Saturday, March 28, 2015

Diamond Rugs Cosmetics Interview & Show # 553

What do Deer Tick’s John McCauley, Robbie Crowell, Ian St. Pe (formerly of The Black Lips), Hardy Morris of Dead Confederate, Bryan Dufresne of Six Finger Satellite, Steve Berlin of Los Lobos and a trash bag used as an instrument all have in common? You can find all of this on Cosmetics, the sophomore album by the band Diamond Rugs. The term supergroup is tossed around in articles about this band that seems to focus on all the outside elements that make up this band and while that is important, it is the songs themselves and their content that make this album and band so striking. Building on 2012’s self-tiled fourteen-track release, Cosmetics adds more groove, soul and chemistry to Diamond Rugs aesthetic. The album opens with “Voodoo Doll” a song that starts with a lone raunchy guitar riff, drum count in and a sneaky laugh before brassy horn sections come in. Trying to explain the instrumentation of this song by itself could give you the wrong impression of what to expect on Cosmetics. The chorus of the song brings in organ and synthesizer, used in such a subtle way it adds to the song’s make up, not getting lost in the groove of the actual song. Drawing comparisons to The Replacements “I Don’t Know” from 1987’s Pleased To Meet Me, “Voodoo Doll” sucks you in with its inexplicable groove.

“Thunk” comes in next echoing a similar raw garage-soul vibe as the album’s opener. Sung by Hardy Morris in between horns, piano and crunchy guitar riffs, as the lyrics evoke a story about someone that doesn’t quite know why they are involved in a certain situation, but still remain there. With lyrics such as “I never thought I’d be your problem/By the way/The way you talk I should be long, long gone” this point is proven more so. Additionally, there are some guitar lead lines that seem to reflect the influence of the Los Angeles punk band The Plugz, perhaps best known for providing the soundtrack to Alex Cox’s 1984 film Repo Man (but more on that later). “Thunk” and “Voodoo Doll” both share the same undefined charm. An interesting side note on The Plugz, Steve Berlin was also featured as a guest musician on the band’s second album Better Luck in 1981.

“I Couldn’t Help It” brings in a different type of vibe with pulsating basslines, acoustic guitars and McCauley’s vocals, which deliver a song with many melodic, mellow moments. “Meant To Be” brings in a laidback melody in a fuzzy, swampy, blues garage romp, “Live and Shout It” features vocals by both Ian St. Pe and John McCauley within its playful dynamics, loose jangly rhythms and a “believe it if you say it” message. “So What” attacks with a garage-punk aesthetic, walking basslines, swelling synthesizers and witty lyrics that state “I love you/So what”, while “Ain’t Religion” brings in smooth grooves and melodies. The acoustic guitars, drums and subtle basslines dominate the verses of this song. Lyrically, the song is as guitarist Ian St. Pe said in a recent track-by-track article with Relix “not all set in stone. But it is love that two people share and perhaps that does come from above.”

The chorus of “Ain’t Religion” provides a guitar line to the song, soaked in reverb, one that is reminiscent slightly to the song “Reel Ten” by The Plugz. This song was used as part of the soundtrack and score to Alex Cox’s 1984 film Repo Man. In the film the main character Otto finds himself amongst a collection of troublesome characters in a world that involves car repossession, aliens and punk teenagers. There is also a search for a car that has a high reward attached to it. In the film the car floats supernaturally away at one point, just like the guitar lines played here in this song’s chorus. “Ain’t Religion” searches and floats with a hard to define, unexplained, yet effective melody. This song’s lyrical and musical content ride to a degree in a Repo Man-like spirit, as it cruises its way in at track number seven on Cosmetics.

“Blame” bounces with a countrified rhythm, drawing comparisons to Gram Parsons musically in some reviews. Lyrically the song with its sharp witty lyrics such as “Say what you will/But I blame me on you” also help to drive this song in a be careful what you wish for type tale. “Motel Room” sung by John McCauley, ends the album in a collection of soulful horns, distorted guitars, murky bass rhythms and sleazy tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Some say it is the best of the eleven tracks found here, but this song along with the other ten tracks all add to Cosmetics, well sequenced, no frills approach.

While many may have thought that Diamond Rugs were a one-time thing made up of musicians from other successful bands in their own right, they are not wearing anything to cover up themselves on Cosmetics. Diamond Rugs mix all the right musical chemical compounds and a boozy six-pack charm to construct a sound and album that can make you feel good. There are many different kinds of cosmetics out there, but Diamond Rugs Cosmetics are the kind we should all get behind.

Check out the interview I did with Diamond Rugs bassist Robbie Crowell here:

Saturday Night Playlist:

1. Bipolaroid - Supernatural Beauty
2. Threads Of Fybre - Believe Me
3. Prefab Messiahs - Bobb’s Psychedelic Car
4. Of Montreal - Virgilian Lots
5. Feral Trash - Dead Weight
6. Pink Wine - Can’t Get Out
7. Paul Jacobs - That Feeling
8. The Cynics - Born To Lose (Live)
9. George Jones - If I Don’t Love You Baby (Grits And Groceries)
10. Deer Tick - Main Street
11. Diamond Rugs - Thunk

Robbie Crowell Diamond Rugs Interview

12. Diamond Rugs -Blame
13. Los Lobos - Kiko And The Lavender Moon
14. Matt Mays & El Torpedo - Rock Ranger Record
15. What Seas What Shores - Twice, Twice, Twice
16. The Nervebreakers - Why Am I So Flipped?
17. Average Times - Popsicle
18. King Creep - I’m No Good
19. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - East Side
20. The Paupers - If I Told My Baby
21. Indian Wars - Windshield Wiper Blues
22. Bloodshot Bill - Gee Whiz
23. Blimp Rock - Let’s All Stay In Tonight
24. Active Dog - Nothing Holding You
25. The Scissors - Mystery Movie
26. The Pointed Sticks - Real Thing
27. Nick Lowe - Burning
28. Television - Friction (Alternate Version)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 28. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mystery Train: The Song, The Book, The Film And The Myth & Show # 552

When referring to Mystery Train, it can be looked at in three ways. There is the song covered by Elvis Presley that was first recorded by American Blues musician Junior Parker in 1953, The 1975 book by Greil Marcus often cited as one of the best books written about pop music and finally the 1989 film by Jim Jarmusch. The film delves into the myth of Elvis and early American music through three stories and characters.

The song “Mystery Train” first appeared under this title in 1953. It was recorded by Sun Records American blues recording artist Junior Parker as a follow up to his single “Feelin’ Good” which charted on the Billboard R&B charts at number five. The genesis of the song itself has been said to come from a few sources. “Mystery Train” was based on The Carter Family’s “Worried Man Blues” released in 1930, which itself was based on an old Irish Celtic folk ballad. The song has since been covered by numerous artists and there are many versions of the song that exist, but it is perhaps best known as being performed by Elvis Presley.

In August of 1955, “Mystery Train” was covered and reworked as the B-side to the Elvis Presley single “I Forgot To Remember To Forget”. For this version of the song Presley changed some of the lyrics, which in turn changed the song’s original somber tone put forth by Junior Parker to a more confident mood and feeling. Musically, guitarist Scotty Moore blended country and blues elements to create a galloping locomotive rockabilly rhythm that echoes the influence of the Merle Travis song “Sixteen Tons” from 1946 and also features a guitar riff from Junior Parker’s 1953 song “Love My Baby”. The changes made to this song also continues the folk tradition and trend in which Junior Parker originally used to create his version of the song in 1953. Despite all the versions recorded of this song, Presley’s version still is consistently considered one of the best versions released.

In 1975, the book Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music written by American author and music journalist Greil Marcus was released. This book, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2015, contextualizes and explores the image of America used in rock music, it’s evolution and impact on our culture. The book as previously mentioned is considered one of the most provocative books written about rock music. Marcus places eight songs by American musicians in comparison to the literary models of Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby and Stagger Lee.

In 1989 Jim Jarmusch released the movie Mystery Train. The film separated in three parts, explores the myth of Elvis and its impact on the characters in the film and their lives, taking the myth analyzed by Marcus and the aura created by the song itself to another level. The movie features several musicians placed within acting roles in the film’s narrative construct. Musicians Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Joe Strummer and the voice of Tom Waits all appear in the film. While there are many ways to look at this song and its influence on American culture, the song, the book and the 1989 movie by Jim Jarsmusch all add to the many factors surrounding the Mystery Train title. The title itself in the context of the song has never really been explained and is mentioned nowhere in the song’s lyrics. This is perhaps representative of the myth that it creates. It has been analyzed, discussed and been used to create different art forms, but there still is for lack of a better term a “mystery” surrounding it. The ideas put forth by Mystery Train may be forever “coming around the bend” as it still draws us in no matter which track it takes to get to us.

Saturday Night Playlist:

1. The Slit Plasters - The Dung Fly
2. Moon Duo - Zero
3. Vietcong - Continental Shelf
4. BA Johnston - What A Wonderful Mediocre Day
5. Wavves - King Of The Beach
6. Dave Arcari - Devil's Left Hand
7. The Locusts Have No King - Last Night In My Favourite Bar
8. Tom Waits - Bad As Me
9. Junior Parker - Mystery Train
10. Harmonica Frank - Rocking Chair Daddy
11. Robert Johnson - If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day
12. Daniel Romano - A Losing Song
14. The Hives - Blood Red Moon
15. Joel Plaskett - Broken Heart Songs
16. James O-L & The Villains - Cross Country Canada
17. Chris Crossroads - Lost In The 13th Dimension
18. Sly & The Family Stone - Time
19. Randy Newman - God's Song
20. Elvis Presley - Mystery Train
21. Unrelated Segments - Cry Cry Cry
22. Pow Wows - You Haven’t Got Me Yet
23. Teenanger - Singles Don’t $ell
24. Ramblin' Ambassadors - Lungbucket
25. Nirvana - Hairspray Queen
26. Pluto - Million And Two
27. The Lurkers - Hey You

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 21. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Rocket Trash & Show # 551

Rock ‘n’ Roll Monkey & The Robots first album Detroit Trauma was released in 2005. This three-piece band from Detroit, Michigan, was started by bassist/vocalist Craig Campbell originally to finish some unreleased material at the time. The result was a band that blended elements of garage, R&B, punk/new wave and well crafted songwriting skills. In January 2014 the band released their fifth album Rocket Trash/Strings & Traps, which is an LP comprised of two 45-RPM EPs. This vinyl only released also displayed elements of what could described as trashy new wave-meets-surf with a dash of folk, Mersey beat and pop. The following two videos are animations done by Sam C. You can pick up a copy of Rock ‘n’ Roll Monkey & The Robots 12 inch record Rocket Trash/Strings & Traps over at their bandcamp page.

Saturday Night Play List:

1. The Rezillos - I Like It
2. Private School - Science Fiction
3. UJ3RKS - Eisenhower and The Hippies
4. Gang Of Four - Broken Talk
5. Ex-Cult - Dripping Mouth
6. Silent Movie Type - Mannequins
7. The Secret V’s - Waiting For The Drugs To Take Hold
8. The Breakaways - One Way Ticket
9. Flamin’ Groovies - Him Or Me
10. Twerps - White As Snow
11. The Missing Links - Where Were You Last Night
12. King Beezz - Found & Lost
13. The Stray Cats - Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie
14. Paul Westerberg - High Time
15. Kim Gray - On Top
16. Fil Spectre - Homesick Party Kids
17. Apollo’s Apaches - Cry Me A Lie
18. The Illusions - Wait Till The Summer
19. The Roots - It’s Been A Long Journey
20. The Gories - There But For The Grace Of God
21. Rock ’n’ Roll Monkey & The Robots - I Really Like You
22. Rock ’n’ Roll Monkey & The Robots - Checkpoint Charlie
23. Lost Patrol - Rescue Me
24. The Squires - Aurora
25. The Sons of Hercules - Bad Time
26. The Diodes - Lost In The Dark
27. The Zeros - Hungry
28. The Dils - Class War
29. Elliot Smith - Needle In The Hay
30. Parquet Courts - Vienna II (Live At Third Man Records)
31. Parquet Courts - Always Back In Town (Live At Third Man Records)
32. The Black Lips - O Katrina!
33. The Damned - Neat, Neat, Neat

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 14. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Pow Wows Broken Curses Interview & Show # 550

Pow Wows highly anticipated second full-length Broken Curses was released in February 2015 on Get Hip Recordings. This album follows the 2011 release Nightmare Soda, where Pow Wows first displayed their garage punk psych and R&B twang in a greased lightning fashion, and a series of recent singles in 2012/2013. Recorded and mixed by Steve Major in Toronto at Verge Music Lab and mastered by Jim Diamond at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit, this ten-track release contains the same intensity that was first displayed back in 2011. The press release for this album states that the songs are “tales of dystopia with a back beat. Party rock for end times” and that couldn’t be more accurate.

“Fire Song” starts off Broken Curses with a burning intensity. As the song progresses we are engulfed by fuzzy garage riffs, clanging guitar chords, steady, driving basslines and a shower of drums that attempt to cool the heat put forth in the opening moments of Broken Curses. “Rebel Stomp” first appeared on the limited edition live cassette Bent Out Of Shape in 2013, but comes in second on Broken Curses as we are taken through a series of guitar riffs that sound like the Yardbirds being assaulted by a gang of 60s garage nugget bands. As the chorus hits we hear lyrics that seem to rally a call for independent thought amongst the minutia of opinionated boring daily life. “Car Cemetery” attacks with a locomotive-like rhythm echoing elements of Davie Allan & The Arrows, The Cramps, The Gun Club and features a breakdown that fuzzes with the influence of the 13th Floor Elevators. To add to all this there are even motorcycle sounds added to the mix.

With “I Can See But You Don’t Know” Pow Wows take on a song by The Equals as The Clash did with their version of The Equals “Police On My Back” for their album Sandinista in 1980. This song is almost unrecognizable as an Equals song and it fits Pow Wows sound and style perfectly. It is a song that they have made their own. “You Haven’t Got Me Yet” is a hidden gem on track five on this ten-track album, this song is notable for its stop and start guitar and bass groove as subtle psychedelic reverb sounds reverberate in the background of the verses and choruses. Amongst these rhythms, reverb soaked guitar riffs hook you in as lyrically the song broadcasts a message for not giving up when the metaphorical deck of cards are stacked against you.

Other tracks on this album include the organ and fuzz driven “Surfin’ Dirge”, “Hidden Future” and “Going Dark”. This track has a cleaner guitar sound in the earlier parts of the song mixed with darker or dirtier sounding lyrics. The chorus seems to reflect 70s punk influences as elements of The Gun Club slide in throughout this track. The song’s lyrics seem to portray the struggle of being a musician in the modern age in this modern day garage punk blues romp. The last two tracks on Broken Curses bring in a different type of groove and feeling, but one that ties the record and its lyrical themes together. “Traces” is the longest song found on this album clocking in at over four minutes. It is a somber track with a slower groove and riotous eruptive choruses, while lyrically the song paints the picture of a modern dystopian world. “Lost Sunset” ends the album calling for understanding when you have gone past the point of no return. This hazy track juxtaposes with the opening track “Fire Song” as it smolders with the reverb drenched sounds of 60s surf.

In 2011, Pow Wows served up a potent fizzy cocktail with Nightmare Soda. In the mix we found the ingredients were made up of garage, punk, surf and R&B influences. 2012 and 2013 brought singles to quench our thirst, but with Broken Curses Pow Wows have shaken things up yet again. The fizzy cocktail that was once served to us in 2011 has now exploded in a ten-track blast. Like a dried up soda that has crusted over, this album offers a new grittiness in the spirit of the cyclic fuzz driven sounds of Davie Allan & The Arrows, garage, punk and surf music all in a modern context. With Broken Curses, Pow Wows provide us with their own unique garage noir lyrics and musical style in ten tracks that has a dizzying cohesiveness to it.

Listen to the interview I did with Pow Wows bassist/vocalist Ryan Rothwell here:

The Play List:

1. The Honeycombs - Can’t Get Through To You
2. The Angels - Get Away From Me
3. Demolition Doll Rods - Lil Darlin
4. Pearls Mahone - Blow Your Top
5. The Delmonas - I Did Him Wrong
6. The Z-Rays - Number Nine
7. The Cramps - Domino
8. Pow Wows - Fire Song
9. Pow Wows - Car Cemetery

Pow Wows Ryan Rothwell Interview

10. Pow Wows - Rebel Stomp
11. BA Johnston - You Can Love Someone And Hate The Things They Love
12. Dum Dum Girls - Yours Alone
13. X Ray Spex - Obsessed With You
14. Diamond Rugs - Voodoo Doll
15. Brat Kings - Good Drugs (Pinball Session)
16. Paul Jacobs - Pop Can Ashtray
17. The Curse - No More Ice Cream (Live)
18. The Dishrags - Can’t Wait
19. Colleen Green - I Want To Grow Up
20. Sleater-Kinney - A New Wave
21. A Place To Bury Strangers - Straight
22. Ricked Wicky - Guts
23. Alex Chilton - Just To See You
24. JD McMpherson - It Shook Me Up
25. Ty Segall Band - Slaughterhouse (Live In San Francisco)
26. Ty Segall Band - Skin (Live In San Francisco)
27. Ty Segall Band - Standing At The Station (Live In San Francisco)
28. The Replacements - Seen Your Video

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 7. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.