Category Archives: Experimental

Jumping Around Cleveland On A Tuesday & Thursday

On Tuesday I ventured the hip streets of Waterloo before checking out Those Darlins at the Beachland Tavern.  Any time I ever see a show at the Beachland I make sure I stop at two of my favorite shops in Cleveland.  Both shops are independently owned music stores by awesome folk.

First up is Blue Arrow Records.

The floors of this store are amazing.  Yes, those are record sleeves.
The floors of this store are amazing. Yes, those are all record covers.

Every time I go in this store I page through the bins of vinyl hoping to score something good to take home and throw a needle on.  I have found some great finds there including some old Rollins Band records as well as a Propellerheads vinyl.  I love the randomness that I can find there and the constant music playing on the speakers is enjoyable as well.

Focusing on mostly rock the store offers all sorts of genres of wax.  Store owner Pete Gulyas not only knows his stuff but loves to share it with others.  The guy also has one hell of a personal Clash collection on display at his store right now.

Blue Arrow Records is one of those stores for any seasoned music fan as well as novice collector to go crazy about.  Recently Pete told me that he is going to be the east side distributor of Derek Hess prints.  The store got even cooler once he told me that.

About a block down the street is the other shop I always make sure I stop in at when in the area.  The store is Music Saves and recently the store celebrated their 5 year Store-A-Versary.  More on that in a bit.

The coolest Dunny sits on the Music Saves counter.
The coolest Dunny sits on the Music Saves counter.

Music Saves is the other mecca of a music store on Waterloo I try and frequent a lot.  The store is full of new and used vinyl as well as carries CDs most of which are indie bands but there is also punk, hip hop, and rock too.  If you can’t find what you are looking for, the good folk at Music Saves will even attempt to special order you something.  The owners are pretty damn cool too and so is their black cat appropriately named Vinyl Kitty.

While visiting on Tuesday I was informed that Music Saves was celebrating their 5 year Store-A-Versary on Thursday at the Grog Shop featuring some great music and guaranteed good times.  I was invited to stop by and hang out so I made plans to do so.  Sadly I knew Vinyl Kitty was not going to be there but I still planned on attending.

On Thursday before I headed to Coventry I made a stop with my friend to stop at the St. Greg’s carnival in S. Euclid as a handful of old friends were hanging out there and grabbing a bite to eat.  There is a memory from my past that always comes to mind when someone says St. Greg’s carnival.

Story time…  (Mom you might not want to read this, haha)

I met this group of friends while taking classes at Tri-C.  There were five of us yet we called ourselves “The Four Horsemen”.  These were the guys I bowled with and partied with while in my early twenties.  I even got a place with one of them for a year but that is another story in itself.  “The Four Horsemen” slowly drifted apart mainly because I moved to Akron and a couple of them started families but we made a pact to start hanging out a little more frequently.

Anyways I am sure you are wondering about this St. Greg story.

These friends of mine all grew up in S. Euclid, all went to school together, and have all been friends since childhood.  They took me in and treated me like I was one of their childhood friends and before long they were taking me to a summer ritual of theirs, the St. Greg carnival.

The church ran carnival featured some of the best Italian food as well as legal church gambling, games, and of course beer.  One particular year we attended I was broke and joked with my friends as we walked past the fishbowl game that if they won a fish I would eat it but they would have to buy me a beer.

I did not think they were going to do it to be honest, but they did and the guys started pulling out $20’s and bought endless amounts of ping pong balls to try and throw in the fish tanks to win a fish prize.  Shaking my head as they keep trying to win the fish I asked myself what the hell I got myself into.  After five minutes of throwing ping pong balls there were seven goldfish in bags being held by my friends with huge grins on their faces.

Not being one to ever back down I took the first goldfish, popped it in my mouth and had a nice little sushi snack.

People started gathering around me as I downed the second and third fish.  The carnie behind the fishbowl game booth was cheering me on as were most of the crowd.  There were of course a few people yelling at me for doing such a terrible think but they did not understand I was getting beers out of it.  My friends of course were going nuts.

Seven fish later we were off to the beer stand for my reward.  Was it worth it?  Yes.

Oh memories.

So it was to be expected when I saw my friends at St. Greg’s this year they offered to win more of fish.  Instead I was treated to some fired dough, ciabatta bread, and other delicious Italian foods.  We sat around for a few and chatted but just before 9pm I had to get going so I could make the show.

While driving down to Coventry I decided to make a couple of shortcuts so that I could just get to the parking deck without driving down Coventry and boy am I glad I did.  As soon as I got in the area I noticed that there was an abundance of cars parked on the streets and soon started seeing streets closed off.  I managed to get my car to the parking deck and snagged a great spot.  When I went to put some quarters in the meter I saw this:

Honestly I had never seen anything like it before.  The entire strip of Coventry was closed from Euclid Hts. to Mayfield road.  It was crowded as hell too…

Slowly making way to the courtyard in front of the Grog Shop my concert going pal and I made it before the show started.  My friend Ryan who is the drummer for Upsparing Sea spotted me and we chatted for a bit before they took stage.  I’ll be honest with you all and confess that even though Ryan is a pretty good friend of mine, I had no idea what his band sounded like.  So when he and his three other band mates took the stage I was just as curious as the rest were to hear them.

Unsparing Sea put on a great show and I have to admit I really got a kick out of their style.  I loved the fact that they had a cellist and also an Ol’ DIrty Bastard poster hanging from the lead vocalist’s mic stand.  Their sound was more indie folk and they really sounded well.  I did feel bad for the band though as they had to pack their instruments into an already clogged stage thanks to the headliner but it did not seem to bother them at all.  Head over to their MySpace page to get a taste of some Unsparing Sea.  Who knows, you might like it just as I did!

Here’s a video of Unsparing Sea’s “Wolves At  Wedding”:

The second band, Baltimore’s Ponytail really confused me because I could not decide if I liked them or not.  Almost all of the crowed loved them but I myself could not grasp why.  I enjoyed the music tremendously but the lead girl with the mic making random yeps and cries was giving me a headache so bad that I opted to leave mid-set and head home.

I of course took a video to share with you all.  This was one of the tamer songs and the more and more I watch it, I think I like it…

Now on the other hand I am the one that Tweeted:

Ponytail on stage. This some weird indie sh@t…and I think I like it.

Moments later:

I lied. This sh@t is way too weird for me. Sounds like wild animals having sex on a piano.

Followed by:

Someone take the goddamn mic away from the little kid on stage. Oh wait, some people are actually clapping to this noise.

Finally:

All I can say about this band is WTF. Seriously I feel so lost. I am not cool enough to be here. I do not understand. Help.

I was not kidding when I said I left mid-way through Ponytail’s set.  I opted to miss out on Yeasayer and kind of regret it but at the same time I had a pretty busy day and just wanted to get home.  I got hell from Melanie from Music Saves when I said bye to her and I deserved it.

Walking down Coventry with my friend we opted to hit up Phoenix Coffee for a little pick me up.  It was a good ending to a busy day.  With the streets still crowded after midnight we walked back to the car and headed back.

Good times.  I needed them.

A Different Memory Of Michael Jackson

We all know what happened today…  The world paid tribute and said goodbye to one of the most important people in music history.  Michael Jackson you will be missed.

A lot of people remembered Michael Jackson today.  I chose to not watch the media circus that was the public viewing/memorial for the late singer.  Instead I hung out at work all day and tried to keep up with all the memories going on in my head.

With all of the memories going on in my mind about Michael Jackson one seemed to stick out over the others.  The memory is not even of a song that Michael Jackson created or a movie that he was in.  The memory is a song by the experimental act Negativland.

The song is called “Michael Jackson”.  I used to listen to it all the time…

DEVO Announce New Studio Album To Debut Fall 2009!!!

I just received word that Akron, OH’s DEVO has announced that they will be working on a studio album for a Fall 2009 release!

Direct from the email I received:

What the iconic new wave, art punk pioneers cautioned us about almost 30 years ago is no longer a humorous theory. It’s pretty much fact–we now live in a devolved world that’s getting wackier each and every day.

The fall of 2009 will bring a new DEVO studio album, their first one since 1990’s Smooth Noodle Maps. It’ll mark their first new music since the strong fan reaction that greeted the 2007 single “Watch Us Work It,” their first new song in 18 years and one that was produced by Sweden’s TeddyBears (Robyn). They’re now in the studio putting the finishing touches on their new album (title TBA).

The five-piece–featuring co-founders and songwriters MARK MOTHERSBAUGH (lead vocals, synthesizer innovations) and GERALD CASALE (lead vocal, bass) and rounded out by BOB CASALE (guitarist), BOB MOTHERSBAUGH (guitars/vocals) and JOSH FREESE (drums)–are set make a special U.S. appearance at SXSW this year including a press conference (4:00pm) and keynote panel (5:00pm)–moderated by radio veteran Nic Harcourt–set for Thursday, March 19 at the Austin Convention Center (500 East Cesar Chavez St.). They’ll follow that up with a Friday, March 20 one-night-only SXSW concert at the Austin Music Hall (208 Nueces St.). Pre SXSW, DEVO fans in Dallas can catch a special one-off show on Wednesday, March 18 at the Palladium Ballroom.

In May, DEVO will head to the United Kingdom for a series of dates. On Wednesday, May 6, DEVO will perform their debut album, the seminal Q: Are We Not Men, We Are Devo! in its entirety from beginning to end at London’s Kentish Town Forum. Released in 1978, the seminal album produced by Brian Eno and recorded in Germany features such notable tracks such as the band’s cover of The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Mongoloid” and “Jocko Homo.” Next up on Friday, May 8, they’ll headline the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Somerset at the Butlins Holiday Centre.

Formed in 1972 in Akron, OH, DEVO–short for “de-evolution”–began as an art project cautioning that humans were devolving and regressing into a herd mentality of American society, not evolving. A conceptual band from the beginning, DEVO were ahead of their time, incorporating elaborate aesthetics into their live shows and seamlessly combining their music with visuals years before MTV or any music-video culture existed. Indeed, the group’s first appearance at Kent State University in 1973 was recorded with a black and white portable video system. Societal satirists, DEVO’s lyrical mix of comedy and quirky wit, warned of the dangers of rampant capitalism in “Whip It” and “Freedom of Choice”, and the devolution of society in “Jocko Homo” and ”Beautiful World.“ Onstage in their early incarnation, the group began with a mixture of synthesizers and rock instruments; as they developed in the late seventies and early eighties, DEVO became one of the first American acts to perform using only synthesizers. DEVO have now returned with an evolved look, ready to impact the vastly devolved world we now find ourselves trying to navigate.

Expect more news regarding DEVO soon and catch up with them at:
www.clubdevo.com
www.myspace.com/devo

Nobunny – Love Visions – CD Review

Nobunny
Nobunny

Chances are if you were to pick up a CD and see a Ramones looking cover with a guy wearing a bunny mask dressed like Joey Ramone, you would put it back down and continue with life.  In the case of solo act Nobunny, I almost did the very same thing.  In fact I have had the CD for a few weeks now and could not for the life of me force myself into playing it; that is until today.  Today was like any other day except I finally put Love Visions into my CD player and what I got out of it was a complete surprise.

What is Nobunny you ask?  Nobunny is a man of sorts, a jokester performer who is more of a modern day GG Allen. A gimmick act who sounds a lot like a mix between the Dead Milkmen and the Ramones, all while sporting  a bunny mask.  His live shows are for the less timid mostly because the masked Nobunny loses his pants during performances after drowning himself in booze and sings into a microphone that looks like a carrot.  The result of his actions, on top of his music, however have won over an elaborate array of fans.  This is Nobunny’s first CD release thanks to 1234 Go Records.

Not much is publicly known about the man behind the mask or the band that backs him up.  The only known fact about Nobunny is that he is from Tucson.  From there it is said that he was living in a trailer with no utilities and came to realize he wanted to be an Animal Elvis impersonator to help pay the bills.  Soon thereafter Nobunny was writing his own material and booked his first show in Chicago on Easter Sunday in 2001.  The set was in fact dedicated to Joey Ramone, who had actually died that day.

Nobunny has been known for his shenanigans while touring.  He once booked two shows on the same day, at the same time, and had a fill in for the show he did not perform.  Sometimes he doesn’t even show up to the venue at all leaving fans with a not so funny feeling.  Nobunny even mentioned receiving a gift while on stage at Cleveland’s Tower 2012, but you will have to read the interview to find out that gift.  You would not think that someone who acted like this would have fans, but the truth is a lot of folk like him and have paid outrageous amounts of money to acquire his Love Visions record on Ebay.

With knowing what Nobunny is all about I finally checked out Love Visions.  As soon as “Nobunny Starts” played I could not decide what I liked about it except that it was a direct rip off of a classic song from the past that I can not for the life of me grasp the title.  I only imagine Junior Senior while listening to it and realize it is only a gimmick.

The second “I Know I Know” started I realize I was hooked.  I am reminded of classic punk rock from the 70s like Iggy & The Stooges.  “Mess Me Up” started mixing that said 70’s punk with good, garage rock fun for a great sing along of sorts.  I loved the guitar and simple drums and the baritone “Bo bo bo bo” at the end. 

“I Am A Girlfriend” is a clear imitation of The Ramones and I loved it as well as the following “Tina Goes To Work”.  Perhaps one of the more memorable songs “Chuck Berry Holiday” had me thinking at times of the Rolling Stones in the earlier years.  The song was a continuing surprise to my ears as I moved through.  “Boneyard” was a track that stood out above the rest with a drum machine sounding beat backing up some easy going distorted guitars.  It almost sounds like a White Stripes b-side with a twist.

Ending the CD is the DIY sounding “Not That Good”.  I sure hope the song was not how he felt about his debut because I would have to disagree.  I enjoyed the simple punk rock entertainment throughout.  The CD is not solid by any means and the songs are short and sweet, possibly aiding in the appeal to the act. 

Having not heard of Nobunny before and reading a very short bio on him I was not expecting much of anything when I initially put the disc in.  I was guessing what I was about to hear was going to be either too artsy for a simple guy like me to understand or just downright ugly.  I was wrong.  I was dead wrong.

Indie rock, punk rock, and even a little garage rock, it’s all there in Love Visions.  Even if the guy wears a mask that is sure to scare the hell out of small children he should not be underestimated and will be heard.  His live performances are to be left determined as I have not had the opportunity to see Nobunny in the flesh yet but I did notice on his MySpace page that he will be playing at the SXSW this spring in Austin, TX. 

Catch him live if you dare as I have heard good and bad things about him.  The bad outweighs the good of course mostly because by the time Nobunny has finished he is hammered and pants-less which may not be appealing to all viewers.  The good thing is that regardless how he presents his act, solo or with a touring band, he is there to entertain, bunny mask and all.

Here are a couple of videos I found of Nobunny…  Try not to be too scared.

Thursday / Envy Split (CD+LP) – CD Review

Thursday / Envy
Thursday / Envy

American screamo teams up with Japanese screamo on the recently released Thursday / Envy split EP on Temporary Residence Limited.  The two powerhouse bands contribute songs to this limited release that is being sold strictly CD+LP only (there will not be a sole CD or LP available) and can only be found in independent record stores.  There is also a hand printed limited edition version that can be ordered exclusively on their website of on their label’s site.  Both bands comprise exceptional tracks and really do a great job in doing so on this release.

Formed in New Jersey around 1997, Thursday has been a staple in the post-hardcore scene.  Having released multiple albums, the band has had a very successful career despite ping ponging from record label to record label after mishaps and disputes.  Currently the band is signed with Epitaph records for this full length to be released in 2009.

Screamo experimental rock act Envy, hailing from Japan, are unique in their own way with songs sung in their native tongue layered over post hardcore music, as well as a little experimental chill out on some tracks.  Well respected all over the world by many and commonly known for their explosions of screaming on songs, I was really looking forward to finally hearing them.

So how did the two come to unite?  Truth is Thursday is a huge fan of the experimental Envy.  Back in April the Thursday posted news of the release on their site:

“It’s our pleasure to announce a split release with one of our favorite bands in the world.   We are currently in the studio recording tracks for a 12” release with Japan’s Envy.  For those of you unfamiliar with Envy, they are an experimental, epic, lush post-rock band that’s heavier than just about anything we’ve ever heard.  Despite the enormous geographical distances between us, the bands have evolved from the same thrashy underground post-hardcore scene.  Honestly, there’s no way to properly describe them.”

The split CD started out with four tracks by Thursday and opens with the impressive “As He Climbed The Dark Mountain”.  Geoff Rickly and crew provided a solid track full of the sporadic singing styles I grew accustomed to with their previous releases, layered with some sick guitar playing and insane drumming.  I really enjoyed this track a lot and after hearing this I can not wait to hear their next full length.

The dark instrumental “In Silence” was more of something you would hear the Crystal Method crank out.  The techno strong song is far from the post-hardcore material the band is known for and I myself loved it.  Full of distorted synthesizers, electronic drum beats, and a mellow piano solo, this song really showed a different side to the band usually known for their screamo.

“An Absurd And Unrealistic Dream Of Peace” had it’s moments with more of an emo feel throughout the song and really did not do much for me.  “Appeared And Was Gone”, another instrumental track, continued the dark trend and was remixed by Anthony Molina of the 90’s alt rock band Mercury Rev.  The track once again is more of a techno experiment that had a God Lives Underwater feel, but was just amazing.  Lyrics added to this track might have enhanced the song a little further.

Envy really impressed me with “An Umbrella Fallen Into Fiction”, having not heard any of their material before.  The song started out slow and really reminded me of The Cure for some reason but with a Japanese spoken word behind it.  Think slow Dir En Gray, that is until you hit just after the 4 minute mark and the song completely explodes with lead singer Tetsuya Fukagawa’s dishing out some insane screaming over a faster tempo.  The song was quite beautiful throughout although my lack of understanding the Japanese language wished to be informed.

“Isolation Of A Light Source” had enough screaming to push you to the ground.  Again, I had not the faintest idea of what was going on, but I enjoyed the severity of the screams added along with the heavy music.  The final track on the other hand,“Pure Birth And Loneliness,” was a gentler track than the previous two Envy songs… that is until about the four minute mark again.  Surprising screaming snuck its way into the mostly mellow song and you could tell how full of emotion it was.

This really is one of the best split CDs I have heard in a while.  Being happily introduced to Envy on this split may have added to some of the charisma but I have been listening to the whole CD over and over and so far have not grown bored with either party contained.

Thursday’s instrumentals on the track were the winners as it was something unexpected yet appealing.  I almost wish there were more tracks on the CD as I was left with a craving for more.  That’s ok though because I can now get more involved with Envy’s catalog and no longer wonder why they were so enthralling to Thursday.

Want to hear?  I found the following songs on the Temporary Residence Limited website:

Thursday – “As He Climbed The Dark Mountain”

Envy – “Isolation Of A Light Source”

And while I am at it, here are some videos from both bands:

Thursday – “At This Velocity”
(This song/video reflects a true story about the band almost being involved in a plane crash…hence the beginning)

Envy – “Scene”