Recently in Rock 'n' Roll Call Category

Dead Puppy, Ron D.

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To any self-respecting cat, the only band more popular than Skinny Puppy would be Dead Puppy. These emaciated doggies have a new one - "Weapon," just out on Metropolis Records. Imagine the Predator slumming with a side project at the Sunday afternoon jam session. These slightly reptilian, slightly menacing growling vocals don't do much for me.

Ron D. is a sax player and the album is "Ron Dziubla's Nasty Habit" and it's on Rip Cat Records. The importance of the sax goes back to the early days of rock 'n' roll and all those great Lee Allen solos, and specifically Gene Barge on "Quarter to Three," whoever it was on "Bust Out" by the Busters" and Mickey Kipler of the Rockin Rebels on "Wild Weekend" or anything by Saxa with the English Beat - all sterling examples of the sax as an able substitute for the guitar. Dziubla obviously is a studly player but how well he is suited to be The Man as opposed to being the sideman is the issue here. These instrumentals that are fine, but as a stand alone rock? Probably not.

Rose Windows, Rod Stewart

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The debut from Rose Windows is "The Sun Dogs" and it's another home run for Sub Pop Records. This might be one of the Top Five albums of 2013 as these seven folks create psychedelic stoner pop sure to satisfy those that can't take their peepers off their shoes or else miss the Dead or Phish and/or smoked their lunch. As guitar player Chris Cheveyo so astutely noted, it's all about "the everyday blues that capitalism and its hit man, religion, bring on all of us." The second tune, "Native Dreams," is a symphonic, Middle Eastern, World Beat jam session smartly done with a great guitar solo by Cheveyo and the high pitched and perfect vocals of Rabia Shaheen Qazi. Never destined to be back ground music in the study hall in Slitherin, "Season of Serpents" is another trippy one, as is "The Shroud," out there to "Season of the Witch" dimensions of dopey dementia. But the best one is last, "The Sun Dogs II: Coda," which could've been a fitting companion to "The Gospel" by the Dandy Warhols, or something from the coolest church in a month of Sundays.

Rod Stewart is back with his first new album is 15 years, "Time," which is on Capitol Records. Evidently, Stewart has been keeping busy getting drunk and chasing women - good work if you can get it. Whatever. Stewart has always sounded like Donald Duck underwater to me and nothing he does or has done interests me at all. Stewart is in my Bottom Five and as to water fowl, I was always a Daffy sort of dude.

Daft Punk, "RAM"

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daftpunkalbum.jpgDaft Punk has a new one just out on Columbia Records and what a great title which pretty much describes everyone's brain, "Random Access Memories." Daft Punk is two French guys - Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter - and their friends, most of whom are machines, but here augmented by a revolving cast of interchangeable rock stars. "Georgio By Moroder" is nine minutes of explanation and excess as the Man Himself tells us perhaps, more than we need to know. "Within" finds a pleasant enough little techno dance groove but the biggie is a direct order to the pedal digits, "Lose Yourself To Dance," but it's all pretty mellow but the vocals by Pharrell Williams and the Daft dudes are first rate and Nile Rodgers has that funky guitar thing going. "Get Lucky" is the soundtrack to Branch Rickey's sound advice, "Luck is the residue of design." DP's advice? Dance all night. If you've ever been to a club, who's going to get lucky? Right - the guys that dance. No one is going to write a term paper examining the deep meaning of the lyrics - it's so-so dance music with too much mindless mechanical middle-of-the-road noodling.

Rock 'n' Roll Call: Warped Blues

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Wassup 805? Bill Locey here, neither in Studio 805 nor in Camarillo, but still gainfully employed by the Ventura County Star, at least for the next hour or two, kicking it at my house, multi-tasking, writing about rock 'n' roll, watching  the Kings get smoked and petting my cat, Nope, who is on my lap and as usual, in the way and doing his fair share as part of the worldwide feline anti-literacy campaign.

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In the Recurring Theme/Shameless Plug Department: The Local Rock 'n' Roll Picnic is June 8 at Plaza Park in Ventura, right across from the post office down on Santa Clara Street. One of the best writers in rock, Rhett Miller, will do a solo gig at Muddy Waters in Santa Barbara on 16 June - it's way smaller than Largo used to be and smaller than Zoey's is now. It would be even better if he played at the Johnny Cash thing at the Ventura County Fairgrounds the day before. His band - the Old '97s - was named for a Man in Black song. 

Also, the Warped Tour returns to the Commotion by the Ocean on 23 June and the Scheideck Music Festival - sort of an 805 Coachella - that one will be happening the last weekend in June - great music, excessive drinking and a campground to pass out in - clearly a cultural landslide up on Hwy. 33 in Maricopa.

Anyway, 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: 


Stroke this wondrous trio

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"Wondrous Bughouse" is the latest from Youth Lagoon, out on Fat Possum Records out of Mississippi. 

It's a single digit youth, one Trevor Powers, out of Boise, and his friends - all of whom all machines - making atmospheric, metaphysical dream pop that could give Deadheads the whirlies. 

A lot of this is, as the Firesign Theatre once so astutely noted, "gas music from Jupiter," or carousel music meets wind chimes with Powers' oddball tinny voice. I'm guessing no slam pit for this one - more of a tree pit - as people stand and sort of sway when Youth Lagoon comes to SOhO in Santa Barbara on 18 April.

Inherit a capital city

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"Inheritance" is the new one from The Last Bison, just out on Universal Republic. It's tuneful baroque rock - the Novemberists maybe - as they alternate from Queen-level bombast as on "Tired Hands" or slyly symphonic as on "Autumn Snow." The voice of that singing bovine, Ben Hardesty, is the thing here, but so are the cello and violin players. In the last quarter of the 19th century, once the transcontinental railroad was completed - more proof that once the road comes through, it's over - white hunters slaughtered the great buffalo herd of the Great Plains that once had numbered 30 million. When the buffalo nickel was commissioned, designer James Earle Fraser had to go to a zoo to find a buffalo for a model. You can't take white people anywhere, but this band? They're great. Dream gig: The Last Bison, the White Buffalo and Buffalo Springfield.

Rock 'n' Roll Call: Coachella starts the fires

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Wassup 805? Bill Locey here, neither in Studio 805 nor in Camarillo, but still gainfully employed by the Ventura County Star, at least for the next hour or two, kicking it at my house, multi-tasking, writing about rock 'n' roll, watching "The Rifleman" and those Dodgers and "River Monsters" with the sound off and petting my cat, Nope, who is on my lap and as usual, in the way and doing his fair share as part of the worldwide feline anti-literacy campaign.

Casual observation: "The Rifleman" and "River Monsters" are strangely similar - in the last five minutes, Lucas McCain blasts the bad guys with his rifle and same goes for extreme fisherman, Jeremy Wade - he always catches the mean fish in the last five minutes. Wade lets the fish go - McCain is filling up Boot Hill.

OK, if I had a faster car, a richer girlfriend or even one with a job, here's where's I'll be lurking in the back this week:


Mode and Solution, hit play

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Depeche Mode has a new one, their thirteenth, "Delta Machine," just out on Columbia Records. The most famous and popular electronic band in the world has been at this since 1980 and still boasts one of the most memorable voices in rock, Dave Gahan. 

Best one here is "Slow," a slo-mo bluesy rocker with a cool and snaky guitar riff that'll live in your head for daze. "Secret To The End," is yet another whine-o-gram as the would've/should've/could've ain't-love-grand, strike three scenario falls short again as in "...it should've been you if it hadn't been for me." The theme song for "Ally McBeal" 15 years too late, maybe? There's a couple of pretentious, boring slow ones but there's enough good stuff such as "Soft Touch/Raw Nerve" to make this one another Depeche Mode keeper. 

I still like "Everything Counts" (because it does) from long ago. The band will be at the SB County Bowl in September and these guys rock seriously live.

Bajofondo too light

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Bajofondo? Sounds like some sort of mean fish that Jeremy Wade is going to hook during the last five minutes of "River Monsters," or else some disease you don't want but, no - Bajofondo is a world famous band feel good party band (except up here) and they have a new one, "Presente," just out on Masterworks/Sony, which ain't nothing but Columbia misspelled. These guys also know what they're doing - and for a long time, too. They won a Grammy a decade ago and to quote the band dio, it's an "Argentine-Uruguayan alt-electrorock tango band." All instrumental with lots of instruments going off and perhaps I should be more open minded, but too much of this sounds like slightly upscale muzak.

"Chelsea Light Moving" is the self-titled latest project from Thurston Moore - once upon a time, the sonic part of Sonic Youth - this one just out on mighty, mighty Matador Records. The too long "Lip," is typical Moore exercise in excess as he attempts to totter on the verge of musician and machinist, blurring the line between music and annoying noise. To quote and old Warren Zevon song, "... it ain't that pretty at all..."

Big bit of blues

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Fabulous folkie Joshua James has hit it out of the park with his new one, "From The Top Of Willamette Mountain" and it's on Intelligent Noise. Pretty much a guy and a guitar with that mildly gritty, world weary voice, James is Mr. Been There Done That and even though, life is perpetually not up to expectations, he keeps coming back for more, and fortunately, taking good notes. 

A man on a minimalist musical mission, James knows what a good song should sound like on these laid back cruisin' tunes or sad songs recounting the most recent bumfuzzle with Miss Take. And on "Wolves" he relays the wistful observation, "But darling, I don't know the reasons why drinking always lead to sex." I do - it's probably the drinking part - ask any bar owner. So why exactly did I miss James recently at Zoey's? Why did I not read my own listings? Doh!



The latest from Big Bill Morganfield is "Blues With A Mood" and it's on Black Shuck Records. Maybe that last name sounds familiar? It should - Big Bill is Muddy Waters' kid and he's already won a W.C. Handy Award and better than all that, he's a gritty kick-ass blues guitar player and singer. He sounds like one of old classic dead black blues guys - but he's only in his '50s, so - good news - we're gonna be hearing plenty more from Big Bill. This one's as good as a John Lee Hooker album or even Muddy himself. If more blues were like this, there'd be way more blues fans.

Don't miss Spector or Kids

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After what seems like a long break, the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is back with a new one on Vagrant, "Specter At The Feast," and it's not Phil Spector having brunch with Satan. 

This band does everything well - at once, hard-edged and soft with plenty of hooks, sort of like the latest step when it comes to stoner pop as already realized by bands such as the Jesus & Mary Chain, the Dandy Warhols, the Brian Jonestown Massacre and others that could provide the permanent soundtrack at the Vicodin Convention. 

All in with Ehrhardt and Eldred

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The latest from the Mike Eldred Trio is a re-issue of the cryptically- titled "61 and 49" from 2011, but fresh and new to Rip Cat Records. Guitar player and frontman Eldred is ably abetted by John Bazz on bass and drummer Jerry Angel - they're the Blasters' rhythm section. 

As if that isn't enough help, Eldred also enlists the aid of Ike Turner on keyboards and a bunch of guitarists - Kid Ramos, Cesar Rosas and Scotty Moore, not to mention the criminally under-appreciated Jeff Turmes who plays sax. What does all this mean? 

It's a mostly kick-ass collection of L.A. blues by a bunch of pros but a few are of the generic cry-in-you-beer, by-the-numbers variety. I like the one named after my dearly departed  calico cat, "She's A Rocket."

Solid Jake, give trash rock a shake

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Jake Bugg's self-titled debut, out since October 2012 on mighty, mighty Mercury Records is a knockout, and he just turned 19 so we have plenty more to hear from this dude. The first song, "Lightning Bolt" will make you a fan with this catchy slice of pure power pop rock from Bugg who claims Donovan as an influence - another Brit who knew what a good song should sound like. There seems to be a bit of similarity to Brett Dennen but mostly, Bugg reminds me of another Jake - Jake Brebes - the kid frontman for Threes and Nines - remember them? A lot of these are introspective relationship songs as evidently Bugg has spent many of teenage years chickenhawking (and taking good notes) on tunes such as "Broken." Buggs is an old 19, going on 35.

Wire a copy of "Change" and "Poorly Formed" won't leave you swingin

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Rockin' on their own terms since the 1976, Wire has a new one, "Change Becomes Us" on PinkFlag. When these guys are playing - and I've listened to this one about half a dozen times but not too carefully - I didn't particularly like them. Then again, when I'm sitting down paying attention, these guys are really good - "atmospheric" is the operative word here as they resurrect some of their long lost tunes from 30 years ago. 

I have no idea what they're singing about but inevitably, there's some cool guitars going off in very foot friendly and convincing ways. "Time Lock Fog" is the perfect title of a perfect Wire song for them to do what they do. Wikipedia, which never lies and is always right, calls Wire post punk. Whatever - it's complex, baroque rock by a bunch of vets, convincing me to make it a point to see these guys at last year's Coachella. And then, I bought a shirt.

Rock 'n' Roll Call: Be aware this weekend

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Wassup 805? Bill Locey here, neither in Studio 805 nor in Camarillo, but still gainfully employed by the Ventura County Star, at least for the next hour or two, kicking it at my house, multi-tasking, writing about rock 'n' roll, watching "The Rifleman" and "The Eagle" and now the Kings with the sound off and petting my cat, Nope, who is on my lap and as usual, in the way and doing his fair share as part of the worldwide feline anti-literacy campaign.

If I had a faster car, a richer girlfriend or even one with a job, here's where's I'll be lurking in the back this week:


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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