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

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

HACIENDA - All Music Guide

Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys once described the Austin, TX quartet Hacienda as "Mexican-Americans who are obsessed with the Beach Boys," and while that's an oversimplification, it isn't far off from the mark. Auerbach produced and plays on Hacienda's debut album, Loud Is the Night, and while the guys are clearly enamored of middle-period Beach Boys stuff (think Wild Honey through Holland), there are plenty of other obvious touchstones in their sound — the Beatles (dig the "I Dig a Pony" guitar figure in "Useless and Tired" and the Rubber Soul/Revolver-era melodies scattered throughout), the Rolling Stones in their quiet moods ("Wishbone" suggests a pocket-sized version of "Moonlight Mile"), 1960s and early-'70s studio pop (with scaled-back flashes of Phil Spector and Jack Nitzsche's production styles clearly audible, and a hint of the Turtles in "Angela" and "Officer") and even Sonny Bono (there's a surprisingly faithful cover of the Sonny & Cher hit "Baby Don't Go"). As with most bands who wear their influences on their sleeves, the real question here is if Hacienda can bring anything new to the picture, and thankfully Loud Is the Night leaves no doubt that this band knows how to write songs in the classic style and give them shape in the studio with a precocious grace. Brothers Abraham Villanueva (piano and vocals), Jaime Villanueva (drums and vocals), and Rene Villanueva (bass and vocals) and their cousin Dante Schwebel (guitar and vocals) conjure up a remarkably full and eclectic sound in the studio, and if their harmonies aren't quite up to the level of the Wilson siblings, they bring a warm, rootsy edge to the music that adds a distinct and welcome Southwest flavor. Hacienda may be in love with vintage sunshine pop, but Loud Is the Night shows they can give the sound a welcome shot of soul while staying true to its melodic roots, and this is a strikingly accomplished debut (especially when you consider that it was recorded in a mere two weekends). - by Mark Deming / All Music Guide

The NERVES - LA Weekly

Published on December 09, 2008

The Nerves |One Way Ticket| Alive Records

Surprise: The longest-awaited album of the season is not Chinese Democracy. In fact, it’s not even the most extensively delayed album by an L.A. band. That honor goes to the Nerves. After nearly 30 years of being transmitted in the form of bootlegs and mixtapes, of being covered by other bands, of becoming the stuff of rock & roll legend, the Nerves’ four-song EP has finally seen a proper reissue on Alive Records’ new One Way Ticket — along with unreleased tracks, demos and live cuts. And guess what? It’s better than Chinese Democracy, and cost $13 million less to record.

The Nerves were the trio of guitarist Peter Case, bassist Jack Lee and drummer Paul Collins. The band orginally formed in San Francisco and eventually moved down to L.A., where they recorded an EP and cultivated a small scene of like-minded pop acts with tiny budgets. They supported the Ramones, and managed to shore up enough bread for a national tour. That lone recorded document of their brief career ended up being regarded as a hallmark of what was eventually termed “power pop.”

The Nerves’ EP is one of those items — like a bootleg videotape of a rare kung fu movie — that gets passed around between friends to get people in the know. “Oh, you like Guided By Voices? Well, wait’ll you hear the Nerves!”

It contains four numbers: “When You Find Out,” “Working Too Hard,” “Give Me Some Time” and “Hanging on the Telephone.” The last track probably looks familiar, and it should: While touring in Japan, Blondie heard the song in their limo and covered it as the opener on their now-canonical 1979 album Parallel Lines. Their version was released as a single and charted at No. 5 in the U.K. The song would be reinterpreted by a number of artists down the line — including Cat Power and Def Leppard — and, like most songs referencing phones, it landed in cell-phone commercials.

Anyone hearing the Nerves’ original recording of “Hanging on the Telephone” might be surprised. Blondie embellished the song with so many new-wave accoutrements (frilly organs, laser-guided guitar parts) that it was rendered into a blanched version of the original. The minimal instrumentation of the Nerves’ version, with the hoarse howl of its vocals and brisk pace, sounds more like the youthful vigor of early Beatles than the stylish sheen of new wave.

The remaining three tracks possess the same jaunty rhythms, deft instrumental interplay, bottled-up enthusiasm, sharp vocal harmonies and unflappable hooks that characterize the first Beatles singles.

But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Shortly after their tour, the Nerves disbanded. Case and Collins attempted to re-form the band with a new guitarist under the moniker the Breakaways, but that turned out to have an even briefer life span than its predecessor. Lee penned a couple more songs for other artists before vanishing from the music industry. Collins went on to form the Beat, while Case carried on with the Plimsouls before creating a rather successful solo career for himself (even garnering a Grammy in recent years). Although these later careers eventually bore more monetarily successful fruits, on purely musical grounds their accomplishments are dwarfed by the influence and ingenuity of the Nerves’ four-song EP. It will endure long after Chinese Democracy is finally buried.


Got a hormonally explosive, just post-adolescent relative on your gift list who still thinks Fall Out Boy is power pop? Well, set him straight with a combo history lesson/girl obsession classic. For aficionados of first-era power pop (roughly 1977-82), the 4-song 7" The Nerves EP this Cali combo released in 1977 is not just a bristling batch of perfect, punk-prodded pop, but a viable argument stopper for where the genre began. Plus, all three members went on to create more influential pop gold (in collector desirability if not actual sales). Singer/bassist Peter Case had the most success with the '80s band, the Plimsouls; drummer Paul Collins formed the Beat, releasing a few super slabs (and are back with a new record on Get Hip); and singer/guitarist Jack Lee's career petered out the quickest with some personal problems that are barely hidden in his sparkly gems. Lee wrote "Hanging On The Telephone" (later a hit for Blondie), featuring the closing, repeated plea of "Hang up and run to me," that is one of the most purely heart-wrenching codas of that era. That EP is all here, Rickenbackers ringing and scruff harmonies yearning clearer than ever. While those songs and some of the other demos and live tracks on this 20-track compilation have appeared over the years in various quasi-legit versions, usually on small European labels (you wouldn't believe what a star Case is in Orleans, France), this is the first official release of all the Nerves and immediately post-Nerves related material, with liner notes from Case no less--in other words, the holy moley grail for power pop fans. Had they the cash to make that first EP an album--adding in the sugar rush of "Walking Out On Love" and "Letter To G," or the mood-piece pound, "Are You Famous"--the Nerves might've supplanted the Knack and saved power pop from its cheeky legacy. Standard motifs of skinny ties and "The" band names have reduced the era to a fad; and the genre phrase is flung around so much today it's become an enervated catch-all for anything vaguely upbeat with vintage guitars played by earnest 20-somethings. Well forget that and grab this One Way Ticket to a time when a band could rankle fellow too-tough punk scensters by simply covering the Beatles. - Eric Davidson / CMJ
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