Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Glenn Yoder & The Western States - Javelina (2013)

No Depression magazine take notice! Glenn Yoder and the Western States may have just made one of the finest alt-country albums of 2013.

If you've never heard of Glenn Yoder, to give you some background, he played in a band called Cassavettes which garnered quite a bit of attention in the Boston area. They opened for tons of well known bands, were voted "Best Local Act" in The Boston Phoenix Readers Poll, and even won a Boston Music Award for "Best Americana Act".

Now fast forward to 2013, Javelina is the 2nd album Glenn has released as a solo artist and without question, his best work yet. This creepy backwoods beast of a record, is full of huge pop hooks, muscular Drive-By Truckers style rock, and much more. Yoder's songwriting has never been sharper, and his voice never stronger and more confident. The Western States are equally as impressive and sound as though they were born to play in this band. And don't let me forget, the production. The team of Jeremy Moses Curtis and David Minehan (who is also featured in the new Replacements documentary) cannot be underestimated.

The first half of this album screams radio play. "Everything You Want" and "Younger Brother" offer  infectious choruses that are exactly what country pop should be. My favorite song on the album is definitely "Row"(80% because it's damn good song with inspiring lyrics; and 20% because there just aren't enough songs that mention rowing). For some reason (perhaps I'm an old pervert), whenever I hear "Just Want You to Love Me" (my pick for lead-off single), I picture swarms of fist pumping, starry eyed college freshmen girls singing along.

The second half gets a little spookier and jammier. Yoder seems to dig up the ghost of Mark Sandman on vocals for the excellent - "Messing with My Head" which also includes some ace playing from the rhythm section of Cilla Bonnie on bass, and Josh Kiggans on drums. While Jeff Katz (Three Day Threshold) showcases some mean guitar on the 6 minute "Not That Man for You".

There are quite a few more highlights ("Pretty Little Girl", "Loraine", "Like a Radio Song", and "Once in My Lifetime"), but it might be best if you just take a listen for yourself, and before doing so, raise your shot glasses high, and make a toast to JavelinaaaaaaaAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!.

The album is currently available for download at a very affordable "name your price" special at:

 out of 5 ears

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thee Oh Sees - Putrifiers II

Carrion Crawler/The Dream was easily one of my favorite albums of 2011. A mix of raw punk blues and stretched out kraut-surf grooves made it one of my ultimate late night speeding-down-the-highway albums. With two hard hitting drummers in Michael Shoun and Lars Finberg, the album captured the band's live sound perfectly. Now less than a year later, the band brings us Putrifiers II, the 15th studio album from Thee Oh Sees. 

Gone is the two drummer lineup of Carrion Crawler; on Putrifiers II frontman John Dwyer goes back to his earlier days and takes full control of its' creation. Writing all the songs, playing most of the instruments himself, and recording in a mere five days, the album could easily be seen as a solo release. With a only few guest musicians (most notably Mikal Cronin on sax), and only one other member of the current Oh Sees touring band (Brigid Dawson on vocals), Dwyer dug deeper than ever into the sound of 60's psychedelic rock. 

Still there is just enough Stooges like garage rock mayhem to keep longtime fans excited. Full of wailing guitars and Ray Manzarek - "Alabama Song" organ lines, the kraut-rock-esque "Lupine Dominus" is sure to keep the kids moshing when the band hit your town. "Floods New Light" is another face melter mixing grooving driving rock with handclaps and catchy sun-drenched "Bah Bah Bah" choruses.

On Putrifiers II, Thee Oh Sees takes the listener on a trip through the 60's. The influence of The Zombies is present throughout the entire album. But also there's a bit of a Scott Walker crooner vibe on the short and sweet - "Goodnight Baby". "So Nice" takes The Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs" on a vacation to the beach. With tribal drums, a trippy tremelo vocal effect, and Kristen Dylan Edrich doing her best John Cale impersonation on viola, Dwyer sings "Remember a day when fat kids got high?". And finally one of my favorites of the record is the closing track - "Wicked Park". Preceded by a minute of "park sounds" (birds chirping etc), the song is a whimsical psychedelic folk piece of ear candy with flutes, strings and serves as the perfect ending to a very trippy album.

Where the album falters a bit is with the more experimental tracks. The six minute title song is a spooky Halloween acid trip gone bad with sound effects resembling seagulls dying and lines about guts growing in fields. "Will We Be Scared" is another low light that never seems to get off the ground. Still for the most part, the experimental tracks offer a nice segue-way into the more punk-blues numbers.

Although far from a perfect album, it's inspiring to see Thee Oh Sees continue to grow and take more risks in their music. At the same time, the band continues to play tons of shows and crank out new music at a maddening rate. Putrifiers II is a standout album in an already stellar catalogue and I'm happy to be along for the ride
 (3 and 1/2 ears out of 5)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Lost Classic:
Doug Sahm and Band


Doug Sahm is as much a part of Texas music history as avocados are to guacamole. Although never achieving mainstream success (the way that guacamole did), he did have a hit single with the Sir Douglas Quintet in 1965 called She's About a Mover. Doug Sahm is not a household name, except for in parts of Texas and Scandinavia (where he is as iconic a musical figure as that of Elvis). In Amsterdam, there is even a national holiday in honor of Doug Sahm. Over the years, he has graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine twice; and shared studios and stages with everyone from Hank Williams to the Grateful Dead to the Rolling Stones and more. To add to his legacy, in the fall of 72', he would enter into Atlantic Recording Studios in New York City along with Bob Dylan, Dr. John, and a host of some of the best musicians around to start a new chapter in his recording career. Four days, thirty songs, and nineteen guest musicians later; Doug Sahm would finish what would arguably be the best record of his career.

Doug Sahm and Band is the sound of a party going down! A four day binge of jamming out with friends, drinking, smoking, hanging out, and having fun. It's the sound of all this happening with a roomful of top notch musicians, just itching for a fun project. At the party, there's Doug Sahm, Bob Dylan, and Dr John; who you've probably met. There's Flaco Jimenz, the accordion master from San Antonio. There's Ray Charles' sax player - David "Fathead" Newman; Wayne Jackson - Who is one of the original Memphis Horns; there's Charlie Owens, the guitarist for Jerry Lee Lewis and Willie Nelson; Augie Meyers, Jack Barber and George Rains from the Sir Douglas Quintet; and then there are a bunch of other people just chillin like Bette Midler, Elton John, and a few guys from the Band.

Despite the party atmosphere of this album, somehow nothing ever sounds sloppy. Yeah, every once in a while, you get Bob Dylan coughing into the mic halfway through singing a song. Or you'll have the people playing wrong notes in unison or unclear starts to songs but it still manages to sound professionally rough around the edges. These are the records that I love! The songs are natural, not over produced and stiff sounding, which is the way a lot of country music was starting to sound in the early 1970's.

Doug Sahm and his band of merry music makers cram at least 4 or 5 different styles of music into these 12 songs. As a result, the album never feels as though its dragging along. The album opens with a couple classics. The opener - "(Is Anybody Going to) San Antone" is classic country song that was originally a #1 hit for Charley Pride a few years earlier. With dueling fiddles, great pedal steel, and the pairing of Doug Sahm and Bob Dylan singing like old drinking buddies, "(Is Anybody Going to) San Antone" is as classic and catchy as they come. The next song is another country tune and one of my favorites called "It's Gonna Be Easy". It features the original songwriter - Atwood Allen on background vocals, and again has a top notch honky tonk bar band sound to it.

On "Poison Love", you get to hear an early taste of what would become Doug Sahm's 90's tex-mex supergroup - The Texas Tornados. Flaco Jimenez's virtuoso accordian playing and Augie Meyer's piano soloing are all over this one. And it's hard to not get the urge to drink some cerveza, dance like a fool and shoot a gun!

"Wallflower" is the next high point of the album and is a short and sweet country waltz written by Bob Dylan. At the time of recording, the song had yet to be released. Once again Bob and Doug share vocals together and the effect is brilliant; reminding me a lot the Band.

"Dealer's Blues" is a Doug Sahm original and my favorite of his 3 originals on the album. In the song Doug reminds me that "you need a lot of cocaine to get a lot of rhythm and blues". Other originals include "Don't Turn Around" which sounds like a classic 60's Otis Redding R&B hit. The last of the bunch is "I Get Off" which is r&b/rocker which reminds me of a mix of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the song "Dancing in the Street"

My last two favorites on this amazing album are a T-Bone Walker Blues Shuffle called "Papa Ain't Salty" which contains some great guitar work from Sahm and solos from Augie Meyers and David "Fathead" Newman. And then there is the Willie Nelson pot smoker anthem - "Me and Paul" which is arguably the best version ever recorded of this song.

Although the album didn't climb higher than #125 on the Billboard music charts, it remains a cult classic and a clear reminder of what Doug Sahm was all about. Soon after finishing this album, Doug would be back in the studio to record another batch of great tunes for the album - Texas Tornado. Over the years, Doug Sahm's style would go on to influence hundreds of musicians during the alternative country movement of the late 80's among groups like Uncle Tupelo, and The Bottle Rockets. Nowadays, his son - Shawn Sahm; has taken over the reigns for his dad and tours with the Texas Tornados as their frontman along with Flaco Jimenez and Augie Meyers.

To hear Song Clips from
Doug Sahm and Band - Click Here
To see a clip of Doug Sahm playing "She's About a Mover" on Austin City Limits - Click

Marissa Paternoster you're rad!

i have a new indie rock crush. she's short, she seems shy, has a page boy haircut and slouches over her mic stand.........but have you heard her play?........ because you really need to.

Marissa Paternoster is a modern day guitar goddess and frontwoman for New Jersey indie punk trio - Screaming Females. Now promoting their 5th album (I'm a little late on discovering them), they have started to get a lot more attention lately. Part J Mascis (without as much of the heavy grungy fuzz effects) and at times part stoner/sludge rock Tony Iommi-esque, her playing is loud but never annoying, speedy but never too fast, complex but not so challenging you cant headbang to it.

Then there's her voice, which is a whole nuther animal. In 5 seconds, she can go from a late 70's heavy Manchester punk accent, to deep death metal chants, to an infant "baby voice", and then to a screaming banshee. It may sound horrible, but for the most part, it works very well!

The rest of the band is killer too, but she just happens to stand out ............. a lot.

"Ugly" is their latest album. I'd rate it 3.5 stars out of 5
Highlights --> "It All Means Nothing", "Leave It All Up to Me", "Doom 84", "Help Me"

Check out this great performance/interview:
(search for episode 340)

Monday, January 7, 2013


So if you're reading this blog, there's a pretty good chance you've already heard this album. But if not, hopefully this entry will convince you to download it at the link above. I like to use this blog as a way to put the spotlight on albums that tend to get lost in the shuffle. Although, over the years, Radiohead needs no introduction; I was a little surprised by some of the negative criticisms of this album so far. I was even more surprised by the insane amount of reviews people had typed up on blogs only hours after the album was released.

Radiohead creates some of the most challenging and unique music in the alternative rock scene today. And it's impossible to have a clear concept of their albums from only a few listens. Radiohead do not make background music, but rather songs that need to be carefully listened to with a good pair of headphones. The King of Limbs is no exception.

Prior to releasing this album, during an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Ed O'Brien was quoted as saying:
“In terms of the band, we feel way more empowered in terms of our art and what we’re doing. We have been rehearsing for the last four weeks, for this new record. And we are in a very different place, a very new place. I don’t know if this is relevant, but I was talking with Philip three days ago about this. We were saying, “What’s different?” And one of the things is we do things without fear. A lot of where we come from — our education, our upbringing — manifests itself in the shadow of fear. I love that Talking Heads album title, Fear of Music. There has been a lot of that. And in a sense, I don’t think it served us too badly. It kept us on our toes. It kept us trying to seek new areas artistically.”

At only 37 minutes and 8 songs long, The King of Limbs is Radiohead's shortest album yet. The group once again teams up with their go-to-producer - Nigel Godrich for this album. The King of Limbs has a free flowing, always in motion feel to it that gets pretty tense and mysterious at times. The best way I can describe it is the boat ride scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, where everyone is scared and ready to jump out at any moment only to suddenly wake up in the peaceful surroundings of oompa loompas and chocolate (somewhere around track 5). Although not as easily accessible as some of their past work, one of the things that makes this album so great is the way these songs flow together so perfectly (and other than Kid A, nothing else has matched it in my opinion). With that being said, individually the tracks on the first half of the album don't tend to hold up as well on their own. Soundwise, this album falls somewhere between Thom Yorke's beat heavy electro-indie record - The Eraser, Kid A, and In Rainbows.

The opening song - Bloom, sets the tone for the first half of the record. A sad watery piano opens the song and soon fades into a fuzzy fast paced drum loop. Throughout the song, waves of trumpets fade in and out of the background creating that mood of traveling into the abyss, which brings in Good Morning Mr. Magpie* (see bottom of page). In the song, Thom Yorke angrily sings "You've got some nerve coming here! You've stole it all! Give it Back!" over a trance-like attack of noises that sounds like a guitar or a synthesizer.

Little By Little comes in and pulls you even deeper into the heart of the album with its resounding brassy pulsating rhythms, the first noticeable electric guitars on the album and strange tape loops fading in and out of the background. As with the first two songs, these background sounds continue to give off the effect of travel and movement. Feral is an instrumental track that keeps a similar fast beat heavy feel to the first few songs but sounds more sparse, and desolate.

The fifth song on the album - Lotus Flower% is really where this album goes from good to great. Thom Yorke's dream like vocals are the most memorable of the album. The electronic beats are still as fast and in your face as ever but this time around, the vocals seem to pull you in more naturally....... which brings you to a smooth stop at Codex, which is probably my favorite song of the album. Every song on this album at this point feels like it has been leading you to this song, which is the most peaceful 5 minutes of the album. The electro thumps are gone and instead you get a piano, a classic vocal, as well as some perfectly placed horns halfway through. The track ends with the sound of birds chirping.

Giving Up the Ghost@ is the most haunting track on The King of Limbs. With it's dead sounding drum beat, lazily strummed acoustic guitar, and reverb drenched vocals that fade in and out with a trumpet; the song gets bigger and bigger as it goes on. The final song mysteriously retitled from Mouse, Dog, Bird to Separator brings back the beats from the first half of the album but there is a hopeful feeling in the song as Yorke sings about finally "being free of the weight he has been carrying". Jonny Greenwood plays some bright fluid guitar passages that gradually start to fade out before coming to a sudden stop.

This brings me to my next conclusion. I am willing to bet last week's pay check that Radiohead will release another EP/Album within the next year. After waiting over 3 years, I find it very doubtful that this is it. Putting that all aside, after somewhere around 15 listens or so, I'm pretty confident that stacked up against Radiohead's other 7 albums, this one falls somewhere between the middle and bottom for me. However, with that being said, The King of Limbs is still a fantastic album. Although it doesn't have the instant classic songs of past albums, this is an album I'm likely to play again and again; and still discover new sounds. The King of Limbs will definitely be one of my favorites of the year.

* A magpie is a type of crow that is found in parts of Europe and is said to bring bad luck, By greeting the bird, you are helping to ward off bad luck.

% A lotus flower is the sign of purity in Buddhism.

@ Give Up the Ghost is another way of saying stop trying.