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Monday, December 20, 2010

St. James Tavern

St. James Tavern is an inconspicuous little bar on 4th Street and Detroit Avenue in Italian Village. I first came here when I was 21 or 22, but didn't really return until I was 24 or 25 (my polish brother, the legendary Brett (from foid, Hotel War, and Vietnam II: oOo! Shameless name-drop!), lived on  Detroit so we would walk to the bar frequently). There are two pool tables, chairs and tables all around, and a long bar with stools. They don't serve food, they don't have shitty cover bands, and (most importantly) they don't have a TV.

What they do have is great beer, great prices, atmosphere (something that is seriously lacking in most every other establishment in Columbus), and the best jukebox in the city.

However, all of that has been said by other people already. What is new? What hasn't been said about St. James Tavern yet?

  • They specialize in imports and microbrews; especially the rarer high alcohol content ales. The Bourbon Barrel Stout is ridiculous.
  • My friends and I got a nice special price on Beck's Dark because they were trying to get rid of them. Fine by me; I give those Hessian bastards a new home in my tummy!
  • Three kegs of Affligem Noel are available in the city; St. James has two of them.
  • The clientele is predominantly college hipsters; although a faithful older crowd of former college hipsters fills in the gaps on off-days.
  • The place is dark. The lighting is kept to a minimum, but not to the point where you get squinty trying to strain your eyes. The music is loud, but not overbearingly loud. It creates a very intimate atmosphere even when the place is jammed with people.
  • Wood covers EVERYTHING.
  • There is graffiti in the men's room that says something along the lines of, "This isn't a ladies room; keep the seat up." 
  • Speaking of the Men's room; it was stocked with soap and paper towels! 
  • I know nothing of the Women's restroom except from the few, instinctive and unintentional peeks I got while playing pool at various visits. Dude's can't help that reaction. It's not that we're being pervy, it's just that the Women's room is like the last frontier for men; an unexplored mystery where women (who we are most interested in but can't seem to understand) seem to congregate (and, we think, to talk about us).
  • Simpson's Pinball. That should be self-explanatory.
It seems as if it has been Winter, late Fall, or early Spring every time I've been there. I associate the place with visible breath, scarves, and floppy knit hats.

You can find St. James Tavern online on Facebook, Twitter, and their own website. Facebook and Twitter are updated frequently, so those are your best bet to find out what's on tap on any given day.
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Spruce Campbells - The Lessons We Learned From Ghosts

Jason of the Spruce Campbells told me this is their "pop" EP.  While it is certainly more poppy than their previous two EP's, it can't really be called poppy compared to the conventional wisdom's idea of pop music sound. Just like their previous two EP's, this one is full of gorgeous music that sounds both strikingly familiar yet substantially different than anything you've heard before. They are playing at Skully's tomorrow night, which is the official release of this EP. I recommend you go and buy it along with their previous two EP's - you will love them.

Star Girl -Very catchy. Probably the catchiest song on the record.  Lyrically, it isn't particularly poignant, but I doubt that it's meant to be. Jason's vocals are reminiscent of Crash Test Dummies, while Chelsea's have that sexy, smokey sound; they compliment each other perfectly. There is only one hiccup in the song - after the third verse, "gonna getcha, getcha, getcha, HEY!" doesn't seem to really fit; at least to my ears. It by no means ruins the song, I just don't care for that line.

Hell O's - I love the opening guitar, and the drumming is definitely poppy (and good). The conversational style of the singing should be trademarked by The Spruce Campbells - I really like how Chelsea and Jason go back and forth with the lyrics. Jason asked me which song I think should be the single, and I pick this one. It just seems so accessible and (ignoring the lyrics only because they are kind of depressing) is simply a fun tune to listen to. Which actually gives the song layers of depth you don't hear much anymore - a fun, happy sounding song with sad, buzzkill lyrics. Nicely done, and well played sirs and madam.

With You - This song has a distinct 50's pop sound. Like it could be played during the school dance in Back to the Future. I wonder what it would sound like with 3 female back-up singers. They could be named "The Sharlene's," and stand 6 feet behind Chelsea and wave their hands in front of them while they sing. Listening to this makes you want to go necking with your steady in the front seat of a Dodge at the dead end of Lover's Lane.

A Farewell - The counterpart to With You, A Farewell sounds more like the general sound of the first EP than the other songs on this disc. This is a death song; two lovers saying their final goodbyes. It is sadly sweet, and probably the deepest, lyrically, of the songs on the record. This is also my favorite song out of the four (followed closely by With You). Jason sings lead, with Chelsea backing in a beautifully soft undertone.

The Spruce Campbells around the internet:
Bandcamp - listen to the album for free

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Darynyck - The Chaotic LP

New post title format - how evolutionary!

Today's review is of Darynyck's newest release; The Chaotic LP.  Daryn and Nyck switch lead vocals and instruments throughout album, and all the songs were recorded by the two in various basements and attics.

Listening to this album, it would probably lead you to believe that Darynyck are heartbroken and depressed individuals. It's a stark contrast to their live performances, where they are cheerful, fun, and very personable.  The songs on The Chaotic LP are beautiful in their simplicity, and absolutely gorgeous in the feelings they evoke in the listener. These are themes that most people have felt at one point or another, but are difficult to put into words.  Darynyck has found a way to express and deliver these themes and feelings in a surprisingly upbeat style that manages to remain honest without seeming condescending.  I think I love this album.

Make Some Music - A primer on starting a band because, "you're tired of working for the man."  I could totally see this song being played on Sesame Street by a band of muppets to teach kids about playing music.  It's a sweet, fun song that's just enjoyable to listen to.  It isn't full of profound or deep lyrics, or overly complicated compositions.  It's just a couple dudes making music.

Working Hard (Going Nowhere) - Light, fast-paced, with simple arrangements.  The song pretty much asks the listener if it's all worth it?  Going to college to get a job, working hard, but you never know what's going to happen, do you?  What is time well-spent?  What is really worth it?  It's a rhetorical question, obviously, but lyrically this song is a stark contrast to the previous track.

Chaotic - Interestingly, one of the first songs I heard from Darynyck a few years ago. Although the liner notes say it was recorded in 2006, so I guess that shouldn't be surprising. Acoustic pop with lots going on in the background - tambourine, claps, harmonica.  Nyck sings, with Daryn and guest Gabe; on backing vocals.  I've known my share of chaotic women and this song reminds me of all of them. However, I have to wonder; is the behavior really chaotic? Or more like indecisive?

Pure and True - Different style than the previous tunes. Different feel; more like a traditional folk song. The whistling complements the rest of the music; in most other songs by other artists that contain whistling, it is often used as a centerpiece of sorts - and usually sucks.  Not here.  The lyrics remind me... unfortunately they remind me of myself and a past relationship in a lot of ways.  I listened to this song a few times; just reminiscing about the past and how I'm glad I'm sane after all that happened.

Same Old Song - Another simple and straightforward tune with some cool guitar effects that do not overshadow the singing.

Pieces - Jesus, another song that seems to be ripped from my own experiences.  I'm starting to think that Darynyck are telepathic and have scoured my brain.  Or are these themes more universal and shared than I previously thought?  Beautiful song in a tragic way.

Now or Never -Quick tempo, still going along with the theme of complicated love and sad, failing relationships.  Now I'm convinced they've been stalking me and taking notes.  This is a gorgeous song, but kind of hurts to listen to, as it strikes too close to home.

Alive - This is another song that is slowed down, downcast in mood, and full of honest feeling. 

Waiting (Did It Again) - "Well it looks like I fucked up, I did it again..."  I think this is the only song with swearing in it, and that conservative usage really adds to the power of the word.  While on the surface it doesn't seem like it, this song seems bitter to me.  Bitter at the narrators feeling of being at fault, and bitterness at hoping for something better. I may be wrong, but art is up to the interpretation of the audience, right?

New City Lights - A song about moving on.  The singing wraps around the beat rather than being subordinate to timing (which is how 99% of all rock songs are), which is pretty neat.  The music is upbeat and a little quicker in tempo than most of the other songs on the album.

Last A Lifetime - A departure from the styles of the previous songs.  Much more focused on the lyrics and singing, rather than the instrumentation.

Without You, It's True - The perfect closer for the album.  The last line sums up not only this song, but the entire feeling of the album; "I hope you'll come around." 

If I had heard this album a year ago, it would have never left my CD player and I probably would have cried everytime I listened to it.  I know some people who could use the catharsis, and I will be passing this on to them.  Buy this album, borrow it from a friend, just find a way to listen to it. It is well worth it.

One last thing; My favorite Darynyck song is I'm So Sad (which DID help me through a rough patch), unfortunately I'm So Sad is on the Sasquatch Sessions, which is an album I do not have, nor have I listened to. Someday I hope to rectify that.

Darynyck on Sonicbids, Myspace, Youtube, and CD Baby

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Why the Scene Sucks

There have been a few stories written about the public's disdain for local music printed in the various newspapers and websites that cover such things. I thought I would throw my hat in the ring.

  1. Residents don't buy local band albums or music. 
    1. There are only a few places where a fan or potential fan can buy local music.  They can buy it at a show (the difficulties of which will be explained below), they can buy it at a store (see last months adventure with Used Kids Records), or they can buy it online from the bands' website.  The problem with buying online is that many bands don't have websites with music available to download.  Some are still on Myspace only and the company that allows bands to sell music on Myspace has a very poor reputation for actually paying the bands. Of course, the biggest obstacle to online sales of local music is how do you get people to listen to your music in the first place in order for them to want to buy it?
  2. People don't go to local shows.
    1. People DO go to local shows; just not that often.  Some people only go to local concerts; usually people who are hipsters and friends with everyone and probably in a band as well.  Some people will go through life having never seen a local concert.  But most people will go to at least a few because they know someone who begs and pleads for all their friends to see their band play at some overpriced shit-hole like Pub 161 outside the City.  
    2. There is one thing about our city that people often complain about but has, as far as I can tell, been completely ignored in this argument.  This issue is that of public transportation.  COTA does not have the coverage, nor does it run late enough on enough lines to be more than the half-assed mediocre bus system that it is.  I don't own a vehicle and use COTA quite frequently; I know first hand how limited it is.  Add COTA's crappy coverage with how spread out Columbus is with sprawl, and that Central Ohio is the DUI capital of the world, and you don't have a city conducive to lots of people going out to bars at night and enjoying their local artists.
  3. Local music doesn't get enough publicity or media attention.
    1. The Other Paper is very busy patting itself on the back for not being The Columbus Dispatch.
      Alive is owned by The Columbus Dispatch but is trying to be just like The Other Paper.  However, The Other Paper and Alive do a pretty good job of publicizing local music.  They've put local bands on the cover page, each issue has a comprehensive listing of every local concert and event for the next week, and for the most part their music review sections are tight except for Wes Flexner, The Other Paper's hip hop guru, calling The Unholy Two's new album the "Best local album of the year".  The Unholy Two have the album of the year?  uh huh.  There aren't enough blunts in the world to make that a defensible position.  By the way, Chris Lutzko works for the company that publishes The Other Paper - it's not who you are, but who you know.
    2. There are music blogs (Howdy!) that cover local music. Some of them (I assume) are better than this one in various regards.  Music blogs, unlike newspapers and radio, are viral in nature - people with nothing to do and unhealthy internet addictions write about their experiences, other people who are the same read it and repost it or link to it, and casual observers find it and check it out.  I wish there were a lot more music bloggers in Columbus.  There are 5000 food blogs here, and 5 music blogs.  Columbus is full of fatties who hate music.  I wish that was a joke.
    3. The more established web sites have their own issues.  Cringe has "The Columbus Sound,"  whatever that means, since that would assume that all bands in Columbus play the same things.  They don't.  Columbus has one of the most eclectic and varied musical scenes in the country.  Every genre that exists can be found here. Donewaiting is run by a guy in Brooklyn, New York.  That's really all that needs to be said.
    4. CD101 is now CD102.5 for no good reason and has Independent Playground (We miss you Rudy G) and more importantly Frontstage 101 every weeknight at 9.  But you know what would be even cooler?  Local music in the regular rotation (I call for this in just about every Sounding Board survey I take).  How about a contest (like the Blitz's Choose It or Lose It) where listeners call in and vote on local music to be played on regular rotation?  I mean, you've played 2 Howlin' Maggie songs, 2 Watershed songs, and a musical abortion by Earwig.  How about some new, and good local stuff played throughout the day?  The Blitz is less shitty than ever!  They actually play metal now and let the DJ's have more of a say in what is played. If The Blitz had a daily local stuff version of Choose It or Lose it for hard rock and metal bands, it would get the audience involved and act as somewhat of a filter for bands - competition breeds exception.  
These were just some thoughts I had after reading various articles and listening to various radio stations and talking to various musicians.
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Used Kid's Records

According to Used Kid's Records, the proper way to support local music is to tell anyone who suggests how to better support said music to go fuck themselves.

Around 10 years ago, a clerk at Used Kid's pissed me off so much on my very first visit (at their old location) that I never went back until 2 years ago. I only went back on that occasion to please my then-girlfriend.  I was impressed with the new location and was hit on by some random hot chick while smoking a cigarette outside.  So it was a good second impression.
Since then, Used Kid's has become my go-to record store.  Not because it is better in any way than any other record store, but because it's close to where I live and easy to get to.
So, just like many other people, I befriended Used Kid's on Facebook.  This led to the record store inviting me (twice) to an event called, "Weekend of Mayhem."  Weekend of Mayhem is an event with live music, record deals, and is advertised as such, "Please come out and support your local independent record store as well as your local music scene."
I think I do a fairly decent job in supporting the local music scene.  I give free press to local bands, I stroke their egos, give creative criticism, go to their concerts, and buy their CDs and vinyl records.  So, being the supporter of local music that I am, I suggested, in an admittedly snarky way, that Used Kid's could do just a tiny bit more for local music than what they are currently doing.
this is the result.
Yes, you read that right.  For my suggestion of moving the local music section nearer the register and out of a box on the floor, I have been called a "dickweed" by the official Used Kid's facebook page.  Think about that for a moment, but not too long, as the story continues!
Used Kid's, in their infinite wisdom, made two identical event pages for Weekend of Mayhem.  So I wrote the exact same thing on the second page that I wrote on the first.  This is the response and boy, it's a doozy!
In case you can't see it for some reason, here is a screenshot
So, an employee, who is an actual representative of the store, told me to "shove it up my ass."
See folks, that's a classy lady right there.  All this time, I thought I knew what it was to support local music.  But I was obviously very wrong.
According to Used Kid's Records, the proper way to support local music is to tell anyone who suggests how to better support said music to go fuck themselves.  Obviously they are right, because several people "liked" what they have to say and even defend their position.  Well, okay, their defense isn't really all that good, since he just called a local musician and myself "douche bags."
I will provide no links to Used Kid's Records as I have no interest in generating any business for them at this time.  If you want to buy records from stores not operated by dickheads, spend your money at these fine establishments:
Spoonful Records
116 E Long St
Columbus, OH 43215
Lost Weekend Records
2960 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43202-1136
Magnolia Thunderpussy
1155 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43201

[Edit:  I have no issue with the owners of Used Kid's Records.  I sincerely doubt that Ron or Dan even know about any of this.  Although the girl who told me to "shove it up my ass" is apparently Dan's daughter, I have no reason to believe that he or Ron House feel the same way.  But it does not change the fact that I will no longer shop at their store, nor will I encourage anyone else to shop there.]
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Pee Pee Dance

I was at a concert the other night and some hipsters took the stage.  I sort of know some of them and they're nice people, so I don't mean to use the term "hipster" in a derogatory sense.  Just a statement of fact.  They dress, act and play in hipster style.
So watching them play I noticed something about their frontman that hit me like a... well, I almost said a ton of bricks, but that is too much of an exaggeration.  No, I just came to realize something about hipster frontmen.
Hipster frontmen always have to pee really really bad when they're on stage.  They do what every mother knows and calls, "The Pee Pee Dance."
Their feet spread, but their knees together, they twist their torso while sort of semi-squatting up and down with their eyes closed and a pained expression on their face.  Now, I know that they don't actually have to pee really bad (or at least I assume that), but that just makes it more hilarious - hipster frontmen actually think pretending to have to pee makes them seem more earnest; like their banal, smug, and pretentious lyrics are SO important that goddamn (!), if the audience doesn't believe in their sincerity, they're just going to pee through their super-tight dark jeans, dribble on their vintage cowboy boots or converse all-stars, and maybe, just maybe, get a little bit on their too-small flannel shirt with the sleeves buttoned up.

If I feel up to it, I will post some videos of this phenomena later.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This Thursday at Kobo (Oldfield's on High) a concert event is happening that all should attend.

Spruce Campbells
The Nuclear Children (loved this band, but never reviewed them)
Evan Harris and the Driftwood Motion

The Spruce Campbells will be joined by Jack Atreides of The FuturistsThe Nuclear Children are having a reunion show of sorts. Lackluster will be doing what Lackluster does best - making hipster girls shake their asses.  and Evan Harris and the Driftwood Motion will bring everyone back to their roots - in the right way.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Album Review: All Saints' Day by The New Heaven and The New Earth

I didn't know there was an old heaven and an old earth before I reached the new ones with the unexpected album All Saints' Day released in 2009. This collection of six songs handles itself much like a stranger at a street fair, propelled on by it's hunger and emptiness, yet tragically beautiful as a natural beast that is perpetually stuck. They sing as if they have found scraps for dinner, and eat, all the while knowing it's rotten. The cellos shift gracefully as only a bleeding heart can shift through moments and days and years. Accompanied by beautiful chords and simple slow beats, portraits of low poignant freckles of time frozen by myth and melody. It is sad, luring, and yet still shines light, demonstrating the delicate partnership between hope and fear.

Noah, the first track gives a powerful kick start to the album and is a mix between a 70's acid trip and a Sunday afternoon at church. The cellos and angelic background choir give it a forceful yet graceful balance that sets the stage for the rest of the songs. It almost sounds as if it starts out in the middle of the track which gave little room for a climax, however, the whole 3 minutes is dramatic through the breezy vocals and harmonies.

Dry Stalk lives up to its name and instantly sounds like it is off of The Royal Tenebaum's soundtrack. It is dry and slow in an interesting and offbeat way that tells of a slowly recovering heartache. The male backing vocals are a perfect choice in this short (2 and a half minutes!) track, packing a certain quality I can't put my finger on. They sing "do-do-do-do-doo" with a shy awkward tinge - reminiscent perhaps of someone with incredible talents that is overshadowed by perceived imperfections. Its modest instruments and melodies create such sympathy for the dried up used stalk of a man, while the bells and chorus give hope, only to be dashed on contradiction and held together by its own sick cycle.

Simon sounds like second wind extension to its previous neighboring track. It starts out with tambourine shakes and the choir crying out with pain like flailing souls trapped half in the sand. This nearly five minute song provides some of the most interesting and well done vocals on the album. They don't shake in syllables but in whole, each word ending like a cliff, mountains filling up even my mouth. The song progression is like a roller coaster, allowing the vocals to take stage as a harpsichord, sad organ, and tambourine provide the simple tune throughout the verse, allowing the bridges to provide the sweeping punch of a rooted gospel. Two minutes in, the bells chime and the tambourine is accompanied by chilling lyrics and climaxes into an orchestra of sound where the voices take shape as instruments themselves.

After a long pause, the soft piano starts. Tori Amos and PJ Harvey's love child climbs through the speakers and leaves the windows open, the cold winter breeze blowing through. St. Valentine is my favorite song and an excellent fourth track to give fresh breath to the album. The shifting sounds and reckless instruments near the end are like ghosts, mindless in their habitual echos. Yet, something beautiful is created and harnessed, leaving a craving after its short two minutes. It is like a lucid dream, haunting and stunning.

With a Mark Lanegan's guitar and Radiohead's melodic vocals, Santa Muerte is sad and reflective. It imagines life outside of our present constraints, welcoming the future as a replacement. However hopeful the lyrics might be, the reality is the darkness of the present and the pain of hope. The cellos offer a deep contrast to the guitar melodies and show the depressing acceptance of such a life.

St. Francis highlights a new vocal sound with raspy voice talk telling us "it's not cocaine", but its surely something. This haunting final track is simple at the beginning with raising and falling single tones like the bending of the earth. Then the juxtaposition of a strong single tone strum, followed by a pause then a strum, then a pause, then a strum like the forever eventual breaking of the earth. All sprinkled by the pained singing of a burdened soul. The climax is a beautiful collision of every aspect. The symbols crash like the unknowing angry ocean on jagged rocks, like saints finally opening up their wrists to find it's only their blood in there, "we're not men, we can't pretend that we are fish and marry prophets anymore." Ending in a heavy solo guitar and the sadly building purge of hope and fear and the drugged waltz that all prophets must perfect, dragging all the way up to the earth from heaven.

If you can't tell, I quit enjoyed this little collection from an artist unknown to me. I listened to it while figuring out my terrifying finances and it even helped keep my blood pressure low. It spreads like depression, heavy in afterglow and calm as a diabetic baking a pie. The short length of Dry Stalk and St. Valentine left me wondering where the rest of the song was and some of the tracks had a little lack of dramatics, but it left a definite good imprint. Overall, it reminds me of Muse - that is in a different state of grief. This is Muse after they get over the anger and find themselves in the purgatory of denial, isolation, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Sirens can be hidden in the keys of a piano and behind the strings of a cello, lighthouses of destruction and beauty that live inside all of us - you know you can relate.

The New Heaven & The New Earth

The New Heaven & The New Earth
St. Valentine

(songs used with permission)
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Monday, August 9, 2010

Album Review: Mosques, Museums, and Mausoleums by The Spruce Campbells

Mosques, Museums, and Mausoleums is the first of five or six, 4 song EP's. Each EP has its own title, but all are (or rather, will be) collectively called, The Bipolar Coordinates EP's.

Each EP is to have 2 pairs of songs (for you quick ones out there, that's a total of 4 songs), with the songs in each pair to have similar themes or styles that bring them together.

I think I've listened to these 4 songs more times than the last 4 albums I've received or bought combined.  It kind of makes me scared as to what kind of earth-shaking, sheet-clenching, toe-curling orgasm I'm going to have when I listen to the next 4 discs.

actual review after you scroll down and look at the album art...

Black Sunshine is a gorgeous tune that is reminiscent of The Pixies with the soft female lead and a kind of obnoxious male chorus.  I don't mean that the chorus is bad in any way, I'm just saying Frank Black had an obnoxious voice and this is comparable. Musically however, it is far more complicated than a Pixies tune.  When I heard this song live, it struck me as being more similar to the Dandy Warhol's, but I get none of that here on the album.  Great song on the album, amazing song to hear live.

More O's just made me cream my jeans for the umpteenth time.  Everything about this song makes me happy.  There is clapping, and clapping is good.  The transitions from simple and soft to bombastic and crazy is amazing.  The keyboards, guitars, drums, vocals, violin; everything in this makes me want to have sex with the song.  If only that were possible.

So Tired is a Fugazi cover.  Putting a cover song on an album can be hit or miss with some bands; it's a tribute to a song or band you really like, but if you don't make it your own, what's the point?  The best covers tend to sound very different than the originals.  Spruce Campbells manage to make this song their own without drastically changing anything.  It's a beautiful song, centered around Chelsea Moore's vocals and keyboard accompaniment (sorry, I'm not sure who was playing the keys).

Far Away is a song that causes complicated emotions in the listener.  It starts with just piano and vocals (Chelsea Moore again, as on every song on this album), then drums and violin join in.  The conversation between the male and female vocalists will strike a chord with anyone who ever felt the need that to just get the hell out of Dodge and leave everything behind.  The song is on one hand sad, but on the other hand kind of hopeful.

Well kids, that ends my review of the Spruce Campbells EP, Mosques, Museums, and Mausoleums.  If you want a mind-blowing experience, check them out live and buy the album.

Other places to hear The Spruce Campbells' music...

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Mini-Review: KOBO

A few weeks ago my buddy Jon of Lackluster (shameless name-drop) asked me if I wanted to go see Historians play a free show at Oldfields on High.  I said, "sure" as I don't mind Historians and hey, it's free, ya know?

So we get there and of course it is right smack dab in the middle of OSU's Senior Crawl.  Like my friend Bridgit would say, it was like I was in the middle of an episode of Jersey Shore that continued for hours.  Are all college girls whores, or just the ones that go out in public?  Ah, but I digress...

We walk in and notice everyone working is wearing Evolved t-shirts.  The place also seemed... different, but I couldn't put my finger on it.  Outside smoking a cigarette, I talked to the door-guy and he said the bar was recently bought out and is being renamed, "KOBO."  I asked him why the name change, as Oldfield's has been around forever and people recognize it.  He said he didn't know but I could ask the owner and pointed out a 14-year old kid moving boxes of beer around.

That 14-year old kid is actually Jacob Wooten (who is 26 years old).  He's a member of the band, The Pinkertone's and bought Oldfield's with the owner of Evolved.

To be honest, I was dismayed by the name change and unsure of the direction the place was going to go.  However, I've changed my mind and think it's pretty brilliant.

Kobo means an artist's work space in Japanese.  The idea behind KOBO is that Wooten wanted to make a bar that caters to bands, not the other way around.  He's taken down all the beer signs and put up old flyers and posters (many, if not all, seemingly from the old High Five) of local bands.  The shit-beer has been taken off the taps and replaced with imports and micro-brews.  Sound dampening has been installed behind the stage, and in general, the place looks more cleaned up.

He even took out the cable television!  Which is brilliant because even I have found myself being drawn into a T.V. when I should be paying attention to the band on stage.

I think the idea is great, and within 4 years no one will even care that Oldfield's on High is gone.  I wish KOBO and Wooten the best, and I hope to make it back often.   check out for more info on upcoming shows.

In other news, that same night I went skinny-dipping for the first time in my life, met some awesome dudes in a band called, Spruce Campbells (seriously, these guys were sweet), and somehow emailed myself something about a band called, "Barker's Beauties"  which I think may be linked to Spruce Campbells?  I have no idea.  If anyone can help me out with Barker's Beauties, I would appreciate it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Album Review: Thick Sticks & Harder Stones by Evan Harris and the Driftwood Motion

Thick Sticks & Harder Stones is a 6 song EP by Evan Harris and the Driftwood Motion.  You probably already got most of that information from the title of this post.  Jeremy Ebert, the bands guitarist, gave me this CD with a little note tucked inside;

"'thick sticks' is the product of 3 friends over a 2 week recording period and a 1 week    mixing/celebrating the absurdity of how quickly it all came together....period"

The band, in its current incarnation, consists of Evan Harris, Jeremy Ebert, and Jessica Rabbit. This album also features Gerard Shay on the song Cardinals and Swans.  
Evan: Vocals, Gibson Acoustic, upright bass, ukelele, piano, and organ
Jeremy: Dean Resonator
Jessica: Vocals, Martin Acoustic
Gerard: Mandolin

The Driftwood Motion is one of those bands that are equally great to listen to either on a hot Summer day while sitting on a porch sipping lemonade, or a dark smoke-filled room at night while sipping whiskey and water.

They take elements of bluegrass, folk and  roots rock to create alt-country masterpieces that will make anyone slap their thighs, stomp their feet, and smile at life.  And that isn't to say that the music is necessarily happy; it's just that damn good.

Jeremy's guitar is superb, Evan's smorgasborg of instruments and lyrics is amazing, and Jessica's guitar and especially her voice is simply beautiful; she sings lead on only one song, Ah Geeze (What a Mess!), and I really wish I could hear more of her.  Simply put, I want more Jessica Rabbit!

The other five songs are sung by Evan, whose voice is strong and confident, but aggravatingly familiar; you spend more time trying to figure out who he sounds like than listening to what he's singing about (after listening to the EP about 20 times, I came up with a combination of Mike Ness, John Cougar, and Tom Waits - which would make a terribly ugly baby if the three of them ever somehow managed to mate - but I digress). 

The stand out tracks are The Devil Song, Cardinals & Swans, Ah Geeze (What a Mess!), and Lighter than Dark Days.  The second track, At Least We Still Have What's Left of Our Health, is good, but doesn't strike me as much as the previously mentioned songs and track 5, A Birds Year, I can't seem to get into very much.  The overall feel of the song is terribly depressing (on purpose), but the guitar is what grinds my gears on this one.  The opening acoustic which continues throughout the song just sounds... I hate to say this.... cheesy.  The electric that pops in occasionally provides an almost industrial tone, which is unsettling.  I think that is the best way to describe this song... unsettling.  That could be good or bad, depending on your mood, really.

Overall, I would recommend this to just about anyone.  I mean, I only had one negative thing to say, so that should mean something, right?  I've also seen these dudes play live (sans Ms. Rabbit) at a club and in a living room and I recommend attending a live show as well.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Concert Review: Metric

Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw of Metric play an ...Image via Wikipedia

Metric tore the roof off the Newport Music Hall Tuesday night.

There are few times in my memory where I've been to a concert that was so full of people just happy to be there. The audience was mostly young people, teens and early twenties, who knew every word to every song and were happy to sing a long. The band was all smiles and seemed genuinely gleeful at the attention they received. Emily, the lead vocalist/keyboardist profusely thanked the crowd and even thanked CD101 for "playing us so much, even though they saw 'Metric, put out by Metric,' few radio stations would do that." After the last song, which was an acoustic version of Combat Baby sung by Emily with guitar accompaniment by James Shaw, the rest of the band (bassist Josh Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key) came out and bowed before the crowd. They didn't seem to want to leave and the horde of fans chanted their name long after the house lights came on.

Metric live is LOUD. During Help I'm Alive the bass was so intense the hair on my head was shaking, the change in air pressure caused my ears to pop, and my balls jiggled. Being a fan of bass, I didn't mind this at all.

The light show was also incredibly intense. A lot of people find the strobe lighting too distracting and actually a bit blinding; once again, I didn't mind. It was one of the best light shows I've seen for any band at the Newport.

Vocalist Emily Haines is one of the best people to just watch. Dang, that sounds creepy. Anyway, she makes ridiculous and hilarious facial expressions, twitches her legs and shoulders, smiles with unadulterated glee, and dances in a herky-jerky way reminiscent of Elaine from Seinfeld. She would hold her arms out in front of her and stomp in place like the classic Frankenstein monster. In short, she was fun. I haven't smiled so much just watching someone since... well ever, I think.

Jimmy Shaw (can I call you "Jimmy?") looks like a young, well-dressed Bruce Springsteen, but unlike old Bruce, Shaw can shred some guitar licks. I never really knew this until I saw the live show and witnessed three of his solo's. He isn't Eddie Van Halen or Tom Morello, but he ripped it up.

Winstead, as most bassists are, seemed the most enigmatic of the group; staying to one side of the stage, kind of out of the lights. Like I said before, the bass was amazing at this show and he's the one to thank. Because of a bad view (an amazon lesbian with a HUGE bag was in my way), I couldn't tell what kind of style he used to play; pick, slap, combination, whatever. Either way, it worked out great.

The drums were hard-pounding. Scott-Key beat the shit out of those drums. And the best part was he was grinning like a madman for most of the set.

The entire set sounded tight and on; I didn't notice any mistakes or false-starts, or anything.

The crowd really ate it up. The band was all smiles too. They obviously relished the attention, but not in a pretentious or arrogant way; they seemed genuinely surprised and humble at the love they received from the crowd; a refreshing change of pace from bands that seem to just go through the motions.

Here is Twilight Galaxy from the Newport show. Starting around the 6 minute mark, it turns into some headbanging craziness. Not too much of that from the crowd of mostly young well-dressed women, but you'd have been surprised. I wanted more videos of the show because there were many instances of slow and sweet immediately crushed by heavy and pounding. Good contrasts.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Slide Machine - Sundown

The Slide Machine - Sundown performed live.

I've been jammin' to this song for a couple years now. It goes on most of the mix tapes I make. I would be ecstatic if I got a Slide Machine album

Lydia Loveless

Saturday, May 15, 2010

New Bomb Turks - Hammerless Nail Video

New Bomb Turks hold the record for the best live show I've ever seen.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Phantods - Lone Highway Video

Columbus' own:

Phantods and their video for Lone Highway

Please enjoy responsibly.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Love Songs

Except for when I was a child and listened and liked everything I heard on the radio (like all children); I have never, until recently, enjoyed love songs. During my teenage years and most of my twenties, I couldn't stand love songs. I thought they were vapid and shallow and for people who didn't understand real music or real emotion.
It wasn't until recently that I finally understood. Love songs became the majority of music I found myself listening to. I discovered that I was the one who was vapid, shallow, and with no understanding of true emotion.
I've discovered that love entails a lot of distress, a lot of pain, and a lot of crying. For some peeps, this leads to anger, frustration and depression. For others, it leads to happiness, understanding, and enlightenment. The feeling of love is being alive and living. One does not have to be in love with another person; it's really about whatever makes you happiest. Music, as an art form, is subject to interpretation by the receiving audience, with guidance from the artist. As such, a simple love song takes on far deeper connotations; metaphors and similes can burst out and take on new meanings.
Knowing this, I walk the streets of my city and see so many dead people. Zombies who live day to day, struggling desperately not to feel any pain - but in so doing, they end up not feeling anything but dull melancholic sadness.
But I also see those who have what I want to achieve for myself; passion, joy, happiness. And this makes me smile. It makes me want to be a better person. It makes me happy. It brings me home.

And don't worry, I will be back to write fire and brimstone reviews of shit-stain bands and the dreck of society once again. Maybe I'll throw in an interview or two as well. The old da trux hasn't gone completely soft - in fact, in some ways, he's even harder than before. Go ahead, make fun of me for liking love songs. You're missing out.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Edible Onion

Edible Onion is a small indie label out of Philadelphia. What makes Edible Onion interesting is that all of their releases are hand made!

From the Edible Onion website:
We silk-screen and sew record jackets together, hand paint labels, attach flower pedals to record jackets, and more... to make every record we release individually unique and special. We hope to put something beautiful back into the art of releasing music amidst the frenzy of the digital world.

I think this is wonderful! Digital music has its place, as we listen to MP3 players on the bus, or while we're walking somewhere, or even on our home computers - it's convenient.

But nothing, NOTHING, beats the aesthetic value of something you can physically hold, put on a shelf, look at and enjoy.

You might have 10,000 mp3's on your drive, but when your drive craps out (and it will eventually), all of those songs are gone. forever.

Vinyl records have existed for decades, actually about a century. And vinyl records are still being made because people want to be able to see, feel, smell, and love their music.

Edible Onion takes it one step further by actually making their records with love.

"We hope to put something beautiful back into the art of releasing music"

That says it all right there.

In May, they are releasing a compilation album called, A Cure For The Broken-Hearted in an accordion style book filled with watercolor paintings and information about the songs contained within.

How awesome is that?

here is a link to one of the songs on the compilation album. It is from Minneapolis based band, The Chord and the Fawn. The song is called, "Love, Sex, and Rock N' Roll"

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Interview: Alexx Calise

A few months ago, Alexx Calise contacted me about possibly reviewing her new album, set to come out later this month. While I haven't listened to the album yet, she seemed so interesting that I just had to interview her.

Alexx is a guitarist and singer out of Los Angeles who is about to come out with her second solo-record and is also in a band called, "Sound of Cancer." She owns her own business, does pretty much everything herself, and is a great example of the DIY movement. Her views on major labels and the recording industry are interesting and should be read by any band thinking about selling their souls to one of the (dying) record labels.


When did you first feel that you could really make a career and living out of music? Were you always dedicated? And if you've ever had doubts, what brought you back?

I’ve always been a writer first and foremost. It wasn’t actually until I picked up the guitar at 11 though that I knew I wanted to be a songwriter.

What sealed the deal for me was when I played Silverchair’s Suicidal Dream” at my middle school’s talent show. After I finished playing, I think I successfully horrified nearly everyone watching in the auditorium. I knew I wanted to instill that kind of shock in people on a daily basis, so that’s when I decided I had to become a career musician.

Sure, I’ve had doubts and serious ups and downs in my career, but I really didn’t have a choice of whether or not I wanted to be a musician. It chose me. It just wouldn’t be right or make any sense for me to do anything else.

When you write, what inspires you? Do you write an album with a specific goal in mind? Or do you work on individual songs as they come to you, until an album forms?

I’m inspired by a lot of different things: life, death, love, hate, pain, joy, the human psyche, the human condition, and existentialism.

I usually just write songs individually and see where they fit. If they’re not appropriate for my solo project, and they’re a bit too brooding, then they may fit Sound of Cancer, my other project with Dennis Morehouse, which sounds like Massive Attack had a lovechild with The Cure. Anything else that doesn’t fit into either of those projects I just end up licensing somewhere.

You grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but now live in L.A. Did you move there to pursue your musical career, or were there more or other reasons?

Well, I originally came out to LA to record a few tracks for my first album, “Morning Pill,” but I ended up falling in love with the place in the process. It wasn’t exactly a hard decision moving from Florida, because I was more than ready for a change, and it isn’t exactly the music Mecca of the world if you know what I mean. Since moving to LA, I’ve had more opportunities presented to me in the short time I’ve been here than I’ve ever had back home, I’ve started up my own business, my career has grown by leaps and bounds, and I’ve found the love of my life. While I do miss my family and the few friends I have back home very much, I’ve never once looked back, and I couldn’t be happier.

When did you decide that DIY was the way you wanted to pursue your career? What were/are the reasons to do it yourself rather than immediately seek out the support of a label?

I’ve always done everything independently because I’ve found that no one cares more about my career more than me. Being independent, and being a solo artist for that matter are my insurance policies. I know that I can always, always rely on myself, and that I can count on myself to get things done effectively and efficiently.

That’s not to say that I would be opposed to hooking up with a major label in the future, but for now, I enjoy owning my own masters and publishing, and having the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want on my own terms. These days, you don’t necessarily need label support. Unless a label is going to latch you on to major tour or pour some serious advertising dollars into you, you can already independently distribute your own music (and make 100 percent profit), license it to film and television, and tour on a small scale. All you really need is the drive to do it.

How much of your musical development do you consider to be due to your parent's influence? What instruments does your father play? Is your mother musically inclined as well?

I think most of my musical development can be attributed to my father, Paul. I grew up listening to him play The Beatles and the James Bond theme on the guitar and bass. I always thought he was one of the coolest people on Earth, so naturally, I wanted to be just like him. I picked up the guitar when I was about 11.

My Mom, bless her heart, isn’t what one would call “musically inclined,” but she is a proud supporter of the arts however, and the reason I’m as stoic and driven as I am.

I will also have to cite Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Silverchair as major influences in my playing and style. When I first started playing guitar, I would hole myself up in my room for hours and practice SRV and Silverchair songs until my brain went numb.

What was your very first tape/CD? (to be honest, mine was a Richard Marx tape. i was like 5 or 6, so i think i'm blameless for that)

I think the first CD that I was ever able to call “mine” was Green Day’s “Dookie” album. What an amazing record.

However, I can’t fault you for owning a Richard Marx tape. I too, fell victim to the raspy vocal styling of Mr. Richard Marx.

(Note from Tim: I did NOT fall for his "raspy vocal styling." I just saw the cover art of a dude in a black leather jacket and a bad-ass mullet under a street light in an alley and thought, "this guy is cool!" Unfortunately, I found out just how cool Mr. Marx is when I got the tape home and listened to it)

Why the switch to a more electronic sound on the new album from Morning Pill's more straight-up rock feel? What is the new album called, and when is it coming out?

Well, to be quite honest, I think it would be boring. What I like about working with my producer, Luigie Gonzalez is that he adds something extra (and different) to the music. It’s easy to produce a lot of my songs in a very straight-ahead rock manner, but Lu brings his dance/remix experience to the table, and combines it with my love of rock and grunge. It’s a really interesting marriage of genres.

The album will be titled In Avanti, and will be released on an undisclosed day either this month or early next. ☺

What is your greatest irrational fear?

Old age.

You seem incredibly nice, why the anger in your music?

Well, thank you! I like to think of myself as a nice person, haha.

I guess I can’t really fault anyone for thinking that my music is angry at first listen because the performance and execution of it can be pretty…aggressive. However, I think it’s quite the opposite. I always try to illustrate the importance of strength and self-preservation, and more often than not, I try to offer a positive resolution at the end of every song I write. I’m not an angry, vengeful person, and alternatively, I’m not one to wallow in self-pity or let people walk all over me.

I think that my music is a very accurate representation of my true persona in that it’s often misunderstood. On the outside, it appears to be very tough, but when you really get to know it, it’s very esoteric, thoughtful and insightful.

What is Inkabink Kids Party Entertainment?

Inkabink is kids party entertainment company that I own. When I first moved to California, I needed a flexible job to keep me afloat while I was pursuing my music career, so I got into the kids entertainment business and learned how to face paint, make balloon animals, and perform magic tricks. I worked with a few companies in LA for a couple years, and then I decided that I wanted to open up a company of my own that catered to the lower-income families here in Southern California. Before I knew it, we started booking parties like crazy. Just don’t ever come up to me after a show and ask me to make you a giraffe. ☺

You appeared in the Discovery Channel documentary, "The Science of Sex Appeal." Do you find sex appeal to be helpful or a hindrance as a female musician? As in, while it may be easy to get noticed, you might not be taken seriously. How do you work that to your advantage?

Well, I’m certainly not offended if people find me attractive, or if that’s what initially motivates them to visit my site or listen to my music. At least they’re taking the time out to care at all. ☺

The bottom line is, I have substance and I’m a true artist. That, in turn, is what is going to bring true fans back at the end of the day.

Any plans for a national or international tour?

Yes. As soon as my albums are finished and released, I’ll be booking up a national tour. We’ve also had a few offers to play in the UK, which would be a dream come true, so here’s hoping!

What keeps you going? What drives you?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had an insane amount of drive and motivation to succeed. I know that no one is going to do this for me, so it’s up to me to make it happen.

I always need to be working towards something, because I know that complacency equals death.

If you could beat up any musician, singer, "artist," or band, who would it be?

I don’t know if I have it in me to fight anyone. I may talk a big game, but really, I’m a just a big Teddy Bear.

You can reach Alexx at, on Myspace, and Facebook. You can find her music on, Last.FM, or order it from her site.

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Concert Review: Burglar, Mount Carmel, American Nude

Last week my roommate and I needed something to do, so we forced a friend to be our designated driver and headed out to Circus to see Burglar. First things first though, there were two other bands to see before Lindsay, Meghan and the boys came on; American Nude and Mount Carmel.

American Nude started out with a song that was straight up guitar-driven 80's power metal. Well, for about 30 seconds anyway. But that 30 seconds was as glorious as Manowar's hair in '86. This was their second-ever gig, and while I didn't (and still do not) know them personally, I was hoping it went well for them.

But then, something happened. American Nude is not a metal band. In fact, it's pretty difficult to arbitrarily label them into a genre because they were all over the map; switching styles mid-song. Their first couple songs (with the exception of what I mentioned above) were mash-ups of Filter and Nickelback with traditional delta blues thrown in. The male singer's voice would change mid-song between Dave Matthews an Eddie Vedder; in fact, the last few songs sounded very much like Pearl Jam songs, which is a conclusion both my roommate and myself came to independently.

American Nude were very good musicians, with an obvious amount of talent that you could perceive, but it seemed kind of squandered in that everything they played sounded like someone else; they don't seem to have their own voice quite yet.

Nest up is Mount Carmel. For some reason their name bugged me and I dismissed them before they even started playing.

Big mistake.

These dudes kicked all kinds of ass. Good ol' garage metal ala Black Sabbath, the Sword, even the Black Keys. Huge amount of blues influence.

The drumming was sweet; you could feel it thumping in your chest like a second heart. I was tapping both feet on the ground, bobbing my head, and slappin' my thighs with my hands. The guitar was fuzzy and as heavy as a piano falling 10 stories on to your head.

I wish I could say more about these guys, but my notes are spotty and illegible.

And now the headliners of the evening; Burglar.

One of the things I like about Burglar is their use of gimmicks. The band members are always dressed up and looking sharp, and they look comfortable doing it. I've seen Lindsay the horn player dressed up as a mariachi player and Meghan, the lead singer, dance around the stage like Carmen Miranda wearing a fruit-filled hat.

That's another thing; Burglar is one of the few bands where every time I have seen them perform, most of the crowd is dancing. Even better, most of the crowd is women! Maybe I shouldn't have written that last part; I don't want guys rushing to Burglar shows and ruining my good time.

Anyway, on this particular evening, Columbus' best Parisian lounge act was on; a mellophone, an upright bass, guitar, drums, keyboard, and of course a sultry singer slinking across the stage. She can seduce a crowd with not only her voice, but a shake of her hips, a bend at the waist, or just a sly seductive glance and a wink.

But this particular show, she was more laid back. They all seemed to be, actually. Which isn't bad, not at all.

From a technical standpoint, Circus failed hard at doing the sound for Burglar. The vocals were difficult to hear unless you were right up front. The horn tootin' was impeccable; as a former horn player myself, I love to see brass incorporated into a band, but I can also be pretty harsh in my judgments if I don't like how it is used. But here, it works great and is wonderful.

All in all, I recommend seeing any of these three bands.