Saturday Matinee: Reality Never Applied to Me

This is a fabulously entertaining mini-documentary about Akron-native Chris Butler who has played with local legends 15 60 75 (The Numbers Band), Tin Huey (which was also the springboard for Mr. Ralph Carney), and was, of course, the creator of and guitarist for the Waitresses.


He-Chaw Frunk: What?

One of the biggest perks of this music blogger gig is getting to be friends with some really talented people. Case in point, they of the band name that people are never sure they’ve heard correctly, He-Chaw Frunk. Not only are they as local to me as you can get, but they have a dark musical sensibility that moves me. Here they are playing one of their original songs, “Time”, at Brothers Lounge.



How about the vocal chords on Chris Bishop? And that beautiful guitar-playing from Sasha Kostadinov? And the slinky groove held down by Matt Rusincovitch and Mark Slater?

Check out more of their songs and live videos at the He-Chaw Frunk website, and if you’re in the Cleveland area, be sure to catch them live.

Lydia Loveless: Being Good is Killing Me Inside


You’re sitting in a dive bar, looking up into the neon beer signs. It’s one of those joints half full of the lonely and the tired and a few troublemakers. You overhear someone talking from a few bar stools down, a woman telling a stranger her story. While you don’t normally eavesdrop, she keeps saying things that sound like they could have come from your own mouth. Things to do with too many empty bottles littering the floor, things to do with a certain moral ambivalence and an ease with that ambivalence, things to do with isolation and fear. All these things delivered in a voice of world-weary defiance.

You turn to look down the bar and see the speaker of your truths. There you find a small, pale girl who can’t be more than 23. What the hell?

This is Lydia Loveless, a 21-year-old native of Columbus, Ohio, who plays her songs of late nights at the bar and next-day regrets – or a lack of regret – while planting one foot firmly in country and the other foot firmly in rock. Her new album Indestructible Machine is out today on Bloodshot Records. Listen to and download “Can’t Change Me”.


Lydia Loveless – Can’t Change Me


Lydia Loveless @ Bloodshot Records

Lydia Loveless @ Facebook

Put the Needle on the Record: The 1980s at 45 Revolutions per Minute


Many remember the 1980s as a time when style was deemed more important than substance (and all the unfavorable connotations that could imply), but Put the Needle on the Record: The 1980s at 45 Revolutions per Minute, a new book by Cleveland, Ohio, writer and music/pop culture historian Matthew Chojnacki, shows how the style of the ’80s was often carefully orchestrated to reflect the substance as the bold art on the sleeves of 7″ records was put to work selling a single song among hundreds of other songs on record store shelves.

Inspired by his own enormous collection of 7″ and 12″ records, Chojnacki has compiled over 250 7″ covers from the ’80s and included stories, insights and interesting comparison of the ephemeral trappings that did more than just protect the vinyl discs inside. With an afterword by ’80s style icon Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Put the Needle on the Record spotlights covers of everyone from Luther Vandross to Def Leppard to the Smiths in a stylish hardcover format and includes information gleaned from interviews with some 125 musicians and cover artists.

A couple of my favorite examples from the book include entries on Kate Bush and Def Leppard.



Designer John Carder Bush (also Kate’s brother) on “Army Dreamers”: “Have you ever noticed that a lot of the traditional anti-war songs, the ones that have come from soldiers’ experience, often have perky little tunes that almost deflect you from the cold reality of the words, and, somehow, this makes their message far more chilling? ‘Army Dreamers’ is one of those kinds of songs. The cover is an attempt to recreate a ‘40s soldiers’ pin-up girl, an integral part of that dreamy madness that attracts young men to the trappings of war. It’s also worth remembering that the wonderful video to the song was hardly seen because it was considered as too violent— such an innocent time!”



An impressive seven hit singles were released from Def Leppard’s Hysteria. Each of the single sleeves comprised a portion of the album’s cover art. The two final puzzle pieces were sold in a limited edition U.K. box set for “Love Bites.”

H y s t e r i a designer Andie Airfix: “Those were the days when record companies stretched the limits of seven- and twelve-inch single formats. Since Mercury Records had confidence in the success of so many singles from the album, they immediately agreed to the puzzle concept.”

The pieces: “Hysteria” (row one, center), “Love Bites” (row one, right), “Armageddon It” (row two, left), “Animal” (row two, center), “Women” (row two, right), “Pour Some Sugar on Me” (row three, center), and “Rocket” (row three, right).

Airfix vividly remembers the band’s reaction to her artwork, “the band saw my preparatory sketch and absolutely loved it. They wanted to retain a powerful image in line with hard rock, but also to modernize it and avoid the clichés. The head was intended to express dark fears associated with the psychotic state of hysteria. The computer background was
one of the first computer-generated graphics. Believe it or not, the image was a black-andwhite drawing, fed into a computer, colored very primitively, and then output as an 8 x 10 transparency—essentially a screen shot (hence the screen texture).”

Learn more about Put the Needle on the Record, available September 28, see some sample pages and pre-order the book at Matthew Chojnacki’s website.

Barnstormer 5 is coming to Akron!


There are still music-loving, internet-connected people in the world who don’t know about Daytrotter. That’s amazing to me. Since 2006, Sean Moeller and crew have been recording sessions by touring bands and throwing the results of those sessions up on the internet for anyone and everyone to download and enjoy for free, and since I learned about the site a few years ago, I have felt it a wonderful example of what the internet can be used for. The Horseshack – the studio in Rock Island, Illinois, that sees most of the recording activity you find at Daytrotter – has welcomed everyone from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to Dinosaur Jr. to Kris Kristofferson to Andrew W.K. to Charlie Louvin to that new indie band you keep hearing people talk about. NTSIB favorites A.A. Bondy, the Felice Brothers and Local Natives all have sessions up, and the amazing Mr. Patrick Sweany has a session forthcoming. And those good Daytrotter people post at least one of these free sessions every day, sometimes posting two sessions in one day.

In addition to all that goodness, since the summer of 2009, the Daytrotter crew have been putting together the Barnstormer tours. These tours gather a gang of Daytrotter alumni and send them out to play at various barns around the midwestern United States. Real barns. Past Barnstormer artists have included Justin Townes Earle, Dawes, Local Natives, Suckers, the Walkmen, Ra Ra Riot, Delta Spirit… you get the idea. Good stuff.

This year, Barnstormer will be hitting Ohio for the first time, and we’re freaking excited. On August 31, the Conrad Botzum Farmstead Barn in Akron will be the place to see White Rabbits, Doug Paisley, Wildlife, Princeton, and, one of my favorite live bands, Hacienda (who just recorded their third album in Nashville with their old friend Dan Auerbach). All of that for just $20.

We highly recommend buying your tickets now. No, now. Right now. Because not only does that ticket price kick up five dollars on the day of the show, but if you purchase your tickets by August 20, you get a Barnstormer poster and 40% off Daytrotter merch. Plus, you help the Daytrotter crew relax, knowing they can actually fund this fantastic undertaking.

And if you’re not in travelling distance of Akron, Ohio, don’t feel left out. Barnstormer 5 is also stopping at North Hampton, NH, Ghent, NY (UPDATE: the Ghent show has been moved to the Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, NY), Charlotte, VT, New York, NY, New Wilmington, PA, Dexter, MI, Monticello, IL, and Maquoketa, IA. (Band line-ups vary between cities, so check Daytrotter for your local bill.)

Akron details:
Wednesday, August 31, doors at 5:30 PM, show at 6:30 PM.
White Rabbits, Doug Paisley, Wildlife, Princeton, and Hacienda
Conrad Botzum Farmstead Barn (3486 Riverview Rd., Akron, OH 44333)
$20 advance / $25 day of show



White Rabbits @ Daytrotter

Doug Paisley @ Daytrotter

Princeton @ Daytrotter

Hacienda @ Daytrotter

The Ridges: This Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures


As I was listening to the Ridges’ EP last night, a storm kicked up that colored the sky charcoal grey and blew leaves horizontally through the air. It seemed appropriate to the roll and swell of moody strings and beautiful but fraught vocals of the album.

Formed in Athens, Ohio, and consisting of core musicians Victor Rasgaitis (guitar), Talor Smith (cello) and Johnny Barton (percussion, glockenspiel) – with a rotating line-up of additional musicians contributing violin, viola, upright bass, trumpet, percussion, mandolin, cello and accordion – the Ridges took their name from the institution that was formerly the Athens Lunatic Asylum. And the band continues to draw inspiration from the old asylum. Not only was their album recorded in the ornate Victorian building, but the songs are imbued with an aching hauntedness that seems to reflect the ghost stories that surround any once-abandoned institution worth its salt.

That’s not to say that the self-titled EP is a non-stop dirge full of melodramatically gothic declarations of emotion. While none of the lyrical matter could be accused of being upbeat, many of the songs invite foot-stomping and sing-alongs. Listen to and download an example of what I mean with stand-out track “Not a Ghost”.


Not a Ghost by The Ridges


Now download the full EP at their Bandcamp site and get haunted.

The Ridges @ Bandcamp

The Ridges @ Facebook

Bits: Eddie Kirkland, TV on the Radio, Conrad Plymouth, Chip Tha Ripper, Jessica Lea Mayfield

  • Bluesman Eddie Kirkland was killed in a road accident this passed Sunday. Our hearts go out to his family, friends and fans. I’m glad I had the pleasure to see him live this past autumn when he opened for the Gories.
  • The first track to be revealed off of TV on the Radio’s forthcoming album, Nine Types of Light, can be heard on the 107.7 blog.
  • Our friends Conrad Plymouth, accompanied by Strand of Oaks, did a set for Folkadelphia. It will air tonight between 6 and 8 PM ET.
  • Cleveland’s Chip Tha Ripper has a new mixtape, Gift Raps, at Rap Radar. Digging it as I type…
  • Kent, Ohio’s Jessica Lea Mayfield made her Letterman debut (with brother David Mayfield, formerly of Cadillac Sky, currently of the David Mayfield Parade, accompanying her) last Friday. Check it out below.

Die, Sloopy, Die: Rocket from the Tombs

Die, Sloopy, Die is a tribute to great Ohio bands of the past and present. The name is an anti-tribute to our official state rock song “Hang On, Sloopy” by the McCoys because, while it is awesome that we were the first state to declare an official state rock song (and, so far, we are one of only two states to do so, Oklahoma having declared the Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize??” their official state song), we chose one of the lamest songs it was possible for us to choose.

Rocket from the Tombs

Music lineage can be a tangle, especially when it comes to punk. (The family tree of British punk band London SS would take an entire gymnasium wall to itself.) Most music lovers probably know that if you follow the trail backward from the 2006 team-up of Nine Inch Nails and Peter Murphy for “Final Solution”, you’ll light on Murphy’s 1986 version of the song for his album Should the World Fail to Fall Apart before ending up on Pere Ubu’s 1976 release. But there’s another step back, to a Cleveland band who existed for a year. If you trace back from the Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer”, you’ll stop on that same Cleveland band.

Having been only a year old at the time of their existence and having parents who continue to be a prime target for mainstream pop, I was unlikely to ever hear Rocket from the Tombs. In their short lifetime, beginning in 1974 and ending in 1975, RFTT never released an album, and they played only a handful of shows. Yet they ended up leaving an important mark on music.

Ain’t It Fun

The core line-up of Rocket from the Tombs included Dave Thomas, Peter Laughner, Craig Bell, Gene O’Connor and Johnny Madansky (with a “guest” appearance by a guy named Steve Bators at their last show). A powder keg with a short fuse, when RTFF imploded, Thomas and Laughner formed Pere Ubu, while O’Connor became Cheetah Chrome, Madansky became Johnny Blitz, and they joined Steve (now Stiv) Bators to become Frankenstein, which later became the Dead Boys.

Rocket From The Tombs 30 Seconds Over Tokyo

Rocket from the Tombs might have only existed as a name in a footnote… but then came the internet, and the knowledge of a continued and widespread interest in this proto-band propelled the release of The Day the Earth Met the… Rocket from the Tombs, 19 tracks comprised from radio and concert recordings from the band’s short life. And what an amazing racket it is. My view is skewed and insular, but it’s difficult to believe this sort of music existed in Cleveland in the early ’70s. The jagged urgency of these songs is still stunning and compelling. In fact, listened to back-to-back, the original “Sonic Reducer” makes the Dead Boys’ version sound polished and mundane in comparison.

Sonic Reducer

Rocket from the Tombs reformed in 2003, bringing Television’s Richard Lloyd along, to play the Disastodrome festival, which they followed up with their own tour and the band’s first recorded album, Rocket Redux. Since then, the band has been ebbing and flowing through each other’s orbits, writing new material, then straggling off again, but they did manage to release a single, “I Sell Soul/Romeo & Juliet”, this past spring (which was, according to Ubu Projex, recorded at the Red Roof Inn in Mentor, Room 146 – so, now you know where to stay if you find yourself in Mentor for some ungodly reason).

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Stone Temple Pilots/Cage the Elephant, Jones Beach, 9/4/2010

Jennifer bids adieu to summer by spending some time with former Ohio boy Scott Weiland and crew.

I have some thoughts about Stone Temple Pilots, but we’ll get to them in a minute. First I would like y’all to meet Cage the Elephant:

Matt Schultz, Jared Champion (drums) and one of their guitarists

They were the second opening band – I missed the first one, TAB the band – and the best description I can give you is: high-energy blues-punk fusion. One of my favorites from their set was Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked, which sounded like it had just rolled in from the Delta. Meanwhile the lead singer was busy shimmy-shaking himself all over the stage and into the audience (three times!) like Iggy Pop. I was worn out just watching him. I also concluded I’d like to see them at their own show with their fans in the pit because I suspect it would be the best kind of epic rock and roll madness. (Translation: Please, please come back and play at Irving so I can stand in the balcony and really feel the bass rattle my bones while the kids go berserk on the floor. :D?)

Matt Schultz

I can also tell you that whoever decided to send them out with Stone Temple Pilots gets a gold star, because it was another moment of beautiful musical congruency between new and old(er) acts. Anyway, yes, Stone Temple Pilots, let’s talk about them!

Stone Temple Pilots, megaphone in full effect!

This was another band I never, ever expected to be able to see live. (I think we all know why.) And while it might have been a little strange watching Scott Weiland dance around in chinos and a tie (?!), my adult self was glad to see him alive and well and in one piece and making music, and my inner 17-year-old was really happy to hear that big grunge roar come out of the speakers. It turns out I had really missed those guitars.


When not dancing awkwardly and trying not to flail into my neighbors, I contemplated the ways in which one imprints on things like music, how the sounds I loved, age 18, are still the sounds I love now. I was also contemplating how some acts grab the gold ring of a round two with both hands, and some have to learn the hard way that it isn’t 1991 anymore. STP has had their share of difficulties, but last Saturday night they came out and rocked it, no fuss, no muss, no diva shenanigans.


All of that aside, I am also pleased to report that Weiland’s voice is still intact, and that their new stuff sounds great. I don’t have any fancy music critic terms to describe it for you, but I can say this: there was kick in the reverb and shimmy in the bass, and it was delicious. The next time I update my music library, I’m definitely getting their new record. If you ever cranked up Plush or Sex Type Thing and sang along, you might enjoy it too.

— Jennifer