Frank Gutch Jr: Help! I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Reach My Turntable! featuring Jubal Lee Young, Anna Maria Rosales, Caitlin Canty and a Cast Of Thousands! oh, and notes too…..
Indiana Jones has nothing on me. That big rolling ball chasing him? That’s nothing compared to the mountain of carnivorous beasts chasing me in my dreams every night, each vying for that elusive review I promised what seems months ago. It is the music reviewers equivalent to no pants in the schoolroom, the albums fighting one another to get to me, to rip flesh from bone, to make me pay for what they see as vinyl manslaughter— vinylslaughter, if you will— an offense so terrible as to consign innocent artists and albums to a certain death, so vile as to blast dreams to smithereens, so ghastly as to be— well— ghastly.
It is a freaking mountain, I tell you, big enough to crush entire towns and even cities! So, without further ado, please allow me to at least fend off this music monster before it kills us all! That’s right. It is time to once again dig into the best music of the past few weeks and the immediate future. Let us start with…
Jubal Lee Young… I’ve been waiting for this since 2007, the year I “met” Jubal. I was interviewing him for a long piece I was doing on his dad, Steve Young (read his story here), and needed some familial input (I also interviewed his mother, Terrye Newkirk— more on her later). Jubal was just turning the corner then, tossing his hard rockin’ days under the bus in hopes a more lucrative style could provide a little better. That style, Jubal’s “roots” it turns out, has served him well but it has not been easy. It isn’t any for anyone out there these days unless you have the Carte Blanche card handed you by large corporations stocking the three million TV award shows for what is left of TV. For most musicians, it is the coffeehouse and bar circuit with a sidestep to summer music fests, if they’re lucky. That is where you will find Jubal and singing partner Amanda Preslar, but if this album is good as I think it is, they’re on the way up.
I’ve followed Jubal through four albums now— On a Dark Highway is the fifth— and can attest to the fact that Steve and Terrye’s little just keeps getting better. He always had a leaning toward country, probably thanks to his parents, but on earlier albums it seemed like he was tugging against the reins. They are good albums all, and some songs are outstanding, but Jubal seems to be finding himself on this one. He isn’t holding himself back for once. The whole album rides not just an energy but a wholeness, regardless of beat.
I would love to tell you that Jubal’s tributes to mother and father are the highlights of the album (he covers Newkirk’s beautiful My Oklahoma and Steve Young’s shitkicker The White Trash Song), but I can’t. Jubal steamrolled me with a string of tunes as good as any he’s written. Add the full band and superb background vocals and occasional full chorus (thank you, Thomm Jutz and Ms. Preslar, respectively) and some electrifying guitar work by ol’ Jubal and you have a stunner.
Earlier this year (or was it late last year) Jubal was telling me this would be worth the wait. At the very least, it is that. And he tells me he is a songwriting machine since he finished this one. Don’t stand downstream, folks, The dam has broke.
Anna Maria Rosales… This one caught me totally by surprise, but it shouldn’t have. Anna Maria has been linked with a whole circle of people in L.A. who have formed their own little scene. People like Adam Marsland, Todd Herfindal, Evie Sands, Grant Langston, and Rich McCulley, to name only a few. With people like that in your circle and the likes of Will Kimbrough, the aforementioned Herfindal and McCulley and a host of others adding their songwriting expertise, you might expect the album to be one of those sleepers you hear so much about once in awhile, albums much better than the media would allow, and such might be the case here. It might not be, though, because few albums I’ve heard recently cut through the chaff as well as this one.
For one thing, Rosales’ voice is exceptional in its simplicity. No vocal pyrotechnics needed here, sports fans. The songs are worthy in themselves and I have to believe that Rosales knows it. She lays back on the soulful Ain’t No Good In Goodbye (the Muscle-Shoal-sy brass giving her room), visits the pop side of late fifties ballad on Rust, channels Zoe Muth or at least someone of Muth’s caliber on Lie Me To Sleep, out-rocks Nashville on Burn a Hole In the Sky, and makes the pop-ish More To the Story so Los Angeles it freaks me out a little (there is more than a little Linda Ronstadt in her approach on some songs).
I don’t know what it is about this album, but it has jumped into the MP3 player and refuses to stop playing. If you want to know why, click on this.
Nick Hornbuckle… You may know that name. People in Seattle, anyway. Nick was the bass man for Seattle grunge band Son of Man back when grunge was in its infancy and if you don’t know of that band you haven’t been reading my column. SoM was a personal favorite and the band I picked to go someplace, but before that happened, they suffered a house fire which destroyed their equipment and more than likely some of their drive. They hung on but pretty much by their fingernails until the whole dream of rock stardom turned to dust— about the time Nirvana busted out and changed the whole music scene. They all went different directions, Brad Kok to Germany to form Pothead, a band of some renown in that country; Tal Goettling staying put and finally surfacing in the very impressive Lavacado; Nick to Canada to study his favorite instrument (yes, even in the grunge years), banjo; Top Jap to God knows where— Mike, his real name, and my only connection to the band until recent years.
Pardon my chuckle, but that was ol’ Nick himself on the right side of that stage (facing it) shaking those long locks and headbanging away and pounding out the beat with partner-in-crime Top Jap. Ah, those were good days.
I left Seattle around this time, returning to Oregon for personal reasons. I lost track of the band— indeed, all of the bands out of Seattle, the ones I knew anyway. The city exploded and bands came out of the woodwork, as it were— Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and Screaming Trees, the band which foisted Mark Lanegan on the world, among many others. Unfortunately, by then, Son of Man was no more. Not really. Opportunity missed? Or music tragedy? I think the latter.
Well over a decade later, I came across an album by John Reischman & The Jaybirds and noticed Nick’s name on the album jacket. Somehow, he had headed north and ended up on Vancouver Island, joining forces with Reischman and a handful of like-minded bluegrassers. Gone were the locks and the attitude. The new Nick Hornbuckle was all about the music as channeled through the banjo. I’m not sure if he considered it home or not, but it sure sounded like home to me.
Nick has a new album out which he titled 12X2(+/-1), a study in banjo, if you will. He covers a lot of territory, much of it what I would term “cinematic bluegrass” meaning music ready-made for the silver screen— background music for the deep mountain and prairie scenes. This isn’t on the album, but it will give you an idea.
When it comes to banjo, I guess it depends on whether you like the instrument or not. I prefer to think that what really matters is who plays it. Nick has a touch pleasing to my ear. After SoM, though, it might just be me. You can pick up his new CD/download here.
Caitlin Canty… I came upon Canty almost too late. I have this mantra as a writer— I only write about the artists who are fighting the uphill battle to (almost) no avail. It has taken her awhile, but Canty is ready to make the leap from virtual obscurity to artist of note. Tying up with Jeffrey Foucault alone has given her an edge she did not have previously, and to get him to put together a band and produce the new (impending) album was a coup and a half. Sure, I’m prejudiced. I hear touches of Chloe Albert in her writing and that is a good thing. Here is a video from a few years ago which captures what she does best.
Nice stuff, right? Well, hold onto your hats because she is at present kickstarting the new album and a tour. Watch this video all the way through. Listen to the music. If this doesn’t put her on the music map, I don’t know what will. Click here! Trust me. I am doing you a favor. And you’re welcome.
Ben Rabb… In the midst of this mountain of new releases I always expect the best to surface on their own but admit to being lost in the forest at times. It took Rabb’s PR people to hammer me about his album for me to finally take a few minutes out of my scheduled routine to listen. That few minutes turned into half a day. I am fascinated by the voice, a cross between favorites Danny Schmidt (who also has a fundraising campaign going on right now— click here) and Greg Laswell with a look back to the likes of the seventies’ Jim Dawson and Bill Puka— a voice with a soft but obvious texture.
The studio version of the song adds a piano and with it comes a real depth, but when you consider the voice, it is enough. As with Jubal Young’s album, Until It’s Gone, a six-song mini-LP, hits the street on 9/16. Preview a couple of the songs here. If you don’t hear it, you’re not listening.
Rebecca Pidgeon… Had I not been invited to see Marc Cohn at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, Oregon a couple of years ago, I would more than likely still be ignorant of the fact that Rebecca Pidgeon the actor is also Rebecca Pidgeon the musician. I was probably the only person at that show who not know it and I was entranced. The leap from actor to musician was not a large one, her attitude toward her music as real as any struggling artist. It was a good show, especially her closing song, long in comparison to the others, on the verge of breaking out at any time. I remember thinking that she needed a band. She now has one.
Whether the band be The Rebecca Pidgeon Band or Bad Poetry is of no consequence— in my somnambulistic states I have heard both. The music is there. Oh, it was always there (Ms. Pidgeon has a number of albums to her credit), but it didn’t really sink in until a video showed up on YouTube, a song titled Love Is Cocaine. It was live and vibrant and perhaps not of professional quality, but the performance captured my ear and would not let go. I wrote to Ms. Pidgeon, begging for a fifteen minute version, ten of it an instrumental jam, but I am sure she already had the album in the works and more than likely had already put the song on tape, as it were.
She has titled the album Bad Poetry and I am awaiting a chance to hear the rest of the album (which hits the street October 7th, by the way), but am happy enough with Love Is Cocaine until that happens. I know some of you have already seen the videos, but many haven’t. Watch the videos and mark the date on your calendars. October 7th. This could be the album which solidifies Rebecca Pidgeon as a musical force.
Fisher… or maybe Fisher the Band, their moniker on the various social media sites just because of the name. Ever try to search Fisher on the Net? You have to wade through thousands to get to the band. Which in a way upsets me. Of all the Fishers out there, the band is the number one priority of anyone into music and why should it be buried beneath a ton of information about Fisher this and Fisher that? Gasp. I find it hard to breathe when I see how unwieldy the Internet can be.
The video is a very early one for the “band” (to my knowledge, it mainly consists of Kathleen Fisher and musical jack-of-all-trades Ron Wasserman) but was my introduction to their music and I was hooked. I was awash in emotions and watched it a few times before moving on, though I return to it when I need a breath and a grounding.
Their last album floored me, a mixture of the surreal and beautiful. One song in particular caught my ear, a song titled Water Burial, a song about maybe the vagaries of death, or so I tend to think. (Listen here) Their new album, Fisher 3 (or would that just be 3, Mr. Wasserman?) is available as I type. I have heard it and it’s a beaut. You can sample the music here, before purchasing, of course.
Social Strife… Bobby Gottesman over at I Can’t Believe My Earz is unfolding a label (I knew him when he was just a pup and unable to think that big). First up are the hard rockin’ Social Strife, fronted by madman Sean Farro, a ball of what you might think volcanic activity. In actuality, Farro is one of only a few musicians who spends as much time promoting others’ music as he does his own. The label is slowly unveiling the tracks from the album and, yes, you can hear them by clicking here. The thing about The Strife, as Farro and guitarist Terry Doucette are wont to point out, is that their music reflects the world around them, not all of it good. They are in-your-face as much as anything. Something tells me that their live shows are downright scary. May the gods have mercy on our souls…..
Carl Anderson… is one talented SOB and I don’t care who hears me say it. His recent move to Nashville is a positive one, I hope (and believe), as he hopes to make more of an impact on the music lords. If you’ve heard his Wolftown album, you know how talented he is. At present, he is shopping his latest entry, Risk of Loss, an album which to my ears carries Wolftown a step further. Everything is there— voice, production, songwriting, and some of the best musicians Charlottesville and surrounding areas could provide. If Carl had actually set a release date, he would be toward the top of this column. Unfortunately, we all have to wait a bit. No worries, though. From what I have heard, this is an album well worth waiting for. Damn, but I love Charlottesville! With Carl there, I might even make some concessions toward Nashville, provided that city give him the proper amount of respect.
Brian Cullman… is culling things back a little for his new album, at least from what I am hearing from a few of his demo tracks. A bit more down home. A bit more basic. I embraced his All Fires the Fire album with open arms (read my take here), the production values perfect for what I consider a major release. Perfect for that collection of songs, but best left behind for the more personal approach. Cullman has changed. The times have changed. What we will get, as soon as he is finished, is a more personal look at Brian Cullman, musician, rather than Brian Cullman, musician and producer (the combination was almost overwhelming and I loved it, but, as with most musicians, you can only do that once— okay, maybe twice). The focus is more on the songwriter and performer this time, as it should be. If you’re not a fan of Brian Cullman or just don’t know his music, you should track down his songs on the social media. Stay tuned. I will pass along more info as it becomes available.
Jason Tyler Burton… I really haven’t had enough time to really absorb Burton’s Headwaters yet but I already know it’s solid. Songwriting aside (which is quite exceptional), he has an aura about him, probably thanks to his arrangements and slightly warbling voice. Had this album been released in the early seventies, there is no doubt in my mind that he would right now be a legend of sorts. The kind Steve Goodman and John Prine became. Or Michael Dinner or Jim Post or a host of others who are just now getting the respect they should have had when their albums were released— you know, when most people were still enamored of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin (like, yesterday, I guess).
I feel like I have only scratched the surface. I wanted to include Shawn Smith and Random & the Subsets and Lines West and so many more, but I could not give them the writeups they deserve if I did it now. Hopefully, soon. Time to eat, anyway. So let us move on. Next up…
Notes….. This one is for people who are fascinated by the process of recording and making music. Unkovr.com interviews recording/mixing/mastering engineer Sheldon Gomberg. Sheldon is responsible for a number of albums (well, not totally responsible), including the classic Sweet Relief III album he put together for charity. About ten minutes in, he talks about projects he is working on presently. Names you should know.
And seriously, there are some very interesting things to check out at the site. That’s Unkovr.com.
One of these days, I am going to put together a Texas-oriented special edition column. That State, in spite of its political status (Have you ever seen so many soulless politicians in one State?), is the home plate of so many musical home runs it makes my head spin. I just stumbled upon this beauty of a music video from just one of Texas’s many outstanding bands, Churchwood. This is intense stuff, sports fans, and artistically advanced. New album pending (Thank the gods!).
I talk about Gary Heffern a lot because the man has had a fascinating life, at the very least. I knew him when he was a kid threatening to foist rock ‘n’ roll and punk on the world in the name of justice. I rejoice in his successes and his failures, of which he has had many. His life should be made into a movie. This radio broadcast, posted by Gary, is long (about two hours) but is worth every minute. Music, conversation, rock history. You get it all. Do yourself a favor. Next time you want to lay back with a cup of coffee (or brew of choice) and hear Gary wax nostalgia (tell his and other peoples stories), click on this puppy and be ready to be entertained. (click here)
As time passes, so do many of my brain cells. I had somehow completely forgotten Marky Ramones‘ existence in music before The Ramones, but good friend John Hicks reminded me of his drumming with one of my early hard rocking favorites, Dust. Then known as Marc Bell, Marky pounded the skins to, erm, dust, giving (along with bassist Kenny Aaronson) Richie Wise plenty of drive and room to shred. Here is a picture of Marky, Linda Haynes Sylvander (who lit up the silver screens under the moniker Linda Haynes), and ol’ Hicks his own self. Hicks told me that when this picture was taken, the conversation pretty much centered on the Dust days.
Few musicians these days channel the fifties and early sixties better than Canada’s Miss Quincy. She’s one of the few who venture into the Northwest Territories, too. God knows how she gets her equipment up there. Pack train or snowmobile, I guess. Seriously. This lady is pure class. (And I love her guitar)
Someone with deep, pockets needs to connect with Edmonton’s Chloe Albert. She’s been a bit isolated up north and could be spreading the musical joy here in the States and other places. Here she is performing a couple of songs on Edmonton Unplugged. One of the best songwriters I know.
When I get fatigued and music is not having much of an impact, I look up videos like this one by The Curtis Mayflower. They somehow channeled the aura of Oami, a band which put out one album and split up for a number of years before reforming for last year’s tour. Check out Oami’s Day In the City here after watching the vid and you will understand.
Dave Pyles over at the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange is always digging good things up for us to hear, but this may be his best yet. When the music flows this smoothly, it is like a force of nature.
Speaking of Lavacado, we were, you know, here is a video of the band in Robert Lang Studios. That voice you hear is the one which placed Son of Man on my list of can’t miss’s back in the late-eighties/early nineties. And they didn’t. Miss, that is. In my head, anyway.
And speaking of the Alladin Theater in Portland, they have announced that the legendary Hot Rize and hopefully their faithful sidekicks Red Knuckles & The Trail Blazers are scheduled to amaze the Rose City with their exceptional music on December 11th. I might show for this one, having been enamored of the music for years. They don’t tour that often, sports fans. It might even be worth a flight in if you happen to live elsewhere (and have deep pockets). Here’s a taste.
This just in. Drummer for Research Turtles and The Flamethrowers, Chad Townsend, debuted his band Calming Agent at the Luna in Lake Charles recently. Here is proof positive that the man can do more than pound skins. I’m impressed!
And speaking of Son of Man (man, there is a lot of speaking going on around here, eh?), Tal Goettling has just informed me that there is a strong possibility that SoM will be playing a couple of reunion gigs this late Fall/early Winter. Brad Kok is looking to wing his way stateside for a show in Seattle and possibly one in Portland. Pac Northwesterners, keep your eyes open. As soon as dates are confirmed, I will be blitzing the media with information.
I don’t want to say things are going to hell, but things are going to hell. I just found out the RC A Studio A, in business recently as Ben Folds Studio, is facing the wrecking ball. David Bullock (Space Opera) just notified us all that the studio he had recently used to record his upcoming solo EP is scheduled to be destroyed. Man, a lot of talent has gone through that building. A lot!!! In Bullock’s words, “RCA Studio A in Nashville, aka Ben Folds Studio, aka Grand Victor Sound. Soon to be demolished because the music industry is vanishing.” The music industry as I have always known it, anyway. Thank the gods that the music itself is harder to destroy. Here are pictures of the control room and studio taken by Patrick Granado. Pictures for the encyclopediae, I guess. Sigh.
Frank’s column appears every Tuesday
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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.”
This entry was posted on September 16, 2014 at 2:55 pm and is filed under Opinion with tags Amanda Preslar, Anna Maria Rosales, Ben Folds Studio, Ben Rabb, Bob Segarini, bobby gottesman, Brian Cullman, Caitlin Canty, Calming Agent, carl anderson, Chad Townsend, Chloe Albert, Churchwood, DBAWIS, Don't Believe a Word I Say, Fisher, Frank Gutch Jr., gary heffern, Hot Rize, Indie Artists, Indie Music, James Tyler Burton, John Reischman, Jubal Lee Young, Lavacado, Marky Ramone, music, music videos, Nick Hornbuckle, rebecca pidgeon, Records, Research Turtles, Sheldon Gomberg, Social Strife, Son of Man, Steve Young, Terrye Newkirk, Unkovr.com. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.