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.


Pre-order "Guitarmageddon"

Huntington's Black Knots just announced that you can purchase their upcoming, not yet even released CD Guitarmageddon at Dead Beat Records.

They're having the CD release shows at the end of May, but you can take advantage and get your copy early. Very much looking forward to rocking this out.

Related: our footage of the Knots we got a few months back


The Gentlemen CD release 5.9

Morgantown's Celt-punx The Gentlemen will be releasing their new CD Stick To Your Guns Saturday May 9th at 123 Pleasant Street in Magic Town. It's not too far off.

You've heard us tell you to check out their rockin' video for their cover of "Country Roads," and them covering The Vandals' "Oi To the World" over the holidays, and now we're getting the pre-emptive word out about the effort.

Will we get a copy? The answer remains unclear. Are we using quotation marks or italicizing CD names? We can't keep track.

What is clear, however, is that The Gentlemen are one of the most kickass bands around, they're way more Irish than you, and you should check 'em out.


The Resonators EP

There's apparently something in the water out Shepherdstown way. And, yes, Shepherdstown is in West Virginia, and hearing the four-song EP from this Skull City trio makes us glad it is.

The Resonators, much like their Shepherdstown peers in The Demon Beat, have a quirky yet powerful, catchy, throwback rock and roll style, and both are influenced by Kings of Leon (a band we're not familiar with) and Weezer (one we are).

Songs like "Wishful Thinking," "Gun For Hire," and "Confessions and Lies" lay the rock down and let you in on what The Resonators are doing out there; most notably, rocking, and drinking the same tap water.

Demon Beat guitarist Adam "Mutton Chop" Meisterhans recorded, engineered, and mixed the effort in the Big Bullet studio, kudos to him for that, and drummer Jordan Hudkins did the art, as he does for the Beat.

This is a good start for these guys. Check 'em out online or live if you're out that way.


PawnShop crowns "King of the Hills" Saturday

To help celebrate their one-year anniversary, PawnShop Skateboards owner Brian Carr wanted to do something big. In the year since he started PawnShop out of an actual pawn shop, Pawn Max in Chesapeake, Carr, an old-school skater himself, has introduced a skate team, their own line of decks and merch, a skate park, held several lock-ins, and this Saturday, will hold the “King of the Hills” skate contest, featuring over 40 local and out-of-state skaters.

For Carr, it was a no-brainer to bring a contest this size to town.

“I wanted to throw an event like this annually to get West Virginia on the skateboarding map,” Carr said.

“I originally had planned it to be open only to West Virginia residents, but too many emails came in from people in the region and some states farther away to not let them come. So it is now open to whomever that wants to come. We have guys coming from Ohio, Maryland, Florida, and New York that I know of.”

At of the start of the week, over four dozen contestants had already pre-registered, but Carr expects more. “I imagine most of the contestants will register the day of the competition. Looking to have a pretty large turnout.”

For a small store, now with its own skatepark headquarters, PawnShop has taken on a bit of a cross-country fan base, and its most recently added skate team member, young Anthony Rifici from New York City, will be attending the contest Saturday afternoon.

“We are flying him in for the contest this weekend,” Carr said.

PawnShop has recently set up what they’re calling PawnShop TV, which will simulcast the event Saturday via the web.

“We are totally stoked to have this up and running. I just had a guy call me from L.A. asking about details for the webcast; he and some friends are interested in watching it since they couldn’t be here. We are also recording weekly montages of trick tips, how-to’s, and various comedic stuff to add to the page weekly to keep everyone entertained.”

So, from NYC to L.A., PawnShop has been getting noticed, and Carr said their success can be chalked up to good old fashioned West Virginia hard work.

“The team has been practicing up indoors at our park all winter. We will be dropping a PawnShop video sometime after summer. We will be working hard all spring and summer on that.”

Hard work and fun. Carr said the lock-ins have been just that.

“Lock-ins are the bread and butter for any skate park,” he said. “You usually make half to all your rent/mortgage from one of them. We’ve had three so far; they can be hectic at times but definitely worth it. We usually throw mini contests during the night for the kids, that keeps them excited and awake. I don’t know how they can skate from dusk to dawn, I wish I had that energy.”

A particular skate park from Baltimore had just contacted Carr to give kudos to what they’re doing.

“I received a call from the owner of Charm City skate park in Baltimore yesterday. He said he had a group of guys talking about us in his park and wanted to call me. He said they were telling him how cool our deck graphics were and how good our team is. He said he checked out some video we had on YouTube and he wanted to call to tell us what a good job we’re doing, especially for West Virginia. I thought that was really cool and it made my day!”

Carr said the help the sponsors had given so far have really helped make the contest big.

“There will be clothing by Murder One and Vox Shoes. Eastern Skateboard Supply is supplying us with the 1st-3rd place trophy decks.” Oh, and there is the $800 in prize money and PawnShop merch, plus, a killer first place prize, Carr said.

“World famous skateboard artist and Ravenswood native Don Pendleton has made us a First Place art piece for the winner of the advanced division. The art is amazing and is a true one of a kind trophy for the winner. Don is the artist for the number one skateboard company, Element. He also worked for Alien Workshop for many years. We are stoked to have his artwork and interest for this contest.” (see art below)

Putting the big picture of their success together, Carr put things in perspective.

“In these economic times it is really tough to do anything with business. For some reason everything is falling into place for us with this and we keep getting bigger and better everyday. It’s all about good vibes with me, and I base a lot of my decisions on that alone. Go with the flow.

A lot is planned for 2009 for us and I couldn’t be any more excited.”


Bad Employees CD release video

Best. CD release video. Ever. John and Andy of Bad Employees here not only remind you about this weekend's release show for their eight-song debut effort Looking For Werk, they provide video evidence that the Huntington-based electro-rock duo really are bad employees, literally.

There's both of them consuming liquor, apparently getting trashed, and Andy is sitting around with no pants on, all whilst on the job. Oh and they sound like little girls.

You'll probably see this on WSAZ.

Bad Employees' version of electronic rock should be duly noted, and hopefully they'll be able to live this video down and sell a lot of CDs at the show, which will have The Demon Beat and The Red Velvet opening up?!

Sounds like a winner to us, you can hear their tunes online, so check out Bad Employees. And as far as we're concerned, that WSAZ plug counts as an ad, so $50.


The return of The New Duncan Imperials

Chicago's New Duncan Imperials return to West Virginia this weekend

Chicago’s New Duncan Imperials, rockin’ for 20 years at this point, return to West Virginia this weekend for a pair of killer shows in Huntington and Charleston.

Friday, the high-energy, hilarious, critically acclaimed rock n’ roll trio will play Club Echo for what they’re calling a Gumby’s reunion show (w/Karma To Burn), and play the Glass Saturday night with Skip Cromer’s glorified karaoke project, The Burt Reynolds Death Metal Experiment. The mind reels at the thought of that particular show.

Absolutely jaw-dropping shows packed full of rock, enough to get NDI’s Pigtail Dick simultaneously excited and fondly reminiscent of the years gone by rocking West Virginia fans in Charleston and Huntington, and, the band he’s been a part of since 1989.

“This is already a pretty big tour. You chicken-scratchers wear us out,” Pigtail said of the pair of shows booked.

While it’s been a while since the band came to town, they haven’t just been sitting around getting old -- they released End of Phase One late last year and jammed some release shows for that. Skipper and Goodtime are also in a Chicago-area band called The Goldstars, from what we can piece together.

Pigtail admitted that the secret of NDI’s songwriting process hasn‘t changed much over the years.

“First of all, we don’t write songs. We steal them and rename them…We ran out of subject matter decades ago. Most people didn’t notice.”

One part about the short tour that will definitely suck, Pigtail said, is having to endure the “farts, B.O., dentures, piles, hammertoes, smegma, athlete’s foot, hairpieces, hangnails, snotrockets, scabies, bitchin’ and moanin’, halitosis -- and that’s just Skipper” on the long drive down.

And all kidding aside, even though it’s just a weekend trip to West Virginia for a few shows, Pigtail said fun will ensue and those expecting the Jagermeister to be flowing will not be disappointed. “I loooove Jagermeister…We do still have a butt-load of Jager lighters somewhere,” Pigtail said of NDI’s longtime sponsor and cause of his “snapshot“ memory of past shows.

And the party favorites and/or props? “Just the rock salt and spider cannon. And Goodtime might have a hand buzzer.”

And looking back after 20 years together, Pigtail said he still loves his NDI bandmates.

“My love for the other two idiots is as strong as it ever was,” Pigtail said of his NDI bandmates Skipper and Goodtime. “If I had to go to jail overnight for stealing Christmas ornaments off of suburban lawns again with anyone on Earth, it would be them.”

--- photo: Tammy Kimmel

Karma To Burn reunites

Thursday, area showgoers will get their first chance in years to catch the instru-metal rock stylings of Morgantown's legendary, critically acclaimed trio Karma To Burn.
The band will play The Sound Factory in Charleston, kicking off a show-per-day April tour that will bring them to Club Echo Friday (w/The New Duncan Imperials) and 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown next Saturday.
For those who can remember the days of Gumby's, this will be your opportunity to roll back the clock and rock with KTB. They're playing with a ton of cool bands at these shows, so check 'em out if you can. If this band reuniting isn't mentioned in local papers, something's not right.


Quadbanging with Thred

Our good friend Brian Pickens of Magic Town Funk rockers Thred just notified the masses about new tunes. We'd heard about the new effort, dubbed Quadbanger, a while back, and just got the word about it via MySpace.

The band, as defunct or as disbanded as they may be at this point, has uploaded the five tracks on their profile, and you can read more and check out where to get 'em by simply reading their blog.

We'd look forward to hearing more from these guys...


Bad Employees new CD 4.15

The countdown to April 15th is on.

Not to pay Uncle Sam, you've already done that. To help celebrate you doing your patriotic duty, paying taxes and all, Huntington's electronic duo Bad Employees will release their full-length debut Looking For Werk on tax day, April 15th.

The duo, John McComas and Andy Rivas, will play Club Echo this Friday the 10th and release the CD 4.25 at the V Club. From what we've heard the effort will be worth the listen, and if you're out that way catch 'em out at a show in the coming days and weeks.


Attack Flamingo: 3 weddings & a new CD

Just heard news on Huntington's Attack Flamingo; turns out their synth player, Joseph Spurgeon, got married whilst in the Phillipines, and there are more hitchings on the way. Good for them.

Good for area rock fans is hearing that the band has new material and is working on a new CD. They say on their MySpace blog that it's even better than their debut, No Star Could Be As Large, and if that's the case, good for us all.

Check out the band's tunes online and look for 'em live next weekend (4.17) at Shamrock's out in Huntington.