Live – Beach Slang, Bleached, Hunny – October, 21, 2016 – Cleveland, OH

I was bummed that I missed Riot Fest in Chicago this year, and one of the reasons was that I missed Bleached‘s set there.  I discovered Bleached earlier this year DJ’ing for WSND and really enjoyed their new record, Welcome the Worms.

Luckily for me, Bleached were playing in Cleveland at the Grog Shop on the night my wife were there for her birthday road trip.  The Grog Shop is a nice venue.  My wife described it as one of her favorites of all the places I’ve dragged her to this year.  It’s roomy, but not cavernous.  Just avoid the Ace pumpkin cider.

First up on the bill were Hunny, a pop-punk outfit from L.A. with a lot of guitars and swagger.  They sounded like Green Day if Green Day decided to keep playing mid-size venues instead of writing Broadway musicals.


Bleached played second, and they killed it.  A batch of Millennial girls started a tiny mosh pit as soon as Bleached put down the first chord.  They opened with “Keep On Keepin’ On” from the new record and tore through other tracks like “Trying to Lose Myself Again” and “Wasted on You” from Welcome the Worms and “Looking for a Fight” and “Outta My Mind” from their first record, Ride Your Heart (review coming soon).

Jessica Clavin had a definite Suzi Gardner / L7 power in her guitar work, and bassist Micayla Grace was on point.  Drummer Nick Pilot did a great job, and even swapped his drums for Jennifer Clavin’s guitar (while she took over kit duties) at the end.  It was a solid set that won them a lot of new fans.


Last up was Beach Slang, which was only singer / guitarist James Alex that night for reasons unknown.  He played a loud, wild set of punk anthems and even invited audience members to join him on stage to play with him.  Two people did, picking up a bass guitar and getting behind Bleached’s drum kit for one track – and doing well for being an impromptu rhythm section.  Mr. Alex had a lot of fans in the crowd who went wild for his new material.

James Alex of Beach Slang.

It was a good night of rock.  I hope you were there.

Keep your mind open.

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Live – Elephant Stone, the Tilt Room, One Day Steady, Paul Labrise – October 20, 2016 – Pittsburgh, PA

We made the 5-hour drive to Pittsburgh through the rain and got in a nice romantic dinner before settling in at Howlers – a local rock / dive bar in Pittsburgh to see Elephant Stone.  My wife and I have been fans of theirs since we first saw them at Levitation Austin in 2013, and I was eager to hear tracks from their new album, Ship of Fools, live.

We had to wait a little while, however, because we were surprised to learn there were three bands playing before them.  The first was a local hero – Paul Labrise – who played in a rock three-piece that laid down a good mix of surf, rockabilly, and garage rock.

Paul Labrise (on guitar) and crew.

Following them were One Day Steady – who were only on the second date of their current tour.  They played loud, enthusiastic that reminded us of Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and a little bit of Red Hot Chili Peppers for good measure.

One Day Steady

The Tilt Room were another three-piece, but this one played Americana / acoustic jams and didn’t mess around.  They got on stage, blasted through a short set, and sounded good.

The Tilt Room

Elephant Stone got on stage after 11:00pm and ended up played a shorter than normal set due to the late start time.  It was, nonetheless, impressive as always.  This is the smallest venue in which we’ve seen them, and hearing tracks like “Andromeda,” “Manipulator,” and “The Devil’s Shelter” in such a space was uplifting.  Many of the members of the other bands stuck around for their set and were impressed by their sound and efficiency.

Elephant Stone

We got to chat with Elephant Stone frontman Rishi Dhir, and it was great to finally meet him in person after a couple years of seeing them in Texas and swapping Tweets.  He gave us a hug before and after their set, which was (unbeknownst to him) the best birthday gift he could’ve given my wife – as it was officially her birthday by the post-midnight end of their set.  It was a fine set at that, and shame on you if you missed it.  Catch them on this tour if you can.

Set list, albeit there wasn’t time for them to play every song on it.

Keep your mind open.

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Clutch releases “La Curandera” on limited edition black vinyl.

Clutch  released its compilation album La Curandera on black vinyl on October 7th. La Curandera was originally released on Sept. 29, 2015 in a limited, pink vinyl edition for RED’s “Ten Bands One Cause” campaign to celebrate breast cancer awareness month. Due to continued demand, Weathermaker Music decided to re-release this album at this time on black vinyl.
La Curandera is a compilation of 8 tracks from Clutch’s vast catalog of songs.
“The track listing features characters that can only be described as formidable female protagonists” states front man Neil Fallon.  “And to put this project over the top we are lucky to have the cooperation of world renowned illustrator Becky Cloonan who created brand new artwork fitting this cause.”
Side A
Track 1  Cypress Grove
Track 2  La Curandera
Track 3  Black Umbrella
Track 4  Struck Down
Side B
Track 5  Cyborg Bette
Track 6  Night Hag
Track 7  Oh, Isabella
Track 8  The Dragonfly (live)
Keep your mind open.

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It’s time to vote for the 2017 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class.


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has released its list of candidates for the class of 2017.  As usual, this list causes arguing and controversy, so I’d better throw in my two cents.

It’s an impressive list, and you can only vote for five.  It also highlights what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has become – a hall of fame for rock and other genres.  Country is, for the most part, left out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (and definitely in this voting class), but hip hop, R&B, soul, rap, and electro now make the cut (and there’s nothing wrong with that).

Picking five from this class is difficult, but some are easy to weed out.  Let’s go through the list, shall we?


Joan Baez: She gets the first “Why isn’t she already in there?” nod.  I don’t own any of her records and would be hard-pressed to name or sing any of her songs, but I do know her impact on the 1960’s folk / Americana movement was massive and second only to Nobel Prize Winner Bob Dylan’s.


Bad Brains: These punk legends broke ground for a lot of bands to come and influenced a lot of punk kids to cross racial boundaries and embrace one another (and help each other protest wrongs done to all sides).


The Cars: These (at the start of their career) oddballs showed that post-punk could be danceable and appeal to weirdos and the popular kids at the same time.  They were one of the first post-punk bands to get significant airplay and bring keyboards and synths into the mainstream.


Chic: They’ve been nominated eleven times now.  Why?  Because they were one of the greatest disco bands of all time and pretty much laid the groundwork for hip hop.  Their grooves have been sampled more times than anyone can count, and leader Nile Rogers is one of the greatest songwriters of all time.


Depeche Mode: One of the greatest electro acts of the 1980’s and 1990’s.  They have filled stadiums and inspired more people to buy a keyboard and a drum machine than many other bands of their ilk.


Electric Light Orchestra: The second “They’re not already in there?” nod goes to them.  Their albums are lush, somewhat psychedelic masterpieces, and their live shows were legendary.  Plus, Jeff Lynne is an amazing songwriter.

janet-jackson-rock-hall-fameJanet Jackson: I’m not much into her newer material, but you can’t deny her early records produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are funky classics.

jaJane’s Addiction: They deserve a nomination for being ballsy enough to make their first album a live record – and it’s still my favorite album of theirs.  Plus, you have to give Perry Ferrell some credit for keeping the music festival culture alive through the lean years and helping create the large landscape of festivals today.

geils2The J. Geils Band: They were nuts live, had impressive chops and blues swagger, and quit just as they had begun to rule the world.

journey_1979Journey: I was never much into these guys, but I know a lot of people who were and still are.  I can remember how a release by them was an event.  Everyone I knew who was into them during their heyday went nuts with anticipation in the days before their new album hit the stores.  Plus, “Don’t Stop Believin'” has become a theme for seemingly everyone on the planet by now.

ckChaka Khan: I didn’t follow her much either, but her cover of Prince’s “I Feel for You” is, without question, one of my favorite songs of all time and introduced me to sampling and beat mixing when I was in middle school.  I will always love her for that.

kraftwerkKraftwerk: Simply put, you wouldn’t have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bands without them, not to mention EDM.

mc5MC5: One of Detroit’s greatest exports and one of the greatest rock bands ever, MC5 flattened audiences that were coming out of the hippie daze and ready to get raw.


Pearl Jam: You heard Ten all over the place if you were anywhere near a college campus in the early 1990’s.  They’ve hung around longer than almost every other grunge band (Mudhoney might have them beat) and still pack stadiums today.


Tupac Shakur: Admittedly, I was never into Tupac Shakur or gangsta rap much, but I do acknowledge his impact on the genre, pop culture, and Hollywood, and his mic skills were off the charts.


Steppenwolf: Look at those guys.  Those guys would fit in at any Levitation festival today.  “Magic Carpet Ride” and “Born to Be Wild” are iconic rock classics, and so are they.


Joe Tex: A soul and disco legend.  I love it when the Hall gives a nod to funky performers like Joe Tex, and especially when they give a nod to disco.  Look up some of his Soul Train performances if you want to see how cool he was.


Yes: The third “Wait…What?  They’re not in the Hall?” nod goes to one of the greatest prog-rock bands of all time.  Their cosmic grooves still amaze today.  Just listen to “Roundabout” and try to imagine writing and playing that.


The Zombies: The fourth and final “Shouldn’t they already be in there?” nod goes to these psych-rockers who have influenced everyone from Dave Grohl to the Black Angels.  “Time of the Season” is one of the greatest psych-rock tracks of all time.

So, who gets my vote?  Here are my choices (once again in alphabetical order):

  1. Chic.  Again, Nile Rogers has crafted so many hits that you and I can’t keep track of them.  “Le Freak” is probably their biggest hit and was secretly a slam on the band getting shut out of Studio 54 one night.  The original chorus was “Aaaah…fuck off!”  No joke. It laid the foundation for hip hop.  Just listen to the rhythm section and you’ll hear samples from dozens of rap hits.

    2. Electric Light Orchestra: My wife would probably strangle me if I didn’t vote for them because they’re one of her favorite bands, but she has no reason to worry.  Jeff Lynne deserves to be in the Hall for crafting lush rockers like this.

    3. Kraftwerk: You wouldn’t have another nominee, Depeche Mode, without Kraftwerk.  DM would, in their right minds, walk out of the building if they were inducted before Kraftwerk.  You wouldn’t have Daft Punk, Panda Bear, Caribou, and most EDM without these guys.

4. MC5: My reason for voting for the MC5 can be summed up in one question, “Have you ever heard them live?”  They’re one of the first bands I’d see if I could build a time machine.

5. The Zombies: I love psych-rock, so it’s so surprise that I voted for them.  I saw them at Levitation Austin in 2014 and they still sounded incredible and the whole crowd loved them.

Go cast your votes, folks.

Keep your mind open.

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Live – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Death from Above 1979, Deap Vally – October 13, 2016 – Chicago, Illinois

I knew this was a triple bill I couldn’t miss.  Black Rebel Motorcycle ClubDeath from Above 1979, and Deap Vally were playing the Chicago House of Blues all in the same night.  That’s a killer lineup.  Any of the three are worth seeing alone, but all three on the same night.  It’s a no-brainer.

First up were Deap Vally, who I’ve wanted to see since I missed their set at Levitation Austin in 2013.  They came out to a large crowd and, no exaggeration, stole the show.

Deap Vally killing it.

They opened with “Make My Own Money” and powered through prime cuts like “Gonnawanna,” “Walk of Shame,” and “Royal Jelly.”  Guitarist Lindsey Troy and fill-in drummer Lia Simone (formerly of A Place to Bury Strangers and Les Bucherettes) rocked so hard that I felt bad for DFA 1979 who were to follow them.  Ms. Simone played like she’d been playing the tracks for years.  It turns out she’s longtime friends with Ms. Troy and full-time drummer Julie Edwards, so Ms. Simone practically knew the chops already when she jumped behind the kit.  Everyone within earshot of me was talking about their set even after the end of BRMC’s, proclaiming Ms. Troy’s “bad ass” attitude and Ms. Simone’s excellent kit work.

Lia Simone, yours truly, Lindsey Troy

Death from Above 1979 were no slouches, mind you.  Their crazy light show was perfect for their loud fuzz-rock.  How drummer Sebastien Granger can sing lead vocals while playing those insane drum licks is a mystery to me, but he makes it look easy.  Jesse Keeler wanders the stage like an enraged Rasputin and plays as heavy as the mad monk’s legend.  A crazy, aggressive mosh pit broke out during their set.  I got in for one song, still happy to mix it up with the youngsters.

Death from Above 1979 going bonkers.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club closed out the night and, as usual, put on a great show.  “Let the Day Begin,” “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo,” “Conscience Killer,” “Red Eyes and Tears,” “Cold Wind” (a personal favorite) and “Ain’t No Easy Way” were all crowd-favorites.  Any worries anyone might’ve had about drummer Leah Shapiro’s health (who underwent brain surgery in 2014 for Chiari malformations) were dashed because she unloaded on her kit like a machine gunner.

The only bummer of the set was some sort of equipment malfunction on Peter Hayes’ side of the stage.  The band had to alter some of their song selection, and the broken thing (my guess is a bad monitor) apparently was never properly fixed.  They closed with a winner –  “Whatever Happened to My Rock and Roll” – and had no encore due to the faulty gear.

BRMC’s appropriate lighting for “Red Eyes and Tears.”

It was a good rock show despite the early exit from BRMC – one of the best rock bills I’ve seen in a long while, in fact.

Keep your mind open.

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Rewind Review: Gang of Four – What Happens Next (2015)


Guitarist and vocalist Andy Gill could’ve closed shop when vocalist Jon King left Gang of Four, but he instead reached out to many friends and collaborators and crafted What Happens Next – a fine post-punk record of dark themes with new vocalist John “Gaoler” Sterry.

The album starts with a sample of Robert Johnson from 1937 and then drifts into “Where the Nightingale Sings,” – a song encouraging Londoners to embrace new friends and neighbors instead of trying to live in a past that really wasn’t as glorious as they remember (“False memories, fake history, next you’ll talk of racial purity.”). Alison Mosshart of the Kills delivers vocals on “Broken Talk” (a song about a man seeking solace in prescription meds). “Isle of Dogs” is another track about living in a metaphorical London fog as Sterry sings, “Every day we invent the economy.” and “I buy in, to everything I see.”

Mosshart returns for vocal duties on “England’s in My Bones,” which is almost an electro dance track, but Thomas McNeice’s bass and Gill’s guitar keep it from straying out of post-punk territory. German musician and actor Herbert Gronemeyer contributes lead vocals on “The Dying Rays,” which is almost an epitaph for the British Empire (“Control and power, empires will build in our minds, but it will all go up in a blaze. Only dust in the dying rays.”).

“I Obey the Ghost” is a chainsaw attack on the Internet, social media, and how technology is making us lonelier than ever. Gill and McNeice bring dark guitars over electric beats as Sterry sings, “Online gods speak personally to me. They hold my hand in the community.”

The theme flows well into “First World Citizen,” with its lyrics of “Big appetites, those American guys. Chew up whatever the dollar buys.” That’s some truth right here, and there’s even more truth when you realize it’s a song about immigrants who would take any job any place to get where most of us are, even though most of us hate where we are. “I have lost everything, didn’t ask for anything. I would take anything, anything at all to be a first world citizen.”

“Stranded” is about first world rich cats who are secretly miserable. Robbie Furze of the Big Pink puts down lead vocals on “Graven Image,” and it’s a perfect track for him. Big Pink is a band that makes stadium-level electro, and this track has plenty of synth bass, programmed drums, and guitar fuzz, so it fits him like a tailored jacket. The closer, “Dead Souls,” is about the rat race that can ensnare all of us. “The world is rushing by. Everyone is on a roll, and I pass the time in the line of dead souls.” It’s not as dark as the Joy Division song of the same name, but it’s close in terms of the lyrics (“I’m not cut out for this role, and in the end I’ll join the line of dead souls.”).

What Happens Next doesn’t have a question mark in the title. Gang of Four isn’t asking us, they’re telling us. What happens next is a life caught in materialism, expensive medications we can’t afford or need, and trying to reclaim a past that never existed unless we snap out of it.

Keep your mind open.

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Death from Above 1979 – Live at Third Man Records


Recorded September 30, 2015, Live at Third Man Records is a fast, furious capsule of the raw energy of Death from Above 1979 (Sebastien Granger – drums and vocals, Jesse Keeler – bass and vocals). No guitar here, folks. Drums, bass, and vocals are more than enough.

“Right on Frankenstein” has enough electro-fuzz in it to bring an animated corpse to life. “Where have all the virgins gone?” the band wonders on “Virgins,” which has a wickedly slick bass groove that’s hard to describe. The bass on “Going Steady,” however, is almost like drone synth rock. Jack White, head honcho at Third Man Records, probably loves the title of “White Is Red,” and he can’t argue with the heartfelt lyrics.

“Trainwreck 1979” is about a deadly crash of a chlorine train tanker and hits about as hard. “Gemini” hits even harder, with squeaky, almost tortured bass and race to the finish drums (which makes sense since it was the last track recorded for side A of the vinyl release).

Side B starts with “Little Girl,” a love song with doom rock bass riffs and post-punk drums. “Go Home Get Down” has freakier bass and lyrics, and “Government Trash” is appropriately trashy and loud.

I’m going to assume “Always On” refers to the distortion pedals used by the band, because the song is a cranked-up, raucous rocker that reminds me of a rocket launch in the way it constantly builds to near burn-out. They close the live session with “The Physical World.” “Oh no, not again. I get this feeling this is not the end,” Granger sings, but end it must and they go for broke and fade out in squalls of feedback.

It’s a short, but strong live recording and a must for DFA 1979 fans.

Keep your mind open.

Goat – Requiem


Sweden’s voodoo-psych weirdos Goat have returned with a record that steers a bit away from their usual blend of frenetic, world music freak-outs and slows the pace. Whereas their first two records, World Music and Commune, were cosmic journeys around and sometimes into a wormhole, Requiem is a leisurely drift down the Nile in ancient times.

“Djorolen / Union of Sun and Moon” starts with birdsong as Goat’s two female lead singers give a lovely send-off to your catamaran as it pulls away from the Egyptian shore. Then, the drums, guitar, and a playful flute burst through your speakers like a bunch of minstrels running around the deck of the catamaran in a celebration of what will be a blessed journey. The lyrics speak of rejecting negativity and traveling through space and time.

“I Sing in Silence” is an instant chill-out song, with flute, guitar, and hand percussion that is perfect for our journey down the Nile as the sun warms us and an ibis glides alongside the catamaran. “Brother, I am your sister, you are my brother, we have each other,” they sing. It’s a song of inclusion desperately needed here in the U.S. this election year.

“Temple Rhythms” is appropriately named because the drums beats and handclaps at the outset will get you moving like you’re offering up a dance to appease whatever deity you worship. The song is spearheaded by flute and piano. It’s a wild track that sounds like something from a cool late 1960’s European jazz festival.

Speaking of the 1960’s, “Alarm” is 60’s psych – as evidenced by the acoustic guitar work and tripped-out percussion throughout it. “Trouble in the Streets” brings in Caribbean beats and guitar styling (and even bright, bash keyboards), again perfect for a lazy ride down an endless river. They go back to psychedelia on (no surprise) “Psychedelic Lover,” which includes Middle Eastern chants / calls to prayer.

“Goatband” is nearly eight minutes of instrumental psychedelia that reminds me of early Love and Rockets tracks with its free jazz saxophone in the background. “Try My Robe” is a great example of the “Goat sound” (if there is such a thing) – hand percussion, wicked drumbeats, female vocals, mantra bass, and crisp guitar. It flows straight into “It’s Not Me,” which sounds like something Jane’s Addiction wish they’d written (dub bass, reverbed vocals, slick drumming). It’s one of the loveliest tracks on Requiem.

“All-Seeing Eye” is probably a reference to the Illuminati or the sixth chakra. Either way, it’s a good psych instrumental and lead-in to the rocking “Goatfuzz” that hits hard for almost seven minutes and has some of the fuzziest guitar on the record. Another epic psych track is “Goodbye,” which starts with guitar that would belong in a Euro-western from the 1960’s and ends with those hypnotic beats Goat does so well, backed with body-moving bass.

“Goodbye” isn’t the last song on the record. That distinction belongs to “Ubuntu,” which ends with samples from “Dirabi,” Goat’s first track off World Music. The three albums become an ouroboros – the snake that eats itself, the wheel of reincarnation. The end is the beginning. The journey along the Nile ends with the ocean. The end opens into a new world. Requiem isn’t about death and doom. It is about exploration and embracing what lies ahead.

Keep your mind open.

Wrecka Stow: Satellite Records – Kalamazoo, MI


Located at 808 South Westnedge, Kalamazoo’s Satellite Records is worth a side trip when you’re in the city, especially if you’re a lover of vinyl or bagels (it happens to be next door to a good bagel / coffee shop).

I knew I was in a good wrecka stow when I walked in and saw this mural.


That’s Devo, Sun Ra, Kraftwerk, the Replacements, and three others I can’t place.  The man in the top hat might be Marc Bolan of T. Rex, but that’s just a guess.  Regardless, the people who work here know their stuff.

As I mentioned earlier, the place is a vinyl lover’s dream with plenty of LP’s, 45’s, collector editions, and 12-inch singles.


They have CD’s, cassettes, DVD’s, and even 8-tracks as well.


I scored a pair of groovy used CD’s there – The Kills‘ Blood Pressures and Lorelle Meets the Obsolete‘s On Welfare, which I didn’t know existed until I found it there for only eight bucks.  Look for reviews soon, and look for Satellite Records when you’re in Kalamazoo.

Keep your mind open.

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Detroit’s Echo Fest sets lineup for 2016.


One night only!  Detroit’s Echo Fest has announced another great lineup for the psychedelic rock festival.  Returning to the newly renovated Magic Stick, Echo Fest boasts Nik Turner’s Hawkwind, Holy Wave, Wolf Eyes, Rogue Satellites, Heaven’s Gateway Drugs, Nest Egg, festival curators Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, and many more cool bands.

It’s a great way to spend the day, so get your tickets now.

Keep your mind open.