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

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Radio Moscow turns back time

With a powerful, crunching Sabbath-style chords and fiery solos that earn the right to be called Hendrixian, Iowa power trio Radio Moscow plants its flag firmly in the territory where psychedelic rock, cranked-up blues, and metal meet. The sound is unabashedly retro (specifically, FM radio from around 1973), so it's easy to see how it caught the ear of The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who produced its 2007 self-titled debut. Like the Keys, Radio Moscow updates an old-school style with pure passion and a refreshing lack of irony. On a break from the band's current tour, which brings it to the Turf Club Thursday, July 30, guitarist and frontman Parker Griggs talked with The A.V. Club about working with Auerbach and self-producing the new Brain Cycles.

A.V. Club: How did you hook up with Dan Auerbach?

Parker Griggs: I was living in Colorado at the time and went to a Black Keys show in Denver. I gave my five-track demo to their merch guy, and he passed it on to Dan. I'd left it with my cell phone and everything, and I got a call that night after the show that he'd already checked it out and really dug it, and was going to pass it on to Alive Records [the Keys', and now Radio Moscow's record label]. Then it took about, maybe, half a year until I heard back from him, but he said Alive liked it and they wanted to try recording something at his home studio.

AVC: During that six-month lag, did you ever think, "God, maybe that guy forgot about me?"

PG: Yeah, I was kind of wondering. I was just hoping he'd still dig the stuff, but luckily heard back from him. By that time, it gave me more time to look for a better lineup, so that was cool.

AVC: What was it like to work with him?

PG: It was pretty cool. We did it all on this vintage recording stuff he had, so that was pretty sweet. It was this old abandoned pipe factory where he rented a small room. We recorded about 13 hours a day, just got the most of each day and did it pretty quickly—just about two or three days, I think, and we got it all done.

AVC: Given the intensity of your music, concentrated 13-hour sessions must have really helped keep up the energy level you needed.

PG: Yeah, it was a lot of work, but you totally get it pumped out pretty quick.

AVC: You produced your current disc, Brain Cycles, on your own. What did you learn from recording the first record that you wanted to expand on with this one?

PG: I wanted to use the tape again and try to get an old-school sound. [Auerbach] tried to help with the vocals a little bit and help me sing a little more confidently, so this time around I just tried to give it my all and be more comfortable with that. The first album was written all-instrumental, and the singing was just sort of [an afterthought]—we decided we needed a singer too, so I threw on the vocals. This album was written more with the vocals in mind.

AVC: Do you still feel more comfortable as a guitarist than as a singer?

PG: Yeah, that's what I'd originally planned to do, but, I mean, singing's all right.

AVC: Would you want to hook up with a singer at some point to let you focus on guitar?

PG: I think we're comfortable staying a power trio, but I don't know. I think for this band, we're comfortable with how it is.

AVC: You grew up in a small town of around 3,000 people in Story City, Iowa. What spurred your interest in music?

PG: Well, what I was into growing up is kind of different from what I'm into now. I was growing up with the whole grunge thing. I was really young and was all into sports, and then I started turning all anti-. I didn't like what I saw from those kids in school and just became the musician kid. I quit sports and spent all my time trying to learn guitar and drums. When I was more around 18, I started getting into the more garage-rock stuff, the Nuggets boxes, and that inspired me to do this more old-style [rock].

AVC: How has touring and playing with a lot of different bands changed your own approach to music?

PG: We're still pretty influenced by a lot of the old '60s and '70s stuff, but some of the bands that we've played with on tour that just jam out, like Earthless, have been pretty inspiring to see.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

BRIAN OLIVE - All Music Guide

Brian Olive used to deliver potent garage rock guitar with the Greenhornes and blues-punk sax hollering with the Soledad Brothers, but he's expanded his sonic palette in a big way on his first solo album. Most of the tunes on Brian Olive are rooted in rhythm & blues in one way or another, but the man sure isn't shy about showing how many ways he can bend the sound to his will; "Stealin'" is a funky New Orleans second-line shuffle, "Jubilee Line" has a bassline James Jamerson would have been happy to call his own fortified with free jazz sax wailing, "High Low" reveals echoes of 1950s cool jazz for bachelor pads, and "Killing Stone" is a piano-based rocker that recalls the early-'70s Rolling Stones. Olive also dips his toes into breezy faux-tropicalia on the light and sensuous "Echoing Light" and some tripped-out acoustic psychedelia on "There Is Love." Olive clearly scores high on the eclecticism checklist, but he's also a fine songwriter, generating memorable tunes regardless of his stylistic bag, and he's put together a solid backing band for these sessions (including fellow Greenhornes Jared McKinney and Craig Fox and ex-Heartless Bastards Mike Weinel), and if his vocals aren't always as strong as the arrangements that surround them (he sounds more comfortable on the quieter numbers than the ones where he needs to belt it out), he has the right feel if not always the proper degree of force. Overall, Brian Olive is an impressive and pleasing solo debut that shows his chops as a producer, arranger, and songwriter make him more than just some Midwest sideman, and he should get back into the studio posthaste if there's more where this came from. - Mark Deming / AMG

Monday, July 6, 2009


Like its two predecessors, Perch is nothing less than a rousing, carousing brouhaha of an album, an apt reflection of the Trainwreck Rider's confluence of pop, punk and alt country influences. Being from San Francisco, the band's freewheeling spirit would seem a given, but their upstart insurgence puts them in the same realms as Green on Red, Uncle Tupelo, the Mekons and Rank and File, bands that fostered a down home delivery upended by rowdy, reckless abandon. In this case however, the band seems better able to channel that unfettered energy into something more tuneful, showing they've made concessions to more melodic constraints.

The earnest down home ramble of "Trainwreck Heart" "Livin' Daylight" and "Chug Along" suggest the emergence a more engaging attitude. Likewise, closer listens to "Weight of the Day" and "Saw Your Eyes" offer evidence the band's been rummaging through some older albums recently, possibly pillaging the Kinks and the Jayhawks, respectively. Agreed, fans may find that somewhat suspect, especially in light of their proclivity to charge ahead at full throttle. Fortunately though, they can be assured that any incidence of restraint will likely never derail the Trainwreck Rider's edgier instincts. - Lee Zimmerman/Blurt


Background information. Some people say it provides welcome context to a review, others claim it's periphery information of little use in the grand scheme. What both parties agree on is that it both uses up space and serves as an icebreaker.

Emanating from the homeless capital of America, also known as San Francisco, the four-piece - comprising one set of brothers and one set of others - finally get around to giving us their follow-up to 2006 début Lonely Road Revival.

Sitting at the forefront of the burgeoning country-rock genre, the quartet bring the intensity and adrenaline of rock slash punk music to the usually introspective and slight country genre. The result could fell a barn, but they wouldn't feel remorse about it. The effect of the genre merge is diametrically opposed to the likes of 500 Miles to Memphis, who accentuate the punkier elements and utilise the expansive instrumentation and hootenanny atmosphere of country music. No, these are subdued rural yearnings unafraid to evacuate their shacks and brandish the flaming pitchforks.

The term, we believe, is "cowpunk".

Things have gotten a whole lot shinier since the début. The mish-mash of styles is still there, the letters from Hot Topic remain unopened, but still, there is a sense that the boys worked out how to distil their diverse influences through a much poppier catalyst this time around.

There is no better example than that of introductory piece "Safety of a Back". Blasting through frantic strumming to sublime slow-paced, and purposeful verses, there seems to be nary an instrument to which front-man Pete Frauenfelder's voice is not perfectly attuned. It's as if 'Frontier Land' discovered electricity, and Dinosaur Jr. Likely in that order.

Since last year was the year of mournful folk troubadour, it seems only logical that this year would take that template and inject it with full-band dynamics and a greater sense of fun. The best stepping stone - and grabber of much attention - is TR's transcendent ballad shanty "Chug Along". Resolutely dour in tone, it's a dirge in honour of the calamitous and recycling nature of life. Sort of a like a more downbeat incarnation of Modest Mouse's "Float On", without the fraudulent Jamaicans.

Regardless of how many times bands pull these genre contortions out of the bag, it is still genuinely surprising to witness something entirely new within the indie world. For those who liked the concept of Bon Iver, but shied away from the mawkishness, you may have just found your new favourite band. - Aidan Williamson/Strangeglue
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