Caustic Eye new release roundup

Nobody has been more important to us in our efforts to cover local bands than Rod Lanham at Caustic Eye Productions. He's worked with all kinds of cool bands, designing art and running duplications and even giving out their CDs at release shows.

Because of his hard work, we've been getting the CDs for a few years running now. We recently got a mother lode of sorts in the mail; the recently released Bad Employees effort Looking For Werk, the Bud Carroll & the Southern Souls/Demon Beat split single, and Luke Jivetalker frontman Kevin Arbogast's debut, Soul Singin'.

Huntington's Bad Employees (Andy Rivas/John McComas) have released their eight-song LBA Records debut, Looking For Werk, a CD we've been looking forward to hearing.

On songs like "San Jose," "Always Down" (w/bass by Broadmoor's Russ Fox), "Bad Employee" and "Watching the World Explode" Bad Employees display nods to Chemical Bros. and maybe Crystal Method in the music, but with McComas' guitar-driven half on the songwriting end, singing, Bad Employees aren't the kind of electronic bands that don't feature vocals, or only rarely.

The standout track is the acoustic-synth driven "I Will Believe," with the acoustic and Moog sounding synth, something that sounds like Weezer and The Rentals merged. Totally catchy radio hit.

It's great to hear more cool local electronic bands; the Rivas (programming) and McComas (guitar/vocals) combination, together for a few years now at this point, is exciting. And we'd love to see these guys live, where they run video behind them. We look forward to hearing more from these guys and seeing what musical directions they take.

The Bud Carroll & the Southern Souls half of the split single has the previously unreleased tracks "Whatever Gets You Through The Night" and "It's All Over But The Crying" and features guest vocals by John Lancaster (Chum/Earth To Eros) and Jeff Ellis.

Recorded by Carroll himself and mastered, like Looking For Werk, at The MusicPlex in Huntington, the pair of songs give you a nice feel of where the Huntington-based neo blues group is now, and with the addition of Jon Cavendish on keys/guitar, what was a trio is now a quartet and seems to have taken the literal next step to the proverbial big time, with an overall fuller sound to complement Carroll's voice and riffage.

You can also listen to previously unreleased Carroll songs "You Don't Have to Walk Alone," the uptempo Wilco-esque rocker "That's All She Wrote," (a certified hit that'll have these dudes wearin' gold plated diapers) and "She Got It From Me" on the band's MySpace.

We already knew that Carroll was a phenom, and now, with the new tunes, the Souls simply need the right person to hear their music and put 'em on bigtime. Really, to see these guys playing on Saturday Night Live would be neither disappointing nor, judging by bands the show has had on recently, surprising; they're that good.

The Demon Beat half of the Caustic Eye split single also has previously unreleased tunes and probably one of the most kickass songs we've heard all year, and one destined for infamy in our Top Songs of 2009 (if we make it that far), the frenetic, overdriven, killer-solo-having "This Is No Fun," a song we'd compare simply to "Search and Destroy" by The Stooges.

Really, this Shepherdstown trio has put out two EPs and to this point they've never gone in this kind of a punk direction. We put the CD in and all doubt was removed; these guys rock.

mp3: "This Is No Fun" by The Demon Beat
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"You Only Love Me When You're Stoned" is a sullen, broken-hearted guitar rock ballad that sounds like something you'd hear Bud Carroll playing.

"I dont know what to do, I'm so in love with you/There's nothing to show, no place to go/You only love me when you're stoned," frontman Adam Meisterhans laments before going into one of the soulful, soaring solos on the song. Great song.

That's one of the best things about the two bands on the split release; while they're not carbon copys of each other's style, they're both blues-based rock bands that get whatever "it" is when it comes to rock and roll, so it's a nice fit. The Demon Beat tunes were ably (and hastily) recorded by Brian Spragg of It's Birds in his Morgantown studio, the results are five-star.

Quite possibly the coolest thing about the split single is that the CD looks an old vinyl '45, with actual grooves. Super cool. We'd looked forward to hearing this, and would love to see more bands team up on split singles. Apparently the two bands had a good time splitting home-and-home release shows in Shepherdstown and Huntington, bringing their tunes to the masses. Kudos to all involved for getting this out.

While we weren't expecting Soul Singin' (it was released in December) it wasn't something we cringed at. The 12-song debut effort from Luke Jivetalker frontman Kevin Arbogast offers us a nice, funky vibe for the home office here. It helps, because in these times we're freaking out all the time what with today's current events.

Fans of Luke Jivetalker will also dig Arbogast's solo output. Arbogast welcomes a slew of talented guest musicians and formerand current bandmates of Arbogast from his Mother Tucker Trio days on the CD. And although this isn't the kind of music we're rocking out all the time, we just may end up being way more funk than you, thanks to Rod.

And that's the thing about Lanham and Caustic Eye; he's helped area bands covering a wide spectrum of styles get their music out. From Bud Carroll and Burt Reynolds (Death Metal) to Jeff Ellis and Jivetalker, Lanham's exposed not just us, but area fans to a lot of cool bands.

Don't let people tell you there's nothing going on when it comes to local music, you just have to be receptive and look for it. Check out the bands and kudos to Caustic Eye.

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