Ensminger’s “Mavericks of Sound” succeeds in spite of its author

Posted in books, country, indie, interview, reviews, rockabilly on October 21st, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

The new collection of David Ensminger‘s interviews, entitled Mavericks of Sound: Conversations with the Artists Who Shaped Indie and Roots Music (out now from Rowman & Littlefield), is a mixed blessing. The insight one gets from the artists with whom he speaks is deep and interesting. It’s rare that artists such as Jason Ringenberg of Jason & the Scorchers, the Reverend Horton Heat, or the Nerves and Plimsouls’ Peter Case get the sort of deeply-introspective and serious discussion presented here.

To see Ensminger go beyond the superficial interviews most of these artists receive — if they’re ever spoken with at all — is heartening. Mavericks of Sound is best when it allows these rarely-heard musicians to go beyond discussing their latest album, and dig deep into the influences which shaped them, and the particulars of their journey to now.
book cover - mavericks of sound
That said: Ensminger can go on. When he does something like laying out a lengthy Woody Guthrie quote in his interview with Robert Earl Keen, you’re not quite certain as to whether that’s meant to elicit a certain response from his subject, or if it’s simply meant to show the depth of Ensminger’s own personal knowledge. Rarely does it seem that the author achieves much connection with the artist he’s interviewing. Reading the short pieces toward the end of Mavericks of Sound reveals a certain terseness of response from some of his subjects.
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Podcast #102, “In Advance Of”

Posted in garage rock, interview, podcast, punk, rockabilly, upcoming album, upcoming release on September 16th, 2013 by Nick – Be the first to comment

comingupThere are times where I wish I’d just use all of the outtakes to the show, just so you can see how utterly amused I am by myself. It gets a little silly down here in the basement sometimes — there are things I say and do that leave me utterly in stitches. Additionally, I feel Like I should let you know what i listen to as I type up these previews as the podcast encodes. Currently: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Damn the Torpedoes. I’ve not had a copy on vinyl in the decade I’ve been in possession of a decent turntable, and it’s astonishing how much better it sounds than any of the innumerable singles when they’re on the radio.

All ranting aside, we’ve some great music from Slovenly Recordings, amongst others, to say nothing of an interview with Rick Miller of Southern Culture on the Skids about the upcoming three-way split double LP they have with Los Straightjackets and the Fleshtones. It comes out October 1 on Yep Roc, and is entitled Mondo Zombie Boogaloo. You can find tour dates and order the record at Yep Roc’s site.

Podcast #102, “In Advance Of”
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The Lonesome Savages sound like I’m drunk (and why that’s wonderful)

Posted in garage rock, reviews, rockabilly, vinyl on March 20th, 2012 by Nick – 1 Comment

cover-lonesome-savagesThe debut single from Wisconsin’s the Lonesome Savages, All Outta Love, might be the only thing the rockabilly genre’s produced worth listening to since the first Amazing Royal Crowns LP. It’s an astoundingly original take on the genre, yet draws on enough familiar influences (Charlie Feathers by way of the Cramps) to keep it grounded in some sort of reasonable genre ballpark.

Now, is it three covers and one original? Yes. But it’s not like it’s the first debut release to do so. The Cramps’ Gravest Hits was mostly covers, as was half of the Specials’ self-titled. This is what bands do, if they’re able – when you don’t have enough songs you’ve written, you take the ones you know and put your own sonic imprint on ‘em. Let those fuckers know who you are, one way or another, am I right?
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Die Zorros, “Future” LP

Posted in mp3, reviews, rock 'n' roll, rockabilly, vinyl on March 1st, 2012 by Nick – Be the first to comment

cover-die-zorrosWhile Voodoo Rhythm might drop the occasional bomb, it seems that anything released featuring label head Beat-Man is a gem. In some cases, that gem is a diamond in the rough – emphaiss on the rough. Such is Die ZorrosFuture, a strange journey through originals and covers in what the label accurately terms a “Farfisa Organ Fiasko.”

Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” is stripped down to its instrumental components, with the only lyrics being “No, no, no.” It’s a deconstruction that continues on through the rest of the album – the only words in their strange surf version of “Paint It Black” is the rhythmic chanting of “black.” The whole thing plays like a warped version of lounge music, from a world where LSD is passed out like after-dinner mints and absinthe gets tossed back like PBR. The covers are familiar enough once your ears catch onto what’s being done to them, but the twists come fast and furious.
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Author Max Décharné talks rockabilly

Posted in books, interview, rockabilly on November 16th, 2011 by Nick – Be the first to comment

Author Max Décharné‘s new book on the history of rockabilly, A Rocket In My Pocket, was an instant favorite here at Rock Star Journalist headquarters. The book’s take on the rock ‘n’ roll genre precursor focuses just as much on the obscure gents releasing barely-heard singles on local labels as it does the big hits, making for an engrossing and informative read. So, it ges without saying we were thrilled beyond belief when offered an opportunity to interview the man. He was kind enough to take some time to answer our questions regarding his book and career via e-mail.
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Decharne’s history of rockabilly covers them all, big and small

Posted in books, reviews, rockabilly, upcoming release on June 10th, 2011 by Nick – Be the first to comment

book-cover-rocket-in-my-pocketMax Decharne‘s new history of rockabilly for Serpent’s Tail, A Rocket In My Pocket: The Hipster’s Guide to Rockabilly, takes a little bit to get going. It’s understandable – there’s a lot of history to set up, and a lot of characters to introduce, be they Sun Records owner Sam Phllips, cover boy Elvis Presley, or the queen of rockabilly, Wanda Jackson. Basically, Decharne takes several dozen rockabilly musicians, as well as various labels that run the gamut from international to recording in someone’s garage, and gives them to the reader in a flurry of names.
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Better than MTV

Posted in mp3, punk, rock 'n' roll, rockabilly, video on June 10th, 2008 by Nick – Be the first to comment

To make the obvious joke, we play videos… some pop-punk, rocket roll, more pop-punk, and some hardcore. All relatively recent, and good. Although, really… my promo copy of the new H2O album, Nothing to Prove, ended up being blank. SO I can’t say as to whether or not the whole record is as good as the singles I’ve heard.

Teenage Bottlerocket – “In the Basement”

the Phenomenauts – “Infinite Frontier”

the Cute Lepers – “Terminal Boredom”

H2O – “What Happened?”

Three Teenage Bottlerocket MP3s off of Warning Device over here at Battle of the Midwestern Housewives.

Writing about writing about listening

Posted in label, mp3, punk, rock 'n' roll, rockabilly, vinyl on May 3rd, 2008 by Nick – Be the first to comment

Reading about stuff, especially music stuff, makes me happy. I mentioned Seven Ten Twelve recently, but I’d like to more deeply explain why it’s one of the best vinyl sites out there. Yeah, the stuff he covers is a litte hipster-y, but it’s all quality stuff that my local record store carries, so I actually know what i’m getting into. It’s like a second opinion from a friend you trust. A lot of the stuff Paul (Lawton, the fella who runs Seven Ten Twelve) mentions is limited, so it’s a nice heads up regarding things you might otherwise miss out on. And, as an added bonus, he’s from Canada, so you get interesting spellings like “tonne.”

Along the lines of obscure, limited vinyl is the simply-named Limited Edition Vinyl. As one would expect, that’s the subject, be it big name or small name stuff. You get pressing colors, variations, numbers, and (most importantly) where you can get this stuff ASAP. The best part about the site aside from the content is the insanely long list of labels that sell vinyl in the page’s sidebar. You can start randomly clicking and soon find your credit card maxed out. I recommend starting over at Voodoo Rhythm out of Switzerland. It’s run by the Reverend Beatman, frontman for the Monsters. Crazy crazy blues garage rockabilly label.

Lo-fi craziness, as is the stuff over at Douchemaster. They put out a Hex Dispensers 45 that I picked up after SXSW, and it’s damn good. They’ve put out a couple Carbonas singles, as well. Their stuff is a little more limited than the Voodoo Rhythm material, but the site isn’t a hodge-podge of bad HTML and spotty English, either.

the Monsters – “I Wanna Do What I Wanna Do” (from Garage Punk Vol. 1)
the Hex Dispensers – “Taxidermy Porno” (from the Lose My Cool single)

All the colors of the rainbow

Posted in mp3, punk, random ranting, rock 'n' roll, rockabilly, vinyl on April 2nd, 2008 by Nick – Be the first to comment

Recently acquired colorful vinyl:

* Marble green – Hipshakes / Cococoma tour split 7″
* Purple – the Stranger‘s Prison Called Life 7″
* Oxblood red – Naked Raygun‘s Throb Throb LP reissue
* Good ol’ black – the Hex DispensersLose My Cool 7″
* Good ol’ black – the PolecatsMake A Circuit With Me LP

In actual, real news, it appears that Sandstone is Sandstone again. Good. Now I don’t have to explain what the hell I’m talking about to KU freshmen anymore… at least in this respect.

Also, if I were a fifteen year-old (or 25 year-old who smoked too much pot), I would be totally fucking stoked that Warped Tour and a Snoop Dogg / 311 show are both at Sandstone a week apart. I am neither – although if I could figure out a way to justify the $32 ticket price, I’d go see My Chemical Romance on the 15th. There’s something about MCR that makes me feel the need to justify my fandom regarding the band to pretty much everyone I meet – that would be the fact that most fans of MCR are 15 year-old girls who wear WAY too much eyeliner and shop at Hot Topic for A Nightmare Before Christmas accouterments.

Still, the band kicks ass in a theatrical way that bands really haven’t done since the ’70s. They’re up there with Alice Cooper and Queen, along with a little bit of the Tubes, as far as bands that put on shows, as opposed to concerts. Then again, their shows always come when I’m either broke or otherwise committed, so I pretty much have to go on reviews, which just get me all salivary.

This post was all over the fucking place, huh?

My Chemical Romance – “Welcome to the Black Parade

Back with a new batch (of photos)

Posted in mp3, photos, punk, reviews, rock 'n' roll, rockabilly on February 27th, 2008 by Nick – Be the first to comment

Sorry for the long break in posts here, but I’ve been dealing with an uncooperative IDE enclosure. However, that’s been dealt with, and I even managed to get some photos off a very old drive that I’d thought long dead. I also have a slightly slower Internet connection, thus causing it to take somewhere in the realm of two-three hours to upload the photos that once took half an hour. Still, $20 Internet beats the hell out of $55 a month, especially when it costs $85 a year just to host this site (as well as the parent, nigh-on-never updated, Nuthouse Productions).

Anyhow… SCADS of pictures, some going back nearly four years, and others as recent as this past Saturday. Trust me – I was still learning how to work my camera at that point, and it shows. Still, there’s some pictures over at Rock Star Photography from the following bands:
Shotgun Idols, the Primetime Heroes, Love Me Destroyer, the Federation of Horsepower (several times), the Pink Spiders, Honeywagen, the Gloryholes, Unknown Stuntman, Black Tarantulas, Thunder Eagle, National Fire Theory, HorrorPops, No Age, and the Throttlers.

Speaking of the Pink Spiders and HorrorPops show… I was really looking forward to that show, mainly because of Steve E. Nix & the Cute Lepers, featuring members of the Briefs. The Cute Lepers canceled the show Saturday night, however. This is the band who were the main point of me going to the Bottleneck that night, and they ended up getting arrested in Denver (so I was told). Dammit. I now have to pay insanely high shipping from Interpunk to get their new record on 1-2-3-4 Go!.

So, this meant the show was just the Pink Spiders and HorrorPops. The Pink Spiders were all right, and managed to acquit themselves a nice cover of the Undertones’ “Teenage Kicks.” I’ve never seen such a sea of blank, uncomprehending faces at a cover song as I did then, however. The young women standing next to me looked at me like I was the world’s saddest man for knowing the words. “Modern Swinger” sounded pretty nice, too.

HorrorPops – a band that I’ve tried to see no fewer than three times before, only to be thwarted by late arrivals or early departures. They went on, and I was terribly underwhelmed. The show was just “eh.” The dancers were ridiculously hot, but Patricia had a fairly canned line of patter (I swear to god, if I’d had to hear “Is that a ‘hell yeah’?” everytime the crowd cheered, I was going to kill someone) and Nekroman didn’t seem to be all that happy to be there. The songs don’t really have a lot of “oomph” live, either. So, after about five songs, I hightailed it down to the Replay.

The Replay started out busy, and got worse as the evening progressed. The opening act was called the Black Tarantulas, and played a great dirty garage rock with some surf influences. They had tons of energy, and aside from half their songs sounding a lot like the other half, they’ve got some seriously potential.

The next act up was Thunder Eagle, who pretty much sounded like the Bronx. Loud, heavy rock ‘n’ roll, with lots of screaming. Good, but not what I was expecting or wanting to see that night. By the time their set got underway, the bar was packed both inside and out, and I was starting to get a little claustrophobic and tired. So, despite how much I wanted to see Brimstone Howl, who were headlining, I felt more like a good night’s sleep, and getting away from the crush of the packed bar.

Since then, it’s pretty much been me getting ready to go to SXSW in a couple weeks. Ostensibly, it’s for the radio station for which I act as music director, but you are more than welcome to ply me with food and coffee for a plug here.

the Throttlers – “Action
HorrorPops – “Thelma & Louise
the Pink Spiders – “Modern Swinger