Archives for category: Infinity Cat Records

Celebrating Nashville Vinyl store finds and stating digital pundits are all wrong!

courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

If you haven’t noticed, collecting vinyl records is becoming a huge thing among all age groups in Nashville. United Record Pressing has become so backlogged that they are expanding into another space. Record Store Day is like a city wide holiday with bands playing all day long at Grimey’s, The Groove and Fond Object.

*many hyperlinks go back to vinyl videos*

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

I caught the bug a few years ago after getting an original copy of Jerry Lee LewisBreathless” on 7 inch Sun Records while going through Bee Branch Arkansas on the way back from Branson, Missouri that I found at a vintage and junk shop.

I didn’t even have anything to play it on, since I have not owned a turntable since 1988. I even sold off my collection which was really large and deep and full of imports in the late eighties for practically nothing. I know I wasn’t the only one to do that.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

It wasn’t until I started buying some vinyl over at Third Man Records that I finally bought a turntable and the venerable receiver and speakers to go with it. It all started on Craigslist where I went through two old well-heeled Marantz and Sony Receivers that burned out after about a year each. The JBL near field monitors and home theater Subwoofers that I located have stood the test of time. I went through one Sony turntable where the line level pre amp fried before going back to Amazon and settling on a reasonably priced yet better sounding Audio Technica turntable. The Sherwood receiver I purchased through Amazon has specs right out of 1990 with 100 watts per side and has a great protection circuit that has stood up for two years.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Ever since that has been resolved, I have been able to concentrate on collecting. Most Collectors are going for the twelve inch 33’s and prices are increasing. I do have a paltry 100 or so “long-play” twelve inch records but I really wanted to hear the sound of the seven inch [45’s] records like I remember.

Post Sex Pistols, Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Post Sex Pistols, Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Post Sex Pistols, Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Post Sex Pistols, Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Just like 16 bit CD’s and 24 bit hi-def, analog has some rules to tone and bigger mid-range. Twelve inch 45’s are a whole other thing entirely that became popular in the eighties but I’m not going there. Let’s just talk about seven inch records. Although 12 inch 45’s are best known as dance remixes from the 80’s, my first experience was a French Sex Pistols release of “Anarchy In The UK” on that format in 1978 at a Punk Rock shop in Santa Cruz, California.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Seven inch records could be made with more bass and increased output without worrying about the needle skipping on the record. The 45 mix often will be a lot different than the album mix. The flip side or “B” side may be a song that is not available on a record. The mix may be different in other countries. I remember owning a French Polydor copy of Jimi HendrixVoodoo Chile” where the mix had been cranked up and the guitar sounded like you were standing with your ear up against the grill cloth. I used to play it for friends back in the eighties and watch their jaw drop.

The Beatles used to release songs either on albums or on seven inch singles. Eventually the singles showed up as a collection like the Hey Jude album or the double gatefold red and blue albums.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

In my own collection, there was a huge difference between the album cut of The Rolling Stones’ “Get Off Of My Cloud” where Brian Jones’ snaking lead notes were pronounced and the single where Keith Richards’ crunchy rhythm guitar is cranked up and really drives the song playing off of Charlie Watts’ snare. It made the difference between good and great.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

The Sweet talked about how when they found out that “Fox On The Run” was being released as a single, the members of the band went in and completely remixed the song with a much harder edge akin to Motley Crue than the album version. Sweet did this behind Management and Producers backs. They knew what it should sound like and took things into their own hands. They got everybody upset and mad even though the record did well. I’m glad that Sweet did that.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Another good thing about singles is that it was formatted for AM radio where three minutes was the goal and there were limitations to time versus physical size. While some edits were a little annoying some were appreciated if you just wanted to groove and not go into a “space-out mode” like the deleted bridge in the single version of “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. Not to mention, if you haven’t heard Led Zeppelin on seven inch like original cuts “Living Loving Maid” or “Black Dog” than you are in for an experience full of Bonham’s snare cracks and home stereo speakers that will turn into a Jimmy Page Marshall half-stack.

As far as actual tone, I read all the garbage between vinyl and analog buffs and digital hi-def die-hards and it really comes down to whether you like a lot of high frequency stuff that only dogs can hear in a world where a computer doesn’t recognize playing on top of the note or stretch tuning and changes the actual information as well as removing all the bits of sound that define a mid frequency instruments’ personality versus a couple of snaps or crackles and something that sounds very dynamic, alive and in your living room.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

You can take the test for yourself. I own a copy of Bob Marley: Legends on CD and a new old stock copy of “Is This Love” by Bob Marley & The Wailers. I did a side-by-side. The most important aspect is Bob Marley’s voice. If you only heard it on CD, you would never recognize the grit and air that make up his actual voice texture. They are gone in the digital realm. While digital is supposed to be more accurate, it actually sounds like a comical cheap imitation.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Another side by side would be Parliament’s “Tear The Roof Off The Sucker (Give Up The Funk) regarding the groove aspect. Not only does the vinyl single sound thicker and richer in the mids but the sharp edged funk of a tight group gets lost in the digital conversion as the numeric digital world has different numeric values for different frequencies and the groove of all the instruments locking together becomes nothing more than a cool drum pattern with a bunch of instruments that seem to clog undeniably slightly loose at every juncture. The true groove is gone in the digital realm.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

One more major complaint is what digital did to Duane Allman. I own digital versions of “Layla” and Duane’s slide sounds sharp and out of tune thanks to digital algorithms. If you listen to the vinyl album or single you’ll notice Duane is playing on top of the note [not out of tune] and it gives a lift to the mood at that point in the song. It is absolutely beautiful. Too bad Duane didn’t know that computers were going to make his slide out of tune and unlistenable.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Okay, enough of my own observations that seem to defy the logic of quantized digital junkies. If it is all about sounding “real”, “in your living space” and with a wide sound field then that needle dragging through a frequency groove like a work of art is the way to go. If you like snappy eighties style keyboard loops and auto tuned vocals then the current state of shared files should work for you just fine.

My Mother's favorite before she passed away in 1966, Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

My Mother’s favorite before she passed away in 1966, Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

When I started collecting, one of my friends here in town thought I was going to just go back and buy everything I used to own. I did go after some of that but there were a lot of things I missed growing up and there are songs that did well regionally here in Nashville and are readily available as opposed to many songs that I was into growing up in California.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

For the most part, I grew up in Fresno, California from the last half of 2nd grade through my junior year in high school. That time spent in Fresno meant that my tastes are eclectic, all over the place and really just defined by musicianship, groove or originality.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

If I had to define Fresno during the seventies by five groups, it would probably be Tower Of Power, Supertramp, The Tubes, Sly & The Family Stone and Buck Owens. My personal taste goes way beyond that, but those would be five groups that anybody who grew up there would say, “Oh yeah, for sure they were big in Fresno.” I can name a song by every one of those bands that I liked as well as anybody from Hoover High School Class of 78 could as well.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

You could add any horn band like Chicago, Malo or Blood Sweat & Tears. The biggest cover band was called March Hare [scan of Fresno City College school newspaper circa 1978, see page 4 , article on group called Windfall for more on March Hare members]. They had a full horn section and could play just about anything popular at the time and got paid the most money. They had a four piece, guitar, bass, drums and keyboards group called Spare Hare for a fraction of the full band cost.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

My own personal taste ran the gamut of Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Funk, Jazz, Punk and so on. I even liked some Country although it really was my parents’ music at the time. To give you an idea, I listened to Judas Priest, The Ramones and liked Power Pop like Raspberries and Pezband but my dream gig would have been to play guitar for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers in 1977.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

If I tried to collect everything from my past, I would be in deep for years and years.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

There are particular records that I look for such as the three dominant records I remember from my earliest days in San Jose before my parents died in San Jose, California. I have purchased the trio. The Rolling Stones “Get Off Of My Cloud” was the first record I purchased at age 6, by myself, after my mother said I could pick something out. It is still one of my favorites. The other two were San Jose regional records that went onto the national charts, The Syndicate Of SoundLittle Girl” and Count FivePsychotic Reaction.” I did get to watch Count Five practice two blocks away from my Orchard View childhood home back when.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Just about any War single reminds me of Fresno, especially “Me And Baby Brother” which is in my 400 plus and building singles collection.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

In the mid-seventies, I was really into what was modern metal or Hard Rock at the time and singles like UFO, “ Too Hot To Handle” found in Louisville, Kentucky as well as Sweet flipside “Burn On The Flame” remind me of my early band years playing guitar.

As far as collecting goes in Nashville, the biggest amount and the most variety of seven inch records would go to The Great Escape on Charlotte Pike. Pricing is really reasonable. There are loads of $1.00 singles as well as collectables that for the most part are not over $10-a-piece. They put out their new inventory every Thursday and it is kept in bins by date if not in any kind of alphabetical order.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Record Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Record Collection

The Great Escape in Madison may not have as big a selection but will usually have different records then the ones found at the West Nashville store. The best thing to do, regarding The Great Escape, is to sign up for their email list and get notification when records will be off 20% or when they have their sidewalk 25 cent sale including the Bowling Green, Kentucky location.

I usually go for the 25 cent sales including Bowling Green, Kentucky and start digging around. It is important to go with no preconceived notions. It also helps to have some in-depth knowledge of decades of music. They used to have 10 cent sales but I don’t think that will be around again.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Examples of things I have found at 25 cent sales include a radio copy of Pat MethenyNew Chautauqua” which I never knew was released as a single until I found a brand new old stock copy at The Great Escape in Madison. I also found a brand new old stock seven inch copy of “Taboo” by Arthur Lyman. I remember “Taboo” from my Dad’s twelve inch long play records. He had installed a built in system in the living room and this was Hi-Fidelity recording. It was meant to show off frequency response and clarity but it would now be categorized as Lounge Music. It would fit in with a Martin Denny collection. I don’t think any of these records sold well in this format but it is so cool to have them on seven inch.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

In Nashville, there are a lot of radio copies around that ended up in retired DJ collections as the format declined and now they are all over town. A rule of thumb on seven inch radio copies is that in the 50’s and 60’s they actually spun the record numerous times and there can be a lot of wear on a very popular record and little wear on a record that did not take off.

In the 70’s and 80’s, AM radio used a tape cartridge similar to 8 track tape and would record the cut to be played multiple times on tape till it wore out and then would re-record on a new “Cart”. It is possible to find near mint radio copies from the 70’s and 80’s. I have found a few. My gem is a radio copy from the late 60’s of Big Brother & The Holding CompanyPiece Of My Heart” where Janis Joplin’s live performance rings clear and gives a front row seat of her performance. It gives me the chills. I paid less than $10 almost two years ago at The Great Escape.

Apple Records from Portugal, Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collecton

Apple Records from Portugal, Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collecton

Although it is easy to find several Excello record titles in Nashville, I have yet to find any of the three Marion James “Nashville’s Queen of The Blues” singles that were released here locally after years of searching. I guess I will have to resort to Ebay.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

There is no problem finding all the Country you want, especially mint new old stock copies of deep catalog Artists. I don’t know enough about that to make an educated guess. I do have Patsy ClineI Fall To Pieces”, plenty of Buck Owens and some Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson singles are plentiful even on the smaller labels as he was really popular in Nashville as a songwriter. A good place for deep catalog new old stock Country would be Lawrence Record Shop down on Lower Broadway although I did find a Wreckless Eric single on Stiff Records as well as the previously mentioned Bob Marley copy of “Is This Love” at Lawrence Record Shop.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Collection

With current interest in Muscle Shoals, Fame Records can be found easily and I definitely look for Candi Staton and other Jimmy Hall produced gems. The Great Escape on Charlotte Pike usually has plenty of Fame Records along with all things Beatles and Elvis.

Since Nashville was a big hub for actual Music “Business”, there was manufacturing, distribution, recording, management and publicity that all had copies of material. There were warehouses and backrooms of vinyl that never got sold that now has found its way into used vinyl stores all over town. It’s not all Country either.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

While Grimey’s would be ranked number one for new vinyl in town, as far as used seven inch records, it’s best to go the to the Grimey’s Too [Preloved Store] and go through the two boxes on the front desk. That would be the most recent purchases. I recently found a radio copy of Blind MelonTones of Home” by doing just that. I was surprised to even see a vinyl radio copy release from 1992. I found a vintage radio copy of Judas Priest’ “Living After Midnight” as well for $1.00.

Grimey’s does stock the largest selection of local label seven inch releases. It is possible to buy a new record from GED Soul along with Infinity Cat and Third Man Records all in the same trip.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

The Groove is great for new vinyl but also has a decent stock of used seven inch vinyl. Because of its East Nashville neighborhood location, they have quite a few used copies of Alternative and Punk bands from the 90’s to the present day. If that is a specific thing, this would be a great place to check out. For me, I’m primarily looking for 60’s and 70’s but there usually is an 80’s record worth getting every time I stop by. This was the only place in town that I saw a single by The Jam. It was an import. I am looking for stateside releases since they are even harder to find.

Fond Object is an interesting place. This started from the owners’ own private collection, I believe, he was based out of Austin so, this store has a lot of late 80’s and 90’s Punk. Fond Object had stuff that probably was never available in Nashville in a retail used vinyl store. They actually had a copy of The Sex PistolsPretty Vacant” American release on Warner Brothers but they wanted $20 for it, so I passed hoping to get at a place where it would mean nothing like Lawrence Record Shop.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Third Man Records has just about every Third Man seven inch release in stock at any given time at their company store. My favorite non-Jack White single, Dan SartainBohemian Grove” was easy to find. Dan Sartain with Matt Patton [Model Citizen, The Dexateens, and The Drive By Truckers] on bass was part of the Birmingham Scene when I lived there. Third Man has been releasing a few Sun Records seven inch re-releases as well. The Raconteurs cut “Old Enough” with Ricky Skaggs still has never been released on vinyl at the home of the world’s fastest record.

Infinity Cat opened up their office to visitors with new vinyl behind United Record Pressing after having numerous fans show up at the door wanting to say “hi” on their visit to Nashville.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

That’s about it for seven inch records, except for, maybe the occasional find in an antique mall. After all, most of these records would be considered antiques.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

It’s always worth checking out the local shop when you’re out on the road. I stopped by Rasputin Records in San Jose when I was out in California recently and found the Record Store Day release of Junior Kimbrough and The Black Keys both doing “Meet Me In The City” [Fat Possum] which was impossible to find here after they were all immediately snatched up. Hill Country Blues is well known in Nashville, but the single had little value in San Jose, California. Apparently, the locals are clueless about Junior and there was a stack of copies available.

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

Courtesy Brad Hardisty Private Collection

It was also easier to get a copy of Simo’s single through Amoeba’s website in California.

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN
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Infinity Cat 10th Anniversary, Night 2 at The Zombie Shop – all photos / Brad Hardisty

At Exit/In, the night before, night one of the Infinity Cat Records 10th  Anniversary celebration , it was announced that things would start at The Zombie Shop,  Saturday night at 5PM. When I got there, some of the crew was heading out to eat instead of loading in. I stopped them and asked if it was still on. They said it would definitely start by 9 because there were several bands lined up.

This was definitely a casual 5PM start.  I headed over to Panera near Vanderbilt to check my email and chill for a while. I took them at their word and didn’t get back till after 10PM.

I didn’t get home till 3PM from the Exit/In show and I was low on body and mind fuel. This was not going to be an all-nighter when I got back to The Zombie Shop.  The Zombie Shop sits in an area where any pre-2011 buildings’ days are numbered. Just ask the Musicians Hall of Fame (or once was but now is not).

The Zombie Shop, Mopeds all over the back

The Zombie Shop sits directly south of the new Music City Center, with all its curves and gargantuan size, looking somewhat like a super- sized version of the Experience Music Project (home of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia). In the renderings of the new center, the area that comprises the Zombie Shop, looks like it is either new “swanky” office and mixed use (outrageously expensive) space or a new tree-lined boulevard.

One can only hope that the owners of the Zombie Shop get what this large warehouse style workshop with enough open area outside for about 50 cars get what it’s worth and not the shaft like the Musicians Hall of Fame.

To give you an idea, this area of town sits between the homeless shelter (a converted Sears store), Third Man Records on the backside of that and what used to be older cheap use industrial buildings slinking north towards the bright lights, big city of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Bridgestone Arena and Lower Broad Honky-Tonks.

This has been essentially no-man’s land where homeless, vagabonds of the western world and punk and metal bands attracting local non-tourists who dare to venture. It was an area where you could be left alone.

Now, the city fathers have decided all things must be come new. So, like the Station Inn that now sits like an old RCA Victrola squashed by all the new zippity doo dah Gulch pricy lofts and swanky shops, this area is quickly being lost to development.

The Zombie Shop has been an all ages venue/hang out for a while and this was perfect for Infinity Cat.  This lineup included the more fast, loud, punk rock side of the label, like Cy Barkley and Heavy Cream along with Breast Massage, Slammers, Denney and The Jets, No Regrets Coyote and Dirty Dreams.

It was an all ages celebration with skateboards, broke down mopeds in the back, young kids, older punk mainstays and label supporters from all over the country.  Saturday saw an even larger crowd than at the Exit/In show.  This is the future of the label. There are a lot of kids buying Infinity Cat stuff that were not old enough to make it into the Exit/In 18+ show.

Cy Barkley & The Wayoutsiders

Cy Barkley & The Wayoutsiders were finishing their set when I got there.

Taking a look at the T-Shirts, I really wanted one of the sky blue T’s with a print of a cat with JEFF The Brotherhood underneath, but none in 2X. In fact, no 2X T’s! Man I can’t help it. I know I need to lose some weight, but, can’t get a 2X? There are more of us than just me.

Thinking about the Skyblazer album, I thought, I want it on CD so I can listen to the long jams while cruising along 65 at night when I head to Birmingham or Florida. It’s only on vinyl for now. Hey, I totally understand. Maybe, I’ll just have to get the vinyl. I still think MP3’s are wannabes. The only time I get MP3’s are when friends send them to me. I like my music to not sound like a BLT without the bacon and extra lettuce.

I ran into a lot of the Infinity Cat strays from Exit/In plus another 200 friends in one of the best house party style gatherings. Enjoy it while it lasts. This type of party might end up having to move out near Little Hamilton or something within five years.  I guess progress means jobs and I can’t fault that part of the equation.

Heavy Cream load in time!

The last time I saw Heavy Cream was almost two years ago, Jessica was in the catsuit and they played at Third Man during Next Big Nashville. That was almost a manic call during those times. The future of Nashville is anybody’s guess with all the “for sale” signs going up on Music Row. Alternative and Punk may not fully take the place of what the music business is losing, but, it makes the Nashville Music Scene more balanced where everybody is welcome.

Heavy Cream kick out the jams at The Zombie Shop, 7/21/2012

This may be Heavy Cream Mach II or III, with a new bass player and drummer, Tiffany Minton, providing a solid ticking away of the timing, not missing a beat. They were locked perfectly. I noticed I’m not the only one who thinks that. I read some reviews online from other shows this morning and they give the same green light. It seemed like the early Heavy Cream version was a group fighting against itself, timing and rhythm wise, which is an easy mistake playing very fast straightforward punk.

Underneath the Infinity Cat banner!

Heavy Cream reminds me of the loud raw energy of Raw Power era Iggy Pop & The Stooges with the comedic lyrical bent of really early Donnas or even pre-Donnas’ Ragady Anne.

Hit the floor!

Jessica has got that “Iggy Pop glare” going on where you don’t know what she is going to do next. If the crowd aint doing enough, Jessica gets in the crowd and starts egging them on. She wants a reaction. I can’t see her smearing peanut butter all over herself, but, she has that “Iggy style front girl bully pulpit” thing better than anybody else in town. Watch out, she can stare you down without blinking.

Everybody was in the cavernous garage when the girls hit the stage. Heavy Cream ripped through a lot of new material from Super Treatment, like “Louise,”recorded in San Francisco with Producer, Ty Segall. The new songs have that raw, loud tightness of other bay area punkers like the Dead Kennedys– “California Uber Alles” and the original MX-80 SoundSomeday You’ll Be King “ that was on The Residents, Ralph Records back in 1979.

Jessica McFarland / Heavy Cream / The Zombie Shop 7/12/2012

Super Treatment, with its almost other worldliness relation to the cover of The CrampsBad Music for Bad People may be the defining Nashville Punk album, much in the same way as Justin Townes Earle’s, The Good Life when it set off true Nashville Americana edge. Super Treatment fits within the true family tree bridging the Nashville Punk scene with West Coast and East Coast Bad Brains grit and swagger.

Jessica

Heavy Cream closed their set with Alice Cooper’s, “Is It My Body” done more in a “what-are-you-staring-at-leave-me-alone” kind of way and finally their biggest song to date, “Watusi” which got the frontline in a friendly Nashville style  slam dance frenzy.

Heavy Cream do the Watusi!

Infinity Cat hung on the back wall, overseeing the crowd as they exited into the dark streets with the new Gotham City Music Center hanging like a dark cloud over the night.

Infinity and beyond!

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

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

Kenny Vaughan at Mercy 2011

This would be the year that Indie makes more news in Nashville than Country; what Music City is known for. There seems to be much more going on with the ever developing spider web of Funk, Rock and strange magic underbelly from the Gulch to East Nashville.

Before, we get into this weird year, 2012 with its three Friday the 13ths exactly 13 weeks apart, the intrigue of political discord, 12/21/12, which lines up with Rush’s “Temples of Syrinx” released in 1976, prophecy being realized, “Our great computers, fill the hallowed halls, We are the priests of the temples of syrinx, All the gifts of life, Are held within our walls,” ha! Computers, what a blessing and a curse as all the creative occupations occupied by humans are eliminated by this gift we call knowledge at our fingertips. Remember, when Rush wrote “Temples of Syrinx,” a computer took up a whole room. Well, Steve Jobs, one of the great Priests of the digital age has passed onto the spiritual realm.

The Mayan calendar ends shortly after the election, maybe the world won’t come to an end, but, probably a lot of music will be written about end times and there will be an uptick of heavy dirge and Metal music. This may be the year to contemplate life listening to Dark Side of The Moon again or about sinister underlying forces in Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime.

Before we move through this “L” shaped recovery, one of the most mentally difficult times I can remember in my life, let’s rewind.

 As far as music, 2011 was a “run for cover” year as the “360 deal” pop artists keep spinning their “larger-than-life-80’s-on-ecstacy” fluff with the bands that happen to still be signed to major labels sounding not too far off the Katy Perryesque mark. I think the bands were put on warning, “Rock radio is dying so you better have “Moves Like Jagger.”

Okay, before I get to something positive, there were some disappointments. Janes Addiction, while preparing to release their newest album, The Great Escape Artist, put down their last effort, Strays  as not being that good, when in fact Strays did have a couple of great guitar hooks, while this dark piece, weak on guitar, ended up being more reminiscent of Porno for Pyros.  There was not one solid hook on the entire album.

Red Hot Chili Peppers were able to put together a solid if not remarkable effort with new guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, who may be capable of taking on some Frusciante and Slovak, but not as innovative. Frusciante was a trailblazer; this is like replacing Eddie Van Halen.

So, with FYE the last major chain in Nashville closing its doors at the old Tower Records site, you got your choice, you have major league fluff, really not much different than the cotton candy days before The Beatles and The Rolling Stones crashed the party or you can go outside the box, think for yourself, show up at a Grimey’s in-store or a showcase at The End.

Hello Kelly at The Rutledge, photo courtesy- Jeni George

As far as bands go, Jeff The Brotherhood, joins the two member band fray that goes nationwide, well deserved with great shows locally and at Bonnaroo and beyond. As far as other local rock acts, Hello Kelly always put on a solid show when I saw them this year as well as The Onethroughtens that played solid sets at both the Third Man Vault show and some fashion meets art consortium at Mercy Lounge.

Kenny Vaughan at Ernest Tubb Record Shop

As far as favorite shows, Kenny Vaughan’s record release at Ernest Tubb’s downtown location was the place to be this year with Marty Stuart, the Fabulous Superlatives as well as Chris Scruggs playing to a packed room with about half being friends and relatives.

Jeff Beck at Ryman 2011

Jeff Beck at The Ryman was another phenomenal show as well as the Americana Awards that saw not only The Avett Brothers and The Civil Wars, but, also Robert Plant and Greg Allman bookending appearances with Buddy Miller providing the musical proceedings.

Okay, now for my top ten of the year. Many recordings are sounding more analog in the Indie world, if not recorded analog, the attempt to match the style with the sound that would come out of the influential era a must.

10.  Jeff The Brotherhood  – We Are The Champions

Starting out with some punk rock Buck Rogers guitar laser blasts subsiding into gnarly Maestro phase shifter on “Hey Friend” clocking in with a long intro, the writing is strong, simple and effective. Jeff gets a major label deal off this one. It will be interesting to see how that goes. Their own label, Infinity Cat, being one of the major local indie labels to develop a short roster that has been hitting every club and festival that they can, Jeff the Brotherhood came up with a solid piece of work.

9. The August – Dear Chicago Love Nashville

Jacky Dustin has one strong Country voice, this Chicago band has been down here chasing their Country music dreams for a little while, not waiting to get signed, they put this great piece of Country rockin’ song cycle out themselves.  Big labels, in their search for solos and doubles, have so far overlooked this great band. What’s wrong with a great band that writes their own songs about cranking The Rolling Stones and talking about where they came from? This is not a one trick pony going from the double-time “We Write Our Songs” to the getting more than you bargained for sultry “Love Me Like A Stranger,” this is probably the best “unsigned” country band in Nashville.

8. Graveyard – Hisingen Blues

This was a find while traveling out to Utah to do interviews, stopping it at local indie record shop, Gray Whale and picking up a recommendation. The Swedish rockers are somewhere between first album Black Sabbath and Vincebus Eruptum, Blue Cheer. The recording sounds like it was done on an old well worn 4 track reel to reel with non-Marshalls, more like full blown, old Sound City amps or something. There doesn’t seem to be anything above 8k on this album. It plays like a record found at a garage sale from an old Vietnam era stoner. They are playing this month at Exit/In on January 20th.  The early Black Sabbath slow un-blues of “No Good, Mr. Holden” and stoner boogie, “Buying Truth (Tack & Forlat)” are stand outs.

7. Mastodon – The Hunter

It’s weird to think that a Metal band that was conceived at The Nick in Birmingham and worked its way out of Atlanta, would earn its wings being lauded not only by Metallica but attendees at such indie festivals as Coachella with 2008’s, Crack The Skye, busting out everywhere. It was hard to follow up Crack the Skye which would be their Dark Side of The Moon, but Mastodon do a great job on such cuts as the “Sweet Leaf” groove of “Curl of The Burl” and the Dream Theater flavored, “Octopus Has No Friends.”  

Dedicated6. Steve Cropper – Dedicated, A Salute to The 5 Royales

Steve has the opportunity to pay tribute to guitarist, Lowman Pauling, who was one of the biggest influences on Stax soul as the great era of the Sixties would kick in full effect. The King records office, run by “Duck” Dunn’s brother in Memphis, brought in some of the strongest soul artists of the day from around the country. Booker T. and The MG’s, Otis Redding and many other artists were influenced as the music changed from rhythm and blues to soul. This has an all—star vocal cast from Delbert McClinton on “Right Around the Corner” to Steve Winwood, B.B. (Beale Street Blues Boy) King, Steve Winwood, Lucinda Williams and an A-list that contribute to this project.

5. Gary Clark Jr.  – The Bright Lights E.P.

With some gritty Black Keys meets The Burnside Exploration bluesy soul of “Bright Lights,” kicking off this four song cycle, there is a little Paul “Wine” Jones thrown in here, this Texan, all things, including a little hill country blues, is more of a promise than a full album. It was good enough to make Rolling Stone’s list for the year and earns a place on my list as well. The fact that it is on Warner Brothers makes it really twisted.

4. Tony Bennett – Duets II

With many of the classic icons now “Dust in The Wind,” it really is amazing that Tony Bennett still sings like a prizefighter. Mr. Bennett could hold up everything by himself, but, the interesting match-ups with Mariah Carey, John Mayer (yes, John Mayer), Willie Nelson, as well as Lady Gaga’s best performance to date on “The Lady is a Tramp” makes for an instant standard. The most prized track is Amy Winehouse’ last recorded performance of “Body and Soul.” The Nelson Riddle style strings make this record sit on the top shelf with the best early Sixties era Frank.

3. Kenny Vaughan – V

Kenny shows up on a lot of Nashville records, known as Marty Stuart’s guitar slinger, Kenny takes center stage with The Fabulous Superlatives providing back up, the album rocks as much as it steeps in mystified netherworld Country, blasting off with “Country Music Got a Hold on Me,” stopping mid-point with the instrumental, “Wagon Ride” before ending up in a rockin’ Country church, “Don’t Leave Home Without Jesus.”  Sonically, this has the frequencies in the right place with no high-end ADD busy bee stuff going on. Well done!

2. Blitzen Trapper – American Goldwing

If I could be in a band right now, this would be it, with only a strong sense of songwriting being the guide this is all over the map with heavy 70’s influenced, “Might Find It Cheap” being probably the best structured song I have heard this year, to influences from accoustified Dylan to southern fried Tom Petty, I think there is a concept going on here, but, more than anything this is worth at least a dozen listens.

1. Amy Winehouse – Lioness: Hidden Treasures

We may never know how far Amy could have gone. She absorbed Dinah Washington, Donny Hathaway as well as The Ronnettes with equal grace. Amy not only did some great covers, but, was a songwriter on par with the best. This disc has some raw original versions showing Amy supporting herself on guitar. Amy had all three talents, great voice, great musician and great songwriter. She was a triple threat in a class of one. Amy is the best voice of the last twenty years. This collection takes us all the way from the very beginning on the demo, “The Girl From Ipanema” to mid career, Stevie Wonder influenced, Amy Winehouse penned, “Half Time” to the current torn heart on a sleeve, Leon Russell cover, “A Song For You.” This is a chronicle of a flame that burned hot and way too fast. She should be here now.

Okay, that’s it.  Watch out for Imelda May. She actually played at 3rd and Lindsley this year. Imelda would have been on the list with Mayhem except it is a 2010 release, but, watch out, there is More Mayhem coming out at a Grimey’s near you.

Kitty, Daisy and Lewis’ stripped down take on the Forties as well as some Ska and Hawaiian music on Smoking in Heaven continues where the last one left. They’re heading for the Big Day Out Festivals in Australia and while not making much of a dent in the States, the recording is a vintage gear monger’s dream. They accurately feel like recordings made in Chicago or Memphis way before Sun.  

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

Sometimes you gotta wait till the right moment, let things simmer a bit, unwind at an Indie film about Lee “Scratch” Perry at the Belcourt Theater, listen to some bands you never heard at the Grimey’s listening station before turning to the obvious. Such was the case since I have known about Jeff the Brotherhood’s Infinity Cat Records release We Are The Champions for a while.

It really is a trip when you think that The White Stripes ended up down here with Third Man Records before a final break up, and then The Black Keys announced they were making their new home in Music City and all this time, at least for the last few years, we got Jeff the Brotherhood; our own homegrown Two Man band.

Jeff the Brotherhood were the show to see during Next Big Nashville last fall at Third Man with the live set being released on Third Man vinyl within a few days. In fact, the twelve inch can still be found in the Third Man Records shop any day of the business week.

Then came Bonnaroo. Jeff the Brotherhood started their own mania when they were supported by the first 30 people making up most of their audience being other local bands. How cool is that? Other local bands stirring up so much dust that another 200 people stop to see what all the fuss is about?

Nashville could not be in a better place right now. We have our own labels, our own scene, make that multiple scenes with a ton of bands that don’t sound the same. For me, that is exciting. It has been an interesting path between the gulch and the backside of the mission to where things are right now.

Jeff the Brotherhood and PUJOL are on lists in Rolling Stone Magazine and other national publications. They are on lists that really matter. Maybe they don’t have albums blazing up the charts, but, it is a grass roots thing, you gotta search them out or maybe your friend tells you about their live show. The difference is Jeff the Brotherhood are bad, they’re nationwide.

We Are The Champions is stacked and capped mixing up tones that fit the song, like stripped down, complicated garage rock, this was not thrown together, it’s like a stack of seven inch records to do some downhill skateboarding by or shut down Seattle and Portland. Okay, maybe not shut down but turn a few heads, sell a few records and rock the house.

photo - Pooneh Ghana

In a way, the title can be a laugh, using a standard rock term, like you thought you made it up yourself while everybody around you is thinking; don’t they know Queen Live at Wembley with 100,000 Brits singing along? But, in fact, this is Nashville’s time. It may be a metaphor for what it means to be accepted among your peers, the other bands in Nashville.

Back in CBGB’s time, Television played for The Ramones, The Ramones played for Blondie and The Dictators saved Rock and Roll. It is now Nashville’s time to leave their mark. It says a lot when bands show up to support one another and buy each others’ records. It says a lot more when Infinity Cat Records ran by the band and their father, Robert Ellis Orrall, goes nationwide.

Jeff the Brotherhood have a solid set here. Listen up.

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