Monday, March 30, 2009

Travis' final performance in his hometown

RIP Travis Criscola

As you have probably gathered if you follow this blog, I am a huge Cute Lepers fan, and I had a couple of pleasant conversations Wednesday night with Travis. He was a good kid and a talented guitarist who will surely be missed by our West Coast friends.

From The Cute Lepers' Facebook group:
Blackheart Records is deeply saddened by the tragic and sudden loss of Travis Criscola, of The Cute Lepers. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones. We have posted below a message from the band.

Travis Criscola, rest in peace
Early the morning of March 28, in Cincinnati our friend and band-mate Travis Criscola passed away in his sleep. He was 24. Travis was guitarist in the Cute Lepers for the last six months and was the perfect addition to the band as it's developed. He was our friend. His company was always a pleasure. I don't think I ever heard him say a negative word about any one. He was smart, polite and considerate, always interested in learning more about music and playing guitar... he really loved music. He was passionate about music in a way that only other like-minded musicians recognize and relate with. When Travis joined the band he would not think twice about jumping on the bus from Olympia and making the two hour ride to Seattle for a spur of the moment rehearsal, and then riding the bus two more hours to get back home. In fact Travis was doing this three times a week up until we left for Europe to start our tour. His character and his commitment made him the very best we could hope for in a band-mate and a friend. We're gonna really miss him. We feel that it's appropriate and absolutely not in bad taste to disclose the cause of death of our friend. Travis combined alcohol and pills, then went to sleep and never woke up. It was an accident. Travis was not any kind of a habitual drug user. I'm a man who has left drugs and alcohol alone for over a decade and I just wont work with people who are mixed up with narcotics. It is rare to find a rock n' roll musician in his early twenties who doesn't get caught up in hitting the bars and going to parties on tour, and Trav was just one of those ones who made a really bad decision. He naively took some type of pills on top of the beer he was drinking and that's it. I believe that it would be a disservice for us to leave out this information. People would wind up hearing distorted versions of the truth anyways. Also our hope is that other young musicians, or anyone it may apply to who reads this will learn from our tragedy and perhaps wise up a bit. We're currently traveling across the country back home to Seattle with heavy hearts. Trav's family and his beautiful longtime girlfriend are in our prayers. –Steve

In light of this tragedy, the duration of the tour has been canceled.

Preorder Scramble

Swing by Suicide Squeeze's Web site and pick up a copy of Scramble, The Coathangers' sophomore release. Preorders ship tomorrow and come with a poster and pins. I'd suggest pre-ordering the LP, as it is on yellow vinyl and comes with a coupon for downloading MP3s of the album for free.

The official CD/LP release show for Scramble will be Saturday at The Earl, when The Coathangers perform with Chopper and Predator.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Poison Arrows set the stage for Cute Lepers, Queers

Poison Arrows were back in town Wednesday at Lenny's with their better-known tour mates, The Cute Lepers and Queers.

Following performances by local up-and-comers Jesse Nobody and Wrister, Poison Arrows played a brief yet powerful set. On the last song, they really rocked out, especially Josh, who said afterwards that it's okay to go wild on the last song because he does not need to be in tune again until the next tour stop.

Up next was The Cute Lepers, the band Poison Arrows should strive to be like. Just like last August at the Masquerade and an even earlier appearance at the Star Bar, The Cute Lepers did not disappoint their Atlanta fans. Excellent guitar work by Steve and a new, young guitarist who used to play in Avenue Rose paired with great lyrics and female backup singers makes for a memorable live experience. If that's not enough, they now do a Vibrators cover. All that was missing was a live performance of "The Day After The End of The World." To sum it all up, Poison Arrows are lucky to get to see The Cute Lepers live night in and night out since they are tour mates. And I still insist that Steve should produce the next Poison Arrows single considering the production work he has done with his own band and other acts like The Greatest Hits.

The Queers, who seem to play in Atlanta a couple of times each year, wowed their diverse audience next with a couple of actual Ramones covers and several glorified Ramones tribute songs. Seeing The Queers is like seeing the next best thing, though, which is a huge complement considering the volume of "Ramones-core" bands that have surfaced over the past 15 years or so. Also, they draw in a diverse audience, which means there were kids (and old folks) there who never would have heard Poison Arrows otherwise.

Poison Arrows barely miss the mark

Artist: Poison Arrows
Title: Sticky Situations
Label: Full Breach Kicks
Release date: February 2009
Vinyl color: Gold

On this, the first of what should be a long line of releases, Poison Arrows show a lot of promise, though this 7" fails to capture the band's live energy.

"Sticky Situations" is the best of the bunch, as it comes the closest to capturing the band's live sound (though it misses that mark). It is catchy without being absurdly simple or repetitive.

On the B-side, "Shakin' All Over" is also catchy on top of some memorable guitarwork. But here comes the complaint. The vocals of both Tuk and the backgound singers (presumably Mikey and Josh) are mixed too high. It, with no disrespect intended, sounds like they brought in a couple of girls to handle backup vocals.

"Wild Hearts Beating Free" closes out the record with more memorable lyrics and overdone backup vocals.

Is this a bad record? Of course not. But it could be much better. Randy from The Booze produced it, and he has a great mind for '60's style pop. If someone with a good mind for powerpop like, say, Poison Arrows tourmate Steve E. Nix from The Cute Lepers was in the producer's chair, this could have been great.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Two big ones

The Scramble release party is quickly approaching. You can already preorder the CD, or yellow vinyl, at Suicide Squeeze Records' web site.

Whoever designed the Euro Tour EP sleeve must have designed this poster. Mr. Reatard needs no introduction, nor does Mr. Smith or King.

This should be an amazing string of shows.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Breakout review: better late than never

Here's a quick glimpse at the bands who delighted crowds March 13-14 at The Earl and Doo Gallery, as New York invaded Atlanta.

The Stalkers:
New York City's best kept secret played two awesome sets in as many days. Andy Animal, their lead singer, moved around on stage like no other big man I had ever seen. It was as if he was daring someone to say, "You can't stalk around like Mick Jagger. You're not thin enough." The guy is punk as fuck, and he's a good singer in an awesome band to boot. Saturday's set was great, as they broke out covers of Brian Eno's "Needle in The Camel's Eye" and The Ramones' "Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World."

Ex-Humans: Everyone in Atlanta knows that Josh Martin is an outstanding front man, so it is safe to say everyone was thrilled to see Ex-Humans perform on back-to-back nights. The new band already has a full set of songs, including both cuts from their debut Full Breach Kicks 7". This band, like Predator, is a suitable substitution for Beat, Beat, Beat.

The Beets: This trio only played Saturday, which is a shame as I would have loved seeing them more than once. Straightforward garage rock with shouty harmonies is hard to top when it is done right, and few bands do it as well as The Beets.

Love City: This group was from Philadelphia, a glorified New York suburb, and they performed Friday at The Earl. Organ-driven, '60's style rock and roll is another formula that is hard to beat when it is done right, and Love City do it well. A couple of these guys are longtime friends of Chris Van Etten, so I would imagine he helped them get booked last-second to make up for The Electric Shadows' having to cancel their Friday night appearance due to transportation issues.

The locals: Over the two nights, local bands like G.G. King, Predator, The Customers and Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction played. G.G. and friends were playing their third gig ever, and sadly I missed it as they played early on Friday. Predator, as always, brought it, and they were one of the highlights of Saturday's show. The Customers seemed louder than usual Saturday, but they, too, were on par with the NYC bands sharing the Doo Gallery's stage. When Baby Dinos performed along with their friend Megan, another New Yorker, they delighted the visiting bands with the best live version of "Coke Dick" to date.

Beat Beat Beat: With everyone but Warren in attendance Saturday, 4/5 of Beat Beat Beat cranked out four or five cover songs for old time's sake. It was not one of their better outings (not that it was meant to be), but it was still awesome to see those guys on stage together one more time.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Tell The World" the Vivian Girls are coming next month

Artist: Vivian Girls
Title: Tell The World
Label: Woodsist
Release date: 2008

On this, the second of four Vivian Girls singles released in 2008, the listener gets a nice sampler of the band's self-titled album.

The A-side features a version of "Tell The World," which may be the band's signature tune. Like most Vivian Girls songs, this one features beautiful harmonies, and it is lo-fi enough that it sounds the same live as it does on record.

"I Believe in Nothing" is as negative lyrically as it is beautiful musically. It's a masterpiece in irony. The other B-side, "Damaged," does not have the same punch as the other songs on this single, though it has the distinct Vivian Girls sound.

While you wait patiently for the Vivian Girls' April 7 gig at The Earl, wet your appetite with this:

That was almost as good as a Clay story.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's not Carbonas, but it's still a keeper

Artist: G.G. King
Title: Adult Rock
Label: Douchemaster Records
Release date: March 2009
Vinyl color: Some are on blue, others on black

This is not a Carbonas record, but between G.G. King's live and studio lineups to date, the gang, and familiar sounds, is all here.

A few years ago, Greg King of Carbonas fame christened longtime friend and band mate Jesse Smith as "Gentleman Jesse." That obviously stuck. Now, Jesse has deemed Greg to be G.G. King (his real initials) as a reference to both G.G. Allin and Dee Dee King.

With Jesse and Carbonas drummer Dave Rahn (who mastered this recording) on the road with Gentleman Jesse and His Men, The Carbonas are on hiatus. King is not slowing down in the interim, as he both cut this single and has performed live shows with a lineup that includes longtime Carbonas guitarist and cover art inspiration Clay Kilbourne.

On his solo debut, King is joined by Smith and Carbonas bassist Chris Van Etten as they cut a version of "Adult Rock," which was originally intended to be a Carbonas song. It is a lo-fi tune that, unsurprisingly, is good enough to be a Carbonas song.

"In The Terminal" could have come from another coast and another decade, as it is reminiscent of the West Coast punk covers the Carbonas did on their Euro Tour EP. This brief tune has a definite punk feel that shows off the Carbonas many influences. It also has a catchy chorus that may remind listeners of none other than Carbonas/Gentleman Jesse friend and ally Paul Collins.

This may not be on par with a Carbonas single, but it is still a must-have.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

'Bonas are back?

The Carbonas and Bukkake Boys will be playing this. So will The Zero Boys. Twice. Who all is up for a road trip?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spring Break-Out!

Check out a huge weekend that begins tomorrow night with New York's finest in The Stalkers, Ex-Humans (ex Carbonas and Star Spangles), and Electric Shadows. Joining them will be G.G. King. Saturday will rock, too, as Megan, another New Yorker, will perform with her pals from Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hate mail is funny!



For one thing, I would be more likely to respond fully if he was not YELLING in CAPS LOCK. This guy paid to go see The Black Lips, and there is a two in 10 chance he did not steal their album off the internet. yet he writes them off because critics like them and they are short? Brilliant.

I genuinely love Poison Arrows live, though a forthcoming review will share my complaints about their new single. One member of the band has been my friend for at least three or four years, and I doubt he would kick me to the curb if I did not dig his new music.

As for Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction, I think their (that's the proper term, not "there") music is fun, as are most of their live shows.

Considering the number of friends I have who either 1) did not know I wrote this blog until after we became acquaintances and 2) do not even have internet, I doubt this blog can serve as a way to make friends/influence people/get laid.

Anyone who gets that upset about The Black Lips and musical quality likely digs snobbish, eight-inch-beard indie rockers and has no sense of fun at all.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

House show stolen by Minks

Athens' This Piano Plays Itself brought big amps and plenty of energy to the Barberrie House as the opening band. So much energy and sound that the lead singer was drowned out by the music, and people on the front poarch probably had a better listening experiences than those who remained in close quarters.

After The Mammals played a surprising brief set, Halifax, Nova Scotia's Stolen Minks stole the show. The all-girl trio played a mix of new tunes and sons from last year's High Kicks CD. There was no "Lost Cause" cover this time, but there were plenty of people who had never heard the Minks who said afterwards that they were impressed.

A special Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction reunion was next, as Megan was back on keyboards. The brief 15-minute set plodded along at times, and was not among the band's best, not even when compared to other sloppy house show appearances. It was, however, a fun set, and that is what Baby Dinosaurs is all about.

Balkans performed, contrary to rumors that they had been asked by a promoter to rest up for Tuesday's King Khan and the Shrines show at The Masquerade. As usual, the youngsters ripped through a strong set.

Abby Go Go played, which is not unsusal and those guys stay booked. What was different, though, was the surprise addition of a third guitarist, as Derek Lyn Plastic made a special appearance on the last song.

The early morning festivities were wrapped up by Jovontaes, a band from Kentucky, and local indie rockers The N.E.C. With daylight savings time rearing its ugly head, it was probably right at 4 a.m. when the show officially ended.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Going to bring it Minks. Yeah!

Those lovable Canadians The Stolen Minks will be at the Barberrie House tomorrow night along with Abby Go Go, Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction, The N.E.C., and Jovantes. It will be a reunion, of sorts, for the Baby Dinos as Megan will be here all the way from New York to play keyboards.

Elsewhere in town, the space next to the Doo Gallery will host Poison Arrows, Doomed Youth, and The Customers.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Black Lips release solid, eclectic fifth album

Artist: Black Lips
Title: 200 Million Thousand
Label: Vice Records
Release date: Feb. 24, 2009

The Black Lips, one of the world’s hardest-working live acts, have followed up their 2007 masterpiece, Good Bad Not Evil, with the 14 delightfully eclectic tracks of 200 Million Thousand.

The surprisingly beautiful, soothing “Starting Over” is easily the most accessible song, so whoever picked it as Vice Records’ freebie download to build up anticipation for this album deserves a high-five.

“Short Fuse” was also used to promote the album before its Feb. 24 release, and it is also easy on the ears.

With two songs that are more likely to remind you of when you discovered your own mother’s collection of 1960’s pop standards than a band known for setting drum kits on fire and urinating in their own mouths, many may have expected a clean-sounding album and a different approach from The Black Lips.

The opening seconds of “Take My Heart” will dispel any fears that the band has departed from trashy punk-meets-garage-rock (or, as they call it, “flower punk”).

“Drugs” starts earning this album the “eclectic” tag (or, if you prefer, “directionless” accusations), as it is a keyboard part away from sounding like a demo version of a New York Dolls or Hollywood Brats tune. This is especially true toward the end of the song when the band really kicks things into gear.

The fourth track, “Let It Grow,” is a masterpiece of neo-psychedelic, guitar-fuzz junkie rock that seems to be overlooked by critics. It, in some ways, is a seasoned band’s take on some of its earlier output, so fans of the first three albums will surely get snagged in their unsuspecting mouths by the hook of “Let It Grow.”

“Trapped in a Basement” is getting those before-mentioned critics’ accolades, as you would be hard-pressed to find a review that does not laud this bluesy attempt at Southern storytelling. Rightfully so, as this is a spooky, modern version of “House of the Rising Son” which captures the true tale of a man and his incestuous relationship with the daughter he kept locked in a basement.

The tune “I’ll Be With You” seems to be a lo-fi statement of Platonic love. While it is not a bad song, it might be the album’s most forgettable.

“Big Black Baby Jesus of Today” is both lo-fi and slightly tribal, as it is complemented by some solid guitar work and lyrics that are as bizarre as you might expect.

The next tune, “Again & Again,” is a cover of the Iguanas, a band fronted by Iggy Pop back when he was still known as James Osterberg.

“Old Man” with its echo-heavy lyrics is another nod to the psychedelic garage bands you would likely find in Cole, Jared, Ian and Joe’s vinyl collections.

Another out-of-the-blue surprise is “The Drop I Hold,” which features Cole rapping along with a piano-based song accented by primal screams that sounds like it came out of a Deep South swamp. Does that sound like it would work? If your answer is no, you should check out this track and be amazed at how the band makes this should-be train wreck work well.

“Body Combat” is somewhat funky, in a lo-fi kind of way. This is another song that has no business working, but the band somehow managed to meld this concept into a decent tune.

On “Elijah,” the album begins to jerk to a slow stop, as the song itself sort of jerks along. To be fair, with the band trying to mix in all kinds of different elements into their sound, not every strange brew will please every fan.

The drug experience anthem “I Saw God” mixes a dramatic lecture with radio censor beeps in a song that ends chaotically when it breaks down into unholy incantations. A bluesy surprise song plays a few minutes after the end of the last listed track, and it is a nice bow on an album of surprises.

Overall, this mixed bag of an album will not likely convert as many to the social gospel of The Black Lips as its more coherent predecessor. While Good Bad Not Evil and its easier-to-digest sound came along at the right time, just as the band was primed to reach out to new audiences, this mixed bag of sounds may scare off some potential new fans. To simplify the difference between the two albums, the new Black Lips disk is their Sandinista, which fittingly was preceded by their London Calling.

As Jack Hines, a former Black Lips guitarist, points out in Vice Magazine’s “Guide to Atlanta,” our city is full of “last ditchers... real honest-to-God ‘do or die’ types.” With 200 Million Thousand, The Black Lips capture both the confrontations with reality and the drug-addled fantasies that pull some transplanted suburban rejects through life in otherwise dim places like Atlanta.

At least “kids like you and me” can carve out a unique existence somewhere, even if it is in the Deep South. That is the message of The Black Lips. That is their social gospel.

G.G. King, other familiar faces play Reactionary Records party

G.G. King, The Customers, Predator, John Barrett's Bass Drum of Death, American Cheeseburger, Dark Meat, and Turbo Fruits
The Star Bar
Friday, February 27, 2009

Three hot new Atlanta acts and two of Athens' finest were among the acts last Friday at The Star Bar as Parking Lot Paul and friends celebrated the opening of East Atlanta's Reactionary Records.

The Customers opened the festivities with their fourth set ever. The group continues to improve, as they may very well join Predator and Poison Arrows at the top of the heap when it comes to Atlanta's new wave of bands. Iit is great to see Stephen from Beat Beat Beat as a frontman, and it is also a thrill to see Brad from The Heart Attacks back on stage.

Up next, the downstairs area became packed after Tuk announced that Athens' finest hardcore band, American Cheeseburger, was playing.

Those who remained upstairs saw a solid set by John Barrett's Bass Drum of Death. The former one-man-band now has a drummer, and they played bluesy garage rock that is very, very Southern. They are a lot like Coffin Bound, just not as awesome.

The second downstairs act was Predator and they, as always, delivered. With all due respect to Poison Arrows and The Customers, Predator has recently emerged as Atlanta's best new punk band. If their forthcoming album is half as good as their live shows, it will be a keeper.

Predator was followed by G.G. King, who was making his second solo performance and his first with longtime friend and 7" cover art inspiration Clay Kilbourne on guitar and backup vocals. The band shredded through a few originals, most of which were good and different enough from the Carbonas to sound fresh, and a couple of covers, including a Devo song. G.G. King, in case you haven't heard, is Greg Carbona's new solo project.

Up next was Dark Meat, an Athens-based band that packs more people on stage than King Khan when he plays with The Shrines. The band is a fun concept, and they have some catchy tunes.

The closers, Turbo Fruits, featured everyone in Be Your Own Pet but the girl. I missed their set, as I was downstairs socializing, but the guys from Abby Go Go said it was good.

Waa Waa Hoo Photobooth

This was posted by The Coathangers on Facebook:

Heyyyyyy! So the highly anticipated 2nd album "Scramble" drops April 7th. The CD release party will be APRIL 4TH AT THE EARL IN ATLANTA GA!

Trust me if you thought they couldnt beat out their last cd release with mini horses and monkeys then think again. This is going to be huge and a photographer will be there with a special "photobooth.'


Monday, March 2, 2009

DLP seeks new members

Derek Lyn Plastic is searching for a second guitarist and a new bassist. Hit him up on Myspace if you are interested.