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AMERICAN IDIOT LIVE SHOTS: OR THE STRANGE AND TRUE TALE OF TTWN'S FIRST (AND MAYBE LAST) ARENA SHOOT....

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All photos in this article : c. 2005 - Boone Stigall/The Trouble With Normal

    The piece you are about to read is true.  A brief summary and black and white photos appeared in TTWN issue 77.  The following is an expansion on that piece.  Enjoy.

   One of the more interesting facets of doing a music zine is that it sometimes leads to situations that you take a chance on just to see what occurs.  Sometimes it's a relatively sure thing, other times it can be a leap into the strange unknown with no understanding of what could happen.  About a year ago, we heard that Green Day were on tour and going to come through the area.  Out of curiousity, we thought it would be interesting to see if we could get a chance to take pictures , or even an interview (I know I might lose some DIY points for that but hey it was worth a shot) at either the St. Louis or Kansas City shows.  With that in mind we tracked down and contacted some people well in advance to see what would happen. 

     At first we thought we might get an answer right away.  We gave plenty of advance notice and left a lot of time for us to prepare.  Of course, as you may have guessed, things don't always fall into place as neatly as one would like.  After a while we had just about given up on the task.  We took a chance and it wasn't meant to be...or so we thought. 

     Fast forward to a few days before the show.  After pretty much giving up on the idea and deciding to focus on other things, I get an email with some news.  The bad news - I didn't get a press pass.  The good news - I got a photo pass for the Kansas City concert.  This leads to the big dilemma : whether to go or not.
 
     At this point circumstance took over.  My dad, who was unemployed most of 2004 got a contract job - in South Carolina.  While my parents were planning on downsizing and retiring, this change of plans took over.  So, for the time being, I ended up with an unexpected housesitting gig.  However, They were going to tell relatives near KC about the news.  I had a ride (and didn't have to take my car), so I replied to the email and agreed in hopes it would all pull together. 
 
   Saturday May 14, 2005.  I got a ride up to KC with my folks and an offer to use their car.  After a brief visit with my grandmother and my uncle I headed over to David Confusion's apartment and hung there briefly.  I learned on the radio the concert was sold out.  This meant if there wasn't a pass for me I was up the creek.  So I decided not to take it too seriously.  If things worked out, cool.  If not, back to David's to hang out.  From there, I got a quick bite to eat and off to Municipal Auditorium.

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     I arrived at the venue and looked for the box office or where I was supposed to check in.  After walking around the arena twice, I finally flagged someone down and found out where to go.  I checked in at the will call window and then waited as most of the crowd went in to check the show out.  In the meantime, a few more photographers joined me in waiting for our couple of songs.  It was a small but quasi diverse lot: an older freelance guy, a punk/goth looking woman, a couple garden variety college types and me among others.  Eventually we were given our passes and led behind the barricade in perparation for My Chemical Romance.

    To be honest, I really wasn't expecting much from My Chemical Romance.  Maybe it was that video with the whole prep school movie trailer theme, maybe it's the overkill of media hype; regardless at this point I was biding my time more than anything else.  Then MCR came on stage and began to play.  The two songs I got to see rocked harder and had more energy than what I heard on the radio or saw from the videos.  While I still can't really judge when it comes to this band (I'll have to see them again - and a whole set - before I can truly decide), I do have to say I was impressed and pleasantly surprised by My Chemical Romance based on what I saw.

    From then us photographers actually had to leave the arena.  While it was, admittedly, far from a great thing I took it in stride.  After going to the can at a nearby hotel, me and another photographer went across the street and watched the scenario unfold.

    The audiotrium was in a building with several different spaces.  Thus, it is entirely possible for several different things to be going on.  TThis night was no exception.  In the hall to the left was...a high school prom.

   Yes, William Chrisman High of Independence had their prom in the hall right next to Memorial Auditorium.  The guy I was hanging with between sets suggested we crash and say we're there to take pictures.  Here we are: an African American male in sweatpants and a scruffy looking white boy with a scruffier beard, a Guitarfinder T shirt and baggy shorts.  Given how we were dressed it was not something to seriously consider and I think we both knew it. After a while we went back in and waited to be led to prepare for Green Day. 

    After a drunken bunny briefly cavorted on stage, Green Day took over and immediately kicked out the jams with the first two tracks from American Idiot.  Here the band was high energy and full throttle, showing a depth that veered from punk rock to melodic pop introspection.  While I didn't see enough of the show to really give a review any justice, I was even more impressed than I expected to be.  I'd like to think the whole show was like that (and the footage I've seen from Bullet In A Bible seems to bear that out as fact).  This is a band who managed to take an arena crowd and play for all its worth, tearing down all in its path. 

     I think we might have had a chance to get press tickets after this.  Unfortunately I got lost from the other photographers and by the time I put the camera up missed my chance.  However, there were some thoughts that popped into my head in regards to this. 

     First was the feeling of being at Municipal Auditorium again for the first tiem in decades.  My last time there was as a kid over 20 years ago seeing Kiss and Molly Hatchet as someone in the second balcony (and seeing J Geils band a year before that).  There was a strange nostalgia to being in that place again after all that  from a different vantage point. 

   Then came the experience.  I never thought that I would ever be in a situation like this one.  When you don't do a lot of big shows, seeing a little bit from that vantage point is truly something that takes you by surprise.  Also, while I didn't get the vantage point of a typical concert fan, I experienced something that very few people get to live through.  That was one of those things to take into account as I drove to my grandmother's house way out in the sticks.  It wasn't all great.  An error in the camera I was using (which I borrowed from my old man and wasn't used to) cost me the MCR photos I took (and if my memory serves me well, there were some interesting ones) but the hanging out and the meeting people was a lot of fun.  Also note to self: bring multiple camers to a show next time I get this opportunity.

     And so ends the story of my first arena shoot.  Granted I never expected to do something like that (usually arena bands aren't what I'm into), but the experience brought home just how surreal and far I've come over the past 13 or so years of doing the zine.  It's been almost a year since that show and the experience is still something that surprises me at times. 

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- Boone. 

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All contents copyright 2006 The Trouble With Normal and the contributor in question.

ART AND THE NEW YEAR: Music and Art Kick Open 2006 with Illusion Christmas Overdrive Spectactle.

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hiroaki koshiba at work with kim and jeremy of jerusalem and the star baskets

   2006 started off with a twist in Columbia, MO. The first week of the year brought a unique comination of music and art as Japanese painter Hiroaki Koshiba arrived in the area to undertake an uncommon experiment - a combination of painting and live music called Christmas Illusion Overdrive. 

    Fueled by the live music of local post psych rockers Jerusalem and the Star Baskets (who were joined by a variety of friends and artists ranging from Umbros to local electronic noise makers Entei and Whitesmake  (who created the music to the original ICO video in 2005) to Koshiba himself), Koshiba proceeded to create a painting inspired by the music created at the five concerts (mostly at Maude Vintage).  The week culminated in a final show at Ragtag Cinemacafe where JATSB were joined by E&W (who played some audio snippets of the previous nights into the music) and others in creating the last painting as the results of the previous days works hung on the walls. 

    This was a somewhat unique situation that deserves to be explored in more detail than I have time for right now.  A more detailed look at several of these shows will appear in a future issue of the print version of TTWN (I thinka couple issues down the road).  Still, even with this glimpse, the year started with a twist I didn't expect.

This piece is still under construction. I'll have the pictures up shortly.

- Boone

Here are the reviews from the recent print issues.  This is not meant to replace the print version but to help offer another place for reviews.  Also included will be some web exclusive reviews of recordings and stuff. 

BELOW ARE THE RECORD/CD/WHATEVER REVIEWS TO ISSUE 78 (WHICH IS MOST LIKELY OUT AS YOU READ THIS.  IF YOU WISH TO SEND A CD, TAPE, OR VINYL TO REVIEW, SEE CONTACT PAGE FOR MORE INFORMATION. 

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE - "Feels" CD
   A friend of mine passed this disc on to me after a Halloween party I was at (he never got the time to listen to it).  On their latest, Animal Collective offer a collection of arty leaning songs fueled by (often reverb and delay laced) guitar patterns and a knack for the hook.  What emerges from this are tracks that mix pop/rock accessibility with expansive arrangements and the occasional avantgarde twist and turn that creeps in underneath it all, calling to mind a vibe at home with the Beach Boys as with Mecca Normal sonically.  There's something here that subtly lures in the listener and won't let go.  There's a lot of hype about this disc - and I have to say a lot of it is deserved and the music actually exceeds it.  Definitely worth giving a listen to.  (BOONE)
(Fat Cat Records.  www.fat-cat.co.uk)

NOB DYLAN AND THE NOBSOLETES - "Positively 12 Stiff Dylans" CD
 This is another thing that came in a while back but got back into the backlog due to a number of unfortunate circrumstances and mishaps we'll call trying to get by.  As you may have worried about - the title says it all.  Here is a collection of Bob Dylan covers as done by Nob (aka: Rev. Norb) and his band.  Choosing a mix of classics and lesser known songs, Nob and company create tracks that are amped up and crunchier but still retain a sense of folky familiarity (with one or two exceptions) along the way.  Delivered tongue in cheek here, the material manages to tread the gray area between tribute and parody and not fall into cheap cliches.  This album may infuriate both punk rockers and hardcore Dylan fans with its approach, there are many that should find the humor here and may actually enjoy it.  (BOONE)
(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092)

ENTEI AND WHITESNAKE WITH HIROAKI KOSHIBA - "Illusion Christmas Overdrive 2" video
 This is a little different animal to review but I'll do my best to try.  This video is a collaboration that merges the electronic noise sound beds of Entei and Whitesnake with the work of painter Hiroaki Koshiba.  The result is a multimedia creation where the painting are static footage to the music's sonic backdrop to bring a different feel to the art.  While the paintings could fall into being a sort of wallpaper, the format adds a more functional twist to the art by making it viewable outside the gallery/show format.  It's only available in a limited edition but I think there may still be copies available of it if you look around for it.  (BOONE)
(www.catjams.com)

HOCKEYNIGHT - "Keep Guessin'" CD
 This is one of those discs that I've been waiting to get to, needing several listens to sink in.  ON their debut (to the best of my knowledge) Hockeynight play a style of music that treads the gray area between indie rock and power pop.  Built on bittersweet guitars, dual drum intensity, and hooks that seem to come up from behind, these personal leaning songs manage to grab ahold of you and not let go.  Charming, sometimes low key, and catchy as hell, this is a band that somehow seems both oddly familiar yet fresh (pardon the cliche here but it works) throughout.  This collection of taut, somewhat unpretentious rockers succeeds in luring the listener in and getting the point across.  I don't know how this band will evolve over time but judging from this they seem to be off to a good start.  Get this.  (BOONE)
(Lookout Records. 3264 Adeline St. Berkeley, CA 94703)

INQUISITION - "I Think It's Called Inspiration" CD
 This baby came our way a while back but deadline issues, other obligations and burnout kept me from getting into review mode for it until now.  The reissue of this mid 90s band's one album finds themblazing away at impassioned, high energy HC with mid to fast tempo power chord driven calls to action (ie: songs) with an acoustic track or two woven in.  Intense and powerful material erupts from this sonic molotov cocktail that combined personal and political in subject matter and refused to let go.  While the band was short lived, their influence touched many.  Pick this album up and see the effect this band had on members of Strike Anywhere (Thomas sang in both bands), Anti Flag, and Ann Baretta amongst others.  (BOONE)
(A-F Records. P.O. Box 71266. PIttsburgh, PA 15213.)

MENS RECOVERY PROJECT - "The Very Best of Men's Recovery Project" CD
 This baby came around here a while ago and we've been meaning to do more than cursory listens.  However, work and other hassles got in the way of setting time to really check it out until now.  This disc collects a variety of tracks from this mid to late 90s band's infamy.  MRP merged guitar driven post HC/noise rock with techno and electronica elements to create short sharp blasts of sonic strangeness that explored life's more unusual experiences and topics.  While this band was probably more likely known of than actually known back in the day (I know, I'm not a fan of that cliche either but it works here), their music eschews the trappings of that era with a mix of powerful hooks and strange weirdness at its core.  Possibly too art damaged for harder core than thou types and too hardcoree for the artsy crowd, Men's Recovery Project's music is odd, jarring and somhow appealing.  Kudos to 5RC for making their music available again and hopefully getting more people into them.  (BOONE)
(5RC Records. P.O. Box 1190. Olympia, WA 98507)

PARTYLINE - "Girls With Glasses" CDEP
 I'd been cautious about this dfor a while and finally got the chance to check it out when I got it at their show in Atlanta.  The debut EP from Partyline is rough around the edges punk rock that expodes out the speakers like a hungry panther sprung loose from a cage.  These songs are driven by serrated edged guitar over straight ahead but totally into it beats for songs that take on topics ranging from Ralph Nader, girls with glasses, societal expectations for women, relationship dissolution and more.  What emerges here is a disc that I've fallen in love with and have been trying to turn people on to (I've converted several people already).  This is a kickass debut from a band that really deserves more recognition.  Get this CD, see Partyline live - you know the rest.  (BOONE)
(Retard Disco Records. P.O. Box 461163. Los Angeles, CA 90046)

SHIVER - "Last Rides on The Midway" CD  
 This is another disc that I should've gotten to a while back but was unable to due to the combination of other obligations, burnout, and the like - until now.  The debut (I think) from this band is straight ahead hardcore with some metal flourishes and leanings throughout.  These are mainly personal leaning songs with some social and political overtones that blaze out of the speakers with no brakes (nor intent to use them if they existed).  Shiver make no bones about their sonic roots - using loud fast and slightly metallic to carry their battle cries across.  Fans of poppier stuff will probably not dig this, but HC and thrash metal fans may find a lot to like about Shiver and their music.  I admit that I'm curious about what they sound like live.  (BOONE)
(Da'Core Records. 4407 Bowles Ave. West Mifflin, PA 15122)

SKARP - "Requiem" LP
 Yet another album that came our way but got caught in the infamous zine backlog as well as delayed by the late summer/early fall chaos that happens this time of year.  On their debut album, this quartet throws down drtiving grindcore with equal footing in both its punk and metal roots.  These tracks are seemingly personal songs forged by blast beats and corrosive guitar sounds that manage to be angry, cathartic, and powerful with elements of foreboding and hope within at times.  Delivered with full ferocity and no apologies, Skarp's music may be unsettling to some.  However, fans of more extreme HC and grindcore will definitely enjoy them.  Put this on for that person you know who thinks the new mersh style HC is havey as shit and check out the look on their face.  (BOONE)
(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092)

THE STIVS - "Sweet Heartache and the Satisfaction" CD
 Judging from the info that came with this, my curiousity was piqued about this band when I put it on.  The Stivs dual guitar driven garage rock with early glam and punk overtones.  However, while the musicians have obvious skill there's a spirit and vibe missing that seems to be missing here resulting in okay, but not roof raising, imitations of the New York Dolls and the Makers (both bands shared the same producer for their latest album) rather than putting their own spin on the subgenre.  Maybe this band is better live, but their debut appears to want to jump on a current popular trend rather than take the band's influences and make something different out of them.  I do wonder if this is a case of a band's first time nervousness or what but right now The Stivs are more likely imitation instead of innovating a style of music that needs it.  (BOONE)
(Boot To Head Records. P.O. BOx 9005. Portland, OR 97207)

TINY PANTS - "Have You Hugged Your Sister Today" CDEP
 Got this baby when I saw the band live a while back and finally got around through the backlog to give this a real listen.  ON their latest, this local duo continues their brans of stripped down post HC punk fueled by powerhouse drums and fiery guitars that travel the melodic/dissonant extremes.  Rough and a bit intense, Lance and Liz mix instrumentals with angry vocal cries to create four songs that get in your face and refuse to let up along the way.  As with their debut, the brevity of the disc sometimes speeds by before you know it, but there's a spark here that keeps you hooked along the way.  While it would've been cool to have some more material on here, this EP remains a good stop gap until the next live show or disc.  (BOONE)
(tinypants@hotmail.com for more information.  www.myspace.com/tinypants)

VARIOUS ARTISTS - "Como Music Anthology 1990-2005 Volume 2" double CD
 This is one of those discs that I've been hyped about for a while before it came out.  LIke its predecessor this is a collection of music from Columbia, MO bands from the time period mentioned above (though there are one or two tracks from the late 80s).  Musically the artists range from power pop (Wes Wingate, The Passion, At Proper Distance) to more indie rock fare (Sofa Kit XL with Ramsay Wise, Makeout) to punk and Noise rock (Yuba, California, Stout) to electronica leaning sounds (Mark Speckman) to metal (Thinline, Speeddrill) to surf (Untamed Youth) and klezmer (The People's Republic of Klezmerica) along with many others.  Overall these two discs provide a diverse view into what this town (and area) is like musically.  However, that same diversity could be offsetting for those only into one type of music.  Regardless of that, Painfully Midwestern has again shoen a light on one of the area's most underrated (and unheralded) music scenes and hopefully will get some people into some new music.  LIke any comp, its best to get it and figure out what you like for yourself.  (BOONE)
(www.painfullymidwestern.com)

 

GREENZINE #14

      I've been meaning to get to this for several issues now but kept getting sidetracked.  In this zine Christy wrote about leaving Florida, her Cuban background, traveling, being in Philadelphia (her home at the time of this issue), visiting New York, healing from abuse, rape, gender identity et al in a straight ahead manner that's interesting to read and get the point across.  It's a personal tale that encompasses a lot of larger issues along the way (like most of our lives - though few want to admit that).  This zine is definitely worth checking out.  Kudos to the crrew at Microcosm for making this one available to us readers.  (BOONE)

(Microcosm Publishing. P.O. Box 14332. Portland, OR 97293)

 

JOURNALSONG #6

      I was wondering about this zine when I got a hold of this issue.  This time around Steve covers giving up booze and coffee, print an old breakup letter from an ex, doing a zine, religion, being on tour, and vegatarian food along with more personal anecdotes woven in.  Its personal style is augmented with tghe cocasional drawing to kick off some of the pieces here and delivered with an intimacy that borders more on a letter sent to a friend than something intended to publish.  Once again, the personal nature makes for a worthwhile read.  Good to see this still being put out.  (BOONE)
(Microcosm Publishing. P.O. Box 14332. Portland, OR 97293)

 

MURDER CAN BE FUN #19

      I didn’t know this zine was still around so coming across this was definitely a surprise.  This is the music issue with an emphasis on how the topic coincides with death in various forms.  From the story of pedal steel guitarist Spade Cooley’s murdering his wife to the infamous David Cassidy concert in early 70s London where a fan ended up dying at the show to religious anti rock books, there’s enough unfortunate endings to satiate anyone’s sense of the macabre.  I really regret not reviewing this a while back – but this should make up for it.  Definitely check this out.  (BOONE)

($2.00 to: John Marr. P.O. Box 640111. San Francisco, CA 94164)

 

THE NOSE KNOWS assorted issues

      I couldn’t do the print reviews without a mention of these.  These are less zines and more brief commentaries/communiqués from the pens of The Leah Quinelle All Stars featuring Happy.  With these few issues are tales of friendship, things to do in Alabama, reflections on Hurricane Katrina and their previous home New Orleans and more.  Laid out so multiple pages can fit on one folded up sheet, TNK is part zine, part open letters to friends and strangers that prove to be an interesting ride along the way.  I really hope to get more of these sometime in the future.  Sorry it took me so long to get around to reviewing them.  (BOONE)
(1810 Riback Rd. Columbia, MO 65201)



 

BELOW ARE THE RECORDING REVIEWS FOR ISSUE 79 (WHICH SHOULD BE OUT SOON, IF IT ISN'T ALREADY).  IF YOU WISH TO HAVE YOUR MUSIC REVIEWED HERE FEEL FREE TO SEND YOU VINYL, CASSETTE, OR CD TO OUR P.O. BOX FOR CONSIDERATION (IN CASES OF TAPES AND CD-RS, IF NOT "FOR SALE" AT LEAST MAKE A DAMN COVER FOR THEM).  hOPE YOU FIND SOMETHING YOU'RE INTERESTED IN.  ALL REVIEWS WILL BE APPEAR IN THE PRINT VERSION IN A CORRESPONDING ISSUE ET AL...

JELLO BIAFRA WITH THE MELVINS - "Sieg Howdy" LP

Long time readers probably already know what I thought about this the moment I heard about it. This time around, Biafra and the Melvins offer up a mix of new songs, a couple covers, and some remixes from their debut. Sonically, the heavy punk/sludge rock these two created last time is still at the core. However, the band is heading into more avant-garde textures and elements of space rock make their way to the mix on a couple occasions. Lyrically Biafra takes on topics ranging from CA Gov. Schwarzenegger (through a live cover of "California Uber Alles") to the corporate attempted takeover of punk to a moment or two of introspection to media manipulation. A little more off-putting than their previous collaboration (though I think they were recorded at the same time), this album may challenge some listeners expecting run of the mill punk of HC, but those who really listen should be rewarded. (BOONE)

(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092)

BLACKFIRE – "Beyond Warped Live Series" dual disc

It took me forever to find this as I couldn’t find this in any stores and wasn’t able to track it down until I caught them live recently. This dual disc (one side DVD/one side CD) features a handful of performances from this band’s brief stint on the Warped Tour (five dates in the Southwest) along with some bonus audio tracks. Musically, the band’s blend of punk rock anger with elements of goth, folk, and traditional Native American music comes out of the gate with fire and intensity taking on the world around them – with the regret being its brevity (only six songs from the live show are on here) with several bonus tracks previous available only on comps (including a cover of Ramones’ "Planet Earth 1988") or on a rare single (their "collaborative" version of Woddy Guthrie’s "Corn Song" with their music added to Woody’s words). The DVD has video of the live tracks along with a several documentaries and a video. Blackfire are one of those bands fusing music and politics into their own creation and integrity. You might have to really look for this but it’s worth it. Part of the Beyond Warped live music series. (BOONE)
(Immergent Records)

THE BRIEFS - "Steal Yer Heart" LP

Yeah, I know this has been around for quite a while. However, circumstances beyond my control ranging from my paying job to backlog to burnout kept me from getting to it until now. The latest from The Briefs finds them staying the course with the catchy straight ahead vintage flavoured punk rock we've come to expect from them. Their songs are melodic odes to everyday life, women over 40, love, and the like delivered with tasty power chord driven guitar, and an often-sarcastic twist lyrically. With a knack for songcraft the band walks the fine line between the sincere and the tongue in cheek with flair and style, being comfortable enough with both to create songs that grab you and refuse to let go. This is one of 2005s best albums that won't get the credit it really deserves. (BOONE)

(BYO Records. P.O. Box 67609. Los Angeles, CA 90067)

BUNNYGRUNT – "Karen Hater’s Club" CD

Surprised by their recent reunion, we knew this was going to happen. The first album of all new material in over five years finds the band’s indie/power pop sound raking a rougher turn with more overdriven guitar tones and an edgier approach to their songs. Lyrically Matt, Karen and a revolving cast of musicians sing of life, the world, horror stories and monsters, love, rock n roll, individuality et al along with covers of songs by the Saints and the Big Boys. What comes out of the mix is a collection of songs that are part punk DIY attitude, part pure pop harmonies – all in a straight ahead manner that’s as self effacing as it is gooey and catchy. The re-emergence of this band has been one of the young century’s biggest surprises for fans of indie/pop rock and here the band manages to show they haven’t lost what made them special the first time around. (BOONE)

(Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records. P.O. Box 743. Athens, GA 30603)

THE CLERGY - "All Who Fly" CD

I was really surprised when this came our way; in fact I had forgoten all abut this band when this disc came around. On their first album since the mid 90s, The Clergy offer a collection of alternative rock songs full of ambient moods meeting wall of sound guitar with spiritual (and sometimes overtly Christian leaning) lyrics. While most of you would expect something bad from this, the result actually rocks and the lyrics complement the music overall rather than the other way around (which I was a little worried about - I had to admit). I know it took me a while to actually really get to it (you know the reasons already so I don't have to go there), but I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised (it had been at least a decade since I heard this band last so my memory was hazy). While some punker than thou types might not be into this, more open minded fans will likely enjoy it. (BOONE)
(Boot To Head Records. P.O. Box 9005. Portland, OR 97207)

COMET GAIN - "City Fallen Leaves" CD

I got this one a while back and had been checking it out on a number of occasions so it just felt right to review it (and not just 'cause various people expect me to let you know about music). The latest from Comet Gain finds the band returning to form with a group of indie/power pop songs full of low-key delivery and a knack for hooks. While the music is often guitar driven, Comet Gain does take detours into electronica and the occasional dance beat for their tales of everyday life that cover both the highs (being by the beach, love, etc) and lows (racism, right wing division, addictions) of the world around them. While the end results aren't for everyone, readers that can appreciate both punk attitude and gooey sweet pop melodies delivered with a pretty much complete lack of pretension will find a lot to enjoy with this album. I really like this band. (BOONE)

(Kill Rock Stars. PMB 418. 120 NE State Ave. Olympia, WA 98501)

THE DEACONS – "Brooklyn Towne" CD

This came my way a little while back but somehow got placed in my backlog pile – which wasn’t helped by the rut I was in recently. This is straight ahead punk rock with catchy hooks and an almost folk feel at times. What emerges are tales of life, friends gone by, family, and the state of our country amongst other topics delivered with a mix of heartfelt remembrance on one hand and open sarcasm on the other. While their ability to walk the fine line between the two lyrically could leave the listener wondering at times, the band’s way with a hooks results in an album that most readers should appreciate on some level. It took me a while to get around to checking this out but I’m damn glad that I did. (BOONE)

(Made in Brooklyn Records. www.brooklyntowne.com)

F-MINUS - "won't bleed me/failed society" CD

I was really hoping to get this in last issue. However, things happened and I realized when it was too late that I couldn't get to it - thus it got moved back an issue. These reissues of two EPs from this late 90s band kicks down the walls with crude, loud, and totally rough HC full of short sharp songs that take on such topics as politics, cops, the system et al with lots of aggressive power chords and gruff, sometimes shouted, vocals. While the disc seems to go by before you know it (it clocks in at around 15 minutes or so), there is an aggression that scraps through the mix and gives a slight glimpse of what was to come (guitarist Brad Logan would go on to join Leftover Crack). I'm kicking myself for not knowing about this band before now but F-Minus' music speaks for itself and is a must have for fans of good HC. Kudos to AT for helping make music like this available again. (BOONE)

(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092)

GREEN DAY – "Bullet In A Bible" CD/DVD

Yeah, I know this hardly needs our help but I feel it had to be mentioned here. This is a live record of Green Day’s show at Milton Keynes in England last year with a DVD of said shows on two discs. Exploding just out of the gate, the band prepares to destroy all in its wake with a mix of newer and older songs (highlighting the former), interspersed on the DVD with backstage footage, interviews (with the band and fans), and a visit to a war museum. While the arena setting could seem somewhat alienating, the band combines the spectacle of the show itself with an overpowering bombastic sound to drive home the feel of a live concert. Having seen a bit of a show from their last tour for pictures (see issue 77 or the website for the photo spread), I can vouch that, not only did the recording match the feel of the band live but that the energy of those first couple songs I saw was representative of the whole damn thing. I know I probably won’t cause anyone to get this (those inclined to get it might even already have it and those not interested might not be swayed), but this is a lot more powerful of a live album/film than many would expect from a band of this stature. Not really a surprise but worth it. (BOONE)
(Reprise Records)

GROOVIE GHOULIES - "Berry'd Alive" CDEP

I grabbed onto this when I saw the band live back in 2005 sometime. Inspired by opening for him in St. Louis a couple years earlier, the Ghoulies offer up a collection of Chuck Berry covers. Focusing on lesser-known songs that haven't been overkilled by oldies radio, they dish these tracks out with tons of energy, the wall of sound guitar the band's known for and a feel that somehow keeps the essence of the song while adapting it to today. At only seven songs it's a pretty brief affair, yet the brevity manages to keep the concept from being burnt out and wearing out its welcome. Once again Groovie Ghoulies manage to kick ass and take names, showcasing some of Berry's songwriting skill along the way. Maybe it's good that these songs haven't become the staples that "School Days" or "Roll Over Beethoven" have, this way a listener can get a pleasant surprise. (BOONE)

(Green Door Recording Co. P.O. Box 2847. Sacramento, CA 95812)

THE JIM JIMS/TRIXIE AND THE MERCH GIRLS – "Shakes"/"She Knows How"/"Going Far Away"

In the midst of going through the backlog that my rut intensified over the past few months, it came to my attention that there were some singles that I was meaning to get to and didn’t, so rectifying appears to be in order. Two bands on this split 7" being a case in point. The Jim Jims offer two rock n roll rave-ups full of power chord fury, medium fast tempos, and lyrics about girls. Trixie and the Merch Girls’ offer up something different – a melodic, introspective song fueled by acoustic guitar simplicity and a personal feel that some would call twee but managed to nab my attention. Fans of garage punk as well as more indie rock endeavors will probably be interested in this for one reason or another. No colored vinyl though to my knowledge – sorry collectors. (BOONE)

(Wee Rock Records. P.O. Box 333. Springfield, MO 65801)

NAUSEA - "The Punk Terrorist Anthology Vol. 2 '85-'88" CD

Hearing about this coming out came as a surprise, to say the least, as it had been a while since I'd heard the name Nausea mentioned anywhere. This comp collects a mix of old favorites, demo versions of songs, rare tracks (including one untitled work in progress from that era), and cover songs from the mid to late 80s of this legendary NY anarcho HC band. Loud, fast, and rough songs abound taking on racism, nationalism, MTV, religion, the system, squatting, war, and the like fueled by ferocious power chords and rough male/female vocals along the way. Also mixed in here are covers of songs by Subhumans and the Business and a video for the song "Fallout." Taken from unreleased recordings, demos, and live tracks, there are some songs in different versions on here. However, the band's intense brand of straight ahead raw HC is always present (with an occasional twist into ska/reggae/dub leanings in a track or two) and explodes out the speakers. It's not the more polished collection in the world - nor should it be (actually it's part of the charm of these tracks), but Nausea proves here why they mattered to so many in the late 80s and early 90s. I really need to check out volume 1 one of these days. (BOONE)

(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092)

THE NEGATONES - CD

I got this one a while back (just as the rut/burnout period began to kick in) and somehow had avoided getting to this until I had to put something on while doing some cleaning up. This band pretty much explodes out the speakers with a catchy brand of hard driving rock with an often-gooey sweet pop center. Fueled by a mix of loud guitars, spacey synths, and hooks that are the equivalent of mixing pop rocks and soda (c'mon, you know you've done it), the band also ventures into other sounds such as funk/dance music, a solo banjo piece and an introspective moody rock ballad along the way. This is one of those discs that can seem real familiar only to take a turn into something unexpected and take you by surprise. An interesting start from a band that may be something to watch in the near future. (BOONE)

(www.skylabrecordings.com)

THE ORANGES BAND - "The World And Everything In It" CD

I picked this disc up when I saw the band open for Ted Leo and the Pharmacists last summer and kept meaning to get to it before I got caught up in the rut that's held me down. The latest from this band delivers a bunch of catchy guitar driven power pop songs that owe as much to the mid 60s rock (just before psychedelia kicked in) as it does to indie rock. Songs about personal issues, lost relationships, and the like are in full effect with dual guitar arrangements and a warm inviting vibe throughout the record. With lilting melodies and harmonies that seem to sneak up on you when you weren't expecting them, this band has managed to create songs that might have been AM radio hits around 40 or so years ago while keeping their attitude in the her and now. While their label has seen their share of ups and downs lately, hopefully this gem will find an appreciate audience who dig it for what it is. (BOONE)

(Lookout Records. 3264 Adeline St. Berkeley, CA 94703)

ANNA OXYGEN – "This Is An Exercise" CD

There seems to have been a lot of things I’ve been interested in coming out while the rut kicked in, this being one of the more urgent amongst them. The latest from Anna Oxygen continues with her trademark synth driven art pop that become pieces more than songs at times. Catchy and danceable, there are darker elements to the material that seem to cover topics ranging from the personal to the quest to build mechanical fish among other things. The blend of dance beats and synth bass with more avant-garde influenced subject matter comes off with a creativity and feel that seems to be both retro and forward thinking While this disc won’t be everyone’s cup of sake, the songs do call to mind an era when electronic music had as much footing in experimental sounds or performance art as in pop hit singles. Good to see her still making music. (BOONE)
(Kill Rock Stars. PMB 418 120 NE State Ave. Olympia, WA 98501)

PROPAGANDHI – "Potemkin City Limits" CD

I know this has been out for a while, but I didn’t get a chance to pick it up until fairly recently so it goes in now. On their first album in five years, Propagandhi unleashes a melodic punk maelstrom with a few changes underway. Gone are the pop-punk leanings of their earlier recordings, replaced by clean/overdriven guitar dynamics as well as metal and post HC elements within these songs. Lyrically, the band’s edge remains taking on such issues as the American empire, mistreatment and murder of indigineous peoples, militarism, the corporate sponsorship of punk rock, and the war in Iraq among other things with a mix of anger, sarcasm, and satire. While the first listen or two might shock some, the disc does grow on you and kicks your ass along the way with quality songwriting and a ton of attitude. The only down side of trying to review this band is the review rarely does Propagandhi’s music justice so just get the CD and find out for yourself. (BOONE)

(For most of world: Fat Wreck Chords. P.O. Box 193690. San Francisco, CA 94119. In Canada: G7 Welcoming Committee Records. P.O. Box 27006. C-306 Main Street. Winnipeg, MB Canada R3G 4T3)

REPORT SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY - CD

From the moment I heard about this band I was interested. The debut from this underground super group of sorts (for lack of a better term) kicks out the jams with powerful anthemic noise punk song that tackle the world around us. Terse, sometimes abrasive guitar sounds meld with a near combustible rhythm section for songs about the Bush administration, war, detainees, classism and the like. Report Suspicious Activity manages to walk the fine line between melody and skronk, occasionally letting the two elements simmer until they explode like a sonic cluster bomb. Angry and conscious, this is a band that has taken and anger and awareness of the best HC and continues the tradition by putting their own mark on it. A great debut from a band I hope puts out a lot more in the near future. I totally want to see them live somewhere down the road. (BOONE)

(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092)

STOCKYARD STOICS - CD

There's been a much bigger backlog than I'd like here at TTWN. Between other responsibilities and the rut I found myself in the past few months I found myself a little burnt out. As a result the reviews pile has been growing but I tend to fix that now. The debut from this Brooklyn based band is thrown down the gauntlet punk rock of the buzzsaw guitars loud fast rules variety. Their songs range in topics from tales of lost friends to disillusionment with the system. While this approach could come across as cliché, the immediate nature of the songs and the band's sense for hooks keeps the material vital and asskicking throughout. It took me a while to get to this, now I wish I ‘d reviewed this sooner. (BOONE)
(Sudden Death Records. Cascades P.O. Box 43001. Burnaby, BC Canada V5G 3H0)

TURN ME ON DEAD MAN - "God Bless The Electric Freak" CD

I was meaning to get this reviewed in the last issue but the backlog and my rut in regards to getting issues out seemed to get in the way. The latest (debut?) from this San Francisco band is a slab full of psychedelic/space rock with a melodic feel and driving edge. Full of tweaked out guitar and more hooks than a bait shop (preferably not the one that caused local legend Liquor Guns and Ammo to close), the band excels at catchy songs that blend tales of life with sci-fi themes et al. Yes it's a trippy ride but Turn Me On Dead Man creates a disc that can take the listener into another dimension. I definitely want to hear more about this band. (BOONE)

(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – "Put Some Pussy In Your Punk!!! Vol. 2" CD

This compilation also came our way a while back but got trapped in the midst of my quasi burnout/midlife crisis/whatever the hell you wanna call it that kept issues from coming out as often as I’d like. This compilation is a collection of songs from female dominated punk bands such as All Or Nothing HC, Hand Grenade Hart, Manhunt, Naked Aggression, Sister Mary Rottencrotch, White Trash Debutantes, and a lot more bands who’s sounds ranging from straight ahead punk to HC and even oi/streetrock on occasion. It’s a hard-edged ride, but the bands are bound to get the adrenalin pumping and keep you interested. Like any comp the recommendations of what’s the best is like pissing in the ocean so it’s best if you’re interested to pick this up and figure out what you like for yourself. (BOONE)

(On The Rag Records. P.O. Box 251. Norco, CA 92860-0251)

WARHAMMER 48K – "Knife This" mini CDEP

Finally got around to putting this on and having it in the backlog for a little while (you probably already know the rest so I won’t bore you with the details of the rut). This mini CD shows the local noise rockers tearing up with some dual guitar driven mostly instrumental barrages along with a couple of short interludes. A little darker than usual, the material seems to go less for pummeling and more experimental with more prominent bass and even some clean guitar popping in here and there. While it’s not as loud and fast as one might expect, the material does have a quality that lures you in while maintaining some of the noisy qualities fans have come to expect. All in all, a nice little appetizer to check out before picking up their album (yes, album as in both vinyl and CD) – a twist for those of us used to their live shows. Comes in petri dish packaging that really makes you start to wonder. Hmmmmm…… (BOONE)
(www.apoprecords.com)

ISSUE 80 REVIEWS

A GLOBAL THREAT – "Where The Sun Never Sets" CD

Finally I get a chance to really check this out after a rut and a lot of backlog to work my way through. This album is rough and ready HC punk driven by in your face tempos and gruff guitar chord that almost ring as much from the garage as it does from the gutter. With these tools AGT blaze away at short, raw songs that take on such things as punk culture, drugs, classism, war, and maintaining in the face of adversity among other things. Along the way the band walks the fine line between hardcore angst and catchy melodic riffs, harnessing the anger into a sharp sonic weapon. While I admit I wasn’t able to get to this album sooner, I really find myself impressed. A damn good album I have to admit from a band I’d like to check out live somewhere down the road. (BOONE)

(BYO Records. P.O. Box 67609. Los Angeles, CA 90067. www.byorecords.com)

AKIMBO – "Forging Steel and Laying Stone" CD

I know this has been around for a little bit, but as I try to get over the rut that seemed to hold me back the last couple of years, I find myself going through things I thought I took care of (but hadn’t) and checking them out. The fourth album from Akimbo is a loud intense sonic brew merging elements of punk, metal, and noise rock into an unforgiving mélange built of sheets of guitar skronk tones and aggressive as hell drumming. Their songs are unrelenting collisions of skronky guitar melodies, pummeled power chords and a raw fury that comes through both musically and vocally. What comes out of this possible chaos is music heavier than metal where intense riffage is as important as tearing the place apart. Didn’t know much about this band before but I want to hear more from Akimbo in the future. (BOONE)

(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092. www.alternativetentacles.com)

CURTIS ELLER’S AMERICAN CIRCUS – "Taking Up Serpents Again" CD

Came across this when I caught Eller performing live during the True/False film festival a while back (filling in for the Sierra Leona All Stars who couldn’t get into the country on time). Here Eller and company offer up a set of songs detailing the more cryptic side of things driven by banjo and minimalist instrumentation. Musically, the songs draw from sources ranging from country and bluegrass to jazz to create a sonic Americana that uses old time sounds to details the darker themes of some of the lyrics. It’s not a journey that everyone will get into, but Eller’s music manages to create its own vision. I know it’s been out for a while but finally getting to this has made quite an impression. (BOONE)

(P.O. Box 110. Madison Square Station. New York City, NY 10010. www.curtiseller.com)

FIFTH ROW FELONS – CDEP

This came my way after I saw them live a while back (I think they were opening for Groovie Ghoulies). On their debut (I think) this St. Louis band throws down a handful of short sharp punk songs with a rough crude delivery and a ton of attitude. Loud and fast, these tracks blare out of the speakers with a raw simplicity that call to mind early to mid 80s HC at times. While these songs could come off a cliché in some hands (or end up cheesy pop punk), FRF infuses them with an anthemic high-energy feel that dares you not to react. While I’m still not that familiar with this band (though I’ve seen the name thrown around), another listen to this has my curiosity piqued. Those amongst us who have a craving for vintage style punk/HC will probably dig this quite a bit. (BOONE)
(No address./ Shit!)

THE FOUNDRY FIELD RECORDINGS – "Battle Brigades"/"Clones Were Made For Them But Not For Us"

I’ve been meaning to get around to this single for a while but life got in the damn way. Formerly Billy Schuh and the Foundry, this newly christened band dishes out a couple of tracks of somewhat introspective indie rock laced liberally with some elements of power pop. These mid-tempo numbers are sonic stories of sorts painted with bittersweet toned guitar work and a personal vibe that can either seem totally endearing or totally alienating. As this band progresses their work seems to gel more with hooks that seem to get you when you don’t expect them and a confidence that didn’t seem to be on their earlier work. In the past I’ve been on the fence regarding these guys but I have to say they won me over this time around. A good single and a new chapter for one of Columbia’s flagship underground pop-rock bands. (BOONE)

(www.emergencyumbrella.com)

GITOGITO HUSTLER – "Ready Go!!" CDEP

I finally picked this up when I saw the band play at the Creepy Crawl a while back and was curious about them on disc. This EP is no pretenses kick down the walls vintage flavored punk. These songs are driven by tight as hell hooks and crunchy guitar chord work that grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go. While the songs appear to be mostly in Japanese (a language I probably need to learn), there is a spirit here that transcends language barriers with a rock n roll swagger here that reminds one of what melodic punk can be when connected back to its early rock roots rather than copying blindly. This is as fun and energetic as the band’s live shows, so feel free to track down the CD and pick it up. (BOONE)

(www.candypoison.org)

THE JIM-JIMS – "Box Lunch" EP

It’s about damn time I got around to this as I deal with taking care of the rut I seem to be in the last year or so. On this seven inch, this Springfield, MO band offer up a short slab of melodic punk that almost veers into straight ahead hard rock territory along the way. These seemingly personal tales of life, regret, and the like are dished out with a midtempo vibe and an almost bittersweet feel at times. While the band obviously ain’t reinventing the wheel, there is something here that listeners should find interesting. The harder core than thou types might not dig it, but those amongst us who cut their teeth on hard rock before they discovered punk (even today there’s more of them than you’d think) should find something to like in these songs. I actually liked it. (BOONE)

(Wee Rock Records. P.O. Box 333. Springfield, MO 65801. www.weerock.com)

SHIRRELLE C. LIMES AND THE LEMONS – "Hot Salsa EP" CDEP

I’ve been curious about this for a while but never got around to checking this out until now (spurred in part by the video featured on Videology at the Witch’s Hat show recently). On their debut EP, Shannon and company create a collection of catchy danceable indie rock songs fueled by electro beats, hooks that seem to have rubber cement in them and lots of crunchy guitar to lead the way. Poppy yet far from what many consider pop these days, this is music that stays relative low key while luring you into its sonic trap. I wish I would’ve checked this EP out sooner. I really need to see her live one of these days. (BOONE)
(www.apoprecords.com)

THE MAGGOTS – "What A Girl Can’t Do"/"Whole Lotta Nothing Goin’ On"

As I got up this morning I realized that it was about time to go through some review stuff before going on with the rest of my day as the rut related backlog has gotten insane around here. As I was going through the singles, I came across this. The Maggots unleash two catchy songs of high–energy garage punk full of dirty guitars and a lot of attitude. Loud, somewhat snotty and melodic as hell, this Swedish trio calls to mind the best of the Nuggets era bands of the 60s and early 70s. While I’d never heard of this band before, they have a power that makes you feel like having pop rocks and soda just to see what would happen (go find out for yourself). Nice to see that good rock n roll can be found is one will just look for it. If you have a turntable check this out. (BOONE)

(Hipsville International Records. 2591 S. Meade St. Denver, CO 80219)

MECCA NORMAL – "The Observer" CD

This is another album I was hyped about and wanted a copy of when I heard about it. The latest from Mecca Normal finds this legendary duo in fine form with songs tackling the online dating, junkies, oil and disruption of caribou migration, et al. Musically, the band’s trademark minimalism is intact with sparse layered guitars and vocals in the forefront, yet keyboard, percussion and saxophone all make appearances. The result is a sonic world where experimental confrontation is as typical as melodic rock hooks in getting the message across. Once again Mecca Normal challenges the expectations of what punk and rock bands are supposed to approach things and that’s a very good thing indeed. Get this. (BOONE)
(Kill Rock Stars. 120 NE State Ave #418. Olympia, WA 98501. www.killrockstars.com)

MODERN MACHINES – "Taco Blessing" EP

I got this when I saw the band at Eastside a while back and had listened to it a handful of times, but couldn’t get around to reviewing it until now. Once again, Modern Machines dishes up a collection of melodic up-tempo punk rock that goes straight for the jugular while somehow managing to avoid stepping in both the pop punk and hardcore camps (with a seeming country leaning influence on one song). The songs are anthemic and tend to deal with everyday issues such as boredom, a love song in two characters, and women playing music among other things full of tasty guitar work and a ton of energy. High energy and fast moving, it almost seems to end before you realize it. The sonic equivalent of a strong cup of coffee, this EP will wake you up and give you a well needed bit of energy. Get this. (BOONE)

(Recess Records. P.O. Box 1666. San Pedro, CA 90733. www.recessrecords.com)

THE NUMBSKULLS – ‘The Last….vol. 1 of 3" CDEP

This came my way a while back but I couldn’t get around to it for a number of reasons until now (you know the reasons by now, including the rut). The Numbskulls offer up catchy straight-ahead punk rock with no frills songs and a stripped down sound. Melodic yet pretty damn gruff around the edges, these are personal tales of angst and survival that somehow can exist as both catchy and sneering. While comparisons to Social Distortion could be bandied here, this band is attempting to put their own twist to the sonic enchilada. Whether this is really their last disc or not may be up for debate; I hope it isn’t though. I want to hear more from this band. (BOONE)

(www.thenumbskulls.com)

PANSY DIVISION – "The Essential Pansy Division" CD/DVD

This is what I’ve been itching to review cine this came our way in the midst of the rut I was in over the last few issues. This compilation is a collection of the more memorable tracks from the queercore legend’s decade and a half career. Musically it touches on the range of the band’s musical forays from their trademark melodic punk and indie pop they’re known for to their ventures in hard rock and dance music along the way. As expected, their tales of gay life are upbeat, high energy and fun with a vibe that intends to kick ass and take names. The DVD in the set compiles a handful of videos (including one with relatively erotic overtones) and some concert footage from their time as Green Day’s opening act and from an Italian TV show. Pansy Division have always been a somewhat underrated act in underground rock, but this comp is a good jumping off point. Now here’s hoping their earlier albums get reissued some time soon – newbies who get this will want to hear more in my honest opinion. (BOONE)

(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092. www.alternativetentacles.com)

PROGRAM THE DEAD – CD

As I go through the backlog this came across the pile so I decided to put the disc in and play it. Program The Dead’s debut is a collection of melodic alternative rock songs that combines elements of electronica within the guitar driven hooks and personal lyrics. The band has an obvious knack for songcraft that could find them on modern rock radio someday. I admit part of me was curious while another part wasn’t expecting to be into it. However, I find something in this band that has keeps me more curious about them than anything else (at least judging from the songs on this disc). While Program The Dead’s music might not appeal to all reader, I think they’ll have a place amongst those readers who have a taste for melodic alt rock stuff. (BOONE)
(www.lowaltituderecords.com)

SUBMACHINE – "Off The Rails: Loose At The Moose" DVD/CD

After way too damn long I finally got around to checking this out (you already know the reasons so let’s not dwell on them). This DVD is a concert documentary of sorts of an April 2004 show by Submachine at the Smiling Moose in their native Pittsburgh. Musically, these guys play raw hardcore with near corrosive dual guitar blasting over often speed of light beats. Framed in an in your face live show, it seems to start a little rough but quickly picks up speed and almost seems to explode out the speakers. The disc is interspersed with behind the scenes footage of fans, band interviews (including their tale of a confrontation with some Nazis at one of their shows) and the like. The result captures the band’s live show in all its raw fury that should appeal to fans of vintage style HC. I wasn’t sure at first but this was I’m interested in these guys. Interesting – to say the least. (BOONE)

(Da’Core Records. 1407 Bowes Ave. West Mifflin, PA 15122. www.da-core.com)

THE UNFASHIONABLES – "In Three Acts" CD

Another thing I picked up when I saw the band live a while back. The debut disc from this local band offers up a collection of country tinged power pop songs (yes, I actually wrote that – sounds hard to picture as a phrase) full of catchy hooks, stinging guitar lines, and personal songs that seem to detail the darker side of relationships and life. Since becoming a quartet (as mentioned elsewhere this issue, much of the show I’d seen them play was as a trio), the band has fleshed out their sound and become tight and aggressive without losing their quest for the hook. Divided into three acts (starting with cheap wine and ended at bad beer), these nine songs find a pop b and willing to risk a little bit and come up with a few surprises. Turned out to be a somewhat pleasant surprise indeed. (BOONE)

(www.theunfashionables.com )

WITCHERY – "Don’t Fear The Reaper" CD

This was something that I was curious about when I found out it was coming out so I managed to get a copy. The latest from Witchery continues the band’s onslaught of pure thrash/death metal viciousness combining scooped death guitars and rampaging dual bass beats with melodic lead lines and lush ambient synth pads to create a collection of songs of impending doom, plagues, hell, war, and other darker than normal themes dealt out with aggression and fury. There is a rawness here that explodes out the speakers and adds to the edge this type of music demands. Readers who have a thing for metal’s more extreme side will most likely be into the new Witchery album – if they aren’t already listening to this. (BOONE)

(www.centurymedia.com)

ARCS - CD



Somehow I had this stowed away for a little bit when I came across this looking for something else. This band's debut (I think it is, anyway) is full of melodic emo leaning rock built on poppy hooks and a strong acoustic guitar presence (though one that doesn't overdominate). The songs are personal in nature lyrically and, while they could fit easily into current emo music, manage to merge that with an edgier feel at times. At only seven songs, some may criticize how brief it appears (remember when album were actually between 8 and 10 songs), but the brevity also keeps it from becoming stale. This is good music for driving to on a rainy night (or day) that actually impressed me more than I thought it would. (BOONE)



(arcsmusic.com)



BLOODHAG - "Hell Bent For Letters" LP



I finally have some free time after a lot of obligations to fully review some things that fell through the crack and give it my full attention, so I put this on the old stereo to check it out. Bloodhag's latest continues their "educore" vein - a mix of grindcore and metal forged in short, fast blast of songs that document mystery and science fiction authors (for the most part) ranging from Robert Silverburg and Douglas Adams to Greg Bear, Kafka (yeah, that Kafka), and Madeline L'Engle among others. The results are short aggressive blasts of power chord rage that manage to inform as well as pummel the listener. While the concept may seem a little contrived to the uninformed, the band's ability to make song lyrics into mini biographies is commendable, making them work inside the noise. All of this creates an album that both rocks hard and is educational. For once, school is in - and it doesn't totally suck. (BOONE)



(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092. alternativetentacles.com)



DUMBLEDORE'S ARMY- "Demo 2006" CDEP



I picked up this CD-R when I saw the band live at Lemp over the summer. This is rough around the edges melodic punk with short mid tempo songs and male/female vocals singing of mutant geese, Mothra, one eyed seals et al. While the sound is definitely on the raw side, the songs are catchy enough to make the overall strangeness not just enjoyable but charming. If you’re looking for slick mersh pop punk this sure as hell ain’t it. However, people wanting a rougher DIY feel and heartfelt vibe to their underground rock should find much to enjoy about this. (BOONE)



(the-da.killerpotato.com)



FIRE DOG - CD



I picked this CD up when I saw the band at Mojo's over the summer, but wasn't able to fully listen to it until recently. This trio's debut is a collection of driving melodic rock built on harmonies, hooks, and a mix of electric and acoustic guitars at times. The overall vibe combines elements of both classic rock and modern alternative within the band's simple, catchy songs about life and the world around us. There's also one song in Machiguenga, a language spoken in the High Peruvian Andes. I know some more underground rawk/punk types may be put off by this band but they obviously enjoy what they do and manage to maintain their integrity even in their more mersh moments. Fire Dog's debut is an enjoyable melodic rock trip that a lot of readers should at least appreciate, if not totally be into. (BOONE)



(love-a-ramarecords.com)



I OBJECT - "Teaching Revenge" LP



I've been wanting to take this one on for a while but had to get through the backlog first until I finally gave in. This is an album of raw as fuck HC built upon a fury of overdriven (on both guitar and bass) energy. With mid tempo songs covering abortion rights/reproductive choice, prisons, the struggle to survive, the American school system, racism, health care and more with lots of aggression, tight hooks, and great lyrics, they take the raw power of vintage HC and makes it relevant today. I Object's latest album is a shot of sonic adrenaline that tackles the shit keeping us down and makes you want to react. I have to see this band live. Get this record. (BOONE)



(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092. alternativetentacles.com)



THE INOCULATORS - "Dropped Their Brains" CD



This arrived at the TTWN HQ a while back but due to the way too many things that were on the plate we couldn't get to this until now. This LA trio throw down a collection of punk and ska with a lot of energy, catchy harmonies, and the right amount of raw edge. Songwise they seem to fall within two area. One - a somewhat humrous take on friends, women, necrophilia and the like with a sarcastic vibe (though one that could be seen a sexist to some people); at the same time they tear shit up with serious as cancer songs about Dubya, the divisiveness of religion, and the need for third party politics that radiate anger and sincerity. The result can seem a little disjointed conceptually but musically there is something here that makes you interested. I'm really curious about how this band will evolve as times passes. Some feathers will be ruffled here (I'm a little uneasy about some of it) but I do recommend checking this out for yourselves. It's also available on green vinyl – for those who want it on record. (BOONE)



($8.00 to: Murphy Lynch. P.O. Box 352399. Los Angeles, CA 90035)



MILKY WAYS - LP



It's been stressful at the paying job and I needed to unwind. However, I also needed to get some things done so I went through the backlog and put this disc on my stereo. This album is garage rock that's rougher than Venezuelan crude oil. These short meat and potatoes songs are full of overdriven vigor and energy. Seemingly proud to go into the red levels the material blazes away with massively overdriven guitars and a sound that can almost border on "lo-fi." The raw sound and crude energy throughout give this a charm that you have to hear to believe. Milky Ways are far from the slickest band around and they wouldn't have it any other way. This is a must have for real street level garage rock. (BOONE)



(www alive-energy.com)



P.A.I.N. - "Oh My God! We're Doing It" CD



Finally getting through the backlog that’s kept us harried over the recent weeks and came across this. The reissue of this band's 1996 debut shows the their blend of punk and dub reggae in an embryonic rough edged yet catchy as hell form. Their early songs filter in topics ranging from class struggle to the British police to retaliation against oppression et al. The fine line between dub beats and power chord guitar fury can be difficult to walk, but this band pulls it off as well back then as they do on their more recent discs. P.A.I.N. are one of those bands that many of us (and yes, I include myself in this) would like to check out live. However, until that happens, I encourage you to pick up this disc by any means you can. Check this band out. (BOONE)



(Iron Man Records. P.O. Box 9121. Birmingham. B13 8AU. UK. www.ironmanrecords.co.uk)



RANDOM CONFUSION - "Reminisence" CDEP



Just when we thought the scene (and all its hipster buy your identity elements) was safe, these two have returned. Here, the two degenerates in RC further destroy our moral fabric with music taking elements of indie/punk and mixes them with blues, rock, and even industrial noise using guitars and found objects to further attack all that our Christian society considers sacred such as school, religion, and authority. Their songs' message bears no resemblance to the greatness restored by our president (a man they unapologetically called a war criminal on their last release). This music only furthers America's decay and shouldn't be avoided just because the band wrote this review and probably wouldn't release what they didn't like. Wait a sec? Does this mean this review isn't seri----Why of all the nerve? (BOONE AND DAVID)



(P.O. Box 1444. Columbia, MO 65205-1444. For pricing see ad in this issue).



STRAPPING YOUNG LAD - "The New Black" CD



Got this when doing research for an article I did as a freelance job on the band. The latest from SYL is rough around the edges thrash/death metal with some orchestrated keyboards, and an angry, sometimes sarcastic attitude throughout. Full of scooped death power chord fury and vocals ranging from a moody crooning to outright screaming, SYL's songs are aggressive missives full of piss and vinegar though also incorporating elements of neoclassical and industrial within the band's thrash framework. Strapping Young Lad's music doesn’t completely reinvent the wheel as much as push the borders a bit while sticking to its metal roots. This is a fun album that has a lot to recommend it to fans of metal heavier stuff. (BOONE)



(www.centurymedia.com)



WITCH'S HAT - "Mastery Of The Steel" CD



I know some readers are thinking to themselves, "It's about damn time he reviewed this" but there was a lot of things on my plate and I wasn't able to fully get to this until recently. The debut disc from this popular local disc is a collection of melodic indie rock with obvious nods to both power pop and 80s synth driven new wave. Full of tasty melodies, these songs are guitar driven tales of pirates, mountains, dragons, aliens et al that can be catchy and even danceable at times. However, while the songs are full of hooks, the guitars appear to be under-mixed at times (since then I've learned this album has been remixed so it's possible this problem has been remedied. This is a good debut that shows Witch's Hat's popularity (both pro and con - with the band referred to sometimes at Witch's Frat 'cause of some of its audience) may not be a surprising as some of us music freaks thought. (BOONE)



(www.emergencyumbrella.com)
orindafink.jpg
orinda fink live on stage

TILLY AND THE WALL, NEVA DINOVA, ORINDA FINK, DAVID DONDERO

Monday September 12, 2005                               The Blue Note, Columbia

     I admit things have been busy lately.  A change of projects at the paying job has me tied up and in a rut of sorts.  Also, coming back from vacation hasn't done much to help matters in that regard.  However, once in a while something comes along that piques my interest just enough so I don't fall completely into lethargy.  When I learned about this show, I knew I wanted to check it out.  Thus, I made arrangements in regards to the paying job scheduling and took steps to be ready for it.  Come that Monday night, I was off to the Blue Note for this show.

     I got to the Note partway through David Dondero's opening set.  Backed by a drummer, Dondero performed a set of indie rock laced with folk and driven by his acoustic guitar.  Part introspective and part storyteller, these songs had the feeling of an old pair of jeans - comfortable yet there's omething that draws you in that's different each time.  While I wish I knew some of the newer material, catching David Dondero again after all these years was worth it (I saw him at the Ranch a long time ago).  Check out this guy when you get the chance.

     Up next was Orinda Fink, who I knew pretty much absolutely nothing about before her set.  Backed by a five piece band, Fink and company mined ethereal piano based art pop with a hard driving guitar edge to create a sound that hints at Flaming Lips or PJ Harvey but may have much more underneath the surface.  The set was fairly short but they attempted to take us to another realm and brought us back as it ended.  I admit I have to hear more of Orinda FInk's material before I judge, but I'm totally curious now.

     After a very brief set up, Neva Dinova came up to play.  Featuring several members of FInk's band, this quintete played a set of indie rock merging lilting, almost twangy elements with vintage sounding hard rock feel and triple guitar power to drive it home.  Songwise, they're a little on the introspective side but the roots rock elements emerge in ways you don't expect.  Admittedly I knew nothing about this band so I can't say I'm totally familiar with them.  However, the crowd seemed to get it and this band will have their following. 

     Finally Tilly and The Wall was up to play their set.  From the start, the band was on fire with a set of endearing indie pop-rock based largely on acoustic guitar and their unique percussion (Stomping on platforms and assorted percussion instruments in lieu of drums).  Personal and low key, TATW is one of those bands that sneaks up on you and takes you by surprise by their harmonies and tales of life, love, and youth among other things.  Catchy and somehow addictive, this band can be addictive and lure you into their gooey sweet hooks and want you coming back for more.  Highly recommended.

     Musically, this was a cool night.  However, one thing managed to set me off and ruined it for me.  Some dumb neohipster fuck was being annoying the whole goddamn night (at one time early on while I was taking notes he put his hand on my shoulder and asked in a sarcastic tone, "Do you need space?").  Once TATW started, this guy started screaming at the top of his lungs like a little teenybopper, distracting from the music.   It got toi the point where I Finally had to scream at the little argument for abortion to stop.  Now, I'm into fan appreciation but screaming at the top of your lungs at a band that's mostly acoustic actually distracts those of us who want to hear the show.  Basically this piece of shit put me in a bad mood the rest of the night with his annoying antics.  However her did serve as proof of two things.  One, how much I really find neohipsters annoying.  and two, he was a walking argument for why abortion should not only be kept legal but should be encouraged. 

    Still, I know I shouldn't let him get to me but I needed to vent.  The music was good and it was at a place that's one of my homes away from home.  However, I do wish neohipsters would realize that the scene is more than their little pose (I get a creepy feeling that once this little turd leaves college he'll become as annoying and neoconservative as his waste of space parents who chose wrong when they decided to have this assmunch).  Oh well, I'll probably never see that fucker again.  A good show marred by one fucking asshole not affiliated with the bands.  Oldest story in the world.  I need to get some sleep. 

     - Boone

tillyandthewall.jpg
tilly and the wall live

NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALL STARS

Saturday September 17, 2005                          Vintage VInyl, St. Louis

     There seems to be a lot going on right now.  Combine that with just geting back from vacation and other expenses and money is getting a little tight at the moment.  Needless to say that means I have to be careful in regards to going out and all that.  When I heard this band was coming to town, I was interested but knew I didn't have the money to go.  However, when I learned about this instore gig, I made the decision to try and be there.  Thus, on this Saturday afternoon, I was off to the St. Louis area (okay, actually U. City but you get the idea) to look around at Vintage Vinyl and check out this instore. 

    After a litle bit of anticipation and a more than crowded place near the stage area (normally known as Vintage Vinyl's Jazz Section), North Mississippi All Stars came on to play an acoustic (for the most part) set.  Pared to a trio again (and on this set with drummer Cody Dickinson on acoustic guitar), the band wasted no time blazing away a set of blues and rock influenced as much by hill country blues as by jazz, country, or the various jam band influences they get lumped in with.  Low down and more than a little rough around the edges, this band proceeded to rock the house and got the crowd riled up and in gear for the rest of the day.   While I hadn't seen them in this context (last time was a few years ago as a quartet), NMAS proved they didn't need amplification to pull off their music and win the crowd over.  A good show that probably got people interested in seeing htem that night (which I sadly couldn't afford to do). 

   After the show there was the usual autograph, meet and greet thing.  For a brief moment me and Luther DIckinson connected over my 7 Seconds shirt leading to a brief discussion of both of us seeing Black Flag (in his case - at a records store) and learning why Luther takes in stores seriously because of that.  I wish we could've talked a little more but things were busy and I had things to take care of.  I still have a little adjusting to do after coming back from the coast but I'll be okay.  I need to check this band out again. 

     - Boone

CAPTURED BY ROBOTS, GROOVIE GHOULIES, THE HELPER MONKEYS,    THE DOLLYROTS

Thursday November 3, 2005                               The Creepy Crawl, St. Louis

I was curious about The Dollyrots for a while before this night's opening set, but had never heard them. This trio kicked the night off with a set of melodic anthemic punk seeped as much in pop gooieness as in big beat dynamics and loud fast rules. With tight songs in tow, the band is a little rough around the edges, but have a feel to them meshing as much in power pop as in punk raw power. The band's intimate vibe and feel keeps people interested and managed to snare me and get me into the band. Check them out when they come through your neck of the woods.

Next up were The Helper Monkeys, who refused to pull any punches. This quintet went full throttle into hook laden pop punk songs about girls, drinking, touring and lesbians among other things. Their short, fast songs often seemed to go into the next just as you blinked whle the singer/bassist's jumped around (almost into the audience at one point). Sure these guys aren't reinventing the wheel but their roughed up type of popppy punk had its share of devotees in the crowd. Need to find out more about them but I'm curious.

Then it was time for Groovie Ghoulies to tear it up. As expected, they immediately kicked sonic ass and took names with their blend of punk aggression and gooey pop, demanging you have fun in the process. Mixing covers of Ramones, Chuck Berry and Billy Bragg songs in with their catchy original tuneage, the band's energy soared into hyperspace to everyone's delight. While I sould've liked the set to be longer, the house rocking was in full effect by all means necessary. Groovie Ghoulies proved once again how they managed to remain relevant after all these years.

Finally it was Captured by Robots turn to perform. This combination of rock concert and performance art dealt a sonic and visual blow that took on Star Trek: The Next Generation by satirical songs, robots spoofing crew members from said show and a noise cum punk rock extravaganza that words can't really describe (and that's not taking the visual effect into account). While it can be said that CBR is more a concept piece than a band, the whole show is one that is better experienced than having it explained to you. See it and make up your own mind.

Given work, house sitting et al, this has been a busy week. Trying to keep the antibiotics on schedule in the midst of this and my tendency to overanalyze only adds to the weirdness. Still I needed a break and this was a good preview of a weekend that I needed to experience for a while. However, I still have one more day of work at the paying job before all else happens.

- Boone

THE CANKICKERS, THE COUNTERCLOCKWISE

Friday November 4, 2005                                  The 1810 Ranch, Columbia

The weekend at last - finally got the paying job finished and can take some time off to get things done. Taking a break from the housesitting, I made it into Columbia for a couple of interesting shows that were going down. I arrived at the Ranch just after The Leah Quinelle All Stars featuring Happy finished playing. However, I did get there in time to see the rest of the show.

The first band I got to see was The Counterclockwise. This quartet's set was polyrhythmic avant rock with a stripped down yet dense vibe and male/female vocals. Using dual percussionists, guitar and banjo, they created somewhat jagged yet danceable and catchy songs that even at their strangest have a thread of comfort in them to nab the listener. They’re not the most commercial band to venture down the pike, but then again they most likely don’t want to be. A little jarring but this band could carve their own path along the way.

I kind of saw the Cankickers previously at the 2005 True/False film festival so I had some idea what to expect. Using the same equipment (for the most part), this band created music that combined roots folk with some rock and even waltzes for a sound that could recall another time at one hand while placing a modern twist on the other. I admit I was a little surprised by their more waltz leaning tendencies but there’s something about the Cankickers that is interesting in an underground/punk/DIY context, especially as a contrast that complements the other bands on the bill.

The end of the night was a little tiring. A lot of people stuck around to hang out but, after a long day at the paying job, I was tired and needed a bit of sleep. So I was off. It was going to be a long weekend.

- Boone

All contents copyright 2006 The Trouble With Normal and the contributor in question.