December 2011 Archives

Best of 2011

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The Vaccines

Wassup 805? Bill Locey, neither in Studio 805 nor in Camarillo, but still gainfully employed by the Ventura County Star, but now kicking it at home. Last summer, I mentioned to a friend that this year's music crop was shaping up to be what 1939 was to movies. Anyone who watches TCM knows what that means, but unfortunately, the manic musical momentum waned somewhat over the last few months of 2011, or perhaps I might've been listening to the wrong releases -- can't hear 'em all - but I still ended up with over 40 albums to choose from for my Best Of list. As always, the music is out there -- actually more music than ever - finding it is the thing.

It's always funny to read other people's Year End lists because they always suck because everyone is a music critic and everybody is always exactly right about what they like. And while the calendar says it's time to do this thing -- reality suggests otherwise as most critics will be listening to 2011 releases well into March. Thus, these lists should actually come out in March as this current ranking is merely a work in progress.

Anyway, here's my Top 10 for 2011 - a fuller list with more adjectives can be found

1. The Vaccines, "What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?" (Columbia).

2. Black Lips, "Arabia Mountain" (Vice)

3. Say Hi, "Um, Uh-Oh" (Barsuk).

4. Fleet Foxes, "Helplessness Blues" (Sub Pop)

5. Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, "Scandalous" (Lost Highway).

6. Mumford & Sons, "Sigh No More" (Glass Note).

7. Ray Manzarek & Roy Rogers, " (Blind Pig Translucent Blues")

8. Iron and Wine,, "Kiss Each Other Clean" (Warner Brothers)

9. The Lumerians, "Transmalinna" (Knitting Factory)

10. Old Man Markley, "Guts N' Teeth" (Fat Wreck),

What to know about where to go this week

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  OK, New Year's Eve is upon us -- but, every day is Christmas and your birthday - and to that end if had a faster car, a richer girlfriend or even one with a job, here's where I'll be lurking in the back this week when the stars are aligned for Capricorns, who never lie and are always right, yet, this is still one of the slowest weeks of the year. If you venture out on New Year's Eve - no lie - watch out for the cops or better yet, watch your elbow bending and get someone else to drive.

Urban Dread

OK, tonight, Friday night, it's the Conejo Valley's favorite reggae band for more than a decade - that would be Urban Dread, who will be at the Lab Brewing Company in Agoura Hills, while up here in the 805 in farmland-hating Oxnard, it's Bobby Campbell's Acoustic Circus at Lookout. Also - he's named for that mythical (unless you're really stoned) ghostly monster of a burn victim on Creek Road near Ojai, it's Char-Man at Billy O's in Ventura. Once again, Teresa Russell will demonstrate the art of the guitar solo at the Savory Café in Ventura. There's a bunch of bands at Zoey's including the Emy Reynolds Band, Two Minute Hero and Grizzly Buddha, and up the coast to Santa Barbara at SOhO, it's rockabilly queen, Wanda Jackson. Wahoo, little darlin'.

On Saturday - New Year's Eve, she's not even tired - it's rockabilly queen redux Wanda Jackson along with indie heroes Best Coast at phonehead nirvana - Club Nokia in Hell-A, and Jenny & Johnny, one of the best acts at Coachella this year, along with Cults will be at the Standard Hotel in West Hollyweird. While over in Simi Valley where two of my three readers live, it's a flash from the past KROQ-style with Richard Blade's '80s Dance Party at the Arena. Five For Fighting will be at the cavernous Canyon Club in Agoura, while up here in the 805 where we like it, the Corsican Brothers will play pure power pop - both originals and covers - at the Sportsman and The Mighty Cash Cats will rock the Man In Black covers at Outlaws, both in Camarillo. Dave Rea and his pals in Dr. M will play a bunch of danceable cover songs up all those stairs to the top of the world, Ventura style at the Watermark. There's harder rock around the corner on Main at the Good Bar with Mandex and Sharks & Cobras, while down C Street to the Bombay, it's those easy on the eyes ladies from Divine Crime doing their reggae rock thing. There's intense banjo-driven, well-dressed folk rock from 50 Sticks of Dynamite at Jonathan's in Ventura and around the corner and down the wino stroll to Zoey's, it's Teresa James & the Rhythm Tramps.

Giving you time to get over that hangover the size of Montana and/or post your bail - let's skip a few days to that All-Star Blues Jam at Bombay on Wednesday and Birdfeeder will be at Zoey's on the same night and Jonathan McEuen will do something cool at Big Buddha Lounge in Oak View on Thursday nite.

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues by subpop

Rock 'n' Roll Call: the Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

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Wasting Light

It's the new one by the Foo Fighters -- it's pretty much generic, by the numbers, testosterone-fueled aggressive rock 'n' roll. Once in a while, it reminds me of Night Ranger back in the saddle again, but then it comes back to the basics -- why is there all this screaming? And when did screaming become music? Come now -- screaming is not music -- it's that stuff that messes up the music. Foo Fighters? Fubar - can I say that here?

Rope by Foo Fighters

Rock 'n' Roll Call: Peter Case - The Case Files

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The Case Files

And finally, it's the latest from Peter Case, the album is "The Case Files" and it's on Alive Records. As advertised, this one is demos, outtakes and oddities -- I like Case's low-fi version of the Stones' "Good Times, Bad Times." Case has been doing this a long time -- not just as a solo dude but as a band dude in the Nerves and the Plimsouls -- he scooped the Occupiers with tunes such as "Ballad of the Minimum Wage." For more on that, you might want to see Morgan Spurlock's "30 Days" or read "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich (she's the fifth reich on the left after Robert). Case is subtle and smooth -- just as he was at Zoey's not long ago -- so much for the power of the press -- only about a dozen people showed up -- the rest were a million mile away, maybe.

Peter Case - (Give Me) One More Mile by alivenaturalsound
Peter Case - Round Trip Stranger Blues by Pavement PR

Rock 'n' Roll Call: Nero - Welcome Reality

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Next up is the debut from Nero -- the album is "Welcome Reality" and it's on Interscope

Welcome Reality

Records -- first of all, due to the tricky type face on the cover, I had to double check to ascertain that it is indeed Nero and not Nerd. So Nero it is -- the same name as the hated Roman emperor who committed assisted suicide at the age of 32, leading to outbreaks of general rejoicing back in the year 68 -- anyway, this Nero is intense electronic music from a couple of Brits -- Daniel Stephens and Joe Ray -- and their friends -- all of whom are machines. The vocals, when there are vocals, are by Alana Watson. It's speeding ticket music pretty much, propelled by the singles "Innocence," "Me and You," "Guilt" and especially the big hit, "Promises." Nero works well while watching "Apocalypto" with the sound off -- how come the mellow hunter clan didn't move, what with the unpleasantness of the neighbors? Anyway -- propulsive and powerful -- louder is better, sort of like arena rock with machines and not guitars, making for some compelling Coachella tent music -- that's Nero.

Nero - Welcome Reality by Interscope Records

Rock 'n' Roll Call: Gary Clark Jr. - Bright Lights

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Bright Lights

Next up is the latest by Gary Clark Jr. -- it's a four song EP called "Bright Lights" and it's on mighty, mighty Warner Brothers Records -- the first tune is the guitar rager of the year -- something Jimi or Dave Hole could be proud of -- the other three are slow as Clark picks and shows off -- these three are each a candidate for the fast forward option so you can get back to hear the album title and opener again. And again.

Rock 'n' Roll Call: Joe Louis Walker - Hellfire

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Next up is the latest from Joe Louis Walker, the album is "Hellfire" and it's on Alligator Records. Walker actually went to school to study music and has pretty much played with everybody over the years from Mike Bloomfield to John Lee Hooker - the title tune is pretty much a rager, the slower ones are pretty generic but solid. If I were still grading papers at VC, this one would be competent if uninspired. While Walker is solid, local blues shredder Randy Rich is way better.

Rock 'n' Roll Call: ohGr - Undeveloped

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Next up is the latest by ohGr -- clearly a band with no capitalization and no spelling skills -- the album is the prophetic "Undeveloped" and it's on Metropolis Records. Let's get right to it -- this band really sucks -- they stink underwater. There's some electronic music now and again but too much of this is a strident guy berating someone who doubtless quite listening long ago. This ohGr could make a real (animated) ogre like Shrek smash and bash and crash and stomp and bust and burn after a few minutes of this stuff. It all crystallized perfectly when I consulted the first sentence of Wikipedia since this CD did not come with a band bio -- anyway, I saw the words Skinny Puppy, another horrible band. Then again, if people like this can get a record deal, there is clearly hope for your pathetic little band.

Rock 'n' Roll Call: The Pines - Dark So Gold

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Dark So Gold

First up is the new one by the Pines, my new favorite tree and new favorite band - the album is Dark So Gold and it's on Eliza Gilkyson's label, Red House. The Pines are yet another cool Minnesota band - a state that gave us Bob Himself, the Replacements, and my heroes, the Gear Daddies - and the same state that has Senator Al Franken and whistlehead Michelle Bachmann. Anyway, this one would've made my Year End list but I found that it's an advance and won't be out until January, so it'll be on next year's list. But as for now, it's stark, spare and serious low-fi country-flavored Americana - nothing like the Old 97s, but a gig with the Avett Brothers would be a good match. The first song, "Cry Cry Crow" will make you a fan and you're also gonna dig the guitar hooks on "Be There Bells" and "All the While." There's a bunch of guys in the band doing just enough to get by as this stuff in understated but not misunderstood. A head-full clearly from a band you'll love the first time.

What to know about where to go: December 23, 2011

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Reel Big Fish

First of all, I can't quite remember why I didn't write about Reel Big Fish in one of my columns for 16 December, but I made up for that obvious shortcoming by going to the show at the venerable Ventura Theatre. Sometimes the stars are aligned as they were on Tuesday night when I got there five minutes before the band started, They were great -- ska lives -- it's not even sick -- tighter than your boss -- happening horn section -- three guys that shredded and even choreographed their moves perfectly -- two of them wearing the colorful and cheap five buck shades they sell at the Warped Tour. Frontman Aaron Barrett shredded on guitar and tossed out funny lines between songs. They played all their hits and more -- the song about the sexually befuddles ex-girlfriend song was as catchy and funny as ever -- the mosh pit was going off throughout as sweaty high school kids were swirling clockwise. The cover of "Brown Eyes Girl" was way better than Van Morrison's original as was "Take On Me," once upon a time, a hit for a-ha -- just lots of goofball fun and -- get this -- ten buck band shirts, just like the one you can't see me wearing.

All this after Ventura beat Oxnard in boys basketball in an unlikely finish -- it looked like Oxnard -- unbeaten at 10-0 before the game, appeared to have been capable of beating Ventura 9 times out of 10 times, but it was another white knuckler high school heart stopper. Ventura cranked up the defensive pressure in the fourth quarter -- Gage Henley made four free throws at the end to hand Oxnard it's first loss. High school basketball is about the best thing you can do for five bucks. Really.

OK, enough endless, mindless and senseless exposition -- except to say, every day is Christmas and your birthday - and to that end, if I had a faster car, a richer girlfriend or even one with a job, here's where I'll be lurking in the back this week, Christmas week as the stars are aligned for Capricorns, who never lie and are always right, yet, this is still the slowest week of the year.

OK, tonight, Friday night, Shaky Feelin' will bring their jam band nirvana to Outlaws in

Shaky Feelin'

Camarillo, while over in the Poinsettia City, up all those stairs, it's a rockin' reggae dance party on the roof with those Legalizers -- a Reel Big Fish t-shirt won't get it done -- gotta adhere to the dress code if you want to meet the meat -- while down the block and around the corners at the Wine Rack, it's acoustic pop from Frank Barajas and down on Santa Clara, it's that ever-clever singing bovine, the White Buffalo and finally up the coast to Santa Barbara at the Lobero Theatre where the sound is always perfect -- it's a homegame at last for Tommy & the High Pilots, not to be confused with Tommy's, now open in Ventura near Salzer's.

On Christmas -- gonna actually talk to your relatives and/or check your bank balance and sob inconsolably? Well, there's always time for that but you could go to the Lookout in farmland-hating Oxnard and see some real guitar pyrotechnics from homegirl shredder, Teresa Russell. That's Lookout as in "Look out -- where did all that farmland go?"

On Monday, it's B. Willing James concluding his Monday residency at Zoey's.

On Tuesday, it's rock from Michigan, not that aging right wing gun nut, Ted Nugent, but Bob Segar is gonna rock the Staples Center, home of the Clippers. While up here in the 805 where we like it, it's pure power pop from the Corsican Brothers at Café Fiore in Ventura.

On Wednesday, it's one beat, one song, one week roots reggae from those Aggrolites at the cavernous Canyon Club -- check out my story in this week's Time Out in the real newspaper -- proof positive that I'm hardly making any of this up. While up here in the 805 where we still like it -- it's Zachary James & the All Seeing Eyes playing for the ever bending elbows of the drinkers at the Sans Souci in Ventura.

And finally on Thursday, at the Key Club in Hollyweird, it's those Aggrolites again but this time, sharing the bill with Fishbone and Shawn Jones will be at the Watermark -- told ya it was a short week.

Rock 'n' Roll Call: Dodos - No Color

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No ColorFirst up is the new one by the Dodos - the album is No Color on FrenchKiss Records. The reason I hassled the publicist numerous times for this one is because I inherited my mom's dog, Cocoa, which I immediately rechristened Dodo because she is the stupidest dog in the world - as I type these words Dodo is lying outside in the rain squinting rather than retire to the dry porch - and she pooped in the kitchen again last nigh - anyway, be careful what you wish for these Dodos, while clearly not dumbbells - it's two dudes, Meric Long and Logan Kroeber, who offer earnest vocals on bad songs. "Sleep" is barely tolerable but the light show my windows media player shows during the songs is way better than that songs themselves. I dunno, somebody must like them - this is their fourth album.

Rock 'n' Roll Call: Justice

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Next up is the latest from Justice - the album is self-titled and the label is plagued by indecision Elektra/Vice/Atlantic - either no one wants to take the blame or everyone wants a piece of the action - whatever, dude. Way too much of this is over the top progressive rock, the vast majority of which wasn't very good the first time around - imagine bad Emerson, Lake & Palmer for the new millennium.

Rock 'n' Roll Call: Gorillaz - The Fall

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The FallNext up is Kong and Cheetah's favorite band, Gorillaz, the album is The Fall and it's on Virgin Records. It's the fourth effort by this virtual cartoon band, as such, they will never fight over each others girlfriends, over money, over who's driving the bus - there is no dreaded creative differences - they can play longer than the Grateful Dead - they're cartoons - cartoons as defined by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett - it's Max Headroom - don't remember him - as a band. You can look Max up - so, imagine Max as a band with pop sensibilities, popular culture connections, overdubs, rock stars sitting in everywhere, over the top pure power pop and hip hop, the bass player working overtime - in short, it's all over the place, sort of like King Kong who can go anywhere - and wherever Gorillaz goes, they're pretty interesting.

Gorillaz_The Fall by bartelli

Music, news and views: December 16, 2011

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Rock 'n' Roll Call: Eric Church - Chief

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ChiefNext up is the latest by Eric Church - the album is "Chief" and it's on EMI Nashville - this is the first EMI anything I've gotten in years and years. It's baseball cap wearing redneck country rock - this is Church's third album and his first to top the country charts, powered no doubt by the singles, "Homeboy" and "Drink in My Hand," and it's up for a Grammy as well. The rockers such as "Creepin' are not bad but there's too many slo mo cry in your beer twangy and weepie whoop-de-doos - there's the obligatory song about St. Jack - Jack Daniels and "Country Music Jesus" is just wrong - can't we all just give the poor savior a rest - wasn't it Gandhi who asked "Why can't you Christians be more like your Christ?" As to this Church - generic redneck rock. Wahoo minus.

Rock 'n' Roll Call: The Kooks - Junk of the Heart

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Junk of the HeartNext up is the latest by the Kooks - the album is Junk of the Heart and it's on Capitol - love the name - but recall the above review - it's solid singing on badly written pop songs. Can't take 'em anywhere.

What to know about where to go: December 16, 2011

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Wassup 805? Bill Locey right here in Studio 805 for the Ventura County Star in Camarillo on purpose, kicking it on my couch with my humble views about what to know about where to go this week. It has come to my attention -- and this should come as absolutely no surprise to you -- that I have a face for radio or in our case, a face fit to print. Henceforth, all my usual rock "n' roll news will be available at this same darn place but in print -- anyone want to buy three trillion rock 'n' roll t-shirts

The Pop-o-matics

Since it is December, I'm gonna give my usual endless, mindless and senseless exposition a rest this week -- except to say, every day is Christmas and your birthday -- and I want to do as many reviews as possible for my Year End List, so to that end, if I had a faster car, a richer girlfriend or even one with a job, here's where I'll be lurking in the back this week:

OK, tonight, Friday night, it just what the name implies, pure power pop from those Pop-O-Matics at O'Leary's Side Bar in Ventura -- and after sufficient elbow bending when you stagger outside into the parking lot that big square cement thing in the cool night sky is Bar City a-go-go -- the Ventura County Jail -- act accordingly and let the county solve their budget issues without your help, while down in the Ventura Harbor at Blackbeard's BBQ, it's local guitar god Alastair Greene shredding all over the place where they are having a toy drive. There's jam band guitar shredding from Shaky Feelin' at Billy O's by 31 Flavors and cool indie rock from We Govern We at the Sans Souci across the street from the venerable Ventura Theatre. Birdfeeder will be at Zoey's and there's old school blues from Doug MacLeod who has ties that goes back to the legendary Troubadour -- he'll be at Yolie's in Ventura.

The R&B Bombers

On Saturday, the legendary Steve Wonder will be at Phonehead Nirvana which is Club Nokia in Hell-A while up here in the 805 where we like it, the Front Street Prophets will be at Blackbeard's BBQ continuing the two-day toy drive -- bring an unwrapped toy and good stuff will happen.

On Sunday -- it's old school melodic pop from TSOL -- it's another Eddy Numbskull show -- this one will be at Billy O's, Bloody Mary Morning will be up all those stairs at the Watermark in downtown Ventura, the legendary R&B Bombers will be at the Bombay and Frank Barajas will play solo pop rock -- both originals and covers at Tutti's in downtown Ventura.

Monday at Zoey's, it's Chris Pierce and B. Willing James and Tuesday, it's rockin' ska from Reel Big Fish. On Wednesday it's Zachary James & the All Seeing Eyes playing for all hearing ears attached to the ever bending elbows of the drinkers at the Sans Souci and finally on Thursday, it's Shawn Jones up the stairs at the Watermark and Delaney Gibson is back and playing at Zoey' she plays "Kill Me Now."

Music news and views: December 8, 2011

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Rockin' Roll Call
Bill Locey reviews music for the Ventura County Star, when he isn't reenacting the history of this great nation or teaching it to incarcerated youth.
He is the tall guy lurking in the back of all the local rock shows.
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