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

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Alabama has a new claim to fame

by Alex Gabriel | Pulse Reporter

The state of Alabama has always been known for its smoked dry-rub ribs, Graceland, and its rich history of deep soul music. Oh, no wait, that's Memphis, Tenn. Well it's world renowned for being the birth place of jazz and the Cajun style of cooking. Dammit, that's New Orleans. What about Disney World and the Everglades? No? So what the hell is Alabama known for anyway? Southeastern Conference football and… uh… rampant poverty? Now you can add "garage rock powerhouse" to that list because Huntsville, Ala.'s own Thomas Function has risen from the mire of Deep South obscurity to unleash hit after hit of pure rock and roll on its first full-length album, "Celebration."

"Celebration" sounds as though it was doused in bleach, rinsed in hot water, buffed and shined - it's clean as can be. The guitars are pure and fat, heating up the songs with the warmth and precision of sizzling humbuckers running through cool vintage tube amps. The cymbal-crashes and snare-hits are as sharp and clear as diamonds and that old Hammond organ lays the foundation for its glowing wall of sound. Lead vocalist Josh's voice is, at times, bizarrely androgynous, yet his vocal affectations and melodies are subtly endearing and often provide the hook, line and sinker that makes "Celebration" so infinitely re-listenable. Think Pete Shelley, or maybe Jello Biafra without his head shoved up his ass.

Thomas Function doesn't necessarily contribute anything entirely unique with its music; it doesn't feature any gimmickry and all of its rock and roll reference points are fairly obvious, yet it sounds fresh and wholly original. This is a testament to near-flawless songwriting and the strong and distinct character of Josh's voice. It is no small feat to make the familiar sound unique, nor is it easy to cut a 13-track LP made up of songs that could easily be 13 A-sides on 13 singles.

The first track, "Filthy Flowers," fits the opener role perfectly with its straight-ahead three-chord rock-and-roll and country-fried twang. Laden with catchy hooks, jangly guitars, bouncing bass and an ever-present tambourine, the song is played at mid-tempo, but its vigorous liveliness and strong instrumentation make it race through the verses and fly into the chorus. The album's energy doesn't let up until it reaches the reverently bluesy ballad "2012 Blues." The swinging country beat and walking bass accompany, in near juxtaposition, the wailing vocals envisioning the doom of an impending apocalypse that the world seems only to be racing toward.

The album's highlight, and probably the brightest spot in the entire Thomas Function catalogue, is the wildly catchy "Relentless Machines." The drums chug and bomb with snares on every quarter, the alternately picked guitars shoot rapid-fire riffs, and the organ rises above the racket to deliver a holy brightness like that of a church choir. The song gives residence to a collection of the album's most clever lyrics and wordplays including the dirty one-line gem, "I hear the sirens while I try to make her come with my hand".

At only a quarter of the way into 2008, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better guitar-driven record this year. And if you blink now, you'll probably miss Thomas Function signing a high-profile record deal with Matador or Vice followed by a Black Lips-style blowup into fame that inevitably leads to a hipster backlash that will send the group back to the obscurity of the backwater racist wasteland from which it came. Keep your eyes peeled. - Pulse

Friday, April 25, 2008


Thomas Function

Alive-Natural Sound
originally published April 23, 2008

Without a second thought, nothing from the sleepy burg of Huntsville, AL has put me into zero gravity since my adolescent NASA Space Camp experiences quite like Celebration, the debut album from the city's garage-pop overlords Thomas Function. Mellifluously mixing genres like country, R&B, psychedelia and blues underneath a sheen of jangly pop, Thomas Function has crafted a stunning collection of epic, memorable pop that builds up to a stunning release.

Thomas Function doesn't hide its influences. Effortlessly working in the guitar interplay of Television, the multi-instrumentation of the golden age of The Kinks, the sluggish guitar solos of The Stones and throwing in splashes of modern psychedelia, its 13 songs are not entirely original, but unquestionably well-crafted and thrilling. The vocals are even a snotty, southern take on the Verlaine yelp. Thomas Function might have a lot in common with the new wave of dance-worthy pop bands like Black Kids and The Go! Team, but its allegiances belong to the garage before the nightclub.

Many of Celebration's songs have been released on the band's prior vinyl singles, but it's great to see them reintroduced on this album. The songwriting is strong - fears of the future (“Relentless Machines,” “2012 Blues”), crappy romance (“Lights Down Low,” “Can't Say No”), and old-fashioned drug yarns (“Peanut Butter and Paranoia Jam”).

Classically minded rock fans will celebrate the unforgettable arrival of Thomas Function. The guitars keep jangling, the organ and/or electric piano rollicks throughout and the epic buildups climax in explosive rock release. A recent "Liner Notes" bemoaned the death of rock. The members of Thomas Function can't comment at the moment; they're too busy grave robbing. If this is a celebration in Huntsville, I'm ready to party. Bring on the summer.

Thursday, April 24, 2008



Thomas Function - 'Celebration' LP/CD

Thomas Function - 'Celebration' LP/CD

In the past week I've gotten about 20 new LPs, half as many 7"s and a handful of CDs and haven't listen to any of them because I can't stop playing this CD. I play it on every car trip and listen to it when I'm messing around on the computer. When my stereo isn't playing one of it's many great songs, my head is. It's easily one of the most infectious records released in quite some time.

Thomas Function are based in Alabama and while their singles hinted at brilliance I really had no idea what I was getting into when I first spun this disc, their debut full-length. The album's songs meander through different textures and genres like you're flipping through an amazing record collection: TF channels the best bits from the best records of the past 40 years and seamlessly integrates each throughout the course of 'Celebration's 42 minutes

At this point I've spent hours with 'Celebration' and it's quite simply a perfect pop record. And I'll be damned if we don't feature a track on our upcoming CD compilation.

Although just released, Alive Records already went through the first press of vinyl and are on to the second. Get your ass over there now and make sure you get a copy. You'll be kicking yourself if you don't.
The Sailor Jerry

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


The Black Diamond Heavies at Safari Sam's, Hollywood CA, 19 April 2008.
Photo courtesy of the Toe Stubber

LEFT LANE CRUISER -, Rhapsody, Revue Magazine

Sounding like a meaner North Mississippi All-Stars or a more boogan Melvins, the duo that composes this Fort Wayne, Indiana, band Left Lane Cruiser purveys a wicked brew of electric slide guitar and Zeppelin-sized drums. Both members sing like pissed-off truck drivers in desperate need of an adult superstore, summoning a turbocharged brand of swampy southern rock, juke-joint blues and garage punk. With a new album titled "Bring Yo Ass to the Table," this is one band that won't be bothered by the passing trains outside the Gaslight Tavern. -

Place Muddy Waters, AC/DC, The Black Keys and ZZTop in a blender and hit frappe, the resulting sound might come close to the music Left Lane Cruiser grinds out on stage. On April 20, The Boathouse in Saugatuck continues to showcase diverse acts when this rugged whiskey fueled duo hits the stage in a show sponsored by New Holland Brewery.

Unfamiliar with Left Lane Cruiser? Check out their newly released album Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table. Immediately, the head bobbing begins as the sweet twang slowly builds to a blasting garage-band sound. This driving hard rock, blues is the simple combo of Joe Evans on lead vocals and guitar and Brenn Beck on percussion. I say percussion only because Beck makes his sound on any instrument he can get his hands on, ranging from the harmonica to trash cans found in the back alley. Not sold yet? Listen to the track “Big Mama” on your porch with a beer, and you’ll be inspired to check their live show at The Boathouse.

Beck adds his gravelly voice to the mix as backup and sometimes lead vocals. Joe, on lead vocals, takes the song “Big Mama” and transforms non-enthusiasts of Southern Blues into immediate fans. His voice, although gritty and rough, still has that down home smoothness reminiscent of Elvis with the scorching slide guitar beckoning all to dance.

Although Joe originally hails from Ann Arbor don’t expect that to affect his Mississippi musical style at all. LLC comes to play, and they play hard and won’t stop until every person in the room in stomping their feet to the sweat-drenched duo on stage. “Too many towns, people are afraid to get their feet moving, and cut loose. We would definitely like to see more people shakin’ their [bottoms] and having a good time.” says Brenn. “More than anything, we love it when people get rowdy and have a good time.” - Ian McLellan / Revue Magazine

Left Lane Cruiser hail from Fort Wayne Indiana, and create their harp-augmented, blues-sludge-trash swamp stomps in the now widely accepted duo format. They’re more Keys-like than Stripes-like, and while I can’t guarantee actual guitar players will agree with me, I detect more personality and songs-that-seem-like-songs-not-merely-riffs on their third album Bring Yo' Ass to the Table than any on Keys album I’ve heard. Though admittedly somewhat monochromatic (an EP could've sufficed), it’s highly percussive nonetheless, sporting a thick and hardy Billy Gibbons slide tone and some convincing ZZ haw-haw-haws. The most memorable songs are the one where they discuss pork and beans and mashed potatoes and the one where Amy's in the kitchen (which has the closest thing to an identifiable melody, plus a good Dr. John-style vocal grumble). Mashed taters make an appearance in "Big Mama” as well -- so clearly, eating is a priority. - Rhapsody

Saturday, April 19, 2008

THOMAS FUNCTION - The Walrus, Unblinking Ear

What’s your function, Thomas Function? Is it to write amazing songs like "Peanut Butter and Paranoia Jam"? If so, Thomas Function from Alabama, then I am your newest and biggest fan. I do have more questions for you though. How is it that your glam-stomping, garage-rock anthem is not being drooled over on every major music blog known to man? Seriously, the sound of the song's hook and it's lyrics, "We don't just laugh last, we hope you die," make the hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up. Do you cast spells and sacrifice virgins on the rock and roll altar? Ah, you'll never reveal your secrets will you? Nevertheless, I'll keep on listening...and loving! - The Walrus


Lately I've been verbalizing to anyone who will listen that I think bands should only do 20 minute sets. This probably started shortly after seeing Jay Reatard, who blasted through a set of about a dozen song in about that time. I get bored easily I suppose and usually about halfway though many bands' sets I become restless and wonder if I couldn't be spending my time better elsewhere. But damn me if Thomas Function didn't keep my attention for the duration. So much so, that without hesitation I plunked down $20 for their LP and both 45s they had for sale (All on colored vinyl! Take that, digital age!) despite the fact that I have about $25 in my bank account until my next payday. Hell, if that's not a recommendation, I don't know what is. I've seen the band compared to Television and the Modern Lovers but that's really only telling half the story. They're nowhere near as punctilious as the the former or as coy as the latter. Thomas Function play their off-kilter pop songs with an unabashed enthusiasm that's won that them a following with the usually suspicious of anything cleaner than scuzz garage crowd. I know it's only April but the band's debut album Celebration is going to be hard to beat for record of the year. - The Unblinking Ear

Thursday, April 17, 2008


For the past couple of years, Huntsville, Alabama's Thomas Function have been kicking around the U.S. garage punk scene and have put out a handful of fantastic singles. Much like their kindred spirits from the north, the Goodnight Loving, their ties to that scene are more about attitude and presentation than the actual nuts and bolts of their music, and like the Goodnight Loving, Thomas Function have delivered an amazing debut album that deserves to be heard by as many ears as possible. Vocally, Joshua Macero may recall a young Tom Verlaine, but it would take a lot more than that to start breaking out any Television-isms as most songs are built around clean guitar lines (with occasional fuzz used to great effect) and full-bodied organ and a very sensible rhythm section. The record's pacing is fantastic with not a dud to be found. But I'll tell you that the high point of the album is in the middle with "Relentless Machines," a track that is so good it's scary. It really is the sort of song that most bands will never come close to matching, a total classic. This is not to poo-poo the rest of the record though because it still has many gems. Four months into 2008 and this one's going to be very hard to beat. - DMa / Other Music

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


bd heavies 04-03-08

Bound For Glory : Black Diamond Heavies
She crawls upside down and backwards down a flight of stairs, growling from somewhere in her bowels, drooling blood--and later facing a priest, skin a corpse-like pallor and eyes like white marbles, head spinning all the way around--disgorging split-pea soup in his direction. She is not responsible for her actions, but rather must be cured of a fate granted by the likes of Satan. The demon has possessed her, using the body to channel evil works for its own desire, the exorcism of no consequence to the girl. What exactly has the demon taken possession of? Is it the soul of the human being, the body, or the mind--and for what purpose?

“Demon-possessed” may be stretching the metaphor. True, a certain amount of an artist is supernatural, suppressed in the daily art of conversation and surfacing only in the tender moments of creativity, the soul of which is poured into real art. Some even describe their artist-self apart from their everyday demeanor, calling it a stranger you can’t ever quite get to know, something magical and sacred. He put his heart and soul into that. That song is so full of soul. Does the artist possess the art? Or does the art possess the artist?

The purpose of soul seems clear in Black Diamond Heavies art, steering tunes in the way of a “pentecostal” feel--that is, possessed by a spirit that drives a man to speaking in tongues. They’ve covered songs of artists also known for soulfulness, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters, from an art defined by its essence. Blues music, in any sense of the word, evokes the feeling just as it sounds-the emotion gathered well enough to survive a century, for the ultimate soul-seeker.

The Heavies, at first listen, sound like a mix of Black Keys fuzz and Tom Waits vocals-their latest release “A Touch of Someone Else’s Class,” was recorded with the Key’s Dan Auerbach, and both bands share a label with ALIVE records. The band are a fan of Tom Waits also, and tribute a cover to the punk-blues artist as well. Appropriately, the members of Heavies attest to their soul by their roots. Of the two members, John Wesley Myers is the “left hand of rhythm, right hand of soul. The son of a Baptist preacher…[he] has been shaking his testimony all over the south.” The drummer, Van Campbell, “comes from a family of bourbon distillers.” Nothing says blues and soul like the south.

Absent from the duo’s instrumental quota is a favorite blues, rock, and rhythm utensil, the guitar. Instead they decide to go a more classical route, using the piano to convey the message. The electric Fender Rhodes is anything but classical however, and paired with a barren, stripped-down drum modernizes the blues era to something indistinguishable from its predecessor, new and strange, spirit-possessed.

While it may seem dangerous to copy the originators of the raw duo of the White Stripes, the distinctive vocal genius of Tom Waits, and the fuzz rock signature of the Black Keys, the Heavies manage to combine all with elements of their own gospel instinct and electric piano skills to breed something completely nuanced.

The energy from the band is enough to convince one of demon-possession. Reviewers liken them to steam engines and evangelistic yelpers, sometimes exorcists. Extracting the essence and soul of a number seems to be first priority for them, completing songs with the fervor of a fanatic priest. The melodies of Black Diamond Heavies erupt as the true soul of the artists creating them. - Jeanne Gette / High Plains Reader

LEFT LANE CRUISER Live at The Hole In The Wall, Austin Tx. 3/15/08

Left Lane Cruiser interview with Punk Rock Theory

Monday, April 14, 2008

BLACK KEYS on Letterman this Thursday 4/17

The Black Keys will make an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman on Thursday, April 17th. Check for your local air times.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thomas Function - Time Out New York

Time Out New York / Issue 654 : Apr 9–15, 2008
Live music show
Thomas Function

Photograph: April Novak
The Annex (LES); Tue 15

Joshua Macero, guitarist and vocalist for Alabama’s Thomas Function, sings in a register somewhere between whine and squeal. In contrast with Southern stereotype, he generally sounds agitated. On Celebration (Alive Naturalsound), his band’s full-length debut, Macero chirps and quivers and, mostly, the music corresponds. The quartet openly flirts with an array of genres—garage, country, old rock & roll—but the driving force seems to be tasteful ’70s punk from both sides of the Atlantic. On “A Long Walk,” the group throws guitar daggers familiarized by Television; “Snake in the Grass” has a bratty anthemic bounce akin to the Buzzcocks. (Both songs also echo Thomas Function’s West Coast contemporaries, the Old Haunts.) While these influences are uniformly thin and guitar-centered, Thomas Function places a menacing keyboard drone behind its every yelp—a sly gothic touch, burbling up from Alabama.

—Jay Ruttenberg

Saturday, April 12, 2008

THOMAS FUNCTION - April tour dates

Apr 13 @ Longbranch - Knoxville, Tennessee
Apr 14 @ The Velvet Lounge - Washington DC
Apr 15 @ The Annex - New York, New York w/Live Fast Die
Apr 16 @ House Of Pleasure - Columbus, Ohio
Apr 17 @ Horrible Fest - Cleveland, Ohio
Apr 18 @ Blackout Fest Athens, Ohio
Apr 19 @ Frank‚s Power Plant Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Apr 20 @ Empty Bottle - Chicago, Illinois
Apr 28 @ Cotton & Steel - Huntsville, Alabama

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Indie Briefs: Alive Records, Red Eye

By Cortney Harding, N.Y. - Billboard
- Los Angeles-based Alive Records signed an exclusive distribution deal with Redeye Distribution. Under the terms of the new agreement, Redeye will serve as the exclusive physical and digital distribution arm for Alive Records, as well as the Bomp! Records catalogue. The first albums released under the new deal will be Thomas Function's and Ron Franklin's new records, which will be released on May 27. Founded in 1966, Bomp! Records released albums by DMZ, the Warlocks, and The Modern Lovers, before becoming a catalogue only label in 2004. New music is distributed through the Alive Records imprint of Bomp!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Thomas Function - Alibi

Thomas Function's Celebration makes me think of what would happen if a church sermon in a Southern Baptist Church was hijacked by a group of smart-mouthed hipsters. The heavy reliance on organ is appreciated, as is the always forceful and deceptively prominent backbeat. But what really makes this record a pleasurable acquaintance is its Southern sensibilities that tie a bow around ├╝ber-chic guitar melodies and charmingly whiny vocals. These Alabama boys aren't ashamed of their roots, but they've also been paying attention to the tunes coming out of the country's coasts. (SM) -

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

SSM : Organ

SSM – Break Your Arm For Evolution (Alive) - Take Detroit garage punk rock ‘n roll and add a fine touch of that same city’s soul as a starting point then throw the whole thing right out the window and when the dust has settled and your mind has focussed a little, go back out and get it all back, brush it down then fizz it up and you have one hell of a three piece band. Deja Vu all over again and horizons are expanded. Sounds and flavours morphed in to some kind of post-new wave that you never really heard before. There’s moments here that really are right out beyond, no deja vu, this is not all over again. Detroit rock and soul and bits of kraut rock keys and transforming synth pop crashing in to the MC5 and hell, the Motor City threw up another one! And all of it drenched in the kind of cool as f soul Sly and The Family dished out at Woodstock - along with quirky Devo synths and so much musical guts and bits from here and there and sit back you got a tag. This is garage punk rock like you never heard it before. Clever energy that doesn’t get too clever, a band soaked in their heritage and their fizzing synths and their reconstruction of deconstructed popular music and what you have is one highly original sound from one very original band. The whole thing regenerating in your face without every losing sight of the simply constructed convention of the rock song . Brilliant album, inspired and inspiring – Organ magazine

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