Alive Naturalsound Records

Independent record label based in LA. Home to The Black Keys, Two Gallants, Buffalo Killers, Radio Moscow, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Hacienda, John The Conqueror, Brian Olive, Black Diamond Heavies, Left Lane Cruiser, T-Model Ford, Thomas Function, Waves Of Fury, etc. More at

Monday, January 28, 2008

SSM "Break Your Arm For Evolution" in stores now!

Los Angeles, CA – January 28, 2007 – Detroit post-punk trio SSM will release their new album Break Your Arm For Evolution tomorrow via Alive Records! Last week, the band wrapped up a month-long tour with the Von Bondies and garnered rave album reviews from the New York Times to the Washington Post and URB Magazine (featured in URB’s “Next 1000’). Additional tour dates and album news will be announced shortly.

Break Your Arm for Evolution is the follow-up to their acclaimed 2006 self-titled debut and finds John Szymanski of the infamous Hentchmen on vox/keyboards, Dave Shettler of The Sights on drums/programming, and Marty Morris of the Cyril Lords on vox/guitar further expanding their sonic horizons and fearlessly morphing genres. Engineered by Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), and recorded in record time straight to seven-track tape, the Detroit trio once again defy conventional wisdom and blaze its own trail creating music that is the sound of cool, young robots; and the preferred listening of the jetpack set.

For more information, please visit the band on the web

Free “Déjà Vu” MP3

Video for “Déjà Vu”


“The kind of distortion that edges the vocals and most of the instruments on the album “Break Your Arm for Evolution” (Alive) tags SSM as garage-rock or psychedelia, and most of the songs would go nicely with a liquid-blob light show. But this three-man band — John Szymanski on keyboards, Dave Shettler on drums and Marty Morris on guitar — doesn’t stay within any particular school or era. SSM also toys with electro, progressive rock and punk-funk. What the songs share is a cantankerous rock spirit…” - New York Times

“Using keyboards, vocals, guitar, drums and sweet, sweet programming, SSM is out to prove that they aren't afraid to go against the grain. Chances are they'd be more afraid to follow it.” - URB Magazine’s “Next 1000”

“…funk, synth-pop, glam-rock and psychedelia…"Break Your Arm for Evolution" certainly isn't technocratic enough for electro purists, but SSM can show garage-rock buffs that there's more than one way to start dancing.” - Washington Post

“A romp in Iggy-esque, slowed down, Hentch rock 'n' roll, the band’s overall sound is something that is catchy, groovy and danceable, all while maintaining the basic rock esthetic. Tracks like “Déjà Vu,” “Regenerate Your Face” and “Now We’re Six” are trance-inducing psychedelic jams that meet Fun House-type grooves and would be perfect for your next drug session.” - Real Detroit Weekly

“…an unusual and delightfully schizoid take on Motor City rock. Psychedelia mingled with kraut-rock as the avant-pop trio shifted gears with synth freakouts and odd time signatures that managed to be both experimental and accessible at the same time.” - Boston Herald

“SSM deviate from the classic Detroit rock band mold. They have mixed garage rock with psychedelia, electric dance sounds and prog rock and come out with a unique sound…The new album sounds like Daft Punk-meet-Electric Six-meet-The Seeds, with a couple emotional ballads thrown in as well as some pop-dance tracks.” - The Aquarian Weekly

“SSM, play a riveting combination of electronic and psychedelic garage rock—physical proof of which can be found on the trio’s latest, Break Your Arm for Evolution.” - Time Out New York

“…their second album for Alive Records, John Szymanski, Dave Shettler, and Marty Morris have updated a steadfastly rigid genre with a synthetic, robot groove that bridges the divide between Detroit's storied histories of techno and garage.” - I Rock Cleveland

“Taking the more danceable side of post-punk from Public Image Limited and meshing it with '80s pop projects like Gary Numan and Kraftwerk’s synth-laden material, SSM creates a killer sound that blows most conventional stuff out of the water.” - Real Detroit Weekly

“…return of the vox-heavy trio, now flirting with robot love under the hand of The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach” - CityBeat

Sunday, January 27, 2008

SSM - Washington Post

Washington Post review of "Break Your Arm For Evolution"

SINCE SSM IS A DETROIT garage-rock band composed of three Detroit garage-rock veterans, it's fitting that the group's second album opens with a song titled "Deja Vu." Yet not everything on "Break Your Arm for Evolution" has been heard before -- at least not quite this way.

Named for the musicians's initials, SSM can power a bluesy stomp just as heartily as the former bands of keyboardist John Szymanski (the Hentchmen), drummer Dave Shettler (the Sights) and guitarist Marty Morris (the Cyril Lords). But the trio also ventures into funk, synth-pop, glam-rock and psychedelia.

"Start Dancing" (MP3) is representative of SSM's style. The song opens with pure synthetics: pings and coos arrayed against a tinny pulse. The accompaniment remains all electronic after the vocals enter, but the guitar and drums gradually take their usual place, and the tune becomes a rocker -- though the track isn't the album's most traditional one. (That would be the punky "Emotional Tourist.") "Break Your Arm for Evolution" certainly isn't technocratic enough for electro purists, but SSM can show garage-rock buffs that there's more than one way to start dancing.- Mark Jenkins

SSM - New York Times

New York Times review of "Break Your Arm For Evolution" :
The kind of distortion that edges the vocals and most of the instruments on the album “Break Your Arm for Evolution” (Alive) tags SSM as garage-rock or psychedelia, and most of the songs would go nicely with a liquid-blob light show. But this three-man band — John Szymanski on keyboards, Dave Shettler on drums and Marty Morris on guitar — doesn’t stay within any particular school or era. SSM also toys with electro, progressive rock and punk-funk. What the songs share is a cantankerous rock spirit and, behind it, musings on life and death, from “Let’s Make a Baby” to thoughts like “Before long you’re gone, so prolong the inevitable” — which is tucked into a song called “Start Dancing.” -- Jon Pareles

NATHANIEL MAYER - Cleveland Scene, Your Flesh

Cleveland Scene preview :
Nathaniel Mayer hails from Detroit, the city that turned white kids on to black music. The soul shouter recently crawled out from a pile of dusty, scratched-up 45s that bear the labels of record companies that are long forgotten by everyone but the most dedicated collectors. On his latest album, Why Don't You Give It to Me?, the sixtysomething Mayer makes another stand for the Motor City's storied musical legacy — this time with punk kids half his age.

The beginnings of Detroit's punk/soul aesthetic can be traced to the records Mayer cut for the Fortune label back in the early '60s. While many of these old sides employ the time-honored practice of lifting bits and pieces from other artists' hits, Mayer's over-the-top intensity usually obliterates such comparisons. A string of regional hits culminated in Mayer's lone national triumph, 1962's "Village of Love" — an exquisite piece of doo-wop-meets-do-rag that reached the R&B Top 10. The James Brown-influenced single "I Want Love and Affection (Not the House of Correction)," now considered an R&B classic, bombed when it was released in 1965, and Mayer gradually faded into obscurity.

In 2002, Mayer performed a buzzed-about concert in his hometown. It marked the start of his comeback. I Just Want to Be Held (from 2004) was a feisty hybrid of old-school soul and garage; in turn, last year's Why Don't You Give It to Me? was a transgenerational meltdown of the musical borders. Paired with members of the Dirtbombs, SSM, and the Black Keys, Mayer delivers each song in an aged, gravel-rough voice that merges with the band's relentless sonic assaults (think the Stooges or early Funkadelic). It's a long way from his formative soul sessions in the '60s. - Duane Verth

Your Flesh Review of "Why Don't You Give It To Me?":
The first shock is the accompaniment—an unashamedly motley assortment of vintage psychedelia sans any pop affectation whatsoever, and MidWestern honky R&B ram-a-lama deluxe. A battle of the bands between Big Brother & The Holding Co. and the MC5 would have sounded like this! Production throughout is deliberately archaic; it’s all drenched in reverb, the EQ is all top or bottom with no mid-range. The feel is loose and off-the-cuff and all cuts seem like first takes. Add a six pack o’ suds and a doobie or two and you’ve evoked retro scuzz-rock heav’en on earth.

Now add in lead vocalist Nathaniel Mayer, an older African American gentlemen who’s one part blues growler, one part R&B slickster… and 98 parts nutter! His vocal attack is rubbery, petulant and errant. The man’s got decent pipes but constantly sacrifices proper pitch and inflection on behalf of emotional largesse; the results are consistently wild-ass. The pairing of this particular singer and players might sound awkward but in fact it’s inspired and alchemical. The choice of a freaky, yet non-ironic frontman keeps the end results from being a mere exercise in nostalgia. Besides, both Detroit high-energy and early West Coast psychedelia evolved from garage rock, primarily white teens drawing on indigenous R&B traditions for their ripostes to the British Invasion (which also derived from R&B and blues).

A lot of these songs ramble and all could benefit from a bit of trimming to achieve maximum potency. But even as is—this is a healthy slap in the face to current pop orthodoxies. - Howard Wuelfing

SSM - Aquarian Weekly

LEFT LANE CRUISER - Live reviews

Live reviews :

-- Live Blues World
Well, they don't come around very often, but it was great to catch them as Black Diamond Heavies and Left Lane Cruiser stormed into New York. Left Lane Cruiser hit the stage first, and played a fantastic set that ripped through a combination of rockin blues covers and originals. I was amazed at their intensity, and at the power of the riffs throughout their set. They pulled the crowd out of their chairs and filled the room with their punk blues sound.

Then came the Heavies. I haven't actually seen John and Van play as the Heavies since Mark Holder left the band. Suffice to say, John plays those keys like a man possessed, with Van keeping a strong, pounding beat that drives through each song. They rolled out a few new songs off of their upcoming new album, and they fit right in with their older material, with some great grooves to keep the crowd moving.

This is one of the best one - two punch shows I've seen in a long time, and I'm looking forward to catching both of them at the Deep Blues Festival in July.

--Brightest Young Things
Ever since Ghost World I have trouble watching white dudes play blues without picturing Blues Hammer, the horrifying electric Down Home Delta Blues band that kicks the authentic blues singer off the stage and out of memory.

Of course they were more Kenny Wayne Shepard than Jon Spencer, but somehow that parody haunts my enjoyment of even the hairiest acoustic freak-folk or punkiest garage band that uses slide guitars and flattened fifths. So even though I enjoyed both bands on record, I went to the January 15th show at the Red and the Black prepared to be skeptical of Left Lane Cruiser and Black Diamond Heavies. Can there be anything authentic about modern honky blues-rock? I’ll skip the suspense and just say Yes, Like Duh, Obviously. If the music is good who cares how authentic it might be? Blues Hammer is terrible because they play hackneyed over-produced and cluttered garbage, not because they have shaved chests and unbuttoned shirts. Though the guys in Left Lane Cruiser certainly didn’t look like poseurs. Lead singer and guitar player Joe Evans’ scraggly long hair and beard paired with his low-brimmed hat and baggy jeans made him look plenty familiar with the ass-ends of America. He and drummer Brenn Beck come from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and their purely primitive stomping and growling reminds me as much of early Stooges in their industrial clangclangbangbang phase as it does RL Burnside. Though they do cover a Burnside song or two, Evans sitting down on a stool and leaning way over the mike, his thumb plucking distorted bass notes and playing slide riffs with his index finger. Beck played one song with one hand while blowing a harmonica solo in the other, and used enough cowbell to kill a Saturday Night Live sketch, but essentially all their tunes blend together, though not in a bad way. I could seriously watch them play Big Momma by itself all night long over and over, though preferably I would be grinding on a BBW while listening to it. See, because, Blues is not like sex. It is sex. Most popular music is based on inserting hints of the blues into other contexts, sexing it up. There weren’t many people there that night, but when Beck stopped the song on a dime and roared “Go on drop it Joe, make these bitches bob they heads bro!” and Joe whipped out a slow funky-ass line, it clearly made everyone within earshot hot enough to hump a rusted-out tractor.

SSM - URB Magazine

URB Magazine review of "Break Your Arm For Evolution":
Don't be disappointed when you find out that the name "SSM" is derived from from the first letter of each member's last name; while not the most colorful method of coming up with a title for a band, their music is much more creative. The trio from Detroit don't do a whole lot using traditional methods. In fact, their latest album in the works- Break Your Arm For Evolution was recorded straight to seven-track tape. In a world of undo, cut and paste, that is quite a ballsy decision. Using keyboards, vocals, guitar, drums and sweet, sweet programming, SSM is out to prove that they aren't afraid to go against the grain. Chances are, they'd be more afraid to follow it. - James Shahan


Friday, January 25, 2008

NATHANIEL MAYER - Billboard, Blogcritics, MOKB

Billboard news :
Members of the Black Keys, Dirtbombs, the Sights and Outrageous Cherry have lent their talents to "Why Don't You Give It to Me," the forthcoming effort from soul/blues/rock singer Nathaniel Mayer. Due Aug. 21 via Alive Records, the set comes on the heels of 2004's "I Just Want to Be Held," which was the Detroit-based veteran's first full-length in 40 years.

Mayer first met the Black Keys when the garage duo tapped him as the opening act for their November 2005 tour. Mayer, in turn, recruited Outrageous Cherry guitarist Matthew Smith, Dirtbombs bassist Troy Gregory and the Sights/SSM drummer Dave Shettler as his backing band, occasionally joined by Black Keys guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach.

"People would come up to us after the show and ask, 'How long you guys been playing together?' It was two weeks! We had been rehearsing together for two weeks!" Mayer, 63, tells "They're a great band, just a real different sound. It was beautiful."

After the dust settled, Mayer re-entered the studio with the same line-up and Auerbach, Smith and Shettler taking turns producing. According to Mayer, the resulting album mixes his love of funk a la James Brown with psychedelic, blues and garage. 'I'm a Lonely Man," the first single from "Why Don't You Give It to Me," is currently available via iTunes.

Most importantly for Mayer, the album serves as a good reason for him to indulge his true love, touring. "I love traveling so much. It makes coming home all the better," he laughs, adding that the band is considering recording a live album along the way. Though Mayer is still planning a tour for next month and then later in the year, he hopes the treks will include one spot that he hasn't visited since 1962: New York's Apollo Theater. Mayer has been performing since the ripe age of 15 and is best known for his 1962 hit "Village of Love," which he sang at the beloved performance hall. - Katie Hasty

Blogcritics review of "Why Don't You Give It To Me?":
My husband and I are long time lovers of the blues, especially the raw Juke Joint sounds of what we call the "Fat Possum" gang — RL Burnside and sons, Nathaniel Mayer, Asie Payton, Paul "Wine" Jones, and Fred McDowell. Always interesting and never safe, these artists define their own musical genres and pull from many different traditions.

Nathaniel Mayer has had an interesting and long career for someone who many folks have just heard of. He recorded for the grittier than Motown Fortune label in the 1960s, singing "Village of Love" (one of his only hits) at the early age of 18. Good raw funky soul music was his calling card.

Since the 60s Mayer has done some studio and back up work, but has built his career on his outrageous raunchy live act. He was rediscovered by Fat Possum in 2003/2004 which saw the release of his highly acclaimed album, I Just Want To Be Held. This was my first introduction to Mayer's howling vocals, raw steaming riffs, and over the top sexuality in such songs as "Stick It or Lick It" and "I Wanna Dance with You".

Now with the Alive Records label, this son of Detroit has recorded what is easily the best album of his career and very possibly one of the best rock/blues/soul/psychedelic albums I've ever heard. Why Don't You Give It To Me? was born after the Black Keys, Dan Auerbach, and Mayer performed together at NYC's Knitting Factory and decided that they should take their scintillating steaming cauldron of music into the recording studio. Recorded in Mayer's hometown of Detroit and produced by Matthew Smith, Dan Auerbach, and Dave Shettler this album is so great, so interesting, and so difficult to categorize.

Mayer opens with the pure funk and his trademark howls in the title song, and then immediately moves the listener out of complacency and into the intense rockabilly inspired "White Dress". He pays homage to his blues roots with the classic sound of "Please Don't Drop the Bomb" and then surprises yet again with the opening jazzy riffs of "Doin' It". The reggae inspired island beat of "Dancing Move" is reminiscent of UB40. It's as though Hendrix, the Stooges, James Brown, RL Burnside, the Stray Cats, and UB40 all came together in a "best of" blend. This is an eclectic mix that works in the hands of this masterful vocalist. - Lynda Lippin

MOKB review :
Using a voice that sounds like it was tuned with a rat-tail file, Mayer delivers with astonishing urgency; as if he has spotted a cuckolded husband with a .38 behind the trap set. It is heartening (and just a little frightening) to hear this veteran lothario howl, scratch and slink through songs of seduction when we would be more comfortable with him complaining about the service at Denny's. Don't think for a moment that this is a novelty record. Aside from being himself a staggering performer, Mayer benefits greatly from a backing band that, forgive me, should scare the reunited Stooges back into retirement. All members can claim superior blues/garage pedigree, but it's enough to say they play like some bad mothers. Don't believe me? Cue up "Doin' It", (any guesses as to what that's about?) which sounds like Booker T & The MG's (circa Otis Redding Live in Monterey) in a streetfight with Hendrix's Band of Gypsies. Find this record immediately and pray Nathaniel Mayer never comes courting your dear old Granny. - My Old Kentucky

NATHANIEL MAYER - Pop Matters, Sailor Jerry

Pop Matters review of "Why Don't You Give It To Me?" : Nathaniel Mayer wants your love. Specifically, ladies, he wants your love. And, um, this elder R&B statesman might want just a bit more, as evidenced by his prowling growl on songs such as “Why Don’t You Show Me?”, “Why Don’t You Give it to Me?”, and “Doin’ It”. Yes, fathers, lock up your daughters because, some 40 years after several chart-topping singles, Mayer is back—and he’s still desperate. Whereas his true comeback record and first release in a non-single format—2004’s I Just Want to Be Held—channeled Detroit’s soul side, these nine songs spend more time exploring Motor City’s garage sound. Why Don’t You Give it to Me?, the opening and title track offers a distinctive Black Keys riff from Dan Auerbach paired with a loose and dirty backbeat from the rhythm section (which features members of The Sights, Outrageous Cherry, and Dirtbombs). Then, placed high in the sonic mix, Mayer appears with his own loose and dirty snarl begging the question of the album’s title. During the garage-soul originals that follow, Mayer croons, howls, and whimpers through a varied sonic palette—the hand-clapping and jaunty “White Dress”, the shuffling slow-burn “I’m a Lonely Man”, and the psychedelics of the nine-minute “Doin’ It”. The album closes with a reggae calypso cover of Delroy Wilson’s “Dancing Mood”. By the end of these 40 minutes, you can almost smell the cigarette smoke, cheap scotch, cologne and sweat emanating from Mayer’s powder-blue polyester suit. C’mon, give the man some love.

Sailor Jerry review :
So the other day I got a package from Alive Records containing some new releases. This (Nathaniel Mayer) CD caught my attention immediately and, although I had a ton of other stuff to do, I immediately popped it in. What I heard proceeded to blow my mind.

The first and title track of the record simultaneously reminded me of both "Exile on Mainstreet" era Stones and the Stooges "Funhouse", except for that instead of a pompous, white youth pour his/her heart it out it was the gravely voice of a black man in his late 60's.

Nathaniel Mayer started of his career in the early 60's with a string of singles on Detroit's Fortune Records reaching his peak on the 1962 Top 40 hit "Village of Love." After the following (great) singles failed to do as well Nay Dog faded into mainstream obscurity. He resurfaced, albeit briefly, in the 80's only to (as another article claimed), "descend back to the ghettos of Detroit." This only fueled the legend-producing myths that surrounded Mayer.

Fast-forward to 2002: Nathanial Mayer launches an extremely unexpected (to say the least) comeback, appealing to a generation far removed from his own by working with current artists inspired by his work. I.E. teaming up with some of the heavyweights of the garage circuit. Which leads us to now.

"Why Don't You Give To Me" easily comes across as a record from 40 years back. The recording brings to mind a thrown together, live in the studio affair straddling a line somewhere between a 60's psych/garage sound and something more akin to traditional blues. The song styles themselves range from Psych, Blues, Soul, Garage, Gospel Reggae and every shade in between but are all painted in heavy coats of vulnerability and emotion as if being pulled directly from Nathaniel's soul. His voice is as gravely and war-torn as you'd expect from a 60+ year old Detroit native, but somehow the same "something" that gives Nay's voice it's "old, wise and lived through it all" qualities also makes him sound incredibly both young and forward-reaching.

The band behind the man features Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, Matthey Smith of Outrageous Cherry, Troy Gregory of The Dirtbombs, and Dave Shettler of SSM and The Sights and really does an amazing job of keeping the overall vibe authentically 60's and current at the same time.

In short, even after only 6 or 7 listens, "Why Don't You Give To Me" is becoming one of my favourite records of the past few years and is quickly reaching back to become one of my favourites of any year with each listen.

SSM - Déjà Vu video, I Rock Cleveland

SSM new video

It's common knowledge that you can't teach an old garage band new tricks. Or, at least I thought it was common knowledge that garage bands forever stayed in the garage, until I put on this new track by SSM, "Start Dancing." On this number from their second album for Alive Records, John Szymanski, Dave Shettler, and Marty Morris have updated a steadfastly rigid genre with a synthetic, robot groove that bridges the divide between Detroit's storied histories of techno and garage. Szymanski's cool, detached plea to stay on the dance floor isn't the most convincing order to get down -- it's as robotic as the groove behind him. Perhaps, that's the point. With the news of a Japanese robot who can play the violin, why shouldn't robots be able to dance, too? - I Rock Cleveland

LEFT LANE CRUISER - Nine Bullets, HearYa, Herohill

Nine Bullets review of "Bring Yo' Ass To the Table": Let the year that is 2008 begin to rock. Right now. Alive Records has released Left Lane Cruiser’s label debut, Bring Yo’ Ass To The Table, and it is everything fans of their self-released album, Gettin’ Down On It, could have expected and so much more. I got an iPhone for Christmas and in preparation for the beginning of the year, I planned to load the new LLC, Drive-By Truckers and N. Mississippi Allstars albums on it for listening in my New Years travels. I never made it to the DBT or NMA discs.

Joe and Brenn headed into Painesville, Ohio’s Suma Studios, a studio full of reel to reels and vinyl cutting machines, and emerged with a blues-fueled, rock-driven cd on the verge of a whiskey rage. This is a must add to the Essential Listening list and currently my favorite cd of this young year. You like this site? You’ll love this disc…trust me.

LLC is currently on the road with another ninebullets fave, Black Diamond Heavies….I can’t imagine the awesome concentrate that this show must be, but seeing as how the tour isn’t currently making it to Florida, imagining is all I got. Even if they don’t get down this way, they are supposed to be playing this year’s Deep Blues Festival, so I’ll be coming to them.

HearYa review of "Bring Yo' Ass To the Table":
In Left Lane Cruiser, Alive Records finds another swampy blues act with a heavy dose of pedal steel and grizzly, low-fi vocals. LLC won’t seduce you with poetic lyrics, but they’ll start you off with a whiskey on the rocks to warm you up on the intro track, “Wash It,” and then run you over with brute force throughout the rest of the album. Lead singer/Slide guitarist, Joe Evans, sounds like he is foaming at mouth as he isn’t going down without a fight. Brenn Beck beats the drums like they owe him money and blows a damn good harmonica.

Three songs into Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table, we’re greeted by “Pork N’ Beans,” a song about a plate of pork n’ beans. Nothing more. In the same vein as Mofro’s “Ho Cake,” Left Lane Cruiser show that simple tunes about food can hit with as much punch as the most complicated piece of music if performed well. This is a booze-fueled, blues romp that Evans devours.

Midway through the album you’ll find “Justify,” a song full of rage about racism. It’s the song Zach De La Rocha would have written if he’d have grown up in a swamp with lyrics: “Well the mama and the children, came out to watch you burn/ And the lawyer and the preacher, came out to take their turn.”

This isn’t dinner party music. It doesn’t go with wine or cheese plates, but roll out a table of barbeque and some canned beer and you’re in business. It’s simple. If you like Scott H. Biram, then you’re going to love these guys. Bring Yo’ Ass to The Table has everything that Biram delivers, plus a kickass drummer.

Herohill review of "Bring Yo' Ass To The Table":
When I laid out the records I wanted to review this week, I originally had
Kate Maki's lovely new long player (On High) slotted in for some hump day enjoyment. That all changed when a nice little mailer box with the Alive records logo stamped in the top left hand side was waiting for me in the ole postbox on Monday.

Alive records, quite simply, brings it. Their stable of artists is top shelf and the
Black Diamond Heavies really put the label on notice for me. When I heard some of the Left Lane Cruiser tracks floating around the net, I politely asked for a copy (truth be told, if it's possible to get on your knees and beg via email, that is probably more accurate).

LLC is another two-piece gritty, raw, dirty blues outfit but the depth of sound they bring is unreal. First you have Freddy J IV (Joe) on guitar and hoarse, screamed vocals. All too often people talk about smoke and whiskey ripped throats, but in the case of Freddy J IV, his vocal cords appear to be held together by only a few sinewy strands.

People always talk about emcees being hungry on verses, well, in this case I think Joe is thirsty. He rips through the tracks, giving every ounce of sweat and energy he has, in a Southern Pavlovian response. It's like he knows the minute the track finishes, he can catch his breath and pound a shot. I can picture him tossing the glassware across the studio, wiping his brow and signaling to Brenn to start up again. It doesn’t matter that they are in the studio not on stage, he treats the recordings like a performance; live, rugged and adrenaline/whiskey fueled.

Joe is backed up by Brenn. While he is listed as the "drummer", Brenn is much, much more. He pounds through the kit, stretching the limit of the material like the seat on Kim Kardashian's jeans. He fills open spaces with harmonicas, mouth harps, and backing (occasional lead) vocals and you are left with a wall of sound that hits you in the jaw like you were caught dancing with it's girl.

Obviously, you can tell I love this record. That's the beauty of blogging not critiquing. I don't have to waste my time looking for some counter point. I can gush about the fact the cover design on the record reminds me of the old Jimmy Smith cover for Root Down. I can say that the fact Brenn's nickname (
Sausage Paw) makes me want to love this band even more. But most importantly, this record blows the door off the hinges for 12 songs.

Wash It hits you with a viscous slide riff, cowbell and crashing cymbals. If you can stand still when they start going, you're a better person than me. They find a groove and run with it. The amazing thing is they actually manage to turn up the energy on Set me Down. Joe finds a frantic slide riff and lets Brenn deliver heavy fills. From the first note until the end of the song, the band goes faster, heavier, louder until they finally give you relief with a nice break down two-minutes in. You can't even catch your breath before they jump back into it.

They can sing about something as useless as a plate of pork n' beans and make you shake your ass. To the common listener, the riffs might sound similar but things like the harmonica on KFD add just the right change of style to keep it fresh. And seriously, they could play the same hectic, sweat inducing riff for the whole disc and my boney ass would still dance happily.

I've been listening to this record at work and the surging energy is killer.
Justify blows you off your chair, showcasing Joe's most powerful lyrical content. The percussion clatter, heavy drone of Amy's in the Kitchen (seriously, it's like a swampy tip of the cap to Tom Waits) spikes nicely and transitions into some of their most melodic moments on the record. G Bob starts as a swampy hoe-down, but a nice build cranks the energy back up to the point you picture rock-a-billies dosey-doing in some local bar.

You get the picture yet? I could go through record track by track, but I don't need to. Seriously, listen to
Wash It, say "f&ck yeah" and repeat eleven more times. Now, how to get these boys to Canada?


TWO GALLANTS : Jimmy Kimmel live

Two Gallants on Jimmy Kimmel live




RADIO MOSCOW - Modern Fix, Pop Matters, Spin, Stoner Rock

Modern Fix review of "Radio Moscow":
Crustier than a bad case of psoriasis and greaser than a chicken fried steak, the Ames, Iowa threesome Radio Moscow put the power back in power trio. They ride a wave of wah wah guitar infused, dirty-ass psych-powered blues rock in which one can smell the aroma of Old Granddad’s and non filtered cigarette smoke. Radio Moscow is caked with an aura of rustic roadhouse grime and reverb that delivers a swirling cacophony of an induced kaleidoscopic mirage.

Pop Matters review of "Radio Moscow":
Two dudes from Ames, Iowa have a psychedelic-garage-punk-blues-rock band. Ho hum, right? Uh, NO—this is an awesome record, for what it is. Lots of Moby Grape + White Stripes jams here, also Jimi Hendrix ("Luckydutch") and some faux-countryblues hippie stuff like the almost-six-minute “Deep Blue Sea” where they lose points for lyrics about how we can see dude’s little woman, but gain a lot more points for sexy slow strutting. Parker Griggs does all the singing and playing except bass, which is handled by Luke McDuff; Griggs’ best singing comes when the tempo is up, and his Steven Tyler fixation will have to find a more mature outlet sometime. But overall this is fun and slutty and cool, I’m in favor of it all the way.

Stoner Rock review of "Radio Moscow":
Don't let the nod from Spin magazine, the snarky bible of choice for aging hipsters everywhere, dissuade you from checking out Ames, Iowa's Radio Moscow. While the saying “Shit rises to the top” certainly is true most of the time, there are exceptions to the rule. Radio Moscow's self titled debut is one of those rarities.

I'd hesitate to call Radio Moscow a group, as it appears to be the work of one Parker Griggs, who performs everything but bass and slide guitar on the album (those parts were handled by Luke Duff and The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, respectively). The 21-year old has a keen grasp on what makes a rock song classic, as the ten tracks on Radio Moscow's debut glide effortlessly through the late '60's/early '70's era of psychedelic blues. For fans of that s t y l e, Radio Moscow offers a feast worthy of gorging. “Frustrating Sound” slinks by with a boozy confidence, the instrumental “Like Skillet” is the bastard child of Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac and the Allman Brothers, and “Fuse” whomps like Blue Cheer's life depends on it. And that's just a sampling of the goodness within.

Like Parchman Farm and Orange Sunshine, Radio Moscow doesn't really fit in a modern context. The band exists out of time. And like those two bands, Radio Moscow also manages to take a well worn s t y l e and make it its own. An astonishingly good debut. Recommended. - John Pegoraro

Spin Magazine - Band of The Day
Ames, Iowa is home to blues-rock revivalists Radio Moscow. Predominantly the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Parker Griggs, the trio -- rounded out by Luke McDuff (bass) and Mayuko (drums) -- enlisted Black Keys guitarist and labelmate Dan Auerbach to produce and engineer their self-titled debut, out next month on Bomp!/Alive records. What's the Deal? Marrying the bluesy psychedelic fervor of Cream with the big, precise fretwork of Jimi Hendrix, Radio Moscow relish in distortion and grittiness. Prevalent are themes of heartache, heartbreak, and drug intake, sometimes accompanied by instrumental forays into tumbleweeding country ("Lickskillet") and East Indian-influenced soundscapes ("Ordovician Fauna"). - Elie Perler




Amplifier review of "Buffalo Killers": Garage rock fans of every stripe grieved at the news that Thee Shams had called it a day after the 2005 release of their thunderous Sign the Line. In fact, the Cincinnati quintet wasn’t breaking up so much as reconfiguring; brothers Zachary and Andrew Gabbard pared the group down to a trio, with keyboardist Joey Sebaali moving behind the drum kit and Zachary picking up the bass. Thus reconstituted, the threesome christened themselves Buffalo Killers and headed to ex-Afghan Whigs bassist John Curley’s Ultrasuede Studios to create the slowburn fury of their eponymous debut. From the slinky, psychedelic blues riff of “San Martine des Morelle” and the Stonesy slide lightning of “The Path Before Me,” it’s apparent that Buffalo Killers are working a slightly more sophisticated and yet still viscerally powerful angle on their debut. Although Thee Sham’s Sign the Line hinted at this direction last year, the Gabbards and Sebaali are clearly energized as they roar through this lysergically-tinged set of garage blues nuggets like Cream and Crazy Horse channeling the spirit of the Standells at a basement seance. Buffalo Killers are the real raw deal. - Brian Baker

AMG review of "Buffalo Killers":
In their days as members of thee Shams, the Gabbard brothers kicked out down and dirty, high adrenaline rock, slamming the Rolling Stones straight into the heart of psychedelic garage. Now with their new project, Buffalo Killers, the brothers are joined by drummer/pianist/harpsichordist Joseph Sebaali and have closed the garage door and embarked on a journey into classic rock. "San Martine des Morelle," which opens the Buffalo Killers eponymous set, makes their evolution crystal clear, presenting a slowly simmering track that's bluesy to the core, but lashed with Jimi Hendrix-esque wah-wah guitar. "Down in the Blue" is even slower-paced, all the better to luxuriate in the heaving blues riff, while "Children of War" is even heavier, a pointed reminder of that time in the late '60s when bands discovered the power of slowing R&B down and thrusting up the bottom end. (...) And that's the incredible beauty of this set: rock fans will recognize all of these influences within virtually every vocal inflection, guitar riff and solo, and many of the rhythms as well, but each is lovingly showcased in an entirely new context. And for all its "classic" sound, the Buffalo Killers incorporate more modern ones as well,a shade of Brit-pop atmosphere here, a tinge of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal there. What the Jesus and Mary Chain were to the '80s, Buffalo Killers may well be to this decade, brilliantly bringing the beloved sounds of yesterday into a new millennium. - Jo-Ann Greene

BUFFALO KILLERS : Video "SS Nowehere"

The BLOODY HOLLIES - Classic Rock, CMJ

BRIMSTONE HOWL : Video "One Quick Minute"

TRAINWRECK RIDERS - Rolling Stones, Arthur

BRIMSTONE HOWL - Amplifier, Kerrang

Amplifier review of "Guts Of Steel":
“I’m twenty years old and the tribe is done / I may not live to see twenty-one.” As long as there are American garages reeking of oil, gas fumes and no heat nor air-conditioning there will be bands such as Nebraska’s mighty Brimstone Howl which belt out raw, unadulterated blue collar rock ‘n’ roll for the unwashed masses. Produced by Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, Guts of Steel is unfettered by modern technology, sounding as if it was actually recorded in a …garage. Singer John Ziegler channels the ghosts of Jim Morrison and Rob Tyner with reverence and aplomb whilst his able bodied mates: guitarist Nick Waggoner (Brian Jones lives!), bassist Austin Ulmer and drummer Calvin Retzlaff rip and tear the roof off the joint. Akin to all great rock poets, Zeigler’s capacity for self examination is expansive, as evidenced in the blues dirge “Six and Seven” wherein he confesses “I am cracked / I am insane / what kind of rot / do I have on my brain.” “I’m A Man” takes its cue from the Muddy Waters’ classic, copping the master’s attitude and m-a-n libretto. Highly recommended for old-school (MC5 / Stooges) rockers and modern (Strokes / White Stripes) rockers alike. - Tom Semioli

The BLOODY HOLLIES - Rock Sound, Kerrang

TRAINWRECK RIDERS : Video "Christmas Time Blues"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The BLOODY HOLLIES - Pop Matters, Alternative Press

Pop Matters review of "Who To Trust, Who To Love, Who To Kill": The Bloody Hollies are a bass-less, blues-drenched riff monster fronted by a powerfully hoarse singer-guitarist, and they will turn your ears and limbs to jelly if you let them, which you should. Who to Trust, Who to Kill, Who to Love is their third album, it’s full of energy and drama, and it’s the best excuse to test the limits of your stereo that I’ve heard all year. Musically, it’s an earthquake like you just don’t experience that often these days, a full-throttle blast of garage blues a la Zeppelin, with hooks in all the right places. Wesley Doyle is a fantastic singer precisely because he screams himself into a frenzy and wreaks such havoc on his vocal cords. In other words, he invests his lyrics—delivered at a speed that makes the journey to the center of your mind an awfully quick one—with feeling, which seems not a bit overdone despite the high energy involved. Where many singers either eschew emotion altogether or pump the most mindlessly generic lyrics full of somebody-help-me supplications, Doyle howls his way through the classic blues tropes of women, Jesus and lots of rain, avoiding the literal hellhounds but pulling off the atmosphere quite effectively. Certainly as musicians the Bloody Hollies are an excellent force, the thunder to Doyle’s lightning. When they let up it’s almost hard to tell, because subtlety is not their forte—Joey Horgen and Matthew Bennett attack their instruments with precision and volume, all the time. The music is suitably doom-laden for their take on Shirley Jackson’s short-fiction creep-show “The Lottery” ("Black Box Blues"), and the power chords of “Let’s Do It” make that five-minute come-on impossible to resist, even if Doyle’s own confusion lingers like daddy’s echoing footsteps. Plus their Attica song beats John Lennon’s any day of the week. Standout tracks are useless to name, as the whole thing will rock the floorboards of your front porch till your feet bleed from all the splinters. - Tom Useted

TURPENTINE BROTHERS - Classic Rock, Kerrang

TWO GALLANTS - Pitchfork, Rolling Stone

Pitchfork review of "The Throes" :
If rock music is all about transience, how can a song born decades ago still rev up the engines of romance? "Tangled Up in Blue", for instance, is a tale of fading love, but the power and significance of the song itself is timeless. Rock 'n' roll is often an expression of youth or youth's passing, but when music (or any art) endures, its magnetism is only amplified with the passage of years. For that reason, and because the best songs are usually pinned by the listener to some quintessential moment, the classics become classic. Passion is a fleeting feeling, but the best art will evoke that feeling with every exposure.

So when youth produces a work of such force, when the raw or supposedly na�ve artist comes up with something universal, critics and fans rejoice. We want to latch on to a beautiful thing before its green genius withers under the glare of success. Such is the case with Two Gallants' debut The Throes. The San Francisco duo responsible for this gut-wrenching musical tragedy both just turned 21, yet somehow their musical hindsight extends far beyond recent memory and taps into a rusty vein swollen with grief, heartache and violent desperation.

When songwriting this evocative is paired with playing so dynamic, especially in an acoustic setting, Dylan comparisons are inevitable. Given Two Gallants' guitar and drums lineup and rustic blues-based repertoire, many might cry White Stripes as well. There are better analogies, though: More narrative than abstract, Adam Stephenson's lyrics are closer to Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter's romantic Old West allegories, luckless sagas of trains and booze and double-crossing lovers. Meanwhile, Tyson Vogel's shifting thoroughbred pulse on drums is less Meg White then Patrick Carney of The Black Keys. That The Black Keys' and Two Gallants' debut releases were both released on Alive Records is no coincidence; both embrace a hardened revivalist style that owes a lot to the dark Delta legends. But the mug-swinging sea shanty bluster and jailbreak urgency Two Gallants add to indie rock's newfound blues idolatry are purely original, and make The Throes an electric, unforgettable listen.

There's a modernizing of old styles here-- the album begins with a frantic garage-rock rearrangement of the 1930s Reverend Robert Wilkins track "You Losing Out". The gutsy "Nothing to You" opens like an angry country blues rant but tosses in some clever quips: "My kind's been around forever/ Yet I claim to be one of the few/ And the lost cause of words walks away with my nerves/ 'Cause I'm gay as a choir boy for you," and then later, "I followed you into the party/ That no one invited me to/ But I got so drunk and retarded/ I fell down the stairs and I fell into you."

Forgoing conventional verse/chorus/verse structure, these songs build a creaking work song practicality and archetypal power. "Fail Hard to Regain" contains almost no repetition, but Stephenson's reedy voice tears into the subconscious and lodges mercilessly like a tick. It's the albums most raucous, ballsy composition, Stephenson's harmonica and guitar perfectly punctuated by Vogel's storming percussion, and yet with speaks in stanzas reminiscent of a whiskey-soaked Dylan Thomas poem: "'Twas on a dark March evening, southbound I did ride/ My head was out the window when I found her at my side/ Asked where I was going to, I told her from where I came/ For the jails in which I've done my time, I fail hard to regain."

That soulful Pogues-style urbanizing of down-home bumpkinism, combined with an unbridled, youthful vigor, balances the album's startlingly troubling themes. "The Throes" tells intimately of a vicious, abusive relationship; accompanied by cello, "Crow Jane" is a haunting version of a traditional murder ballad covered by the likes of Skip James and Nick Cave. Like a course in musicology these songs bring out an incredible richness of history, telling stories based on the half-truths and legends that bring the ghosts of long dead musicians and musical styles into new light.

James Joyce was in his early 20s when he finished the short story of shiftless, dissolute youth that Two Gallants take their name from. Dubliners, the collection in which the story appeared in 1905, would later be hailed a literary masterpiece. Suffering only in its somewhat understated production, The Throes could be considered a masterpiece of new American roots music. It's a heavy emotional investment, a struggle of the most fulfilling kind. There's a lot to learn from these young bards, as much as they've learned in their short lives. When brilliance arrives so early it's always that much more profound. - Jonathan Zwickel

Rolling Stone review of "The Throes" :
On this San Francisco duo's debut, childhood pals Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel channel early-twentieth-century blues, folkies such as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, and current indie punk -- and they play all the instruments. Highlight: the brutally witty Irish-folk-flavored title ballad.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

BLACK KEYS - Rolling Stone, Village Voice, Mojo reviews

Rolling Stone review of "The Big Come Up":
Rawboned blues duo the Black Keys hail from Akron, Ohio, but a listen to The Big Come Up suggests the Keys may have been raised by Mississippi ridge-runners. While Dan Auerbach's overdriven ax is powered by the same internal-combustion engine that drove blues legends Junior Kimbrough and Fred McDowell, this is no po-faced retro show. There's Wu-Tang Clan-schooled funk in drummer Patrick Carney's fatback beats, and on the cranked-up "Countdown," Auerbach suppresses a sob with the droll closing couplet, "You stole my heart and damn near drove me mad/I gotta get back home to my mom and dad." From the truthfully titled "Heavy Soul" to a devolved, choogling cover of the Beatles' "She Said, She Said," this is a righteous choice for rock debut of the year. In a world gone White Stripes crazy, save room in your heart and CD wallet for the Black Keys. - Peter Relic

Village Voice review of "the Big Come Up":
For four years, I lived in Akron, Ohio. These four years were fascinating, because Akron somehow manages to be completely bizarre and profoundly archetypal at the same time; I am 95 percent certain it was the inspiration for the community of Springfield on The Simpsons (and I have proof of this). However, the aspect I always found most striking was the degree to which Akronians adore their local music scene. The reason this is so striking is because the music scene they adore does not currently exist. Unless you inexplicably count Warrant, the last important band to hail from Akron was Devo, and that was 25 years ago. Oh sure, Chrissie Hynde is technically from Akron (though she had to move to England to get famous), and so is Joseph Arthur (though his relationship to the city isn't even as compelling as the fact that Jeffrey Dahmer used to live there, too). These are minor details. What Akronite hipsters cherish most is their unyielding nostalgia for the Carter administration: They have built an entire philosophical identity on the premise that Seattle in 1992 and Chapel Hill in 1994 should have been northeast Ohio in 1979, which is partially true but mostly irrelevant. In Akron, the present is still the past.

Quite suddenly, however, Akron has spawned the most compelling two-piece, hyper-primitive, blues-based rock band of the last five years. Well, OK, not quite; I guess there's at least one band from Detroit that's kind of like that, and they're also pretty decent. But Akron's version of that sonic formula—the Black Keys—are almost as interesting as their red-and-white forerunners, and they've made a debut record as cool and jagged as anything that's come out all year. It still sounds like the past, I suppose, but at least that past is now the future.

The Big Come Up is what would have happened if Jack White had liked Mountain's Climbing more than Led Zeppelin II, and if he thought Randy California and Stevie Winwood were better singers than Bob Dylan and Dolly Parton. Now, I realize that equation sounds horrific. But something here translates. The Black Keys are relentlessly heavy (way heavier than the White Stripes), but their reinvention of the blues never surrenders into the temptations of metal. What frontman Dan Auerbach does is make Leslie West seem like an underrated genius. Moreover, Auerbach has an intriguing vocal delivery: Instead of sounding like a white dude trying to sing like a black guy, he sounds like a white dude trying to sing like some other white dude who's trying to sing like a black guy. Here again, I'm not sure how this became desirable.

Cagily produced by untrained drummer (i.e., former guitar player) Patrick Carney, The Big Come Up can essentially be defined by its four strongest songs: "I'll Be Your Man" (sort of a pseudo-sexy mid-tempo Otis Redding homage), "The Breaks" (sort of a Boss Hog number, I think), "Leavin' Trunk" (sort of "Mississippi Queen," minus the sort of), and a better-than-solid Beatles cover ("She Said, She Said"). So I suppose nobody is ever gonna accuse these rubber city rebels of being overly creative (it doesn't help that they've picked a name for their band that starts with the word "The" and follows with the name of a color). But right now, that's as irrelevant as the memory of 1979; this is one of the five best records of 2002, and bass players everywhere should continue to grow nervous. - Chuck Klosterman

Mojo review of "The Big Come Up":
There is something hugely satisfying about the unfettered moans of a vintage Fender Telecaster. For some solid sonic evidence, look no further than the gutsy 2002 debut of Ohio blues duo, The Black Keys. If you’re not hooked by the time Dan Auerbach finger-picks his way into the whining guitar groove of opener Busted, then the delivery of his sandpaper vocal drawl – ably assisted by Patrick Carney’s whiplash drumming and ‘medium fidelity’ production – will assure you that, in the US Midwest, they still keep their blues traditionally bottled. And therein lies the key to The Black Keys’ brilliance – the ability to make exciting new tunes sound raw and well-travelled, without falling into lame pastiche or parody. Check out the woozy, melodic leanings of Yearnin’ or the straight-out garage barnstorm of I’ll Be Your Man – both tracks successfully fusing valve-humming cool with a contemporary edge that, five years and four LP’s down the line, remain founding cornerstones of The ‘Keys unique and wickedly uncoiled oeuvre. - Ross Bennett

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Bomp! : Saving The World One Record At A Time

The Bomp book is out now.
Get it at the Bomp store


The idea for this book came in the early '80s right after BOMP magazine first folded. It seemed a tragedy that the earliest works of so many great writers and artists would be lost to the ages, and we knew that somehow we needed to reproduce as much of the historic material as we could in book form. But assembling the material was an enormous task that would involve years of work, a team of artists and writers, and certainly a lot of money. And although Greg and I never gave up on the idea, we couldn't manage to find the time and
make the connections to do it right.

When Greg died I knew it was the most important job I had, as this book is not just the story of BOMP and Greg Shaw, but a unique document of a time, place, and perspective in the history of rock and roll. This is a work beyond anything Greg and I could have dreamed of, thanks to the hard work and dedication of many talented people, and of course thanks to all of you, my customers, for making it all possible. I hope you enjoy the book.

Suzy Shaw

Victim Of Time review - The Rock & Roll report - Chicago Reader - Harp Magazine - The Bus Bench - Entertainment Weekly - The Next Big Thing - Goodreads

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