Frank Gutch Jr: It Has Barely Started and Already 2013 Is a Kickass Year…..

FrankJr2In fact, this may damn well be the year I kick the bucket.  My life has pretty much been music, or music at its core, and it has never been better and I have to say that this next year promises to be the best yet.  Ever have that feeling that you can’t lose?  I not only have that feeling but am overwhelmed by it, politics be damned!  So pardon me while I crawl into my hole and surround myself with a future major labels only dream about.  Pay attention.  There will be a quiz.

No Small Children…..

You gotta love a band which bitch slaps you into submission and No Small Children does just that and more.  Lisa Parade emerges from the cloud of smoke better than ever and I could not be more thrilled.  Who is this Lisa Parade, you ask?  She is in reality one Lisa Joy Pimentel and is former drummer with the legendary all-girl group Heidi which had a shot at major label fame but were tossed aside for one reason or another (like major labels ever need a real reason, the bastards).  Not long after that group split, Lisa ended up on the West Coast with a band of her nosmallchildrendearyouthown— The Lisa Parade, a name she adopted as her own.  Two excellent albums later— and I do mean excellent— and in spite of the exposure afforded her by placing Beautiful Possibility as the theme for the short-lived Miss Guided TV sitcom, Lisa applied herself to everyday life for a short time before hitting the clubs for the occasional gig with friends and family.  Which eventually led to No Small Children.

They are loud and proud, sports fans, and prefer to rawk rather than rock but do both with elan.  I knew from the preview track, Wenches and Bitches, that this power trio had the goods but didn’t know until the recent release of their Dear Youth EP how really good they are.  Talk about bitch slaps!  Dig this!

Women delivering rhythm from our souls

Some people think that we’re wenches, we’re bitches

Livin’ the life though we are kind of old

It might be true that we’re wenches, we’re bitches…..

And that’s just the chorus!  Later, they end a verse with

We are wily, wenchy, bitchy

Madonna whorish dames (ha)

No apologies, just steamrollin’ rock ‘n’ roll with a pinch of punk and a dash of metal.  This is at the top of my list for 2013 even if it was (kind of) released in 2012.  If it is too late to make my end of the year list, it isn’t for next year’s (or this year’s, by the time this is posted).  You can preview and purchase MP3’s here, but there will be physical product available soon.  Stay tuned.

An Aside:  Jilly Blackstone

jillyHeidi fans remember Jilly as the frontman (erm, woman) for that band.  I came upon her through posts and mentions by Lisa Parade when I discovered Lisa’s, uh, excellent— yes, excellent— albums, Out of the Funbox (which includes a stunning pop gem titled Girl, among other outstanding songs) and Finding Flora.  I stalked Lisa, you might say, and I ended up stalking Jilly too.  Jilly was thrilled that I had found Heidi and told me she had many stories to tell (I had asked) and we kept in touch off and on over a two or three year period.  It was usually just me checking in on her through Facebook or email or her sending profuse apologies for not having contacted me for long periods, but it was enough because I knew that soon we would dive into the story behind Heidi and uncover her plans for her musical future.  For a short period, she even posted a few demo tracks she had recorded by herself and we discussed the positives and negatives in terms of her future direction.

Then, I heard little.  There was the occasional short message saying that she was not doing well (she was very ill, I came to find out) and that her life was a battle.  It was a battle she eventually lost.  I didn’t know until Lisa posted a short tribute to her dear friend on Facebook.  It was a sledgehammer to the heart.  Jilly was such a positive and delicate person to me and had been ready to talk music at the drop of a hat and to realize that she was truly gone was, to say the least, a true bummer.

More than likely, I will never hear those demos again nor will I hear the Heidi demos which she had promised me (but about which I was sworn to secrecy).  Those are very small things next to the fact that I will not be allowed the pleasure of watching her develop, musically.  She had a path in her head which was leading her toward her musical vision and she had barely started.

The reason I bring that up here is that Track 3 of No Small Children‘s Dear Youth EP was written by Jilly.  Jill Considine, actually, for that was her real name.  Titled Mystical, it is just that— to me.  Lisa and Jilly were very close.  So when Lisa sings Jilly’s lyrics, it is both magical and mystical.  It is a tribute, both painful and joyous, and brings tears to my eyes and a pain to my heart.

It is a only a small part of what Jilly deserves.  An anthem written by and sung for a wonderful person.  Lisa Parade, if few others know what a magnificent track this is, I do.  Jilly would be proud.

AND I just did a little searching on the Net and found Jilly’s MySpace page.  She gives a rundown of her music career and there is music, including her version of Mystical.  Stop by and listen if you trewswant to know more about her.  Click here…..

The Trews…..

This will be the year I delve into The Trews.  I have heard a lot about them this past year and should have checked them out earlier.  Just about everyone I trust has talked positive about their music and I need to hear for myself.  You can check them out here.  I won’t be far behind.

The Brothers Braam…..

Leave it up to me to be a step ahead.  I have yet to do a complete backsearch on these three brothers from Chicago but I will.  I want to hear the music upon which they built Hail Violet, their recently released album, and the demos to a project tentatively titled Venus In Transit.  I liked Hail Violet, for sure, but I have this thing for demos and the Braams are cool enough to include everyone in that process.  You can check out their tracks from Violet on YouTube by searching Braam, something I found a bit disturbing.  I mean I am so used to YouTube for music videos that I find it unsettling to listen just for the music.

Brother Scott Braam has taken to Soundcloud to spread the word, though.  You can scope out demo tracks from their upcoming album here.  They are rough tracks but are release-ready anyway.  Pay special attention to the title track.  It’s catchy.

biaginigogoLaurie Biagini…..

Laurie just won’t stop.  She barely completes an album and she is already three or four songs into the next.  Not that that’s a bad thing.  In fact, for me it is a very good thing.  She is a constant positive in a music world which does not seem all that positive sometimes.  I, for one, look forward to everything she does because I know at the least it will be head-noddingly good.  But then I’m a sucker for surf, sand, girl groups and pop.  Here is a link to one of the new tracks for your listening pleasure:  Rise Up.  This is good stuff.

Marshburn…..  I don’t know what they put in the water down in L.A. (though I did taste it once and have an idea), but whatever it is, it has Marshburn working out math rock formulae in streaks.  The next streak is on the way— a new album.  Shayan Sya, the lead vocalist and sometimes player of instruments which sometimes recreate the sounds of the Van der Graaf Generator (the real generator and not the band), tells me it will be available soon.  After having seen the band perform live under stressful conditions (and under the influence), it can’t be soon enough for me.  I’m betting that this project will be leap miles beyond their last, Miss Spelled For Emphasis.

dixiebeelinersThe Dixie Bee-Liners…..  There are rumors going around (while in England, there are once again The Rumours going around) that The Dixie Bee-Liners are recording once again.  This is the best of news to my ears.  Their Susanville album (2011) was among my top albums of 2011 and I daresay that I need more.  Watch this video and hear and see why.  Seriously, these guys eat most Americana bands for breakfast.

The Fire Tapes and Red Rattles…..  I only bunch these two bands together because they are both from Charlottesville, one freakin’ hotbed of great music, and have each recently released a 45 from that city’s tiny but mighty Warhen Records label.  Red Rattles are two and rocking out fifties’ and sixties’ style with nineties’ sensibilities.  They are raw and rowdy and, might I add, impressive.  The Fire Tapes slide in and out of psychedelic comas while embracing so many influences it makes my head spin.  Each has an album pending.  Each has my full attention.  Stay tuned.

baxleydoubleepKail Baxley…..  It might be just me, but I hear a lot of Bill Withers in some of Kail Baxley‘s songs.  Just some, though.  The guy is a whiz-bang folkie-turned-soul-rocker and has a voice which can make you dance or which melts butter, depending upon tune.  His album is just about here and I have been chomping at the bit to plug it while his cohort Eric Corne has been pulling on the reins.  I do believe I will get the go-ahead soon.  I know I say seriously way too much, but seriously, you have to hear this guy to appreciate what I’m saying here.  His double-EP is going to turn some heads.  If you want a taste, here is a video which he calls his EPK (Electronic Press Kit).  Most of the music in the background are soundbytes from the new release.  Watch, listen and learn.

Bryce Larsen…..  I mince no meat.  I am a staunch Stealing Jane fan (and if you don’t think so, read my gushing review of their EP The Signal here).  Well, Bryce Larsen’s is the voice behind that band and he just completed a project of his own.  Titled Here’s To You, it captures not only the voice but the strong musical and lyrical content of Bryce’s music.  Coming soon…..

And that’s just the tip of the 2013 iceberg.  Nick Holmes, a musician I have an immense amount of respect for, has returned to the studio and hopefully will have new and old tracks available soon.  Brian Cullman promises the same (if you have not checked out his All Fires the Fire album, I heartily recommend it).  Lost Leaders (Peter Cole and Byron Issacs), after dragging their feet last year (well, it seemed like it anyway) are ready to run a few sprints which might lead to an album or at the least an EP.  Ollabelle‘s Glenn Patscha and Fiona McBain last year teamed up with Liz Tormes to form

The Big Bright and are releasing a new EP.  No Small Children just released their first project titled Dear Youth and it is kickass rock ‘n’ metal— well, maybe just hard rock.  It’s a killer of an EP, no matter what it is, and Lisa Parade has just announced the band’s return to the studio this year.  Freedom Hawk will be recording again soon, though their European tour might set them back a little, time-wise (you can help them get to Europe and back by handing them a few of your hard-earned bucks— hell, buy an album— one is available on vinyl, though the band just said that the numbers are getting low).  Jubal Lee Young is reportedly returning to his rock roots on his new album which should be available sometime in the next few months.  Rita Hosking, husband Sean Feder and daughter Kora recently came out of Rich Brotherton‘s studio with some new tracks which might be released soon.

What can I say?  This year promises to be a music fest of unheard-of proportions.  That’s why I say to hell with the major labels.  The Indies is where it’s happening!

Will Kimbrough Chimes In On Spotify…..

kimbroughLet me preface this by saying that there are few bigger fans of Will Kimbrough than myself.  I discovered him through the first Will & The Bushmen album and have followed his music since— through a long and involved series of personal and business developments.  He has emerged as a much sought after sideman, artist, producer and consultant.  The guy has worked in more studios than Carter has liver pills (I’ve always wanted to say that) and has earned my respect on many levels.  And he has, in a way, sided with Spotify.

One big question for 2013 is going to be the use or abuse of music as fodder for venture capitalists, for that is all the people who own and run the various digital music distribution services are— venture capitalists.  This will be a year of decision, if only the decision to revisit this supposed free society’s take on intellectual property.  Whereas the music industry and, in fact, the whole entertainment industry sided heavily with their rights to music and movies and descried all attempts to live at their trough, they have suddenly backtracked and decided that if they decide to hand the very music and entertainment that they “own” to certain vultures for a fee, they have that right.  And that opens a whole can of worms, for it is not just the sale of digital product at stake.  It is the very ownership of music and movies covered in the (as far as I know) yet-to-be-enacted Copyright Act of 1976.  If you think greedy bastards are going to be reasonable on anything which could adversely affect their pocketbooks, you don’t know greed.

nospotifyAlready, Pandora has released its pack of lobbyist wolves on the floors of the House and Senate asking for a review of payments for artists.  To my amazement, Senator Ron Wyden from my own state of Oregon has called for an investigation into not only what they claim as theirs but whether they have a claim at all.  After all, Spotify and Pandora and every other digital music “service” jumped into the pot without a legal recipe (ah, those wonderful loopholes) and the question from the beginning should have been do they have the rights to the music at all, whether signed over by large-corporations-acting-as-music-companies or not.  Like I said, toss in the legal quagmire that is The Copyright Act of 1976 and you have a stew of toil and trouble.

But Kimbrough, as a music fan, brings up a valid point.  He loves Spotify.  It allows him access to music, much of which he might otherwise miss.  He gets to relive Wet Willie moments and dig into archives heretofore not available to the public at all.  He writes:  “So I love the Spotify.  It allows me to explore African music.  Jamaican music.  Calypso.  Wet Willie’s Capricorn records.  Pretenders II, Bill Frisell’s entire catalog, Lee Konitz Duets, Lee Morgan, Art Blakey, Sonny Meets Hawk!, Jan Johannson…  Now I know what records I am saving up to buy and play on my Christmas turntable.”

I get it.  For the music nut, it’s a godsend.  And Kimbrough acknowledges that, but only after writing “As much of a ripoff streaming services like Spotify are for the writers and artists…it’s a goldmine for the music fan.”  Which points out the Jekyll and Hyde aspect to the question:  Music as easy grab bag, profits mostly (and when I say “mostly”, I’m saying “mostly” to the point of absurdity) going to venture capitalists?  Or music as intellectual property, possibly not “owned” by the artist but reasonable profits going to him or her or them?  Or maybe even owned by them and “leased” to music companies?

These are questions which need to be addressed and the sooner the better.  People who have read my columns regarding this issue know which side I am on.  I am somewhat of a purist.  I say to hell with all venture capitalists who want to become rich on the backs of art or anything else.  And yet, after months and months of research and debate, even I have my doubts.  Is it more important to be heard (though one has to wonder how many times Spotify-ists click on a true indie artist’s song) or otherwise?  Or is Spotify and its ilk just a lazy man’s way to the people?  Should musicians just give their music away?  Because, in essence, that is what Pandora is asking.

Which brings me to another question quite outside the realm of digital music.  Do musicians and artists even know how to promote themselves?  And what do they expect when they try?  Instant stardom a la Led Zeppelin?  Who among us is not living in a fantasy world when it comes to music?

gommfingerstyleHopefully, we can dig a little into those questions.  Will Kimbrough has a point (read the blog here).  But so did Jon Gomm when he pulled his music from the bloodsucking leeches at Spotify and spit in Simon Cowell’s eye when given a chance to be a Factor X.  If you don’t know who Gomm is, here is a link to a column which explains the whole Cowell thing (click here).  Anyway, here is what Gomm said when I contacted him about the reason behind pulling his music from Spotify:  “The biggest problem for me is that the major corporate labels have, as I understand it, bought up what amounts to a majority stake in Spotify, so they potentially will be paid whether their artists get paid or not.  I, as an independent artist, have made a decision to not be part of the mainstream industry for many reasons— artistic, financial and ethical— and the last thing I would choose to do now is to help fund them or legitimize them.  Indie artists on Spotify lend it a coolness, a cachet and a sense of ‘giving back’ to struggling artists whom sites like CDBaby and Bandcamp support.  Spotify does nothing towards deserving that as far as I can see.”  That’s a stance I can support.  You can read the whole column here.

I dunno, Will.  I love your music and respect the hell out of you, but when you embrace Spotify, you in my mind give up a certain amount of rights to your music and recompense for it.  On this point, and again in my mind, you can’t have both.  Unless I’m missing the point.  It wouldn’t be the first time.  If so, enlighten me.

And while I’m on the subject, more than a few musicians have questioned my stance on terrestrial radio vs. digital music services, claiming they are the same animal.  I disagree.  The one overriding factor is that you do not get to program radio.  You accept what they give you.  In my youth, that was a great thing.  Radio turned you on to music you had not yet heard.  They created a culture (or maybe it was a subculture).  Certain stations survived by bucking the accepted musical trends.  They found music and you got the feeling that they promoted it because they loved it as much as you did.  Spotify, though, is nothing more than a digital jukebox.  Drop your coin and listen.  Program your own sets.  The danger there is that even if you subscribe, you’re getting all of the music you want while the artists starve.  The exact music you want, assuming it is available through the site.  It is a radio sedative brewed from the sweat of slaves as far as I’m concerned.

Simply stated, we need to look at this whole question of intellectual property again.  At one time, the major labels were screaming for intellectual property boundaries because pirates and digital services were destroying their business.  With Spotify, they simply bought into it.  Have you heard any bitching from Universal or Sony?  I haven’t.   The thing is, you cannot define intellectual property to your advantage and then change that definition at will.  Or can you?  Those asshats seem to think you can.  Stay tuned.

And if you really want to read about the debate, click here.  It is background gold from the pages of tapeop.com.

Radio Vickers…..

darrell-vickersI have mentioned this in passing, but let me fill you in a little better.  Darrell Vickers, one of our fine DBAWIS contributors, is one huge vinyl freak and has this thing he does when he has time.  He digs into his voluminous record collection— and it is voluminous (look up the word if you don’t know what it means)— and fills us in on not only album jackets you wish you could unsee (and many you wish you could have) as well as music.  Some of it is so rare that even myself and my vinyl-blooded friends who have decades and decades of rooting through album bins behind them have never seen nor heard them.  And he hands it to us free.  Is it cool?  It is very cool.  You want that odd Jim Nabors album?  He has a few.  You want Beatles music played by bagpipes?  He has it.  You want Led Zeppelin played by a clown posse?  He probably has that too.  Just give him a day or two to find it.

Here is the thing.  I started piddling around, visiting some of the links he puts up.  I found old music I had forgotten about.  I saw album jackets I had never seen.  I found recent music I wanted to hear but knew nothing about.  His archives are so varied, you never know what you’ll find.  And when you find something, it is sometimes something you are thrilled at finding.

And you can scour his posts just like myself.  For free.  All you have to do is contact Darrell at his email address— radiovickers1@gmail.com— and request to be placed on his mailing list.  Then just scroll through his almost daily emails.  I tell you, the days you don’t find something amazing, even if only for kitsch value, will be few and far between.  And the most amazing thing is that Darrell uploads some of the music for download.  Free.  You can’t beat that with a stick.

Next week, I think I’ll fill you in on some other DBAWIS wonders.  Like Jaimie Vernon‘s outstanding blog on Canadian rock music or maybe the DBAWIS archives where you can read in depth and sometimes hilarious past happenings of those zany musicians Bob Segarini had to bail out of jail more than once (when he wasn’t in there with them).  And more.  I tell you, it’s like working in the old record store all over again.  What one person does not know, another one does.  I am one lucky sonofabitch to have these writers filling me in on the things I miss.  And pointing me toward the things I should not.

That’s radiovickers1@gmail.com.  If you want to dumpster dive with the insane and musically deprived.

For those of us not quite insane and with just enough mental wherewithal to make sense of this nonsensical world, I give you…..

Music Notes smallNotes…..  This is the way to start a New Year!  Old Californio, live!  A very cool video of one of my favorite bands.  Until I saw this, I swear to God I was having OC withdrawals.  Watch and listen here…..  Did someone say Skip Prokop?  I think it was DBAWIS‘s own Jaimie Vernon, actually.  He’s working on a bio of Prokop’s time spent in the music biz with bands like The Paupers and Lighthouse, among others.  This is one story I want to read.  Yesterday…..  What?  Another new Strawberry Alarm Clock video?  You bet!  Watch it here.  And if you’re one of those curmudgeons who write these guys off as one hit wonders, I give you the entire first album, Incense & Peppermints, as an example of one excellent and complete album!  Their new one, thadeusproject1Wake Up Where You Are, is another.  Great stuff…..  Friend and fellow Indie music enthusiast Deborah Millstein passed along a link to Thadeus Project, a couple of Chicagoans who have recorded a few outstanding tracks I have been listening to over and over again.  One, titled Heart of Mine, has a groove which has me thinking Classics IV updated.  Fearless has a Peter Gabriel/Phil Collins vibe.  These are nice, nice tracks.  You can hear them here.  You can thank Deborah.  And you’re welcome…..  More than a couple of my friends are watching Haroula Rose lately.  After seeing and hearing her video for Someday, I get it.  New music in the works?  Yep.  Look her up on the Net and check out her fundraising project to pre-order.  Until the new music is available, check out this cool video.  Man, I dig animation when it’s not done just for the animation…..  Thanks to Jim Caligiuri, I am listening to Madisons a lot lately.  They are a country-roots band of no mean stature, I guarantee you.  On the slower tracks, they remind me a bit of one of my favorite Austin bands, Georgian Company.  In fact, if not for the vocals, I would put Georgian Company‘s stamp on their song, Sweetwater.  It is a song of haunting beauty.  Hear it (and the rest of their brand new album) here……  If you want to know why I am always talking about major label personnel as asshats, I do not mean everyone who works for them.  Just most of them.  If you want a little behind-the-scenes look at what corporations are capable of, Dean Hajas has recorded and posted videos explaining how Sony took music created by him and co-opted it for themselves.  It may seem a bit slow, but watch this through all the way and take notes.  This is slime at the highest level.  This is not the only video, BTW.  You can check out the rest by clicking on his other vids.  Start here…..  And just to show you that copyrights right now depend upon how the lawyers line up, you might want to read this:  The Heated Copyright Debate Over a St. Louisan’s Power Pop Compilation.  Nothing like having ethics trampled by asshats…..  Lots of music heading to Portland.  I’m getting ready.  And by the way, Vinyl Watch, which I promised to start this column, has been postponed a week.  Seems like too many other things came up.  Bands— if you have a vinyl release and I think it is worthy, let me know about it.  I will only be writing about the albums worthy of my attention (according to me), but I am always ready to take a listen.  That’s vinyl, now.  Fans— you know of a band which has released vinyl recently, let me know about that.  I don’t need the record.  I just need a link to a streaming site.

=FGJ=

Frank’s column appears every Wednesday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS_ButtonFrank 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: It Has Barely Started and Already 2013 Is a Kickass Year…..”

  1. Dean Hajas Says:

    An ever evolving entity, the music industry is the “Lady we love”. Devoted to the magic of creativity, with the dreams and hopes of being recognized for our efforts, we give her our all, anticipating a late night call saying….”Play that one again, it’s my favourite”!

    Best to all my brothers and sisters who pursue music with blood, sweat and tears…..May 2013 bring you to an elevated place!

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