Monday, July 25, 2011

Subscribing to Psycho Radio: A Quick How-To

Hey there, folks! Did you know you can subscribe to Psycho Radio through iTunes, even though we're not on the iTunes store?

Go to the Psycho Radio at 101.7 CIVL FM. Right click on the podcast Icon and copy the url. If you have issues it is:

Then go into iTunes and under "Advanced", choose "Subscribe to Podcast". Then past the url into that field.

For most podcasts, that would be your final step, but because of the system that CIVL uses to create podcasts (splitting them up every hour), you should then click on the Psycho Radio box in the podcasts, and then click the settings button at the bottom. Change the "When new episodes are available" list to "Download all". Then you can set how many episodes you want to keep. A warning, though, our podcasts are a fairly good size (as they should be for you to hear music at a reasonable bitrate), so I would probably only keep a few around.

Enjoy the show! If anyone has any further questions, you're always welcome to email me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

UFV Shuffle

I was recently asked to review four songs for the UFV newspaper, The Cascade, for their weekly "UFV Shuffle" segment. As I was over-exuberant about music (which happens quite often for me). I wrote far more about each song than was necessary, so I thought I would share the full text of my reviews with you here.

Justin Townes Earle – South Georgia Sugar Babe, The Good Life, 2008

Justin Townes Earle derives his name from two massive figures in contemporary American songwriting. His last name is from his father, Steve Earle, and his middle from the legendary songsmith Townes Van Zandt. These are not easy shoes to fill, but JTE has made a career of making them seem like they were cobbled just for him. His songs hearken back to the sounds of American music of all generations, from folk to bluegrass to soul to the delta blues. His lyrics are often born of deep-rooted pain and polished through the lens of soul-wrenching honesty about his past and his own shortcomings. This song is a rather abrupt departure from that, as it is the only one of his songs (to the best of this reviewer’s knowledge) that has a completely happy message. It also has a beat lead by the classic sound of a Hammond organ that will put the shimmy in your hips and the shake in your shoes. This is the atypical JTE song, and it is all the sweeter for its contrast to the bitterness of the rest of his work.

The Kings of Nuthin’ – Old Habits, Old Habits Die Hard, 2010

Boston’s Kings of Nuthin’, in their own words “[tried] to re-create an authentic rock and roll sound, [failed] to do so, and [invented] a very unique new sound in the process.” A more apt description has rarely been self-applied. The Kings are the perfect example of what punk rock would have sounded like if it had been invented in the 1940s. Their unique mix of standup bass, a driving piano that harkens back to Jerry Lee Lewis and a pair of saxophones that ooze greasy good times create a fantastic party atmosphere. The vocals, on the other hand, wouldn’t seem out of place on a record by fellow Bostonites The Dropkick Murphys. Vocalist Torr Skoog’s heartfelt and honest lyrics keep the band’s punk rock cred firmly intact even when the rest of the band is rocking like a Deep South Juke Joint. This is true rhythm and blues, arrived at by accident through punk rock.

J.B. Beverley and the Wayward Drifters – Chase Down These Blues, Dark Bar and a Juke Box, 2006

J.B. Beverley first made his mark upon the music scene as a singer for The Murder Junkies, replacing the infamous G.G. Allin in that role. When a man comes from one of the most vile musical acts in history, his rebirth as a leader in classic country music comes as a total shock. The Wayward Drifters’ sound is what country music is all about. Unlike the country music that you hear on radio, the sounds of mandolin, fiddle, steel guitar and banjo are right up front, not hidden behind Def Leppard-esque walls of electric guitars. Beverley has a voice that is capable of an outstanding emotional range, and lyrical chops to match. “There are times in life that we lose, if I’d but learned to let it go. It’s only fair that you stare. Last call was so long ago. Hey bartender, before I go, why don’t you pass me just one more? I need one more shot to chase down these blues…”

Demented Are Go – Call of the Wired, Kicked Out of Hell, 1988

The Meteors invented the psychobilly movement in 1979 by combining 50’s rock ‘n’ roll (aka rockabilly) with horror movie themes and cranking the speed up to eleven. But as much as they created the recipe, the flavour of psychobilly wasn’t perfected until Demented Are Go released their second album, Kicked Out of Hell. Their singer, the self-christened Spark Retard, brought madness to a whole new level with songs about amputation, suicide, death and mayhem. Call of the Wired is a song about surfing outer space while taking hallucinogens, driven by a blues-influenced guitar that is irresistibly danceable. This album sounds as fresh today as it did when it was released in 1988. This is music that you can go mad listening to, or grab a partner and jive to. “No money, no cigarettes. No money to pay my debts. Got a buzz going through my brain. Damn near drove me insane. Be a surf cadet. Be a space cadet.” Sign up today.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Koffin Kats in Spanaway

A few weeks ago, I became aware that the Koffin Kats were playing in Washington state. When I examined the poster of the event, I began to notice a few irregularities. Firstly, while the band on Sunday played in Seattle, the Saturday show was being held in the small town of Spanaway, not Tacoma, Puyallup or even Auburn. Secondly, it was set to take place at the "Y Sports Bar and Grill", which is the first time I've heard of live music and sports bar going together in any way. Thirdly, a large banner across the front of the poster proclaimed "No Cover Charge!". That's when I knew we were in for something special. So, my girlfriend and I loaded up her 1963 Mercury and headed out on the open road.

After a fairly decent drive, we finally reached the town of Spanaway. After cruising the main drag for a while, we ended up on the south side of the town, just past the edge. Right there, next to a mobile home park, was our destination, "The Y". A lone building sitting in front of a dirt parking lot, nothing else around it but a highway. The windows were fiercely tinted and filled with neon beer signs, allowing no sort of a view into the bar, and the door was a heavy wood device that might have withstood a battering ram in medieval times for at least a day or so. All in all, as we made our first approach to the saloon, I almost half-expected Patrick Swayze and Sam Eliot to drag some guy through the door and roundhouse kick him in the head right there in the parking lot.

After swinging on into the bar, we could feel the tension of the regulars rise as outsiders had invaded their group. There was a noticeable chill in the air. As we were discussing local hospitality arrangements with the bartender, a pair of punk rockers came in and ordered a round of Pabst. The mood then changed from uncomfortable to disappointed, as the regulars realized that their Saturday night plans were about to be interrupted.

After checking into the nicer of the town's two fleabag motels, we got ourselves ready and met up with The Pope of Zorch Radio, a fantastic show out of KGRG in Auburn. We all hopped in the car and headed back down to the bar. Upon our arrival, we were pleasantly surprised to find the bar filled with colourful people of all persuasions, from punks to skins to greasers to psychos to metalheads, the crowd was a complete cross-section of The Koffin Kats' audience.

The night started with local band Angie and the Car Wrecks. This band avoided the usual pit-falls that female-fronted band often fall into, particularly the vocals not flying too high above the music and reach ear-piercing notes. The band was a good opener, getting the crowd into the show and pulling out a number of cover tunes to get folks off their butts. They have a great dynamic on stage and their energy was good. I was given a copy of their album, but I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet. I felt their set went on a bit too long, but I have been finding myself feeling that way about a lot of bands of late. Perhaps I'm just becoming impatient in my old age. Or, perhaps, in this case, I was just anxious to see Koffin Kats for my first time and didn't want to wait any longer.

Finally, about 11, The Koffin Kats were set up and ready to play. Since the poster said doors at 7, I was quite ready to see the band by this point. As soon as the first strains of "How It Starts" rang out, I knew we were in for a treat. Vic Victor is one of the best frontmen it has been my pleasure to watch. He sings well, his bass playing is spot on and he's more lively than most electric bass players. Watching him swing around that standup bass, jam it into the ceiling, and even prop it across his guitarist's back at one point was a reminder of everything that's great about this type of music.
I was slightly apprehensive about the guitars going in, after founding member Tommy Koffin's departure last year. However "EZ" Ian, formerly of Albuquerque, NM's 12 Step Rebels, did a fantastic job of filling his shoes both on the six string and on backing vocals.
Drummer "E-Balls" Walls is the secret weapon that you never hear about in that band. He hits the skins hard with extreme precision and a talent for adaptability on stage that not many musicians possess these days.
The band played a great set with songs from all 5 albums, and even a song that will be on their next full-length (currently being written on the road) and also their upcoming split release with 12 Step Rebels. Bottom line, if you have a chance to go see a Koffin Kats show, do it. They are the hardest working band in rock 'n roll today and it shows. Their constant, relentless touring has created a band that can kick your ass six ways to Sunday, drink you under the table, get up in the morning and drive 10 hours just to do it all again. The fact that they've done everything themselves since the beginning and they refuse to stop, or even slow down likens them to a shark and it's constant thirst for more.

This is what rock and roll is all about.