Dates: March 3, 2020
Location: Lost Lake Lounge, Denver CO
By Tim Hinely
You know the story by now, when Ben Cook (aka thee young guv) isn’t making music with his main concern, as guitarist in Canadian punk band Fucked Up, he’s locking himself away in his bedroom and creating golden pop nuggets under the name of Young Guv. If you dig the sparkling sounds of bands like Teenage Fanclub, Velvet Crush and Big Star then this will be in your wheelhouse.
With Fucked up on hiatus Cook and his pals decided to take their sideshow onto the highways and biways and wow fans in each and every city in the United States.
…and wow ‘em they did.
The 30 or so people in attendance at the Lost Lake Lounge were treated to a very short set (maybe 25-30 minute), but the band might as well have been playing the Pepsi Center they way they exploded on stage.
Cook, in a trench coat and sunglasses (for some reason reminding me of Michael J Fox) led the charge and nailed a handful of songs most off last year’s I and II.
I know for sure from said record we heard “Roll With Me” and “High on my Mind” and a song I think he announced as “Ready for Love” (though maybe he said “Luv Always”).
The band rocked most prodigiously and if I’d only seen the guitarist on the left I might have thought I was seeing Sloan (same glasses as one of the Sloan guys) and it was fill-in bassist, Jacob, first gig and I’d say he did an exceptional job.
How did it all end? With Cook walking off stage and grabbing a whole chicken that was in a plastic container (the kind you see under hot lamps in supermarkets) and threw it out into the crowd and called it a night.
This band knows how to put on a show! Come back soon, please.
Dates: February 24, 2010
Location: Center Stage, Atlanta GA
Text & Photos by John Boydston
It was a cold, and very wet February Monday night, but that didn’t stop Soul Asylum fans from turning out, and Dave Pirner and the band from Minneapolis rewarded.
Center Stage is one of my fave venues in Atlanta, not a bad seat, cozy even and SA warmed things right up with a generous set list including “Runaway Train” and “Black Gold” from 1992’s breakout triple-platinum LP “Grave Dancers Union.” Encore included a surprise cover of Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy” and how cool is that? Better yet is drummer Michael Bland – who was behind the kit with Prince during the The New Power Generation era of ’95-’97 and recording and playing live with the cat for seven years. Winston Roye on bass, on Ryan Smith on lead guitar for several years now, who joins Dave doing apt covers for the cities they hit – check ‘em out day of show on the band’s Facebook page.
New LP “Hurry up and Wait” out April 17. And looks like they are touring the world and elsewhere for much of 2020 so as an ex-anchorman I once worked with said: Don’t miss ‘em if you can.
The crowd was also ready for openers from Chicago, Local H, a reason to get there early.
John Boydston loves it when people follow him on Instagram for some odd reason: @Johnboydstonphoto
Artist: Ballroom Thieves
Release Date: February 14, 2020
By John B. Moore
The fourth track, “Homme Run,” off The Ballroom Thieves’ latest Unlovely is a beautifully succinct, deftly written call out to how far we have yet to go in terms of equality. Even the Democratic party in 2020, the political group that has been preaching gender equality ad nauseum, is offering a choice between two 70-something white males as the group’s leader. Two steps forward one step back.
Wrapped into Calin Peter’s stellar vocals is exhaustion, frustration (“I’m done”) and still a rallying call to continue the fight. It’s the perfect anthem for the world we are currently struggling through and demonstrates just how powerful a band The Ballroom Thieves have evolved into over the past half-decade. Whether slyly pushing an agenda through quieter songs or bellowing out loudly in more raucous anthems punctuated by horns, the band is not wasting a single word with their lyrics. Unlovely, easily the band’s strongest album yet, seems the tour de force the band has been building up to for years.
On this, their third LP, the trio perfectly blend their fondness for sweet harmonies, sharp political, social themes with traded off female/male vocals. Anyone who thinks folk music can’t be as blistering and incendiary as punk rock needs to spend 30 minutes with Unlovely.
Download: “Unlovely,” “Tenebrist,” “Vanity Trip” and “Homme Run”
Dates: March 7, 2020
Location: Variety Playhouse, Atlanta GA
Text & Photos by John Boydston
Time keeps on moving into the future because, like, where else would it go? That’s kind of been the philosophy of UK band Wire – to keep moving forward and avoid the ruts. And the fans keep on moving right with ‘em.
Wire played an amazing show at Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse in early March. They kept the songs short, and the chatter to a bare minimum so I will do the same. Suffice it to say the packed house was happy with the show – as happy as one gets hearing post-punk punk and anti-pop pop from their favorite veteran UK indie rock legends.
Touring with all but one original member – you can probably guess the new guy from the photos. Wire is Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Robert Grey, and Matthew Simms. I personally don’t go way back with this band as a fan – but the show was a knockout and I hope to go way forward with them into the future. Formed in 1976, Wire is touring behind a brand-new LP called Mind Hive, hailed by some as a high-point in the bands career. Released on the band’s own Pink Flag label.
Check out ongoing tour dates and all things Wire here: http://www.pinkflag.com/news.php
Follow: @johnboydstonphoto on Instagram. Or jobo.smugmug.com for a bigger look-see. Cheers!
Dates: January 20, 2020
Location: Gothic Theatre, Denver CO
TEXT AND PHOTOS BY TIM HINELY
Man I think the Drive-by Truckers really like Denver. This show at the nearby Gothic Theatre in Englewood was the first of a 2-night stand and I know Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have both done recent solo tours (Cooley I think has done a few).
To be honest it had been nearly a decade since I last saw Athens, GA’s finest, I believe it was on a tour with the Hold Steady at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon. I remember that night a lot of alcohol being consumed (Not by me).
The band seemed in great spirits this night in the not-quite-sold-out-but-close venue. There were definitely some D.B.T diehards including the girl behind me who was hootin’ and hollerin’ the whole time until, while I was taking my sweatshirt off, I accidentally snapped my hand and knocked her drink all over here (thankfully she was cool about it).
The band has a new record coming out in about a month The Unraveling which is like their millionth one (counting proper studio records, live albums, compilations, etc.). Ok, it’s actually their 12th studio record (but who’s counting?) and the band has been on a truly consistent roll for ages.
They opened with “Birthday Boy” (from The Big To-Do) but then jumping both “The Righteous Path” and “A Ghost to the Most’ (two of my favorites off of the great Brighter Than Creations Dark LP from 2008….later in the set they also played “3 Dimes Down’ and “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife” from the same record). We heard a few new ones including “Armageddon’s Back in Town” and “Thoughts and Prayers.”
From English Oceans we heard stoked versions of “Shit Shots Count” and “Made Up English Oceans.” Early in the set they played the great “Tornadoes” (off of The Dirty South) and “When the Pin Hits the Shell’ (from Decoration Day) so the band really dug deep on this night for their fans.
Near the end of the set we heard covers of The Ramones (“The KKK Took My Baby Away”) and Alice Cooper (“I’m Eighteen”) and ended it all with a truly inspired version of “Grand Canyon.’
I’d say they’re welcome back anytime but something tells me they’ve got their next gigs here already booked.
Title: Doomed to Fail
Author: J.J. Anselmi
Publisher: Rare Bird
Publication Date: February 11, 2020
By Michael Toland
At this point, tons of books on heavy metal fill the shelves, from encyclopedias to historical narratives. While there are a few of the former sitting around, there are few, if any, longform tomes that focus specifically on the metallic subgenre doom. With Doomed to Fail, J.J. Anselmi, writer for Noisey and A.V. Club and author of the memoir Heavy, attempts to change that with a selective history that tries to tie the sound generated by Black Sabbath to the later subgenres of sludge- and post-metal. It’s a logical progression, and one worth following.
Unfortunately, Anselmi’s path meanders more than it advances. There’s no mistaking his knowledge of his subject, and he shines welcome spotlights on bands and scenes that have long deserved it in metal histories, like the NOLA scene spawned by Eyehategod and Crowbar, or the work of doom metal diehard Scott “Wino” Weinrich. Plus, his passion for his subject shines through, especially on the chapters on the sludge metal pioneers. But often it feels like that passion has gotten in his way, as too many chapters feel like he’s eagerly careened from artist to artist, iteration to iteration, without stopping to give them proper context. While he goes in-depth on most of the artists, from Sabbath to Crowbar to Isis to Chelsea Wolfe, it feels more like a survey of his record collection than it does an actual thematic evolution. The result is a somewhat haphazard tale that skips important developments (despite covering Weinrich in depth, Anselmi pretty much ignores the D.C./Virginia/Maryland scene the Obsessed leader jumpstarted, as well as its attendant European counterpart led by German label Hellhound) and even bands (modern standard bearer Electric Wizard gets passing mention but no real coverage, which is puzzling even if Anselmi thinks the band too cartoonish), and ends up concentrating too long on some acts while slighting others.
Anselmi’s stylistic facility isn’t in doubt – there were several passages that made me think, “Damn, I wish I’d written that.” But his focus and organizational skills are lacking – something a good editor could help him with, though on evidence of Doomed to Fail, that’s something his publisher was missing.
Album: Kind of Blues
Artist: Adam Holt
Release Date: May 24, 2019
By ERIC THOM
There are many distinctive voices in the category of rock but rarely a quality voice that makes you sit up and really take notice. Adam Holt has one of those and Kind of Blues – this self-produced release – goes well outside of the lines to embrace everything from rich, Southern blues to rock-pop, country-rock and full-fledged blues-rock.
Which comes off as being somewhat surprising, given that Holt looks – and sounds like – a good ol’ Alabama boy. Naturally, one assumes he’s the voice of the band, surrounding himself with great players to make good on his vision – or is he the hired help for someone else’s enterprise? Turns out, he can do it all, as bumping into this YouTube video makes clear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySNqDOm4bmw
For this release, however, Holt has surrounded himself with exceptional players: Owen Finley/Pierre Robinson (bass), Greg Deluca (drums), Donnie Sundal (keyboards), Lee Yankie (slide guitar) and Mark Welborn (pedal steel). To his credit, this home-recorded album’s sound is crystalline clear – so much so that some of his standout guitar work can leave a welt. However, if you judge a man by his appearance, the opening “Mr. Morning Drive” might surprise you. An upbeat tribute to wife, Jillian’s DJ Grandpa, it’s built around actual recordings from Jack Bell’s AM drive-time radio slot on WOOW, Holt’s cheery, beyond-buoyant chorus constructed around tight drumming, thick swaths of B3 and his own blisteringly-clear guitar work. Yet, the takeaway is sunny pop, right down to its hummable chorus – Grandpa Jack would likely approve of such a rousing novelty. The chameleonic Holt continues with “Don’t Give Up On Me, Baby”, diving much deeper – slower, more bluesy – adding taut, muscular guitar lines (Yankie’s slide?), Holt’s soul-soaked vocal far forward in the mix. One of the disc’s key tracks is surely “Bobby” – a lament for a snowblind friend, set up by the funereal sounds of a church organ intro as the song unfolds. There is no resolve, only hope – from one friend to the other – as guitars scrawl over the serious beat of the rhythm section. The kinder, gentler “I’m Still Holding On” binds acoustic guitar to electric while Welborn’s pedal steel underlines Holt’s deep country drawl. Holt’s lead guitar cuts glass on this southern-sounding epiphany that builds to an epic scale. Cue up the darkly aggressive “Before I Trusted You” – featuring a stinging guitar hook coupled to tough chords, buoying Holt’s rich, fully-expressive voice as he lays an ex-lover (one assumes) to waste, as Yankie’s slide and guest guitarist John Keuler join in the fray. The driving, honky-tonking piano of Donnie Sundal sets the stage for “Give The Dog A Bone”, borrowing a page from Skynyrd in this loving tribute to Man’s Best Friend, Holt’s guitar snarling and barking accordingly. The rich balladry of “The Story Must Go On” provides an illuminating backdrop to appreciating the superior tone of Holt’s guitar work as his lyric conjures the evil spectre of Jim Crow and a war not yet won. There’s a simplicity to “The Bourgeoisie” – as if CCR were a strong influence – yet it’s this very simplicity that makes the song so catchy, despite its tongue-in-cheek, exaggerated lyric. Sundal’s soothing, simmering sheets of B3 set up “The End” with its gentle, liquid guitar leads and solid backbeat. You’d never guess Holt might cover Dylan – let alone Nashville Skyline’s sacrosanct “Lay Lady Lay” – yet he ups its country edge with his deep, resonant, Big Sky vocal, supported by the authenticity of Welborn’s weeping pedal steel, right down to its cowbell accompaniment. Stranger still to end on this classic when the level of songwriting on Holt’s nine originals are so drop-dead impressive. His is a voice and a solid guitar sound you’ll want to add to your library of bona fide southern sounds as you dig back through his catalogue to see where it all came from – wondering why it’s taken ‘til now to hear about somebody this good.
Album: Analog Summer (four-tracks and then some)
Artist: Thomas Anderson
Label: Out There
Release Date: February 28, 2020
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Singer/songwriter Thomas Anderson is prolific enough that he shouldn’t necessarily have to plunder his own archives to release a new album. But then, it’s that very prolificacy that means that none of his self-curated comps are collections of mere scraps.
Analog Summer gathers various four-track recordings (plus a few studio items) from around the turn of the millennium. As per usual with the Oklahoma native, the record presents a set of songs into which a great deal of thought and craft went – particularly the lyrics. Full of literary allusions, musical quotes, historical references, and disarming heart-on-sleeve moments, Anderson’s words can easily convey a surface meaning, but reward repetition by revealing layers you didn’t realize were there at first pass – cf. opening track” My Old Friend Analog,” which moves back and forth between celebratory and spiritual, or the grim yet sardonic “The Wrong Tornado.” Few artists justify printing the lyrics in the liner notes, but Anderson’s musical prose demands it.
Indeed, his wordsmithing brilliance overshadows his melodies, which tend to be solid but unspectacular. The four-track, one-man-band performances lead to a certain lack of color in the arrangements, but the argument could also be made that fancier production tricks could obscure what Anderson is trying to get across. Still, one wonders what “Pepperbox Blues” or “You Should Be With Me” might sound like with full-band backing. Ultimately, though, that’s a minor quibble, as Anderson’s songs display an ambition and dedication rarely found anymore outside of the catalog of dead and dying icons.
DOWNLOAD: “The Wrong Tornado,” “My Old Friend Analog,” “Pepperbox Blues”
Dates: February 15, 2020
Location: Swallow Hill, Denver CO
By Tim Hinely
Somehow, someway in all my years of show going I had never seen Lloyd Cole before. I’m not sure how that happened but I was ready to rectify that at Denver’s Daniels Hall (Swallow Hill).
It was also my first time to Swallow Hill after 8 years of living in Denver. It’s sort of a collective which, in addition to gigs they also offer classes and lectures, etc. A great piece of the Denver music community and the sprawling house-like room has several other rooms as well as plenty of nook and crannies (I believe another musician was playing in some other room on this night). A nice place indeed.
Cole played this very venue a year or so ago and I found out about it too close to the date and wasn’t able to make it, but I wasn’t going to miss this one (not even with the New Pornographers playing down the street at the Gothic).
Lloyd is partially touring for his album released last year (Guesswork) though for this tour, playing solo with a plugged n acoustic guitar, he was playing a career-spanning set.
First words out of his mouth were “Let’s get one thing straight, none of you are getting any younger either.” And so that set off a wonderful evening of music and jokes….yes, Cole is hilarious in that droll, British way.
The place was packed, the crowd was ready and Cole proceeded to play two sets of some of the best jangle pop known to man. With his old band, The Commotions and from his long regarded solo career, he has a deep catalog and visited many parts of it. Opening with “Past Imperfect” and then onto “Kids Today” (off of 2017’s Standards) and then on to classic with the Commotions, “Rattlesnakes.” Also from the Commotions catalog we heard “My Bag” and “Mainstream” later in the street.
He took a short break and came out and for set two. He opened with another classic “Are You Ready to be Heartbroken?” (the song that Scottish band Camera Obscura had the perfect response to) and later in the set we heard another old crowd pleaser in “Charlotte Street.” Cole didn’t forsake his newer stuff though, on the contrary, we heard lovely new gems like “Violins,” “Night Sweats” and “The Afterlife” (all three off of 2019’s Guesswork).
He nailed the LC & the Commotions trifecta at the end with “Hey Rusty,” “Perfect Skin” and Lost Weekend” came out for a few encores (including the great “Forest Fire”) and called it a night.
In addition to his well-crafted songs and his still-very-strong voice Cole kept the audience laughing for most of the night with his dry sense of humor (I burst out laughing a few times..including the one about busting on the Red Sox for being more worried about the Yankees than they are their own team….and he can do that as he has been a Massachusetts resident for several years) so if he ever hangs up the guitar he’s got a good shot at comedy clubs.