Frank Gutch Jr: Crushed Out: It Was a Party, Jess Roden’s Anthology, Audrey Martell, and Notes You Can Take To the Bank…..

Good ol’ Pandora.  Just when it looks like the whole digital music service thing is about to fade into the background, those asshats raise their whine level a few decibels.  This time, they’re asking to take a portion of the musicians’ cut from them, claiming that the musicians are cutting into their fair share.  Wait a minute!  Wha-a-a-aaat??!!!!!!!  Okay, they didn’t put it in those words, but you have to know that’s what they’re telling legal eagles behind closed doors.  I have to wonder about the reasoning, though.

According to music industry analysts, “Pandora currently pays songwriters and music publishers a smaller percentage of music royalties than any other digital music service.”   Even less than Spotify?  How could they ask for less?  Their payments to musicians, in the real world view, are already virtually nonexistent!  They keep this up and musicians will owe them!!!  Musicians and songwriters, unite!  Pull your songs from sites who would not exist without you.  And what say we start  a little research on the major labels and what their stakes are in this little digital music game being played out?  They’re hardly innocent.  Did I say “asshats”?  These guys give asshats a good name!  Read the opposition’s response to Pandora’s request for more— click here…..

Now, you might well think by that opening salvo that I am in a lousy mood, right?  As the ol’ Professor, Kay Kyser, would say, “That’s right.  You’re wrong!” and you are.  See, I just spent an evening— last Saturday’s, in fact— partying (if you consider sitting in an uncomfortable chair and getting jostled by a merry crowd of ale- and wine-swillers whilst listening to live music).  See, a couple of New Yorkers passed through Eugene and stopped by Sam Bond’s Garage for a little gas money and I got

Crushed Out!

They used to be called Boom Chick and had been playing under that moniker for some time when they blew into Eugene awhile ago and found that there was another Boom Chick and that they had copyrighted the name, thus was Crushed Out born.  Two people, two instruments.  Actually, two people and many instruments because the beautiful Moselle Spiller plays anything and everything percussive, especially the huge bass drum she hides behind for theatrical effect.  Spiller is teamed up with Frank Hoier who plays only guitar (actually, he plays three, but one at a time) and together they crushed a large party of, well, partyers, most of whom had waited until Saturday to kick out the jams after a tense and highly volatile election.  Yes, truth be told, Sam Bond’s was a blue tavern that night, people streaming in from all areas of town except the most conservative.  You had to leave the Tea Party and conservatism at the door because not only was the crowd loose and liberal, so was the music.

Ah, the music.  I had been listening to Crushed Out‘s latest, the just-released Want To Give, for a couple of weeks in anticipation of this night.  I was anxious to hear Hoier wail on the guitar and hear Spiller not only bash those drums but sing like the dickens and, boy, was I in for a surprise!  The music started and first thing I noticed was that Spiller had no mike stand set up by the drums.  I looked closer.  Nope.  Nothing there.  But then I got to thinking that maybe she had a bluetooth type thing in her ear or a new electronic microphone-type device.  Made sense.  Hell, all the time I am walking by people and answering questions addressed not to me but to someone electronically connected to them in some way.  So imagine my surprise when at the mere hint of a vocal, Hoier steps up to the mike and lets out an amazing facsimile of what Spiller should have been singing.  I mean, it took a minute or two, but that excellent voice on Want To Give was Hoier’s and not hers (though if you take away the ‘o’ and the ‘i’, it is hers.  That’s what’s called humor, in case you missed it).  By the end of that couple of minutes, though, it started to make sense.  The music was solid.  The beat was solid.  And the voice, no matter where the origin, was also solid.

Hoier had chosen one of those rockin’ R&B numbers to start everything off and he had this funky old what-looked-like hollow body archtops you see all too seldom, and when he took the slide to it, it screamed!  Not notes, but chords!  It was ree-r-ree-r-ree up and down the neck (mostly down on that song) and I put my head back and laughed because I would bet that only one or two in the crowd even knew, being there for a Saturday night with friends rather than for the band.  Response was minimal, the crowd noise drowning out even the shrieking chords and booming bass drum, but it was only an opening salvo and Hoier and Spiller had just started.  It soon became obvious that they were used to it.  They put their shoulders down and faced into the wind like the troopers they are.

I mean, they had to have guessed.  Sam Bond’s Garage is not the upscale lounge in which you would find Romney supporters.  The décor screamed blue collar and student and not just regular blue collar but hard working blue collar.  Fashion was straight out of Good Will, hair cut in all sorts of odd designs and skin pierced like they had just happened to be in a tattoo parlor when the piercing guy went nuts or had a seizure.  Shoes?  Mostly boots.  But hey, no one expected Romney supporters to be there and the smiles and laughs said what needed to be said.  Who’s the band?  Dunno, but damn, they sound pretty good, don’t they?  And slowly Hoier and Spiller set about warming them up.

Now, Crushed Out was not the opener.  That daunting task was filled by one Leo London, or at least I think that was his name.  After his short set, during which the crowd (except for a few friends) ignored him, I asked if he would talk with me at the end of the evening.  When all was done, I looked for him but he had vanished, probably preferring a warm bed to the party noise of the Garage.  Leo gave it his best, I think, but was defeated somewhat by a PA system not loud enough (or maybe just not handled properly) and a crowd not open enough to new music.  Oh, they were polite.  Most, after not listening at all, whooped and applauded at the end of each song, so he was acknowledged, just not for his music.  Was he good?  He was, in a way.  He is one of those singer/songwriters you see occasionally who shows promise but does not quite make the grade.  Of course, you can credit the crowd noise and apathy to most of that.  He is also one of those people you have a chance to hear but don’t until they open at some larger venue as an opening act for a fairly big name at which time you scratch your head and ask yourself how you could have possibly missed him (or her).  His songs were good.  His voice was good, though he had a lazy tonal drawl to much of it (which was rather pleasant, to be truthful).  With a more amenable crowd and a better PA system, he might have struck a chord, but such was not the case.  He struggled.  Still, I would have liked to have talked with him because with a little work on his lyrics, his songs might have been better than good.  Leo, if you happen to see this, I heard a lot of potential last Saturday night.  Your faults may end up being your strengths.  And you have a touch of Greg Laswell in you.  That’s a good thing.  Don’t give up.

After London, there was but a short break before Crushed Out took the stage and I have to admit being smitten by Spiller, who has this short skirt with leggings thing going on that fits her well.  Those long beautiful raven tresses did not hurt any, either.  She sat down and pounded the foot pedal a few times while Hoier tuned his guitars and by the time Hoier hit that loud chord which kicked things off, I was ready.  Hoier was playing and Spiller started shaking and next thing you know, she’s doing her percussion dance, shoulders and arms moving in different directions, at times looking like those cartoon characters whose arms and legs disassociate themselves from the trunk of the body  with each loud thump only to snap back right after, all the while that right leg whacking the bass drum ad infinitum.  Whump, whump, whump  and Hoier going  scree-ree-ree with that slide.

It wasn’t all scree and thump, but it was most of the night.  It was solid fifties- and sixties-influenced rock with a little blues tossed in for good measure.  Spiller shuffled and danced and at times looked like the Karate Kid, the sticks going up in that weird pose the kid struck on the pilings at the beach.  And Hoier wailed.  As a preface to one song, Hoier told a story most of the crowd missed about his mother telling him how she or someone broke a Black Sabbath album and as it was told, he asked which one. She said the black and purple one, which was the name of the song— Black and Purple.  It struck a note with me because I knew guys who prided themselves on practically breaking glass with that album.  Vol. 4,wasn’t it? 

Hoier switched guitars every few songs for obvious reasons— first the archtop, then what looked like a Fender Stratocaster and finally this weird shaped guitar which seemed to have electronic effects built in.  Then back to the archtop.  Each guitar was center to each song and it was all a bout sound, or so it seemed.

There was dancing, for this was a party and the band helped it along, slipping in a few covers like Rumble (which sounded so Link Wray I had to force myself to realize that it wasn’t), Ready Teddy (Hoier’s voice perfect for anything Little Richard) and even a gunfire version of Walk Don’t Run.  During one song, I swore there was someone playing mouth harp, but there wasn’t and I chalked it up to that electronic guitar.  Occasionally, Spiller would toss in a few harmonies and whoops and yeahs and I wondered why she wasn’t singing more (she said afterwards that they just hadn’t worked it into the act yet).  They finished the set four times, each time Hoier adding a song because, did I mention that it was a party?  Hoier’s a pro.  He wanted it kept going as much as did the crowd.

Frank and Moselle came over after their set and we talked for a bit.  It’s difficult when people are constantly interrupting to ask them questions or wish them well or mainly thank them for a good evening of music.  The bartender brought over free drinks (for them— I was driving) and I left shortly thereafter, feeling a bit worse for wear but happy, nonetheless.  It was fun, even though I talked to few people and kept myself isolated.  I mean, I spent the evening listening and watching, two of my favorite things to do, and I couldn’t have been more pleased.

When I got home, I listened to the album again.  It made me laugh.  Not the music but the fact that some people need to crank up their guitars and write songs.  It’s their version of that mountain needing to be scaled because it’s there.  I’m listening to songs titled Shake Can Well and Sharkbite and Push Down and Twist and thinking when the hell did music become so damn serious?  I hear music like this that is fun now and again, but not as much as I would like.  So pardon me if I shake can well.  Sometimes I have to.  Like sometimes I have to laugh.

Know something?  As hard as Spiller works that foot pedal, I’m surprised her right leg isn’t as big as an elephant’s.

They’re coming back to Sam Bond’s in late January.  I’ll be there.  In the meantime, I suggest you trek over to their Bandcamp page.  I’ll bet you could use some of this.  Click here.

Jess Roden: Anthologized…..

I remember the very first time I heard Jess Roden, though he was listed as Jeremy back in those days.  He was singing for Alan Bown and his voice caught my ear right off— the timbre and tone just right for the poppy Brit Rock fare handed out on the self-titled album on the Music Factory label (in the States).  Indeed, Bown’s version of All Along the Watchtower topped all others in my headlong dash into the massive stream of music finding its way to my turntable.  All others— Hendrix included.  Don’t ask me why.  I loved Hendrix’s version too, but when I was all alone, it was Bown’s I listened to.

Bown impressed me so much that I followed them until they faded into nonexistence (even today, I listen to those old albums) and Roden so much that I picked up everything I could find (which led me through a series of bands and, later, solo projects).  Now Roden, with help from Neil Storey, has put together a 5-CD package which covers much of that period, a large percentage of the songs unreleased or alternate versions.

Now here’s the thing.  For a very short time, Roden is teaming up with fundraiser Pledgemusic to expand that to six CDs.  By the time Roden and Storey had compiled the tracks they wanted, they found they had a number left over after filling five CDs and they debated about what they should do.  Pledgemusic gave them an out.  Put them on a sixth CD, add that CD to the package and make that package available only through Pledgemusic until the limited number of 950 packages were sold.  And so they are doing.

What this means is that it is a 6 CD package only for the duration of those 950 (and maybe less, if they decide to pull the package after a certain period of time), at which time it becomes the 5 CD package they had originally intended.  The sixth CD?  Gone.  I guess that’s why they call it Limited Edition, eh, sports fans?

So if you are a Roden fan and want to see what this is all about, here is a link to the page Roden set up on Pledgemusic (click here).  On that page, you will see what the whole project is all about and can pre-order if you want.  Trust me when I say that this has been well thought out.  Maybe only for the serious fan, but amazing stuff for the serious fan.  God love you, Jess.

For those who are curious or are fans who did not know Roden was still around, check out his site at http://www.jessroden.com/.  This is a site built for fans and which will be embraced by fans.  Lots of pages and pictures covering the history of Roden’s music.  This is a template other musicians should use.

Under the Heading, “Just Freakin’ Amazing”…..

Goldman Sachs has supposedly valued the worth of digital music service Spotify around $3 Billion.  Wasn’t Goldman Sachs one of the Wall Street outfits that tried to bankrupt the States and possibly the world?  I have amended my fight against Spotify and its ilk to include asshats like those who work at and run Goldman Sachs.  Time to put the value on the music, which Spotify is stealing.  And don’t give me technicalities and legal mumbo jumbo.  If Spotify is worth billions, it is the music that makes it that valuable.  The artists deserve more compensation, not less like Spotify and Pandora are demanding.  Unfreakin’believable!

Audrey Martell: Way More Than a Voice…..

I have a clipboard I carry around with me all the time.  On it is a letter I received way back in May of 2006 from one Audrey Martell, asking if I would be interested in reviewing her new album, Life Lines.  She ended the latter with “I sure hope you find something that speaks to the music lover in you.”

I keep that letter on the clipboard for a reason.  Not only would I probably lose it otherwise, but more importantly it reminds me why I write about music in the first place.  Ms. Martell, while not new to the game (she had sung on many tracks by some of the top stars of the time, including Luther Vandross), had in her hands an album I am not sure she knew how to handle.  The music business was by then in turmoil, digitization and incompetence having changed the musical landscape.  The Internet, while making it easier to get the message out, was making it harder to get the message heard.  It had to have been daunting, facing the task of marketing music by yourself without the tools and structure which had, not long before, been pure template— Step 1, Step 2, and the other steps which could lead to success.  So she wrote to me.  An unknown writer nobody read but who had taken the time to listen to an album submitted by a friend and acquaintance and had written a review more important in the fact that the album was heard than the words written.

I wrote a favorable review for Ms. Martell.  It was easy.  Life Lines (to sample, click here) was an exceptional album and Martell’s voice was as good a  voice as I had heard anywhere.  The album did not do much, though I am sure she sold plenty off of her name alone.  It should have.  It should have been a best seller.  Could have, should have.  I live by phrases like that these days.  Suffice it to say that it was good enough for me to keep the letter on the clipboard.

A couple of days ago I got a message from Ms. Martell saying that she had some things in the works, which to me says that she is recording again or maybe preparing to.  So I decided to pass the word along.   I consider this passing along a favor.  You’re looking for good music, well here it is.  You’re welcome.  Of course, it might be awhile before we see anything.  It is a wait which for me will be spent in anticipation.

Here’s an aside.  I knew that Martell had done a bit of work on various anthology albums and on music for ads.  She would occasionally pass along a link to something and I would, of course, be thrilled because as long as she was working, there was hope.  Doing a bit of research for this little bit, I ran across another album, of all things.  Listed under Audrey Martells (her real name— she took the ‘s’ off the end for simplicity’s sake) I found an album titled Get You There.  2009, it says.  She had never mentioned it to me.  I am left to wonder why.  I know I am not the biggest fan out there, but I am one of them.  And she knows it.

There will be an album soon, with luck, and you can bet I will be passing word along as I find out. In the meantime, I think it would behoove you to check out what is there.  She is a talent, is Audrey Martell, and a voice and a half.  But when she writes and sings her own songs, she is something else altogether.

Notes…..  Just to show you how a little digging can turn up gems, I quite by accident stumbled upon an animated video this morning which features the music of Lianne Smith and was animated by one Marianne Petit.  Lianne recently released an album titled Two Sides of a River which demands a review if only because I have reviewed albums of a lesser, uh, quality, shall we say?  Here is a link to the video (titled Snow).  Very cool, as is the song.  Review of the album pending…..  You’ve heard me talk about Ticktockman, maybe?  Well, these Seattle progrockers (who are much more than that, really) have a teaser they put on Youtube to promote their first album.  It’s short but has some excellent shots of them in the studio.  Bookmark this sucker.  In the not too distant future, you will be hearing a lot more about these guys…..  Does having your music behind a TV ad work?  You tell me.  Here is a video of the song used behind the gecko’s western dance.  Wrinkle Neck Mules.  A little shit-kickin’ never hurt anyone.  Click here…..  If Mist and Mastis not San Francisco’s most guarded secret, I don’t know what is.  These guys have been knocking me on my ass since I first heard their album Action at a Distancea few years ago.  Head Mist (or is he Mast?) Jason Lakis has a sound unlike any other I’ve heard.  Three albums and virtually no response tells me it’s time to hop on the high horse and let you know what you’re missing.  Here is a video from a 2011 live performance of a track from their 2012 album, Follow a Bad Map.  There are few bands I go to when I want to really hear some music.  This is one of them.  Click here…..  Speaking of bands I want to hear, Charlottesville’s The Fire Tapes have just had a seven-inch baby, now available at WarHen Records.  WarHen is now a real record label, having first put out Sarah White‘s very cool single: Married Life b/w ILY.  This month, in quick succession, they have added seven-inchers by Red Rattles and, as stated, The Fire Tapes.  Both of those bands, by the way, are readying new albums for release.  Here is a video (click here) of a song off of The Fire TapesDream Theater album, available for free download on their bandcamp page (highly recommended).  The video is put together by one William Pence whom I mention because he plain deserves it.  It’s a mindfuck…..  How about Mindwarp instead?  Seattle’s Dissonatigoes psychedelic on their new video.  Complete with sustained fuzz guitar solo.  And everyone thought psych was dead.  Click here…..  And on and on and on it goes, and on and on and on it goes.  So sayeth Corvallis band Xenat-Ra.  I’ll be stopping by the Bombs Away Cafe this Saturday night to check out a sound I never thought I would like.  A mixture of hip-hop, rock, jazz and theater— I say theater because these guys look to be as visual as they are musical.  I have to admit that hip-hop is new to me, having found The GoatsTV Cops video only a few short months ago (click here).  That band contained two of my favorite musicians, Maggi Pierce & EJ‘s Pierce and EJ.  They blazed the trail.  After watching this video of Xenat-Ra performing the Xenat-Ra Theme live, I have to say I am somewhat pumped.  These guys have talent!  (click here)….. I’m freaking out.  After struggling to find videos worth sharing, this week is handing me a ton.  Here is my favorite song by acoustic rockers (and folkies) Elephant Revivalwhich has me kicking my ass for not seeing them when they were in Oregon this past summer.  Ring Around the Moon is a killer and this live version is impressive!  I found these guys through Hymn For Her, two-thirds of the aforementioned Maggi Pierce & EJ, when they posted a picture of themselves with guitarist Dan Rodriguez (the guitarist on the right).  I figure as much as I like Hymn For Her, if they like Elephant Revival, they have to be worth it.  They are.  Click here…..  Oh, hell, I can’t post an Elephant’s Revival link without posting a Hymn For Her, could I?  And this ain’t no afterthought.  I love these guys!  Click here…..  Wha-a-a-aaat?  Looks like The Green Pajamasare going to release a special limited edition DVD package before Christmas.  Tentatively titled  The Kelly Collection, it will supposedly feature a whole bunch of items surrounding Pajama Jeff Kelly.  In case you were wondering what to get that special someone for Christmas…..  Holy crap!  For some ungodly reason, I decided to check CDBaby to see if there were any Amelia Jay CDs for sale— and there are!  One of my all-time favorite indie albums— smooth, well-produced, great songwriting.  Toward the melodic side with excellent songs!  Check them out here!…..  God love Mini-Apple-Us, Mini-Soda, which is where the members of Sundowners live.  Friend and music lover Marisa Lee has been passing me information and pointers to music out of Upper Washington, the State, until her recent move to Minneapolis and her first discoveries are worth a listen.  Sundowners are punkish with a touch of New Wave, something they practically apologize for on their Bandcamp page.  Nice combination, if you ask me.  I always like to take my punk with a shot of Pop and they hand us four on their new 7”.  All guitar, mostly punk.  You have to give credit to a band who titles their tracks stuff like Life After Berf and Can You Help Us Get Our Thai On?.  To listen, click hereBrother Nature is punk of another color.  They think it’s garagey.  I know it is.  Shades of speed metal and seizure rock.  I don’t know what these guys have been drinking, but I want a bodyguard when they’re in town.  Songs are short and in your face.  Listen here.

Frank’s column appears every Wednesday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

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.”

One Response to “Frank Gutch Jr: Crushed Out: It Was a Party, Jess Roden’s Anthology, Audrey Martell, and Notes You Can Take To the Bank…..”

  1. Crushed out sounds right up my alley! will definitely be hitting their bandcamp page when i leave my corporate prison for the day.

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