Archive for the Album Reviews Category

Machine 22 and Seventh Ascent – Good for the environment!

Posted in Album Reviews, Show Reviews with tags , , , , , , on December 20, 2009 by the devil

Good morning!  Last night brought the devil and his mistress of evil and terror to the 200 bar somewhere slightly East of downtown Minneapolis.  We showed up early anticipating a local favorite, Machine 22 and three other bands that we’d never seen before.  Sounds awesome, yeah?

It was pretty awesome, actually.  The night started out with a bunch of arrogant pricks and cheap-ass whiners at a well-known Japanese restaurant, the whole lot of them never knowing how close they came to getting thrown on that searing-hot Hibachi grill we were all sitting around.  We left full, and the food was good, that probably being the only thing that saved their worthless lives…

So things were looking up when we got to the venue as there was a fine young gentleman outside scalping tickets at a reduced price.  Instead of paying $16 to see four bands, we only paid $10 to enjoy two!  The sugar and spice started when Seventh Ascent hit the stage…

Can you see that girl up there?  THAT GIRL CAN SING!!!  Holy shit.  The easy comparison right out of the gate is Gingerjake, the now defunct rock and roll band from Minneapolis fronted by another wailing siren, Amanda Harris.  Lucky for you, we’re not into ‘easy’ here at the Basement…taking a closer look reveals a bit less “No Doubt” in the music, though it still has that pop sound to it that the kiddies just love.

Being a kid at heart and mind, I happened to like the set enough to pick up a copy of their debut EP, ‘Secrets.’  Currently listening to track 5, which to some is also known as ‘Enemy.’  Thus far it is surely the standout track on the disc.  The production on the CD is glossy for sure, though after hearing lead singer Ryanne’s perfectly flawless delivery last night I can’t really imagine putting her into any other mix.

Speaking of the ‘mix,’ let’s bitch about the rude little snot of a bartender that declined a free CD from the bands little merch helper because, as he states, his new motto is “Save a dolphin, use iTunes.”  Let me translate that for you into a few different dialects of the English language:

Hipster (lower east-side Uptown dialect): “Free CD? I’d rather steal it online, thanks.”

Scenester (Southwest corner of Lyn-Lake Uptown dialect): “I only listen to bands that play at the Turf Club or in basements.”

Fixie (Northern Uptown dialect): “Do you have anything on reel-to-reel, or perhaps 8-track?”

Asshole (bartender that doesn’t have the balls to say he didn’t like your band dialect): “Manufacturing CDs is bad for the Earth.  You should manufacture plastic cards with secret passwords on them so people can download your music on iTunes and then the planet will be saved and I will ride my bike everywhere.”

Because manufacturing plastic cards that people are GUARANTEED to throw away after they use them are somehow better than a CD that people most likely WON’T throw away after listening.  I’m fucking glad I picked it up.  Thanks, Seventh Ascent, see you next time. :)

…but before we go…

Recognize any of those guys?  You might. That’s right, another now-defunct Minneapolis band gets mention in this review!  Shit…maybe this is some sort of evil power I never knew about…I write review, band breaks up…trust me, these aren’t the only two…

Well, I guess there’s only one way to find out: Keep writing about bands and see if they can stand up to my evil powers.

I hope, for the sake of this great band that it’s just some strange coincidence.  Machine 22 is their name, and I’m not going to make some stupid reference to their game because they just fuckin’ ROCK.  Call it punk, call it rock, call it what you want, but do yourself a favor and go see this band live!

Word on the streets is that the band (together since June of 2009) has been working diligently in the studio on a full-length album on Missouri based label DC Jams.  Can’t wait for that one…and that said, I won’t, but that’s a story for a whole other blog…

Well, as you (hopefully) remember, the night kind of started out on the wrong side of the cucumber patch, but here at the end, it’s alllllll goooooood…

Make sure you swing through and show some love, check out some tunes, and if you dig, you know your support is what these bands really need, so do the right thing and kill a dolphin by picking up a physical copy of one of their CDs:

Seventh Ascent on Myspace
Machine 22 on Myspace

Have a damn nice day, y’all.

-the devil.

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Venus in the sky, Lucifer in our eyes…

Posted in Album Reviews, Letters from the devil, Show Reviews, The Music Scene with tags , on August 20, 2009 by the devil

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Good evening Basement Dwellers…as you might be able to see by the multitude of categories attached to this post, I was unsure just how to identify it.  It’s not really going to be a ‘show review,’ or purely an ‘album review,’ though I plan on mentioning elements of both, so knowing that, it’s not really just about the music scene, or even a simple letter from the devil, either…you see, it’s just about a band, or rather, an artist, who, for lack of a better term, FUCKING RULES.

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I certainly hope you weren’t expecting some mediocre, standard-fare, cookie-cut-up rock and roll band because that’s just what Venus DeMars and All the Pretty Horses are not. Yes, the lead singer of All the Pretty Horses is a female of trans-gendered status.  Is it an important part of the band?  Hell yes it is.  It’s what makes the Horses Pretty. Am I going to go on and on about it at great length?  No, as I’m sure in the 15 year history of the band there are plenty of other writers who have focused solely on this secondary aspect of a great musician.

Every time I use the word ‘secondary’ I am ever-compelled to use the word ‘tertiary’ in follow-up, though here I cannot find the room.

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So we were on the topic of musicianship, yeah?  So let me put this in mild perspective for you.  I’m currently in my little office here at the Basement listening to ‘Creature’ by All the Pretty Horses.  The current track is ‘Kissed Adonis’ and it’s got me thinking about how I’d love to hear this live right now.  The opening verse just crushes, and touches on topics very close to the hearts of those of us who make the Basement home:  “I’ve tasted Jesus, did you?  I think hell freezes…”

Don’t you?

So you might remember something I said about 45 seconds ago, and that was that All the Pretty Horses have been around for the last 15 years in the Minneapolis music scene.  Their show has brought them all over the US, across the puddle to Europe, and most recently to the far reaches of the mystical islands of New Zealand.  For those of you who don’t know shit about fuck when it comes to geography, New Zealand is the place where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed…right next to the land down under.  I think there’s a couple Men at Work down there now that I think about it.

IMG_1025On the topic of men at work, let me introduce you to LeFreak, long-time bassist for ATPH, and cameo-master of the Minneapolis music scene.  This guy shows up at more places than I do, and I’m constantly making appearances here while being mostly omni-present everywhere else! Rest assured, if you see him out on the scene, you’re in luck, because that means you’ve found the coolest place to be for the time he’s there.  I really don’t think I’ve met a nicer guy in a bigger band, though I’ve only had the chance to meet him in the fray, so maybe once I get to know him better he’ll turn out to be really mean.  Either way, I don’t think there are many other people that do this with the passion that he does, go check out his myspace (link provided at the end of the blog) after you finish reading this one and read his ‘about me’ section and tell me he’s anything but a musician for the love of music.  I dare you.

So, yeah, I know what you’re thinking at this point in the article…you’re thinking about how fucking awesome the photos are.  Just in case you’re curious about them, know this:  they are photos taken with the evilest of cameras on a nice night last June at the Bedlam Theater in Cedar/Riverside.

…and what a cool show that turned out to be!  It was half rock and roll show/half fashion show and full-time kick-fucking-ass-show.  It went down like this:  First the fashionistas hit the runway and showed off some pretty swanky styles by a few local designers.  After this, the No No’s (yeah, our newest author just posted an article about them a couple of weeks ago) rocked the fucking faces off most of the people in the place, then more sexy fashion, then some cigarette smoking on the rooftop ensued, and finally, I was engaged by the Pretty, Pretty Horses.

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I should mention that I’m not a long-time fan of the band, quite the contrary, actually.  You see, in all the time I spend in the scene, I’ve only recently been entranced by Venus and ATPH.  I remember seeing them way back in the day, probably around the time when Ryan’s was still Ryan’s on 4th and Sibly in downtown St. Pilla.  They’ve always been on the scene, but for some reason I just didn’t go and listen. Well, son, the times they are a changin’ and I’ve turned my ears to hear.  I went so far as to take advantage of a little package the band put together for (presumably) their long-time hardcore fans.  Venus compiled all their albums, PLUS a DVD full of cool shit from the last 15 years and created a 15 year anniversary 5 disc collectors edition limited deluxe historical discography package set.  I bought one.  I’ve still got to get it signed, because I do that.  For what it is, it was cheap as shit, and well worth the dollars, so be SURE to pick one up if there are any left…you won’t be disappointed!  I think overall I’m the biggest fan of ‘Creature,’ the album mentioned earlier in the article.  I won’t get into why because…you’ve probably got better things to do than continue reading my rambles.

And by “better things” I mean things like surfing your ass out of this blog and onto the homepage of the bands and band members we’ve been discussing…here they are…you know just what the fuck to do:

Venus and All the Pretty Horses on Myspace
VenusDeMars.com
Venus and ATPH Downloads and Merchandise
LeFreak on Myspace

P.S. All the Pretty Horses are headlining a sassy show at the sauciest club in town on Friday, October 2nd with special guests the No No’s (it seems they get along famously!) and Lusurfer!  You know this show is going to kick ass.  Be there.  It’s at the Sauce if you’re too thick to figure that out.

C.D. Review: The Yuckies; Dirty Bird

Posted in Album Reviews on August 14, 2009 by harleyquinn45

First off this is Harley Quinn. Yes THE Harley Quinn. So sit back, tuck your tail between your legs and get comfy friends cause this little review will bring us all back to the golden age of grunge, the early 90′s. . .and off we go.
First off I give props to any band that can actually play their instruments and these ladies can play. The main overall genre of the music is punk, but there is a HEAVY influence of early 90’s grunge. As I listened I felt transported back to 1993, covered in flannel, denim and Dr. Martens’, sitting in the food court at the mall, glaring at the moms and dads, corralling their infant sheep, knowing my life was far superior than their droid filled existence. If you are looking for a raucous, fun, pop punk, musical collaboration, that doesn’t take itself too seriously, then this is it. Lets get into the nitty gritty.
While I have not seen this band live (I will.), I believe they split the main vocals between the three of them, as I heard three different lead singers through out. The first three songs hit me hard and I truly enjoyed the vocals. This girl has the pipes to back up her growly vocals.
1.) Greatest Rap Battle of the 21st Century: This is the R version of the PG breaking-up-with-a-dude crap we hear on the radio every day (if you don’t listen to the radio, stop being so pretentious, asshole). Raucous, fun and familiar.
2.) Drain: We all have someone in our life that makes us feel this way, unfortunately most of us don’t have the balls to tell that person as straightforward as Drain. Great song.
3.) Boscobel: My favorite song on the album. I loved the bass licks. I heard influences beyond grunge here that included rockabilly and surf rock yet the song is still pure punk rock. This tune brought me back to the great Minneapolis gutter punk scene space of the 90′s, The Bombshelter.
I need to be honest about the next songs. They all blended together as they all have a very similar sound. They are not kick-me-in-the-face-fun, like the first three songs and some left me disappointed. When I heard the potential of the band in the first songs I wanted more and didn’t really get it.
4.) You Give Me the Creeps: The lead vocals are a bit weak. Lyrically this could have been written by a 15 year old, but hey, oh well, because the guitar and backup vocals are solid and that alone, makes it a decent song.
5.) NV Girls: I’m getting the feeling these ladies don’t have a fondness for the gentlemen they have come across in their lives.
6.) Abuse: Strong vocals; this girl has punk rock pipes. The lyrics are (GASP!) emo, but they are hard to understand, so it doesn’t matter.
7.) Untitled: Maybe the emotional undertones of the lyrics got in the way of writing the music cause this was one of those that left me disappointed.
8.) No Solution: The grunge rock influence is apparent in this one. Leaves me feeling. . .eehh.
9.) Balls Out: The song by the musicians for the musicians. A good song to listen to, before you step onstage.
10.) Hey Alaska: These ladies do not like Alaska.
11.) Beats the Back Porch: Instrumental Punk rock? What?! While a decent tune, without lyrics, it needs a good solo and it lacks both.
From cruising the ladies web pages, it is my guess this band is a lot more fun to listen to live than in my car and living room. They are playing a show tonight at the Triple Rock (show time is 8pm). Go; then contradict my opinions above. I can’t make it tonight but I plan on catching their Sept. 5 show at Big V’s in St. Paul (show time is 8pm). Hope to see you there, Basement dwellers.

Later Puddins’,

Harley

photo courtesy of www.theyuckies.com
yuckies

The Rockford Mules – Step Aside, Son

Posted in Album Reviews, Show Reviews on July 30, 2009 by the devil

Come’on kids, it’s time to gather ’round the wagon and reminisce about times that remind us all of the better days…days that remind you that you have what you have because you worked for it.  Days that still bring a smile to your dirty little faces, and days that are remembered for the simple weight that they bestowed upon your tired minds.  Stories, memories, essence. That’s what we’re going to talk about…

…or rather, I should say, that’s what we’re going to let the Rockford Mules talk about for us.

What’s that?  You’ve never heard of the Rockford Mules?  Well that’s good, that’s why I write these fucking things for you.  Don’t feel bad, I hadn’t heard of them either, that is, until last Friday night.  You see, I was tired, I had just gotten done beating the shit out of my Ford Explorer because it needed some new parts, and the old parts just didn’t want to let go of the truck.  The lesson I learned?  A big enough hammer will fix ANYTHING.  After I had finished this task, I was feeling a bit victorious and decided to treat myself to a show at the Triple Rock Socialist Club in lovely Minne-no-place.  I had found out that a band named Castle (yeah, we reviewed a show of theirs a while back) would be playing their big comeback show after moving operations to Austin, TX to presumably ‘make it.’  If you care enough, you can read my thoughts on Castle’s portion of the show over in the Whine Cellar right here on thedevilsbasement.com.

Anyway, I walked in and the ‘Mules had already started into their set for the night.  I believe they were playing ‘Head East to Get West’ from the above-pictured album From Devil’s Spit to Angel Tears.  At this moment in time I knew that Castle didn’t stand a chance.  I was watching them get blown off the stage before they ever stepped foot upon it.

After the set I happened to chat for a brief time with lead singer Erik Tasa, really just to congratulate him on a fucking killer performance, but also to ask where-o-where I could purchase a CD.  As it turns out, they had at least one with them which I offered to purchase, but was given for free.  I offered cash, sex, drugs, but he wasn’t having any of it.  He must have sensed the authenticity in my fan-boy praise.  Normally we like to support the scene at all costs here at the Basement, and would never, and I mean NEVER accept a free CD in exchange for a shiny nice album review, and in this case, since he didn’t know who the fuck I really am (and neither do YOU) I decided not to push the issue.

For the record, I’m a fucking nobody. I’m just a cynical asshole with an opinion about our little local music scene here in Minneapolis.

So I suppose by this time in the article you’re all just dying to know who I think these guys sound like.  Because, fuck, heaven-forbid you just go check them out on a recommendation, no they better sound like music you know you like…because you need to be safe.  Alright, so they’ve got a southern influence, with the voice of Chris Cornell, back when Chris Cornell was good, like when he was with Soundgarden, like on the Superunknown album, and they’ve got a dirty slide guitar, a little bit of groove…like a really big small little bit, plus some Salt and Pepper, but not like the kind on MTV, more like the seasoning people put on French Fries, but forget about McDonald’s, we’re talking about STEAK FRIES here…hell, steak fries aren’t even FRENCH…and to some people that’s very important.  People like the Germans.  So how’s that for safe?  Safe enough, I hope.

Well, I’ve been listening to the album the whole time I’ve been writing this, and rather than vomit a bunch of strange comparisons for each of the songs, I’ll just show you this picture I stole from the band’s myspace page:

That barbed wire-strung guitar pretty much sums up the sound better than anything I could ever say…

The album is awesome, recorded at Vaudeville East in St. Pizzle, and also in some other basement owned by ‘Craig.’  On that note, we’d like it to be known that the Rockford Mules are welcome to come record in the devil’s basement at any time, you know, if basements do it for you.  More on that later.

I would say that after a good six listens to this album the stand-out tracks have to be the title track ‘From Devils Spit to Angel Tears,’ the lead-in instrumental ‘The Refinery’ coupled with the crushing tune called ‘Head East to Get West’ and the dirty swagger of the track ‘Redditch Redeye.’

So…It’s almost time for you to make a conscious decision to either a) support or b) not support local music.  I have made conscious decisions myself during this little review, like choosing not to use the term ‘barn-burner’ in a review of a southern-rock influenced album of kick ass music.  I did the right thing, you can, too.

BUT…before we get to all that…

I would like to thank the Rockford Mules at this time for posting enough pictures on their myspace page worth stealing so that I could make this a really nice and professional looking piece of literature…and when I say ‘nice and professional looking’ I’m assuming you haven’t read it yet.

…and NOW…

Here’s my favorite part of writing about the local music scene…letting you all know how YOU can help support YOUR SCENE by picking up a CD from a band you like, buying one for a friend, etc., etc., and on and on and it don’t stop.  And on and on until the break of dawn…

www.therockfordmules.com

www.myspace.com/therockfordmules

The Rockford Mules on CDBaby

I’ll see you out there on the scene!  But of course…you won’t see ME.

-the devil.

The Infidels – Our Daily Dread

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , , on July 20, 2009 by the devil

What’s up with y’all this week?  I’ve got a GOOD one for you to sink your teeth into this time around, so get some beer, cigarettes, popcorn, gluten-free bread, raw meat, moldy fruit, or some other form of tasty snacking and keep reading…because I’m going to entertain you.  Because that’s what I do.

So you see that picture up there?  That’s the album cover for the Infidels new record titled ‘Our Daily Dread.’  It kicks so much ass.  In fact, I’d even venture to say it could kick Chuck Norris’ ass.

…but before we get into all that shit about the album, let me digress for just a moment…

I was introduced to this band back in 2008 at Eclipse Records in the hoppin’ Midway of St. Pizzle.  After their set I immediately ran to the front of the room so I could bother the band for a CD while they were tearing their gear down.  They had an EP for sale, and I paid three bucks for it, and it fucking ruled.  I urged my friends to play shows with this band.  I searched myspace for the next time I could see them…and it was like…a really long time before my thirst would be satiated.  Apparently they were dicking around in the studio or some shit like that and couldn’t find the time to play shows for ME.  Sometimes it’s as if nobody loves me…but then again…I’m the devil, and I’ve gotten a bad rap ever since that fucking book of Genesis was found in some deserted cave near the dead sea…

I told you I was going to digress, no?

Ok, so we’re talking about THE INFIDELS, and whenever I hear that term I’m reminded of the gold record that hangs on my wall…but that’s a whole other digression on the topic of the Deftones, the true infidels (that’s YOU America!), and Operation: Desert Storm.  So here we go with Our Daily Dread:

The album starts off with a dramatic introduction titled ‘Flee As A Bird’ and sets the tone for a record that will change your mood whether you’re in the mood for your mood to be changed or not.  This moves into a near title-track called ‘Our Daily Bread’ and introduces the listener to everything great about this band in one minute and thirty-five seconds.  The harmonized guitars strumming in sequence, the ability to create a progression that creates the feeling of progress, and the voice of frontman Jonny the Infidel.  He sings with conviction, a quality people seem to have forgotten in the recent lumberjack resurgence (have you been to the Turf Club lately?  WTF?).

I won’t give you the entire play by play of this 11 track masterpiece, I mean, I’ve got to leave something for you to discover on your own, yes?  Yes.

…but I’m not just going to leave you hanging either…

As I continue to move through this CD I find myself enjoying the production quality just as much as the music.  There have been times when I’ve been at local music shows and have been so excited to get a CD and listen to it, only to return home and be like…I paid for this?  It happens, and I’m not bitching, these local musicians put their hearts into these recordings and sometimes it just costs more than a bunch of working musicians have to spare to come up with a recording that captures the live approach that makes them great on stage.  Well let me tell you something about ‘Our Daily Dread:’

That sound is captured, and I have the entire album on my computer, and I didn’t even have to pay for it. I’ll tell you how YOU can be more like ME at the end of the blog, but first, let’s talk a bit more about the album…

So just now as I was writing I was listening to the track titled A.W.O.L. and I just can’t get ENOUGH of that breakdown in the middle!  It’s hard for me to say whether it’s the guitar-work of frontman Jonny the Infidel or his bandmate Death the Infidel, but holy fucking JESUS is that shit sweet.  Just as the awe of that moment was wearing off ‘Saint Paulie’ comes in with some transition type break that I can’t even follow the count on…it counts like there’s a  5/4 measure thrown in there because after it’s done my extreme headbanging seems to be on the upbeat rather than the downbeat, but then again, my headbanging ain’t no metronome…hopefully we’ll have a guest appearance by Brant the Infidel (their drummer) and he’ll tell us all the technical intricacies of the music…and I sincerely hope he doesn’t stop by and leave some stupid comment like, “The entire album is in 4/4.”

Hey…aren’t we forgetting somebody?  There’s one Infidel we haven’t mentioned quite yet…and he goes by Alan.  Alan the Infidel.  I mention him now because the other three play the whole album while he lurks in the shadows, holding the music steady, creating a bottom that completes the sound…and then finally, on ‘Call The Shots’ they let him have a little spotlight.  He comes back again in ‘Rack Of Ages’ for another display of this mythical beast called ‘the Bassist.’

So here we are almost to the end of the album, only the title track to go, but you know what?  I’m not going to say shit-else about the album.  I’m not going to make some obscure comparison to some band I think you might have heard of (and might not like).  I’m going to let curiosity kill your cat.  You know why?  Because I don’t like your cat.

But SERIOUSLY.

YOU can go DOWNLOAD the WHOLE album fOr FREE rIGhT FUCKING hErE OMGBBQ:

The Infidels – Our Daily Dread

Yeah, that’s right, it’s FREE.  Devil-approved, and you don’t even have to get off your lazy fucking ass to get it.  Shit, that’s easier than going to the fridge to get a beer.  And it’s all compliments of these fine young fellows right here:

“Hear no evil…see no evil…speak no evil…pick your nose no evil.”

I SINcerely hope you’ve enjoyed the post, picked up your FREE download, and haven’t ONCE had to expend any calories by getting up from your chair.

I’m the devil, and I share music that I love, because if people didn’t talk about the shit they like, no one would ever hear about anything.

-the devil.

The Infidels on Myspace

The Infidels on Facebook

Dead Town Revival/The Spent .50′s: Split…120mm

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , on May 10, 2009 by the devil

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“Heart breaker, grave maker,
You…just…don’t…get it…
I tried the peaceful way of things,
now your blood will,
start collecting…
Come with me, so swiftly,
Lay…your…sins…in me,
Like the quiet way you talk,
In your bedroom,
while you’re sleeping…”

-Dead Town Revival

—————————————————————————–

Holy shit…this is a GOOD ALBUM!!!  So yeah, I was at a show the other night.  Let’s assume I was at the Turf Club in St. Paul on a windy spring evening checking out the Punk Rock Invasion of the city’s one and only lumberjack mecca.  Yeah, the Turf is known for their love of the hippied-out hipster fixed-gear dumpster pizza eating collective…but tonight was different…tonight punk rock returned to the Turf after a long hiatus…

While this isn’t a show review per se I will mention the fact that I was in attendance to see The Spent .50′s, the Eighty-Sixed, the No No’s, and the Virgin Whores tear the place apart.  I only mention this for the fact that it was the primary reason for this subsequent album review.  Quite obviously, I purchased a CD from the Spent .50′s which brings us to the present moment.

This isn’t really your typical punk split 7″ record…no…this is your A-typical punk split 120mm.  While a split CD is a little less punk rock than a split 7″, it’s far more fan-friendly in that you can cram WAY more music on one!  The first five songs on the CD are offered up by Chicago’s Dead Town Revival and man do they fucking kill it…

The album opens up with ‘Heart Breaker,’ just as this here little blog did…and it was here that I was hooked.  Line and sinker come a bit later.  In this first track we’re introduced to the band as a metal-infused rock-a-billy seasoned outfit with just a little tinge of that throaty gurgle made famous by Motorhead’s own Lemmy Kilminster.  Between the group backup vocals and the epic guitars wailing in amidst the hookiest of lyrics, it’s the kind of track that promises the rest of the album will be, at the very least, well worth your time.

The next couple of tracks represent a more current influence, say late nineties straight up rock and roll, maybe even a little pop, and of course, the ever-present metal glimmer in the background.  The album’s fourth track, titled ‘Get in the Van,’  is a song rich with open chord strums and some intimate, and quite thought-provoking lyrics.  It reminded me of a song that deserved to be the soundtrack to an end, even though I knew there was more to come.

The final offering from Dead Town Revival on this little split biscuit is a track titled ‘Room 103.’  Here I found the line and sinker.  Whether this song leaves you thinking about Diane or Dyin’, you’re sure to throw this one through the repeater a few times.

The next half of the album is served up by Minneapolis’ ‘Spent .50s.’  A four-piece rock-a-billy band that has created a faithful following both here in the Cities and regionally.   Ranging from the obvious comparison to Mike Ness and Social Distortion to a faster, more in your face brand of rock and roll that screams of old school hot rods and maybe even a little bit of Clint Eastwood (that’ll make sense in a paragraph or two…).

The ‘.50s open up their half of the split with ‘Asleep at the Wheel,’ an easy intro, and a song that let’s you know you’ve crossed the border between the two artists on the album.  The vocals of frontman Trevor Jurgens are pristine and mixed across the entire stereo field.  The overall feel of the recording fits well with the era of which it (I believe) attempts to emulate.  Crisp, clean, not your average DIY punk recording here.  High production, and more evidently, a strict attention to detail.

The second track is the band’s crowd favorite, ‘Burn it Down:’ “Oh then it was time for a change, Wanna get real low, wanna get deranged!  Wanna Burn it Down!”  I can see you singing along already…and if that’s the case, you’re going to sing along to the next track on the album for sure…

Enter Clint Eastwood…

‘Fistful of Dollars’ is the pinnacle of the album’s intensity.  The track has a very singable chorus, and some backing vocals that roll in chromatic opposition of each other which bring the song to a very western, very appropriate end.  After this, the CD comes to a close over the course of the next two tracks, leaving you hungry for more, and wishing you’d written these songs yourself.  It all just makes sense when it’s done…

…and when it starts over…you’ll give it another listen.

Well, the review is over…and now the time has come for you to do your part as a good little music fan and decide whether or not I know what the fuck I’m talking about…Here’s a few links for you to fully immerse yourself in:

Dead Town Revival on Myspace

The Spent .50s on Myspace

Buy the CD at Interpunk.com!!!!

Swing back through here and leave comment when you realize I’m right…

-the devil.

dtrspentsmall copy

Mommy S3z No: Hotwaterburnbaby

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , , , , on May 7, 2009 by Terminal One

HotwaterburnbabyYep, back again with a CD you probably haven’t heard of…but you should! In reviewing their recently-released full-length effort, we get a peek into the twisted world of Mommy S3z No, a Twin-Cities based band of punk rock veterans. Be forwarned, this is no cheap emo pop-punk flavor of the month…no, this is something distinctly more genuine and disturbing.

Mommy S3z No was formed out of the ashes of several popular local bands in the summer of 2007 to help bring singer/guitarist Jeff Arndt’s psychotic vision to life. The trio quickly recorded a debut album and set about hammering the local scene with their own brand of sleazy, horror-inspired punk rock. After a couple stops at the drummer exchange, Jeff and bassist Evil teamed up with former Rock ‘N’ Roll Whores drummer Alex Smith to cement the lineup we find today.

“Hotwaterburnbaby” is a densely-arranged 14-track slab of sick lyrics, squealing guitars and pounding rhythms. From the unnerving cover art to the bizarre photos inside, this is a release which succeeds in perfectly linking a visual concept to the songs within. A quick read through the liner notes yields an interesting guest lineup–Ari Lehman, the first “Jason” from the original “Friday the 13th”, provides backing vocals on one track. John Kassir (best known as the voice of the Cryptkeeper from the HBO series “Tales From The Crypt”) also makes an appearance.

The disc is full of tracks with titles like “Cannibal Girl,” “Oh So Creepy,” and the incredibly horrifying “Zombie Bukkake”Mommy S3z No…but it’s too easy to dismiss the songs as Marilyn Manson-esque shock rock. There are solid melodies and real hooks in these tunes–the songwriting hasn’t been exchanged for cheap tricks…but nor is it Cheap Trick. The album seems slightly underproduced at times, with bass levels a bit buried and vocals mixed noticeably forward, but this may have been purposeful. In any event, the overall feel is just fine and seems to fit the slasher punk vibe Mommy S3z No is going for.

The album provides some really outstanding moments: “Dead Things” is a great down-tempo grinder which brings to mind Jeff Dahl covering a mid-70′s Stones song. “Ghoulette” is a cool jam with a killer bass riff that quickly opens up to a bouncing verse. hotwaterlineart“Stress” is punk ripper with a crazy, warbling vocal line. The album closes with “Taking the Fun,” a ’77-style tune with Sex Pistols overtones. Given the wide range of influences present on this release, it’s easy to find something to like–and the album gets better with each listen.

Mommy S3z No is currently playing a bunch of shows to support “Hotwaterburnbaby” and it’s on stage that this band really shines. As much fun as this CD is, I’m strongly of the opinion that you need to see this band live. The lack of studio trickery on the disc lets the music stand on it’s own, and it pays off. Get off your lazy asses and go see this band! While you’re there, buy the CD…or, contact them at their MySpace page. While you’re there, you can check out their upcoming shows and go to one. Who knows, you may get covered in blood…and like it!

Gingerjake: Making Me All Wet and Cheesy

Posted in Album Reviews, Show Reviews with tags , on March 31, 2009 by the devil

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Alright you jerks…I’ve got a fuckin’ double-whammy for y’all this time around.  A show review, AND an album review, all in one easy to prepare, microwave-safe, resealable package!  Now, I know you may be asking yourselves, “but Mr. Devil!  How can you bring us not one, but TWO tasty reviews all in one easy to prepare, microwave-safe, resealable package?!?”

Easy…because I’m the devil.  Plain and simple.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s address the large-sized elephant in the room with us.  Gingerjake is a Minneapolis band who, much to their fortune, are fronted by a smokin’ hot girl named Amanda.  Did I really have to say that out loud?  I mean…you probably would have noticed this when I posted up a couple pics of the band, yeah?  Well, I feel like I needed to say it because we believe in a few things here in the Basement.  One of those things is music, and while an image, or an aesthetically pleasing figure, or fireworks, etc, etc, might add to a live show’s appeal, it is not the focal point when we review music here.

If all you want to do is stare at Amanda and you couldn’t give a shit about Gingerjake as a band, go here.

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The following song lyric is most appropriate at this juncture:

“I think we’re alone now…there doesn’t seem to be anyone arou-ound…” -Tommy James and the Shondells/Ritchie Cordell

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Heh…ok, enough banter…let’s get this motherfucker off the ground!!!

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Welcome to the Rock in Maplewood in the hood!   Tonight we’re going to tell y’all about a little band from Minneapolis called ‘Gingerjake.’   The show we were at also featured the bands Black Days Down, Far From Falling, and Mindrite…but unfortunately we won’t be reviewing them this time.

But…devil?  How come you’re not reviewing those other bands?

Because I showed up late!  Sue me!

Ok, so here we are at the Rock in Maplewood in the hood and we happen to arrive just before Gingerjake hits the stage.  We paid our eight bucks to get in and found a large gathering of people milling around the front of the stage.  We joined them after purchasing some tasty beverages and waited for the spectacle that was about to ensue.

img_9213While we are waiting I’ll fill you in on some band history as it relates to Gingerjake.  Quite some time ago, we’ll say circa 2003, Gingerjake was formed by the cute couple immediately to the left.  That’s Amanda Harris and Ian Butler Severson, respectively.  They were joined by Joe and Eric Rotter on Drums and bass, again, respectively.  This rounded out the original lineup and the band in this incarnation put out an EP, a live album, a DVD and a full length album from 2003 through 2007.  They also played 93X-Fest, and shared the stage with a TON of national acts.  They did most of this from the ground up, constantly touring and playing shows, and keeping a constant email list, or which I am a member and attribute to some of the longevity of their success as a local Minneapolis band.

From the first EP through the last album the band took a notable turn away from their initial image of straight-ahead metal and took on a popier sound (popier isn’t a real word), probably with the intent of being a more ‘accessible’ rock band, though that’s purely speculative on my part…only Gingerjake knows the reasons behind the sonic design of their music.  Whatever the reasons, whatever the direction, the band came to a difficult decision with the departure of Joe and Eric Rotter last year.  I don’t know any details, as I don’t know any of the band members personally, so all I can speak of is the solution that the band implemented in the absence of these two.  Replacing them would be (and still is) Colin Roegeirs on Bass, Brian Adams on Guitar, and Derek Abrams on Drums.

Oh wait!  Holy SHIT!!  HERE THEY COME!! The lights go dim and I get the strange urge to make out with my girlfriend, but somehow restrain myself…

img_92101So we got a little Carmina Burana while some scattered televisions played various clips of Gingerjake imagery…and the anticipation in the room grows while this happens.  I’m going off of memory here…but I believe they opened the show with ‘Get It/Get Off,’ during which Ian gave us his best ‘o-face’ during the opening riffs, as evidenced by the picture to the right…dude could’ve been a porn star…jesus…

After this they played a couple more songs off of their previously released albums to get the crowd into the rhythm.  They then started into their new material, which is the reason we found ourselves there in the first place.  Since I’ll be ending this up with a little album review action I’ll save the in-depth song-by-song bullshit for that, and just touch on a few main points regarding the live show for the rest of the show review portion.  (do you feel like I’m repeating myself?)  Show review.

img_9220The new band (I guess they’re not super new, as this version of the band has been gigging together since last October/November already) really fucking held it down on stage.  I refuse to make any type of better/worse comparison that one might expect here.  Why?  Because it just doesn’t matter moving forward, that’s why.

Ok, so after this intro and about half way into the set we’re well into the new material and I’m liking it well enough so far…and then…the show got a little personal on a few different levels.  Amanda went into a little introduction to a new song called ‘Daddy,’ while Ian sat down with an acoustic guitar and the room got kind of quiet while we heard stories of how Amanda used to hang out with her Dad when she was little.  I think I know what they were going for, and it was probably heartfelt, but rather than coming off as anything sincerely personal, it just left me feeling like I was watching something scripted.  I’m all for bands laying their personal stories out on the stage…I mean, that can make for really great music, but it can also make you feel like you’ve just been asked out on a date by a block of swiss cheese.

Yeah, I said it, kinda cheesy…

img_9234Luckily the rest of the show would be a near straight uphill climb to a strong close which really coerced me into the decision to support the band by picking up their newly released EP, ‘Distillery: Making the World Wet.’

Certainly one of the highlights of the night came when the drummer (remember his name?  It’s Derek Abrams, just in case you forgot…) went into full-on drum smashing extravaganza.  The stage lights went low and he was accented with some spots and eventually some strobes when he really started jamming out.

Here he is all lit up:

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After a minute or so, he really wound up the fury and actually began smoking a little bit:

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He eventually started on fire, after which he was extinguished, all while continuing to rock the fuck out on the skins, crushing through a couple of double-bass/ride cymbal grooves that would have made some of the most talented metal drummers in the world jealous of him.  As part of the crowd I can attest to the fact that this part of the show made the whole night worthwhile, no matter the cheese, no matter anything really…this fuckin’ dude’s got skills.

Now, as you may have noticed, we haven’t yet seen the other guitarist in any of the pictures!  Well, that’s because every time I took a picture of him he was smiling ear-to-ear, and it was really kind of strange…like he was really happy to be up there, and who knows?  Maybe that’s true?  Anyway, I did manage to catch him off his guard and came up with this somber portrait of focus and determination:

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From here on out, the show seemed to increase in intensity, both with the energy in the music, and the reaction of the crowd.  The band closed the show with ‘Never Comes Easy’…or so we thought after it was over and the band left the stage.  After a few minutes of the crowd chanting ‘ONE MORE SONG!’ a certain fellow approached the microphone and asked us if we’d like to hear ‘Grey on Blue.’  It’s pretty much their staple song, and a real crowd favorite, though I originally thought that the reason they hadn’t played it was because Eric Rotter was such an integral part of the backup vocals…remember him?  Eric Rotter was their old bass player.  Haven’t you been paying attention?!?

Well, I was right and wrong all in the same breath.  They pulled it off, the song sounded great, and the whole crowd was singing along with the chorus.  The way in which they pulled it off, and probably at least a small part of why they played it as an encore, was to have a couple of friends/other band members/what-have-you to help them out with the chorus.  It was pretty kick-ass and made for a good end to a good show overall.

And now, before we get to that little album review, let’s take a short intermission…

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I know I speak for my own self, and I’m pretty sure I probably speak for Gingerjake when I ask that you check out all the bands on the bill, even if I didn’t write about them here, so here’s some various links, click ‘em and come back in a few…

Gingerjake

Black Days Down

Far From Falling

Mindrite

img_9271Welcome back!!  Let’s go visit some hot chicks at the merch table!!  In case you didn’t know, the best time to pick up a band’s CD is at a show.  They might charge you 10 bucks for a six song EP, but at the very least, you know that all that money goes directly to the band to help them continue to make music, tour, hire hot merch girls, etc.

So should you pick up a copy of the new EP by Gingerjake?  Well I say yes, yes you should.  As promised, I’ll whip through a short review of the album.  I say short because I know that you’re probably tired of reading this fucking long fucking blog by now, and also because I want you to go and buy it sooner than later…

Here we go…

coverscan1The EP is called ‘Distillery: Making the World Wet’ and we’re going to ignore the loosely sexual connotation of that little innuendo in exchange for a critical talk about the music on said album.

The disc starts off with a little ditty called ‘Never Comes Easy’ that instantly begs to be compared to ‘No Doubt’ in their prime. It’s a pop song, there’s no doubt about that, and there’s no pun intended anywhere in this sentence.  I can certainly relate to being one of those people “working jobs they hate just to make ends meet.”  The song really shows the direction that I believe the band to be turning towards, which is a more commercial, more accessible format, and this song is exactly that.

Next up is ‘It Ain’t Right,’ which bleeds with a darker intensity than the previous happy-go-lucky ‘Never Comes Easy.’  The lyrics are sinister and even lay tribute to Depeche Mode with a mention of that pop-culture icon, the ‘personal jesus.’  This is a bit of a slow meander which builds to a pretty big production towards the end.  There are certainly some soulful influences here, and Amanda shows off her stunning range of vocals and pristine singing voice during the close of the song.

The third track is probably the one that will take the band to national radio.  It’s a track called ‘Stop Calling Me,’ and it’s got the hop, the hook, and the pop sensibility drizzled all over it.  When I first heard it live, I was reminded of the concept by Evanescence with their song ‘Call Me When You’re Sober’ where Amy Lee whines and bitches and cries about that dude from Seether…but I realized the error in my ways soon enough.  Amanda doesn’t care if you’re sober or not…she just doesn’t want any phone calls at all.

Track four is ‘Daddy.’  Ballad.

Next we get a real funk-biscuit with ‘Save You.’  The track starts out with a monster-stomp funk groove that would probably fit best in a strip club.  It’s candy-coated, though I have to say this is probably not the strong point of the album.  The song has good parts but as a whole it’s not one of my favorites.

The last track on the album is ‘Curtsy,’ a fine close to the album as a whole.  The subject of the lyrics “I just want to be your trophy” even elude to the ‘image’ that I spoke of earlier in the blog.  I think the band knows what they’ve got on the microphone, and they (she) acknowledge it here, right out in the open. It’s ok to play it up a little, I mean, work with what you’ve got, if you’ve got it flaunt it, you know, all that jazz…

Now…didn’t I say that was the last track on the album?  Well, it is…or at least track six is the last track, but there is a little hidden gem nested in there at the very very end.  They added in ‘Get It/Get Off’ which previously was only available on the ‘Get It/Get Off’ Live album, which was limited to the initial pressing of 1000 copies.  So if you always wanted that song on a disc, well now’s your chance.  I think it’s a really nice thing for their fans, and a cool way to give them just a little bit more of what they all want.

So that’s it, I’m done talking, aren’t you relieved?  I sure hope so…I’m actually surprised you’re still here…

Why are you still here?

Oh…right…you want to go buy the ALBUM!!  Of COURSE!!  Well, it’s not online quite yet (at least as far as I can find) so you’re going to have to email the band and let them know you want to pick up a copy.  Here’s a handy-dandy link to get you to their website where you can get all wet:

I am clicking this link to go purchase Gingerjake’s album Distillery: Making the World Wet

Have a nice fucking day, y’allz…

-the devil and the rest of the basement crew…

Circus of Power: S/T 1988 CD

Posted in Album Reviews on March 10, 2009 by Terminal One

copcoverIn keeping with my current theme of self-titled CDs you’ve probably never heard of, this week I’m going to be reviewing the mighty Circus of Power’s debut outing.  Released in 1988, COP was occasionally referred to as the “East Coast answer to Guns ‘n’ Roses” and, to a certain extent, I suppose that’s accurate.  But the appeal of COP runs deeper than that–if you like your rock stripped down and greasy, this is the band for you.

Circus of Power was the product of self-promotion and a dogged refusal to acquiesce to the prevailing trends in guitar rock in the mid-80s.  While many of their contemporaries were donning fishnets and sparkly spandex, COP was standing proud in tight jeans and worn leather vests.  They looked like bikers–faded tattoos, greasy hair, boots and bandannas.  But to pigeonhole them as another Motley Crue/L.A. Guns/Guns ‘n’ Roses band would be to sell them short.  They shared much with those bands, to be sure–but they owed a signifcant debt to the Southern-fried boogie of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet just as much as they could be included with the harder guitar bands of the era.

Hailing from the mean streets of New York City, the original lineup of Circus of Power consisted of the dreadlocked Alex Mitchell on vocals (who bore only a passing resemblance to Pauly Shore on angel dust), the Les Paul driven guitar work of Ricky Beck Mahler, bassist Gary Sunshine (who quickly picked up a Les Paul himself and became the second guitarist) and drummer Ryan Maher.  It was with this classic crew the eponymous LP was recorded.

cop14Starting off with the pounding “Motor,” the album quickly asserts itself as guitar-driven cock rock–and that’s a good thing!  Lyrically, this is an offering full of songs about cars and women, sex and guitars, cigarettes and booze…in other words, if you’re a fan of interpretive dance, then this is probably not your cup of tea.  If you dig cheap innuendos, good times and lots of references to sleazy women, you’re gonna dig it.  I mean, this album features songs titled “White Trash Queen” and “Backseat Mama” on it…

Among the standout tracks are the haunting anti-heroin song, “Needles,” and the pounding, arena-sized “Call of the Wild.”  But it’s too easy to overlook my personal favorite “In The Wind,” which appears to be another ode to biker life…until you dig a bit deeper.  It features an unexpected Uriah Heep-esque set of lyrics set in a midevil fantasy and a cool Southern-fried break which builds to a sing-along chorus.  Well crafted song, indeed.

Another surprising gem is “Machine,” a song NOT, as you might expect, about a car or a motorcycle.  Instead, this track takes a sharp look at modern life, musing on our plastic world and the robotic place we all tend to occupy in it.  The album closes with “Turn Up The Jams,” a smoking boogie number with good times in place for all.

COP went on to release a number of other full-length releases, including several which outsold their debut.  But something seemed to be missing in their subsequent efforts.  It can be said that COP make the classic Dick Nixon mistake of peaking too early, as this self-titled album combined the perfect storm of “young and hungry” meets “idealistic and dreamy.”  The great news is that even though this release has been long out of print (and fetches upwards of $30 on eBay!) the band has announced plans to re-master and re-release it, scheduled for April 4!  According to www.circusofpower.net this re-release will include a 14-page booklet and a 4000-word essay on the band, pretty cool.

In the meantime, check out the band’s MySpace page and see if this rugged brand of no-bullshit rock ‘n’ roll appeals to you. Be warned–it’s not U2, so flaccid, self-absorbed social activists will likely find little to appreciate. But if you like loud guitars and louder engines, then Circus of Power may have you handled.

Jack Black: S/T 1998 CD

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , , , on February 24, 2009 by Terminal One

jackblackImagine you’re a struggling rock band from Brooklyn, New York in the mid-90′s.  You’ve got a killer sound, cool image, well-crafted songs, grassroots support from a wide-ranging fan base.  All that’s left is to pick a name by which you’ll be remembered forever.  Something catchy, something cool…something unique.  At some point the name “Jack Black” is tossed out and everyone in the band agrees:  “That’s it!  That’s us!”

Now fast-forward 24 months…a relatively-unknown comedian and actor with a project pitched to HBO is successful in getting his mini documentary filmed and aired.  The result is “Tenacious D,” a launching point for a guy named…wait for it…Jack Black.  A couple of successful films and an album later, the world is aware of the chubby, self-deprecating actor…and a band in Brooklyn weeps.

To be clear–this review has fuck-all to do with Tenacious D or “the OTHER Jack Black”…but it has EVERYTHING to do with a band which was grinding out gutty rock ‘n’ roll at a time when the music-buying public needed it the most.  To me, they’re the first thing which comes to mind when I hear the name “Jack Black.”jackblack2

Hailing from North Carolina (by way of Brooklyn), the band described themselves as “Kick Ass Blue Collar Rock n’ Roll”…pretty accurate, if you ask me.   Comprised of guitarist David Quick, bassist Johnny Katonah and an ever-changing lineup of drummers, Jack Black honed their chops pounding their way through the mottled New York punk scene, picking up fans and putting out 7 inches until they’d established a firm foothold in East Coast greaser punk.

“Jack Black” was released on the now-defunct Cacophone Records, (also one-time home to the incredible Turbo A.C.’s), the album consists of 12 dense jams blending a powerful mix of greasy biker rock with punk sensibilities.  Their previous EP release, 1995′s “Got Jack Black If You Want It,” showcased a grittier vibe, six songs recorded live at the legendary CBGB’s.  With this release, the band had tightened up and matured as songwriters but still retained all of the energy which made them captivating in the first place.

The album’s opener, “Untouched,” is a scorching number which immediately sets the tone for the record.  It made me think of what it might sound like if Motorhead covered a Brian Setzer song, and it flat-out kills.  “Drive Them Wheels” is a hollow chugfest which reminds me a little bit of “Train Kept-A Rollin” and features the great lyric,  “I’m eatin’ my T.V. dinner with a spoon…”

jackblack1The slightly campy fun of “Catfight” champions the unique thrill of watching two girls “scratchin’ eyes, pullin’ hair.”  Slowing the tempo down, an unexpected ballad, “Cold,” defies expectations once again.  The thrashy-as-fuck “Sick of You” is a 90-second blast of great punk rock steeped in the New York tradition.  Closing out the album is “The Ballad of Gregory Dean,” a countrified two-step pounder which leaves the listener singing the chorus with a wry smile.

Not surprisingly, Internet searches for “Jack Black” yield plenty of pictures of the star of “Shallow Hal” but depressingly little about this stellar band.  Occasionally, you’ll stumble across user reviews on used CD sites featuring comments like, “No, it’s not the fat guy.  But it IS really good American Rock and Roll. Be prepared to hear a variety of styles.”  I wholeheartedly concur.

Aside from eBay and used CD sites, you can check out a nice cross-section of Jack Black’s discography at this fan-run (but authorized) MySpace site.  Be sure and give “Top Daddy In A G.T.O.” a listen to get a feel for what they were like live.  I never got the chance to see them, but damn I wish I had!

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