Looking Forward To Gonerfest 16

Gonerfest is almost here. For the Memphis festival’s international devotees, the calendar year starts (or ends) around the last weekend of September. Four years ago, Chris and I made the wise decision to make a trip to the land of our favorite record label, Goner Records. Since then, it’s been an annual rock ‘n roll pilgrimage. It’s hard to explain this festival to colleagues, friends, and family. Most people think BIG names, multiple stages, camping. In many ways Gonerfest is the opposite. The three night shows (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) take place at the Hi-Tone, which is similar in size to Boston’s Brighton Music Hall. There’s an outdoor show at the Memphis Made Brewery on Friday afternoon and Murphy’s Blowout on Saturday, which has crowds alternating between an outdoor stage and the indoor stage, which packs people into a space about the size of O’Briens Pub. Let us not forget about the after parties, which typically commence around 2:30 or 3 AM. Nothing like cracking open a beer at quarter past four in the morning and seeing New Memphis Legs.

Thursday is the lightest of the three days. As far as the schedule is concerned. It’s the first night. Pick up your Golden Pass at Goner and catch a band (this year, it is Memphis’ own Limes) at the Gazebo as the sun starts to make its descent. Then head over to the Hi-Tone and five bands take the stage. Now, you got to be honest with your self here. Are you jetlagged or tired from a day of travels? Do you want to be the guy nodding off in the front row at 12 AM? We all can’t be Bully Rook here. All I’m saying is if you decide to go hard up and through the Night One afterparty ends at 4 AM, will you be in good condition for Memphis Made at 1:30 PM? It’s a pace race, not a case race.

This year’s line-up is sizzling. Thursday night is a burner with Green/Blue from Minneapolis (featuring Jim Blaha of the veteran Gonerfest band Blind Shake), our pals The Hussy from Madison who will be releasing their fresh new record Looming, synth loving Sweet Knives from Memphis, New Orleans punks Trampoline Team, Simply freaking Saucer (1970s proto-punk icons), and the destructive (let’s wait and see) King Brothers from Japan.

The Memphis Made show is going to be a showcase in the sense that the only band I’ve seen (or heard of) of the bunch is Kool 100s who rocked Murphy’s outside a couple years back. Friday Night is going to be wild – Nots and then Oblivians with Quintron to close things out? Hi-Tone gonna be packed. Grab two or three beers and don’t move for 2 hours. You won’t be able to. The ever influential M.O.T.O who are playing a KLYAM show in November, are on third. It just dawned on me that IT TASTES JUST LIKE A MILKSHAKE by NOBUNNY is a M.O.T.O cover. Damn!

Murphy’s Blowout. Who am I most looking forward to? PRIORS. From Montreal. Just about every year a Gonerfest band rolls through Boston prior to the big event. Touring down to Memphis. Well we just saw PRIORS a couple of nights ago and their energy and performance far surpassed anything I’d seen recently. Really excited.

And then Saturday night at The Hi-Tone. Maybe the best through-and-through single night of Goner in my limited history? I guess we’ll see about that. But Teardrop City, Parsnip, Giorgio Murderer, Hash Redactor, Tommy and the Commies, and The Mummies? I can see why this year’s fest sold out QUICK.

Alrighty, see you soon Memphis.

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AFTERPARTIES @ ~ 3 AM

THURSDAY NIGHT @ BSide Bar – Sick Thoughts, Galice Cooper
FRIDAY NIGHT @ Lamplighter – Golden Pelicans, Pscience, Me & My Knife
SATURDAY NIGHT @ Lamplighter – Optic Sink, Coca Cola Haters, DAG

GETTING READY FOR GONERFEST 15

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GONERFEST 15 is shaping up to be an extraordinary festival. And just writing this is awfully redundant because every single one of them since the first one in 2005 has showcased the very best rock ‘n roll performers who are revered not just around the US, but also across the entire world. Pretty deep. I’m saying this not as someone who is an OG Memphis pilgrim, but as someone who has gone yearly since 2015 and has admired the label’s appetite for raw rock ‘n roll (garage/punk) for as long as KLYAM has been around. Describing GONERFEST to those who are entirely unfamiliar always makes for interesting conversation. Picture a music festival that draws people from Denmark, Australia, Los Angeles, you name it. But imagine the headlining shows at a 400 capacity venue and the afterparties (which can go well past 4 AM) at a tiny dive bar packed with crowds more than ready to continue the live music party. Giorgio Murderer closing out the weekend at Murphy’s. You can’t really top that. Anyway, here is who I am particularly excited to see:

CARBONAS – Who knew recommending a band in 2010 could be so incendiary? I know I made so many people mad on Terminal Boredom for liking contemporary 2010 bands (aw shucks being only a toddler in ’93). Well the haters can stay at home and listen to their obscure, limited press color 45s while I jam out to Carbonas at The Hi-Tone on Saturday night. No ‘pausing, extra lean straight-ahead move-out-of-the-way rock ‘n roll. I always connected with this, but thought seeing them live was out of the question considering their lengthy time not releasing new music. But with an album like Carbonas (released by Goner), it makes perfect sense to stop there…in a good way.

OBLIVIANS – It seems like I must’ve seen Oblivians, but nope this will be the first time. Seen Jack O, seen Reigning Sound, seen Greg, but the greatest group of the bunch that also features Goner owner Eric O? That will be Friday night at the Hi-Tone. I can’t really add much original thought to the highly influential legacy of this Memphis band. Super catchy AND super raw and noisy. I’m still angry that I left a CD copy of Best of the Worst bought from Bobby Hussy in Madison, Wisconsin in a Rent-A-Car in Chicago. Hopefully someone found it and started a band.

COBRA MAN – My Cobra Man obsession took on new heights this winter as I found myself playing their New Driveway Soundtrack almost daily. I think their charm is similar to the charm that gets me going when I listen to DEVO and the B-52’s, but this Cobra Man I tell ya is a bit more showy, club-ready (and still quite nerdy). The production is so crisp with really thick groovy basslines that shine through and bring these songs to the penthouse when they could have easily stayed in the basement bedroom or garage. I saw them play at Murphy’s during the daytime Saturday Blowout (amazing), but am even more excited to see this duo light up the darkened walls of the Hi-Tone on Friday night.

GENTLEMEN JESSE – Woah is me. The first band to really hurt my eardrums back when I was relatively new to going to loud rock and roll shows was Gentlemen Jesse and His Men. 2009 opening for Black Lips at Middle East Down (in case you’re keeping track). Now, Jesse will be performing a solo set at Memphis Made. To go back to the previous point – the hurt eardrums wasn’t a bad thing. I enjoyed the music greatly. Pop rock, or power-pop they might call it. But not so super wimpy as those two words might make a purist weep or some bullshit like that.

NOTS – Goner mainstays and KLYAM favorites. Time Warp Weekends, too. Want a band that wastes no time with what they’re doing? Shouted, repetitive lyrics, with the kind of dynamic instrumentation that for lack of a better phrase is as if we’ve been blessed with the Greatest Hits of the Goner label all packed into one band. Take a minute for that. They’ll be playing Saturday night at the Hi-Tone.

SICK THOUGHTS – Like Oblivians, like Carbonas, Sick Thoughts just knows how to write a banger of a raw rock ‘n roll song without wasting any time. Album after album. Single after single. Put on any Sick Thoughts and you can be guaranteed you will start to immediately do whatever your signature “I’m really feeling this song” move is. Catch ’em right before Oblivians on Friday night.

HARLAN T. BOBO – Not going to lie, do I know much about Harlan T. Bobo? Very little and I am talking about his music. Apparently he is fairly mysterious as well, but Goner has lent their full support to what I am only guessing is a Memphis legend. I don’t know where to start, but maybe his Thursday night Hi-Tone show may be just the right kind of live introduction?

MORE TO BE CONTINUED!!!!!!!!

 

 

Angry Angles S/T – Goner Records (2016)

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Formal reviews won’t do this record any good; instead the notes on the sleeve that come from those closest to Angry Angles – Alix Brown (one half of the band) and Zac and Eric from Goner Records – tell the story of the band and this record better than any music writer will. The time frame is 2005, when Jay Reatard and Alix formed the band after the dissolve of Jay’s previous group, the synth heavy “dark wave” Lost Sounds. According to Zac, Angry  Angles were Jay’s “return to punk, in a way. Still raw, but now more focused, with a pop sensibility.” They recorded a few singles in Atlanta and Memphis over the course of two years and even got some studio time in Montreal before Gonerfest 6 that culminated in three songs previously unreleased until now.

Unfortunately I was not hip to Angry Angles (or any of Jay’s pre-solo bands) prior to his death in January 2010. But upon listening to Angry Angles shortly thereafter, I was blown away. Listen after listen, this group became most certainly an all-time favorite, right up there with The Reatards and The Lost Sounds, both of which I also had no previous exposure. What stood out to me, particularly, with Angry Angles is sure they were dark and robotic (like The Lost Sounds), but they were mighty concise and sharp. Hook after hook. Jay’s quick fire/angular guitar playing, quasi Brit vocal inflection, easily identifiable drumming, and fat production – trademarks of what would be his solo style take root here. But this was a dynamic duo and Alix and Jay were musically perfect for each other, often taking the heaviest/simplest moments of Wire and Devo soundscapes and modernizing them with the relentlessness of your neighborhood garage band. It seems like Alix challenged Jay-isms to a most positive affect, to me, most apparently on “You Lied” stuffed with a more traditional sounding bouncy bass line and some piano.

Angry Angles no doubt were the basis for the direction that Jay chose to pursue throughout his mighty solo discography from Blood Visions through his final LP Watch Me Fall, which features a tune I never would have guessed was by Angry Angles — “Can’t Do It Anymore.” In fact the final three songs on here, which I mentioned were recorded in Montreal (and not by Jay himself) with drummer Ryan Rousseau, sound very much like Jay’s solo stuff. His obsession with doing it all himself, as Alix writes in her blurb about the album, gives insight into why they never saw the light of day until now. There are no ‘weak’ songs on here, all memorable jams, and I am so thankful for Goner for putting together this album. It is strange to think that over the past six years many of these songs like most of Side A and the first half of Side B have been so influential for me and I have played them over and over, if only via YouTube or a WFMU session. I’ll always say it and I know at least some others agree, the rock ‘n roll that came out of Memphis in the span of four years – 2005 to 2009 –  is simply the best. Angry Angles, The Barbaras, Girls of the Gravitron, Boston Chinks, these are my favorite groups NOW. Back then I didn’t know such wonderful raw stuff. I was a teenager from Boston, MA, listening to The Strokes and The Libertines, damn was I missing out on the real good stuff, most of it coming from Jay and his adjacent friends and cohorts. I hope this record might incite or re-ignite passion, because Angry Angles and a healthy chunk of the Goners left (and still leave) an impact on me.

Just Wrote About: HIEROPHANTS – “Parallax Error” (GONER/AARGHT)

Kickin off Parallax Error with some ole ’50s, ’60s Bo Diddley guitaring but that ain’t half of it. If it’s from Australia and it’s on AARGHT and GONER it’s gonna be pretty off and it’s gonna be pretty much the best shit you’ve listened to all year. Happened last year with me and the Ausmuteants. Great thing too is you can jump in after the fact, you know after their first few singles and/or album, and still feel OG because what they doing never loses its realness quotient. So with the Hierophants, I see ma boy Jake is in the band, in fact this was recorded behind his old house. Sounds pretty legitimate to me, but I’m the last to know about production.

For all I know these Australians could be fly by nighters, forming and disbanding just to confuse us Americans, right more than a few of us try too hard to sound ‘right’ or something like that. This Hierophants album, mostly, is that fine mesh of synth and vocal kinkiness – music to anyone’s ears who knows what I’m talking about – and bass/drum groove funkiness. I kinda fell off the new wave old wave synth wave black wave thing somewhere between Devo and the Lost Sounds (fucked up, didn’t I?, but place this down with a soft cushion in between those eras. Those epochs.

And I can’t tell the difference between guitar and synth. Everything is so mechanical, but unpredictable and doesn’t that vibe with rock ‘n roll legends in bands previously mentioned? I’ve realized it’s dumb to comment on songs versus provocation and why things are exciting while I listen and type. Cause it’s weird. But the music is fairly nerdy too. This is the dance music of somewhere. If the Hierophants are a top spin in a modern DJ’s collection, damn, come on please transport me there and allow me to spend some vacation days. They don’t let things get too f’ed and they intelligent too.

Nots On Breakthru Radio

NOTS, every chance I get. NOTS. Confrontational and fun-loving. My favorite group going that I haven’t yet seen. The videos (like all the YouTube videos) have been great and the record too in the meanwhile! Let’s get them to Boston sometime this year. Go Goner

ESQ & Back Pages Tapes Now Available At…

ESQ Cover
The Electric Street Queens

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Back Pages

Electric Street Queens – Live From your Dreams, We’re The… (KLYAM-004) & Back Pages – Singles 13′ (KLYAM-003) tapes are now available at the following Boston area record stores!:

Weirdo Records in Cambridge, MA

Armageddon Records in Cambridge, MA

Deep Thoughts in Jamaica Plain, MA

Listen to Electric Street Queens here: http://electricstreetqueens.bandcamp.com/
Listen to Back Pages here: http://thebackpages1.bandcamp.com/

These stores are all housing these bad babies as well:
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Fat Creeps S/T 10″ EP

Nice 7
Nice Guys/Miami Doritos Splifft 7″

You can also find the Splifft 7″ at the following record store across the country: Goner Records (Memphis, TN), People’s Records (Detroit, MI), Hello Records (Detroit, MI), Bric A Brac Records (Chicago, IL), Apop Records (St. Louis, MO), CD Cellar (Arlington, VA), and Celebrated Summer (Baltimore, MD).

Or you could straight up order any of these directly from us at KLYAM Records: http://klyam.bigcartel.com/

OR OR OR you could simply hit us up at a show (or wherever really) and we can sell you one in person. Whatever twerks. You have so many options. No excuses.

Review: Ausmuteants @ Barack’s Barracks (10/1/14)

NO I DONT WANT TO TOUCH. Australia’s Ausmuteants (Goner Records/Aarght Records) came through to 1500 Penn Ave on October 1 as part of their first US tour. They had just hit up Gonerfest 11, making for contemporary rock ‘n roll history, and here they are now in a packed cozy basement playing for interested brass.

Well before the actual playin and stuff, I saw these guys loading in. They gotta grab some Blanchard brews and I introduce myself and go with them. Some were familiar with my playing over “Kicked In The Head By A Horse,” and do I love that song. Yeah I do. Well a couple a hours later there they are up on the non-stage cranking out chart toppers from their first LPs and their most recent Order of Operation CD/tape – though the vinyl is coming girls and guys. I found myself feelin as if I was seeing a favorite band for the second time. That’s a nice feeling. Rest assured it was my first time, but I’m telling you these Aussies play strict pounders. There are some blunt force punk hits, no synths. Like “Kicked” and “Felix Tried To Kill Himself,” so demented so sweet. But Jakes’ synth does definitely stand these guys out a part from a lot of the straight away garagers of today. Part of this group are tunes like “Tinnitus” where they made the money (ya I watched the live Gonerfest stream), “No Motivation,” “Wrong” and set closer, “Boiling Point” from their latest. Like I said, just being here, specially in this choice environment, was incredible. I never got to see Jay, the Lips, and so on, bands of like-minded noisy catchiness in a spot like this. Anyway, nearly all Ausmuteants take turns singing and hollering, they got their own ways of doing things. Particularly ruling things, maybe cause I wasn’t expecting him to start singing, was Shaun. On “Freedom of Information,” the lead-off track from Order of Operation, the delivery of the tune is that DEVO maybe more like Lost Sounds shout and repeat after me post Social Media rampage. It’s positively funky not funk – imagine if these guys were from around here. Be on some serious see ’em every chance possible grind. It’s a pleasurable, at times funny, grind and we wish ’em safe travels and hot jams across the United States, back in Australia, and everywhere else.

While you’re at it, go along and check out some Australian recommendations that Jake gave me: the label ANTI-FADE which is run by drummer Billy, and the bands TV Colours, Velvet Whip, Wet Blankets, and Yoghurt Blood.

Catch ’em on their remaining dates:

10/7 – Minneapolis, MN @ Hexagon w/ Real Numbers
10/10 – Portland, OR @ Dante?s w/ King Khan & BBQ Show
10/11 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile w/ King Khan & BBQ Show
10/15 – San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock Tavern
10/17 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Smell

Ausmuteants Touring The U.S In Sep/Oct

Ausmuteants of Geelong, Australia are coming thru to the United States…importantly to GONERFEST 11, but with dates before and after that throughout the East Coast / Midwest / West Coast, including BOSTON MASSACHUSETTS on October 1st at Midway Cafe. Synthy punk, pure fun, go along YouTube ’em or just git at their album Amusements.

9/20 – Tempe, AZ @ 51west w/ Detached Objects, Womb Tomb, Blanche Beach
9/23 – Austin, TX @ Beerland
9/24 – New Orleans, LA @ Saturn Bar w/ Buck Biloxi and the Fucks
9/25 – Memphis, TN @ GONERFEST 11 w/ Grifters, Radioactivity, So Cow, Golden Pelicans, Ross Johnson?s ?Like Flies On Sherbert? Revue
9/26 – Louisville, KY @ Cropped Out Fest
9/29 – Durham, NC @ Duke Coffeehouse
9/30 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda?s w/ Dan?l Boone, Lantern
10/1 – Boston, MA @ Whitehaus
10/2 – Brooklyn, NY @ Death By Audio
10/4 – Detroit, MI @ PJ?s Lager House w/ Odonis Odonis
10/5 – Chicago, IL @ The Owl
10/6 – St. Louis, MO @ Melt w/ Lumpy & the Dumpers
10/7 – Minneapolis, MN @ Hexagon w/ Real Numbers
10/10 – Portland, OR @ Dante?s w/ King Khan & BBQ Show
10/11 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile w/ King Khan & BBQ Show
10/15 – San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock Tavern
10/17 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Smell

New song!