Monthly Archives: December 2015

Phunksgiving w/Dumpstaphunk & Fishbone 11/25/15, Port Chester NY

Dates: November 25, 2015

Location: Capitol Theater. Port Chester New York

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The second annual Phunksgiving came to The Capitol Theater with a lively crowd and the bands to back it up. Getting there a couple of minutes before Fishbone’s set, I reflected on some of the times I saw this great band in the past. I know the group can bring it and this show was no different. The band started out with “Freddie’s Dead” and went through a catalogue of great songs from their thirty-plus year history. Angelo Moore jumped around the stage and into the crowd just like it was Lollapalooza 1993 (the first time I had the pleasure of seeing them). Fishbone has not lost the energy and intensity of their shows.

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A short break and Dumpstaphunk took the stage. The last time I saw this band was in a small bar in Colorado and they rocked the house. To see them on a big stage with professional lighting added a whole new twist. The crowd ate it up and the band gave a great performance. Definitely on of the funkiest bands I’ve seen to date. Don’t let them pass by your town without checking them out.

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Tedeschi Trucks Band 12/3/15, Port Chester NY

Dates: December 3, 2015

Location: Capitol Theater. Port Chester New York




The soulful sounds of The Tedeschi Trucks Band filled the house at the sold out Capitol Theater. No doubt one of the nicest venues I’ve been to – the vibe is always great and tonight was no different. The band started with “Don’t Know What it Means” off their up coming album Let Me Get By then swiftly went into a incredible cover of The Box Tops song “The Letter”. One of my favorite voices in modern music, Susan Tedeschi filled the theater with her very heartfelt approach to music and expression. I can’t say enough about the band: amazing back up vocals, a very uplifting horn section, together with a multi-playing keyboardist, two drummers, a killer bass solo… and oh yeah, did I mention Derek Trucks shredding on his guitar all night? Two sets and almost two and a half hours long, the crowd heard what they came for – an incredible performance. Clearly the Tedeschi Trucks family grows.














Album: Limbo

Artist: Summer Twins

Label: Burger

Release Date: October 27, 2015


The Upshot: With ‘60s garage well represented, alongside late ‘50s, early ‘60s sock hop/soda shop pop ballads and torch songs, the duo brings a new freshness to the slightly stale genre of contemporary garage rock.


Here we have the Brown sisters, Chelsea and Justine. I can’t speak to them actually being twins, but they are both joined to the hip, Siamese style, to rock ‘n’ roll, and playing at it for almost a dozen years. Raised outside L.A. in Riverside, their parents fed them a steady diet of stuff like the Beatles and the Kinks, and the girls dutifully taking violin and piano lessons. Later, they fell under the spell of punksters like the Buzzcocks, Ramones and the Donna’s, and started playing gigs at their high school and small venues, with Chelsea on guitar and Justine on drums. Calling themselves The Scandells, they opened for acts like The Thermals and Thee Makeout Party, (where they met Burger Records founders Sean and Lee) and made a limited-release album.

Skipping ahead several years, the girls knocked around Europe and schooled briefly in Florence, pondering their future in music and writing when they had time. Back stateside in 2010, they released a 6-song EP, played more gigs around SoCal, then cranked out an album with Don Bolles (45 Grave, The Germs) producing. 2012 found them touring with Peter Case and Paul Collins, Matthew Sweet, and later, touring in Japan.

Late last year found them putting together Limbo with producer Chris Woodhouse (Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall,) and rolling out on Burger. They got the attention of the folks producing Last Call with Carson Daly, and were recently featured on two different nights, to a large crowd of adoring (mostly female) fans at Burger-A-Go-Go. No surprise there, as much of their music speaks to romance, betrayal, heartbreak, etc. but, it’s the way they deliver it that’s so outstanding. For anyone who digs The Muffs, (early) Pandora’s, the Daisy Chain or Courtney Barnett, there’s a lot to like. With ‘60s garage well represented, in an interesting twist, so is late ‘50s, early ‘60s sock hop/soda shop pop ballads and torch songs, i.e. Connie Francis, Leslie Gore and Diane Renay, and, to my ears, just about as good as some of those classics. Chelsea has a real affinity for capturing the sound of that era in her songwriting, as well as bringing new freshness to the slightly stale genre of garage rock.

Other classic R&R influences show up in numbers like “Fire,” with it’s thumping Bo Diddley beat, and sweet Everly Brothers harmonies are brought to mind on “So Funny.” Other flashbacks to the era include “Dreamin’,” “Juju,” with its teen angst, and “Our World,” which would be eligible for  ‘last dance’ at the mixer in the school cafeteria. “Stop & Go” stands alone as a playful indie-pop number. Justine marks her songwriting debut, as well as the vocals and playing all the instruments on “Helpless” and the lovely “Florence,” reminiscent of The Muffs. Courtney Barnett fans will love the similarities to her on “Demons” and “Ouija.”

The sisters play as a 4-piece with different backup players on about every project, maybe making this the world’s longest band audition. This time around Andy Moran is on keyboards and guitar, and Michael Rey, who has been with them a couple of years, doing bass duties. Anyway, as this album shows, the hits just keep on-a comin,’ as the girls keep cranking out well-crafted songs and gaining a bigger following with every release, with Limbo being their fourth and arguably best batch yet.

DOWNLOAD: “ Fire,” “Demons” and “Ouija.”

THE BOTTLE ROCKETS—South Broadway Athletic Club

Album: South Broadway Athletic Club

Artist: Bottle Rockets

Label: Bloodshot

Release Date: October 02, 2015

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The Upshot: This is your brain on the beloved Americana godfathers, who serve up twisted tales of love ‘n’ twang… any questions?


The Bottle Rockets are approaching silver anniversary status, with a discography that now reaches 11 albums and all the way back to the early 1990s, but they don’t seem to have mellowed much. These are country songs drunk on punk rock rebellion, twanging and punching with nothing but experience to show for a lifetime of practice.

Not that you can’t sense the presence of lifers in the taut, offhandedly excellent playing, which shifts from head-butting aggression to blues-y ruefulness. The same band plays the “My Dog” with goofy hayseed charm and “Ship It Off to Frisco” with mournful maturity. There’s something in the weathered, half-cocked assurance that tips you off, even though the songs couldn’t sound more different.

And, sure, the love songs on South Broadway Athletic Club have a lived in, multi-decade quality to them, the kind of romanticism that persists, doggedly, in the face of long co-existence, with all the bullshit burnt out of it. “A little bit hug and a little bit kissing, a little bit wondering what we’re missing,” Brian Hennemen hazards in “Big Lots of Love,” getting at the comfortable routines and fundamental ambiguities of long-term love as no 20-something home-taper could (yet).

But mostly you hear how good this band is when it warps its songs the hardest, turning hoary country clichés into something sharp and biting and real. Blistering “Building Chryslers” seems like it’s going to be a “Born in the USA” hymn to the proletariat, until you recognize that its union man, auto-maker (who himself drives a Toyota) is poised on a precipice. Without saying it, without making the song in any way sad, Henneman makes it crystal clear that “fast boat, the new house, the wife and the kid on the way” is all about to crumble. South Broadway Athletic Club#isn’t a political album, per se, but this song goes further towards explaining Trumpmania than any op-ed I’ve read so far.

Once you notice it, though, it starts to sink in gradually how weird and left-of-expectations these songs are, from the twisted I-trust-you-so-don’t-tell-me message of “Don’t Wanna Know” to the belligerent celebration of couch potato-hood of “Big Fat Nothing” to the surreal psychedelia of “Shape of a Wheel” which links the fall of Rome to the death of Elvis. There’s something sly and smart and incendiary about these songs, couched as they are in traditional sounds and starting out, at least, with traditional sentiments. They are not what they seem when you’re half listening, and they’ll blow up in your face if you’re not careful. But that’s okay and maybe the most interesting thing about South Broadway Athletic Club. Here’s an album from guys who have been making trouble for more than 20 years, and if they haven’t gotten better behaved with time, at least they’ve gotten better at it.

DOWNLOAD: “Building Chryslers” “My Dog”


WIMPS – Suitcase

Album: Suitcase

Artist: Wimps

Label: Kill Rock Stars

Release Date: November 13, 2015

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The Upshot: Lo-fi NW punk with promise but still needs work.


Have you ever listened to a band and thought, “Shit, I can do that”? Well, you can’t… Unless the band you’re listening to is Wimps.

The well-worn ‘90s cliché about apathetic 20-somethings is played out in full drag on this debut from the Seattle-based three-piece that mixes a bit of punk rock with lo-fi guitars and lyrics that at times seem like they were recited impromptu in the studio (ex: “I’m a vampire [repeated about a dozen times]/A B C D E F G/Suck Your Blood With My fake teeth”).

Musically, the band is pretty solid – sharp/off kilter guitar riffs with a commendable rhythm section, but between Rachael Ratner’s monotone delivery and uninspired lyrics, the record is a bit underwhelming. Then again, this could just be the first shot in the “I Just Couldn’t Be Bothered-Core” music movement.

DOWNLOAD: “Vampire,” “Dave’s Babes”

LESLIE WEST – Soundcheck

Album: Soundcheck

Artist: Leslie West

Label: Provogue

Release Date: November 20, 2015

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The Upshot: Bluesy hard rock from the Mountain maestro is leavened by softer, more contemplative material, ultimately yielding a not-perfect but still-satisfying set.


For the followup to 2013’s Still Climbing, erstwhile Mountain frontman Leslie West continues to hoist his hard-rocking banner. Soundcheck, his 16th solo rec, is not without its flaws (chiefly in sequencing and sonics), but it’s still a solid addition to the catalog, essentially a half-cover/half-original outing that finds the guitarist scorching his fretboard and, when not sharing the mic, shredding his vocal cords.

It kicks off with a visceral, synth-strafed, bluesy fuck-you (to an unnamed combatant) titled “Left By the Roadside to Die,” a marriage of the Who and Don Nix—and whattaya know, a few tracks later there’s an actual cover of Don Nix, the songwriter’s classic “Goin’ Down,” here a star-studded supersession originally cut a decade earlier with Brian May, Max Middleton, Bonnie Bramlett, David Hood and Bobby Whitlock, with freshly recorded West vocals. Those two hard-rocking blowouts are very nearly worth the price of admission alone here.

A number of very nice mellower numbers vary the equation, although in a sense they unintentionally halt the album’s momentum, alternating as they do between the high energy tracks. For example, a luminous, minor-key take on “You Are My Sunshine” would’ve segued nicely into the rippling, acoustic finger-picking showcase that is “A Stern Warning” and then again into the solo bass rendition (by West’s pal Rev Jones) of “Eleanor Rigby.” Instead, the sequencing see-saws, leaving the listener at least somewhat restless, and since the material also has varying and temporal sources (closing track “Spoonful,” with guest Jack Bruce on vocals, was cut live in ’88), the sonics are frustratingly uneven.

All that aside, on balance, Soundcheck’s high points are definitely high ones (there’s a brawny, bawdy, rifftastic stomper called “Empty Promises” that posits West as the spiritual godfather to AC/DC), and I can’t imagine any longtime Mountain fan being disappointed.

DOWNLOAD: “Empty Promises,” “Goin’ Down,” “A Stern Warning”




YOKO & THE OH NO’S — Yoko and the Oh No’s

Album: Yoko and the Oh No’s

Artist: Yoko & the Oh No's

Label: Autumn Tone

Release Date: October 30, 2015

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The Upshot: Despite the disc’s freshman flaws (and the punctuation misstep in the group’s name), the YATNN punkish soul still comes through loud and clear, making them a hugely promising new band.


The first four songs on this introductory release from the young, Chicago-based, gender-baiting, garage-soul-rock outfit are as taut and bristling with attitude as anything rock will throw your way this year. The tension between Max Loebman’s stripped down Stones arrangements (he is the guitar player and main songwriter) and Max Goldstein’s floridly dramatic soul voice is pulled tight enough to bounce a quarter on top. The guitar lick that kicks off strutting, sexually charged “She Knows It” is sharp enough to cut steak with; it stings as it pulls up short and only the slithery balm of Goldstein’s singing can sooth the hurt. “She Ain’t Mine” is just as full of bravado, as it erupts from staccato insinuation to full-bore, guitar-screaming chorus. The mix of macho punk and feather-boa’d, identity-blurring R&B is uneasy but mesmerizing (and it looks even more startling in videos of live performances). Lots of bands get compared to the New York Dolls, for its mix of raunch and rock, but Yoko and the Oh No’s have a better claim than most.

The disc flags as it goes on, losing its focus in “Heart Attack,” and regaining it only sporadically (“Little Girl”, “In Pieces”) during the second half. “Lone Wolf” is the most disappointing track, a mannered blues-i-ness slipping it briefly into Spin Doctor-ish territory. It is, perhaps, worth mentioning that this is a very young band — one of them graduated from high school last year — at the right age to try things, even if they don’t always work. At some point, they may realize that the slicker and more ballad-y these songs turn, the lighter they land. Yoko and the Oh No’s need to keep punching and strutting, not go for a Spector-style Wall of Sound. Even so, the opening half is a very statement. I’m excited to hear more from this very promising band.

DOWNLOAD: “She Ain’t Mine” “She Knows It”

JOHNNY CASH – Man in Black: Live in Denmark 1971 (2LP)

Album: Man in Black: Live in Denmark 1971

Artist: Johnny Cash

Label: Legacy Recordings

Release Date: November 27, 2015


The Upshot: While not a crucial concert recording, largely due to it being more a various artists live set, this colored vinyl (one LP red, one white) Record Store Day Black Friday offering is still a nice offering to fans.


Let’s be honest, there are truly only two live Johnny Cash records that you need to own: At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin. Everything else is just a really nice addition.

For the second Record Store Day in a row, the kind folks at Legacy Recordings have opened the vault and poured another Johnny Cash concert into the vinyl press. This year’s offering, Man in Black: Live in Denmark 1971, is a pretty solid keepsake.

Spread out over two LPs (a red one and white one – the colors of Denmark’s flag), 19 tracks in all, it features some dependable Cash go-to’s like “Man in Black,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “I Walk the Line” and two great Kris Kristofferson covers (“Me and Bobby McGee” and “Sunday Mornin’ Comin;’ Down”). The down side is there are far too many guest spots on the record from his touring crew. Plans like Carl Perkins, The Crater Family and The Statler Brothers all take their turn at the mic, and yes, all are great musicians on their own, but it’s a tad bit disingenuous to call it a Johnny Cash album and offer hand over a third of the tracks to others. That being said, when Johnny takes the stage he owns it, making the record worth it in the end.

The recording itself is pristine, obviously recorded in a small venue (with very a polite crowd of Danes). It will be interesting to see what other Cash records Legacy will hand out next year.

DOWNLOAD: “Boy Named Sue,” “I Walk the Line” and “Me and Bobby McGee”


Photo Gallery: Dandy Warhols + Miranda Lee Richards 12/5/15, L.A.

Dates: December 5, 2015

Location: Teragram Theater, Los Angeles CA



Miranda Lee Richards (pictured below, along with Amy Raasch and Christof Certik) has been touring recently as the opening act for the Dandy Warhols on their West Coast/Southwest leg of the band’s current tour. The photos here were taken at the last night of a three-night residency at L.A.’s Teragram Ballroom. Incidentally, Richards’ next album, Echoes of the Dreamtime, comes out 1/29/16.





The Dandy Warhols’ most recent release is 2014’s acclaimed live album Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia Live at the Wonder. They are, in order below,Courtney Taylor-Taylor, Peter Holstrom, Zia McCabe and Brent DeBoer






Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs 11/13/15, Denver

Dates: November 13, 2015

Location: Lost Lake Lounge, Denver CO



Most of the rest of my pals were either at the Parquet Courts gig at the Marquis or the Low gig at the Larimer, but I opted on this night to catch Ms. Golightly (and her husband, Lawyer Dave, he of the ZZ Top beard, who makes up the Brokeoffs) and she doesn’t tour too often even though the U.K. native now calls rural Georgia home.

…and while I’ve been at most of the venues in this town had not been to the Lost Lake yet. Sitting right on Colfax in a once dying area that is now getting rejuvenated (they put a Sprouts supermarket right across the street). Inside the place is kinda homey. The stage/band area as you walk in the door and bar on the other side of the wall. I was ready.

Touring in support o their new record, Coulda Shoulda Woulda (Transdreamer Records) with Holly standing up with a guitar and Lawyer Dave sitting down playing his slide guitar and working a kick drum these two were thoroughly entertaining! Playing a good chunk of tunes off said record (including “Heaven Buy and Buy,” “Jump in the Rover,” “Lonesome Grave,” “and the title track, among others) they told stories about pain-in-the-ass neighbors, friends who come to their parties who won’t leave and how they ran out of rubber snakes (and cds but they had vinyl). Holly very politely asked for a drink from the crowd (which, of course, was obliged). The nearly packed house was totally into it as well. I can’t imagine anyone not liking this stuff as they were just down to earth folks who might as well have been playing in your living room. Next time these two come town I’m gonna have ‘em over for dinner, more stories and more music!