Tag Archives: music

The Travelling Mixtapes

What’s old is very new again. I remember when cassettes were king, and I sincerely lamented the death of the humble tape. I wrote songs for my first bands onto cassette, and we recorded live rehearsals on tape as well. I still have many of them. Like other people of the 70s and 80s, as time wore on, we adapted to compact disc, and then streaming music from the cloud, as we were weaned off of vinyl and tape.

cassette tapes

The Travelling Mix-tapes

In the last couple of years, I have noticed bands putting out cassettes instead of CDs. And at first I laughed, but then I remembered all the tapes I have sitting in a box, including old 80s post-punk and Hardcore mix-tapes, and I became interested.

Since then, I am buying newly produced tapes from bands like Goya, Druglord and Cherubs, as well as scouring thrift stores for old tapes at a quarter a pop. I was able to find some decent decks at thrift stores, like an old Technics deck from the 80s and a great 1990s Pioneer double cassette deck for dubbing tape to tape. Long story short- I am totally hooked on the outmoded analog technology.

On Facebook, I am a member of some record collector groups; we post photos of our records, mostly the ubiquitous “Now Spinning” posts. Don’t judge!!!! Recently, I have found a couple of cool Cassette tape collector pages on Facebook, we post images of our latest acquisitions, or post tapes for trade. I have traded for some excellent mixtapes, and I have even sold thrift store finds for good money- more importantly, I have met some good people, from all over the world, and our only thing in common in many cases is our love of analog music.

vintage hifi

My 1980s Technics M205 Tapedeck

A few weeks ago, a member of one of those groups, Te Hao Boon from Singapore, posted about an idea that he had. Basically, he wanted to start with 3 blank cassettes, send them to someone abroad, have them record any combination of original songs, cover songs, or a spoken word piece, and then send them to the next person on a list. He called the project The Travelling Mix-Tapes. The hope was that the tapes would travel across the globe to musicians everywhere, and it would be an amazing collaboration between people who have never met. I just finished recording mine- I added to the original, and the covers tapes, with music from my band Isolated Cockpit.

I haven’t been this excited about a music project in a very long time. I got to use my vintage tapedecks to dub my first mixtape in over 25 years. The possibilities are endless too; these tapes, and there will be more sent out as they fill up, can wind up being an amazing sociological experiment, or a massive work of art! Of course, it can also turn out to be a a jumbled mess of garbage, but who cares? The art is in the sending of the tapes, from one tapehead to the next. A globally produced mix-tape. The only thing that may kill the idea before the first tapes are filled is the fact that hardly anybody knows about this.

Receiving my Mix-tapes in the mail. Squeeeeee!

Receiving my Mix-tapes in the mail. Squeeeeee!

There is a Facebook group page, but again, it really hasn’t taken off like it should have. And that is what this little article’s purpose is- to spread the word and send out a call for mix-tape aficionados and musicians alike to get involved. You Post- Punker in Brazil, and bar band guitarist in England, the classically trained violinist in Moscow, and the Trombone player busking on Jackson Square in New Orleans. You all need to add your music to these tapes.

Go to the Travelling Mixtapes Facebook page  and tell them that The Thugbrarian sent you, and get on the mailing list. The aim is for this to be truly global. Te Hao Boon started this venture from Singapore, and so far it has traveled around the United States. I would like to see these tapes hit the four corners. It’s free to join in, although you will be responsible for mailing the package abroad, but the cost is negligible, and the outcome is most assuredly worth the few dollars in shipping.

I have added  a Travelling Mix-Tapes category  to this blog’s header, and I plan on reporting the project’s progress as it moves along. Go join the Facebook Group, and follow this blog for the latest news.

Commence Dubbing.

The Travelling Mixtapes Facebook page can be reached at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheTravellingMixtapes/

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Filed under Music, Photography, Review, Traveling Mix-Tapes Project, Uncharacterized

Review: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

Something quick, yet intense from Haruki Murakami. Art and literature combined, making for one enjoyable reading experience.

strange_library

 

The Strange Library

by Haruki Murakami
Bond Street Books (2014), Paperback, 96 pages

If you are an avid reader of Murakami’s books, you will agree that on the one hand, this is not what one expects from Haruki Murakami, but on the other, it makes perfect sense that he would write a twisted, yet artistic little book such as the Strange Library. It is a short read, lasting about 40 minutes, as many of the pages are filled with these very cool illustrations.

The story is basically about a teenaged boy who encounters an evil old librarian who tricks him into a reading room (cell) in the basement, which is at the far end of a labyrinthine web of corridors. There is a girl who comes and goes as if by magic, and a sheep man who receives as well as gives pain, and of course, the old librarian. If I said any more, I would be spoiling the fun.

That said, this is a whimsical piece of horror-fiction that will appeal to all ages. The illustrations are quite beautiful, and the short story is well written and intelligent. It’s as if a piece of art, and a creepy fairy tale met in a dark hall and fell in love. Highly recommended.
*****

 

Thugbrarian Set-List: OFF! First Four EPs.

Recently, I put together a vintage stereo system, using 1980s Technics components. The component that has been getting the most use is the Turntable. On it this week has been OFF!- First Four eps. This is the only real Hardcore Punk band around anymore. This is a great collection of 4 7″ records in a cool box. OFF! Everyone should hear it at least once.

Off Punk Rock

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March 19, 2015 · 7:28 pm

Thugbrarian Set-List: GOYA/Wounded Giant split (STB Records)

 

STB split

Goya/Wounded Giant Split (Jan.3 2014 release) STB Records

1. Goya- No Place in the Sky (14:02)

2. Wounded Giant- The Room of the Torch (7:06)

3. Wounded Giant- Dystheist (6:08)

HOLY HELL!!!!

I know that the above statement is not a suitable review, but the two words above are pretty much my reaction upon hearing the Goya/Wounded Giant split for the first time. It literally knocked me back a bit. I am an old man, I was part of the early Hardcore/Metal underground of the 80s and 90s, and as I grew older, I lost track of any sort of underground music scene- I wasn’t even sure that one existed. Sure, I listen to Electric Wizard, Sleep, and Yob, and I have been a fan of bands like Neurosis, Melvins and Celtic Frost for years. I also remember when Black Sabbath put out Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (yes, I am old like your dad, but much cooler). That said, I am not approaching this review as a writer who is an expert on the new Doom/Stoner metal milieu, but as someone who has been involved in music for over 30 years, and knows what he likes. And I really like Goya and Wounded Giant. A lot.

Having mentioned Sleep, Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath, it is clear that Goya and Wounded Giant are continuing the tradition that these ground-breaking bands started, although, it is also clear that each is adding their own special DNA to the genre- they have built a future for the scene from the shoulders of giants so to speak. Goya puts forth a viscous wall of sadness and despair with the song “No Place in the Sky” which clocks in at 14:02 minutes. I was afraid that I would be bored after 7 minutes, but I admit, I was hypnotized by the crushing riffs and the massive psychedelic fuzz that circled around me as I sat transfixed taking in every note. To me, the vocals are perfect for  the music- no caterwauling  like a Muppet on steroids. Jeff Owens’ vocal style exudes a sense of loss, sadness and resignation, and I appreciate that a lot of the newer bands coming out are relying on vocal skill rather than the cookie-cutter (monster?) style of over the top screaming and growling. Hearing the lyrics of a song is always a good thing I think.

While I find Goya to be a sludgy, heavy band, Wounded Giant brought me back to the 80s and 90s- I was hearing some traces of early Voivod (especially the vocals) and even some Trouble.The songs The Room of The Torch and Dytheist are hard to explain- the heaviness of the riffs, and the amazing drumming anchor the music,  while the deft time changes and wall of reverb help Wounded Giant to stand out from many other bands in the genre. They just have a uniqueness about them that I feel will help them to rise above the pack in the near future. Again, the vocals are well done, giving the listener the ability to enjoy the lyrics as well as the music. I will be following both of these bands closely, as well as most any other band that comes out on STB Records. Release info is as follows:
Limited Vinyl Pressing of 430

Die Hard Edition – 80 pieces
Band Only – 100 pieces
OBI Series – 100 pieces
Not So Standard Edition – 150 pieces

Mastered specifically for vinyl

Exclusive artwork done by David Paul Seymour.

Now, STB Records is making quite a name for themselves. I first heard of them when Richmond, Virginia’s Druglord put out Enter Venus on STB  earlier in the year. I was one of the lucky few to get in on this release, and I will say that the design was immaculate, with extras like patches, stickers and buttons, as well as really beautiful cover and inner sleeve art. This operation is run by Stephen Macioci, where he puts out up and coming, as well as unknown bands in the Doom/Stoner realm on ultra-limited editions, usually less than 500 available. Personally, I have been slow at the draw, having missed out on releases by Doctor Doom and Lightsabres. You have to be fast, because everything STB puts out immediately sells out. Like you gentle listener, I will be paying close attention to the STB Records Facebook Page, hoping to get my copy of the Goya/Wounded Giant split. Do not sleep on this one, this is a must have for any Doom lover’s collection.

Check out the STB Records Bandcamp page to stream The STB Sampler which contains many of the bands that they are putting out on ultra-limited vinyl. This is a great way to listen some  new bands that need to be heard.

Also, Goya and Wounded Giant have other releases on MP3 that you will also enjoy, I know that I did. Check out Goya’s Bandcamp page as well as Wounded Giant

 

 

 

 

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December 7, 2014 · 1:39 pm

Book Review: The Future, Declassified by Mathew Burrows

I am slowly getting back into my routine, and beginning with this post, I will be putting up some reviews every other day or so. Look for some music reviews as well, like the split vinyl release of Goya/Wounded Giant, 2 excellent bands out on STB records, a label that has been getting some attention due to the limited edition, tricked out records they have been putting out, featuring some of the best underground Doom Metal bands that seem to be multiplying like rabbits. After the review for The Future, Declassified, scroll down a bit and listen to what I have been listening to this week, which happens to be Portishead-Third. There is a great live clip of them performing The Rip on the Jools Holland show.

declass
 
 

The Future, Declassified: Megatrends That Will Undo The World Unless We Take Action

by Mathew Burrows

Palgrave Macmillan Trade (2014), Hardcover, 288 pages

When I receive books that promise to read the future for me, I tend to sneer a bit, as I eyeball the book suspiciously. Even the great seer Rasputin himself did not see his untimely demise coming. Having said that, Mathew Burrows, a former counselor for the National Intelligence Council, gives an excellent overview of why geo-political, economic and military forces , as well as the balance of power, are shifting at a steady clip. He goes over the rise of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), and the transition from a G7 centered world,  to a G20 world, and the resulting implications these developments produce.
 
The topic of individual empowerment, and social media’s role in making it available is mentioned of course , along with the issues connected to an aging society, medical and technical advances, and the booming business of making war. While I find the author’s understanding of current events and history respectable, the predictions he makes are nothing new; pundits have been predicting the rise of China as an economic powerhouse for years, as well as the “Rise of the Rest”, chipping away at the United States’ economic superiority – furthermore, the effects of religion, and ecological issues did not make it into the conversation, which I feel diminishes the authority of his predictions.
  
Burrows presents an array of fictional scenarios that depict the future as he sees it, based on his opinion of where current trends are headed. Predicting the future is a tricky business, anything can happen in a split second- I have been alive long enough to see how unintended consequences, and squandered advantages can alter the best of plans. A nuclear war here, an overthrown government there, and all bets are off. This is an excellent appraisal of where the world is today, and how we arrived here, and many of the ideas that Burrows has concerning the future of earth are certainly compelling,  however, they are not new ideas,as most of these issues have been in discussion for many years.

 
This is a well written book that was an interesting read, and I think that many people who are not exceptionally knowledgeable of global politics and future trends would get a good synopsis of the subject in The Future, Declassified. Just don’t expect any groundbreaking revelations.

*** (3 out of 5)

 
 
Thugbrarian Set-List: Musical Accompaniment: Portishead- Third

third

 
 
About the time that I was reading The Future, Declassified, I was playing Portishead‘s last album Third in the car stereo on continuous loop. I love their self-titled, and Dummy albums very much. But Third is darker, and has a grittier edge to it. A lot of big, angry beats, tempered by Beth Gibbons‘ baleful vocals. the lyrics are sad and beautiful, while the noirish guitars come off eerie, and mysterious. In 20 years they have put out 3 studio albums, and the live at Roseland disc. I pray that they put out one more album, although it has been about 8 years, I am hopeful for one more release.

Watch a live performance of the song The Rip on Jools Holland HERE

 

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November 25, 2014 · 7:36 pm

Book Review: My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941 by Bess Taubmen, et al.

harbor

 

My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941

by Bess Taubmen, Ernest Arroyo, Edward L. Cox (Illustrations)
Mapmania Publishing Co (2014) Hardcover, 98 pages

I was happy to receive this book in the mail- I love military history, and I am always pleased when a WWII book comes my way. In this particular case, I was doubly pleased, because My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941 is indeed a facsimile scrapbook of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on Dec 7 1941.  First of all, the illustrations and the general design of the book are excellent; archival photos, personal letters, memos, telegrams and newspaper clippings enhance the historical information it contains. Separate facets of life on Pearl Harbor before, during and after the bombing are explained, in many cases using news stories , personal accounts and above average photographs, which offers the reader a better understanding of everyday life on the island during the tumult. All in All, this is a visually stunning, informative account of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.

Someone who has vast knowledge in WWII military history will enjoy this book as much as someone who is just starting their inquiries. For the historian, there is a wealth of archival material, ephemera, and personal correspondence which I for one have never seen before. The novice will receive a good overview of the major points of the period, giving the reader a basic understanding of the who, what, where and why surrounding the bombing, as well as visually stimulating design. This would be a great gift for almost anyone on your list. Tags: Military History, WWII, Pearl Harbor, U.S. Navy, Japan, United States, Hawaii, History, scrapbook, photographs, archives, primary resources

Starting with now, Thugbrarian Set-List will also be included at the end of my book reviews. basically just a shout out to whatever I was listening to parallel to what I was reading at the time. I will still be doing some music reviews, this is just  lagniappe (something extra).  It can be anything from Punk Rock to sacred Turkish taffy-pulling  music, I listen to all kinds of stuff. If you think there is a band I should be listening to, based on my post, let me know in the comments section, I am always looking to hear good, new music.

SET-LIST:  

Avengers

 

Avengers

AVENGERS

When I wasn’t reading My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941, I was listening to one of the best Punk Rock records ever made, the debut by Avengers, by way of a 1983 compilation of their music. The fact that people still love this record over 30 years later is a testament to its greatness. What is even cooler is that, like myself, singer Penelope Houston also works for a Public Library.   You can hear the full album on YouTube HERE 

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November 10, 2014 · 6:47 pm

Punk Flyers 1980-1990: Black Flag/Milk(RVA)

As some who follow this thread have noticed, the majority of the flyers I post are from Virginia-mainly Norfolk and Richmond. That is where I was during the early 80s, until moving to Philadelphia in 1986. We used to take many road trips to see great bands like MDC, Agnostic Front, Cause for Alarm and Social Distortion in DC, NYC and even Baltimore. But a majority of the bands we loved came to Norfolk, and mostly Richmond, where there was a killer Hardcore and Punk scene which in my estimation rivaled any other city’s scene.

Maybe it was the transient nature of these college towns (ODU, VCU, Va Tech were there)- many of the people I met at shows, or who had introduced me to a great new band were from out-of-town, so this may account for it. personally, I don’t care why the punk scene in Virginia was so amazing, I am just glad that I was here to be a part of it, whether going to a show, promoting a show, or actually getting to perform on a great bill. Being in close proximity to DC, and the Norfolk connection with our friends from NYC made this area a hotbed of touring bands, and great local talent.

Speaking of great local Talent, the two flyers below showcase that very theme-Local talent. Starting with this flyer for an early Black Flag show at The Casablanca in Richmond around 1982. I remember a bunch of us piled into my truck and headed to Richmond from Norfolk, as we did on a regular basis. This was the first time (of 3) that I got to witness Black Flag live, with this being the best show of them all. The place was packed tight, and if memory serves me, this show was what today’s live club shows are not-inexpensive and packed with more fun and energy than should be humanly allowed. The openers were Saccharine Trust from California. They were on SST Records as well and toured with Black Flag a lot. Local heroes Red Cross (later to become White Cross) played most of the good shows in RVA, and they always played like they were the headliners. It helped that they were loved immensely by their local fans, who were a loyal bunch to be sure.

Norfolk had their own local heroes on this bill, and they were Frontline;their big claim to fame was to have 2 songs included on the The master tapes Volume II compilation on Affirmation Records alongside bands such as No Labels and Zero Boys. At the time, that was huge in Norfolk, since none of the other Norfolk Punk bands had that kind of notoriety. Many good HC bands would follow in Frontline’s shadow, but they were still the originals in Norfolk, VA. I am not sure who designed the flyer, most likely someone on the Plan 9 Records staff, who promoted the show.

Black flag flyer

Below is a flyer for a very short-lived band that was actually an early GWAR side project named MILK. I remember this show from 1985 because everyone there was tripping. EVERYBODY!- which added to the mystique of the show I think. Members were, as far as I remember, Dave Brockie, Chris Bopst, Jim Thomson, Ron Curry and Matt Linkous. There could have been more people, but I just don’t remember. This post is about the flyer more than anything else, and it is a beauty! I appreciated the flyers that were all hand designed artwork more than anything else. This flyer was designed by Milk member Ron Curry

Avant garde would be the term I would use to describe the sound-it was more of an art band than a punk band, which makes sense given the fact that most of them were art students at VCU before, or during this performance. The finale had every one of the musicians walk off the stage after what seemed like a 40 minute improvisational jam. The guys just looked up and realized that there were people in the audience-people who were staring with a glazed eye, slack-jawed kind of WTF is this expression. Dave Brockie didn’t get the cue. He remained on stage for about another 10 minutes until someone went up and walked him off. This is how I remember the debut of MILK at New Horizons in Richmond.

My memories of this show consists of an upside down, hazy, awkward and surreal 40 minutes that may or may not have happened at all (I’m told that it actually did), so please, if someone remembers this show clearly, post below and give us your take. I am hoping to get at least 5 posts, and probably 5 completely different descriptions. And that is the beauty of a show like this. Only a handful of people got to experience Milk (I am not totally sure that they performed more than once or twice after this, if at all), and this particular show was not like other shows…it was just weird. Entertaining, but weird.

Milk Flyer

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July 14, 2014 · 7:39 pm

Punk Flyers 1980-2000: Adrenalin OD/D.O.A./Rat Cage Records

This week, I am posting a flyer from 1982 for an Adrenalin OD show featuring some of Richmond’s best punk bands in the opening slots. Also, a flyer for a Punk show that I promoted in New Orleans under Lucky 13 Productions featuring DOA and the great Japanese punk band Ultra Bidet, and finally, a handbill for Rat Cage records from 1982.

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The above flyer was for a record release show (1982) for the mighty White Cross, one of Richmond, Virginia’s premier Punk bands. On the bill for this show are some of the most important Richmond bands of the time, such as the Beex, Graven Image, The Prevaricators, Honor Role, and the debut of Lethal Injection, an early incarnation of the great cross-over band Absence of Malice. My band Judicial Fear was also on the bill, representing Norfolk, Va. The special guest on the bill was New Jersey’s Hardcore Punk juggernaut  Adrenalin O.D. I remember a young girl with a big, fluffy blond mohawk received a compound leg fracture while slamming in the pit. The femur was jutting out, and I watched some people get a little dizzy after witnessing the carnage. Not her though, she took it like a boss. That’s Punk Rock my friendos. To this very day, Richmond, Va. has put out some of the best, and most original music in the country, and just because many of you don’t know it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t true. This flyer was designed by Pen Rollins, at the time, guitarist for Honor Role.

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This was a flyer for a D.O.A. show that I promoted (Lucky 13 Entertainment) at Monaco Bob’s Touchdown Lounge in New Orleans around 1997. The excellent Japanese punk band Ultra Bide’ were on the bill, as were local Punk legends Backwash. I would like to say that this was a great show, but even though the bands were all amazing, only 9 people paid to get in, with the rest just loitering outside. The hard lessons of music promotion slapped the Hell out of me on this day. I designed this flyer, with the graphic of the exploding bra model being pilfered from a West Coast Punk poster book I had. Again, all cut and paste. Monaco Bob’s was a short-lived little dive club near the Mississippi river that has got to be one of the most decadent places I have ever been to. Some of the things that I have witnessed there have left a permanent scar on my corneas. I would tell some more stories, but I would have to kill you all afterwards. So let’s just say that some of the nights I spent there were legendary. (Can you say Mammary Mondays Amateur Stripper Night?)

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One of my prized pieces of ephemera  is this small handbill from LES Manhattan’s Rat Cage Records. I went there in 1982 to buy the new comp Flex Your Head on Discord records, as well as Bad Religion’s Newest, How Can Hell Be Any Worse? I remember seeing the original Beastie Boys (a hardcore band at its inception on Rat Cage Records) hanging out there-they were all of 15 or 16 years old at the time. While I have lost over 90% of all the flyers I had once owned, this is one of a handful that I was able to hang onto. It is yellowed, and stained, with creases and push-pin holes, but it brings back some great memories for me.   Next post, I will have some more early 80s flyers for Black Flag , MDC, and some newer stuff as well. Stay tuned, and please follow the blog, share it, and post comments if you have any questions or remarks. If you were at any of these shows, chime in and share a story.

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June 18, 2014 · 7:42 pm

Punk Flyers: 1980-1990: Minor Threat/Death Skank 2000/Bad Brains

My first band was a Hardcore Punk band called Judicial Fear, and we hailed from the Norfolk, Va area from 1980-1983. We were lucky enough to play on the same stage with bands like Minor Threat, DOA, and Adrenalin OD, among other great Hardcore and punk bands. Below are a few of the old flyers from shows we played, as well as shows I either went to, or promoted myself. These flyers were designed well before Photoshop or Publisher, relying on old-school cut and paste techniques from the DIY playbook.

 

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The above flyer is for the 1983 DOA/Minor Threat Show at Benny’s in Richmond,Virginia, also on the bill was the seminal Richmond Hardcore Band White Cross-this was one of the most important shows I have ever been involved with to this day! This flyer was designed by Richmond, Va. Artist and graphic designer Doug Dobey

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This flyer was for one of the most historic shows in the area. There was the Mob from NYC of course, but also one of the earliest incarnations of Agnostic Front, and Corrosion of Conformity, before they had any records out. Add The Abused and Richmond’s Death Piggy (pre-Gwar) and Honor Role, and you have a show for the history books.Image

This was when the Bad Brains had reformed with HR singing. Around 1990, or 1991. This was my band Throttle’s first big show, and we got to open with Leeway from NYC as well. An amazing experience to be sure. My band Judicial Fear never got the chance to put out any records, and all we had for years was a basement recording of our set. Unfortunately, that tape was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, when I lived in New Orleans. So, these flyers are all that is left to chronicle our existence. Otherwise, it would be as if we never existed.

This will be a regular post of mine, and each week I will put up 2 or 3 old flyers/posters from 1980-2000, so stay tuned for that, as well as corresponding photos for some of the shows.

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Filed under Photography, Uncategorized

Set-List: Water Liars

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Sometimes you go to a live show knowing what to expect, and while it’s not very exciting, it is a comfortable feeling to know what awaits you. Like a lot of people, I usually get there just in time to see the headliner, leaving the openers to languish before a sparse and unwelcoming crowd. It’s not a very nice thing to do, but it happens and that’s life. I have never seen the Drive by Truckers before, but I had an opportunity to check them out this week in Norfolk, Virginia’s Norva club. I decided to see if there was an opener for the show, so I checked the listings and found that a band called Water Liars were the openers. Never heard of them. Upon watching a couple of live performances on YouTube, my girlfriend and I looked at each other and just shook our heads. They seemed like a band that we shouldn’t miss.

We arrived 45 minutes early to stake our claim to a decent spot to view the bands. What we saw was a 3 piece band playing cool vintage instruments, with the drummer destroying a small 3 piece set, with a hi-hat and one crash. The simplicity of their brand of Alternative/Country/Folk/Americana music left us slack-jawed. These guys sounded like a cross between Wilco, Dirty Three (minus Violin) , Early Tom Petty, and the Violent Femmes with some sweet 60s pop thrown in, topped off with the most beautiful Bluegrass-inspired melodies I have heard in a while.

There are a lot of urban, East Coast “country” boys, dressed in their best Southern preacher duds- hair all greased back, singing about their girl Mary Lou round yonder at the paw paw patch. But I am not fooled by Downtown Starbucks employees dressed in thrift store Amish wear. Ok then. Water Liars are the real deal, just some humble, unassuming guys who play stark and simple American music, sometimes adding a distorted edge hinting at Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, or a haunting love ballad, reminiscent of Dylan, or even Roy Orbison. Their sound can get a little more raucous, with some dirty reverb and distortion added  for emphasis.

They have been a band out of Oxford, Mississippi since 2011, consisting of Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster on Guitar/vocals, Andrew Bryant on drums/vocals, and GR Robinson on bass. Thus far they have 3 full length albums on Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum records, Phantom Limb (2012), and Wyoming (2013), and their newest release simply titled Water Liars. The new self-titled album is filled with a combination of good, old fashioned American bluesy Country/Folk/Rock with a Punk edge, with Bryant and Kinkel-Schuster belting out harmonies that will bring a tear to your eye on songs that are for the most part, about love, loss and loneliness.  Bryant plays a small kit, and he is not flashy, but I watched him throw down some subtle flourishes with authority, and what he accomplished with one crash cymbal and a hi-hat was far more interesting than what I have seen other drummers do with 4 cymbals and a 5 piece kit. 

Songs on the record, like Let it Breath and Vespers highlight  Kinkle-Schuster’s clear, beautiful voice which ranges from a crisp tenor to a tear-jerking falsetto, and when he and Bryant team up for some old school harmony, I can’t help but think of a cross between Flatt and Scruggs and Simon and Garfunkel. From there, songs like Pulp, and Ray Charles Dream offer up 60s Pop hooks, and Cannibal shows that they know how to get dirty as well. Over all, their less is more technique showcases the honest emotion to their music. Their live set featured quite a few harder, distorted numbers that come from their earlier albums, which I will be checking out very soon. The album Water Liars  hooked me right in, and I suspect that once many of you experience the Water Liars, you will be too. For fans of Hasil Adkins, Wilco, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Woven Hand. 

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Water Liars Live at the NORVA, Norfolk, Va. 6-10-2014

Video Link for the song Cannibal:

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June 12, 2014 · 2:30 pm

Set-List

This week, nothing that I was to review sounded any good to me. really. Just some bland, cookie-cutter piffle that isn’t worth mentioning. Well, there was one release that was actually amazing, SICKMaN of Virginia’s new album Mourning Sicness was certainly worth my time in spades. You can read my review right below this post, and check this great band out, they deserve a listen.

So, since I have nothing else to review, I will just give you a short set list of what I have been listening to this week in between books. Not a review, just some records I listen to a lot. Check out the video, or song links, in case you’ve never heard of some of these albums. Next week I will be reviewing some good albums, starting with a new one from Virginia’s Dead Aim.

 

Portishead

Portishead-Third

 

Portishead’s  Third to me is their best effort.  Their first two releases (Self-titled, and Dummy) are beautiful records, but Third is so much more visceral and nuanced than the first two records.  At times heavy and dark, and sometimes ethereal and serene. The go-go drumbeat, ominous bass line and retro-noir guitar of Silence gets me everytime, with layers of guitars, beats, strings and hiss, halted mid-stream to a whisper, while vocalist Beth Gibbons croons in her best anguished voice. I am still hoping that they will put out one more album one day soon. Video Link:

Crine and city solution

Crime and the City Solution-Brideship

Crime and the City Solution come from the same place (Australia) and time as The Birthday Party/Bad Seeds. I like them because they are in the same vein as Nick and the Seeds. Simon Bonney’s voice on the song Dangling Man  penetrates, his lyrics and delivery were and still are dramatic, and meaningful. The band has put out an album in 2013, and did a short tour, so hopefully there will be more forthcoming. Link below

desire

Tuxedomoon-Desire

 

I guess I have been on a Post-Punk kick this week-Tuxedomoon’s Desire, just a weird, gloomy record. I always thought of them as an art band more than anything else. Great early goth/synth with a flare of drama. If you have never heard of them, do give them a listen on the link below.

congo-norvell

Congo/Norvell-Music to Remember Him By

 

I love this band. Never heard of them until I saw them live at The Kyber in Philly around  1995. They opened for Nic Turner’s Space Ritual!  Guitarist Kid Congo Powers (Gun Club, Cramps and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) and singer Sally Norvell together present a cool, retro-fuzz vibe, with Sally’s torch-song style, backed by Congo’s fuzzy, reverb-laden guitars. This is a great album. Watch the video link below.

 

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May 26, 2014 · 10:00 pm