August 30, 2005
Holly Williams @ The Mint: August 28, 2005
Look into the eyes of singer/songwriter Holly Williams and you’ll see a look that tells she is haunted by her family legacy.
Holly’s the latest ‘breakthrough’ artist in one of country’s most celebrated dynasties; one of those dynasties that’s able to refer to its members by their first names only. Holly’s grandfather is none other than Hank, Sr. Her father, Hank, Jr. Her half-brother, Hank III. He has the same haunted expression in his eyes, too.
It can’t be easy to bear that legacy. For every potential listener whose interest is piqued by “Hank, Sr.’s granddaughter / Hank, Jr.’s daughter”, there’s that many more listeners who immediately discredit them as not being able to live up to that potential.
Instead of being a carbon copy of his grandfather, Hank III adds his own attitude to his roots in country music. His notorious punk rock sets draw just as many fans as his ultra-traditional country sets.
Holly Williams takes the opposite approach. Her mellow, pop-influenced ballads seem almost ethereal, rather than hard-core country, and just barely fit the definition of “Americana.” Her inclusion of a John Prine tune in her set and a reference to her grandfather in one of her songs are the only indicators of her country background. She lacks her grandfather’s twang, her father’s rowdiness, and her half-brother’s rambunctiousness.
That doesn’t mean at all that her set wasn’t enjoyable. Her stunning beauty is matched by the power of her voice, her exquisite songwriting, and the passion of her delivery. What I see in Holly Williams is the next generation of country.
Posted by darlin at 9:12 AM
August 15, 2005
Pennywise “Great Escape” Show
Photo By Liz Croft-Jim Lindberg of Pennywise
So to speak, I would call it more of a huge record release party.
Get on a boat at the Long Beach Harbor, head out on a 2 hour cruise on the Catalina Classic Cruises, "The Countess", see some dolphins and a seal plus awesome clipper ships, dock in Avalon, have some fun at the local bars, watch Pennywise play in front 700 people or so, get backstage and take pictures, have some more fun a the local bars and be back in Long Beach by 9 PM.
This was my first press event and I had the best time. I got the worse sunburn I’ve had in a long time but it was worth it.
Pennywise was awesome. They only did about 7 to 8 songs, I think, but was cut short by having their power cut out on them in a couple of songs. They were able to end on the traditional Pennywise song “Bro Hymn” or as one guy put it “The Ultimate White Boy Anthem” as he ran down to the pit. I think he was the same guy I saw come out on a stretcher. And it isn’t a Pennywise show, if someone doesn’t leave by ambulance.
I recommend going to Catalina (but use the Catalina Express - you will get there faster). I recommend going to see Pennywise at their next local show. And I recommend the Marlin Club!!!
Posted by Tinkinator at 10:00 PM
August 8, 2005
Big Slew of Reviews
Muck and the Mires
I like this. It’s no-frills garage power pop with snappy little two-minute songs. It’s not too precious and not too trashy. It just sounds natural. The singer – that would be Muck—sounds a little like Huey Lewis but in a good way. His gruff, slightly slurred vocals work well with the songs and occasional harmonies from the rest of the band.
“I’m Down With That” is a great opening song and would be a hit in a better world. So would every other song on here.
The Flying Saucers
Weird Ancient Religious Rites (demo)
This is possibly the worst sounding CD I have ever heard. It sounds like it was recorded on a cruddy little micro-cassette recorder that was in somebody’s pocket. At some point that person reached into their pocket for their keys or some spare change and accidentally dropped the thing on the ground. They kicked it and for some reason it burst into flames. They stomped on it for a while trying to put out the fire but that didn't work. They poured a bucket of water on it, but that didn't work either. They finally use an industrial strength fire extinguisher that covers the entire room in stinky white foam. The fire is out, but they keep stomping on the tape recorder anyway.
So much for the sound, what about the songs? They’re not bad – from what I could hear. Aside from a wannabe Korla Pandit style organ instrumental and a cover of Screaming Lord Sutch’s “Jack the Ripper,” nothing really stood out. I think they are hiding behind their lo-fi blanket of noise out of insecurity. I like it.
Die Toten Hosen
Pronounced “Dee” Not “Dye”
Die Toten Hosen are the worldwide musical ambassadors of German humor. That is why you’ve probably never heard of them. This is a compilation of various bits going back ten or twelve years even though they’ve been around for at least twenty and have released about a zillion albums. I don’t know who put this together or why (it’s on a hand labeled CD-R) but I don’t think it will break this band in the U.S. even though most of the songs are in English. There is a collaboration with Bad Religion on here, but it’s not very good. These guys are funnier in German
The Speed Kings
Blood Sweat and Primer
The singer of The Speedkings is named Twitch Kadziewicz. That is a really cool rock name and, from the sound of his voice, it appears that his mother went to the fertility clinic and got a turkey baster full of Neil Young. This is kind of a concept album about auto racing. I have very little interest in auto racing. I would rather watch The Paint Drying Channel that the Speed Channel but I like the album anyway. You could take the whole racing thing as a metaphor if you like. You could take the romantic elements of racing like danger, travel, and one-night-stands and apply it to being a rock star, spy, cowboy, carnie or anything else you like.
Actually, there aren’t really that many songs about racing but I was on a roll. This is a good, solid album. The playing and production is top-notch. The horns on several songs add just the right amount of oomph.
I'm A Blues Man
It’s refreshing to hear a contemporary blues artist that doesn’t growl. Johnny Winter is just too cool to do the growling thing. He can’t sing and he doesn’t care. He’s a guitar player and the singing is just something to fill the empty spaces between guitar solos. This is good and bad. The guitar, while very good, is a little too processed and clean sounding. I’d like to hear a little amplifier buzz or feedback.
Most of the lyrics are pretty standard blues cliché stuff like “I’m a blues man, blah, blah, blah” which makes “The Monkey Song” jump out and get your attention. Until now, I've never heard a blues song about shaving one’s pubic hair. At least I think that's what it's about. I also like the acoustic slide number “That Wouldn’t Satisfy.”
Cover Your Ears
This is disturbing. There’s something not right about thirty-and-or-forty-something men and women playing and singing pop/punk songs about butts and poop. What is their target demographic? They obviously haven’t thought this over. If they took out the “fucks” and “shits”, some of these might make good children’s songs.
I get the feeling that The Gretchens play a lot of Dungeons and Dragons. They probably have memorized the entire script of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
Out of Exile
Exile had a disco-flavored hit in the 70’s called “I Wanna Kiss You All Over” and then jumped on the urban cowboy bandwagon in the 80’s. I knew Audioslave were some guys from Rage Against The Machine and the singer from Soundgarden but I didn’t know that they were also out of Exile. Shirley I jest. I promise not to call you “Shirley” anymore.
I didn’t like either Rage ATM or Soundgarden, but this sounds pretty good on first listen. I like Rick Rubin’s matter-of-fact production. The band comes up with some pretty inventive riffs and doesn’t overdo it with the angst.
Comparing this to Van Halen Mach II comes to mind but only because Chris Cornell sounds just like Sammy Hagar to me.
Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor appears to be the anti-John Tesh, but in a bad way. While both composers have the tendency to take simple, well-crafted songs and work them over until they are overblown, redundant, repetitive, genetically modified, pretentious, portentous, extended-warranty-pushing, snake oiled, air-brushed globs of jibber-jabber wearing a bad toupee, Tesh is a fresh-scented moist towelette and Reznor is a medicated hemorrhoid pad.
The difference? John Tesh is taller and happier.
I tried to listen to this, I really did. I even like some of it. That dark swirling shoe-in-a-clothes-dryer type stuff with delicate little piano on top of it for creepy effect is pretty neat. It works but it doesn’t come close to making up for choruses that consist of one line being screamed 426 times. 423, 424, or 425 might be okay, but 426 is excessive. Why do all the one-line choruses consist of questions?
Trent Reznor is faking it. If he were sincere he would have killed himself by now.
Posted by Big Kev at 8:16 PM