Punk Retrospective
31Dec/130

Can’t Keep Up

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

OBN III tearing up the VFW - Photo credit

OBN III tearing up the VFW - Photo credit: Amy Donovan Photography

Yeah, I never write on here anymore. I still go to shows. I still shoot video...so much that I fill up all the hard drives I find. Between work, family, the band and shows, I rarely find myself with time to even upload video, let alone add titles and other info. This week I decided I needed to get some of this online and off the main laptop...so, in a somewhat random fashion I'm going to drop a few videos into your lap.

I was called to Missoula, Montana in October and got to witness night 1 of the Bugs US tour. No, they're not THAT Bugs, these guys are the really great Bugs from Portland who wrote the underground hit song, 'Fuckin' A Right,' that I love so much. They played at the ZACC, which is a really cool cultural component of the Missoula scene...and a nice intimate setting to witness artists of this caliber. I shot their whole set, but had to shoot the last 15 minutes with a screen width of 320px instead of 640px, because I'd shot the Oll Breds set (which I hadn't planned on) and the card still had Paul Collins Beat and the Maxies from a few nights before (yeah, I'll probably post those other bands soon). I talked with Paul and Mike before and after the show, then financed the first leg of their tour before walking back to the house I was staying at. Here's their set from where I was standing:

Pretty damn good, right? OK, so here are two more from my trip to Missoula. First up is the The Blind Shake at the Ole Beck VFW Hall in downtown Missoula. They opened for OBN III and Thee Oh Sees...the combination of which whipped up the over capacity crowd into one of the craziest situations I've ever been in at a show. The video of The Blind Shake is pretty clean, but by the time OBN III started, there was barely any space left for the bands and they were forced to hold the fans back while they played! I'll drop the last OBN III song here, but probably won't bother with Thee Oh Sees video. Here's The Blind Shake:

and OBN III:

Well, I decided not to post this 'til I uploaded the Oll Breds video I shot. Like I said...I had no intention of filling my SD card with anyone but the Bugs...then these guys started playing. I'd spotted them at the Paul Collins show...thought they looked strange for Montana, so when they started slinging some sloppy, garage style fun I got hooked. As always, the sound quality leaves a lot to desire, so I'd recommend also scrolling to the bottom for some studio recordings:

OK...that's what I've got uploaded from my Montana adventure. Maybe I'll drop some more of that later...but, since you're still here, why not go buy some Bugs music?

[bandcamp album=172638194 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

more? ok, here's some Oll Breds!

[bandcamp album=2512373294 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

18Aug/130

Post show wrap-up: Secretions at the Miners Foundry

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

Cooper Žák

Cooper Žák of Lightweight at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center for the Summer Daze concert series.

I started writing a piece about the show we promoted so heavily last week...you remember, the Miners Foundry event with Sacramento's Secretions. I guess it was fine (the article), but it started getting into the future of events and didn't focus enough on the absolute success of the current event. With that in mind, I'll try again, with some bonus footage of each band.

When I saw the first poster for the Summer Daze events I immediately knew I wanted (Pug Skullz) to be part of it. Olaf Jens, local artist and disc jockey, had created a captivating image with that first poster, and it boosted local interest. Each successive poster generated more enthusiasm and with a simple request to As the Crow Flies Presents promoter Chad Conner Crow, Pug Skullz was in!

SummerDazeSometimes I feel I over-promote, that I abuse my Facebook friendships by being a little too persistent in my attempts to get the message out about certain shows or music releases. If Facebook weren't so intent on hiding posts from friends and followers it might not be necessary to repost events, but as it stands, newsfeed posts disappear in a matter of hours without a diligent search. Point? I pushed this show in ways I hadn't before and felt a little guilty about it. How many of the attendees did my work bring in? I'll never know, but I'm certain I'll over-promote again.

By the time we got to playing there was a good sized crowd of kids and old punks dancing and having a great time. The venue staff was having a good time, the promoter was happy, the bands were relaxed and ready and the audience was really enjoying the venue's sound and lights. Yes, Scott Steuer did a great job with lights and my previous predictions about Greg Cameron's ability to do sound were greatly underestimated...I was completely blown away! I think our community is finally beginning to notice what we've got here.

Pug Skullz are fairly new and we don't mind opening for other bands. We play simple punk rock with a deeper message than most people care to hear. We make mistakes. We don't use pedals, effects or other sound enhancing technologies. We don't promote an image...for me, it's all about expression. It's difficult getting people to come see an unknown band, so opportunities to play with well respected, established artists like the Secretions are a gift. Aside from a couple of blown verses and a simultaneous loss of place in the music (by me), I think the show went well for Pug Skullz. We were followed by Santa Cruz's 'Lightweight'.

Lightweight pushed the speed levels up quite a few notches and were rewarded with a nice circle pit. It's really great seeing younger people playing full-tilt punk rock. There is still melody under all that speed and noise, so I 'liked' their Facebook page and bookmarked their releases on Bandcamp. They're doing some really cool things and are just gonna get better.

Next up was the Devils Train. Since moving north roughly 10 years ago, I don't believe I've watched another band perform as many times as I have this one. Surprisingly, they continue to improve. They play around town a lot, but since they played the Far West Punk Fest, I've been hearing how much Sacramento loves them. The evidence of this lies in the fact that Akasha, pin-up 'devil-girl'/vocalist extraordinaire, was able to convince The Secretions to come back to Nevada City after an unfortunate ten year absence. They have a very loyal local following because they put on an awesome stage show and play an interest blend of punk, jazz and ska. Plus, they're really nice people, so don't be afraid to approach them...they're not as dangerous as they appear.

Haha...I guess I did have some video of the 'masked paparazzi', aka Mike Meals, with the Secretions on "Viva La Lucha Libre"!

The Secretions are a bunch of great guys. I only got to spend a few minutes with Danny while he worked the merch table, but found him to be a very personable, enthusiastic and knowledgable guy. Once they took the stage his sense of humor ruled the evening. The crowd stuck around to the end, which is a huge testimony to the solid set they played. These guys impressed everyone with their originals and nailed their covers...Greg called their Descendents cover on the first chord. The Secretions are a great band and proved to be just the anchor punk needed to regain a foothold in Nevada City.

In the end, there were more people than I've personally seen at a punk show in Nevada City...and that's with the higher than normal ticket price. Because of this show, I see a future for punk rock in Nevada City and Grass Valley...and so do bands from around the area. I'm already getting e-mails and Facebook messages from a wide range of punk acts requesting gigs. If your band is interested in playing this area, 'like' us on Facebook/PunkRetro or Facebook/PugSkullz or e-mail me at doug at punkretrospective.com.

5Aug/130

Punk Returns to the Miner’s Foundry | Nevada City, Ca | 8/8/13

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

It's the beginning of August, which is the hot, dry part of summer up here in the foothills of northern California. There are nights the temperature can stay up in the 80 degree range, enough to make the “Summer Daze” concert series moniker predictive rather than just descriptive. This Thursday, August 8th, at the Miner's Foundry Cultural Center, marks performance number 4 in a series of 7, “the heart of the series: punk rock!,” as promoter Chad Connor Crow said in a telephone interview this afternoon.

He's more of a metal head than a punk, he claims, but says he had a friend, back in the day, who used to school him on punk rock through their weekly meetings. He has a serious love of Henry-era Black Flag and had some really nice, profound things to say about punk as a genre.

“I know the word 'organic' is overused to the point of becoming foul, but punk, at its core, is the most organic, most real music ever. This is what adrenaline sounds like...this is how we speak our truth,” he said, adding,”This should be the most rowdy show of the series, and not just because it's the only one that has whiskey available.”

He says the series, produced by his company, 'As The Crow Flies Presents,' has had a fair turnout and that the people who are showing up are blown away by the talent they're witnessing. “This is all about love and support of the bands,” he said, “and it's been a real grassroots effort, it's a real community driven event. The whole point is to turn people on to something they didn't know they would like.”

I had to ask him about the posters for these events, because they're so eye-catching. The entire series of promotional flyers is being hand-drawn by local artist, Olaf Jens, who may be better known to the community as KVMR's, “Vinyl Avenger”. Chad told me he and Olaf have become good friends over the last few years and that he'd given “full artistic freedom” over the design work to Olaf. How successful are the posters? Well, Chad informed me he's been replacing them, several times, all around town, as people are “taking them home to put on their refrigerators.”

Olaf Jens Photo credit Mike Meals

Olaf Jens
Photo credit Mike Meals

This isn't the first series he's produced, but the rapid return of a week to week concert series sounds a bit overwhelming. I'm always impressed by people who take on massive undertakings like this and succeed. To Chad, success is making sure when people see 'As The Crow Flies Presents” on a flyer they'll “know it kicks ass!”

Chad Connor Crow Photo credit Chula Gemignani

Chad Connor Crow
Photo credit Chula Gemignani

He said the bands are excited by the opportunity to play such a great venue. “It feels like an arena, the lights, the sound...very professional.”

Speaking of which, I also spoke with Greg Cameron, of Cameron Pro Audio, the man in charge of sound at the venue. His knowledge of punk rock and his story, which I'll include some of below, are matched only by his expertise in venue sound. He's the go-to sound-pro for The Miner's Foundry Cultural Center in Nevada City. Here's a little Q&A:

ElDorkoPunkRetro: As the Crow Flies Presents has already put you to work on three of these...your impression so far?

Greg Cameron: Each of the nights has had a different theme which keeps things interesting. So far it's been a great opportunity for both newer and established performers to strut their stuff on a bigger stage with a good sound system and lighting.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: Because you and I have become somewhat acquainted, I'm a little familiar with your story...I'm always curious how people end up where they do. What's the connection between the Greg Cameron who appears in FILMAGE: The Story of DESCENDENTS/ALL and the Greg Cameron who posts tech jargon, which I can't begin to understand, with other tech nerds when discussing large venue sound systems?

Greg Cameron: I've always been a tech nerd since I could walk and talk. Even back in grade school as far back as the 3rd grade, I was able to thread up the movies in school on the 16mm projectors. And I figured out how to run sound and lights in the school auditorium. When I became involved with Black Flag, jamming in their practice space, I was the one figuring out how to fix broken guitar amps and figuring out how to keep the practice PA up and running.

I'd replace blown speakers, solder bad cords, replace tubes in the amps, etc. My big introduction to live sound was on the '85 Black Flag "Loose Nut" tour when Black Flag took Rat Sound Systems with them on the road. My band SWA was on one leg of the tour. It was the second time out for Rat Sound on a tour and their second with Black Flag. They (Dave Rat and Brian Rat, it was a 2 person company back then) had built a new system for the tour from scratch. As a punk rock tour, the band members were also roadies. So we were all loading the PA in and out of clubs every night. Me, being the tech head that I was, had to learn everything about the system and rock band PA. So I nagged Dave Rat a lot and picked his brain. And I still do quite a bit.

Greg Cameron Photo credit Jordan Schwartz

Greg Cameron
Photo credit Jordan Schwartz

At the end of that tour, I needed a job upon our return to LA and Dave hired me for a while for one-off shows in LA at places like Fenders Ballroom and such. I learned a lot more. But they couldn't keep me on for very long as there had been a couple of robberies of gear and money was tight. They were living in their shop as it was to keep expenses down so they could continue to grow the company. But the love of live sound PA never left me. After about 15 years, I decided I wanted to start doing PA stuff again and started buying gear and building stuff. I also got back in touch with the Rats who had grown to be one of the most recognized PA companies in the world doing the tour sound for the Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Rage, Coachella festival, and tons of other bands and events. I still had a lot to learn and a lot to get back to up to speed on. I'm a PA junky, so I learn stuff and it sticks. I'm still a drum junky, though.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: I've heard whisperings of some ancient appearance by the Dead Kennedys...even M.D.C. Is it true punk bands used to appear at the Miner's Foundry?

Greg Cameron: I have limited knowledge of the punk history of the Foundry, but I've been told by people that were there back then DK had played there as well as the Decendents and lots of other punk bands as part of their tours.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: Over the past couple of years there seems to have been a resurgence in punk rock. This whole area, from Reno to Chico, San Francisco to Sacramento, is teeming with great bands in the genre. Heck, even our little town has a few punks left. What do you see as the lasting contribution of punk to music, art, and expression? Do you see a future for punk?

Greg Cameron: I think "punk" has been hugely influential on current music and will last purely by the virtue that established bands now which were heavily influenced by it will in turn influence bands for generations. Just like African tribal music influenced Europeans to form modern 4/4 time signature music. That of course was the roots of blues which gave way to rock and punk rock. It just keeps on going. As far as art, much of the punk scene where I came from in LA was part of the art community. It's all intertwined. Even hard music is art.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: The Secretions are a fairly successful band and The Devils Train are building a good following. This punk version of 'Summer Daze' looks like it should be worth going to. Do you think we'll be seeing more punk at the Miner's Foundry? Any chance some of your old pals might pop into town?

Greg Cameron: I would certainly like to see more music with an edge at the Foundry. And I think some of my friends will come to play once in a while. I have a personal commitment from the members of FLAG (one of the two current incarnations of Black Flag) that they will play at the Foundry early next year. They were potentially going to come this month but we were a bit too far north for them to make it back to FYF in L.A. the next day without too much stress. I've been nagging the Descendents to come play for a couple of years now. It's difficult for them because Milo, their singer, is also an actual scientist and can only get away from home for a limited number of days per year. I just got word that FILMAGE will be screening at the Nevada City Film Festival next month. I pitched it to the band as a good opportunity to come and play. It's a long shot, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: Final thoughts?

Greg Cameron: I would like to see better attendance at the rock shows at the Foundry. I realize with the myriad of events in this small town and the lack of money in the pockets of younger folks, it's tough to pack shows for younger audiences. Bringing in bigger names from the outside could certainly bring more people to the shows and help get more exposure for the local bands. I'd really like to see that happen.

So, there you have it folks...possible visits to the Miner's Foundry by FLAG and Descendents soon! In the mean time, check out the music of these four bands who will be appearing there this Thursday night. Pick up early bird discount tickets at the BriarPatch Co-op or through the Miner's Foundry website. $12 advance/ $15 at the door.

secretions


 

 

 

 

Ace Dans

Photo credit Ace Dans

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kef Photography

Photo credit Kef Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit Ellie Gaylord

Photo credit Ellie Gaylord

19Jul/130

Strange Party – Radio(in)active EP Release & Show

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

Strange PartyA mysterious message appeared in my Facebook inbox the other day...a secret Bandcamp link to an unreleased four-song EP. I clicked through and got to hear the new 'Strange Party,' Radio(in)active EP a full week in advance of it's release on 7/20/2013.

I have seen these guys perform, so I had an idea what to expect. Anyone who read my column on the Sacramento horror-punk scene will remember the respect 'The Left Hand's' singer, Vic, holds for 'The Strange Party' and that both bands were to open for former 'Misfit' Michale Graves. That show was a huge success.

The horror-punk genre is typically characterized by power vocals and a quick tempo married to simple, catchy melodic structures. The punk-edge of the guitar sharpened by the skilled mastery of a metal-head axe wielder. The Strange Party does not disappoint. Their talent and skill are presented here in some nice, clean recordings.

While similar to their 'Waste of Flesh' EP, 'Radio(in)active has it's own character and strength. Sadly, I will not be sharing the secret link with you at this point...you will have to wait for the band's show at The Colony tomorrow night with Dead Dads, Mad Judy, Carbomb Commies and Keep It From the Cops. Event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/189659817853946/

Teaser track:

7May/130

Recovered Files: Bows and Arrows Collective 2/2/2013

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

BowsIt'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!!

16Apr/130

Horror Night in Sacramento

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

World-class horror punk in Sacramento Wednesday!!

World-class horror punk in Sacramento Wednesday!!
Event page on Facebook

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!!

Michale Graves

The Left Hand

The Strange Party

Avenue Saints

The Moans

Additional linkage:

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.

9Jan/130

Bad Daddies & Jesus Christ, Mister! video from The Where House?

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

Bad Daddies ripping it up at The Where House? 1/5/13

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!

Hit Reset

Jesus Christ, Mister!

The Community

The Enlows

Bad Daddies

19Sep/120

Lasher Keen – Berserker

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

Markus Wolff - Berserker

'Berserker' artwork by Markus Wolff
You belong to the forest that grows immortal trees.

Lasher Keen - Berserker

August 27, 2012 - 'Berserker' arrives
Left to right: Sage, Dylan and Bluebird

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.

Bluebird dress rehearsal

Bluebird at the 9/18/2012 dress rehearsal.

 

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.

Berserker master

Dylan holding the official master of 'Berserker', perhaps the advance copy Bluebird gave me on March 11, 2012.

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.

Rainmaker video

Scene from the April 23rd video shoot of 'Rainmaker'(view video @ bottom of page). Video and photo credit to Lara Miranda.

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.

Dylan rehearsal

Dylan at the 9/18/2012 dress rehearsal.

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.

Sage Rehearsal

Sage at the 9/18/2012 dress rehearsal. "Probably not the t-shirt I'll be wearing," he said.

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.

Lasher Keen

Dark Folk Power Trio

Contact the band to get your copy of any Lasher Keen release through these links:

Pesanta Urfolk Records
LasherKeen.net
Facebook
Reverb Nation
Bluebird's Etsy shop!

Lasher Keen~ Rainmaker from lara miranda on Vimeo.

*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!

Dylan works his magic.

Roadside fun on the way to the Diggins for the 'Rainmaker' video shoot.

11Sep/120

Bat Guano Fest – September 14 & 15

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

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

Featuring:

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

Bat Guano Fest - Day 1

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

ZERO FOR ZERO

BOBBY JOE EBOLA AND THE CHILDREN MACNUGGITS

THE LEFT HAND

MAD JUDY

THE COMMUNITY

8:00PM

ALL AGES

$5.00

 

 

Bat Guano Fest - Day 2

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15

THE WALKING DEAD

SUPPORT THE RABID

RAT DAMAGE

THE STRANGE PARTY

UNION HEARTS

KILLDEVIL

THE CROISSANTS

THE PORTER PROJECT

DEAD DADS

SNEEZE ATTACK!

CRUDE STUDS

ABANDONED GENERATION

3:00PM

ALL AGES

$7.00

Yoohoos

The Yoohoos from Germany at Casa De Chaos last year. September 17, 2011.

 

[bandcamp track=3581605770 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=grande]

15Aug/120

El Dorko – The Crucifixion of Pussy Riot

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

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.