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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Concert Review: Burning Brides, Evil Queens and Micah

Ravari Room, Thursday June 19, 2008

Burning Brides (band site) (Myspace)
Evil Queens (band site) (Myspace)
Micah (Two Cow Garage) (Myspace)

Last thursday, my lovely companion and I strolled on over to the Ravari Room for a little booze and a lot of rock 'n roll. To be perfectly honest, we went there to see the Evil Queens, with whom i've had a musical crush on since I saw them open for High on Fire many years ago at Little Brothers. or did they open for the Melvins? Jesus, I must have been drinking that night.

anyway, I'm familiar with Two Cow Garage's work to some degree, but not familiar with Micah. The following is the story of my first encounter with Micah from Two Cow Garage.


oh yeah, i didn't actually 'encounter' him. I just watched his set. I probably should have been more clear on that.

Seeing a lone guy with an acoustic guitar take the stage always makes me instinctively wince. In fact, I remember precisely the only two times that I didn't cringe when confronted by a lone acoustic guitarist on stage: the first time I saw Derek Deprator (but only the first time) and the couple times I saw Wolfgang Parker's solo act at Andyman's Treehouse.

However, this particular time seeing Micah clamber up the stage at Ravari Room, I immediately felt The Fear overtake my senses. It wasn't until he started singing, that I knew why.

Micah is a wild eyed, wild haired guitarist who likes to make earnest, angsty faces while playing. He's one of those dudes who is SO into what he's singing that his body crumples into itself by the sheer weight of his depressing acoustic rock. His knees together, feet far apart, hunched over with his eyes closed, explaining how a girl who takes her clothes off for money is a product of circumstance.

All of his songs had an everyman (or everywoman) quality that reminded me of John Mellencamp. And that is when I smacked myself in the forehead.

Micah is Columbus' own John Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp, John Mellencamp, John Whatever-the-fuck-he's calling himself this decade!

Musically or lyrically, there is no discernible difference! The lyrical content of the songs is strikingly similar; rock 'n roll failings, country woes, sad strippers, bad luck, redemption, and generally sad shit.

His banter with his crowd of supporters was by contrast very upbeat and he seemed like a very personable fellow.

Before his last song, he struggled with a handless harmonica set-up and jokingly warned the crowd that the last song might not work as planned. He then said, "This is my last song. I might need some help from my friends."

Impressively, he played guitar and harmonica at the same time, to the amazement of the crowd. The guy in the Confederate Stars and Bars cap was especially impressed. The song started slow and much like the previous songs.

Halfway through the song though, a bunch of dudes jumped on the stage and started plugging guitars and bass into amps and a big guy jumped behind the drum kit. I turned towards my ridiculously hot companion and said, "I think this is about to become awesome."

And it did become awesome.

The song dropped from acoustic tear-in-your-beer douche-baggery to a full scale electric assault. The "friends" Micah mentioned earlier were none other than the Evil Queens! They (along with Micah) played fast and furious and ended the set on a definite high note.

The Evil Queens are hands down my favorite (and therefore the best) hard rock band in the city. Guitar-driven madness, I tells ya. So guitar driven, that a few times I completely forgot about the drummer. Not that he isn't any good, in fact, he's bad-ass too. He has to be, in order to be in such a kick ass outfit.

The Queens played some oldies, but also at least one new song that they never played in Columbus (and perhaps elsewhere) before.

Sorry if I can't go into more detail about their set, I was too busy rockin' out on the floor and drinkin' pints of PBR (hey, I'm poor and PBR is cheap). There were a lot of people at the Ravari Room for a Thursday night, which the Queens' singer made note of at least twice.

The Burning Brides were up next. I've previously seen the Burning Brides at least 4 times, and probably more than that. To be honest, I don't remember much of this particular set. But i'm sure it was pretty much the same as the other ones that I do actually remember, as all of those were pretty much the same.

The dudes rock out, the chick rocks out (why is it that virtually all lone girls in a guy group play bass?), the crowd rocks out, the end.

well, that's it. I suppose it's funny how the meat of this review dealt mostly with the Micah, whom I didn't care for, and very little with the two bands I do actually like.

Until next time, enjoy our Wild America.

Monday, June 23, 2008

4 Song Review: Darynyck

Darynyk (Band web site) (Myspace)

[Disclaimer: I hate to admit this, but these guys might be too good for me to review. Aw hell, i'll try i guess. - TR]

no time
Starts slow with an acoustic guitar and soft, earnest vocals. This song makes me feel sad and introspective. Song slowly builds as electric guitar and bass are introduced. God, I want a beer to weep into. What have I been doing with my life? Daryn and Nyck's vocals complement each other. very nice tune.

thankfully more rocking than "no time." This is a bit more light-hearted and straight-forward. "Oh, you got it." Yeah, you do. Did I hear claps? Dang, I like songs with clapping in 'em. Makes me happy.

Geez, I was unprepared for the word, "Fuck" in this song because I don't recall any swearing in any of the other songs. This is a break-up song. And a damn good one at that. I'm really diggin' the harmonica and the vocals. Actually, I like everything about this song.

people get together
this song is like a mash up of every single 60's everyone-be-happy song ever written. Tambourines and bell-bottoms, sideburns and Lennon sunglasses. A very happy song.

Dang it, I'm not used to having nothing to complain about. Damn you Darynyck! I'm going to go reread my review of Avionix to return myself to a more comfortable pissed-off state.

4 Song Review: The Injured Heads

The Injured Heads
"Down by the river and i feel so good, O-HI-O" This would be a great song to listen to while smoking a pipe and fishing. The chorus is simple and catchy. Acoustic guitar and light drums. The recording could use some work, and the drums sound a little off around 1:30. That aside, it's a nice summer time song.

Crossroads to Nowhere
Heavy electric guitar and drums on this one. Reminds me of early Black Sabbath. Ends abruptly at 1 minute, so I doubt it's even finished. But I suppose that just goes with the title of the song.

Once again, heavy guitars and drums. Unlike "Crossroads," this has vocals. Sabbath-y riffs, with punk drums. Sloppy in places, but I can see myself bangin' my head to it.

Opening percussion reminds me of that 80's song, "Hey Mickey." That is, until the guitar jumps in. Some heavy punk shit here. Mostly instrumental; there are vocals but they are hard to make out. And then the song fades out. Track ends with someone (I think Jimmy Z) saying, "Let's play Ohio." So I'm thinkin' these tracks were all recorded in one take at the same time. which isn't a bad thing.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Concert Review: Avionix

Billiard Club/Pub 161, May 30

"One of these things is not like the other."

that was my first thought watching Avionix headline at the Billiard Club/Pub 161. Visually, Avionix is 3 frat "bro's" and the fat kid they picked on freshman year. The frat kids needed a bassist, so they went to the fat kid promising they would stop making fun of him and get him laid.

Ok, I admit that was pretty mean. But I find it hard not to be mean after the excruciating pain my ears went through listening to their college-top 40-rock crap. If i wanted to listen to the radio, i would have turned on a fucking radio. And then I would immediately turn it off, cause the only music coming out of it is shit.

Just like most bands of this type (guys with a little bit of talent who just want to get laid by groupie sluts), they are more concerned with sounding like someone already famous than finding their own sound. They are all decent musicians, but there is little creativity at all. There is no soul.

My friend from Vegas who was in attendance described them thusly, "It's like Muse without the talent."

Another friend at the show said, "It's one continuous horrible song that never ends." I know for a fact that it wasn't just one long, terrible song because the singer/guitarist kept offering the audience song titles. However, if he hadn't of done that, i would have just thought they were playing the same song over and over again, using different effects pedals at different parts.

For all the unkind words, Avionix does have one thing going for them. They have a built in audience. College-age preppy girls eat this shit up. Anything remotely sounding like a Muse/Chevelle/Maroon 5 cover band is going to be pretty popular in certain places in the city. Avionix will probably be very popular (if they already aren't) in places like CBR's, or any number of campus bars.

oh, one other thing. Bass player, is it really necessary for you to perform a ridiculous amount of arm and leg stretches before you take the stage to just stand there and play a bass? I know you probably thought it made you look tough and edgy, but dude. seriously. You weren't leap-kicking off the drum riser or anything.

In closing, I will paraphrase Wolverine and say that;

Avionix is good at what they do, and what they do ain't nice.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Venue Review: Andyman's Treehouse

so, Andyman and Quinn Fallon (that guy from X-Rated Cowboys who is running the bar EVERY TIME i've ever been to the Treehouse) have decided to sell Andyman's Treehouse. I don't know to who it has been sold, but i DO know that i don't like this news.

If you haven't been (and you should go tonight, tomorrow, saturday and sunday before it changes hands on Monday) Andyman's is named after the CD101 dj who co-owns(ed) the joint. it is called the Treehouse because it has a decent sized tree growing in the center of it. around the tree are benches, for you see, you can sit in the the tree, and watch a band play. or listen to a stand-up comedian. or chat with whoever your with. or drink in solitude.

good beer selection, always friendly bar staff (well, it used to be. i don't know what's going to happen after Monday), comfortable couches, an elvis lamp, only 1 pool table and a coed restroom.

Andyman's Treehouse is (or was) the cat's pajamas.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Song Review: Emocide by Yesterday's Youth

Yesterday's Youth is a hardcore band. sounds pretty simple, huh? there's a little more to it than that. the term "hardcore" in music can mean a lot of things these days. It can mean a bunch of little whiney pussies whining about how their pussies hurt.

OR, it can describe a band of violent, drunken bastards who want to smash, crush, and destroy everything in their path.

Yesterday's Youth is the latter. Their song "Emocide" is about the former.

keep it up guys. we need you.

Yesterday's Youth don't slouch in the touring department either. They are always on the road. check them out on Myspace for songs and tour dates and such. Also, i hear their singer will give you a tattoo.

Song Review: Anthills by Blue Eyed Gunslingers

"Anthills" starts with a great little rockabilly intro. It quickly turns into a Monster Magnet-ish rock jam, and then reverts back into the previous rockabilly awesomeness.

i like knee-slappin' music, and this song delivers that, albeit only temporarily. If the entire song were like that, it would be awesome. unfortunately, i can't stand Monster Magnet.

have at ye.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Venue Review: Billiard Club/Pub 161

The Billiard Club/Pub 161 is one of those places that could be awesome, but for a few annoying reasons, it isn't. It is mostly a hard-rock club and has a Tuesday Night Acoustic Open Mic.

Good points: Lots of pool tables; both coin and hourly.
Servers who take orders from the pool tables. Impressive beer selection compared to a lot of other places. The bartenders are not stuck-up bitches. Lots of tables in the bar section; several booths along two walls. Good P.A. system the last time I was there, but previous visits were not as impressive.

Bad Points: Lots of thugs and wannabe-thugs. This probably has a lot to do with the location. All of the booths are along the walls, which means you can't see the stage (or get only a partial view) if you sit in a booth. The club charges about 2 bucks for both Coke AND water! Rarely is there a large audience, most people come to see their friends play and then leave.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Song Review: Vampire by the Black Canary

the Black Canary

"Vampire" is richly layered, but at the same time not all that complex musically. This isn't an insult, as i think making the arrangements more complicated would have possibly ruined the song.
the vocals are somewhat interesting. Softly sung, but always complimenting the instrumentation.
Mood music, as the title would suggest, but it doesn't sound cliche.

the Black Canary are masters of dark, layered music of varying complexity. Another song of theirs, Mansions, is one of my current favorites.

have at ye.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Concert Review: Verner Caliper

Billiard Club/Pub 161, Friday May 30

I need to take a little time for a small rant:
The Billiard Club charges $1.75 for an 8 ounce cup of pop that comes filled to the top with ice. So in reality, you are paying almost 2 bucks for about 3 ounces of pop. The bartender also said that on weekends, "we only sell bottled water. We have to make money somehow." This was on a Friday night and the place was dead. Perhaps if they didn't charge 2 bucks for a pop or water, more people who show up? Water should be free, and hell, pop should be free too. God, I wished I owned a bar.

My recommendation: If you are the designated driver, or simply don't want to drink alcohol, walk over to Tim Horton's and get a FREE water, or simply bring your own beverage.

On to the review:
I was going to review the entire show, but I had to leave early for various reasons. So I am only reviewing the opener, Verner Caliper.

As a friend from out of town who was at the show said, "they don't sound like anyone!" Which is true. Try as I might, i could not, and can not, label this band. However, since people like to label everything in terms that are familiar to them, I will describe the band in generic genre-terms as "groovy hard rock." This is one of those rare creatures in rock music... a band with an original sound. While their website lists influences ranging from "Radiohead to Rage Against the Machine," you can't really hear the influence of any other band.

Their first three songs were evidently so new that they haven't been named yet, although all three were incredibly tight, groovy hard rock songs. The third song in the set had a couple awkward transitions, but was otherwise tightly played, tightly structured, and an all around great hard rock tune. Unlike the previous two songs, Andy Clark (singer/guitarist) turned his voice into a menacing growl and played a sick quitar solo mid-song.

That's Why is a quick, groovy hard rock song that could be a single if they wanted it to be. It's short enough for the kiddies to not get bored, heavy enough for the dudes and melodic enough for the chicks, and displays just enough technical precision for snobs to like it.

Our Flaws are Logical starts out as another groove induced hard rock song, however, it seemed to go on forever. I found myself zoning out several times and wondering if i was still listening to the same song. It's good, but maybe shave off a minute or two?

The bass player, Andy W, is perhaps one of the most startlingly adept musicians to grace a 4-string that i've seen in the city. He constantly switches styles of play during songs. I just wanted to put this out there because bassists are often overlooked.

I didn't catch the name of the next song, but it started out as a slow, quiet ballad and rapidly progressed into a full-bore hard rock jam. Towards the end was a crazy-fast guitar solo, which immediately dropped the song back down into slow tempo. Very nice, very interesting.

The song Background is on
VC's Myspace page, but the recording on Myspace does not do the song justice. Played live, the song is ridiculous. This, like most of their songs, is simply a technical marvel, but is not inaccessible to those without a critical mind.

The band broke the mood with a strange and delightful southern fried ditty called Scrambled Eggs on a Paper Plate. Hilarious, fun and quick, this was a great song to break the hard rock/metal tension built up from the previous songs. I think it should have come a little earlier in the set though.

Lacking a better place to bring it up, Jimmy the drummer, is simply fun to watch. He doesn't just play his kit, he beats the shit out of it. It's like he hates the drums and is trying to make his drum kit pay for that hatred.

Verner Caliper ended their set with a song called Sick In Sin. Simply put, this was fucking amazing and a brilliant song to end to. It's a longer song (I didn't time it, but i'm guessing 5-6 minutes) but it never gets boring or tired. Towards the end the tempo builds and builds until the song practically crashes. Beautiful.

There was only one sad point that I can make; the Billiard Club was practically empty. Not many people beyond the bands' friends got to hear them. Verner Caliper would probably get a much better reception at a venue like the Ravari Room, opening up for a national or regional act than puttering around in a crappy dive, opening for jock-rock wannabe's who will break up in 6 months.