It’s all the rage these days. It’s also one of the most fluid and encompassing art forms in the world. The Flip Side celebrates music from a number of different avenues. Check back to read about the latest in all that is groovy.
Recently, I had the honor and pleasure to partake in a phone interview with Jocko Marcellino, best known for being the drummer of Sha Na Na. Not only is he one of the original co-founders of the group (established in 1969), but his wide-ranging credits swing from songwriter to actor to musical historian.
He, along with his bandmates at the time, appeared in the film, “Grease” as “Johnny Casino and The Gamblers”. He has written a litany of songs for television and continues to do so. And yes, he was at Woodstock. Sha Na Na was the second to last musical group to perform…preceding Jimi Hendrix.
Aside from playing with Sha Na Na, Jocko performs with his band, “Jocko and The Rockets”, a group focused more on the rhythm and blues genre than the doo-wop oldies for which the former group is best known. He has also shared the stage with his nephew-in-law, David Grohl (of Foo Fighters and Nirvana fame) as well as being credited in such movies as “Rain Man”, “National Security”, and “Night of the Comet”. His television appearances include such shows as Law & Order: SVU, The Office, and Parks and Recreation, just to name a few.
While Jocko’s professional resume runs the gamut throughout the world of entertainment, his home base is solidly grounded in music, which is why I sought him out to be featured on The Flip Side segment of my blog. The brief time I had to speak with him certainly could not even begin to convey his fifty years of knowledge, experience, and stories and do them proper justice, but it will provide a glimpse into the man and the musician who graciously gave a portion of his time to a suspense writer from central Illinois.
(The following is a compilation of our conversation, not a transcription)
- Introduce the band members (who’s who and who does what)
The current members of Sha Na Na include Jocko Marcellino (vocals), “Screamin’” Scott Simon (keyboards, guitar, bass), Donny York (vocals), Tim Butler (vocals, guitar, bass), Ty Cox (drums), Randy Hill (guitar), and “Downtown” Michael Brown (sax).
The current members of “Jocko and The Rockets” include Jocko Marcellino (vocals), Ty Cox (drums), and Tim Butler (guitar/bass).
- Genre of music you play and why?
Sha Na Na’s music leans toward 50s and doo-wop with a nod to the stylings of R&B. Jocko and the Rockets leans more heavily on R&B. Jocko expressed his love for classic blues and jazz as well as the music of Little Richard.
- What is your take on vinyl vs. digital music?
He believes that digital is convenient, but that it is killing the CD market. Unfortunately, he and his bandmates sell CDs at their shows. There is a concern that people won’t have CD players anymore; that a whole generation won’t be as engaged with that type of format. However, Sha Na Na has spanned music technology and its changes over the years – from 45s to LPs to 8 tracks to cassettes to CDs and now, into the digital age.
When asked if the compression of digital music is disconcerting, Jocko didn’t appear to think so. However, he said that “Vinyl makes it punchier and hotter.” But he didn’t believe that most people could really hear a difference.
- What are the biggest challenges that you face in getting your name/music in front of people?
(I asked this with the preface of stating that, since he is already famous, how does he view getting his name/music out to the newer generations such as millennials/Gen Z)
Jocko spoke to the fact that those who are his contemporaries are already familiar and enjoy the music that he and his bandmates are putting out. In addition, with the 50th anniversary of Woodstock and subsequently the 50th anniversary of Sha Na Na, there is now crossover to the new(er) generations. Plus, having been featured in the movie “Grease” (which has remained popular since its debut in 1978), Sha Na Na continues to generate and re-generate itself to an ever-growing fan base of all ages and demographics.
The fact that Sha Na Na played at Woodstock, then were featured in “Grease”, in addition to having a television show (97 episodes that initially ran from 1977 to 1981) helped the band stay on people’s radar. They never needed to depend on record or download sales, like so many other bands have had to do. Rather, their live performances, documented history, and connection with their fans have kept them current and timely.
Jocko said that after Sha Na Na had initially played around Columbia University (where they initially formed the over 10-man band), they were ready to quit. But the group had also frequented a place called The Scene (Steve Paul’s nightclub in New York City which ran from 1964 to 1970). This performance venue was host to such names as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Frank Zappa, Janis Joplin, The Lovin’ Spoonful, and The Young Rascals, among throngs of other top acts of the day.
They booked a two-week gig near the end of The Scene’s run. Jimi Hendrix managed to get the producers of Woodstock to come down and see them and Jocko asked his manager to “say yes” to them – and get them into the line-up at Woodstock. They were booked that night and ended up getting paid $350 (with a check that bounced!)
On Sunday night during Woodstock, everything began falling apart. It had rained, the stage was collapsing, and the whole event was getting out of control. The powers-that-be went to Jimi Hendrix and asked him to go on (his contract stated that he would close the show), but he told them that other bands that had been waiting for the past few days had not had their chance to perform and he wouldn’t go on until they had their moment. Sha Na Na was one of those bands.
- What are you working on now? Any tours or performances?
According to the Sha Na Na website (http://www.shanana.com/tour-dates.htm), these are the upcoming tour dates (these are the most current as of this writing on December 15, 2019 – please check back as they continually update their touring website):
|Sat. Jan 18, 2020||Orange Blossom Opry Weirsdale FL|
|Sat. March 21, 2020||Blue Water Casino Parker AZ|
|Friday March 27, 2020||Wild Rose Casino Emmetsberg Iowa|
|Sat. March 28, 2020||Wild Rose Casino Clinton Iowa|
Jocko also stated that he is working on writing more songs for television.
- Who do you listen to and who would you recommend to others?
He said that he listens to classic blues and classic jazz, Miles Davis, Sonny Boy Williamson, and the Foo Fighters. He also made special mention of the singer/songwriter H.E.R. (aka Gabriella Wilson) A quick check on her website explained that the initials stand for “having everything revealed”.
Jocko pointed out that anything that is played well and sounds good is fair game for him to listen to, regardless of the genre or style.
- Where can folks find your CDs/Vinyl/Online Music?
For the latest on Sha Na Na (which includes CDs, videos, bio’s on all the members, and much more):
For information on Jocko and The Rockets (which includes music, photos, booking information, and more):
For information on Jocko Marcellino and to purchase his CD/Album of original blues and R&B, Make It Simple:
You can preview Make It Simple through Apple:
Did you know The Quaker owned a store in Chicago for five years?
The Quaker Goes Deaf, “Chicago’s most DANGEROUS record store opened for business on the morning of May 19, 1995 and closed 1864 days, 3 floods, and some $2 million-of-music-sales later on Sunday, June 25, 2000. (http://www.shockandawe.us/ms/culture/tqgd.html)
Edwards traces his musical development to the late 1960s. “I sent my mom out to buy “Haunted House,’ and she came back with “House of the Rising Sun.’ It was the best mistake she ever made.” He later became a bit of a legend in Champaign-Urbana. He worked at the store Record Swap, hosted a radio show on WEFT, and in 1980 started the popular “new wave night” at Chester Street dance club. Eventually Edwards moved to Chicago and worked for Reckless on Broadway for six years. (https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/music-people-charlie-edwards-gets-a-store-of-his-own/Content?oid=887856)
These days, The Quaker (aka Charlie Edwards) is known to be “mid-level famous”. Here are some of his reviews from the tumblr site, https://thequakergoesdeaf.tumblr.com/
Three Mile Pilot—Maps CDEP (Temporary Residence)
San Diego band with five previous albums delivers creative & catchy indie guitar/keyboard pop/rock that resonates with experience, professionalism, dedication & direction. This is the sound of a band that has polished their work to a perfectly balanced pitch of melody, grit and emotional pull. It’s the kind of music you hope to hear when you put on the headphones with indie rock on the brain. Strong songs, great delivery that hovers somewhere between XTC & Wire. Members have been/are in Black Heart Procession, Pinback, Heavy Vegetable, the Album Leaf.
Savages—Flying To Berlin 7” single (Pop Noire)
Debut single from all-female London foursome—haunted, invigorating, edge-of-your-seat post-punk melodies that make you wanna jump & yell & dance & look over your shoulder. Sharp, clear, pointedly vicious music with a wide-eyed, energetic sense of impending disaster. This is good! Like a mix of Jezebels, Patti Smith, 999, Siouxsie Banshee, Joy Division, Delta 5.
The Big Sleep—Nature Experiments (French Kiss)
3rd album from Brooklyn band—chunky, thumping, aggressive indie psych-rock with catchy melodic hooks and blasting, jagged guitar/keyboard riffs. Potent songs that seep into your head and make your body want to spazz-dance, with occasional breaks for dreamy contemplation. Members from Mahogany, the Honk Kong, Haywood. Similarities to Sonic Youth, the Pixies, the Cloud Nothings, Savages, Bloc Part
Six Organs Of Admittance—Ascent (Drag City)
13th? album from California band led by Ben Chasny of Comets On Fire, Plague Lounge, Rangda & Current 93. This is wailing avant-psychedelic guitar rock with an experimental flair that rises from the roots of rock ‘n’ roll and spreads into Eastern mystic acid jams. Gentle folk-drone mantras float by, seeking the inner mind space. Strings bend, vibrate and intertwine in the quest for the ultimate riff of salvation burn-out. It’s a dreamland of spiritually capricious psychedelic guitar hero journeys.
Dinosaur Jr.—I Bet On Sky (Jagjaguwar)
10th album from Massachusetts indie guitar heroes. Dinosaur Jr. was a really good band the first time around. In their second incarnation, they’ve uncovered a magical quality that taps into their free-wheeling,from-the-heart, flowing poignancy to deliver a unique stylistic stamp of yearning, pulling, hummable, classic indie riff-rock. It’s one of those rare instances where, instead of killing passion, the band’s maturation has actually solidified it. Their 2009 “Farm” album was my #1 pick for that year, and repeated listenings have raised its status to one of the top releases of the past decade, or longer. “I Bet On Sky” feels more playful & diverse, giving up some of the epic sincerity that characterized “Farm”. It remains to be seen how well “…Sky” will wear, but after just a few listens, it’s already one of my favorite albums of 2012. The combination of J Mascis’ plaintive, gripping, slightly off-key vocals and flowing bursts of stunning guitar leads consistently reveals a sort of timeless indie rock quality that’s a very rare find. It’s beautiful, it rocks, and I want to live with it. Members have played with Deep Wound, Beachwood Sparks, Witch, SweetApple, Heavy Blanket, the Lemonheads, Sentridoh, Folk Implosion, Sebadoh. This is an album that can call my turntable “home
The Quaker (AKA Charlie Edwards), as you might know, does a radio show on WESN 88.1FM every other Friday night. Lately, the station’s streaming function has been, shall we say, uncooperative at best and downright pathetic at its worst. The powers that be have not been so powerful.
So, in light of that, let’s revisit a few of The Quaker’s past reviews. And let’s all wish for a “radio streaming speedy recovery”!
Terry Malts—Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere (Slumberland)
2nd album from San Francisco band—aggressive, noisy & fast 3 chord/3 minute pop punk thathangs on to the melody and hook lines through a rollercoaster ride of pumped-up, fuzzy rock ‘n’roll distortion. Former members of Magic Bullets. Recalls bands like the Ramones, Descendents, Sonic Avenues, Hunx andHis Punx, Mean Jeans.
Hunx and His Punx—Street Punk (Hardly Art)
2nd album from San Francisco band turns up the volume a bit—short, fast, raw, juicy scum-garage sleaze-pop noise-punk with a hot-revved nod to the 50s/60s drive-in girl-group sound.Members from Shannon & the Clams, Gravy Train!!!!. Includes a Beastie Boys cover. Shades ofthe Ramones, Nobunny, Mean Jeans, Shannon & the Clams. “Street Punk” is a retro-shock, fun& fast energy blast!
Dr. Dog—B-Room (Anti)
On their 8th album, Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog play it loose & fun, with a classic country pop edge thatmixes a number of styles: 50s roots-harmony indie pop, backporch gospel-clap Dylan rock, banjo-pickin’ folk music with horns & fiddles & odd sounds, acoustic guitar-strum traditional stylefolk ballads, funky keyboard blues numbers, pretty & twisted psych/pop ballads, and more. Anoverall raucous and eclectic sense of down-home good-time music pervades “B-Room”. Sort of like a mix of Wilco and The Band, playing at the local bar with a sloppy, but heartfelt, style of diverse Americana.
The Sweet A.M.—Twice (self released)
2nd release from Los Angeles band with a member of X—alt-country guitar jangle rock with strong, rootsy melodies and gutsy indie guitar riffs. Similarities to Deer Tick, Diamond Rugs, SonVolt, Uncle Tupelo, Dawes, Social Distortion
To see MORE groovy reviews, visit the tumblr page at THIS LINK!
Jacob Floyd Ross (CRUMPLER) is everything you’d want in a musician. Solid songs. Great stage presence. All-around nice guy. Plus, he’ll be in Bloomington at nightshop on September 25.
Introduce the band members (who’s who and who does what)
Crumpler is essentially me, Jacob Floyd Ross on guitar and any other sound you hear except drums. Jason Creps, Sean Burke, Michelle Roberts, Joel Ross, & Adam Vida have contributed drums & percussion on various recordings. For the first 20 years Crumpler was primarily a composing outlet for my collaborations with film, theater, dance, radio, and other interdisciplinary arts.
Live performances by Crumpler were extremely rare prior to me leaving Chicago in 2014. While in Chicago, I more often performed live with Ribbon Effect, Low Skies, The Warmbloods, and Man Is Man.
All that being said… Crumpler will be touring as a trio at the end of this month (more on that below) with Matt Wenzel of The Falbonauts and Husband Material on baritone guitar and our small robot friend, Madame Beat Buddy on beats.
Genre of music you play and why?
Americana Rock with a strong goth influence. More specifically, we descend from the Rolling Stones fork in the rock n’ roll family tree, and once you find the post-punk, indie-rock branch you will find us out on a dark & twisted limb.
Why? That’s a great question. Simply put… it’s just what comes out of me when I let the music spirits flow. Some of the why is undoubtedly connected to my growing up in Texas listening to and dreaming of post-punk and new wave music. Joy Division and the American Southwest are the most common references in reviews of my music.
Your take on vinyl vs. digital music and what direction do you see music evolving into?
Whoa. Another big one. I suspect there are college courses dedicated to this subject. Nevertheless, my overarching sentiment is that I believe music is good for humans and that we should engage with it in whatever formats are available to us… that includes both listening and creating.
On a more granular note… CDs are my favorite format and vinyl is my second favorite with cassettes taking the bronze and streaming/pod music gets an honorable mention. However, that’s my personal music appreciation preference. I’m working towards getting more of my catalog released online, because that’s clearly a top choice for millions of people. I think it’s silly at best to judge how other people wanna listen to music. Once the tunes are alive and out in the world, I can’t control how people listen to them nor would I want to.
As far as the future of recorded music… who knows what technologies will come and go? But I do believe so long as there’s electricity available humans will continue to obsess over documenting and distributing all the amazing music we generate day in and day out.
Biggest challenges you face in getting your name/music in front of people?
Well, I’d say the biggest challenge is that there are nearly 8 billion humans freaking out on a spinning sphere of stardust flying roughly 67,000 miles an hour around a flaming ball of fusion in an infinite soup of expanding galaxies. That’s fairly distracting for people.
But also… the lack of label support, a booking agent, publicist, manager etc. compounds the challenges of promoting my music amongst a vast sea of music. And that’s just in the related genres, not to mention ALL the other music, art, culture, work, and family that distracts people. It’s hard to cut through the noise, but that’s what everyone is up against. Which is one of the reasons I love playing live shows, because it’s a truly powerful and transformative way of connecting with people.
What are you working on now? Any tours or performances coming up?
Crumpler is currently preparing for a Midwest tour in support of Califone at the end of September…
Over the winter we’ll be recording a new Crumpler full length album and playing shows in CA, AZ, and NM.
Who do you listen to and who would you recommend to others?
I listen to a WIDE variety of styles, genres, and artists. BUT…
Here’s a dozen artists/albums that have been in heavy rotation for 2019:
Sharon Van Etten
Carpet of Horses
Karen O & Danger Mouse
Hands and Feet
The Ghost Dog Soundtrack
The Johnson Spiritual Singers from Saginaw, MI
The Chameleons UK
Erika Wennerstrom (Heartless Bastards)
Anything else to add?
You can’t party without water.
Rodney Scott is a local (Bloomington-Normal) DJ who has an in-depth knowledge of music, bands, and Central Illinois. Let’s see what he has to say:
1. Introduction – who you are and what you do
My name is Rodney, but on my radio show I’m “Raydog,” My radio show, Skinny Ties & Indie Rock Dives, specializes in power pop, punk, garage, rockabilly, and surf rock–preferably of the obscure kind.
2. Are you also a musician?
I’m definitely not a musician. I always joke I have the manual dexterity of a pregnant cow, and the self-discipline of a dachshund.
3. Do you offer your services for events or are you strictly “radio/on air”?
I’m strictly an “on air” personality. I can’t really imagine trying to sell my services.
4. How do you decide what to play with so many artists/bands/choices?
When I’m putting together a playlist I generally try to provide cruising songs, simple things: The Raspberries, The Barracudas, I like to play old greaser rockabilly, surf instrumentals, songs with lots of screaming, yelling, in the background, people misbehaving is usually the theme I’m after.
I like to craft playlists with regard to the current season. Around the time Fall begins I like to put on songs that are just depressing, bleak. I remember one night, when I was a kid (probably buzzed on Ritalin), I was laying in the backseat of my parent’s Ford LTD, a huge boat of a car, we were heading back home after attending my older brother’s basketball game. It was a bitterly cold night, Central Illinois, the flat landscape, barren fields with a light dusting of snow, the moon and the stars bright, then Fleetwood Mac’s “Sara” came on the radio, with its deliberate tempo, minimal instrumentation, all of that fit so perfectly with the night, the mood. After that moment I seemed to appreciate how music can dovetail with your physical surroundings, your psyche.
Jimmy Page once said something like good rock or pop music has a sense of drama about it, I can understand that. I try to incorporate that concept–with varying degrees of success or failure–when I’m putting my show together.
5. What would you like to see change as far as the music industry?
I don’t know…I try not to sweat things I can’t control.
6. Biggest challenges you face as a DJ these days?
The biggest challenge I face as a radio DJ is the fact that small independent radio is not the same medium it was 30 years ago. I think it is still a viable, relevant, form of media, but honestly, most people are into streaming services like Spotify.
The experience of listening to a radio show that has a free-form, anarchic quality to it is different than streaming music you are already into, where technology enables you to leap to other bands and performers that have similar traits. Still, I try not to come off as some old geezer who hates everything new, you have to maintain perspective, ignore trends, just keep doing what you know and do best.
7. Anything else you would like to add?
Music tastes are personal. I make fun of hardcore punk, heavy metal, prog rock, top forty country, hippie jam bands on my show. Still, if you are really into haunting record stores, playing in bands, try to avoid tags, try to keep an open mind about different forms of popular music. People’s likes and dislikes are all unique, if you are really into something, try to figure out a way to actively take part in it.
8. Top 5 recommended albums?
Some random music that had an effect on my radio show: Norton Records, Crypt Records all served as a primer of sorts for weird, bizarre garage/rockabilly/surf rock, Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe’s Rockpile records from the mid 70’s, Big Star #1 Record and Radio City, the Zion IL power pop band Shoes, Cheap Trick, Dwight Twilley Band, and then just any number of compilations that are out there on labels like Numero that feature local and obscure no hit wonders. Graham Parker & The Rumour’s Squeezing Out Sparks, Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True and, with The Attractions, This Year’s Model were huge for me. Hearing The Replacements Let It Be in March of 1987 led me to eventually sell almost all of my heavy metal cassettes several months later. I could go on and on, really veer off on some tangents, so I had better stop…
Let’s get our groove on with D.J. Jeremy Berg,
who currently hails from Texas.
1. Introduction – who you are and what you do
I am Jeremy Berg, and I DJ as The 8 Legged DJ on KUZU, 92.9 FM in Denton, TX. I got the name from a Wu-Name generator back in college and have used it for music stuff ever since. The funny thing is, I hate spiders. Fortunately, I love octopuses.
2. Are you also a musician?
Not really. I played clarinet, bass clarinet, and alto sax when I was younger, but it’s been almost 20 years, and I never really understood music in the way that actual musicians do. I could follow the notes, but never got what it meant that the music was, say, in a particular key.
3. Do you offer your services for events or are you strictly “radio/on air”?
4. How do you decide what to play with so many artists/bands/choices?
5. What would you like to see change as far as the music industry?
Radio could use some major changes, too. Deregulation’s been terrible, Clear Channel buying up tons of stations and having them all play the same junk. Community radio, independent radio, low power FM stations like KUZU are all real rarities, which is a shame. When I listen to the radio, I want to be surprised, I want to be excited, and I want to hear music, not ads. I definitely don’t want to hear that morning zoo crap, I swear they have an IQ ceiling for the people they hire to do those.
7. Top 5 recommended albums?
Good lord this is tough. Ask me again in five minutes and I’ll give you a completely different answer, but let’s say:
The Stooges- Fun House
EMA- Past Life Martyred Saints
Miles Davis- The Cellar Door Sessions 1970
The Hold Steady- Separation Sunday
Let’s do one more chunk with The Quaker before we visit with some other music folks. Did you know that besides for music, the Quaker has had a personal and up close relationship with chickens? It’s true. He raised and judged them back in the day (4-H) and won awards for his mastery. Word on the street is that he’s never met a chicken he didn’t like.
Take a look at a few more reviews he’s written lately. Again, if you wish, you can find these and so many more at https://thequakergoesdeaf.tumblr.com/
Massive Wagons — Full Nelson (Earache) 4th album from these talented good-time rockers out of Lancaster, England: They play crunchy-fun, gutsy rock ‘n’ roll with a punky energy, ripping power pop melody lines, classic rock chord structures and a touch of glam. The songs are a high-speed freight train that rocks ‘n’ rolls over everything in its path, leaving a fire trail of dancing rails. Shades of The Wildhearts, White Reaper, Slade, Status Quo, Black Pussy, Redd Kross, The Exploding Hearts, Cheap Trick, Smash Fashion, Guns N Roses. “Full Nelson” is what rock ‘n’ roll is all about. Just try to put this record on without smiling and bouncing around the room. I dare you. It’s pure, simple, uncomplicated and utterly brilliant. Recommended.
Wooden Shjips — V (Thrill Jockey) The 5th album from these San Francisco masters of psychedelic dreamland continues on the path of their brilliant 2013 release “Back To Land”. The songs bask in a generally subtle, smooth flow—almost jazzy at times. But the mindset is pure tripped-out bliss. Ripley Johnson’s guitar is heavenly, dreamy—a fluid, otherworldly rocketship floating through the universe on a leisurely voyage to nirvana. It hints at artists like Tom Verlaine, Mike Bloomfield, Bill Nelson, Mick Hutchinson, John Cippolina, Guy Blakeslee. The keyboards and Krautrock-tinged rhythms recall Johnson’s poppier band, Moon Duo. There are similarities to bands such as Psychic Ills, The Black Angels, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3, Suicide. “V” rises like a kaleidoscopic peacock on magical wings, extending a visionary optimism to starry-eyed dreamers and seekers of audio euphoria. Recommended.
The Limiñanas—Shadow People (Because Music) On their 5th album, this French duo have hit their stride with a vengeance; mixing magically psychedelic folk/pop-drone melodies with a rhythmic/Motorik rock flow that chugs along like a zoned-out power engine on a mission to find out where the world ends. These are songs with a hypnotic & driving beauty that’s couched in a mysteriously compelling aura of attraction; they gently demand that you come along for the ride. Guests include members of Brian Jonestown Massacre (Anton Newcombe sings on the track here), New Order, Bel Canto Orchestra, Les Enfants Des Autres, Hair & The Iotas, The Pink Tiles. Sometimes recalls artists like The Holydrug Couple, Moon Duo, Brian Jonestown Massacre, New Order, The Velvet Underground, The Black Angels, Spiritualized, BrianEno, Jesus & Mary Chain. The cohesive and consistent brilliance of the songs here, their never-ending emotional pull, and the continuity of rhythmic vibration to the next land—these all combine to make this the first greatalbum of 2018. “Shadow People” is an absolute stunner! Highly Recommended.
Round Two with The Quaker, who originally hails from the Springfield, Illinois area. Currently, you can hear him LIVE on WESN 88.1fm every other Friday from 6pm to about 9pm. He has been writing reviews for decades – in places like The Post Amerikan (Normal, Illinois) and now-defunct magazines in Champaign, Illinois (plus more! Stay tuned) Although in the process of moving, he plans to be back on the air in either late June or July – so keep an eyeball peeled to The Flip Side for specifics.
Deerhunter—Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? (4AD) – On their 8th official studio album, this iconic band from Atlanta, Georgia continues down a path of mellow-but-weird experimental indie pop/rock. The songs play like cohesive nuggets of subconscious creativity. Bradford Cox’ ability to combine accessible pop melodies with odd and unexpected elements remains entertainingly intact. The lyrics are imbued with a concerned, if somewhat distant, existential passion. Overall it’s a comfortably peculiar bit of indie pop that feels open and vaguely welcoming. Members/guests have played in Atlas Sound, Lotus Plaza, Moon Diagrams, Macha, The Dream Scene, Drinks, White Fence, more. While there’s nothing here that makes me sit up and say “Woah!”, “Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?” is a pleasantly stimulating listen that holds the promise of unfolding revelations.
Sad Planets—Akron, Ohio (Tee Pee) – On their debut album, this Midwest band with a pedigree plays classic pop/rock with a retro-radio-ready feel. Normally, I would follow a description like that with a negative comment. But there is something about the songs here that overrides that gut reaction. Maybe it’s the lack of pretense, or the utter in-your-face “non-coolness”; or maybe it’s just great songwriting and tunes that hang in your head by their own volition. The riffs and hooks are packed with the kind of nostalgic charm that just will not be denied. You’ll hear lots of relatable keyboards, guitars, bop-along grooves, garagey R&B and sweet pop melodies, with occasional psychedelic side trips. Members have played in the Black Keys, Guided By Voices, Sweet Apple, Cobra Verde,Death Of Samantha. You might hear similarities to Foxygen, Valley Lodge, The Beatles and a multitude of 60s AM radio groups. So, just open up your brain, stretch your ears wide, and soak it all up without judgement. This is pure, vintage-injected pop/rock fun! Recommended
Sundrifter—Visitations (Small Stone) – 2nd album from this Boston band who play fast, hard rumbling rock songs with pounding drums and arena rock vocals. The songs roar with a bluesy metal crunch and a 70s swagger. Molten threads of throbbing stoner rock grooves drive the desert rhythms, occasionally landing on some trippy psychedelic lead riffs, while chunky sledgehammer chords crank out the muscle. Bits of grunge and sludgy doom peek in the door. RIYL: Soundgarden, Queens Of The Stone Age, Kyuss, Clutch, Truckfighters, Alice In Chains, Black Sabbath. “Visitation” is a monster for everyone who digs a varied, always heavy, metal sound
For the premiere installment, let’s check in with The Quaker, the musical reviewer mastermind who some of you might recognize from his bi-weekly radio show “The Quaker Goes Deaf” on WESN 88.1fm.
The Quaker (AKA Charlie Edwards) has been writing music reviews since the dawn of man. Actually, he’s been involved in the music industry for the better part of the past four decades. From owning his own record stores to DJ-ing to everything in between, Charlie understands and extrapolates on what he hears – from oldies to albums that have yet to drop. He deftly paints an “auditory picture” using imagery and comparisons to provide encapsulated reviews for his audience.
As The Flip Side is updated, you’ll read more about Charlie, his background, more reviews, and possibly, some brushes with greatness from some bands. The Flip Side is all about music – past, present, and future.
Recent Reviews from The Quaker:
The Underground Youth—Montage Images Of Lust & Fear (Fuzz Club)—On their 9th album, this Manchester, England band plays dark marching music for the terminally rejected; those who find their hope among lepers and poets. Craig Dyer yelps and wails with the articulate passion of a young Nick Cave. The songs twist and turn with an angst-driven dark rock energy, occasionally tapping into a melancholic depravity that recalls The Velvet Underground. Dyer’s baritone weaves around eerie atmospheric music that explodes in fervent eruptions with a mysterious thirst for resolution, while background guitars scratch and moan for relief. Kristof Hahn (Swans) contributes lap steel guitar on several tracks. “Montage Images Of Lust & Fear” exudes a strength and power that arises from a fearless exploration of reality’s underbelly. It’s haunted and pure, ultimately compelling. Recommended.
Craig Finn—I Need A New War (Partisan) – Craig Finn is an exceptional lyricist, a master narrator of life stories. On his 4th solo album, this New York artist, who has been a member of Hold Steady and Lifter Puller, continues to paint a vivid picture of the every man American relationship experience. His insightful vision and pathos-ridden voice, filtered through words that strike at the heart and soul, will send shivers of appreciation and compassion down your spine. The music retains much of his previous classic Americana rock feel, falling on the soft side between Drive-By Truckers and Bruce Springsteen, with horns and keyboards expanding the scope into jazzier soft ballads. If at all possible, you’ll want the lyric sheet in hand on your first listen, to drive the nails home. ”I Need A New War” is a magnum opus of lyric-driven Americana rock music. When Craig Finn writes his first novel or book of poetry, I will be at the front of the line to get one. Recommended.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre—The Brian Jonestown Massacre(A) Somewhere around the 18th album from San Francisco frontman Anton Newcombe and band finds them in top notch psychedelic form. The songs are heavy on melody with plenty of tripped-out guitar work. Newcombe’s songwriting gives you exactly what you want to hear from a Brian Jonestown Massacre album. There are no surprises here, and that’s fine, as these songs are deeply rooted in the band’s trademark psychedelic sound. Reverb-drenched guitars echo over plaintive vocals, strummed chords lay down a Western shoegaze motif, and the scent of bong smoke hangs heavy in the air. All is right with the world. Recommended.
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