Frank Gutch Jr: Lavacado, The Pick Brothers, Buster, Edie Carey & Sarah Sample, and Jenn Lindsay— It Ain’t All Hard Day’s Night & Pink Floyd Out There, Folks…..

FrankJr2Again, my column has been waylaid.  There is something in my universe which gets in the way of every other column I sit down to write.  This time it has to do with my favorite of the grunge bands in Seattle back when grunge was just a child— Son of Man.  I think that band and Screaming Trees were the only bands I paid close attention to back then, at least when it came to the up-and-comers.  Each had a certain undefinable something which made me sit up and listen.  Each has held up well as the years have passed.  One day I will post a list of my very favorite albums over the years and the Trees’ Sweet Oblivion will be there as will the lost “album” of Son of Man— I say lost because I am not really sure whether an album was the intention, they being handed to me on cassette as “demos”.

sonofman 001Demos or not, what Son of Man put on tape (I am old enough to get away with that because when I started in the music business, everything was “on tape”) was what I wanted to hear and the fact that the band achieved neither record label nor the fame they should have means little to my attachment to their music.  I didn’t mind Nirvana nor Mudhoney nor Soundgarden nor any of the plethora of the later bands which came out of the music scene of those days— Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam among them.  I liked those bands well enough.  But I loved Son of Man.  Enough to have written this in a column from April of 2012:

While most people in Seattle were jumping on the grunge bandwagon because of Mudhoney and Soundgarden and Nirvana, I was listening to Son of Man.  Their drummer, Top Jap (damn, why can’t I remember the cat’s real name?), worked at Peaches with me and I kept bugging him about this band he talked about all the time and he brought a tape in one day for me to hear and I was knocked out!  I don’t know if they were grunge or not, truth be told, because I had never heard grunge that I knew as such before, except Nirvana, which I couldn’t get away from.  Not that I might not have liked them all.  I had just heard enough about it that by the time the music surfaced for listening, I was done.  Music is sometimes like movies to me.  If everyone likes it, I figure it can’t be worth a shit.

sonofmanpicsleeve 001Well, not everyone liked Son of Man.  Chalk that up to their never having released anything outside of a single, as far as I know.  That single (The Dummy and Me b/w Temporary Altercations) is one of my great treasures, but even more of a treasure are the demo tracks I somehow got my hands on.  One is an actual demo tape which was being passed around in hopes of a label deal.  Five tracks and an insert with basic contact information.  1990.  This was official.  Two of the tracks are sides of the single.  The other three— Electrolux, Come In, and Can’t See Me There— are lost to the ages.  Except for the few remaining cassettes out there somewhere.  I love this band.  I was seriously considering sending the tape to one of my remaining record label friends.  But the band broke up.

Damn it!!!!!

Now, I have a few other tracks as well.  Don’t ask me how I got them because I don’t remember.  Someone, assumedly Top Jap, but not necessarily, gave me a tape of The ReplacementsDon’t Tell a Soul and on the B-Side, there are seven Son of Man tracks.  Come In and Electrolux are there, but there are five more— five beautiesThis is the Son of Man I really love!  Security Force, Lucky Dave, Bound In Chains, Slick Willie, and Hard LifeHard Life, especially.  It is crunch to the nth degree.

Yes, I will digitize this soon.  This and the others.  I am afraid something will happen to the tapes— that they will somehow be erased during a thunderstorm or will get chewed up.  I have very seldom played them for that very reason.  These are rare.

And I did digitize them.  I was deathly afraid that one day I would put the tape into the machine and that would be that.  I couldn’t take that chance.  So I sent them to good pal Mike Marino‘s beautiful wife Suzi Creemcheez (I spell it different every time because no one calls her that except Mike and myself— she’s special) and she put the songs on disc.  I will be forever grateful for that.

But back to Son of Man.  Whilst winging my way through Facebook this morning, manna from Heaven appeared.  Check this out.  And turn it up!

lavacadoIt is great seeing this after all of the intervening years, but there is even more good news attached.  Vocalist Tal Goettling is once again (?) fronting a band!  That signature voice now fronts a combo calling themselves Lavacado.  A couple of days before the posting of the SoM video, I received a message from Tal with a link to Lavacado’s music on Soundcloud.  Only four tracks, but four good tracks.  He even mentioned playing The Sunset or some such venue in Seattle and if I lived anywhere near I would have been there early, but…  Oregon is a good place to live.  I guess.  Damn!

You can hear  the songs here.

I like the direction.  Just enough bedrock for the nuances to kick in.  My favorite?  “Elephant’s Eye” for the all-too-short-but-needs-to-be-that-way harmonies.  Funny how little things can make all the difference.

Meanwhile, over the waters, ex-SoM guitarist Brad Kok continues on with Pothead, a band he founded some years ago.  The band has quite a bit of cool merch available (click here) and, of course, there is the music.  These guys are rockin’.  If you don’t believe me, watch this:

The Pick Brothers…

Of all the syndromes in music, The “band masquerading as a band” is one of my favorites and good buddy Bobby Gottesman over at I Can’t Believe My Earz found a good one in the form of The Pick Brothers.  He sent me a note simply saying “you might want to hear this” and it turns out I did.  These guys are pure adventures-in-music and I’m digging the hell out of them.  I am working my way through the fourth listen right now and am just beginning to separate the layers.  Four times through and I’m still not sure just how good these guys are, but I know they’re good.

pickbrothersWhen I first went to their Soundcloud page, the first track I heard was Moonlight, a loose jazzy rock number with a whole lot of god-knows-what-all in there.  It was riffy as hell and changed time signatures every eight or so beats, it seemed, and I was intrigued, to say the least.  By the time it ended, I was hooked, and I wasn’t even sure just what the hell I had heard.  As I worked my way through the rest of the songs, I was surprised at the number of influences— ska, jazz, theater, rock which seemed as much delirium as rock, funk, folk and every other genre I could think of.  It seemed as if there was too much packed into too little or something.  But the more I listened, the more I heard and found the activity among the instruments fascinating.  I love this kind of stuff— the beats changing and yet staying the same, the instruments weaving around one another at will, the sounds.  My God, the sounds!  The tones of the saxes and guitar, the tuning of the drums, the bedrock beat of the bass.  At moments they come all together and then seem to take off in different directions, each one of them, only to return when they’re ready.  I mean, they separate enough to be on different planets at times.

My favorites (and the tracks you should start with if you decide to follow the link I will give you at the end of this segment) are the aforementioned Moonlight (which is already sinking its hooks deep into my musical cortex), Hey Sugar! (an upbeat rocker with a beat I can get behind— vocals are pretty cool too), the title track of the album (Pink Lemonade)which is an odd lounge version of spaghetti western music or something (that, in this case, is hardly a bad thing), and Circles, which sounds like an experimental rock band’s attempt at Mexican Rock.  Okay.  Maybe not.

If I told you that they are as impressive for their looseness as well as tightness, would that help?  Probably not.  Well, what can I say?  The Pick Brothers, who are from Toronto by the way, impress the hell out of me.  If you follow this link, follow it with an open mind and some time on your hands because this isn’t AM rock.  Click here to experience the madness.  And if you like it, you might want to check out I Can’t Believe My Earz (click here).  Bobby and Rosie are doing a bangup job finding the odd but worthy and are now streaming full albums as well as playing videos.

Listen, Buster!

I can tell you why I follow these guys— Phoebe Bridgers.  Not that the whole band is not worth listening to.  It’s just that I found  Bridgers a few years ago when she was a young pup and have followed her since.  She’s got talent and has grown tremendously since her early days and is still growing.  When she announced that she was joining this  band, I was not really all that pleased.  She was having a solid run.  But after hearing the seven songs on their bandcamp page, my mind is at ease.  There is always room for another smooth country rock band in my life and this one is impressive.  Nothing new but done well enough that I would cross town to see them live.  You can hear them here.

Phoebe has her own bandcamp page which I had heard before the Buster page was up.  There is something in her voice…..  click here to listen.

Edie Carey & Sarah Sample

careysampleI am a sucker for smooth female vocals, especially on ballads and lullabies, and these ladies give you plenty on this album.  At first, I thought it was an album of childrens songs, and I suppose it could be considered so depending upon who you talkto, but the songs on ‘Til the Morning are as adult as they come.  In this case, it is a matter of song choices as originals, though Edie and Sarah did record a few of their own.  Covered are songs recorded by The Dixie Chicks, Wilco, Townes Van Zandt and others, all honed to vocal perfection.  At times, these ladies remind me of Dala, and anyone who knows me knows what a compliment that is.  Beautiful, always slow and smooth, this is a perfect three-in-the-morning-winding-down album or maybe one to use when the baby is irritated.

I had heard of Edie, of course, and Sarah and I go way back to her 2007 release, Never Close Enough (click here to read my review), but I would never have thought that they would record as a duo.  Like Dala, though, they seem to have been born to sing together.  They sing like angels, my father would say if he was still with us.  He would know.  He loved female harmonies more than anyone I have ever known.

Jenn Lindsay…

jennlindsay10I received a letter from Jenn Lindsay in the press kit she sent me for her new album, Allora Eccola.  I needed it.  It reminded me why I do what I do, all of this writing and screaming and yelling and whatever else I have to do to get music fans to pay attention.  When I started in retail records, I did the same thing but that was personal in quite a different way because I could play the music and use my wiles to get people to listen.  Now, writing, there is a bit of a disconnect with readers.  A lot of the time I feel like the midnight-to-six radio disc jockey— wondering if anyone is listening and hanging on to the two phone calls they get between four and six in the morning making them feel that maybe it is not all in vain.  I got Jenn’s letter at 4 AM.  Someone is listening.

Maybe it’s the artist I just wrote about but what do I care.  The response is what is necessary— from anyone—- because you can’t keep doing what I do or Jenn does without having some sort of feedback.  It doesn’t work that way.  Unless, of course, you’re some sort of psychopath or sociopath or one of those other paths less taken.

Thank you for writing about my music over the years, she wrote.  Over the fourteen years since I started writing music and releasing albums, it sometimes feels like it is all going into a black hole, and it is cool to know it actually reaches appreciative human ears. 

This album is definitely in the category of “black holes” as far as my oeuvre goes.  My last album, Prospect Hearts, came out in June 2011 as I was leaving NYC after ten years of living there and trying to be a professional musician— playing shows, working stupid jobs to support the next album release or tour, racking my brain to discover the magical connection which seemed to launch many of my friends (Regina Spektor, Nellie McKay, Kimya Dawson) into the stratosphere, into the elusive music career.  I never seemed to find it and my endless years of plotting began to weigh down the rewards of that one-hour set or the joyful process of recording.  So I finished what I thought would be my last album, applied to PhD programs and moved to Boston to embark on something that was a little more inside the box than being a starving artist in NYC.

I chuckle, but only because one of my comments to various musicians over the years, always stated tongue-in-cheek, was “don’t give up your day job.”

Jenn spent three years at Boston University working towards her doctorate.  When she needed to, she fell back into her music, finding comfort in its human warmth.  She ended up with ten songs— well, ten songs that she wanted to put on record— so she recorded them by herself in her study where I also write boring, bloodless papers about Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim and prepare lesson plans on Taoism and the history of Western Anti-semitism.  I like doing those things too, but I found while recording this album that if I am not making art, I get seriously out of whack.  Making this album was my rejuvenation and re-humanization project after being immersed for too long in the disappointing world of academia.  I haven’t played a show in a very, very long time.  For so long this was such a fundamental part of me that I feel, in both the music and academic worlds, that I am having an out-of-body experience.  I understand now that my mission is to integrate these two parts of my life— the artistic and the scholarly, the transcendent and the worldly.  That process is Allora Eccola— my attempt at being a whole person.

jennlindsayShe succeeds.  Allora Eccola is human enough to satisfy me many times over, the songs warm to the touch, the melodies and harmonies foremost.  I have always found her voice pleasant and alluring, but on this album it is moreso.  She is less political and more introspective.  She sings what she feels.

She named the album Allora Eccola for good reason, too.

I am not a native Italian speaker, she wrote, but I have always loved the country and the language.  There are many words that I think sound so incredibly beautiful, regardless of meaning.  Some of my favorite Italian words are abbigliamento (clothing), migliorando (improving), spazzatura (trash), gioielleria (jewelry store), reggiseno (bra), and pipistrello (bat).  But my absolute two most favorite Italian words are allora (well…) and eccola (here she is!).

I, being a writer, love words and when they fall into place like that….. well…..

Jenn will be living in Italy for the next year doing field work for her doctorate.  No doubt she will pull out her guitar on occasion to fend off the pressures of academia.  I don’t think she will ever be able to not make music.

I leave you with two videos she recorded, most likely in her study— just her and her guitar.  Both songs are off the new album.  One that I really hope avoids the dreaded black hole.

And just so you know, the first album I ever heard from her was handed me by Dave Pyles who runs the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange website.  Titled Uphill Both Ways, it is a rollercoaster ride of New Wave and Pop.  You can read the review here.

Music Notes smallNotes….. How cool is this?  I have been following Texas chanteuse Kristy Kruger for a handful of years now and have never seen a real offical-like video.  Well, here it is and it’s a beaut!  If you know her music at all, you know that she writes and sings in a plethora of genres.  One of her strengths is her ability to pull ideas from the past and incorporate them into the present.  It is great to see her back (she took a short hiatus) and recording again!

Have I posted this before?  This is very reminiscent (for me) of a small number of bands from the late 60s and early 70s— bands which always fascinated me— The Flock, High Tide— you know, the fringe bands.  They are called Teach Me Equals and are looking to put their album on vinyl.  Check it (them) out.

This one is about the videographer(s).  I am proud to say that I know her— or know her parents.  I love it when kids get creative.  This started out as a short film, but altered to music video because it fit the subject matter better.  Put together by Tess Berger.


Frank’s column appears every Tuesday

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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: Lavacado, The Pick Brothers, Buster, Edie Carey & Sarah Sample, and Jenn Lindsay— It Ain’t All Hard Day’s Night & Pink Floyd Out There, Folks…..”

  1. Dude, I have BUKO S.O.M. audio cassette tapes along with a bunch of live video. I may actually get around to digitizing it some day.

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