Wednesday, October 27, 2021


45 & Straight video

Sofaburn Records

Shot at Santo Recording Studio by Luke Judd, with cool special effects and lighting that enhance the band perfectly, it's the subject of the song that makes it a good and interesting hard rocker.

It's about the least likely Trump supporter, a nondescript office worker who might eat lunch in his car, with right wing talk radio or right wing political podcasts on, all designed to push his buttons of resentment and rage. The song also gets into how racism plays a part in this too, and makes it clear that while the band empathizes with the worker, they don't like or agree with his politics.

The music is heavy, hard rock, but not thrash; it's slow, but never sludgy, and played so well that it doesn't fatigue you. In other words, great, smart, sensible, powerful, and all designed to make you think. Check it out, and have a thoughtful good time.

Andrea Weiss

Sunday, October 24, 2021

 Howlin' Rain

Alligator Bride video

Sofaburn Presents

This long-running San Francisco band's video originally aired in 2018, and is no less stunning three years later. As much as I like the studio version, the title track of their third album for Silver Current Records, it's even better live.

It's one long jam, very much melodic noise, and a lot of fun to watch and listen to. The lyrics tell the story of how the Alligator Bride came to be. The clip is in black and white, and you don't miss the color. If anything, it being B&W enhances the music, and the fun the band has playing the song shines through.

So if you're into psychedelic music that's reminiscent of Neil Young and Crazy Horse, you will have a good time watching this clip and getting into a great band. The album is really good too.

Andrea Weiss

Friday, October 22, 2021

 For anyone who likes Warren Zevon, like me, this is a new twist on his style, in a power pop context. That's The Airport 77s' sound, and a really good one. Their new single, “Losers Win,” shows this to good effect.

Guitarist Andy Sullivan was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

Andrea Weiss: Can you give a short history of the band, for those who don't know you?

Andy Sullivan: The Airport 77s came together in 2014 over a shared love of lesser-known power pop nuggets from the late 1970s. We spent the next several years honing our sound at parties, club dates, and Fourth of July parades around the Washington, DC area. Eventually we developed original songs to fit that sound – uptempo, high-energy rock that places the focus on Chuck and Andy’s singing. The 2020 COVID lockdown gave us an opportunity to focus on that material, which we recorded at the late, lamented Inner Ear Studio. We self-released our debut EP, Rotation, in January, which drew the attention of Marty Scott at JEM Records. With the economy opening back up, we are now gigging regularly again and developing new material.

AW: The influences you listed on your site are really good. Who are some of your favorites?

AS: Currently we are all excited about The Shazam, a Nashville power pop band who released a string of brilliant records in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Other big influences include the Paul Collins Beat, 20/20, the Records, the Hold Steady, and Ex Hex.

AW: I like the video to “Losers Win.” It's a sweet love story. Where was it filmed, and is there anything you want to say about it?

AS: The video was filmed at American Legion Post 41 in our hometown of Silver Spring, Maryland. We love playing these veterans’ halls, where the people are friendly and the drinks are cheap. Post 41 in particular is shaping up as a vital grassroots music venue at a time when many other clubs have shut down. We’ve made previous videos by ourselves, and this was the first time we brought in people who actually knew what they were doing: director Mike Kepka, actors Jen Rabbitt Ring and Jonathan Watkins, editor Benno Nelson, casting director Adrienne Nelson. It made a huge difference!

AW: Your lyrics have been compared to Warren Zevon's, which I like, as I liked Warren a lot. What would you say you get from him lyrically?

AS: Balancing detail and ambiguity, and the effectiveness of salty characters like the narrator of “Lawyers, Guns, and Money.” “Losers Win” tells a story, but there’s a lot of blanks in there: is the guy a lovable rogue or a scumbag? Will they find happiness together or is it falling apart again? It’s important not to spell everything out.

AW: To put Zevon together with power pop is cool. Where did the inspiration for that combination come from?

AS: We’re working with sounds that have been around for decades – drums, electric guitars, harmonies – so we have to elevate the lyrics to present something new. A song like “(When You’re Kissing on Me Do You Think of) James McAvoy” takes the jealous-lover trope to absurd lengths. The dude is angry at his girlfriend because she orders the wrong kind of wine on an imaginary date with a movie star.

AW: You dress as airline pilots, which is a good tie-in with the band name. Where did the band name come from?

AS: It’s a mediocre disaster movie from the 1970s. We were kicking around names like “The Towering Infernos,” but this one seemed funnier. We wear all sorts of silly outfits on stage. It seems to give the audience permission to loosen up and have more fun if we’re already making fools of ourselves.

AW: “The Illustrated Book Of Cupid” makes a good B-side, and also could be the thoughts of the characters from “Losers Win.” Is that a fair characterization?

AS: Sure!

AW: What would you tell someone who's just starting out in music?

AS: When a song grabs you, sit down and figure out exactly why. Is it the bass sound? The way the consonants line up in the chorus? The chord changes? Also: don’t be afraid to sing loud.

 Losers Win single and video/The Illustrated Book Of Cupid

The Airport 77s

JEM Records

The video for“Losers Win” is a nice, sweet love story of two lovers who break up, then get back together many years later. The twist is that the lyrics are very like Warren Zevon's, if Zevon had been power pop. Because of that, the lyrics get extra details, and the music extra bite.

As a single, “Losers Win” is nicely rocking, with good overdrive. The B-side, “The Illustrated Book of Cupid,” is just as good and a bit more mellow, but still has plenty of power.

If, like me, you'd like to hear more of them, let's hope they put out a full album, as a whole LP of this would be wonderful and a lot of fun to hear.

Andrea Weiss

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

 TEA-Fund Fundraiser live stream

Various Artists

You Tube/EXF Records

The Texas Equal Access Fund funds abortions in Texas. As funding of any kind for abortions is prohibited in Texas, it's cash only. The fund covers the upper half of the state, helping the diverse population of women, BIPOC for instance, who need this assistance. This You Tube stream with musical guests is a fundraiser for TEA-Fund.

Lung, a Cincinnati band, featuring Kate Wakefield on vocals and electric cello, and Daisy Caplan on drums are as rocking live as they are on their albums, especially their new one, Come Clean Right Now. Wakefield plays the cello like an electric guitar, and expands what you can do on one in the process. The main special effect shows many images superimposed of the duo performing, which adds to the urgency of the music. And Caplan is a great drummer.

Andrea from the Houston band Cool Moon played solo acoustic for the fund raiser. Cool Moon is new to me, but judging from what's here, I think I would like this band a lot. She sounds a bit like Kristin Hersh.

David Combs was next, from the DC band Bad Moves. His solo, acoustic set was nice folk/punk. I think I would like his band too.

The commentator/MC between musical sets was Katy Otto, who was very informative.

Texas Reproductive Justice activist Barbie H. was next, who explained the issues a lot more, and said why this fund was so vital and needed. Donate to this fund if you can (link below).

Ximena, of Interminable and PA, played a vihuela, an acoustic Mexican guitar. Their/His Spanish folk was heartfelt and positive, as was their commentary. And for the last song they played the violin, and did so very well.

The next performer was Brianna Peterson. Her folk/punk was lively and energetic, both her vocals and guitar playing. One cover, Chumbawumba's “Tubthumping,” was great. Her last song featured harmonica, which was also great.

Casie Pierce, Development Director of the TEA Fund, who had explained at the start what the fund is and does, appeared again with an update on donations and more about the abortion ban in Texas. At the time the US Court of Appeals had reinstated the ban, after a US district court judge had halted it. Let's hope the US Supreme Court steps in. Again, if you can donate to the TEA Fund, do so.

Nathan Gray from Delaware performed next, from the band Iron Roses, with Ashley Fontaine singing backup. Their folk/punk was very political, very heartfelt, and good.

Lily Mastrodimos from Longneck, New Jersey was the final performer. She wasn't punk so much as singer/songwriter, and was very good.

Watching all of these performers reminded me that I can be active, even as I can't be out in the streets marching anymore, because of arthritis. But I was a women's health clinic defender back in the day, and marched in 1992 in DC in response to Casey vs Planned Parenthood, where we told the George H. W. Bush administration that if you overturn Roe, you have to answer to us. It was the largest protest in US history until the 2017 women's marches. More than a million marched that day, and that's not hype. That was just one of the many things I did back in the day. So take your cue from these performers, and me: get active, and donate to this fund.

Andrea Weiss

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


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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