Frank Gutch Jr: M-M-M-Metal Is All You Ever Play, Get Research Turtles’ Mankiller Pt. 1 of 2 While You Can— Free! and Notes, Notes and More Notes!!!!!
With apologies to The Records (that’s the band, sports fans) and their song Teenarama. I was sitting here plowing my way through one of my more favorite albums of the past few weeks by one Sandrider and wondering what it is that makes us turn right or left when mood strikes us— to bang heads with Freedom Hawk and Sandrider and then slither into the sixties and early seventies pop garden with The Records and The Shoes. It’s a hell of a jump from “Cut down these heathens” to “C-c-c-c-c-cola is all you ever drink,” from “Hold not your blades to our sad thirsty throats” to “Teenarama/All that melodrama/Gimme gimme gimme gimme/Teenarama” but it is a jump I make all the time. It’s no wonder I’m screwed up. I can’t walk a straight line. Hell, sometimes I can barely walk!
I wish I could understand what makes my engine run. It seems to want different fuel all the time and lately it has been more hawk ‘n’ roll than candy-coated. I seem to need those extended chords, those vibrating strings, those pounding drums and that screaming voice. It is a jumpstart I have not experienced in a few years and I’m digging it! That’s right, Gummers! (And I mean gummers, not bubble-gummers) I ain’t dead yet! Though perhaps I am close. Close-r, anyway.
Seems like it was only yesterday I was cranking up Captain Beyond and Ursa Major and Stray and even really odd bands like Cain and strutting the leather fantastic (only in my case, it was denim). My speakers took a beating, but they were troopers and handled it well (I had those big Sansui five-speaker, four-way honkers— or were they six-speaker, five way— that so many of us in the military ended up with because they could blow windows out if you cranked ’em high enough). More than once, girlfriends left the house in a huff because it was impossible to converse, the music was so loud, but that was okay because all they wanted to talk about was why didn’t I play decent music like James Taylor and Carole King and The Eagles. They should have known that every time they opened their mouths to say things like that, I considered it a challenge. I look back to those days and think, what was I thinking! There was always dope in the house, the amount depending upon how many friends stopped by, and possession was more than a slap on the wrist in those days and the cops one phone call away. Truth was, I wasn’t thinking. Who the hell could think with all that loud music playing all the time?
Of course, I’m kidding. All except the part about girlfriends leaving. That was true enough. One of my old girlfriends stopped going out with me because (she said) every time I walked by a record store, I had to go in. That was more true than not, but it wasn’t every time, Debbie.
Have you heard Freedom Hawk or Sandrider? Probably not. Some of you probably don’t even want to hear hard rock or metal. Know what? There are some types of music I don’t want to hear either, but I end up hearing them anyway. I can’t go into a large grocery store anymore without hearing The Beatles or Elton John. They are evidently today’s equivalent to the old muzak and they sound like Muzak to me, but probably not to most of you. I have spent accumulative hours in lines watching people hum along or mouth words to hits which should have fallen by the wayside decades ago and at times I’ve wanted to duct tape their mouths shut. I don’t know why. Some music drives me crazy. Well, it’s not the music, actually. I think it’s more peoples’ reactions to it. Then again, if all it takes to stop someone from indiscriminately gunning down K-Mart shoppers is to play a track from Revolver, I’m all for it.
I would love to talk to someone about the music I hear these days. Back in the Deep Purple/Wishbone Ash days, there was hardly a person on the planet who wouldn’t talk music, though it may have been that crazy, glazed look I had in my eyes. Funny what fear makes people do. Some of them, though, liked talking music as much as I did and I walked out of more than one store with a new friend. Nowadays, approach someone in a store talking about anything other than placement of goods for sale and they start dialing 9-1-1 while running the other direction. And that makes me want to… uh… crank up a little Sandrider or Freedom Hawk, in fact.
It may be just me, but I think music is a statement. Not a musical statement, though it is that too, but a generational statement. When I was young, it was rock ‘n’ roll. Then it was just rock. Then it was psychedelic. Then all hell broke loose and there was youth on every corner, dressing differently and listening to God knows what. Mods and Rockers? How about Rednecks and Punks? How about Progrockers and Jazz Freaks? How about Metalheads and Folkies? Chee-rist, but I’m surprised we came out of the last few decades alive. I mean, wasn’t it always the mantra that music brought us together? Sure didn’t seem like it to me.
Which is why I am so high on the music scene today. I am finding that one surefire way to make a friend is to find out what music he/she likes and talk with them about it. Lucky for me, I like just about everything, so that gives me wide range. Just this afternoon, I contacted a guy in one of the music forums pages I frequent (Steve Hoffman Forums) and we struck up a conversation about the unknowns. It seemed as if neither one of us was all that particular about what music it was (though if we’d had more time, we may well have). It was more about the treasure hunt. He mentioned The Arkells in one of his blogs. You know who The Arkells are? You should. They’re distributed in Canada by Universal. Does Universal distribute music internationally anymore? Doesn’t seem like it. No one Stateside knows The Arkells. I shake my head. What good is this whole Internet thing if music companies don’t know how to use it? Evidently, they don’t. Don’t get me started. (You can read his blog here… it’s called Eclectric Sounds)
Anyway, I’m listening to Sandrider and my head starts bobbing and I’m playing this crap computer game that doesn’t take any thought whatsoever and the next thing I know, I’m a zombie. I mean, the crunchy edge of Sandrider had me moving but the drone had me hooked! No, drone isn’t the word. The vibration, maybe. I mean, I was digging it and I wouldn’t have been able to tell you why at the time. How does that happen? I mean, I pride myself on my listening abilities (I search for and listen hard to the music I find) and live in fear that one day a member of some supergroup will put out an album worth hearing again and I will hear it and like it and then find out it’s Led Zeppelin or, worse yet, The Rolling Stones. After I’ve placed the headstones on their graves. Of course, judging by the last three decades’ output by those bands, I think I’m pretty safe.
The point is, I’m digging all kinds of music these days! Every direction I turn has me giddy with delight. And not all of it is great or even good, but when I stumble upon something that is, I’m thrilled! So let me tell you about some of the outstanding treasures I have uncovered, with thumbnail descriptions—
It wasn’t that long ago that I was writing about Thomas Hunter, this guy who pieced together an album with so many influences that when I tried to list them, I got mental whiplash. I thank mastering wizard Steve Turnidgefor that and while I still sing Hunter’s praises (White China Goldis a stunner for people who know their music and don’t just use it for background music), I am presently engaged in a marathon of progrockers Dissonati,another Turnidge discovery. I won’t give away the ending (you should have to do a little work, after all) but let us just say that they have put together a combination of early Yes, Colosseum II, Tempest (with Alan Holldsworth and not Ollie Halsall) and a handful of those creepy but amazing progbands of the eighties and nineties who conjured up visions of monolithic caves and statues of oddgods lit from the back with shadow effects to blow the mind. Someone who actually listened to the music on this Soundcloud link— listen here (thanks for putting it up, Turnidge)— actually mentioned a band called Opeth. Never heard them, but might just take the plunge after I’m done with this. Very keyboard-heavy with very impressive guitar and solid percussion. I like these guys. Caveat: Don’t go into this with a closed mind. The deeper you get into the album, the more you are going to hear and like. That is, if you like prog at all. And maybe even if you don’t. The album is titled reductio ad absurdum. No self-titled album with these guys. Them crazy proggers, huh?
Would someone explain to me how I even got to the Sandriders‘ page? I really have no idea, but I bookmarked it and just the other night, blew the dust off of the bookmark and man, I was steamrolled! Shades of Freedom Hawk, but in a slightly different direction. Three guys— guitar, bass and drums. Here’s how I envision them— a monster-sized drum kit enveloping the drummer center-stage, amps four-wide on the right side and miked (of course) and Marshalls stacked to the ceiling on the left, the guitarist completely dwarfed. Right in front of the stage, the Maxell man in his armchair, hair parallel to the ground with the force of the sound. This is the kind of music that demands that you turn it up! One set, live, and I’m pretty sure I’d be drooling if not bleeding from the proverbial orifices. This is POWER! Man, but what I wouldn’t give for a Freedom Hawk/Sandrider concert. One-two! Check out Freedom Hawk here. Sandrider here. And don’t forget to turn it up!!!!!
I never would have thought that I would be revisiting a site again and again over a period of five months and I wouldn’t but for the fact that I am a penniless waif who is destined to look in at windows full of the shiniest and coolest music with little hope of ownership, but here I am once again at the window of Hundred Visions. I found these guys through another music writer and have returned numerous times since the Last Cab From Tunis EP was posted. They have a very early Talking Heads feel to them, though I am not entirely happy with saying that. It has been years since I listened to the very first notes coming from that band and I might hear something entirely different today. Tell you what. You listen to it (click here) and then fill me in. Tell you what what. I just noticed (and don’t ask me why I hadn’t noticed before) that the band has put out a single since then— Where Do I Sign?. Listen to that too, then report back. I can use the help.
Annabel (lee). I started out with her name because she is so far outside my bubble that I cannot believe I am actually listening to her. The fact is, I am listening to her a lot and I am digging every damn minute of it. What does she do? Years ago I would have called her downer-lounge, but I have matured since then. My first exposure to her music was through this video of Glow (click here) and I got it. Right off. She is the first musician ever for whom I created a genre. She just does not quite fit anywhere. I call her style “Musique Noir.” I thought at first that it was only the one song, but then I spent a couple of nights treading through her Reverbnation page (listen here) and realized that it was way more. She brings such unique phrasing to everything she does. When the music is this striking, it is easy to follow.
There always has to be one album or group which slips under my skin without me knowing why and this past couple of weeks it has been First Circuit‘s I Hope You Get What You Came For EP. There are touches of Winterpills and Georgian Company (two of my favorite bands, in case you didn’t know) and a handful of others bands in their sound. It took me a few listens to nail those down. I don’t know why. They are obvious. It was close to midnight when they broke through and I was exhausted from wrestling with words and sounds and only wanted to close my eyes and rest. I sat in my chair and let the music wash over me and have since listened a number of times. They strike a groove without striking a groove somehow and are just far enough outside the lines. The key? Songwriting. There are only five songs, but they are five intriguing songs. One, in fact, I Hope You Get What You Came For, is now a go-to song for me when I need to cleanse the ears after a long day of listening and writing. Performance: B. Production: B. Songwriting: solid A. And it gets better with each listen. By the end of this week, it could be A‘s across the board. Visit their Soundcloud page here, listen and if you like it, follow the links at the bottom of the page to learn more about the band.
I guess the point I am making is that you never know what you’ll like until you give it a chance. It is absurd to hate an artist because of genre. I’m not a huge rap or hip hop fan, but I’ve heard some damn good rap and hip hop. Some music you don’t even get until you hear it for the tenth or twentieth time. Unless you’re told. Haven’t we had enough of radio, TV and now the Net telling us what we like? For people who love music, jumping genres is a fact of life. Next time you feel like experimenting, experiment! Don’t just search for more Beatles or Bieber (and don’t deny that you do, you sillies). Take a hint from someone. Watch videos. Stream music you have no idea about. It can be fun!
Well, I have a lot more fun to have, so I’m going searching myself. Just continue reading and maybe you’ll find a path you might like to take. Myself, I have to plug…..
The Boys from Lake Charles…..
Research Turtles fire their first (or maybe tenth) salvo across the bow with a video teaser of one of the songs from their upcoming EP, Mankiller Part 2 of 2. Teaser is right, too. Jud Norman has a sugary outlook on life on at least one song on each album or EP, it appears, as this video of A Guy Like Me will attest. When these guys aren’t kickin’ it onstage, they can almost put you to sleep with their ballads— a deep musical sleep. Here’s a tip— go to the video (click here), watch it and then click on the “free” link at the bottom of the vid. That should take you to a page on their website which will allow a free download of their last EP, Mankiller Part 1 of 2. I know there is a lot of free stuff on the Net right now, but this one is pure classic power pop and probably won’t be up that much longer. And when the new EP hits the Net, consider ordering it. These guys work hard at what they do and are damn good at it. They deserve the respect.
Notes….. I have just been handed an early Christmas present. Steve Riihikoski, at one time guitarist with the legendary Pac NW band Notary Sojac, sent links to a Youtube post which shows Tom McMeekan, also ex-Notary Sojac, blistering his way through a few solos on All Along the Watchtower. Now, I don’t expect it to impress everyone, but most of you probably have never heard of NS, let alone heard them. McMeekan (and every member of the band) stood head and shoulders above the vast majority of musicians at that time (the late sixties and early seventies). And he evidently has not lost his licks. Just listen to what he squeezes out of that guitar! Would that the sound was better, but it is good enough. Watch here….. Jon Gomm has finally scheduled a US tour. Seems like he will be part of something called The International Guitar Night in January of 2014. 2014?! Gomm obviously does not know how old I am….. Is it true or just a rumor that Robert Fripp is giving up music due to the ongoing legal battles with Universal Music Group? I’m almost afraid to look at the details. Then again, he could possibly be giving up music. Probably just the part which involves recording for mega-corp assholes? I sigh. In the old days, you knew who the assholes were. Today, they hide behind corporate logos. Read about it here….. Good friend and musician Gary Heffernis always tossing things my way hoping I will take note of the music he finds. He did me a real favor last week by turning me onto The Cynz, a relatively new band featuring poet/vocalist Cyndi Dawson and guitarist/vocalist (and maybe poet, too) Henry Seiz. Here, they handle a really tough subject, abuse, with real class. The music is straight out of the late sixties with guitar jangle and We Five-type harmonies along with a talking message worth spreading. Watch video here. Then sign up for their Facebook page (here). I’m betting there will be lots more from these guys we all are going to want to hear….. Hot damn! One of my favorites, Winterpills, just put out a new video. Sunspots (Ruins) has that laid back folk/psych thing going on which Simon & Garfunkel parlayed into superstardom. A great song and a very pleasant video (here it is)….. I was reminded this morning just how much humor The Dementians‘ David Jacques brings to his music. I plugged into his ReverbNation page and clicked on Middle Class Revolution and giggled like a schoolkid. It’s like the beginning of a dance craze with lines like “Sigh and roll your eyes like this” and it all started because some driver broke into a line of cars and “didn’t even give me the wave.” Don’t laugh. Whole wars have been started for less. I think Iraq was the result of a Bush bowel movement, myself. You can download Middle Class Revolution for free right here. This is one of my unexpected treasures….. Ireland’s The Minnows are blowing the dust off of some of their original tracks and letting us finally hear them— well, those of us who missed them the first time around. Another Rainy Day was the first song the band ever performed live (I’m not smart, they just say so right on the Soundcloud page) and was on a couple of their first releases. Back in the Stone Age, I think. It’s amazing. It’s a solid track and they sound even better today. Be watching for their upcoming live album, soon to hit the streets. In the meantime, this is what they used to sound like (click here)….. Speaking of Freedom Hawk, they’re heading to Europe in February to tour with the French band Abrahma and they’re asking for a little help. They’re not asking for just money, mind you. They are willing to give up a few things— like signed CDs, your choice of three albums. Like signed albums— and there weren’t that many pressed. Like promo packs which include T-shirt and patch. Don’t smirk. These are produced in such limited quantities that they will become collector’s items. In fact, I would argue that they already are. Toss them a few bucks and get something very cool. Link here….. Talk about getting in just under the wire. I was about to wrap this up when an email popped out of my Spam folder (how the hell did it get IN there, I wonder?) saying that House of Ghosts has just released a new album. Hey, I dig this band and you have a chance to be the first on your block to listen. The songs are posted on their Bandcamp page (click here) for your listening pleasure. Available on vinyl, too! Damn, but life is good sometimes….. By the way, the Cynz photo was taken by Sherry Rubel of Modelz Rock.
Frank’s column appears every Wednesday
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“Frank Gutch Jr. looks like Cary Grant, writes like Hemingway and smells like Pepe Le Pew. He has been thrown out of more hotels than Keith Moon, is only slightly less pompous than Garth Brooks and at one time got laid at least once a year (one year in a row). He has written for various publications, all of which have threatened to sue if mentioned in any of his columns, and takes pride in the fact that he has never been quoted. Read at your own peril.”