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
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Until the band’s “discovery” last year by LITTLE STEVEN, OUTRAGEOUS CHERRY had toiled faithfully in the shadows for years, known mostly by underground pop cognoscenti. Which is a shame, really, as the Motor City quartet’s string of psychedelic rock/pop LPs has been quite fine. This late in the game, the band could be forgiven for coasting on its considerable talents, but instead Universal Malcontents may be its best album yet. There’s no conceptual thread here, no locus other than the desire to write and record excellent tunes. Leader/songsmith MATTHEW SMITH is more on form than ever before, whether on a cosmic blues rocker like “Outsider,” a shimmering psych popper like “Feels Like Shadows,” a glam-inflected choogler like “I Recognized Her” or a sardonic stomper like “It’s Not Rock N’ Roll (And I Don’t Like It).” Universal Malcontents is, I think, Outrageous Cherry’s most consistently engaging album, and that’s saying a lot. - Michael Toland / The Big Takeover
Thursday, February 19, 2009
The band’s ninth full-length offers up superbly crafted slices of pop-rock that are ready for radio of an earlier time, an era lamented in the aptly titled “It’s Not Rock ‘n’ Roll (And I Don’t Like It).” College DJ’s all over the world must surely be lining this up as the third part of a triptych that opens with Stones’ “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” and Rubinoos’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead.” Disappointment bred of a decade in the music business also threads through the lost-love song “This Song Belongs to Everyone,” and a general farewell to youth is painted as metaphorical dusk in “Feels Like Shadows.” The band stretches out to eight-minutes for the psychedelic guitar jam “Outsider,” and closes with a realization that fealty to the past may only retard one’s step into the future. There’s irony to be found in retro melodies accompanying lyrics like “you never bring me nothing new” or “your memories won’t make you wise / your memories are a thin disguise,” but with melodies as good as the originals, who really cares? - Hyperbolium
Nine albums in, and Outrageous Cherry still find ways of making their vintage-steeped music sound fresh on Universal Malcontents -- by exploring other classic sounds. Matthew Smith and crew know their rock history inside and out, and know how to evoke early to mid-'70s pop and rock atmosphere, from the album's warm, roomy sound to its double-tracked vocals, strutting guitars, handclaps, and piles of piano and organ. There are a couple of quintessential Outrageous Cherry moments of fuzzed-out garage pop with bittersweet melodies and smart lyrics, like the reverb-laden "I Wouldn't Treat My Enemies the Way You Treat Yourself" and the album closer "Memory," which compares memories to horror movies and once again proves this band is expert at putting a sugary, crunchy coating on sour feelings. The rest of Universal Malcontents, however, finds them casting farther afield. "I Recognized Her" borrows a bit of Sparks' and Roxy Music's synth-tinged glam, giving a sharp, sci-fi edge to Smith's always-witty songwriting. Meanwhile, "Anymore" dresses up its hooks in '70s AM pop balladry, another apt setting for Smith's way with song structure and wordplay ("Feels Like Shadows" is also a fine example); "The Song Belongs to Everyone" adds a bit of boogie to its cleverly crafted story of a songwriter compelled to create despite the perils of the music business and anonymity: "I want my 50 percent/Before it's all spent." "Get Out While You Can," a swampy rocker that conjures muggy Detroit summers, hits harder than any Outrageous Cherry songs in recent memory, providing a welcome reminder of just how diverse their sound can be. This is especially true of "Outsider," the lone epic among the rest of Universal Malcontents' classically proportioned two- and three-minute pop songs. Combining Mott the Hoople's good-natured ambling with the improvisations of bands like Amon Düül, the song feels like the sunny, jammy culmination of the excursions the band embarked on with Supernatural Equinox and The Book of Spectral Projections. At just ten songs long, Universal Malcontents' conciseness adds to its throwback feel, but its eclecticism and focus make it another solidly enjoyable album from a band that seems to have nothing but solidly enjoyable albums in its catalog. - Heather Phares / AMG
Sunday, February 15, 2009
ALIVE SHOWCASE @ SXSW
Wednesday, March 18th @ Headhunters, 720 Red River St (8th St Entrance)
with HACIENDA, THOMAS FUNCTION, TRAINWRECK RIDERS,
OUTRAGEOUS CHERRY, LEFT LANE CRUISER, BLACK DIAMOND HEAVIES
+ special guests
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Lincoln, Nebraska four-piece, Brimstone Howl might just be "an ass scratch away from the truth." Their fuzz/reverb laden goulash of punk, garage rock, and blues just might be part of the answer to the lame state of affairs in the mainstream of American rock and roll today. Produced by Detroit's Jim Diamond and released on Alive Records, who seem to have the golden touch in my book, We Came in Peace is a Frankenstein album if you will, a mixture of several different and eclectic musical influences from the days when rock and roll still meant something and had a larger place in society. We could just have easily seen the Brimstone boys sharing the stage in the CBGB heyday with the Voidoids and Television, but no one is criticizing or complaining. Hell, better late than never.
With this high energy record, Brimstone Howl seems to be living by the Viv Savage mantra: "Have a good time, all the time." This album starts things out with a full throttle, keeping it wide open for the majority with up-tempo, out of control songs that flow together like a Ramones concert using quick transitions and similar chord progressions. You hardly get a chance to catch your breath as one track ends, when the next one comes barreling out of the gate, kicking you while you are down. Make no mistake however, this is not strictly a punk rock band or album. The sound is more of an amped up Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins on speed, with a hint of garage psychedelia and dirty blues. Vocalist John Ziegler reminds me of a mixture between Richard Hell, Tom Verlaine, and Lux Interior (R.I.P.) of the Cramps, with a bit more of a blues swagger at times. The guitars, along with vocals and everything else at one time or another, is drenched in reverb, keeping things echoing at every moment on the album and adding to overall vintage feel. The tones are fuzzy and dirty, with thick rhythms and soaring lead lines that whine and snake in and out of each verse and chorus. Rhythmically, drummer Calvin Retzlaff is the driving force throughout the entire album, with his four on the floor and fast eighth-note snare and floor-tom grooves. Apart from the music itself, the lyrics really caught my attention and are indeed in the spirit of great rock and roll. I mean, how can you go wrong with lines like, "Said the big red rooster to the mother hen- I'm back the shit again." Probably my favorite passage comes in "The World Will Never Know", a psychedelic narrative that sounds similar to the early work of the Electric Prunes, and states, "Her mother gave me a red glare of millennial loathing, so I gave her one arrogant finger. And I covered her porch in gravel. That made the correct impression." Come on now, how much more rock and roll can we get? For me, it is not the fast paced, make-you-sweat songs that stick out, though they are mighty fine indeed. Personally, I feel that the songs that stretch the influential boundaries take the cake and make the record much stronger indeed. These include the aforementioned "The World Will Never Know" and the psychedelic blues in "Easy to Dream" and "Obliterator." What comes to mind first with "Easy to Dream" is the Velvet Underground in the heroin years, complete with a hypnotic eighth-note feel among the sleigh bells, piano, and tom-toms and guitar lines that fall in and out of tune and tempo. "Obliterator" seems to channel a big Canned Heat influence with mainly spoken, sometimes howled lyrics that could easily be a personal take on Conrad's Heart of Darkness. No shit, this track is like John Lee Hooker speaking of his own "blood rituals of the Congo land" and is just the kind of color and spice that gives this album its cherry on top.
Bravo to Brimstone Howl for doing something different and giving us more of the rock that we all once loved. Do yourself a favor, if you love old rock and roll, garage, punk, and the blues, lend this band your ear and definitely check out anything that Alive Records has to offer. They do things right in the way it used to sound back when rock and roll was much stronger. One can only hope that bands like Brimstone Howl and entities like the good folks at Alive will keep it going to hopefully see things come full circle. It is about damned time. - AB / Disc Exchange
Thursday, February 5, 2009
HACIENDA on tour with DAN AUERBACH
Texas rockers Hacienda we'll be supporting Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys) on tour for the release of his solo debut and we'll serve as his backup band as well.
The tour will start in Washington, DC on February 28th and we'll take them to Europe and Australia.
The family band recently released their first full-length album, "Loud Is The Night”"(produced by Dan Auerbach), on Alive.
Hacienda is the Villanueva brothers Abraham (keys/vox), Rene (bass/vox), Jaime (drums/vox) and cousin Dante Schwebel (guitar/vox).
Confirmed US tour dates (European and Australian dates to be announced shortly) :
Feb 28 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
March 01 Boston, MA - Paradise Club
March 02 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
March 03 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
March 05 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom
March 06 Chicago, IL - Metro
March 07 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
March 10 Seattle, WA - The Showbox
March 11 Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom
March 13 San Francisco, CA - Bimbo's 365 Club
March 14 Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theatre
Gothic punk stompers unleash fourth album
Brimstone Howl are four young men from Nebraska who sound like they’ve just returned in their time machine after a jolly afternoon of thumping Mods in Brighton Beach. Their latest album We Came In Peace (recorded by one-time White Stripes collaborator Jim Diamond) is a sneering and surprisingly three-dimensional rock & roll record. No-nonsense opening tracks They Call Me Hopeless Destroyer and A Million Years sound like a brylcreamed, black-clad alternate universe version of Radio Birdman, while they come across as fearsome blues lurchers in Obliterator. There’s even a catchy pop song in Easy To Dream which slows down Them’s Here Comes The Night riff and adds echoey Spector piano and twanging Link Wray guitars to make a deliciously dark concoction. And a few grey sky soundscapes aside, We Came In Peace moves along at a rattling pace, with lots of tumble-along rockabilly rhythms, stinging guitar and Lux Interior-via-Jon Spencer howl-croon vocals. Quite fabulous.
MATT THROWER / Rave Magazine
by Peter Lindblad
Before Blondie came along and tarted up “Hangin’ on the Telephone” with the airbrushed desire of Debbie Harry’s vocals and polished it with spotless production, the now-classic power-pop number was destined to be forgotten by history.
Recorded originally by a San Francisco power-pop trio named The Nerves, “Hangin’ on the Telephone” would become Blondie’s first U.K. Top Ten hit. And what of The Nerves?
After one EP of punchy, thrilling garage-rock bursts that boasted more hooks than a meat locker, The Nerves called it a day. Peter Case (bass/vocals) and Paul Collins (drums/vocals) formed two-thirds of The Nerves. Jack Lee, the guitarist/vocalist who penned “Hangin’ on the Telephone,” rounded out the group, which formed in the mid-’70s and was done by 1978. Blessed with three members who had an uncanny ability to write irresistibly catchy songs that bristled with punk energy, The Nerves were gone in a flash. But they did go out with a bang, appearing on the infamous “Magical Blistering Tour” with fellow punks The Ramones and Mink DeVille before bowing out.
After the split, Lee had a brief solo career, Case moved onto soul-punk heroes The Plimsouls — who would record Case’s classic specimen of jangle-pop “A Million Miles Away” — and Collins wound up with The Beat.
Now, 30 years after their demise, comes The Nerves’ first proper LP, One Way Ticket. Put out by Alive Records in association with Bomp, the release packages the EP’s “Hangin’ on the Telephone,” “When You Find Out,” “Working Too Hard” and “Give Me Some Time” with a clutch of bruising live tracks and sketched-out demos.
How did this compilation, One Way Ticket, come together and why did it take so long to put out?
Paul Collins: It originally started when Get Hip records wanted to do a comprehensive Nerves package some six or seven years ago. There were different ideas as to which label would be best suited for the project, but all of the group seemed to be in agreement that it should come out.
Time went by, and no one could agree on a label. That’s when Patrick from Alive Records contacted me about putting out a Nerves compilation. I said, “Double the offer on the table and it might happen.” And he did. That very same week all members of the group were paid a generous advance on royalties, and I turned over all my archives thinking it was a done deal.
Time went by, and as I was living in Madrid, Spain, and thinking that one day soon I would receive the finished product in the mail, I was very surprised to find out that not only was the deal not done, it had gotten very near to being terminated due to conflicts within the group. Thanks to the unbelievable patience of Patrick, he saw the project through, and thanks to him, and him alone, we all have the pleasure of seeing a very small but influential group’s work documented for all time.
With regard to the previously unreleased live stuff and the demos, where did you find these recordings, and why was it important to release them?
Peter Case: They were all over. Boxes stashed in garages and basements. I don’t fool myself into thinking it’s too important. But it did seem like a good idea.
Paul Collins: Peter Case should take most of the credit for the track listing as he was in Los Angeles and able to work closely with Patrick on the release. I think he did a good job presenting the musical world in which we lived. As with most compilations, things get left out. In this case, I think Peter himself overlooked some of his own gems.
You guys formed in 1975, coming out of San Francisco. What drew the three of you together?
Paul Collins: I think it was 1974. That is a long story. I came onto the scene last, and as I was the baby of the group, there were things between Jack and Peter that I was not privy to. Basically, we came together for the same reasons that any rock band came together: We wanted to conquer the world. To some extent we were successful.
At that point, were all three of you songwriters?
Peter Case: I was writing songs in 1965. I wrote songs that my bands played and performed solo around town in Buffalo, N.Y., by the time I was 15. Jack was writing, too, but I think he started in San Francisco later. You gotta ask Paul. He’ll tell you his story.
Paul Collins: No. Jack had the most songs, and Peter was coming [into] his own, and I had yet to write my first song ... finally, I wrote “Working Too Hard” and “You Won’t Be Happy” in the back of Jack’s bus.
What were early rehearsals and your first show like?
Peter Case: Drunken brawls. Humiliation. Jack freezing up. It took a while to get it halfway together.
Paul Collins: The rehearsals were very intense, but they were also some of the finest musical experiences I have had to date. Our first show, I am not sure about, but it had to be a bust. We gave everything we had, but only on a few occasions did we ever get anything back.
How much did the ’60s British Invasion stuff, and, of course, The Beatles, influence you?
Paul Collins: In every way. We studied all the records from the late ’50s and early ’60s like they were the Bible. It was a glorious time in music, and we reaped as much as we could from it. Harmony, structure and above all the incredibly high criteria of the music produced at that time, I can safely say that I pretty much learned everything I know about music during that time.
A year after getting together, you recorded your self-titled debut EP. It’s still beloved by power-pop fans. Hearing it all these years later, what strikes you about it?
Peter Case: How strong the production sounds. How’d that happen?
Paul Collins: That it was really good, and the principles involved in making it were sound.
While recording “Hanging on the Telephone,” did you take an instant liking to it, and did you think it would have such a lasting legacy?
Peter Case: I liked other songs better, me and Paul’s. Some of Jack’s best were never recorded.
Paul Collins: The first time I heard “Hangin’ ...” in Jack’s flophouse room on Pine and Gough in San Francisco, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
What did you think when you heard Blondie’s version?
Peter Case: Jack’s rich now.
Paul Collins: That finally The Nerves were going to get their due.
Now, while “Hanging on the Telephone” is the song you’re remembered for the most, “When You Find Out” is an incredibly catchy number as well. Talk about how that song was created.
Peter Case: I wrote [it] in 1974, after a frantic hitchiking trip to Portland. Just came out in a burst. I don’t know how I came up with those chords, but they somehow worked.
Paul Collins: Peter wrote that song, and I will never forget listening to him as he recorded it in that little 16-track Chinese studio on Union Street in San Francisco. It still brings goose bumps. He is without a doubt one of rock’s finest singers.
This new release, One Way Ticket, not only features the EP, demos and previously unreleased live recordings, but it features two songs that were destined for a Nerves full-length LP. Hearing the rough, punked-up energy of [the song] “One Way Ticket,” was that the direction you were going as a band at the time?
Peter Case: It just came natural; after being on tour all year, we got more aggressive.
Paul Collins: We were trying to do anything we could to get the acceptance that we would never get while we were a functioning band. We operated in a complete vacuum.
“Thing of the Past” is a Plimsouls song performed here by an early incarnation of that band. But, Peter, it’s a song you wrote while with The Nerves, and this version sounds like a Nerves song. Did it always feel like a Nerves song to you?
Peter Case: To me, yes. I always liked that one. I wrote it on piano. To the others, [I’m] not sure if they ever paid attention to it.
Talk about “Walking Out on Love.” Why was it such an integral song for The Nerves?
Peter Case: One of Paul’s best, just a driving rocker.
Paul Collins: Not really sure. I wrote it, and the band liked it; that was enough for me, as I thought if I could get it past Jack and Peter, it had to be good. Also, Jack magnanimously threw in the bridge … which is great!
What do you remember most about the “Magical Blistering Tour” and being on the same bill with The Ramones and Mink DeVille?
Peter Case: Seeing America. Meeting people. Speed. Hanging with Dee Dee.
Paul Collins: Everything. It was one of the most exciting times of my life. We did something that no one had ever tried to do before in our generation, and we knew it and it was hard, but it was also very exciting. We knew what we were doing, and it was great; plus, we got to experience the birth of a scene, and how many times in life do you get to do that?
It’s been said that all three of you being songwriters and having your own ideas helped cause the breakup. What caused the friction?
Peter Case: Mental illness causes friction (laughs) ... and we had very different ways of seeing things.
Paul Collins: Personally, I never understood why the band broke up, except for the fact that we did everything a band could possibly do, and we could not get any industry acceptance. So we had no choice but to break up. I am sure each member will have their own opinion as to why what happened, happened. For me, personally, I was devastated. It took me completely by surprise, and I felt like my arms had been cut off … I learned a lot from that experience.
One thing that has come up in several of the reviews on this release is what would have happened if the band had stayed together and reaped the benefits of the collective output of all three songwriters. I never thought of it that way until now, and it does make me pause to think. It gives a lot of credence to what Jack used to say … “The greatest band that never was.”
After The Nerves, you formed The Breakaways and The Plimsouls. As you see it, how were those groups, especially The Plimsouls, different from The Nerves?
Peter Case: The Plimsouls were more dynamic, explosive. The Nerves were more teenage.
Paul Collins: The Nerves was a brief moment in time when three young men bonded together as one, really as one. I feel fortunate that I was a part of it. My subsequent musical endeavours fortunately have all had their merit, but they are not anything like what The Nerves was, which is why, after 34 years, it gives me great pleasure to see this release come out, and why I have nothing but the highest regard for Patrick of Alive Records for making it happen.
The Nerves are still seen as an influential group in power-pop, despite having such a short life. Do you ever think about what would have happened if you’d stayed together longer?
Peter Case: Somebody might’ve had to go to jail. But seriously, we should’ve recorded more. One Way Ticket is all we have to show. But I’m proud of the way it still sounds fresh. It stands up.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Radio Moscow announces New Album and Free MP3!
Brain Cycles is Radio Moscow's second album, due out on Alive Records, April 14th. It's a new psychedelic trip into the musical territory originally charted by artists such as Randy Holden, Groundhogs, Peter Green and Flower Travellin' Band, just to name a few. Preview the album with the MP3 for
Stoner Rock called their 2007 self titled debut album "an astonishingly good debut," PopMatters hailed it as an "awesome record-...fun and slutty and cool," Modern Fix described their sound as "dirty-ass psych-powered blues rock ," and even Spin acknowledged it as "marrying the bluesy psychedelic fervor of Cream with the big, precise fretwork of Jimi Hendrix". After a full year on the road supporting that album, Parker Griggs headed back into the studio to cut the long awaited follow-up. On Brain Cycles he once again plays all the instruments (guitar, drums, and percussion) and assumes vocal duties as well as production credits, while the bass guitar is in the hands of young Zach Anderson. Conceived as an homage to the thrilling days of yesteryear, when vinyl was king and analog stereo ruled the world, Brain Cycles is a guilty pleasure best experienced at maximum volume while wearing headphones, if you want your brain to catch the waves!
RadioMoscowMySpace * RadioMoscow.net * AliveRecordsOnline
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