Thursday, April 17, 2014

Springing into Total Fest with Ol' Doris

The sun is shining, birds are singing and it's sorta warm out, so to hell with it, we hereby present a Total Fest XIII announcement sneak peak.
Ol' Doris at Zoo City Apparel. photo by Tim Goessman

We're stoked to announce that Seattle punks Ol' Doris are on the roster for Total Fest this year. Not so coincidentally, they play the Palace this Saturday, April 19, along with excellent garage punks Stab Me Kill Me and Buddy "Butty" Jackson. It's a free shindig (though 21-plus as far as we know.)

Give 'em a listen, and cruise over to the Bandcamp to download the album for donation (or, y'know, free.) See you on Saturday.... and in August. More Total Fest roster announcements are on the way soon.


Saturday, March 8, 2014


Alright, dudes of Missoula, Lolo, Frenchtown, parts of Seeley Lake, Turah, Milltown, Anaconda, Butte, Spokane, Helena, Great Falls and East Missoula: Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak, somewhere in this town. See, me'n the boys we don't like it. So we're getting up and going down.

Lord Dying play in Missoula at the Zootown Arts Community Center or "ZACC" on Saturday March 8th, 8:00 PM. Tickets may still be available at Ear Candy Music Missoula, MT, and we should have some available at the door. It's starts at 8:00 PM, thee Hounds, Con/Sequence and Bacon and Egg are also playing. It's thoroughly all-ages, is going to be a blast and we'll see you there.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Thrones photo by Jose Sandoval
Among the bands of the last twenty years, as far as we can tell, there's just a few that really have kind of ruled the roost as much for us as Thrones have. So, we decided to go out to Oregon for their twentieth anniversary show about a week ago. It was a rager, Joe Thrones was notably moved by the turnout and attention folks paid to his deal. There was cake, there were dudes in black leather jackets, there was a poor selection of beer in arguably the country's beer capital. It was a rock show! Back about twenty years ago, a twenty-or-so year old Josh saw Thrones first ever show. I didn't know it at the time, but that's what was going on at the Madrona Hills Winery with Unwound and the Waydowns.

Thrones was unquestionably the evening's highlight, and cranked out a set of full-tilt, Vocoder-laden whatever-it-is-he-does exactly. And I think that's probably the biggest part of the charm. Thrones isn't a doom band. It also isn't an experimental band. It's not a lot of things. It's too omnivorous for the metal purists and probably too riffy for the noise donks. But somehow, those dudes can see past their musical barriers and just feel the vibe. And it's just a real treat of a thing that Thrones does, I think.

Mostly, you can't help but be moved by what a savage the guy is on the bass, and with the sounds he makes. It's definitely a craft he's studied, perfected and mastered and I tell you what, there are few people I'd rather see on stage for about an hour. Here's to you, Thrones. That night was kind of special. Oh, and he covered Trees by Rush, which I'd never seen.

It's worth noting that both Daniel Menche and Survival Knife, who both also played, tore shit up in their own rights. Menche wove a big single quilt of noise-scape, complete with a contact-miked metal plank that he held up to his throat while singing, and laid down plenty of texture and build to command a pretty solidly rocking 25 minutes on the stage. Survival Knife, with Justin and Brandt from Unwound and the Kris Cunningham (who slayed Nudity's tubs) and Meg (who I don't know from other bands), were good too. Kind of a straight ahead punk and post hardcore vibe, compared with Unwound's more moody/feedbacky deal. I think for the music they're making, it would've been more intense for me had it been played faster.

More on Thrones: The guy's an excellent free spirit, and kind of an anomaly in 2014: label-less and booking agent-free, and with as far as  we can count, just a couple vinyl releases (Wage War 7" and Sedan split 12") over the last ten or so years. He does Thrones on his own time, and exactly as he wants to, and with no pretense. Recently, he's been uploading great live sets up to his webstore, here. More folks should check it out.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


With another incredible Total Fest in the bag, we've started on planning for the TOTAL FEST XIII, which is scheduled for August 14-16, 2014.

We're now accepting band submissions through March 15, 2014. As you route your late summer tours, please consider that the best way to the Northwest from Minneapolis, or to the midwest from the west coast is on scenic I-90, via Missoula.

What do we want from you? Some tracks (a CDR is fine; vinyl or other material is great), a photo, a brief write-up (a review is ok), and reliable contact info (point of contact, email AND cell phone) for your band.

We also accept electronic submissions. Please send mp3s via the submissions email mentioned below, but please don't simply send us links to websites and ask us to choose what to listen to. We appreciate you taking the time to select tunes that best represent your sound and making sure to include the additional items requested above. Please include your band name and "Total Fest XIII Submission" in the email subject line. Thanks!

Please send hard copy submissions to:

Total Fest
P.O. Box 7784
Missoula, MT 59807

For digital submissions or questions, please email us at

Thursday, December 26, 2013


As the year end best-of lists roll in, we notice a few things notably missing: the flyover country of U.S. is woefully
underrespesented, while places like Los Angeles, Brooklyn and San Francisco continue to snatch up most of our national bandwidth. It strikes us more and more that if one isn't from coastal America, it's harder to reach much more than a regional audience, regardless of the quality of your art. Of course, all this is somewhat speculative, not based on a particular data set or something, but it's what's informing our year end list. The following are the records we listened to a bunch in 2013, were moved by, and felt like needed to be talked about a bit more.

BEST RECORD OF 2013: Federation X: We Do What We Must. Always a bit of an outsider within the world of stoner/loud rock circles because of their melodies, strong audible vocals and vulnerablity, in 2013 Federation X released a record that sits well atop a roughly ten year career of putting out really good records. We Do What We Must marks the bands biggest investment in recording, and boasts the best set of sounds on records recorded by greats like Tim Green and Steve Albini. Songs wise, this record hasn't got a single dud. This record more than any other has this band fully comfortable with their sound, and only sounding like themselves, which is to say like a hard rock band with no bassist, a burley drummer and Bill singing.

RUNNER UP: Gay Witch Abortion: Opportunistic Smokescreen Behavior. If you're a man who longs for his cotton/poly thrift-acquired fertilizer company jacket, gallons of domestic lager, cigarettes, gasoline that cost about $1.05 and all the other trappings of 1990s underground life, let me introduce you to the time-warp of a band that is Gay Witch Abortion. Two pieces, guitar and drums, a heap of cool shit like octave pedals and songs with names like Congolese Freedom Taxi*, Gay Witch Abortion isn't trying to remind me of the best of the Dope Guns and Fucking comps, they just are playing tunes that would easily stand up to the best of the Cows, Hammerhead and all the rest. (*not an actual song).

RUNNER UP: Miss Lana Rebel and Kevin Michael Mayfield: A Real Subtle Beauty. Hard as hell to deny the power of Lana and Kevin's music, even if it's delivered on a pretty simple CDR in a paper sleeve, it's a good reminder that some of the best music out there isn't striving for anybody's attention, doesn't have media nor radio campaigns behind it, and isn't in your face constantly. Even without all those meaningless trappings it can have the haunting beauty of a sunrise in a saguaro-studded valley in southern Arizona.

Mr. Dad: Deadliest Catch 5". Well, it's not an longplayer, but it's good. This Minot, ND band's renewed our faith that good things occasionallly come from small places. Mr. Dad's deal is kind of spazzy punk rock, thoroughly informed by the great local scene that is Minot, ND.

Ben Von Wildenhaus: Great Melodies from Around. Rainy Seattle has always been a cultural backwater, at least on the national scene. Sub Pop used this fact to their advantage and made it seem like all their late '80s/early '90s groups were erstwile loggers and millworkers, which nobody really was. Ben Von Wildenhaus has been plying his solo guitar music for a lot of years now, and this record actually was released in late 2011, but I'm in favor of calling it a 2013 release, because that's when I got my copy. It's a goddamnn winner of a record, with a familarity that means that you'll flip it about half a dozen times before realizing it's what you've been listening to exclusively

Mordecai: College Rock. Butte, Montana shit rock whose tunes make me think of groups like the Swell Maps and the Fall, though those comparisons are a little weak. What's nice about Mordecai is their vibe, which they've comfortably fit into from day one. I still regularly listen to their first CDR.

Needlecraft: S/T. Hana and Mikki are two of our favorite Missoulians, and this record marks one of the most fruitful collaborations we've seen come from Western Montana is at least a decade. Needlecraft have some girl group Ronnie Spector stuff happening, some Shags fumbling, and awesome attitude.

The Blind Shake: Key To A False Door. Minneapolis' Blind Shake spent a month and a half on the road with the Oh Sees, which probably roughly sextuppled their audience and gave us some hope for the kind of annoying garage scene with its itchy-eBay fingered fanboys, tight jeaned Pabst drinkerrs, Ray Bans and all the other recycled cultural offal from whenever. I mean, fuck it, some of the stuff like Warm Soda, Shannon and the Clams and Thee Oh Sees is really well done and fun, and some of it's just overhyped, and thoroughly mediocre. So it goes, but the Blind Shake we're sure, with their non-partying cold stun-guitar shit don't really fit in with most of what is going on in the nouveau garage world, and we like their outsiderness and moreover we like their songs and their live show. The Blaha bros and Jim Roper are a fucking force to be reckoned with.

Dreamsalon: Thirteen Nights. Craig Chambers from the Lights and Min Yee from the A-Frames newish group is a great example that a band can be great, and have the modest aim of making great music, and that's about it. Actually, I'm speculating that's the case because I didn't read anywhere near enough about this record, which is excellent in pretty much every way.

INTERNATIONAL FLYOVER NOTE: Dead: Idiots. Dead are the one Melbourne, Australia band that fit pretty squarely outside of the world of the Eddy Currents, the Cunts and all the rest of the garage guys who've been reviving the attention that message boards like Terminal Boredom seem to give the southern hemisphere. Dead are like a weirder Motorhead or something, thoroughly fans of the Melvins and Karp, and making loud weird bassy riffed out tunes about cats.

NON FLYOVER SPECIAL MENTIONS: Vaz: Visiting Hours. Vaz do currently have a cool zip code (Brooklyn) that they call home, but it's important to note, as with Lord Dying, they're from as un-cool a part of the country (Fargo/Moorehead) as one really can be from, so, they made the list. And their weird space race, soviet futuristic paranoiac rock and roll fits into a genre currently populated by only Vaz, and we love that fact.

Lord Dying: Summon the Faithless. Lord Dying is a Portland band, which officially isn't flyover country, but with half of its members from Utah, and one from Memphis, they're pretty much a stocked with flyover dudes whose hard work shows through pretty much from the first note. There's an unquestionable nod to Tom Warrior and Martin Ain's collaborations, but this thing gives us some hope that metal isn't all goddawful backlooking hesher bullshit, or of the dreaded nu variety these days.

Shannon and the Clams: Dreams in the Rat House. This record grew and grew and grew on me in a way that kind of left me needing to hear it at least once a day to be reminded again how good it is. The talent runs incredibly deep with Shannon and Cody, and this record is their third, and runs equally deep with their themes of sleep, agoraphobia and anxiety

Hundred Visions: Permanent Basement. Austin group Hundred Visions deserves to immediately double its audience, strictly for the pop genius and great video associated with the Where Do I Sign from their self-released (we think) Peremanent Basement LP. This record is the recorded music version of books "pager turner" which is to say, it's a flipper. Kept getting flipped for about 5 weeks in our house.  Kind of a power pop/british invasion deal, kind of a handful of things, but at the end of the day, it's a sound they wear well and own completely.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Boney M were a German band engineered by the same dude, Frank Farian, who concocted Milli Vanilli.

Unlike Milli Vanilli, with Boney M, there was something there. Great Fashion sense. Excellent moves. Insane Abba-like ESL choruses and crazy sweet disco hooks. You still can hear them getting played regularly in bars, discos, cafes and wherever else just about anywhere east of Budapest, where they're easily on equal status with the Beatles.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


We've written about some of the roots of our borderline obsessive fandom over Vaz and Hammerhead here, and probably some other places. The short version is that Hammerhead (pre-Vaz) kind of set the bar for which all other noise rock should be measured.

To say they're a good or even great band is to kind of miss the point. And to kind of sound like you're exaggerating. They're a fucking truly unique and special thing you don't get to just get off the bus and check out very often. Shit, Vaz have got us swearing. Jeff and Paul have been playing together in bands for about 20+ years, and represent the kind of sonic mind-meld that can only come from that kind of a long-term musical collaboration.

They're in Missoula on November 11th, Monday at 10:30 PM after Trivia. Show's free, donations please. They're touring in support of new record which by all counts is going to shred.

Oh, and they just played on Diane's Kamikaze Fun Machine on WFMU. You can stream that from here: