Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Riding SideSaddle* with Teacup Gorilla, Jen Korte, and Open to the Hound

Teacup Gorilla embarks on a midwest tour starting August 2nd 2015 in Wichita, KS. Catch them if you can!
"Better late than never" is a saying that is appropriate for how late this show review is being posted, but it's especially apt when it applies to writing about a compelling band with great tunes.

Riding Sidesaddle*
Eric Suzanne, the bass player and part-time vocalist for Teacup Gorilla wrote me an e-mail back in March about the open-source multimedia novel Riding SideSaddle* and asked if I'd like to come to the release party at Syntax Physic Opera. Having seen Kotorino at Syntax in February, I knew that it was just the type of space that would be welcoming to such an event. I listened to the Teacup Gorilla demos that were available at the time and instantly liked what I heard - at the time I said that they have a "sound that's a gorgeous blend of Pixies & Pavement," and I stand by that assessment. The music recalls those bands at times, and, diving into the lyrics, one could also spend days scanning and interpreting the lyrics, much like those of Francis and Malkmus.

I previewed Open to the Hound from songs they had posted on their website and liked what I heard of their new-folk (mostly that it wasn't that over-echoed "hey ho" stuff that was so pervasive for a while). I was in for a surprise, however.

I met Eric before the show, pink-coiffed and a wonderful person. I know that setting up before a show takes time, so we didn't chat for too long.

Syntax Physic Opera - Denver
Jen Korte started the show, playing her guitar and accompanied by Jessica DeNicola who sang along. Haunting and powerful tunes. I love going to shows like this, because I'm introduced to musicians and people who I wouldn't otherwise see. Jen and Jessica had a wonderful harmony together.

Jen Korte & Jessica DeNicola
Eric and Daniel from Teacup Gorilla got onstage for a song and Eric read from the novel while Daniel added ambient guitar sounds.

Open to the Hound played next. Their live set was a high-energy departure from the tracks I sampled online. It took me by surprise, but in a really good way. I loved the power and dynamics. So much so that I didn't really get a decent picture because I was so drawn to the music & performance.

Open to the Hound
OttH reminded me more of a boozy roadhouse band from a David Lynch film, plugged in and distorted, with yelping primal screams for good measure.

Teacup Gorilla was up last, the musical focal point of the night, with Eric and others reading parts of the novel during the songs of their set as well.

They played about nine songs, some of which reminded me of different bits of other songs and artists - "Cortez The Killer" here, "The New Stone Age" by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark there.

Teacup Gorilla - Eric, Sondra, Daniel
The set ended with a rocked-out cover of "Sixteen Tons," employing the vocal talents of Aaron Liechty, the singer for pre-Teacup Gorilla band Dirt Circle Dogs.


Sometimes when I'm watching a band, I daydream that I'm up there playing along, partaking, creating, crafting. Watching Teacup Gorilla, it occurred to me that I wouldn't have anything to add, and wouldn't want to. They had a rotating cast throughout the night, each adding something wonderful, but where I normally would feel the pull to be up there, I was more than content to enjoy the evening as it was. I don't know if that makes me more mature or at peace, but I was just digging everything, and didn't want the night to be over, grateful that Eric invited me to be a part of the night and experience their art, and the art of Jen and Open to the Hound, and everyone else there.


Teacup Gorilla plays Saturday, July 25th at 5pm at Historians Ale House in Denver as part of the Underground Music Showcase. Their new EP The Holes They Leave was released on July 9th 2015 and is available at all popular music buying & streaming locations: SoundCloud | Bandcamp | iTunes

Riding Sidesaddle* - the novel

Monday, May 25, 2015

Album Listening Club - Goo

In the early 90's, as punk rock made its way into the American mainstream, Sonic Youth was about as punk as you could get. This was before Nevermind, before Dookie. This is Raymond Pettibon drawings and guest vocals by Public Enemy's Chuck D. This is Goo.

Sonic Youth - Goo (chopped effects by Your Older Brother)
But Sonic Youth isn't "punk" in the loud-fast Ramones/Pistols/Exploited vein. Sonic Youth rose out of the no-wave scene in NYC. Non-standard guitar tunings, vocals that were more screams or spoken word than singing, extended soundscapes - these were the tools Sonic Youth used to combat the mainstream.

However, by the time Goo came along, Sonic Youth had produced five previous albums. The previous album, Daydream Nation, was a critical hit and is still considered one of the quintessential indie albums of all time. Goo was SY's first album on a major label. Sonic Youth was punk on the edge of the mainstream.

Enough of the facts & background - let's get our Goo on.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Album Listening Club - Express

I don't know that I had heard much Bauhaus other than "Bela Lugosi's Dead" when I started hearing Love and Rockets, but I had heard the in-between band Tones on Tail out at dance clubs.

Love And Rockets - Ball Of Confusion single J-Card
I'm glad I didn't have any associations with Bauhaus, because I didn't have any sort of expectations of Love And Rockets along Bauhaus lines. In fact, I think I knew of L&R more as some of the guys who were in Tones On Tail than Bauhaus. I still love Tones On Tail. And Bauhaus. And Love and Rockets, too.

Love And Rockets - Express - Beggars Banquet/Big Time
But, this is about Love and Rockets. They took their name from the Los Bros Hernandez comic but I don't know that there's been any other cross-connection other than just the name. I first heard the "Ball Of Confusion" single, a cover of the Temptations song from 1970, and loved that. I probably heard it and Tones on Tail in the dance clubs I was going to back then. Oddly, I wasn't familiar with the first Love And Rockets album Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven. The first song I heard from that album was when a love interest put "Saudade" on a mixtape for me. That must've been 1989.

I mostly came to Express when I was in college, but I'm not sure of the year. Maybe 88? 89? Definitely a couple of years after the album itself was released. The psychedelic sound of "Kundalini Express" pulling out of the station, blaring out of a friend's stereo system was intoxicating in and of itself.

Love and Rockets reached their sales & chart pinnacle with the album after Express, self-titled and released in 1989. It had some good songs but lost what I liked about their earlier work.

So let's talk about Express!

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Juicy Tapes Vol. 5 - A little bit country & rock n' roll

The full name of this tape is actually "I'm a little bit country & I'm a little bit rock n' roll, babe. So back off" - you know, from the Donny & Marie TV show? No? There's not that many of us that remember that show at this point…. Anyway, that title is too long to write on the tape glass and it's too long for a URL, so I've truncated it. Now you know.

I'm not sure why I put the rock songs on the A side, but that's what we've got going on here. The tape starts off with one hell of an opener, "Sure Thing" from the UK's The Darling Buds, but it's not on the streaming services. (Not to be confused with some newer grungy dude band) I wouldn't normally do this in the middle of the post, but check this song out. It's SO GOOD. Turn it up loud if you can.

Kind of a horrible video, though. Dudes standing around in the sand playing their guitars with zero verve while the singer somewhat sort of mimes the lyrics. Ugh. Anyway.

Lots of great (mostly)early-90's indie rock on the A-side. Not sure why I called the This Mortal Coil song "Neet & Meniscus," it's just the song "Meniscus."

The B side goes a little blues in the middle. I think the songs just kind of went there for me, or that's all the "country" I had in my collection at the time. This was well before alt country was a thing, and maybe was still rebelling a bit against country music, as that's what my dad listened to all of the time in the car. I tried having him listen to my music sometimes and I recall him ripping on Bernard Sumner's vocals in the New Order songs I played for him. I've eventually come around to some country, for example what you hear on the alt country station on Slacker.com, but the "pop" country that makes up the mainstream for the past decade or so is, by my unscientific estimation, about 99% crap. I'm happy for you to try and convince me otherwise in the comments!

I suppose that's what this mix is, for me. An attempt to reconcile the music that I loved and listened to (Stone Roses, Boo Radleys, Smashing Pumpkins, etc) with what I saw as my dad's music, or music that sounded somewhat like something my dad would listen to. Bonnie Raitt and Eric Clapton were certainly music he listened to. The Hound Dog Taylor record was my dad's album!

So, to paraphrase Timbaland: Getcha country on. And your rock. And maybe some roll, too.

Here are the tracks other than "Sure Thing" that aren't on the streaming services. The Garth Brooks tune:

Jack Frost is Grant McLennan from the Go-Betweens (and his own solo career) and Steve Kilbey from The Church. GREAT song. I'll post the song that has better audio and the music video below. The vocals in the music video seem a bit different from the song itself, but only slightly. Maybe only Steve's vocals. Anyway - minutiae. Listen to the song. :)

And lastly, the Don Henry song. (It's not a typo of Eagles' Don Henley, either.) Don Henry is an American songwriter who has had his songs recorded by Ray Charles, Conway Twitty, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. This song is from his record Wild In The Backyard. I can't find "Mr. God," so here's his song "Harley":

And finally - Donny and Marie!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Album Listening Club - To Pimp a Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar released his third album in March of 2015. It was the third rap album to top the sales charts at that point in the year, and held the top spot for 2 weeks, the first album to do that since Taylor Swift's 1989.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly (Top Dawg Entertainment)
Lamar released two singles ahead of the album in 2014, one of which, "i," won him a Grammy award for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song in February of this year.

Critics have lauded To Pimp a Butterfly, but what do we care what the critics think? I care what *you* think. So let's talk about this record in the comments below!

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Festival Of My Dreams

I've been lamenting the lack of compelling festival lineups this year, and instead of whining about what I'm not seeing, I thought I'd compose a list of what I would like to see at a music festival - preferably my own. (No, really, I'm hoping to put on a music festival here in my home state of Colorado in the next year or so!)

Your Older Brother's Music & Art Festival won't be this big right away. But hopefully someday.
My only rule is that I'm keeping this list realistic, which is to say only booking bands that are still touring, or bands who may have broken up but with all living original members who still seem to want to play together, or at least haven't outright said "never again" (I'm looking at The Smiths & The Police here - they're both done). For instance, I'd want Big Country to play (they're still together & tour), but without Stuart Adamson…sorry, guys.

All that said, there are surely bands I'm forgetting. These are in not much of an order. There are 52 bands, I think, so that's, what…26 bands/day. If 2 stages, 13 bands/stage, if 3 stages, about 9 bands/stage. Three stages sounds about right.

So, in no order, here's my dream lineup for Your Older Brother's Music & Art Festival:

Cocteau Twins (probably the longest reunion shot here)
Uncle Tupelo (Playing Anodyne)
The Replacements
Sinead O'Connor
The National
Against Me!
Billy Bragg
The Hold Steady
Kimya Dawson
Real Friends
Deltron 3030
Skinny Puppy
The Art Of Noise
Pete Wylie (playing Sinful)
Diane Schuur
Standard Fare
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The Afghan Whigs
The English Beat
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Sparks + Jane Weidlin (playing In Outer Space)
Dillon Fence
The Toy Dolls
Marc Almond
Chrissie Hynde/Pretenders
St. Paul & the Broken Bones
Lux Lisbon
Lydia Loveless
Steel Pulse
Dan Boeckner - Any project, past or present
Kasey Chambers
Kevin Devine
Bloc Party (original lineup)
De La Soul
Calder's Revolvers
Dwight Yoakam
Todd Farrell, Jr. - & the Dirty Birds
The Cables (rock band from San Diego)
Teacup Gorilla
I Sank Molly Brown
aMiniature (They're still playing shows…)
Tucker (Ok, this last one is my old band from back in the day, but I figure I can book myself to play my own festival if I want. :)

Who would you want to see at a festival? Give me your top 3 festival bands in the comments.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Kotorino at Syntax Physic Opera

One of the benefits of writing about music is that there are a lot of people who want you to listen to their bands. They reach out and tell you a bit about the music and why they're contacting you - they've got a new release, they're coming through town, etc.

Some bands aren't great, but they're trying. They're playing. They have something inside that wants to get out, and to me, that's cool. Some bands are good, but sometimes don't hit me in the right spot. Whether I'm just not in the mood to hear what they've got, or it's not my thing overall, I'll take a pass.

Then there are bands like Kotorino that get my attention at just the right time.

Kotorino at Syntax Physic Opera
I like Kotorino's music - kind of an art-y, jazzy vibe. The type of music that they create is best experienced in a live setting, and especially at a club like Syntax Physic Opera in Denver.

Kotorino came through town in late January/early February to play a few dates, and I was contacted by Jeff Morris, one of the singers of and guitar player for the band, to see if I wanted to check out one of their shows. It turned out that I was going to be in town the night of their Feb. 2nd show anyway, so I stopped by just in time to see their last two songs. I'm so glad I made it there, because the band is definitely in their element in a unique, harmonious space such as Syntax.

Kotorino at Syntax Physic Opera in Denver, CO
My friend Terry and I stayed around and chatted with the band for a couple of hours afterward. They're all very friendly and had interesting stories to tell about the other shows they played in Denver that trip. We also talked with Jeff and the other main singer Ellia Bisker about their additional music project of "murder ballads and love songs", Charming Disaster, and Ellia's solo work as Sweet Soubrette. These are some talented and crazy creative people, folks.

I had a ways to drive home and Terry needed to have a bite to take the edge off the excellent cocktails from the Syntax, so we parted ways with the band and each other and went our separate ways.

Inspired by our night with the band, however, Terry and I got to talking and have worked with the folks at Ignite Denver to bring the band back for Ignite Denver 20 on Thursday, June 11th at the Oriental Theater.

As of this writing, the band is still looking for other gigs that weekend, feel free to contact them if you'd like them to play your event/gallery/house party/wedding/etc! Jeff and Ellia as Charming Disaster have a couple of dates lined up in early May in Vermont & Massachusetts, so catch those shows if you can.

Here's their music on the Spotify and Rdio streaming services as well:

Viva Kotorino!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Little-known Lyrics

There are certain lyricists in popular music that are held as masters of the craft. Cole Porter, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Fred Durst - okay, kidding about that last one.

Some of my favorite lyrics come from bands that *I* love, but I don't know if others feel the same way about the lyric that I do.

For instance, my most recent example is from a band I've had the good fortune to meet and see perform in the past couple of weeks, Teacup Gorilla. There's a couplet from their song "I'm Not Ready To Go Yet":
"And now, each night, I count the stars.

And each night, I get the same number."

Photo Credit: NASA

I don't know what it means, specifically, but there's something about the vastness and simple beauty of the image that it brings up in my mind that makes me feel sad and hopeful at the same time. A kind of longing. (I was just informed by Eric Suzanne, the bass player for Teacup Gorilla, that those lines are actually from a poem called "Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note" by Amiri Baraka, and that they may change. I still like them and how they sit in the song.)

Another one of my favorite lines is from the song "Forget Me" by The Promise Ring. Their early lyrics are vague enough, almost like word association. One couplet from this song gets me though:

"Between one June and September/You're all I remember"

I don't quite understand the rest of the song, but I feel like we've all had someone that we remember from a summer fling. (Or a winter fling, if you're listening to this song south of the equator) June-September being the traditional months for summer break in the U.S.A., it just brings to mind that feeling of being wrapped up in a romance. 

Between one june and september
Those are just a couple of examples. I'm sure I could go on for hours. :) What are some of your favorite little-known lyrics?

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