Saturday, June 30, 2012

Trinomial Bands: Two Cow Garage

Two Cow Garage: No Shame


Two Cow Garage is a rock band from Columbus, Ohio, that inserts elements of punk and country into their music. My friends tell me that they are one of the best live rock bands going these days, but unfortunately, I have yet to see them in the flesh. This song is off of their 2007 album III (not surprisingly, their third album), which is one of my favorite records from the last decade.

The song "No Shame" is essentially about quitting the band and getting a 9-to-5 day job.

Well now there's a guitar that's leaning on my wall,
the instrument of my ultimate downfall.
And notebooks scattered all over my floor.
Six hundred pages all filled with regret,
and hundreds of songs that I ain't finished yet,
and a job application getting harder to ignore.

I spent the last half of 2011 and the first half of 2012 unemployed, and this song became my theme song as I pondered changing careers. Fortunately, I did not have to change careers, and neither did Two Cow Garage. They are currently working on their sixth album (not entitled VI).

(Sorry this post is so short. Heat wave + no A/C = no brainpower for Aimz.)

Trinomial Bands: Eddie From Ohio

Eddie From Ohio: Twenty Thousand Hearts


It's been over three years since we last saw Virginia folk foursome Eddie From Ohio on these pages, and a couple of years since they last headlined at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, a heady camping-and-more extravaganza on the NY/MA border where several of my fellow Starmakers are known to congregate the last weekend in July, and where, though they're known better, perhaps, for more wry, upbeat twirl-along tracks from a sweet series of albums, this quiet favorite, especially, has been known to echo off the hills beautifully, reminding us how well the band plays tender, too.

But Edheads, rejoice: I'm happy to announce that juliemikeeddie&robbie will once again be returning to the hills of Hillsdale, for their usual mainstage madness and - most especially - to host the Sunday Morning Gospel Workshop. I'll be there - and so, I suspect, will fellow FRFF/SMM regulars FiL and Susan. Feel free to stop in, folks; we're in the kid-friendly campsite with the white picket fence around it, with a full cooler to share.

Bonus video, taken live and on site at Falcon Ridge - can you believe it's been almost a decade since this set?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Trinomials : Young Fresh Fellows

In their own humorous, self-effacing way, The Young Fresh Fellows are everything you  need to know about the Seattle music scene, which is really made up of a surprisingly small but tightly-knit group of people who are music lovers first and foremost. Nerdy types who worked in record stores just so they could use their employee discounts to buy the same records they'd been bombing customers with all day. Cellophane Square, in Seattle's University District, employed members of The Fastbacks, Modest Mouse, Kinski and many other bands including the unruly haired Scott McCaughey of The Young Fresh Fellows. 

The Fellows achieved some cult status sized fame around the country in the 80's and in the 90's but in Seattle they were the cool slightly older brothers of the rock scene, adored by most. Annoying only to bands who came up with great, clever and novel ideas for songs only to hear that The Fellows had already done that.

When The Fellows were taking time off, Scott played with his friend Peter's band. You wouldn't know the name if I said it so I won't bother. Okay it was R.E.M.

In 1999, on an afternoon before Danny DeVito hosted Saturday Night Live, Scott and members of R.E.M. were walking down a street in Manhattan when a fan from Seattle stopped them and asked what they were doing in the city. Buck said they were playing Saturday Night Live. "You're kidding!" the fan said. "That's so cool! The Young Fresh Fellows are on Saturday Night Live!"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Trinomial Bands: First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit: Emmylou

 So what if I told you that the best Americana you'd heard in years didn't hail from somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, but rather from a little suburb of Stockholm called Enskede?  And what if I then told you that it was being made by two young sisters, aged 21 and 19 respectively, who despite their ages and geographical dislocation had somehow managed to tap directly into the vein of hickory-infused Blues and Soul that most modern Country acts search in vain ever to even locate, let alone access?  And on top of all that, what if I told you that they were possessed of the assurance to conjure up the image of the titular Country legend, as well as the ghosts of Gram Parsons, June Carter and the Man in Black himself, inviting them to acquiesce to their effortless ascension to a pantheon most could only dream of emulating? Kind of unlikely, no?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Trinomial Bands: Janne Da Arc


Janne Da Arc: Gaia

Acid Black Cherry: Ai no Baka! (Stupid Love)

It's been a month since I lost every song and image I've ever posted here. While part of me expected the hammer to fall, internet times being what they are, part of me is still in mourning the loss. What's worse is that I now lack the tools to continue a streamlined method of posting here. I'm going to try this post; you may see an image, and you may get the songs but not the "play" links (kkafa, my co-blogger, has fixed this problem for me; thanks!) And because I'm posting J-Rock, I'm not sure if this is going to be a pressing issue, really. Still, I'd like to try one last time to reach out with music that makes me hum.

Janne Da Arc was not actually named after Joan of Arc but rather a Devilman manga character. Janne da Arc is a visual kei band from Osaka that formed in 1996, and they're still going strong. The lead singer, Yasu, has also spun off a successful solo band, Acid Black Cherry (hey, another trinomial name I've linked, w00t!)

Trinomial Bands: Change Of Pace

Change of Pace: Bring My Buddies Back
In 1971, at the height of the Vietnam War, Freda Payne sang one of the great anti-war songs, “Bring The Boys Home” and had a surprise hit with it, taking the composition by General Johnson, Gregory S Perry and Angelo Bond to #12 in the US charts.

Soon after, a little known soul band called Change of Pace reworked the song, presenting it from a whole new perspective. Where Payne stated her request as an observer, Change of Pace framed their case from the point of view of the soldiers who have done their tour, and accordingly are much more invested in the fate of their comrades left in ’Nam.

The sweet soul of the original is now accompanied by the martial counting rhythm, and the lyrics are changed to account for the new perspective.

In one of those cruel quirks of musical fate, Change Of Pace did not enjoy the success they merited on account of their Bring My Buddies Back LP, an album of fine soul music, perceptive lyrics and a couple of very good covers, including a great one of Conway Twitty’s hit “Hello Darling”.

Trinomial Bands: Electric Light Orchestra

Electric Light Orchestra: Sweet Talking Woman


I’m sure it shows my  age: there can’t be too many of you out there who listened to or even remember Electric Light Orchestra back in the '70s. And I confess that when the name of the band came to mind as a “Trinomial Band”, it didn’t take long for me to dredge up the name “Jeff Lynne” in association. Lynne had an inclination toward the classics: note the use of the strings in several places.

The music has shades of late Beatles, Bee Gees and Genesis. Genesis (to me) because of the changes/extended/compository nature. Bee Gees/Beatles: I think that’s obvious enough in the vocal harmonies. Seems to me that you’ll likely  also notice the roots of The Travelling Wilburys in this tune. No surprise: Jeff Lynne later went on to help found the Travelling Wilburys along with George Harrison.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Trinomial Bands: Dead Men’s Hollow

Dead Men’s Hollow: Grandma was a Cropduster


I was first introduced to Dead Men’s Hollow in 2005 with their debut album called “Forever True.” About a year later, they released their album called “Two-Timin’.” The band from Virginia, Maryland and D.C. plays Acoustic Americana, roughly defined as old-time, bluegrass, southern gospel and country blues fronted by three-part female harmony vocals and backed by acoustic stringed instruments.

Founded in Arlington, Va., they take their name from an area near there that was dominated by saloons, pawn shops and houses of ill repute in the aftermath of the Civil War. Today, that area is known as Rosslyn, but back then it was called “Dead Men’s Hollow.” To pass through safely, law-abiding citizens traveled in well-armed groups.

On a hot, humid summer day in 2001, Dead Men’s Hollow began as an impromptu backyard jam session. Upon hearing some real potential with their three-part harmonies, the friends decided to form a band.  Original members Belinda Hardesty, Caryn Fox and Mike Clayberg enlisted bass-player Bob Peirce in the fall of 2003. Amy Nazarov (vocals) and Marcy Cochran (fiddle) joined in late-2003, and the band then began seriously gigging.

Nazarov grew up singing madrigals with her folks, on stage and in church choirs, and supplying backup vocals for friends. Peirce has played for 30 years, including stints in classic rock and blues bands. Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Hardesty holds a music degree and teaches school.  Cochran is a longtime folk music fan. From New York, Fox is a classically-trained soprano who writes and sings country heartbreakers. Clayberg (guitar, Dobro, mandolin, tenor banjo) played punk rock for 20 years before returning to his Virginia old-time country roots. In true collaborative fashion, each member brings things to the table that make for a convincing, cohesive musical presentation. Their instrumental work isn't flashy, but it has whimsical and expressive folksy charm.

Besides their spirited instrumentation, Dead Men’s Hollow has a harmony-laden signature sound that has built them a legion of fans. They emphasize their charm, effort and playfulness. The band’s vocal harmonies are of special note -- warm, friendly, and a perfect showcase for their earthier side. No doubt influenced by the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” phenomenon, the band clearly has a lot of fun.

On the sampled 2006 album, guest banjo-player Dan Mazer joins them on "Grandma was a Cropduster," "A Tale of the Week," and "Glory Land." The former, written by Bob Peirce, is an imaginative fictional account of a high-flying woman. It enlists the support of Ron Goad on backing vocals.

Since the release of their “Two-Timin’” album, Peirce has apparently moved on to other endeavors, and Jared Creason now fills the shoes on bass. He holds a B.A. with a minor in music from Indiana State University. In September 2010, Dead Men’s Hollow released a new album called “Angels’ Share.”

Trinomial Bands: Flat Earth Society

A group of talented teens from suburban Lynn, Massachusetts, Flat Earth Society won a contest by writing a radio jingle for the F.B. Washburn Candy Company's new Waleeco candy bar. Their prize: an opportunity to cut an album. The band only had half an album's worth of material but desperation provided fine inspiration. Among the inspired moments on the 1968 album : getting the cool phasing sound on "Feelin' Much Better" by spraying a can into a bucket.

Once they finished the album, they had one more obstacle in their way. This time it was one that proved far too great to overcome. Anyone who wanted to hear the album, unfortunately titled Waleeco,  had to send $1.50 plus six candy bar wrappers. Yeah, that didn't happen much. But today you can get your own copy of the album by sending just $19.60 plus shipping to 

Trinomial Bands: Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Bad Moon Rising


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Trinomial Bands: Three Dog Night

Three Dog Night: Shambala


Shamb(h)ala is the Buddhist “Pure Land” (Wikipedia). In the 1960s and 70s, the West adopted it as a mythical spiritual land of perfection and peace. Like many beliefs and concepts from the hippie 1960s and 70s, knowledge about the philosophy/concept was based on “fragmented accounts” and uninformed stories.  It was a land somewhere around Tibet.
What was important for the “peace/love” hippies was its mythical value as a land of inspiration and promise. In many ways, it was nearly a synonym for Shangri-la: a hidden, mystic land in the Himalayas  where everyone lived and worked for the good of mankind: a lot like the American (hippe) commune.
Three Dog Night – still touring today – hit their prime in the late 60s and early 70s. The Internet tells us that Shambala – typical of most Three Dog Night songs – was not of their creation. It did, however, rise pretty high on the charts in 1973. They sang:
Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shambala
Everyone is lucky, everyone is kind
On the road to Shambhala
Three Dog Night is credited with 7 Gold records. Among their hits that you ought to/are probably familiar with are:
One (written by Harry Nilsson),
Momma Told Me Not to Come
Joy to the World
Easy to be Hard

Trinomial Bands: Go Betty Go

Go Betty Go: You're Your Worst Enemy

Since I’ve started contributing to this blog, I seem to have written a great deal about my son, and not so much about my daughter. That is probably in part because my son and I have more similar tastes, and in part because by the time she was interested in going to concerts, her older brother could chaperone her. But we do have some good stories.

In 2004, my son wanted to go to Warped Tour. He was 14 and was in a punky phase. If you don’t know what Warped Tour is, it is a full day, multi-stage outdoor festival that is targeted at teens, and usually focused on punk, emo and other permutations of the style (screamo, ska, metal, etc.). It is also a great marketing event, with tons of sponsors and merch booths. I agreed to take him and a few of his friends to the show, which was held at Randall’s Island off of Manhattan. As it turned out, it was a great day. A rare August day that was warm, but not hot, with no humidity. We saw some great bands, including NOFX, Anti-Flag, Flogging Molly, Coheed & Cambria, Bad Religion, Sugarcult and Tiger Army. Because so many of the kids were in their early and mid-teens, there were lots of parents and there was a dedicated parents’ tent for all of the chaperones who wanted some air conditioning and a place to sit, but I never needed it. I had a blast.

Flash forward a year. My daughter is now almost 12, and she wants to go to Warped Tour. The lineup isn’t as good, but I had so much fun, I agree to take her, my son and a friend of his. This year, however, it is 100+ degrees. The hottest day in New York in years. Something that didn’t really register the year before is that there is almost no shade, and whatever shade there is, is filled with people and their trash. We do see some good bands, including The Transplants, Dropkick Murphys, My Chemical Romance, the Fear Nuttin’ Band and Motion City Soundtrack, but there are too many damned emo bands that sound alike. It is so hot, that I, a 44 year old lawyer with two kids, find myself lying in the dirt trying to stay cool. Luckily, the promoters provide free water trucks, or there would have been even more people passing out than we saw (they did have good medical support, though). And the line to the parents’ tent is incredibly long, so I don’t even try to get in.

At one point, my daughter and I are not interested in the bands playing on the main stages and head off to check out the smaller stages. Although there are girls at Warped Tour, the audience is mostly boys, and the bands are mostly male. We stumble upon a stage featuring an all-female band, rocking out. They are Go Betty Go, and they are great. The singer, Nicolette Vilar, has an incredible punk voice. Her sister Aixa is a muscular, powerful drummer, Michelle Rangel is a strong bass player, and the guitarist, Betty Cisneros, rocks. We enjoy the hell out of the set, and we buy their CD at the merch table. I was glad that there was at least one female role model for my daughter, who is a singer. Although her repertoire skews more toward singer/songwriter and soul these days, I’d like to think that seeing Go Betty Go reinforced to her that girls can rock.

At about 4, there is a brief rain shower that is welcome because it cooled everything down and kept some of the dust out of the air. Although Warped Tour 2 wasn’t the great experience of Warped Tour 1, I still had a great time, got some great stories, and shared some musical memories with my daughter.

In 2006, Warped Tour moved to The Nassau Coliseum parking lot, and we didn’t follow.

This song, “You're Your Worst Enemy,” is from the EP that we bought at the show. It is the first track, and is pretty much what you will get from the band. Tight playing, some harmonies and great hooks. The next year, Go Betty Go released a very good full length album, but canceled the end of the supporting tour apparently due to dissention in the band. Singer Nicolette Vilar left and ultimately was replaced by a singer who later was on American Idol. From all reports, the band is basically defunct, which is too bad.