Black On Black / Greys / Westerners at the Replay Lounge

Posted in live music, local, photos, punk, reviews on July 22nd, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment

Black On BlackMore shows need to be like this: all ages, over by 9:00pm, and cheap. I would go to each and every matinee rock show, schedule allowing. There’s something wonderful about getting off work, eating dinner, and then seeing a couple of bands, and getting home in time to knock out a couple chapters in that book you’re reading.

Yes, I know this makes me old and lame, but yesterday evening’s show at the Replay Lounge was fricking great. In addition to the situational things, it had that rarest of elements these days, wherein the bands didn’t all sound alike. Don’t get me wrong: I love a standard punk bill. However, opening the show was Lawrence’s Westerners, who start out their sets sounding kind of funky, kind of jammy. It gets a few raised eyebrows on an “all-ages punk show” kind of bill, obviously, but the way this band gets progressively weirder as their set progresses never ceases to amaze.
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Late Bloomer, “Things Change” LP

Posted in indie, punk, reviews, streaming audio / video, vinyl on July 21st, 2014 by Nick – 3 Comments

coverEver since Late Bloomer debuted “Use Your Words,” I’ve been foaming at the mouth to hear all of Things Change, their sophomore LP on Tor Johnson, Lunchbox, and Self Aware Records. I tried to hold back until I had the LP in my hot little hands, but caved and listened to it streaming a few weeks back.

This all goes to say that Things Change is an album which — once you’ve had a taste of it — you want to hear in its entirety, over and over again. “Use Your Words” was and is an excellent introduction, kicking off the album in a way that reminds me a lot of any number of bands I hear in the mid to late ’90s, but more in terms of tone than specific sound.
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McPadden’s “Heavy Metal Movies” a fun and essential read

Posted in books, metal, movies, reviews on July 14th, 2014 by Nick – 3 Comments

book cover - heavy metal moviesI’d had the pleasure of interviewing Mike “McBeardo” McPadden in advance of the release of Heavy Metal Movies: Guitar Barbarians, Mutant Bimbos & Cult Zombies Amok in the 666 Most Ear- and Eye-Ripping Big-Scream Films Ever! Sadly, when we spoke, all I’d had a chance to read was the intro and a sample chapter, which was exactly enough to have me foaming at the mouth to get my hands on the full magilla.

Thanks to Bazillion Points being kind enough to shoot me a copy, I’ve now spent the better part of the last month thumbing through Heavy Metal Movies each and every time I’ve been on the couch. It’s taken about that long to get through the epic tome, but every moment spent perusing its pages has been well-spent. In addition to revisiting old favorites, seeing what was left out, and just trying to see what stuff I need to track down.
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Greg Mank’s latest, “The Very Witching Time of Night” a surprisingly cohesive collection of leftovers

Posted in books, movies, reviews on June 30th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

book cover - Very_Witching_Time_of_NightThe books on classic horror cinema seem to be coming rather regularly these days. The latest in the march of essays is The Very Witching Time of Night: Dark Alleys of Classic Horror Cinema, by Gregory William Mank, out now from McFarland.

Comprised as it is of pieces the author couldn’t fit into other books, the various chapters still manage to gel nicely in terms of thematic elements. Taken as a whole, this is a fun, interesting read that dips and delves into some unexplored corners of early film history.

That said, the chapters themselves seem incomplete. Mank is quite fond of production timelines, and while those provide invaluable data with dates and times of each film, they come off more as outlines for potential chapters than actual work itself. After making it through the book, you wonder if Mank’s capable of creating an actual narrative.
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Red Kate / Bad Ideas split 7-inch

Posted in local, punk, reviews, rock 'n' roll, upcoming events, vinyl on June 26th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

cover - bad ideas red kate split
The first release from Kansas City’s Mills Record Company features the finest punk rock ‘n’ roll the city has to offer, with two songs each from Red Kate and the Bad Ideas.

Red Kate continues the wonderful racket they had on last year’s full-length, When the Troubles Come. The first cut, “On My Mind,” is a melodic rocker, almost wistful in the way it recalls someone gone. The cover of Naked Raygun’s “New Dreams” clocks in at half the length of its predecessor, and blasts away for its entire 80 seconds. Factor in the copious “way-oh”s, and you’ve a pile-on pit classic reborn.

The Bad Ideas have always been a live force with which to be reckoned, but these two recordings are fantastic. Mixing classic-era Epitaph Records energy with Sonic Youth guitar work and absolute snottiness, they’re absolute keepers. I can’t decide whether the straight-ahead energy of “Apocalypse Detroit” or the off-kilter jerk of “I’m Stuck” is my favorite, so I just keep flipping the record and starting over from scratch.
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Poole’s “Vampira” an interesting biography of the horror host, but thin on details

Posted in books, movies, reviews, streaming audio / video, tv, upcoming release, video on June 19th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

book cover - vampiraSoft Skull Press always presents a unique twist with its biographies or memoirs. It’s never just a straightforward history of the titular individual, but rather an analysis of the environment which produced the subject. In the case of W. Scott Poole‘s Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror, the author uses the ’50s horror host as an entry point to discussing the era’s social mores and how the woman born Maila Nurmi challenged the status quo.

The author has a wealth of information on which to draw. Sadly, little of it is regarding Vampira herself. There’s minimal evidence of her television program, and what remains of her work is, essentially, bit parts in a few films. The thing for which she garnered her initial acclaim exists only anecdotally, leading to a great amount of speculation on Poole’s part.
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The last batch of singles from Windian Records’ founder, Travis Jackson

Posted in garage rock, label, punk, reviews, streaming audio / video, vinyl on June 18th, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment

windian singles
Getting a big package of singles in the mail is always exciting, especially when you’re not expecting them. It’s bittersweet to open the box and realize that these are the last singles overseen by the late Windian Records‘ head honcho, Travis Jackson. Jackson died unexpectedly earlier this year when hit by car as he worked on a road construction crew.

Looking at the note, which was right on top of the stack of singles when I opened the package, I basically burst into tears. Now, I don’t claim to have known Jackson very well, but he’d been helpful with providing some promo stuff for review and play on the podcast, and every interaction I had with him was kind and excited and full of life.

It’s strange to think that a man who I never met in person would be missed so much, but Jackson’s verve for music and excitement for what he was doing with Windian was infectious, and you wanted him to succeed. Eric Brady will continue the label on, and the music looks to be coming strong.
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The Big Iron, “We Will Fall” LP

Posted in local, punk, reviews, upcoming events, vinyl on June 12th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

cover - big iron we will fallThe Big Iron‘s We Will Fall sounds like the ’80s, but not the one you remember. This isn’t the 1980s of synth-pop, New Wave, or yacht rock — the Big Iron are the sound of VFW shows, of the bands documented in Our Band Could Be Your Life, of the punk rock underground.

We Will Fall hits every sweet spot of diverse influences you could possibly hope for. “Climate Refugee” rocks it Agent Orange surf-punk style, “Past the Pavement” pays homage to Lawrence punk rock mecca the Outhouse with anthemic SST-style … argh.

It’s fun to play “spot the influences,” but it’s ultimately reductive of the Big Iron’s sound to do so. Their songs aren’t so much in the vein of “this is the Husker Du one, that’s the Naked Raygun song,” as they are the sum influences of guys who have been playing rock ‘n’ roll music for decades, and those influences are the foundation upon what this album is built.
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Four new Slovenly singles from The Anomalys, PUFF!, Thee MVPs, and Useless Eaters

Posted in garage rock, punk, reviews, upcoming release, vinyl on June 11th, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment

Three upcoming singles from Slovenly Records, as well as one (PUFF!) on their new imprint, Mondo Mongo. These all came into my inbox at the same time, so they’re all getting reviewed simultaneously. Each review was limited to a certain amount of space, and I kept to that, in the interest of brevity.

THE ANOMALYS -Deadline Blues- EP - coverThe Anomalys“Deadline Blues” b/w “No More!”

Ignore the a-side, which is pretty rote, even though there’s a nice reverb on the guitar tone. The vocals are so high up in the mix as to irritate, especially given the tone-deaf delivery. The crazed drumming and insistent background vocals on “No More!” make it the far more interesting track on here. It’s frantic and the surf bridge makes it completely danceable. You can freak the fuck out on that one.
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Gareth Murphy’s “Cowboys and Indies” provides an excellent record industry overview

Posted in books, reviews on June 10th, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment

book cover - cowboys and indiesIn Gareth Murphy‘s new book for Thomas Dunne Books, Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry, you get exactly what the title tells you. It’s certainly epic, going all the way back to the start of recorded sound, and documenting every technological, genre, and business change along the way.

Murphy’s writing demonstrates an obvious excitement regarding his topic, especially in the book’s early chapters, wherein there are new discoveries — wax cylinders! shellac discs! — nearly every few pages. The only issue is that, in trying to incorporate everything, details are given short shrift. Cowboys and Indies covers excellently the development of the technology of recorded sound, but misses out on how that actually changed the already-extant music industry of big bands (for an in-depth analysis of that, check out Elijah Wald’s How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ā€™nā€™ Roll).
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