Round the Dial
Wednesday 08 January @ 11:26:09
by Tom Hallett
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The only reason that I join bands is so I can go out and play live. That’s the only thing I give a %@!#$& about. I’m kind of the outsider...all these guys are talking about the message of the music, and that’s all just a bunch of pretentious bull%@!#$& to me.”
-—Jon Sawyer, bassist for The Rakes.
SONG OF THE WEEK: “Pull My Strings”
I know, I know, some of you have just been waitin’ on the edge of yer seats fer ‘Round The Dial’s annual Year-End List, wherein yours truly runs down his fave albums, shows, people, places, etc. of the past year. Well, guess what? In keeping with my steel-bound reputation as a cantankerous, rule-breakin’, scene-shakin’ kinda guy (OK, cantankerous, anyway), this year I plan to present absolutely NO YEAR-END LIST whatsoever!! WHAT??!! I hear the masses roar in protest, no favorite gig, no precious record-haven, no superb bartender (Dale) to rant and rave about this year? Nawwww. If you’ve read even a few ‘Round The Dials over the past 12 months, you already know what bands I thought were great, what shows I hit, where I drank the most, and who poured me the best drinks. I’m startin’ to think these Year-End Lists are a buncha hooey, anyway. Why not give the space over to a stack o’ CD’s I DIDN’T get around to reviewing in 2002? Maybe we’ll all learn something. Or I will, at least. Here’s to one last shot for some of this stuff to reach your music-hungry ears and souls—so here goes: ‘Round The Dial’s First Annual Stack O’ CD’s I Shoulda Reviewed Over The Past Year (But Didn’t):
I thought this album was important enough to own that I ran out and picked it up on Thanksgiving Day, right in the middle of our little family celebration. I just had to hear “John Walker’s Blues,” and find out what Steve had said that’d pissed the Right wingers off so much. Well, it’s true, the song does say a lot of things that should make people like that nervous—“I’ve seen all the kids in the soda pop ads, and none of ‘em looked like me...” “the first thing I heard that made sense was the word of Mohammed...” Well, it seems to me that if your country’s values systems are so %@!#$&ed up that your youth are looking abroad for truth, justice, and honesty, you better reevaluate your values systems, assholes. OK, enough with John Walker. He %@!#$&ed up, Steve wrote a song that told the story from Walker’s point of view, and that’s nothing that Woody Guthrie isn’t %@!#$&ing revered for now. So let’s get over that. What’s left is the rest of this album—some of it a bit spotty (especially the first three tracks) and some of it absolute beauty. “The Kind” is a gentle ramble, the kind of story that I like, the kind that makes you think. “What’s A Simple Man To Do” is a shameless ode to the Doug Sahm/Augie Meyers school of Tex-Mex rock n’ roll, “The Truth” a dire banjo-picker still askin’ for the same thing John Lennon pleaded for thirty years ago—just gimme some truth. “Go Amanda” is pure-dee fun rock n’ roll, a sexy little ditty that by all rights should propel Earle straight to the top 10 playlist on GAC TV. Well, maybe if he lost 30 pounds and agreed to wear a pouch and a ten gallon hat...all in all, a solid album from one of our most promising “Baby Dylans,” and a respectable addition to Earle’s sober, post-prison canon. Can’t wait for the live gig!
Wake Up And Die Right
2002 Garage D’Or Recordings
And now for the to-the-bone, up-yer-snout, off-the-wall rock and roll that’s NOT funny—and not meant to be. Howlin’ Andy Hound and his mates in The Bloodshot (Guy Low, bass, Jay Zweifel, drums) lay down hoodoo-tinged voodoo rawk with all the bile and bluster of prime-era Iggy Stooge. Wake Up...is their debut album under their new monicker, and they mean every goddamn word. This is the album you find left on the turntable after a particularly raucous party, a stray pizza crust laying on it as it spins on, ever-rocking in that last fatal groove, and when you swipe all the crap off of it and start the needle over, you realize that, like The Bloodshot, you’re not quite ready to hang up your party shoes just yet. You slam your greedy fist into the lukewarm cooler water, retrieve a barely-cool Oly, and crack the top. Ahhh—you feel that burning down your spine? Now wake up and die right, mother%@!#$&er.
I should know more about this band, other than the fact that my pal Andy Schultz (ex-Beatifics, Betty Drake) played guitar on this album. But I’ve found myself throwing it in the player, bringing it to work with me, and burning songs from it for pals ever since I got it in the mail. Dreamy power-pop with a touch of post-everything Western paranoia, kinda like what David Gilmour’s first solo albums would’ve felt like if Lee Hazelwood had produced ‘em. “At The Station” wails with dissonant loneliness, “Sanctuary” rumbles with dark undertones, and “Hero” (my fave from the batch) is a smoky, late-night roll through your deepest secrets and hidden anxieties: “Cowgirls invadin’ my dreams/an’ you’re hauntin’ me down/You haunted me down...” Get yerself a bottle, a pack of butts, and settle in for an intimate evening with Cash Carson. Come on, you know you need it...
Steve Almaas & Ali Smith
2002 Parasol Records
Almaas, co-founder and bassist of seminal (I know, I hate that word too, it’s like we’re discussing business at a sperm bank or something, but it’s the only word that really works here) Minneapolis punk godfathers The Suicide Commandos, continues even farther down the dusty rural musical paths he blazed in his post-Commandos days with Beat Rodeo on this gorgeous duet album with ex-Speedball Baby member Ali Smith. The album, which contains several choice covers (The sublime “Come Softly To Me,” which was originally done by The Fleetwoods in 1959 and weirdly enough, re-done by ex-Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Welch on one of his ’70s solo albums, Jack Logan’s “Shrunken Head,” The db’s “Moving In Your Sleep,” and The Louvin Brothers’ nugget, “I Wish It Had Been A Dream”), also sports a healthy percentage of tasty originals. “It’s Not Love” is a rollicking trot through Gordon Lightfoot territory; “9 Times Out Of 10” a contemporary backwoods shuffle, replete with ringing lap steel and all the heartbreak an ole Commando can muster up. The pair’s voices intertwine like comfortable fingers folded in a lap on a rockin’ chair—and this album proves that, even when put out to pasture, a true rock ’n’ roller can still unearth a wagon load of jukebox gems.
2002 Backburner Records
I meant to review this album when I ran a series on Georgia-based indie label Backburner last summer, but never got around to it. Which is a shame, because I’ve probably played something off of it for every soused late-night house-guest who’s graced my door over the past six months. Why? Is it deep, soul-searching indie rock that all my “chums” just HAVE to hear? Naw. Is it hip, cutting-edge pop fodder that I MUST play first? Naw. It’s just plain ole, to-the-bone, up-yer-snout, off-the-wall rock and roll—sure, there’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek going on here, what with there being only two members (Brooks Carter, drums, lead vocals, and some synth solos, and Bo Taylor, guitar, bass, synth, and some backing vocals) in the band and song titles like “Gone Rocking,” “4-Day Weekend,” and “Major Damage,” but I’ve got scientific proof that this album is every bit as effective as AC/DC’s Back In Black at gettin’ heads bobbin’ and feet thumpin’. Yeah, it’s funny—but it ROCKS!! God bless these guys for bringin’ back NIGHT ROCK!! YEAHHHH!!!
2002 Emergency Umbrella
Columbia, MO’s Doxies are hard-livin’, hard-tourin’, hard-drinkin’ fellers in the vein of Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown, The Old 97’s, and a hundred local bands who follow in that vein. So what sets ‘em apart? Well, since the music is pretty similar (crunchy guitars, twangy vocals, staccato rhythms), and the subject matter is, too (“Live Free, Live Easy,” “Twelve Shots,” “Stood Off The Devil”), then it must be the fact that they haven’t gone acoustic yet and %@!#$&ed it all up. That’s right, sometimes it’s just nice to crank up your box and hear some down-and-dirty, crunchy-as-crust country rock, and these boys deliver. With opening slots for Hank 3, Wayne Hancock, and Hadacol, you’ll probably eventually get a chance to hear ‘em lay it out live—don’t miss it. PS—they fuel up with Rebel Yell Whiskey and PBR, so make sure you drink accordingly.
2002 Miranda Records
I don’t even know where Richard Ferreira’s from. Somebody sent me this CD with half of an apology on it, saying they thought the guy might be a little weird and they wouldn’t blame me if I didn’t get into it. Wellsir, right away that piqued my curiosity, and I hadda check it out. Turns out Somewhereville is someplace I’ve been quite happy to go to over the past year. Kicking off with the heavily Van Morrison-influenced (with just a touch of Elvis C.) “Bye Bye Baby,” this record just gets better and better with every spin. “One Step Closer” could be a Band outtake, ringing out clear and true just like “I Shall Be Released ” did and does and always will. “Invisible Man” is buoyed by soothing organ and bouncy snare cracks, and imbued with solid lines like: “I’ve done all that I can do/After tryin’ to break through/Baby everytime it’s you I’m near/I just seem to disappear/Baby I’m your invisible man...” My fave from this collection, though, is the Gordon Lightfoot-influenced “Guilford Mill,” wherein Mr. F. expounds and ruminates upon his life working at said mill. Over vaguely “Early Mornin’ Rain” chords, he spouts: “Twenty years I’ve run this old machine/And I can hear it rattle in my dreams/Maybe someday I will find some peace/But tonight I will gather my will/An’ take it down to the Guilford Mill...” A gut-wrenching slice of real Americana, and one that might fit comfortably on your own rack. Worth a listen.
Gaan Daar Waar De Meisjes Zijn
2002 Alien Snatch Records
Former local rock/drum guru Travis “Smack” Ramin returns in yet another incarnation, this time with two pals (bassist Gavin May, singer/guitarist Brian Hermosillo) and an urgent need to perpetuate pop-perfect guitar rock. And boy, do these cats succeed. %@!#$&, if there were still cool teenage girls, they’d be as crazy over The Fevers as their mamas were over David Cassidy, The Bay City Rollers, and The Raspberries. Fortunately, The Fevers actually back up their boyish good looks and inimitable charm with expert rock-manship, and this Swedish-titled album sizzles more like a New York Dolls or Cheap Trick slab. Pick Single: “Born To Be Your Baby.” Radio? Hello? Ground control to radio....?
Dan Israel & The Cultivators
Love Ain’t A Cliche’
2002 Hayden’s Ferry Records
Local singer/songwriter Dan Israel’s latest full-band effort with his bros in The Cultivators finds him both shrugging resignedly at the horror around him in the world and secretly hoarding all the tiny gems he can sluice from a day. Lush layers of warm organ, hearty skin action, and solid bass bring Dan’s already-heavy lyrics a bit more punch, a fact that’s doubly noticeable on heart-rending tracks like the driving “Friend In This Town,” (“I been waitin for a big strong wind/to fill up my sail...it’s not too far from this to the street face down/It’s gettin’ pretty hard to find a friend in this town...”). If your pulse doesn’t go up a notch and your heart skip a little beat with this one, you should probably check back into the morgue (See Impaler above for assistance) post-haste, pal. “Jump Through The Rings” is a soul-baring declaration of love and devotion, and “Overloaded” should be the official theme song for every poor bastard who has to get up and face a day working for some soul-sucking schmuck and then hit the clubs to play for a roomful of the same—“I don’t need no cool friends who can’t deign to talk to me/I don’t need someone who goes an’ turns on me/Hangin’ round the hip ones/Tryin’ to be noticed/I’m feelin’ just a little overloaded...” I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again—I LOVE DAN ISRAEL!! Do your soul a favor—go buy all of his albums now.
Dear Friends And Gentle Hearts EP
2002 Champ Records
Glossary is a bouncy sextet that pumps out “hoo-hoo” saturated power pop that’s probably already instigated several cults in Japan—when, oh when will American kids realize that the %@!#$& major label record companies shove down their throats is PAP?! Kicking off with the positively infectious “When Easy Street Gets Hard To Find,” this album is so fulla hooks that I find it incredible to believe that some savvy promoter, dee-jay, or booker hasn’t broke these kids nationally yet. Man, when I get my own radio station, you just wait....grrrrr...
2002 Drought Records
Local outfit Hungry Horse caught my ear last year with their fine debut EP, and I’ve been waiting for what seems like a coon’s age (Note to PC Police—I was raised in the country, where “coon” stands for Racoon, a sometimes-vicious furry animal that roams the woods freely) for this full-length. It’s not raucous road-house music, the layered, growling noise these boys pump out—From the do-or-die ethos of “Goin’ Down To Nashville” to the Jesus-Christ-I’ve-Done-Some-Dumb-%@!#$& warning tale of “Funny At The Time” (“18 beers and a pickup truck/Thin ice an’ a short cut/Well, it sure as hell seemed funny at the time...), Lost has the propensity to bring about the very feelings its title suggests. Not that that’s a bad thing—we all feel a little lost these days, and being honest about it sure isn’t going to make the situation any more dire. In the meantime, it’s nice to have tunes like “Full Tilt Bender” (“I’m comin’ off a blacked-out pants-pissing full tilt bender a Kris Kristofferson-like full tilt bender...Jim Morrison... Hemingway... Kerouac... Kennedy... and end-of-the-world-one-last-chance full tilt bender” to get us by. Ummm...I think I’ll take a beer break now.
Old School Ghouls
2002 Root Of All Evil Records
Take away the death makeup, the mind-boggling volume, the over-the-top theatrics, and whattya got left of local death rock legends Impaler? A whole album’s worth of really kick-ass songs, that’s what. Kicking off with the spine-tingling kinder-poem “The Worms,” (“The worms crawl in/The worms crawl out/The worms play pinochle on your snout...) Old School Ghouls draws a line in the (bloody) sand that no young, snot-nosed, ‘burb-dwelling would-be metal-head will EVER cross. These guys are the real thing, and would surely send today’s golf-course-haunting Alice Cooper shrieking for his mama post-haste. Which is funny, since Bill Lindsey & Co. pay homage to the former Master Of Shock here with a (bloody) cover of his ’70s classic, “Dead Babies.” The creepy quartet also send shouts out one of their other important influences, those horror-movie-addicted punk godfathers, The Ramones, on “Psychotherapy.” Originals like “Mutated Genetic Monster” and “Superhuman” would, (bloody) hands-down, kick the living %@!#$& out of anything corporate ringers like Powerman 5000 or even big bro Rob Zombie have done in ages. As a matter of fact, I’d be willing to bet that, on a small stage, with limited effects, Impaler would %@!#$&ing eat Rob Zombie alive. And I’ll stand by those words to my (mwuah-ha-ha-haaaa!!) GRAVE!!
Nothing But A Dream
I’ve been a Paul Kelly fan ever since ole Peter Jesperson debuted him on REV 105 back in the mid-’90s. The Aussie singer/songwriter has an uncanny knack for spinning charming little mini-dramas about everyday life over some of the most awe-inspiring music to come out of the Outback since—well, ever. Nothing But A Dream isn’t my favorite of his releases, (that would be Words And Music, if you’re interested in checkin’ it out) but it’s a great addition to his already formidable catalog of grown-up (my fave PK line ever—“I never did one damn good thing ‘til I was over thirty!”) love songs, dirty roadhouse ditties, and gorgeous rock n’ roll paeons. If you pick up the right copy of this release, you’ll get an extra 4 tracks from the Roll On Summer EP, which includes a wonderful live reading of his classic “Every %@!#$&ing City.” Worth the price for that cut alone. Come back soon, Paul!
Well, that’s it for this week, folks. Tune in next week for part two of ‘Round The Dial’s First Annual Stack O’ CD’s I Should’ve Reviewed Over The Past Year (But Didn’t). In the meantime, make yer own damn news.
If you have local music news/gigs/events that you’d like to see listed in this column, or you’d just like to share your own list of great albums I didn’t write about last year (but PUH-LEEZE don’t include artists who got tons of ink other places!), send replies to: a href=mailto:TMygunn777@aol.com>TMygunn777@aol.com.