Friday, October 15, 2021

 I'd heard Tsar, a band some of the members of The Brothers Steve were in, and liked what I heard a lot. The Brothers Steve are just as good. Their second album, Dose, with its cool harmonies, is a lot of fun to listen to.


The band was kind enough to answer a few questions about it.



AndreaWeiss: Could you give a short history of the band, for people who don't know your music?


Os Tyler: We’re a five-piece band made up of longtime friends who each believe that the world may get you down from time to time and the best way to shake it off is by playing some powerful, poppy-licious, harmony-laden rock songs.


Jeff Whalen: A general denial of reality is also helpful. Let’s see, some of our band members are also in a group called Tsar, some in Shapes of Race Cars, some in a group called the Swarp. We’re from the City of the Angels: Los Angeles. Shakey Town, they call it.


OT: There’s so much going on in Los Angeles you gotta leave town to see what you’re missing.


JW: But the apartments are so small, you have to leave the room to change your mind.


OT: We’re really excited about our new record, Dose. It’s our second album. If you give it a listen, you may find it’s just what the doctor ordered.


JW: Nice.



AW: Who are your influences?


JW: I dunno! Early Bee Gees, T. Rex, Olivia Tremor Control, Guided By Voices, Tommy James.


OT: Bo Diddley, ELO, Harry Nilsson, the Everly Brothers, the Monster Squad, Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, really anything Chuck Barris endorses. But seriously, there’s a lot of great stuff in the past. What’s influencing us now is what you hear coming out of the car stereo next to you and getting piped in while you’re pushing a basket through the grocery. The modern world is gorgeous, because it’s this astounding blend of the every every.


JW: Os and I might disagree slightly on that.



AW: Your music is so happy, never a downtempo moment. Is this a primary aim for you?


JW: Good question! I dunno! Kinda? I wouldn’t have thought so, but maybe you're right. I’m glad to hear that’s how it’s coming off.


OT: It’s all about making the music you want to hear. If I go to the movies, I don’t need sad, stressful, depressing stuff. I want to walk out of there feeling great. When I’m listening to music, I want it to energize me. I want to feel fun and good and just a little bit happier. I hope that’s the music we’re making.


JW: When I go to the movies, I wanna see The Matrix.



AW: I love your melodies. They're bouncy, happy, and fun. Does that come naturally or are they more planned out?

JW: Thank you! Pretty much nothing is planned out. I’m always impressed by groups or songwriters or whatever who can do things with a plan in mind and actually carry it out. Whenever we try to do something with an end product in mind, it always comes out with extra legs or more fur than we were intending.


OT: I wanted the hat I’m wearing to be a fur coat.


JW: Well put.


OT: Thanks for the compliment on the melodies! Absolutely natural. In fact, I don’t think we have very much at all to do with the melodies, they’re just flitting around the atmosphere and on special occasions we focus on wrapping some chords around one of those melodies and before you know it there’s a song.


JW: I’d agree with that.



AW: Most of your lyrics seem to be stream of consciousness. Is that what you strive for?


JW: Well, Abraham Lincoln’s hat was a very tall hat, but it couldn’t reach the beaches till they became obsolete.


OT: Jeff’s right about that, notwithstanding the contrary.



AW: When your lyrics are about love gone wrong, it's a nice contrast to the happier songs. Is that contrast part of the plan for the album?


OT: There’s definitely a variation throughout the record. There are a few twists and turns. I don’t know if it’s love gone wrong, though, so much as it is love learning to love better.



AW: What is “Mrs. Rosenbaum” about?


JW: I’d say it’s about 3 minutes, maybe a little longer. Os?


OT: I think what it’s really about is what you feel if you’re not paying attention to the words at all. Give it a try and let me know if you agree?


JW: I actually like that answer a lot.

 The Brothers Steve

Dose

Big Stir Records


This album is so much fun to listen to. For the most part it's about good times, everyone's happy and in love, with most songs about being newly in love, with the thrill of discovery built in.


The music is mellow college rock, but mellow is good here. It give the songs a quiet weight and substance. It does have an edge, and not a blunted one, but nuanced.


But for all the fun and good times, there is a good change of pace with “Griffith Observatory,” about losing love, and “Love Of Kings,” about pining away for someone. The music gets even more nuanced, saying that nothing is perfect, that bad times do happen, so bear with them.


The album ends with a very appropriate song, “Ready To Go.” Someone might ask where and the band would say, “to get the album.” Everyone should take their advice.

Andrea Weiss


Thursday, October 14, 2021

 Manners maketh man

Sunbourne Rd

Kool Kat Musik


Sunbourne Rd is Alex Siodmak, from Casale Monferrato in Northern Italy. The rest of the band is Davide Ghione, Sebastiano D'Alessandro and Riccardo Marchese.


The album is very good for its type--power pop as indie rock, with a touch of prog--and very enjoyable. The lyrics are romantic, about life's ups and downs, and they give the idea that whatever confusion these characters are experiencing, they know everything will be all right in the end.


So if you like power pop, and like it impure like I do, this is a really good album to hear, and you will get a lot out of it. Every track has something to recommend it, which means it's solid from start to finish.

Andrea Weiss


Tuesday, October 5, 2021

 Jim Basnight just keeps getting better. His new album, Makin' Bacon, is actually an old one, remixed and remastered, with new tracks. For all intents and purposes, it's new. And really good, as are the other albums mentioned here.


Jim was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about it.



Andrea Weiss: I know some of these songs are new to this album. Could you give a short history of them?


Jim Basinght: Two songs from the original Not Lame Records (US) CD album (1999) release of the same name, "Rock and Roll Cowboy" (a cover of the Cowboys, a Seattle band which included Rockingham and current Moberly bassist Jack Hanan) and "She Gives Me Everything I Want" (a Hollies cover) were included (newly remastered) on my new album Jokers, Idols and Misfits (2020).


The Rockinghams split up, just as that Not Lame album came out, but bassist Jack Hanan and I maintained a consistent musical agenda, with the hope of working together again, after that point and up to today. Rockinghams drummer Criss Crass and I go back to both of our early childhoods and we remain very good friends and could play together again in the future. We couldn't find a good drummer to replace the inimitable Criss in 1999, but Jack and I did a number of projects in the early 2000's. Those included, a version of the Beatles' "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" (for the Canadian Beatles Tribute Compilation, It Was 40 Years Ago Today, which appeared on the home page of the Beatles' official site for three weeks!!) and five previously unrecorded Rockinghams songs (all of which Jack co-wrote), which I produced for my CD album Recovery Room (2004). Those songs are "Python Boogaloo," "Look Inside," "Minute Just A Minute," "Ripple In The Bag," and "Miss America." Those five tracks also featured Bruce Hazen on guitar, who also appeared on five tracks on Jokers, Idols and Misfits. Those include "Happiness Is A Warm Gun," "I Can See For Miles" (which was included in a tribute to the Who, co-sponsored by Pete Townsend), "This Is Where I Belong" (a Kinks cover), "Prince Jones Davies Suite" (a medley of three songs by Prince, Bowie and the Kinks' Ray Davies), and "Good Thing" (a Paul Revere and the Raiders cover).


Bruce also played guitar on five songs from Basnight's 2019 breakthrough album Not Changing, "Code To Live By," "Big Bang," "Making Love For A Living," "Never Get Lost," and "Avenue Of The Star." Besides myself, Jack, and Bruce, long time Heart drummer Ben Smith played on those five songs from the Recovery Room album, which were included on the 2021 Makin' Bacon release. The album is held together in no small way by the stellar remastering job by Grammy winning engineer co-producer Garey Shelton.


Also on the five songs newly included on the Makin' Bacon track listing, are long time Jim Basnight Band backing vocalists Suze Sims and Marcella Carros. Ms. Carros sadly lost a battle with cancer shortly after the session and her widely versatile style is sorely missed. Sims went on to sing on every track on Recovery Room, as well as lending backups to five tracks on Jokers, Idols and Misfits, "You Showed Me," "I Can See For Miles," "Happiness Is A Warm Gun," "Brother Louie," and "Princess In Rags." These five former Rockinghams songs, cut during the Recovery Roomsessions, maintain the spirit of the band's punchy humor and gritty hipness. They fit seamlessly on this 2021 Bandcamp release of the Makin' Bacon album IMO.


The album is the result of five different sessions altogether, including the first Rockinghams session, which included guitarist Sean Denton and backing vocalists Bruce Paskow (who also passed on shortly after the session, which he had been producing) and Bob Methe. The other three sessions featured solely the Rockinghams three core members Jim, Jack, and Criss, with the help of some great engineers, notably Michael A. Morongell (longtime LA studio professional), Don Gilmour (Linkin Park, Avril Lavigne, Sugar Ray, Train, Dashboard Confessional, Good Charlotte, Korn, and more, and he also engineered seminal albums by Pearl Jam and the PJ-Soundgarden supergroup Temple of the Dog), Mike Foss and Erik 4-A.



AW: Who were your influences for this album?


JB: The influences are many, ranging from the big rock sound of the 60's and 70's, the punk rock and power pop sounds of the late 70's and early 80's, the rockabilly sound of the 50's, and perhaps by default, the rock sounds of the late 80's and early 90's. Just rock and roll immemorial. To name a few important names in this lineage would leave out so many, but Eddie Cochran, Johnny Thunders, Slade, the Who, the Beatles, the Kinks, Little Richard, and Nirvana come to mind.



AW: I like how punk these songs are. Has that always been your style?


JB: It has. Over the course of my recording career, I haven't worn it on my sleeve perhaps, but the "Punk Rock" sound that I believe hugely derives from the New York Dolls sound and attitude, stripped down and formulized by the Ramones and projected through a cornucopia of basic rock styles, has always been at the core of my being. I know that Criss comes from that school in many ways and Jack was a big part of the early Seattle "Punk Rock" scene and has never strayed too far from those punky pop passions.



AW: And that the music is also pop?


JB: All three of us may love punk rock, but mostly when it frames a great pop song, whether or not its lyrics and sound allow it to penetrate the pop charts. 



AW:“Miss America” is one of your best. Could you talk about it?


JB: It's a very personal song. I'd prefer that our listeners find themselves in the emotion I express in it, rather than seek to depose my closely held feelings. If someone says it's about someone in my life story, tell them I said I'll never tell if it is.



AW: “Hello Mary Jane” is another really good song. Could you talk about it?


JB: I completely agree. I don't mind talking about this one. I wrote it with the late Ben Fisher (Rabinowitz) and it's been a staple in my shows ever since. It just plain fits my style on so many gigs and for so many audiences. It rocks and it's fun, but it's not about anyone in particular. For me, it was kind of about marijuana, but not in any tangible way. Just a fun, semi-provocative song. It alludes to sex, it seems to allude to pot and both of those are always subjects which are fun to dance to.



AW: Are there plans to tour behind the album?


JB: I'm planning on touring in the UK and Ireland in November and December, 2021 solo and bringing the band there and on the continent in March and April, 2022, so I guess so. I've been on tour I guess in the Northwest for decades. I wouldn't say I'm touring behind the album, more that I'm touring behind all of my releases. Jack has a lot of important stuff to take care of at home and Criss and I haven't played together for a good while, though the future offers a lot of possibilities. I live in between gigs and my suitcase is always nearby. Criss, Jack, and I are good friends, have played together a lot and could definitely play together again, but for now, I'm planning on bringing other musicians with me on my currently planned out of town gigs. Jack and I play in the current Moberlys around the Seattle area with Bruce Hazen and drummer Zeppy Zittle. We do "Hello Mary Jane" and "Uncertain" and we may bring more songs from Makin' Bacon into our current show. The Jim Basnight Band has regularly performed many songs from this album over the years, of which "Python Boogaloo," "Need A Car," "Rock and Roll Girlfriend," "Lattes" (though the version we do is from the Jim Basnight Thing CD album from 1997), "Hello Mary Jane," and "Middle of the Night" have become go to standards.



AW: What advice would you give someone who wants to make an album?


JB: Play a lot of gigs in front of people and write a lot of songs that you find success performing, before dedicating them to the recording-production-promotion process. I'd say write at least 40-50 songs that you feel are good enough to perform for people live and then give them all your absolute best shot in a variety of live situations before you pick 10-12 for an album. That's pretty conservative advice, but if you want to avoid filler tracks or tracks which really don't fit who you are, that is what I would do.

 The Rockinghams

Makin' Bacon

Power Popaholic Productions


This remixed, remastered version with added tracks is almost like a new album. Jim Basnight and two of his long-time friends, Jack Hanan and Criss Crass play nicely punky power pop, melodic and rocking, crunchy, yet smooth.


All the songs have something to recommend them, but a few stand out. “Python Boogaloo” is a blues song about being a cool cat. “Hello Mary Jane” could be about pot or a beautiful woman that walks Jim's way. “Miss America” is about love as a nightmare. The album features some of the best songs he's written, all about love in various stages of happening.


I suggest taking a chance here, as I've heard enough of Jim's work to know he's got the goods. This is a great album, one of his best, and it could be that, with time, these song will be become classics. Let's hope so.

Andrea Weiss

Friday, October 1, 2021

 Collection Of Almost – Live Audio/Video

Paige Beller

Sofaburn Records


"Collection of Almost" is another great song from Beller, about a woman she wishes wasn't so self-assured. Shot on the roof of the Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton, OH, filmed and edited by Bobby Tewksbury, the video is just her, singing, playing electric guitar, accompanying herself with drum loops and a mini keyboard. Shots of the street and surrounding buildings are interspersed. For a one-person band, the sound live is much more than solo electric guitar, it's like a band. And a great band, with good editing and filming. Dayton seems like a nice place. If you want a good and different live cut, this is it.

Andrea Weiss



 Jeremy Pinnell

Red Roses Single

Sofaburn Records


This mellow country song about heartbreak and yearning to work things out is another really good song from Pinnell's upcoming album on Sofaburn, Goodbye LA. It's direct, honest lyrics and music bring home the emotions expressed in a great way.

Andrea Weiss


 Speak And Dress Video

Small Reactions

Sofaburn Records


This video is a lot of fun. The band have fun smoking, shoplifting, then pelting a cop with eggs at the end. It was directed, filmed, and edited by Avery Newmark Kincaid, with additional filming by Adam Kincaid. I like the editing, very jumpy and lo-fi. 


The song is about starting to be an adult. The sound is very 70s new wave, like The Cars, but it also sounds, to me, like Game Theory's “Curse Of The Frontier Land” and “24,” which has some of the same themes as “Speak And Dress,” about being a newly minted adult.


Anytime I can compare a band to Game Theory, one of the best, means the band is very good, and “Speak And Dress” is one of the best songs I've heard all year. So watch the video, and get their album New Age Soul for some updated college rock greatness. 

Andrea Weiss


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