4.30.2011

Franklin Fuckin Furnace, Tower of the Elephant, Horseburner live @ V Club 4.28.11

Brett Fuller (DJ Franklin Fuckin Furnace) hosted Tower of the Elephant and Horseburner as part of the V Club's This Ain't No Disco series April 28th...


4/28/11 @ the V Club was an another classic in the ongoing This Ain't No Disco series Featuring DJ Franklin Fuckin furnace and local Huntington acts. I've been lucky enough to not only play a This Ain't No Disco with The Wizards of Ghetto Mountain but I also DJ'd a set as DJ Gilbert Grape's mom. lol.

On this installment of This Ain't No Disco, joining DJ Franklin Fuckin Furnace were local lords Tower of the Elephant and Parkersburg doom merchants Horseburner. DJ Franklin furnace opened the night with a great set of molten rock on the 1's and 2's. The great crowd soaked up it and the atmosphere was electric.

Tower of the Elephant's quick rise to doom supremacy has not surprised anybody in town. The band is rounded out by some of Huntington's rock vets such as Blair Yoke on vocals who has been in punk bands Beer For Blood and Killbot, Garrett Babb who was also in Beer for Blood, and was ax slinger with myself in Wizards of Ghetto Mountain, Josh Harshbarger on bass who was in Beer for Blood, and is in the great alt-rock ringleaders Universes, Jason King on drums who played guitar for the Black Knots, and Mike Schritter on guitar who played for Sarasota.

Tower of the Elephant just recorded an EP and it sounds amazing. You're seriously gonna want to get your hands on it. Great stuff. Also look for guest vocals from yours truly at the end of a track.

Now on to the show.

I've seen Tower sets a few times and each one keeps getting better and better. This set in particular was amazing. Real thick fuzzy doomy tone, loud thunderous drums, Harshbarger laying down the low end, and Blair Yoke's fantastic vocals that I've watched evolve and get stronger with each set they play. This set was extra mean.

Slower than usual which I loved. The songs are being churned out effortlessly by the guys and they are developing a doom swagger that comes with experience. This band is a powerhouse and if they last they will be going places. They had the crowd in the palm of their hand for the whole set and I got to do my vocal part in Journey of the Leonids. Killer set by Tower.

Franklin Fuckin Furnace took the stage once again and rocked out another set of killer tunes. Franklin Fuckin Furnace's vast musical knowledge showed with the great tracks he pumped out keeping the atmosphere electric between Tower of the Elephant and Horseburner sets.

Horseburner is a band that are simply stunning. Imagine Thin Lizzy, Sleep, Sabbath, mixed with some hardcore. Great band. I have had the pleasure of playing with them with The Wizards of Ghetto Mountain on several occasions.



They took the stage like heavyweight champs with nothing to prove. An amazing set of molten doom, twin guitar harmonies, and great gang vocals. Almost each member shares vocal duties and the vocals are hardcore style so it's a great blend of doom, 70's rock and hardcore. You might not think this would work but Horseburner pull it off flawlessly.



Horseburner are starting to get a following in Huntington and there's a reason why. They have chops. Talent out the ass. Great Tone. The crowd ate up every second of Horseburner's set and anybody that ever seen them before left believers. Another amazing set from Horseburner.

Franklin Fuckin Furnace closed the night with another great set of tracks that rocked the house. All this for $3 you just can't beat that. Another great show at the V Club.

The V Club is the best live venue in Huntington since 1318 4th Avenue is no longer a music venue. They have shows for every taste in music so check http://www.vclublive.com/ for all concert updates and say hey to Don Duncan at the door for me.

--- Chuk Fowlord

photo/clip #2 --- Chris Topher Robert Harper

Chuk Fowlord

This is Chuk Fowlord and I'll be joining Wv Rockscene as a blogger. I'll be reviewing shows, talkin about releases that I'm into and keeping you updated on the Small town big sound: A huntington wv rock history 1989-2011 documentary that I'm making with Dave Mistich. I'm working on a review of the Franklin Fuckin Furnace, Tower of the Elephant, and Horseburner show that took place on 4/28/11.

4.28.2011

CD Review: "Hunt"






















CD: Hunt
ARTIST: Juna

John Morgan et al (Aaron Dawson, Cameron Keenan, Will Morgan), together as Juna, evoke Radiohead-meeting Jim Morrison over ten songs worth of richly arranged, atmospheric, tribal-tinged rock on Hunt.

The follow-up to 2009’s Yesno, seems to nod as much in the direction of Radiohead as it does to Native American tribes and percussion, as Morgan, the Morgantown native, multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter sings “I want to live like the Indians,” on “Eden,” sings of securing Indians “from the Indies all the way up to Washington,” on the piano-based “Move Over,” a standout track, and approaches a rain dance on “Door,” a cool vibe permeates the record.

Most listeners will hear Radiohead-type nods on the opener, “Coma So Mild,” the very awesome “Control,” with its angelic synth and dreamy guitar, and the more driving, catchy rock of “No Use.”

Morgan sings on “No Use,”
“You can tap my phone
and you can come in my place
All in all I’m a slave
doesn’t change a thing”
Running through the lyrics are themes of waking up from an Orwellian police state and almost Gaia-influenced retro humanism or something, with themes of Brave New World type total control, of sheep being fleeced by “Wall Street sickness” -- you know: cool stuff!

Displaying the range of their sound, “Fire” has haunting banjo over tribal drums and something like a Hammond organ. The title track closes Hunt as Morgan sings
“So wake with me now
and rake the leaves of all our clothes
So stay with me now
and make believe we’re all alone
oh”
Hunt is a CD that’s had repeated plays on the state-of-the-art WVRockscene home computer stereo system. It’d be easy to say ‘If you like Radiohead, you’ll love Juna,’ but while the nods are there, there’s enough of a uniqueness to it to give the sound its own personality.

A great listen, a very cool sound and vibe; definitely worth checking out.



--- Juna releases Hunt tonight at 123 Pleasant Street with the Frostburg, Md.-based electro-rock trio The Christmas Lights also releasing their new CD, Good Luck Machine, with Morgantown “cupcakewave” superstars Bonfire opening.

Give It Away: The Glorious Veins return to Huntington with debut record

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The New York City-based indie rock band The Glorious Veins (L-R: Lee Grasso, Matt Howels, Paul Pangman and Wiggy Colmenares) return to Huntington Thursday night for a show at Shamrocks Irish Pub

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

With members from Wisconsin to London to the Philippines, and back now to New York City, The Glorious Veins are a veritable United Nations of rock and roll.

It’s rare to see a band with a guitarist from London, and a drummer from Cebu City, an island in the Philippines, but even more rare to have the band members meet on Craigslist.

Together for just over three years or so (guitarist Matt Howels and drummer Wiggy Colmenares hadn’t moved to the U.S. until 2007) the indie band, with four U.S. tours and South by Southwest already under their belt, is excited to get its recently released self-titled debut album out and play more shows.

And when they say album, they don’t mean CD, they mean an actual vinyl record, part of the retro trend audiophiles have spearheaded. Of course, like so many other bands these days, before they dropped their vinyl debut, they went ahead and gave it away online for free, or, whatever people wanted to give to support the band.

The Glorious Veins return to Huntington Thursday night for a show at Shamrock’s Irish Pub.

Guitarist Matt Howels, originally from London, steeped in the blues and having played in several bands across the pond, described meeting singer and songwriter Paul Pangman, who had moved to New York from Wisconsin to attend Columbia University.

“I think that even at our first meeting we knew that we’d work well together musically,” Howels said of the early collaboration of the nascent Glorious Veins. “His vocals and my guitar playing have always meshed in a good way.”

Howels said recording and releasing the debut Glorious Veins album was a hard fought reward in itself.

“It’s very cool to know that people are digging it and appreciate our music,” Howels said of the praise and warmth with which the debut record has been received. “We put a lot of sweat and soul into it.”

The decision to release the record at “pay what you want” prices on Bandcamp was one that put financial and artistic ethos up against each other.

Not surprisingly, with influences ranging from Talking Heads to Arctic Monkeys, describing their sound as “bluesy post-punk dance rock from Mars,” the rock and roll ethos won out.

“Making the album available online prior to releasing it on vinyl was a great idea,” Howels said. “The most important thing to us was getting our music out there. The album was definitely downloaded for free more times than it got paid for, but we found that there were a lot of people out there who really dug it and were willing to donate a little money when they downloaded it. I’m pretty sure we made fans that way, and we made money that went towards paying for the vinyl pressings.

“I think there was definitely an artistic element to it as well,” Howels added. “We were saying ‘Look, we want our album to look and sound as good as possible, and only vinyl will give us that,’ Screw CDs.”

“There’s more music being made today more than ever before,” drummer Wiggy Colmenares said. “Digital recording made it easy for many to just do it on their own. Just imagine how difficult it is to get people to listen to your stuff, let alone buy it from a band that they never heard before.

“We depend on our friends to spread the word. In return, we give the music away for free. If they want to support, they buy a physical package or give whatever. Or better yet, come to one of our shows and hang with us. At this point in time, when we all still got jobs, it’s more important to us that people have our songs rather than us making a buck from them. We work day jobs to be able to do what we love.”

Making music and touring the country is what these guys love, Colmenares said.

“Just being able to travel, visit different places and meeting different people is already amazing to me. I wish I could be playing every night.”

Having drawn members from three continents, meeting on an online forum, with so many fans after such a short period and having made it work, Howels said a mixture of pride, thankfulness and hard work sums it all up for the band.

“I am a little surprised, very proud and forever grateful that we managed to pull something special out of the crap shoot that is Craigslist. We’re all settled in. We’re in it for the long run.”

If you go:
The Glorious Veins, Sly Roosevelt, The Good Fight
Where: Shamrock’s Irish Pub, 2050 3rd Avenue, Huntington (304) 523-5825
When: Thursday, April 28, 9 p.m.
Cost: $5
Info: thegloriousveins.bandcamp.com/



A Part Meant from Brendan K. Russell on Vimeo.

4.27.2011

CD Review: "Landlords Dance"






















CD: Landlords Dance
ARTIST: David F. Bello

Don’t let it be said there’s any musical standard that tyrannizes Morgantown’s David F. Bello. Even though he calls himself a punk, Landlords Dance, Bello’s week-old, 15-song release is not punk rock at all.

Or maybe it’s the most punk thing ever?

More like acoustic guitar rock popping out (and standing apart) from Casio synth-pop ambience and 1980’s ghetto-tech cassette recordings.

The vibe brings to mind stuff that may or may not have been found on Beck’s albums from 1994 or so, pre-dating and including Odelay. From one artist to the next, maybe not a bad comparison. Who knows?

Just like the collage type artwork for the CD, the songs themselves have a structural disjointedness to them in parts, as Bello moves from acoustic awesomeness to experimental, electronic psychedelia.

Cool sounds and songs make for a delightful trip; definitely worth the $3 U.S. dollars you’ll pay to download it.

Bello layers/buries his lyrical sincerity underneath the random (?) genre-hopping. He gets downright nasty in some of the songs, touching raw nerves all up and down as he talks about various states of domestic upheaval.

You’ve seen the pictures of the Mayday Prom nights or whatever they have at 123 Pleasant Street, with the 80’s type Trapper Keeper neon art? Well, maybe the standout track on Landlords Dance is “I Said I Can Say What I Want,” sullen techno pop that would seem to play well in something like “Sixteen Candles” or something.

The song stands out like so many sore thumbs; shimmering, overdriven guitar, trashy snare hits and stabbing synth, the song breaks down into almost distracted solo riffage before burying the listener under a wall of warm, deep sound.

Really as much about messing with levels as anything else, this is a song that we couldn’t make it past to hear other standout songs like “TB Comes to Silly Fort,” the angry drum & bass-meets acoustic rock of “Burn Up In Car,” “The Alumnist,” (Bello gives you and your mom the finger here) and the heartfelt acoustic, Casio synth n’ string flavor (w/800-pound kick drum) of “I Know This,” maybe our second favorite song on the record.

And that’s the thing to take away from this incoherent freshman-level review; it would be great enough just to listen to “I Said I Can Say What I Want” over and over again -- like a lot of great records there’s that one song you want to hear over and over again -- but there are enough cool songs and sounds on Landlords Dance to make it a standout record.

Related: Local artist David Bello debuts new album (Daily Athenaeum article)

4.26.2011

CD Review: "The Overcoat"






















CD: The Overcoat
ARTIST: The Overcoat

On first listen, doing random chores around the house, the eight song debut from Morgantown’s The Overcoat doesn’t exactly hit you in the face. Three quarters of FOX Japan (Pete & Sam Wilmoth + Andrew Slater) getting their new music up online was something to be excited about hearing, just don’t expect this band to sound like FOX Japan or It’s Birds, which Slater also played in.

When reviewing CDs (for better or worse, and our reviews are pretty bad) you want to give repeated listens to something; first impressions are usually right, but it’s cool to be able to really get into a record and not be distracted.

And with its “dark indie” sound -- hauntingly echo-soaked backing vocals, Charlie Wilmoth’s seemingly orchestral string sections added and interspersed, Pete’s percussion input (we’ll get to his lyrics) and Slater’s baritone guitar -- the trio’s unique (some might say weird) sound is definitely one that will draw you in.

With the ultra-dramatic (seemingly disastrous), intensely personal and almost spiritual desperation (hear “Get Chose”) described in parts, the music seems to make up a score to a play that the singer is acting in. More of a horror movie soundtrack than a date night pop song.

With help from Librarians Ryan Hizer and Trey Curtis, Brian Spragg (It’s Birds/Pat Pat) and before going to Dave Klug for mixing and mastering, while this music might not at first get people’s rocks off; it’s a challenging sound, but a richly arranged, theatrical sound and theme, that’s got better with each listen as you can kind of pick up what they’re going for as a band.

A million kudos for the production on the vocals (recorded by Klug). The songs have a sound that defies convention, sure. But the haunting vocals in general and whatever effects they’re run through to what extent, the screams on this are, in parts, simply put, terrifying.

A unique and collective hit by these dudes, each of them, not surprisingly. Perfect “dark” music for a horror movie or seeing live sometime soon at 123 Pleasant Street.

4.23.2011

For Alan Griffith, from rock to folk now back to rock, the song remains the same

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Blue Million (L-R: Alan Griffith, Andy Lewis, Gary Cash) returns to The Empty Glass with a new CD Saturday night

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When it comes to rock and roll, things have come full circle for Alan Griffith.

The Madison native and longtime Charleston resident was first exposed to the rock and roll of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s as a youth, then went through a more recent folk and Americana period with The Cheapbeats. Now, he’s back to playing the blues-inspired riff rock he grew up on in his longtime three-piece Blue Million, which performs at The Empty Glass on Saturday.

“I was playing a tennis racket in front of the mirror before I ever played guitar,” the singer and guitarist said, recalling his first experiences with rock and roll and his fondness for Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Cream.

“My older brother Mike loved it because he was into music but he couldn’t play. He said, ‘If you want to play like those guys, you've got to learn to play the blues.’ And I went back and learned all the blues I could.”

By the time he was 16, Griffith was hooked on guitar, and 35 or so years later, he still is. He’s also still a huge fan of Led Zeppelin.

“I was always so in love with Led Zeppelin I and II,” he said. “Like when I heard ‘Heartbreaker’ way back when, I thought, ‘That’s the coolest damn rock guitar, drums and bass recording I’ve ever heard.’ So that’s what got me.”

It’s Griffith’s addiction to the big riffs of an electric guitar that pulled him back into Blue Million. Together for about 15 years at this point, the band recently released a new CD.

“I missed the riffs that I loved when I was 16 or 17 when I fell in love with rock,” he said. “Everything on the new CD, it's obvious it's late ‘60s, early ‘70s blues influenced. When I write I have that in mind.

“I love acoustic and folk, but there’s nothing like a big, crunchy Les Paul. And there’s only one way to get it, and that’s to plug it in.”

Plugging back in is exactly what Griffith did after a few yeas as a folk rocker in The Cheapbeats and as a solo artist. But even before Blue Million, Griffith got his feet wet in the ‘80s in straight-up rock bands like The Stanley Lewis Band, where he was influenced by college rock, U2, REM and especially Lou Reed.

Griffith’s folk period was introspective and largely somber with influences ranging from the old (Woody Guthrie) to the new (Josh Ritter). His CDs “230 Second Avenue” and “Now and Then” were permeated with an air of depression, isolation and sometimes bitterness.

“I know,” Griffith said, drawing the phrase out in a combination of embarrassment and acceptance of the bad times that influenced the songs. “‘230 [Second Avenue’] was made during the divorce. Nowadays I’ve got a better handle on things. I don’t know what it was, the primal scream or whatever, but I was letting a lot of s--- out at that point. That period was a real low point for me.”

But now he’s back to a plug-in-and-go rock and roll mentality with his old friends in Blue Million.

“Me, Gary [Cash] and Andy [Lewis] have played together forever,” he said. “The cool thing about these guys is we all have pretty much the same influences; we’re all on the same page musically.”

Even if he turns the page again musically, though, Griffith doesn’t plan to stop playing any time soon. In fact, he says he plans to do it “until I drop. Really.”

“It’s never been a fad for me,” he said. “The one thing I'm most proud of is that I didn’t quit. There’s always been a project going. It’s quite a feat to start playing guitar at 16, and at 52 you’re still playing.

“It’s one of the greatest things for me. People fish and golf into their old age. I do this.”

The Nanker Phelge and Blue Million
WHEN: 9 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St.
COST: $5
INFO: www.bluemillionmusic.com or 304-345-3914

photo: Patricia Ansley

4.22.2011

Three Years of Laid Back Assassins: Neil Nessel talks about starting LBA Records

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Longtime and/or regular readers of the blog will notice how much we’ve loved the electronic flavor of Huntington acts like Bad Employees and Attack Flamingo. We caught up with the man who originally helped get their music out, LBA Records’ Neil Nessel, in advance of the LBA Records third anniversary show tonight at the V Club.

In the Q&A the Huntington native and Sarasota, Florida resident talks about getting the LBA ball rolling, how his work as DJ Darwin helps relate to his stable of breakbeat, house and ambient-type artists, and how Huntington may end up one day being compared to Austin, Texas...



WVRockscene: You’re a Huntington native, HHS & MU grad, what motivated you to move to Florida and when? Work, or what?
Neil Nessel: I did graduate from Huntington High School and Marshall undergrad and grad school majoring in Biology. I had been working DJing in various clubs and at Jeff’s Bike shop for years and was having a good time doing both, but then I met a woman at Jeff’s who was on vacation and from Florida so I rolled the dice and followed her down to Ft. Myers. That worked out for about one year and a half as I was working in agricultural research and teaching biology at a small college there, but I missed the music and started working more on production then. I would visit Huntington quite often (three or four times a year) to see my old friends at that time.

-----
WVRockscene: I read that the idea to start LBA was hatched at the V Club, is that right? What motivated you prior to that night to form LBA and what was that conversation or brainstorming session like, and how excited were you after talking to Brett and Andy from BE?
Nessel: During the time in Florida, I had done a remix of a pretty well known breakbeat artist DJ Viro and entered it into his contest and got an honorable mention for it. A friend of mine had started a label recently with Viro as he had started a music distribution company. I was doing more and more production and wanted to be invited to my friend’s label and this didn’t happen soon enough for me and started thinking about starting my own label.

On one of these trips to Huntington, I met up with Andy and Brett [Fuller] at the V Club and asked Andy what was going on with his music. I had been kind of following his progress through out the years and was surprised that he hadn’t released any music yet. It clicked that I could start the label with Bad Employees music as well as mine and Brett’s. I also had a few other people in mind and ended up contacting them and it snowballed from there. I was pretty excited because I knew that I would put everything I had into it because, first off, it is music and secondly it would be my own company.



-----
WVRockscene: Most people who are into electronic type music can kind of point to a group or time period when they really got into it; whether it be a DJ or group, what acts originally drew you into this kind of music?
Nessel: I was into all kinds of music growing up but got a little bored and started looking at other types I hadn't really explored before. First, I tried listening to Classical music but it didn’t have the energy that I needed. Then I noticed that early electronic music was starting to be used in basketball games and TV commercials. This was cheesy rave music. It piqued my interest because of the high energy that it had but I wanted a more artistic form of the music. I started buying Fat Boy Slim and Crystal Method CDs and got into Big Beat and then House music after hanging out at Gyrationz (the old Gumby’s building) and listening to Brett and other DJs play there. Being a curious person, I started going up to the DJ booth to see how they played the music and asked a bunch of questions which the DJs gladly answered. I then took the step of buying a CD DJ set up and playing the amateur nights on Wednesdays. I went on from there to get several residences in clubs after this.

-----
WVRockscene: You not only run the label but you’re a DJ (Darwin), does bringing your experience as a DJ making this kind of music help you relate to these kinds of artists?
Nessel: I think being a DJ playing for thousands of people a week gives you more perspective on what is and what isn’t good quality music and what people will like. I had also been involved in music by playing trumpet for years and singing in a band. My mother was in the music business throughout her life so that influenced me too. One successful quality about our labels is that the artists retain all of the rights to the music and can make any type of music that they want i.e. they are given complete artistic freedom to explore their art. Many other labels dictate music, artwork, touring, etc. and take the music rights and we don’t do that. We are artists first and foremost and I think all artists can relate to that ideal.



-----
WVRockscene: Speaking of relating to the artists on your label, and especially people you’ve known as friends or acquaintances like Brett, how smoothly are you able to transition between handling your business as Nessel Music and the friendship type angle?
Nessel: I have a laid back personality pretty much but am very detail and goal oriented and it has worked pretty well for me all my life. I haven’t had to be the “label boss” to any of my friends but have for some other artists and I think honesty in both directions is all that is needed for everyone's success.

-----
WVRockscene: Anything in particular you’re looking forward to getting out on LBA or artists you’d look forward to working with?
Nessel: I have several new artists from Europe that I am excited to be releasing their music soon; Luminar Ax, whose self-titled album is out May 20th, struck a chord with me as I was working on getting it released. LUMINAR AX is a conjoint dark ambient - electronic project between American singer and poet Dove Hermosa and Czech composer and instrumentalist VladimĂ­r Hirsch. DJ Gabriel from Bulgaria and Vladimir Lovkov from Moscow are two artists who work at top clubs that I have recently signed and look forward to their releases as well. It seems all of my A&R lately is in Europe, we have three A&R people there in Paris, Basel, and London and they are doing a great job but none in the US except myself. I’d like to sign more Huntington artists.

-----
WVRockscene: Not only do you work with artists from all over the world, but specifically you’ve worked with some of the cooler electronic acts from WV, what are your thoughts on the talent level in general of the electronic artists you’ve worked with from WV?
Nessel: That was one of my goals for the label; bring some validation to Huntington’s artists as well as expose more of the mainstream to their art. I think the music industry is in flux right now with the indies exerting much more influence than in previous years due to the technological advances and availability of the internet and software so people are exposed more to the alternative due to this change. I see the trend continuing and hopefully more artistic music (and acceptance) is the result.



-----
WVRockscene: West Virginia is generally thought or perceived to be a few years behind the cultural trends. In this case it may apply to music; when I interviewed Andy and John of Bad Employees dudes for the Herald-Dispatch, they mentioned a kind of skepticism or outright hostility that they encountered when starting out in and around Huntington as a mainly electronic act. That’s what is so neat about having something like LBA Records help get their music out. Between the late 90’s and now would you say or think that acts like Bad Employees, DJs, or sample-based artists would be more welcome around Huntington as the times have kind of caught up with these kinds of acts?
Nessel: I think the talent level is pretty high in Huntington and have described it as distilled to others. I’d love to see the city become more like Austin, Texas, perhaps have their own version of SXSW. That would be something I’d love to be involved with. The production value of both the Attack Flamingo and Bad Employees albums from Huntington was inspiring to me. It’s one of the things that keeps me going in this tough business.

-----
WVRockscene: So many people who run small labels have a kind of “If I knew then what I knew now,” type story. From starting out three years ago to now what’s changed in how you handle LBA operations or yourself in general?
Nessel: I started this business with a 3-5 year plan and it has pretty much gone how I thought it would at the 3-year stage. Most labels are here and gone the next year as most people are impatient for success. I am here for the long haul and want to eventually pass it on to my daughter who is an artist as well; studying trombone, piano, and vocals. I am really concentrating on getting our music placed in movies, TV, and commercials, and am working with a team in Los Angeles to do so. This is a great revenue stream for artists as well as great promotion for their work.

-----
WVRockscene: How much are you looking forward to coming back to Huntington for this show?
Nessel: I am looking forward to coming back to Huntington since I haven’t been back in a couple years. Familiar faces as well as the new ones are good to see and having a party celebrating the Huntington music scene is definitely exciting to me.

--- The LBA Records third anniversary show tonight at the V Club in Huntington includes DJ sets from Joesph Spurgeon (Attack Flamingo), Brett Fuller (Charlie Brown Superstar), and DJ Darwin, with Bad Employees also performing...

4.20.2011

Brett Fuller (Charlie Brown Superstar, Franklin Fuckin Furnace) talks about LBA Records


In advance of the LBA Records third anniversary show Friday at the V Club we approached Brett Fuller, who DJs as Charlie Brown Superstar and Franklin Fuckin Furnace, and who hosts the This Ain’t No Disco series at the V, for his thoughts on the label, as he was pretty much there when the whole thing got off the ground one night with LBA founder and Huntington native Neil Nessel at the V Club...

I was playing the V on a Saturday, with another DJ (I believe, because I was taking a break). Neil came in and it was a bit surprising as I hadn’t seen him for a while, and he lived in Florida. We sat down and started to catch up when he mentioned the thought of starting the label. Neil always has a great enthusiasm about his projects and I was right with him.

We talked about having an outlet for our own projects as well as for artists that were interesting and doing different sorts of things. As we continued to talk as if on cue [Bad Employees’] Andy [Rivas] walks in. I introduced the two and then mentioned that a good band to start with would be Bad Employees, I went back to the stage to play as they continued talking. When I got back it was a done deal.

I really liked the idea but wasn’t sure if it would really happen (you know how bar talk can be) but sure enough the following week I got update via email and a contract in the mail. It was a pretty exciting time.

It’s a really big help to have someone to take your music and already have outlets to present it (and sell). I wouldn’t know what to do with my tracks, I’d just throw up on a webpage somewhere where nobody would see it or just share it with my friends at some late night get together at my place.



Not to mention that Neil got me writing again, at the time I was kind of discouraged with music. I was always working as a DJ and playing with Hyatari, but hadn’t been doing my own stuff. Neil told me if we did this that he expected me to put out some music and really be a part of it.

I kinda gave him a ‘yeah yeah,’ type of response and he said he was serious, he had heard the stuff that I was working on before he left for Florida and had liked it. I had lost all of that from a hard drive crash (part of my frustration) and with his encouragement I got back on the horse and started writing again.

I like how Neil works with artists that he really appreciates and it's pretty cool to be part of a truly worldwide label. There are LBA artists all over the globe!

photo: Courtney Bell Photography

4.18.2011

Tucker Riggleman spends "a few good minutes" talking about Big Bullet Fest Apr. 21-23


Waiting to get matching Prison Book Club tattoos with his friend and band mate John Miller out in Martinsburg, Demon Beat bassist Tucker Riggleman talked with WVRockscene about his label his Big Bullet Records' upcoming Big Bullet Fest taking place Thursday through Saturday out in Shepherdstown.



Riggleman talks about the already out (online) Demon Beat cassette split with The Shackletons, the BBR Terminal Ballistics Vol. 2 compilation out Thursday, and the friendships he and The Demon Beat have developed over the last few years with the bands playing the festival.



--- For more info and full details on the bands and merch you can snag at Big Bullet Fest, visit the BBR site and check out the BBR bandcamp page for more related items...

photo: Brian Scott

4.16.2011

Roadblock and John E. Sizemore explain the case of The Elvis Presley Murder Files

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Tonight out in Huntington Jason Robinson (Roadblock) and John E. Sizemore bring the side project of their Scrap Iron Pickers outfit -- The Elvis Presley Murder Files -- to Shamrock's with cohorts Jude Blevins, Jimbo Valentine, and Jon Dunlap. They'll open for John Lancaster with Valentine's own side project, Soul of the Phoenix.

Not wanting this to turn into a cold case, we sought info from Roadblock and Sizemore re: The Elvis Presley Murder Files.


Roadblock:
“The Elvis Presley Murder Files was a project created by John E. Sizemore and one of his friends years ago. They did a CD in two days that you can still purchase at Cat’s Back Records in Nitro.

The Scrap Iron Pickers is more of an organized musical experience, whereas John E. and I resurfaced EPMF to explore our freeform improvisational side. We listen to a lot of avant-garde, ambient, dub, and freeform jazz, too, and wanted to do something more freeform that we can make our noises and soundscapes with. Something improvisational that isn’t really a masturbatory jam band noodle fest.

We have a few themes that we work on but they never sound the same. We have done a show as a duo and this one there will be five people on stage. Lancaster was looking for an opening band and I was like ‘Hey EPMF might be able to do it.’

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I called Jon E. and he said yeah, then I called Jude and he was in. Jimbo is on the bill so I called him and asked if he would be interested and he was as well. One of Jon E’s friends, John Dunlap, will be coming along as well.

If you want to know what to expect don’t ask me because I don’t know. No two performances will ever be the same.”

Sizemore, reached for comment, noted the band name is taken from a live John Zorn Naked City concert and that “The point is to scare the hell out of each other and whoever else is there.”

4.08.2011

Drama, tragedy, love, life and death: Dream the Electric Sleep brings new concept record to V Club Saturday

The Lexington, Kentucky-based four-piece Dream the Electric Sleep brings their debut CD “Lost and Gone Forever” to Huntington Saturday for a show at the V Club

Reposted from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch


“Why can’t music deal with drama and tragedy at length?”

This was the question Matt Page asked himself as he embarked on writing Dream the Electric Sleep’s debut concept record, “Lost and Gone Forever,” two years ago.

“I wanted to see music as something greater than entertainment,” the singer-guitarist said.

The fourteen-song, 76-minute long prog rock opus, broken up into three parts and told quite beautifully (and heart wrenchingly) from the perspective of an Eastern Kentucky miner and his wife, was recently made available as a free download by the Lexington-based four piece.

Dream the Electric Sleep (Page; Trevor Willmott: guitar; Chris Tackett: bass; Joey Waters: drums) plays the V Club this Saturday with Suede Brothers and John Lancaster.

This is more conceptual art than a collection of randomly arranged songs. From the album’s art through the interweaving narrative of the husband and wife on the songs, as they journal their hardscrabble travails in life, love and death, to the samples of Harlan County, USA interspersed throughout, “Lost and Gone Forever” is itself a story.

Page talked about how seeing the 1976 documentary Harlan County, USA, that, and his family’s own history in the coal industry, influenced him to tell the story of Jack and Clementine, the narrators on the record.

“I wanted to take on coal and see if I could not promote or demonize it, but unravel the dense complexities of energy consumption and production within the lived lives of a small Appalachian town, to recognize the real lives bound up in this issue, and to not let binaries oversimplify the issue.

“In many ways, it was also a portrait of my wife and I, struggling to make ends meet, feeling trapped, and unable to wiggle out of difficult situations in our own lives.”

Page said the concept of “Lost and Gone Forever” largely grew out of the death of his maternal grandparents, who then became the influence for writing from the perspective of Clementine and Jack.

“This album was loosely based on my grandmother and grandfather,” Page said. “While writing this album, both of them passed away. I was there with them in their last moments. I began writing what I had just experienced, seeing them on their deathbeds, a lifetime of stories passing on with them. All I could imagine was that somehow they were able to leave records of their lives with the spirits there to gather them, that somehow reciting all they had done, all they had loved, was a rite of passage into the beyond.

“For me, this album became a necessary way of understanding what was lost with my grandparents, but like many works of art, sometimes their inspiration is not revealed until the work is complete.”

Drummer Joey Waters, himself with family in the mines, said he thinks if people pick up on the themes explored and the story told by Page on the record, it will blow up like so much dynamite.

“My uncle Roger was a career miner in Virginia,” Waters said. “He is long since retired, but is dealing with the health hazards of his profession on a daily basis. I have spoken with him and my aunt about some of the themes that Matt has brought to life on the record. Hearing their firsthand accounts of that lifestyle made the album have an even greater impact on me.

“I think that if a listener was to pick up on the heavy themes of the story that Matt has created, the album will absolutely have a greater impact.”



There’s also the visual concept to the band’s music. While it’s hard to pin down one genre to plug DTES into (the band sounds like Queensryche’s singer joined a heavier version of Pink Floyd) the band plays in the dark on stage, silhouetted only by a choreographed light show, which Tackett runs live through a Midi pedal.

Tackett explained that adding to the visual experience of the live show was something he’s wanted to do forever, whether it was in Chum, Hyatari, or now, in Dream the Electric Sleep.

“DTES talked about adding some visual elements to the live show, but we couldn’t quite put our finger on it,” Tackett explained. “Then I saw the band M83 at the Wexner Center in Columbus. I really liked the way the theater lighting looked. I bought some LED wash lights and starting thinking about what we could do with them. I talked to the guys about possibly playing in silhouette, and the idea just grew from there.”

Between the lighting, the synthesizers and the samples, Dream the Electric Sleep, a long-time studio band, does a good job bringing their big sound and expansive vision to the live show, Page said.

“All in all, we manage pretty well,” Page said, with one important drawback. “Unfortunately, most live shows, we have to play fewer songs because of time constraints, which disrupts the sense of narrative. But we figure if someone likes what they hear, they might actually download or buy the album and dig into the narrative.”

Digging into the past to better appreciate the present manifested itself in another way for Page.

“I actually decided to learn the banjo for this album. I wanted a way to really connect with a certain heritage that, despite living in Lexington my whole life, had never taken on with any interest seriously. I think losing my grandparents, and that sense of needing to keep some memory alive, drove the sound towards a bluegrass aesthetic.”

Maybe the most important listeners are the ones waiting on the CDs to get in.

“My family hasn’t heard it,” Page said. “They’re waiting for the CDs to come in. I think it will mean a lot to my mom though, knowing that her parents, my grandparents, are part of this project that lives on. I really wanted to write a drama, something that dealt with real life and real people.

“This project has barely seen the light of day, and I really hope it has a chance to live on.”

Want to go?
Dream the Electric Sleep, John Lancaster, Suede Brothers
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington (304) 781-0680
When: Saturday, April 9, 9 p.m.
Cost: $7
Info: http://www.dreamtheelectricsleep.com/

4.06.2011

CD Review: "Lost and Gone Forever"





















CD: Lost and Gone Forever
ARTIST: Dream the Electric Sleep

You know how they say if you squeeze a piece of coal hard enough it turns into a diamond? Well, Matt Page and Dream the Electric Sleep, the Lexington, Kentucky-based prog rock four-piece, have done just that on Lost and Gone Forever, their recently released debut concept record about life as an Eastern Kentucky coal miner.

Fourteen songs, 76 minutes, played out in three acts and told from the perspective of a husband and wife, this is one great record.

Evoking something like a heavier sounding Pink Floyd with the singer from Queensryche, with an experimental, synth-flavored sample-based bent ((Ambient noises and samples ranging from air alert sirens to railroad crossing bells used as percussive accompaniment on a song!)), the entire vision -- from the lyrics describing the trials of an Appalachian miner, the wife who waits on him and worries about him, to song samples and excerpts from Harlan County, USA, down to the cover art for the record (done by Page and bassist Chris Tackett) -- is tied together quite beautifully and coherently on the debut effort.

The entire concept of the record is summed up in the first part of the title track, which opens the record:
“Speak of what you know
The hills and of coal
And love, lost and gone forever”
This is to say nothing about the very rich instrumentation, driving arrangements (maybe most notably “The Joneses” and “Sundown”) thrown in with the Pink Floyd nods (“Canary”), beautiful chord progressions, bridges kicked out into jams, and Page’s emotive, almost faux-European singing and vocal range (this guy can belt it out) underneath angelic vocal harmonies.

You might think that bands these days don’t have the vision to pull a concept record off -- much less a GREAT concept record. The DTES sound is symphonic hard rock with enough of an Appalachian roots sound (banjo, acoustic guitar) to anchor the goosebump-inducing epicness of the songs.

You can hear Tackett’s influence on the sound on “The Joneses,” as the song breaks down into guttural Hyatari-like organ-backed doom. The LFO/noise jam on “Feel My Way,” taken with the ambitious vision and sound of “Echoes Chasing Echoes” -- somber acoustic and banjo, haunting e-bow sound and blasting cap drums found on the opening title track -- put DTES’ more experimental side and sound on display.

The entire record is one big standout track, but the heart of the order, the Appalachian anthem “Roots and Fear,” “Stay on the Line” and “Hold Steady Hands” hold Act II together quite nicely. Page sings on the latter:
“Hold my affection
Hold steady hands
Take these seeds
and plant them
And grow them again”
As the songs play out and the record reaches its climax by the time you get to the stellar “This Is This,” (our personal favorite) and the final song, their adaptation of “Que Sera Sera,” “What Will Be,” you realize the end, in this case death, is sort of a beginning, and, fading out, the entire record neatly folds back in on itself, and you can begin anew listening to the whole thing all over again with the opening title track.



Calling this CD a diamond in the rough only plays on the very hard coal miner life described so vividly by Page. This is a diamond with very smooth edges, two years in the making, it’s a quite thoroughly polished finished product and requires only those listen to it as a record to get the full picture.

Lost and Gone Forever is indeed the crown jewel of releases so far this year from local and regional rock bands that we’ve come across; it’s really sublime, a true masterpiece of a record.

--- Dream the Electric Sleep will release Lost and Gone Forever Saturday, April 9 at the V Club with Suede Brothers and John Lancaster