Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Album Review: 'Your New Norman Rockwell' by Micah Schnabel

Album:  Your New Norman Rockwell (BandCamp, Last Chance Records, iTunes)
Artist:  Micah Schnabel (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BandCamp, Big Cartel)

Micah Schnabel's latest album Your New Norman Rockwell is a powerhouse release of poignant poetry, biting social commentary, and personal heartache, all held together by brilliant hooks and heart wrenching melodies.  There is a power and a purpose behind each and every one of these songs and though the subjects are often dark, the world is a far better place because of their existence.  There is a wisdom in these words, born from a point of view that puts others before self refusing to dwell in the gutter of self-service and delusions of grandeur.  Schnabel gives a voice to those who feel alone and worthless and powerless, to those who have been marginalized, belittled, and demonized, and he does it in the best way possible.  It's very easy for those who feel low and stepped on to become angry and bitter and filled with hate.  And that's what makes Your New Norman Rockwell so utterly and completely special.  This record does none of that.  Yes there is anger and frustration but there is no wallowing in self pity or cries for vengeance.  This record is all about making the world a better place by taking care of each other.  It's a musical plea, appealing to the better angels of our nature, begging people to take the higher road of love and compassion and serving others.  And if all of that wasn't enough, these songs are brilliantly crafted mixing the best elements of folk, punk, indie rock, classic rock, and country.  One shining example is the best song that The Replacements never wrote "Jazz and Cinnamon Toast Crunch" with its ridiculous riff, incredible hook, and driving melody that tell the story of growing up making music.  Then there's the soul crushingly moving "The Interview" with it's Lou Reed / Bob Dylan-esque delivery and drives home the desperation of feeling lost and without hope.  Those are just two examples of the 11 exquisite musically diverse moments that make up Your New Norman Rockwell.  From start to finish the album is a roller coaster of emotions and styles held together by Micah Schnabel's voice and words.  This is an exceptionally important record, one that should be felt as great poetry as much as enjoyed as fantastic music.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Currently Listening

1.  "Passing" by Fresh (from These Things Are Not That Fun)
2.  "Heavy Petting Zoo" by Sad Blood (from Legion of Gloom)
3.  "Summer At Home" by Great Cynics (from POSI)
4.  "The Tide" by RVIVR (from The Tide/Shaggy)
5.  "Rebels" by Red City Radio (from Rebels)
6.  "End Transmission" by Nothington (from In The End)
7.  "No Johns" by Fox Wound (from In Passing, You Too Faded)
8.  "True Love And A Free Life Of Free Will" by Japandroids (from Near To The Wild Heart Of Life)
9.  "Everest" by Lights & Motion (from Dear Avalanche)
10.  "Another Nightmare in America" by Cory Branan (from Adios)
11.  "Emergency" by Dead Bars (from Dream Gig)
12.  "Easy to Love" by Cayetana (from New Kind of Normal)
13.  "Latchkey Kid" by John Moreland (from Big Bad Luv)
14.  "Oh, What a Bummer" by Micah Schnabel (from Your New Norman Rockwell)
15.  "Little Conversation" by Drawstring (from Cool)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Album Review: 'Bury Me in Philly' by Dave Hause

Title:  Bury My in Philly (Official, Rise RecordsAmazon, iTunes, Spotify)
Artist:  Dave Hause (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, Wikipedia)

Dave Hause's third solo full-length is an absolute, unequivocal, incontrovertible joy.  From start to finish Bury Me in Philly is pure rock 'n' roll gold that harkens back to the pop rock glory days of the 1980s.  Now on the surface that might sound like a bad thing but trust me, it isn't.  Taking cues from artists like Bryan Adams and The Hooters, Hause has crafted a record that is dipping with hooks, melodies, and earnest pop sensibilities.  Produced by Hooters' frontman Eric Bazilian, Bury Me in Philly truly is the modern descendant of Bryan Adams' 1984 classic Reckless.  The songs are catchy, full of heart, and powered by pure soul.  I understand that comparing a punk-turned-troubadour singer/songwriter to one of the 1980s pop rock megastars may seem odd if not sacrilegious but it works.  I was in elementary school in 1984 when Reckless came out and I remember with great fondness the power and heart of songs like "Heaven," "Summer of '69," and the brilliant duet with Tina Turner "It's Only Love."  There was a simplicity and an innocence to those songs that filled you with joy and that is the same kind of feeling I get each time I listen to Bury Me in Philly.  What Hause has over Adams and The Hooters is depth and a sincerity born from coming up through the punk rock underground.  Had this album come out at a time when rock 'n' roll records still churned out hits, I have no doubt that songs like "With You," "The Flinch," and the title track would have ruled the charts and airwaves.  

I have been listening to this record for months, picking apart the lyrics and practically meditating on the melodies, and each time I put it on I find something new to love.  Each and every song on this album kills in its own unique way making for a satisfying and spiritual journey.  Trying to put into words how much I love this record has been a challenge.  From the moment I got it, I knew that I was hearing something truly special and that feeling has only grown stronger and deeper with each passing day and rotation.  Bury Me in Philly is the kind of record that speaks not only straight from the heart but straight into your soul.  Dave Hause is a tremendous songwriter and this record is the perfect showcase for his ever expanding talents and skills.  Bury Me in Philly fills my heart with hope, brings joy to my soul, and gives me chills all at the same time.  This is truly a rock 'n' roll masterpiece, a timeless piece of musical perfection that is destined to save souls through its power and purpose.  Thank you Mr. Hause, thank you.



Video of the Day: "Hey Kids!" by Girls Club


Song:  "Hey Kids!"
Artist:  Girls Club (Facebook, InstagramBandCamp)
Album:  Lavender Scare (BandCamp)

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Voices of a Generation X: The Replacements


The recent death of Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell has cause me to reflect on the music of my lifetime and of my generation.  In the broadest of definitions, Generation X covers the years 1960-1980.  In other words, anyone born in that 20 year span is part of the slacker generation.  We were the last sons and daughters for the Silent Generation and the majority of the children of the Baby Boomers.  We grew up in the aftermath of the civil rights era, the Vietnam War, and Watergate; we came of age during the Reagan years, learning lessons about the glory of consumerism, the importance of college, and that some jobs were beneath us (though we did have some great cartoons and the kind and gentle hand of Mr. Rogers to help keep us centered); we helped to elect Bill Clinton and usher in a decade of change and growth that we somehow thought would never end (oh how naive we were); at the turn of the century we became parents, teachers, and leaders, and nearing a new decade we helped elect the first black President of the United States.  We're the only generation that had one foot firmly in the analog age and the other in the digital age witnessing the birth of cable television, MTV, CNN, the 24 hour news cycle, CDs, personal computers, cell phones, the internet, file sharing, digital music, MP3 players, smart phones, on demand entertainment options, the .com bubble and bust, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Amazon, Google, and on, and on; needless to say the world is a very different place than when we were kids.  We're also the first generation that did not out perform our parents.  But throughout it all, the highs and the lows, the recessions and the scandals, the threats from the Soviets and then the terrorists, we had music.

The pop culture identity of Generation X will always be synonymous with the 1980s and '90s.  Collectively those were the decades that we grew up, came of age, and reached adulthood.  During the Reagan years our radio airwaves were dominated by the likes of Madonna, Prince, and Michael Jackson, three performers that while technically weren't members of the Pepsi Generation (all were born in 1958), they were part of those crossover years that happen between every generation and had far more in common with the kids of the '80s than those born right after World War II.  As the decade wore on a slick, glammed out version of heavy metal dominated MTV and the radio.  Underneath the surface of all of that glitz and pomp bubbled a scene filled with misfits and freaks, nerd and rejects, art kids and the unwanted, punks and goths and rudies and straight edgers and the like, all creating a music and a scene that would blow up and dominate the next decade.  Some of the bands that came out of this/these scenes found crossover success early on (see U2, INXS, and a slew of new wave one-hit-wonders) but others never would.  The 1990s would see these same freaks and geeks thrust into the spotlight of mainstream success, changing the world, as Hole would later sing, "with one song."

Now it would be impossible to do a comprehensive study of the music that defined Generation X, at least here and certainly not by me.  There were movements in heavy metal, country, and most notably hip hop that I am simply not qualified to write about (though I do love me some late '80s and early '90s hip hop jams).  What I can discuss is the music that boiled out of the punk scene of the 1970s and the various scenes and sub-genres that followed (though I barely know anything about industrial or goth music), but even with that limitation doing a comprehensive look at this music would be a massive undertaking (there have been books written on this subject for Pete's sake).  So with that in mind, I'm going to cover the voices that define the musical legacy of this generation to me in a new series The Voices of a Generation X.

I can think of no better place to start than with The Replacements.  They weren't the first and certainly not the last, but more than any other group The Replacements embodied everything that was and is Generation X.  A group of misfits from Minneapolis, MN, The Replacements banged out a series of classic records that, at the time, went completely under the radar yet they still managed to influence a slew of other artists and become legends without ever touching or even sniffing the pop charts.  The angst and frustration of our generation was beautifully and perfectly captured in songs like "Bastards of Young," "Unsatisfied," and "Never Mind."  We're a generation of broken families, missed opportunities, and untapped potential and no one ever knew or expressed that better than The Replacements.

The beginnings of the band go back to 1978 when a 19 year-old Bob Stinson gave his 11 year-old brother Tommy a bass guitar to keep him off the streets.  The pair enlisted Chris Mars and a band was formed.  Paul Westerberg overheard the band rehearsing when on his way home from work and was eventually invited to jam by Mars.  After a failed show at a church, the band changed their name and officially became The Replacements.  According to Mars the name had a specific meaning --
"Like maybe the main act doesn't show, and instead the crowd has to settle for an earful of us dirtbags....It seemed to sit just right with us, accurately describing our collective 'secondary' social esteem."
It was this sentiment the oozed out of everything The Replacements ever did, from sloppy records of incredible power pop songs played through the combined lens of Big Star and The Jam to baffling inebriated live performances that were either legendary brilliant or epicly horrible.  The band found itself either too rough around the edges or too polished at varying points in their career, making them the greatest band of the '80s that never quite made it.  In the end they went out in true Replacements' fashion with each remaining member leaving the stage mid-performance to be replaced by their respective roadies.  During their run, they released eight records (seven full-lengths and one EP), each good to great in their own rights with the three in the middle being nothing short of brilliant.  Twenty-two years later, Tommy Stinson and Paul Westerberg reunited to perform at the Riot Fest shows in Toronto, Chicago, and Denver before embarking on multiple tours over the next couple of years before once again calling it a day.  The long and storied history of the band was detailed in Bob Mehr's book Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements and the early, pre-major label portion of their career was covered in Michael Azerrad's brilliant book Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981–1991.

I first discovered The Replacements, like I did many bands, through MTV's 120 Minutes.  The show played the videos for "Bastards of Young," "I'll Be You," and "When It Began" on a regular basis.  Around that time ('91-'92-ish) I picked up a copy of the Mats' sophomore release Stink and the soundtrack to the movie Say Anything, which included the track "Within Your Reach."  It was these releases that formed my early opinion of The Replacements.  They were another early '80s punk band that branched out with their sound in much the same way that 7 Seconds did in the late '80s (though with drastically different results).  Over the years I picked up copies of Tim and Please To Meet Me and while I enjoyed both, the band's music didn't fully connect with me until much later.  In 2016 a proper best-of collection was released in Don't You Know Who I Think I Was?, which I immediately picked up, and from that moment on I was hooked.  Since then I have devoured the band's catalog and fallen completely in love with their music.  Their 1985 album Tim is now one of my all-time favorites and not a week goes by where I don't listen to their music in some capacity.  The Replacements' music (including Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson post-Mats projects) has become to be a huge part of my life and touched me deeply becoming an integral part of who I am.  I am very much a person that has been defined by music.  Outside of my family, I have three passions in my life and music is the one that is the highest on that list.  The Replacements have become a core part of that passion, in no small part I'm sure due to their place in the history and culture of my generation...or at least my small corner of this generation.  They were misfits and outcasts who wore their hearts on their sleeves and had a tendency to completely fuck things up and never reach their fullest potential.  If that isn't a summer of my life, I don't know what is.  They may never have been real, full-blown rock stars but they wrote music that spoke to a group of people that desperately needed it and needed to know that they were not alone.  For that, I am eternally grateful.
  

10 Questions with Girls Club

Girls Club is a four piece fuzzy indie punk band from Tulsa, OK.  The band released their debut Lavender Scare last yeah and it is really stinking good.

This interview was conducted via email May 5 - 17, 2017.

For more information check out Girls Club's Facebook, Instagram, and BandCamp pages.


Dave:  How did the band get together?

Jess DiPesa:  I wanted to be in a band with 3 people I loved personally and musically.  Dreams do come true.

Lindsay Wessinger:  We actually started out just goofing around and doing covers. Then one day, we were playing around with a Grandaddy song, and we were like “wait…this is really good. We should write originals and really do this.”

Airon Wessinger:  Jess wanted to play bass, because she's better than me. And I didn't want to play guitar because I'm a better bassist. So, 2 basses.



Dave:  What’s the story behind the name Girls Club?

Jess:  Our band went through a metric ton of band names and just wasn't finding anything that we loved.  Lindsay and I actually really liked the name Lovey Dovey, but not everybody in the band did.  I initially thought of Girls Club as the antithesis to a "boy's club"  or "good old boy's club."  Also with two girls in the band it seemed fun and right.   Not to mention the fact that really we are a mixed gender band and we have two awesome feminist guys who don't mind being in a band called Girls Club.  I think for me personally the deepest meaning of the name comes from the fact that I am a transwoman.  It says something about my inclusion as a woman into our societal space for women, my desire and journey to be in the "girl's club."  Am I in the club?"   Will I ever be?

Airon:  Plus, Cannibal Corpse was already taken.



Dave:  For those who have never heard the band, how do you describe your music?

Brian:  We're a dance rock/fuzztone/bass face/'90's/indie/goodtime motherfuckers!!

Airon:  Shoe gays



Dave:  Last year you released your debut Lavender Scare.  What's the story behind the record?

Jess:  As far as the name goes, I think of it as a reclaiming of the term from the Lavender Scare of the McCarthyism of the 50's when queer people were rooted out of government simply for being themselves.  Lavender Scare the album has plenty of queer themes throughout.  I think of open queerness as something that could be quite a scare to the dominant culture of our state.  Some of us live it.



Dave:  Have you toured in support of the new record? What are some of your favorite places to play?

Lindsay:  We just recently played Norman Music Fest at this place called Stash. It was so cool! They had a great stage and outdoor area. We also love playing Replay in Lawrence, KS. We are about to play a show in Houston at Super Happy Fun Land. We play there on August 5th. That place looks super weird in the best possible way. Can’t wait to check it out!

Brian:  Soundpony (Tulsa), The Yeti (Tulsa)



Dave:  Do you have any specific type of songwriting process?

Lindsay:  Usually one of us comes to the band with a basic structure of a song. Sometimes it's just a melody with no words. Sometimes it’s just an idea for a chorus. Then we all kind of add our spices to it and see if it works as a song. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. We are super diplomatic and never take anything too seriously.



Dave:  What are your thoughts on the music scene in Oklahoma?

Lindsay:  I think Oklahoma is starting to make some fun changes in the music scene…especially in Tulsa. There is A LOT of folk, blues and western music happening all over. That’s really great, but I wish we had a larger scene for punk/indie/alternative bands. I’m really loving all the grungy, trippy music that is starting to come out of Oklahoma like Queenager and DEERPEOPLE. There are a lot of people (myself included) who are interested in seeing a bit of the wilder side of the Oklahoma music scene. So I hope Girls Club can help to scratch that itch a little!

Airon:  The Oklahoma music scene is always a weird mix, which is a good thing.



Dave:  This is a High Fidelity inspired question. What are your top five favorite bands, albums, movies, television programs, books/authors?

Lindsay:  We ALL wanted to answer this question! We are all such music and movie nerds. I’m just gonna list my cream of the crop favorites:
Bands—Tripping Daisy, The Ramones
Albums—Surfer Rosa by Pixies, Pinkerton by Weezer, Closer by Joy Division
Movies—Clueless, Boogie Nights
Authors—Sylvia Plath, Anis Mojgani, Alice Sebold, Chaim Potok
TV—Broad City, Game of Thrones, Westworld

Jess:  This question is too hard, I will answer with the music that I feel I bond with my band mates:
With Airon we bond over Black Sabbath.  Practice usually consists of us setting up and we immediately start playing something off Paranoid while Lindsay rolls her eyes as we plan our non-existent side project Mountain Wizard, a stoner metal band.  I really want it to exist.
With Brian I feel like any old country or even gospel reference is not lost on him so I like having some "party liquor" with that dude, speaking in an Okie accent, and listening to something with steel guitar.
With Lindsay, I feel like we had the same listening habits in the 90's, basically anything that was on "alternative" radio.  We love Weezer, the Rentals, Pixies, Cake, Toadies and sometimes we even sing them together.  Which is the best.
Movies: Any Star Wars minus the prequels, Any even numbered Star Trek, Lots of Cohen Brothers, Ed Wood, Anything 90's and queer (But I'm a Cheerleader, Crying Game etc)
TV: TOS, TNG, DS9, Kids in the Hall, Broad City
Authors: Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, H.P. Lovecraft

Brian:  BANDS- Grandaddy, Toadies, Early Weezer, Pixies,
     MOVIES-The Outsiders, Wet Hot American Summer,
     TV- The Mighty Boosh, The IT Crowd, Broad City, The Chris Gethard Show,

Airon:  Bands- Nine Inch Nails, Pink Floyd, Ween
Albums- Nine Inch Nails- The downward spiral
Pink Floyd- Animals
Primus - Seas of Cheese
Grandaddy - Every Album
Sex Pistols - Never mind the bollocks

Movies- Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Friday, Top Secret, Pink Floyd The Wall



Dave:  What’s next for the band?

Lindsay:  We are currently working on our 2nd album. It will be called “Polyglamorous.” We hope it will be finished by the fall. It’s a little bit louder and a little bit harder than “Lavender Scare”, which makes me super excited. We are also planning a few mini tours in the Midwest to help promote it.

Airon:  Just a few more guitar pedals.



Dave:  Any final thoughts?

Airon:  Take care of yourself, and each other.

Currently Listening

1.  "Stuck Between Stations" by The Hold Steady (from Boys and Girls In America)
2.  "Up Against the Wall" by Superchunk (from "I Got Cut" b/w "Up Against the Wall")
3.  "Dull" by Samiam (from Astray)
4.  "Never Going Back" by Hot Water Music (from Never Going Back)
5.  "Aside" by The Weakerthans (from Left and Leaving)
6.  "Ire" by The Dopamines (from Tales of Interest)
7.  "Tears Don't Matter Much" by Lucero (from That Much Further West)
8.  "Yeah, So What" by Cory Branan (from Adios)
9.  "The Descent" by Bob Mould (from Silver Age)
10.  "Anything Could Happen" by Bash & Pop (from Anything Could Happen)
11.  "Screen Door" by Uncle Tupelo (from No Depression)
12.  "No Roads" by The Flatliners (from Inviting Light)
13.  "Where Are They Now" by Cock Sparrer (from Shock Troops)
14.  "Stabitha Christie" by Against Me! (from Stabitha Christie)
15.  "Busy" by Jawbreaker (from Unfun)
16.  "Lies I Chose to Believe" by John Moreland (from Big Bad Luv)
17.  "Howl" by The Gaslight Anthem (from Handwritten)
18.  "Tellin' Lies" by The Menzingers (from After The Party)
19.  "Divide And Conquer" by Husker Du (from Flip Your Wig)
20.  "Fire In The Western World" by Japandroids (from North East South West)

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Oklahoma Lefty Podcast # 12


On this episode of OLP we've got new stuff from Bombers, Red City Radio, Playing Dead, The Scandals, and Grieving, plus cult classics from 3 and Pegboy, and much more.

Find past episodes of the Oklahoma Lefty Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spreaker.

Listen to "Oklahoma Lefty Podcast # 12" on Spreaker.

1.  "Swann Street" by 3 (from Dark Days Coming)
2.  "She Don't Want a Man" by Shanda & The Howlers (from Trouble)
3.  "RNR Vision" by Bombers (from Memorial Day)
4.  "J Station" by Adult Mom (from Soft Spots)
5.  "The Lies I Need" by Nothington (from In The End)
6.  "New Air" by Fire in the Radio (from New Air)
7.  "Lucky Sevens" by The Scandals (from Lucky Sevens)
8.  "Where the Story Goes" by Playing Dead (from December Blue)
9.  "Mesa" by Cayetana (from New Kind Of Normal)
10.  "Tear Shaped Bruise" by Dead Bars (from Dream Gig)
11.  "Until the Next Cliffhanger" by Doug McKean (from Concerto for Second Fiddle)
12.  "Brian Emo" by Grieving (from Brian Emo)
13.  "Rebels" by Red City Radio (from Rebels)
14.  "City Arms" by Girls Club (from Lavender Scare)
15.  "Birthdays" by The Smith Street Band (from More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me)
16.  "The Tide" by RVIVR (from The Tide b/w Shaggy)
17.  "American Love" by Aree & the Pure Hearts (from Heartsongs)
18.  "Through My Fingers" by Pegboy (from Strong Reaction / Three-Chord Monte)

*Note*  All music played on this show is done so with the express written permission of the artist, artist representative, and/or the record label.