was the crone-fingered family tree whose bitter almonds seeded the ground for The Zyklon Bees. I played Robert and Footsy all of these records and they nodded appreciatively, but I could tell they weren't too impressed.
"So," Footsy said when I'd finished. "You wanna hear 'Candy Licker' again?"
What do they know? I thought, They're grilling stolen pig snoot on a Tuesday afternoon. - Charles Lieurance
a situation presents itself
"Maybe I’m not the best person to write a review of this CD," I thought to myself moments after telling Mr. Daly that I would be glad to review A Situation Presents Itself (a compilation of 5 Lincoln bands). My hesitation and reservations are based on the fact that I’ve only actually seen live performances of 2 out of the 5 bands featured on the CD. But, then again, maybe I’m the perfect person to write a review for that very reason and because I seem to be the only person around that wasn’t intricately involved in creating this sonic portrait of Lincoln’s ever-thriving music scene.
For those of you don’t know, A Situation Presents Itself is a project that began over a year ago, before Starcityscene.com even existed. The idea was simple and pure: Put out a quality comp CD featuring the best Lincoln has to offer. 5 bands were chosen to do 2 songs apiece: Ideal Cleaners, Junior Mighty, Suzy Dreamer & Her Nightmares, Crush the Clown, and Post-Trendies. While obviously discriminating against bands that start with "the," this disk surpasses the high expectations I had placed upon it whilst in anticipation of its release. It definitely rocks. I would say "fucking rocks" but I’m not sure that will be printed. Who am I kidding? It fucking rocks.
Over a year ago, the featured bands launched the project with a show and now, sometime in October, the "official" CD release show will bring the effort full-circle. The CD is available now at a variety of locations, including, I understand Malcom’s back pack, but check out a situation websitefor a listing of where you can go get one right away.
On to the review, I guess. I didn’t quite know how to approach reviewing a compilation. And it’s been 14 years since I last wrote an album review, so I’m a little rusty. Should I review it band by band? Song by Song? That seems too boring and too predictable. So what then? I decided on just basically describing my take, or feel of the album as a whole, with a couple of highlights from some of the bands, the ones that stand out the most to me. The benefit of a comp CD, however, is that since the bands are all very distinct from one another, it’s hard not to find something you like.
Judge this book by its cover. I love the cover art. It’s not some lame Lincoln-themed artwork like all the bands standing in front of the capitol or something. It has nothing to do with anything but has a very simple, modern style that makes you think, "this is going to be good, this is cool," and then you buy it and pop it in the car stereo and you’re blasted with Sweets to the Sweet by Ideal Cleaners. This song kicks off the CD so well that all of the rest of it could be the worst shit I’ve ever heard and I’d still have been pleased with obtaining it. The good news is that the rest of the CD is far from the worst shit I’ve ever heard.
The album, although a comp, flows so well. This project was well planned and well made. All the bands were recorded at the same studio and mastered by the same people, giving it a consistency and feel that each of these songs from five very distinct bands were meant to be on this record together. Surprising to me then is that none of the bands really heard any of the other band’s recordings until the record was complete.
Within this disk you’ll hear Lori Allison’s sassy, timeless voice against raw, melodic guitars and drums, the powerful brilliance of Crush the Clown and Ideal Cleaners, and of course the freaky-deeky guitar of Tery Daly coupled with Kristen Bailey’s head-trip lyrics. The biggest bonus for me was the post-trendies. Honestly, I’ve not heard much about them (again a reason why I doubt my wisdom in agreeing to write this) but was so impressed it makes me a little pissed at myself for never having seen them play. A big kick-myself-in-the-ass for that. Great stuff.
Interesting to me is that of the bands featured, two are not currently together and two (especially at the time of the first A Situation show) are really just getting started and picking up steam. In fact, the Suzy Dreamer recordings are evidence of the transition the band undertook moving from the Honey Hush to what Suzy Dreamer & Her Nightmares is now. Since the recording Jeff Gustafson and Amos Joseph have replaced Sean Moon and Erik Aspengren on the drums and bass, respectively. I think most would agree that the line-up change has steered the band towards a more rock and roll, pop quality. I saw both line-ups and like the music from both, but the current crew seems more able to rock the house. That being said, it’s nice to hear the band recorded at such an early stage in its existence.
I want to hear more from each of these bands. I’ve heard that 3 of the bands are recording for pending full-length CD releases and that possibly another may release one as well, this compilation has given me something to look forward to, and maybe that was part of its purpose, to focus the listener’s interest on a band or two, and create new interest in bands one may not have heard of before. And just having fun. I casually know many of the musicians who participated on this work, it’s great to see it be such a success. This CD proves, once again, that Lincoln has and will continue to have, great music created by people who work hard and truly care for what they’re doing just to please us, just because our lives are enriched from the abilities and talents of one another. I’m always amazed at how good many of the Lincoln bands are; right here in little old Lincoln, Nebraska, fans of rock music have a good situation (no one saw that coming, right?). - Mark Bestul
Ghetto Acoustic Music
There was a little confustion on my part regarding the band Zero Hero.
I had once been contacted by someone in Des Moines to promote a Zero Hero
show in Lincoln, so I thought they were from Des Moines. After I saw their
name listed as having shows in Lincoln a bit more frequently, and having
caught part of their show at Duffy's a few weeks back, I checked with the
band, and they are, in fact, from Lincoln. I apologized for not having had
them listed on the Starcityscene.com sooner, and they offered to send me
their CD, which just arrived in the mail a few days back.
First let me start by saying that these guys are good musicians. The
music is well written and well played. Their album title is "Ghetto Acoustic Music",
and I guess that's also as good a description of their music as any. They
hand-made the cover art with the disk. By that I mean they hand lettered
and drew pictures on notebook paper and taped it to the jewel case.
That aside, this has got to be one of the top ten most pathetic albums I've
ever heard, and certainly the weakest I've heard by a band from Lincoln.
The CD has only 7 songs, clocking in at a bit under a half-hour, but due to the
infantile subject matter and inane lyrics, it seems to go on for MUCH
longer than that.
The tracklisting for this album reads as follows: "So Sad", "Poop My
Pants", "The Lord Made Me Hard", "Ann's Bikini", "Time For Breakfast", and
"Bitches In The Back". (There's also an unlisted 7th track.) Upon reading
the titles, I thought to myself "Oh Jeez..." because I kind of figured,
based on the song titles, the direction this was going in.
I popped the disk in and was surprised. The first song, "So Sad", is a
beautiful ballad of love lost. Great melody, beautiful vocals, and nice guitar
work. I thought that perhaps I was in for a treat and that the CD wouldn't be
as bad as I expected. Unfortunately it turned out to be worse than I
Track 2, "Poop My Pants"..., well let me give you some of the lyrics so you don't think I'm exagerating:
Gonna poop my drawers
Gonna lock the doors
And clean in up, clean it up
No one ever said you had to
Help me wipe my ass
Just because I farted
Doesn't mean I pooped my pants.
Just clap your hands, clap your hands
And crap your pants
(that's the bulk of the lyrics repeated a few times, with a few motherfucka's thrown in for good measure)
or how about "Anne's Bikini:"
Come on Anne's in her bikini
Yeah, boys, Anne's in her bikini
I'm losing control of my weenie
because Anne's in her bikini.
Or how about these lyrical gems from "Bitches In The Back:"
...Said she had everything
Blonde hair and a real nice rack
Said he'd like to take her home
and give it to her from the back...
...That's just how it goes
When you're dating stupid ho's
The bitches in the back
with the stictches in their ass
cause your ex-boyfriends is too big.
It's kind of sad, because some of the music on the disk is good. "Time For Breakfast",
in particular, is a very pretty acoustic song, that with less idiotic
lyrics could actually be a good song. Unfortunately, Zero Hero has decided
that lyrically, toilet humor is the wave of the future. Sure, if you don't
have to think about your lyrics at all, you can probably crank out 10 or
20 songs a day, but if 19 of them suck, is it worth bothering? Honestly,
if instead of putting the effort into hand drawing a cover for the CD,
they had put another 10 minutes of thought into their lyrics, the songs
might not be quite as ridiculous. Well, OK, maybe with with only 10
minutes more they'd still be incredibly childish, but perhaps slightly
less so. I mean if you want some inspiration, guys, look to bands like The
Crapenters or Hemorrhoy Rogers. They made careers out of doing this type of
subject matter, but #1, their songs are hilarious, lyrically clever, and not so
obvious; and #2, they don't do it on every single song (hope you enjoyed
my gratuitous use of #1 and #2). Hell, Robert Smigel's Triumph The Insult
Comic Dog is a scream, so it's not like I'm above a good poop joke if it's
well done, and not overdone.
Like I said: the first song on the album is really good, but it's so
tainted and dragged down by the rest of the songs, that you kind of forget
about it by the end of "Bitches In The Back". The last, unlisted song on
the CD is hands down the best one. It's played backwards on the CD, and
because of that you can't understand what the lyrics are, that's what
makes it the best one. I could put this on my 4 track, and turn it over
and listen to it the right way, but I have a feeling it wouldn't be nearly
I'm sure this stuff REALLY cracks up their friends in the basement, but
seriously bands, if all your songs are about pooping and boners, you
should probably consider staying in the basement. - Tery Daly
If I have one critisism to make about this ep, it's that at only 4 songs, it's WAAAAYYY too short. Earmeat is Greg Peterson, formerly of Pornado & Post-Trendies fame. The only liner notes he included with the disk say "Earmeat did all this on extended vacation to Chicago when he was 29 years old".
The album kicks off with "Won't Be Tomorrow", a rocker that begins with an electronic snare setting the pace. The song cranks along, and then half way through takes a sharp left turn, with a change in beat, and a complete change in melody. The second half of the songs reminds me of early Olivia Tremor Control. "Sooner Than Later" is mostly guitar and vocal, and reminds me of Guided by Voices when they were great in that, despite it's stripped down instrumentation, the song is really soaring and anthmeic. "It Could Be Worse" reminds me a lot of the stuff off The Holy Ghost's excellent last e.p., and that's a good thing. The closer, "Do You Fear?" is an absolute beauty. A jangling guitar lays the foundation for an incredible vocal melody and harmonies. This one reminds me of Built To Spill and again a touch of early Olivia Tremor Control. The drums playing on the off beats makes the rhythm stand out on this one.
If I had to describe Greg's vocals, it could only be done by saying Greg's voice sounds like heroin. His laid back vocal style of sliding into notes serves the songs pefectly. The cover of this e.p. is hilarious. It's made to look like a cover by the band Chicago. Don't miss Earmeat on January 30th @ Knickerbockers, and get a copy of this great little album! - Tery Daly
Pardon My Pretension, But Isn't It Blackbeard's Birthday?
In their press kit, Shacker call themselves a power pop band,
but I think there's a lot more to them than that. Power pop,
lyrically, and certainly musically, run on the sunnier side
of the musical spectrum. While most of the songs on Shacker's
first album are power pop musically, the album's lyrical themes
of breakup, loss, and all the personal pain and conflicted emotion
that go along with the end of a relationship run in sharp contrast
to their uptempo music.
The album kicks off with a really uptempo, melodic tune, called
"Wishful Thinking", the bass synth immediately defining a signature
sound. They pull in the reins a bit at the beginning of the second
track, the beautiful "Autumn (As a Design For Settled Nerves)".
This song's tight harmonies, fluid bass line, and contemplative lyrics:
"Spring time is the echo of winter changing colors"
make it one of the standouts of the album.
The album really hits a stride over the next 3 tracks. "Placing Blame",
with it's stacatto bass line, played by Jaimie Tucci, and it's catchy
chorus of "...and it's my fault now", could fit comfortably on any Nirvana or
Foo Fighters album.
"Whatever You Want", a loping 3/4 song reminds of Built To Spill,
and "Talk Me Down", my favorite on the album has a kick ass, off-kilter
dual lead solo.
Shacker's uptempo songs hit on references like Nirvana, Built To Spill,
Green Day and Weezer and their mellower songs have a tiny touch of Radiohead,
whom they reference in the album's schizophrenic track, "Love Song".
I say schizophrenic because the song goes back and forth between sounding
like Weezer and Jonathan Richman.
Strong melodies, great harmonies, melodic bass lines, good lyrics, and
good clean production are the ingredients of a great power pop album, and
this one has them all in abundance. Pardon My Pretension... is a really
tight, catchy album on both the fast and slow songs. It has so many good
songs, that it took a few headphone listens to really get the impact of all of
them. The only things that I had a problem with were, while the bass synth
adds a lot on some songs, by the time the album is over it got a bit
cloying. Same thing for using the soft-loud-soft-loud, grunge dynamic formula,
used to great effect in some songs, but a bit much over the course of the
whole CD. The grunge style of the songs also made me wish the vocals were a
bit edgier than singer Cory Kibler's voice seems capable of. The 2nd to
last track, a pretty acoustic song called "Routine", however, is the perfect
showcase for vocalist Cory Kibler's voice on the album. There's a hidden,
unnamed, bonus track on the album, a lo-fi song that has Kibler doing his
best lounge crooner. For a first album, these guy's knocked the ball out
of the park, and I'm really looking forward to hearing more from them.
- Tery Daly
BRIGHT CALM BLUE
A Direct Approach for Casual Conversation
In 2002, Bright Calm Blue released the album "Asymmetry Set" on Divot Records.
The group, then led by Ian Whitmore, created an intelligent and equally impressive album, with vocals that are somber and enraged.Then Whitmore quit, leaving the remaining four members to reform without the typical frontman. Vocals were split between drummer Javid Dabestani and bassist Austin Skiles, and what evolved would be a dynamic reminiscent of Ian Mackaye and Guy Picciotto.Their new EP "A Direct Approach for Casual Conversation," released on Level-Plane Records, is an intense, complex, sonically explosive record. It was produced by Brendan McGinn, Her Flyaway Manner's singer/guitarist, at Lincoln's Presto Recording Studios. He has captured the band's unparalleled live sound and feeling and put it to disc. The song "Salt and Black Water" starts the album off with unprecedented energy, Dabestani's vocals eagerly interplaying with Skiles'. It's the second song, entitled "Static" that sets the true tone for the album. Backed heavily with SK-1 keyboards, the line;
"You sent me off in a panic
and ran me off my own road
the action was automatic
in another tiring episode"
is a perfect example of the cohesive, yet abstract lyrics that are made more interesting by the dueling vocalists. The remaining album pounces and roars through the remaining six songs, running out of steam only briefly during the opening lines of the slightly misguided "Sources and Procedures." The highlight, however, is the song "Swallow Feathers Whole," in which the quartet gets to flex their knack for complexity and stellar song dynamics. The unconventional melodies and furiously complex musicianship makes it an ear-catching and energetic EP. - Christian Long - Reprinted from The Daily Nebraskan
See a recent interview with Bright Calm Blue here.
CAESAR THE GREASER
Great Caesars Ghost
Thumbs Up? Hell yes! This 5 song E.P. from CTG, recorded at Fallout Studios in Lincoln and Red Shed in Doniphan, is an interesting mix of punk influences including British, N.Y., and L.A. punk sounds. "Poderhead" is a great cowpunk stomper, with the hilarious lyrics:
"Poderhead, hey poderhead
With your punk rock T-shirt
And shit coming out your head
You've got a real pretty face
And an ego the size of Texas
I'd like to take you off the street
And buy you breakfast"
The opener "Thumbs Up", (a cover of a song by fellow Nebraskans, Science Ninja Team from an upcoming split E.P. on which each band covers the others songs), features a great double tracked lead vocal by rhythm guitarist, Chauncy Patton, and fuzz guitar solo that sounds straight out of the 70's. "Boogety Woogety Blues", the closer, sounds like X, The Cramps, and even a touch of the very early "Rumble In Brighton" era Stray Cats thrown in a blender, but on some of the other songs, like "Work, Mind, Work" and especially "Whatcha Gonna Do?", they've got a very classic late 70's punk sound, both production and songwriting wise. The bass sounds like it was lifted off the Ramones first album, and the shouted group vocals are reminiscent of Sham 69. Get yourself in touch with Slippery John, and get a copy of Great Caesars Ghost! - Tery Daly
For a while now, Pornado, have been sexing up the city known as Lincoln,
Nebraska. With not only their good looks and fragrant smells, but now with a
complete full length cd of love making music....or shall I say, SEX making
musick. This cd compiles a few new songs such as title track, "For Lovers",
and "New Daddy", but also some newer renditions of songs from previous
cdr's/demos. With a much slicker recording sound than previous releases, for
lovers, will keep the asses shaking at way happening dance clubs across the
world. Also, this cd keeps the loving making going with hot ballads such as
"Look So Good" which starts off in a kinda eerie sounding Psycho knife chopping
scene theme. Pornado keeps the beats flowing with various sampler, drum
machine hits, and keyboard jams. While keeping lots of volume and variety with
distorted guitars and a bassoon (which I do like to call, "space-bassoon) The
vocals are kind of a weird mix of Ric Ocasek, Robert Smith, and Hall and
Oats. Imagine a somewhat dark new wave band having sex with Duran Duran and Wham
U.K. on the side. Then adding some sort of future twist to it, like putting whitey
tighties on the front cover and making their live show like a late night orgy in
2003. - Morkus Dalorkus
Mutation Programming 7"
If there is such thing as a grindcore band made out of robots, Armatron, would
be called that. Starting off the record with the song, "Armatron Comin'
Atcha", gets you going while your chanting and stomping to these robotic gods.
Still maintaining the bass, drum, and noise aspect of underground music, and
adding another bass player to that. Which only enhances how fucking heavy this
sounds. Lots of quirky time changes consisting of death metal-like blasts and
crazy electronic noises to add the feel that you just took way too many drugs
than you can handle. This band has become so ahead of its time that in 2510,
music will all sound like this. With the song titled, "Bad Wiring Leaves a
Negative Connection", you can understand what they mean when the song sounds
like you just rewired your Kidbot-3000 (tm) to a Neurosis record playing
nothing but Chrome songs. If you haven't heard this band from the past nearly
10 years of their existence, I would say to not pass this up.
This kind of music only comes out of hell every once in a while and this for sure
is one of the best. Not only that, but it comes on hot pink vinyl! Now, how hot
GLS Records - Morkus Dalorkus
Live @ Palace Records
Prior to receiving this CD from Jeff Heimgartner to review, I'd never
seen his band, Skyfive, and had no idea what they sounded like, but seconds
into the first song on the cd, I immediately recognized Jeff's voice, and
realized it was because I'd seen him do a few solo acoustic shows.
The reason I recognized Jeff's voice right away is because vocally, he
sounds a lot like Eddie Vedder but Skyfive's songs display none of the
lyrical angst or musical aggression of Pearl Jam. Stylistically, Skyfive
comes off somewhere between Pearl Jam, and Hootie & The Blowfish, whose
singer, Darius Rucker, made a career of sounding like Vedder. Skyfive's
sound is definitely rock, but leaning toward the mellower side. As the CD
title indicates, the album was recorded mostly live in the studio (with a
couple of overdubs), and showcases a band that's definitely got its act
The biggest downside of the whole "Seattle/Grunge" explosion of the
early-mid 90's is that the record labels and radio stations teamed up to
churn out dozens of bands that sounded just like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The
airwaves were soon polluted with these sound-alike bands, and with each
successive generation of copycats, they watered down what was great about
the original. Speaking for myself, I got tired of the "sound" pretty
Skyfive's album would fit comfortably in that genre. It's fairly generic
sounding, "radio-ready" music. The music is melodic; the songs well crafted,
the band is tight, the guitar solos very well done. In fact, the whole album
is very well done, and there's nothing to not like about it, but
there's also nothing to differentiate this band from a hundred others out
there going after the same sound.
Jeff probably can't help that he sounds like Eddie Vedder, and I don't
want to give the impression that this isn't a good album, just because I
think the style has been run into the ground. If you like this genre, then
you'll probably like this CD a lot. It would fit comfortably in the mix of
music played on Omaha's 89.7, The River, but that's also one of the reasons
I rarely listen to The River. - Tery Daly
BRIGHT CALM BLUE
5 SONG DEMO, 2003
Through a somewhat recent loss of their lead singer, Bright Calm Blue, prove to show that they can do this without a "lead" singer, and even better may I say. This 4 piece is now creating a more rocking hardcore description with longer songs and more structures than ever. The new vocals add much more intensity than more of the mono-tone screamed vocals previous. With reminiscence to Party of Helicopers, Javid and Austin's vocals add much more variance and almost at times complete melody (without being to produced and cheesy). The songs (which are not titled as of yet) bring on start and stop mathematics, but not so much to make your head hurt. Lots of hooks and driving rock out parts keep this music much more prone to rock out to than making sure what times are here and there. Minimal keyboards keep this from being "too" much synth sound and just addings different forms of sound in places where it only helps. Bright Calm Blue just returned from a west coast spring tour and provided this demo to fans all around. These songs will be appearing on a debut Level Plane Records 6 song ep more than likely with a different recording. Which I must say, this practice space recording is far better than most of the over produced music of this style. Check out their crazy live show next time around and see for yourselves how this band is putting so much indie rock to shame.
Bright Calm Blue
-this has been an accidental therapy production - Morkus Dalorkus
"BIRTH OF A DOPE FIEND" DEMO 2003
This fairly new (but not so new) Lincoln powerhouse bring you six songs of a punishing mix of sludge and grind to make any metalhead headbang like there's no other. This demo is previous to added new second guitarist, Craigagrutus, but don't let that fool you of this being a killer demo. Headbanging rock out sludge parts ala eyehategod build up so much intensity that it makes your scream "harder", which becomes faster. Intricate speed parts keep this a grinding release as well. With songs titles like "Andywarholsucksthebigone", "Sharpknifecityface", and "13thtimesacharm", you can only imagine the pain that anyone not interested in this music will feel once they've been floored by one of Lincoln's sickest bands around. I would have to say "Botox Forhead" has to be my favorite track of these favorites, which starts off in one of the sickest black metal sounding brutality. The shredding guitarwork, low fat sounding bass, and tempermatic drumming only make me want to jump in the pit and go fucking crazy. Expect more out of these guys on Accidental Therapy and Continuum records. Fans of Wasteoid, High on Fire, Eyehategod, and Deadbodieseverywhere...take note. NO COAST POWER VIOLENCE
-this has been an accidental therapy production - Morkus Dalorkus
CLEAN PLATE CLUB
"HOG NOG WITH THE BIT WITS" CD-R, CHRISTMAS 2002
Clean Plate Club bring you another addition to the weirdness Pawl Tisdale has been plagueing the star city for years now. Though, this time, it is a "Christmas" album. Don't let that get you down, cause this is possibly the best christmas dedication since King Diamond's "No Presents for Christmas" record. This starts off in a total booty-riffic song about elves on strike. This is some funny shit, because I can just imagine little santa elves shakin' their ass and telling the boss to kiss thier funky ass. The eggnogg questions between songs make for funny samples in between these hot tracks. Lots of high (sped up) vocals on top of catchy casio sounding drum machine beats make this more of a dance album than any pop star could possibly attempt. Though, not quite as good as the previous Clean Plate Club release, but there could only be more to come I could imagine. I hope more DOES come out of Pawl's beautiful mind and continues to show Lincoln whats up. Experimental?, weird?, no wave?, new wave?, new age?, noise?...whatever you want to call it, Clean Plate Club, will definitely make you scrath your head and shake your ass at the same time. Fans of Witchy Poo, Residents, Mogwai?, Milli Vanilli, Bing Crosby, Aphex Twin, Happiness Boys and Prince should not pass this up.
Mo-tel Records 2003
-this has been an accidental therapy production - Morkus Dalorkus
Kristen Bailey’s two former bands, Mister Baby and The Black Dahlias, always had a touch of the creepy about them, but neither of them holds a candle to her current project. (now called Suzy Dreamer & Her Nightmares). These songs are literally her dreams set to music, so the lyrics/stories make about as much sense as you would expect from dreams.
During the songs you run across The Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash’s sister, former first lady, Barbara Bush, Elvis, and JFK Jr, who in one song is the flaming gay lover of home improvement guru Bob Vila. Then there’s the dead. This is incredibly psychedelic music where the dead come to life. Corpses, both living and dead, can be found in most of the songs walking, talking, and in the song "Airplane Over Me" telling jokes about their wives. Lyrically, Syd Barrett at his craziest had nothing on Suzy Dreamer. Traces of Barrett, Bob Pollard, Robyn Hitchcock, and John Lennon at their surreal best all come through, but with a morbidity that they never dreamed of-no pun intended.
The song "Dead Synchronized Swimmers" is about a swimming pool piled with dead synchronized swimmers in it, who failed to check the depth of the water before jumping off the high board. Their condition is graphically described in the lyrics:
There was a photograph
Of an old swimming pool
It was huge but the water
Barely covered the bottom of the deep end
In the pool were 15 women
In synchronized swimming outfits
They were all dead
Their faces were puffy
The water was pink with their blood
The song ends repeating the beautifully harmonized sing along phrase: "All the girls die!"
Kristen has played these songs live on occasions, with a few different lineups, from small acoustic trios, to more recently, a full-blown psychedelic band. In most of the live lineups, Kristen and Lori Allison, (Junior Mighty, The Millions, Floating Opera) sometimes performing clad in nightgowns or pajamas, share the vocal responsibilities, but this demo features Kristen playing guitar, tambourine, and saw, and handling all the vocals herself. The harmonies are sweet and angelic; the songs, simple and innocent, which lies in stark contrast to the lyrical content, which is always weird, occasionally hilarious, and frequently disturbing. The warbling of the saw, gives a few of the songs a ghostly quality. There are some other effects thrown in here and there, like a radio tuned between stations for some weird staticy background conversation that can be heard, but never quite understood. The sparse arrangements of this demo are quite different from the full band arrangements that Suzy Dreamer & The Nightmares play live. It’s nice to hear them both ways, but I really like these versions.
- Tery Daly
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