Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Criminal Code carves a new path on '2534' | Interview

Criminal Code's Taiga Miyama a few years ago in Tacoma. (All Cat Rose photos)

By Andy

The yelling may be absent, but the vigor certainly remains.

With Criminal Code's swirling guitars and throbbing bass still at the forefront, the Tacoma, Wash., band has added some subtle twists and turns into its post-punk landscape and given listeners -- and themselves -- something new to digest.

On its new album, "2534, which was released on Deranged Records last week, vocalist/guitarist Taiga Miyama and his crew once again unleash some well-crafted songs that span copious genres ... they're just coming at it with a more-toned down but still ultra-effective method.

"It's just kind of weird to write softer songs and try to approach it differently vocal-wise. It was kind of nervewracking at first," Miyama said.

"It's really how the songs are crafted, it would be too aggressive to yell. Since the songs are different, might as well have the vocals different, do things completely new, and a way to keep the band progressing and approaching it in a different way because it's something we've done for eight years."

The whole point to this stage in Criminal Code's lifespan is stepping outside the box and not falling into a rut.

Miyama noted: "I think we all like writing songs, which is the plus of it. Also, I think we can all lock in on ideas of what we want and it's easy to talk about how we want to do a song or an album. I love punk songs, but it's easy to write them, so it's always a challenge to do something completely different. I think that's the important thing of being in a band, instead of just becoming a cookie-cutter, just writing the same stuff over and over."

It's a microcosm of everyday living -- taking chances and standing behind them. The entire band -- which also features Andrew Gentz on bass, Jawsh Hageman on drums and Chad Bucklew on guitar --  was all in and supportive of the new direction from start to finish.

"Comfort is something that people get so attached to and they don't wanna escape from that," Miyama said. "That's kind of with the album -- well, we should work differently on our guitar tones, vocally, lyrically, everything. It's a challenge and I think it all came out good in the end. But I was kind of hesitant, because it's something I'm not used to hearing. I wanna think it's good," he added with a laugh.

Miyama said that he's received positive reactions from people who've heard the new album. They say it's still got the Criminal Code core sound and the album rolls with a solid flow.

He's most stoked on "The Subject," which implements one guitar melody the whole way through and features a Gentz distorted, mechanical-like bass part woven throughout the song.

Miyama is proud of the lyrics as well, which came naturally in focusing on how the band members have become older, carved out new life paths and still view playing music as a crucial part of their existence.

"I love playing in a band with all those guys. It's the enjoyment of playing music and writing songs with them, but also it's booking shows and being in bands for so long," Miyama said. "It's the whole networking -- going on tour is something I always love, going to city to city, running into friends, talking to friends during our shows and experiencing punk in a whole nationwide perspective of it."

Here's the order link at Deranged Records.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Counting up the good times with The Odd Numbers

The Odd Numbers. (Photo by

By Andy

I wasn't being a pest, I was just having some fun.

And digging the tunes, of course.

I deserved the tongue lashing in 1990 when The Odd Numbers' guitarist/vocalist Dave Baisa pointed my way and boomed into the mic: "Hey, the guy in The Alarm shirt, shut up."

Patrons at Katie Bloom's Irish pub in downtown San Jose turned toward me as I sat at the bar grasping my Guinness pint and chuckling with a pal. I looked the band's way, smiled and nodded as if holding a white flag, just like the girl on the Jam's "Beat Surrender" record. OK, I was done calling out Jam songs for the band to play. The Rickenbacker-wielding gentlemen were obviously ripping it up with their own mod- and soul-styled numbers and I wasn't going to joke around any longer.

After their set, I approached the trio and gave them props for unleashing tunes from one of my favorite genres to a Friday evening happy-hour crowd. How stoked was I that we happened to pop in that day?

We instantly struck up a friendship that has spanned 28 years and a multitude of their gigs. The Odd Numbers are very much a part of my adulthood, even though I was acting like a lame teenager at that first meeting.

We've all grown up and The Odd Numbers are still cranking out the tunes. Their new album "The Oddyssey" is stellar and I'm glad I purchased it during a recent trip from Seattle back to San Jose at my former home away from home, Streetlight Records. It all makes sense, cuz that's where I bought the band's first release, "About Time," on cassette back in the day.

The Odd Numbers live in San Jose in the 1990s. (Cat Rose photo)

So the new record -- which features Baisa and original bassist/vocalist Dave Miller and drummer Dave Conrad (another old pal who played in Frontline/Lifeline) -- kicks off with "Teach Myself" and takes me straight back to the golden nights when we frequented Marsugi's and the Cactus Club on a regular basis to watch the Numbers along with Crash Course, Gas Huffer, the Supersuckers, Hemi and countless others along with original drummer John Cummings.

"The Oddyssey" treads familiar Numbers ground and, as always, displays the band's ability to stretch, octopus-like in so many musical directions that would bring any music fan into their Weller-, Daltrey- and Mayfield-splashed lair.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

TSOL delivers the classic tunes | Cat Rose photos

TSOL in Seattle. (All Cat Rose photos)

TSOL unleashed the beasts.

From "Superficial Love" to "Dance With Me," the punk ragers tackled their first two releases in succession on Friday night at El Corazon in Seattle. The self-titled EP and follow-up LP "Dance With Me" were major parts of our teen years and still take charge of our senses today.

Mix in a few songs off the band's recent album, "The Trigger Complex" -- which is solid most of the way through -- and closing with "Wash Away," and you've got one fuckin' great night in the books.

Also tearing it up were Seattle/Olympia stalwarts The Derelicts, Dreadful Children, Acid Teeth and The Stuntmen.

All Cat Rose photos: