Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Axe is Kicked!

The vending machine stocker dude just left out some Pecan Danishes (expiration date today). Woohoo! Truly this is a fitting conclusion to my kingly lunch of Top Ramen. But I just wanted to jump on and quickly blog about Golden Axe.

You see, after seeing my good friend Jeff Thomas and his wife at their going away thing at Catbirds I made a pass by the Rudz 28th anniversary party. Now since I was already a bit under the weather the night before – I wasn’t planning on staying long but I figured I’d say hi to some people and at least check out Golden Axe but outside of the Rudz crew, there were few people there I knew. I briefly spoke with Chris Kemmerer who has some Cabaret he’s trying organize [Linus writing one showtune…hmmm, I don’t know but we’ll try anything one]. Brad Moore explained how he received his wrist injury while riding his bike. The bottom line is this - in paper, scissors, Rock, Brad Moore – Rock beats Brad Moore. So aside from bumping into Mara on my way out, that was about it. Maybe everyone was showing up late or were charging their batteries for the Fatal Flying Guilloteens show the following night at The Prol.. Anyhow, what ever the case, to get back to the point of this blog – Golden Axe rocked!

If you took a well adjusted John Cramer and made him a metal guitarist you’d have Golden Axe. I make that comment because Golden Axe has the same physicality that John has with his guitar and a lot of the same mannerisms except he actually looks comfortable and happy to be there playing for people. People call out goofy things or someone tries to mess him up and he just smiles, quips back, and keeps rockin’ without missing a beat. So I guess that makes him Bizzaro Cramer. The guy’s performance is basically “Wow, this is pretty frikkin’ cool isn’t it?” It’s not braggy or pompus it’s just a genuine invitation to marvel at metal when it’s done right.

OK! Ok, maybe I should explain what he does. Basically, it’s a guitarist and a drummer nothing more. The drummer is this skinny dude (never underestimate a skinny drummer) who just pummels away (double kick and all) as Golden Axe plays his mix of early Metallica riffage mixed with Eddie Van Halen virtuosity. Now, I grew up with a lot of metal dudes who could play circles around most any other guitarist. The problem all those guys had is they couldn’t compose a single interesting song. To them technique was an end goal in and of itself. It was the equivalent of having this Norm Abrams like skill and then turning around and making well crafted 2X4.

Golden Axe, mercifully, can actually compose something people who aren’t guitar geeks can actually dig. The material and his approach, while clearly genre specific, shows a very witty and playful writer. It’s hard to explain but he crams a lot into his songs like some crazy ass architect defying the engineers. It seems like he tosses riffs, time changes, and solos left and right but in the end you sit back and admire the result; you nod your head, smile, and think “That is how it’s fucking done!”


Sunday, August 27, 2006

You Could Learn a Lot From Gay Marriage

Photo Rosa Foto

“Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in few words.” – Ecclesiasticus 32:8

“Brevity is a great charm of eloquence” - Cicero

“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what other men say in whole books.” – Nietzsche

If there is one thing that writers appreciate it's efficiency and clarity. In the last few years I’ve gained a re-appreciation of the short story form particularly because its strength lies in its brevity. Perhaps that’s why one of my favorite things to encounter as a reader is when a writer writes one sentence and that sentence encapsulates an entire world. Music is no different and that is why I love the new Gay Marriage CD-R.

Hailing from the Houston Grindcore scene this band packs 6 songs into 3 Minutes 35 Seconds. Not one note is wasted, everything that has to be said is said, and nothing is said that is unnecessary. It is hands-down the most listenable, fun and witty CD to come out of Houston this year. Kevin, Mikey, Nick, and Will (last names would be too loquacious) throw out a barrage of songs that, under Chris Ryan’s engineering, evoke all the sweat and energy that you’d imagine you’d experience at any hot summer night at a Gulf Coast Grindcore Show at Southmore House.

Take the last song on the EP ”The Situationists Are Dead You re Next”. Off in some desperate race, the bass and drums are met by a guitar that kicks the pace to that of a frantic hundred-yard dash; the instruments and the vocals stumble and crash into each other with all the chaotic precision of a Jackson Pollock. 23 Seconds! “It’s OK Not To Skate” saunters in, breaks into a manic riff, jumps off another, and then brings it back home in 25 seconds. The epic 58-second “Elk Skull” leads off with this great metallic bass tone (think early Big Black) that is eventually beaten down by the merciless battery.

The rest of the EP is just as much of a frenzied blur. The frenetic songs shove you aside and you are left lying on the floor with no idea what just hit you. That, my friends, is half the fun. If Nietzsche were a musician today, he’s be envious.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

No Posers allowed Next Tuesday - FUUCKING TTHOR AND ZOLAR X AT RUDZ!!!!! (YouTube links)


Still Need convincing? Check this out!

A young Thor debuts on the Merv Griffin Show. He prances, her sings, he blows up rubber objects! Hey we all gotta start somewhere.

Watch a video Excerpt of a mid-period Thor battling some...uh...rubber thing. Hey, this is a man who is proud to have been screened on MST3K!

A promo for the new record. Sure Thor is a bit older and plumper, and sure I have no frikkin' clue what snowboarders have to do with anything but it's still cool. Oh and the scene where the snowboarder jumps the band in full regalia is priceless.


Here is an excerpt from an upcoming documentary about Zolar X.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Motherfuckin' Dimes!!!!!!!

Photo Rosa Foto

Holy fuck! The Dimes - those clean-cut just fresh out of high school kids that you’ve ignored all this time! Yeah, those guys? Well, while you were fucking around this summer, they went and made a fucking great album. I don’t mean great for a local band, I mean a great fucking album that is great without apology.

The Dimes for those of you new to my rants, are a local outfit that has made even the most cynical listener shut up and take notice when they play a live set and now those little bastards pulled off translating that live work into an album that will naturally be ignored because it is too unique, brilliant, and alive. Here is the problem, how does a critic write about the Dimes? Where’s the self-absorbed frontman, the drug addled guitarist, or the histrionic promotion? Where is the long organic historic lineage from which they arose? Where’s the angle when all you have is brilliantly executed no-frills high-energy Pop/Rock? Shit I guess the motherfuckers are just going to have to write about the music! Shit, well let’s go then…

“Teenage Sex” - one of the best songs of 2006. This is everything that is great about the Dimes – kudos to Sugarhill Studios! Iram Guerrero’s drums are right up front like they should be, propelling the song with an uncontrolled tension during the verses and bursting out during the chorus. The guitars follow suit with Cley Miller’s restrained effects while Carlos Sanchez’s vocals shout “You know you’ve got the Morning Shivers.” What the fuck is he talking about? What the fuck is this song about? I have no idea! They simply come in, cold-cock you, and don’t stop for 4 minutes 51seconds. It’s brilliant Rock and Roll.

One of the reasons this band is unstoppable is Iram and Bassist Jose Sanchez amazing rhythm section. On “Doctor Doctor”, for example, the two hold down a groove that just moves like a racecar being pushed to its highest gear and the machine-gun rhythm of “Landlady” is gorgeous. Another thing to note is Cley’s brilliant lead guitar work. Take “Delila” or “Landlady”, the band gives him his room and he just runs with it. I can’t think of another guitarist in Houston who uses his effects with such sophistication and restraint. But you’ve heard all this before. The point is this is a great album. So for you critics (and one critic in particular who can no longer use the excuse that their myspace low-fi demos sound like crap) - get off your asses and give this band their due. You have no excuse left now!

Friday, August 18, 2006

We now Have RSS Feeds!!!!

Hey everyone. For those of you who care, thanks to feedburner we now have decent RSS Feeds. Check it:

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    Thursday, August 17, 2006

    Charlie Blows...

    OK so maybe he isn't blowing his sax tomorrow but Charlie is playing tomorrow with singer songwriter Ray Younkin! Check it:

    Saturday, August 12, 2006

    A case study in De-Evolution

    Tomorrow the LP4 will go into the studio and record "Hawg" our sweet ode to bikers, drugs, and the underage girls who love them. We'll likely record "Encherito" too - our ode to one of the funniest things to watch stoners try to eat neatly in a car. Given time, we may try to knock out the Rosa/Mara drunken bar fight song "She Bad, She Thowed" and the sword metal epic "Waiting for the Axe to Fall". I'm not sure if you caught this but in all these songs we've actually gone back to Linus Basics: dumb power chords, dumb themes only drunks and stoners could appreciate, and a refusal to write anything remotely resembling a bridge. Go team!

    [Since I'm too poor to buy the Beer, whose buying? Whatever you bring, please, no Budweiser or Light Beer. ]

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    Saturday's All Right for Coughing... at the Proletariat

    I knew when I had to work a 36hr shift that ended on Friday afternoon that I'd more than likely end up being sick on Saturday. There is nothing I hate more than playing a show where I'm not 100
    here but whatchagonnado, eh? So at 5:30 it was off to the rehearsal space to rehearse the new songs one last time. We hit the songs perfectly, which is never good luck. So from there we loaded the equipment, the projectors, and assorted Linus crap and headed out. To my surprise Sharks and Sailors were already there Christ, I thought only Linus was this punctual. So it was nice to chat with them as they are really nice and entertaining guys. I proudly showed Shawna, Johnathan and everyone else my bag of drugs: Tylenol, Emergen-C, Claritin and Robitussin. Yeah that's right Robitussin baby this is after all Syrup City. Not long afterwards My Education showed up but I was right in the middle of setting up screens and projectors so I didn't get to cheat with them even though I hadn't seen Scott Tellis in quite a while.

    So, after quick run by The Alabama Ice House for Karen's going away party and racing to the house to get film editing equipment, it was back to the Proletariat where we went through a competent set. Given the fact that I was sick and I had foolishly set up one of the projection screens in a manner that blocked Larry and Clinton from queuing off each other we did pretty ok. We had a lot of tempo issues where we played songs too fast or too slow and I can only say that the new song about Rosa and Mara was the one song (despite fluffing the end) that came off perfectly but Linus isn't really about perfection. We're a bit sloppy by professional standards but that's all good; if the feeling is there and we're not playing hacky then I'm happy with the show. So not a great Linus show but a good one.

    We definitely were not the band that was packing them in. My Education pulled off a nice set on instrumentals. The keyboardist played his instrument with abandon in his hilarious glittery pink Botox shirt is stark juxtaposition to the burly, bearded, and tattooed violinist in his wife-beater. They played a nice set of instrumentals that generally cycled around a main riff and built texturally. It was a solid set and they easily had the biggest draw of the evening.

    But the night really belonged to Sharks and Sailors. I love this band because they are like a frikkin' machine. I don't mean that they play in a soulless manner but simply that they are so precise in everything they do. Where Linus is sloppy and rough, these guys never have a single misplaced note or tone. Its amazing. Everyone should watch these guys in action. Phil is this amazing drummer who clearly abhors the idea of a 4/4. Allen and Michael I think have one of the most amazing guitar interplays in the city. Hell, Scott Tellis and I spent quite some time simply discussing the awesomeness of Melissa's bass tone. One of the new songs had this amazing bit of dynamics where the guitars just quietly shimmered into the distance then the whole band roared back with this heavy riff. When the song ended, I found my self giving a hoarse and uncontrollable "YEAH!" Hell the band even started the first ever Prog moshpit which Rosa (having quickly popped over from the Grindcore festival) found really comical.

    I told Scott to wait until the closed with Topple the Pillar. The song is so good that I'd actually planned on Linus covering this song but our limited rehearsals kind of killed that idea. To me Topple the Pillar is everything that is great about Sharks and Sailors in one song and even people who don't dig the proggy approach to songwriting that S&S engage in all agree that this one song is undeniably brilliant and heavy. So when they closed with another song I was quite disappointed and began to shout, "Youre not done! Topple The Pillar!" To the band's surprise, I wasn't the only person demanding an encore. Scott Tellis, not catching the full title of the song, began shouting nonsense like "Topple the Millar! Topple the Kruller! Topple Ben Stiller!" So, in a very sheepish manner, the band took the stage and closed with the afore mentioned song. As you'd expect they brought the house down. All in all a good night of music so where were you, huh?

    Pictures coming soon.

    Saturday, August 05, 2006

    Million Year Dance get their 15 Minutes

    Well, last Sunday one highlight was the whole Million Year Dance thing. Now I rarely write about bands I abhor but MYD seems to demand its 15 minutes through a combination of vanity, pomposity, and some of the worst pseudo-philosophy I've ever seen. I recently ran across their Myspace where they spouted all this mumbo jumbo like "In the greatest state of liberation one may witness all the wave energies of the universe connected- these energies are the million year dance." I mean this stuff makes L Ron Hubbard read like Spinoza by comparison. So it was a sure bet that I would have to see for myself if they were as bad live as they were on the internet. Hell, just the irony of this band playing the Hooters stage was worthy of a laugh I figured.

    Now, I'll admit that when I was walking up behind the stage I was a bit disappointed as the music was neither here nor there. If I didn't know MYD was performing, I would likely have just kept going paying it no mind. When I turned the corner though, I was greeted with a falsetto and a stage strewn with carpets, incense, and Buddhas. The lead singer didn't disappoint either with his sarong and Hindu facial décor. I immediately began snapping shots. When I framed the shot with Buddha in the foreground, I chuckled to myself and a shocked woman asked, "Is he laughing?"

    I raced to the back to see who else had come to see the freak show and sure enough there were a lot of people there having a good laugh. The general consensus, at least between Steve and me, was that the band itself was decent but that guy (pointing to the lead singer) has got to go. Then Steve made the observation (Steve's family, by the way, is Thai) that, for many Buddhists, placing Buddha beneath your head is taboo as it suggests that you think that you are above Buddha. Then it hit me. Holy fuck! This is all a put-on. The guy isn't Buddhist and he certainly isn't Hindu. That's why all the pseudo-philosophy on the web makes no sense: it's a prop like anything else. Well, that was it for me; the time had come to heckle. So I went to the front of the stage and started the usual high school stuff: hyperbolically emoting to the singers performance, flipping the bird, and fake nose picking, interspersed with shouts of "NOT SENSITIVE ENOUGH!". Sure, not exactly clever but it got the job done. The bearded guitarist with a touch of sarcasm said "I see we have a critic!" He handled it exactly how you are supposed to handle this kind of thing which is to acknowledge the heckler but do it in a way that says "This is what I want to do and I'm not doing it for you! Now fuck off!" Well done, I thought, you get props. The lead singer though just continued with the script.

    Later, I went to the Rice knowing that these guys were likely to be there. A woman then confronted me. The conversation went somewhat like this:

    "What you did back there was not cool."

    "Well, they suck."

    "Well, why do you think that?"

    "C'mon, this band has this whole "worship me" vibe that is utterly contemptible. I mean the band is pretty good - a lot of what the guitarists are doing is really interesting for example - it's the lead singer that is the problem."

    "Well he is my husband. And that was really cowardly of you to do that."

    "No, cowardly would have been me mocking them 20 yards back. I was right up in their face telling them how much they sucked. The whole white boy appropriation of other culture thing is pretty loathsome. Let me ask you something, is he Buddhist?"

    "What does that matter?"

    "Well I was told that Buddhists don't display Buddha beneath their head. So is he Buddhist? I mean he is using Buddha statues on stage."

    "No, he's not."

    "I knew it!"

    "But I'm Buddhist and I'm not offended. I think it worked well theatrically..."

    "Oh I see so he's taking someones religion and using it as a prop?"

    "Well, if I was wearing a China T-shirt would you be offended?"

    "No, that's not a philosophy or a religion; that's totally different. This is total white boy appropriation for his own ends which is to have to have the audience suck his virtual cock. I've got no issues with the band - it's him!" I say this while pointing to her husband who has been listening in. I then turn to him and continue the tirade. "I hate to break it to you but my transformation doesn't start with your band. It starts with me. Your insistence on that is contemptible..."

    "Well, I'm not saying that..."

    "Read your own website. It all focuses on you and your band. Playing music is about community and not look at me. You're a fucking vampire demanding the audience suck your virtual cock."

    "Well we're clearly not getting anywhere but I'll take you comments into consideration for the next show."

    "Fuck you! If this is what you want to do, then Fuck me! No! That's not the point - don't be a pussy! If you believe in this, then fucking do it but I have to tell you you're full of shit."

    "Well, look were just doing these kind of gigs so as to get to what we really want to do; theatre." I shit you not he said Theatre! Now here, having read their website, I inexplicably thought I'd get to hear all about positive activism and how this is part of their plan to make the world a better place via their music and etcetera but then, to my shock, I get "Theatre"? "We want to take this to a theatre and bring in dancers and puppets and other things. It's going to be cool."

    --BANG---suddenly I get it!
    "Holy shit, you ARE doing theatre! No, that's cool. I can reconcile with that. I was judging you as a live band and with live music it's about honesty and putting yourself out there. In theatre you're doing drag. I don't mean drag as a put-down mind you, but that's a totally different thing and I can deal with that. I just I was just taking your band as a live band."

    But this MYD theatre to me is ultimately a troubling thing. To understand my issues with this let me quote from Lester Bangs column about the Clash:

    So I floated down the elevators and when I got there I saw a sheepish group of little not-quite punks huddled around one couch. They were dressed in half-commital punk regalia, a safety pin here and there, a couple of little slogans chalked on their school blazers, their hair greased and twisted up into a cosmetic weekend approximation of spikes. "Hey," I said, "You guys Clash fans?"

    "Well," they mumbled, "sorta.."

    "Well, whattaya mean?" You're punks, aren't ya?"

    "Well we'd like to be...but we're scared..."

    When Joe [Strummer] came down I took him aside and indicating the poor little things, told him what they said, also asking if he wanted to get them into the gig with us and offer a little encouragement for them to take that next, last, crucial step out into full-fledged punk pariahdom and thus sorely needed self-respect.

    "Forget it," he said. "If they haven't got the courage to do it on their own, I'm bloody well not gonna lead 'em by the hand."

    Strummer isn't asking for adulation and he isn't there to tell his fans how to act or view the world. Yet, this dependency is exactly what MYD is about. So the question for MYD is which one do they put first: is it adulation you crave or making great music? I think it is the former. The lead singer would love nothing more than having a line of kids line up for his autograph like those Morrisey fans did at Record Rack years ago. It's like the misguided kids who, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, reply "I want to be famous." In the end, you either have a band or you have a put-on. And MYD is the latter.

    And so with that I went to see the Fatal Flying Guilloteens which is where I saw transcendence in the form of live music the way it should be seen. The players are giving themselves entirely to the music. The audience and the band are celebrating each other. It's loud, chaotic, hot, sweaty, and inspiring; it's a moment when the world stops and everything that is good about it is right there in that room. That, my friends, is what live music is all about and that is my kind of positive activism.

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    Houston Press Awards! Who Won? Who Cares! Let's Have a Party!

    Well another Houston Press Music Awards Showcase has come and gone. This year’s took some force of will to attend as I was a bit under the weather. Mercifully my fever went down and with a Camera and an icepack-ready Gatorade I was prepared for a day of music, beer and friends. Now, mind you, Steve and I were the only LP4s representing but that ended up working fine as I was able to pass my VIPs to other worthy people like Mara and Kurt. I mean chillin’ with free beer at the Rice Hotel is half the fun isn’t it?


    First show at the brewery tap was Whorehound who rocked so hard that Trevi’s head blew within minutes of my walking inside. You have to love a heavy ass band like this with a short cropped drummer who wears Buddy Holly glasses. Hooray for Heavy Nerds!!

    And speaking of heavy, Gods Temple of Family Deliverance was playing as a club called the Office. Now I’m not sure who the cartographer at the Press was but that person needs to realize that if the club is on Main Street, you just might consider putting the little numbered circle representing a club on Main Street. [Now one error would have been fine but I stopped counting after the third fuck-up on the map and ended up relying on my eyes.] Thanks to this idiotic map, I and about 10 other people were trying to find the office for a good 10 minutes to no avail. Finally I found it just as GTOFD was hauling it’s amps out! Awesome! So best amp haulers of the day goes to GTOFD!

    Break at The Rice Hotel

    Hey free food! Free Beer! This must be the place! Spoke with Lance and a few others about my morbid fascination with the depth of Million Year Dance’s suckitude. During that conversation Lance told me to catch rapper Cliché which I forgot to check out but later regretted when Mara and Kurt described their show. The woman supposedly was one of the highlights of the showcase with this super funky live band.


    Walked over with Danny to see Dizzy Pilot. I’d mentioned how I’d seen the guitarist for Dizzy Pilot in Motion Turns It On but was somewhat underwhelmed by the latter. Danny was a bit more positive about MTIO so he figured he’d check out Dizzy Pilot. There’s not much to say about DizzyPilot. They do a poppy alternative thing and they do it well. The guitarist is really good and the songs are really catchy. Hey it works for me.

    Break at The Rice Hotel

    I was telling Chris Ryan that the Gay Marriage EP it was easily the best local release I’d heard to date. Rosa had left it in the car and I was blown away by it as I drove to the Showcase. As it turns out, Chris recorded it. Go Figure! Great CD all around – now if I can just hear the rest of tracks not included in the EP.

    4 bands 40 minutes – ready set GO!

    A Pink Cloud was easily the wrong band to see when you have a tight schedule. The 10 minutes of the set I saw consisted of Dom mumbling into the microphone, the rest of the band battling sound issues, and an impatient MC waiting to introduce the band. By the time they did get started, I had to go or miss everyone else I wanted to see.

    I raced down to see Rotten Piece and was well rewarded with the most inspired bit of Anti-art of the evening. First off Carol Kelly refused to perform because it was her birthday so she just sat there with a drink in her hand enjoying the show. Shawn simply Karaoked Scratch Acid and Culturecide to the rest of the bar’s disinterest. Shawn triumphantly closed with a rousing “We are Rotten Piece! Do not vote for us!” Easily one of the best shows of the day!

    From there it was off to catch Drop Trio and The Jonx at two clubs I’d likely never be allowed entrance were it a normal evening. Drop Trio did their funky jazzy thing and the nice thing is that they clearly had a big crowd which was well deserved. When I first saw these guys I was just stunned that anyone could be playing this in Houston. Thank the gods that, even after Ian moved to Austin, the band has kept together.

    After a few minutes of Drop Trio I race over to see the Jonx only to catch the last 30 seconds which was a bummer as the sound was massive but for some reason they simply played a 30 minutes set. Had I known I would have reversed my route.


    The Medicine Show was a bust because the idiots at this Red Cat restaurant (this was a restaurant right?). Red Cat left these tables crowded along the entrance guaranteeing that nobody could dance, stand or do anything near the band. To me it looked like a big giant fire code violation. The result was that many people, like me, couldn’t see the band. Lucky suck-o-rama was just around the corner as Million Year Dance was starting up but that is another blog.


    Holy Fuck the Satin Hooks were on Fire. I’m not sure if it was their being nominated for best “Experimental” and Lucas having a field day with that goof or what was up but they played with this force I’d never seen them do before. The soundman had the sound all fucked up at first – the bass was dirty, the guitar was loud, the drums were out of control. It went to eleven! It was loud dirty and it was unstoppable. It was easily the biggest surprise of the day. Later, about the time I began to be hit with fatigue, the soundman evened out the sound to my dismay.

    Break at the Rice Hotel

    Ran into Steven of Something Fierce - He is much better at Halo than I am. [I don’t get those controllers; I need a keyboard.] But during the game he got a text from his girlfriend saying how much she missed him and how she wished she could be there with him. Awww! They are so sweet! Er…I mean Punk Rock! Bad news for Steven was that the food was gone and the bad news for everyone was that the only beer left was this Miechlob Ultra! What the fuck is that? Like Musicians are working out and checking their carbs! C’mon guys!

    Oh and then there was Million Year Dance…oh wait that’s the next blog.


    What can I say? The Fatal Flying Guilloteens frikkin rocked the house. I was freaking beat from an entire day of walking and running around. I was so tired that I blew threw my film towards the beginning of their set just so I could sit. My cold probably wasn’t helping much. But dem boys done brought it home. If you weren’t at The Guilloteens at 9pm you simply missed the epicenter of the showcase. I swear everyone was there in the crowd. The guilloteens sweated, thrust, crowd-surfed, missed notes, dropped beats, the amps crackled, the lighting threatened to topple, and the heat from the crowd was making the AC work overtime. To me it was a perfect close to the Awards Showcase. Are the Guilloteens going to win best whatever? Who the fuck cares! It’s a party! Let’s rock!