Monday, April 15, 2019

Meat Puppets' 'Dusty Notes': Music to Eat Mushrooms to / Review

By Elise Thompson

This review originally appeared on The Los Angeles Beat site on March 30.

By their appearance in the two videos released for "Dusty Notes," it looks like the Kirkwood Brothers have fully given in to their Appalachian mountain man vibe, with their scraggly beards and jug band style. In the video for "Nine Pins," the Meat Puppets play the bluegrass-influenced tune in a forest clearing with straightforward simplicity, unlike their super-psychedelic video for "Warranty," a song with a "Ghost Riders in the Sky" spookiness and rhythm.

The Meat Puppets started out on punk label SST back in the early '80s, releasing one traditionally hardcore album before slowing things down and expanding into a softer, psychedelic sound on "Meat Puppets II." They were the perfect band for road trips and for taking psychedelics. Their music has always sounded best in nature. Maybe that's because the first time I saw them was out in the desert night a million miles from anywhere, tripping at The Gila Monster Jamboree.

The trio has had some rocky times, breaking up right after getting massive exposure on MTV's "Nirvana Unplugged" and releasing "Too High to Die." They have continued to play and record in various permutations since then.

"Dusty Notes," their first album with original drummer Derrick Bostrom since 1995's "No Joke," is much more thoughtful and fine tuned than their previous albums. The addition of Curt's son, Elmo, on rhythm guitar and the piano stylings of keyboardist Ron Stabinsky have given them a much fuller sound. They use their new extended lineup on the ambitious "Vampires Winged Fantasy," where they get all freaky with menacing vocals and soaring guitars. It will be a nice addition to our Halloween compilation and I appreciate them using an archaic adjectival form.

Fans who haven't heard from the Meat Puppets since the hard-rocking "Rat Farm" of 2013 might be in for a surprise. This country-influenced sound has evolved over years of playing live shows, not in the studio. But it's not as if it came out of nowhere, the band has been experimenting with this sound since "Meat Puppets II." They always had a certain country vibe, which has caused them to be referred to as pioneers of "cowpunk." Their earlier explorations are evident in songs like "Comin' Down," "Lost" and "Magic Toy Missing."

Two of the strongest examples of this evolution on "Dusty Notes" are "Sea of Heartbreak," a song so country you could two-step to it, and "Outflow," a waltzing ode to the desert which could be sung in a chapel in Bakersfield.
But seriously, what is up with all the banjo? This album has so much banjo. In the video, Curt is playing it, but Cris is credited with playing it on the record. A friend of the band's told me that the banjo was Cris' first instrument, which he was inspired to pick up because of the movie, "Deliverance." Which is SO punk, because the banjo was used as an instrument of terror in that movie.

No matter the influence, The Meat Puppets have always had an instantly recognizable sound that allows them to weave in different musical styles without getting lost. The title track of "Dusty Notes" contains highly detailed arrangements. But while you are spacing out on the heavy ornamentation, the reliable chord progressions and interlocking rhythms keep you in the groove. With the brothers' trademark ethereal harmonies, and Curt's poetic lyrics, this new album reassures us that the Meat Puppets still can provide a calming vibe to tether you to earth while complex instrumentals carry you aloft.

I award "Dusty Notes" five Tabs of Acid out of five.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Faking sick paid off in seventh grade ...Califfornia World Music Festival here I come

Since today is the 40th anniversary of this epic concert, the following is a repost from Jan. 26, 2011. On the UFO front, we've got a crew that will be rocking with the boys this October in Las Vegas.

By Andy

What happens when you fake being sick and stay home from school? As a seventh-grader in 1979, that meant listening to hard-rock tunes on 94.7 KMET in the Los Angeles area and hoping to win the big prize: tickets to the Califfornia World Music Festival.(Yes, they spelled it with two F's.)

My "stomach ache" miraculously disappeared after mom left the house, and I got the phone into a vice grip and continuously called the station when they announced the tickets were up for grabs. Yes, I won, and on April 8, I headed to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum with my dad to check out Aerosmith, Van Halen, UFO, Cheech and Chong and Eddie Money.


* My dad having to return to the car to put back his pocket knife, which didn't make it past security. While he was away, I waited by the front gate and saw several guards pin down a screaming, shirtless, long-haired man who appeared to be strung out on drugs.

* Entering the Coliseum to the sounds of Money's "Two Tickets to Paradise" and the smell of pot -- lots of it.

* Sharing my program with the strangers around me who spoke with slurred words, but still seemed cool to me.

* Cheech and Chong dancing about in pink tutus.

* UFO shredding the stage, even though guitarist Paul Chapman replaced golden-haired and -handed guitarist Michael Schenker for the gig. One person's "UFO Kicks Ass" sign was the best of the day.

* Van Halen opening with the brilliant "Light Up the Sky," David Lee Roth telling the security guards to "Get the fuck off my stage" and Eddie Van Halen raging on the "Eruption" guitar solo. My dad commented: "That guy sure gets a lot of mileage out of his guitar."

* Aerosmith were OK, actually a bit of a letdown following the mighty VH. However, the film of fighter planes gunning away and crashing on two large screens before the band took the stage was stellar.

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon and evening. Not bad at all.

On a current note, a friend of ours recently left his pocket knife in our car during a Neurosis/Black Breath gig. We safely returned it to him the following day. Talk about coming full circle.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Dils and more: Remembering Tony Kinman and William Chobotar through an evening of song

Chip Kinman leads the Dils in Vancouver, BC. (All Cat Rose photos)

Text: Andy; photos: Cat Rose

A heartfelt, memorable evening filled with music and friends that would have made Tony Kinman and William Chobotar (Zippy Pinhead) proud.

For the two men who left us too soon over the past year, musicians and fans attended the tribute gig at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver, BC, on April 5. We drove up from Seattle and felt the warmth from the crowd -- and the dynamic music from the Dils, Three O'Clock Train (also playing songs from Kinman's past) and Wasted Strays provided the perfect, moving soundtrack.

Also the Three O'Clock Train's "Cuatro de Los √Āngeles" EP launch, sales proceeds benefit Tony's widow.

Following Wasted Strays' gritty street country, one of There's Something Hard in There's faves the Dils -- a revamped version featuring Chip Kinman and newcomers Giuliano Scarfo and Brian Melendez -- ripped through a set that included "I Hate the Rich," "Class War," "Mr. Big," "Sound of the Rain" and other corkers. Fucking fantastic!

Three O'Clock Train, led by Mack MacKenzie on vocals/guitar, unleashed some of its stellar originals plus songs from Tony n' Chip's bands: Rank and File, Blackbird, Cowboy Nation, the Dils and Ford Madox Ford.

MacKenzie sang his guts out and tapped his heart on several occasions while offering words of praise for Tony and Zippy.

Highlights were Ron Reyes owning the lead vocals on "Sundown" by Rank and File, who were also represented with "Amanda Ruth," "Coyote," "The Conductor Wore Black" and "Lucky Day." Chip, who returned to the stage to play guitar on "Lucky Day" and harmonica on "Coyote," thoroughly enjoyed himself while watching his and Tony's songs come back to life with his friends at the helm. At points, Chip raised his arms and shouted out lyrics while Scarfo and Melendez bobbed their heads, sang and happily banged into each other nearby.

Also stoking the crowd were "How Does Your Horn Sound Today?" by Ford Madox Ford -- stunningly sung by MacKenzie -- and "It's Not Worth It," gladly played for the second time that night. The song found a home on vinyl on the Dils' "Made in Canada" EP -- which Zippy played on originally and on a recent re-recording with Chip and Mary Celeste from the Modernettes (original producer Bob Rock was on board again and a video of that session with tributes to Tony was shown on the big screen). That song never gets old and sticks in your head like no other.

Rest in Power, Tony and Zippy.




Saturday, April 6, 2019

CH3 knock out 'The Bellwether' for Record Store Day 2019 release

CH3 in action in Seattle. (Cat Rose photo)

Welcome back, CH3. The following is a press release from Hostage Records:

CH3, those stalwart survivors of the early 1980s SoCal punk scene, return with a surprise new five-song EP, "The Bellwether." The 12" 45 RPM colored vinyl from Hostage Records will hit stores on Record Store Day 2019 -- April 13. Digital and CD are also available at all the usual sources.

The collection of songs showcases the band at the peak of their game, some 38 years after their debut EP on the legendary Posh Boy label. Hostage Records has packaged the record as an homage to that first release, with tribute label artwork mirroring the Posh Boy flag.

"The Bellwether" is a tight bright collection of four new songs that showcase the group's melodic punk craft, as well as a cover of The Plimsouls' "How Long Will it Take."

The first track up, "What You Need," is a 100-second hardcore blaster, echoing back to the eponymous 1981 EP's "Mannequin."

The EP is available on red vinyl as well as collectors editions in unique color swirls. The sleeve artwork features Toronto artist Rob Elliott's torch monkey leaving a burning bridge in his wake, a theme that is echoed in the EP's title track.

This record also feature's CH3's first instrumental track, "Mendiolas 1983." Those familiar with the L.A. hardcore days of the 1980s will recognize this call out to the infamous Exploited/CH3/Youth Brigade riot at the ballroom of the same name.

"Blackballed," the power punk pop single that kicks off side B, is a reminder of CH3's ease of bridging the muscle of hardcore with the timeless melody of power pop. The video for the song (with the Spinal Tap tribute intro!) was filmed at Long Beach record store Third Eye Records.

The album closer is a fitting tribute to Los Angeles' beloved The Plimsouls, whose raucous live shows influenced the lads in CH3 back in the glory days of the 1980s SoCal club scene.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Field Day rising with former Dag Nasty members

Dag Nasty photo with Doug Carrion on bass and Peter Cortner on vocals by Geoffrey Nicholson,

By Andy

A trio of former Dag Nasty guys are resurrecting some of that band's songs and putting the proverbial pedal to the metal under the moniker Field Day.

On Feb. 24 of this year, bassist Doug Carrion announced on his Facebook page that he, Peter Cortner (vocals) and Scott Garrett (drums) were launching their new project. Carrion finished his brief post with, "Can you say Wig Out?"

Two weeks later, Carrion reported that Mark Phillips (formerly of Down By Law) was on board to handle guitarist duties.

Carrion and Cortner played on Dag Nasty's "Wig Out at Denko's" and "Field Day" albums and Garrett drummed on "Field Day." Those records were released in 1987 and 1988, respectively.

As fans know, Dag Nasty began in August of 1985 with Brian Baker (guitarist), Shawn Brown (vocals), Colin Sears (drums) and Roger Marbury (bass). Dave Smalley sang on the band's epic "Can I Say" record in 1986.

Following is an email Q and A with my longtime friend Carrion and it covers all the pertinent information from Dag Nasty to Field Day.

For the record, the first time my brother Ed and I saw Carrion perform was as the screaming vocalist for Con 800 alongside Fletcher Dragge (guitar), Hank Jacobson (drums) and John Allds (bass) in a Manhattan Beach garage in the early 1980s.

At one party with Con playing, I remember some chairs and a table getting bashed around — maybe a foot leaving a hole in a wall — at a house on Ormond Lane in Redondo Beach.


**How did Field Day come about? 

Really a combination of a few things that just kinda lined up. In 2018, Peter and I had a conversation about Wig Out and Field Day songs and if there was any way of playing them live since we love some of those songs. Over the past decade, more and more people were hitting me up, asking me if Wig Out and Field Day songs could ever be played again with Peter singing.

Dag Nasty has had 3 different singers and most fans really have their favorite guy. There are fans that love Peter and fans that love Dave and fans that love Shawn. A parallel might be Black Flag singers, with all their different lineups and how people have “their Black Flag guy.”  For the record, I’m a Dez guy. Anyway, We figured the easiest thing for us to do was to call it Field Day so it wouldn’t create any confusion with the fans or promoters, and that’s how the ball started rolling.

**Why is now a good time to launch Field Day?

There's always time for good music. Also, I think everyone’s in a good place in their lives to commit to Field Day and most importantly now the fans will get the chance to hear some of those songs with Peter and I performing them. It just made sense.

**The original members of Dag Nasty have been playing together over the last few years. How do they feel about Field Day? I heard you discussed playing "Wig Out"/Field Day songs with Brian Baker at one point. Any details of that conversation?

It's super friendly with Brian. Brian and Mark are friends from way back, so whenever Mark has a Field Day question about guitar parts, Brian shows him how he played 'em, it’s really cool. I'm not too sure about Roger, Colin or Shawn; I know I don’t have any issues, they're all nice guys. Colin and Mark are also friends, Peter and Shawn are friends, Brian and I are friends.

About the previous discussion, Brian’s Bad Religion schedule got busy and it wasn’t gonna happen, so Peter and I opted to continue moving things forward, however Brian is welcome to join us live any time, that'd be fun. Honestly, it’s gonna be a different band playing some songs from Wig Out and Field Day and fans will know which singer is showing up.

**What’s on the docket for Field Day? Touring, practicing, writing new songs to accompany the old ones?

Right now the plan is rehearsing, writing new songs and focusing on 3 East Coast and 3 West Coast shows in late August early September. Musically speaking, we’re looking to release new music in 2020. Mark and I rehearse every week learning the older songs. Also, we’re writing and sharing rough demos of new songs that we plan to record as soon as possible, hopefully this summer 2019.

**How does it feel to be back and playing bass on those songs?

It’s really fun, I’m going about it in a weird way (what a surprise) by not just learning the bass parts but also learning all the vocal parts. That’s a deep dive into the Wig Out and Field Day. I practice every day for a few hours learning old songs or writing new ones. It’s interesting to relearn those songs with a more adult perspective. I’m not the same player I was back then and certainly have had more life experiences, so it makes it a blast.

**What are some highlights of playing with Dag Nasty back in the day?

My recollection was the excitement getting to wear dry clothes since most of the clubs would be packed over capacity and it’d be like 105 degrees inside when we were playing. In the winter after a show, when the venue opened its doors a giant cloud of steam and sweat would come billowing out of the club, that's a sight. Way too many highlights and funny stories to get into now, but one funny situation was stopping in Darien, CT, to get gas and the owner of a gas station asked me if we were the Grateful Dead. ???  Apparently, his son had been off following the Dead for a few years and he thought I might have the inside scoop on his son’s whereabouts.

**How did those experiences mold you into who you are today?

With Dag Nasty I learned a ton, met a billion people, played all over US and Canada and had a great time. I think anytime you travel, you create lots of life experiences, and when you’re traveling with a band it’s like living life in hyper-space. In the band world, experiences come at you faster and there are more of them since you’re working on a 24-hour clock. I’d say it’s helped me learn how to navigate situations better.

Dag Nasty photo with Baker, Cortner, Carrion and Garrett by Ken Salerno

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Punk rock unleashed in historic Seattle building / Cat Rose photos

Having Issues. (All Cat Rose photos)

By Andy

You get four bands in the punk-rock realm and give them the run of a section of the historic Barnes Building in Seattle, and chances are, it's gonna rage, right?

With Having Issues, Millhous, Steel Tigers of Death and Ichi Bichi at the helm, last Friday's gig at the Belltown Yacht Club adjacent to the Screwdriver bar was packed tight up front and the bands delivered the raucous goods.

Congrats to our friends in Having Issues for staging the gig to celebrate the release of their solid six-song EP, which is available here.

Props to Kaz (Casimir Baniszewski) for recording, mixing and producing the EP and to Emma for assistant recording.

So, the Barnes Building, it's had its fair share of activity since it was constructed in late 1890. It has been home to International Order of Odd Fellows lodges, fraternal and secret societies, the Free and Accepted Masons, Pentecostal Mission, the International Bible Students Association, and businesses selling and manufacturing furniture, dry goods, farm implements and sleeping bags.

When it became known as Ingram Hall, the place was hopping with dances and dance classes and the First Chamber Dance Company, Seattle's first resident professional ballet company.

So, to tie all that in with Friday's gig, there were a few odd fellows spotted within the crowd, the local punk scene is a secret society, for sure, and we could have used some sleeping bags to rest our weary bodies afterward. As far as we could tell, no one was quoting Bible passages, so that's a good thing.

Perhaps at the next gig, a band member or two will whip out some ballet moves. Just saying.