The Bobby Lees — Sam Quartin (vocals, guitar), Kendall Wind (bass), Nick Casa (lead guitar), and Macky Bowman (drums) — are a rapidly rising, Woodstock, NY-based garage punk act that has received attention here and elsewhere for […]
Suicide Squeeze Records · Death Valley Girls – Breakthrough
Throughout the bulk of this site’s ten year history, I’ve spilled copious amounts of virtual ink writing about the Los Angeles-based garage rock/psych rock act Death Valley Girls — founding duo Larry Schemel (guitar) and Bonnie Bloomgarden (vocals, guitar) and a rotating cast of collaborators that includes Alana Amram (bass), Laura Harris (drums), Shannon Lay, members of The Make Up, The Shivas and Moaning, as well as The Flytraps‘ Laura Kelsey — can trace their origins back well over a decade ago, when they were formed by Schemel, Bloomgarden, Rachel Orosco (bass) and Hole‘s Patty Schemel (drums). Although they’ve gone through a series of lineup changes throughout their history, the JOVM’s sound and aesthetic for much of their history was influenced by The Manson Family and B movie theatrics while thematically focusing on the occult.
Slated for a June 12, 2020 release through their longtime home, Suicide Squeeze Records, the band’s two-song seven-inch EP Breakthrough finds the JOVM mainstays covering two songs that have a deep and profound connection to the band — both in their spirit and aural alignment: The EP’s first single is a cover of Atomic Rooster‘s “Breakthrough,” a song discovered through an even more obscure cover by Nigerian act The Funkees. Centered around grimy power chords, fire-and-brimstone organ chords and an in-your-face, combative chorus, the Death Valley Girls cover, leans more towards The Funkees’ cover and although all three versions manage to hew closely to their long-held aesthetic, the song also manages to be remarkably contemporary, as it evokes an age-old desire to be free from all kinds of prisons, both real and mental.
The band was drawn to something far deeper than its melody and sound. “It spoke to me because of the lyrics about breaking free from an invisible prison… we all have invisible or visible prisons we are trapped in,” the band’s Bonnie Bloomgarden explains in press notes. Interestingly, the song’s discovery coincided with the band’s interest in The West Memphis Three’s Damien Echols and his ability to endure his lengthy imprisonment by learning to astral project through meditation.
JOVM celebrates what would have been Miles Davis’ 94th birthday.
JOVM pays tribute to the late and legendary Little Richard.
Co-founded by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in Düsseldorf in 1970, Kraftwerk initially began as part of West Germany’s krautfock for a handful of years before fully embracing electronic instrumentation. With the release of their seminal and commercially successful albums 1974’s Autobahn, 1977’s Trans Europe Express and 1978’s The Man Machine, the act honed and developed a self-described “robot pop” sound centered around hypnotic rhythms and minimalist arrangements. Copious amounts of ink have been spilled about Hütter, Schneider and company and their massive influence, including how the act has managed to influence a number of genres and styles of contemporary music including hip-hop, synth pop, post-punk, ambient, techno and EDM.
The fact that Kraftwerk isn’t in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame while Hall & Oates is, is criminally stupid and shows how bankrupt the thing is in the first place. So fuck you, Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fane.
Personally, Kraftwerk has been the soundtrack during my two trips to Europe. The first flight I ever took was a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt-am-Main — and on that long flight, I played their Minimum Maximum album on my iPod and while on commuter train rides between Frankfurt and my hotel in Bad Soden. Trans Europe Express was the soundtrack of my trip to The Netherlands. And oddly enough, over the past year I’ve been madly obsessed with the Tour De France album.
Today has been a weird day emotionally. My mom had to have a hysterectomy as part of a course of treatment for uterine cancer. Because of COVID-19, I couldn’t stay at Mount Sinai with her, which had me feeling a deep and unrelenting sense of anguish. I kept thinking of the fact that she was alone in that hospital. Thankfully, the procedure went well and she’s back home now. Before I picked her up, I learned that Kraftwerk’s co-founder Florian Schneider died after a brief battle with cancer. So I’m also a bit heartbroken. But i wanted to pay homage to Florian and his work; work that has meant quite a bit to me over the years. I stumbled across live footage of the band from the Minimum Maximum. Kraftwerk forever! Florian Schneider forever!
I had some loose-held editorial plans for the site over the next 24-36 hours or so but when I saw a friend’s Facebook post on Bill Withers’ death, I scrapped those plans for a little bit. We’ve heard most of Withers’ work so much that it’s part of our collective consciousness — and yet, the songs hold up and resonate 40 some years after their initial release. They’re that timeless. And I suspect that kids 50 years from now, will hear the same things that our folks and we have heard in the material. Long live, Bill Withers!
I came across some live footage of Withers shot in 1972 and 1973. The 1973 footage shot by the BBC may be the most famous of the two, and as a photographer it’s intimate, capturing Withers with some tight close ups, in which he seems to explode into your living room.
Also before, I forget Still Bill is arguably one of the best albums ever written and recorded. Nuff said.
Throughout the course of this site’s almost ten year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the legendary Chicago-born singer, actress, and civil rights activist Mavis Staples. Going into a deep dive into her career as a member of the Staple Singers and and a solo artist will be a bit gratuitous — but throughout her career, she has received commercial and critical success, as well as a proverbial boatload of accolades. Stapes has received eight Grammy Awards nominations with the Staple Singers, winning one — a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2004. She also received a Grammy nod for a collaboration with longtime friend Bob Dylan. And as a solo artist, she’s been nominated for five Grammys, winning two — Best Americana Album for 2010’s You Are Not Alone and a Best American Roots Performance for 2015’s ”See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.”
She also has been nominated for 11 Blues Music Awards, winning nine, including Album of the Year for 2004’s Have A Little Faith, which featured Song of the Year and album title track “Have A Little Faith.” She’s also won three Soul Blues Female Artist Awards — one in 2004 and back to back wins in 2017 and 2018. Staples was also inducted into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Staple Singers in 1999, was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2016 and inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2017.
The legendary Chicago-born singer, actress and civil rights activist turned 80 last year and with her achievements, it would be understandable if she had begun to slow down; however, over the past handful of years, Staples has been remarkably busy, releasing three critically applauded albums with Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy and last year’s Ben Harper written and produced, We Get By.
Fittingly, Staples’ latest single is the hopeful and upbeat Jeff Tweedy-produced, “All In It Together,” which also features Tweedy contributing backing vocals and guitar. Centered around a shuffling, Chicago blues-like arrangement of twinkling keys, strummed guitar, a rousing hook and Staples’ imitable vocals, the track speaks directly to our current sociopolitical moment, while gently reminding the listener that at the end of the day, we’re all in this together. And that if we don’t get together at this most important moment in our collective history, then we’re all doomed.
“The song speaks to what we’re going through now – everyone is in this together, whether you like it or not,” the legendary vocalist explains in press notes. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have, what race or sex you are, where you live…it can still touch you. It’s hit so many people in our country and around the world in such a horrible way and I just hope this song can bring a little light to the darkness. We will get through this but we’re going to have to do it together. If this song is able to bring any happiness or relief to anyone out there in even the smallest way, I wanted to make sure that I helped to do that.”
The song is available on all streaming services and Bandcamp. All proceeds from the song will be donated to My Block, My Hood, My City, a Chicago-based organization that ensures seniors will have access to the essentials needed to fight COVID-19.
Brown Acid, Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records‘ collaboration on their ongoing series of proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations from the 60s and 70s have become a regularly occurring biannual feature throughout this site’s almost decade history. Each individual edition of the series is based around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation — with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down songs’ creators, most often bands that haven’t written, played or recorded together in 30+ years or more, and then encouraging them to take part in the compilation process. As Permanent Records’ Barresi has explained in press notes for previous editions of the compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been hits given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.”
Having the original artists participate as much as possible in the compilation can give the artists and their songs, a real second chance at the attention and success that they missed so long ago. Plus, these songs can help fill in the gaps within the larger picture of what was going on in and around regional and national underground music scenes during the 60s and 70s. Continuing the critical and commercial success of its first nine editions of the, RidingEasy Records and Permanent Records will be releasing Brown Acid: The Tenth Trip on April 20, 2020. (4/20 y’all!) And much like its predecessors, the tenth edition finds the duo of Barresi and Hall digging even deeper into the well of material sadly reduced to obscurity for a variety
Continuing upon the critical and commercial success of its first eight editions of the Brown Acid compilation, RidingEasy Records and Permanent will be releasing Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip on Halloween. And much like the preceding eight editions, the ninth edition finds Barressi and Hall digging even deeper into the well of obscure material written, recorded and released during the 60s and 70s. Interestingly, Brown Acid: The Tenth Trip’s latest single “Mr. Sun” is by a band that was previously featured on Brown Acid: The Third Edition — the Central Texas-based band First State Bank. Led by guitarist/vocalist Randy Nunnally, First State Bank only released three singles during 1970-1976, the first one being “Before You Leave.” “Mr. Sun” is the power chord-driven boogie woogie B-side to “Coming Home to You.” Sonically, the track sounds like a synthesis of Jimi Hendrix, Grand Funk Railroad and T. Rex –on acid.
Over the course of this site’s almost 10 year history — JOVM turns 10 in June — I’ve spilled quit a bit of virtual ink writing about RidingEasy Records’ and Permanent Records’ ongoing Brown Acid compilation series. The series’ 10th edition is slated for an April 20, 2020 release, and much like its predecessors, the forthcoming new edition will remind listeners that there’s a massive amount of incredible heavy psych, proto-metal and proto-stoner rocker that has seemingly been lost to the sands of time — but has been slowly rediscovered by RidingEasy Record and Permanent’s staff.
During the late 1960s, Barry Crawford (vocals, keyboard), Jim Lee (lead vocals, bass), Mike Saligoe (drums), John Schaffer (lead guitar) and Richard Strange (rhythm guitar, vocals) started a band on Indianapolis’ West Side — and when they started the band they chose what they thought was the coolest name possible: ICE. The quintet quickly became one of the first emerging bands from their hometown to play a set of originals throughout the Midwest, performing at high schools, college campuses and venues. Building upon a growing profile, they eventually opened for national touring acts like Three Dog Night, SRC, Kenny Rogers & the First Edition, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and others in arenas and theaters.
In 1970, the members of the Indianapolis-based psych rock band recored 10 songs of original material at Chicago’s 8-Track Studios, only to break up shortly after the sessions. Two of the album’s tracks were eventually released as a 45 in 1972 — but confusingly under a different band name: Zukus! Interestingly, that 45 managed to receive regional airplay. The A-side of that single “Running High” was featured on Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip. While licensing “Running High” for the ninth edition of Brown Acid, the folks at RidingEasy Records discovered that ICE had recorded an entire album that had been languishing in obscurity, with the 2-inch master tapes had been shelved and forgotten until recently. RidingEasy Records then converted the analog tape tracks to digital files, remixed them to preserve the original vocals and instrumentation, packaging the material as The Ice Age.
50 years after the initial recording sessions that produced the album will finally be released — and see the light of day. Sonically, the material reportedly features 10 songs of hard-edger rock with enormous, radio friendly pop hooks that recalls Grand Funk Railroad, The Guess Who, and The Move. Centered around fuzzy power chords, shimmering organ arpeggios, propulsive drumming, some dexterous guitar soloing and enormous, arena rock friendly hooks, The Ice Age’s first single “Run to Me” finds the band meshing trippy and ambient-like psychedelia with explosive riffage that manages to recall the aforementioned Grand Funk Railroad and The Guess Who, along with a subtly nod of Steppenwolf. Listening to the track, there’s a sense that ICE if history was a bit more fair, the Indianapolis-based act should have been much larger.
The Ice Age is slated for a May 15, 2020 release. Be on the lookout.
Earlier this year, I wrote about Mighty Mouse, a rapidly rising electronic music producer, electronic music artist and DJ, who has built and developed a reputation for an innovative take on electronic music — and for energetic, eclectic DJ sets. Last year, he released a series of remixes and edits, including a house music-like edit on ABBA‘s disco-era classic “Lay All Your Love On Me,” which retained the song’s memorial vocal and infectious hook.
Mighty Mouse’s latest edit, finds him taking on Otis Clay’s upbeat, disco soul anthem “The Only Way Is Up.” Interestingly, the rising electronic music producer, electronic music artist and DJ’s edit, manages to give the song a decided Kool and The Gang-like vibe while extending the song’s infectious groove.