Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Total Fest VIII: Just 9 Months Away!
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

Across Endless Grassy Plains High Up In the Desert Mountains.
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

Japanther's Tut Tut, Now Shake Ya Butt Blue Vinyl 12"
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

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Total Merch: Back in Print.
More: Total Pictures and stories
First of all the more interesting stuff:check out these Total Fest related things:
Chris Latray's piece on
Jeff Lights pictures
Hollie Huthman's day one pictures
Lisa's pics
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 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

Total Fest VII: Arrr, We Miss Ye Already.
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 Descriptors

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…

Akimbo (Seattle, WA) Akimbo have been making their way through the Treasure State for the better part a decade, although the aforementioned dousing with PBR makes it tougher to reconstruct these sorts of chronologies with every passing year. Akimbo’s music is a bizarrely perfect combination of ‘80s DC-style hardcore and ‘70s-era classic rock, one part mathematical superblast and one part Bonzo’s “Moby Dick” at Montreux. 0% irony and 125% guts. Hands down, Akimbo left Total Fest VI clutching the blue ribbon, hands down. While recording a recent album, they rented the Moore Theater in Seattle to ensure that the recording captured every last drip of room-boom they could squeeze out of it. Don't miss Akimbo: Their "live to crush" credo stands up as a serious assurance of their galaxy-pounding heft. FRIDAY, AUGUST 15 –JV

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 (Minneapolis, MN) It was somewhere around new years of ’07, I recall, when this unsuspecting fellow was wowed by Minneapolis' Birthday Suits. After this initial sighting, I wasted no time making inquiries as to their availableness for Total Fest VI. These two (ex-Sweet JAP) boys will make you realize just how reserved we Americans are with their full frontal assault of, balls-to-the-wall, no breaks energetic-spastic live show! If any offense is taken, get thee stageside. Hideo (guitar) and Matt (drums) truly have as much fun as possible in front of any crowd they’re dealt. Best come on out and be in awe at the sight/sounds of the Birthday Suits! (RIYL: Sweet J.A.P., New Bomb Turks, Melt Banana). SATURDAY, AUGUST 16—MH

Black Elk (Portland, OR), featuring ex-members of Wadsworth and Lopez, is a metal outfit straight outta “West Missoula (also known as Portland, OR) that incites near-riots nearly every time they play their special brand of sludge with a crispy outside. Brisk guitars, sharp vocals, and powerful drums (that don’t spend an entire set mining the double-kick) all come together as a solvent of loud, organized chaos. Black Elk keeps it exciting with unexpected bridges and tempo changes, and, oh yeah, THEY’RE FRIGGIN’ LOUD. They deserve to be loud because their force is more unyielding than a good old fashioned tight-n-shiny. If rock-n-roll has a soul, Black Elk is the little black heart of it. Halfway between midwestern noise rock and an 80's west coast SST hardcore group, Black Elk are all business, and Eric still is missing his guitar’s headstock. If you find that, I hear you get a free Black Elk shirt. Don’t forget to ask Tom about the “skin of a bean!” SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 –MT

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 (Chicago, IL) Experimental, loud and fun, Black Ladies are Pat and Ryan from Chicago. A first visit to Montana brings top quality, interesting music colored by various influences from Missoula favorites Oxes, Lightning Bolt, Fugazi and Shellac. Minimal yet driving drum and bass reminiscent of the Pope, but not quite as insane. Feel confused? Feel nothing but excitement to see these guys. FRIDAY, AUGUST 15–NP

Black Velvet Elvis (Missoula, MT) A band of contrasts! Black Velvet Elvis convenes Tony Victory Smoke, Joe Playboy and Olivia Skateshop (note vintage Jay’s-era practice of assigning punk-rock last names based on band and/or place of work) and the result is a uniquely torched-up, powerful rock and roll ensemble. They've been working mega-hard at it for just over a year now, and in that time they've played weekly shows and recorded a hell of a demo. I think of bands like the Gossip and Bikini Kill a bit when I hear BVE, though politically/lyrically, it’s more Vice than Riot Grrrl. SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 –JV

(Missoula, Montana) Western Montanans have, 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 (Seattle, WA) The Damage Done is a newer band from Seattle whose members have been part of that scene for years through other former bands such as Road to Ruin. TDD have opened up for acts like The Flatliners, The Real McKenzies, Defiance and A Wilhelm Scream, among others, and they are off to an ambitious start with the Tusken Hater EP. under their belt, a split and a full-length on the way. These four strapping young lads bring forth that sort of aggressive, in-your-face rock ‘n roll that will make you upend your beer, throw your fist in the air and sing along desperately. The Damage Done can’t be explained better than they have already done themselves: “aggro-pop for the non-complacent”. FRIDAY, AUGUST 15–MH

Disgruntled Nation (Kalispell, MT) Back in around 1994 or ’95, Montana had a good thing going with its indigenous hardcore scene. Humpy was at the forefront, with their pioneering Pink House imprint also busy putting out short-runs of blistering, basement-recorded hardcore, and, occasionally, grungy pop by the Oblio Joes. Those early singles still get hauled out semi regularly by a bunch of us old nostalgic types! Then we had groups like the Sputniks and Charles Bronson Superstar, from Missoula, and the mighty Disgruntled Nation and their “Flathead Nowhere League” followers, who spawned groups that eventually ventured into some of Montana’s most focused, brutal, and hard-touring territory in Ass-End Offend. Disgruntled Nation’s “second phase” featured the core rhythm section of Brent Shultz and Matt Lawlor with added clang from Humpy’s Dave Parsons. This iteration of the group gave the world such gems as “Small Town, Smaller Mind” and “Grape Juice Plus,” and once played covered Poison Idea’s Pick Your King EP in its entirety at the Boys and Girls Club. THURSDAY, AUGUST 14 –JV

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 Missoula group I can think of, or even any Missoula-connected group that I can think of. In the live-performance department,. Ex-C’s been seen recently touring with Religious Knives and playing SXSW in Austin. Musically speaking, Ramirez and Mike C. kick out self-proclaimed “heavy mellow” jams sort of like Tyrannosaurus Rex on Quaaludes, or uh, like the Garcia Band with a djembe through some sort of gritty, druggy envelope twiddler. They've got a newish long-player on Philadelphia’s Siltbreeze, as well as an excellent, now out-of-print self-released first LP on their own Killertree label. That debut went through several pressings, and sold copies all around the world, and has, in fact, subsequently turned into a highly eBayable item. Ex-Cocaine’s appearance at Brooklyn’s No Fun Fest in 2006 solidified their bizarro noise-hippy fan base, and their few annual appearances are still highly anticipated. (RIYL: Siltbreeze label stuff, Strapping Fieldhands, Dead C). SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 –JV

Federation X (Bellingham, WA, Brooklyn, NY)** “Fed X,” as they're known to fans, straddle a couple of types of music so effectively that it's hard to really categorize them. Not exactly metal, punk, stoner or “punch the clock rock,” but with parts of all of the above cobbled into as cohesive a sound as has ever come from the Northwest. Their music definitely tips its cap to heavy forebears like the Melvins, Unwound, Steel Pole Bathtub and KARP, but it's also got a kind of rural/small town authenticity to makes it genuine. Two guitars, each with only the four lowest strings, and one “last legs” set of drums are all the tools they need to tell their stories. Fed X’s newest material has the quasi-Springsteen/Don MacLean stamp of the disaffected patriot songwriter who’s alternately sad, reflective and defiant. Fed X have always gone about things the hard way, touring for years in a huge boat sedan, before graduating to a van, playing grungy punk after it had essentially been replaced with disco, and living well outside of a major market for their wares. Somehow, persistence paid off and Federation X is a name that still carries weight, where others have been forgotten. Get up close and listen, you won’t soon forget it. SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 –JV Wantage Band

** NOTE: Federation X’s travel to Total Fest VII was underwritten by a special sponsorship by Missoula’s number one source of independent music: KBGA (89.9, KBGA has a diverse and fiercely independent roster of excellent DJs; they host (year-round) a Tuesday KBGA DJ night at the Badlander and promote high quality music events (Birthday Bash, Fools Night Out, etc.) each year. KBGA is the only station in Missoula where one can regularly hear local music, not to mention loud/heavy/underground stuff from everywhere else! Tune in and keep it tuned, and donate when they have their RadioThon in the spring.

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 Missoula’s scene blitzed on cheap whiskey and plenty of PBR, driven by their friendship and love of music. Their tri-vocal ‘80’s-influenced hardcore will have you dancing around like crazy. Songs I haven't been able to get out of my head for the last year: “Repatriation”, “Climb Your Way To The Top”, “Figure It Out”, “Captain Caveman”, “Endure” and the list goes on. Total Fest will be their first show back from almost a year…don’t miss out this time around! SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 –MH

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
Missoula had a band who this convincingly played dark, spooky surf music. Come see what the rumpus is all about. THURSDA, AUGUST 14–JV

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 Kingdom of Magic, we eagerly await your return. Join K.O.M. as they pulverize your eardrums and senses, as only Luke (guitar), Joe (bass), and Devon (drums) can. If you were unfortunate enough to miss them last year, then do yourself a favor and treat yourself to some of Denver’s finest. SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 –LB/WM

Miss Lana Rebel (Portland) Real-deal American country music has its roots in the anti-government encampments of born-disaffected Scots Irish settlers in Appalachian America. Those dark hills and hollers are where folks immigrated in order to get away, to NOT participate in the sorts of activities that most folks thought they should as part of civilization. Specifically, to keep clear of the “revenuers” and others who wanted to get at their wallets in the name of a federal government. When these folks picked up instruments the stories and poems of loss, freedom, often death and once in a while hope began to flow like corn whiskey from an earthenware jug. In that way, I daresay real country’s more punk than punk. As the East grew increasingly crowded, we heard this music coming from places further west, like Texas, Arizona, and California. Lana Rebel continues in that authentic tradition of Spartan, Appalachian/Western country, without the political endorsements (real county’s as apolitical as you can get), dumb hooks or the need to participate in a genre fronted by a qualifying adjective (“new”, “alt” or otherwise). Get ready to have some stories told to you, and get ready for some beautiful singing and strumming from a real special gal, everyone’s Total Fest sweetheart, Lana Rebel. And Lana’s using Total Fest VII as the release party for her newest, best yet, record! (Vinyl on Wantage!) SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 (RECORD SWAP AND BADLANDER) –JV

Lopez (Portland, OR) Somewhere around 10 years ago, I went to a rock show in Spokane. It was the Fireballs Of Freedom and Lopez. What a great rock show. Later, we all went to an after party and Tom from Lopez and I got into a fight, but not your typical fight. We yelled at each other, threatening death and violence, but we were both too drunk to get off the couches we were sleeping on to actually do anything. The next morning when we woke up we started drinking again and remembered we wanted to kill each other the night before. Neither of us seemed to really give a shit and we just proceeded to get drunk the rest of the day. That, to me, is Lopez. They will assault you from the stage without ever actually hitting you and then just get silly drunk with you. That is how I like my rock and that is why you will not want to miss these Portland transplants rock the stage. Note where this photograph was taken! SATURDAY, AUGUST 16–DL

The Limbs (Denver, CO) One-man bands, unless incredibly-well executed, can't help but come off as being schmaltzy sort of children's birthday party music. The Limbs, far from the norm, is a swampy, creepy, articulate one-man project whose music opens up a world of creepy mystery you'll only start to comprehend. It's like he channels some rustbelt ghost, wandering through the wreckage of a post apocalyptic zombie world. SATURDAY, AUGUST 16–JV

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

The Narrows (Bellingham/Olympia, WA) If the people in Low, or maybe Codeine, died and came back to earth as doom metal bands, they might sound something like Bellingham’s Narrows, whose list of fans includes WFMU and Aquarius Records. Recently, the Narrows comparisons have moved from the moody quiet stuff to folks like Big Business and Boris. I generally start rattling off a bunch of things about glaciers and pain when writing about the Narrows in a vain attempt to contextualize the heaviness and emotion that their music conveys. But this time, I think a better use of space is to talk about their songs: "The Skull at Life Size," from about five years ago, is a nice entry-point to Narrows-fandom. It's like flipping open a diary with an ethereal, heavy soundtrack, and reading it start to finish. You almost feel like you shouldn't be doing it because it's so personal and vulnerable. That's the Narrows magic, letting listeners participate in their lives, through their music. It’s all out there, so to speak, when the Narrows get on stage. SATURDAY, AUGUST 16–JV Wantage Band

Noise Noise Noise (Billings, Montana) The impression most people get of Montana's "Magic City" is from I-90 at 72 miles per hour. It generally has to do with the two sprawling oil refineries located at either end of valley, and, while driving eastward, that feeling of having emerged from the verdant hills onto the desolate, arid plain that starts right around Billings. Much to the chagrin of our resident Billings boosters, most naysayers haven't spent enough time there to actually justify the distrust/dislike of the place. It’s no Valhall, but the truth is it's a decent town (Montana's biggest) with lots of history, music, and even its own punk rock scene. Up at the top of the heap of those punks is Noise Noise Noise, and their patently tight, animated punk rock. Noise's ruckus could easily be found on labels like No Idea, though Missoula's Tummy Rock has released their stuff most recently! FRIDAY, AUGUST 15–JV

Nudity (Olympia, WA) This group re-convenes the excellent songwriting partnership of Dave Harvey (Soledad Records, Behead the Prophet, Tight Bros) and John “Quitty” Quitner (Behead the Prophet, Tight Bros, Hessian Obsession zine) and uses heavy, plowing psychedelic music to drive its point home. Exactly what that point is might not be clear as crystal, (um, like, you know, some eastern thing, dude. It’s the journey, not the destination!), but these gents are white hot, blazing players as well as crack songwriters. You’ll hear strains of all sorts of American rock and psych, as well as some British sounding parts, and some definite nods to Düsseldorf and other oft-forgotten corners of the world. They’re not afraid of building a song around a single riff, like the houses of a Moroccan medina or something. Nudity, people. Attempt to understand it! And keep your clothes on: it’s a band name, not a mandate. FRIDAY, AUGUST 15 –JV

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

Pasties (Olympia, WA) These Oly DIYsters play some of thee most fun songs this side of Bloomington and its Plan-It-X label. They definitely embody that fiercely DIY, bike soldier, positive, powered by beer, steamed kale and tofu sort of vibe that so many of those earnest and endearing Plan-It-X groups seem to, um, also embody. What sets the Pasties apart is the incredible music they pump out, their excellent use of accordion, and honest-to-god, authentic and infectious fun-having prowess. It’s hard to not have fun when this band takes the stage, whether they’re Wanties-clad or not, and plants its anthemic gypsy-kale/tofu/beer rock up your butt and around the corner! FRIDAY, AUGUST 15 –JV

Pierced Arrows (Portland, OR) The new band which comprises 2/3 of Dead Moon’s pieces is Pierced Arrows. Dead Moon were a band for around 15 years, they toured internationally all the time, and were an excellent band, uber-passionate and inspiring and DIY till death; recording, releasing and running the business themselves. Back when, Fred Cole had a garage band on the legendary '60s proto-punk/psych Nuggets comp and Toody was in The Rats. Dead Moon broke up in 2006 and about a year later this band, Pierced Arrows came about with Kelly Halliburton (bassist from hardcore bands Defiance, Resist, Severed Head of State and Detestation) as their new drummer. Sometimes stars align in weird ways! This is their Missoula debut. SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 --JV

Pure Country Gold (Portland, OR) Veterans of Total Fest V, Pure Country Gold are a duo that crank out more sound, and a more articulate and awesome countrified punk sound, were I asked, than whole piles of better known duo bands like the White Stripes and the Black Keys. PCG are, like a lot of these groups, Portlanders, and when they step up on the stage, prepare to hear more of a “blues punk” kind of deal, with a seriously dated feel, rather’n anything terribly/traditionally “country.” Patrick and Jake complement each other in that kind of “whoa!” way when you see them play live. It’s bar none some of the most fun party music I own. SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 –JV

Rad Touch (Seattle, WA) Rad Touch. What a name. For me, such a name can only mean one of two things: they are either going to suck ass or kick it. There is no in between. None. Rad Touch hail from Seattle and set themselves apart by careening between pure metal, rock, and hardcore. And just when you think you’ve got them pegged, they launch into a melodic tune that pulls you in, only to spit you back out again. I’ll be up front when they play because this music effectively touches upon the many genres of rock (even some garage and stoner rock) that I tend to lean towards. Oh yeah, Rad Touch decided to KICK ASS! FRIDAY, AUGUST 15 -LB

Razz M'Tazz (Olympia) Three piece band of female ex-Missoulians. They proudly sing girlie pop songs about friends, boys, puppies, and everything nice. You know its great when the auxiliary percussion can be described as clapping and shaking. Razz M'Tazz sounds like 80's dance pants with a hillbilly banjo shirt. This group is a more adorable and western version of Brooklyn's CocoRosie. SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 (RECORD SWAP) -KW

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 (Oakland, CA) Saddle your mental steeds with leatherwork made from fine yak skin inlayed with white gold and amber. Draw your steel across your blade a few dozen times, fireside. Drink deeply of the honey-mead, and eat some roasted Irish elk. Pray to your god (Crom) and head into battle, with the Saviours as your soundtrack. With ex-Yaphet Kotto and Drunk Horse blazers, this group makes the fertile hills around their native Bay Area seem like the arid Mongol Steppe, the interstate highways like mere horsepaths. The Kemado label, home to too numerous metallics/psychadelics to start to list (but with The Sword and Dungen near the top), picks ‘em well, and a Saviours live show has more windmills than the Dutch countryside, rivaling a Schwarzenegger/Grace Jones skirmish for its intensity and swordplay. It’s almost bizarre to consider Saviours traveling by anything but battle-steeds. FRIDAY, AUGUST 15 –JV

Secret Powers (Missoula, Montana) What’s left to say about Missoula's newest band, Secret Powers? Three parts Oblio Joes, one former Fireball Of Freedom, Ryan Farley Of Boycott The Circus, and, rounding things out, new Missoula resident Ryan "Shmedly” Maynes of LA rockers Arlo. Their version of power pop will have you thinking that they have been together for 10 years rather than six or seven months of actual public record. The first time I saw them I was blown away by how tight and together they sounded: Fantastic songwriting, excellent piano, Troy Warling playing with just about everything on stage except with himself (but hey, the night is young!) The rest of the boys make for a good a rhythm as you will find. Even if poppy songs are not your thing, the Secret Powers are not to be missed. You will regret it if you do. This is their first Total Fest and hopefully not their last. THURSDAY, AUGUST 14 --DL

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 (Missoula, MT) The Riddilin Que dudes’ new outfit! Part Melvins spazz-sludge, part Steelpole Bathtub noise-trash, part Hellgate detention room doodling. Wes and Ross are psychedelic dudes with tastes for heavy/dirty/sludgy, and yes, ”stoney” music, and this (armored) vehicle for their songwriting efforts takes them a step closer to the insane nadir of their combined freak-out creativity. Dave Bridgebuilder’s been filling out the lineup on the skins recently, hopefully that continues! FRIDAY, AUGUST 15--JV

Squalora (Portland) Frank Zappa once said that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” which, actually, sounds like sour grapes from a rocker who got a bad review. The idea that somebody might “dance about architecture” is not unfathomable or oxymoronic to me, and I sure hope somebody does it from time to time! As incorrect on this count as I think Zappa was, in attempting to sum up Squalora I really do feel trapped by hyperbole: they’re just that brutal. Squalora attribute their sound to things like anxiety attacks, their rural-Montana disaffection, and the social injustices we’re faced with every day. If playing loud, fast, and heavy music is what you do when you have severe social anxiety, then I think Squalora may be poster dudes for a new type of therapy. Their songs alternate among intense blasts, ponderous, flange-modified space and severe, fast and dense riffs. It’s proof that powerful, heavy music is an excellent platform for an ultimately peaceful and socially conscious message, but it can still rock like fuck. (RIYL: His Hero is Gone, Ass-End Offend) FRIDAY, AUGUST 15–JV Wantage Band

This Runs On Blood (Flagstaff, AZ) The Casebeers bros are back, straight out’f their Stab Mtn. caves, and onto the sweltering streets of their native Southwest with the most focused and evil sounding outfit they’ve done. This Runs On Blood sounds more like Stab City Slitwrists than JETOMI, but is twice as intense as either. It’s like early Blood Brothers, Discharge and a handful of others, but more than anything it screams a brutal rallying cry for “Flag” (short for Flagstaff) punks to get behind on their feral BMXs and lay waste. It’s fast, furious, thrashy and focused like a devil-sanctioned curse. TROB are the winners for the most beautiful, handmade packaging for their (all vinyl) releases. SATURDAY, AUGUST 16--JV

Triclops! (San Francisco, California) John Geek from the Fleshies and S.P.A.M. is a busy fellow and Triclops! is one of several non-Fleshies outfits. The music might get itself described as prog-punk, or something like that, something that seems well at home on Alternative Tentacles among bands that have never felt shy about flying and "arty" flag. In fact, Triclops! features at least one former member of Victims Family, one of the bands that laid the groundwork for what would later be called "jazzcore" or jazz-punk: technically ambitious, nonstandard in its time signatures, and structurally speaking all over the map. It’s insane music, and it owes a fair amount to the kind of musical exploration and excavation that used to happen with dependable regularity on labels like SST and Alternative Tentacles. SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 --JV

The Trucks (Bellingham, WA) Girl bands are far from a novelty these days, but these four ladies bring a novel kind of full-force femininity to the scene. Solid lyrics sunk into an electro-punk synth and real live drums mash-up make you want to sing along. And they do it all dressed up in "classy spandex!” They've been compared to Peaches and Cyndi Lauper and their CD was reviewed on NPR, of all places, in March. SATURDAY, AUGUST 16--EL

Titan (Brooklyn, NY) With a name like Titan, you’re essentially guaranteed one of three things: bong-rattling weed rock, sword-rattling prog rock, or blotter sheet-shaking psych rock. Thankfully, Titan bring a tidal waves of heaviness, psychedelia and even some progressive leanings without succumbing to any of the abundant pitfalls inherent to those genres. Indeed, they bring their own powerful and excellently-dated sounding thunder to the fore, and with song titles like “Animals of the Former World” you kind of get an idea of where they’re coming from, right? I hear echoes of Oneida and the early days of Finn proggers Circle in Titan’s trance-inducing droney psych. Titan are touring with the Saviours, in case after all this you still need a fucking map to find out where they’re coming from. Titan are titanic, minus the Winslett, plus more ice and smoke.FRIDAY, AUGUST 15 –JV

Vera (Missoula, MT) With Cindy Saved for This Dark Dawn and Jen Sasshole, respectively, Vera is a newly assembled band that collects a whole pile of emotion, guts, vulnerability and talent and delivers it in a totally visceral, unique and compelling way. These two girlies came up in the Jay’s scene, and while they’ve taken some time off to have children and start families, at some point they decided that what their lives were missing was a chance for the sort of creative expression and camaraderie that bands provide. So, Vera was born in Cindy’s van, back behind the College of Technology. From its members’ previous endeavors, you might expect that Vera’s sound would tread the path of bludgeoning punk/metal. Not really. It’s more of a creeping, clean, but paranoid sound with strategies like dual and call and response vocals, eerie lyrical themes and awesome down-strum repetition to lull the listener thoroughly into submission. FRIDAY, AUGUST 15–JV

Volumen (Missoula, MT) If Montana’s mountainous isolation ever gets it noticed for indigenous artistic contributions to independent pop music, my vote would go to Volumen to accept the statuette. While, ultimately, theirs is music that owes a ton to its members’ weird/close bond as friends, brothers, and the near-brothers, this music is more “Missoula, Montana” to me than the peace sign on Waterworks Hill. Volumen began as two Air Force brats with a drum machine and robot gestures, and few people caring. All that changed when Jay’s Upstairs needed a band to do a cover set for its Halloween blowout. Never shy of ambitious projects, aforementioned brats Shane and Doug gathered up as many bros as possible and set out to learn the entirety of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album. That 1999 live show had us Missoula kids all dancing like drunk Girl Scouts, and lo, the Volumen we know today were born. Volumen remind me of what I like most about XTC and the Fucking Champs: they’re tight, embrace equally hook-heavy pop music and dual lead tech-metal, and write songs about space, girls and paranoiac sci-fi futures. FRIDAY, AUGUST 15 –JV Wantage Band

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

Pieced Arrows/Biga/Hausfrau!

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.

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

Federation X: Western American Loud Heavy Power Trio Nonpareil
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

Total Fest VII LINE-UP August 14-16, 2008

The Bandlander and Palace Lounge, Missoula, MT
Tickets Available from Ear Candy Music (Missoula) and via

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 (Bellingham)
Squalora (Portland)
Volumen (Missoula)

The rest!
Akimbo (Seattle)
Bad Dudes (Los Angeles)
Bar Feeders (San Francisco)
Birthday Suits (Minneapolis)
Black Elk (Portland)
Black Eyes & Neckties (Bellingham)
Black Ladies (Chicago)
Black Velvet Elvis (Missoula)
Bridgebuilder (Missoula)
Casy & Brian (San Francisco)
Disgruntled Nation (Missoula/Kalispell)
Ex-Cocaine (Minneapolis/Missoula)
Goddammitboyhowdy (Browning)
JackTop Town (Missoula)
The Juveniles (Missoula) -ex Humpy/Disgruntled Nation/Nazgul!
Kingdom of Magic (Denver)
Lana Rebel (Portland)
the Limbs (Denver)
Lopez (Portland)
McDougall (Portland)
Noise Noise Noise (Billings)
Nudity (Olympia)
Part Man Part Horse (Seattle)
The Pasties (Olympia)
Pierced Arrows (Portland/Clackamas)
Pure Country Gold (Portland)
Rad Touch (Seattle)
Razz M'Tazz (Olympia)
Saviours (Oakland)
Secret Powers (Missoula)
the Sherlocks (Missoula)
Shotgun Moses (Missoula)
Damage Done (Seattle)
The Reddmen (Rapid City)
The Trucks (Bellingham)
This Runs On Blood (Flagstaff)
Titan (Brooklyn)
Triclops! (Oakland)
Vera (Missoula) (ex-Sasshole, Saved for this Dark Dawn)
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.