Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Ex Hex and FEELS in Seattle / Cat Rose photos

Ex Hex, top, and FEELS rip up the Crocodile in Seattle. (All Cat Rose photos)

Yes, it was one white-hot gig with Ex Hex and FEELS getting a shit-ton of mileage out of their guitars. Amongst all the crucial riffage, there was flying hair, scuffed up knees from hitting the floor and plenty of sneers and smiles abounding from the stage at the Crocodile in Seattle last Saturday.

The rock rolled and heaps of melody wedged its way into the fray as well. It was an upper-echelon, double barrage of dynamic tunes shot forth from bands with sturdy hands and striking voices.

Here’s Cat Rose’s photos from the front of the action:

Ex Hex


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.