It's tough to keep things like this blog going without a really reliable stream of income. The winter months destroy us financially, as I do a lot of seasonal building/painting type work. What's that have to do with anything? Well, if I can't keep my truck running or afford new blades for my circular saw, I certainly can't afford a better camera or a computer that isn't on the verge of dying.
Lucky for me, I have a decent knowledge of technology. I've been running computers since the mid 1980's and I'm familiar with pretty much every operating system IBM/Microsoft or Apple has come out with. You still don't care...what am I rambling on and on about?
Toward the beginning of this year, with my Mac G5 Power PC becoming quickly and unusably obsolete, I acquired a used HP laptop. After installing Windows 7 Home Premium on it, I started moving all of my music over to it. Gigabytes and gigabytes of glorious punk rock! I then dumped my SD cards full of recent shows and my pocket recorder full of song ideas, concerts, etc. Things were going really well...I finally felt somewhat organized.
Then the HP fizzled, fried and failed. Goodbye everything I failed to actually back up.
The videos below partially represent what was saved from the February 2, 2013 show at the Bows and Arrows Collective. I say partially because I actually do have the rest of the Charles Albright gig, but they're already well represented on our YouTube page. Sadly, I think the Four Eyes footage is gone. I will save this hard drive for most of what remains of my life hoping to one day retrieve that data...but, realistically, it's forever gone.
It was a really great show. Most shows at Bows are. This was my first time seeing the Four Eyes and Scouse Gits, second time seeing Charles Albright, as well as Boats!. Had a really great grilled cheese from the kitchen...crazy good!
I think I'm just going to drop the videos in here and not do too much more commentary...I've got more uploads to take care of before this pile of crap crashes.
I've been meaning to get Boats! on here since they played Reno with Youth Brigade and Adolescents two years ago...hooky punk and humor!
The Scouse Gits were a huge surprise. Trashy garage rock fun!
As always, Charles Albright rules!!
From the subculture rich environs of punk rock has emerged a dark, sometimes campy, variant. Werewolves, vampires, evil doctors, friendly psychopaths and amorous murderers infest songs of love, yearning and other terrors. True, elements of horror have been with punk since the dark beginnings, but horror punk has become a popular, well-defined sub-genre of the greater punk movement.
Early 'horror' acts include the Cramps, Bauhaus, 45 Grave and Alien Sex Fiend, but the most influential of all remains the Misfits. The headliner for tomorrow night's show at Luigi's in Sacramento, Michale Graves, helped redefine the boundaries of horror punk, giving expanded legitimacy to the genre through his strong songwriting and vocal work with the latter-day Misfits.
Songs in the genre can be humorous or dead serious, and there has always been a persistent melodious nature to a large percentage of them. They're catchy, contagious even, and they've infected our Sacramento scene.
I was introduced to the local strain back in February, when we went to the Where House?, a crazy, all-ages venue in the warehouse district of south Sacramento, to play for my birthday at Matthew Marrujo's 'Far West Punk Fest'. I had invited a bunch of people I know from the scene, as this was our first show in the area and I really wanted someone to see us. Scene historian Ken Doose showed up, as did Benjamin Abel of Sucker Punk Productions fame. Benjamin introduced me to Mr. Vic, who described himself as an old punk, and although I believe he is a punk, I doubt he's anywhere near as old as I am.
Vic and I talked about our histories, punk and the Sacramento scene, until the bands started playing. We chatted some more between acts and by the time we went on Vic and I had decided to talk again soon about one of their bigger upcoming shows. That time has finally arrived, as Mr. Vic's band, The Left Hand, will be opening for Michale Graves at Luigi's on April 17th. The Moans, Strange Party and Avenue Saints will also be sharing the bill, as Michale Graves swings through Sacramento promoting the release of 'Vagabond.'
I'll save the gory details of our talk for another time, but have a chat with Vic if you get a chance. He's not as frightening as he leads on and his easy going nature and enthusiasm give him a certain charm. It's interesting to note, there is no rivalry between the bands appearing on tomorrow night's bill. I learned there are actually very real inter-band friendships and a genuine respect for the songs and talents of their fellows.
During our conversation, Vic spoke about Danny (The Moans) and Justin (The Strange Party) with a sincere brotherly affection. I point this out because it's an important dynamic I see, in varying degrees, throughout the entire Sacramento scene. It's this quality that is keeping Sacramento punk alive and thriving. Hoping to see your friends succeed and doing everything you can to provide support seems to be the underlying element of everything I see here...and it's inspiring.
So...this truly is a night of horror punk, Sacramento...it's a Michale Graves 'Vagabond' CD release party (he's bringing a full band with him!), shared with the Moans as they unveil their first full-length CD "The Moans...From Underground". You'll see The Left Hand, who have a new video out, which you can see over here. The Strange Party will also grace the stage...they have a new song on their Bandcamp page. And the Avenue Saints, who will be playing their hearts out tomorrow night! Video of each band can be found below, just to give you a taste of what's in store. Support local music!!
The Left Hand's ReverbNation page.
Mr. Vic's wanted to give a shout out to this blues show on V103. V103 is a Sacramento based internet radio station that does great things for our scene and has recently been invaded by the Sucker Punks, who I talk about way too much because they're so great. Look at my other articles for links to them.
We play a lot of The Strange Party music on our Facebook page...here's their website.
OK...I know I haven't been keeping up with Punk Retrospective. That doesn't mean I haven't been going to shows...I just really haven't had the time to put together videos and write reviews. I still don't have the time to do a proper write-up. Suffice it to say, Charles Albright is a great band and Charles Albright is a nice man. Here's a little treat to calm your nerves...it's Charles Albright and the boys at Bows and Arrows. I think the Babies played, too...but watch this!!
and for god's sake, go buy this cassette!!
It was my second trip to The Where House? and I was pretty excited to see Bad Daddies again. Hit Reset, The Enlows, The Community, Jesus Christ, Mister! and Bad Daddies...my first show in 2013 and worth the trip, even in an unexpected rainstorm. It was Matt from Rise Entertainment's birthday. Ken Doose was there taking pictures (check 'em out). Former Enlow, Chris Sabatoni, now of Croissants and Charles Albright fame, also attended the event.
This is also the first show I've attended since my band played it's first gig, so I have a new lens to view performance through. I used to only judge a band on whether I like their music or not, but I've softened a bit on that stance. I know it takes some people a lot of preparation and courage to step out there and be judged by the crowd...apparently not the case with Bad Daddies' singer Camylle, nor guitarist Matt. Both are used to being the center of attention at work, so they easily took charge of the venue from the first squeals of feedback 'til the final shout of their brutal set.
Bad Daddies are the reason I drove all the way to the southern edge of Sacramento to stand in an unheated warehouse. The sounds Matt grinds out of his guitar are just about the coolest thing in California and the confrontational intensity of Camylle's performance put this band near the top of my current favorites. There's a certain chaotic energy surrounding the first part of the set, but order starts creeping in as they progress into their newer material and it just gets more awesome. Here's Saturday's live version of 'Regress,' the song the band released on their Soundcloud account last week:
Next up...Jesus Christ, Mister!, the newest band on the burgeoning Sacramento scene. I've seen Morgan stand in for a lot of missing guitar players over the last couple years, but missed him in what I hear were quite a few good bands in the years before I got here. They were a success...here's video of 'Baby, I'm Bored' to prove it:
I might come back to this one and drop in some video from the other bands, but I've got a bit of a backlog going now that I'm devoting my energies toward my band. I can say, the Sacramento scene is growing and there are a bunch of great bands that deserve your support. If you can, get out to a show and buy the merch...if you can't make it to a show 'like' the bands pages, leave comments and buy their stuff online. Let them know you care!
December 18, 2009 - The atmosphere in that old convent hall, filled with smoke and the whisperings of something uncommon about to appear, now defines Winter Solstice for me. It was my first time, witnessing the deep, spiritual intensity of Lasher Keen. I remember feeling intimidated and elated by their musical explorations of the dark…the real dark of a less human-constructed reality. Iconic, near archetypal characters, meshed dramatically with multiple, distinct layers of eerie, swirling, shimmering sound, to create something more than mere song. I wish I could put into words what it was that caught my fascination; the way the whole performance became a ritual and seemed to revel in that scarcely known secret truth of our animal nature was profoundly visceral. I walked away knowing I’d witnessed something unique and worthy of great attention.
That night was the official release of “Wither”. I bought a copy directly from Dylan and Bluebird at the show. The feelings conjured by their performance hadn’t faded when I found myself noticing the strangely organic look and feel of the disc cover binding and the artwork. It became startlingly obvious to me that these people I knew peripherally, in the community, were true artists.
By the time the ‘Possessed by the Forest Queen’ 10″ came out, on December 18 of 2010, I knew Dylan and Bluebird well enough that I went to their house to buy a copy. This wasn’t my first trip there, as our children are classmates and friends, but it was the first time I was really able to look a bit deeper into their everyday lives. From just a cursory glance, the fact that their artistry was not confined to the music and its packaging was obvious. They live lives rich in aesthetic beauty and organic texture and somehow seem to take their existence from a place of deeper thematic meaning. Yes, they’re a bit eccentric, odd even, but in a very grounded, authentic and endearing way.
That ‘thematic meaning’ I mentioned is expressed in a very real way in their songs, conjured from the mix of instrumental divination and mythical lyricism. For example, the title track of the aforementioned album, ‘Forest Queen,’ brings to life a Goddess I’d never even known to look for. Not an anthropomorphic deity or creature, but something more akin to the movement of a particular branch of the tree of existence. She is the living nature of new life and growth spread throughout, and between, all matter and time. This is their depth and I find it difficult to express in prose, but it is as clear as awareness on their LP.
I include here a performance of the beautiful 'Forest Queen' from the 10" ‘Possessed by the Forest Queen’. All of the Lasher Keen back catalog is available on their website at lasherkeen.net.
While ‘Forest Queen’ is, at least to me, at least today, the strongest song on the 10”, it is exceedingly difficult to rank the 13 songs of the new double 12" LP, ‘Berserker’. The album moves through a range of emotions, constricting into tight, claustrophobic little spaces, then soaring into unbridled flights of hopeful torment. But the song ‘Sun Chariot,’ which may eventually be seen as the crowning summation of the band's output (*disclaimer near bottom of page), passes through so much emotional territory that it’s hard to remember where it began as it falters out of existence. It is at once condensed and expansive, present and eternal. It is epic and successful in its grand ambition and highlights the most elementary aspects of what Lasher Keen is.
There do not appear to be any genre constraints with Lasher Keen. The album opens with ‘Ancient Chaos,’ which itself opens with a harp intro, somehow reminiscent of the deeper metal gods of yore, then gracefully slides into a sexy, Motown-inspired romp called ‘Rainmaker’ and later explores growly, twangy, swamp rock with a 3-stringed, cardboard banjo in ‘Fabled Wild Country.’ Plowing through the depths of this album we begin to understand the broad range of puzzling descriptors used in reference to Lasher Keen; “Wood Metal for Scandinavian Tree Troll Folk,” “Medieval Psychedelic Folk,” and “Spirit in Mourning**,” being among those the band use to attempt a coherent self-description. Dylan mentions “inspired amateurism,” perhaps quoting Emerson or Lester Bangs, in a recent interview, while describing the multi-instrumental abilities of the three members of the band.
It may be exactly that “inspired amateurism,” which stirs my respect and amazement at this band of artists. Why else would someone like me, who claims allegiance to humankinds’ greatest art form, punk rock, feel so strongly about the music of a group of mystical folkies? There are no distorted guitars - instead cello, harp, banjo, accordion, barbatos, bodran and Glockenspiel rule the soundscape. Their historic usage of percussion had, until recently, been primarily animal skin drums and a wide range of hand instruments, though they now occasionally employ Adam Torruella to play the trap set. Sage is known to play bass, bouzouki, and banjo along with an array of other stringed instruments I don’t know the names of. Hardly punk, yet it carries within it whatever it is that makes punk great.
I suppose in the end it is the raw passion and artistry I really love, though I can’t presume to tell you that you will love Lasher Keen the way I have come to. I can tell you, it is strange to have found a ‘local band’ doing musical arrangement and performance at this level. There is depth, subtlety, awareness, integrity, intelligence and passion in this work and, for me, that makes it genuine. And, the authentic nature of the music, artwork and lives of this band are well represented in this brilliant album, 'Berserker'. It is beautiful to look at, double LP, full-color gatefold with a 32-page booklet and some stunning colored vinyl, if you like, but the flow and depth of the music is what makes "Berserker' a must-have.
I went to video one of the last practices the band will have together. I could feel an underlying mournfulness, aside from what Bluebird's cello naturally brings. You see, after Lasher Keen performs ‘The Psychotropic Cult of the Oracular Sacrificial Severed Head’ at Stella Natura: The Light of Ancestral Fires, string master/percussionist, Sage Arias, makes his disheartening, hopefully temporary, move away from the band. I am assured we can all hope to hear new songs arising in a yet unknown future as the last note of this incarnation of Lasher Keen falters from existence.
Contact the band to get your copy of any Lasher Keen release through these links:
*There are songs on Wither, like 'Animal' and 'Spirit Flesh,' which were critical in defining the sound and feel of the band. 'Forest Queen' and 'Greater Darkness' on the 10" ‘Possessed by the Forest Queen’ are also pivotal in the process. It remains to be seen where the rumored 25-30 minute ‘The Psychotropic Cult of the Oracular Sacrificial Severed Head’ will stand in the overall catalog of Lasher Keen. 'Alone in the Night (Celtic Death March)' seems to be the only hint at what was to come off the first CD, the self-titled 'Lasher Keen.'
**Purportedly a literal translation of 'Lasher Keen'. Why shouldn't I take Dylan at his word? Well, because he also said the definition/translation shifts according to his whim. I like this translation anyway!
Get ready, kids! Bat Guano Fest (September 14 & 15) is just around the corner featuring the release of the new compilation, "Batshit Crazy" from your host, Mr. Ken Doose...and don't forget...Saturday is Ken's birthday! If that weren't enough...it's also the unofficial 22nd anniversary of Bat Guano Productions!
Ken is a deservedly well-known figure in Sacramento punk. His knowledge and documentation of the scene are the stuff of legends...and websites (LoserList69, SactoPunkFlyers, etc.). As part of his nearly 30 years of tracking the history of Sacramento punk, Ken has been co-creating that history by putting together some pretty incredible shows and releasing compilations, including artists from within the local scene, over the past few years.
This years' comp features over 30 bands and will be available at the shows (CD-R) and as a free download upon release (officially, 09/19/12 - Ken's actual birthday)...just Ken's way of giving back to the community!!
Be sure to thank Ken for putting this event together when you're giving him his birthday present! Oh, and tell Paul Imagine he did a great job on the compilation artwork!
Bat Shit Crazy - Local Bat Guano Comp
Released by Bat Guano Productions 9/19/12
Union Hearts - Losing Skin
Cold Heart Re-Press - A Lover's Answer
The Strange Party - I Know Where You Live
City Of Vain - P.M.A.
Bastards Of Young - Achin' To Be
Dead Dads - Trolling At The Moon
The Walking Dead - Driving
Mad Judy - Facial Hair Stare
Urban Wolves - Farewell
The Moans - Son Of The Devil (But He's A Real Stand Up Guy)
The Yoohoos - Bad Hair 24/7
The Croissants - On My Mind
RAD - Victim In Pain
Bad Daddies - Climb The Levy
Abandoned Generation - A.A.
Crude Studs - Night Bathe
MJF & The Parkisins - Love To Skate
Rat Damage - Graveyard
The Community - Modus Operandi
The Left Hand - Undead Bride
Killdevil - "Rusted Dream"
30.06 - Merchant Of Death, Soldier Of Doom
The Porter Project - Start To Finish
Support The Rabid - Government Cheese
Bad Ending - Slave To The Rich
The Aberzombies - Sleep
The Crappys - Wreaks Of Effort
The Secretions - Back In The Day Punk (Live)
The Dumb Fox - Audio Or It Didn't Happen
Eggnog Yoohoo - Cave Potato
The Carbonites - My Vulcan Heart
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14
ZERO FOR ZERO
BOBBY JOE EBOLA AND THE CHILDREN MACNUGGITS
THE LEFT HAND
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
THE WALKING DEAD
SUPPORT THE RABID
THE STRANGE PARTY
THE PORTER PROJECT
That's right...the folks at El Dorko are at it again...yeah, I'm old, so what? Jump on the bandwagon and grab your free download while it's still there...then go to Amnesty International to sign the petition for their release.
It's a big week in Sacramento...err...Central and Northern California:
Police presence and public protest marked the opening day, July 30, 2012, of the ‘Pussy Riot’ trial in Moscow. Victims of these ‘banal hooligans with a religious motive’ are hoping to put the group behind bars for 7 years. "When I talk about this event, my heart hurts. It hurts that this is possible in our country," one victim, Lyubov Sokologorskaya said. "Their punishment must be adequate so that never again is such a thing repeated."
The group claims to be a Russian feminist punk-rock art collective, a living counterpart to the 90’s American Riot Grrrl movement. In an interview with The St. Petersburg Times Pussy Riot said, “What we have in common is impudence, politically loaded lyrics, the importance of feminist discourse and a non-standard female image.”
Of the 25 or so people associated with the final YouTube output of Pussy Riot’s performance art, three are on trial. Of the three, two are young mothers. They have been held in custody for five months now following their alleged “hooliganism driven by religious hatred”.
What was their despicable act? Basically, the three hooligans have been charged with praying the wrong kind of prayer in church. Had their prayer been silent and within the confines of the normal congregation, it would only be between Pussy Riot and God. That is not how it happened, and in the end, Pussy Riot, dressed in short, colorful dresses, leggings and balaclavas, entered the soleus, or inner sancum, of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow and performed their ‘Punk Prayer’. Two weeks later they were arrested and have been in police custody ever since.
"So…what is Pussy Riot, really?", I hear you asking me. Well, when I’m going through the articles, the photographs, the videos…hearing the testimony of the “victims”…well, what I see is coordinated intelligence building an iconography and a visceral message larger than the sum of it’s parts. I see a group of people using ALL the tools at their disposal to improve their lives and the lives of those around them by pointing out the hypocrisy of their own society and becoming martyrs to awaken the citizenry by proving the tyrannical intent of their ‘leaders’.
They use mystery, fear, sex, brazen acts and abrasiveness to provoke anger and sympathy. This is using ‘shock value’ to awaken…this is thoughtful dissent disguised as mockery. I don’t know that I have witnessed this kind of artistic control…this kind of radical message branding and intent…since the rise of that McLaren brainstorm the Sex Pistols. Here we have another, somehow more fully formed, example of what was called, in 1977, the "last and greatest outbreak of pop-based moral pandemonium".
The sheer, subtle genius of using the machinations of the State to expose the machinations of the State is as intriguing as it is terrifying! The success of this tactic, seen again all these years after the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, though fascinating and really inspiring, shows that force is the first thing power will resort to to protect itself. Placing their bodies at the mercy of the system, these women have half-awakened the world press. To see reputable news sources’ calling it a ‘show trial’, ‘worse than the Soviet era’ and this ‘Time’ magazine headline today, August 3, 2012, is something amazing, the irony completely missed;
Russia’s Pussy Riot Trial: A Kangaroo Court Goes on a Witch Hunt
Is the ongoing trial of three Russian feminist punk rockers in Moscow a sign of a new tyrannical streak defining the rule of President Vladimir Putin?
Why the Church? Why Putin? Well, these crazy kids grew up with notions left over from the heady days of the 1990’s when Russia appeared to be freeing itself from the kind of repression that’s flowing back under Putin’s reign. The cozy relationship between Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, who called Putin’s time in office a “godly miracle”, and Putin, who promised $120 million to build more Orthodox churches, brought back sour memories and, in February of this year, this highly inventive protest.
The church is now playing the victim card, going so far as to compare the Pussy Riot performance to the persecution the church faced from the Bolsheviks under communist rule. The State is clamping down, arresting those who protest in any meaningful way outside the courthouse, freezing the groups’ lawyer’s bank accounts and ‘disappearing’ Nadezhda’s philosophy professor, who was to testify on her behalf.
The citizenry are responding and their response has evolved since March, when the young women were arrested. The majority of Russians now support Pussy Riot and feel the government is going too far. The swing in opinion is forcing Putin to call for ‘leniency’. There is something of an artistic revolution happening around the group, with hundreds of photos and several videos being generated to venerate the women and what they stand for.
What do they stand for? Is there a philosophy major in this bunch, or what? When I first began researching/following this story I stumbled upon an interview (manifesto) with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. She happens to be a student in visual arts and a fourth year philosophy student. Punk Retrospective was inspired, using a quote from that manifesto, to create this picture as part of a ‘thoughtful dissent’ meme we’ve been pushing on our Facebook page:
Here is the article the quote comes from:
Many news sources are calling Nadezhda Tolokonnikova the face of Pussy Riot, falling so quickly into the traps of the ingrained thinking patterns of the civilized world. The point of the balaclavas is that ANYONE can be a member of Pussy Riot. Today saw the release of video with male protesters being arrested on the rooftop at the courthouse in Moscow. True, the visual artist/ philosophy major obviously plays a pivotal role in the thinking behind Pussy Riot actions, but the other two charged women, Maria Alekhina and Ekaterina Samucevich, are also highly educated and artistic.
So, what does it all mean? To me this means Pussy Riot must be studied and revered, even as we fight for their release in whatever ways we can. The force of change moving through the situation created by the minds of these artists and thinkers is more than impressive. This is what ‘punk rock’ is supposed to be at its most fundamental level. This is what I see as the beginning of the Pussy Riot Enlightenment Doctrine: Do not be fooled into thinking that you can accomplish anything by pure shock value. Your motives must be clear in your mind before you attempt to create on this level…but do not let that frighten you away. It would be a shame to allow the momentum and lessons of Pussy Riot go to waste. Choose your issue, educate yourself, question the dominant paradigm, create a meaningful stance and iconography to go with it, but this cannot be faked…do all of this with your full heart and mind and freedom and you may achieve something as glorious as the hooligan art collective known as Pussy Riot.
Art and Human Manifesto (different from the previous manifesto)
Free Pussy Riot Now! (Putin, fear no art.) on Facebook
Free Pussy Riot Two on Facebook
FreePussyRiot.org on Facebook
Ok, kiddies...here's the latest from Sucker Punk Productions...that's right, it's this weeks lowdown!! Stay tuned to Punk Retrospective for an interview with Benjamin Abel of Sucker Punk Productions...in just a few minutes!!
SPP Video Magazine Vol. 1, Issue 7