WVRockscene's top 10 songs of 2008

10 "Trainwreck" by The Demon Beat

9 "Rocketship" by Attack Flamingo

8 "Useless" by The Red Velvet

7 "Out Of Nowhere" by The Concept

6 "Not This Time" by The Emergency

5 "Kill Our Idols" by '85 Flood

4 "Stand Up And Be Counted" by Bud Carroll and The Southern Souls

3 "Everything Changes" by Sarasota

2 "Grandpa's Place" by Jeff Ellis

1 "Your Song" by The Dig-Its


Marinelli Does Morgantown

J Marinelli returns to Morgantown to help close out 2008 with holiday shows at 213 Green Street Saturday and a New Year's Eve show at 123 Pleasant Street. It's been only a few months since he and his angry one-man band left Magic Town for Lexington, Kentucky. Since then, he's returned for the 123 anniversary show and was honored by a whole slew of Morgantown musicians on the "Morgantown Does Marinelli" compilation.

Marinelli said over e-mail that he's settled in and Lexington is treating him well. "I'm teaching English at the University of Kentucky, and playing some good shows. Kind of like what I did in Morgantown, but with different scenery. Plus, one thing I noticed about Lexington (and most of Kentucky, for that matter) is that, like Canada, everyone is very, very kind."

For the most part, Marinelli said he and his one-man act have been well-received at Lexington-area shows. "It has varied, but for the most part people -- especially other musicians -- have been very kind and enthusiastic."

When asked about "the Lexington scene" and any cool bands and venues, Marinelli dropped more names than we could shorten, so we reposted it below:

"The Dame (which is essentially Lexington's 123 Pleasant Street), Cultural Preservation Research (a DIY spot that has shows five or six nights out of the week), Lower 48 (a new basement club), Al's Bar (is kind of like a pub -- very good food as well -- which focuses more on roots music like alt-country, bluegrass, and rockabilly), and Brooklyn Pizza (a pizza joint upstairs from Lower 48 that has all-ages punk shows -- awesome). There are also house shows on a regular basis."

"Apples In Stereo (who more or less live in Lexington now, which is awesome because they've been a Marinelli favorite for more than a decade now), Tight Leather, Very Emergency, Infected, The Loaded Nuns, Idaho, Alaska, The Teenagers Responsible, Attempt, Hair Police, All-American Werewolves, Cadaver In Drag, Big Fresh, Killer Meteor, and many many more... all awesome."

"There's also a VERY strong hip-hop scene: Cunninglinguists (you might want to check on the spelling of that), Devine Cerama, JustMe, etc."

"I should also mention WRFL (88.1 -- www.wrfl.fm), Radio Free Lexington -- a radio station that is on par with East Orange, New Jersey's legendary WFMU. And I'm not just saying that because they put "Keep It Fake" into rotation either."

"Lastly, there are some great record stores as well: the amazing CD Central (ask the guys in Fox Japan about that place), POPS Resale (used everything -- miles of vinyl), and The Album (all hip-hop, very underground)."

Marinelli will definitely be staying busy over the holidays, as he is set for a steady string of important rock-related dates. Saturday is the show at Green St. with Slate Dump and Rifle Camp; Sunday, he travels to D.C. for a show at The Black Cat with Stewart Lupton and George Karos (Marinelli was recently favorably blurbed in the Washington Post); Monday, he'll head into Paul Cogle's Echoes recording studio in Falling Waters (listed at 9 a.m. sharp on his MySpace page) to re-record "Pre-Emptive Skankery," the follow-up to "Keep It Fake."

"I've recorded two different versions of that record and I'm satisfied with neither of them...We'll see if the third time truly is a charm." We'll also note real fast here that the "Stone Age Kicks, Volume I" is available now on cassette, and Marinelli said that Volume II will be out next year.

Later Monday night he'll rock The Blue Moon Cafe in Shepherdstown with The Bloody Nines, and will head back to Morgantown, take Tuesday off, most likely, and play the 123 NYE show Wednesday night with One Hundred Hurricanes and Lake and Ocean.

Marinelli said he was looking forward to seeing people at the shows and during the holidays, and admitted that he was flattered that everyone had came together on the "Morgantown Does Marinelli" compilation.

"Being presented with that collection truly was my "George Bailey Moment." If you don't know what I'm talking about then you should probably watch more TV around this time of year."

--- photo: Andy Pickens


WVRockscene's top 10 CDs of 2008

10 Bud Carroll and the Southern Souls (EP)

This super-solid seven-song debut effort is a nice introduction to one of the best guitar players around, and now that the band has added Jon Cavendish on piano/organ, the Black Crowes-esque sound you hear on songs like the reggae-flavored "Stand Up And Be Counted" will match up with what you see with the live act. "Hell Raisin' Kind," "Time Don't Wait Around," and "I Don't Believe You" are the more rockin' tracks; "It's Been A Minute" shows the softer side of the former American Minor member. Now, with his own band, Carroll looks to develop his own following, which he and the band have been doing quite nicely. Maybe it's the solos.

9 "Know It All" by The Dig-Its

We actually avoided visiting this band's MySpace profile when they started uploading the new tunes back in, like, March, before we got the CD. We're glad we waited, so as not to spoil the surprise to the follow-up to their eponymous "Green CD" that we picked up what seems like a lifetime ago. "Better Days" and "Goddamn Shame" hew close to The Dig-Its timeless version or punk and/or rock; "Summer Days" and "Wrong Way" are more recent-sounding incarnations of punk, "Mama Tried" approaches rockabilly, and "Your Song" -- well, it's one of our favorite songs of the year, honestly. We're still trying to get the opening riffs of it as a ringtone for the cellphone we haven't bought yet. The band may have a different singer these days, but they're still one of our faves.

8 "The Empire Penguin Strikes Back" by The Concept

Their first stab at a CD was, in their own words, not that great an idea. With this seven-song effort, our friends in The Concept prove that they can kick out the jams on CD just like they do live. Newer songs like "Ye To The 10th Degree" and "Out Of Nowhere" have Team THC branching out stylistically, maybe. You also get some songs you may have heard if you've been writing "The Concept" on your eyelids, batting your eyes at the band, like "That's The One," "Not The Only" and their growl-core version of Tom Petty's "Learning To Fly." The CD closes with the instrumental "Ben's Song," showing that they can do stuff besides write songs about guitar picks falling into some awesome tasting artificial fruit drink. Oh yeah.

As much as we love this band, they are at a bit of a disadvantage in the countdown here 'cuz we're so familiar with 'em; if we'd have got this CD in the mail, not having any clue about who these guys are, we'd have peed our pants.

7 The Emergency (EP)

The third installment in, as we call it, "The Trilogy" finds this Magic Town trio finally reaching the end of its run. This superbly produced nine-song effort, however, has all the catchy Brit-rock you've come to know and love, and is a solid follow-up to "Doo-Lang Doo-Lang" and their first CD, "How Can You Move?" Richly layered songs, with the dynamic duo of frontman Rob Wehrle and bassist Aaron Crothers setting the band apart. "Not This Time" nicely encapsulates the band's two-minute pop side, "Soaking Up The Scene" is the Brit-rock side, and the bittersweet "Bring On The Good Times" is an apt way to close up shop. Seriously, we've loved all the CDs from these guys.

6 "No Star Could Be As Large" by Attack Flamingo

So these guys e-mail us one day and are all like "Check out our CD and stuff!" -- we're paraphrasing, but we're glad we took Attack Flamingo's advice. Where the Blues Brothers were on a mission from god, Attack Flamingo is on a mission to god, with all their well-written, catchy, synth-based space rock.

"Rocketship" and "Burning" are two standout tracks; but although Attack Flamingo relies heavily on the synth, we hesitate to call them an electronic band, because the songs are well-written, catchy, and powerful. This CD takes the cake for surprise hit of 2008 for us. There is no award for "Surprise Hit of 2008" by the way, it's just something we made up cause it's true. This band has a sound and style that we thought the band below at #5 may have approached on their full-length debut.

5 "Lights Won't Go Out" by The Red Velvet

This full-length debut effort by this Huntington-based four-piece is one of the more solid CDs we've got all year. Between releasing their first demo and this one, they've thrown in re-recorded versions of a few songs, incorporated some of what guitarist Russ Fox seemed to have in his Sinks Of Gandy outfit, and came up with a few great new songs like "Chasing The Sun," "Above The Clouds," the title track, and the more straight forward rock of songs like "Today" and "Useless." The Red Velvet's songs are beautiful, atmospheric, catchy, and with the triple threat vocal attack of frontman Jordan Andrew Jefferson, Fox, and their drummer, Jonathan Jefferson, you don't know what to expect next, which is good.

4 "They Will Surface" by Hyatari

Huntington's Hyatari is way more drone than you, and this recently released six-song, sixty minute effort proves it. From orchestrations like the 15-minute "Abyssal Plain" to the more pretty melodic changes of "Prolonged Exposure," Chris Tackett, Brett Fuller, and Mac Walker remind you that sometimes, words can get in the way. The low, slow, gut-pummeling low end and the atmospherics provided by guitar and synth give the entire effort a kind of elemental feel. Think of the best Nine Inch Nails instrumental stuff and you may not be too far off; put some headphones on and "drone" out if you're into this kind of sound.

3 Sarasota

This CD reminds us of our favorite all-time punk records. Ten songs, nine originals, and all punk rock, this coherent self-titled effort and Sarasota's version of punk rock evokes Face To Face, maybe. Standout songs are the hopeful "Everything Changes" and "Woe Say Canseco," with a chrous of just one big "WHOAH" on it.

Frontman Mike Schritter belts out powerful, emotive vocals with lyrics that read like they're straight out of his personal diary; while keeping his version of punk downright distressed, with all the despair and self-destruction, there's a maturity and hope underlying it all. From "All We Know" through "Boy You Never Learn," "By The Wayside" to "Cigarettes And Alcohol," "Kerosene" and the acoustic closer "Can't Remember To Forget," this CD is easily one of our favorites of 2008. Thanks to Dave of The Concept for hooking us up with it for free!

2 "Stone Age Kicks Vol. I & II" by J. Marinelli

Honestly no other CD spent more time in the WVRockscene stereo than this 16-song tribute by Marinelli to some of his favorite artists. Marinelli went back and added songs by artists ranging from Woody Guthrie and Billy Bragg to The Pixies, to what was Volume I, a cassette only release.

Upon downloading the CD and promptly burning it onto CD, we were duly blasted with Marinelli's one-man roots punk act on Beat Happening's "The 'This Many Boyfriends' Club" but, the surprising, great thing to hear was Marinelli's not-so-overdriven side; he drops his electric caveman guitar and picks up a banjo and harmonica on killer covers of "Head On" and "Wave of Mutilation" by The Pixies, the heartbreaking Neil Young song "Winterlong" and the bitter Rolling Stones track "Dead Flowers" has the now Lexington, Ky. resident belting out the lyrics, with no distortion or anything like that. "Ride A White Swan" has Marinelli covering T. Rex, leading his own old-timey tent revival, and he commandeth ye to shake it.

But, you still get the cantankerous, overdriven Marinelli style of rock you've come to know and love off "Pity The Party" and "Keep It Fake" -- his versions of Daniel Johnston's "Grievances," and "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron" will definitely wake up the neighbors.

Dylan's "Positively 4th Street" and Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd" are two standout tracks, and we've come to like Marinelli's overdriven, understated cover of "Hey Whoopy Cat" by The Emergency more than when we first heard it, honestly. If you're known by the company you keep, in the lyrics of the cover songs he sings, Marinelli says a lot about himself. A great CD to get introduced to Marinelli's not-so-angry one-man band. You know you'll never get that cassette.

1 "Covering The Distance" by Jeff Ellis

Ellis follows up on last year's epic "A Front Seat For The End Of The World" with this solid 12-song effort. Where "AFSFTEOW" was harder in parts, "Distance" has more of a rockin' acoustic-based alt-country and bluegrass sound, but layered with a big sound, and with Bud Carroll on lead and his Southern Souls backing up Ellis among other guest musicians, Ellis proves why so many people have come to dig his music.

Songs like "I'm Not Leaving This Time," the title track, and "Goodnight Capital City" have the more well-rounded brand of Wilco rock; "West Virginia Hills," "The Men In Sago Mine" and the uber-catchy "Grandpa's Place" drop the bluegrass on ya, and our favorite, "Something Bad's Gonna Happen" portends bad things, the only real "downer" on the upbeat, mature CD.

Just like on "Front Seat" Ellis' songs feature Carroll's soaring solos, and Ellis' longtime friend and former Guinness Clarke's Wine bandmate Phil James on piano and organ give the songs depth and textures you don't hear in a lot of bands.

Between hearing Ellis play most of the songs at a solo acoustic show at Taylor Books back in May, hearing the advance copy, and now the final, mastered version, it's clear to us how talented he is, and this CD just helps reinforce it.

"Covering The Distance" -- Ellis' third solo release, is not only an outstanding followup, it cements the 27-year old Marshall student and Army reserve member as having the top two local CDs over the past two years, in our opinion, and that ain't bad.


69 Fingers returns to Charleston

Orlando (via Charleston) ska band 69 Fingers returns to town this Christmas for two special holiday shows with their friends in The Concept. They’ll play the Brickhouse this Saturday and throw their fourth annual Christmas party at the Glass next Thursday, after opening some presents from Santa, maybe.

Recently, a few members of the band had things put in perspective; their front man (guitarist/singer Steve Osborne), bassist (Brian Hitchcock), and drummer (Lucas Scarpelli) were recently involved in a pretty bad car wreck down in Florida.

“As of right now, I can’t even hold a drumstick,” Scarpelli said.

“I got it the worst after flying through the back seat and f’n up my left hand and nearly ripping my ear off but other than that, I walked away from the accident. Also in the van was Steve, Steve’s brother, Hitch, and our friend Andrew. Just to be clear, we were sitting at a stop light. Wrong place at the wrong time.”

The band, all Capital High alums (except for the sax player, Mason Acomb), with their punk rock (and fellow Capital) friends in The Concept will look to catch up on the good times, like they had when The Concept went to Florida for shows with the band.

“It was good times, like always,” Scarpelli said. “They’ve been down a couple times and each time they’re here, we play a couple shows in different cities like Orlando, Daytona, and Sarasota,” he added.

It’s the close friendship between the two CHS punk bands that has led to a collaboration on the punk rock epic “The Decline” by NOFX.

“It’s definitely been an idea and we have played through it a few times,” Scarpelli said. “I’m sure when we do play it live, there will be people who will love it. It’s an awesome 18-minute song.”

But intra-band collaboration on punk rock classics isn’t the only thing that goes down when 69 Fingers and The Concept team up.

“We also do a lot of drinking. A lot.”

Aside from tying one on, 69 Fingers has been busy with new material, Scarpelli said. “We’ve got enough new material to make our next album and can’t wait to unleash it to the world. It’s just getting the money to do it is going to take time.”

Scarpelli, the only original member of 69 Fingers left, admitted that he wasn’t sure the ska band could survive in Charleston. “We moved to Florida to keep the band going. I feel that if we had stayed in Charleston, we’d probably not exist to this day.”

“The band has been together for eleven years now. The only original member is me. I could speak for the rest of the band when I say 69 Fingers means more to us than anything right now.”

--- 69 Fingers, The Concept, The Big Bad, and Down Goes Frazier play The Brickhouse in St. Albans Saturday at 5 p.m. The Brickhouse is located at 52 Olde Main Plaza, it's an all-ages show, of course, and cover is $7


Our local band merch list to Santa

Looking for that special gift for that special rock and roll someone this holiday season?

We here at rockscene have noticed a lot of area bands coming out with new shirts recently, and thought we'd put a little something together for those local fans who might want to get their rocker friends a special, local, present for Christmas.

Huntington's Black Knots just posted some new t-shirt designs that look pretty rockin'. By supporting them, buying a shirt, you don't just give the gift that keeps on rocking all through 2009, you may help a Knots member with actual "bailout" money, or, funds to get their driver's licenses back, maybe. Looks like we'd fit in just fine with those non-drivin' rockers. They've also just posted an update on the recording of their new album, "The Guitarmageddon" due out next year.

It's gonna be a black Christmas this year; it's safe to assume that our friends in The Renfields have some Re-animator themed t-shirts available. We picked one up at their 10.25 show at The Blue Parrot. The band name (Re-Nfields) on the front is in the same green font as the movie, easily recognizable to anyone who'd seen it, and the back has a sketch of Dr. Von Renfield with Vincent's undead head on his desk. Team Transylvania may have some masks and other merch available too. But why stop there? If you haven't heard any of their CDs yet, take our advice and pick some up, or they'll send the murderous Santa from "Silent Night, Deadly Night" to your house Christmas eve.

Few things go together like fast cars and rock and roll. Our Shepherdstown friends in The Demon Beat just started selling some new shirts with an automobile on 'em, quite possibly in solidarity with the ailing, near death U.S. auto industry.

Nobody has more local band shirts available than Caustic Eye. Swing by their MySpace and check out their sales window. You can peruse items like t-shirts (Jeff Ellis/Burt Reynolds Death Metal/Maximum Headlessness), mugs, and for that hard to buy for significant other of yours, a BRDME tie! Best tie ever. We hear they're gonna check on any available Karma To Burn re-issued shirts. Best thing is, you can shop online. Tell 'em we sent ya and receive no discount or special treatment!

The Empty Glass is still selling their "Top 100" t-shirts, 'em 'ere with the Glass logo on the front, and all the bars and clubs listed by Nightclub & Bar Magazine as best in the U.S. on the back. Broaden your cultural horizons; pick up a shirt and read about all the other cool bars in the country that you'll never go to.

Now, a lot of rockin' local bands will have shirts for sale that we just don't know about, so if you're not mentioned here, comment us up and let people know. And, of course, Merry Christmas from WVRockscene!


Hyatari resurfaces with new CD

Four years after “The Light Carriers” won critical acclaim for its low, slow, punishing yet melodic metal, Huntington’s drone trio Hyatari is set to release their new six-song CD “They Will Surface” Friday night at Club Echo in Huntington.

“A lot of people thought we broke up,” bassist Chris Tackett said. “We’ve just been really busy with our lives.”

Tackett said he’s glad to finally get the CD out. “It’s like closure I guess,” he said. “It’s always exciting to release a new record, maybe even more so with this one, considering what it took to get it off the ground.”

While the band (Tackett; Mac Walker: guitar/synth/sequencing; Brett Fuller: sounds) took their sweet time getting the sophomore effort done, Tackett said the actual making of the music was the easy part.

“The material comes pretty easy,” Tackett said. “A lot of the best parts happen while Mac and I are recording. Same thing on “The Light Carriers;” we start recording an idea, and it evolves as we go. It’s a really fun way to record, except when you’re on the clock.”

Being on the clock takes on more importance when you're pounding out 10-minute orchestrations with no vocals, creating sonic landscapes that, in parts, sound like the best Nine Inch Nails instrumentals. While “They Will Surface” has six songs, there’s almost an hour’s worth of material. The songs run long and flow together with few discernable starting points.

Tackett noted the similarities and divergences between “Surface” and “Carriers.” “They were written pretty close together. Some of the stuff on “They Will Surface” was supposed to be on the first one. Our first idea was to do a complete turn around from the first record; really soft and quiet, no drums. It didn’t quite work out that way. It’s somewhere in the middle I guess. It’s still heavy, but we branched out on some of the trippy stuff we touched on for “The Light Carriers.”

One particular focus point for Hyatari’s release show will be the video they plan to run as accompaniment for their music.

“I’ve wanted to do the visual thing since the Chum days, but it was too expensive and I didn’t know what I was doing,” Tackett admitted. “With Hyatari, the idea of adding visuals really needed to happen…It hasn’t been easy putting this together, but technology has come a long way in the last ten years or so.”

“I just did a lot of research, got some footage, and edited together what I thought would fit the music and the album artwork...We haven’t actually seen the whole thing in action yet. If all goes as planned, it should really add a new dimension to the live presentation. We’re really excited about it.”

The video is just one more piece to capture the listener’s attention.

“You have to be pretty creative to hold the listener with instrumental stuff,” Tackett said. “Since you’re not locked in to writing “normal” songs, you can really go off in any direction. It’s more fun in a way. I’ve always been a fan of instrumental bands. They seem more interesting to me, to listen to anyway. I hate writing lyrics and never pay much attention to them. I look at what we do as sort of weird orchestration, heh. Like writing a soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist.”

The video, matched up with the album artwork, should tie in nicely with the elemental feel the songs have; the drums and bass provide the low end tectonic shifts, and the guitar and synth build an atmosphere.

Tackett admitted that the DIY aspect of the band, from recording to distribution, is something that came in handy with the self-released end product. “I’ve come up short with every record label I’ve dealt with,” he said. “But now we can control all the sales. Rod [Lanham] at Caustic Eye sort of helped us along in the process. He dealt with the manufacturer, and is helping with the distribution. I’ve known Rod for a long time, so it was an easy fit.”

Hyatari enlisted the help of longtime drummer friend Jude Blevins for the live show. “Jude is a perfect fit for this band,” Tackett said. “He’s been driving back and forth [between Beckley and Huntington] for rehearsals, so he’s definitely committed to the project. The songs take on a whole new life with live drums. It’s really got me focused on the band again.”

Hyatari will be joined by Youngstown, Ohio-based Rebreather for the CD release show. “Those guys are awesome, and we’re really happy about having them on,” Tackett said.

While downplaying any expectations (“All we can do is put it out there and see what happens,” he said) about the new CD and mentioning potential East coast shows, Tackett said the support from fans and critics is pretty cool.

“It does mean a lot to me,” he said. “We all put a lot of ourselves into doing this, with little or no local following. It doesn’t really matter when it's all said and done. We do this for ourselves and just try to make great music. It isn’t for everyone and we understand that. When we put out “The Light Carriers” we had no idea it would do what it did. But we’ve gotten an overwhelmingly positive response from that record, which does make you feel pretty good. Especially when you're not expecting it.”


A Very Vandals Christmas: "Oi to the World" by The Gentlemen!

You've heard the horror stories associated with Black Friday and the Christmas season-induced shopping frenzies, and the culture wars between the "War on Christmas" fearmongers and attention seeking atheists, who mess up Christmas for people like us here at WVRockscene, just trying to get their Christmas on.

We've always thought Christmas could use some more punk rock; if you haven't heard Joey Ramone sing about not wanting to fight over the holiday, well you just haven't, which sucks for you.

We were looking for the ultimate feel-good punk rock Christmas song of the season, and we may have found it...

Thanks to Morgantown's resident Celtic punk rockers The Gentlemen, we can get our very punk rock Christmas on for free. They've uploaded their version of "Oi To The World," originally done by The Vandals and later by No Doubt, (which you may know as Gwen Stefani's original band. Wait a minute.) on their MySpace profile.

Check out The Gentlemen online; if you like bands like DKM or Flogging Molly you may or may not (statistics point strongly to "may") rock The Gentlemen.

And, maybe, someday, if we write a letter to Santa or Governor Joe Manchin, they'll come down here to Charleston. But we don't think they'd all fit on the Glass stage anyway. And we're not likely to get up to Morgantown anytime soon, unless they invent some cheap affordable transportation anti-matter beam that is proven safe.

Great, now we're depressed again. Thanks a lot SAD.

photo: Nikki Rotunda


New tunes from The Redbloods

Our friends in The Redbloods just posted some new songs to their MySpace. Finally. That's a joke based on their name display, but it's not funny if you don't swing by and listen to "Bonfire" and "Invisible" after reading this. We'd heard their three-song demo EP and look forward to hearing more from these guys. Check 'em out and trip on that picture of the band.


Down to the Underground

We recently came across Huntington Underground, a cool new source profile on MySpace dedicated to covering the local band scene out there, on the moon. Hey, Huntington needs all the good news they can get; the city was just made up to be the poorest health city in the U.S. by some yahoo, Bobby Pruett hasn't coached the MU football team in years, and because of people like Plaxico Burress, there may be a new bar ban under the incoming mayor. Nice.

We think Huntington Underground will do a good job covering stuff out there, from shootings at bars to domestic violence calls at the mayor's home. Seriously; some cool bands, videos, pics and links on their page. Check 'em out, and good luck to them.