Bridging the Music Presents Local Band Showcase


I’ve noticed that a lot of people are viewing this page after being directed here from a Google search for “Bridging the Music Pay to Play.” A lot of promotion companies are making bands sell tickets to shows and then not paying bands to play. And a lot of musicians are getting sick of it. Here’s a bit about one guy who got sick of it and decided to do something about it. Break Your F’N Records.

 

488135_459461487462125_1311904012_nBridging the Music Presents Local Band Showcase

Define the Revolution, Syringe, The Dream Thieves, Something Keen, Country Club Commandos, Brad Winner, In It Right Now, Mayh3m!

April 28th 2013

Skully’s Music Diner – Columbus, OH

There has been a black cloud hanging over me for the past two days. I mean that mostly literally, but the foul weather has also managed to negatively affect my mood. That, coupled with a mean bout of indigestion, is why I keep putting off writing this post. I enjoyed the bands and the venue so I don’t want some Popeye’s chicken that I ate too fast cause me to unfairly review them.

This was my first visit to Skully’s, a ‘music diner’ located in Columbus’s Short North Art District. While I would have loved to explore the many odd shops in the area, the sporadic drizzle and fevered music schedule kept me indoors most of the day. Perhaps a later visit will allow me to browse the wares at some of the surrounding businesses. And I would like to visit Skully’s again. Though it is a coffee house and more akin to playing acoustic based music than the type of heavy rock I’m partial to I think another visit would be well worth my time. They also have a rather nice smoking patio, but I would have loved to see some grass on it.

I can’t say that I cared much for how Bridging the Music put on the show. I never spoke to anyone associated with the company. They scheduled the show for 4 pm, which had it’s advantages and disadvantages. It was nice to get home by midnight, but gave the entire show a Sunday afternoon feel. Sunday afternoons are great for picnics, walks in the park and football games. They don’t work so well for rock concerts. I’ve seen some screwed up ways of ordering bands (I agree with going by ticket sales, lottery is pretty stupid) but simply basing when a band is going to play on when they join the bill has to be the most ridiculous and lazy method I’ve seen so far.

This isn’t to say that the bands who performed weren’t good. Define the Revolution played a great sort of jam rock with whisper/scream dynamics. They reminded me a bit of The Mars Volta without the artsy pretensions and bilingualism.

Syringe performed one of their most energetic shows yet. The whole set was a frenzy of Styrofoam  silly string and of course, heavy industrial riffage.

The Dream Thieves performed the kind of laid back rock I expect from a coffee shop. After beginning with a cover of Red Hot Chili IMG_20130428_181835_234Peppers’ “Dani California” they played the suspended chord fare I’ve come to associate with Java Huts. Not to say I don’t enjoy the guitars solos snaking in and out over a simple drum beat based on the acoustic guitar’s strumming, just that it’s not really anything new. I will give them props for not singing about broken hearts.

I’m still not sure what to make of Something Keen. I heard a heavy Bob Dylan influence in Steve Knapp’s vocals and the two piece made a valiant effort at prog rock. However, that isn’t such a simple task with only guitar, voice and drums no matter how many effects pedals you have or how much of an animal your drummer is. I did enjoy their set and the second half featured some really great compositions as well as a comically monotone cover of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.”

Country Club Commandos were the second (and final) heavy band I saw. After beginning with an Iron Maiden cover they launched into a nice blend of 70’s metal mixed with a heavy dose of Dead Kennedy’s. I loved their song about “Hooker’s in the Trunk” and while I was sure it would stay stuck in my head for at least a week I can barely remember the melody less than 48 hours later. Hopefully I can find a recording on their reverbnation page.

I was planning on staying to catch a few songs from Brad Winner but after he said “Tip your bartenders, if it wasn’t for them we’d all be sober and bored” I realized that I was indeed both sober and bored. I also was in no mood to watch a guy strum an acoustic and sing love songs  when I was expecting a collection of local bands. I really don’t know why you’d put a solo artist so close to the end on a bill like this; I guess it just stands as a testament to how little effort it really takes to run a successful promotion company.

My apologies to In It Right Now and Mayh3m!

I’m not sure who the winner of this battle of the bands was. I don’t really care. I saw some interesting groups and while I’m sure it could have been better, it wasn’t a horrible experience. I’m just thinking that in the future I may want to stay away from shady pay-to-play promotion companies who advertise on craigslist and remember to have a few beers before I go to see coffee shop bands.

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How To Destroy Angels “Welcome Oblivion”


How to Destroy Angels “Welcome Oblivion”How-to-Destroy-Angels-Welcome-Oblivion

(Released 2013)

 

I recently took a break from pirating CD’s (that’s the fancy term I came up with for my method of renting music from the library then ripping it to my computer for my own personal use; therefore not breaking any copyright laws) to download the first full-length album from Trent Reznor’s new project How to Destroy Angels. While I’ve always been a huge fan of Nine Inch Nails (They were my first hard rock concert back in 2001) I’m not so sad about the withdrawal from the scene of an old favorite as I am excited to be hearing fresh new music from a great new band.

 

It’s extremely hard to say this about a band featuring the man that guided the early career of goth-rock icon Marilyn Manson and whose (arguably) finest achievement is the 1994 ode to self destruction and depression “The Downward Spiral,” but “Welcome Oblivion” is a finely crafted and extremely upbeat pop album. While I miss NIN, I can’t help but feel that this album is the best to come from Reznor since 2005’s “With Teeth.” Sure, HTDA lacks the muscular aggression and singleness of purpose of NIN, but I can’t help but feel that that formula was beginning to become somewhat stale on later albums like “Year Zero” and “The Slip”

 

The album also puts back into play a well-worn tactic NIN used to create hype about their early albums: anticipation. After putting out as many albums in their last three years as they did in the first fifteen it’s easy to forget how used to waiting for the next album we got. While there were two HTDA EP’s and the great track “Is Your Love Strong Enough” on “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” soundtrack, people like me have been waiting for a full-length album from these guys for a few years. It’s great to finally have one.

 

The NIN albums that “Welcome Oblivion” most recalls is “Ghosts I-IV.” The record uses a nearly identical approach to instrumentation, albeit with Mariqueen Maandig’s sultry vocals. The blips, bloops and odd sounding drum machines interweave and create beautiful pop-rock melodies that rival the best output of any musician working today. While it’s difficult for me to not be able to differentiate what Reznor, Atticus Ross or Rob Sheridan are doing, they prove that they work greatly as a team and focus solely on coming up with great music.

 

“The Wake Up” is a great opener that leads right to the first single “Keep it Together.” I’m not quite sure why this tune was picked to be the first single as other tune’s like “Ice Age” or “How Long” contain spicier rhythms and catchier vocals, but then again there are several reasons why I’m not the person making these decisions (some of which can be found HERE). I’m sure given time other songs will emerge as fan favorites and fight their way into the public consciousness. “On the Wing” is a mellower track that for some odd reasons reminds me of Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now

 

While a part of me is still mourning the demise of the Trent Reznor who gave tunes like “Terrible Lie” and “Reptile” I’m excited to hear what this new Reznor will offer us in the future. Sure, I’ll miss hearing the angsty, macho heavy metal of NIN but I realize that it’s better to be pushing boundaries and trying new things and new approaches to making music than to spend hours and energy trying to recapture feelings and energies from 20 years ago. While there are things I like about the safe, predicatable music of NIN it’s the risk taking of starting a band like How to Destroy Angels that really excites me.

 

If you liked this post you may also enjoy “Garbage @ House of Blues”

Anything That Can Go Wrong – Part 2


F3 – Cycle 124 – No More Drama

Prompt: Write a quirky story just for laughs. Leave the drama at the door or save it for your mama.
Genre: Open
Word Limit: 128

This is a little different from previous F3 submissions. Mainly in the fact that it’s on my music review blog and not my short fiction blog. But I thought the prompt lent itself to the adventures of my pretend band so here is another evening with the best pretend band since Spinal Tap.

 

The Jam Room (546 Words)

winning the battle with toenail fungus, losing the battle with entropy

winning the battle with toenail fungus, losing the battle with entropy

If you will know a man see where he sleeps.

Some rooms and buildings have a character. Churches have character as do hospitals. The practice space of any band takes on the persona of the members of the band. A garage becomes not just a messy spot filled with camping equipment and yard tools but an extension of the group that creates there. A basement is more than Christmas decorations packed away in boxes; it is a studio for a collection of artists.

Ockym’s Razyr practices in Drummer Josh Randall’s two car garage. Actually, the garage is more his girlfriends because she pays the rent. One of the stalls is filled with normal garage staples: gas cans, tool boxes, a broken hammock, fishing poles. The other stall is cleared away to make room for drums, guitars and amplifiers. A dry erase board is on the wall with song titles. A table sits near the pull down door with an overflowing ashtray and countless beer cans atop it.

“We should do more shows,” says one member.

“We should do less shows,” says another.

With the constant bickering and disagreements that arise between the boys it’s a wonder that they ever get anything done. It’s surprising that they’ve managed to write most of the songs on that dry erase board and that they’ve managed to agree on covers to perform. At one point an argument over which song to play next goes on for ten minutes; roughly the time it would take to perform two or three songs. That they’re able to operate as a group is nothing short of miraculous.

“We need to write more songs.”

“We should perfect the ones we already have.”

It’s not that there is no direction; the problem is that there are three or four different directions and no one can agree on which to follow. Adam and Paul want to go one way. Josh wants to follow a different path. Matt has drank four beers within the first hour of practice and is usually worthless after ninety minutes. Hal just wants to play; he doesn’t care what. The band has considered getting a manager. Matt’s uncle Rick had performed that duty in the past. Before he went to prison for statutory rape.

“We should smoke some more pot.”

“We should drink more beer.”

A typical practice runs about two and a half hours. They go through all their songs, fiddle about with some that are in the rudimentary phases and then give up and crack open their third or fifth or twelfth beers. Adam sneaks out back for a joint.

“It doesn’t matter if we’re a mess,” Josh Randall tells me. “So long as we’re a mess together. If one of us messed up it sounds awful, but if we all mess up we can usually pull it off. That’s why we usually pace ourselves at shows. We do shots together and drink beers together so that we’re all equally fucked up.”

After watching five guys that appear to hate each other argue for twelve minutes over the length of a guitar solo then pull of a glorious renditions of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla,” I can’t argue with his logic. After all, something seems to be working for them.

 

If you like this post you may like “Anything That Can Go Wrong – Part 1” or “The Sewer”

Mobile Deathcamp “Black Swamp Rising”


3540255694_photoMobile Deathcamp “Black Swamp Rising”

(Released 2008)

Most of the music I listen to nowadays is at work. I bought an MP3 player with one of my first paychecks and I pop an ear bud in and jam out to help pass the time. Unfortunately I purchased a cheap device and instead of downloading a 16 gigabyte music library and hitting shuffle, I have to download about 8 hours of songs and listen to the playlist all the way through. This has it’s upsides and downsides. I hate that I don’t have my entire music library with me at my fingertips and I have to wait to see what the next album is. On the other hand sometimes it takes me a whole week to get through the 3.9 gigabytes I have downloaded and by Thursday I cant for the life of me remember what’s on the thing.

This happened to me a few weeks ago when I heard an album I at first thought to be Slayer’s “Undisputed Attitude.” It took nearly the entire length for me to realize it wasn’t the thrash metal giants but a band from Toledo called Mobile Deathcamp. The band still hasn’t reached the heights of popularity, but after spinning “Black Swamp Rising” a few times it’s difficult to hear why. While groups like Metallica, Megadeth or Anthrax are playing the same tired old style that they’ve been working on for thirty years, Mobile Deathcamp lends new life to an old genre.

Singer/guitarist Todd Evans came from a gig playing bass as Beefcake the Mighty for GWAR, but there isn’t really any indication of that groups sound in the new band. While GWAR successfully mixed punk and metal, MD plays metal with a bit of a punk seasoning. And whereas his former band relies on elaborate productions and goofy costumes, Evans’ new group is all about the music.

The songs are definitely thrash metal but carry a heavy groove that makes them distinctively Mobile Deathcamp. “One Brain” and “Offensive Release” are both instrumentals focusing on some great soloing . “LSD (Lead Singers Disease” keeps the thrash groove rolling with a sense of humor and blistering leads. While Evans’ vocal delivery is similar to Tom Araya’s, instead of simply shouting about Satan and serial killers Evans actually sings. “Buffalo Song” is something of an anomaly.  Two minutes of Native American chanting that I cant figure out. Though by the end the songs do start to blend together the fact that they’re short (the longest track is 3:39; most are under 3:00) keeps the album moving along and prevents it from getting stale. And once it’s over after 26 minutes you’re ready for another listen.

I’ve seen Mobile Deathcamp live twice. The first time was as the opening band at Mayhem Fest way back in 2009. While they played a good set it’s extremely hard to get excited about a metal band at 10:00 in the morning. They really shined when I saw them later on at the Carriage House (Gunt Punchers opened) and I did manage to have a drunken interview with Evans. Of course, that’s been several years ago now and I’ve since forgotten what he said or what we talked about, but I do remember being blown away by the band at that show. They played a fast brutal set composed of mostly originals and featuring a rousing cover of Devo’s “Freedom of Choice.” I’ve seen a ton of bands at the Carriage House, including the mighty Mushroomhead, but none have impressed me as much as Mobile Deathcamp. Watching them was having a freight train rushing toward me.

And I just stood on the tracks with a smile on my face.

Anything that can go Wrong – Part 1


I’m happy to inform you that I’ve been tapped to write the biography of local icons Ockym’s Razyr. These guys hail from New Philadelphia and are legends in their own mind who have contributed absolutely nothing to our music scene. It is my honor and privilege to bring you the true story of a pretend band. Which I will do in blog form over the next few months with “Anything That Can Go Wrong.”


Chapter 1 – Health and Human Services

Ode and Gillis several years ago.

Ode and Gillis several years ago.

 


“We just never anticipated the thought that we wouldn’t make it,” Adam Gillis tells me. Gillis is the front man and singer for the local heavy rock band Ockym’s Razyr. I’m unclear whether he’s acting out an imaginary interview he’s having with me or if he’s preparing for the appointment he has in a few minutes with a social worker who will decide if he can continue to receive welfare.

We worked so hard for this for so many years it just never occurred to us that we wouldn’t be able to make a living playing music,” He adds.

“Sometimes we nearly break even,” bassist Matt Vance offers. Three-fifths of the band are unemployed or underemployed. The trips to the local Department of Jobs and Family Services are a monthly ritual among them. Sometimes the members switch up, but for the past two years at least one of them has been in this office on a monthly basis.

Ockym’s Razyr was founded in 2002 by Gillis and Vance. They’d just graduated high school, had more dreams than plans and set out to make their fortune in the world and grab life by the horns. But like a lot of other people with the same goal they found that making a fortune isn’t as easy as it seems right out of high school. And sometimes when you grab life by the horns it bucks you off.

Over the past eleven years the group has played countless shows, recorded several albums, had numerous lineup changes and toured the area extensively. The current incarnation consists of Gillis on vocals, Vance on bass, Paul Ode and Hal Levatine on guitar and Joshua Randall on drums.

Josh Randall is in the office with Grace Green and his girlfriend Vanessa Hill. Ms. Green will decide whether or not to keep them in the WIC program to help them buy groceries for their two young children. Vanessa works as an STNA at a local nursing home while attending class part time to get her nursing license. Josh was just fired from Burger King for excessive absenteeism.

Matt Vance hasn’t worked in three years. He still lives with his mother.

Gillis shares a place with guitarist Paul Ode. He occasionally does landscaping in the summer’ odd jobs and hauls scrap metal around. The guy is a whiz with a wrench and fixes all his friends’ cars.
Ode and Levatine are doing well. Levatine has a mobile home he’s buying with his longtime girlfriend and Ode works at a factory for ten dollars an hour.

But money, rent and housing problems don’t deter Gillis’s positive outlook on life and the future of his band. “We’ve been dicking around and laying the groundwork for things for so long, we can’t give up now. I’m thinking that this will be our year. We had a few shakeups last year but things are looking good so far.

“I wish I had planned for the future a little bit more. I didn’t really apply myself in high school and when I went to the vocational school is did even less work. I guess I just always wanted to make music for a living. That’s really the only thing I’ve ever been interested in doing. And I don’t care how long I have to wait in the unemployment line, or how many nights I have to go without food or how many times I have to beg for change to get to a show. I was put on this earth to make music and that’s what I’m going to do.”

It’s hard to not share his enthusiasm until the receptionist calls his name and he walks past the other bums and women in bathrobes and slippers to make his case for why he needs government assistance.

We can only hope that his case worker is as much a fan of music as he is.

Gunt Punchers CD Release


74789_419657408123442_2000623944_n (1)The Said So, The Most Beautiful Losers, Gunt Punchers

April 6th 2013

Bud and Tooties – New Philadelphia, OH

 

It was with a little trepidation that I ventured to Bud and Tooties on Saturday for the Gunt Puncher’s CD Release show. Not because of threats to my physical well being resulting from being a music critic, but because I’ve been sober for nearly a year and I was going to see two bands known for being heavy drinkers. Luckily for me AA has given me many tools to handle sobriety and I managed to avoid the hundred of beers and shots that were drank, spilled, smashed or otherwise enjoyed.

 

I didn’t make it in time to see all of The Said So‘s set, but the two songs I caught really impressed me. This is a far cry from the ambivalence I’ve held for them in the past. I’ve seen and heard them before and they never really impressed me. I didn’t dislike them but I didn’t really like them and I’m not sure why. As a writer I’m always searching for a way to express myself through words and I still cannot put my finger on how I feel about this band. While I want to give them another listen, I’m still not sure I’ll be able to describe what I like or don’t about them.

 

The Most Beautiful Losers played their unique brand of drunken rock and roll with the finesse and aplomb I’ve come to expect. While tmblthey downplayed a lot of the crying-in-my-beer country aspect that I hear on their recordings and stuck with fun sing-along punk for this show, it’s still easy to see why they’re one of the biggest bands in the area. The difference between most local band and major bands is that most local bands don’t consistently write great songs (sorry guys). Chris Bentley has a knack for writing tight, simple punk tunes that put a smile on my face, tug at my heartstrings and have me singing along by the second listen. I feel kinda bad for it, but I really hope that Chris gets his heart broken a few more times so we can have more awesome tunes from the Losers.

 

IMG_20130406_223154_002Gunt Punchers took to the stage and immediately started with their back to basics punk. Sure, they mix in the occasional bit of ska or some death metal vocals but at the core they’re simply a three-chord, moving bass line punk band, which is what’s so great about them. I’m so used to seeing bands that want to write mega-complex compositions that it’s refreshing to hear something simple and catchy. I hadn’t heard much of their music before this show (well that’s not true, I’d heard it when I was drinking heavily and just don’t remember it) but I still found myself singing along with a few of the “Hey, Hey, Hey” and “Whoa-oh-oh” parts. With songs titles like “Johnny Frontbutt” and “Sniffing Bea Arthur’s Panties” there isn’t much not to love. They also performed some great covers. A few retained their original feel and sound (“We are 138” “Rebel Yell”) but they really shined by putting their own spin on Jerry Reed’s “Eastbound and Down” and especially Nena’s “99 Red Balloons.”

 

The best part is that now I have a CD I can listen to so the next time I see them I’ll be able to do a little more singing along and the familiarity with their material will lend to a much more enjoyable experience. I’m already on the last track of “10,000 Flushes” but I think I might just have to give it another spin.

 

Make sure to check out the Gunt Punchers at the Put a bang in Cancer benefit May 4 at Moose Island and in their music video below.

 

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy Bob on Blonde and Most Beautiful Losers at Buzzbin Shop, Apr. 1