by Tom Hallett
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Music can save people, but it can’t in the commercial way it’s being used. It’s just too much. It’s pollution.” – Bob Dylan
SONG OF THE WEEK: “Marionette” – 12Rods
Greetings, music lovers, boogie chillun, an’ just-right, oh-so-tight, ever-lovin’ stalkers of the night!! Just a brief postcard from the lower end of Kachemak Bay for ya—hope you’re all doin’ fine an’ enjoyin’ the hot, heavy depths of yer Minnesota summer down there ... me, I’m takin’ it as easy as a guy can, bein’ that I’m surrounded by a whole passel of music nuts, party animals, brewmeisters, green thumbers and lost children of the sea my damn self.
Ah, well, you’re only 29 once, right gang? Huh? What’s that? Some of you remember my last four(teen) 29ths? Heheheh. Shhh. I won’t tell the Canadian border guards if ya’ll don’t—and remember, it’s just a hop, skip and a high-ass jump to BC on my way back down the Al-Can for my next visit home...whoo hooo!! For now, I’ll crank up the albums I’m reviewing this week, dream of the cream of the home crop and hang out in my back yard with the moose family who’ve seen fit to adopt me over the past weeks. And now on to your regularly scheduled music review section ... Oi, oi!!
formed from the ashes of The Leaves in 2004 by singer/multi-instrumentalist/
board expert D.J. Kukielka, and now featuring the mighty musical talents of
New Congress member Manuel Guzman on bass, Centurions/ Spikedriver skinman Tim
Hovanetz and razor-sharp axeman T.J. Shaffer on guitars, this band has undergone
a spectacular metamorphosis and incorporated new members to forge a truly unique
sound that nearly defies categorization.
But filing the album you’re holding in your hands right now under “Electronica,”
“New Age Alternative” or even “Modern Rock” would be
a grievous error. A more suitable tag, if there even is one—this music
is both hauntingly familiar and wonderfully strange all at once, like running
into your doppelganger in a foreign city or falling asleep during a blizzard
and waking to a bright, sunny summer day—for Hojas
Rojas might be: “Working class electronica-augmented guitar swoon-rock.”
The group’s latest studio effort, KillMeILoveYou (released on Tom
Feldmann’s local Magnolia Recording Co. label), defies such easy genre-placement,
though. Alternately a howling, spitting, careening beast on the loose and a
gentle, half-drunk bar-stool philosopher, the record courageously batters down
the walls dividing club music, roadhouse raunch and sugary pop, leaving an indelible
imprint on even the most jaded listener.
Already a popular act on the Minneapolis scene (especially at the West Bank’s
rock central—The 400 Bar), the band has labored tirelessly over the past
six months, honing their stage show, writing new material and working with lauded
producer Mark Stockert to complete the 13 tracks whirling dizzily around in
your player and your skull. And what a combo! The album literally bounces from
one extreme to the next at the drop of a hat—from tender, teasing ballads
like “I Hope It Snows,” which brings to mind the warm, fuzzy alt-pop
of Teenage Fanclub, to sonically-aroused, keyboard-driven rabble-rousers like
“Sunbeam,” dreamy, wasted-love anti-anthems like “Spiderkiller”
and quirky, Pink Floyd-ian sound collages like “Rainfall.”
there are hints of that Wayne Coyne-inspired experimentation here, but there
are also musical nods to a wide variety of artists—a quick spin recalls
the half-stoned, cock-eyed swagger of English pub rockers The Faces, the delightfully
twisted blues raunch of The White Stripes, the bone-rattling yowl of Sonic Youth,
the brittle, pain-wracked longing of Steve Forbert, latter-period Johnny Thunders,
Brian Wilson-era Beach Boys, Built To Spill, Moby and, of course, Pink Floyd.
Hojas Rojas proudly bare their souls here, and with inspirations and influences
of that caliber—as well as years of combined stage experience and a genuine,
heartfelt love of uplifting, honest rock, pop and folk—there’s simply
no telling just how far this truly one-of-a-kind outfit will go. Check ‘em
out for yourself at www.hojasrojas.com
For a live taste of these killer tracks, check out HR at the following venues:
Aug. 12 at the Theatre Garage/Sin City’s 7, 1900 Lyndale Ave., Mpls or
on Aug. 23 at the Fine Line, 318 First Ave. N., Mpls. Rock on, people!
ALSO CHECK OUT: The
Mad Ripple, Sink And/Or Swim: Featuring beloved local music scribe
Jim Walsh (ya can check out an in-depth interview with the man himself right
here in the pages of last week’s Pulse!) and a host of equally-revered
Twin Cities musicians, this album (like Hojas Rojas) points its noogy lil’
head right at the walls that divide all that’s good an’ right in
this world, takes aim and runs willy-nilly straight on into ‘em. KA-BLOOEY!!
Yowza! I’m also highly impressed that it equally blew away my 37-year-old
girlfriend, her pre-teen son and daughter, my 17-year-old son, and my 60-something-year-old
about cross-generational! That, to me, speaks volumes about Jim, his songwriting
talent and the power of his music. My fave cut from this batch is a little ditty
called “Now It’s June,” featuring Mr. Walsh on vocals and
guitar and Son Volt co-founder Jim Boquist on keys. A soft-spoken, hummable,
lost-summer-nights ballad, it simultaneously recalls the squishy angst of Elliot
Smith and the driving, high-lonesome emotional plea of the late, great Nick
Through his early days with Laughingstock, his time at the Pi-Press, and his
tenure with CP, Walsh was—and continues to be—one of the Twin Cities’
most ferocious and righteous local music supporters, and this song encapsulates
in 2:17 every battered, beat-to-shit acoustic night, every sorry, loveable ‘Mats
moment, every bruised Bloody Mary morning, and every wasted, bibulous summer
romp you, me and Jim have ever dove into and rode out of. A true local insta-classic,
and one that should grace every shit-giving music lover’s collection,
every area club juke, and the shelves of every mom-and-pop record shop this
man has supported over the past 25 years. BUY THIS ALBUM!! TheMadRipple.com.
That’s it for me this week, folks—tune in again next time out for
more local, national and international CD reviews, and make sure you get up
offa your sweaty, rash-covered Minnesota arses and hit a local gig this week—somewhere,
sometime, somebody is gonna be playin’ a song live that’s gonna
knock you out, bowl you over and change your life. It’ll either make ya
wanna buy a new album or write and record one yourself. Word. Until we meet
again—make yer own damn news.
If you have local music news/gigs/events/CDs you’d like to see listed
in this space, or you’d just like to create your own funky mad ripple
over the ‘net, send replies to: Tmygunn77764@yahoo.com.