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April 2024: About
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I embraced Scratch Acid after becoming a Jesus Lizard fan first. I was aware of the band in the late 80s but had never listened to them. I wish I had because it would have sped up certain trajectories in my musical taste and interests in playing music, but what can you do? Cry over spilled time? I think not.

I picked up on CD at some point in the early 90s. Probably 1992 or 1993, but again, I wasn’t moving backward. I was going towards something new at that point and Scratch Acid helped in the process.

The Greatest Gift is a compilation of all, I think, the Scratch Acid recordings. As we were building Hillbilly Devilspeak into being a band and such, I was devouring everything heavy and weird and noisy I could get my hands on. I wanted to see how others were doing it and I was also a huge fan.

I wanted so badly to be a part of that “scene” although it really didn’t extend too much to Arizona. There were a handful of bands who also wanted to be part of the weirdo Texas/Midwestern thing that populated record labels like AmRep, Touch And Go, and Trance Syndicate. Maybe if we would have become road dogs and really worked hard on driving our sound more towards the bands I loved. Maybe…

The thing is, I still love this style of music as much as any other style. I can listen to and be inspired entertained. I’m a huge fan of David Yow as a vocalist and front man. He’s easily one of the most entertaining humans to hand a microphone to, but he’s also, clearly, got great taste in the process of making music, too.

David Wm. Sims is probably my favorite bass player not named John Entwistle and if you put a gun to my head, I might even admit that I like Sims’ bass lines a bit more. The combination of Sims and Rey Washam as a rhythm section is about as powerful as it can get. No offense to Mac McNeilly who more than held down the job for Jesus Lizard, Rey Washam’s beats are better.

Brett Bradford played guitar but, to be honest, I don’t know much about the guy, and I never really gave him much thought. The guitars on are good, though, but I was focused on the vocals, drums, and bass. It’s just what I was keying in on in those days.

Like many of the records on this list, I left this CD in the player for quite a while when I got it. Admittedly, I skipped around a lot. Not all of the songs resonated with me and many still don’t do a ton for me. The ones that do, though. Those are gold.

“Cannibal,” for example, starts things off and was originally recorded in 1984. The lyrics are typical Yow which means explicit, matter of fact, awesome. This would have blown my mind in 1984.

“Greatest Gift” is up next and has that Texas thing going on with the bass line. Like a rumbling, tall Texan, walking down the sidewalk looking for someone’s ass to kick, “The Greatest Gift” sneaks up on no one. It simply is right there in front of you and you’re going to get kicked.

“Monsters” is suitably punk, rowdy, and noisy. I love “Owner’s Lament,” though. When I first heard it, I knew Scratch Acid was something special. It’s dark and a little spooky and Sims plays a super Bauhaus-y bass line underneath the rest of the nonsense. Unintentional goth, maybe? I don’t know. It’s just different and weird and I love it.

“She Said” sounds like what the Jesus Lizard would later become. Another great, rolling bass line. Fuckin’ A, Rey Washam is so good. He would be so fun to play with. “Mess” is another opportunity for Yow to tell a story about the ‘mess’ in his house. Gold. “El Espectro” is a fun riff, too. It has a very Mighty Sphincter-ish feel to it. Doug Clark would have liked this one.

“Lay Screaming” is one that never really did much for me. Same with “Crazy Dan.” Yow tells another story with that one, but musically it kind of never goes anywhere. I’m way fonder of “Eyeball” and “Big Bone Lick.” There is a bit more movement in both of those. These are from the sessions that birthed their LP, .

They toured for that record and played The Metro, but I had no idea that it was something I would have loved. I’m bummed I missed it and kick myself whenever someone posts a copy of the flyer. Stupid past me!

I often skip past “Unlike a Baptist” but I enjoy the manic energy of “Damned for All Time.” It’s another one that kind of has a weirdo Phoenix vibe. There is a lot of weirdo Phoenix stuff on this record. Like minds, I suppose.

“Ain’t That Love,” “Untitled 1,” and “Holes” are all skippable. Well, maybe not “Holes.” I take that back. Again, though, it’s Sims and Washam that hold my interest here. “Albino Slug” is a song title you can’t ignore. Like a slug, though, the song is slow to develop.

If it sounds like I’m dissing the record, I’m not. On the Guns- n-Roses scale, Scratch Acid takes way bigger swings and clobbers the hell out of the ball while G-n-R still sucks. It’s just that songs like “Albino Slug” are just not as good as some of the others on the disc.

“Spit a Kiss” has always been a favorite of mine, though. It’s got that same crazy desert-y, Texas thing going on. Here is one that Bradford’s guitar actually makes me a little giddy, too. It’s raw and unsettling. “Amicus” is pretty great, too. There is a little bit of Minutemen type stuff happening here. Groove, baby.

“Cheese Plug” has always reminded me of Big Boys. Washam played in both bands, so maybe that’s the connection, but Sims is kinda funky here. “Untitled 2” is pretty skippable, but “Mary Had a Little Drug Problem” is still a great title for a song, record, or band. The song is fairly typical for Scratch Acid. Noisy, abrasive, and Yow is clearly enjoying his lyrical cleverness.

He’s really a clever guy. I always enjoyed getting to talk with him at shows. “For Crying Out Loud” ends things and it’s a fitting last song. Pretty fucking huge,” Yow says at one point. That’s all you need to know.

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April 2024: Welcome
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On February 15, 1990, I saw Prong, Soundgarden, and Voivod at the Americana Ballroom in Phoenix. This was a very interesting show, for sure, and I might even say that all the bands were firing on all cylinders at the time. I was there to see Soundgarden and Voivod. Prong was never a big draw for me, although I saw them a few times.

As previously mentioned, in 1989 I got Nirvana and Soundgarden mixed up and missed out on a chance to see Nirvana up close. When the Voivod/Soundgarden show came around, I wasn’t about to miss the chance. I was a little bit familiar with Voivod and liked what I had heard from them, but I was completely sold on by Soundgarden. My interest in the band was cemented.

Two years later, I was there for Lollapalooza 1992 when the band was absolutely crushing the songs from live. As great as some of the other performances were that day, I was most impressed by how fucking heavy Soundgarden had become. They were great in 1990, but by 1992, they were something else completely.

While I will probably write about another day, Badmotorfinger is the topic du jour. It quickly became my favorite Soundgarden record, mostly thanks to one song. Which one do you think it is?

Let’s dive in…

“Rusty Cage” is such a great opener. Kim Thayil’s guitar riff just sets the tone right off the bat. Chris Cornell had one of the best rock and roll voices ever and was also a helluva song writer. It breaks my heart to this day that he took his life, but that is not my story to tell. This particular song was all over MTV at the time, as well as the radio, and is sofa king commercial, but also heavy and great.

Ben Shepherd’s bass and Matt Cameron’s drums are spot on, too. You might remember them from my earlier piece about their side thing, Hater. Everybody in Soundgarden shines on “Rusty Cage” and the record is just getting started.

“Outshined” was a big hit, too. “I’m looking California and feeling Minnesota” is a line that just sums up the whole grunge phenomenon so well. I have to assume there was some sort of back story to the line, but if not, it’s still brilliant. It’s the quintessential drop D riff, too.

My all-time favorite Soundgarden songs and probably also in my top ten heavy songs of all-time is “Slaves & Bulldozers.” What really cemented it for me was seeing the band play it live at the aforementioned Lollapalooza. It was just huge and the wall of sound the band created swept my sober ass away. To this day, I get a little sonic buzz from it.

Part of me wonders if they knew that “Rusty Cage” and “Outshined” were going to be the big hits off this record and followed them up with “Slaves & Bulldozers” as a way to say, “Yes, we rule, but we’re also still completely bad ass.” It is just so fantastic. “Now I know why you’ve been shaking”??? C’mon…that’s so rad. Cornell just kills this song. “What’s in this for me?” Sing it man, sing it.

While the album goes down hill from there, it’s still damn good the rest of the way through. There are great moments throughout. “Jesus Christ Pose” is a powerhouse. There are some cool little riff-y things going on in the beginning and then, “boom.” Thayil doing his thing again making Jimmy Page proud with some killer Zeppelin-esque riffage then everybody locks in and builds it up into the first verse.

Having seen a lot of people over the years to do the “Jesus Christ Pose” on stage, this song just ruined for them all. As a fan of Shepherd’s song writing, I really like both “Face Pollution” and “Somewhere.” The guy really knows his way around a riff. “Face Pollution” brings the energy back to the record. Not that it was lacking at all, but just brings a different kind of almost manic attack to the song.

With “Somewhere,” Soundgarden allows to grow a little bit more with a middle song palate cleanser. “Somewhere” is another opportunity for Cornell to show off his impressive vocal range, but the song also has a jammy bridge/outro that allows the band to wind back down into the epic, “Searching With My Good Eye Closed.”

Over the years, I’ve read a lot of people’s writing who mention this one as their favorite Soundgarden and I can understand why it is. It’s got all the elements of a great Soundgarden song. There are excellent lyrical hooks, it’s heavy but melodic as hell in a Beatles’ kind of way, too. Almost as if Thayil was channeling George Harrison and Paul Leary’s love child for this one. It soars to some awesome heights in its six and a half minutes.

The band cranks it back up to heavy and serious on “Room a Thousand Years Wide.” This is a Matt Cameron song and the lyrics are by Thayil. It’s one of those take no prisoners kind of songs and reminds the listener that Soundgarden is, indeed, heavy. It’s also got some horns and sax going on, too. I guess they had to give that a try, but it sounds good.

“Mind Riot” is tuneful and full of Cornell’s usual twists and turns. I remember seeing the title the first time and thinking, “probably some bad metal” (thanks Quiet Riot), but it’s anything but. The way ends is pretty damn epic. I know I said that it was downhill after “Slaves & Bulldozers” but I didn’t mean that there wasn’t some great moments. “Mind Riot” is one of them.

“Drawing Flies” keeps things going really well, too. It’s got a nice rock and roll pace that makes you want to drive a muscle car really fast. It’s another Cameron song, so it could have easily been on the Hater record. “Holy Water” is all about the heavy groove. Shepherd’s bass sounds bad ass on this one. It’s almost like they took a bastard son (or daughter) of one of the first three songs on the album, slowed it down a bit, and fattened it up.

“New Damage” is the type of closing song that makes you hungry for the next record. It would be a few years before there would be , but it wasn’t as if the band wasn’t working hard. They toured like mofos. “New Damage” is a good fucking song, too. Thayil throws it down, too.

Soundgarden couldn’t help but get more commercial after They were fucking huge, Kurt Cobain was dead, and nobody could belt out a tune like Chris Cornell. I was sad to see some of their edge leave them, but they continued to make great music.

Just not for me.

April 2024: Welcome
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By rule, one should never really listen to drummers when they talk. When they are keeping the beat, yes, but talking, not so much. Life is way less complicated when drummers just don’t say anything.

I’m kidding, of course. I’ve been very blessed to know a lot of great people who are drummers and many of them of have turned me onto a lot of great music. Drummers typically have excellent taste, in my experience, and the quality of my life has been greatly enhanced by a bunch of suggestions from my skins slapping friends.

When we were doing Pinky Tuscadero’s White Knuckle Assfuck in the early 2000s, Eric, our drummer, told us about this band he saw called Pleasure Club. I snoozed on it for a tour cycle, I think, but then we all went to see Pleasure Club at Nita’s Hideaway in 2003 and I was blown away.

Led by James Hall (Mary My Hope), Pleasure Club was just a straight up professional onslaught of rockin’ greatness. Part rock and roll, part Alex Chilton, part heavy alternative, and part groove, Pleasure Club just ruled it live and their debut record, , is a roller coaster of delight.

They were such and under the radar band and is such an under the radar record that I sincerely hope that if you are reading this and have never heard of the band or the record before, you go out and listen to it right now.

The Alex Chilton part of the equation comes from the Southern, New Orleans-drenched connection. I remember talking to Grant Curry who played bass in the band at one of their valley shows and he was telling me about them spending a lot of time down there. He is a pretty rad bass player and held down the four-string part of the band quite well. Drummer Michael Jerome is also a bad ass.

Jerome was also in another band that Eric tried desperately to turn me onto, The Toadies. In addition to them, he has played with another hero of mine, John Cale. The dude is super cool and was very kind to us drunk White Knuckle Assfuckers telling him how great the band was back in the day.

Marc Hutner played guitar, as well, although James Hall is a bad ass singer and guitarist. I need to really explore some of Hall’s other projects because the guy is a great songwriter. He’s been a bunch of different projects, too, and probably is still cranking out good music somewhere.

Here Comes the Trick is just stupid good. I literally love every song. There is also a bunch of different types of songs on the record that a lesser band would completely fuck up, but Pleasure Club had a lot of different ways of making you bob your head.

The record starts of rockin’ your face off. “Permanent Solution” starts off with this sort of heavy chorus on the backing vocals and some sleigh bells over Jerome’s ever expanding drum beat. When the guitars fully kick in, the band blasts off behind Hall’s powerful vocal attack. This is the type of song that Jane’s Addiction wishes they could write right about now.

It also has this crushing part right around the 2:15 mark that just sells Pleasure Club, at least to me, completely. I’m in by this point in the song and then it’s just like a whole new gear. I assume this is what driving a Ferrari would be like and realizing there are two more gears to go as you hit 100 MPH.

“Permanent Solution” fades right into the big bassline and shuffle beat of “High Stepping.” This song reminds me of walking on Bourbon Street. Curry is killing it here and Hall and Hutner tastefully let him lead the way. The song is mixed so well that I wanted to look up who was the engineer and I never do that.

It was Jay Joyce. Kudos, Jay!

The title track is up next and it’s a scorcher about charlatan preachers. This subject matter is near and dear to my heart. I’ve been fascinated by the whole scam artist/faith healer/tent preacher thing for a long time. Maybe in a past life I was one of these guys. I might be working off some Karma…. who knows. The lyrics are great.

“Little Willy Loman in a city full of sin/with a pocket full of money and a belly full of gin/he starts this conversation with a girl who’s in the game/he wakes up in the morning/ oh man, he’s so ashamed.”

The band rocks through those first three songs with a vengeance and then slows things up a bit with another song that Jane’s Addiction wishes they wrote. There are some similarities between Hall and the songwriting combo of Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro. “One Hand Washes the Othe” is a just a big, lush song that could have easily been on . The main riff kind of sounds like that Jane’s song that was the theme music to the HBO show, , “Superhero.”

The Pleasure Club song is way better, though.

“Roll Around” is kind of a big sexy song. I could see the character “Leon” (played by the awesome J.B. Smoove) from saying, “Oh, fuck yeah, I could fuck to this.” “Roll Around” evolves into a super powerful, heavy rock song in the middle. I love the line, “I’ll take off my skin and roll around” in the chorus.

Up next is “Shout! You’re Automatic” which is another one that kind of reminds me of an Alex Chilton song. Jerome’s drums are fucking great here, too. It’s just big and ballsy and, like “Permanent Solution” seems like a good song to listen to in N’Awlins.

“Daze In Daze Out” is also just fucking great. If this was on vinyl, side two would be just as strong as side one. This one has a great groove and has that same sort of Chilton thing going on, too. I guess I’ve made my point. If Alex Chilton had started Jane’s Addiction, the result would be Pleasure Club. Hopefully that isn’t selling James Hall short. Eric might have something to say about this.

“Good Time Girl” keeps this same heavy, groove thing going. It’s a full-on party song. “Streetcar” switches things up a lot, though, and has this really tight, effected guitar. The song is almost something out of the Robert Smith playbook and sounds a bit like the Cure, but not in a bad way. All these comparisons I’m making are not intended to lessen the greatness of the record.

The thing Is, I think several of us Pinky guys listened to this record a lot for a while. I certainly drove around with as my soundtrack A LOT. I was super jealous after seeing these guys a few times because of their talent, the songs, and just how fucking tight they were. I would love to see them again.

“Marble Coast” and “Holding Hands And Singing” are both beautiful songs. The former is the second to last track and it starts off seeming like it is going to go one way, but when the chorus kicks in, it’s quite lush. Hall’s vocals are perfect and the guitars are a perfect compliment to them.”

“After the crashing seas, I’ll find a marble coast just like before.”

“Holding Hands And Singing” is mostly just acoustic guitar and vocals. It’s a bit of a tone meditation and a modern-ish variation on the blues. Puts the album to bed nicely. Just Hall and a guitar, I think.

Go listen to it now.

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April 2024: Welcome
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One of the things I love about music is how it sometimes just seems to find a way to find you. This process of writing about a record a day has shown me several things and one of them is that some albums were just destined to find me, I think. I didn’t have a choice in the matter.

I got on the distro list for Yep Roc Records in 2018 or so and ended up getting sent a couple of cool things in the mail. One of which was The Flesh Eaters record, . I had heard of them and probably heard some of their stuff over the years, but they were a band I had never really checked out before receiving this promo in the mail.

At first, I wasn’t super sure about it. I popped it into the CD player for a drive and instantly I thought it sounded a little bit a Nick Cave project and I’m not a huge fan of his. Perhaps I need to listen to more of his stuff, but a lot of the post-Birthday Party output kind of bores me. I know I am upsetting people I love right now, so I’ll drop it.

“Black Temptation,” which is the first song on the record, kind of has the vibe, although when I listen now, I just hear Flesh Eaters. My ears weren’t trained, and I also didn’t know that I was supposed to have this record. Fate had yet to intervene.

The reason for the promo was that The Flesh Eaters were coming to Phoenix to play Crescent Ballroom. As it turned out, the promoters reached out to The Father Figures to be on the bill. I also talked to my radio partner, Amy, and we thought it would be great to have The Flesh Eaters main man, Chris D., on our show. I reached out and he said yes.

The next thing I know, Chris and I chewed the fat for a long fucking time. I think I had planned to chat for about 20-30 minutes and 90 minutes later, we were still talking. The dude is prolific, highly entertaining, and a great conversationalist. I left it feeling like we had made some sort of cool connection.

It’s always fun, too, to be able to tell someone I’m interviewing that I’m also in one of the opening acts. I’ve had the pleasure a few times and it seems to turn the conversation up a notch. Either way, the next few times I listened to , I had a new experience.

At first, I grew super fond of the fourth track, which is a cover of “The Green Manalishi” by Peter Green (and originally recorded by Fleetwood Mac when Green was in the band). It’s such a bad ass riff and Chris D. and company’s version is fucking combustible. Bill Bateman’s drums set the tone early and Dave Alvin’s guitars are perfect.

Steve Berlin (Los Lobos and many others), who very recently recorded a song or two for my buddies, Jon and Blaine, played sax on and he adds a layer of heaviness that is not unlike some of the saxophone played on The Stooges’ Fun House, by Steve Mackay. In addition to some mighty sax, you’ve got two members of X at play here, too. DJ Bonebrake adds marimba and percussion throughout the record and John Doe plays bass.

This is another reason why I love this record. John Doe is one of the coolest dudes in the world. I wouldn’t say we are friends, but we’ve talked a number of times now and he’s been very complimentary of The Father Figures. When the Flesh Eaters show happened, it was really fun hanging out backstage with those guys and our friends in the other opener, The Brand (RIP Sarah).

The universe wanted me to love this record and I do. “House Amid The Thickets” and “Miss Muerte” have become other favorites of mine, as well. Both songs have great lyrics and one of the things I’ve grown to appreciate about the work of one Mr. Chris D. is that he has exquisite taste when it comes to giving a song what it needs. It’s like a third eye or something.

I know he did a fair amount of production work and worked on some albums I love, but is just such a well-crafted record. It bobs and weaves and all kinds of cool sounds pop up when you least expect it. There are two other covers, too, on the record that are also songs I totally love and wanted to cover in my own bands.

The first of these is “Cinderella” by The Sonics. I fell in love with “Cinderella” after Black Dot turned me on to The Fuzztones in 1986. I’ve wanted to cover it for years. The Flesh Eaters version is driven by Bateman and Bonebrake, for sure. Chris D.’s delivery of the lyrics is also great, too. Doe holds it down, too, as a matter of fact. His bassline is a little low in the mix, but he’s right in there, too. When Alvin takes the lead, it is scorching. As the kids say, this record is fire.

The other cover is “She’s Like Heroin to Me” by Gun Club. When The Father Figures first started out, we toyed around with playing “Sex Beat” and I always thought “She’s Like Heroin to Me” would be a rad cover, too. Alas, it never came to be, but The Flesh Eaters roar through the song like it was their own. Alvin and Doe soar out there above everyone else for the majority of the song, but Chris D. brings incredible personality to the song and Berlin’s sax is great, too.

You can tell these guys really love this song. The affection flows out of the speakers and make it impossible to deny. It’s fun to listen to a band when you know they have love for a song.

The last song on the disc, “Ghost Cave Lament,” is epic in scale at just over thirteen minutes long. Everybody gets a chance to shine on this one. It reminds me a bit of the Doors in the way Chris D. presents his poetic talk/singing in a way that Jim Morrison was often wont to do. The song never loses my interest, though, and it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s that long. Good driving music, for sure.

There are several other really good tracks on the record, but is now an album that makes me think of specific circumstances with people I really admire. These guys were are human beings, you know? Rather than a lot of records where I never really got to press the flesh and/or have a real conversation with the people who made them, I got to get this record and within a matter of a month or so, it became a big part of my life.

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April 2024: Welcome
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During the early days of Hillbilly Devilspeak, I started learning about time signatures. We were jamming some riff or another and Terry, our original guitar player, (AKA The Great Ciarlino), said, “That’s in 5/4 time.” My world changed instantly.

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“It’s in 5/4,” he replied.

“What’s that?” I asked again.

Terry proceeded to explain that there were time signatures other than the standard 4/4 beat to me, and I saw music in a whole new way. I had never really understood what people had meant when they were talking about ‘time signatures’ so I just played along, probably, and agreed with whatever they were saying if those conversations happened at all.

After learning a little, though, and realizing that some of the bass lines I was making up were in ‘odd’ time signatures, I wanted to make everything weird and disjointed. Terry explained that we really shouldn’t abuse it, but some of that early Hillbilly stuff was pretty wacky.

In a music class at ASU, I heard about how one of the most popular jazz singles of all-time, “Take Five” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet was also in 5/4 time. Then I learned that the whole record, 1959’s , was also in odd time signatures. I had to go out and buy it.

Now, “Take Five” is an incredibly famous and instantly recognizable song. Paul Desmond, who wrote the song, came up with the jazz earworm of all earworms played on an alto sax and the quartet sold something like a million copies of the single in just a couple years. It may have been the first jazz single to do that.

I certainly get nostalgic when I hear it. This record reminds me of a very specific time in my life. I was 25 or 26 years old and living alone in an apartment on 36th Street, just south of Thomas. Ryan was becoming a part of my life, as was his mom, and things were in a pretty huge state of transition for me.

When I listen to “Take Five” or in its entirety, I can envision pulling into my parking space at that apartment and walking to little one bedroom place. I lived there for two years and lots of life took place there. Lots and lots of change.

I think it is fitting that feels like a soundtrack for change. The whole album is kind of in a constant state of change, really. The beautiful “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” for example, is in a really weird time signature that, according to the liner notes, kind of does a 2+2+2+3 kind of thing. Brubeck’s piano feels like it is chasing itself, then Desmond starts chasing Brubeck on his alto sax, and the bass and drums kind of hold it all together.

Speaking of the liner notes, if you ever get a chance to read them, they do a way better job than I can do of explaining all the different time signatures at play on the record in a pretty entertaining way. One thing you can say about jazz people is they have a wicked sense of humor sometimes. Maybe they’re just wicked smart.

Either way, I love “Blue Rondo a la Turk.” Eugene Wright plays this perfect walking bass line under Desmond’s great sax work that starts around the 2:45 mark that I dig. I’m slipping into the whole ‘hepcat’ lingo. Wild.

“Strange Meadow Lark” is just pretty. Brubeck’s wistful piano intro makes me think of the scene in Woody Allen’s film, where the father is sitting at the piano, but he’s just playing something similar. I love that film and “Strange Meadow Lark” kind of fits that feel. IT also makes me think of the ‘dinner jazz’ we used to listen to in Berkeley in 1991 on NPR.

“Take Five” finishes out the first side and what can I say about it that I haven’t already said. Even a good handful of my fourth-grade students say, “I know that song” if it comes on in one of the jazz mixes I’ve made for them.

Side two starts off with “Three to Get Ready” and the influence of this record is just easy to hear. If you listen to Vince Guaraldi’s stuff, it’s not dissimilar to Brubeck. Both Brubeck and Desmond were fucking great at coming up with a playful riff. “Three to Get Ready” is pretty damn playful. I love listening to Brubeck’s left hand subtly play in tandem with Wright’s bass when he takes over for what I guess would be the bridge of the song.

It's a shame I haven’t mentioned drummer Joe Morello. The guy was not flashy at all, but he kept the whole thing moving and feeling good. He and Wright were a fantastic combo. How would it have been to see them play live.

“Kathy’s Waltz” is a really nice way to spend almost five minutes. You can really hear Brubeck manipulate the time signature with his piano in this one. The Beatles ripped it off a little, too, in “All My Loving.” If you don’t believe me, listen from 1:00 minute to 1:10.

“Everybody’s Jumpin’” was a song that I used to really like to listen to when I was trying to wind down at the end of a day. Being new to the whole fatherhood thing, sometimes when I would get home from taking Ryan back home, I really needed to take things down a notch. This track helped a lot. I can fully appreciate the total less is more approach that Wright does with the bass here and lo and behold, Morello gets a little solo, too.

The last song on the original version, which is what I have on CD and vinyl, is “Pick Up Sticks.” For me this one is kind of the most ‘traditional’ jazz bass on the record, but it may feel that way because of the way the bass is a little further out there in the forefront of the mix. I like it. I’ve become a lot fonder of this song over the years as my appreciation for a wider range of jazz has grown.

This is one of those records that I think even a person who claims to ‘hate’ jazz could grow to love. It’s certainly a ‘must listen’ kind of record, at least once in your life. What better time than now? Count the steps in the bass walk.


April 2024: About




During my time in Berkeley, my roommate KJ introduced me to a lot of her friends. Most of them were super cool and a few of them became my friends, too. One of these friends was a guy named Rich. He reminded me of a lot of people that I knew back in Phoenix and Tucson who were part of the music scene.

I was a bit in awe of Rich because he was doing the ’band thing’ and I really wanted to the ‘band thing’ again myself. In hindsight, it might be a great thing that I didn’t find myself in a band while I was there because it might have made it hard to leave. Things have worked out pretty darn well for me, so I don’t know if I would have wanted to trade it, but that’s another story.

Rich was part of the group I went to the first day of the 1991 Lollapalooza tour with at the Shoreline Ampitheatre in Mountain View on July 20th of that year. We had a blast and ended up back in Rich’s parents’ neighborhood in Burlingame, I think, because we were way too high on LSD to drive back to Berkeley just yet.

We went on a walking tour of Rich’s childhood stomping grounds. The musical overload of the day had seeped into our little after party and at one point we found ourselves in front of this huge rod iron fence in front of a mansion-type house. We started ‘playing’ the fence and had these incredible sounds going until KJ or Jim said, “The lights of the house just came on. We gotta go before they call the cops. You guys are fucking loud.”

I was so bummed, and I think Rich was, too.

After I moved back to Phoenix, Rich and I kept in touch a little bit and I even helped his band, ¡Carlos! get a show here in town in 1995 or so. He sent me a copy of their cd, , and I really liked it.

In those days, I tended to really like any CD that a friend of mine gave me because I was so impressed that they had a CD, but this one was truly good. The songs were tight and cool and clever. They also rocked. I couldn’t wait for my Phoenix friends to get to see my friend’s band from the Bay area.

I’ve gotten the benefit of the doubt so many times from my own friends who have put up with my nonsense a lot more than they probably would have if they didn’t know me, so I am not knocking having a bias towards someone you know. It’s a good thing to be proud of your friends. Making a record IS an accomplishment, for sure. I’ve been fortunate enough to take that accomplishment for granted a little bit, at times, during my life.

One of the things I appreciate about ¡Carlos! now that I don’t know if I did then was how much they were paying homage to Minutemen and firehose, musically. There is a lot of similarities between what Rich’s band was doing and what Mike Watt’s outfits were up to, although Rich, who’s last name is Scramaglia, doesn’t sound anything like D. Boon or Ed from Ohio.

Vocally, Rich sounds like a more masculine Michael Quercio (The Three O’Clock…another favorite of mine) on some of the tracks on and kind of just like himself on the others. The combination of his vocals and the often herkie jerky riffs is really tasty. There is also a ton of attitude on this record. Rich could be super snarky back in the days where we hung out some and I love how that came through on this disc.

The CD starts off with a fun little song called “Fucked Up” that kind of reminds me of a cross between firehose, Three O’Clock, and Redd Kross. It’s a great start and the rest of the album just kind of flows from there. Bassist Allan Moon was really good at playing these repetitive yet rolling basslines that sound really intricate but are mostly just an exercise for his left hand and right forearm.

Doug Lippi played drums on and his beats give the songs a great pace. These are mostly upbeat songs about Rich’s life and it’s fun to listen and go back 30 years a so to a way different time and place for me. In 1994, when this came out, I was still wishing I was back in Berkeley a lot, even though I had a lot going on here in Phoenix.

Another song I like a lot from this record is “Sliver In My Brain” which is the third track. There is a little hint of what I would consider “Mod” music in here. I think Rich kind of dug that scene a bit, if I remember correctly. Moon’s bassline is definitely reminiscent of something Bruce Foxton might have played in The Jam.

“Saturday” is definitely a mixture of Three O’Clock and -era Redd Kross. I wish I could go back in time and talk to myself 30 years ago when I first heard this record and see if I felt the same way. “Rather Tell A Mountain” kind of sounds like one of the riffs off Dead Milkmen’s . It’s fast and on a bit of an attack of the senses.

“Slide” is up directly after “Rather Tell A Mountain” and changes things up quite a bit. This one is a mid-tempo kind of indie-pop power ballad, although “ballad” is a poor choice of words. It’s nice, though, and sets up the big finish. “Wreck the Wreck” has some pretty muscular guitar riffage from Rich and sounds damn good.

The last true studio song on the record is “Ng” and it’s got this big slow burn of a hook in it that Moon’s bass totally sells. If memory serves, these guys had all been playing together for quite a while at this point and you can feel the confidence in their playing on this one right through the speakers.

¡Carlos! was a really cool band. I wish my old buddy, Rich, well. Lots of great music came from the Bay area and these guys should not be overlooked.

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April 2024: Welcome




Whenever I find myself holding a copy of the Tijuana Poker Sharks CD, , I have to listen to it. This happens every four or five years. I’ll ‘rediscover’ this hidden local gem and play the shit out of it until some other CD finds its way into the player.

It was fun to be on the periphery of this band back around 2000. My guitar player, Steve “PapaPill” Landos introduced me to these dudes because some of them were playing in his other band, PaPa, and I just dug’em a lot as people and as music makers. The bass player of the Poker Sharks, Ray Benza, ended up playing guitar in Hillbilly when Steve needed to step away, and then we made the last Hillbilly record, , with Ray and Steve on guitar.

Mike Comunale, who has a pretty locally well-known alter-ego that dabbles in a little bit of weed, played trombone and sang for the Tijuana Poker Sharks, ran 56th Street Records, and also played some trombone and spit fire with Hillbilly sometimes, too. He is tall, striking dude who was fun to make noise with and the crowd loved it when he would join us. I did, too.

Then there was Zack Carmichael.

Zack and I played in The Freeze together in 2018 and that didn’t end real well for me and the band, but I still have lots of love for the guy. He was the bad ass drummer of PaPa and the Tijuana Poker Sharks were, I’m pretty sure, the first band he played guitar and sang in at the time. He’s a very talented musician and he really shined on this particular CD.

I didn’t know Kevin Bentz (guitar) or A.D. Adams (drums), but it didn’t matter. Between their songs being great and what I knew of the other dudes, I really liked a lot. The songs have held up over the years quite well, too. Many other bands from that era have not been so lucky.

The opener, “Happy” is one of those songs that just works. Between Carmichael’s excellent lyrics (and a great delivery of them), it’s a catchy song. Comunale’s trombone adds a really cool layer of texture, too. Thanks to Adams, who is one of the best drummers to ever hit the skins here in Phoenix, when the Tijuana Poker Sharks want to kick it into another gear, it seems effortless and feels completely natural.

The song is about one of the harder sides of loving someone. It gets me in the feelers on several levels. I’ve been that guy that Carmichael gives voice to and I also know the words come from the heart because he is a friend of mine. What a fortunate thing to be able to feel and experience.

“Forcefeed” is the second track and it’s pretty rockin’.It has this sort of odd but killer beginning with just drums and trombone. You don’t hear a lot of trombone in rock and roll, I guess, these days unless it is some shitty ska band (that’s not nice and I sort of take it back). Either way, though, I’ve always loved how this song sort of just rolls into itself thanks to Comunale.

Carmichael has this great line in there, too: “I don’t need what I don’t have/I can’t see what’s right in front of my face.” More people should remember this sage advice when it comes to the ‘want monster’ that lives inside us all sometimes.

If any of the songs on this debut CD come off as a little dated at all, it’s “Sunshine,” but only in the beginning. Benza does some fancy funk bass and then there is some heavily wah-wah pedaled guitar. Those volume pedals can do a lot of funky shit, I suppose. This song takes me back to going into Trails or Headquarters, two classic Valley head shops and looking at all the bongs and tye-dyed shirts.

“Wrinkles” is another of their songs I really like still to this day. It oozes Phoenix. Carmichael was in another band, Thee Unfortunates, with our mutual friend, the late, great Vince Bocchini. This song reminds me of a song Vince would have loved.

It flows nicely into the next one, “Icebox,” which features some more Adams’ badassery on the drums. It’s got a bit of a Stone Temple Pilots kind of feel to it, but I like it a lot more than anything they ever did. Solid.

“Oscar” ends the originals on this disc. It’s another very “Phoenix” sounding song. It has a little of the quiet/loud/play with the dynamic’s thing going on. This only serves to build the anticipation machine in my heart, and I start wanting to rock out and sing along.

I don’t remember when these guys decided to stop playing, but it would certainly be nice if they wanted to have a little reunion show. I’d go. I suspect it would be great, too, and quite a bit of the burgeoning over-50 rock and roll scene would be there.

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April 2024: Welcome
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One of the memories of my senior year in high school that still puts a smile on my face is a moment that lasted just a couple of seconds. I’ve talked about my brothers, Brian and Michael, a lot in my daily blog.It just so happens to be Brian’s birthday today, and this moment directly involved him and Michael.

There was some sort of performance thing going on, maybe a talent show, something, at Camelback High School where we all met and went to school. The three of us talked about entering and doing some sort of thing. I had done a lot of lip sync contests at Tommy’s, which was a teen nightclub, and at Deer Valley High School where I had gone for 9th, 10th, and part of 11th grade, so I suggested doing one of those.

Milli Vanilli hadn’t happened yet, so lip-syncing was not yet taboo, and while I’m not proud of doing those, it was a way to get on stage because I had not joined a band yet. We talked about a song to do and eventually decided that “Dr. Cut Throat’s Revenge” by Junior Achievement would be the one. We must’ve been somewhat serious about it because we went to the meeting to throw our hats in the ring and took my cassette copy of the record that someone had duped for me.

I didn’t get a vinyl copy of Fade To Black, the 1984 record that “Dr. Cut Throat’s Revenge” was the first track on until much later in life. It wasn’t for lack of trying. They were just super hard to find.

Anyway, we are there at the meeting and I think all of us kind of realized that we really didn’t want to get up and do a lip sync of it, but we were there, and we had the tape. Two guys I knew and liked a lot, Joe Feldman and Mike Miller, were very curious about what we wanted to do. They were actual musicians and both talented in their own ways.

Sadly, Mike Miller died a few years later of cancer in 1992. His death hit me pretty hard and was one of the things that helped me realize that the path I was on at the time was not a good one. He was a good dude and thinking about him now makes me miss him a lot.

He noticed I had a tape and put it in a boombox that was there. “Dr. Cut Throat’s Revenge” came out of the speakers and he and Joe looked at us like they were seeing us for the first time again. One of them said, “This is you guys?”

The tone of his voice, I’m pretty sure it was Joe, was a mixture of awe, jealousy, and surprise.

We all stated laughing and were like, “No, we were thinking of doing a lip sync, but…” and we explained that we had decided against it. For a brief second, though, I got a taste of what it was like to have someone look at you like a rock star. I liked it.

I never got to see Junior Achievement. I remember hearing about them, but by the time I got to go to shows, they had morphed into The Harvest, which had Jon Yousko (vocals) and Steve Marinick (guitar), who had also been in J.A., along with Danny Bland (bass) and Mike Sversvold (drums). Todd Joseph (bass) and Scott Chazan (drums) left the band at some point after came out.

I feel fortunate to have gotten to know Todd over the years. I remember seeing him at shows when I was new to the scene and thinking, “Who is that guy?” He dressed better than everyone else and everyone seemed to look at him like he was the coolest guy ever so I figured he must be. After getting to know him, I can safely say that what I saw early on is true. Todd Joseph is fucking cool.

His bass lines on were cool as hell. The whole record is pretty darn cool, actually, and has aged really well. It’s still one of the best records to ever come from Phoenix of any genre because each of the guys, Joseph, Marinick, Yousko, and Chazan were all good at what they did and brought a lot to the table.

At the point where Brian, Michael, and I were talking about doing the lip sync of the record, I probably would have argued with you that was the most underrated punk rock album out there. It is hard to fathom that I’ve been a big fan of it for almost forty years.

All of us were so into it. I think we almost wore my tape out during those last few months of 1986. It was definitely a huge part of the soundtrack as our friendships were etched in stone.

If I had to choose a favorite song, it would be “Dr. Cut Throat’s Revenge.” It’s just a bad ass motherfucker. Chazan starts things off with a drum beat I will never forget for as long as I live, then Todd Joseph comes in on bass with one of the first bass lines I ever wanted to learn that wasn’t a JFA bassline. The song starts off so powerfully and Marinick, who sadly died a few years ago, seals the deal playing this great metal/punk riff before Yousko starts singing.


The lyrics of “Dr. Cut Throat’s Revenge” are also great. Hell, the lyrics on the album are great. At some point during the last five decades, all the songs have been my favorite at one point or another. “Night Dreams” is a another one that Marinick and Yousko just rule on with a great, galloping bridge. I don’t know how many times I’ve thought of “Night Dreams” after a rough night’s sleep.

“Rest In Peace” is bad ass…a great bass line on this one and Chazan, holy hell, the guy was all over it. As great as Bam Bam was in The Harvest, he never really filled Chazan’s shoes. I’m partial to “Acid Attack” since I lived it many times. “All strung out on the bathroom floor, your hands are shaking as you reach for the door.” Yep, been there thanks to those little tabs of paper.

“Fade To Black” is another one that just cranks. Eventually I did score a copy of on vinyl using DIscogs and then my friend, Karl Wentzel, who put out the record on his Xsonic label gave me an unopened copy after I wrote a piece about it for the New Times. It definitely bums me out that one day I’ll be dead and whichever kid is lucky enough to get to go through my records will find it and not know how fucking cool it is.

“My senses become frozen as my soul fades to black.”

Side Two is a scorcher, as well. Both “The End” and “Medusa” have been up there for me as best songs on the record. Same for “Black Widow” (with some sort of cheesy but still sofa king cool backing vox) which I wish I could have seen the original band play live.

“Snuffed” is another fave of mine. I think the bass intro gets me going, but it’s also the band just really coming together to finish the record strong, too. never lets up. When the first notes of “Future’s Past” hit speakers, you know that you’re in for another great ride. The galloping riff is really working for the band here, too. There certainly was power in that guitar.

Two of my friends were cool enough to re-release this a number of years ago on CD and added some live stuff. There is also some YouTube stuff available that is really cool, as well, including a pretty decent sounding live recording from 1984.

Great stuff, boys. Classic.

I’m very glad we decided to skip doing a lip sync.

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April 2024: Welcome
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I love a good compilation. When I got my first compilation cassettes back in the early 80s, I loved the format. I could get 20 punk bands on a single cassette. It didn’t matter if I didn’t like all the songs because there were enough on there for me to find the ones I did like and that was all that mattered.

Don’t get me started on the mix tape/CD. I loved those, too, and it was an honor when someone would take the time to make you one. When CDs came out, I scooped up compilations whenever I could. Some of my favorites, though, came from my mom and stepdad over the years. Joe would get sets of comps, I think, from clients as he sold various electronics back in the day and if wasn’t stuff they wanted, they passed them on to me.

Some of them were nothing special, but others, oh boy. I got hours and hours of entertainment out of them and found a ton of new music, at least to me, that I liked. In a few cases, the gift keeps giving.

Now, back in my punkest of punk years, I would have told you that I hated country music. I might have given Johhny Cash a pass, Hoyt Axton, too, and a few others. I loved Loretta Lynn, for example, after seeing . I also liked Willie Nelson a lot, too, but most country music was not anything I wanted to hear.

In 1991, though, my mom passed a Rhino Records’ Incredible Collection compilation called and I fell in love with it. This was the beginning of my mantra, “Sure, I like Country, as long as it came out before 1967.” I still use this line sometimes, but I’ve expanded my love to a handful of current local artists and a few others.

I’m sure there are tons of compilations out there just like, and probably way more comprehensive, I’ve scooped up a few similar things on vinyl in the last few years and will probably buy more. I have a real soft spot for old, classic country music. I like a lot of the western-style stuff, especially things like Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys or Buck Owens & The Buckaroos. The Bakersfield sound speaks to me.

Classic Country has 26 tracks and most of them are fucking great. Webb Pierce’s “I Ain’t Never” starts things off. This track came out originally in 1959. It’s old enough to retire this year. I find myself listening to this music and wishing I could be there with people back in ’59 hearing it for the first time. There is just enough early rock and roll in Pierce’s style that I’m sure he was considered somewhat subversive.

I’ve mentioned it before, but if you want to learn more about classic country music, you have to listen to the Cocaine & Rhinestones podcast. It is so good and offers a really thorough commentary on classic music. Next up is Jim Reeves’ “He’ll Have To Go” with the classic opening line, “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone.” The style is simple and straight forward, but Reeves has such a great voice that he doesn’t need anything more than the great lyrics and a simple melody.

Don Gibson’s “Sea of Heartbreak” is a great song. It has this nifty little guitar riff that kinda rules, but it is just behind the vocals in the mix, along with a great little piano line, too. I wish I could write a song like this. Truly.

Marty Robbin’s “Devil Woman” kind of pales in comparison to the first three tracks, but it’s still really good. I often skip it, though. I’m not a huge fan of Robbins. I like Ned Miller’s “From a Jack To A King” more. This is from 1963 and from the 1964, we get Connie Smith’s “Once A Day.” I skip that one most of the time, but when I don’t, I like it. There is some nice steel guitar on it.

Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” is another of the many staples on this CD. Great bass line on this one, too. This song swings. I’ve heard some good covers of this over the years, too, but I like this one the best.

Loretta Lynn is up next with “You Ain’t Woman Enough.” I tend to feel every line when I listen to the late, great Lorretty. I hope I can call her that. I mean zero disrespect at all. I am a fan and highly recommend the Cocaine & Rhinestone episode about her. I tried to get an interview with her one of the last times she came to Phoenix, but I got shot down. That would have been awesome if I could have overcome my nervousness.

“Sam’s Place” by Buck Owens is another great song. I just wrote about Buck a week or so ago, so I’m going to just say I love “Sam’s Place.” Now, Tammy Wynette on the other hand, I can’t really get into her music. I just want to hear John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd sing “Stand By Your Man.” Maybe someone in the know will point me in the right direction.

Wanda Jackson, on the other hand, speaks to me a bit more. “Right or Wrong” is kind of a sad song. It’s leads into the great Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried.” This song kind of blossoms right in front of your ears. I like the finger picking on the guitars, too.

“New San Antonio Rose” by Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys is up next. On Sunday when I visited my Granny, the man in the next room over was listening to this song as I walked out. I almost went into his room and said, “I’m going to write about this song in a day or so,” but I thought it might frighten him. I had been listening to it as I pulled up, too, which was super weird.

I’ve heard some Bob Wills’ stuff that was recorded with just one mic in the middle of the room that sounds great. That’s some bad ass engineering for you. Check that stuff out!

You have to love Lefty Frizzell’s “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time.” From the opening fiddle riff to Frizzell’s kick ass delivery of some great lyrics, the song just embodies honkytonk music. The guy had a tough life, from what I’ve learned, and made some absolutely shite decisions, but if you can overlook that, the music is pretty damn good.

I am also a big Patsy Cline fan. “Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray” is definitely not a ‘feel good’ song, but damn if she doesn’t sound just lovely on this song. I never skip this one. Not once.

The heart of is just so strong from the Wanda Jackson song through to Merle Travis song “Steel Guitar Rag.” After Patsy Cline, George Jones rules on “She Thinks I still Care” which has some extremely well written lyrics, then Tennessee Ernie Ford does “16 Tons.”

Back in 1991, I think this was probably one of the songs I listened to the most. I fucking love it. Again, I ask, how could you not love this song? “I owe my soul to the company store.”

Jerry Lee Lewis throws it down with “What Made Milwaukee Famous” and it’s another, pardon the pun, sobering thought. There are a lot of songs on that straddle the line between country and rock and roll. The roots are deep.

Willie Nelson does “Crazy” and the arrangement here is wonderful. It’s from the 60s, I think, and just sounds killer. Patsy Cline did this song so beautifully, but I like Willie’s version almost as much.

Rhino threw on “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash here and it’s great and all, but there are so many other Cash songs that would have been better. “Ring of Fire” is a song that I used to argue was done better by Wall of Voodoo. That was brash of me, but I’ll stand by it.

As mentioned earlier, the great run of songs stops with Merle Travis and “Steel Guitar Rag.” It just doesn’t do a lot for me. Buddy Holly and the Crickets share “Oh, Boy!” They bring the rock, too. Listen to the drums on this one.

“Hot Rod Lincoln” by Commander Cody & His Lost Planet is a fun one. Turn it up, too, because it is a rocker in sheep’s clothing on this CD. Jimmy Bryant and Speedy West slay “The Night Rider” before Ernest Tubb closes things out with “Walking The Floor Over You.” I kind of wish they would have switched Ernest Tubb’s song and Jimmy and Speedy’s song, but that’s just me.

Classic Country is well worth picking up if you still listen to CDs. If not, I’m happy to share the playlist I made on Spotify.

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April 2024: Welcome
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One of my favorite things about my short time in the Bay Area was the college radio stations. KUSF and KALX both played a lot of good music and my primary job while I was there was delivery driver. I would drive around Berkeley for a few hours each day, sometimes more, and I would listen to those stations.

As one might have surmised from the first 100 records on this list 1991 was a good year for music. There are several records from that year here so far and there will be more. One of which is by Dream Warriors.

There were a couple of singles being played on the hip hop shows on both KUSF and KALX that I liked a lot from One was “Wash Your Face In My Sink” and the other was “My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style.” At first, I had no idea who was doing these songs. The DJ’s would often play three or four songs in a row and it took me a bit to get the name, Dream Warriors.

I really should say that listening to these shows really broadened my mind when it came to hip hop. There was a ton of good stuff being played and I tended to gravitate towards the more socially conscious stuff, but I did like a lot of the gangsta rap that they were playing, too. Some of that early Ice-T stuff was great, for example.

Groups like Dream Warriors, who hailed from Canada, and the Bay Area’s own, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, though, were my jam. You’ll see a record from the latter on here soon enough. These groups didn’t need to bash your head in with “Bitch that” or “N-word this” all the time. I don’t mind a little of that here and there, but have something to say, please.

The best rap/hiphop/etc., does just that. It has something to say.

Dream Warriors seem like nice fellas compared to a lot of their contemporaries, and to be honest, I know very little about them. I picked up a copy of at Amoeba or Rasputin on Telegraph (I can’t remember which), and I liked it…but I still mostly played the two singles.

Over the years, I’ve grown to expand my appreciation for the CD (I don’t have the whole thing on vinyl, but I do have “Wash Your Face In My Sink” as a 7”) to songs like “Ludi” and “Twelve Sided Dice,” which is the first hip hop song I ever heard about D and D.

In fact, “Ludi” is also about a game, too. I’ve never heard of the game, Ludi, but the song has a nice little groove. The one thing about that I’ve never been able to decide if it is either brilliant or redundant is that a lot of the songs use the same vernacular. “Boombastic” shows up a lot. They must’ve known that “My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style” was going to be huge. Lots of nods to it…same as “Wash Your Face in my Sink.”

Dream Warriors were clearly practitioners of getting high on their own supply. The re-use melodies and clever turns of phrase a lot on You might almost of it as more of a long-playing EP.

This is a fun one, though, if you like your hip hop with a little jazz and acid jazz on the side. The lyrics are interesting throughout and easy on the ear, too. There are a lot of funny things being said throughout and it’s all social commentary. I’m guessing there are some Canadian hip hop in-jokes happening here, too.

Check out the D and D song, for sure, if you ever played the game. It will make you laugh. There are a few references to D and D in other songs, too.

I always wanted to see Dream Warriors live, but I don’t think they ever came to Phoenix. Bummer.

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April 2024: Welcome
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Some records just make you feel like a teenager. When I moved to Camelback High School at the end of 1985, I was still figuring out just who in the hell I was. I had my core bands that I loved (and mostly still do) but I was also a sponge and I sucked up all the new music I could find.

Being the new kid at a decent sized Phoenix high school, I had no choice but to make new friends. Luckily my cousin, Ben, was already going to Camelback, so I had kind of an instant in with him and most of the people he knew. I was also kind of a punk rock guy, so I would have thought I would have been in with the small crowd of them, too, but that never really took.

Where I did find friends was in the, for lack of a better term, alternative/drama/mod/skater crowd. In those days, for my young friends, being part of subculture was not readily accepted by some of the narrower thinking students. Most probably didn’t give a shit what color my hair was or whether or not I wore eyeliner, but they still weren’t lining up to hang out.

Most of the people I started chumming around with seemed to have pretty cool taste in music. I was very fortunate for this and started learning about a whole new crop of bands. My buddy, KJ, had exquisite taste in the tunes and introduced me to her friends, as well, who also had great taste.

After KJ and I started hanging out a lot, she introduced me to her friend, Dorothy, and here was another new (and lifelong, cherished) friend that knew about all these great garage and mod and kinda dreamy bands. It was Dorothy who dubbed me my first copy of The Three O’Clock’s .

I fell in love with the record one night at a party at Dot’s parents’ house near the Tempe/Mesa border. We had taken LSD (it was 1986, so not for therapeutic reasons) and being enamored with Dot’s records, I was hanging out in her room listening to one record after another. There may or may not have been a lava lamp happening in there and a blacklight, I don’t remember, but I do remember that when I put on it seemed to intensify my experience tenfold.

She had already turned me onto the song “Jet Fighter” in a mixed tape, I think, or that could have been from KJ, and I really liked it. The Three O’Clock were kind of punk adjacent and I’d been really getting into a lot of bands like The Jam and Purple Hearts in those days, too, so The Three O’Clock was definitely in a neighborhood I was getting fond of visiting.

I don’t know if I had heard anything beyond “Jet Fighter,” though, on that fateful night in the spring or summer of 1986. It was probably spring. There was probably just enough musical jet fuel in “Jet Fighter” to help kick the speed in my LSD into gear and the beginning of the song is really quite perfect for a psychedelic drug.

If you have never done LSD, it’s a really hard thing to describe. It’s not like anything else I have ever experienced. There are moments when you can literally feel all of the nerve endings in your body waking up, so when a song like “Jet Fighter” meets that neuro-phenomenon, you feel it coursing through your body like, well, a plane taking off.

I distinctly remember sitting on the floor of Dot’s room, which had kind of a purplish glow from the trip inducing lighting, between her bed and the stereo. My teenage brain was just as content as it could be. I was with a bunch of people I really liked and was super stoked to be getting to know so well.

Dot hung out with a great group of punk guys from her school, which was McClintock High, and they had accepted me as one of their own way faster than the dudes in Camelback’s small punk scene. There was also a gaggle of cute girls, too. What could be better? We were safe in a house where the parents were out of town, and we could explore our minds to the fullest.

When “Stupid Einstein” came on, I could feel a shift in the tone of the album and my trip. It was like the 60s were exploding in my head and The Three O’Clock were really great at cultivating the harmonies of those times. Back then, I had no idea what the “Paisley Underground” was and didn’t care, but I wish had because there was a lot of killer music to explore from that particular genre.

“And So We Run” has a lot of really interesting sounds going on thanks to Mike Mariano’s excellent keyboard skills. The whole band is really good at what they do/did. Danny Benair, who I got to interview a few years ago, played some excellent beats and Michael Quercio’s bass playing is often overlooked because of his notable falsetto singing style. I don’t want to leave out Louis Gutierrez, either. His guitars make this one of my favorite records.

Even “Fall to the Ground” is pretty darn trippy, although not as trippy as “And So We Run” and the song directly after it on side one, “A Day In Erotica.”

“Fall to the Ground” shifted my mood a bit and I decided to make myself a bit more comfortable and I stretched out on Dot’s bed. It seemed like a song that one should recline to, I suppose. That move set up a pivotal moment in my teenage life.

As “A Day In Erotica” starts with its sitar-like guitar sound, I started to leave my body. As the song started to kick in, I was rising up and floating over myself looking down at my blissed-out face and body laying on Dot’s bed.

I wish I could say, “Gotcha” or “Just kidding” but it really happened. It was one of the coolest things I had experienced at that point in my life. I was totally calm and enjoyed what I had seen. I tried to articulate it later, but I don’t know if anyone really took me seriously. We were all pretty devoted to exploring the psychedelic world. We called it being “Wiser than Bob.”

I was higher than Bob while listening to “A Day In Erotica,” that’s for sure. It’s a super trippy song, so it’s no wonder that was the time in the record that the acid fully kicked in. I remember slowly going back down to my body and when the song ended and it was time to flip the record, I sat there for a minute and took it all in.

Dot came in shortly after and I tried to tell her about it, but I think we were both beyond eloquent conversation at the moment. I put the other side of the record on, but I don’t remember listening to it then. There were other things to do.

Shortly after the party, Dot gave me the whole thing on a cassette tape and later that year, I found an official copy on cassette. It took me years to find the vinyl at a price I could afford. I grew to love side two almost as much as side one.

The cover of the Bee Gees’ “In My Own Time” is fucking boss. The Bee Gees were ripping off the Beatles and The Three O’Clock did the song even better. It’s a groover, that’s for sure.

Another track I dig off side two, which has a little bit Bay City Rollers meets Bruce Foxton in it is “When Lightning Starts.” It’s kind of cheesy, sure, but there is something really great and fun about it. I love that the band doesn’t really same to take itself too seriously. Towards the end of 1986 or early in 1987, KJ and I went to see them at the Mason Jar, and it was epic. Full bucket lister, for sure.

Sure, every song on isn’t the coolest or most face-melting thing I’ve ever heard, but it is a fun record and holds amazing memories.

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April 2024: About Me
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My high school friend, Jerry, turned 16 during our freshman year. If I remember correctly, he had been held back a couple of years early on in school because of an illness or something. It was the 80s and I didn’t care. I liked Jerry and we were good friends for several years.

We took a lot of shit for being “Tom and Jerry.” It was okay. We thought it was funny and would even make a big show of being offended, even after the 100th time some smug high school asshole would say, “Wait…Tom and Jerry? How is the mouse taller than you, cat?” Jerry was tall and skinny, like me, but he was a bit taller.

We endured.

We were in journalism class together freshman year and that’s how we became friends. We shared certain insecurities, the kind that freshmen in high school have, and he was a fairly loyal friend in those early days. I say ‘fairly loyal’ because Jerry was also a bit of an opportunist and if there was a chance to throw me under the bus to make himself look better, he often took it, but he had a car.

This made many of his more irritating features a bit more bearable. He was a good dude, though, at his core and we were friends before he got the car, unlike many of the other people who started showing up to hang out and go to the mall or wherever we wanted to go. I think he knew that I wasn’t just there for a ride.

One of the things we got into doing during sophomore year was record shopping. Now that I think about it, Jerry was the baby of his family and considerably younger than his siblings. He was the “oh, fuck” baby and because of this, he often had disposable cash.

I was a good saver, though, and would work here and there at Easy Street, so I often had record money, too. We explored a lot of great 80s music together and loaned each other our records all the time. Sometimes we even traded them, too, which was always kind of a bummer for me because I hate giving music up for good.

At some point in 1984, he picked up Wire Train’s record. I don’t remember the circumstances of it, but when I listen to it now, I can definitely conjure up the image of kicking back in his bedroom, which was huge compared to mine, and listening to it.

In A Chamber was right up Jerry’s alley. I think he imagined himself to be a sort of 80s new wave rocker and Wire Train was definitely a typical 80s new wave band. They sounded a bit like they were English and had this great song, “Chamber of Hellos.”

I really liked “Chamber of Hellos” a lot. So much so that I got my own copy of even though Jerry would have gladly let me dub a tape. It can be had pretty cheaply nowadays, and I’ve seen copies in all the local record shops here in Phoenix over the last several years.

Something about that song, though, has stayed with me throughout my life. I spin it most times I DJ because it is so damn good. Much of the rest of the record is your basic, early 80s, New Wave. It’s not terrible by any means and I don’t mind listening to side A at all.

“Everything’s Turning Up Down Again” is a pretty good song. It’s probably the strongest of the side one songs, but again, they are all kinda cool in a Fixx meets the good Duran Duran meets the dBs kind of way. A perfect example of this mix is “Slow Down.”

The song kind of encapsulates the early 80s sound of guitar driven alt-rock. In 1984, I was buying the punkier stuff and Jerry was buying the more new wave kind of stuff. Our tastes occasionally met in the middle, though. Wire Train was one of those places.

There is also some pretty fun little bass lines on I think Anders Rundblad, the band’s bass player, was probably a big fan of what Sting did with the bass but lots of people in this genre were. There was definitely a punch of Police in there, too.

Jerry is a teacher, too. We drifted a part back in the early 90s. From 1987 to 1991, we didn’t hang out very often at all. I went one way with my interests, and he went another way. I think he got more serious about college than I did, at first, and he also gravitated to some of the people from Deer Valley High that I just had to get away from.

One of the last times we hung out, it didn’t end very well, and I think I may have told him to forget my phone number, but we did connect a few years ago via email and had a phone call that was pretty pleasant We talked about keeping in touch, but we won’t and that’s okay.

We discovered a lot of music together, though, and I have lots of good memories of fun times with ol’ Jerry. Thanks for buying Wire Train is not a very memorable band, but “Chamber of Hellos” is a great song and is still proudly part of my collection.

April 2024: Welcome
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You know, these are weird times. We know more about famous people than ever before. We know too much, I think. Because of this, I find myself at times having to separate the art from the artist. I like knowing about musicians I admire, and I love to hear the stories behind the records and such, but there are times when I find out things and I’m disturbed that I have supported some of these people.

Then I think, “But I still like music or movies or TV shows. What should I do?” I might love the painting but despise the artist. There are lines, of course, and sometimes people cross them, and you can’t listen, watch, or see objectively anymore. It’s sad when that happens. Morals and art are often on the verge of blows, anyway.

We should be challenged by art sometimes, but when the personalities behind the art become too big or fucked up, it gets messy. Just putting this out there. I will circle back to it.

We started putting Pinky Tuscadero’s White Knuckle Assfuck together around 2000. One of the biggest influences on several of us, at the time, was Queens of the Stone Age. I was a big fan of their early stuff because it was just so well put together. The songs were catchy and often had good, memorable lyrics. Everyone who played on the records was top notch at their craft and the production was just perfect for the big, dumb, kinda stony rock they were making.

I don’t mean “dumb” as in not smart. I mean that it is kind of blunt and simple and easy. A perfect example of this is “Auto Pilot” off the record. It’s just simple and catchy with great guitar and big, dumb, catchy lyrics. It’s just there and wraps you in a nice welcoming handshake like an old friend.

We had conversations about the direction we wanted Pinky to go. Queens of the Stone Age came up a lot in those conversations. We wanted to be somewhere between them, Dayglo Abortions, and Ramones. Big, dumb rock.

At that time, we didn’t have anyone who could play guitar like Josh Homme, but we did have a bunch of catchy, big, dumb riffs. We traded the intricate guitar god stuff for the bludgeoning attack of three guitars turned up super loud.

In 2000 and 2001, I was really into It’s just one great song after another. I mentioned “Auto Pilot” but “Better Living Through Chemistry” just blows it away. The guitar and the lyrics are killer. I bet I listened to this song 500 times in that era. I wanted to play music like this so badly.

We saw them on this tour, and they were fucking great.

The eponymous debut from 1998 is great, too, and I’ll probably write about that one at some point, but they took it up a notch on Both of those records really made me look at doing Stoner Rock in a completely different way. I’m just not the same kind of songwriter that Homme and his buddy, Nick Oliveri, are by any stretch of the imagination. Their stuff is heavy and full of power but also nimble and catchy. Between them and the Melvins, you could make a pretty gnarly, heavy, rockin’ band.

You’ve got fun songs like “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” and “Quick and to the Pointless” then kind of weird and note-y madness like “Monsters in the Parasol” and “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret.” I happen to love the latter. It’s probably the second-best song on the record.

When Mark Lanegan shows up for “In The Fade,” the band kind of takes the record to a new level and mood. The late, great leader of Screaming Trees had the perfect voice for a band like this. I wonder if the thought ever crossed Homme’s mind to step aside and let Lanegan take over. No shade against Homme, we’ll get to that later, but Lanegan was a better vocalist.

Such a good song, though. Listening to it takes me back 23 years or so. Life was way different for me at 32 years old. I was playing in Hillbilly, getting Pinky going, too, and would join North Side Kings pretty soon after. Music was all-consuming.

In retrospect, I certainly didn’t have both feet in my (then) marriage, and I wasn’t the greatest dad (is anyone?), but I was soaking up albums like this and trying to figure out how to do something 1/10th as rockin.’

Every track is solid on I never skipped any of them back in the day and I wouldn’t now. I do tend to skip this band, though, here in 2024.

I wasn’t impressed by Homme kicking that photographer in the face a few years back. Not too long before that happened, I was backstage at a big Misfits show in Los Angeles thanks to my Slope affiliation (that’s a whole ‘nother story) and watched The Distillers from the side of the stage. Homme was there and let’s just say he gives off some real dickhead energy.

Granted, I didn’t talk to him, but there was nothing about his demeanor that said, “Hey, come say hello.” After that and whole kicking the photographer thing, I kind of dismissed Queens of the Stone Age and haven’t thought about them much or listened to any of their newer stuff.

Rated R is a wonderful record, and I can separate the art from the artist enough to enjoy reliving a bit of my past. It really did help me see music differently for a few years.

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April 2024: Welcome




Some bands come into your life like a shot from a gun.

Ray and I went to see Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars, and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at Nita’s Hideaway in 2001 expecting to be wowed by Blues Explosion and maybe impressed by Yeah Yeah Yeahs who were getting tons of press at the time. We ended up missing Yeah Yeah Yeahs because they opened that show. That ended up being a blessing.

I’ve never been super impressed with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and, to be honest, I haven’t explored them very much. I was mildly bummed, though, because I’m always interested in seeing what people are oohing and ahh-ing over when it comes to music. As Ray and walked up toward the stage, the second band, Liars, was getting ready to start.

Sometimes you can tell from the first few notes that you are going to like someone. It happened to me a year or so ago when a band from Portland, Oregon called Yuvees opened for Quasi at Rebel Lounge. They started playing and I left my comfortable seat and went up to the stage to get a closer look. This is how Liars made me feel too.

The two of us couldn’t stop talking about how cool they were. At that point, they were a four piece and their singer, Angus Andrew, completely owned the stage. They had a bit of Butthole Surfers going on in them at that point and Andrew was making noises, kinda like Gibby Haynes, with a little keyboard kinda thing he was playing around with.

The rhythm section of Pat Noecker and Ron Albertson were super cool, as well. Just tribal and powerful…they were driving the songs in an almost hypnotic way. We talked to Pat afterwards and he was a great dude. They were just top notch and Ray and I were very inspired when we went to the next Hillbilly Devilspeak practice.

I picked up a copy of that night and proceeded to wear it out. It was almost as good as hearing the songs live and for a while, I gobbled up all their releases, but I would still go back to that first one.

Liars do the herky-jerky start/stop thing so well. The songs, in a way, resemble Andrews. He’s a tall man, maybe 6’6” or 6’8”, and he has these gangly dance moves that look just a bit off but also work. “Mr Your on Fire Mr” is not just a great song title. It’s also a great song and is the perfect embodiment of this Gang of Four meets The Fall kind of thing.

“Loose Nuts On The Velodrome” is another choice cut. It degenerates into madness then swallows itself and is born anew as a big noisy spectacle. I love it.

Gang of Four, as I listen and think of it, is just all over this record. “The Garden Was Crowded and Outside” is full-on Gang of Four-style post-punk. I’m sure Andy Gill would approve. “They threw me in a ce-ment mix-ah..” Brilliant.

I have to believe this album is pretty influential to bands like Idles and Shame. As I listen again for the first time in a couple of years, I am taken right back to how much I dug them 23 years ago. People are probably a lot more ready for this today than they were then. In some ways, our world is kinder, I suppose, and more accepting.

“Tumbling Walls Buried Me In Debris” has this great bridge that kind of slows things down and lulls the listener into a false sense of security. Will they or won’t they? You can’t help wonder if they are going to explode out of your speakers again.

Liars built tension really well on It’s a record that seems to want to teeter on the edge of a cliff at all times. Much of this is the juxtaposition of Noecker’s rad basslines and the noisy bits going on around it.

After getting a little noisy and atmospheric for a few songs toward the end, “This Dust Makes Mud” is a super strong closer. It was so good live outside at Nita’s Hideaway. People, including me, didn’t know what to do with themselves.

“We’re the ones who can’t sleep at night…”

Makes me want to get another crazy noise machine and make some truly fucked up music.

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April 2024: Welcome
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The random aspect of how music finds us so full of wonder for me. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how I got turned on to the Pixies. It almost seems like they were always there. After deciding to write about a record, sometimes I do a little research to see what I don’t already know about it.

I am constantly surprised at how much I don’t know about a lot of these records, and it is so easy to get sucked down into the wormhole of available information on the internet. One of the real treats is figuring out what I was doing in my own life at the time when these records were being recorded. It really helps put them into a wider perspective.

In December of 1987, I was living with my mother. It was a tenuous arrangement and a topsy-turvy time in my life. I had gotten back to Phoenix in late October, just around Halloween, after my short stint serving our nation in the US Army. This story can be found in the blogs from May of 2022, I think.

During the month of November, I was living with my friend, Brian, in an apartment in the same complex where I had spent half of my junior and all of my senior year of high school. It didn’t go well. That is a really long story, so I will save it for my memoirs as I haven’t told it yet. I’m working my way up to it.

Anyhow, when things went south between Brian and I (all has been long repaired, by the way), I found myself adrift and my mom eventually let me move back in with her temporarily. During the time the Pixies were recording one of my all-time favorite records, , with Steve Albini, I was an 18-year-old boy who was quite rudderless.

One thing I am quite sure of, though, is that I was completely oblivious to the fact that a masterpiece was being made in Boston.

At some point in the next year or so, I became aware of It could have been one of the Hammon boys who introduced us to this fine album. They were always hip to the up-and-coming tunes. Either way, it was like being given access to a whole new room in my house.

1988 was a really pivotal year for me, musically. I got really into the Butthole Surfers, Jane’s Addiction, and Pixies all in the same year. I’m sure there are a couple others that will come to mind, but those three bands consumed a lot of my time at the end of my teens and into my early 20s.

Surfer Rosa also has an unforgettable album cover. As a devout follower of the upper part of the female anatomy in those days (and who am I kidding…still am today), the model on the cover is absolutely stunning. It’s very tastefully done, too. Nothing says class like a pair of fantastic bare breasts on an album cover. Just ask The Dwarves.

Seriously, though, it is a cool record cover, and it is not blatant or, in my opinion, sexist in any way. Once you put the needle on the record, you forget there is a half-naked woman on the cover anyway.

There was something about a band like the Pixies that kind of made them feel like they belonged to us. The songs are raw, gritty, and full of the type of angst that makes a young person thirst for more. They also have this thing when they play live that makes it seem like it’s almost painful for them to make this music…. kind of like it’s something they have to do but it is very, very unpleasant for them.

Pixies sacrifice for us.

From the moment David Lovering starts hitting the drums and Kim Deal begins the low rumble that opens up “Bone Machine,” I am totally in. No matter how many times I listen to , I immediately belong to it completely.

Black Francis spits lyrics out like they taste bad, are acidic, and will eat the flesh of anyone willing to listen, except when he is being snarky, yet tender, on later Pixies songs. On though, he’s full of fire and clever witticism that will leave with you either a bad taste in your mouth, a smile on your face, or both.

The first time I saw them play live, Joey Santiago never looked at the audience once as far as I could tell. I was pretty close to the stage, standing on the floor of the Palladium in Hollywood, and he seemed like he wanted to look at his amp or at the ceiling. As far as I’m concerned, though, he can do what he wants. The guy is a completely underrated lead guitarist. Steve Albini made him sound amazing on .

Speaking of Albini, in general just sounds so damn good. I love listening to this record on a really good stereo or on my earbuds. There are lots of little things going on that you won’t catch while driving in your car (f you have stock speakers like me). “Broken Face” has those great moments where the rhythm guitar starts the chorus and it’s just on the right side for the first few chugs of barre chords. Brilliant.

Like most people who love Pixies, I fell in love with Kim Deal listening to “Gigantic.” Her vocal on the song changes the mood of the record in a beautiful way for one song without making it feel like it’s a different band. When bands can pivot like this on a terrific record, it shows how great they really are, kind of like saying, “Look what else we can do!”

Over the years, I’ve had several favorite songs from . There were times when I would have said “Gigantic” without hesitation, but early on, I could have easily said “Where Is My Mind?”. It’s hard to believe that song has almost 900 million hits on Spotify. It boggles the mind.

These days, there are certain lyrics that really resonate with me from . “You’re so pretty when you’re unfaithful to me,” for example, was such a hard hitting one for me back in the day. When I got this record, I had a few instances where girls I cared about were not faithful to me. This was karma, too, because I wasn’t so great at that either, but still. Such a powerful lyric by old Charles Thompson (aka Black Francis).

Another one I have always liked was from “Vamos.”

“We’ll keep well bred, we’ll stay well fed/We’ll have our sons they will all be well hung/They’ll come and play, their friends will say/Your daddy’s rich, your mama’s a pretty thing, that maid Maria, she’s really okay.”

I thought he was saying “your mama’s a big ass bitch” for a long time. Listening “Vamos” reminds me that the pacing of is great. The album moves and because of its frenetic energy, the ways that Black Francis manipulates the words and phrasing totally works. You have to listen carefully and I’m guessing that’s exactly what he wanted.

I’ll probably always be a sucker for Santiago’s guitar part on “Brick is Red,” too. When I first got this record, It didn’t come with the additional tracks from .That was on the CD, so I’ll wait to write about those for another day.

It’s probably about time that I got a back up copy of this on vinyl, to be honest. The OG copy should probably be put away so one day one of the kids can grab about having it in their collection. I know Teresa loves the Pixies. That’s a fine thing to share with your children.

I can, with all confidence, write today that will always be one of my favorite records. Even if one of the members commits some heinous crime, I will probably be able to separate the art from the artist. It’s a record that has added a ton to my life over the years and continues to etch a place in my heart.

Most likely, the Pixies could care less about this, but if I ever get the chance to talk to one of them, I will fan out for at least a minute and tell them how much I love it. How could I not?

April 2024: Feature




As a devout Mudhoney fan, I devoured just about anything I could find that was even tangentially associated with the band. It was Mudhoney, for example, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, that was my gateway drug to the Seattle grunge scene and sound. I can honestly say they changed my life.

In 1992, Mark Arm and Steve Turner were part of a “supergroup” called The Monkeywrench who put out a record on SubPop called . I am not a fan of the term “supergroup” being applied to musicians who still have to work a day job. I don’t know why, but it seems dismissive in some way. I like to think of a band like The Monkeywrench as a bunch of friends getting together and making a record.

Tim Kerr of Big Boys played guitar, as did Tom Price of Gas Huffer/Cat Butt (who I have to mention because the one and only Danny Bland was a member). Martin Bland from Bloodloss and Lubricated Goat played drums. Arm was on keyboard, harmonica, and vocals and Turner, normally a guitar player (and a great one), played bass.

Side note: Hillbilly Devilspeak opened for the aforementioned Bloodloss at a show at Hollywood Alley around 1996, I’m guessing. They were pretty darn good although Arm was totally wasted and my big chance to really bond with a hero of mine was washed away in a haze of booze and some sort of drug(s). Luckily, I got to interview him last year and we laughed about it when I shared my memory of that night. Good dude, that Mark Arm.

The Monkeywrench only really sounds like Mudhoney because of Arm’s vocals. is super garage-y and bluesy. A lot of the tempos are firmly planted in the upper middle range, too, so the record never really gets too up or too down. I like that about it, actually.

As I’ve been listening to it a lot, the first thing that came to mind was how badly I wanted them to come play Phoenix. I think I read somewhere that they played in Seattle and such, but I don’t believe they ever did a proper tour. I had to ask Arm if there was any chance of another Monkeywrench record and he kind of said it would be tough, but that he would be game for it.

Listening to it, you can feel how much they enjoyed making it. The songs have a vibrant energy, even when they aren’t being played at the tempos one might expect from guys like Arm, Turner, and Kerr. “Call My Body Home” moves pretty good, for sure, but it’s the opener and sets the table nicely.

The first quarter of the 14-song effort is definitely ruled by a cover of Buffy St. Marie’s song, “Codine.” It’s bluesy and grungy and perfect. Kerr plays a gnarly bit of harmonica (aka Blues Harp) on it, too. If you’ve ever taken codeine, you might have a flashback upon listening.

The next three songs are firmly in the garage rock world. Martin Bland’s drumming has this really loose yet spot on quality that works so well with what they are doing. It’s almost like he’s barely hanging on, yet still killing it. The eighth track is a weird little thing called “Intermission” where a narrator is talking you through a bit of an exercise routine. I remember finding this very entertaining at first and then I would fast forward through it.

Track 10, “Bottle Up and Go” is probably my favorite thing on this record. I have a 7” of it that I spin a lot when I DJ even though most people don’t seem to have any idea what it is. It’s a great song. I love the guitar riff that kicks it off.

“Some days it don’t pay to get up/And if I do it still don’t really pay/Workin’ and Workin’ I’m still in the same old rut/and you never gave a shit about me anyway.”

That line gets me every time and the little bit of percussion that someone adds at the beginning is quite good, too. Fucking great song.

A couple songs later The Monkeywrench covers Redd Kross with a pretty great version of “Notes & Chords Mean Nothing To Me.” It’s a perfect song for both bands, really, and this version holds up really well. I’m sure Redd Kross appreciate it.

Right after they rock a little RK, they cover Mose Allison’s “Stop This World,” which like its predecessor is excellent. Seems like it would be an excellent background song for a Charles Bukowski short story. Kerr and Price really shine on the whole record, but I especially like the guitar on this one.

“I’m Blown” is a fitting ender. It is probably the one that sounds the most like a Mudhoney song out of all of them. Of course this was okay with me, as a devoted follower. I guess I’ll still hold out hope for one more record by The Monkeywrench.

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April 2024: Welcome
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Madison Heights is an elementary school at the base of a peak in Phoenix that used to be called “Squaw Peak.”Unbeknownst to me at the tender age of eight when I was a third-grade student there, to call the popular hiking spot “Squaw Peak” was disrespectful to Native American women. I had no idea.

Now it is called Piestewa Peak after a US Army soldier named Lori Piestewa who was killed in Iraq. I’m totally fine with it, of course, but in 1977, I didn’t know a lot of things. I was eight.

My teachers were Ms. Myers, Ms. Orr, and Ms. Wendt. Could have been Meyers, now that I think of it, but either way, there were three of them and we had this big kind of open class room where three classes all kind of intermingled with each other. I’m sure it was very experimental in those days. It was the 70s, after all.

I have only fleeting memories of what that environment was like. I think I’ve blocked a lot of that time out for some reason. I was kind of an angry kid, I think. One of my only memories of that year was when Ms. Wendt, I think, taught me a lesson in empathy.

We were playing football at recess and one of my fellow students did a poor job of hiking the ball to me, so I started hitting him in the face. He was pretty messed up and I remember Ms. Wendt asking me to look at his face, showing me the welts that were rising up, and appealing to my sense of decency and empathy.

I’m sure I visited Mr. Nelson for that one. He was the principal. I wonder if he was listening to Wire’ first album, . It came out in November of 1977 when I was a third grader. I remember thinking he seemed like a hip guy.

Probably not. I’m guessing no one who went to Madison Heights in 1977 had a copy of at home. How cool, though, if that would have been the case. I’d love to picture my second-grade teacher, Ms. Grimstadt, jamming out to “Three Girl Rhumba” at home. She had to be about 70 in ’77.

I loved her a lot. She’s probably the deep-down reason I wanted to be a second-grade teacher, at least until I spent a year teaching second grade and now I kind of like 4th grade a little better. She was a good one.

Now, when I first realized that came out a few weeks after my 8th birthday, it hurt my soul a little bit. I was probably in my early 20s when I discovered it and more towards my 30s when I actually looked at when it came out. Knowing that I had coexisted with the record in high school made me sad. I could have been enjoying it and using Its strength for a lot longer than I have been.

Pink Flag is an amazing record.

I had no idea who Wire was until I started listening to Minor Threat. My buddy, Mark, convinced me at some point during senior year of high school that it was okay for a non-straightedge to listen to a straightedge band. I really liked “12XU” and discovered it was a cover song.

It was a few years later before I picked up a copy of on CD and it was not that long ago when I finally bought a reissue of it on vinyl. Luckily CDs don’t wear out easily if you take care of them as I have put many a mile on over the years. The whole Wire catalog is worth a listen, too.

When Wire came to town in 2017, I got an interview with Colin Newman. He couldn’t have been more cool and when he realized I was driving to work while we chatted, he insisted that I pull over so he wouldn’t be worried about me crashing. This was a totally sincere gesture on his part and our conversation was awesome.

Newman ended up asking me about myself and I told him about The Father Figures and what we were about. I think he probably checked us out like he said he would, and I think he gave me two extra guest list spots so I could bring them. Before the show, which was at the Crescent, he came out and sat with us for a bit and chatted us up, too. Then they played a great set.

There are 21 tracks on and every one of them is excellent. Only three of the twenty are longer than 3 minutes with “Strange” clocking in at 3:59. Like many people, I first heard that one as a cover, too, when R.E.M. put it on their 1987 record, . I bought that while I was in Georgia at Fort Benning. It was one of my favorite tracks on

“Strange” might still be my favorite Wire song, although that’s a hard one to decide. “Three Girl Rhumba” is a great one and so is “Ex Lion Tamer.” The Father Figures flirted with “Ex Lion Tamer” for a minute but decided we could not do it any justice. Hell, that might be my favorite song from 1977. Any song taking the piss out of TV is good by be (even though I love TV).

Pink Flag is a must for any discerning fan of post-punk music. Because of songs like the ones I’ve mentioned and also the sheer economy of the record itself. There are no wasted notes on Pink Flag. Every song was created, seemingly, with great care and thought. It’s amazing, too, because this was their first record, but if you listen to Wire across multiple albums, you realize that they had no interest in not giving their very best effort.

As much as is a strong candidate for the post-punk Mt. Rushmore, it’s also a great punk rock record, too. The attitude and riffs are definitely there. “The Commercial,” for example, is a great punk rock riff. So is “It’s So Obvious,” too, and “106 Beats That” must’ve inspired about two dozen great English bands that aped the sound.

I’m also super partial to “Fragile.” The edges are a bit softer on this one and it reminds me of being young and kind of dumb in the ways of being suave and debonair (or swave and de-boner, as people used to say). “Mannequin” is another good one, too. Super catchy and rad.

“12XU” closes it out after the excellent “Feeling Called Love.” After hearing Wire’s version, sometimes I forget that Minor Threat even did it.

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April 2024: Welcome
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Movies have played a huge role in my musical taste. One of the first movie soundtracks that I really loved was the score from the1979 Warren Beatty film, . Dave Grusin was the composer of that one, and the main guy for several films I love like , , and . Something about that music from has always stuck with me.

I love a good movie soundtrack, though, and as I got into my teenage years, I began to really mine them for good music. In 1984, I saw a movie called . If you haven’t seen it, the movie is about a group of suburban punk kids (including Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers) who crash out at an abandoned house, go to shows, and get into a lot of trouble. One of the shows they go to is a Vandals show and the band plays “The Legend of Pat Brown.”

The movie features DI and TSOL, too, but I was really drawn to the Vandals. Something about the song and how the band was briefly portrayed in the film was attractive to me. I went out and tried to find a record with “Pat Brown” on it, but only found it on the soundtrack on cassette at first. The first Vandals record I found was .

It was among my first four or five punk records, I think, that I bought. I still have the OG vinyl, too. It didn’t have “The Legend of Pat Brown,” but it had a bunch of songs that became my new favorites. There was a time in 1984 and 1985 where I would have said that The Vandals were my favorite band. I wanted to be Stevo, their singer.

It was a bummer, but by the time I first saw the Vandals play live, Stevo was already out of the band and things were never the same between me and the band, but that’s another story. “Ladykiller” was a great song and even incorporated some hip-hop style record scratching and the punk rock version of rapping. If I have listened to “Ladykiller” once, I’ve heard it 10,000 times. I even did it in a lip sync contest at least once.

As album openers go, “Ladykiller” is right up there with the most fun ways for an album to make a splash. I love that about the Vandals, too. They were all about having fun. Punk rock doesn’t have to be super serious all the time. I’ve incorporated that into a few of my projects over the years, although sometimes it hasn’t been as obvious to the crowd as I might have hoped it was.

To be honest, there are several pretty cringy moments on A fair amount of the humor falls a little flat in 2024, but there is still enough really fun, entertaining stuff, to keep me coming back every so often. At the end of the day, it’s a punk rock record from 1984.

Jan Nils Ackermann’s guitar work on the album is pretty great, too. He has a really unique style for Southern California punk, and while the production on the record isn’t great, he typically sounds pretty raw and rad throughout. Brent Turner’s bass lines are pretty top notch, as well. He was pretty much in the band for a cup of coffee, I think, but did manage to play on this record.

“Bad Birthday Bash” is just pure fun, as is “Master Race (in Outer Space).” The latter rips on nazis, which is always fun. This is one of the songs that the casual listener might find offensive but if you listen closely, it is definitely not praising the fascist losers.

I love “Big Brother vs. Jonny Sako” because it has always reminded me of my favorite Godzilla movie, . “Giant Robot, please wake up. We need you right away” is a great line.

“Mohawk Town” is pure silliness about how “skinheads aren’t allowed in Mohawk Town.” Next up is “Viking Suit” and it has this rolling bassline that spawned about a thousand copy cat riffs from lame Orange County pop punk bands. The song itself is pretty dark in subject matter but I’m fairly certain that Stevo wasn’t a child molester.My guess is that there was a guy in the neighborhood taking illicit pictures of boys in Viking suits.

The second song on side two is a righteous cover of “Hocus Pocus” by Focus. I’ve enjoyed the hell out of it for 40 years now. I did see them do this live a few times back in the mid-80s and it was epic.

“I’m a Fly”is more punk rock fun and is followed by the cringiest of the songs, “Slap of Love.” This one is honestly tough to listen to for me these days because no matter how I wrap my brain around it, it still comes off as glorfying domestic violence. There are a couple of lines in the song that suggest it is being done in a ‘tongue in cheek’ kind of way, but still. Bad juju.

On Spotify, it has even been replaced by the song, “Frog Stomp.”

“Airstream” is nice and fun, though, and so is “Rico.” It is a perfect example of how the Vandals liked poking fun at themselves in their own songs. I’ve always loved how they really didn’t seem to take themselves too seriously. “Rico” showed a side of the Vandals that also hinted to a bit more sophisticated songwriting.

More bands should try taking a lesson from the Vandals and not take themselves too seriously. It has served me well on most of my projects. Cheers to the dudes who made this record.

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April 2024: Welcome
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If you have ever seen a huge lightning storm, you know it is a pretty impressive thing. Out here in the desert, we see them every once in a while. It almost seems like the sky is exploding, they are sometimes over almost as quickly as they begin and other times, they last for over an hour, but you’re left shaking your head and wondering what you just saw.

This is how I felt when I first heard by DJ Shadow. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was listening to, but the CD I had purchased at the insistence of my friend, Alex, was equally disorienting, full of strange energy, and massive. It still stuns me to this day.

The first thing I thought of then and still think of now is: I wish I had this kind of patience. I can’t imagine what kind of focus on beats and sounds it takes to put together a sound collage as impressive as this.

This motherfucker is about as simplistic as it gets from a hip hop standpoint from what I’ve read over the years. DJ Shadow layered samples and beats for a couple of years in San Francisco putting it all down into the radness that exists for about an hour (and three minutes, to be almost exact).

The first three tracks full tracks, “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt,” “The Number Song,” and “Changeling/Transmission 1” are sofa king good. I particularly love the drum breaks in “The Number Song” towards the end. The bass in “Changeling” is, for lack of a better term, fat. Maybe I should write, “phat” but I can honestly say I haven’t used that term before to the best of my knowledge.

To say is atmospheric is an understatement. Admittedly, I have fallen asleep to it many times, but not because it is boring. Some of the tracks are quite relaxing. It’s wild to think that some make you want to shake your booty and others put your booty to bed.

“What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 4)” is another one that combines these killer bass lines with ridiculously head-bobbing beats. As I listen now, I remember being quite pleased with myself that I was in on this early on. Little did I realize that there was a whole scene that was extolling the virtues of DJ Shadow before I even knew his name.

The key was that very few people I came across knew about in 1996 and DJ Shadow was not a hero in the punk community. Now, though, a good handful of people dig him and he’s still cranking out music.

I read that this was the first ‘entirely sampled’ record. That blows my mind. How cool would it be to do a whole “Being John Malkovich” thing with DJ Shadow’s brain and see how he puts these songs together. How does he hear a drum beat or a piano line or whatever and think, I’m going to slap this piece here and that piece there between this crazy jazz riff from a record I found at Goodwill? I just don’t get it.

Maybe it would be a scary place and being in there would drive you crazy. Clearly, he hears the world differently. It gives me an idea for my story about sound monsters from another dimension.

“Organ Donor” is another track I like a lot. It kind of starts off building around this wild organ riff and makes you think it is going to break into something bigger but stays home. I don’t know why I like that it keeps a low profile in comparison to much of the record, but I do.

The last third of the record is basically perfect. “Midnight in a Perfect World” is one of the coolest song names ever. Super relaxing and chill, “Midnight…” taught me that hip hop can be a lot more than what I had thought it was prior to this. There are layers of feeling happening here.

I had no idea it was the ‘single’ off this record. Not one radio station in Phoenix was playing this. Not one.

The party continues, though, with “Napalm Brain/Scatter Brain” which has more great drum breaks. DJ Shadow puts on a freaking clinic on when it comes to sampling drums. For the better part of 9 minutes, it’s just great drums manipulated to be even greater.

Make sure you listen all the way to the end if you want to get a glimpse of how the man does his thing. It’s just a glimpse, but it is worthy of your time if you stick around some great bass dives and blasts of jazzy hip hop drums.

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April 2024: Welcome
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On a very warm fourth of June in 1988, my buddy, Matt, and I walked about a mile and a half from our apartment to go see a show at the VFW Hall on 52nd Street and Thomas. It was a Saturday and we headed up there after our shift at Pizza Hut delivery. We were call center guys shedding our work skin on the way to a punk rock show.

Pizza Hut Delivery was a way to pay our meager bills. Matt was a supervisor of some sort, I think, or a shift leader, and I was a lowly grunt. In those days, if you wanted Pizza Hut to deliver you a pie (or three), you called the nice folks at the call center, and we took your order on some pretty sophisticated (at least it seemed like it at the time) computer systems.

I remember looking forward to this particular show for a while. It featured SNFU who I had seen a few times at that point, I think, and they were great live in those days. It also had Mighty Sphincter on the bill and Sacred Reich, both of which were local bands that I liked a lot. The real draw, though, for me was Broken Bones.

UK Subs were the headliner, but I was stoked to see their direct support so much more. I hadn’t really learned to appreciate UK Subs then like I do now. There was something about them that fell a little flat for me at the time, but I’d heard Broken Bones’ record that came out in 1987 and liked it a lot.

Their brand of UK hardcore meets metal was setting really well with me. I looked around when I could to see if I could find one of their records, but luck was not with me in those days, and neither was a whole lot of spending money. If memory serves, one of the things Matt and I talked about on the way to the show was the big bite the $10 each for our tickets was going to put on our beer money for the weekend.

Times were tight in 1988. When we got paid, we’d splurge on a trip to the grocery store and maybe buy some ground beef or the occasional package of pork chops. We considered these meals to be the height of dining. Paying $10 for a show was a lot in those days, but I considered it worth it.

Our other roommates had balked at the door price and that was understandable. I always justified these types of things, though, by thinking about the fact that I wanted their record and would have paid $10 for it, so why not pay to see the show if I can’t find the record, plus: SNFU, Sphincter, and Sacred Reich. I didn’t mind being a little poor for a couple weeks to see some good bands.

I didn’t know anything about the band, either. I had no idea what they looked like or where they were from other than knowing they were English. Those were fun and interesting days, for sure, to be a music fan.

As we got to the show and settled in, I could barely contain myself enough to enjoy the other bands. As I think back, I miss how excited I would get to see a band for the first time. I still get a little jazzed to see someone new, but it’s not the same. Shows were an event for me in 1988.

It would be a fib to say I remembered what they played. I know they played “F.O.A.D.” and I know I was in the pit for it. If I close my eyes, I can see the band on stage just ripping it up. When they played here again about 15 or 20 years ago, it was a blast again. By that point, I had more than one of their records, too.

My favorite is a one that came out in 2005. It’s a compilation called . I scored it on CD on a trip out to the coast to see Mark and Mo at a little record store in Laguna Beach. It was called Underdog Records, but I don’t know if it is still there.

It starts off with “Decapitated” and whenever I listen to it, I’m reminded of how much I like their punk/metal hybrid sound. Some of the later songs are way more into the metal side of things, but the lyrics and vocals always stay a bit more to the punk side. Two of the dudes were once in Discharge, so they definitely have that chugga-chugga thing down.

Broken Bones is the band I always kind of wish GBH was for me. Like the UK Subs, I’ve grown to like GBH a lot more than I did as a teenager, but in those days, I really wanted to like them. I just didn’t. “Problem” is rad, though. Fantastic second track and the compilation never really lets up at all. Hence “best of,” I guess.

I throw Broken Bones on when I want to feel a little rowdy. While this particular comp is not on Spotify, you can find all the songs on there. I’ve made a playlist that’s pretty close. A couple of the songs are not the same as the ones used for but the alternate versions do in a pinch. They also sound a bit better, too. Whoever did the comp itself didn’t make it sound the best.

“I.O.U.” is another fave of mine. It’s got this full-on metal guitar lead in it, complete with a divebomb riff, too, that just slays. The sentiment of “I owe you nothing” goes a long way with me when I’m listening to this type of music.

I guess I like it because it scratches that itch that is deep down for a lot of old punks like me who grew up on the other side of the world from the British scene. Part of me always wanted to be some crusty dude with liberty spikes and a leather jacket in big black boots. Admittedly, I never went there completely because I’m way too lazy and don’t want to wear just one uniform, but that desire is deep down inside.

“Wealth Rules” is pretty great, too. It’s a nice little diatribe against the rich. ‘Iron Maiden” is another fun one, and so is “Civil War.” I particularly like the vocal stylings of the various singers who made Broken Bones what they were. It’s hard to tell from who performed on which songs, vocally, but it’s all good.

“See Through My Eyes” is another scorcher, but it’s probably obvious but “F.O.A.D” is my all-time favorite of theirs. “Fuck Off and Die” is a great lyric, too. Nobby (Nick Dobson) sings on that one and he does it up nicely. I can always get a smile on my face from this one.

Walking home from the VFW, we were on a bit of a natural high. I’m sure we found a way to get some beer later on that night. That time of my life was when I first realized that I might have a bit of an alcohol problem, but that’s another story entirely.

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April 2024: Welcome
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There is this dude, Larry Bridges, who I respect a lot. When Hillbilly Devilspeak was gearing up to do our thing, we went to a bunch of shows where Larry’s band at the time, Fork, was one of the openers. They would get all the cool gigs with bands coming through town that I liked. I knew they were going to be a problem.

The thing was, I liked Fork a lot, so the only problem was that I had to accept they were way better than Hillbilly was at the time and deserved to get the cool shows. I watched Larry and his bandmates do their thing pretty closely, picking up things here and there about being a weird, noisy band in a town that didn’t give a shit if you were weird, noisy, purple, or amazing. I wanted to do what they were doing.

The guys in Fork were also interesting, cool dudes in their own way, and it was easy to be a fan. We even played a really fun show together early on where I almost felt like we kind of belonged if that makes sense. My respect for Larry was growing, but damn if they didn’t get a lot of the shows I wanted to play.

After Fork was all done, Larry went on to be in several cool bands. I had always hoped that maybe we would play together one day, but it never happened. In the early 2000s, though, he had a band I really liked called Affirmative Action Figure. They put out one of my all-time favorite local records, .

I’ve been trying to look up more information on them but haven’t been coming up with much. Oh well, Larry’s bandmates, according to the CD, are Mike and John. I’ve been searching my memory banks to remember which Mike and John they are, too, because I’m pretty sure I know at least one of them.

Either way, though, I listened to a lot after getting it. When I rediscovered it recently as I mined my CD collection for albums I love but have forgotten about, I was super stoked. I’ve been listening to it non-stop for the last week or so. It’s some great noisy, post-punk stuff that still sounds completely relevant, at least to my ears, today.

Great music lasts.

“Bushywinks” kicks things off with some nice, noisy guitar and drums before Larry’s bass joins the fray about 30 seconds in. It’s abrasive and a jolt to the system, but then John’s guitar riff decides to do this cool counter-melody kind of thing that hits you right in that little bone thingy in your ear that helps you maintain balance.

The next thing you know, you’re stepping back unsure of yourself as a listener and whoever does the vocals on this one starts shouting at you in a very Sam McPheeters (Born Against) kind of way. It’s fucking great. The song comes to a close with the weird, off-kilter guitar part and you’re thrust right into the wonderfully titled “Hard-On For War.”

This one has a Gang of Fork kind of thing going on because Larry is singing (I’m pretty sure) and the beginning sounds a lot like Gang of Four. The song evolves, though, into its own thing. sounds so great to me after all these years of forgetting about it.

These guys would fit in so well right now with bands like Idles, Shame, and their ilk. Pure power and well-crafted tunes. “Unproud” has a similar feel to the new wave of British post-punk. Just twenty years before.

According to the liner notes on the CD, the recording was done at Osborn Middle School. I’d love to know the story behind that. I used to do programs there for kids around the time they would have recorded the record. I had no idea.

There is an almost delicate nature to some of the guitar riffs that I really like. “Ham Epic” has this almost happy feel to it during the first third of the song because of how John played it. Good stuff. I think it goes on for well over 2 minutes before the vocals kick in.

“Digital Gamera” is a fun song title and another really cool riff. Reminds me a little bit of Archers of Loaf. I also really like “The Man Who Takes Long Walks on Candy Wrappers.” Whoever titled that one deserves a high five.

Peer-to-Peer Pressure ends strong, too. “Own Your Depression” hits you like a sledge hammer until becomes a bit more melodic and becomes a bit like a And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead song from their early records.

You can find this on Spotify. Give it a spin.

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April 2024: About Me




Admittedly, the cover of the Butthole Surfers record, , used to freak me the hell out. There’s a lot going on with it and while it is one of my favorite releases of theirs, at times, I couldn’t look at the cover without feeling a tiny bit nauseous. It’s a great cover.

As far as the record goes, I love it. Choosing a favorite Butthole Surfers album is like asking me to choose my favorite child. I love them all, but for a long time I would have probably told you that song for song, , is probably my favorite, especially when it comes to the lyrics.

This is also the record where they firmly cemented the idea, at least for some, that they might end up being some kind of “jam” band. I know I have certainly seen them play a few of these songs live where they got a little jammy. When you start off with a 12:38 long song, you are clearly sending a message to the audience to buckle in. Things are always a little bumpy and jumpy when it comes to the Surfers.

I bought this one at Zia Records when it was on 7th Avenue in the Melrose District of Phoenix. I probably used a credit slip from my buddy, Bob, who worked there and enjoyed stopping by my house for the occasional sack of the super summer seedy special. I remember seeing it in the bin for awhile before I took the leap. As previously mentioned, there was something about the cover that was unsettling to me.

When I finally did take the leap, I spent quite a long time with the record on my turntable in ol’ A112 at Lanai Apartments. I lived there with Malcolm X. Gotham. At least that’s what the phone company thought. I can’t remember exactly why I got my phone in fake name. It was really inconvenient in the long run, but it made me laugh at the time.

In those days, I could crank my records up pretty high. It was a studio apartment and the neighbor on one side of me was probably around 90 and couldn’t hear anything. The other lady was super mouse like and probably wouldn’t have complained about anything. She was very nice, and I wouldn’t have wanted to offend her, but whenever I asked if I was being too loud, she would say, “oh, no. Not at all. You have fun.”

She was probably up to a bunch of weirdness of her own over there.

There are about ten moods in the opening track alone. “Jimi” has the typical Buttholes’ noisiness, but it also wraps up with this long, super cool, barnyard & bowling alley weirdness. I’ve got a few other versions of “Jimi” on different things that are much shorter, for example, but I have always liked how this wraps up.

“Ricky” is just a bad ass song (and zero pun intended). Jeff Pinkus has this great opening bass line and it just gets better from there. Up next is one of my top 5 Surfers’ songs, “I Saw An X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas.” I’ve just always loved that song. Some of Gibby Haynes best lyrics, for sure.

“10 foot tall and the nurse stuck a needle in my arm/well Uncle Doc’s nurse used a needle with ungodly charm/walking down the hall, the dentist loomed through the door/I saw an x-ray of a girl passing gas.”

I’ve sung those along with Gibby a thousand times or more.

It’s also a great song. The middle of shows off some really strong songwriting chops. These guys were a lot more than just noise merchants. Guitarist Paul Leary often gives these “Aw, shucks” kind of answers in interviews and claims they didn’t have any talent, but they were damn good at writing catchy riffs. I mean, sure, they would fuck them up completely by doing all this weird stuff on top of them, but “I Saw an X-ray…” is a great song.

So is “John E. Smoke.” Thanks to my penchant for the demon weed and the Surfers, I earned the nickname “Johnny Smoke” from my buddy, Brian, and it stuck for a long time. I didn’t mind. The lyrics are right up there with anything else Gibby Haynes did. They are totally brilliant and hilarious. “John was a little, crippled, midget lesbian boy but he stood 10 foot tall with a knife.”

Definitely some similar themes running through a few songs on this record. Haynes must’ve liked the idea of someone being ten feet tall.

“Rocky” is another super catchy song that I love. It’s almost pretty, too, which is something the Butthole Surfers would occasionally surprise you with on their albums. Again, these guys could really write a good song.

“Julio Iglesias” is fast and fucked up and great and weird but then “Backass” and “Fast” both devolve into typical Surfers nonsense. If you love the Butthole Surfers, you’ll love them both. If you don’t, these songs might make you question my sanity or your own.

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April 2024: Welcome
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In the early days of Hillbilly Devilspeak, I got turned on to Unsane. I don’t remember who said it, but after one of our first gigs, someone told me we reminded them of NYC trio. I wasn’t familiar with them, so I checked them out.

First and foremost, I was really pleased that someone heard a little of them in us considering that I hadn’t listened to them before. I considered it a huge compliment. When I picked up a copy of , I was fully stoked. This was my jam.

In those days, I was kind of looking for bands who I could sort of push Hillbilly in the direction of without aping anyone completely. I had these new toys (a bass guitar and a lot of vocal effects) and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. I didn’t want to sound exactly like the Butthole Surfers because A: no one can and B: I wanted to do my own thing…but…I was looking for lots of inspiration.

Unsane were very inspiring to me. I started trying to find out anything I could about them. One of the first things I learned was that their original drummer, Charlie Ondras, has just died of a heroin overdose about two years before I discovered them. It bummed me out. I really like his drumming a lot on

Learning about Unsane sent me down a rabbit hole of noisy New York bands so I am forever grateful to them for that, too. Cop Shoot Cop, Boss Hog, Motherhead Bug… there were all these bands who were linked in so way to Unsane, even if it was just seeing them on the same compilations or having band members connected in some way.

I especially like how Unsane’s songs are built in a way that I like to build songs in, which is basing the whole thing around a bludgeoning riff or two. Much of is kind of like this. Ondras was drumming his ass off and Chris Spencer has the songs wrapped around his beautifully noisy guitar.

“Burn” kicks the door open and then, as a listener, you get absolutely bludgeoned for the next forty or so minutes. “Vandal-X” is the shortest song but it’s as powerful as any of them. “Streetsweeper” is one that I played for EJ and Terry a lot when I got the record, too. I like it so much. The main riff is just big and oozes “Fuck you.”

I suppose all of the songs on Singles 89-92 have a major element of “Fuck you” to their sound. It could be the way that Spencer’s vocals sound. They are heavily submerged in a really nice distortion that I always hoped to be able to achieve here and there but could not.

When Unsane was out on tour for (1994 record that is great), EJ and I went to see them at The Nile. I remember just being blown away by the band. Their new drummer, Vinnie Signorelli, helped me mourn the loss of Ondras and they were even more powerful live than I could have imagined they would be. I believe both of us spent most of the evening standing there catching flies. When it was over, there was nothing else to do but buy the t-shirt. It was the coolest t-shirt, too. Just that bloody front of the big American car and on the back, it said “UNSANE” in big red letters. My ex-wife absconded with that shirt.

I could have just as easily written about , but as I considered which one of the two to write about, I realized that I like a little bit more. For one thing, there is a bit more variety in how the record sounds. After “Streetsweeper” is “Concrete Bed” and while it is still clearly Unsane, it has a slightly more hardcore feel than its predecessor.

There is also a bit more straight up noisiness on too. “My Right” is super noisy, as is “Jungle Music.” Spencer shows off some pretty good chops on the latter, too.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed playing with Chris Spencer at a few shows and being at several more that we didn’t play. When he stepped away from Unsane for a bit and did Cutthroats .09, Hillbilly played with them at the Big Fish Pub. The Diamondbacks had just beaten the Yankees in the world series a few months before and we had a little bit of a friendly argument about it.

It was fun to get the last word, although he did keep throwing it in my face that the Diamondbacks had one only one World Series and the Yankees (those stupid fucks) have won a ton. Either way, it was fun.

Last year, we played with Unsane, and they were super cool to Liam, who played his first couple of songs with us that night. I think they were way more stoked on him than the rest of us, but it was still a fun show.

As I listen to it brings up a lot of memories of 30 years ago. I would listen to this record on the way to practice a lot to try and amp myself up for playing aggressively. A lot of time and miles have passed since then, but I can still feel pretty jazzed about making loud, angry music when I hear these songs.

“4-Stix” always puts a smile on my face because of the way the band just smashes the Led Zeppelin song “Four Sticks” in the face.

It’s a pretty fucked up record cover, but in those days (and even now) I appreciate it a lot. Unsane was never shy about their associated imagery. In fact, I think it would be safe to say that once Unsane steps on stage, they aren’t shy at all. Ever.

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April 2024: Welcome
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The energy you can get from a good song can change the course of a day. Hear the right song at the right moment and your mood is lifted, the road doesn’t seem as weary, and your shoulders feel lighter. Over the years, I’ve been able to find a lot of songs and bands that can do this for me.

One of the bands that has been doing this for me for the last 40 years or so is The Jam. The first record of theirs I got was . I ‘borrowed’ a cassette of it from Tower Records near Christown and never returned it. Somehow it found its way into my pocket and that was that. I liked it a lot, but it wasn’t until a year or two later and I got a copy of that I really heard what they could do.

Sound Affects is kind of my perfect Jam record. I could make a better mix on Spotify, sure, but it would include the majority of Sound Affects, so why not listen to it instead. Plus, this is one of those records that makes you feel like you are pretty fucking cool.

As previously mentioned, during my sophomore and junior years of high school, I became secretly obsessed with the idea of being a mod. I knew I loved punk rock, but I really liked the whole style of the mods. Not mods like we called ourselves in 1984 and 1985 when we discovered the men’s section at Judy’s at Metrocenter.

That’s a whole ‘nother story.

I mean a scooter riding, sharp suit wearing mod. I was pretty obsessed with the movie, , early on. I watched it first when I was around ten or eleven. They showed it on ON-TV for awhile and it was one I would go back to throughout my teenage years. I could identify with the main character, “Jimmy” a lot. He was kind of looking for his place on many levels and as a teenager, I was doing the same thing.

Most teenage boys are doing that, but it seemed like was written for me at the time. I knew a few people in high school who were well versed in actual mod things, especially music, and I remember seeing “The Jam” written on my friend Christine’s notebook in 1984. I couldn’t admit that I didn’t know their music, so I did the next best thing and stole some.

Come to think of it, I’m probably giving myself an extra year of cool credit here. It was 1985 when I stole that cassette, so 39 years of getting energized by The Jam is more accurate. I saw them as true mods and the mods I knew were into them.

I still have a huge soft spot for mod music and northern soul. As I listen to now, I realize that The Jam are never far away from my life. I play some here and there and they pop up on my Spotify mixes at least a few times a month. They are definitely part of my soundtrack.

One thing we didn’t really realize here in America was how popular The Jam were (and probably still are) in the UK. I had no idea how many hit songs they had. It was a shit load.

The other thing about The Jam that I have to love is the bass playing of Mr. Bruce Foxton. The dude may not have been the songwriter that Paul Weller was and is, but his bass playing is just as important to The Jam as Weller’s melodies. Every song is just solid. Take “Scrape Away” which is the last song on the record, for example. Foxton’s bass line drives the song steadily through the whole way.

It’s kind of the same thing, at least for me, with “Boy About Town,” which is the penultimate song. It’s not Foxton doesn’t shine throughout. I mean, even though it is a full Beatles’ rip-off, “Start!” is probably my favorite Jam song because of the bass line, but I find myself looking forward to the last two songs when I listen to Maybe because they are kind of underrated, but I just dig’em.

Sound Affects has the hits, though. The aforementioned “Start!” absolutely rules. The record starts strong with “Pretty Green,” too. Weller’s guitar soars over Foxton’s super deliberate bass line, at times, and there is space for each of them (including drummer Rick Buckler) to shine.

“Monday” is one that has that whole ‘slow burn’ Northern Soul thing going on, too. It sets me up perfectly, from an emotional standpoint, to just explode with toe-tapping glee when “But I’m Different Now” starts. I love that song so much. “I’m different now and I’m so glad that you’re my girl” is a line that I’ve always loved. It always made me wish I had the perfect ‘bird’ to wrap my arms around back in the 80s.

The energy of “But I’m Different Now” is fucking perfect, as well. Again, it is Foxton taking me for a ride like he’s got some bad ass Lambretta with a side car just for me. In the bridge when Foxton and Weller trade riffs, it’s sublime. The good kind of sublime.

Side one just scorches from that point (pun intended).

“Set the House Ablaze” is a barn burner (I can’t help it). Then “Start!” cranks it up to 11 before “That’s Entertainment” just crushes it. It’s really hard, especially as I float on ’ glorious sound waves, to imagine a record with a better first side. I’m sure I’ve written about several already this year, but right now, I can hear only one.

“If I never ever see you again” or “And what you give is what you get.” Both lines are so damn good. I’ve been partial to the latter for a long, long time.

I have to mention “Dream Time” and “Man in the Corner Shop,” too, from side two. I’ve always dug both of those songs as well. “The Man in the Corner Shop” is a great example of how Weller can take something that seems so simple and turn it into something beautiful. He and Pete Townshend have that unique ability. Must be the uncanny British sensibility.

This record was released on my dad’s 31st birthday. I wonder if he’d like it. Maybe I should find out.

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April 2024: Welcome
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“Lights out! Poke, poke, poke your eyes out.”

Those are lyrics I will always sing with a certain level of glee. I think Mark turned me on to Angry Samoans, but who can be sure these days. Seems like we skated to a lot back in the day.

Now, the Angry Samoans would probably not be allowed to be a band these days. Some people would be up in arms about them appropriating Samoan culture when a bunch of white dudes called their band “Angry Samoans.” Others would look at their more than questionable lyrical content and cancel them before the first 30 second song was over. The thing is, Angry Samoans were a punk rock band created to take the piss out of the world.

You really can’t take seriously. It is 14 songs in 17 minutes. Sure, some of them are straight up offensive if you listen closely to what “Metal” Mike Saunders was saying, but they are so fast and funny and ridiculous that there is not point but to get on your skateboard and go. If you don’t skate, well, then do something else you enjoy because the record is going to be over before you know it.

I never saw Angry Samoans back in the day, but I’m guessing their shows were a lot of fun. We (The Father Figures) played with them once at Hollywood Alley when we combined a show we had going with Shattered Faith with a show another promoter had going with Angry Samoans and a few other bands. It ended up being pretty darn cool.

Hillbilly played with drummer Bill Vockeroth’s Angry Samoan project last year and they were damn good, too. Those guys played the hell out of the Angry Samoans catalog.It brought back a lot of memories.

To be honest, I don’t bust out very often anymore. I still love its snotty, spazzy attitude and the guitar tones are fucking boss. sounds the way a punk rock record should sound, and I love that there are only two songs longer that two minutes and the only one longer that three minutes, “Ballad of Jerry Curlan” is about as fucked up as you can get. That song is backwards and hilarious and brutal.

Back around 1990, I was in a very short-lived musical project with my buddy, Steve. He had a former bandmate from his time in Vic Morrow’s Head whose name I cannot remember, that played guitar. A friend of his, Alton, played bass. I think Alton ended up marrying my friend, Stacy, and I was going to be the singer. One of the songs we jammed on was “The Todd Killings,” which is track two on

I think we practiced three or four times and then it was done. I don’t remember why or if we just couldn’t make it work. Either way, though, my appreciation for Angry Samoans only grew after this experience. Now I wonder if this is what got me listening to them and we skated to this record after I was exposed to them by Steve. It matters not.

I do like that “Todd Killings” song, but I like “Lights Out” more. Another highlight, at least for me, is the song “You Stupid Jerk.” The guitar is perfect on that 23 second song. And, of course, it leads right into the previously mentioned “Ballad of Jerry Curlan.”

“Not of this Earth” is pretty great, too. The beginning kinda sounds like “Gas Chamber” but that’s okay. The first and last song of a record should sound similar in punk rock. There are no fucking rules.

In fact, that’s what makes it okay to listen to in 2024 and not get offended. There were no rules for punk rock in 1982 when this came out. None. It was still new and part of its job and charm were to piss people off. I don’t agree with a lot of the lyrics, but who cares. I don’t agree with what a lot of singers say, but I still like their songs.

Fuck the rules.

April 2024: About
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I watched the documentary on XTC several years ago and it made me cry. This is Pop came out in 2017 and it was really well done. I had liked XTC before that, but I didn’t own any of their stuff. The documentary changed my whole perspective on the band.

I got stuck on Black Sea first because of “Generals and Majors.” I am pretty keen on that one. So much so that “keen” seems like an appropriate term to describe my feelings for it. “Generals and Majors” is a supremely well-crafted pop song, but it doesn’t seem like a typical pop song.

The lack of a typical chorus, I think, sets it apart from the average pop song because what serves as a chorus actually drops the song down to what seems like a totally different feel. The verses are kind of snappy and then when the chorus hits, XTC switches things up to just vocals, a bit of guitar strum, and simple drums. It’s so great.

Like many of the albums I’ve written about lately, I like the pacing of Black Sea. “Respectable Street” is an excellent starter, then you have “Generals and Majors,” and then “Living Through Another Cuba.” The latter is such a cool song. It reminds me a bit of Oingo Boingo and Talking Heads. Maybe it is the bastard son of Danny Elfman and Tina Weymouth.

I chose Tina Weymouth because “Living Through Another Cuba” has a weird little bassline. Colin Moulding is a master at the ‘weird little bassline.’ Much like yesterday’s offering, the bass playing on this record is pretty underrated. I dig it a lot.

“Rocket from a Bottle” has a little Devo-ish keyboarding on it that duels with Moulding’s bass. Pretty sweet, actually. It also never stops moving. I have to assume that is Dave Gregory’s keyboard work, but it could be Andy Partridge, too.

“No Language in Our Lungs” probably should have been a bigger song, in my opinion. The This is Pop documentary gave me such a different insight into why Partridge might have written the lyrics he wrote than if I would have never seen it. Such heartbreaking stuff wrapped in cool avant-pop weirdness.

“Towers of London” is another good one. Terry Chambers does some really cool percussion on this one. As I listen more closely on this pass, I can understand why XTC never really got the kind of fame they were maybe seeking. They are accessible to those people who want to think about music. Most people don’t’ want to do that, though.

XTC is a thinking person’s band.

Take a song like “Paper and Iron (Notes and Coins).” You listen to the beginning, and it could absolutely go anywhere. It sounds so poppy and nice at first listen but then it builds into this angsty rant. I love it, but I’m guessing they lost people who bought the record just because of “Generals and Majors.”

I have to remind myself this record was from 1980. It still sounds a bit like it is ahead of its time. It is clearly rooted in that time, but it’s like prog and post-punk had a baby (thanks to Tina Weymouth and Danny Elfman). “Burning with Optimism’s Flames” is a great title and an even better title, but it also doesn’t give a fuck what you think of it.

“Sgt. Rock (is Going to Help Me)” is another one that DNGAF. It almost sounds like they were sitting around the studio listening to a lot of Frank Zappa stuff and talking about how they could do something like him. I’m guessing they weren’t, but listen closely and you might hear it, too.

Chambers’ work on “Travels in Nihilon” is bad ass. I can’t imagine that drum riff is easy to play. It’s a good’un, though. Super powerful and it drives the song to heights it could probably have only dreamed of with his attack.

I have a lot to learn about XTC and, obviously, a lot more room to grow my appreciation. I’ve been picking up as much of their stuff on vinyl as I can. These are great songs to DJ.

Please watch This is Pop, though, if you are curious about it or XTC. The film does a great job of explaining how terrifying playing music can be. For me, I’ve been really lucky to not have an issue with stage fright. I get nervous before a gig, sure, but I like playing live a lot. For some, though, it’s an awful, debilitating experience and they have to figure out a way to make themselves do it.

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April 2024: Welcome
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There was this place called the Art Cage. It was off of Southern, I think, and about 28th Street, maybe, but I could be wrong on that. It might have been closer to 40th Street or somewhere in between. The point of this is that for a short period of time, there were shows being held there.

It was a warehouse kind of place, and it was big enough for a small show. It was dark and there wasn’t much of a stage from what I can remember, but there were good bands. That’s the most important part.

I think it was 1993 and Girls Against Boys played there. I have the ticket stub somewhere or maybe it was a small flyer. I had only heard how cool they were, and I don’t think I had heard any of their music yet. EJ and Terry and I went, I think, or maybe it was Alexa and I. Either way, I was there, and they were great.

When you get to see a great band in a small place, maybe when they are on the way up or just because you happen to be in the right place at the right time, it’s a wonderful thing. Girls Against Boys had probably just put out Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby and they were really firing on all cylinders. The Art Cage had minimal lighting on stage, so the band seemed really dark and mysterious and cool.

Every time I saw Girls Against Boys in those days, which was three or four times, they just seemed like such a real band. They looked like cool guys from New York City, you know? They dressed cool and seemed like they were right where they were supposed to be: up on stage and being cooler than everyone else in the room.

Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby is a great record. I revisit fairly often. “In Like Flynn” is one of my favorite opening songs because of the simple, yet heavy bass line that starts it off. Eli Janney played this killer Frankenstein looking bass. At least I think it was Eli Janney who playing this crazy monster of a bass. It could have been Johnny Temple, too. Girls Against Boys had two bass players every time I saw them.

I guess it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that “In Like Flynn” always has my full attention when I hear it. I would put it on mixed tapes a lot in the 1990s. Scott McCloud’s vocals are also excellent on the song. In fact, McCloud sounds great on the whole record.

“Go Be Delighted” is one of those songs where you’re like, “How in the heck do you follow up such a great opening song with another great song?” Then it is another in “Rockets Are Red” and things don’t let up.

“Rockets Are Red” is probably my favorite song on the record. It’s hard to choose just one, but if I could only take one song from this record to a desert island, it might be that one. Alexis Fleisig’s drum roll just starts it off perfectly and serves to keep you just a little off balance throughout the song. The lyrics are also great. The chorus tripped me out for a long time, though. I thought McCloud was singing, “Rockets are red/dead babies are blue,” but “dead” is actually “and.” It’s just as good.

The band slows things down “Satin Down,” at least in the beginning. It’s another one, though, that always gets me because of the plaintive vocals. They only keep the pace slow for the one song, though, before getting back on the horse and rocking the fuck out. “Let Me Come Back” is a upbeat number and then “Learned It” is nice and powerful.

Girls Against Boys could hold their own with the heavier bands of the era. I saw them open for Jesus Lizard on my birthday in 1993 and they were quite fucking good. “Learned It” is a pretty heavy outing. Part of that is the two basses, of course, but they also just had some great heavy riffs.

“Get Down” is a bit of a slow burn. Would make for an interesting Melvins cover. They could really take the song to a new height. “Bullet Proof Cupid” is a pretty good song, too, and I think it was kind of the de facto single from this record, but it’s kind of pale in comparison to “In Like Flynn” and “Rockets Are Red.” Good riff, though.

I find “7 Seas” a bit more interesting, actually, and Eli Janney’s keys on “Billy’s One Stop” kind of make me wish it came early in the record. I think the flow would have improved, actually, rather than keeping this one buried towards the end. It’s noisy and cool and different.

“Bughouse” does sort of feel like a typical ender, but who cares. Girls Against Boys did great work on . I certainly like it.

A lot.

On a side note, I never really gravitated to any of their other records. I should give them all another spin. I know people, for example, who speak very highly of the others. I just kind of fell in love with the first one I got and have clung on tightly for about 30 years.

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April 2024: Welcome
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The first time I ever went into a recording studio, it was with a version of Religious Skid that never even played a show together. My buddy, Paul, was taking audio engineering during his senior year of high school and asked us to be his final project. We got this dude, Colin, to play guitar, and had Steve Ady on drums. Tom Stewart was on bass, and I was singing.

I was so nervous. I ended up singing the song, “I Cried At Your Funeral” (which was a terrible name and definitely not one of the best Religious Skid songs) doing an impersonation of John Lydon. I did an awful job. One of the teachers said to Paul, “It’s strange. The singer sounds American when he talks but sings British.”

Fast forward about five years and I found myself at Blue Sky Studios in Mesa recording four songs for BGR Records out of Nottingham, England, UK. How this came about is really pretty simple, but it’s also pretty cool. We had gotten an offer to put the 7” out right about the same time we started playing out in public.

During 1993, EJ Trbovic, Terry Ciarlino, and I got pretty serious about Hillbilly Devilspeak, although we didn’t have that name yet. We were practicing at Easy Street for a bit on Saturday afternoons, but before long, it was time to get a practice room, so we rented a space at Francisco Studios on 23rd Avenue and Palm Lane. It’s hard to believe that I first went there over thirty years ago.

When we rented the room, we started practicing three or four times a week. I was going to ASU, working at Easy Street, and doing the band. I was living with Alexa, but I was probably not the best boyfriend. I was also sober, so playing loud, weird music was my drug. I was definitely substituting rock and roll for beer and weed.

We wrote so many songs. I think at one point between 1993 and 1995 I counted them up and we played about 50 different songs live in our first couple of years of playing out around town. I think we probably had about 25 more that we never tried in front of an audience. We were playing so much, and I was a new bass player that I was just a riff machine.

Terry had a four-track recorder that used cassettes, so somewhere I have some of these early songs on tapes, but I don’t have a cassette player anymore. I don’t even know where a lot of these tapes are. As I type, I think I may have tossed a bunch of them about ten years ago.

My best friend at the time, Alex, was in town for long periods of time not doing much and would come to our practices here and there. At some point towards the end of 1993 or early 1994, Alex said we should record a demo and he would twiddle the knobs for us. We jumped at the chance.

We rented an ADAT from the Les Payne dudes (James and Christopher) and Alex set up in the practice room early on a weekend morning when there would be no other bands playing. We knocked out about six songs, I think, and one of them was “Revenge of the Micronauts.”

I had come up with the main riff for “Revenge of the Micronauts” not too long before we made that demo. We were all pretty stoked on it. The song is basically the same riff played two slightly different ways. One way is the verse, and the other way is the chorus. Ciarlino put a cool harmonic riff on top of my bass line and some crazy guitar riffs and EJ played the perfect drum beat.

Alex was heading back to England soon to record the next Fudge Tunnel record, which I think was and he took a copy of our demo with him. While he was there, he played it for his bandmate, Dave Ryley, who played bass in Fudge Tunnel and had a small label, BGR Records. Dave liked it a lot and said he wanted to put out a 7” of “Revenge of the Micronauts.”

Alex called me and asked if we were interested in doing a record for BGR. I flipped out. It was one of the coolest moments of my life at that point. He put Dave on the phone, and we talked about the plan. We would be able to record four songs and Alex would produce and engineer when he got back from doing the Fudge Tunnel record.

Dave gave us a small budget, too, which was great. We found Blue Sky, which was owned by this cool dude, Stu Baker, who is now a stand-up comedian. He was willing to let us have the studio for a weekend for pretty cheap. I think it was like $200 or something because Alex was going to be doing everything.

We went into Blue Sky over a weekend in the summer of 1994 and recorded the four songs that are on the 7”: “Revenge of the Micronauts,” “Hillbilly Devilspeak,” “Paedophile,” and “Restraining Order.”

The studio itself was in the garage of Stu’s home. You could park on the street and load gear and such through a door on the side. It was pretty decently sized with a vocal room and some hidey holes for the cabinets. There was a good amount of room for the drums and a nice sized control area and bathroom.

I enjoyed watching Alex work. He was still fairly new at the engineering thing, but he already seemed to know a lot about it from where I was sitting. I remember being so excited to play the songs. We were ready and the songs, if you’ve heard them, are pretty darn simple, but I like to think they are kinda catchy.

“Revenge of the Micronauts” was a lyric I came up with thinking about how Micronauts were kind of b-list toys when I was younger. I had a few Micronauts over the years and liked them and had started scatting over the riff, “Sell me some…” andI would add different toys and things before screaming, “Sell me those…Mi-cro-nauts.”

The chorus is “Play with me, play with me/kill your friends and family/burn your home/revenge of the Micronauts.” It’s kind of a dark song, I suppose, but I really wasn’t trying to make any sort of comment here except that sometimes even the most innocuous things can be part of a greater good (or bad).

One of the verses is about Kurt Cobain whose death was super fresh on my mind at the time. “Sell me some heroin/sell me some Nirvana records/sell me some shot gun shells/revenge of the micronauts!” A little tribute, I suppose. I think Dave kind of liked the words, too, so that was a plus.

The second song on side one is one that became the name of the band. “Hillbilly Devilspeak” was a simple riff that Ciarino came up with that I put lyrics to and came up with a chorus part, as well. It was about a night I spent in San Franscisco after a Grateful Dead show in Oakland. I was super high and having some pretty severe audio hallucinations.

I described what I heard to EJ and Terry and called it “Hillbilly Devilspeak.” They both thought that was pretty cool. A song and a band were born. We decided to record it for BGR.

“Halloween in Oaktown/Grateful Dead acid clowns/Ridin’ back to Frisco/on the Bart, don’t you know/hallucinating country stars/I’m walking past those darkened bars/I’m all alone smoking opium/waitin’ for the devil to come for me.”

That’s the first verse. I honestly can’t quite remember the second and it’s not on the internet anywhere. I’d have to play the record. I’m lazy.

Side two is basically two songs that are one-riff on the bass each. “Paedophile” is one that we’ve revived in the last year. I play the same thing all the way through, but the drums and guitars change. The only lyrics are screams and the word, “Pedophile” said over and over during one part.

Dave spelled it the English way for the 7” cover. It goes right into a song called “Restraining Order.” It’s another one that I played the same thing all the way through and shouted, “Restraining Order” here and there. We haven’t played it, except for maybe at the first “final” show in 2005, in about 28 years.

At the end of “Restraining Order,” we put in a lock groove so that a bit of delayed noise would just loop forever until whoever was listening would get up and turn it off. The New Times reviewer said we did it so “people wouldn’t forget to take it off.” I think he was being cheeky.

We got some good reviews for it, though, and I was super proud of it. It also got one really bad review in Kerrang! Magazine. Alex was friends with a gal that worked there, but she didn’t end up getting the 7” and some dude who was a huge fan of Iron Maiden did the review. I have a copy in my box of Hillbilly treasure.

What a fun first record to make.

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April 2024: Welcome



1985 & 1987

Back in the day, especially for people who were into music that was not being played on the radio here in Phoenix, sometimes you took a chance on a record. In this case, I bought a record thinking it was another band I had heard on a mix tape that a friend of mine made for me in 1985. They must have had similar names, or I had gotten the names mixed up, which was definitely something I did a lot back then, pre-internet.

I found Beefeater’s House Burning Down for $2.99 at Zia Records early into my junior year. I spent some of my hard-earned Taco Bell money on it. When I got the record home, I was very disappointed. It was not the hardcore punk rock I thought it was going to be. In fact, it was nothing like what I was hoping for at all.

Even though I thought about taking it back, I let it play.

Plays for Lovers is a weird record. Even Liam, my now 16-year-old son, said as much when he heard “A Dog Day” through “Assholes Among Us” in the car when I picked him up from work yesterday. I wasn’t quite ready for this record in 1985, but I kept it. Every once in a while, I would take it out and listen to it. Sometimes, I would even share it with friends just to get their reaction.

Often, I would put a song from it on a mixed tape just to mess with someone’s head. It was usually either “Satyagraha” which ends side one or “Assholes Among Us” from side two. I gravitated towards those the fastest, although the overtly political nature of the record thanks to songs like “Reagonomix” and “Mr. Silverbird” also charmed me more and more over the years.

Now my ears hear a lot of interesting things going on with Beefeater.

First and foremost, I’m typically not a fan of slap bass. I like it when it is well done but I wouldn’t say that it is particularly well done on this record. It’s there, though, and even though it is a bit sloppy at times, It works for me. is probably not the best mixed or engineered record from the Dischord catalog so it might not be the bass player’s fault.

To my ears now, I hear bits of Minuteman, Bad Brains, and Red Hot Chili Peppers happening here, although I’m guessing the dudes in Beefeater were probably not listening to a lot of the Peppers in 1985. I don’t think many people were just yet, but it’s possible somebody in Beefeater had a copy of the band’s eponymous debut LP.

The elements of each of the bands I mentioned that are there are all good qualities. Beefeater had a similar political vent to Minutemen and fans of that disjointed kind of jazz punk attack will probably enjoy this record. The Bad Brains connection is probably just the reggae/punk mix that is prevalent in a lot of songs, plus Beefeater plays really fast at times. I have no doubt those guys were digging on some Bad Brains.

I can only imagine how crazy a Beefeater show was back in the mid-1980s. I think the band only existed from like 1984 to 1986, so it was a fast-burning candle. Some of the dudes went on to other bands, of course, but the DC scene was ripe during those years, for sure.

As I’ve been driving around listening to the record again for the first time in years, I listen to the vocals and keep thinking that the Red Hot Chili Peppers would have been so much better if they had canned Anthony Kiedis and signed up Tomas Squip from Beefeater. There are a lot of similarities between the two, but Squip had better time and an expanded vocal range.

Eventually, Dischord put out a CD that had both of the full-length Beefeater albums on one disc. I happen to love the stuff a lot. I bought this right away, too.

The sound of is far superior to , although the energy is very similar. If you listen to them back-to-back, the only thing that is really super noticeable is the sound quality. The two records flow together really well.

The opener, “Just Things” is fantastic. So is “One Soul Down.” It reminds me a lot of Minutemen.

There are so many flavors on the CD. It’s a shame that more people aren’t listening to this stuff anymore. I think a lot of young folks would dig this record. It’s got energy, socially conscious lyrics, and you can hear the progression of the band.

One of the other highlights is a pretty killer cover of “Manic Depression” by Jimi Hendrix. They called it “Maniac D.” on the record cover, but it is pretty nicely done.

Check it out.

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April 2024: Welcome




During my Slope Records years, I got to know Jimmy Giorsetti, AKA Don Bolles, a little bit. He’s an affable guy who has great stories. He’s also a survivor. How the dude has managed to get by all these years on being “Don Bolles” is incredible. It really is. Watching him work a room is like watching a master cat burglar.

Now, I’m not saying Don is a thief. Don’t get it twisted, but he’s like a character David Niven would have played if he were high on some sort of weird, cool drug. Don’s smooth and, again, I dig him.

One of the most fun things I’ve gotten to do with Don is hanging out right there with him when he DJs. The guy has incredible taste in music and spins like a mofo. I love watching (and listening) when he works because he picks up the vibe of the space really well. Maybe he makes the vibe, actually. Either way, it’s a lot of fun.

I think it was 2017, give or take, Don used Rhondi’s DJ gear at a party at Punk Rock Bowling in Vegas. We were hanging out and he was just on fire with the records he was spinning. Toward the end of the set, he started asking, “Hey, have you heard this?” and then he’d throw on a record that was just awesome. I have to admit that I’ve bought a number of records after hearing Don play them.

One of these was by a San Franciso band called Tuxedomoon. They have this great song from 1979 called “No Tears.” After Don played it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and immediately went home and ordered if off of Discogs. I ended up getting a 12” 45RPM of it and a few other songs. I like the others, but “No Tears” is just so good.

I’m not ashamed to say that since I bought the record, I spin it when I DJ most of the time. It’s got this cool, creepy, early new wave/post-punk kind of feel. It makes you wish that you had written it.

During the last couple of years, I’ve been listening to a compilation of their music called There are two versions and I listen to the one from 1993. A lot of the songs on it kind of remind me of Sparks. They are very theatrical and the lyrics, when there are more than short phrases, are pretty funny.

Another band they sound like, at times, is Bauhaus, but if they were focusing on their mellower and noisier stuff. “Dark Companion” is one of these songs that reminds me of Bauhaus. I like it a lot.

There are a lot of different feels happening on “Atlantis,” for example, is almost like a song from . It has this great bass line that just creeps along throughout the song being groovy and cool.

That might be the best way to describe most of Tuxedomoon’s stuff. It’s kind of creepy and cool. “The Waltz” sounds like music from a soundtrack where the heavily distorted bass line is slightly off-time and great with the trumpets soaring over top.

Tuxedomoon also makes liberal use of drum machines. You have to love the simple, almost Casio-esque drum beats on some of the early songs. “What Use?” is one of these. It’s kind of Gary Numan meets Chrome.

“The Cage” is probably my least favorite song from this collection, but only because it is so damn awkward. It’s like, beautifully awkward. The words are amazing, though, and I would love to see this live. “The boy from Santo Domingo said, ‘cocaine.’”

“Tritone (Musica Diablo)” is another really cool one. It’s got a similar feel to “No Tears” without aping it. They were written about a year apart, I’m guessing. How cool would it have been to see Tuxedomoon in 1980. They would have blown my 11-year-old brain. I wouldn’t have known how to process it at all.

I still don’t, really, but I’m going to keep trying.

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