Wednesday, November 26, 2008
It's hardly newsworthy, but somehow, 3/4 of a year makes me excited. So mark your calendars for August 20-22, 2009. Dmitri (pictured left) has got his passes already.
In other, perhaps more interesting news, we've launched a mailing list which you can join here . We'll do Total Fest updates (i.e. when we're taking submissions, when we've got a line-up, when we add bands, where the barbecues will be) as well as Wantage USA label release information. The first 100 people to join will get entered into a drawing to win a handful of ultra-rare test pressings, so you know, like, do what you feel, man.
Other notable things: Diane Kamikaze, one of our favorite DJs on WFMU recently had (one of TFVII's sleepers) Triclops! on her show . It's conveniently archived here, and is well worth the admission price. TF alums Black Elk have got a new record on Crucial Blast, it's called Always a Six, Never A Nine and we're sure it rules. KBGA should have it soon, and stores ought to as well! The wildmen of Akimbo have a new record out called Jersey Shores. Neurot, who're based just down the road from us in Idaho, put it out. It's a concept record about a shark-filled summer on, yes, the Jersey Shore. Not since Queensryche has a self-proclaimed Seattle Hair Band had the gumption to release a concept record, and we're STOKED. Chris Fuller just got us a couple CDRs worth of Total Fest VII photos, and those'll be going somewhere, soon. Probably our myspace, maybe our photobucket, etc. etc.
In the spirit of entering into the Best Of list time of year, we'd be interested in seeing your best of lists for 2008! Throw them up as comments, if you would, and we'll post them on the blog. Here's what mine, kind of truncated looks like: Bridgebuilder: LIVE!, USAISMONNSTER: Space Programs CD, Group Inerane: Guitars of Agadez, V/A Top Notch: Hits from the Hive LP, Poor School/Wiggwaum Split LP, Harvey Milk: Life.. the Best Game In Town CD, Miss Lana Rebel: All I Need LP.
Go about your business.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Harvey Milk: Loud Band For the Ages
From the Where Has This Music Been All My Life file, comes Harvey Milk. They're an Athens, Georgia-based group who've been largely ignored since they began, back in the 1990's. Sort of the perfect antithesis to the crushing metal that takes itself too seriously, theirs are essentially love songs, Leonard Cohen covers, and other, less-than-manly fare played with more ooomph than handfuls of black-clad, neck-tattooed, and corpse painted heshers trying desperately to be heavy.
There's poetry in this stuff too, and from a guy with a general disdain for most poetic things, I've come to appreciate it, especially when set to music that's got the bombast, restraint and tonal excellence that this stuff does. Where heavy music can generally go one of two ways, total stoner riff repetition, without much to set one song apart from another, or dull dronery ala Sunn, Harvey Milk just play slow, tight, sad/triumphant shit, and it's pretty excellent.
Chunklet recently re-released their My Love Is Higher Than Your Assessment of What My Love Could Be on beautiful double LP. More to come in the re-issue dept. from them, sounds like. Hydrahead's responsible for their newest piece of work, entitled Life... The Best Game In Town, which is thoroughly a winner, on par with their best work.
Oregonian and Total Fest alumnus Joe Preston, whose Thrones is one of the best "bands" to ever rock, is currently the bassist for this outfit.
Not sure what the connection their gay California politician namesake is. NPR's doing a special on him soon.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I can't stop listening to this new USAISAMONSTER record. It's called Space Programs and is predictably about American Indians, utopian futures, Nordic explorers and other stuff of that nature. Unpredictably, this record is their most cohesive yet. I'm a fan of this band and have been for the past 6 years. "Cohesive" might not be the word I'm looking for, they've never wanted for cohesion, but this thing has a nonlinear, damn near Malian sort of flow to it that is totally mesmerizing and classic. It's got synthesizer, beautiful vocal harmonies, and their patented octavey, hammering and triumphantly weaving deal. It also has a song called Cocaine Wedding.
They are on tour now, and the record is available from their label, Load.
Other things on the recent playlist: Miss Lana Rebel, Japanther, Harvey Milk, Gauze, Filth Matress, Group Inerane, Bridgebuilder.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Yelp, friend, we have a few very limited copies of the new Japanther LP on opaque blue vinyl. The lads will have some copies along with them on their tour but the only way you'll get one of thes is if you're among the first 60 or so mailorder fiends who place an order. Kevin Bouton-Scott designed the cover artwork for Tut Tut, and the record features Penny from Crass doing awesome, serpentine poetry.
The record's available in the catalog section of the Wantage website.
Japanther's always been a band of contrasts. They exist halfway in the world of performance art, and halfway in that of DIY punk. They get called to compose and perform soundtracks to puppet rock operas and then do a tour comprising largely house shows. They curate huge video/dance/music shows for major New York museums, and then release their music only via DIY/independent labels.
Keeping that tradition of contrast alive the lads have teamed up with (Crass co-founder) Penny Rimbaud and released a record of punk songs and poetry. On the surface, that may sound like an odd combination, but this thing is truly a wild romp 'round Africa, the Bronx, San Pedro and Brooklyn, complete with faeries, bicycles and a few cans of spray paint. Japanther's infectious, free spirited trash hasn't let up a teeny bit, it's just gotten more focused and rad somehow. Rimbaud's churning, clever, degenerate cadence is an oddly fitting balance for Japanther's two-minute blasts.
These songs are consistent with the level of songwriting on their last "Skuffed Up My Huffy" LP. "Tut Tut, Now Shake Ya Butt" was recorded in late 2007, as the (band-curated and organized) Dino Deth Dans performance ran for three (sold out) nights at New York's PS122. On a special note, this record features a sleeper cover of Portland's New Bad Things' The Dirge! Holy Smokes.
RIYL: Screamers, Ramones, Beach Boys, garage sales, Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure
NOTES: NEW RELEASE DATE: 10/21/2008, VINYL COMES WITH DIGITAL DOWNLOAD. STREET DATE: 10/28/2008
ACCEPTING PRE-ORDERS IMMEDIATELY. FIRST 50 ONLINE MAILORDERS GET BLUE VINYL.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
More: Total Pictures and stories
First of all the more interesting stuff:check out these Total Fest related things:
Chris Latray's piece on Newwest.net
Jeff Lights pictures
Hollie Huthman's day one pictures
Partman Parthorse pics
We've heard from a lot of folks that we should've made more Total Fest VII shirts. Therefore, in one week's time, we're going to re-burn the back, and print up whatever folks ask for. If you'd like one of these, you can paypal 12 bucks (we've got postage to consider here) via the wantageusa.com site. Include what style (women's, uni) and size (sm, m, l, xl) you'd like. These are American Apparel shirts and the first 20 orders get a Total Fez and a patch free. First come, first-served.
Hopefully this isn't coming off like the crass commercialism that it probably is, but you know, folks want shirts, folks get shirts. You got a problem w. that, you take up w. the boss.
The pictue above features one of these shirts on Farah (from the Miss Lana Rebel band), thanks to Chris La Tray for the picture!
Monday, August 18, 2008
Big ol' heartfelt Missoula thank yous to everybody who made Total Fest what it was, and if you ask us, it was excellent. Three days of music, food, catching up with and meeting new friends, music, records, river, music and good times came to a close right around 1:45AM Sunday
(Dennis Lynch: Total Emcee and the Juveniles: Total Leadoff Hitters)
morning with the last Federation X note. I'll save the writing about things to others like Jeff from Rad Touch/the Stranger, and Becky from Dog Dick and Denver, and hope that you'll schedule us now for for August 2009. Our goals are 1) to continue and 2) to continuously improve, so thanks again to everybody made it happen, made it fun and who contributed something. Here are a couple of links to some of the online debriefery (and in the case of Black Elk, take that literally).
The Stranger's Out of Town blog
Becky Hensley's Release the Kraken blog
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Total Fest's mission is to throw an event that spotlights independent, original music. Total Fest is volunteer run, not-for-profit and DIY. We, the organizing committee, aren’t robots, and we have taste as individuals. That said, we come together and vote on the bands that collectively excite us the most. It’s difficult because we get a lot of great bands asking to play—this year there were over 120 submissions for a quarter that number of slots.
I run the record label called Wantage, and the organizing committee allows me to invite five bands whose music I’ve put out. Otherwise, no one band gets cuts in line or grandfathered in purely on the strength of their purported “radness.” It all gets put to the vote, so rest assured that the radness of the following list of luminaries has been adjudicated scientifically and determined democratically. Folks who have written about bands here are: Lou Beard (LB), Erin Lambert (EL) Wendy Maltonic (WM), Dennis Lynch (DL), Timmy Arrowtop (TA), Nicole Payton (NP), Marty Hill (MH), Milli Thompson (MT), me (JV), Abbi McNamara (AM), and Kari Workman (KW) Without further ado, then…
Bad Dudes (LA) These "dudes" create a brand of dude-bro reference rock balanced with a volume that metalcore and punk can appreiciate. Their label aptly dubbed Retard Disco, describes the 1988 arcade game that is their name: Bad Dudes s. Dragon Ninja. This music may cause uncontrollable head banging and loss of bladder function that is a symptom of combining The Buzzcocks with New Order. For fans of arcade games and eating drugs. THURSDAY, AUGUST 14 -KW
The Bar Feeders (San Francisco, CA) Any band that writes a song called "Wyoming", and which then gets a video made for that song starring a crew of drunk faux-Muppets deserves your absolute attention. While the Bar Feeders hop on stage with their high-speed, technical melody-pumped punk, we’ll be piping in a special Eau de Jay’s Upstairs scent that was reverse-engineered for us by a Swiss cosmetics firm from a core sample of the old carpet. This is one of about four bands on the 2008 TF docket that will open up the déjà vu door-to-yesteryear for those of us a bit longer in the tooth! How the Bar Feeders are able to simultaneously drink their weight in dodgy spirits and stay entirely on top of this craziness is beyond the selection committee’s understanding. THURSDAY, AUGUST 14—JV
Birthday Suits (
Black Elk (
Black Eyes and Neckties (Bellingham, WA) Hailing from Missoula’s sister city of Bellingham, Black Eyes and Neckties will give you a swift kick where it counts with their over-the-edge poppy death rock, which is to say bitchin’ riffs and optimistic words about the cool stuff that happens when you die, e.g. “After Your Body Burns” and my personal fave, “Lycanthropy Wannabe.” There are definite nods to the Murder City Devils, but done better with Bradley Horror’s smoking jacket vocals and Brenda Grimm’s haunted-ass keyboard. Listening to Black Eyes and Neckties makes me want to crawl into a coffin lined with pink satin and cyanide and inhale Pop Rocks, which is a GOOD thing. THURSDAY, AUGUST 14 –MT
Black Ladies (
) Missoula, Montana Western Montananshave, on a few notable occasions, assembled several excellent power
trios over the years. Humpy and Disgruntled Nation come to mind immediately, and the Antidifrancos are in that pool as well. Hughes at
their best were a trio. When Bridgebuilder started, they were a band with "Metal" Dave Johnson and another guy named Dave, and while they
were good, they didn't practice enough to really blow you away with any sort of "lock-in" kind of vibe that a power trio really can. Roll
forward to 2008 and Dave gets the band back together, this time with Isaiah from a bunch of his earlier bands (Wuzhen, MeKungFu) and Ed
(also from Wuzhen) and drops this awesome, tight unit out of the sky like Fat Man and Little Boy, incinerating you right in your backyard. FRIDAY, AUGUST 15 --JV
The Damage Done (
Disgruntled Nation (
Ex-Cocaine (Missoula/Minneapolis, MT/MN) –For as ambitiously un-ambitious a band as Ex-Cocaine might seem, their past two years have shown what a prolific, “networked” outfit they actually are. Their releases include coke mirror-inspired, lathe-cut runs of twenty-five copies and a Not Not Fun colored vinyl 12” split with Yellow Swans, not mention a basket of obscure CDRs and tapes and other oddities. Ex-Cocaine cranks out more releases than any
Federation X (
** NOTE: Federation X’s travel to Total Fest VII was underwritten by a special sponsorship by
Goddammitboyhowdy (Browning, MT) hail from the deepest nooks and crannies of the Blackfeet reservation. They sound like the spastic rumblings of the beginnings of creation—apt enough considering the geography. Yes, verily apt. The seemingly irreconcilable influences of Blackfeet Indian politics and cultural beliefs, bored teenage logic, “fuck you” era Johnny Cash and the fierce melodic punk rock of early Queers, Descendents, Ramones, even Vandals—with all those goddamn “Whoa Whoas” thrown in for good measure—make for real musical treats. Yummy delicious, pissed-off Blackfeet treats. THURSDAY, AUGUST 14–TA
JackTopTown (Missoula, MT) J.T.T. is basically Missoula's "punk rock supergroup" with three members coming from various past and present local bands G.C.E., Joey Butta and the Fuctones, Armed and Hammered, The Church Boys, Birds Mile Home, Heiress Pilton, and the Reptile Dysfunction. J.T.T. hit
The Juveniles (Missoula, MT) Music like the Juveniles play hearkens to a time when the petroleum industry was receiving a significant boost from the men’s hair product industry, the national drinking age was around 18, and beer came in tin cans you had to open with a separate tool. It’s soaked in the reverb-trash luster of guys like the Wray Men, the Trashmen, and…well, frankly, lots of bands with names ending with the word “men.” Whether the “Juveniles” appellation is a cheeky nod to the fact that the mean age in this group is 43, we’re not sure, but we do know that not since the heady days of the Hedons has
Kingdom of Magic (Denver, CO) Slow-churning, pounding, screaming power-riffs slowly pull you into a trance-like state, only to be lulled deeper into a rhythmic hypnosis. So hypnotic that bassist Joe Ramirez couldn’t stop playing as he slipped and plummeted sideways off the main stage at last year’s Fest! Oh
Miss Lana Rebel (
The Limbs (
The Lights (Seattle, WA) the Lights’ music is distant, haunting, outsider rock that hangs out somewhere in the part of the brain that manufactures custom Venn diagrams out of disparate musical pleasures like Malcolm Young’s hammering repetition and Mark E. Smith’s spare, distant, asshole punk. The stuff’s perilously hard to define, other than to say: “Do you like Love? Howbout the Fall? Howbout Dream Syndicate?” Their most recent long player, Diamonds and Dirt, spent weeks on KEXP’s charts in Seattle, as well as WFMU’s on the other coast, KBGA’s in Missoula, and plenty of other more enlightened stations ‘round the land. FRIDAY, AUGUST 15–JV Wantage Band
McDougall (Portland, Oregon) Every year when we hold our listening sessions, there are one or two submissions that literally not a single one of us have heard of, that just end up being absolute unanimous picks. McDougall’s was that submission this year: vulnerable, versatile, beautifully crafted songs that just speak some sad universal language and whose power really is transfixing. (RIYL: Woody Guthrie, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle) --JV like folk country music with that heart ache of storytelling. Laments like an Elliot Smith tune. Gospel punkish- yes. SATURDAY, AUGUST 16, RECORD SWAP-KW
Noise Noise Noise (
Part Man Part Horse (Seattle, WA) Partman Partdressed Partnaked frontman leads this dark glam rock band that I can not wait to see live. It will be not be a performance to miss. "I like your make-up". Seductive indie vocals sound like a scene from Velvet Goldmine. SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 -KW
Pierced Arrows (
Pure Country Gold (
Rad Touch (
Razz M'Tazz (
The Reddmen (Rapid City, SD) are in from Rapid City, in the Dakotas, dependably delivering melodic, trashy pop cribbed from a vast garage of the mind where Big Star and maybe Guided By Voices are getting really loud like with their fists, with the occasional pretty tune thrown in for a change-up. One time I witnessed their singer Johnny walk right through two dudes who were beating the shit out of each other so he could get paid for the night’s rockage. So they’re tough too, I think. FRIDAY, AUGUST 15 –TA
The Saviours (
Secret Powers (
The Sherlocks (Missoula, MT) Rarely does a band comprised of guys with so few collective years alive bring as much confidence and uncontrived jangle to the stage. Missoula's Sherlocks have been doing their decidedly dated-sounding romp for a good number of years now, and like a fine Bordeau, it gets more unique and distinctive with each year that goes by, and each additional inch of bangs in their eyes that's accumulated. Echos of the Byrds and the Brian Jonestown Masacre are around, but so is their own spacey mountain-psych vibe. How exactly these fellows arrived at such a psychadelic place is a total mystery (which you're invited to explore). --JV
Shotgun Moses (
This Runs On Blood (
The Trucks (
Why I must Be Careful (Portland, OR) Two former Missoulians, John Niekrasz and Seth Brown (ex-Poor School) played for about a year in Missoula before moving, like everyone does (boh-ring!), to rainy ol’ Portland. Instrumentally speaking, W.I.M.B.C. (not to be confused with I Hate You When You’re Pregnant) are an experimental two-piece with keys and drums, responsible for some of the wildest soundscapes this side of Can, or more recently Bellingham's Spooky Dance Band. Deftly played hyper-space jazz music, that's instrumental, but which uses its uniqueness to "vocabularize" itself. Expect to be jarred in a decidedly unrock, but totally enrapturing and palate-cleansing way. FRIDAY, AUGUST 15 –JV
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Pierced Arrows at Total Fest VII! Hausfrau and Biga Benefits!
Wylde Tymes at the Total HQ this week: The first order of business is that Bob Marshall from Volumen/Bacon and Egg is throwing a Total Fest fundraiser at his excellent Biga Pizza on W. Main St. in Missoula. The magic happens at 5PM on Sunday, July 20. $10 all-you-can-eat brick oven Biga Pizza + salad! Beer will be on sale via the Badlander people and Flathead Lake Brewery and we'll have a raffle as well. Next up, and not exactly sequential is: Hausfrau, a great clothing shop at Broadway and Pattee St. in Missoula, is holding a Denim Sale fundraiser for Total Fest. Ida wants to clear out some jeans, so stop by and help out Total Fest in the process. Date: Friday, July 18, 5PM.
Finally: Pierced Arrows, the new Fred/Toody Cole + Kelly from Resist/Detestation group, has confirmed for Total Fest! Dead Moon were a major inspiration to many of us who put TF together, so it's a particularly special treat to have these Oregonian blasters out to rock us. See you there! Just about 5 weeks to go!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The roots of Federation X have much to do with a high school age fixation with, and exposure to one of the best bands to emerge from the U.S. scene ever, Karp. The members of Karp were probably about four years older than the average member of Federation X, two of who grew up in suburban Olympia and one of whom was from Yakima, Washington. Karp started up in 1990, and wrapped things up in 1998. Federation X started practicing and playing together right around 1998/1999.
Karp combined all things heavy, loud and thuggish, and not only stripped away the bullshit machismo that comes with so much heavy music but actively, comfortably participated in a punk scene that featured much more diversity than the average punk scene. Karp grew up in Tumwater, Washington, a former brewery town that borders Olympia, Washington's capitol. Tumwater is to Olympia as New Jersey is to New York, the often unwelcome neighbor whose resident jocks ensured that everybody who's different got the beating that was coming to them. As result, Karp (whose name started as an acronym for "Kill All Redneck Pricks") made music that was simultaneously louder than shit, heavy as a storm cloud, and focused on small town stupidity, state fairs and that sort of thing.
Ben Wildenhaus and Beau Boyd (Fed X guitarist and drummer) began their musical careers in the Teamsters with my brother Ian, and a guy named Ken Baird who played trumpet. The Teamsters came up in a time when Olympia was experiencing an awesome musical renaissance, with groups like Bikini Kill, Unwound, the Long Hind Legs, The Rickets, the Mukilteo Fairies, Kicking Giant, godheadSilo, Fitz of Depression and, especially, Karp playing very regular shows at the Capitol Theater backstage. Karp, of all the above, were the Teamsters' favorites, and they collectively attended just about every show that Karp played in or around Olympia between 1994 and 1996. The Karp guys reciprocated by being cool to the younger dudes, and even offered a touring spot down the West Coast one summer.
After high school, Ben and Beau moved up to Bellingham for college, and met and started to hang out with Bill Badgley, who'd had a similar fixation with Karp, and who'd spent several summer weeks camping out in our family's basement during fests like Yo Yo A Go Go. Somewhere around there, in 1998 Ben, Beau and Bill started practicing, and soon thereafter, Federation X was born. Their first recorded output was a cassette. A self-released/self-titled LP soon followed. I remember hearing the LP for the first time when my friend Frank Milliron was out in Montana for a visit. It was flooringly heavy, but also melodic in the same way Mudhoney were, but more soulful than smarmy. I was blown away.
Fed X soon began to tour regularly, often with co-Whatcom grungers, the Narrows and North Carolina friends the Cherry Valence. They recorded with Tim Green, Steve Albini, and then back at home in Bellingham with Ryan from 76 Charger. Legendary Bellingham garage label Estrus agreed to release their records. Each release got more focused and incredible. They went to Europe a couple times, built strong a following across the country, and then two members moved from Bellingham to pursue other things. They never officially broke up, but their days of actively touring have unfortunately passed.
Total Fest VII (August 14-16, 2008) marks the sole 2008 appearance of Federation X, and it wouldn't have been possible without the generous help of Missoula's best radio station, KBGA 89.9 FM.
Friday, May 23, 2008
The Bandlander and Palace Lounge, Missoula, MT
Tickets Available from Ear Candy Music (Missoula) and via wantageusa.com
Below is the collective work of the TF volunteer organizers. We have musical tastes from all over the map but luckily, we think this lineup represents most, if not all of the different types of music we dig, and the out and out best examples of underground music and culture around. We are excited that this is as strong and diverse a roster this year as we've ever had. Additionally, we have a couple of awesome re-union/un-retirements happening. The big news is that with travel underwriting support from KBGA we are able to bring Federation X out of their distance-caused semi-retirement, for their only show in 2008! We're figuring out how we can swing all-access (everywhere in the building, not just downstairs), all-ages from 8PM-11PM each night. At this point this is the line-up, and we still have an awesome waiting list for when changes happen, and changes always do. If you're a band on this list, please link up to Total Fest, and list the show on your websites! Keep an eye on our Total Blog for more details, and we'll see you in August!
Oh, before we forget: because Wantage is the official "umbrella" under which Total Fest happens, we have a special pool of bands whose music Wantage USA has released, those bands are:
Federation X (Bellingham/Brooklyn)
the Lights (Seattle)
The Narrows (
Bad Dudes (
Bar Feeders (
Birthday Suits (Minneapolis)
Black Elk (Portland)
Black Eyes & Neckties (Bellingham)
Black Ladies (Chicago)
Black Velvet Elvis (Missoula)
Casy & Brian (
Disgruntled Nation (Missoula/Kalispell)
The Juveniles (
Lana Rebel (
the Limbs (
Noise Noise Noise (
Part Man Part Horse (
The Pasties (Olympia)
Pierced Arrows (Portland/Clackamas)
Pure Country Gold (Portland)
Rad Touch (Seattle)
Razz M'Tazz (Olympia)
Secret Powers (Missoula)
the Sherlocks (Missoula)
Shotgun Moses (Missoula)
Damage Done (Seattle)
The Reddmen (Rapid City)
The Trucks (Bellingham)
This Runs On Blood (Flagstaff)
Why I Must Be Careful
In 2008 we received a record one hundred twenty applicants for the forty available slots. Honestly, nearly all of what we got was pretty good, so it's not easy to filter things out! If your band didn't make it in, it's not because we didn't like you. Rather, we just have pick the stuff we're most stoked about, and nobody does this to be exclusionary. Please come out and check out the shows, submit again, and keep in touch.