CD Review: "Wasted Words & Best Intentions"

CD: Wasted Words & Best Intentions
ARTIST: Bud Carroll & the Southern Souls

This is a CD that we were looking forward to hearing so much that we didn’t even wait on getting the actual cover for it.

Irregardless nonetheless, this 12-song sophomore release from the 27-year old Huntington phenom Carroll (and his Southern Souls) will serve as a permanent benchmark not only of his own enormous musical talents, but the Souls rockin output over the past few years.

Their mix of southern rock, blues, soul and country, and the band’s growth as a unit since their debut, is on display, with all their best intentions. Those who’ve ever liked the Black Crowes will instantly fall in love with what Carroll and the Souls are putting out. But Wasted Words has not only the southern rock feel, but a more uptempo Americana feel in parts, with tear-in-you-beer country tunes, too.

The CD opens with revamped, redone versions of songs you’ll recognize from the Souls’ eponymous debut EP, the uptempo version of “When It All Hits You,” and the funkier, subdued version of the anti-authority polemic “I Don’t Believe You,” still one of our favorites, despite the softer edge compared to the original.

Standout tracks on the CD are “Nowhere Town” and “That’s All She Wrote,” the former (a “sad, sweet refrain” dedicated to Huntington?), with its clear lead guitar, walking bass lines and overall pop feel evoking Weezer, and the latter, with its feelgood Americana vibe reminding us of something off Wilco’s Being There, maybe sung by Matthew Sweet. Great songs each.

Carroll opens on “Nowhere Town” -- describing a sentiment shared by so many West Virginia residents who may have moved on, or maybe the fate of his own band:

All that remains is a rusted pair of tracks
but no one complains, cause they ain’t lookin back.
We did everything we could now it’s well understood,
everything that went away this time is going to stay for good.
Carroll sings on the bouncy, rockin chorus:

I get the feelin -- should’ve left here yesterday
I get the feelin -- I’ll be leaving here to stay
Nowhere town, nowhere bound
Nowhere to go to but down
Sprinkled throughout the songs, in addition to Carroll’s soaring solos, are arpeggiated synth rolls and parts; good stuff, and a good example of what Jon Cavendish brought to the Souls live act before moving to Nashville.

The shuffling, only slightly depressing country feel of “King of all the Fools,” with its mandolin, fiddle and Carroll’s slide guitar, reminds us of Dwight Yoakam for one reason or another.

“Big Coal” -- written by bassist Jimmy Lykens -- is one of the more hard rockin tracks. “Soul Searching” is a frank, funky, effort by Carroll to get at what he’s looking for (with a rockin’ bridge and solo) and “You Don’t Have to Walk Alone” is the bluesy, barroom Black Crowes side of the Souls.

Recorded by Eddie Ashworth (Pennywise, Sublime) in Athens, Ohio, Wasted Words & Best Intentions serves to ensure that -- whatever form Carroll’s future bands may take, whatever name -- people won’t forget about his and the Souls talent, and their rock was not in vain.

One of the best CDs we’ve heard all year, from one of the best musicians around.

mp3: "Nowhere Town" by Bud Carroll & the Southern Souls

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The Last Southern Souls Show (REPOST)

Bud Carroll and the Southern Souls play their last show Saturday. Below is a reposted bulletin from the group about the show, and their CD/DVD release

Bud Carroll and the Southern Souls will be reuniting for a one shot deal Nov 21st at Shamrock's in Huntington.

We will be using our farewell show to release our record (for which at this time have no idea the title of) coupled with a DVD of our show at the Paramount Theater last year. The record was produced by Eddie Ashworth of Sublime, Pennywise, and Jeff Ellis fame.

If you've been wondering what happened to us, it's ok...we have too.

Bud and Jimmy are playing in Bud's new solo band and it fuckin rules of course, brother John flew the coup to Nashville to initiate his total world domination...and to actually play bass, and Steve was taken into the witness protection program (because, well, he...he knew things) but has recently been sighted in the Lesage area.

So if you ever wanted to see this band play...and maybe get a record and DVD...this is your last chance to dance trance baby....so see ya there.

-Sweatpants Mcgee

Related: Bud Carroll -- Legendary Guitar Hero
ed. note -- We also hear that Carroll will be at the Glass 12.4, releasing the CD, just not sure if that's a Souls show or not. Who knows? This could be one of those strategically planned "hiatuses" that bands do, just to set the stage for the huge reunion tour. Either way, you should check out Carroll in whatever form he takes.


CD Review: "Shit, We're 23"

CD: Shit, We're 23
Artist: The Demon Beat

Trying to cover rockin' local bands for the past few years has put us in the fortunate position to be able to, for better or worse, judge new CDs against band's previous releases.

We can remember getting The Demon Beat's debut, Heavy Nasty, what seems like 10 years ago (2007), being taken aback by our misjudging not only the cover and the title of the CD, but the name of the band itself; we expected something like death metal, having never really heard the band.

Instead we got catchy, powerful, mostly Brit-rock -- much to our delight.

Having in the meantime heard their most recently released EP and the couple of songs they put on the Bud Carroll Caustic Eye split release, with Shit, We're 23 Adam Meisterhans, Tucker Riggleman and Jordan Hudkins continue the shock and awe campaign of throwback-style rock power that the Shepherdstown-based trio has been making waves with, and just now realizing that they weren't 22 anymore, they decide to put down 10 kickass rock songs for posterity's sake.

The "best new band in West Virginia" (as judged by The Boston Phoenix) and the band already (allegedly) banned from coverage by Shepherd University's student paper (haha, their own hometown) returns with Meisterhans' jangly guitars, insane solos, distorted noise jams and soulful, soulful, lovelorn crooning turning into painful shrieking and howling.

Instantly comparing the tones on 23 to Nasty, there's a more distorted, live, high energy feel than what was even on the overall really good debut effort. The band retains the old school rock feel -- they list Hendrix, The Who, and the Stones among their more obvious influences -- they've showed since they came on the scene, way out there in the Eastern Panhandle, and capture an even greater, palpable intensity on their latest (self-produced?) Big Bullet release.

The driving "Got You Movin'" and the funky "Millionaire" open Shit, We're 23 with more of that same vibe, which is why you dug the band in the first place. Meisterhans intones "I'm gonna be a millionaire" psychotically, asserting "I'm a mover," before building into the gutteral, frenetic choruses. With the harder, fuzzier tones, some of the new Demon Beat songs approach grunge, with Angus Young solos.

One pro/con about taking 23 as a whole is the three songs we've already heard. Hearing the amped-up re-recordings of the absolutely killer "This Is No Fun," (think "Search And Destroy") "Memory Ain't Enough" (with the cool Pink Floyd flavor three minutes in) and "Bad Man," are neat benchmarks to compare to the previous versions, but from a tactical, CD-listening-to standpoint, it makes 23 seven previously unheard songs instead of 10.

Speaking of seven songs, the seventh song on the CD, the uber-catchy "Make My Move," is our favorite; it's the one that we'll come back to over and over to listen to again. They need to put that one on their MySpace profile. "Move" and "The Game" approach the prettier, poppier side of the Demon Beat's rock style.

"Can't You" is a slow, echo-soaked dreamy near-power ballad and sews up 23 with the re-recorded "Bad Man" -- not sure where the songs were recorded at, but The Demon Beat capture a hot, live, plug-in-and-go attitude on the solidly produced effort.

For fans of The Demon Beat and those who've heard Heavy Nasty and their other, smaller releases, hearing this new CD will kind of make you glad you've been doing what you've been doing over the past couple of years -- rocking out.

The Demon Beat is a bad band. Bad as in they rock.

The CD, possibly named for some sort of perceived post-college mid-mid-life crisis, or some as-yet unknown perk of being 23 -- is a more than solid addition to the Demon Beat library as the continue to rock as hard as any band around, make fans and continue to earn critical rock and roll acclaim and any other accolades they deserve. There's enough in on the band to judge them as one of the best bands out there, and make you question what could come next for these guys, what 24 will bring, maybe.

But for Adam, Tucker and Jordan, with this CD, they'll always remember (and we'll always be able to hear) where they were when they were 23.

--- The Demon Beat release Shit, We're 23 tonight (11.13) @ 123 Pleasant St., and tomorrow (11.14) @ Shamrock's in Huntington

mp3: "Make My Move" by The Demon Beat

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CD Review: "Redeeming Metal/Union"

CD: Redeeming Metal/Union
Artist: The Scrap Iron Pickers

By the time we catch onto anything cool here it's been out for a while, and such is the case for Charleston's own Scrap Iron Pickers.

Comprised of a veritable star-studded lineup of John Sizemore, Roadblock and Matt Wolfe, these guys are joined on this genre skipping debut split effort by a half dozen or so notable guest musicians (the band's "Union" members) and from our perspective, having had the CD drop into our figurative lap all of a sudden, it's better late than never hearing it, becuase it's got to be one of the coolest CDs we've heard all year, period.

It shouldn't surprise anyone who's already heard this relatively recently formed trio, though.

First off, there's no vocals or singing on the 13-song release, so there's no lyrical or narrative structure to tyrannize the Pickers version of "angry Jazz." Sure, there's the (by this point fair use?) old Camel cigarette and DuPont commercials sampled in with William S. Burroughs among others, but really, not having vocals seems to make the stretched-out jams cooler.

Opening with "Coal Bucket" and "Too Pissed Off To Sleep," by the time you get a feel of what's going on with what they're going for, the Pickers have already begun their impressive journey on whatever musical direction they're wanting to go on, and that's the cool thing with their music: it's seemingly ambitious without being contrived or forced -- they're just jamming and it seems to come natural to them. The journey is the destination.

Most of the music -- a directionless hard-prog rock/punk/dub-reggae hybrid -- on Redeeming Metal seems to remind us of music we've always seemed to like, which makes us even lamer for not "getting" what the Pickers are going for sooner. Possibly the coolest track on the CD is the acoustic-based, harmonica soaked "Swamp Thing," which before you know it has evolved into explosive hard rock, and features "Union" members Jeff Ellis and Bud Carroll, who engineered and co-produced the CD along with the Pickers.

"Kids Raising Kids/Kids Killing Kids" evokes Hum for us, they're that band from that Cadillac commercial. "The Stench of Poverty" is a pretty cool prog rock-sounding jam. "Spy Vs. Spy" is the dub reggae-meets hard rock flavor of the Pickers. The garage techno of "Strange Bytes" on the Union EP only cements the idea that the Pickers aren't leery of embracing a wide spectrum of genres and styles, and just excites us all the more.

But two of the coolest tracks are saved for last -- "Junkyard Jesus" and "The Mourning After" -- and taking up approximately 40 minutes worth of time, you'll have to check out the CD, which is shaping up to be the surprise hit of the year here at the site.

Like it says on their MySpace profile, if you come expecting nothing out of the Scrap Iron Pickers, you'll not only be surprised, but duly impressed. We look forward to hearing more from these dudes.

mp3: "Swamp Thing" by Scrap Iron Pickers

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CD Review: "Junkbone"

CD: Junkbone
Artist: '85 Flood

On their sophomore release Junkbone Morgantown's hi-octane lo-fi four-piece '85 Flood strings together 10 bluesy, danceable bar ballads on a more than solid follow-up to last year's Toolshed Shangri-La.

Where Toolshed had a few great songs, Junkbone highlights the progress the Flood has made in the songwriting and arranging department.

Opening with "Florentine Memory" and frontman Aaron Hawley's gravelly, raspy vocals and following with the uptempo rock standard "Sex Drugs and Rock & Roll" (written and sung by bassist Dusty Hays), then throwing down the slower, somber "Living With Your Ghost," (with cool slide guitar & lead parts) '85 Flood, over the first three tracks, sets the stage for the entire CD.

"Slow Night In Stripperville" is simultaneously a hilarious booty-shaking good time anthem, and a warning to any females who fear they may end up dancing for pervs dressed up as Santa, making it rain with dirty dollar bills. Seriously, it's one of the cooler songs on Junkbone.

"Coal Whistle Yell" seems like a theme song not just for the Flood, but the state as a whole; at least anybody who's ever known anyone who has worked in the mines. The song is at once uptempo and depressing, written from the perspective of the cradle-to-grave coal mining family life.

Hawley sings, his voice perfectly fitting the hardscrabble subject of the song:

"Don't you see this ain't the life I chose?
You can say it's just me, I suppose
If you stay here and toe that line
Send me right back down into that mine
Every day -- of my whole life"
The beautiful memorial "Some Things" helps close out Junkbone before finishing with the anthemic sing-along "Be Here Now," each examples of how the Flood has progressed in the year and a half since Toolshed; increased sharing of songwriting (and performing) duties, with killer guitar parts and touching lyrics about the sublime parts of life, Junkbone -- recorded at Mark Poole's Zone 8 Studios in Grantsville -- all-around is a good window into where this Morgantown staple is now.

Related: Our chats with Hawley here and here