Tuesday, June 30, 2009

If dance parties were invented for two girls on the planet, those girls are Meg n' Shelly Razz M' Tazz. This fantastic, female fronted lo-fi pop group has been in existence in one form or another since the year 2005. They now claim Olympia, Washington as their home, a gentleman from the Pasties as their lone male member (though you might remember an exceptional set with a fella from Hail Sezures at last year's Record Swap) and "Attack with Love" their forever mantra. Razz M' Tazz is a thoughtful, ultra original band that will surely make you feel, dance, love, remember, forget, etc... all with simple keyboards, companion vocals and a not-so innocent sass that will lure you into a never ending friendship for life with Razz M' Tazz.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Flagstaff, Arizona is a town supposedly a lot like Missoula. Mountainous, with a big university, several solid bookstores, a pretty serious Frisbee Golf community, and with a healthy DIY punk scene. Somewhere near the pulsating high-desert heart of Flag's DIY punk heard are the Casebeer brothers, whose persistence in the world of metallic punk is unrivalled.

Had these bros decided upon a more hip/urban zip code from which to base their blown-out, wild musical assaults, I think they'd be on Relapse and touring with Mastodon by now. But that's not their path. This Runs on Blood is a DIY outfit, and that DIYness has allowed them to put out some of the most beautiful (and simultaneously disturbing) releases we Total Fest organizers get to see. Their screen-printed 12" and 7" get passed around the circle to a small chorus of "ooohs" and "ahs." The bands hand-made releases are packed with handwritted serial killer style lyric scrawl, and beautfully executed foldover sleeves and, whod've guessed, blood red vinyl. Meanwhile, the assault of Johny/Greg and Josh pours like an high speed ooze of O- out of the speakers. See also Stab City Slitwrists, JETOMI, and if you want to go waaaaay back, Shitbastard.

Flag Underground - This Runs On Blood from kimball denetso on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

If you've been around Montana in the last four or five years, and are a fan of noise, psych and loud rock and roll, you're probably aware of some of the groups that preceded Red Obelisk. Drummer David Stickney and guitarist Wes Williamson were probably juniors at Hellgate High School when Volumen turned them out to open the record release for Science Faction. That band was called Riddilin Que (pronounced somehow "ritalin queue"), and I never exactly figured out what it meant. The band was a excellent trashy, psychadelic outfit that seemed to draw inspiration equally from Mudhoney, the Butthole Surfers and MC5. They were a loud, wild group and considering their ages (seventeen) it was hard not to like them.

Timed moved on, and the Riddilin Que lineup parted ways. Wes went on to found Shotgun Moses with Blake Bickel and Ian Ford. Shotgun Moses played (by comparison) heavy, slow, riffy metal. David went on to drum for M.O.M.S., a loud progressive double drummer outfit. Just about a year ago, I ran into Wes and he alerted me to his new band, Red Obelisk, and assured me it was more journey to the center of your mind than anything he'd been involved with. When I saw them, I was immediately reminded of the same psychedelic punk vibe from Honky Sausage (later Fireballs of Freedom) shows 15 years ago. Loud, wild, and feedback punctuated. It's music that always seems to be on the brink of total collapse and absolute genius! RED OBELISK! I stake my reputation (as a "fannypack wearin', 90's substitute gym teacher-lookin' wad") at the base of the Obelisk.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Listening to
TacocaT reminds of what I like about rockers like Exene Cervenka from X, Jennifer Clavin from Mika Miko, and Kia Liszak from Sasshole. To borrow from the band's recent Stranger interview, they're all songbirds. They deliver punk goods (beautifully) and move/have moved the music forward with force.

Emily TacocaT's got one of those voices that there's just something about. It renews your purpose! It says "hey, this shit's around for a reason! Turn it up!" The palpable enthusiasm and fun this group brings is half of their appeal. The other half is the fact that they're natural songwriters, and the music stands up tall as a great reminder that sometimes, the rock and roll formula is there for a reason, and that even though no algebraic time signatures, Tuvan throat singing, or noisy skree are part of the package, the music is still fresh and excellent as it was thirty years ago.

Total Organizer Marty's been talking up this Seattle group up for years, and finally, playing their newish LP at one of the (several!) listening sessions, it all clicked into place. The palindrome name. The simple, effective, rad punk songs. The dolphin on the LP jacket. Ladies and gents, voila: TacocaT!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just when you feel that the light of day is a safe place to wander, Total Fest throws Why I Must be Careful at you. Seth Brown and John Niekrasz twist and seduce precise, quick-shift experimental jazz from a rhodes piano and self-described seven surfaces that disables your lizard brain’s fight-or-flight mechanism, only to pepper you with primal vocalizations. This is where you hid as a child. If I were the proverbial atheist in the foxhole, this is the hubris that I would have at the ready. WIMBC returns the watch to the watchmaker. Mark the Record Swap (Saturday, August 22) on your calendar Testers – it’s time to test those waxed wings.

Total Fest PSA:
All bands have been contacted regarding an invitation to play Total Fest. If you are unsure about your band being selected or not, please write to total.fest.organizer@gmail.com and we will be happy to clear up any confusion.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lately, my favorite local band that brings out the dirty rock goes to
Rooster Sauce. Pounding guitars and smart vocals bring you into a Rock n Roll trance that is tough to match in Missoula’s scene. Rooster Sauce has developed a nice following since they formed in 2007. The dueling guitars of General Lee and David Lee (Rooster) will leave you drooling for more, and the solid drums of Stagger Lee combined with the addition of Sara Lee Rooster on bass round things out. Rooster Sauce is definitely the real deal. Make sure that you do not miss their set and you will know that, yes, Missoula can and will bring you the rock.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Black Elk makes a return to Missoula for Total Fest VIII, and we couldn’t be happier. Last year’s performance was one for the ages. They played in the Palace and brought the crowd to their knees. It was a revealing set that will be remembered for some time. Black Elk consists of Dan Capuano on bass, Erik Trammel on guitar (formerly of Wadsworth), Jeff Watson on the drums and Tom Glose on vocals. This Portland 4 piece will have you screaming for more and they will deliver it. When I hear Black Elk, I get the unmistakable likeness of Jesus Lizard and punk rock sensibilities of Black Flag. Black Elk has torched Missoula more than once, and it is never a show to miss so do not miss these guys as you may see more of them than you would expect.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

If you have never experienced the squawking, brooding, pulsing, wailing, throbbing, droning, hypnotizing tones of Poor School, I am sorry for you. Truly. This isn’t your grand-pappy’s noise. Poor School is everything that you love (or forget that you love) about jazz, noise, punk and, (perhaps a stretch) acid rock all rolled into one cacophonous improvised fertility ritual. Consisting of Bryan Ramirez (Ex-Cocaine, Universal Indians), John Niekrasz (Fly!, Fly!, Fly!, Fly!, Fly!, Why I Must Be Careful, etc.) and Nathan Hoyme (free lance sax wielder and all around swell guy), the trio lurches and rolls over one another with surprising ease as they perpetually delay collision after collision. Niekrasz’s drums provide momentary centering while Ramirez and Hoyme pursue unknown but eerily comfortable caverns on the guitar and saxophone. Their improvised sets violently massage all of your angst-ridden anticipation until your brain drips onto your shoes. Noiseweek’s review offers a telling summary: “They obstensibly play full-tilt improv welded to tribal heavy rock, but there's so much more happening inside the thick folds of their hurtling jams that ripping them open and idenitfying the guts inside is like trying to dissect pudding - eventually you just have to give up and eat it.” Bring your bibs, Total Fest-ers!

Friday, June 12, 2009

A.K.A. "Tipper Gore, look out."
With all the class and the light touch of Luther "Luke Skyywalker" Campbell, Seattle's Lamborghiniz are the absolute antithesis of the intelligent rap that seems to be all the rage these days. In fact, Lamborghiniz subject matter is all prurient, all BOOM and all about gettin' panties off.

Of course, were the music not entirely, unironically in lock-step with the original '89 Miami Bass Sound steez of As Nasty As they Wanna Be, it'd just be a some bogus tribute. However, this crew has jumped into the proverbial deep end and they deliver the goods live, and in-person. Expect a fine drank-flavoured cocktail of offensiveness, mysogyny and dance-party-throw-down in equal parts. Eric from the Stranger's Blog recently posted a show review.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

“Raw” is sometimes thrown around to compensate for a sentiment that isn’t there. Not here. Gritty and simple, Glassell Park 3 pounds out a raucous blues / garage punk from their box n snare, guit-jo and bass that eschews any sense of an orchestrated presence. Bearing the name of one of Los Angeles’s older neighborhoods, GP 3’s sound serves as a constant check to the gentrification and leveling that most neighborhoods experience. This is an active celebration that dares you to resist its train-like pull. GP 3 gathers inspiration and energy from the communal space around them and churns out a foot pounding, sweat milking tempo that is bound to win them an entire set of new friends and compatriots.

Friday, June 5, 2009

My kid likes pop…The perfect pop of Supergrass, Super Furry Animals ... anything super. And he likes The Bugs' "Fuckin' A Right." Never mind that it talks about bad stuff or has bad words, it's the sound that compels him. The Bugs take that New York pared down punk sound - nasal vocals and pissed lyrics combined with simple rhythms and scuzzy guitar - and make of it some danceable drinkable stuff. This is pop for adults, colored with Red #40 and highly addictive.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Say the words "Utah band" and the only thing most of us are able to think about is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Vile Blue Shades are a good exception to that misconception about the beehive state's underground scene. Their music is a whirling, pulsating, sensual thing with a handful of percussionists, guitarists, keyboardists, a bassist, Meg the dancer and Ryan, their 6' 5" front-person who combines all the charm of Mark E. Smith with the subtlety of Andre the Giant.

Who knows what to attribute the flavor of these tunes to? Salt Lake's got a relatively urban feel, I guess. You can get Afghan food and a copy of the Financial Times downtown. But any place talk doesn't really explain or do justice to the excellent chemistry of this huge handful of players. Nothing about the grid towns, wide city blocks, polygamist enclaves, sandstone fins or cryptobiotic crust says a damn thing about the multi-celled, undulating organism that these folks are able to transform into once they hop on a stage.

Vile Blue Shades find a way to make you forget that orchestrating a six-piece band is a hell of a
task, let alone double that number. If not for the spot-on abilities and clarity of purpose that seem to glue this group together you'd have a annoyingly cacophonous amusical junk heap, or worse a derivative A Certain Ratio knockoff. Neither are true, rather, at a Vile Blue Shades show, one's treated to one of the best kept secrets in these parts.

(Photos by Dane Hansen, Total Fest VI, 2007)