Tuesday, May 31, 2011
What I like most about 10 Year Old Girlfriend(or "10YoGF" I guess) is their spirit. Their, ahem, crazy spirit. It reminds me of great, kind of rudimentary but punk-as-fuck stuff like Kleenex, Chin Chin and that vintage of awesome Swiss stuff. They’ve been around for about three years now, I think, and started as Hana and Tom playing tunes on sub-shitty gear at Missoulaparties. The gear is slightly less shitty these days, maybe, and they’ve got an actual drummer (and a Spartan-kit playing Bonzo) in Matt Coté –whom you might remember from Fag Rag, another great Missoula export, but the spirit’s still there.
And don’t mistake “spirit” for some horrible high school thing, like “spirit, spirit. Let’s hear it” or whatever. I mean actually spirited, fun punk rock spirit. Like, let’s go swim in the river. Let’s drink beer. Let’s have fun. That kind of spirit.
So, what’s the deal with the music? Uh, it’s kind of singalong, keyboardy, danceable, good-time, don't care, poppy punk rock. That’s what I think of anyway.
Shahs is Tom Helgerson and Colin Johnson. Can I now safely say they are Missoulians? They came from the Minneapolis motherland, but that was ages ago. …Or it seems that way because Shahs has played everywhere and anywhere the past two-ish years. Their name is constantly plastered all over handbills and show posters around town.
Anyway, Tom has been spreading Shahs’ sound around Missoula and has only recently added his good friend Colin into the mix. Their metro-blended musical cocktail will get you drunk on goooood vibes. Each song is built on a looping of beats made by machine or by mouth and layered with reverberations of delay and distortion pedals. Shahs is like a hip version of calypso or tropicalia that weakens stiff white knees to dancing.
I am a fan of the song St-Gilles from the album Divine Interest. It is super reverbed and atmospheric with lyrics that I am unable to make out. Shahs’ newest LP “Dry Heat/Valley Low” even made it to Josh’s top releases of 2010 list! You really got to hear this for yerself.
Other, more seasoned, bloggers and journalists have written about Tom and Shahs and I encourage you to check those out. I could provide you with endless links to articles and blogs but here are only a few to get you started on researching this interesting character:
Monday, May 30, 2011
Tyson is a Missoula music staple. He is everywhere. Playing music, making art, or playing with his kids. His songs are built with pop chord progressions and layered instrumentation while maintaining an acoustic folk punk sound. His newest album The Escape Artist Kids is Tyson’s punk autobiography of making bands, having big dreams, and being frustrated with the fire marshal’s stance on popular punk venues.
It was recorded at Club Shmed and released on Tyson’s label Tummy Rock. I love the taste of lyrical folk music topped with a punk garnish in my musical diet. Here is a healthy helping of that folk-punk sound you just can’t get enough of.
Check out Tyson’s bandcamp to listen/buy his newest release and also hear his past work here. Explore this talented songwriter's archive and other band releases on his label here.
Calling them unapologetic, heartwrenchingly sincere, and goddamn catchy still somehow seems to fall woefully short when trying to describe the Arrivals. Having been around for well over a decade now, these Chicago punks, and especially the more recent record on Todd Congelliere's Recess Records, wear their Clash and Pegboy influences flawlessly by cranking out soulful and intelligent rock'n'roll songs without all the bullshit patriotism and bogus I'm-Americana-Cause-I-Have-A-Mustache garbage that destroys (for me) most modern bands of this sound. Sort of the way Avail made you feel inspired and proud of your hometown, yet didn't try to dispel the idea that employment and social justice is a sickening joke. But don't get me wrong, the Arrivals aren't rehashing working-class rock - they're ripping it a new one that makes London Calling sound fucking boring (yeah, I said it).
Touring all over the damn place this summer, as well as sharing members with the unkillable Dillinger Four, the Arrivals embody the inspirational and emotional power of music. A desperate rallying cry to stay afloat in a sea of "progressive" shit. We here at Total Fest, Inc., LLC, DOA could not possibly be more excited to raise our fists and go completely hoarse when the Arrivals take the stage and send your wimpy, banjo-cuddling butts back to the bar to earn that goofy whiskey voice you've been trying to pair with your ironic hat collection. This is how it's REALLY done, kiddos - take note!
Sunday, May 29, 2011
The Total Fest bands that I tend to get the most excited about are the ones whose set leaves me drenched in sweat and nursing a massive headache from all the night's head bashing. Somewhat related, I also like to drink whiskey - a lot. So when a band like P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. gets added to the TF lineup I find it somewhat amusing that I can pinpoint an exact time in the future when my brains will feel like they were crammed down a garbage disposal, my body will smell like a rundown distillery, and my face will hurt from the accompanying shiteating grin. These, to me, are the signs of an excellently successful show.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Boise is a weird place. Saddled in western Idaho, it looks as if travel to Boise from Missoula should be much easier than travel to, say, Seattle, Portland or Denver. But, it's not. The serpentine drive makes it frighteningly beautiful in the winter, and the darting RVs along the recreation corridors test your patience in the summer. It's a fantastic drive either way, but it never fails to surprise me how long it takes to get there.
Part of me likes it. Maybe only for the PBR mural. Part of me fears its visor-laden populace. But beneath the sterile veneer of Idaho's capitol is a thriving population of artists who don't shy away from holding the slimy into view. In fact, they douse themselves in it.
There's a pleasing amount of irreverence pulsating through Boise's Microbabies. With song titles like Look Whose Taco Trucking and Sex with Jeans AKA Dry Hump, you get a good picture of what to expect. It's an atonal affront that's reminiscent of the playful spurts of the Happy Flowers. Layered and energetic to the point that it almost seems directionless. You like it, and you're sure you know why, but anything you say just doesn't seem to measure up to the music. Microbabies is the band you'll hate yourself for missing, and the album that you'll relish to have in the shit-to-annoy-my-neighbors arsenal (you know, the Sunday after Total Fest when Amstel Light dude decides to mow the lawn at 8am). It's blatant with its disregard for ... well, just about everything.
Friday, May 27, 2011
RELIGIOUS GIRLS IN BOYS CLOTHING
Feeling left behind? Case of the non-rapture blues? Lucky You.
The percussion dominant Religious Girls is a hard nut to crack. Ambient-noise poetics? Who knows? Haunting, jubilant, experimental and poppy -- maybe somewhere around Animal Collective. Some groups are simply (not simple) live bands. It's difficult to represent the energy in a studio, but these cats are actively attempting to translate just that. In the post-raptureless world, we need bands like Religious Girls to express our collective excitement. It's breezy and magnetic. RG form a world without boundaries, yet perceptually vivid and tangible -- a ghostly resonance that is intoxicating and invigorating. Their live sets tap into some subsonic residue and teases it out as they build up to a primal shift. It's a charged atmosphere that reminds us of possibility.
We pride ourselves on the DIY ethic that underlies Total Fest. It's the part of the festival that we strive to celebrate the most, and it's the joy and friendships that happen that leave that PBR stained perma-grin on our collective faces come Sunday.
Step-in Shellshag. Since the 90's, John (Shell) and Jen (Shag) have helped establish the strata that stretches between both coasts. Their newest lp, Rumors in Disguise, builds upon the groundbreaking, yet oddly familiar ep Gary Young (2004) and 2007's Destroy Me, I'm Yours. Yes, they're a two-piece. Yes, we tend to like those. Yes, two-pieces run the risk of becoming predictable. Trust us, Shellshag is anything but predictable. They possess an impressive resume of touring, "played-with ..." and community involvement. The songs contain all the right hooks, the right lyrical catches, but there is undoubtedly something more. For some reason, you're never supposed to say this, but, John and Jen are great people. They're fun loving and committed. The crisscrossed mics that link the two on-stage mirror the effect of their music. It's intimate. It's fun. It's personal. It's a healthy dose of honesty. It's inclusive and forward looking. It's not unchecked positivity, but it is the result of a decade and a half of eating, breathing and playing music together that allows for this duo to continually impress fans. Shellshag is hypnotizing, and it's refreshing to know that people like this not only exist in the world but also help to secure its foundations.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
It seems as though Seattle Washington’s The Pharmacy have cracked the formula of crafting a perfect psych/pop song. Their latest release, “Weekend” is chock full of tunes that would make a 22 year old Mick Jagger envious. Beautiful melodies meet with the perfect amount of reverb and then ease into memorable choruses that you’ll be singing for days, and you kids get to see em’ live at Total Fest!
If you haven’t witnessed The Pharmacy for yourself trust me when I say their set will not let you down, it’s full of energy and brilliant musicianship and you will be moving with the crowd in no time. We at Total Fest couldn’t be more excited to have these gents play at this year’s fest!
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Anyhow, that there's a band called Omotai which plays awesome metallic sheets of metal scuzz is pretty cool. They remind me of a younger, faster version of Kylesa somehow, with the same 2000 ft. vocals and awesome, building, repeating, soaring riffs. Voila, Omotai. Meet Total Fest.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
A "show" in the world of Bad normally consists of gathering a handful of folks around, playing a bizarre acoustic bass and singing an awesome set of approximately 10-12 1.5 minute long songs, played outdoors between bands, with an audience singing whole songs along with Bad.
The youtube clip below's a pretty good idea of what it's all about. Not long ago, it went from novelty-with-guts territory to sheer brilliance. Not sure if it was the wheat gluten free diet that Bad's recently started or what, but this stuff has got a kind of original, awesome, weird, shitty, funny excellence that you don't see but a couple times per lifetime.
Monday, May 23, 2011
STREET EATERS RETURN TO TOTAL FEST.
Last year I had the wonderful, chance opportunity to walk in on a set by a band called Street Eaters at Total Fest IX and we're happy to announce that they'll be returning to Missoula this summer. I've always had a soft spot for two-piece bands, but to be honest, I'd gotten kinda burnt out on the novelty that many other bands have made of it, but this East Bay husband and wife, Johnny Geek and Megan March took the stage with bass and drums and totally killed it. Their songs are a fresh and explosive mash-up of post-punk and riot grrl inspired sounds with plenty of melody, hooks and occasionally, a bit of heavier, rhythmic bludgeoning to round things out. Top that off with a fascination for the natural world, camping, river fun and underwater exploration. All in all, a perfect fit for us fellow nature dorks in Missoula.
Megan and Johnny have been touring like crazy since they came through last year, have released a couple new EPs, and are about to drop a new full length record on super rad labels Plan-It-X and Bakery Outlet. Here's a fun video with some great bits of live footage (from last year's Total Fest) but there's plenty more great videos out there if you do some exploring:
THE TRASHIES BRING THE PARTY TO TOTAL FEST.
We're proud to share the news that Seattle's The Trashies will be hitting the road this August and playing our little party here in Missoula. They've been kicking around for a while now and if you've not heard these fellas before, prepare yourself for a damn good time. And just a warning - you'll probably wake up Sunday morning in your neighbor's yard and not remember the feel-good, booty-shakin' psychedelic surf punk party jams you and yr friends danced your ass off to the night before, not because it wasn't totally radical, but it probably had something to do with the two empty forty bottles you found duck-taped to your hands. We're looking forward to the Trashies at Total Fest... and a little sketched out.
They've got a new record coming out this summer, the first in a while, so get stoked. Check out some songs from their past couple releases on their 'space and this nice live clip to hold ya over.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
In their own words The Blind Shake play “stompy-garage-y punk with some psychedelic influences”. Which means your ears would have had to be blown off in a high school science accident for you not to enjoy something these guys bring to the table. If you missed their set two years ago at Total Fest let me bring you up to speed. Brothers Mike and Jim Blaha have sworn off bass guitars with the result being an intense and nervous blending of guitar with baritone guitar. The riffs come quick and with the mixture of Dave Ropers pounding of drums the music becomes relentless until The Blind Shake pummel you into the ground like a pissed off, coked-up, steroid infused Macho Man Randy Savage – couldn’t help myself. Total Fest is insanely excited to have The Blind Shake on the roster again this year.
Authors note: If you are in the market for some new music, march down to Ear Candy immediately and pick up The Blind Shakes collaboration with legendary outside artist Michael Yonkers entitled Cold Town b/w Soft Zodiac. This is the second collaboration between the two musical entities and in my opinion was one of the best releases of 2009.
Friday, May 20, 2011
They are coming back Missoula!
Hide yer kids, hide yer wife! Pickle, Loren and Travis are returning to Total Fest X to follow up their kick-ass set from last year. We had an effing blast down in the Palace and I distinctly remember seeing some melted faces from the punk-ass garage fallout brought on by Travis and Loren's insane shredding, and Pickle's maniac drum skillz.
These boys bring a good portion of Flagstaff with ‘em to party and have a good time. They’ll be here to jump off bridges and float the river with you, PBRs in tow. The flagstaff kids know how to party, there's even a party sounds track on their 10”, and did I mention they party? I can’t wait for these dudes to return and bring their flagstaff family and straightforward, plugged in, punctuated songs.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
KOWLOON WALLED CITY TO BRING THEIR WALL OF NOISE TO OUR FINE CITY.
So far, with the exception of a few, this year's Total Fest line-up has been somewhat lacking in the heavy department, but we're proud to announce that San Francisco powerhouse Kowloon Walled City will be joining us this August in Missoula. This Bay Area group has been around for a couple of years now, melting minds one head at a time with their unique blend of low-end, crushing sludge metal and AmRep-inspired, mathy noise-rock. Their self-released 2008 debut EP Turk Street quickly caught the eyes and ears of many (including rave reviews from San Fran mainstay Aquarius Records and others) and interest in the band has since exploded with the subsequent release of their Gambling on the Richter Scale LP, a split 12" with Fight Amp, occasional touring (when they're not juggling family and work lives) and non-stop local shows supporting the likes of Unsane, Kylesa, Saviours, Helms Alee and many others. Their visit to Missoula this August will be a rare out of town performance for the band and our collective inner-metalhead is eagerly looking forward to it (and hope you are too).
We've posted a live video from a past show below, but their penchant for gratuity and accessibility certainly shows through as they've made all of their releases available for free digital download on their website here.
GROWN-UPS WELCOME AT TOTAL FEST.
I know we've said it before, but Alberta and Western Canada in general have become quite the breeding grounds for some quality, noisy punk rock these days. I don't know what it is about that little chunk of the world, but it's birthed some awesomely creative and interesting music lately. Total Fest got a taste of it last year with Lethbridge post-punk outfit Fist City and this year we're looking forward to a visit from Friendo, The Shrapnelles and now, Calgary punkers, Grown-Ups. This young trio brings a smile to my face with their stripped down, slightly distorted scuzzy punk, some bits and pieces of classic SST love and just enough pent-up energy and quirkiness that could only come from the Great White North.
In their little lifetime as a band, they've done a heck of a lot... touring their little butts off all over Canada with the likes of Fucked Up, White Lung and B-Lines (and are playing what I believe are their first ever US shows this weekend in OR and WA), getting all viral with their homemade 'Bieb Flag' shirts, releasing a couple solid tapes and singles, and are gearing up for the release of their appropriately titled, first full length LP Stopped Caring (out this summer on new Portland label Modern Documents). While you wait on that slab of wax and their set this August at Total Fest, here's a fun little live video and a download of everything that they've released to date.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Part phoenix, part collage, Batwings Catwings is a frantic, howling blend of punk, dance, funk, pop ash-molding .... fun. Its fierce and playful mix of members from LA DIY stalwarts TPF!, Puppy Dog and Luna is Honey is art house without the house and more punk than post. What the hell else do you want? BWCW's Peacock Collection is available through Idiangold Records. The lp is a gem that brightened more than a few dull and dreary days of Missoula's winter. BWCW never seemed like one of those bands that shot out a few catchy demos and singles but then you didn't hear from again. They've been establishing a solid momentum, playing shows with Big Business, Foot Village, Bitches and a host of others. This shit will make you sweat. Isn't that what summer is for?
Monday, May 16, 2011
I first heard these dudes' demo at one of last year's Total Fest listening parties. My ears were dead, we'd just listened to a particularly painful group of submissions, and I was fucking hungry. I remember being pretty ambivalent towards what I heard, but they were also from Butte and it didn't totally suck. Fast forward to working the door of the festival and suddenly being slammed with their antagonistically noisy and utterly rocking riffs and driving bass - this can't be the same band!? This is fucking great!!!
Mordecai reminds me of all the things I like about bands like Flipper and Pussy Galore - songs that piss me off while unconsciously causing me to turn this shit up! Their incredibly simple tunes are raw and gritty and will leave your head swimming from all the feedback and insane volume. While brevity has never been their strong suit (and why should it be - get lost in the noisescape, man!), this band is going to be absolutely great to see again at Total Fest. They've also got a much anticipated LP coming out on Missoula's very own (and very distinguished) Killertree Records. Make sure you get a spot up front so you can fully experience the total mindfuck that Mordecai has to offer!
There are some bands that lend themselves to bizarre introspective thought that only really makes sense during the asphalt daze of a roadtrip or whatever the hell you think about while passing in and out of consciousness. For example, Meat Puppets, Sebadoh, and Unwound are bands that have always lent a connection when I find myself on a long walk home after a shitty day's work. The weirdness and warm feelings those bands evoke seem to draw away the tedium of pounding the sidewalk and dwelling on the concept that the only good boss is a dead one. When my friend gave me a tape of his new band, Gun Outfit, I popped that shit in the tape deck and was instantly excited about the next time I found myself pissed off and bored (which, if you know me, didn't take long).
The riffs Gun Outfit seem to come up with in their sleep are so awkwardly catchy that it sends me back a decade or two to trading tapes of "You're Living All Over Me" and zoning out until the school bell releases my mind to more productive pursuits (like finding out why Jenny said hi to me in the hall - does she LOVE me???). My friend doesn't play in Gun Outfit anymore but unlike many of your "friend's bands," that hasn't done a damn thing to keep me from loving this band more with every release. Get ready to lose your head in the clouds and get weird.
These Browning boys are something special because they’re something different. They have experiences that a lot of angry white kids don’t have. Goddammitboyhowdy’s brand of punk simultaneously embraces and disregards the “outsiderness” of coming from the reservation. The Blackfeet rez is a slice of Northern Montana overshadowed and underpaid by the East entrance of Glacier National Park. These Rez kids have the energy of the snowmelt coming off Logan Pass and their music will maul your face in Night of the Grizzly style. I love their style of authentic punk music that has something real to say.
But I don’t want their unique native background to overshadow the quality of their music. These guys are awesome musicians first. Their new 7” GDBH IS REZ PUNK is a great press and includes a cd of even more tracks put out under Marty’s label Minor Bird Records. It’s a piece of art, with a hand printed sleeve of the Blackfeet Nation’s seal. Their other release is super-punk packaged in a brown-bag that ironically draws attention to the other, more problematic, item wrapped in a brown bag.
GDBH’s popularity is growing. A friend of mine visiting from Olympia picked up their disc after he saw a Goddammitboyhowdy patch stitched to some Oly punk’s obligatory hoody. Will this music spark a new generation of the American Indian or inspire other AIM wannabes? I don’t know. I do know (or I may be projecting here) that the energy of their live shows can stoke a revolutionary flame or make you wish you were a native too.
Check out this video, can you feel it?
Our favorite Portland pests are returning to Total Fest with their special blend of party punk. Paul Haines and Mike Coumatos are seasoned musicians playing with the Last of the Juanitas, Trumans Water and Plastic Harmony Band. A few years ago they brought the party to the Record Swap down at the Big Dipper ice cream, serenading us while our espresso heath cones and starship bananas melted in the August sunshine.
Barbaric***Mystical***Bored****** was their 2009 release of scuzzy, pop, fast-paced tracks. We’re begging for more guys! I like these vocals because they remind me of the cute eff-yous of the Violent Femmes. They also have the mechanical smartness of Devo and I’ve been told they are recommended if you like the Buzzcocks.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Before the ipod, going on long road trips required me to fill up a black caselogic with cds of bands that would accompany the lonely highways of southern Wyoming and would keep my mind off the trip long enough to reach Colorado. Needless to say bands like The Minutemen, Pavement, Beat Happening and The Feelies got me through some pretty unbearable trips.
Portland, Oregon’s very own Sam Humans would without a doubt have been one of my go to albums. Besides some extraordinary beards, Sam Humans write some down right extraordinary tunes - tunes that get engraved into your brain for weeks at a time. The package is there, catchy riffs, impeccable drumming and impressive vocals, not to mention some first-class lyrics. Hell, who knows I might have thrown in their album and before I knew it I would have been in Mexico.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Equipped with a guitar, washboard, a single snare drum and a washtub bass, The Pine Hill Haints play music that any fan of rockabilly, blues, punk, or roots music will surely dig. Their stripped down brand of music sparks an honestly to the genre that I haven’t heard since maybe The Gibson Bros. The Haints lo-fi recordings about heartache, whiskey and supernatural affairs fit quite nicely on K Records, but to be honest the first time I heard “Ghost Dance” I thought someone had just dusted off an old Sun Records 78. One thing is for sure, with all of the influences and genres these Alabamans mix-up into a set anyone who sets foot into Total Fest will be in for a treat.
The Pine Hills Haints graced the Total Fest stage back in 2006 and the Total crew couldn’t be more excited to see these raucous rawkers back for our tenth anniversary. We are so inspired we may have to whip up a batch of bathtub gin to celebrate.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Now also known to us at Total Fest Headquarters as “Totally Invited To Sing” this TOTALFESTX.
Hailing from San Fran these four ladies have eight T.I.T.S. total, which is more than you’ll find in a majority of bands on the circuit. Two guitars plus bass and drum, this group is the Beatles with boobs.
….except their rock style is darkly different from the sweet-boy lyrics of Lennon-McCartney. These babes are loud and not apologizing. Their sound is metallic and spooky, spawned from the evil depths of the earth goddess. Deep, dark drones played by our endowed matriarchs drive a ritual chant to perhaps inspire sacrifice or, shall I say it? ...Castration. Too bad poor Knight, welcome to the Castle Anthrax, there is no Holy Grail here, just temptation.
Don’t bother searching “T.I.T.S.” on YouTube or google, you know what you’re in for. Go straight to their site titsacrossamerica.com to see other clever T.I.T.S. acronyms describing these ladies. And later, when you are sweating in the crowd come August, show these T.I.T.S. some respect and don’t ask them to show ‘em, (though I hear these girls are smokin’).
T.I.T.S. will turn you on and then turn it up, to like, 11.
These freakin' Albertans are onto something lately. Not sure what it is about oil-wealthy western Canada, but they're kind of running things. Friendo, who I think have got a dude from Women, are an awesome, spooky pop group from there.
Women, also Calgarians, has ruled my world since hearing their second record, Public Strain last year. It caused me to seek out their first, self-titled LP, and that thing's been on heavy rotation in our household. At the time of the s/t record, they sounded kind of like a subtler, more creative Pixies or something. Great short songs, awesome parts, good hooks. Weird twists and turns and excellently recorded. That was the Women S/T. Public Strain reminded me (and I think lots of folks) of Sister-era Sonic Youth to an awesome extent. And not in the we just-heard-Daydream-Nation sort of way, more like a, we weave guitar parts together in a weird, awesome way like SY.
So, on to Friendo: what's their deal? I like this stuff because it's experimental, kind of wonderfully basic, and fresh. Come and see. Or, at minimum for now, click and see.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
There is hair, and then there is hair. The brother-sister duo White Mystery (Alex and Francis White -- real names, real siblings) slams out some fuzzy, spastic garage rock that makes you want to bounce. Their live shows are mesmerizing. I feel horrible because I continually want to talk about their hair, but all the connotations that we have with the color red seem to fit the bill when describing Mystery's music. There's love, passion, anger, fire ... For all its simplicity, it's rock at its purest and most complicated. The drums and guitars clash with all the synchronicity of a riot and there is something intuitively present between the siblings -- so much is communicated between them with at smile, an eyebrow or a glance -- that ups the tempo, signals a change or unleashes havoc. It's a subtle nuance that you'll most likely miss because White Mystery shreds. As with any good two piece, the sound is large and enveloping to the point that it seems impossible that other band members are not hiding in the shadows, beneath the floorboards or in the rafters. If you read the press, you'll undoubtedly stumble across a few dozen white stripes comparisons. Don't buy it! It's a lazy comparison. White Mystery pumps a whole lot more punk-energy into their music, and, for my taste, it's entirely more genuine, more gritty, more streetbound. Alex and Francis write and play songs that make you feel like you're walking in the world they live in. It has that residue of grease on the chin from feasting on the everyday, of bumping up against the muck and grime of Chicago. They've recently released a new LP Blood and Venom -- suck on that!
Monday, May 9, 2011
Total Fest has an international past. Canadian international.... just last year Fist City ensured that we broke out of the u.S. a little bit. Even if southern Alberta's closer than eastern Montana, hey, international's fuckin' international around here.
So, that we've got a group hopping on a plane to come to the states for the first time, from somewhere that's like yesterday and tomorrow at the same time time-zone-wise, and who are not only from a different continent, but a different hemisphere, well, few things tickle us quite this much. So who is it? The band is Melbourne, Australia's Dead. Jem from Fire Witch and the We Empty Rooms newest band. Jem's been a Wantage bro for something like five+ years here, we've traded LPs, we've swapped mailorder woes, and Wantage even put out an insane Fire Witch Japan 10" just a couple years back. So what's Dead all about?
Same vibe in many ways as Fire Witch, but with a single bass courtesy of Jace. Heavy, but heavy on its own terms, not by shear riffin' mayhem, more a creeping ominousness, some good space and slow creep, and then the epic riff. Jem's a furious drummer, akin to a Bonzo/Crover vibe. Always winning in our book around here. He's been on this wild channeling of noise rock and doom for his career, and we think this shit is top notch, or "ripper" as they they say, south of the equator. So, that's that, man. They're touring in Malaysia right now. Look for them in the U.S. this summer with Unstoppable Death Machines! This is a pretty momentous thing for us around here, our first band, and they're from Oceania. Home to the Celibate Rifles, Eddy Current, AC/DC, Lubricated Goad, the Saints and Grey Daturas! OUCH.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Dudes from Big Business, Karp, Monorchid, , etc. combine to deliver tunes whose seemingly sole goal is to infuriate anyone with good taste or self respect. Lyrically, White Shit conjures memories of the mighty - songs that are so stupid that it takes nothing short of genius to come up with this stuff.. Visually, they remind me of the way I felt when I started learning what the Internet really had to offer and stumbled upon www.rotten.com around 1997. Sonically - fuck, this shit rages. They even do an excellent cover of an otherwise untouchable band, GISM! Think if they never slowed down and if actually had a sense of humor. I am literally shaking with excitement (or maybe it's from something I caught from handling their record covers...) to see this band - YOU SHOULD BE TOO, MOM!
Friday, May 6, 2011
For a sort of bummer collection of mossy stipmalls, military bases, ports and clearcuts, western Washington and northwest Oregon has got damn near about every region of the country beat in terms of killer musical output. Think of it historically: frat rock bands like the Sonics and Wailers, hardcore groups like the Fartz, Dead Moon, the Rats, the Wipers, Gas Huffer, U-Men, Mudhoney, Seaweed, Beat Happening, Unwound, Karp, Fitz of Depression, the Lights, the Spits, A-Frames, etc. etc. Jesus. I can think of about 29 more off the top of my head. Add to that colossal list Milk Music, please.
This Oly (I think, based on their short MRR interview) group (Milk Music, I mean) has got an authentically blown-out and (in its reverb-undrenchedness) refreshing take on the pioneering SST hardcore (in approach vs. sound) deal of the late 80s. Every thing written about the band seems to mention old Dinosaur Jr, and I think that's apt, they also mention Hüsker Dü and the Feelies. Sure, why not. Good reference points for sure, but it's got it its own stuff too. This ain't some cover band.
Here's a link to their self-relased Beyond Living LP. Try it on for size. It blew my mind! And the thing gets better with age, the mark of good songs vs. a strictly tonally nice record. I think their web-presence is refreshingly meager. Maybe a Last FM page, though who knows how to make those work.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Todd "Recess" Congelliere's a bro. He's been in bands that we've been fans of for like, uh, 20-some years. I think if you were to consider all of the Todd-related bands that have played Total Fest over the years (Toys that Kill, Stoned At Heart, Underground Railroad.., Audacity) the guy takes the prize for most time on a Total Fest stage.
Part of what we so dig about Todd's projects is that he still does everything diy and keeps up a feverish release pace, and he remembers everybodys' names. Hell, he met Johnny at some point, briefly in the early 00s, and hasn't forgetten that guy!, and same goes for a lot of us. One of my all-time favorite Total Fest anecdotes comes from Todd, via Ben Wildenhaus from Federation X: it was TFIV, the one we held at the American Legion hall. The beer had run out and the alternative alcohol was Sparks, the nasty acidic orange alco-caffeine hybrid. Todd, and some bandmates, had switched from beer to Sparks out of necessity, and got wired-buzzed on the stuff. They were staying at Niki's house, and.. (this is where it gets a little fuzzy) when Todd took a shower, he looked down at his chest and hallucinated a feathery bird's breast, rather than what you normally see. Was it the combination of being in a 90 degree, sweaty room and a massive dose of pharmaceutical grade caffeine and dodgy malt liquor...or was it the Total Fest je-ne-sais-quois? We'll never know.
In the past year, Todd's done a great solo record called "Clown Sounds," he played on the Stoned At Heart LP, and now there's this great new Underground Railroad To Candyland record. It's all got his stamp on it. If you're into modern skate punk, and the torch-bearers of the best of southern California's punk output, Todd and his crew(s) are your folks. The band that's playing Total Fest X is the Underground Railroad to Candyland. They have got a new record coming out, and are massively fun and excellent.
Monday, May 2, 2011
MAKE WAY FOR THE MEN.
The Men are without a doubt a fresh breath of punk rock or whatever-you-want-to-call-it coming out west to Total Fest this year from New York. Part of an new wave of creative, young DIY punk/hardcore-rooted bands from the Empire City (that brings to mind ABC No Rio in the late 80s and early 90s), The Men offer up a smattering of in-your-face, blown-out, feedback-soaked post-punk, not afraid to throw in some elements of sludge, shoegaze, and even some completely left-field, twangy, country-tinged bits here and there. A bit of My War-era Black Flag? Yes. A bit of My Bloody Valentine? Yes. A bit of the Birthday Party? Perhaps. In the tradition of Total Fest and all that is damaged, desperate and weird (and by weird, we mean incredibly awesome!), we welcome and look forward to The Men knocking us all on our asses this August in Missoula.
Compliments of the band, here are some free downloads of their out-of-print Immaculada LP (which is soon to be reissued by Deranged Records) and "Think" single (featuring a cover of Devo's "Gates of Steel"), plus a TOTALLY raw live vid below:
Seattle, WA's the town that added more hair to rock and roll than anywhere this side of Hollywood in the '80s, or wherever Black Oak Arkansas are from. So, bands like Soundgarden etc. are the well known exports. On the fringes, the town has an incredibly rich underbelly. Bands like the A-Frames knock out insane, cold, skronky punk. Climax Golden Twins washing psychedelic, err, 'scapes of some kind. And it keeps on going from there. AFCGT, the band that features people from both groups, does some insane, unhinged Kraut thing, without any motorik-ness, more just a wild dangerous swing.
This is a long way around an introduction for Le Sang Song. AKA, one of Craig (Lights) Chambers other bands. Le Sang Song's one of those groups that you hear about because the dude puts a CD in your hand. And you listen to it, and after about 5 more listens, you start to digest the thing and it's got a something about it that's completly like what the Lights do, only with a subtleness, or spaciousness that adds a dynamic and takes Craig's crazy baritone in a brand new direction, and you realize that this guy's songwriting ability runs deep and diverse. Live, the band is Craig and his wife Adria. It's also got a rotating (I think) cast of folks from other groups like Factums and A-Frames.
We're tickled pink to have 'em.