All Around Records

Monday, June 27, 2022

 Maple Mars

Gliding single

Big Stir Records


From the band’s upcoming debut album for Big Stir, Someone’s Got To Listen, this first single is noisy, crunchy, with almost grunge-like guitar playing, maybe a little like Nirvana’s "On A Plane." The lyrics are about gliding, flying high.


It’s very good, a lot of fun, and it really does glide along. I like the guitars. Noise and crunch rule. If that sounds good to you too, enjoy a great single.


Andrea Weiss

Thursday, June 16, 2022

 Jesse Bryson

Come Back single

Big Stir Records


The original is by the late 70s power pop band Fotomaker, and Jesse’s dad Wally was a member of that group. The cover is pretty faithful to the original.


As wonderful as the original is, I somewhat prefer the cover. It flows more, and is a little faster and more kinetic. I like fast and flowing in a song.


It also rocks, so play some air guitar and get into a great cover of a great original.


Andrea Weiss

Saturday, June 11, 2022

 Jim Basnight is back with another single that doesn’t disappoint, and the more I hear, the more I think he's one of the best. If you don’t know his work, Pop Top, the album this single comes from, is a good place to start.


Jim was kind enough to answer a few questions about "Stop the Words/Evil Touch."


Andrea Weiss: What is the backstory to these songs?


Jim Basnight: "Stop the Words" was a song which goes back to the Moberlys days. It's been a solid tune in my live show for most of my performing career.  Moberly guitarist Glenn Oyabe composed some great guitar licks which fall between the vocal phrases nicely, which I've brought forward in my live shows with a few modifications. It has an unusual groove, but it works great as a platform to demonstrate timeless 80's dance styles which always make me smile. 


"Evil Touch" also goes back to the Moberlys days. It's another bluesy rocker, built on a danceable shuffle, but with some nice modern rock power chords pumped in for good measure. The lyrics fit the current climate, as certain folks on the national scene have been messing with me so long that I've lost patience. I want no more of their evil touch and I think others may feel similarly. Both songs are simple pop guitar numbers, but also have unique feels. To me that's when the best rock and roll happens. Simple, energetic, but not something different, with a meaningful message.



AW: What is "Stop The Words" about?


JB: "Stop the Words" is about having been around the block enough to know when to hold your tongue. Simple message. Not that the singer knows it all, just that they are not going to take that ride again. Both songs have a somewhat serious tone, but the music is so fun that I doubt anyone will be brought down. Just a fun song with a little message that is basically positive. Nothing heavy, but not bubblegum.



AW: You write good melodies. How easy is it to get one going?


JB: Thank you!! It's very easy. The hard part is taking the time to document it while you're inspired, and the music is coming from your soul. If you don't do that, you may remember some things about the melody, perhaps even the correct notes. It's the feel, dynamics, and the emotion that makes the difference between good and great songs. Write down the words and chords, but make sure you do a little recording of your performance of it, even if it's just a phone recording.



AW: “Evil Touch” is a blues, and good blues, at that. Did the song just lend itself to that style?


JB: To me it's rock and roll, but with a roadhouse type of feel. Blues was the skeleton that both of those genres are built upon, but the song is not a pure blues. To me the Beatles and the Stones, two groups of Brits, are the touchstone I'd use to compare songs like this. Both acts were completely inspired by the first wave aka the golden age of rock and roll, which was of course a new way to present r&b and blues influenced hillbilly music aka rockabilly. The fact that they brought English and American pop influences into the mix, was probably because it was there and found a way into the creative process. Much like Elvis playing blues. 


When he was a child, Presley copied music he heard on the Grand Ol' Opry (hillbilly or later country and western), the Gospel Hour (Southern gospel, played on Sundays often by musicians who played juke joints and honkytonks the night before) and blues (new to the radio in the 1940's) or possibly by the time Elvis was around 13 (1948) it may have already been called r&b. Presley sang songs in the styles he learned to sing as a pre-adolescent and early teen and developed over the course of his teen years by absorbing these radio shows, when he auditioned for Sun Records' Sam Phillips in the early 50's. Phillips wasn't thrilled with the country or gospel. But, when Sam heard Elvis's blues songs, he learned from listening to the radio shows of "Sonny Boy Williamson" (Alex Miller) and "Howlin' Wolf" (Chester Burnett) on KWEM in West Memphis, AR, Phillips started seeing dollar signs.


I look at "Evil Touch" similarly. I write and sing songs which come from the songs I learned growing up, which I use like a set of building blocks to spell out how I'm feeling when I sit down to write. What comes out is a combination of those building blocks and the feelings in my heart that I'm attempting to spell out with them.



AW: What other singles and albums might be in the pipeline?


JB: Not sure. I'm working on several musical projects. I may release another single from my Pop Top (2022 Remaster) album, as there are more good ones to work with. But, I've got a few other things cooking, so we'll have to see.


I've booked a lot of live gigs in the NW, thankfully, so I'll be doing that, too, over the course of the summer. We'll just have to see what happens.

 Jim Basnight

Stop The Words/Evil Touch single

Power Popaholic Productions


The A side is punky blues about knowing what time it is, with a great put-down of a hipster in the chorus. The B is blues you can dance to, about wanting people to leave you alone.


Both are good examples of how versatile rock and roll really can be, that anything can be rock and roll if done right, and these songs certainly are done right. More good rock and roll is always needed, especially today.


So if you want two songs you can rock out to or party to, these are the ones. Or just relate to the lyrics. Or both. It's all good.


Pop Top (2022 remaster) | Jim Basnight | Power Popaholic Productions (bandcamp.com) 


Andrea Weiss

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

 In Deed

Don’t Kill The Babe single

Big Stir


The return of Sweden’s In Deed finds the band in fine form, with swirling organ and bold accusatory lyrics about hypocrisy and being yourself. It’s catchy and will make you want to shimmy around the room. If you want sharp lyrics contrasting with happy music, this is it, and it's great.


Andrea Weiss

Thursday, June 2, 2022

 The Flashcubes

Have You Ever Been Torn Apart single

Big Stir


Very faithful to the original by the Spongetones,  this breakup song is a little mid-60s Beatles, maybe the Who's “I Can’t Explain” or “The Kids Are All Right.” It will start ringing in your head from the very first time you hear it, and will make you want to dance. So play it and shimmy around the room, and just feel good listening to a great song.


Andrea Weiss

Friday, May 27, 2022

 I first became aware of Walker Brigade through their Big Stir singles, one of which is a fun cover of “I’m Tired” from Blazing Saddles. Another is “No,” a Grammy Award first ballot listee. The B-sides, respectively “Tower” and “Fallout,” are great, and a reminder that good post-punk continues to be made.



The band was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.


Andrea Weiss: How did the band form?


Mark Fletcher: Tracy recorded some demos of her original songs and starting a band with her just seemed like a good idea. I ran into Jeff at a party and told him what we were working on. We all knew each other, so it just came together very quickly. We tried a couple other drummers before we invited Craig. He and I had been playing in a bar band, so we were already pretty familiar with each other’s playing. Our repertoire in the beginning was mostly covers--Buzzcocks, Ultravox!, Soft Boys, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Wire, Penetration, etc.


Craig Tyrka: Mark and I were playing in another band and he asked me if I would be interested in a project he was starting with some friends doing originals. When I heard originals based on late 70's, mostly British punk I was interested. I met them at Tracy's house. We practiced in her living room. I had to put a sheet over my drums so the neighbors wouldn't hear us. We clicked and here we are.



Andrea: Who are your influences?


Mark: Mission of Burma, Jefferson Airplane, Wire, the Who, Tom Lehrer.


Jeff Charreaux:  As far as guitar goes, I like how Mick Ronson really added to songs to make it more rock than singer-songwriter music. Bernard Butler did that in Suede, too.


Craig: I was into drummers, of course, so in college I loved the jazz greats. I got into Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, who I shared a stage with, long story.  I really got into Fusion rock, Billy Cobham, Mahivishnu Orchestra, etc. Bill Bruford and Phil Collins were big influences. I had to move away from drummers only and starting seeing the band as a working unit. I'm into any band that has a certain energy and does something that I don't think I can.


Tracy Walker: The Stooges, The Rolling Stones, early Roxy Music, The Kinks, Cheap Trick, Television, The Pretenders, Protomartyr, Christine Amphlett of the Divinyls (my favorite front person probably of all time).



Andrea: I hear a lot of X in your sound, which is great. Would you say they are an influence? 


Jeff: We all admire X, to varying degrees. I love their lyrics. Technically, people hear a similarity because our vocal harmonies are sort of upside-down. Like a saxophone and trumpet. Beatles harmonies are in thirds and fifths, which double up the notes already in the guitar chords. Inverted, like horn parts, they become sixths and fourths. We don’t have three singers, and Tracy and I have to cut through the din. We practice loud, so that’s the only way I can harmonize with Tracy and both be heard. In a way, it’s good because our sound can’t really evolve too much. We’ve gotten more experimental in writing the songs, adding things like KraĆ¼trock and Shangri-La’s-inspired narratives. But working the songs out at practice from our bedroom demos ends up sounding like us, because of the so-called, “angular” harmonies. That’s my X apologia, at least. 


Tracy: As a kid, I was obsessed with Under the Big Black Sun and Wild Gift, and entranced by Exene’s image. She also imprinted herself on many singers who came after her, and I listened to all of them, too. I don’t purposefully emulate Exene, but she’s imprinted herself in my consciousness and other singers, as well, so I guess it happens spontaneously. Also her “jagged” harmony style naturally cuts through loud music, and our music is loud, so I go there instinctively to be heard.



Andrea: That loud, fast, rough sound is great. Do you feel like you're carrying on a type of punk that, sadly, isn’t heard a lot today?


Craig: Exactly. We say what we have to in about three minutes. Right now most commercial music is Urban and Rap. Rock is alive in the clubs mostly (and action movies), from what I see anyway.


Jeff: Yes! Mark had the concept of the band with Tracy to play the kind of great, semi-lost songs from when every band sounded unique in the post-punk era. Back then, in England, no one would ever form a band to sound similar to anyone else. We’ve all stuck to that approach in our previous endeavors. To succeed or fail on our own merits. We want our songs to be what we’d want to hear but don’t exist yet.



Andrea: Your lyrics seem to deal with vexing problems and frustration. Or do you think you deal with other things besides that?


Jeff: Life is mostly vexing problems and frustrations, if you are trying to live on your own terms and also keep your self-respect. That’s what “Don’t Sell Out (for Free)” addresses. If you don’t fight to retain your creative freedom, or at least get paid up-front for it, you end up having nothing but regrets when your product doesn’t resonate with anyone, even yourself.


Tracy: Sure, that seems accurate, also mystical/spiritual experience, the Apocalypse, corporatism, sex--it certainly does run a gamut.


Mark: As far as I can tell, the lyrics seem to be based on very personal experiences. Songwriting as psychotherapy.



Andrea: Though there are many women who play power pop, there still aren’t enough. What would you say to women who want to play power pop?


Mark: Before 1977 the Who defined power pop. After that, it was the Buzzcocks, at least in my opinion. Why more women don’t play that kind of music is beyond me. I’ve been thinking of becoming a music teacher and introducing my students to Live at Leeds and A Different Kind of Tension. And for the more adventurous kids, Bless Its Pointed Little Head.


Tracy: The 90s was the golden age of women playing hard, “uncomfortable” music in major venues. It was a veritable smorgasbord of female one-off’s, from L7 to Bikini Kill, Geraldine Fibbers, Sleater-Kinney and P.J. Harvey. They were heirs to the Slits, X-Ray Spex, the Pretenders, Pylon, Patti Smith, The Raincoats. It was an incredible time for authentic and complex female voices, but like all good things, it came to an end. They paved paradise and put up a picture of Kim Kardashian. I know Chrissie Hynde was a huge fan of the Stooges. I would tell other women who want to play Who-style power pop, buy the Stooges catalog and use it as an inspiration. There’s a great mix of male and female energy in their music, toughness and vulnerability, intellect and instinct, and the chords are straightforward and became a template for so many others, why not you? We need you!



Andrea: Your covers are inspiring, especially “I Wanna Destroy You” and “Rock and Roll Toilet.” Do you listen to a lot of Robyn Hitchcock?


Jeff: Mark proposed those songs on the first mix-tape CD he gave Tracy and me. “I Wanna Destroy You” was on the first demo we recorded so we could get shows. That must’ve helped us get our first Big Stir Live bookings. From the very first beat, “I Wanna Destroy You” kicks off on a fourth-interval harmony, which is the “X harmony” thing, but with male voices. It makes the chorus a bit ominous but still catchy. “Rock and Roll Toilet” is from a live show. Rex has been asking to release it, but we had our own songs and other covers that were recorded in a proper recording studio, like the Wire song. But that might be sloppier.


Tracy: Robyn Hitchcock is one of my favorite songwriters. There’s a lot of withering satire and psychological insight in his songs, and he manages to be very catchy.



Andrea: Do you plan to tour?


Jeff: The early reception to our album is looking like it can be viable. My ideal is to play Glastonbury, but that might be a way off. 

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