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 www.alivenergy.com
Friday, March 28, 2008
Though it is a part of the current wave of garage bands, Thomas Function is essentially a pop outfit, focusing on vocal hooks and shouted choruses, and it has the crisp production to support it. The presence of some older material on this, the band's first full-length album, turns out to be a blessing, as the keyboards and horns on songs like "Can't Say No" and "Relentless Machines" benefit from the record's clear, vibrant production. The latter gradually builds up from a deftly strummed guitar and rapid-fire lyrics about the presence of technology in modern life into a driving pop anthem. The song is centered on the interplay between repetitious, galloping drums, wavering keyboards and soaring vocals, making it tower over the rest of the album. With a greater focus on musicianship, lyrics and just plain audibility, Celebration catapults the Thomas Function far above its garage rock peers. ~ Ben Cox / Daily Texan
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Victim Of Time - Todd Killings
This week's essential listening comes to us in the form of the debut full-length album from Alabama's prodigious pop stalwarts, Thomas Function, who have found the quick road to salvation through their irresistible and infectious rock 'n roll creations. If you'd been intrigued by their odd name before, and if you somehow have managed to keep your hands off their salivating string of 7" singles over the past few years, it's time to sit up and pay attention as the fruit of their efforts is now available in the form of this full-length album to blow your mind wide open. With a uniquely clean sound that seems almost out of place next to their usual cavorts with scuzzy underground acts, it's kind of surprising how well they can pull off a Television-like cleanness, even for the tone-damaged sect that I find myself immersed within.
One of 2007 best underground rock singles was Thomas Function's Dusty Medical release, featuring the a-side "Relentless Machines," and it's not a surprise to see it included here. It's truly a defining moment for the band and it harnesses a special inner power that seems like it can overcome anything that would try and bring you down. You just can't deny those perfectly jangling guitars that gallop along with their charmingly fucked little organ to an almost dizzying climax, and that's what you get with this knockout band every time. And if this albums' importance and acclaim don't hit you within the first few songs, there's no way to resist after "Relentless Machines" mows you over.
All the other tracks effortlessly claim their own personalities, and as those distantly familiar and hair-raising melodies carry you away to pop heaven, it's lead singer/guitarist Josh's unusual and striking vocals that mold Thomas Function down into such a winning machine. As long as they can find a way to keep touring and releasing top notch records, they could easily blow up and rival any of the biggest bands of the current day, even on both sides of the indie/punk spectrum. Don't miss out on Thomas Function in any way, shape, or form, and get your copy of the CD from Alive Records right HERE. If you're like the rest of us, keep an eye out for the vinyl version, rumored to be available in another week or so.
check out Thomas Function perfoming "Conspriracy of Praise"live on BARF in 2006, courtesy of marqueemoon11, right here...
Nate and Company played the classics with a renewed vigor and the new tracks like this was their last show ever, stopping on a dime when Nate's arm raised to the ceiling. I can honestly say that this one was one of the best performances I've ever seen. The set ended with a 30 min + jam with Nate going through the crowd to grab some highlifes twice and putting a smile on faces more times than anyone could count.
This was an evening that everyone in attendance will remember for a long, long time. - The Sailor Jerry Blog
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Luckily, artists like Ron Franklin continue to make music that aspire to stand the test of time, instead of hoping to get their 15-minutes by being featured in an Ipod commercial. In fact, Franklin would probably talk you into the early morning with stories of being on the road with Arthur Lee or meeting blues legends before he'd mention someone like Feist or CSS. And truth be told, that's a conversation I'd much rather be a part of.
Franklin's honesty and appreciation shines through when you listen to his new self-titled release. Finding a song writer infatuated with Dylan's draw or the Ray Davies pop sensibilities is like finding a strand of hay in a haystack, but finding a young man willing to take those roots and fuse them with an appreciation for blues and soul that have been on this Earth longer than he has is something that stands out. Not many artists take standard American folk and cover it in enough swampy mud and soul food to make it stand out, especially when the normal accompaniment is just a guitar.
While lots of this record finds Franklin drifting along a dusty folk trail (Don Not Wait 'til I am Laid 'Neath the Clay or Visions of Parfume) with an acoustic or some harmonica, he's just as comfortable cranking up the electric and busting into some heavier blues action (All Along a Summer's Day or Pontiac). That being said, it's when he throws all of his styles into the same pot that the recipe works best. The record's standout track,The Elocutionist, showcases Franklin's harmonica, a rollicking slide guitar and some of his most inspired lyrics. The three-minutes seems to go by in a blink of the eye and you find yourself wanting to hear it over and over again.
I could go through this record track by track, trying to help you understand why this record a hidden treasure for music fans, but hearing a song hits you harder than an essay. For me, trying to express the hollow drum sound that keeps time for the electric guitar driven Western Movies just doesn't do it justice; neither does trying to describe the change of pace guitar flourish Franklin uses between the second and third verse.
In fact, trying to put any of this record into words makes me feel like I'm trying to convert the already converted. There isn't a hook that will grab you, but over the course of Franklin's latest twelve songs, I found myself letting go of any critical ear and just enjoying his effort. I'm not sure if it's because his songs are so good, or it's just refreshing to hear someone tip his hat to the greats and show us that good music doesn't rely on trends or require playing in the hottest tents at the biggest festivals. Sometimes playing in a shitty club or on a friends back porch is the realest moment in any musician's life. - Herohill
[MP3]:: Western Movies
|Review||by Jo-Ann Greene|
In another life, Freddie J IV could have been a good ol' fingerpickin', porch-playin' blues guitarist. Basking away in the sun, he could have whiled away his time exploring the many shades of blues, from country hit whittling to Delta swamp wading. But there was fire in his belly and a flame in his soul, and in his hands the blues were transformed into an assault weapon. Bren "Sausage Paw" Beck was perhaps every mother's nightmare, a boy who seemingly just couldn't sit still. In a world pulsing with rhythm -- from the blood pounding through our veins to the cacophony of traffic in our towns -- Beck had to drum back in response at every turn, on anything and everything available. He is a continuous tattoo, battering out the beats of his own internal drums. Fatefully, one day the two met, and so was born Left Lane Cruiser, an astounding two-man blues band. Lo-fi is a totally inadequate term to describe their sound, a sizzling mix of Beck's pusillanimous drums, claps, percussion, and hoots and hollers and Freddie J's blistering guitar and husky vocals. This is the blues in their purest form, rough and ragged, rubbed raw by too much hard living and too many tough breaks. The blues' African-American progenitors could bare the pain in their souls, but dared not express the anger that underlay it. Cruiser, however, are under no such constraints, and on the trio of songs that close the set the music bristles with barely repressed rage that immediately brings the Stooges to mind. In contrast, the exuberant crash and bash of "Wash It," the dizzy stomp of "KFD," and the gleeful hook of "G Bob" all roil with a grand joie de vivre, with the exhilarating "Set Me Down" the perfect band anthem. Then again, every track on Bring Yo' Ass to the Table ripples with energy and an electric charge of creative frisson. Whether celebrating a plate of "Pork n' Beans," "Big Momma"'s delights, or "G Bob"'s steel guitar playing, the Cruisers rumble through the back streets of life, focusing on the small details, although the scathing "Amerika" does look at the bigger picture. A thoroughly unique journey down a well-traveled road; best now to sit yo' ass down a spell and listen to this stunning album.
“Born on a road trip, a rest stop”, Ron Franklin sings and plays music that you may expect from that type of statement….raw, southern, dylan’esqe and garage rock re-defined as such. It’s not very often I buy a CD anymore sounds unheard, but I’ve learned over time that the guys over at Alive Records have an ear for special music, so after reading their bio on Mr. Franklin I took a chance and bought his self titled CD after a night of bourbon and cokes.
Since I’ve received this CD, it has not left my player. I take it from the home system to the car, whichever I am set to be in for a while and let it play over and over. While the info on this CD isn’t on any online database as of yet, I manually inserted all the track info and synced it to my iTouch. This is the type of music you want easy access to at all times. I’ve already did some research and found he has more music out there which I quickly ordered and has new set of songs coming out soon. I’m not the type that anal-izes an artists lyrics and that holds true for Ron Franklin. All I know is when I listen to his music and words it makes me good. It is music for all moods. Sometimes it makes me want to roll my window down, light a smoke and tap my foot to every beat, other times it makes me want to cry. Ron Franklin plays EmOtIoNaL music. For me that is what music is all about; feeling emotion when you hear it.
Jeff Jackson / Music Filter
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
From the swelling warble that opens “Filthy Flowers” to the funeral march that closes “Earthworms”, Thomas Function slashes and burns with a frontal lobe numbing intensity hard to come by in these dark days. The songs hiss and moan like dying machinery yet all the while wallow in a sugary sweet concoction of nostalgic melodies and lyrics that nearly hit too close to home. The vocals are achingly raw, often bursting into an organically overdriven false-setto. Its as if his vocal cords seemed to have been cut out and removed in some back alley surgery only to be skillet fried in sizzling grease and haphazardly returned to their rightful owner. The band follows suit with brooding, rumbling drums and golden splashes of tambourine keeping time like a clockwork grey, stick-to-your-ribs bass lines that reek of gasoline and the organ providing shimmering tones of optimism that dance around the rhythm like specks of blood on the walls of a grizzly murder scene. The melodies weave their way into your brain’s neurons, gripping fist tight onto your memory, bringing back flashes of heartache that leave you with hunger pangs for hard liquor and razor blades. The hits roll track after track from “I Can’t Say No” with its sing-along pop qualities to “Relentless Machine’s” stream-of-conscienceness ramblings of grief and self-pity. The intensity of “ Lights Down Low” stands at a crossroads of black and white, love and hate, despair and hope. The wave of goose bumps that will surely swell up on your skin are akin to the kind you receive in the moments before your death, whether it be among the smoking and mangled remains of a car, swinging at the end of weighted rope in your closet, or in a fetal position on the floor of your nursing home from a grease-clogged aorta. Its that last shimmer of sunlight beaming into your glistening eye, the final moment when pessimism and hope swirl in a psychedelic array of sight and sound. These songs find their way in and don’t leave, always remaining fresh and never rusting into blandness. They are the soundtrack to my twenty-first year on Earth.
Andy Dale Petty
Andrew Rodney Bryant
Ray Ray Johnson
El Bajo Sexto
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
April 5 - Newcastle, UK @ Carling Academy w/ Elbow
April 6 - Leeds, UK @ Leeds Metropolitan University w/ Elbow
April 8 - Oxford, UK @ Carling Academy w/ Elbow
April 9 - Bristol, UK @ Colston Hall w/ Elbow
April 10 - Birmingham, UK @ Carling Academy w/ Elbow
April 12 - Sheffield, UK @ The Octagon w/ Elbow
April 13 - Manchester, UK @ Manchester University w/ Elbow
April 14 - Nottingham, UK @ Rock City w/ Elbow
April 15 - London, UK @ Carling Academy Brixton w/ Elbow
May 9 - Belgium, Brussels @ Botanique Festival
May 10 - France, St Brieuc @ Artrock Festival
May 11 - Belgium, Diksmuise @ 4AD
May 13 - Dublin, Ireland @ Olympia Theatre w/ The National
May 14 - Dublin, Ireland @ Olympia Theatre w/ The National
May 15 - Dublin, Ireland @ Olympia Theatre w/ The National
May 17 - Belfast, UK @ The Stiff Kitchen
May 18 - Limerick, Ireland @ Dolans
May 20 - Galway, Ireland @ Roisin Dubh
May 22 - Waterford, Ireland @ Electric Avenue
May 23 - Cork, Ireland @ Cyprus Avenue
May 24 - Bristol, UK @ Dot To Dot Festival
May 25 - Nottingham, UK @ Dot To Dot Festival
Monday, March 17, 2008
Last night at Fado's Patio, I caught Louisville's Black Diamond Heavies. Saying "caught" sounds like I sat at an intimate show and quietly took notes. This wasn't one of the shows. This was a trip into the heart of the Dirty South. And not the South of the medicated syrup and extremely ostentatious jewelry variety. This was one of burned out cars driven by burned men, fueled by the treachery of sordid women.
The organ and drums duo sat in the backyard of the Irish pub and preceded to damn near Americanize the whole block. Port Arthur native John Wesley Myers, on keys and vocals, comes off as the bastard child of Iggy Pop and fittingly enough Janis Joplin, raised by Tom Waits, who then gargles with gravel each morning for breakfast.
On songs like "Leave It In" you get twinges of a guitarless ZZ Top, all scuzz with no fuzz. Hot off a UK tour and about to head into the studio with Austin's own Scott H. Biram (who sat in attendance, fist-shaking on the sidelines the entire set) for a collaboration, BDH bring to mind a more grizzled Black Keys. Not as polished, but all that more biting with an almost religious ferocity.
The highlight towards the end of the set was the cover of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" that rightfully swayed right into the Stooges "Search and Destroy." All was right with the world for those five minutes. -- Craig Hlavaty
DATE: Saturday, April 19
TIME: Doors at 8:00pm
9:15pm - Bloody Hollies
10:00pm - Black Diamond Heavies
10:45pm - Hangmen
11:30pm - Flash Express
12:15am - Morlocks
VENUE: Safari Sam's
5214 W. Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90027
Thursday, March 13, 2008
DEBUT ALBUM “EVERY DAMN TIME” IN-STORES NOW
FOLLOW-UP “A TOUCH OF SOMEONE ELSE’S CLASS”
RECORDED BY DAN AUERBACH (THE BLACK KEYS) TO BE RELEASED MAY 27
Southern punk-ass blues duo the Black Diamond Heavies are hitting the road post-SXSW. Coming off a UK tour in March, vocalist/organist John Wesley Myers and drummer Van Campbell can be found in a city near you throughout the month of April, then back overseas to Europe in May. The band’s debut album “Every Damn Time” is available in stores now. Alive Records will be releasing their new album “A Touch of Someone Else’s Class” (recorded by Dan Auerbach/The Black Keys) on shelves end on May 27.
CONFIRMED BLACK DIAMOND HEAVIES U.S. TOUR:
04-02 - Louisville, KY @ The Pink Door
04-03 - Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle
04-04 - Minneapolis, MN @ 400 Bar
04-05 - Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium
04-07 - Spearfish, SD @ The Back Porch
04-09 - Bozeman, MT @ The Filling Station
04-10 - Missoula, MT @ Badlander
04-11 - Bellingham, WA @ Boundary Bay Brewery
04-12 - Seattle, WA @ Sunset Tavern
04-13 - Portland, OR @ Dante's
04-14 - Cottage Grove, OR @ Axe And Fiddle
04-15 - Arcata, CA @ Alibi
04-16 - Sacramento, CA @ Blue Lamp
04-17 - San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock Tavern
04-18 - San Diego, CA @ The Zombie Lounge w/ The Bloody Hollies
04-19 - Los Angeles, CA @ Safari Sam's w/ The Bloody Hollies
04-20 - Tucson, AZ @ Plush
04-21 - Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room
04-23 - Albuquerque, NM @ Atomic Cantina
04-24 - Denver, CO @ Hi Dive
04-25 - Columbia, MO @ The Blue Fugue
04-26- St Louis, MO @ Off Broadway
** additional dates TBA
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Garage synth? Dance fuzz? What the hell is this?
The three men who make up SSM have roots in the midwestern garage rock underground. Keyboardist John Szymanski comes from the Hentchmen, drummer Dave Shettler from the Sights, and guitarist Marty Morris from the Cyril Lords. They recruited Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys to record this debut album. And their label, Alive, distributes through Bomp Records. Yet, despite all these indications, Break Your Arm for Evolution is not a garage rock record in any traditional Sonics/Stooges/Dolls sense. Rather, it has shreds of funk, swathes of guitar-soloing cock metal, and intervals of synthy dance beats. It mutates from song to song, shifting from the heavy sludge of “Regenerate Your Face” to the electro-lightness of “Start Dancing” without skipping a beat. You wonder what the principals would say, cornered at a party or meeting a friend by chance on a street corner, when asked the inevitable question, “So, what kind of music is it?”
The answer is, it depends. In “Déjà vu,” the album’s opening track, the style veers towards gleeful funk rock, a head-first dive into the stop-start rhythms of, say, the Spin Doctors, buoyed by dance-friendly keyboard rhythms and split in half by a shredding, distorted guitar solo. “Johnny’s Holding for the First Time” is a martial chant paced by snare drums and prone, at the chorus, to thick plasticky walls of synthesizer and guitar. And “Regenerate Your Face” combines gangsta attitude ("Bitches to the left / Bitches to the right") with heavy blues rock riffs, a genetic splice of two of Detroit’s best-known musical styles.
These first three songs are the album’s heaviest outings. With them out of the way, the band turns lighter and more playful. “Start Dancing” opens with a almost a minute of synthetic percussion and keyboards, all clinks and pings and syncopation, before the melody begins. After the distortion and density of three songs, it feels almost transparent, bubble-fragile and unserious. “Marian”, which follows, is similarly light-footed, its clattery, funk-inflected drums running rampant under a spoken-sung chant that sounds a little like early Beck. Here SSM turns, almost, into a jam band, romping over free-flowing, syncopated rhythms with an insouciant, sunny-day charm. It’s an unexpected turn to the left, a song that has nothing whatsoever to do with earlier tracks from the album, but clearly a highlight.
With “Let’s Make a Baby”, there’s another shift, this time towards robot new wave/funk, like the Human League crossed with KC and the Sunshine Band. This song, and the following one, a Winnie-the-Pooh rip called “Now We’re Six”, have you wondering if the men of SSM are on the verge of family-hood, maybe painting a spare room pastel pink or blue. And that’s fine, because really, the only genre they haven’t dipped into on Break Your Arm For Evolution is kiddie rock. It’s always good to save something for the second album. - Jennifer Kelly / Pop Matters
Why Don't You Give It To Me?
In this polished, hi-fidelity, production-heavy age of music, more and more of us seem to be seeking out the lo-fi, dirty, rasping, spit and sawdust side of things. "Why Don't You Give It To Me?" was recorded live in Detroit, Michigan, home of soul singer Nathaniel Mayer, quite probably on an 8-track reel-to-reel tape recorder, rough as it is. Mayer seems an unlikely Detroit soulman, he has none of the lightness or sweetness of the soul one typically associates with Motor Town and the likes of Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson inter alia. His sound, produced by a backing band made up of members from The Black Keys, Dirtbombs, Outrageous Cherry and The Sights/SSM, has much more in common with the black psychedelia of the late-60s - think Fugi, Black Merda, and the Temptations (when they ditched the 'classic five era' in favour of their Psychedelic Shack). Nathaniel's voice is a primal rasp, more Howlin' Wolf or Tom Waits than Smokey Robinson, and this album is a free-wheeling master-class in how to 'psychedelicise' the Blues, soul and rock'n'roll (for what many folks, though not me, widely regard as a cautionary tale, see Muddy Waters' "Electric Mud"). Highlights include 'Doin' It', a hypnotic, psychedelic freakout, with its explorative jamming providing a perfect balance to the more rehearsed, groove-based numbers such as 'Why Dontcha Show Me'. There's a freshness which pervades the album, probably because the band were still very much exploring the songs and sound at the time of recording. Qualms about a bass-heavy mix aside, this is a compelling and visceral slice of live dog-eared Blues. - Ian Kingsbury
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Alive Records SXSW 2008 Showcase
March 14 @ Fado Patio (214 W 4th St)
Radio Moscow(11:00 PM)
Trainwreck Riders (12:00 AM)
Black Diamond Heavies (1:00 AM)
More Alive bands performing around town :
March 12: Black Diamond Heavies - Rock-A-Round Entertainment @ Beerland - Day Party (5:30 PM)
March 12: Two Gallants - Little Radio/Noise Pop Party @ Red Eye Fly (2.50 PM set time)
March 13: Black Diamond Heavies - Twangfest & KDHX St. Louis Party @ Jovita's (1 PM set time)
March 13: Brimstone Howl @ Botticelli‚s - Day Show
March 14: Thomas Function @ Beerland (whiskey bent showcase)
March 15: Thomas Function & Brimstone Howl @ Trailer Space records - Day show
March 15: Brimstone Howl - Blackout booking showcase @ Blender Bar at The Blind Pig Pu
March 15: Left Lane Cruiser - Hillgrass Bluebilly showcase @ Hole in the Wall
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- THOMAS FUNCTION - All Music Guide, Daily Texan
- Thomas Function - Victim Of Time
- BLACK DIAMOND HEAVIES : Lo-Fi St Louis #218
- SSM - AMG
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- RON FRANKLIN - Herohill
- LEFT LANE CRUISER - All Music Guide
- RON FRANKLIN - Music Filter
- THOMAS FUNCTION - I Learned To Scream Before I Cou...
- LEFT LANE CRUISER - UP
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