West By God: "For Glory Or For Flames"

CD: "For Glory Or For Flames"

There are a million bands out there these days, but you'd be hard pressed to find one whose home state is its muse. West By God, as the name implies, is a true, honest to God West Virginia rock band.

We've always compared this Morgantown-based four-piece to Clutch, for some reason. But on their recently released 11-song effort For Glory or for Flames, West By God puts its own stamp on their own Appalachian stoner rock sound, while filling listeners in on West Virginia's history, and their place and future in it.

Songs like "Home No More" and "High Ground" open the CD, with singer Darin Kordyak painting a picture of the self-reliant, honest, hard-scrabble life Mountaineers have endured; from the state's birth out of the Civil War to the Buffalo Creek disaster, Kordyak's descriptive lyrics set the scene.

On "Home No More" describing a hometown stripped bare that he hardly recognizes, Kordyak sings:

Right where two green rivers meet
Times are tough but life is sweet
Always working on our feet
Cuz we were taught we ought not cheat

And the music moves the story along. Josh Baldwin's solos seem to fit perfectly in the song structures; not dominant or too long, just killer. Mike Lorenzen plays bass and slide guitar on the recording and Treasure Cat drummer Roy Brewer steps in on the recording with rockin' results.

And in case there's any doubt about West By God's affinity for West Virginia, there's the State seal emblazoned inside the sleeve. Nice.

The band, like so many, many others, recorded the CD at Zone 8 in Granville. Compared to their debut EP, re-recorded tracks like "Pottawatomie" and "Hello Mingo" (one of our favorites) sound even better.

From Kordyak's lyrics (from the historic to the apocalyptic, a real treat) to the hard rock tunes, West By God has done West Virginia proud on this effort. Whether the band is destined for glory or for flames, this CD is definitely worth checking out.


Hillbilly Proud does us all proud

There is no shortage of bad news or stereotypes when it comes to West Virginia. We here at WVRockscene try not to fall into either category, and are always glad when someone does something super neato to promote the best part(s) of our fair state; the people and the places.

Hillbilly Proud just put together a nice little video of Jeff Ellis' bluegrass ode to the Mountain State, West Virginia Hills, and you can see it on their MySpace profile. It's a great song off a great CD, and we're glad to see 'em do this. Combined with their "Tired and Leaving West Virginia" blog, Hillbilly Proud has made us all proud.

Check out the video here, and by all means check out Ellis and Hillbilly Proud's sites.

Late night user fee comes to Magic Town bars

Just came across this artikel about Morgantown bars and finer establishments being taxed for being open after 10 p.m. -- something that may end up coming to other towns in our fair state.

The small business owners are mad as hell, read the piece to learn more on this. You've read this much.


New Whiskey Daredevils/Big Bad Saturday!

Saturday night will be huge at the Empty Glass, as Cleveland's no-frills rockabilly cowpunk four-piece The Whiskey Daredevils (above) return with a new CD, and Charleston's horror-core punk band The Big Bad will shoot a video at the bar earlier in the evening before releasing their new CD next to the Brickhouse later on.

Daredevils bass player Ken Miller told us the new CD, The Very Best of the Whiskey Daredevils, is rockin' indeed, and to swing by to get a copy, but if you can't, you can hear three of the new tunes on their MySpace page. "Gary Sez Fuck 'em" is our favorite new track from one of our favorite bands. That being the Daredevils.

Eamon Hardiman will be helping The Big Bad with their video fundraiser thing, which starts around 7 p.m.; wear a costume, from what we hear. See their MySpace for show details.

related: WVRockscene talks w/Whiskey Daredevils Greg Miller
photo: uncredited


Arms and Sleepers new EP "The Motorist"

After getting a copy of the new Arms and Sleepers EP The Motorist in the mail, we got all retrospective and stuff.

It's actually funny to think about how we first found out about Arms and Sleepers a few years back. 'Twas over MySpace, of course, where we first came across the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based duo of Max Lewis and Mirza Ramic, and their ambient music.

At the time, we got 'em covered in Grafitti for an upcoming show at the Glass, and had got Bliss Was it in That Dawn to be Alive mailed in advance. Rarely were we so excited to be able to catch a band.

Ramic and Lewis, sitting in the dark with their synths and laptops, making their soulful, trippy, electronic music, played video footage of what we think now was their actual tour, behind and over them via a projector.

The Motorist EP by Arms and Sleepers, released in mid-February

They were playing with The Concept that night at the Glass, so that was awesome too. Everyone on our end seemed to have a good time with cool dudes and rock to one band we knew rocked, and one that we had just found out about.

This was all back when WVRockscene was cool, mind you. And it was there we also picked up a limited edition EP from A/S. And now, having just got their newest effort in the mail and listening to it, we thought about how much we've dug their music, how unique they are, and how much it sucks they're not coming through town.

Arms and Sleepers has been staying busy, touring all over in February and March, stopping for a show in Austin, Tayhass this past weekend at SXSW. They're coming through Lexington and Pittsburgh in the coming days, winding their tour down. And we know those cities aren't in West Virginia, and that Arms and Sleepers in not from West Virginia. We just dig their music.


A Lonely Town gets lonelier?

We're sitting on a lot of of posts and/or feature-type stuff that we've been wanting to get out, but just haven't yet. We're excited about 'em all, from the new CDs, cool new area bands, and even a few shows that, yes, we may try to attend. Just look at the upcoming show schedule; it's exciting.

One thing not so exciting? A Charleston area bar shutting down, temporarily, we assume, over a liquor license. One that books cool bands from time to time.

Lonely Town is/was set to release their debut CD next Friday (the 27th) at the Blue Parrot, from what frontman Mark Bates recently told us. We'd very much look forward to hearing the CD; although we haven't caught Lonely Town live yet, we did see Bates and his Vacancies, and have heard through various channels that the band is legit. He himself seems hugely talented. You can catch them in a recent episode of Radio Free Charleston. Now Rudy owes us $50.

Well, we just read that the show scheduled for tonight at the Parrot was shit-canned at the last minute due to a problem with the bar's liquor license. We were told this by someone running DeadFaceDown's MySpace profile, in response to their bulletin about the show being called off at the last minute.

This will hopefully work itself out soon and the Parrot will be back selling liquor and shit ASAP, or Charleston will have just one regular venue for bands, the Glass. The Sound Factory just hosted Larry Keel and will welcome Karma To Burn to town next month, but it seems like they haven't had hardly any shows in recent months.

So, in summation, one piece of good news (a cool new CD from a cool new local band) is dampened somewhat by one piece of bad news about an area bar not being able to host shows. Poop.

But we're positive thinkers here at WVRockscene, and can see the silver lining; Lonely Town's new CD is available NOW, so you don't have to wait for a show that may not happen to get it. Check 'em out online and out live somewhere in the coming weeks and months.


St. Patty's Day w/Sarasota? WHOAH!!!

We've spent the last few days reading up on St. Patrick, and what he did for Ireland and promoting irresponsible beer drinking. It's not a coincidence; we've been gearing up for a round of cool St. Patrick's Day shows in the coming days.

Tomorrow, one of our favorite punk bands of all time, Huntington's Sarasota, will play Club Echo with a few other bands that never brought any religion or beer to any foreign country.

Also, as far as St. Patrick's Day shows, Larry Keel and Natural Bridge playing 123 Pleasant St. with The Davisson Brothers seems like a winner to us. We really like Keel's music, so check 'em out if you're up that way.

That is all. End communication.


Byzantine's Broadmoor demo available

No wonder West Virginia ranked last in happiness in a recent Gallop poll; our best metal bands, defunct though they may be, get their music pirated and sold over the internet with no money! Classy.

Such is the situation Byzantine finds itself in. After releasing "Oblivion Beckons" about a year ago and subsequently dissolving not long after that, the band finds itself having had their "Broadmoor Demo" basically stolen and sold over the internet, according to what frontman Chris "OJ" Ojeda said in a blog entry on the band's MySpace profile.

You can read the whole story there, and help the band out by downloading the 12-song demo here.


Killing Chloe comes back to West Virginia

(Killing Chloe returns to Charleston for a show at the Blue Parrot 3.14)

Even talking over email, you know that Steve Barton is excited about his band Killing Chloe. The Cincinnati (via Sissonville) prog-rock four-piece is returning to Charleston March 14th for a show at the Blue Parrot with a new EP, DVD (cut into webisodes), and overall, a new band. It’s been a few years since they released their Deftones-esque CD “Two Years Later” but now, four years later, Barton’s enthusiasm for the band has only grown.

“It’s exciting times for us,” he admitted.

The band (Barton: guitar, vocals; J.P. Morris: guitar; Brad Roades: bass; Kevin Best: drums) made the short drive to Sissonville last November to work with former band member Charles “Aaron” Fisher at 101 Productions in Sissonville. Also helping out in the engineering department was former bandmate and current Parrot sound guy Nathan Shrewsbury.

Barton said it was that friendship and experience that made the recording (three songs in three months) of “The Okapi & Other Myths That Exist” so smooth and productive.

That, and some whip-cracking from Fisher.

“Charles really busted my ass, as well as the rest of the band, on this one,” Barton admitted. “That’s what makes working with him great; he is my best friend so we always have a fun time and have a mutual respect for each others ideas.”

From there, the recording went to Drew Mazurek, who’d worked with Byzantine, Linkin Park and Nothingface for mixing. “He really took it to the next level,” Barton said.

Jay Frigoletto (AIC, Crossfade, Clutch) handled the mastering, and Barton said there was no lack of awe having his material handled by people who’d worked with those kinds of bands.

“Dude, we were so pumped it was crazy, but to be honest it was a bit scary to think that they were gonna hear it, and the “What ifs?” kinda started floating; “What if they hate it?” lol. But Drew was awesome and is a very down to earth guy. He took care of us and really worked hard, and seemed to have a heart in it, if that makes sense.

“We drove down to Baltimore for the mixes. I know for me, it was just a sweet thing to watch him mix and take in all that skill and learn a lot; I admired him as an engineer far before we got to work with him.”

Consequently, Barton said that Killing Chloe fans from Ohio to West Virginia and beyond can expect a more polished product than the last CD. “In all honesty [The Okapi] blows that away. Personally, I look at “Two Years Later” like a long-winded demo; we play the material live but it’s not what it could be. I look forward to getting to re-record a few of those tunes one day with better production.”

Barton said the band is trying to book a mini-tour later on in the year. “West Virginia and Kentucky will be the start. We will from there be using Indie On The Move to book a seven-day tour later this spring/summer to test the waters.”

He said he was excited about a few webisodes and an electronic press kit done with the help of Indiana-based Renegade Films.

“Renegade is our friend Cyrus’ baby. We did a video for the demo version of our song “The Watchers II” with him and it turned out great, so we began shooting an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) and getting live footage gathered for that as well, as tons of hours of random in-studio and joking around stuff that will end up being a few short webisodes. Cyrus is a very talented guy and very open to ideas; if you’re in a band look him up!

Barton said he’s looking forward to bringing his band back to West Virginia.

“I’m personally excited to show people what this band has become. West Virginia is where Killing Chloe was born, and we also popped our show cherry there in ‘07. But we have came a long way from the band they saw then. Getting to see some friendly faces and play music for them is a beautiful thing. Can’t wait to have a drink or two and rock the hell out of Charleston again.”

Finishing up, taking everything in, Barton is stoked at what may lie in store for Killing Chloe.

“I still can’t believe how cool all this is.”

--- photo: Jessica Uttinger


Thievery is up in Magic Town

It’s not all the time that we get cool emails about rockin’ new bands from Morgantown. Such was the case a few days ago whenst we logged onto our Gmail account, and lo and behold, it was Wes Thomas.

Formerly of The Ones That Got Away and more recently Red Bones, Wes was letting us know about a new project he’s got going up that way called Thick As Thieves. Made up of Thomas, Red Bones bassist (and former Masses bandmate) Jason Harler and Kevin Post from The Emergency on drums, not only were we getting a scoop, we got mp3s attached. Good deal.

Thomas said one cool thing about the new band is he and Harler share the songwriting duties.

“I’m liking the dual songwriting approach. It gives us both a break from singing; there’s more material to work with so it feels more productive. I still like all the TOTGA stuff but I’m basically just starting from scratch now as far as writing songs, which is nice because I’m free to just play whatever.”

"In The Thick" brought TOTGA and "Slice It Twice" to mind, with Thomas on vocals, while "Like Hell" features Harler singing. You can hear both songs on their new MySpace profile.

Thomas said aside from any musical comparisons to the Ones or Red Bones, simple geographic proximity makes for more convenient rocking.

“With this band we get to practice more often since we all live in Morgantown. For a long time with TOTGA, Derek [Thomas] and Zak [Richards] lived in Charleston or Huntington. We’d maybe manage to practice two weekends a month at most. It was kind of hard to keep together after awhile.”

Wes said Thick As Thieves recorded the two songs at Zone 8 studios, and the mp3s were a bit of a taste of what's in store.

“We’d like to get more recorded. It’s just a matter of scraping together some funds. We have enough songs for an album at this point and are working on new stuff and playing shows.”

Thick As Thieves will play their first show Saturday night with Russian Tombstones joining them for a U92 Up All Night party at the Mountain Lair at WVU.