JOVM celebrates Kurt Cobain’s 51st birthday.
The late bluesman Roscoe Chenier was born in the tiny town of Notleyville, LA. And although his sharecropper family were extremely poor, Chenier grew up within a deeply musical family. Although he was related to zydeco legend Clifton Chewier and bluesman Morris “Big” Chenier, his father, Arthur “Bud” Chenier, a cajun accordionist, who was frequently accompanied by his first cousin, fiddler John Stevens (the father of Duke Stevens) was the Roscoe Chenier’s bigger influence; in fact, Bud Chenier and John Stevens were best known for playing at popular weekend house parties, where Roscoe would soak up the music.
In 1958, Roscoe Chenier was invited to join one of the region’s hottest traveling bands in the region — CD and the Blue Runners, which featured Lonesome Sundown on lead guitar and three of the Gradnier brothers on harmonica, drums and bass. Chenier played with CD and the Blue Runners until 1970, finding enough work to survive as a bluesman despite the popularity of the British Invasion acts of the 1960s. However, as tastes changed, Chenier like a lot of the great old bluesman discovered, it was difficult to eke out a living — especially when some gigs paid maybe $6 per man per night. And throughout the better part of the 70s, Chenier began a succession of jobs as a truck driver while picking up the occasional hired gun gig, playing in the backing bands of Good Rockin’ Thomas, Good Rockin’ Bob, his old bandmate Lonesome Sundown, Clarence Randle and Duke Stevens.
By 1980, Chenier was leading his own band and through a combination of reputation, luck and skill, he was able to recruit a number of talented musicians while desperately trying to remain as financial independent as possible, which by the late 90s became increasingly difficult. And yet, Chenier and his band managed to play several of Europe’s most prestigious festivals including Blues Estafette (in 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2001), North Sea Jazz Festival, toured across Europe several times and released a few albums before his death in February 2013 including 1998’s Roscoe Style and 2006’s Waiting For My Tomorrow. Roscoe Chenier’s last record, featured a haunting and folksy, acapella rendition of the old gospel standby “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” that immediately brings the early Delta Blues to mind — in particular, Son House, Lightnin’ Hopkins, early Muddy Waters and the like.
Interestingly, ElectroBluesSociety, a Dutch blues act, comprised of Japser Mortier (drums, bass) and Jan Mittendorp (guitar, production), who worked with Roscoe Grenier on several releases and several European tours decided to pay tribute to their late friend by adding a spectral and moody arrangement Chenier’s vocal that’s appropriately bluesy yet subtly modern, while retaining the timeless vibe of the original vocal take.
Fronted by 23 year-old Jacob Duarte, the Houston, TX-based indie rock trio Narrow Head has quickly developed a reputation for a sound that draws from 120 Minutes-era alternative rock, as it simultaneously possesses elements of grunge and shoegaze — and considering that the band suggests acts like Hum, Deftones, Failure, Swirlies and My Bloody Valentine as influences, that shouldn’t be surprising.
Recorded at the end of last year, during recording sessions intended for their next full-length album, the Houston-based trio’s latest single “Bulma” will further cement the trio’s reputation for a decidedly 1990s sound, as they firmly add their names to a growing list of contemporary bands, who have brought back a familiar and beloved sound with a subtly modern twist, like Dead Stars and others.
The band is currently on a West Coast tour. Check out the tour dates below.
Jan 13 – Fullerton, CA @ Programme
Jan 14 – Oakland, CA @ tba
Jan 15 – San Francisco, CA @ tba
Jan 16 – Eugene, OR @ Voodoo Donuts
Jan 17 – Portland, OR @ Blackwater
Jan 18 – Olympia, WA @ tba
Jan 19 – Seattle, WA @ Black Lodge
Jan 20 – Vancouver, BC @ Subculture Club
JOVM pays tribute to David Bowie on what would have been his 71st birthday.
Currently comprised of founding member Brad Hammonds (guitar, arrangement), Andrew Gutauskas (baritone sax, arrangement), Darius Christian (vocals, trombone), Sophia Urista (vocals), Mariel Bildsten (trombone), Wayne Tucker (trumpet), Oskar Stenmark (trumpet), Steven Duffy (sousaphone), the New York-based collective Brass Against the Machine specializes in covering protest music but with a unique sound and approach, as their sound meshes rock, alternative rock, hip-hop and New Orleans brass — and for repertoire that features covers of Rage Against the Machine, Living Colour, Gil Scott-Heron, Jane’s Addiction, A Tribe Called Quest, Led Zeppelin and a list of others; in fact, they recently released an attention grabbing mashup of Beyonce’s “Freedom” with Rage’s “Freedom,” which you can check out below.
However, what I wanted to call your attention is to Brass Against the Machine’s cover of one of my favorite Rage track’s “Killing in the Name Of,” which retains the original’s forceful and righteous fury while adding a swaggering and bombastic horn line; and interestingly enough, having a woman fill Zack de al Rocha role should remind the listener — or in turn, the viewer — that women always have long been the heart, soul and moral backbone of any resistance against power. And just as important, let this cover also serve as a reminder that music is arguably one of the most powerful weapons we have.
The band is current prepping for their live debut at Brooklyn Bowl on December 18.
JOVM pays tribute to AC/DC and Malcolm Young.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past month or so, you’d recall that New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Maura Lynch was a founding member of locally renowned indie rock band Darlings, an act that released three albums and played at the Whitney Museum, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Death by Audio and Shea Stadium — and had a brief stint in blogosphere attention-grabbing act Beverly; but with her latest project, Blush, Lynch was inspired by the her missing the simple act of making and sharing music with friends through a sporadic series of bedroom recorded demos (which she had filed as Blush on her computer). And as Lynch explained in press notes, the material she began writing was inspired by a love of straightforward and simple guitar pop with layered vocals, while lyrically the material reportedly was written as a sort of diary of its creator’s late 20s, with songs that focused on loving people who didn’t deserve it, loving people who did deserve it, of making sense of the monotony of the workday world and perhaps much more important, finding her own unique place in the world.
Last year, Lynch felt ready to finally make those demos into real songs and she got together with her friends — Pop. 1280‘s Andy Chugg and Pill‘s Nick and Jon Campelo to flesh out the material, which was recorded over a series of nights and weekends at Chugg’s Gilded Audio Studio, and from the album’s first single “Daisy Chain,” Lynch and company specialize in a shimmering guitar pop that seemed influenced by Phil Spector‘s Wall of Sound and Too True-era Dum Dum Girls — but with breakneck conciseness. Building on the attention that the band has received from their first single, their self-titled album’s second and latest single is a jangling, guitar pop cover of Mariah Carey‘s smash hit “Fantasy” that manages to retain the song’s swooning nature while being a unique and coquettish take on a familiar song.
Last month, I wrote about the Seattle, WA-based grunge rock band Gruntruck. Initially formed in 1989, the band’s original lineup featured featured founding members Skin Yard’s Ben McMillan (vocals) and Norman Scott (drums), The Accused’s Tommy Niemeyer (guitar) and Final Warning’s Tim Paul (bass), and can trace their origins to when the band’s founding duo wrote a song while on tour with Skin Yard that they felt was worthy of forming a new project around. At around the same time Scott was briefly in Soundgarden and collaborated with Chris Cornell on a lesser-known project, the low frequency power trio Bass Truck. And interestingly enough, with the new material that McMillan and Scott started to write for their new project, they decided to blend the sound that Norman developed in Bass Truck with their then-primary project’s sound to create a harder, more metal-leaning grunge rock sound.
1990’s Jack Endino and Gary King-produced debut Inside Yours was released through Seattle-based label Empty Records with a simultaneous release through German label Musical Tragedies, and it featured album single “Not a Lot to Save,” which received airplay on MTV. Interestingly enough, the members of Gruntruck had opened for Pearl Jam throughout 1991 — and famously, they opened for Pearl Jam the night they filmed the video for “Even Flow.”
With the growing buzz on all things Seattle, the members of Gruntruck signed a multi-album deal with Roadrunner Records, who re-released Inside Yours later that year. Their follow up effort, 1992’s Endino and King-produced effort Push featured album track “Tribe,” which received regular rotation on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. And building upon a rapidly growing profile, Gruntruck opened for Alice in Chains during their 1992 US and Canadian tour and Pantera‘s Winter 1993 European tour. Immediately upon their return to Seattle, the band went through a number of lineup changes but they managed to release a video for “Crazy Love,” which received airplay on MTV — including an episode of Beavis and Butt-head, in which a stunned Butthead mused “I must be hallucinating now. I can’t believe they’re playing something cool. These guys rock!”
Sadly, at the height of their popularity in 1996, the members of the band were struggling to make ends meet while fulfilling their contractual obligations to Roadrunner Records. As the story goes, Polygram Records offered to buy out Gruntruck’s contract for $1 million, but Roadrunner Records refused. Based on the advice of their lawyer, the band filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to break free of their contract. Unsurprisingly, that was promptly followed by Roadrunner Records suing to block the band’s bankruptcy with the result being a precedent-setting case that’s been cited in subsequent cases, written about in legal journals — and eventually inspired congressional legislation. And although the court eventually ruled in Gruntruck’s favor, their various legal issues exacted a deep financial and emotional toil on the band, as well as stalled the band’s momentum.
By 1997, the band’s original lineup reunited, and began working on new material; some of which wound up comprising their self-titled third album, an effort that the members of the band envisioned as their breakthrough effort. Recorded and finished over a two year period in five different studios in and around the Seattle area with Jack Endino and Martin Feveyear taking up production duties, the band decided to build up buzz for the album with a busy live schedule, playing shows in and around Seattle; however, just as they were about to build up some buzz, the band went on a hiatus in 2003 to allow Ben McMillan to recover from a number of health issues.
Sadly McMillan died from complications related to diabetes in 2008, and the third album languished in the vaults until last year, when Jack Endino mentioned its existence to Found Recordings head, Scott Blum, who pushed to get the album released, over a decade since the initial recording sessions. Now, as you may recall, the album’s first official single “Bar Fly,” featured an ambitious, arena rock-based sound consisting of enormous power chords, and a shout from the mosh pit worthy course — and while nodding at metal, the song manage stop remind me of Dirt-era Alice in Chains and Purple-era Stone Temple Pilots. “Noise Field,” their self-titled album’s latest single continues in a similar vein — a quiet, loud, quiet song structure that allows room for enormous power chords and thundering drumming. However, the one noticeable difference to me is that the song manages to sound as though it were influenced by Core-era Stone Temple Pilots.
“Noise Field” much like its predecessor will remind many listeners of grunge’s high point of 1991-1994 or so and simultaneously its low point of 1996-1999 or so; but underneath, there’s a sad reminder of what could have been for the band. After all, for the first, second and even third wave bands that find some level of success, there are many more bands, who get a brief taste of recognition but never quite make it further than that.
Interestingly, the song will strike many as a remanent of a decidedly particular period — 1996-1998 or so — but underneath that, there’s a sad reminder of what could have been; after all, for the rare Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgardens, etc., there’s countless bands, who get close to making it and many more that never make it.