Friday, December 31, 2010

Otis Heat - Fools & Horses - Color School -- Rock'n'Roll Hotel - Dec 30 2010

Color School - There's an old broadcasting expression about someone having a face made for radio. If I were to apply that here, I would say this trio had a stage appearance made for studio pros. Just three older average guys popping up there to rock out. And rock out they did. The early songs had elements of second-rate Husker Du (latter era) pop rock with even a few Wipers style riffs within. Keep in mind, second-rate Husker Du is a compliment, while fourth-rate is not. These guys delivered some nice pop rock songs in a no frills style. At their worst, they are a good bar band, while at their best, they can open for any decent indie rock band.

Fools & Horses - From Baltimore comes this two-guitar four-piece. One guitarist sings the leads with a strong convincing voice while the other adds some nice harmony vocals. They both trade leads and compliment each other nicely atop a strong rhythm section. The music is very pop-rock with almost too much of a mainstream feel for me at times, but never quite too much as they are always rocking with strength, authority and confidence. The crowd was digging this set and they easily had command of their set. This is a good catchy pop rock band that could do very well in the future. But for now, they are doing very well.

Otis Heat - This trio comes from Portland, Oregon and continues the tradition of showing off the interesting music that comes from that scene. There is a really good ringing indie rock sound with plenty of funk beats primarily from the bassist who also handles all vocals. I also get a feel of an old psyche-blues band. The bass lines are busy and steady while the guitar weaves in and out with psyche sounds, occasional strong riffs, and melodic counterpart. The drums are solid and creative at times. The vocals are intriguingly high pitched and bluesy and quite unique. The whole sound ends up being both unique and engaging. In trying to find comparable sounds, I can only come up with Quintessence meeting Morphine without the sax. Or perhaps Akron/Family crossed with the Minutemen? These guys are in find company, yet create a really cool and unique sound. The set perhaps was a tad long and maybe needed a couple of surprise twists late in the set (the types of which Akron/Family can do at the drop of a hat), but that is a minor complaint. This was an excellent band that hopefully are winning over some fans with this tour.

Quote of the Night: From the opening band after a round of applause from a very good audience tonight... "Wow, thanks. If you liked that, you're really going to like the bands later tonight."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

GWAR - The Casualties - Infernaeon - Mobile Deathcamp -- 9:30 Club - Dec 29 2010

Mobile Deathcamp - From Toledo, Ohio? I have worked there. Nothing is from Toledo, Ohio. Even the Necros were from suburban Maumee and hung around in Detroit most of the time. Well, this three piece did have a good thrash metal sound, I will give them that. The guitarist grunted out the vocals and all three of them were locked in and it was a very tight unit. The music was typical, not overly inspiring, but it was good for what it was and I actually warmed to them by the end of the half hour set. A fair beginning by a band that seemed fairly literate and decent and a really good crowd for a seven pm starting time.

Infernaeon - A six-piece band that had a couple guitars and keyboards. There certainly was a progressive metal sound in the first song due to the keyboards, but it kind of got buried as the set went on. I was amused as the singer looked at his knees while singing the demonic voice, looked skyward when he was screaming the high parts and straight ahead when doing the normal voice--reminded me of my high school contest speech days when you adjusted your body to the character. He relaxed on these cliches as the set went on which was good. The best song was a Metallica cover "Creeping Death" as it was the most tuneful--hardly a surprise there. Less charm with this band, a bit more power with the numbers and an adequate and predictable set.

The Casualities - Here's the punk component of tonight's show. The foot high spiked mohawk on the guitarist kind of gives it away, but I also saw Misfits, Meatmen and GBH shirts in the crowd. And because of GWAR and metal bands, that means that there may be a bit more clownish or rah-rah punk with this band. Clownish may be too harsh, but it was the GBH/Exploited sort of rah-rah punk. I've had multiple chats with both those bands and they are nice quiet guys mostly (Wattie excepted), so I find this a music a bit on the theatrical side. That can be ok, but it's hard to sustain. And that was the issue here. There was some good energy and fun songs, but my mind was wandering a bit toward the end. "Tomorrow Belongs to Us" is a title that was good and is a perfect fit to 80s UK punk. It was nice that they mentioned the influential DC scene of Minor Threat, Bad Brains, SOA and Scream.

GWAR - I have never seen this band and was itching to see some live music after some holiday travel interruptions. So, like a dope addict willing to put any slop in his veins, I decide to check out GWAR. Nothing against them, but I have already been through Kiss, Alice Cooper and the Plasmatics (although I only saw Kiss). The stage is pretty basic aside from the huge sheets of plastic all over the place to protect some of the electronics from the blood spray. And the blood sprayed. Plenty of beheaded roadies and a disemboweled Sarah Palin who played with her sausage link intestines made for a festive visual treat. On the audio side, the music was basic metal with drab vocals and was musically impressive considering the huge costumers the players were wearing. It was rather hard to decipher Oderus Urungus's stage patter as he delivered his spiel in his worst Nikita Koloff promo voice. No why would pro wrestling be on my mind during this? The special effects ala Herschell Gordon Lewis movie levels were campily entertaining. Music was fair and safe, but people had a good time, so the band delivered. Now I have seen GWAR.

Quotes of the Night: The first person to email me with the correct matching of quote to band wins a free Velvet Lounge show with me at a night I choose. Here they are.

1. "I want to see some fucking blood."
2. "You won't have Sarah Palin as President any time soon."
3. "I see some beer drinkers and hell fucking raisers out there."
4.  In describing a song about Vlad the Impaler... "It's called Human Popsicles."

Monday, December 27, 2010


Back after some holiday traveling with the second-to-last installment of my Top 100 list. These are the ones I go back to frequently...

20. Donovan - Sunshine Superman (UK) 1966: I prefer Donovan over Dylan for sheer listenability, although he would also be the more engaging dinner guest which is one of my lesser ranking factors. This album has some magical psychedelic folk songs which predate a lot of the classics of that style. There is good sixties rock and folk present as well. The songs are more varied than that of most albums, yet everything flows together wonderfully. There is a lot of great Donovan material elsewhere but this one puts it all on display from start to finish.

19. The Who - Live at Leeds (UK) 1970: The Who are difficult to get a finger on album-wise which makes them a great debate topic among your classic rock friends. A friend and I have fully decided that we would indoctrinate people with this album if they wanted to hear the Who. All the great playing is clear in the production, the song mix is excellent with the great old singles and the thematic album material. The bonus material CD releases are even better than the vinyl with a more comprehensive collection of songs. I guess this and Hawkwind are the only live albums I would recommend in lieu of the studio work.

18. Meic Stevens - Ghost Town (UK) 1970: This actually was released in 1997 although the material is from the late sixties through 1970 or thereabouts. I could have listed "Outlander" as the album to get as the material is similar and there are some shared songs, but I really like this album's material. It is sung in English vs. the Welsh language albums Stevens did more of. That helps the accessibility a bit, but it is the haunting voice along with the distant psyche vibes in the arrangements and guitar playing that make it a universally brilliant album. Stevens got a little less interesting as he went on, but was a major figure in his early career and really deserved a larger audience. But he stuck to singing in Wales and not chasing popularity, so he remains an important cult figure. Well worth checking out if you want to expand beyond Dylan and Donovan.

17. Robbie Basho - Zarthus (USA) 1974: I am stunned that I have an album this high on the list which has never had a CD release. It looks like there is only one song on Youtube even. There is vinyl out there and this is worth hunting down. Even if you have heard and enjoyed Basho's guitar playing on fellow guitar genius, John Fahey's Takoma label, you may not be ready for this meditative monster. Side One is filled with his spacey guitar playing and strange meditative crooning. Side Two is an amazing piano piece where he cuts loose on the keyboard with the damper pedal down the whole time in a percussive dynamic drone (the kind of which I badly played in my youth). There is some pretty cool Basho out there and absolutely dazzling songs, but this album really puts it all together.

16. Book of AM - Book of AM (Spain) 1979: This is an intriguing album that Daevid Allen of Gong produced and plays on with a communal band on an island off of Spain. The album is a deep song cycle that is a classic in the psyche-folk field. It is tricky to find, but there was an incredible re-release with the full two albums of material and huge thick book or art which was originally supposed to come out. This was quite a welcome addition for me in lieu of my bootleg copy of this great album. This will appeal to Gong fans, fans of classic UK folk, or psychedelic music fans.

15. Incredible String Band - The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter (UK) 1968: I recall that America liked the fourth Dr. Who better than the third which was preferred by the UK. For ISB albums, it is the same thing although in this case, the US goes with the third. I have to go along with this here as this album is just so much wilder and varied than the equally great 4th album "The Wee Tam and Big Huge". ISB were innovators and were in full force here with folk, psyche-folk, psyche, chidren's songs, Monty Python like singalongs, and a thirteen minute song about an amoeba. Robin Williamson and Mike Heron are the ISB at this point with only a little help and they are at their height of creative song writing and use of varied, unique instruments. They lost the formula a few years later, but they were at the height of their shamanistic, magical powers here. And I can listen to Robin Williams sing and tell stories all day long.

14. Tim Buckley - Goodbye and Hello (USA) 1967: Any Jeff Buckley fan that has not gone back to listen to his father's work is missing the real genius at work. Jeff might have been good, but aside from a brilliant Leonard Cohen cover, he has nothing on daddy. And he was fortunate to inherit some of what was one of the most stunning vocal ranges ever displayed. The shame of it all was that Buckley could not continually find that happy median between singer/songwriter material and the wildly experimental free form jazz-folk he created. This second album is the perfect bridge and would be the best place to start. I go to it most frequently as I like the creativity, but also the accessibility. I have linked "Pleasant Street" as I find it one of the most emotionally powerful songs that any vocalist could ever put on record. And with driving rock music keeping it moving, it is amazing, but only the best of a strong group of songs.

13. Love - Forever Changes (USA) 1967: Yes, the rediscovery of this neglected album has brought a whole lot of new fans and converted fans into overblown discussions that never happened when this was released. Is this over-hyped? No. It lives up to the hype and then some. The first two Love albums have moments of equal brilliance, but they have some wrong choices or mediocre songs as well. This one has the magical flow from beginning to end. I also like the CD versions with the last single that has two more mind-blowing songs which fit perfectly within this work. Arthur Lee was a genius and I am happy he got to experience some of his renaissance during his last few years on this planet. Seeing him live a few years back and having him coming over to shake my hand was a highlight for me. He was and continues to be of major importance in rock music history.

12. Roy Harper - Stormcock (UK) 1971: Jimmy Page and company tried their best to tell the world how good Roy Harper was, but not enough people listened. Joanna Newsome refuses to let him retire and makes him open shows for her in the UK, so she knows something, too. I hope most of my readers know how brilliant this guy is, although we know that much of the rest of the world is not trying hard enough to find out. Harper's early work is all great and his latter work is at worst, good. Stormcock usually wins out as the favorite and I concur. It's four songs show a bit of variety and there is even some Jimmy Page guitar in there. "Me and my Woman" is an amazing work full with simple moments of voice and guitar to full orchestral moments. Harper sounds huge even with just voice and guitar, but also makes great arrangement decisions here as well. Brilliant.

11. Midwinter - The Waters of Sweet Sorrow (UK) 1973: The UK label Kissing Spell was hunting down lost psyche-folk classics to release and wanted some work from a great band called Stone Angel. While digging through an attic, a Stone Angel member found the tapes from his first band which had not been released. The result was one of the finest psyche-folk albums in history. This was primarily to guitarists and a female vocalist although a couple musicians augment them here. I have described many  albums as moody, contemplative psyche-folk classics, but this one may be the finest. There are more famous, but this one has the magical formula that is only known in the deepest ancestral dreams and cannot be put down in tablature. Dig in and find your spiritual past.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


30. David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust (UK) 1972: This was my starting point with Bowie (aside from songs on the radio) and the concept worked on me. The band is solid, a few of the songs are magical such as my favorite "Moonage Daydream". There are certainly some other Bowie classics in radically different styles to get into (and I do), but this one nails a great sound for 1972 and is still a great listen these days.

29. 13th Floor Elevators - Easter Everywhere (USA) 1967: Tough call choosing between the first album and the second. Even the third is not as far of as some would think, just inconsistent. I went with the second as the first cut "Slip inside this House" is an eight minute masterpiece of flowing psychedelic rock music. There is some nice variety with the lower key "Dust" and plenty of memorable songs all reaching the climax where we are all to leave our bodies behind--a prospect that sounds more enticing as I age.

28. Zombies - Odessey & Oracle (UK) 1968: The Zombies are an interesting band. I've read that they are one of those bands that people forget about and don't associate with the hit songs that are buried in their memory. I have tested that on a few people and found that to be completely accurate. And this final album also had this band getting little respect from their record label who pretty much wanted to bury them. "Time of the Season" became a hit in spite of the label and well after the group had called it quits due to their own internal problems. The enduring legacy is their ability to create such intricate harmonies and accompaniment to very catchy songs. They still have sounded good on recent tours that I have seen--Rod Argent looks like a 39 year old power lifter. This album really covers both sixties pop music and psychedelia in a more balanced way than even the Beatles did.

27. Subway - Subway (France) 1972: This really obscure acid folk album is by a folk duo that also recorded under their names of Mowrey & Watson. This finally was rereleased to much acclaim as the classic it is. Strong haunting acoustic songs with guitars and violins carrying the way along with powerful vocals. There is a delicate touch within and this eventually goes on every psyche-folk record collector's Top Ten list. Irv Mowrey was American and he and his partner live in America now performing separately off and on.

26. Woven Hand - Woven Hand (USA) 2001: When Denver's brilliant 16 Horsepower split up with some musical differences, main songwriter and voice David Eugene Edwards started this loose band which was mostly a solo project with guests. It has solidified into an amazing band with 16Hp's bassist and the drummer from Slim Cessna's Auto Club. I am a massive fan of everything they do, but will put down their first record for this list. There is a great variety of musical styles--Eastern vs. Western, heavy vs. light, etc. The lyrics and singing hit such powerful depths of emotion, that you really have to prepare to listen. I get all tingly just putting a CD into the player which does not happen too often. Their live show is even more intense than their records, but I am using the word intense more as it relates to volume and rock principles. Even Edwards' most quiet songs have the intensity that many associate with Dylan and Tom Waits and the like. At the end of the day, I'll go with Edwards is my favorite living songwriter right now in December 2010.

25. Jethro Tull - Stand Up (UK) 1969: Alright, I have nothing to apologize for here, as I have long given up on the pretentious rock critics that have slammed this band over the decades. Yes, there are some issues with many of their albums and if their style is grating, well too bad. Perhaps a sober front man who just wants to put music out for the fans is a concept lost on all the critics that fawn over the oddballs in rock'n'roll. I liked Jethro Tull when I was young and still listen to them regularly. There are a few good albums to choose from, but I will take their second with some of the obvious hits like "Nothing is Easy" and "Bouree" and lots of great lesser known songs as well. It plays through wonderfully and has a great line-up with Barre, Cornick and Bunker joining Ian Anderson that only did one other album together. As someone asked once while going through my wall of CDs "why do you have so many Jethro Tull albums?" Ummm, cuz they're good?

24. Trees - On the Shore (UK) 1970: Trees was another crucial band for those of us that wanted to uncover all the great folk acts that embraced rock and/or psychedelic music back in the late sixties and seventies. Trees formed at a key moment when there were great things happening, but they helped influence even more that was to come. They had bass, drums and two guitarists that were opposites but loved playing together. One did acoustic 12-string and the other electric leads. They just play and play and play on all songs. There are tons of things happening in a similar manner with that of Mellow Candle, but exclusively guitar driven here. Celia Humphries' magical voice sends the material skyward. This second record is my favorite as it starts so strongly. I particularly love the second song "Murdoch" which seems to come to an ending, when they break into more wailing vocals and guitars to add another half minute of intensity.

23. Haizea - Hontz Gaua (Spain) 1979: Only two records came out of this fantastic Basque band, although their male singer had a few solo records. This one is almost krautrock in style with lots of wild psychedelic work very smoothly integrated to the folk songs. Deep powerful material that is an absolute classic in the psyche-folk world. I still am fully enchanted by the fourteen minute closer on this record.

22. Gwydion - Songs for the Old Religion (USA) 1975: This is a highly debated record in the psyche-folk world. Obviously, I am in the pro camp as I think it is a great realistic example of minimalist pagan music by real people. There is not a lot of instrumental power or psychedelic intricacy, yet the ancient beliefs and powerful songwriting create a great psyche-folk songs here. Gwydion was a key American figure in Pagan circles and died young in 1982. His second record is not as good, but this one still has a huge following, even if some people find it twee.

21. Bob Theil - So Far (UK) 1982: Some consider this the pinnacle of psychedelic folk music. And although, it comes along a bit late, the songs are from the 1970s. Theil really hits emotional highs and lows like few singers with strong guitars going on in the foreground as well. As I continue to age, this record keeps climbing higher on my list as each additional listen surprises me with how strong everything sounds. It is certainly an essential place to go early on in your psyche-folk explorations.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gene Ween - The Blackberry Belles -- Dec 17 2010

The Blackberry Belles - This local trio features acoustic guitar/vocals with keyboards and a tabla/percussionist. They have a grungy Americana folk-rock blues sound for the most part. At their best, they had a noisy garage background with a smooth keyboards and tabla base which flowed forward allowing the guitar and vocals to thrash out a melody. At their worst, they had some twisted folk rock songs. This was a nice set for a band that I believe has not been around terribly long. Over time, they could become something quite good. For now, they are a good band to have on a bill with their energy and creative sounds.
Gene Ween's playing two shows in Boulder
Gene Ween - One of the two founding members of the experimental pop rock band Ween graces us with a solo set featuring voice and acoustic guitar. The club looks slightly more than half full and I think this is the largest show I have ever seen where there is no merchandise table. Which I guess means that even though Ween has promised an album for some time, they may actually follow through on it. And this gig is just something for Gene to do while Ween album progress goes slowly onward. I have only heard a couple of songs and I am assuming much of this set was from the Ween catalogue. There were plenty of fans that greeted some of the songs with quite a bit of fanfare. The guitar playing is adequate, the songs are catchy and his voice is what really sells the set. It somewhere between Frank Black and Alasdair Roberts I think. He uses it well to bend the notes into a psyche-pop feeling that is tough to capture with such light instrumentation. I would prefer something fuller, but this is not a bad experience at all. He seems happy enough and is all smiles at the reception (reminding me of the Columbus legend, Ron House). Or maybe he is just stoned? The song after I wrote that note was all about being blissfully stoned, so I think one thing lead to another here before the show. Good effort, well received. Nice night at the Black Cat.

Quote of the Night: Gene Ween.... "I wrote the song for "Chocolate" but it didn't get used. That's ok because it is all chocolate anyway."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

S. Carey - White Hinterlands -- Rock'n'Roll Hotel - Dec 14 2010

White Hinterlands - We begin with a male/female duo. He plays various electronic boxes and equipment creating various drumbeats, squawks and rhythms. She plays a keyboard, ukulele and sings. There are looped vocals and plenty of the usual electronic trickery at work. I am slow to grasp their output as I hear some really good vocals at work, but don't find the melodies and overall sound engaging. To be fair, that is par for the course with electronic music and myself. They stop a song because of some unwanted buzz which I did not notice as it is hard to tell what is wanted and not wanted in this genre. However... as the set went on, I did find myself enjoying the set more. There was a jazz quality and the vocal work was up front, fairly clean and of good quality. And it was nice to see the full S. Carey lineup join in on the closer. It was a quiet, cold night, but the set went over well enough with the growing crowd.
Photo by Cameron Witting
S. Carey - I reviewed the debut album of Bon Iver's drummer in the latest issue of Folkworld. I found it to be fascinating and it was my favorite of the original Bon Iver music and the Gayngs offshoot. Mr. Carey arrived playing keyboards, floor tom and guitar while doing the lead vocals. He was ably backed with a drummer/keyboardist, guitarist, bassist (acoustic and electric), and viola/guitar. They have a lovely restrained indie pop sound that is not bouncy pop, but rather accessible dreamy captivating simple music. There is a light psyche edge which goes a bit wild during one fun song where they have a bit of a freak-out ending (which they said they enjoyed to no one's surprise). They did much of their album and finished with a song by an interesting German band Notwist (Consequences) with White Hinterlands' vocalist. There was a nice crowd tonight that braved the cold and was warmed by this lovely music. It is always a pleasure to see intriguing and subdued music like this draw people into its world.

Quote of the Night: From the bass player to the soundman... "Could he have less vocals and less scarf?" as the viola player had a scarf that was at least 3 feet taller than he was.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bert Jansch - Pegi Young & the Survivors -- Jammin Java - Dec 13 2010

Pegi Young & the Survivors - A really nice pairing tonight which makes sense as Bert Jansch is fresh off an arena opening stint for Pegi's husband, Neil. Pegi has been Neil's backup singer over the years and has an interesting biography (in the link above) that is worth a read as it shows her present rise into focusing on her songs and her music. This set was excellent. She plays acoustic guitar and keyboards on one track. Her band has guitar, bass, drums and the legendary Spooner Oldham on keyboards. Another guy jumps in on sax and harmonica for the last couple of songs. The set began as kind of a California country rock set which was decent, but not my strongest area of interest. What turned it around for me that (not unlike her husband) her songs began to move into a few different genres such as heavier rock, Americana and even smoky lounge jazz. I really liked the double keyboards song. But the whole set rose to nice heights with her nice direct singing and strong supporting musicians. This was a nice treat and was worth the price of admission itself.

Bert Jansch - If I am willing to fly to London to see Bert in his reunited Pentangle, then I am certainly up for a road trip to Vienna to see him tonight (although the traffic out of DC even at 3:30pm had me questioning this). It was nice to see so many people joined me as the room was full which really is not surprising due to the quality of tonight's lineup. Bert is doing his straight up solo show with just himself a mic and an acoustic guitar. He has always been one of the finest writers of all the great UK based finger style guitarists in the folk-blues circuit beginning in the early sixties. His distinctive voice and eclectic guitar style also contribute greatly to his excellent reputation. Even with his great original songs, he always plays favorite traditional tunes and other a few from other writers. He did two Jackson C. Frank songs tonight, the classic "Blues Run the Game" and the brilliant "My Name is Carnival". He asked if we knew Frank and about four of us answered yes (unlike when he asked about Pete Dockery was it? No one said a word). I saw Frank about six months before he died in 1999 and he certainly showed the decline he had in life. His one album is worth getting, so do look into that. Jansch did his usual great job with the Frank songs as well as Dominic Behan's "Old Triangle" (also done by the Pogues) and "Rosemary Lane". He did well with some of his classics like "It Don't Bother Me" and "A Woman Like You", although the latter did show the natural signs of an aging voice. An instrumental tune went over well with the crowd and was the favorite of at least one member of the audience. He still has the great touch on guitar and can really pull out fantastic notes with deceptive ease. Thankfully, he has gotten by some challenging health issues of his own and is able to put on a nice display of his talents. The crowd was very thankful of that tonight.

Quote of the Night: "Oh but that was my favorite..." from the audience after Bert called an audible after a couple of measures of his closing number by saying "Let's change this, it's my prerogative."

Sunday, December 12, 2010


40. Funkadelic - Maggot Brain (USA) 1970: George Clinton was truly a crazed genius and yes, crazy like a fox. By combining bands and musical forms, he confounded the music business as much as he confounded music fans with the cross genre music he presented. Loads of R&B and soul mixed with metal and hard rock in brilliant ways that are even more unique than Hendrix, let alone Rare Earth or Joe Cocker. "Super Stupid" is masterful and "Maggot Brain" is one of the best guitar passages by the late great Eddie Hazel.

39. Steeleye Span - Pleased to Meet the King (UK) 1969: Ashley Hutchings contributed much of what came to become folkrock with his efforts in Fairport Convention (See entry #37 below). When he wanted to go further he formed this band before heading off to various Albion Band incarnations. Steeleye went through many different versions but this one was the most fun for me. It features Martin Carthy playing electric guitar in a very odd manner. It has the great voices of Prior and Hart and fabulous haunting traditional folk tunes arranged in a great modern style. Any of the early albums are worth a listen, but this is the steadiest. And the closing notes are impossible to forget.

38. Stiff Little Fingers - The Peel Sessions (Northern Ireland) 1989: One of the finest punk bands from the UK scene and has only slowly gotten their due. Jake Burns is a fabulous songwriter and front man with gutsy guitar and an intense voice. The early albums are good with "Inflammable Material" being the one to grab. However, I like this Peel set as it has some of the fine songs from the first couple of years. Peel Sessions were studio works with limited overdubbing, so it was quality, vibrant live like recordings. SLF does great with this format and really delivers the heartfelt music as good as they have done, short of their brilliant live sets I have seen. A hugely influential band for our little Dayton, Ohio punk scene.

37. Fairport Convention - Liege Lief (UK): As mentioned above, Ashley Hutchings wanted to do a fully themed folk rock album. Fairport had certainly done that at times on previous albums, but this was successful in its design and as the stand alone great album of their long career. They did fantastic versions of old poems and songs like "Matty Groves" and "Tam Lin". Also, they wrote songs that fit this style with Richard Thompson's "Crazy Man Michael" being a classic for all ages. Add Sandy Denny's glorious voice, and you have an album that still gets critical plaudits from many continents.

36. Amon Duul II - Yeti (Germany) 1970: Krautrock is loosely defined genre, perhaps even lazy, but do not ignore the bands lumped there. This one is perhaps my favorite. Really, you can call them a psychedelic rock band that have experimental moves, but a great rock structure. They have exotic instruments like violins, male and female vocals, long and short songs, and lots of variety. Exciting music that is surprisingly accessible, yet with lots going on to explore in subsequent listening. I think this is the point of my list where this album and all subsequent albums are 100% interesting to me from the beginning note until the end.

35. The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground & Nico (USA) 1967: I really don't need to say much about this album as it started as slowly as any album on this list and has already risen to massive heights. Just when I think it is overrated, I listen to it again, remind myself what else was going on at this time and regain respect for Lou Reed and company. What was cool about this for me was how a song like "Sunday Morning" was completely unimportant to me when I listened to it in the seventies, but now is one of my favorites. And if you ever get a chance to see Richie Unterberger's mixed media lecture on this band, go. Your respect and pleasure with this music will only be enhanced.

34. Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures (UK) 1979: Another essential piece of post punk arrived from Manchester in 1979. This band helped create a label which lead to a major scene and morphed into other varieties of music. But I will always put this one at the top of anything from Manchester (along with the Buzzcocks). Ian Curtis and company had some of the quietest most intense songs out there and Martin Hannett was amazing with his production techniques that created so much space in the music. There is always so much to listen to on this album and all the cuts are amazing and best heard in the dark, late at night.

33. The Damned - Machine Gun Etiquette (UK) 1979: It was a tough call for me on whether to include the Damned's first album with Brian James on guitar or the reconstituted Damned with Captain Sensible on guitar for this third album. I went with this as the songs are really catchy and timeless. Clearly, they are out of punk, but fit in mainstream rock as well. Great energy and sense of humor prevail throughout. And instead of Stooges cover on the first, we get the MC5 this time around. You really can't go wrong with either album (but do not start with the second or you will wonder what I am talking about).

32. Dead Can Dance - Aion (Australia) 1990: I mentioned in the Boiled in Lead review that I wished I had been able to harness by visions into concrete musical forms either into their band or one other band. Well, this is the other band. This duo combined classical music, ancient music and gothic rock forms into a haunting and powerful soaring music. This one is my favorite as it goes back deep into pre-Renaissance forms. It's no surprise that you can hear Lisa Gerrard on many soundtracks including her music on "Black Swan".

31. Pererin - Haul ar yr Eira (Wales) 1980: This Welsh band made a few magical progressive folk rock albums with this being the classic. The male/female vocals are pure and ethereal while the electric guitar has a delicate bite as it moves above the rapid rhythm section. This music moves and is extremely moving. The light touch they employ is really unique for something that has so much inner strength apparent.

Government Issue - The Goons - Set to Explode -- Black Cat - Dec 11 2010

Set to Explode - This is harDCore done simply and effectively. Nothing out of control here and the DC sound is evident with a certain tunefulness present much of the time. It is a four-piece with one guitar. My only gripe would be that the songs did not come out fast and furious. Although delays were needed late in this short set as guest musicians popped up as we were treated to a Black Market Baby song "Drunk and Disorderly" and then two more guests (Kenny and Mike) popped up to do a couple of Marginal Man songs. This is quite nostalgic for me as I was at both bands farewell shows when I lived in DC from 87-88 (not counting the numerous reunion shows). Quick little warm-up for this crowded, sold out room.

The Goons - A latter day harDCore punk band that had a good long run in DC also did a last show in 2006. But like Michael Meyers and Terry Funk, nothing stays dead or retired forever. So the Goons were back and in good form tonight. They have a two guitar attack with a vocalist, although thanks to broken strings, the attack went down to one guitar on a couple of occasions. The singer can still get lots of words into each measure, although the music does leave enough room for hooks to come through as was the case with most harDCore acts. This was a good set that had the crowd rocking, but may have been a tad long at 55 minutes. But its Saturday night, so what the hey.
Photo of Government Issue
Government Issue - Ah, December. Last year it brought Scream back to us. This year, it is Government Issue who also was back in 2007 as Government Reissue for a fun show. This was the final and most stable lineup (also the best) in complete form with Stabb on vocals, Lyle on guitar, Robbins on bass, and Moffet on drums. This band's sound was never an easy fit in punk/hardcore, yet was always an obvious and important punk band. That was to their credit as they combined originality with comfortable genre styles (several genres beyond punk) for a great run of records and live shows. And did they ever sample those songs tonight. I counted 38 of them and I enjoyed every one of them. The band sounded like they do this 6 nights a week. Everyone was in good form and the crowd was into it with lots of help on the choruses. Stabb was his usual energetic self and it looked like the band was having as much fun as the crowd. Musically, this material is still fresh and vibrant, especially the latter day material that these four guys wrote and played. Hopefully, this is not the last.

Set list: Teenager is a Box/Strange Wine/Fun and Games/Written Word/Hear the Scream/Party Line/Broken Mirror/Hall of Fame1+2/Jaded Eyes/Say Something/Blending In/Understand/Caring Line/Plain to See/4-Wall Hermit/Don't Bother Me(Bad Brains)/Organized Sports/It Begins Now/Asshole/Where You Live/They Know/Puppet/Familiar/Beyond/Man in a Trap/Forever/Wishing/Public Stage/Hour of One/Time To Escape... (whew) Encores: Sheer Terror/GI/Vanity Fair/Fahionite/These Boots are Made for Walking

Quote of the Night: Nothing fancy tonight, just that I happily accept the Goons dedication... "This is dedicated to all the geezers out there."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Carol Bui - Kristeen Young - Lucia Lucia -- Black Cat - Dec 8 2010

Lucia Lucia - A female vocalist/guitarist named Mary is supported by three guys initialed J.M. somehow who do the guitar/bass/drums bit. The music is light rock sometimes with some bite, other times more of a fey singer/songwriter variety. It is decent although it is quite rough around the edges. Only a couple of songs grabbed me, but it was all listenable. The crowd talked the singer into doing a "library song" which covers her day job activities. It was amusing and was well received to the point I thought it was the best cut of the night. Listening to their free CD as I write this, I am finding some nice songs. We'll see what the future holds here.

Kristeen Young - A one-woman act where she sang all songs and rotated between playing keyboards or singing in front of her programmed backing. Kind of like an Arri Up/Dresden Dolls sort of attitude and sound (sound more like the latter). Decent drum programming which usually is a turn off for me. Maybe there is some Diamanda Galas in here, too, although I haven't heard her in decades, so that's just a cliched guess. Good energy and the crowd was receptive enough. I enjoyed it, even if Ms. Young thought she was being screwed on the volume levels.

Carol Bui - The last time I saw Ms. Bui, she was a DC area resident opening for Joan as Policewoman. She was great, but was moving to the state of Washington. Fortunately, she has graced us with another show and still has the great songs and style. She had Mary from Lucia Lucia helping on vocals and one of the J.M.'s on drums. She added a cellist and bass player keeping the guitar duties to herself. The sound was solid rock with some nice garage pop sensibilities, but with a sense of toughness. There was a percussion and bass song that had me picturing Sheila Chandra singing a song from PiL's Metal Box album. Both vocals and music were strong throughout and she had enough fans to make this a good little show. I hope she keeps DC a part of her travels in the future.

Quote of the Night: "I know you have the power. Why are you keeping it from me?" Would have been more profound if had not been a simple comment from Ms. Young directed to the sound man.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Sword - Karma to Burn - Mount Carmel -- 9:30 Club - Dec 6 2010

Mount Carmel - This classic power trio hails from Columbus, Ohio, a place I lived for a stretch (but really did not call home). They do the basic blues rock that is well mined territory in the Cream/Blue Cheer style. The sound ends up being memorable only in the Savoy Brown category for me. Nothing terribly new here. But, it was well played and they banged it out nicely for just under a half hour. So, on a cold, cold night, the crowd was sufficiently warmed.

Karma to Burn - I had to make sure I didn't combine these bands into Mount Karma and Caramel to Burn which could make just as much sense. Well, maybe not as this band's incredible blasts of psyche rock did prove they had plenty of karma to burn. Really good sludgy opening caught my attention and held it through a couple of instrumentals before some vocals kicked in on the third song (vocals were used lightly, like Kinski). There were two guitars going and they kept up a good psyche rock roar that had metal touches, but stayed out of a simple category. I was hearing some Queens of the Stone Age or Kyuss along with Black Mountain and even some instrumental fury of the Monomen. Plenty of classic psyche moves, but a total modern hip metal feel to it all. By the middle of the set I thought they were brilliant, although they did taper off a bit in my mind. Still, a powerful winning set by an interesting band.
photo by Sandy Carson
The Sword - There was a modest crowd tonight with the stage pushed forward. This was a rescheduled show as the band had to replace their drummer and took a few weeks to get that together. That worked for me as I could not make the previous show and I was in the mood for a smart and talented metal band. I have seen these guys in Denver and at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel. Since they have opened all over the world for Metallica, they have grown their fanbase enough to hit the bigger clubs which they richly deserve. They have plenty of metal chops for metalheads everywhere but they have a great rock sensibility and tunefulness for us border walkers. One key is that they do real world vocals which I believe kind of stems from Metallica where the best singer of the instrumentalists of a band sings in a natural voice, as opposed to trying to find the best Robert Plante/Ozzy?Rob Halford clone they can find. Nothing wrong with those great singers and if you can find one that doesn't sound second-rate, go for it. But it is nice change to see a vocalist here that sounds closer to Ronnie van Zant than Ronnie James Dio. The set of just over an hour was great tonight and really built in drama and power. the new drummer seemed to be locked into the band as well as you would want. The stage patter was direct and natural and there just is not any pretension with this band's approach. A deserving success on all levels.

Quote of the Night: From the Sword... "Sorry for being late." What? You started at 10:03, only 3 minutes after the posted time? Oh, you mean a few weeks late. Duh. A little slow tonight on my end. It may have affected attendance a bit, but this is a steadily growing band that a few hiccups like this hopefully will not slow down.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


50. King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King (UK) 1969: I have always used King Crimson as the band to recommend to people who think they don't like progressive rock. Crimson had a great variety of styles from album to album and sometimes within. There is a lot of variety here from the chaos of 21st Century Schizoid Man to the quiet of I Talk to the Wind with the rest in between somewhere. And there early use of the mellotron makes this a progressive must. "Red" is considered the other classic, but start here at the beginning and go as far as you want.

49. Voice of the Seven Woods - Voice of the Seven Woods (UK) 2007: Rick Tomlinson came out with this beauty a few years back and now calls his band Voice of Seven Thunders whose album is also excellent. It is a bit heavier than this debut which has a wonderful psychedelic mix of rockers, mood pieces and folk. I choose this one because of the haunting "Silver Morning Branches" which is one of my favorite psyche-folk cuts of all-time, and not too many people can do them like this in the 21st century.

48. Chimera - Obstakel (Netherlands) 1981: This Netherlands folk-rock band had two lovely albums that are reasonably well known there, but have not even excited the record collectors as much as some other fine acts like Deirdre. Still, no CD releases, there are some copies floating around that are not ridiculously pricey. If you like Kong Lavring, Steeleye Span, Folque, Spriguns and the rest, you owe yourself a treat with this record.

47. Sixteen Horsepower - Sackcloth 'n' Ashes (USA) 1995: I lived in Colorado for roughly 18 years (and yes those mountain snows were rough). There were always a few good bands around but David Eugene Edwards and company hit on a style that became known as the Denver Sound. It was pretty much Appalachian tunes rocked up a bit with failed fire and brimstone lyrics which dug deep and hung darkly. Chilling, hypnotic power evident in so many of these songs. Like a few of my other favorites coming up later on the list, Europe understood this band in far greater numbers than did America. Such a shame, because these guys should have been grabbing top chart positions.

46. Emtidi - Emtidi (Germany) 1970: A male/female German and Canadian duo put out two albums that had significant differences. Most people rave about the second album, "Saat" with its long dreamy psyche-progressive songs. It is excellent and worthy of listen but I prefer the more psyche-folk debut with shorter songs that are powerfully sung with strong resonating acoustic guitar and even the occasional psyche jam. Fit & Limo and many more recent artists certainly have taken note of this magical band.

45. Ramones - Road to Ruin (USA) 1978: Well, it is pretty hard to leave out the Ramones considering how important punk rock was to me. I first remember taping their Don Kirshner Rock Concert tv appearance (!) with my brother and a cheap tape recorder trying to wake up our parents. It was great stuff and we eventually squirreled away money to get the albums. The live tours through Dayton and Cincinnati were the real prize as they were amazing back when music needed their mighty kick in the ass. People have written books about this, so I will just head to this fourth album which had a great mix of songs and a bit more sophistication in the production. The first four are all essential and there's plenty of good work scattered about after that.

44. Mark Fry - Dreaming of Alice (UK) 1972: I may have this a bit high in terms of importance to the psyche-folk scene, but I just never stop playing it. Pretty much the classic acoustic sounds with loads of sitar, flute, spacey vocals, psyche themes and embellishments. And there is only this album from Mark Fry, which has thankfully been re-released.

43. Radiohead - OK, Computer (UK) 1997: I did not pick up on this one early and then when critics proclaimed this as one of the most important albums of all time, I kind of felt I better give it a listen. As usual, when something is hyped, my initial listens were filled with "what's the big deal?" in my thoughts. It took several listens to break down the walls I build against the hype. I now see the amazing pop construction of some of the songs on this album. "Karma Police" is still one of the most stunning songs in my huge record collection. So listen to the hype, the critics got this one right.

42. Bread Love and Dreams - Amaryllis (UK) 1972: The third and final album of this male/female folk duo named after a Gina Lollabrigida comedy. The first two albums were nice enough, but they went crazy on this finale with cool psyche cover art and more importantly, the addition of Pentangle's rhythm section. Side A is a continuous song cycle which is the pinnacle of their work and one of the classics of the psyche-folk genre (with a progressive pacing at times).

41. The Moody Blues - In Search of the Lost Chord (UK) 1968: My live review of this band including my defense of their truly essential early work was one of my most read entries. There are a number of us who while listening to punk rock, never gave up our Moody Blues moments. There was no question of them making the list, it was only whether to do this album or the underrated "To Our Children's Children's Children". This one gets the edge, but it really does not matter to me. The amazing "House of Four Doors" is here and the video which I linked was mesmerizing enough that I played it twice through before writing this. There are tons of psyche moves amidst the progressive in their early works and they really should be given a re-listen for open minded music fanatics. And of course, the mellotron is all over the record.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Silver Liners - We Were Pirates - The Electric 11s - Brittany Jean -- Rock'n'Roll Hotel - Dec 3 3010

Brittany Jean - She plays acoustic and sings with a drummer and a guy who switches between electric guitar and bass. The drummer is a powerhouse, some might say too much at times, but not me. Between that and the electric guitar and bass, this is far from a nice little folk set. The vocals are good and do not lapse into being overly cute or precocious. The strength is evident and also does not go too far in that direction. The first song is excellent with great driving spirit. The rest of the set is solid with some songs having a little more bite to them. This is a nice set of music that can fit on many bills that cater to rock, folk, or Americana.

The Electric 11s - Here's a four-piece with a couple of guitars. One guitar sings all leads save one, although everyone else joins in for lots of thick choral work. The sound is far more old-school rock than modern indie rock, although there's a bit of merging at times. The lead guitarist can rock out as good as you would want and everyone can play pretty well. The songs just don't quite have the depth and attraction for me. They mentioned a brand new song called "January" I think and said it was kind of different. I guess by different, they meant really good as I thought it was the best cut of the night. Hopefully they will continue in this vein and become something quite good. There still will be room for that cover of "Whole Lotta Rosie" if they like.

We Were Pirates - A second viewing for me of this four-piece. I liked them before and I think I liked them even more this time. They have a pop-rock approach with vocals that head along toward a smooth pop line, yet with a deep undercurrent of gutsy indie rock below. Crunching guitars and a solid rhythm section will excite heavy rock fans, yet the songs will be catchy for a variety of pop and indie rock fans. This is a nice approach and this band has it together. Certainly worth future viewings for yours truly.

The Silver Liners - A keyboardist joins the 4-piece look made popular tonight. These guys had wonderful pop-rock songs that reminded me of a power-pop new wave rock approach made by some sort of conglmeration of the Dickies, the Zeros and Wazmo Nariz. Great stuff if there are hooks and there were loads of 'em. The keyboards weren't always high enough and a farfisa would have really sent me in orbit, but the sound was still great. The singer was fine and looked a bit like Daniel Stern, Jr. if there were such a person. Impressive set that had the decent sized crowd tonight rocking out (crowd was good all night). I will be queuing up for their next show if at all possible.

Quote of the Night: From some guy behind me "It was awesome" repeated 11 times in a 40 second period by my count. To be fair he did say "It was so awesome" a couple of times. I never heard what it was, but it seemed like it was more like a taco salad rather than a Pixies reunion.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Peter Hook presents "Unknown Pleasures" --9:30 Club - Dec 1 2010

Peter Hook presents "Unknown Pleasures" - The show begins with a short documentary on the Manchester scene focused on Joy Division and New Order. It is to the point, featuring a few interesting nuggets of information and gets the crowd ready for the early Manchester sounds to come. Hook hits the stage with a drummer, keyboard/backup vocalist, guitarist, and a second bassist. Quickly it is clear that Hook plays some bass, but not while singing the vocals. The band has worked this out well and it sort of proves a point he made in the film that Bernard Sumner had to do the vocals for New Order as his guitar worked around the vocals and that he (Hook) and Morris (drums) could not sing and play at the same time. Anyway, it was no surprise that the band was good and that they created the Joy Division sound rather well. I was a bit creeped out listening to all this classic material with the spectre of Ian Curtis' suicide hanging over it all. But then I thought that even if the original band was here playing this music, how less creepy would it be? This is deep music designed to make listeners uncomfortable or disturbed in some individual manner depending on their psyche. By set's end, I had not resolved this conundrum. And today? Well, I am glad I went to hear this music as I was a major fan back when it came out. Hook's vocal delivery was decent, although the keyboardist helped with some of the higher points. He mentioned how interesting it was playing again after doing a lot of DJ work. He also said he was a bit nervous. I thought he was fine, although vocally it was a bit like playing your talented center back as your play-making midfielder. It will work, but it will be rough in spots (this point dedicated to Man U or City followers everywhere). The set was excellent as it focused on early material (Warsaw even!) and then did the album in order. The crowd was quite subdued although they were clearly into the show. It is hard to be a screaming fan listening to Joy Division. A fascinating night where I will not argue against anyone's reaction. Like the music of Joy Division, it is quite personal.

Set List: No Love Lost/Leaders of Men/Glass/Digital/10 songs of Unknown Pleasures in order.  Encores: Warsaw/Transmission/Love Will Tear Us Apart

Quote of the Night:  Hook - "Wrong time zone" after someone shouted out something from Closer (or hopefully not New Order).