Archives for category: Black Mountain

Free Infinity Cat Cheese Sandwich!

Friday night in Nashville, as a deluge began about 9:15, the Rock Block turned into a creek with water almost to Restaurant and guitar store doors across the street when Psychic Hotline took to the stage at Exit/In to kick-off a ten year Birthday Bash for Infinity Cat Records, the ”for-real” Nashville Punk Rock label home to JEFF The Brotherhood, Heavy Cream, Diarrhea Planet and other Nashville originals.

Psychic Hotline / Exit/In -all photos – Brad Hardisty

Psychic Hotline, fronted by Jessica McFarland ( Heavy Cream), not to be confused with the Ontario, Canada band, opened with a tight deadpan Buzzcocks / L7 set  like a rapid fire Tommy gun. 

Deluxin’ at Infinity Cat 10th Celebration Show

People were drying out and soaking up the sounds of Deluxin’, another Buzzcocks/ Television / Voidoids (Dad bands) with a somewhat Zach De La Rocha approach at the microphone-style unit fronted by Nathan Vasquez (former Be Your Own Pet) who knows how to put his scream on.

Tristen at Exit/In – Photo/Brad Hardisty

Tristen (Gaspadarek)brought things into a more mellow mood with an Indie take on Americana which may be more attributed to what is coming out of East Nashville, sans-drummer Americana with a drum machine was interesting, but all things aside, Tristen has a great voice, great songs, great bass player (kind of real classic country walking style going on like Merle’s band, The Strangers) and has had some wonderful things said about her in Rolling Stone and American Songwriter. Tristen rocked the house in green sequined sixties style short shorts, doin’ a little dance-get down tonight style. This was ladies night for vocals.

All I got was this cheese sandwich, Jessica’s Psychic Hotline setlist and Diarrhea Planet’s setlist. What’s it worth to you?

Before Diarrhea Planet took over Exit/In, Robert Orrall, Jake and Jamin’s Dad (JEFF The Brotherhood) brought out a huge box of cheese sandwiches in plastic sandwich bags with Green Infinity Cat Logo stickers affixed and began throwing them out into the audience, this in turn, lead to spinning plastic bags being thrown around with the hefty sideways Frisbee-bean bag style tosses whizzing by everywhere.

Diarrhea Planet pelted by sandwiches!

When Diarrhea Planet hit the stage, the sandwiches started being aimed at the band with drummer, Casey, drumming like a sonic hedgehog with two Louisville Sluggers, taking some head and crotch shots. Casey could only laugh when it’s sandwiches. The 50 sandwich-filled plastic bags ended up back onstage when the  four guitar (yeah, four, that’s one more than Lynyrd Skynyrd in a “Spinal Tap” my band is louder than yours kind of way) assault started.

Stack-O-Sandwiches! No cats were harmed.

One of the guitarists started stacking up the sandwiches on the side, only to hurl all of them back at the audience toward the end of the set.

Diarrhea Planet originally started as a two-piece noise band out of Belmont University and is now kind of the Valiant Thorr of Indie Punk, throwing out all kinds of styles at the same time with a wall of Johnny Ramone, Randy Rhoads, John Frusciante and Malcom Young all hitting at once, with leads and interlocking rhythm going every which way.  There were no lead breaks since any two might be playing lead at the same time. This is fun party music that kind of goes down like a Peelander-Z set meets the Beastie Boys. If you play guitar and you don’t have a good time at a Diarrhea Planet show, something is definitely wrong with you. Okay, I think this is one of my favorite Nashville bands now.

Robert Orrall, Nashville City Council member, Infinity Cat Records staff, Jake Orrall

Before the final set of the night, Ronny Steine, Nashville Councilman-at-large, was joined onstage by Robert “Bob” Orrall, Jake Orrall (JEFF The Brotherhood, Skyblazer, Infinity Cat Records) and members of the Infinity Cat team to accept a plaque from the Nashville Metro Council with a lot of important “whereas” clauses, Resolution No. RS2012-339, “honoring Infinity Cat Recordings on its Tenth Anniversary as one of Nashville’s best independent labels.”  A really unique turn of events; a Nashville Homegrown Indie Punk label turning ten years old that is on most every writer and magazine in the states Top 10 best Indie label list, having their very own day, July 20th, 2012, Infinity Cat Record Day, Nashville, Represent!

Skyblazer returns!

For the final big one of the evening, Jake and Jamin Orrall (JEFF The Brotherhood, if you don’t know by now) put back together a mid-2000 project, Skyblazer (possibly named for the early Nineties Sony video game?), that they had with Lindsay (Cake Bake Betty) Powell. Skyblazer also released (never before released) the 2006 recording on Infinity Cat and it was available for the first time at the show on 12 inch vinyl.

Jake and Jamim Orrall looking Through the Past darkly!

Jake’s guitar tone was nice and fat with trippy wha going into that Sunn Lead Concert head.  The four piece band did plenty of long stoner jams in the veins of early Hawkwind or Black Mountain (who were quite new in 2006)… especially like Black Mountain with the almost Jefferson Plane-ish twin harmonies of Jake and Lindsay.

It was a fun set, plenty of heavy “Iommi” guitar, with some almost Hendrix channeling, Jake is really a soul surfer of a player.

If Skyblazer had become the dominant thing, Jake and Jamin would have been on Jagjaguwar and touring with Black Mountain or even Swedish band, Graveyard nowadays. Funny how life is; the Orrall family is really helping to turn Nashville into Music City one great band at a time.  

The Infinity Cat Records 10th Anniversary celebration continues Saturday Night in the shadow of the new convention center skyline at The Zombie Shop with Heavy Cream and Cy Barkley as two of the featured artists.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Advertisements

A year in Exile

If there was any kind of recurrent theme this year, The Rolling Stones kept popping up on the radar. It started when I bought the Deadstring Brothers album Sao Paulo an obvious well done Stones influenced work of art. It would be in my Top Ten if it had come out in 2010 but it actually was released in 2009. It is a great album and when I saw them live at The Basement it came across really well.

It didn’t stop there; Exile on Main Street had been remastered with bonus tracks where The Stones actually brought in Mick Taylor to play his parts on some unfinished tracks. The Rolling Stones released a new single “Plundered My Soul” from the found tracks and released several versions of the album.

Grimey’s did a midnight screening of the Documentary Stones in Exile that took photographs, film, new interviews with the band as well as Bobby Keyes and others about recording Exile on Main Street in the south of France way back when at The Belcourt Theatre. “Exile” is now considered a pivotal record but at the time “Tumbling Dice” was considered a difficult single on a rather un-commercial record.

During the Americana Conference the Long Players augmented with Stones Sax Player Bobby Keyes, Dan Baird and several singers like Mike Farris, Grace Potter and others did the entire album live at The Cannery Ballroom. 

The Theatre release Ladies and Gentlemen The Rolling Stones which was filmed during the Exile promotional tour in the States was remastered and released on DVD in the fall. The set featured many of the songs from Exile that are not played much by latter day Stones such as “Sweet Virginia”. The sound and film looked phenomenal and it was good to see Mick Taylor at his best, an integral part of The Stones during that period and in truth is really missed nowadays.

Finally, to finish off the year of The Stones, Keith Richard’s Autobiography Life was released in November along with a compilation of his X-Pensive Winos recordings from the late Eighties.  The Rolling Stones managed to keep in the music news almost as much as Taylor Swift.

Original cover for Straight Up

It also seemed to be the year for catalog re-releases as Apple Records remastered most of the Apple back catalog of non-Beatles recordings by Badfinger, Mary Hopkins, James Taylor and released all of them at the same time.

FnA Records continued to not only re-release 80’s metal catalog but also unearthed several recordings that were set to release but never were by labels such as A&M and Geffen when the Seattle scene took over.  There were several recordings by different artists from The Thirteenth Floor Elevators 45’s to Carnival Season vinyl that saw their material released on CD for the first time.

Janie Hendrix continues exquisite releases of all things Jimi Hendrix with the release of West Coast Seattle Boy that not only has yet another Bob Dylan song done by Hendrix but goes back to the background of what he was doing before going to England with expanded packages that include a disc full of Isley Brothers and other nuggets, pre-Experience as well as a DVD Voodoo Child that even talks about his Nashville days.

Country continues to sell big, but real, traditional or Texas Country has been swallowed up by the Americana scene. At least it has found a home. As far as innovation in current pop country the last leap forward was Miranda Lambert’s Revolution and that was released last year.

Here are few honorable no less worthy than the list:

Ratt – Infestation

Merle Haggard – I Am What I Am

Kort – Invariable Heartache

Charlie Louvin – The Battles Rage On

Marty Stuart – Ghost Train

Jim Lauderdale – Patchwork River

Crazy Heart – (Soundtrack) Various Artists

Okay, now for my Top Ten. In making my choices, I not only looked at material, but innovation and game changers, records that made things interesting.

10- Carnival Season / Misguided Promises / ARRCO

This represents not only a re-issue on CD for the first time of regional Birmingham band Carnival Season that features local legend Tim Boykin, but, painstakingly includes every recording the band made during their short time together as well as extensive liner notes that tell the whole story of the late 80’s rockers. It sits well on the shelf with bands like Redd Kross as well as The Replacements. The band has been doing occasional reunion gigs playing not only this set but some new stuff as well over the last couple of years. This was one of the first alternative rock bands out of Birmingham, Alabama.

Featured tracks: “Misguided Promises”, “Please Don’t Send me to Heaven”

9- Robert Plant / Band of Joy / Rounder –Esparanza

Robert was in the middle of recording the follow up to Raising Sand with Allison Krauss when he pulled the plug when he felt the magic wasn’t there. He retreated to Nashville and entrusted Buddy Miller to put together a band that features Darrell Scott, Byron House, Marco Giovino and Patty Griffin and secluded into Woodland Studio to see what they would come up with. The result is obscure covers as well as a Plant-Page piece from Walking into Clarksdale that shows some Zeppelin flavor with uncharted Americana territory which sonically could have only happened with Nashville session players in such a short time. The band gelled in the studio and continues to roll across Europe and Stateside. This is probably Buddy Miller’s best Production effort yet.

Featured tracks:  “Angel Dance”, “You Can’t Buy My Love”, “House of Cards”

8 – Ryan Bingham and The Dead Horses / Junky Star / Lost Highway

Ryan tends to write like a modern day Dylan but his voice is more like John Kay from Steppenwolf. Ryan who comes from the red dirt scene of West Texas and now lives in so-L.A. got national notice with the Grammy winning “The Weary Kind” from the Crazy Heart soundtrack defiantly writes about a drifter leaving behind a dead end life to go to California only to end up sleeping on the Santa Monica pier.

Featured tracks: “The Wandering”, “Junky Star”

7- Sweet Apple / Love & Desperation / Tee Pee

Put together by members of Dinosaur Jr. and Witch, this little known defiantly Hard Rock and other worldly idea collection of songs with its Roxy Music rip off style album cover is actually closer to something between an early Alice Cooper (when they were a band) and Ziggy Stardust era Bowie. The album kicks off like a Raspberries send off with Guidedbyvoices production and then the desperation begins with some morbid love lost desperation with a chugging Alice Cooper band style with lyrics like ”Looking out the window, watching people fall, how I wish I could fall to death”. It’s a rock and roll gem this year.

Featured tracks: “Do You Remember”, “I’ve Got a Feeling (That Won’t Change)”

6 – Preservation Hall Jazz Band / Preservation / Preservation Hall Recordings

What a fantastic album. A collection of well-known New Orleans Ragtime with this important Horn based band where the tuba still carries much of the bass part, mashes PHJB with an all-star cast of vocalists such as Andrew Bird, Pete Seeger, Ani DiFranco, Ritchie Havens, Steve Earle as well as the sultry vocals of Memphis’ Amy LaVere.  The band ended up on tour with Maroon 5 this year.

Featured tracks: “Blue Skies”, “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home”

5- John Mellencamp / No Better Than This / Rounder

Recorded for the most part at Sun Studios with one RCA 44 ribbon mic into vintage Ampex Analog gear, John not only sounds like the old Sun recordings, this sounds like old tape that had to be baked in a microwave to finally put it on digital media. It was not only a great idea with equal parts Cash country, Rockabilly and blues but probably his best album since Scarecrow. The T Bone Burnett produced masterpiece even got airtime on WSM.

Featured tracks: “No Better Than This”, “Coming Down the Road”

4- Justin Townes Earle / Harlem River Blues / Bloodshot

If you missed it, Justin just rolled a third strike in three years. Every album has been decidedly Justin with marked differences and excellent songwriting. This would be his “Ode to New York City” where he now calls his second home.  Jason Isbell (Drive by Truckers, The 400 Unit) puts in guitar duties and gives this more of an edgy guitar feel as well as some straight up Rockabilly. It really would be cool to see a pure Rockabilly album in the future.

Featured tracks: “Move Over Mama”, “Workin’ for the MTA”, “Christchurch Woman”

3- Black Mountain / Wilderness Heart / Jagjaguwar

This album sometimes feels like Led Zep III and Deep Purple Fireball at the same time. The duality vocals of Stephen and Amber still remind me of a haunting Jefferson Airplane with the production sounding very early 70’s analog, sometimes acoustic but when they rock it’s got Jon Lord style Hammond B3 all over the place. Although the first album by this Vancouver band may have been a defining moment this is the one that makes me wants to crank the stereo full blast on road trips.

Featured tracks:  “The Hair Song”, “Old Fangs”, “Let Spirits Ride”

2- Mike Farris and The Cumberland Saints / The Night The Cumberland Came Alive / Entertainment One

Recorded in just six hours just two weeks after the Nashville Flood in a downtown Nashville church just blocks from the flooding, Mike shows that his bluesy/gospel voice can sound fantastic over anywhere he wants to go. Mike has been everywhere from Indie Rock, Blues, Gospel, working with Double Trouble to now this pre-war Gospel Blues style gem working with The McCrary Sisters, Sam Bush, Byron House and members of The Old Crow Medicine Show, his originals mesh well with the rare covers. He showcased the album at Cannery Ballroom during the Americana Music Festival and it was electrifying.

Featured tracks: “Wrapped Up, Tangled Up”, “Down on Me”

1-She & Him /Volume Two / Merge

Zooey Deschannel & M. Ward are some kind of modern Indie Captain and Tennille and somehow it works. Zooey has a sunny California breeze running through her muse that translates into a digital era take on The Beach Boys versus Phil Spector. Even though the material is fresh it makes me daydream of being back on the beach in Santa Cruz when I was six with my Mom and little sister.

Featured tracks: “In The Sun”, “Don’t Look Back”,”Lingering Still”

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

I first got turned onto Black Mountain in 2006 when my drummer, Daniel of “Waiting for Daniel” fame said you got to check this out as we hung out back of the practice space, The HotEL Birmingham in his Volkswagen Jetta with the music cranked.

I was like the “what tha?” It was twin vocals kind of “Grace Slick and Marty Balin- Jefferson Airplane style” over music that veered from the mysterious realms of Jethro Tull to heavy Black Sabbath riffs. Although it was electric it was really organic sounding, like heavy Rock being neither Stoner Rock or Heavy Metal.

The first cover of black on black mountains, like flying over the Rockies in the winter at night was ominous like the sound. I started looking forward to the next release. In the Future was again very heavy and kept this brigade of late 60’s romantics cooking. The cover again with the cubist art was like retro-future with how 1960’s culture viewed itself. We had to look toward the future.

Black Mountain / photo/ Ryan Walter Wagner

This is Black Mountain‘s fourth outing and still no picture of the band on the cover. If you want to see the band, you’ll need to go to YouTube or go see them live. They seem even more focused and the artwork is no less compelling with a reflection of a great white shark in a mirrored office building coming out of the clouds, it’s like nature itself is pissed off.

Wilderness Heart kicks off with almost a Led Zep-Kashmir quality and keeps the retro stew going with “Old Fangs” coming out of the speakers like a Martin Birch engineered track off Deep Purple’s Fireball.

Amber Webber is a key element that keeps things from getting formulaic with her counter vocals, Stephen McBean and Amber still remind me of a modern day Marty Balin-Grace Slick team or if you want to get punk, Exene Cervenka-John Doe team. This type of work could not be auto tuned, there is some room for synthesizers but they will remind you of the synth work in Zeppelin or Sabbath.

The sound still stays organic and sounds as if they are still recording on big Ampex Analog 16 track machines. They are at the forefront of something that bridges the late 60’s haunting post hippie scene with lyrics that will stir the Syd Barrett in everybody. In fact, there is even a reference to Piper at the Gates of Dawn, but I’ll let you find that yourself like discovering the hidden meanings on The Beatles’ White Album .

This groups possible believers may not even be listening yet. Black Mountain bridges the gap between the kids that find the music of the late 60’s and early 70’s had something that music doesn’t have now and the fifty somethings that listened to the music in the first place. Wilderness Heart could sit comfortable between Jethro Tull’s Aqualung and Deep Purple’s Fireball in any relic’s record collection.

 The Psychedelic Vancouver, Canada band will roll into Nashville on November 11th at the The Mercy Lounge/Cannery Balllroom. You can get tickets at Grimeys, this is 9 on a 10 scale kick back in your room music.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN    thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com