Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Landscapes open and the World is Mine

The Top Ten of 'Thanks To...' List

DC ROCK LIVE comes to a close after eight fun filled years of covering the DC Live scene and music from around the world. It has been a blast and I will miss it terribly. But I am getting a bit too old for this and I think my run is complete, so it is time to move into some other activities. It all started as a simple communication device for my friends, an experiment in new media, and a vehicle to get me back in to the music scene full time after my early retirement. The results are all there to be read and are there forever as just a small part of the history of some of the things that were going on in DC for the past eight years. And you can continue to write me at dcrocklive@yahoo.com

Before I go, it is time for the thanks section, which include some of my influences as well as the people that were a big help to keeping me going for so long.
Raymond Chandler - One of my favorite writers is also an inspiration for laying out a career path that I have come close to following. He had a varied career that included bookkeeping before he sold his first story at age 44. His first novel came out at age 50. While my writing can’t hold a candle to his, I probably had a better accounting career than he did. He was a big influence as I was nearing retirement, showing the way to reinventing yourself with a complete change of course. Now, on to yet another change.
John Peel - During the punk years, those of us in the USA kept hearing of this great BBC DJ who played all the great music we could never get on our radio stations. He also recorded bands in a studio, which ended up on air and then as future releases that either supplemented or even surpassed other recordings by the many, many bands who passed through. He also had a knack of finding brilliant bands from the 1960s like the Misunderstood to bands well beyond punk. I was fortunate enough to listen to him via the internet for some of his last shows. Even after age 60, he was still traveling hours away to attend small club shows, and bringing back demos and 7” records from all kinds of unknown bands to play on the air. So along with his taste, his continued dogged searching out for new and exciting music was quite the inspiration.
Lester Bangs - Lester was pretty much always my favorite music critic growing up as he had a zany in your face style that set a unique tone in rock criticism. Many other critics of old seem really dated and overly pompous, but Lester is still fun to read. He was crazy, not always right, but always fun and so devoted to some really great bands. I will never try to write like he did as it would be so pale and phony. But hopefully his spirit has been around as I pounded on the keyboard.
Michael Musto - The Village Voice was a great place to pick up on a lot of what was happening in the arts. I subscribed to it from 1977 through some time in the 1990s. While I was able to read Lester Bangs, Robert Christgau, Andrew Sarris, and many more, Michael Musto gave me additional inspiration for my work here. Musto was the man about town, covering all the parties and happenings in NYC. He once said he had between 10 and 20 daily invites for events to attend and generally hit about seven of them each and every day and night. My schedule once had me covering over 200 shows in one year, along with about 500 album reviews. I tried to think of Musto when I was feeling beleaguered and worn.
James Burke - There were two television series on science that were hugely influential for me. ‘“The Day the Universe Changed’ and ‘Connections’ were both conceived and hosted by James Burke, an Irishman who had an interesting take on science. His thesis was connecting seemingly unrelated thoughts and changes over centuries that took on odd patterns and journeys before connecting with other innovations to create further invention. He stretched things well beyond the obvious linear connections and offered great stories that opened up my mind in new ways. At times I could sense these connections in music and tried to connect the music I was hearing with the broader history of rock music. Sure, some of the bands weren’t born when one key band I knew of operated, and the band may never have even heard them, but the connection was there.

Old Music Friends - When I started getting active again in the live scene a few years before the blog, I was struggling to remember all the bands to talk about when I talked to a handful of old music friends. Well the blog was one way for us to keep track. And it worked with mixed results, but also reconnected me with older friends that I had lost touch with. My friends were a big help in keeping things going. My friend since high school, Dave in Chicago, read every article and helped me clear up typos in my interviews. My friends in the Dayton music scene enjoyed reconnecting with me as we relived some of the great musical memories of the scene. Music was important growing up and we are all still growing.

Music Writers - I am very thankful to Kyle Schmitt and John Miller who helped cover shows and review records allowing me to keep the website’s content high and smart, while allowing me to take some needed nights off. Thanks guys, you kept it all going. Also, I reconnected with Jeff Wilson, a friend from my college years (1981 grad-Miami University). We did a fanzine together in 1980 and 1981, when that was a great vehicle for keeping the punk scene vibrant, as well as any artistic scene that didn’t get main stream coverage. Jeff and I had lost touch for a few decades and were delighted to get back together and find that we were both still writing about music 35 years on, as he is music editor for ‘The Absolute Sound’ as well as a blogger. So hopefully Kyle and John will be writing decades from now.

PR Reps - Aside from leaving a few business cards around town, I never really did any advertising or self promotion (as I probably should of). Fortunately hundreds of PR reps found me and provided lots of great opportunities to cover their clients from the smallest clubs to the largest pavilions. They provided interview opportunities with all kinds of great artists, including ridiculously large artists that I have been a fan of for 40 years. The Reps are too numerous to name and I’m trying to write the many that i have personally gotten to know through the blog. It is taking some time. I will miss being a part of all the action and going through the 70-100 daily emails.

Clubs - The clubs are a mixed bag. They are not the most comfortable places for me, both with my back issues and the fact that I haven’t had alcohol since June, 1983. But there are many great clubs around town that showcase outstanding local talent and touring musicians. Some of the staff and sound crews were very helpful over the years in helping me with my coverage. Specifically, the DC9, Rock’n’Roll Hotel, Velvet Lounge, the Hamilton, and Tree House Lounge have been especially helpful and supportive of my efforts. But there are some great people at the other clubs, too, and I will miss all of them.

Bands - And of course, where would I be without all the great bands. The one thing that I feel particularly stupid about, was how important my blog could be for the smaller local bands on the scene. They aren’t exactly going to get the big media out for their Velvet Lounge show in front of 25 people, so they were quite happy there was someone like me to do so. I should have known this would happen after having been so active in the late 70s early 80s punk scene. I hope I helped, even if I felt that there is only so much those of us in the smaller media can do. Fortunately, there are many music fans that know what bands go through and are happy to attend their show, visit their merch tables, and support them through word of mouth. And now as a fan, I hope I can go back to the simple pleasures of going to shows and continuing to support bands as best I can in new or very old ways.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Opeth - The Sword -- Radio City Music Hall - Oct 1 2016

The Sword - Before getting to the Sword, a band I have seen and enjoyed many times, I am first impressed by my initial visit to this New York City landmark, built in 1932. It is huge, attractive, comfortable, and built for sound. It is a little odd seeing a band who headlines the Rock'n'Roll Hotel on such a huge stage, but it is hardly the first time for them, as they have opened for Metallica on a full tour. So they handle it well. And it is fitting that they are with Opeth on this tour, as the Sword is one of those metal bands for smart music fans. Insiders and critics love them, and they show a large crowd still filing in exactly why tonight.

It is simply great songwriting, staight forward playing, with fine dexterity in the field of metal. Yet you can tell these guys could play a variety of styles, but they have chosen metal. They don't pander to the genre as vocals are clear and direct with solid rock moves throughout the four members. The bass player adds some synth moves ala Geddy Lee, which gives more depth to their already full sound. They are connecting tonight with me and with the crowd, who gives them a strong ovation at set's end.
Opeth - I noticed some time ago that one of my favorite bands was planning to tour their new album, 'Sorceress', with three additional and special shows. When they visit the Sydney Opera House, London's Wembley Arena, and Radio City Music Hall, they promised to add a lengthier set where they would play their new stuff and old favorites first and then play a special set of songs from the twin releases 'Deliverance' and 'Damnation'. That sounded too good to pass up, especially with a quick all night train trip home, so off to NYC I go.

The show felt special in such a classic venue, and Opeth is a band that has earned the best. What mostly began as a death metal act with some very good progressive moves, has now turned into a full on progressive band blending in many exciting genres, who can still churn out some of the most creative metal music out there. The compositional qualities and sharp playing are extraordinary and you could hear every note of their approach tonight. The set list was great with 16 full songs (four more than in DC the previous night) including a balance of new material and favorites (of mine and the crowd). Then they played songs they haven't played in decades including a debut of 'By the Pain I See in Others'. You won't be getting that anywhere but here, Sydney, and London.

Michael Åkerfeldt was his usual funny engaging self, talking plenty, despite promising not to talk as much. Most interesting were his Damnation/Deliverance intros where he said the song wasn't one of his favorites. He said that about a couple, although one he admitted thinks sounds pretty good now that they are playing it. The crowd was enthusiastic but respectful of each other, the building, and certainly the band. So the stars aligned tonight and gave me a great concert to see off my blog. I will have one more post in a couple days. But tonight belonged to Opeth and I was glad to be there.


This is pop punk that is assertive enough to not be overly poppy to all but the hardened element of the scene. Or so it sounds to me. The pop component was always there in the early days of punk, but the volume and tempo was ratcheted up as is the case here. The female vocals are just tough enough while maintaining an attractive grasp of the melody and just enough range. There are some fine songs here, but a few more casual entries as well. It is more about the overall approach, which when it connects more often than not, it s a good one.

You can see the live set at the Black Cat on October 11th.

Songs to start with:

Keep on Keepin’ on - The opener takes me back to the poppier punk sounds of Penetration and other alliterative analogies.

Sleepwalking - Nice melodic hook smoothly delivered with driving rock backing.

Sour Candy - Sounds like ’Teenage Kicks’ by the Undertones, which is a good thing.

This is a lovely folk outing with delicate but firm female vocals on top of well played acoustic guitar. There are some subtle tones and shapes beyond the core, which is always a plus. But the voice, guitar, and songwriting are all top notch and easily carry the listener through to the end—at least for folk fans. You sense Americana, but it is a more universal than that, but it definitely feels more homegrown than UK based. This was a pleasure that I will be repeating often.

Songs to start with:

In a Vision or in None - The opening cut connects deep in its own quiet way.

Tones and Shapes - The tones are welcoming and the shapes are smooth and comforting.

Full Moon Pilgrim - The male and female harmonies are exquisite and the guitar line is mesmerizing.

This local band showed a great handle on garage based rock’n’roll when I witnessed them on stage. But now onward to the studio and see what they come up with. Unsurprisingly, they still have all the great rock moves that seem to pull from many generations of rock music. They have a way with a hook, which makes it all easy to work off of. And the full band shows off some fine moves with guitars carrying the way. The vocals are also well done with sharp catchy harmonies at all the right moments. I would say this is thoughtful music, but there is more a sense of fun about it all that really defines it more accurately. Cut loose with the Chess Club Romeos and let them hook you in.

Songs to start with:

We’re Not Shittin’ - The opener is catchy with attractively sneering vocals and establishes the rock mentality (with purpose as the title foretells).

Desperate Favors - There are interesting bass and guitar contrasts and some nice organ work. Oh and a great chorus.

Tumbleweeds - Spirited romp with a bouncy rhythm.

Deep, dark and quiet. That covers a few excellent crooning performers in recent years such as Richard Buckner, John Grant, or Mark Lanegan.  But unlike some of those artists, this is not quite as unrelentingly dark, as there is quite a bit of optimism in some of the songs. And there is also a lush full band rock sound that becomes increasing important as the songs slowly unfold on this album. In fact this nearly becomes a shoegaze album about half way through, but never quite there either. Ultimately it has plenty of interesting themes and musical combinations to make for a fun listening experience.

Songs to start with:

Riding on Your Love - Rich sound, full voice, a lovely cut.

Borderland State - A rich sound that has a shoegaze feeling combined with jangly folk (that doesn’t happen often).

Finding Roxanne - Fine British styled pop in the manner of less heavy songs of Jesus & Marychain.

Fresh indeed, as this psychedelic outfit glows with a freshness during the finer spots on this album. They can drone or have rhythms that take you to Africa merged with post punk guitars. The introspective moments help define the sharper harder songs and create a vibrant expansive musical world. There are some songs that go off in directions that I would rather have been reined in (Three-Way Mirror) but the band gets full marks for deviating from the safe formulas that even psychedelic music has.

Songs to start with:

Olinda - The opener has such a slow build, it perplexes you for several minutes wondering which way this band will go. Ultimately, it satisfies.

Mass Graves_Dance Caves - Vocals creep into the mix as do jagged guitars and bubbly rhythms.

Eat Me in St. Louis - I just wanted to type this title, but this is the quiet song that offsets the bold.

I am afraid that this record works a light bubbly pop angle that I doubt will ever resonate for me. It never has in the past, even in my youth (although my youth predates this sound, so…). It sounds fine for what it is and there are even some good guitar jabs, and nice electronic textures. ‘Over & Over’ shows the potential, but most songs have pop tones that just do not connect here. If you like this sort of sound, it may work for you. I always try to keep an open ear, but there is an old brain to deal with after that.

What starts off as fine, if not highly derivative psychedelic music, quickly goes psychedelic in many splintering directions. What starts as outtakes from Pink Floyd’s ‘Meddle’ (or many others) squeezed through a bit of Tangerine Dream’s “Alpha Centauri’ quickly blends into the 1980s and beyond with takes at post punk, synth pop, goth, and almost an Opeth like confluence of genres. There are bleating brass moments, violins and all with deep vocals. Ultimately this is that certain kind of psyche LP that relaxes you, but has all kinds of edges to keep you on your toes.

Songs to start with:

More Than a Matter of Instinct - The Floydian opening morphs into something more personal and just as good.

Of Woe-Migratory Birds - The second cut gets more rhythmic and electro-post punk psyche.

Dowser - And some odd sax on the third cut. There are three more long cuts after these three.

Anyone who works and tours with Michael Chapman and Mike Cooper is someone that I want to pay attention to. Gunn takes a more electric approach, which those classic two British guitarists occasionally did, and works it with a rhythm section. They provide only the steadiest of backings to let the guitars flow and vocals carefully work you through the melodic trek. From the first note to the last, this is an artist locked into a vision that successfully comes forth in a relaxed, yet active style. It hits all the right buttons on this end, like a Kurt Vile, with maybe a bit more easy going structures.

Songs to start with:

Ancient Jules - Such flow in the guitar work here.

Nature Driver - He takes you on a tour of nature as there is something far away and isolated in this song.

Park Bench Smile - Magical guitar line starts this song and the vocals and crisp drumming match the magic.

The opening cut is short audacious experimental looping of vocal treatments and a bit of instrumentation. It is an effective wake up call for the delicate songs that follow. There are stark piano melodies in charge of directing most of the songs, although some interesting guitars take charge of others. Orchestral backing subtly fades in and out at interesting points along the journey to fill out the sound thoroughly. This never sounds particularly quiet, even as there are open spaces. The quiet strength of Henson’s vocals have a lot to do with that as he has a lush and very full voice that effectively stretches the emotional content of the melody. The emotions are almost too naked at times, but that in itself is audacious as looped vocal arrangements, so this singer songwriter album has a lot to offer.

Songs to start with:

Alright - Piano led song with subtle orchestration and a flexible vocal smoothly working the scales.

The Pugilist - Guitar led song that not only reminds me of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Boxer’ in title, but in spirit, too.

Comfortable Love - More of a bold rocker, but with quiet heartfelt moments that tie it to the rest of the album.


I had heard names like Vashti Bunyan and Karen Dalton being tossed around when discussing Lisa/Liza. And since these aren’t names you casually toss around, I was wary. Yet it did not take long before Lisa/Liza’s brand of ‘simple’ folk consisting of voice and acoustic guitar was fully in that unique universe of Bunyan and Dalton. I would add Anne Briggs to the mix, as there is something fully classical about this, even as the ethereal moments transcend into psyche-folk territory. This is the lighter side of psyche-folk as the arrangements stay stark and simple. Probably the only thing that did not work for me was the lengthy somewhat meandering approach that was present in some of these long songs. This is only a seven song LP. But I still find the overall approach quite moving and this easily fits into my massive folk and offshoot folk collection.

Songs to start with:

Century Woods - The opener will hook you if you will be hooked at all. The hook sank deep in me.

Wander - Such a quiet opening and mannered approach.

Deserts of Youth - The title cut is a quiet fadeout of sorts.

My favorite Vermont duo are back with yet another psychedelic exploration into guitarland. The last time I saw their live show, it was fun, but too much in the vein of a Neil Young psychedelic rock experience. Here, they are much more delicate, integrating eastern modal moves with west coast rock stylings. They even have a Fit & Limo vibe at times, which is something I always want more of. They are always worth a listen and I think this shows a maturity in exploring unchartered lands, where experience helps.

Songs to start with:

Love Lemma Herb Slang - Trippy opener goes an unexpected, but no surprising direction.

No S- The trippiness is even crazier here especially as the song fades off to parts unknown.

I’m Still in Love with You Love > Void - Closing with an eleven minute freaky song is the way they should close an LP.

by Kyle Schmitt
Alone Together Forever coheres remarkably well given the diverse ground covered by My New Mixtape This release is the project of Jarrett Nicolay (Virginia Coalition), whose lyrical content veers from droll to melancholic, often within the same song. Singing over a chiming, danceable instrumental backing, Nicolay claims, “I want to learn to have fun / just like everyone”, and promises he’s “gonna make a keen observation / if I remember how to even have a conversation.” More celestial concerns are addressed on “Otherside Tide”, which begins with a stream-of-consciousness debate over whether God is a jerk, or just got married and has another family that needs him more than we do. Nicolay can tell a compelling story over acoustic guitar or a dance beat. The fuzzy, upbeat pop of “Selfie Stick” transitions smoothly into the low-stakes conversation of “Small Talk”, in which Nicolay and Dan Miller shoot the bull about their football team’s agonies. Regardless of song style, Alone Together Forever benefits significantly from the backing vocals of Olivia Mancini and Brittany Jean Valint. Their harmonies on songs such as “Talk the Walk” invoke the New Pornographers at their singalong best. On this immensely likable album, My New Mixtape maintains a melodic resilience no matter what musical and personal terrain Nicolay chooses to explore.

Songs to start with:

Sunburn Suburb Someday - Synths dominate this radio friendly tale about missing a friend. 

And You and I - Terrific duet with Mancini that serves as a post-mortem for a relationship, concluding that, “What we left was so much bigger than us.”

Eight Ball - Nicolay endures a visit to the dentist by musing about the places he really belongs, including a starship bound for Alderaan, the middle of a magic 8-ball, and a rock band that really/nearly made it.

Nothing cosmetic with this sound, just great in your face post punk. Lots of attitude in the vocals and overall thrust, with wild basslines, jagged guitars, bubbling sounds, a forward thinking drumming. They remind me quite a bit of Simply Saucer who successfully merged punk rock with space rock back in the heyday. Oddly enough, even decades later, it is not done terribly often, but Nots manage it well, with a slightly more post punk approach. So it is full of attitude and musicality and offers a great workout of a listening experience. I am sure this is a serious kick in the face live.

You can see them live at Comet Ping Pong on October 7th.

Songs to start with:

Blank Reflection - The opener sets the table with snarl and in your face pace.

New Structures - Great song brimming with power and mystery.

Fluorescent Sunset - A moodier more Banshees styled rocker.

This first song sounds like Grinderman covering the Velvet Underground with Hawkwind’s Dik Mik in charge of the synthesizer and electronics. That is impressive. The rest of the time it is the usual Oneida styled noisy feedback experimental psychedelic noodling that is a mix of abrasion and exploration. As much as I appreciate the attempts they make, they rarely connect with me as other more song oriented bands. But there are moments and the first song is a gem.


There is a touch of pub rock in this punk band, but it certainly will take you back to the 1970s. But they also work with earlier rock forms and some ska punk pace. As with all of these rapid fire bands, not every song is a classic, but if it keeps you revved up for a better one, then the band is doing ok. I am somewhat of a hard sell after living through the classic punk age, but these guys are pretty decent. I would like to see the live show, where I bet it is elevated even further.

Songs to start with:

Jibba Jab - This song is a solid homage to early rock’n’roll and has a nice arrangement.

I Need a Job - Thankfully not from the movie ‘Sid + Nancy’, but more in the Undertones style.

I’m a Little Devil - Great pace and melody. This one digs into your bones.

Now here is some pop music that goes funky into older R&B territory, yet with loads of hooks and pop beats. The vocals are attractive and don’t hold back when they want to push forward to add to the intensity of the music. And it gets intense lyrically as well. Don’t lose yourself on the dance floor too much and avoid listening to the biting lyrics in the cut ‘Washington DC’ to see what these Ottawans think of at least some of the temporary lodgers in our fair city. This has all the right elements balanced into a sharp EP that should attract a whole lot of fans.

Songs to start with:

Don’t Believe in Love - Just six songs here, but the opener has all you need to know if you want to continue. I did.

The venerable Champagne-Urbana band is back, although I am not sure they ever exactly went away. They had a nice bit of success a few decades back and now offer a full length recording of new material for the first time in 12 years. Even if you think you have heard all the assertive post-grunge indie rock to last you a life time, you might what to give this a spin. They have a way with guitar sounds and tricky melodies that give this a rather unique feel. And this is another fine record in their canon.

Songs to start with:

Cancer - Smoking guitars and quietly penetrating vocals will stick to you like…

Freedom Rock - This title was a band name who gave an assembly for us in 7th Grade. Unlike that band, this song rocks.

More from the Psychedelic Furs/Teardrop Explodes school of British post punk music is the what happens in these nine single word songs. There is a slight vocal tremor that reminds me of my old friend Gyn Cameron of Dementia Precox. There is an intensity throughout with lots of style shifts, although they are subtle (at least as can be with this music). It goes back to the day when music was called industrial, although much of that (as this) is filled with pop hooks and attractive elements. You may have remembered this band under their former name, Viet Cong. Even if you do, there are surprises around every corner here and I recommend giving this album at least one chance. If you are like me, you will be back for more.

And you can test this all out live at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel on Sunday, October 16th.

Songs to start with:

Anxiety - The opener sets the table with strong music and a vocal line that will have you sitting up and taking notice.

Zodiac - Here’s the Dementia Precox song they never played.

Memory - An 11 1/2 minute journey through interesting song structures and sonic bridges.

Dreamy dance music is at the heart of “Strange Diary”. It is just bouncy enough with rich vocal work to perk up my ears more than usual. Unfortunately, it does not vary the formula enough for me to keep attentive. There is a difference between listening (and dancing) to this in the U Street Music Hall than in my living room. So if you want a night out, or bring it to your living room, this may do the trick.


A close listening reveals some serious well worked out thoughts making their way into the writing and arranging of these songs. The band can slide from electropop to folk to chill rock with smooth efficiency. The vocals are capable of giving you chills and hold it all together. This takes forms of music I am only lightly comfortable with and merges it into forms that connect, oh so effectively. Strong record here, and one that I can recommend for just about anybody, particularly if you like the Decemberists, Radiohead, or Ultravox.

Songs to start with:

Flogging a Dead Horse - Electronic pop opener is edgier in the manner of Tuxedomoon of long ago.

That Doubt Returns - More folky, but with some really intriguing arrangement twists in backing vocals and rhythm.

A Prayer from our Leaders - A quiet kind of epic at work here.

This just may be yet another Americana based rock band, were it not for that special flair that you get from New Orleans musicians. After a steady opener, the band starts cooking up the usual gumbo with a whole lot of ingredients that a savvy chef or bandleader manages to combine into a fulfilling creation. There is jazz, blues, rock, rockabilly, and maybe even a bit more in here. The lead vocals have a bit of twang, but also a clarity that is not anywhere near cliché. A couple songs, you have to even strain to pick up the accent. Basically, this like Dr. John with cleaner vocal work, but enough of the magic in the music to attract a wide array of fans.

Songs to start with:

The Creole Nightingale Sings - This has that great undulating creole spice that really sticks.

Ma Jolie - Snaky electric guitar, slide moves, along with bouncing bass and cool keyboards. Funky.

I Hope - A slow soulful number, not usually one I gravitate to, but they do it so well.

Interesting album name as Lizzy Rose’s music seems pretty sincere at first glance. Certainly vocally it does, although there is a bit of whimsy mixed into some of the songs, which makes for something playful but with meaning. The meaning seems pretty playful at times and it is hard not to if you feel like you are hearing circus music played behind the vocals. But other times, it is more direct and clear. There is plenty of variety here, but all is seasoned well and spiced up to pack a wallop in its own quiet way.

Songs to start with:

Crocodile Tears - Great starter, although I was hoping the band was also named Crocodile Tears.

Best I’ve Had - A good pop song with heart-felt vocals.

Walk the Walk (You’re a Whore) - A bit more rock, 60s style popsike, and a killer melody. Brilliant!

What more can you say about Ravi Shankar? He is simply the master sitarist, at least the most famous sitarist of all time thanks to the Beatles and the many more artists who discovered the instrument and marveled at his playing. Invited to most of the festivals, Shankar gave Indian music great exposure in the west, where it still resonates off those droning companion strings today. Although his daughter keeps the Shankar name relevant today with her outstanding music, we still get the benefit of further releases from her father. The title states exactly what this is and specifically it is four long drones with one clocking in at 53 minutes!

This is a slippery record. It sounds quite dark and intriguing, but there are bright spots that balance it in a quiet way. There are also alternating experimental moves and very soft safe melodic lines. This works well on this solo album from the San Fermin man.

Songs to start with:

Aliens - Beginning with a dark minimalism, it ends with lots of creative guitar jabs.

Don’t Choke - Spirited baking vocals offset the dark tones, although a good pop meoldy is clear.

Keeping You Awake - A balanced light and dark song that is moving.

OK, they hooked me with the droning psychedelic core sound, romantic vocals, light glockenspiel accent, AND a mellotron. You really can’t screw that formula up if you can write songs. And this Canadian band from way, way up in North Bay can write the songs. And with that cold rugged terrain surrounding a beautiful lake, they have plenty of inspiration. And there is a lot of beauty in the music. A few songs almost go too pop-mainstream, but mostly they balance melody with a lovely style that rocks lightly and emits an atmosphere that can pull in psyche fans as well as mainstream music lovers. As I like the delicate psyche folkers, these guys mostly work for me.

Songs to start with:

Song of the End - Actually, it is the beginning and they start with a superbly arranged moderately paced psyche rocker.

Black Rain - Folk elements and a haunting atmosphere, stil catchy enough for radio.

Moor Spirits - Charming psyche folk cut reminiscent of Dulcimer, the band, not the instrument.

After first listen, I am not sure I enjoy this record as much as his previous LP. It is a fine record as there is great skill and style on display on these eight long tracks. Part of my hesitation is due to this record being a bit more universal and less British folk influenced. The horizons are broadened here with a host of influences. But by album’s end, I am believing in this enough to think that many further listens will have it standing out as another fine album in what will eventually be an outstanding Ryley Walker catalog. He is not as bold as ‘the Tims’, Buckley, Rose, and Hardin, but manages to incorporate some of the command of the moment that these guys were so good at. You wanted to soak up every sung note, with the space in between filled with anticipation. Walker has some of that going on and is still one of the more interesting writer performers at work today.

And mark the date, Wednesday, October 26th, as Ryley Walker will pack the DC9 for what will likely be an excellent show.

Songs to start with:

A Funny Thing She Said - Sounds a bit like Nick Drake, if Drake had more confidence.

Sullen Mind - Instrumental weaving is rarely this good and the vocal passages hold up to it as well.

Age Old Tale - At over eight minutes, this song is relaxed with enough going on to command the atmosphere.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Buzzcocks - The Residuels -- 9:30 Club - Sep 28 2016

The Residuels - This Philadelphia trio begins with a blues rock workout that is deliberate and churning with underlying swampy power. Then they head off to more familiar punk rock ground with a bit more pace, melodic thrust, and power. The vocals are clean and merge into the sound well. There are elements of a whole lot of bands here, but the band's personality and playing lifts everything to a satisfying conclusion... which is a cover of the 13th Floor Elevators classic, 'You're Gonna Miss Me'. You can't go terribly wrong there and they didn't even stretching it out to a 'guitar on the floor' noisy finish. The Buzzcocks are an elegant table, but consider it attractively set.
The Buzzcocks - So I am sitting in an empty apartment with a patio table and chair along with an inflatable mattress as my cat is looking at me like I am crazy for getting rid of our furniture. Painters, carpet installers, and repairmen to come to get the place ready to sell. Those who know me can guess my mood will be rather dark, but I have one of my favorite bands coming across the ocean tonight to play for me, so off I go. And as it turned out, perhaps the Buzzcocks were the perfect pick me up tonight, as there is a lot of melancholy and romantic thoughts of the past in their music. But they carry on and are still on their musical journey on this 40th Anniversary tour.

I have seen them previously for some great shows at the Black Cat, but was looking forward to the bigger sound they would generate tonight at the 9:30. I was not disappointed. The guitars were roaring all night with room for the leads, such as the two-note solo in 'Boredom' which opened the show as it opened their recording career back on the Spiral Scratch ep from January, 1977. The set was brilliant, as you really can't go wrong with the many great songs they have put out over the years. The classics still sound great as Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle continue to display solid vocal tones that stay with the guitars. 'Moving Away from the Pulsebeat' was exceptional here with the throbbing bass and classic drum line creating a powerful drone for the guitars to torment. Kyle was with me (not for the first time at a Buzzcocks show--see his review following mine) and commented in amazement at how good that song sounded. And I don't care how many times I hear the encore set of What Do I Get/Orgasm Addict/Ever Fallen in Love/Harmony in my Head, it will move me every time.

There is always one negative at every Buzzcocks show I attend. They always manage to draw out this bitter old man in me. There music is so catchy and well written that I relive my thoughts of how upset I have always been that they have not had a gigantic career. Many of my favorite punk bands rightfully belong as critically darlings and cult bands (some more belatedly than they deserved), but there were several that should have broken to world wide chart topping status. The Buzzcocks are at the top of that list. But it's 40 years and they seem really happy, especially Steve Diggle who you will have to manhandle to keep him off the stage. The many Buzzcocks fans can be assured that they are every bit as brilliant as the early days and of course their songs will live on for a very long time after they are gone.

Quote of the Night: Steve Diggle after handshaking everyone in the front row at the conclusion before finally heading off... "Brothers and Sisters! It's only rock'n'roll that will save the world. Me and You!"

And for Kyle's take:


By Kyle Schmitt

Residuels: A hardy crowd braved the forecasted yet non-existent “hardest rainfall in five years” to catch this Philadelphia-based three-piece. Residuels capably represent their brand of self-described “big, dumb rock n’ roll”, exemplified by the punchy guitar and screamed kiss-off of “You’re Gonna Miss Me”. On this tune and others, the group’s sound is driven by powerful drumming from Mike Cammarata. His battering style propels songs like “Ordinary,” on which singer/guitarist Justin Pittney warns his confidante, “We’ve kept this secret so long, that when the world finds out / They’re gonna try and tear us apart.” His lyrics and delivery invoke a man too tough and stubborn not to fight for a lost cause. 

Buzzcocks: The punk legends played in front of a banner announcing their 40th year as a band, and they took the audience back to the start by opening with “Boredom” and “Fast Cars”. Just as welcome were less-celebrated gems such as “Totally From the Heart”, “Sick City Sometimes”, and “Moving Away From the Pulsebeat”. Singer/guitarist Pete Shelley provided a highlight with a gorgeous version of “You Say You Don’t Love Me”, which could have been a wistful Paul McCartney ballad from the mid-60s. Buzzcocks’ final ten songs rocketed up the crowd energy, especially on “Love You More” and “Promises”. Singer/guitarist Steve Diggle concluded the set with an effusive “Harmony in My Head”, shouting the joy back at his fans as the best pop-punk band ever said goodnight to DC.

I saw editor David Hintz wearing a big smile as Buzzcocks finished their set and encore, and he remarked that he got an even better pick-me-up from the show than he expected. I’m grateful for David’s support in allowing me to write for DC Rock Live the past several years. It’s been an honor to help chronicle the District’s music scene and keep what amounts to almost a daily journal of rock music here. Thank you, David, and good luck with your next chapter. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Kyle's Previews in this, our final week...

Coming Attractions - The Best of This Week
by Kyle Schmitt

Punk legends Buzzcocks take the 9:30 stage on Wednesday, September 28. Formed 40 years ago in England, the band still writes and performs music that affirms the joy of rock ’n’ roll. Come watch guitarist Steve Diggle show how it’s done (and maybe toss around some mic stands).

The Bird and the Bee play Black Cat on Thursday, September 29. This Los Angeles-based duo makes danceable tunes built on Greg Kurstin’s retro pop sensibilities and the smooth, inviting vocals of Inara George. Watch their video for “Will You Dance?”, in which the two display a deft melodic touch as they prevent Patton Oswalt from using the men’s room.

DC’s own Devils Walk As Saints perform at Adams Morgan Porch Fest on Saturday, October 1. The hard-rock trio is preparing the studio follow-up to their hellacious 2013 LP This City Will Burn. David Zaidain’s barbed vocals and bassist Teagan O’Bar’s tight grooves make for a consistently excellent live act.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Marlon Williams & the Yarra Benders - Julia Jacklin -- DC9 - Sep 24 2016

Julia Jacklin - Tonight's all Australasian show begins with a singer songwriter on vocals and electric guitar, accompanied with one guitarist for all but one song. Julia Jacklin keeps things steady as there is a moderate pace to the strumming, which makes the vocals a bit more dramatic than they might be, were they lost in guitar wash. The songs are interesting with quiet deep tones and the sizable crowd is attentive, which is nice for a Saturday night. There is good chemistry between crowd and performer with the banter and things are off to a fine start. Julia Jacklin is a fine artist, who is not quite 'out of the pack' of fine performers and ready to take over the world, but has the raw materials to do quite well and the world is in sight.
Marlon Williams & the Yarra Benders - From New Zealand comes this excellent singer songwriter who handles the guitar and vocals and is accompanied with drums, acoustic bass, and a violin. The violin is a great touch (it almost always is) as the runs are occasionally powerful, but more often subtle with delicate feeling added. The vocals are highly expressive and I am really hearing a powerful Ray Davies style storytelling here. That is not easy, but some how Williams has that command of a phrase and control of the vocal rhythms to lift his songs into higher territories than most singer songwriters. Unfortunately my lack of sleep and globe trotting has caught up with me and I am nearly out on my feet tonight. So I cut the set a little short, but saw enough recommend Marlon Williams to all lovers of song, voice, and craft. He has the full package.

Facebook Grab of the Night: I am a sucker for domino fun and this is epic (it's longer than the first Circle Jerks album)...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Jah Wobble & the Invaders of the Heart -- Rock'n'Roll Hotel - Sep 23 2016

Jah Wobble & the Invaders of the Heart - After opening with a fine number from their new album, the band kicked in with a ferocious take on 'Socialist' from PiL's Metal Box LP. As my jaw dropped due to both the selection and the incredible version they concocted, I wondered what is next, 'Fodderstompf'? Well, no, that came later to close off a magnificent set by former Public Image bassist Jah Wobble and his superb bandmates. Having missed out on Wobble when he was in PiL, I was looking forward to tonight. But I had no expectations that this would be such a wonderful performance. It did not look good early on, as only 50-90 people seemed to be in attendance. But the excitement was there from the beginning and the energy built steadily with each fascinating song. Wobble played bass and percussion and handled lead vocals when needed. He was assisted with a guitarist, keyboardist, drummer, and a DJ who handled electronics, synth, loops, and samples. The latter two musicians added some vocals on a few cuts as well. Also from the PiL catalog were 'Poptones' and a irreverent 'Public Image' that was utterly fascinating. There were jazzier bits, loads of fascinating progressive and krautrockian moves, and soundtrack cuts as well. He explained he sits around at home a lot and watches a lot of TV and movies, so 'Get Carter', 'Midnight Cowboy'....
Wobble along with Gang of Four's Dave Allen and Joy Division's Peter Hook, pretty much invented the post punk sound of the bass guitar. Big, bold, and in your face. If he had a big hand in the invention of post-punk, I think he is on to post-progressive here. He also shows a nice touch as does his band, who can handle all kinds of tempos and volumes. The band was all smiles as was the crowd and this may have been small, but it was energized, fun, and fully connected between band and concert goers who were there to get immersed. Although small crowds do not help the band or the club financially, it was fun to be a part of such an integrated musical experience where everyone was involved. After a crazed 'Fodderstompf', the crowd roared and received an encore. I was almost back to 1980 with this vibe. For all the hundreds of people who clear their schedule for Public Image or Gang of Four shows, you really missed a gem tonight.

Quote of the Night: Wobble... "Now the bass is the King of instruments. It has no known natural predator--King of the Jungle."

Friday, September 23, 2016


Just about a week left of live music for me, before I pack up and head off to parts unknown. Here are some of the shows I am thinking about going out on.

Jah Wobble plays the Rock'n'Roll Hotel tonight. This is a great opportunity to see one of the most influential post punk bassists.

Marlon Williams hits the DC9 this Saturday, the 24th.

The Renderers ply their trade at Galaxy Hut with Insect Factory opening. This happens on Sunday the 25th.
Seaworthy from jorgedavies on Vimeo.

Jeff the Brotherhood makes way to the Black Cat on Monday, September 26th.

Elliott Moss latches on to the DC9 on Wednesday, September 28th.

Bob Moses parts the seas to journey to the 9:30 Club on Thursday, September 29th. If you want a homier night out with a big name, try John Hall at the Electric Maid. You can ask him about his infamous album cover (he hasn't heard that one before).

And the mighty Poster Children hit the DC9 on Friday, September 30th. I am booked, but wish I was there.

I will be finishing off things with Opeth at Radio City Music Hall on Saturday October 1st. Seems like a fitting way to go, as Opeth does it all' musically.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Roy Harper - Ye Vagabonds -- Usher Hall (Edinburgh) - Sep 17 2016

Ye Vagabonds - Funny, how there are now as many reviews I have written from shows at beautiful Usher Hall in Edinburgh, Scotland as I have at Merriweather Post Pavilion. And if I could travel better, I would love to add more European shows with unique artists that don't make it stateside. Starting off tonight are a classic folk duo from Ireland (where Roy Harper now lives) who mention how fun it has been playing big halls on this short tour as opposed to the usual spots 'at the corner of Pope Street'. They are brothers and had outstanding harmonies while adding a lot of dobro, acoustic guitar, and a bit of mandolin. They showed exquisite command of their songs and tossed in a couple of traditional cuts from Scotland and Ireland. They are following in the fine footsteps of many folk acts of old from fellow countrymen, Tir Na Nog or even Foley & Kavanaugh. Deep thoughtful music that struck a chord with this large crowd. I read that they play at Walsh's of Stoneybatter every Monday night. And if I could see them or even go to any place with the name of Walsh's of Stoneybatter regularly, I would be quite happy.
Roy Harper - I FINALLY get through my travel anxieties and make my way to lovely Scotland to see one of the most brilliant songwriters ever. Thanks to Joanna Newsom for bringing Roy out of retirement a few years ago, and fortunately he decided to do a handful of shows to celebrate his 75th birthday. This is the last of those (aside from an added Irish show in a couple of weeks) and there is a mixed crowd of older and middle aged veteran fans of Harper's unique style and formidable presence.

The songs cover the 1960s to present day. It is a fine song list and is benefited with an outstanding array of support including Bill Shanley on acoustic and electric guitar, a three-piece brass section, a string quartet arranged by Fiona Brice, and acoustic double bassist. The backing is subtle and stays silent as needed with arrangements ranging from full out to 2 guitars and a bass, to just the guitars, to just Roy. Shanley plays carefully seeking delicate sonic touches at times, but will add hefty folk and rock moments when they are required for the song. The bass playing slips into the string sections comfortably or adds that rock backing that some of the Harper catalog uses so well.

But now on to the master songs-man. Roy Harper still has that stage presence that is so riveting with his oddly charming stage patter. He is not as bitter and angry in tone tonight, but you can sense that it still runs deep. He is less the angry man and more the wise experienced man who shares the highlights of his fascinating and full life. He can still carry most of his range on vocals, although there are several senior moments of forgotten lyrics and musical adjustments, that he thanks the band for handling so well. The guitar playing is still exquisite and the full poetry and music of his brilliant songs shines through every step of the way.

My expectations were that this would be a really good show and for much of the time, this was. But there were moments that were absolutely magical where I was fully absorbed into the brilliant music. 'Me and My Woman' has long been a favorite of mine and with the full backing tonight, lifted the lid off of the house as it closed out the evening. His other Stormcock selection, 'Hors D'Oeuvres', was also amazing as it closed off the first set. 'Another Day' is still one of the most touching songs ever, while Roy mentioned that the exquisite 'Twelve Hours of Sunset' may be his personal favorite. Fortunately, the retirement feeling that his encore song choice emoted, was muted with his promise that he would try to return again one day soon. If he can still reach anywhere near these brilliant heights, I hope he can return many more times.

Set List (as best as I can remember, which I believe was the same as other shows on this tour): Commune, January Man, I'll See You Again, Another Day, South Africa, Don't Grieve, Hors D'Oeuvres (set two:) North Country, Twelve Hours of Sunset, Hangman, Time is Temporary, Hallucinating Light, Me and My Woman (Encore:) When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease.

Quotes of the Night: There were many, but here are but a few.

"I corrected myself (on that lyrical phrase) as English is important. Ooops-wrong country."

On mentioning a long time female friend that he wrote 'Another Day' about: "Denmark is like two islands and a peninsula, sort of like me down below."

After someone inexplicably yelled 'Just play a song already' to him... "I will play a song now, but not because you coerce me into it." (huge applause, of course).

RH: "Should I donate my brain to science?"
Crowd: "No... Yes... Not Yet"
RH: (much laughter) "Good one."

Angel Olsen - Alex Cameron -- 9:30 Club - Sep 15 2016

by John Miller
(Ed: apologies for the delay, but I was in Scotland)

Alex Cameron - Strange, minimalist, and weird; all in a good way. He arrives with the least amount of fanfare legally allowed at 930. Accompanied by backing tracks and a lone saxophone, there are uncomfortable moments; almost Kaufman-esque. I can't tell if Alex is in his own world or it’s an act. Roy has built himself such a home in the first three songs, that his saxophone parts feel structurally necessary. Paired with Alex's uncomfortably sex dancing, Roy almost gives the awkward movements legitimacy. It all reminds me of Promise Keeper; an English artist by way of Georgia. Much like Cameron, Promise Keeper leans heavily on backing tracks that evoke a specific place and time. There are additional comparisons to be made; Dolby, Devo, and the like but the sound is uniquely his. While Promise Keeper is earnest and emotional, Alex is an amalgamation of the best parts of the decade; robotic, electronic, poppy, weird, but most importantly, good.

Angel Olsen - There is no surprise, no questioning whether or not the show has started, no unassuming stroll, Angel Olsen makes a proper entrance. The beats, the pauses, the crowd work and their response are more traditional. Backed by five musicians in matching gray suits, Olsen stands out, her fashion, contemporary. It's not my intention to take away from the music by focusing on fashion, but the juxtaposition is interesting. Like the backing band, elements of the compositions are certainly traditional; the harmonies, the drums, pieces. But just that pieces. With each steady rhythm, a sudden burst of mania is soon to follow; elements of loud, soft, loud. Angel’s voice is strong, even as she sings ‘there is nothing new under the sun’; there is an unmistakable confidence in the conviction of her lyrics. The entirety of the set has this undercurrent of nostalgia. It's as much about holding on to the past as it is about moving forward.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Next Journey

A ridiculously early retirement from my 'career' led to my next career focusing mostly on this blog.  But it has been eight years and the time has come to end it in early October. I will be writing more on my thoughts of it all in a few weeks, but for now, I developed a playlist for our sendoff.

If you have ever seen Soylent Green, there is a scene where Edward G. Robinson goes to the assisted suicide center (overpopulation is the theme). He is allowed to choose visuals and music to go out by in a very moving sequence. Or perhaps you recall the Simpson parody when Grampa Simpson chooses the Glenn Miller Orchestra playing to video of cops beating up hippies. Anyway, I don't know about the visuals, but I thought about the concept of picking the last 100 songs I would listen to (don't worry, I am not planning the lethal injection, just using this to transition into the next stage of my life beyond a primary focus on writing about music).

This is broken down into four components: Fire, Earth, Water, Air with the songs all set up on YouTube playlists. Clicking on those titles will take you to the list and you can listen along if you like. The descriptions of these songs are below. They are not necessarily my favorite 100 songs, just the ones I want to hear once more flowing to a conclusion. There is a bias on the more psychedelic, folk, and searching songs, as I don't want to necessarily be revved up here (but there is still plenty of room for some heavy material as that was a huge part of my musical history).

Anyway, here it is and I am (hopefully) off to Scotland to see Roy Harper among other things, provided I make the flight.


The Crazy World of Arthur Brown “Fire” - This is the first record I ever owned, as I flipped when hearing it at a childhood friend’s house. He insisted I have it and it was a crazed beginning to my love of hard rock, psychedelic music, and punk rock. Other early records I bought were fairly tame, this is still one of the wildest songs ever.

MC5 “Looking at You” - Detroit/Ann Arbor of the late sixties has become one of the most important epicenters of music history. The MC5 pushed forward and pushed hard.

Stooges “1970” - And the Stooges have now become legend. Watch all the documentaries on punk rock and see how many bands formed on three different continents because school kids found other Stooges fans and knew they needed to become friends and bandmates. And their reunion tours were absolutely brilliant.

The Damned “Neat Neat Neat” - And here is one of the earliest punk bands that will admit to taking the Stooges sound and running for their lives, musically (mostly). The Damned are still an overly neglected band that worked many styles brilliantly, but I’ll stick to their second single to take me through the roof.

The Avengers “We are the One” - A profoundly powerful American punk sound that was terribly influential and chilling to listen to.

Stiff Little Fingers
“Alternative Ulster” - When this Northern Ireland band was singing about war and death, they could see it right out their window, which few bands could ever claim. They were smart, worked hard, and made brilliant music for many decades to come.

Radio Birdman
“455 SD” - The Australian punk scene was magnificent and thankfully a few of the bands were able to rise to world wide prominence. Many, including this and the next band, didn’t consider themselves punk, but that matters not. They took the Detroit sound and worked it beyond barriers like the speeding car that this song is about.

The Saints
“This Perfect Day” - More Australian brilliance by the other top band of the continent at the time (with Nick Cave and many more to follow). The Saints were ferociously loud, fast, and tough, making crazy music even before the Ramones and the Sex Pistols and should be far better known.

Bad Brains
“Banned in DC” - I was fortunate to see them on their first tour and many more times at various points of their career. I still remember getting this cassette and having to take people from a party into my car for a listen several times that first night. Early live shows and recorded works prove these guys as being one of a kind.

The Dicks “Hate the Police” - What a buzzsaw sound! This is the purest American punk rock song in my estimation. An erratic band, but capable of brilliance or utter perfection in this case. Many people thought Mudhoney’s cover version was the best song Mudhoney ever wrote.

Mudhoney “No One Has” - How to rescue punk rock from hardcore and other fragmentation? Creating Mudhoney was how these Seattle guys did it, even as it ended up becoming the beginning of grunge. This band was so badly needed in the late eighties and I really don’t see how we would have had Nirvana without them.

The Wipers “Over the Edge” - I am amazed how many young people love the Wipers even though you have to work hard to find this band in American media outlets. You had to work hard in the 80s as well, except in Europe, where they totally understood the brilliance of Greg Sage and his music. I got lucky, I found them just about from the get go and they have been a major part of my life ever since.

Golden Earring
“Radar Love” - Desperate I was for hard rock in my youth, radio was able to offer some occasional brilliance including this perfect driving song. I love listening to it five times to listen to each part which is utterly brilliant by itself—vocals, guitar, drums, bass, and then the fifth time for the overall synchronized production.

“Hocus Pocus” - It is the early seventies and no punk rock. No problem, just keep hunting out hard rock and progressive rock that is fast and crazed. And these guys still continue to make this signature song faster and more wild then ever when they cut into it on stage.

Love “Your Mind and We Belong Together” - The first three albums took psychedelic rock into fascinating new terrain culminating in the brilliant “Forever Changes’ This audacious song was the follow-up to that LP and the last thing that the first serious incarnation of Love came up with.

The Electric Prunes
“I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night” - It is not surprising that Lenny Kaye chose this to start of his essential psychedelic rock compilation, “Nuggets”, as it virtually defines psychedelic rock music. And this band was not just a studio creation, as they could cut it live, be it 1967 or 2005.

The Third Bardo
“I’m Five Years Ahead of my Time” - So many bands are five years ahead of their time and it was none truer than in the 1960s, but thankfully music history has served them well.

The Misunderstood
“I Can Take You to the Sun” - Oh what a tangled, messed up tale they spun, this brilliant band. Their story is legendary so go find it. After all the missteps, at least we have a six song recording that was made in England after a John Peel invitation to come to the UK, that is one of the most perfect recordings ever.

International Harvester
“There is no Other Place” - This Swedish band mastered droning psychedelic rock long before the Swans and death metal bands. This album is still hard to believe and this song still sends me into shock.

The Rolling Stones “Paint it Black” - This song still has the magic of sounding fresh and vibrant no many how many times I hear it. And I am of the age that as a child too young to understand this music, I at least heard and knew of the Beatles and the Stones (as they hit Ed Sullivan and so on).

Fleetwood Mac
“The Green Manalishi” - No, I don’t necessarily slam the newer Fleetwood Mac to go back the bluesy days of Peter Green… BUT for the brilliant “Oh Well” and this monstrous psychedelic song that is unlike anything Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac ever did. Weird and wonderful.

Roy Harper “Me and my Woman” - Harper is as brilliant as Dylan or anyone else you want to name, if I have anything to say about it. This is epic folk with Jimmy Page helping out. There are about five songs in here, but it all makes sense in its majestic manor.

Comus “Song to Comus” - The British folk revival was not ready for this in 1970. Who was, then or now? Their first LP, “First Utterance” was one of the most singular oddities unleashed on the musical world. When they reformed in 2004 for the first time to play for the first time in 30 years, I along with others from the US, Canada, China, Thailand, and Europe converged to witness the seemingly impossible. And I was slated to be their road manager on an aborted US tour. Alas, but no matter, as this first album is still here to amaze us all.

Opeth “Demon of the Fall” - And one of the people that got Comus to reunite was Mikael Akerfeldt a musician of many tastes and one has taken Opeth to vast adventures along various forms of metal and progressive music over the years. This little number has a bit of everything, although ir usually reminds me I want to listen to all of Opeth.

Ennio Morricone
- “Sixty Seconds to What?” - He may compose soundtracks and I may be using this as a transition piece, but his music is so bold and brilliant that it holds it own without the film (but oh, to put it to Sergio Leone is utter magic). I chose this song as it has so many crazy elements of sound, loud and quiet, and is fully in the theme of this powerful movie “For a Few Dollars More”.

The Kinks
“Til the End of the Day” - There are so many good choices for the Kinks but this is a bouncy little rocker that brings it all down to the earth.

The Chocolate Watchband “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” - And let’s go with another Ray Davies song that the Chocolate Watchband gave some toughness to and is a great anthem for all of us that keep searching this planet.

The Ramones “I Just Want to Have Something to do” - And one search was answered when I first heard the Ramones. They ushered in a profound style without any attempt to do so. I met so many great friends at their early shows in Cincinnati and Dayton. Great memories.

The Buzzcocks “Ever Fallen in Love” - Like the Ramones, but even more confusing to me as why this band was not simply massive. Monster pop hooks, sexy-cynical vocals, a great beat, and rocking guitars… no excuse for why the American market did not push this to the max.

Fairport Convention “Tam Lin” - I named my third cat after the legendary character in this old traditional poem/song. Fairport helped usher in folk rock with their album ‘Liege & Lief’ where this is my co-favorite song (along with Richard Thompson’s ‘Crazy Man Michael’).

Moody Blues “House of Four Doors” - I will defend this band to all the naysayers, and until they listen to the psychedelic cuts that don’t make classic rock radio, there is no point to discuss. I love the odd structure to this trippy song.

T2 “No More White Horses” - This obscure rock band was only three guys strong, but strong they were with great touch and fine lead vocalist on the drum kit. Keith Cross should be a better known guitarist as well.

Beatles “A Day in the Life” - John and Paul each get a portion of this epic song that retains much power for me, especially as i move on in life.

Tim Buckley “Pleasant Street” - I had hoped that Jeff Buckley’s success might pave the way for a more thorough rediscovery of his absent father. But Jeff died at 30 and left a lot less music then his Dad did when he died at age 28. But Tim Buckley’s music is still there to discover in all its incredible variety, all with his powerful 5-octave voice.

Woven Hand “Dirty Blue” - I adore the music of David Eugene Edwards, first in 16 Horsepower and then in Woven Hand. It is deep and mystical with an inner power that works its way into acoustic and electric songs of varying tempos and volumes. Amazing band that Europe understands better than the US (like the Wipers and many punk rock bands). And this is my tie to Colorado.

Dead Meadow “Between Me and the Ground” - Originally a DC-area band, this LA outfit has never quite caught in with the real world, but musicians and core fans really dig their psychedelic moves with those playful bass lines. They know how to jam away and write some great songs.

Faun Fables “Housekeeper” - This husband and wife duo manages to work the Brothers Grimm into everyday life with their mysterious music. Chilling and unique.

Townes van Zandt “Our Mother the Mountain” - Although rising out of the earth, Townes’ song covers all of earth, water, fire and air. He had that knack when he was on and he puts a flaming arrow deep inside me, a former mountain dweller.

Trees “Murdoch” - Just two 1970 albums to their name, aside from some found tracks later on, and this UK band still can bring in fans. As a friend said, their guitars just go and go… acoustic meets electric and all with Celia Humphries dazzling vocals.

The Strawbs “Witchwood” - Another misunderstood band who did not make it easy for people with lots of style shifts between albums and songs. This is one of their earlier cradle to the grave life cycle songs that offers space for profound reflection.

Pink Floyd “Jugband Blues” - I am glad the Barrett-less band found room for Syd Barrett’s masterpiece on ‘Saucerful of Secrets’. Although ’Astronomy Domine’ may be just as, if not more, favored; I really love Syd’s approach here and his oh so quiet send off before even going further down the rabbit hole for his solo albums.

Hair Cast “The Flesh Failures/Eyes Look Your Last/Let the Sunshine In” - Still an excellent play and this closing medley is a monster when it hits you in the face on stage. The Age of Aquarius has ended, but keep moving.

Van der Graaf Generator “Darkness” - I easily see why John Lydon cites Pete Hammill of VDGG as an influence, since he is the one guy who had ever sounded anything like John Lydon before the Sex Pistols. This band always amazes me every time I listen closely.

Folque “Ravnene” - This is a Norwegian version of the old English folk song, ’Twa Corbies’. Folque had a rich sound throughout their run and did a masterful job with this song, which is ancient, rustic, and ever powerful.

Mellow Candle “Sheep Season” - Tempting to hear their masterful ‘Boulders on my Grave’, but I love this quiet song and the closing jam that is one of the more woven pieces of music I’ve heard. I could listen to them play that for hours.

Joan Armatrading “Visionary Mountains” - I first enjoyed Manfred Mann’s version, but the original is far better. It was on Joan’s first LP and features Guyanese lyricist Pam Nesbo (had to get a bit of Guyana in my list). Oh, and a sitar (which makes a frequent appearance on my lists).

The Byrds
“Child of the Universe” - The Byrds first wrote a country rock song for the movie ‘Candy’, but then were told to bring them something big and psychedelic. This was the result, a wild over the top cosmic ride, something they hadn’t done much of since ‘Eight Miles High’.

The Zombies “Hung Up on a Dream” - Probably the most psychedelic song for the Zombies, it has all the vocal magic and pop hooks, too. Fabulous band and super nice guys, too.


Henry VIII “Pastime with Good Company” - I am a minor league Henry VIII scholar, but even if I was not, I would still love this magical song he wrote as an arts loving lad. This is the New World Renaissance Band, but Robin Williamson does a great one as well.

Jethro Tull “Bourée” - Continuing the water theme with flowing classical music is the amazing Jethro Tull interpretation of this Bach piece. I never get tired of what they conjure up here and Glenn Cornick’s bass line and solo may be my favorite of all time.

Donovan “Get Thy Bearings” - Donovan should be considered a giant for all the versatile and wonderful music he created. This wildcard came out of his creative muse as he shifted from a folk club to a jazz lounge while keeping the musical flows of both and more.

Génesis “Raquel” - This the Genesis from Colombia who put out three fine LPs of progressive psychedelic rock music with that unique South American vibe (there is a lot of great South American music from the psychedelic era). This is a Kevin Ayers cover.

Davy Graham “Angi” - Graham wrote this 1960 when I was not even a year old and released it in 1962. I still see finger style guitarists take a stab at it, as it is a rite of passage for just about every finger style guitarist that takes to a stage. It also helped introduce and popularize DADGAD tuning.

Jackson C. Frank “My Name is Carnival” - Unlike Paul Simon, this is the American the British folk scene liked, when Frank spent time in the mid-1960s there in the burgeoning folk scene. He made one brilliant LP before a book length series of miseries wrecked his life. I saw this decaying man at the only Wizz Jones American show about six months before he mercifully died.

“To His Love” - A surprisingly little known German band, that like the better known Ougenweide, showed a progressive/krautrock musicality within the deep folk scene. There were so many great songs, but I chose this Shakespearian droner.

Sounds of Salvation
“Overseers” - Believe it or not, there was a day when Christian Rock and Christian Folk were not genres that everyone else ran from in terror. This band was crazy with deep psychedelic folk songs, Country Joe covers, and this wild rocker.

13th Floor Elevators
“Slip Inside this House” - Another long flowing psychedelic masterpiece here, from that wild Austin band who also have yielded full books and movies about what they have created and become.

Radiohead “Karma Police” - A nod to the more modern genius of Radiohead with this mesmerizing cut from the classic ‘OK Computer’.

Thomas Mapfumo “Shumba” - I first discovered this Zimbabwean musician on a long defunct satellite channel, the Caribbean Satellite Network. Thankfully they added one simple African video from this master musician who doesn’t quite fit any genre, although his warmth and power works its way into many a playlist.

Baris Manço “Daglar Daglar” - A nod to the great music of Turkey as the legendary Baris Manco put out some wonderful music. I am sure there is much more to explore if I keep digging, but it is hard to get beyond the giants.

Amon Düül II “Kanaan” - Amon Düül morphed into two bands with the first version retaining a free form hippie brand of musical expression, while II finely honed their psychedelic visions into progressive rock forms that wowed people worldwide.

Scott Walker “Amsterdam” - Walker is the voice I want to hear and his Jacques Brel interpretations still amaze me including this one set in a very watery city.

Phantasia “Winter Winds” - The icy chill in the air may cool down the waters, but they still flow in this lovely psychedelic charmer from a fine band, who should be better known.

MU “Drink from the Fountain” - I was stunned not to find this marvelous cut on YouTube, so I had to make a video myself and even got permission from the writer, Merrell Fankhauser, also getting a great interview with him as well.

Steeleye Span “Lovely on the Water” - Not even the jarring electric guitar of acoustic specialist Martin Carthy can keep the lovely flow of this song from pouring all over me. I particularly like the ending chord.

Incredible String Band “The Water Song” - Alright, an obvious song to fit my theme, but I just had to get in as much Robin Williamson as I could as this is the first of two from the great Incredible String Band.

Sugar Creek “Night Flash” - I really love the vocal work, that is too often taken for granted these days. Jonathon Edwards had a nice solo career, but I really enjoy this early band of his.

Blue Öyster Cult “Screams” - Allan Lanier’s keyboard playing is quite underrated. Just listen to the landscape it creates here in this early cut that shows the psychedelic roots of this classic band.

Erkin Koray “Cemalim” - Part 2 of my homage to the great Turkish Psychedelic masters. Koray’s guitar playing is wildly famous in that part of the world and further into Europe. But you have to really find a sharp scene in the US to find people to discuss him with.

Caedmon “Aslan” - Psychedelic Folk? Folk Rock? Progressive? Christian Folk? This Scottish outfit did not fit anywhere comfortably, but made one dazzling album in 1978 and have thankfully come back to create more music and honored me with a show in Edinburgh, where I spent time with them as well. Great people, great music.

“Gedanken” - I saw a recent video recording of a reunion show where they closed with an incredible version of this, so this apparently is their signature song. It moves me to no end.

Chimera “De Waardin” - The Nederland Chimera is an obscurity, but were one of the more balanced of that scene’s fine progressive/psychedelic folk scene.

Haizea “Hontz Gaua” - Spain does not always feature as prominently in the European Psychedelic Folk canon, but Haizea were grand masters of the style. This is their epic song and a fitting close to the flowing, watery song list.

The Pentangle “Light Flight” - The air is breezy as this snappy song emits that free flowing late sixties happy urban atmosphere that few captured well.

Elly & Rikkert “Godin van de Liefde” - This Dutch couple put out some deep LPs before lightening it up a bit too much, but were magic in the day.

Ougenweide “Der Hofmaler” - The best known German folk rock band put out many great LPs, all with so much to offer in the ethereal world as well as this.

Gwydion “The Sungod” - Gwydion was either too twee or a brilliant American bardic shaman. I lean somewhere toward the latter especially on this first LP of his two.

Mystery Maker
“Giver of Life” - This obscure Christian folk album has long been a favorite with the mystical vibe and the guitars that go on and on.

Bob Theil “Yesterdays” - Bob Theil put out one transcendent LP that this comes from and finally returned a few decades later to transverse the heavens once more.

Amber “White Angel” - Two Donovan friends Julian MacAllister and Mac MacLeod (also an Argent member with Jim Rodford and Rod Argent of Zombies) hooked up to form Amber. MacLeod borrowed Donovan’s sitar that he got from George Harrison. Elton John’s Ray Cooper played percussion and the Yardbird’s Keith Relf produced. So why didn’t this awesome duo take off?

Pererin “Can Y Melinydd” - Yet another ‘religious band’ from Wales this time, singing in Welsh much of the time. Terrific soaring psychedelic folk, delicate, but powerful.

Rufus Zuphall “Knight of 3rd Degree” - A German band that transversed many genres as did many German bands who got the krautrock moniker because no three genres could hold them.

The Frantics “Relax Your Mind” - Psychedelic music in the sixties reached Billings, Montana and this is the proof. Proof also, that this band should have found better distribution to find the audience they deserved.

Joy Division “Day of the Lords” - This band reopened some distant doors as punk rock was blazing its trail with ferocity. No less intense, just more mysterious in sound and thought.

Incredible String Band “Three is a Green Crown” - Now here is a mysterious psychedelic journey worth taking as it is the second song I have selected from the brilliant LP ‘The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter’. Get high on sound.

Trader Horne “Velvet to Atone” - Judy Dyble from Fairport Convention is the chilling voice and Jackie MacAuley from Them was the guitar and writer of this gem from their only album.

Agincourt “When I Awoke” - John Ferdinando and Peter Howell, who worked at BBC Sound, released many records under various names. This one with Lee Menelaus on vocals captures a unique perspective in the latter day hippie era.

Spirogyra “Van Allen’s Belt” - The Canterbury band that was more folky than others still had loads of creative progressive moments on their three LPs. Rather under the radar more than they should have been.

Voice of the Seven Woods “Silver Morning Branches” - I wish Rick Tomlinson were more prolific, but I still have this modern miracle that sounds like something out of Book of AM.

Book of AM “Hear the Voice of the Bard” - Speaking of which, this band was actually Can Am des Puig, although it was a nice collection of European musicians hooking up in Spain to undertake a fascinating project of setting the Book of AM to music. Gong members are loosely involved.

Robbie Basho “Katari Takawaitha” - It is with great pleasure that I have been able to review so many Robbie Basho reissues and rarities in recent years. His music is steadily the most transcendent of any American artist in the 1960s and 1970s. Indulge.

Corben Simpson “Le Poisson” - This New Zealand artist is little known in this part of the world except for record collectors. The music is good, but this song seemingly came out of nowhere or some intense vision he had, as nothing he did (or many others did) sound like it.

Donovan “Three Kingfishers” - Donovan gets his second airing with this touching song. He and the Incredible String Band pretty much started psychedelic folk by taking bardic tradition through the realms of social revolution, while keeping the focus above all the muck. Also view the performance of this song on Youtube with Shawn Phillips from their spot on Pete Seeger’s television show.

Midwinter “Winter Song” - While looking for the masters of the great Stone Angel material for rerelease, Ken Saul also found his earlier band’s unreleased album. What a find—the world is a better place.

Dr. Strangely Strange “Strings in the Earth and Air” - Tying up Earth and Air, Dr. Strangely Strange takes us to the conclusion of this project. Gently as they do.

Ensemble D.E.U.M. “Tourdion” - An ancient song that I love to hear in a variety of ways. I selected this German vocal group as I love the older human voice compositions of Tallis and Byrd.

Pentangle “Lyke Wake Dirge” - The second Pentangle song included here is a classic song covered by many bands, and one I always play when some living creature I care for has passed on. And this is a passing of sorts.

Dead Can Dance
“Persephone” - But what a way to finish 100 songs than with  a Dead Can Dance composition that opens the earth, parts the seas, emits the fire, and soars into the stratosphere.