Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Centro-matic at Schuba's

Wed 12 Nov – Centro-matic, South San Gabriel

It is rare that I go to a show and do not leave wishing that certain songs had been included in the set list. I typically enjoy all the shows I attend, but find myself calculating in the moments between the last set and the encore if there is any way the band can jam my 3-4 picks into the encore. I drive home happy, but always wondering what song X would have sounded like that night.

Centro-matic at Schuba's was an exception.

It is not that I need to know every song in a set to enjoy it. I do not yet have Dual Hawks so many of these songs were new to me, but Redo the Stacks and Love You Just the Same are rank up there with London Calling and Man who sold the world as some of my all time favorite albums.

The show this night was perfect in so many ways. It was a rainy Wednesday night in Chicago and Schuba's was about 3/4 full. The room is the back room of an old Tap Room. If you have visited Chicago or Milwaukee and gone out to corner bars you will know what I am talking about as they are so common in this part of the country. From the front entrance you walk into the bar area which is just one big long bar that runs the length of the room and then some raised tables on the opposite wall against a windows that look out onto the street. Follow the bar to the back, past the bathrooms and there is a door that leads to what used to be the dinner or banquet area. This is where the band plays at Schuba's. The stage is all the way at the end of the room. No back stage or side entrance, just 5-6 stairs leading up to the stage, which is the width of the room and about 20' deep.

It appears that nothing has been done to this room to make it sound great, but man does it ever sound great. I have played their two or three time with my band (the first time back in 1996) and as crazy as this sounds I think they still have the same sound guy there. He does a great job. Every band I see there sounds great.

The show started with South San Gabriel. It was a subdued set well performed. The lead singer from the Baptist Generals played solo acoustic next. His set was plagued with tuning problems blamed on heat from lights causing trouble with his nylon strings. It was a decent showing, but not nearly as interesting as he was with the full band when they came through Milwaukee 2 years ago.

Right before Centro-matic went on I ran into Matt Pence and asked about recording the show and he gave me the OK. I have a great recording of the show but am waiting to hear from Matt about posting it or widely distributing it. It turned out great.

The band was in good spirits and made reference a few times to their joy over the Obama victory, to which someone yelled out "What Up Texas?" Will replied that he thinks "Texas would look beautiful in a Blue dress."

There was also an amp problem which led to a impromptu performance of an improvised song which was good fun. The rest of the set broke down like this:

Post-it Notes From the State Hospital
Fountains of Fire
Good As Gold
Most Everyone Will Find
Flashes and Cables
Technical Difficulties for Me
Mighty Midshipman
The Rat Patrol and DJs
Quality Strange
Argonne Limit Co.
Discussion of Obama Victory
Calling Thermatico
Strychnine, Breathless Ways
Counting the Scars
the pilots on the wall
The Blisters May Come
Fidgeting Wildly

I wondered if I were to revisit my Centro-matic albums back to back if I would find a few favorite songs that were not included in the set, but as I continue listening to the recording of this night I cannot help but think that I am not missing anything.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The evolution of a live music scene and the revival of a music festival

Once upon a time I was an undergrad at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Marquette (MU) is located in the heart of Milwaukee, a real city campus. As a freshman at MU I would go to house parties and sneak into the bars that did not check ID's on most weekends. At that time, MU did not have an active Greek scene at all, so the parties and events that we attended where hosted by the University, local bars, or students who lived together in houses.

I guess I took it for granted that there was always live music around. The University did a great job hosting 'Grill Concerts' every Friday afternoon in the basement of the Union bringing in regional and local acts including the Violent Femmes, The Bodeans, firehose, and many others. At the MU bars and house parties though, it was bands comprised of MU students providing the soundtrack. I would guess that my freshman year I saw no fewer than 10 different MU bands play at multiple events. At the end of my freshmen year I attended the student run music festival we knew as Jigglesfest.

Here is some back story on the event with more accurate facts and names filled in:
Jigglesfest Back Story:
Originally started in 1986 100% by students as a reaction to MU canceling Spring Block Party. Anthony 'Tony' Caroli (class of 1986) was the original founder and he performed in a band called the Peasants which included Tony, Tom Luke, Dave Wolff, and Chris Foos. Also performing at that first show were Surrender Dorothy and MCBO (both bands which returned with their original line ups for Jigglesfest 2008) The event was originally known as Mr. Jiggles Spring Jubilee and was held at the Mitchell Domes.

When Tony graduated the torch was carried by a series of people, most notably Dave Tills (class of 1988) and the festival continued through the 90's moving locations as it grew. In 1991 it was estimated that Jigglesfest drew over 3000 students to Lake Michigan's Rod and Gun Club for what was likely the events largest crowd.
The Old MU Scene
This atmosphere for live student music at MU is one of the things that lead to the start up of my band, R. Mutt in 1988. From 1988 through the mid 1990's we played regularly in Milwaukee and Chicago and surrounding areas but we always had shows back at Marquette and continued to play with new younger bands as they emerged. Some of the groups from this time are still around making music while others have broken up as members have moved on to other music projects. Bands and performers that we had the pleasure of playing with during this time include: Surrender Dorothy (still playing and recording music today,) Freezone and Wolfgang Green (featuring Pat Greene, acclaimed SF Jazz Guitarist and instructor,) The Eisenhowers (early project of Ike Reilly of the Ike Reilly Assassination,) Big Sky (Joe Panzetta and Peter Mulvey project,) Blue Utah (Kevin Blackwell of Sassparilla's first band,) Southbound (still active Milwaukee band,) The Gufs (still active Milwaukee band,) and Moloko Shivers (whose members have gone on to The Cocksmiths, Willie Porter Band, and The Boogiemen.)

At any given time during this period in the late 80's and early 90's there were no fewer than 10-15 MU bands actively playing out. Bands like Ventriloquist Cat, Grotto Sandwich, The New Aviators, The Eisenhowers, Radioactive Sludge, MCBO, Big Mother Gig, Fuscia Boys, Domino Theory, Groovus, Last Call and others joined forces and split bills to create a vibrant music scene. If you went to MU and played an instrument you were probably in a band or at least sat in with one of these bands. When people went abroad for a sememster, someone from another band would fill in. When your guitarist graduated and moved to Georgia for post grad, there was someone younger waiting in the wings to step in. I was lucky enough serve brief stints playing bass in both Big Sky and Surrender Dorothy in addition to playing in R. Mutt full time.

Bars like Thoma's, The Glocca Morra, Hurricane's, Theo's, The Green Tree and the Avalanche hosted music from these bands and houses would charge $2-$5 for "All you can drink/Two Band" parties in their basements or back yards. These shows were not 45 minute sets littered with Louie, Louie and Wipeout. By and large they were serious sets of music including original music and plenty of experimental jamming covering blues, jazz, and rock. Some shows at Thoma's would feature two bands and have music run solid from 9:00pm until 2:30am as the two bands traded off playing time. People would leave the bar at the end of the night dripping in sweat and exhausted from dancing.

Reviving Jigglesfest
Fast forward to 2007 and my band was preparing for the release of our latest album, 'Heptane' about the same time Surrender Dorothy was prepping 'Three Days in Chicago' for release. In the midst of an email string with Linda Bloszies (lead singer of Surrender Dorothy) I signed off "See you at Jigglesfest 2008."

Now sometime in the 90's Jigglesfest had ceased operation. I am not sure if it was lack of interest or perhaps a poor hand off of the organizing responsibilities, but it was officially dormant.

Linda proposed that we get in touch with some of the current MU bands and see if we could bring it back to life. Surely as alumni we would get the support of the University and we could host some type of battle of the bands to figure out which current MU bands would play. Setback #1 - No one at the University was really interested in talking to us about this event at all. Setback #2 - We could not find a single band at Marquette. Linda and I continued on with the planning assuming we would eventually connect with MU bands. A string of emails out to our old friends found us with 4-5 older bands willing to get back together and return to play. In fact, two of the bands that played at the first Jigglesfest were willing and able to pull together their original line ups to come back for the show. We were also able to get committment from Freezone for a reunion which would pull 2 players from the East Coast, Pat Green from California, a guitarist from IL and their original drummer from the UK.

Around that time we lucked into a great relationship with the team that runs Bradford Beach which provided us a location along with sound, permits and a great stage.

Eventually we connected with the college radio station, WMUR, and found a group that was not only interested in helping us find bands and promote the event but also in learning more about the older scene at MU. They got us in touch with three great MU bands, Planet Dastardly, The Nodes, and New Wave Bossa Nova.

The show happened September 20th and the music was beyond great as was the weather and turn out (although, very light on MU Students.) As the day wore on I found it amazing that the current MU bands had never met each other. In some cases they had not even heard of each other. I spoke with these guys and they reflected on the lack of places for bands to play, difficulty finding locations for practices, and a student body not terribly interested in live music.

Photos from Jigglesfest (new and old) found here

Music is important work.
We have been invited back to Bradford Beach to do Jigglesfest again in 2009. I hope that this will help breath life back into MU music and give current students a reason to make their scene work.

It is funny, but listening to talk about current challenges and barriers brought back memories of our struggles back when the scene was vibrant. Part of being in a band is getting kicked out of your practice space, having your power cut when house parties are shut down, getting a flat on the way to a gig that will not pay enough to cover your gas, landlords threatening to kick you out of your house, skipping a test because you have a chance to play in Madison, playing on crappy guitars, broken down amps, snares held together with duct tape... You fight through all those things because music is important.

You only need to hear your band's name chanted once to realize that you don't do it for the babes or the money, you do it because you love the music. You do it because you love being in a band.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Texas Bound: Lucero, Sleepercar, and Glossary

at: Club Dada
at: Emo's

I recently became obsessed with Glossary. I mean really obsessed. The last two albums have been in almost constant rotation in my car and home stereo. I bought a bunch of copies at their last Milwaukee show and The Better Angels of our Nature has been my standard birthday gift to friends for the last 6 months. I really tried to evangelize the band using the free copy of the album available on their web site, but it seems my friends are too lazy to even get free music these days. (what is it with music fans? - Save that thought for another blog.)

I had heard of Lucero. One of my great friends, Kyle, had lent me That Much Further West which bounced around my place for almost a year before he asked for it back. I listened a few times, but was never really drawn to it. He also favors Drag the River, Bobby Bare Jr, and the Jayhawks, none of which hold my attention, so I grouped Lucero in with those acts and never gave them another thought.

My travels allowed me to be in Dallas for the show at Club Dada and Austin for the show at Emo's. I have since learned that Club Dada, right off the main drag in a section of Dallas called Deep Ellum, was once a primary player in the Dallas punk scene and has a lot of history. While it is very small, I would guess this punk history makes it a sentimental choice for Lucero.

I entered the club with music playing and was scared that I had missed the start of Glossary's set, but did not recognize the tunes. Started to think perhaps Sleepercar was on first. Turned out to be a local start up band called Somebody's Darlin'. Typically when I see a lead singer on stage with an acoustic guitar I expect to be bored, but these guys really converted me. The female lead singer must get sick of comparisons to Janis Joplin, but the wild hair, aggressive stage presence and uber powerful pipes make it a deserved comparison. The songs on their myspace page fail to excite, but I understand that their first proper CD is coming later in the year along with a possible tour up HWY 35 (ala This is American Music 07).

Glossary was up next and their set was littered with songs from both Better Angels and For What I Don't Become as well as some songs that I am not familiar with. I have 2003's How We Handle Our Midnights, but it never stuck with me.

The set was great. About 1/3 of the people near the stage seemed to know the words to their songs, especially the ones from Better Angels. Two highlights for me were Almsgiver and Shout it from the Rooftops. Both where performed with extreme gusto and the crowd reacted accordingly.

Sleepercar was next and this was my first time seeing or hearing them. They struck me as somewhat similar to some of Will Johnson's (Centro-matic) stylings but with a more overt twang element. Hate to be the cover guy, but for me the highlight was their rousing cover of FBB's Older Guys.

As Lucero was loading in I got my first glimpse of what was to come. As each member loaded their gear on to the small stage the crowd erupted in cheers. You would have thought Bono or Springsteen had walked in the place. The crowd continued to grow and the people from the outside patio started to filter in just to secure spots standing near the small stage for the show.

This was a Monday night. This place was packed like a Milwaukee bar would be packed on a Friday or Saturday. The cameras were flashing out of control. Taking pictures of the guys plugging in their guitars and tuning... the show had not even started.

I wound up sitting right at the corner of the bar about 10' from the stage next to the Somebody's Darlin gang and asked if this was a normal sized crowd and Azure explained to me that this is far from typical for the club, but to be expected for Lucero.

When the band started it seemed every person in the crowd hoisted beer or fist in the air. They anticipated the first words and sang aloud with the band. So loud in fact that should the singer trip up a line the crowd would overpower him with the correct one. I figure, OK, so this must be their big song, of course everyone knows it.... song after song after song. Same thing.

Now I have never been to a Bon Jovi concert, but this is what I imagine the front 10 rows would be like. Everyone knows every word and shouts them at the top of their lungs.

Besides the completely kick ass crowd, the band was also incredible. Drums and voice stuck out for me the most. Both so sure and authoritative while remaining organic and earthy. Springsteen, booze-soaked, heart felt, anthem, epic... the classic list of exhaltations all apply in spades. I felt like I had stumbled into the Stone Pony in 1970-71 and caught one of the first shows by Springsteen... when only people in NJ knew who he was and would never miss a chance to see him play.

Songs like What Else Would You Have Me Be borrow heavily from Springsteen in terms of chord structure (see Born to Run's I VI V verse) and over all format, but the song pulls in the Wall of Sound Phil Spector rhythm section sound. Lyrically it should resonate to any one who has had a partner that wanted them to change or grow up. How can anyone resist screaming along to:

"You used to love me
A drunkard running wild out in the streets
C'mon baby, what else would you have me be?"

Another favorite of mine is I Can Get Us Out Of Here which details the plea to "dump the one you are with and run away with me."

"Long legs use 'em and run
Blue eyes that blind like the sun
I might not be the one
But that's alright
I can get us outta here tonight"

If you are not familiar with Glossary, they are not quite the anti Lucero, but they certainly stand in stark contrast. While both have extremely talented drummers and singers with somewhat tough voices, the song writing and guitar interplay is very different. In Glossary it is more often than not that the two guitars are playing parts that intertwine with one another both rhythmically and melodically. The rhythm section is typically providing a somewhat sparse but powerful back bone for the guitars. In Lucero the rhythm guitar works very closely with the rhythm section to create a big band sound that then the other guitar will play a counter melody, or hook, or lick that adds texture to the backing track.

The Show at Emo's was excellent too. Unfortunately we lost Somebody's Darlin, but that was more than made up for with the incredible performances by the other three bands. Glossary had more time, seemed less rushed, had a larger stage to spread out. Prior to starting Almsgiver Joey pointed out that it was his and Kelly's wedding anniversary. Sleepercar was also much more exciting for me this time. Might be due to the fact that I recognized some songs from the Monday show. Lucero was just as powerful as they were in Dallas. The Emo's crowd seemed a bit more beer-centric than lucero-centric, but none the less everyone was into it. When the first song started at least 10 beers were sprayed in all directions and within the first 3 songs we had a young chap body surfing over the crowd up to the stage for a half hearted stage dive.

Well, I am now the proud owner of both Nobody's Darling (the Lucero album) and Rebels Rogues and Sworn Brothers. If I had to pick one, in an attempt to get someone into the band, I think I would have to pick Rebels... in fact, I just ordered 5 additional copies, so I you are someone who gets birthday presents from me, you can pretty much bank on a brand new Lucero CD.

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tom Waits: Houston v. Dallas

Tom Waits - June 22nd, Jones Hall, Houston TX
Tom Waits - June 23rd, The Palladium, Dallas TX

Yeah, I missed all of the Orphans dates and the Katrina shows so I was ready for this tour. I will confess to being a bigger fan of the Asylum albums specifically Nighthawks at the Diner, The Heart of Saturday Night and Heartattack And Vine. I have bought all the new ones also, and certainly enjoy them, but when push comes to shove I find myself reaching farther back in the catalog for more of the piano/lounge sounds.

The tour is announced and I knew I would see one show and with Houston and Dallas back to back it just made sense to see them both. What a great decision. The two shows could not have been more different.

Houston was a assigned seat show and while I was on the Ticketmaster site the moment tickets became available, I wound up 3/4th of the way back in the hall. This hall was an Orchestra hall. Velvety seats, fancy art, elevators, toilets that flushed... really high class. The stage was sparsely populated with Tom's raised platform right in the middle, drums left, sax right and bass and guitar in the back behind him. There was also a baby grand to the right of Tom's platform. Some extra drums, auxiliary percussion and megaphone were at the ready next to his platform, but none but the maracas were used.

The show started right on time and the audience was incredibly well behaved. Little to no talking and almost no yelling out our heckling.

There were two things that did not work for me for this show. The sound and the pace. I found the middle of the set slow... the 3 piano songs were incredible. How can you beat Innocent When You Dream, Tom Traubert’s blues, and The House Where Nobody Lives?

On the sound I found the vocals to be very muddy and the drums sounded very timid and weak. When he spoke between songs I and the people around me were all straining to understand and there were waves of "what did he say?" or "did you catch that?" I am going to attribute this to my seating location as I spoke with others at the show and they reported that the sound was great.

Now, wake up and drive 4 hours to Dallas. The Palladium had the look and feel of an old 1940's-50's dance hall. Big open floor, all wood, few to no seats, bars lined each wall. It just felt like the type of place you might run into Tom Waits by chance. We lucked out in the initial rush when the doors opened. It seems most people either ran to the swag table to pick up their shirts or CD's while the other half rushed the stage to stake out a good standing spot. You could consider me smart, but the truth is I am lazy and the thought of standing for 90 minutes waiting for the show to start made me tired. So, I walked along the back of the room, near the soundboard and spotted two bar stools right next to the mixing board. They were partially blocked by a larger party, but I asked, and they were not spoken for. I think this was the key to this show for me as the sound was perfect. Not only every joke and story, but every word to every song. The drums were forceful and out front. The drummer sounded like he was really running the show. I could hear everything and they just sounded incredible.

The show followed the same basic format. Innocent when you dream was drawn out and Tom lead the audience in singing the chorus at the end eventually standing up, stopping singing and conducting us through the close of the song... something he tried less effectively in Houston. The megaphone was used sparingly but to the delight of the audience. There was much more talking and joke telling. A bit more heckling and cat calling from the audience, but somehow it really fit the vibe just fine.

In addition to the great sound the show also had a perfect pace. The drums felt like a pulsing heartbeat the carried the show from start to finish. It just felt like it had more energy.

One additional note. The group that I wound up next to included some contractors who did work for the venue. They had sat through the 3.5 hour sound check and shared some interesting information. According to them part of the performance contract required all of the bars but one to shut down once the music started. (This did not present a problem, but I found it interesting.) It was also explained that the air conditioning was to be cut once the show started. It was tripped back on two times when the temps got out of hand, but it seems the plan was for the room to be hot. My wife and I noted that when the air was off the smoke on stage held better and the lights made a bigger impact. When it was turned back on briefly those two times most of the haze was blown right off stage.

All in all, two great shows. Very different experiences, but both great in their own way.

I grabbed these set lists from the

Jones Hall, Houston Tx.
June 22

Down in the Hole
Falling Down
Dead and Lovely
Lie to Me
Day After Tomorrow
Hoist that Rag
Get Behind the Mule
Cemetary Polka
Trampled Rose
Jesus Gonna Be Here
Lucky Day
Tom Traubert's Blues
House Where Nobody Lives
Innocent when you dream
Make it Rain
Murder in the Red Barn
Come on up to the House
Dirt in the Ground
Eyeball Kid

Goin' Out West
All the World is Green

Palladium, Dallas, Tx.
June 23

Way down in the hole
Anywhere I lay my head
Chocolate Jesus
Frank's wild years
Hoist that rag
Get behind the mule
Such a scream
Eyeball kid
Lucky day
Invitation to the blues
Lost in the harbor
Innocent when you dream
16 shells from a 30 ought 6
Lie to me
Fannin St
Black market baby
Misery is the river of the world

Make it rain
Jesus gonna be here
9th and Hennepin

Monday, June 2, 2008

...when is this f'n show going to start?!

Wed 28 May – Los Campesinos!

I travel a great deal for my job. Typically it is meetings all day followed by working dinners or catch up work in the hotel at night. Sometimes I get a chance to do something fun in the evenings.

So, I get called up to Minneapolis and a quick search shows me that Los Campesinos! are playing at the Varsity Theater in the Dinkytown section of Minneapolis. A call to the box office confirms that there are tix available, the doors are at 8:00 and the show will start at 8:45. I had heard reviews of the Los Campesinos! SXSW performance and their latest album and I was really looking forward to this.


I love the chance to see bands that I have not seen. I really like this when I do not have their albums and my first experience hearing them is live. This is a real excitement for me. In the past I have been lucky enough to see Drive-By Truckers, Centro-matic, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, and a few others in settings just like this. So, this was going to be another great opportunity just like those.

The Varsity Theater is a really nice venue. It was an older building with open seating/standing. Around the room there were raised couches and chairs almost like small island living rooms and the middle of the floor was wide open.

Quickly on the bands, Jeffrey Lewis and the Jitters were the opening band. I had never heard of them until they announced their name at the start of their set. They are akin to Kimya Dawson but with a male voice and drums. I would suggest if you like Kimya Dawson you would like this group.

Los Campesinos! were a great big group with dueling guitars, a tight rhythm section, a violinist, and pair of lead singers who trade off leads, keyboards and glockenspiels. The sound was a non stop onslaught which included great hooks, danceable beats, noise, distortion, hand claps, and sing-along choruses. The sound in the room was decent, but it struck me that the mixing engineer may have been struggling either with the room or with the number of instruments he had to control. It was not bad sound, but it was not great sound (especially for a room that appeared very manageable.)

Did I love it? No. Was it interesting? Yes. Will I buy the album? Yet to be determined.

So, where did this all break down? How did this picture perfect opportunity to become their next big fan not work out?

Simple. The opening band started after 10:00pm. By the time Los Campensinos! took the stage it was after 11:00. The room was no more filled at 10:00 or 11:00 than it was at 8:30.

I know I am old. I also understand that I am not included in any demographic a new indie band may target. Perhaps the target demographic wakes midday and does not go to work or class until 3:00pm. That is all fine. It just seems odd, that when all of the band members are there, that they would choose to have their audience stand around for 90-120 minutes waiting for them to take the stage. I felt a little disrespected. I was waiting for a band to start a concert, not for a child to be born or my transmission to be rebuilt. What is the sense in keeping people waiting that long?

I went to the show looking forward to writing a review of the great show I had just seen. I was ready to buy the album and start telling my friends that they NEEDED TO HEAR THIS BAND, but in the end, I left feeling mistreated. The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.

Maybe I am just too old.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Grand Champeen, Where have you been all my life?

So, I go to see the This is American Music Revue in Milwaukee in Dec of 2007. I had seen Two Cow Garage and The Drams a few times each in Chicago and Milwaukee, and I was about a month into my first two Glossary Albums: For What I Don't Become and The Better Angels Of Our Nature (which can be downloaded here: but I had never heard of Grand Champeen.

Of the 4 bands that played, Grand Champeen seemed to me to be the most out of place. Certainly some nods to twang and they even had a Telecaster Deluxe on stage if I remember correctly, but few if any of your standard bendings of 2nd's to 3rd's, overt Keith Richards sounds, and certainly no steel guitar.

Given that I came to see the other bands, and I clearly have a soft spot for your standard country/alt-country/whatever-it-is-called-these-days types of sounds, I was not sure what to make of these guys. They looked like they would have fit in better at a hardcore show in the 80's at the Metro along side Black Flag or Naked Raygun.

Their show was good. I was not familiar with the songs, but I was intrigued by them. They never seemed to completely hit their groove as the bands were limited to short 30 minute sets.

So all the bands were selling their CD's for $10 a pop so I picked up their latest, "Dial T For This," on the recommendation of Kelly from Glossary. This is an excellent album. I feel like most of the bands in the greater Americana genre have roots in bands like the Stones, Guthrie, Gram Parsons, Little Feat, Neil Young... It is a little more rare that you hear the Beatles or Big Star mentioned as an influence or reference. These guys combine the musical creativity of the Beatles with the pop sensibilities of Big Star and present it as though it was being played by The Clash circa 1979. After the hooks and the creative chord/melody lines what grabs me is the raw energy. This sounds nothing like an album done in a proper studio... yeah it sounds great, but it is just too filled with energy to be grouped in with your standard studio album. A lot of the type of energy that you can feel in the best of Slobberbone and White Stripes recording is here in full effect.

So, where do you go from there? I got the album one earlier: "The One That Brought You." I get nervous going back into a catalog that is new to me after falling for a recent release but The One That Brought You really delivered. Maybe a bit less evidence of love for the Beatles, but more raw and more energy.

I have Battle Cry for Help coming from Gulp! records now and am hoping to enjoy it as much as these other two.

The one thing that struck me today (as I was snowblowing 2 feet of friggin' snow from my driveway and listening two times through these albums) was how little self indulgence there is on these records... No showy guitar solos or over the top drums or over emotive singing... A band playing as a unit. Heartfelt, Raw, and Filled with Energy.

Do yourself a favor and pick up one or both of these albums.