Monday, September 19, 2011

The Graves Brothers Deluxe || San Malo || Reviewing Vinyl

The men who form The Graves Brothers Deluxe are living proof that the longer you play as well as study the artform of music, the better you get at it.  What we will be taking a look at today is their new LP out on Too Long to Chew Music.  On a recent Blogcast I caught the frontman, Stoo Odom, spinning the Tales of how the album came about.  It is a story based on an island in swampland East of New Orleans where the oldest living inhabitants from the far east escaped the oppressive Spanish who enslaved them.  Traveling across the atlantic in 1740 they lived for 150 years in peace as well as relative obscurity until a hurricane wiped their tribe completely off the map.  No Survivors.  Fast forward 400 years and Katrina did the same for a lot of residents of the City of New Orleans.  When prompted, frontman Stoo shared that the more recent event had a catastrophic effect on his loved ones and he felt a kinship with the story of San Malo.  Parallel lines.  Events never change, just faces and and numerics.  Besides the tales they spin, this album comes in custom orange vinyl decorated with pink and red dots, just like someone threw paint  on a wall.  A real beauty.  Not sure who or what is behind the album artwork, but you guys get an A+ for originality.

 Side One:
1.SanMalo National Anthem- Heavy Duty.  Let's you know where this album is about to go to.  2.I'm Fine-Chorus is arrogant and awesome.  3.Splinters- Vocal performance is one of the best on the album.  Drumming out of this jazzy world.  4.Five Foot Category Five- Primus meets Tom Waits (did I just say that?) The least favorite thing on this side is that little RHCP break.  It's not that I don't like the break, its just everything else is off the hook with originality up to this point on the album.  5.Vulture Sing- The Guitar work on this tune is spectacular, and I don't even want to about the tones these guys are getting down. Nice stuff!

Side Two:
1.My Heart Burned Down Today- This second side starts off with a sick and twisted love song.....just waiting for that coming train.  It teases you just enough with a sick groove that really comes to life on the second verse.  Then dumps you.  2.Papio Paio (The Swamp Ape Again)- We are back into religion.  Is it the religion of fast paced chase scenes a la McQueen in bullet?  I think so.  It builds drama and pace and I might add, is awesome to see live and in person.  3.La Balada De San Malo- Another brilliant number. Short pulsating buzzsaws sung in a foreign language.  God dammit!  That guitar is so short & repetitive...all the while being too good.  The buzz is created through the bass (which is the buzziest instrument in the band).  It adds just enough of a pause to build tension and it's littered through out this gem.  I wish I could cover this one.  4.Noisy Kind of Nothing- Noiso tales of life on the island of San Malo.  5.Fifty Years Later on the Bayou Skimmer -There is a goat on the album.  I keep listening to this song to try to understand the significance of it on the album, to see if there is something I am missing.  To the artist it must mean something, however I follow the live rule...would I want to see it performed live and in person. Probably not.  Everything else on the album I would and I have.  And hopefully I will see it again real soon.

Thumbs Up!

Here is a little live Graves Brothers Deluxe for ya...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Archers of Loaf || Return of Original Music || GAMH 9-2-11

I thought that I would never be able to say that I had been to an Archers of Loaf show.  Why?  Because the most original rock band of the last 20 years (before this year) had not played a live show in over 13 years.  I thought it was hopeless.  Sometime back in April of this year I received a text from the east coast gentlemen who introduced me to their sound.  Blue Lang wrote, "Archers of Loaf, September 2nd.  Date Night.  Get a babysitter."  I was pretty stoked to get this message.

They were the biggest influence on my old band, The Booty Chesterfield Trio.  Blue and I started jamming in the spring of 2006.  As a lot of jams go, you start to bring in your influences.  One of the first bands that Blue turned me on to (and that I took and instant liking to) were these guys.  I got what he wanted out of the music and tried to transcribe that thought process into original tunes.  Hence, the reason for being so influential.  More importantly; they rocked.  And all I wanted to do is rock too.  They are smart punk rock.  Their songs are a mixture of built up drama entangled with overwhelmingly powerful hooks.  They have a lot of "eek and awnk" chord structures in alternate tunings that you don't hear every day.

Archers of Loaf
I had heard several live recordings of them but nothing to prepare me for the show.  Unfortunately, due to a family emergency, Blue did not make the show.  He was back home in Florida.  As the day of the show approached, like so many other things in life when you age, I was tired and just wanted to have a weekend to relax.  Driving up to the City on a Friday night didn't sound too appetizing.  But we rallied and made the most of it.

The opening band sucked.  I cannot even remember their name.  And for the most part I thought the evening was going to suck because the dinner service at the Great American Music Hall.  I had always wanted to sit in the "good seats" that got you dinner and a show, but my cheap ass could never pony up to it.  I need never do it again.  My advice, just get the regular tickets.  While the GAMH is one of the best venues to see a small and intimate show in San Francisco, it is not known for the food or the service.  And the following statement shall serve as an exclamation point.  We had the A grade tickets that night; they gave us the C grade waitress.  A terrible management issue by whoever was in charge that night.  I believe that she was probably new to the job, probably took a hit out of the bong before showing up to work and was completely off.  When it took her 15 minutes to get us a drink from a non-packed upstairs bar (about 30 feet from us) that we were in for it.  Then I noticed the only other group there for dinner had completely finished their meal. I walked up to an usher to inquire (our waitress was no where in site).  Turns out that she completely forgot to place our order and we finally ate overly salted and peppered cafeteria food about hour and a half after our arrival sitting in the dark through a shitty band.  That is the mood that was set.  I was ready to go home.  My buddy took it upon himself to make sure at least we had cocktails on the house floating into our veins to cool our heated jets.  Go for the music; don't go for the food.  And never use a cocktail waitress there.  Very unreliable for such a small intimate venue.

Now for some action.  The Archers came out and completely blew the doors off the non capacity crowd.  They played it perfectly, rolling through all the songs that one who was half a fan would want to hear.  Even more important; it felt real.  It felt like they meant it.  They were not here for the money and to sell more Archers CDs, they were here to put on a kick ass live rock and roll show.

Archers of Loaf

A couple of highlights from the show; staring down from the balcony into the crowd with the Archers in full blast off mode I witnessed  this swirling pool of middle-aged balding white dudes, many with glasses and plaid shirts, attempting to re-start up that pit again, just like they did back in 1993.  But this time with a lot less force.  It was cute (for lack of a better term).  I saw myself in there at one point in time too.  Another highlight was when the Archer's entered into the classic "Low" I heard, check that, we all heard someone shout out "Fuck Yeah!  I have been waiting 15 years to hear this song!!!"  I think that is how many people felt that night.  See, Archers were always an East Coast band.  They never had much of an impact on the west coast as let's say, Pavement or someone else from that era.  Probably because they didn't tour a lot on the west coast.  Maybe two or three times.

So why write about this?  I'd like to encourage musicians to understand the real impact that bands make on people.  The music never dies.  It just keeps on growing.  Now, to see it live...that is a whole different story.  After Friday night I feel like I was one of the fortunate ones....

Archers Of Loaf "Audiowhore" from christopher Bettig on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pirate Pat's Lost Treasure || 1976 Black on Black Stratocaster || Old Guitars

I think I need not mention my love affair with the guitar.  If you have read any of my earlier posts it comes across quite evident.  When one ages, we tend to acquire more things.  From the previous spoken love, I started collecting guitars.  The true guitar behind the 1976 stratocaster is actually a 1964 Fender Jaguar.

I love the off-set shape of the jaguar and wanted a vintage one.  This preceded me learning the valuable lesson of "never buy a guitar on eBay".  I was misled by this online dealer that I decided to attempt to acquire a jaguar from.  Vintage City Music out of Lansing, MI sold me an "all original" guitar.  Jaguars are known to be complex instruments.  When I received it I couldn't figure it out.  The bridge pick up seemed dead.  I called up Guitar Showcase and they pointed me toward the direction of Mark Brown, whom I am forever indebted to in the guitar buying world.  I took the guitar right over to Mark.  He told me that the neck had been refinished, possible fret job, new reproduction tuners and the neck pick up needed to be rewound.  All in all about $700 worth of work to get it up to snuff.  I said, "ah, I got ripped off" and Mark so eloquently replied, "How much did you pay for this guitar? $2500.  You didn't get ripped off, with the work you would have a $3200 guitar, about the price of a vintage jaguar in good condition."  I love his thought philosophy.

The jaguar story does have a good ending.  They had a 24 hr. return policy, and honored it as "24 hr. business days" and took the guitar back with me paying the shipping.  Now I had cash burning a whole in my pocket.

60s Smugglin' Pat
The cosmos must of aligned wanting me to have, our family friend, Pat Ryan's 1976 black stratocaster.  I met Pat through my uncle Craig.  This guy was a real character; boisterous laugh and parrot on his shoulder.  Pat had a rough go at the end of his life.  He lost his wife, Carol, from a obscure ailment and this sent him into an unfortunate tailspin.  He couldn't hold down a job leading to a depressed & broke dude.  He stated it was his buddhist teachings that made him want to get rid of all of his prized possessions and live a simple life.  Looking back on it now and think he was just preparing for the ending.  Unfortunately Pat took his own life at the age of 58.

80s Jammin' (note Blackie in the background)
Before the end, he approached me about buying his 1976 Black on Black Stratocaster.  It was in good shape with just the tuners being changed.  He wanted $1900 for it.  I was flush with the return cash of the jaguar.  I wanted a vintage instrument and the opportunity to try and help a buddy out.  I did give him the caveat that if he ever wanted his Strat back, I would give it to him for the money I paid.  He said he would not be wanting it back.  An unfortunate truth.  This is the story of how I am in possession of a beautiful 1976 Stratocaster.  He said he bought it because David Gilmour of Pink Floyd fame played one.  But he said he never played it that much because he was much more of a Gibson man.  I understood this philosophy because I am more of the opposite.  I love Fender guitars.  And this one was a beauty, right down to the instruction manual and extra springs.  I did have Mark Brown set it up for me and the tone pots needed replacing and I also had him put back on the original tuners.  It plays and looks great.  See for yourself...


And this is how it sounds......

Patrick Joseph Ryan 1951-2009