Thursday, December 26, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 20, 2013


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

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

Thursday, November 7, 2013


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Red Fang close Total Fest XII
I do a radio show once every couple of weeks on KBGA. It's called Josh's Ultramega Ultrablast, if you're interested. I alternate Thrusdays at 4PM (MST) with Bryan Ramirez's Unheard Music. In my capacity as a dude mostly playing loud music, I've done some time as an assistant (volunteer) music director. I got so damned excited by the new Lord Dying record that I had to add it, and when I did, I figured I'd ask if I could also preview the new Red Fang album. I'd played a bunch of it from Youtube and really liked the tones, the songs and pretty much everything about it.

Rob "Zombie" Lawlor, from Zombie Tools.
Previewing records mostly means picking what songs you think are the standouts (Doen, No Hope, Crows In Swine, Dawn Rising for me) and making sure the thing's FCC compliant. In that quest for lyrics, I came across this review, which is almost not worth drawing attention to. Some prick on Pitchfork gives this record a 5/10 review. Pretty much and F grade.

Now, the Red Fang fellers don't need any boosters, and I'm sure at the end of the day this Grayson guy's a fine individual who pays taxes and votes and soforth. And I'm positive Red Fang have got plenty of fan love to buoy any shittalkers, but I truly am baffled by anyone who doesn't think the formula they've got together works really, really well for Whales and Leeches.

This album is packed with what you already liked about Red Fang, is superbly recorded (I thought a little better dialed than Murder the Mountains) and brings in Mike Scheidt from Yob for a track. It's loaded with excellent variations on the Red Fang formula, which I think is a unique and solid approach to a genre plum full of over-seriousness, plodding odes to Norse gods, pot, cars and little else. That they have some fun with it and at the end of the day, are a band that fucking rips, seems ultimately to be lost on this guy. And a few others out there. Currin's review has essentially filled five paragraphs with not much at all besides a bunch of Pitchforky mumbo jumbo in what appears to largely serve as a platform for him to display his vocabulary ("hitherto," "elan," etc. pepper this thing). I'm fine with intellectualism and a two-dollar word once in a while, but I can't pin down what exactly this record is missing at the end of reading this thing.

We say follow your heart and gut, and turn it up. Red Fang played to 400 sweaty people in a room that had to have been 120 degrees with the heat index factored in, and absolutely slayed. The crowd would've started flipping cars if they'd been asked to.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Hey, you pseudo sumo wrestlers, who's stoked to go to the Bauhaus Montana show at the Palace tomorrow? We are. It's gonna fucking rule, that's why! Seriously, one-night only, a long-rehearsed tribute show to the 1979-1983 period of Bauhaus by Volumen/Humpy/JuvenilesMagpies/Skin Flowers/Capricorn Vertical Slum/Shahs members.

Total Fest's own organizator Colin Johnson beatin' skins, Hank D. and Dave P. guitarring, Shane Hickey bassing and Jon Richter singing. It gives a new meaning to the played out words "supergroup" when musicians who care as much about this group come together for one night to pay tribute to it. They've put in a ton of work learning something like 36 songs and you know, dress goth, bro. Or don't.   $5. 21+. Saturday, October 26.

Harteis is more the goth (Vanek writing), but I'm always up for learning and honestly, my appreciation for the depressive arts has only increased since seeing the Funeral and the Twilight in August.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Picture of Kylesa at the Palace Lounge, October 19, 2013. By Stephan Chase
I've always really liked the phrase Hollow Severer. That for the uninitiated is a rager of a Kylesa song from their Time Will Fuse Its Worth LP. It evokes some kind of creepy Evil Dead skeleton army kind of deal for me.Well, Kylesa pretty much severed us, and turned lots of us into a hollow skeleton army ready to do their bidding. That was the closeout of the OcTotal Fest shows last weekend. Jeesh, what sweaty mayhem.

Picture of Kylesa at the Palace Lounge, October 19, 2013. By Stephan Chase
To be honest, I was waaaaay more immediately taken with theTo Walk a Middle Course, Time Will Fuse Its Worth and Static Tensions LPs than I currently am with the space jam approach of Spiral Shadow and Ultraviolet. I've just never needed a ton of intro before the riffs start, man! But seeing them do their thing, theremin, skateboard-guitar and "visuals" all kind of brought it home for me. They're not the same band they were when they put out those earlier records. They're exploring some different territory. they still thoroughly bring some of the most immediately gut-rattling riffs and rage-inducing power that we can really think of. It sounds a little cheesy, but our penance for questioning will be to thoroughly explore these two new records, and report back. Reggie Shramana swears by 'em.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Grunt, a Great Falls/Missoula band, have been plying their grindy hardcore for a couple years now, as far as we can tell. They emerged from the ashes of the short-lived Semen Segal who I think we can say without any need for challenge are the only Montana band who ever covered Caustic Christ. Missoula's Eat Records put out a 7" and the band immediately broke up, or perhaps they were already broken up, and the 7" got released as a posthumous deal. Details, man.

Regardless, Eat curates a pretty good and eclectic set of releases and makes us appreciate the little weird underground pockets in Missoula. That record's definitely still in print, if you were wondering. That there's extreme music coming from Great Falls makes ushappy on a Friday.

The other thing that makes us happy is the ambition these guys are displaying. They're currently planning a tour, regularly travel around the state for DIY shows, and played Billings' Richard Dreyfest, with great bands like Mr. Dad and Noise Noise Noise, and are recording regularly. Here's a link to Grunt's demo tape.

Three final notes:
1) Marcus Swafford from Mahamawaldi plays bass for them.
2) Grunt releases a 12" at their show on October 19th.
3) That October 19th show is with Kylesa, Pinkish Black and Sierra at the Palace Lounge. Grunt play at 9PM.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


What, you've never heard of the unique musical event known as OCTOBAL FEST? It's where the Bugs play on Wednesday, October 16th and Kylesa plays Saturday, October 19th. That's what Octobal Fest is all about. It's put on by Total Fest, every year. You probably missed it last year because of that family thing or whatever. That's cool, but you should come this year. You know, it's Octobal Fest. It's always a rad time.

The Bugs (Wed. Oct. 16th, the ZACC below w. Mountain Shark and Oll Breds). Where to start with the Bugs, the Bugs, the mighty ol' Bugs? Jeesh, it's a hard question. I met Mike Bugs when he used to roadie for Last of the Juanitas, who kind of helped produce Red Fang. Mike sang on this song of theirs called Big Eyed Space Girl. It was incredible. The bugs might've come through Missoula first around 2004, or 2003. Kind of like a Sufi punk band. Guys interested in the world they live in kind of more than the teeny little weird world of punk rock, I guess. That's what I've always liked about 'em anyway. The music's as honest and imperfect and human as I think you can find in America. And that's not just us being whatever, kind of sentimental. Come see the Bugs, it's $5 if you get your ticket at Ear Candy before the show and $6 at the door.

We'll have some more about Kylesa shortly, and we're taking the ticket pre-sales down, so your only option for presales is in-person from Ear Candy Music in Missoula, prior to these shows.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


We just witnessed mind breakingly berzerker-tight and minor as hell metal from the righteous bros of Lord Dying. By god. That was some wild, wild, wild rock and roll. They had to put a bunch of extra effort in to make it to the show because their van's transmission died in the wilds of eastern Montana. Lord Dying is the roughly three year old band fronted by Erik Olso and Chris Evans, who were in Le Force and Portals, and Don Capuano who did some time in both Black Elk and Wadsworth. As solid a pedigree as you'll find these days...

But talk about just soldiering onward, they rented a van and handled the adversity like some weathered-ass pros. If you're one of those jaded types who thinks metal might have started and ended with Tom Araya or Tom Warrior or something, man, update your software because LORD DYING were just as brutal and great as you'd ever want. I left without an LP because I was concerned on my bike it might be bent up. I'm ordering one Monday. Thanks dudes.


Friday, October 4, 2013


It's true, dog. Kylesa Play Saturday, October 19th At the Palace Lounge in Missoula. Start your calisthenics and neck exercises 'SAP, because otherwise, you may need a neckbrace come Monday. Pinkish Black, Sierra and Grunt open. More info and a full-sized write up coming shortly.

Tickets via this page right here. and Ear Candy Music in Missoula.

Also, of note: Saturday, October 5th: Lord Dying at the Palace Lounge. 18+

Wednesday, October 16th: the Bugs, Oll Breds and Mountain Shark at the ZACC basement. All-Ages.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Wild Throne is unfortunately not members of Wyld Stallyns and Joe Preston, that band would've been too incredible. And whether it's a better name than Dog Shredder is certainly up for debate. I liked the shock value of Dog Shredder. But the point to me is this: I love a punk rock re-brand and I can think of next to none in my time around bands and shows and records. I think it takes some gumption to say: "hey, this handle of ours might be keeping some people from checking us out, and among our modest goals is having some people check us out when we play live, so, you know what, we're gonna change our name."

If it means that even a few more people (735 at present) witness them covering Heart of the Sunrise by Yes (below), it will all have been worth it. We've been fans Josh Holland bands since he was putting on zombie facepaint in that one band. Cicadas were great too! And remember that incredible video when he was in Federation X? Where he brought so much rock that he slipped and fell down? Jeez. Epic. Can't find it on Youtube. Anyway, Dog Shredder have a great LP called Brass Tactics on Good To Die label. They slayed Total Fest XII. Enjoy them on tour with Red Fang.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Dead, from Melbourne. Picture by Tommy Martino.
Man, excellent Total Fest. All kinds of stuff we can't get out of our heads. Like how Thrones doesn't need a bass to make the wildest music out there. Or how much we like Dead, and Brain Tumors. And Mr. Dad. And Benjamin Von Wildenhaus. And Seawhores. It's a little ridiculous to try to sum up in a single place, frankly. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the bands that played and lent gear to one another (especially Brothers of the Sonic Cloth and Dog Shredder), the folks that volunteered, the businesses that sponsored us, and you the folks who came and raged.

Hey, let's keep the momentum going! Lots of us put on shows across the other 362 days of the year, and we have some incredible ones coming up this fall in Missoula. Here are some spots to learn about them:
Minor Bird Records Blog (TF Organizer Marty's blog)
Missoula Punk News (TF Organizer Kate's blog)
I think those two are some of the best resources for DIY happenings in Missoula, MT. Weird Missoula is Tom Shahs website, and it's great as well. 

Some other endeavors we TF organizers do are listed here:
Shahs (Colin's band with Tom H.)
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (Travis's awesome film fest.)
Wantage (Josh V's label/distro)
Hans Bagworks (Paul's bikepacking bag business)

Michael Workman, who's (TF co-Boss) Kari's brother, shot and edited a couple of awesome Total Fest XII videos:
Red Fang at Total Fest XII
Seawhores at Total Fest XII

We absolutely love it when folks share photos and videos with us. Feel free to do that via our Facebook page, or through this email. See you before Aug. 2014, we hope!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Missoula, Montana is becoming more of a place, and less of a "sort of," I think. The classic Missoula shirt for years was a sort of over-sized, Beefy T with the phrase "A Place. Sort Of" printed on it. Rockin' Rudy's, (a shop here) still sells them, we think. It was kind of the default Rudy's shirt, and you still can probably see an average of one a day if you keep your eyes peeled.

What exactly "A Place. Sort Of." really meant was always kind of mysterious to me. I guess I primarily took it to be a comment on the transience of Missoula, Montana. An oversize university town with a rotating door at one end and a brand new cast of characters every 3-5 years. It's hard not to get a little shell-shocked as a person in your twenties here. You get to know some cool folks and then they invariably head to somewhere with more economic opportunity, or more places to play tunes within a half days drive if they're musical. It's just they way of the place. But more and more, we seem to have a scene here that generates some good bands pretty regularly, some bands leave town and tour, and those bands become new bands. And bands stick around long enough to put out a couple good recordings.

Boys are a week-of announcement for Total Fest, and as our final, and a local it's obviously one we're pretty excited to make. What can you say, exactly? Boys are a rock and roll band, they hit the road and get out of town, play tightly and have recorded three separate records, all up here on their Bandcamp. They recorded with Chris Bauman at his Black National studio here, and the result's pretty rad. It's in the spirit of the kind of San Fran-2008 vibe of your John Dwyers/Ty Segalls and Mike Cronins lay down. Be there when things start up on day two of Total Fest this year. Boys play the Palace.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Folks are aware that Total Fest is an all ages deal and that's possible because businesses like Biga Pizza, Big Dipper, Betty's Divine, Zombie Tools, Shakespeare and Company, and Black Coffee Roasting Company and KettleHouse, Piece of Mind, The Missoula Independent, Ear Candy and Philly West (etc. etc.!) all actually break out their checkbooks and underwrite a fair amount of the costs of running this thing. Certainly, one has choices when it comes to clothing/feeding oneself, choosing a cup or bag of coffee, picking a katana, grabbing a beer or a record, newspaper, etc. 

And may we be so bold as to suggest that as a Total Fest show-goer, 1) you're the beneficiary of a pretty solid heap of Missoula-flavored community support; and 2) you can show your support by showing our supporters your support in return.

Frankly, you'll be getting better pizza/beer/coffee/clothes/cheez-steaks/books/katanas in the process, and you'll be showing some appreciation for the killer local businesses that make Total Fest all-ages, and possible at all. Each Total Fest poster lists the businesses that help Total Fest happen, so if you're from here or not, and like what Total Fest is/does, please vote with your wallet!

Friday, August 9, 2013


Shahs. We call them ours. True Shahs is a Minneapolis transplant, but in a town as transient as Missoula, when we see the first tendrils and nodes begin go form, we lay claim. Formed in 2005 as a solo project by Tom Helgerson, Shahs has morphed into an ensemble of insanely talented musicians. Currently, Shahs is Tom, Colin Johnson, Nick Ryan, and Javier Ryan.

It's hard for me to encapsulate Shahs in a simple turn of phrase. A few quick hits on the interwebs reveal wonderful words like "tropicalia," but, as with all things, it's a nice attempt but falls short. For me, Shahs is like peering behind the curtain and witnessing a million architects assemble something out of the primordial mass. Shahs mines it, breaks it down, processes it, and erects it.

Sort of like the doozers in Fraggle Rock. Perpetually building and rebuilding, looping and connecting a variety of a machine and vocal beats, stabilized with layers of reverb, delay and distortion. Mix in the smoothness of Johnson and the Ryans (no relation) and things get silky real quick.

Are we the Fraggles? Probably not, and I'd rather leave the metaphor right at the Doozers.

It's been awesome to witness Shahs reconfigure its line-up since Tom moved to Missoula a few years ago (late 2009? early 2010?). There's an immediacy to the music, something that grabs you, but also pleasingly leads you through new territory. It's complex and layered, teetering on the brink of abstraction. All in all, Shahs live sets are the rare instance when you witness compositions. It's a strange time-lapse of the life of the cosmos (or something) ... The music expands, contracts, deconstructs itself, reconfigures itself, lassos nuances from the margins, inverts time ... you know, it's breezy cubism, an existential breakfast with an irresistible beat. Catch them on Friday at Freecycles.

Friday, August 2, 2013


If you’re a noted guitar guru like myself (name withheld), chances are you care as much about the tone your cherry axe pumps through your amp as you do your first born child or the slammin’ hot wings down at Famous Dave’s. Serious chops demand serious gear, and Rattlesnake Cables are about as serious as being face to face with one of their namesake’s. Believe you me, these cables are the cream of the crop, and they git-r-done. There ain’t nothin’ more beautiful than a tone to match that little bit o’ Texas Fire Spit on the tips of yer phalanges as they race up and down the fretboard, screaming some spicy leads over a real deal, no malarkey, authentic blues band. This here is God’s work. 

Alright, let’s cut the crap. Disregard my unfortunate slip in character, and allow me to reiterate the most important part of that previous paragraph: Rattlesnake Cables are the jam. Not to devolve into band-bro nonsense, but the difference in quality between a Rattlesnake and your average unnamed-corporate-guitar-cable-manufacturer is stark the minute you plug one in. Ask anyone in Missoula who uses them--VTO, Vera, Stellarondo, Skin Flowers, The Magpies, Hasslers, Total Combined Weight, Bacon & Egg, to name a few--and they’ll agree that the custom, boutique cables Hank Donovan makes are just about, if not, the best sounding and well constructed instrument cables they’ve ever used. And being the generous supporter of Total Fest that Hank is, he’s offering a special deal today through August 19th. I’ll let Hank himself fill you in on the deets:

For Total Fest, I wanted to offer a bro rate. All of my cables are custom built to order, so pricing depends on what the customer wants, etc. My 'bro' rate is what I charge my friends ... and anyone at Total Fest is a friend of mine. So from when this blog posts goes live to 8/19, enter the code TOTALFEST12 in the 'Discount Code' field on the 'build' form at Once I receive the build request, I'll be able to give you an estimate.

You heard the man! Start dreaming all those wild cable dreams snaking around your head, click the link above, and let your fingers do the talking. Thanks again, Rattlesnake Cable Company!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


There’s something thoroughly unique and liberating about music that’s down-tuned, too loud and features essentially a single sort of plodding riff, for as long as you want. If you’ve ever made the journey of Sleep’s “Dopesmoker” or Eyehategod’s “Dopesick” records on headphones, or a pretty solid set of stereo speakers, you know what I’m talking about. I picked those not because the word "dope" is in both titles (it’s a different kind of dope that each is talking about), but because of the sheer sonic heft of each.
There’s a commonly heard couple of critiques leveled against loud raunchy music by squares and newcomers to the stuff: 1) “I can’t hear what they’re saying” and 2) “it’s awfully repetitive.” These are interesting critiques examined individually because they sort of start with the premise that lyrics must be understandable (typically lyrics can be read when they’re not readily discernible) and the more complex a music, the better. When you really think about both those things, they’re a little counter intuitive. 

Sometimes, delivery of a weird set of god-knows-what-the-fuck-this-is-about-anyway lyrics is what it’s all about. And sure, that delivery makes understanding the whole thing a little harder, but who said life was easy? Especially with music that is about addiction, like Dopesick is. The words sound like they’re causing somebody pain, or are just belted in such a forceful way that they could be reading the Book Of Mormon and it wouldn’t matter. Then, on to this “gosh, it’s awfully repetitive” critique: Sure it is. But sometimes when you’ve got a good riff, what you want to do is simply repeat it for 30 minutes, and let it take the listener somewhere unique. The band Om with 2/3 of  the Sleep personnel have taken that idea to perhaps it’s full zenith, where it's either completely sublime listening or it’s an exercise in patience for the unprepared. 

I tend to think this is a world where technical virtuosity and guitar music can co-exist really well, but so often in the case of music attempting to be heavy, it’s a net loss when it’s too complex. Certainly dudes like Mick Barr and Colin Marston are some good exceptions to that rule. To me at least, heavy music is all about the feeling. The viscera-pummel, the Crover drums, the feedback, the great tones, and all of that. That’s what it’s about. And seeing it live is the best entre, as with most things rock and roll. 

With that intro, we offer up the band Towers from Portland, Oregon. Land of the tall cedars, deep canyons, high deserts and err, all that. Towers are touring with Dead, are stalwart riffers, and they’ve got a unique heavy vibe we’re stoked to see/hear and feel what they do!


We're just over two weeks away from this year's Total Fest. We're extremely proud of the line-up and couldn't be more excited to see everyone again this summer. It's a testament to our mission statement that bands and people from all over the country, continent, and globe make special trips to Missoula for Total Fest each year. It's really humbling.

By now you know that we do everything that we can to keep Total Fest an all-ages, not for profit, volunteer driven festival. This requires additional costs on our part. We're not here to massage some guilt ridden sympathies from you but to acknowledge all the hard work our sponsors and volunteers put in to help keep Total Fest rolling all these years.

Our biggest fund raiser and what is essentially our Total Kick-off happens this Sunday, August 4 at BigaPizza. Between 5 and 8 PM all you have to do is pull together $10 or so and head down to Biga for one of the best deals of the summer. That's right. $10 gets you all you can eat pizza and salad. This isn't some cardboard crust, ketchup and string cheese pizza, either. Bob Marshall and his fabulous staff compose some of the most blissful creations. Try the Caramelized Goat (caramelized onions, goat cheese, fresh herbs, mozzarella, roasted garlic & olive oil), or the Fennel Marmalade , Bacon & Gouda (housemade fennel marmalade, local bacon, gouda cheese, mozzarella & olive oil), or the Mushroom and Arugula (portabella and button mushrooms, herbed mascarpone, roasted garlic, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, arugula & olive oil), or the Meatball Verde (broccoli rabe, local beef, herbed mascarpone, mozzarella, garlic, olive oil & housemade cilantro-jalapeno sauce). Hell, with this deal you get to try them all and whatever other magical creations Biga has in store for you.


Bob's been a long time supporter of Total Fest. Volumen have played a handful of times, including the inaugural Total Fest that birthed all of this craziness. Bacon &Egg have played a few times over the years as well. It's been an awesome and rewarding relationship. We count on the proceeds to help us out with venue costs, extra staffing to keep things all-ages, pay bands, buy food for bands and volunteers, etc. etc. We'll also have PBR on tap for $1 per glass so save a little room for beer.

Like last year, the VFW will open up their doors for additional seating. Directly following Total Feast will be an rollicking show, featuring three local bands that have deep ties to Total Fest: The Hounds, Hammshandy, and a Bauhaus cover band. Who says Sundays are quiet?

Monday, July 29, 2013


Watt's "Pedro" is that kind of mythical part of L.A. that's  a world unto it's own, if you're a punk fan. Officially, San Pedro is part of the "harbor area" west of Long Beach and is a self-enclosed, working class enclave in the massive metro area of Los Angeles, formerly a separate city. For most of us, it's notable because it gave the world one of the most inspiring and excellent groups of the 20th century: Minutemen.

At some point in the 2000s, with the work of people like Todd from Recess/FYP/Toys that Kill, Craig Ibarra and the Rise and Fall Zine and Water Under the Bridge label, bands like Killer Dreamer, Stoned At Heart etc. etc. the place started to flourish again, or at least from up here in Montana it gave the outward appearance of being a really, uh, generative, inspiring and fun scene. With mandatory halfpipes at/in house shows, great bands and fun folks.

So, when I hear about bands from Todd Recess, I'm normally less skeptical than in my standard assessment of things. I'm normally pretty sure there's something I'll dig about them. Call it a trusted source or call it a bias, we get stoked about Recess bands. But that's the long way around to introducing this band who helps us open Total Fest on August 15: Benny the Jet Rodriguez. Which I guess is the reference to a movie call the Sandlot, which I haven't seen. As you see from the post title up there, I've got Elton John on the mind when I hear about "Benny" and "Jet" anything... I was born in the '70s and was harmed by classic rock radio, I guess. Anyway, they play punk tunes worthy of singing along, pogoing to, and just plain ol' having a good time with. Join us in doing all those things with Benny the Jet Rodriquez, man!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

DEAD ... no seriously .... DEAD!!!!!!!

We're beyond excited, stoked, pants-pissing happy to announce that DEAD,those lovable, thunderous, dudes from down-under, will once again grace our landlocked festival this August. It's been an arduous process for Jem and Jace to secure the funds, plan out a tour, and to negotiate all of the other logistical nightmares it takes to get over here from Australia. It almost didn't happen. Hopes were tied to a grant that never materialized, but about a month ago Jem emailed to say that they bit the bullet and are coming with or without the grant. 

Let that sink in.




My head was close to exploding. This year's line-up is already super stacked, but the addition of DEAD to this year's schedule may be way too much for one human being to handle.

Who is DEAD? They're long time bros. Not enough? Check out WeEmptyRooms. Wantage released their debut album, Thundaaaaah. Jem plays drums in Fire Witch. Both Jem and Jace play in Fangs Of ... . Still not enough?

Did you listen to the records? 

I'll wait.

Seriously awesome stuff.

Where's your head?

Jem and Jace lay down the heavy. Straight and simple. Melvins vibe? check. KARP / Big Business / Melvins type of lyrical craziness? check. Crazy ass riffs and vocals that somehow devolve into something that reminds me of how I would love Rush to sound? check. (I could be wrong on that one. I'm not the world's biggest Rush proponent, but around the 5 minute mark of "Prick Rodeo" I tell myself that's what people find good in  Rush). Dudes who never look like it's a chore to play? check. Awesome? check. Just hit you in the gut, head, and stomped on your ankles? check. Apologized and bought you a beer? .... well, probably not.Still smile? check. Possibility of Jace playing bass with his bare ass? check!

I think that's it. DEAD is the perfect combination of bare bone heavy, labyrinthine lyrics, straight-up balls-to-wall performance, technical changes and genre-bending force, and playful but in your face DIY aesthetic that puts them in an entirely different category than other bands.

Recently, they've released Idiots, which is one of the best records that I've heard since the last DEAD record. These dudes are legit (and some of the sweetest dudes on the planet). They've sketched together an awesome tour  with Towers and a few other bands in order to play Total Fest and launch their U.S. release of Idiots on Eolian Empire on August 13 (not to mention that they'll be recording some new tracks with  Toshi Kasai while they're in LA). If you're anywhere near where they are playing, catch them as often as you can. They design and print their own merch so you're a lucky devil if you score one of their hoodies (serious cred). Jace is designing the Total Fest shirts this year so you can hang your hat on that, but don't sleep on this stuff, total people. I seriously can't tell you how lucky we are to see these dudes again.

Here's a tease.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Hey Festies, got extra cashola? Need to exercise those slam-dancing muscles before Total Fest? Then y'all should totally check out the first-ever Richard Dreyfest, an all-ages shindig happening down in the Magic City Aug. 2 and 3. Venues include the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Col, Yellowstone Art Museum and Harper and Madison. Tickets are a whole ginormous $6 per day, or $10 for the two-day pass.

Bands include such notables as Friends of Cesar Romero, Mr. Dad, Noise Noise Noise, Mr. Dead, Shramana, No Cigar, Shramana, Part Time Ninjas and Duffy and the Beer Slayers. Who knows, maybe even Richard Dreyfuss will show up. Go check out the blog: It features goofy interviews with a bunch of the bands. Or listen and download free Bandcamp samplers of the artists.
-K.Dubs P.S. Email if you're interested in carpooling from Missoula to Billings and back.


This First Friday gallery walk will offer a little something more than the usual vino/foodies discussing the "contemporary" art at the Dana and Monte Dolack galleries.  There will be no paintings of horses, no photographs of tree trunks and absolutely no ceramic birds to buy and put in your yard.  

VISUAL AUDIO CLUB: The Art of Total Fest XII guarantees to "get-you-off" by marrying the music by J. Sherri to the art of "punk" outsiders from Missoula and beyond.  This exhibition will remind viewers of the intimacy of art and music making this year's Fest "TOTAL".  The artists are: Lukas PhelanAl GaitherAdelaide Gale EveryKia LiszakMichael WorkmanTim Fox, Kari Workman, Jack Metcalf, Dane HansenAdam Lynn, Jazmine Raymond, Ryan Slevin, and Jace Rogers. 

Viewers will be exposed to the under, arguably un-, represented group of punks and amateur artists inspired by music, beer, drugs and sex (those things that really inspire us).  J. Sherri will play on a Science Fiction themed stage in the band-practice-space-turned-gallery I am calling "The Final Frontier Space".  Located next to "Frontier Space" in the alley between Pine and Spruce, "The Final Frontier Space" will provide you will an "out-of-this-world" experience and it is guaranteed that you will see new and exciting objects and images.  

Bring shirts, bags, fabric and paper to get a Total Fest XII tee early!  Press Release Press will be set up in the alley for live printing of Total Fest related designs and more!  

The show will be open 5-9pm, with music from 7-8pm.  Expect to be inundated by crass humor, sarcasm, and perhaps and amateur usage of media, in a one-night-only show of visuals and audio.

THE FINAL FRONTIER SPACE (alley between Spruce and Pine)

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Da ZACC, pre-Block Party
Unless you live under the proverbial errr, inanimate thing, you know about the ZACC. It's an all-ages show space (show this Friday, July 19th with some great bands), it's affordable artist studios, it's art classes, gallery space and so much more lodged deep in the heart of Missoula, on our North Side.

The North Side West Side Block Party's the ZACC's annual summer fandango and it's as solidly a fun time as you'll find in Missoula. Skin Flowers play, food is eaten, beer drunk, friends caught up with, art projects done, etc. etc. etc. It's a great time, and we're not just saying that because our friends work there. It really is Missoula at its best. This Saturday, July 20th. Right in front of the place. Get there.

T-Fest happens to have branched into the most shall we say, noble of lines of fundraising activities this year, that is the hawking of old junk used treasures from the organizers and pals that support Total Fest. We hope to have Colin Johnson's old gym socks and Faith No More T-shirts from high school. We hope to have Josh Harteis's prize copy of Frampton Comes Alive (with a white-out corpse-painted Frampton), we expect to have Bryan Ramirez's "rare" Poor School test pressings and Julie Tompkins' doubles of books on the Mansons. We're not sure if we'll have any of those things, but we'll definitely have a booth and it will have some weird stuff you can buy. Mikki and Adelaide Needlecraft will be taking stuff donations between 10AM and noon on N. 1st street at the ZACC, on Saturday the 20th. Feel free to stop by with your carefully-selected, someone-might-actually-want-it, stuff to drop off.

See you there!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


New Federation X
LP gets released this month.
Federation X are using the occasion of Total Fest XII to release the fifth LP of their fifteen year career. We kind of feel like our work (in 2008) may deserve a cover of Peaches and Herb's "Reunited"  for breaking the several year log jam of borderline-break-up stasis following 5 years of grueling and near constant touring and recording. It took calls to different members, it took travel underwriting from KBGA. It took the guarantee of a Missoula/Total Fest audience (which we'll put up against Bellingham -their original hometown- or any other place's audience any day of the week), but they did it, and we were stoked at how good it was. 
Here's the thing we wrote about Federation X in 2008: "Federation X or “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.... Fed X’s newest material has the quasi-Springsteen...stamp of the disaffected patriot songwriter who’s alternately sad, reflective and defiant..."
Below follows Aaron Beam's (bassist, Red Fang) guest review of Federation X's new We Do What We Must LP which comes out on the the Molasses Manifesto and Recess labels this month, pre-orders here:
Aaron Beam: bassist, writer, Unwound shirt-wearer
I planned to do a more thoughtful, thorough review of this record, but as soon as I threw it on my iPod I found myself blurting a bunch of stuff out, and it seemed more appropriate. So here it is...
Ok, I am listening to this record for the 3rd time in a row, having seen them play it live about 5 times now.
First thought - my biggest problem with this record is that there are so many great songs, I can't easily figure out which one is my favorite. Thanks, guys. Alright, moving on...
Federation X write songs I wish I had written. They have mastered the evolution of the riff. Establish a simple theme, then expand and transform/embellish the theme until it becomes more and more intense/driving/fucking awesome and orgasmic. They are like a Pacific Northwest hard rock version of Otis Redding. Does that sound crazy? Seriously, though, they build songs to emotional climaxes in a way very reminiscient of the master.
"We Do What We Must" is a more fully realized vision of the songwriting power hinted at on their previous efforts ("Hatchetman" from "American Folk Horror") . Apart from being filled with shit kicking riffs, a more mature melodic sense pervades. "Sight on Demand" might be the poster child for this transformation, but the album abounds with instant classics - "Bitter Hands," "So Tired," Sight on Demand," and "An Nur" are those songs that are all vying for top spot. I am listening to "An Nur" again right now, so it is currently in the lead. However...

"So Tired" is the song that perhaps first brought to mind the Otis Redding comparison. but now that I listen to it again, it seems like it could almost be like a modernized Shangri-Las, given the sparse, tom-heavy backbeat, and plaintive vocals over muted guitar riffs. Shit, this is a good song!
Ok, I just went back and listened to "Bitter Hands" again and I think that one is the clear winner. Well, until I listen to one of these other songs again. Oh, and don't that because I keep mentioning these four songs that the other songs on the record are worth skipping! "Bear Hug" is a barn-burner, "Anna Mist" a tear-jerker, "Maybe We'll Die Young" jumps out of the gates and is a perfect opener to the record.

Goddammit, I am starting to get mad that I don't play in this band. Maybe I can convince them they need a bass/keyboard player? Hmm...

I don't know what else to say except I love this album and it will be on very consistent rotation in the tour van for the next year. (Aaron Beam)