'Round the Dial
Wednesday 14 August @ 09:13:31
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Forget the tired old myth that rock and roll is just making records, pulling birds, and getting pissed...that’s not what it’s all about.” -Pete Townshend
SONG OF THE WEEK: “I’ll Be Your Mirror” by The Velvet Underground
As we head into the dog days of August, Round The Dial continues our in-depth look at Georgia-based indie label Backburner Records. The label’s roster embodies the very spirit of hot, steamy Southern rock n’ roll, so you should feel right at home here. This week, we’ll check out releases from label co-founder Jack Logan and Indiana barn-burners The Roach Brothers.
Jack Logan’s Compulsive Recorders
Kelly Keneipp—guitars, piano, bass
Nikki Keneipp—piano, guitar, violin, clarinet, percussion, cornet
Matt Lane—drums, (two tracks) backing vocals
Kevin Lane—guitar, backing vocals
Bob Spires—bass, guitar, backing vocals
John Neff—pedal steel, backing vocals
Recorded and produced by Kelly Keneipp at Backburner
Track Listing: Genius Boy / Blown Speakers / Kissin’ The Wall / Walking Time / Zodiac Slave / Temporarily Healed / Hidden Trigger / Allison Hilliard / Coffee Shop / Cosmic Janitor / Candyland
Singer / songwriter Jack “Mr. Prolific” Logan and his merry band of musical pranksters continued mining the edgy rock vein he and Liquor Cabinet delved into on previous releases like Mood Elevator and Buzz Me In. Tinker, which features guest spots from all of Backburner’s current employees, is a great example of how all of the label’s personnel pitches in to play on, record, or simply inspire each other’s work. Though Logan was busy promoting Buzz, his Capricorn debut, by the time this album made its way to the public, it garnered some heavy praise from watchful critics and die-hard fans.
As the sheer number of instruments listed above might indicate, the record is full of teasing twists and turns; Keneipp’s absolutely fiery axework is tempered here and there by Nikki’s melodic key and string interjections, the use of several drummers and bass players brings an odd—but fun—tweak to the package, and a dollop of lazy pedal steel lends just a hint of twang. Logan’s lyrical ability is nothing to shrug at here, either. “Genius Boy,” the lead track, is a deliciously sloppy, Stones-y rocker, with Jack poking fun at %@!#$&ed-up singer / songwriters ala Brian Wilson, Alex Chilton, and well, himself: “Everyone still loves you, genius boy...”
“Walking Time” is drawling, introspective, and dreamy: “I must admit I feel my age / And the blisters on my feet...” sighs Logan, and you can almost smell the trail dust on his shoulders. “Zodiac Slave” is a punk-ish, crotch-rattling, alternate-universe hit single—“Smarted off an’ my bell got rung/When the fists came down for like, fifteen times...” while the next cut finds our erstwhile hero “Temporarily Saved”—“I don’t feel this good everyday / I don’t feel this good always...” “Allison Hilliard” is a piano-driven, harmony-laden ode to a classic, colorful Southern character who could’ve come directly from the pages of a post-Civil War novel, and “Coffee Shop” takes us on a loopy, psychotic aural acid trip with screwy, overdubbed vocals, found sounds, and telling lyrics like, “This record is obscure / But it has the allure / Of Trout Mask Replica...”
“Cosmic Janitor” is a sadly underrated Logan cut, featuring low-key guitar, a sly backbeat, and the singer / songwriter assuming the title role—“Somebody’s got to mop this %@!#$& up,” he moans, and there’s no doubt that Jack, even during the most vulnerable stages of his career, would have no problem mopping the floor with any of today’s shoe-gazing, self-obsessed, whiffle-puff “singer/songwriters.” This album alone should make corporate shills like Adam Duritz and Dave Matthews pack up their %@!#$& and call it a day—one can only hope.
Backburner staff comment on Jack Logan’s Tinker album:
Jack Logan: “Probably the best thing I’ve done for Backburner. Kelly probably cringes a little at the production because it was the maiden voyage for that particular tape deck, although neither one of us has ever lost much sleep over production values. It has some clinkers, but it’s held up relatively well, I think.”
Kelly & Nikki Keneipp: “Rockin’, weird Logan. Can’t beat it.”
Bob Spires: “I like some of the Who-esque songs, like “Kissing The Wall.” We played those songs in the Logan (touring) band, along with Buzz Me In, Bulk, and Mood Elevator stuff. Kelly and Aaron did most of the album by themselves, and I came in later and did some bass playing on it.”
The Roach Brothers
Terry Rouch—guitars, vocals, etc.
Jamie Rouch—drums, vocals, etc.
Karl Corts—guitar, vocals
Rick Maxwell—bass, vocals
Bob Kimbell—guitar, piano, backing vocals
Sallie B. Moore—backing vocals
Tim Tobias—backing vocals
Recorded by Jamie Rouch at Big As A Barn Studios
Track Listing: Blew Up My Car / You Got A Car I Want / Just My Luck / One Balled Man / Laughin’ Out Loud / Together Or Alone / There Is A Field / Crazy Circles / Crawl / %@!#$& List / Got Cut / Oh, Darlin’ / Like Me
The Roach Brothers’ second effort finds the corn-growin’ rock n’ rollers still in possession of their trademark sense of humor, but also contains some of their finest ballads and most serious romantic lyrics to date. Revamping their line-up to include fellow Indianans Carl Korts and Rick Maxwell, the brothers expanded their sound on this outing to include deep funk (Maxwell’s “Macho Babe”) and more intricate riffing, especially on tracks like the skanky, danceable ditty “Got Cut,” which Terry co-wrote with Korts.
With the addition of two seasoned session men (Korts has toured with everyone from KC & The Sunshine Band to Etta James), the Rouch siblings were freed up to experiment with more layered guitar work, expanded rhythms, and some of the tastiest harmonies they’d ever produced. “Laughin’ Out Loud” is a melancholy, bittersweet ode to youth and beauty vs. age and experience—“She looked at me funny / A smile came next / I knew it had nothing / To do with sex / I’m old, she’s new / That’s the way it is now / But I’m thankful to her / For not laughin’ out loud...”
“Together Or Alone” eases in with ticklish guitar and a snappy beat, Terry lamenting, “I knew her when / Her whites were white / I knew her when / She’d give you a ride...” then shrugging, “we don’t get along, together or alone...” “Crawl” rides the same lonely rails, with the protaganist admitting, “Can’t believe that I went this way / I was such a good boy / Never showed any signs of acting out...” Brother Jamie takes us back to the harsh realities of adult romance, though, with the scathing “%@!#$& List”—“You’re on my %@!#$& list / Just between us / I don’t hate you / Just your guts...”
Though fans of the Big Load album may have missed the aw-shucks approach of that release here, Take Flight represents a significant step towards the inclusion of a more urban sound for these talented farmer / musicians—albeit more in step with the downtown, Nelson Algren-esque scene of late-40’s Chicago than the spiffy, urbane quarters of today’s New York or L.A. A tasty batch of true Americana—sans twang—from a pair of genuine rock n’ roll innovators. You’ll get a chance to hear it for yourself when the band plays St. Paul’s Turf Club on September 17 and 19.
That’s it for this segment, kids. Tune in again for behind-the-scenes looks at Vic Chesnutt and Mr. & Mrs. Keneipp’s 2000 release, Merriment, and Cafeteria’s BB debut, Knee Deep. Until next week—make yer own damn news.
News Flash!! One last minute thingie—your humble correspondent has recently taken on a dreaded day job—not that sitting behind a counter listening to mix tapes at a leather store is really too strenuous—so here’s a shameless plug to impress my boss! Come down and see us at Twin City Leather And Boot’s St. Paul location (On the corners of Snelling and Edmund Avenues) and check out our selection of quality biker jackets, boots, vests, chaps, and assorted gear. We’re open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 11AM to 6PM, Thursdays 11AM to 8PM, and Sundays 11AM to 3PM. Hey, at least ya know the tunes’ll be decent!