Saturday, May 17, 2014

Holly Golightly And The Brokeoffs at The Satellite, 5-16-14 Concert Review

Holly Golightly performing "Escalator"
I’ve been digging Holly Golightly And The Brokeoffs for several years now. Sunday Run Me Over was on my list of the best CDs of 2012, and their new album, All Her Fault, is one of my favorites of the year so far. But I hadn't had a chance to see them in concert until last night, when they played at The Satellite in Silverlake.

It was a good night of music all round. The first band was a trio called The Singles, and they definitely had an early rock and roll vibe, particularly in the lead vocal line. My friend immediately said, “Buddy Holly.” Yes. And there was a bit of early Elvis Costello thrown in too. And no, we didn’t pick those two because the lead singer of The Singles wears glasses. It’s the sound, the sound.

They were followed by Chantal Claret. I met her briefly during the first band’s set, and she seemed kind of sweet. So having never heard her music, and based solely on the minute or so I spoke with her, I was expecting something more in the folk realm. So I was quite surprised when she and her band took the stage. Well, can I call it a band? I suppose so, though the only musician on stage was a drummer. The group was Chantal, the drummer and two female backing vocalists. The rest was a recorded track, though for the life of me I couldn’t figure out who was controlling it. I didn’t see a computer anywhere on stage. But boy, they were seriously fucking fun. I was so happy during their set that I was actually laughing. I usually couldn’t care less about dance moves on stage, but these three singers had some good moves, and their joy was palpable. A very nice surprise.

And then it was time for Holly Golightly And The Brokeoffs. They started on time, which is great. Clearly I’m getting older because stuff like that is important to me now. I don’t like waiting around for a band to start. But while they were setting up, I spent a little time explaining to the girl next to me that Holly Golightly And The Brokeoffs are two people. “So there are two people in the Brokeoffs?” “There are two people total.” “So it’s Holly and two people?” “No, two people total.” “There are two people in the Brokeoffs and Holly?” “Sure.” This girl had had a bit to drink. In fact, a good portion of the audience had a good deal to drink, and so were quite vocal. The problem is that when people are drunk, they’re not at their peak with regards to mental faculties. So the stuff they were shouting was mostly beyond retarded. Again, I know I’m getting old, but seriously, folks, if you’re an idiot, keep it to yourself.

Holly and Dave responded to some of it, but let most of it pass by. To let people know they were ready, Holly said, “Here we are.” Adorable. After their first tune, Holly asked, “How is that for sound?” The sound isn’t great at this venue, at least not up front, which is where I was. The vocals are never clear enough for my taste. I’m not sure why.

Dave then introduced the next song by saying, “We’re going to do a domestic violence number for you,” and they launched into “My 45.”

I figured they’d do a lot of tracks from their new CD, All Her Fault, but they did only a couple from that album.  The first was the lead-off track, “SLC,” one of my favorites. Before they started it, Dave talked about how Holly hurt her foot. Holly added: “I kicked a door. I kicked a door really hard.” There was a bit of a false start to the song, as Holly didn’t think it sounded quite right. (Later in the set, after “Escalator,” Holly said, “I just worked out that it’s your bass drum that’s out of tune.”) The other song they did from All Her Fault is “Pistol Pete,” after talking a bit about their horse rescue efforts.

They also did a couple from No Help Coming. Dave introduced “Burn, Oh Junk Pile, Burn” by saying, “We’re going to do a song about our piece-of-shit neighbor.” And he dedicated “Get Out My House” to anyone who’s had a house guest who wouldn’t leave.

I've always enjoyed the sense of humor in their material, and it was wonderful to see how that came out too in their stage banter. There is something very relaxed about their approach to performing that I really appreciate. It helps give the show a more intimate feel, like these guys should be playing in someone's living room or on a porch or something. It was fantastic to finally see them in concert, though I do wish the show had been a bit longer. Including the encore, their set was just over an hour.

Set List
  1. Crow Jane
  2. My 45 
  3. Devil Do 
  4. SLC  
  5. When He Comes 
  6. Escalator
  7. Black Night
  8. Burn, Oh Junkpile, Burn 
  9. Get Out My House
  10. Bottom Below
  11. Pistol Pete  
  12. Time To Go 
  13. Getting High For Jesus
  1. Whoopie Ti Yi Yo >  
  2. Boat’s Up The River
Here are a few photos from the night:

The Singles
Chantal Claret
Holly Golightly
Performing "SLC"
Performing "Escalator"
Performing "Boat's Up The River"

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mingo Fishtrap: “On Time” (2014) CD Review

Mingo Fishtrap is an eight-piece band, complete with horns, based in Austin. The band’s new album, On Time, is full of positive vibes and grooves. There is a lot of music to lift you to your feet, then get them moving. The music is a mixture of soul, rock, pop, funk, and even blues (like on “Things Ain’t What They Was” and “Born Without A Heart”). The vocals are delivered with power and soul and joy.  There are lots of good grooves, and some wonderful work from each of the band members. For example, check out the cool work on piano in the instrumental section of “Silver Lining.”

The album kicks off with “End Of The World,” a cool tune, with elements of gospel, and delivered with the energy of a New Orleans band. There are moments when the song becomes kind of sexy, bringing things down to a more intimate feel, the vocals at those moments reminding me of Dr. John (“Would you love like it’s the end of the world”).  And of course I dig the horns. “Run like you did when we were just kids/Singing just as loud as you can/And laugh ‘til you cry.”

“Mason Jar” is a fun tune, with bright, positive sounds from the horns and lyrics about taking a nip from the “magic mason jar.” There is a kind of funky groove during the verses. This band reminds me at times of Entrain.

There is a slightly more serious, bluesy vibe to “Things Ain’t What They Was,” particularly in the guitar work. And the song tackles a typical blues subject, a woman that leaves him for another. But then things change: “She told me she was sorry/She could not live without me anymore/Said the only love she’d ever known was gone/Things ain’t what they was before.” There are moments in the song that approach Stevie Wonder, especially near the end. Dave Scher plays guitar on this track.

“Movin” is a song whose point is to raise the singer up and prove him to be in good spirits, and so the song of course is upbeat and full of joy. He sings, “I’m going to be just fine,” then adds in spoken word, “I’m going to be all right.” And it doesn’t seem to be a case of protesting too much; you get the sense by the end that the music has worked its magic, and that he is in fact fine. And you will be too, listening to this track. (This is another that reminds me a bit of Entrain.)

“Sugadoo” is a lot of fun, in the music (with the joyous bursts on horn) as well as the lyrics, with lines like “Have yourself a slice of my pie too.” Vocally, this one also approaches Stevie Wonder territory. There is then an interesting section a couple of minutes in, with backing vocalists sounding almost like a choir behind him, hitting those delicious low notes, almost like humming to provide a supportive and wonderful base. This is one of my favorite tracks.

The title track, “On Time,” is a song that is part joy, part hope. It’s a mix of pop and soul.  The vocals rise especially on the song’s chorus: “I wait my turn in line/For my chance to shine/And when that day arrives/I’ll be right on time.”

“Too Far Gone” begins with some great percussion, and then some soul vocals, getting it off to a perfect start. And in fact, there is some wonderful work on drums throughout, keeping up a funky joy. There is a wonderful energy to this tune. During one section toward the end when the horns take over and we hear a sound bite (“There’s an arrow in her chest”), the tune reminds me just a bit of some the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies’ work.

"Where Did You Come From" is a smoother love song, and yes, it has some cheesy lines, such as “Heaven must be missing an angel, because you’re right here with me.” But the saxophone saves it.

Treson Scipio joins the band on vocals for the CD's final track, "Fireproof."

CD Track List

  1. End Of The World
  2. Mason Jar
  3. Things Ain’t What They Was
  4. Movin
  5. Silver Lining
  6. Sugadoo
  7. On Time
  8. Too Far Gone
  9. Have I
  10. Where Did You Come From
  11. Born Without A Heart
  12. Fireproof


Mingo Fishtrap is Roger Blevins, Jr. on lead vocals and guitar; Dan Bechdolt on tenor sax and baritone sax; Steve Butts on trumpet and flugelhorn, Roger Blevins, Sr. on bass; Chip Vayenas on drums, percussion and vocals; Mikel Urdy on percussion; Dane Farnsworth on organ, piano, keyboards and vocals; and Zol Waterhouse on trombone.

On Time is scheduled to be released on June 3, 2014 through Blue Corn Music and The Orchard.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Patrick Park: “Love Like Swords” (2014) CD Review

The first time I popped in Patrick Park's new disc, Love Like Swords, I was taking care of stuff in my apartment, and suddenly I was like, “Hey, am I hearing banjo?” I love that instrument, and it was used in an interesting way, and I thought, “Boy, this guy has assembled a good band for this release.” Then I took a look at the CD case, and saw right away that the majority of the instruments (including banjo) were performed by Patrick Park himself. On this release he plays electric guitar, acoustic guitar, twelve-string guitar, bass, piano, organ, viola, cello, banjo and percussion (basically everything but drums). Of course, that would all be one were not the music excellent. But on top of his talent on so many instruments, Patrick Park can write some damn good songs. Each of these songs has lines that stand out for me, like these from the title track: “But we’ll gather up our hearts/And we’ll wear our love like swords/And build our world, and build our world/I can hear your drum beating sweet and low/With the tide that pulls me in and never lets me go.” And the vocals are to the fore in these tracks, as they should be.

By the way, the liner notes unfold to a small poster of the album’s cover (while on the other side are the lyrics, something that is always appreciated).

“Deep In The Wildness,” the CD’s opening track, kind of sneaks up on you, and then suddenly comes on with a very good groove. I immediately dig this song. Patrick Park delivers a sweet and emotional vocal performance. It also helps that the song boasts some good lyrics, such as these lines: “Fast as an arrow and still as a stone/I turned from my old life/A long time ago/’Cause there’s no distance greater/Than the ones we build inside.” Those are some good lines, but I think it’s the groove that makes me really love this tune.

“I Remember” is the song that really caught my attention the first time through, with its use of banjo.  I love the mix of folk and pop elements. And Patrick Park’s vocal performance has soaring moments of beauty. This song has a great overall vibe, and is one of my favorites. This one too features some excellent lyrics, such as these lines: “And even when mountains fell around us/We were calm inside.” And he sings, “But it won’t be long now until it’s uncovered/That we are nothing without one another.”

“My Holding Hand Is Empty” is more in the folk realm, with acoustic guitar and vocals. The vocals are so sweet, so intimate. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “My holding hand is empty and my reservations few/I’ve been looking everywhere for something/I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” This one struck me the first time I put on the album, and my appreciation for it has only increased each time I’ve listened to it. This is my favorite track of the album. It is so beautiful. It has wonderful lyrics, and excellent vocals. As much as I love the vocals, it might actually be the short instrumental section that I love most.

“Dust And Mud” has a steady march on the drums (that’s Luke Adams on drums), with the electric guitar playing over it. And then Patrick’s vocals flow and rise sweetly from this. “In the time it’d take to draw all the anger from our blood/All the world would turn to dust and mud/So we rage and light the fuse just to watch it all go up/While the darkness grows wild in us.” Great lyrics, right? And this is one of the tracks that feature Jordon Katz on trumpet and flugelhorn, and his presence gives the tune a brighter, more exciting vibe. This is another track that I enjoy more and more each time I listen to the album.

One of the most interesting tracks for me is “The Envy Of Wolves,” particularly the way the percussion acts in this song, with a kind of raw energy and style, with the beauty of the vocals running smoothly over it. (Matt Mayhall is on percussion on this track.) In addition, the guitar has some jazzy elements at moments. And this is another track to feature Jordon Katz on trumpet and flugelhorn. It’s an interesting combination of sounds. “But all through the night/Though we dream in time/Of all we’ve lost along the way/I will think of those time when troubles were few/I will think of those times when I think of you.”

“Before We Are Lost” is another track that stands out for me, mainly for the vocals and lyrics. But there is also something about its rhythm that appeals to me, like a quickened pulse, with a great sense of movement. It’s a pulse you get caught up in. But again, there are some great lyrics, like this excellent line: “Aren’t you tired of waking up to someone else’s life?

The album concludes with “If There’s A Reason,” a song with a more relaxed, easy-going vibe. At first, there is almost a playful feel to its rhythm, but then with bright tones to the vocals rising to points of beauty. "Cold as a cinder and burning like the winter/Our sadness seems it's made to last/But turning in our veins in the deepest water/This present is becoming past." Jordon Katz plays trumpet and flugelhorn on this track.

CD Track List

  1. Deep In This Wilderness
  2. I Remember
  3. Love Like Swords
  4. My Holding Hand Is Empty
  5. Down In The Blackness
  6. Dust And Mud
  7. Let’s Go
  8. The Envy Of Wolves
  9. How I’ve Longed
  10. Before We Are Lost
  11. If There’s A Reason 

Love Like Swords was released on May 13, 2014 through Downward Road Recordings and Cobraside.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Ohio Express: “Beg, Borrow & Steal: The Complete Cameo Recordings” (2014) CD Review

I admit it: I love “Yummy Yummy Yummy.” Though now when I think of that song, it conjures up that image from the film of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (you know what I’m talking about). But I didn’t know all that much of The Ohio Express’ other material (though I did see them in concert a decade ago, on a double bill with The Tokens). So it’s great to be able to hear the band’s first album, which only now has been released on CD. And there are some damn good mid-1960s rock vibes here. If you only know “Yummy Yummy Yummy,” you might be pleasantly surprised by the sound and attitude of many of these tracks.

The story behind this album, the music and the band is really interesting, and is detailed in the new liner notes by Jim Allen. There are actually three different bands on this album (and no, I have absolutely no idea what configuration of the band I saw in 2003). One of the bands features Joe Walsh. That’s right: Joe Walsh was (sort of) a member of The Ohio Express.

This CD issue of the album includes six bonus tracks, including two that were previously unreleased.

The album opens with the sounds of a train approaching. Silly? Certainly. But the song that follows, “Beg, Borrow And Steal” (the title track) was something of a hit. It sounds a whole lot like “Louie Louie,” but has a very cool raw tone, matched by lines like “I’d rather beg, borrow and steal/Than go back to you.” Yeah, you tell her! This song is a lot of fun. It features the first of three bands, this one originally called The Conquests (and then The Rare Breed).

“And It’s True” is a much mellower tune. This one is a love song, so completely different in tone from the first track, with lyrics like, “You're the only one I really love/You're the only one I'm thinking of/And it’s true/I love you.” And it makes sense that the tone would be different, as it was recorded by a different band. This band was originally called The Measles, and is the band that includes Joe Walsh. (“I Find I Think Of You” was also recorded by this band.)

The third track, “Had To Be Me,” is more of an upbeat rock and roll tune, and this one is by the third band heard on this album, originally called Sir Timothy And The Royals. This is the main band heard on this album, and they have a really cool, loose sixties rock vibe. “Had To Be Me” was written by one of its members, Jim Pfahler. Jim Pfahler also wrote “I Know We’ll Be Together” and “Hard Times.” “Hard Times” is one of my favorites. I dig the bass, which really drives that track. And the lead guitar section is totally cool. Plus, the lyrics are kind of funny.

Another of the highlights of this CD is “Soul Struttin’,” a groovy dance song. This one is pure fun, with a funky hook. Jim Pfahler sings lead. "Try It" has a great, tough groove. Dale Powers sings lead on this track.These two songs were also released as a single (included in the bonus tracks).

The original album concludes with the deliciously silly “Too Groovy,” with lots of goofing around on the vocals. I can’t help but love this track. Drummer Tim Corwin wrote this one. The album then ends the way it began, with the sounds of a train.

Bonus Tracks

There are six bonus tracks, two of which were previously unreleased. The first four are singles, including “Beg, Borrow And Steal” (sans train), which reached #29 on the pop chart. “Maybe” is an instrumental version of “And It’s True.” The second single is “Try It” and “Soul Struttin.’” This single reached #83.

The final two tracks were previously unreleased. The first, “Roses Are Red,” is a rock tune with a good groove. The lyrics, of course, are far from original (“Roses are red, love/Violets are blue/Sugar is sweet, love/Baby, just like you”). But the instrumental section – particularly the lead guitar – is excellent. “Life Is A Mystery” is more in the folk realm, with a sound in the same general ballpark as that of the mid-1960s Byrds.

CD Track List

  1. Beg, Borrow And Steal
  2. And It’s True
  3. Had To Be Me
  4. Let Go
  5. Soul Struttin’
  6. Try It
  7. I Know We’ll Be Together
  8. I Find I Think Of You
  9. Stop Take A Look Around
  10. Hard Times
  11. It’s Too Groovy
  12. Beg, Borrow And Steal
  13. Maybe
  14. Try It
  15. Soul Struttin’
  16. Roses Are Red
  17. Life Is A Mystery 

Beg, Borrow & Steal: The Complete Cameo Recordings was released on April 29, 2014 through Real Gone Music.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Melissa Payne: “High And Dry” (2014) CD Review

There seems to be a great amount of excellent music coming out of Ontario these days. Melissa Payne, who plays fiddle in Express & Company, is releasing her second full-length solo album, High And Dry. The album is definitely singer-songwriter at its core, which is great. But Melissa Payne has a full band, and there is some power here as well. This band can create a driving rhythm and really go for it, like on the beautiful and moving “Bring Me Back.” When they do, it never feels like unnecessary additions to a folk song. But rather the band feels an integral part of these songs. When a song calls for quiet, you have it; when it calls for volume and power, then those are there, like on “Gunning For Me.” But these tracks never lose their sense of intimacy.

High And Dry kicks off with title track. I love the way this song begins, with a simple rhythm on acoustic guitar, and then Melissa’s glorious vocals over it. “Well, I got lost,” she sings. There’s a sweet, vulnerable break in her voice at one moment (“You got nerve to tell me how it is”). Then a minute into the song, it jumps to another level, as the band comes in. The song has a good groove. I particularly love her vocals on the chorus. “When it all goes south you’ll be high and dry/When it all goes south, you’ll be by my side/And I’ll be high and dry.” And I dig the work on keys. This a really strong track to open the album.

“Not The Only One” has a mellower, prettier vibe. For some reason the first line strikes me as funny: “Well, you don’t like the way I play guitar.” It’s interesting – Melissa’s voice can be simultaneously weary and powerful, reminding me here of Marshall Chapman. Melissa’s is a voice that makes you feel for her, but also makes you feel she can handle whatever comes her way. By the way, the first line of the second verse also strikes me as humorous: “You don’t like the way that I drink.”

“Call Me The Fool” is absolutely beautiful. I’m pulled in immediately by its use of a somewhat classical sound on fiddle, which comes as a surprise. There is something wonderfully sad about this song’s tone. It has kind of a late-night feel. “I’m a believer and a dreamer at best/Torn up inside and I could, could use a rest/Give me some rest.” This is one of my personal favorites on this album.

“Kitchen Walls” opens with a burst of pop (sounding almost like an element of prog rock), then becomes an interesting quick-paced country song. “There’s a lot of different people that are talking about me/But don’t believe everyone/Well, who do you believe/My soul is catching fire right beneath my feet/I hear the darkness coming/I can feel the heat.” And I love the short lead section on fiddle toward the end.

“Downtown” begins with vocals and keys, feeling like a late-night number. “And I’ve been standing here for days/Just waiting on some kind of change/But I’ve had no luck to speak of.”

“Gunning For Me” has great energy, and a good driving beat. It has an intense vibe, like the song is running, moving just as its narrator is, which pulls you in so that the song feels like it’s happening to you. Plus, there are some excellent lyrics. I love these lines: “Had a couple of jobs, and once a career/But they shine a light on all of my fears.” This is a seriously good song. “I ain’t got no home/I hide in the night.”

Things then quiet down for “Cold Out There,” another of my favorite tracks. The opening lines are, “Well, I don’t need your attention/And I don’t need your concern/I hope you find the life you’re after/I hope you get what you deserve.” This is a wonderful song, driven by Melissa's voice, which has both strength and a vulnerability. "I don't want to ruin your life/You're doing so well on your own."

CD Track List

  1. High And Dry
  2. Not The Only One
  3. Call Me A Fool
  4. Bring Me Back
  5. Cool West Wind
  6. Kitchen Walls
  7. Downtown
  8. Gunning For Me
  9. Cold Out There

High And Dry was produced by Greg Keelor, and is scheduled to be released on May 13, 2014 through Seventh Fire Records.