31 December 2009

WATCH: Lincoln/Hoover, Wheeling, 1993

Happy Holidays and New Year, everybody. I haven't been posting anything lately because all my music is on my computer at work and the building is locked during the University's break.

So I will just post these videos I just found of the entire sets of Lincoln and Hoover at a show in 1993 in Wheeling. These bands were so good.



21 December 2009

DOWNLOAD: American Minor - Demo

Before Charleston's American Minor was a guitar-thick southern rock outfit, before they all had shoulder-length hair and before they ever signed to the same record label as Britney Spears, they were an intimate alt country band. Better known for the Lynard Skynard-esque style of their self-titled album on Jive Records, American Minor in their beginning in 2002 sounded more like the lovechild of Ryan Adams and Uncle Tupelo.

It was in 2003 when the the band replaced guitarist Zac Ray with Bud Carroll that the band took a new direction with its sound. The unquestionably talented Carroll's loud-and-dirty rock riffs and blues leads turned up the volume on the once-bittersweet-sounding band. Eventually American Minor received the common major label treatment of being dropped, which led to the group's break-up.

In the end, American Minor's ambition, dedication and musicianship earned them deserved success that evades most bands - especially from West Virginia. A four-song demo recorded and released soon after the band's formation was then an indication of the band's eventual national success, but is now just an illustration of the roots of this group of talented musicians. More lap steel and Telecaster than drums and Les Paul, the early songs of American Minor are organic and earnest and just fun to hear. "My desperate heart can see you done gone and forgot me."

Artist: American Minor.
Album: Demo.
Year: 2002.
For Fans Of: Ryan Adams, Uncle Tupelo, The Old '97s.

18 December 2009

DOWNLOAD: Lincoln - Discography

This unofficial collection includes Hoover/Linoln split, Watermark 7" (both from 1993), and the band's last 7" on Art Monk Construction (1994). All of which is essential. I have nothing else to say, but be sure to check out the videos in the previous post.

Art Monk Construction on the Lincoln/Hoover split: "It wasn't until over three years after having released this two-song seven inch was I told that I learned that it is so widely held to be the hallmark of the emo genre as it is known today. The fact thay any would pigeon-hole this creation is of greater tragedy than the most searing chord it strikes. Both Lincoln and Dischord recording artists Hoover took the angst and heartfelt restlessness of hardcore and intricately wove it into a fabric channeled by syncopated rhythms and vocals that yearned without plea for pity. The message is sent mid-tempo, yet written by scarred hand in tumultuous melody. No sleep for the self-declared wicked, a record that after almost five years still speaks with ferociousness to the firery woebegotten."

Artist: Lincoln.
Album: Hoover/Lincoln split, Watermark 7", Linoln 7".
Years: 1993-94.
For Fans Of: Swiz, Unwound, Converge.

17 December 2009

WATCH: Lincoln, Morgantown, 1993

Lincoln was a post-punk/hardcore band from Morgantown in the early 1990s, and still one of the best bands ever from West Virginia. Best known for their 1993 split with Hoover from Washington, D.C., Lincoln combined the melodic elements of post-punk like Swiz and Fugazi with the controlled aggression of Unsane. Linoln's incredibly talented members including Jay Demko (vocals/guitar) and Justin Wierbonski (drums) went on to form such bands as Kukim and Enderhall. Even more so than their few recordings, the following videos may give you an idea of how amazing this band was.

16 December 2009

DOWNLOAD: Hasil Adkins - Out To Hunch

Out To Hunch, released in 1986, is a collection of Hasil Adkins's homemade reel-to-reel tapes from the 1950s and '60s. Full of his strange and crude but equally passionate and exhilarating "psychobilly" tunes, Out To Hunch is a unforgettable rock and roll experience. Granted this crude and crazy one-man band from the southern hills of West Virginia isn't one just anybody can enjoy. But there is a brilliance in Adkins's songwriting and enthusiasm that has to be respected. Nevertheless, this album is a treasure chest of raucous rockabilly rhythms (Err, did I just use alliteration?) and only a brief specimen of work of a mad genius who inspired generations of musicians before his death in Boone County in 2005.

Artist: Hasil Adkins.
Album: Out To Hunch.
Year: 1986.
For Fans Of: Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Stray Cats.

15 December 2009

WATCH: The Wild World of Hasil Adkins

Hasil Adkins - "The Haze" - is a legendary one-man band from Boone County, West Virginia. Citing influence from his heroes Hank Williams, Little Richard and Jimmie Rodgers, The Haze infused rock and roll, country, blues and jazz into his own genre of "psychobilly." His sound was as frantic as his personality, and his songs were funny, sad and crude - touching on subjects such as sex, hot dogs and chickens. His songs have been covered by the likes of The Cramps and the cover design of his 1990 album Peanut Butter Rock and Roll was hijacked by Social Distortion 1992's Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell. The man is a legend, and often unknown in his home state of West Virginia.

In 1993, Hasil Adkins was the subject of Julien Nitzberg's short-subject documentary The Wild World of Hasil Adkins, which was distributed by Appalshop, a media arts center in Whitesburg, Kentucky). The film takes a look at Hasil's life in West Virginia, his career as a performer and songwriter and the influence he has had on American music. It is full of fun and unfortunate stories and great interviews with rock critics, musicians, friends and family. It is well worth the watch, and is available in full in three parts below.

* Note: Nitzberg recently directed The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia about Jesco White and family - a documentary that was produced by Johnny Knoxville and Mtv. But Adkins is not Jesco White (the two were neighbors and friends). Adkins is a man known and respected for his musical genius - not just his reckless persona. Adkins wrote and performed quality songs, but Jesco is merely a repugnant identity of white poverty, substance abuse and violent behavior. If Jesco White was respected and admired for his dancing, it would be different. Jesco White, his family and any attention they receive without any effort to progress through their number of problems only placates the otherness that the people of Appalachia suffer. It's a shame. Hasil Adkins is an artist, and to be respected for that.

14 December 2009

READ: Davis Grubb - The Night of the Hunter

For those who have never seen the film or heard of the book, the plot of Davis Grubb's 1953 novel The Night of the Hunter is based on the true story of Harry Powers. In 1932, Powers was convicted and hanged for the murders two widows and three children in Quiet Dell, West Virginia (just a few miles south of Clarksburg). The book, Grubb's first, was an instant bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Award. The film was deemed "culturally significant" and selected for preservation by the U.S. National Film Registry. Grubb is a native of Moundsville, where Powers was executed, and wrote a number of novels, including Fools' Parade, which was adapted into the film of the same name starring Jimmy Stewart and Kurt Russell.

DOWNLOAD: Apart From the Projector - Lover's Knot

Existing from 2000-2001, Apart From the Projector was a short-lived band from the Charleston area that rightfully so gets the emo, indie, experimental, prog rock nods. Heavy on the instrumentation including three guitarists and a moog, AFTP combined the distorted electronic melodies and moany vocals of bands like Cap'n Jazz or Braid with the hectic rock of Trail of Dead.

Not so much known for featuring ex-members of Charleston bands Down To None, Blind Lead Blind and Dead Ant Farm, the guys of Apart From the Project went on to form bands such as American Minor and moons. Before moving on to new projects, AFTP played a number of commuving, high energy shows and released the four-song EP Lover's Knot (on the West Virginia-based label Action Driver). Like the life of the band, the album released in 2000 is short but powerful and an accurate representation of the excitement created by AFTP's live set. This record is just one example of many of the variety of interesting, creative and quality music coming out of the Charleston-Huntington area from 2000-2003.

Artist: Apart From the Projector.
Album: Lover's Knot.
Year: 2000.
For Fans Of: Cap'n Jazz, At the Drive In, No Knife.

11 December 2009

WATCH: Butthole Surfers, Morgantown, 1985

Busy day at work today, so not much time for research or writing. So here is a video of the Butthole Surfers playing in Morgantown in 1985. I am not sure what the venue is, but it's likely that it is The Underground Railroad (now 123 Pleasant Street). It's VHS rip quality, but the sound is pretty good. Enjoy your weekend.

10 December 2009

DOWNLOAD: Pariah Prophecy - The Personal Is Political

Before Andrew Iafrate was an Appalachian roots folk singer-songwriter with the facial hair of a mountaineer, he was "Andy," - a teenager in Parkersburg playing melancholic pop acoustic songs under the moniker Pariah Prophecy.

Not unlike his singer-songwriter brother Mikey Iafrate before him (and most acoustic musicians spawned during the late '90s and early '00s), the sound on The Personal Is Political resembles that of the late Elliott Smith's Either/Or. Recorded at home in 2001/2002 while Andy was still in high school, the lyrics and music show an apparent songwriting maturity. The tone of the album - set by Andy's soft voice and lightly played guitar - is quiet and gentle throughout. The only presence of percussion on is on the album's final track, and is from a wall clock.

Now living in Louisville, Andrew continues to write and record music. Though long departed from the style of his teenage years, Andrew is a guileless musician. One thing his music has never lacked is the ability to write genuine songs. The Personal Is Political only helps show us that skill comes naturally to Andrew.

Artist: Pariah Prophecy.
Album: The Personal Is Political.
Year: 2002.
For Fans Of: Elliott Smith, Red House Painters, Pedro The Lion.

09 December 2009

WATCH: Shows at the HYAMP, Huntington

Speaking of Huntington, I wanted to mention the HYAMP.

When the decently successful punk-hardcore scene in Charleston ceased to exist do to apathetic troublemakers around 2000-01, there was a hole that needed to be filled. Around that time, Chris Wallace started booking DIY all-ages shows at the YWCA in Huntington. Chris brought together local and regional bands of all styles of music every few weekends, and each show drew more people than the last. New bands formed and dozens of new faces were showing up at each show. Soon, other DIY promoters were doing renting out the YWCA and an entire new era of punk-hardcore in West Virginia began - almost single-handed jumpstarted by Chris.

In a short period, the YWCA played host to Hatebreed, Against Me, !!!, and a number of significant touring acts. After a while, the scene got to big for the YWCA, as had happened with the American Legion in Charleston. In 2004, Chris started a new venue - the Huntington Youth Arts and Music Project - in a large, empty warehouse. The HYAMP was run by Chris and friends, and he eventually turned over all responsibility. HYAMP closed its doors in March 2007, but in that time only made stronger what Chris created more than five years earlier.

The Queers, Strike Anywhere, Paramore, As I Lay Dying, Between the Buried and Me were just a few of the bands that played HYAMP. I was only in the area for a short time at the beginning of HYAMP's existence (my band playing one of the first shows to a large empty room), and most of the groups that played there were tough guy hardcore bands that don't appeal to me. But the photos and videos of shows at the venue still impress me knowing it was in Huntington, West Virginia, and the story behind its founding.

I want to share these select videos and photos from HYAMP shows, but I also want to praise what a powerful thing Chris Wallace created in Huntington (and others like Dana White, Matt Knight, and those I don't know who encouraged its growth and success).

Holden Caulfield, last show at HYAMP, March 2007:


The Queers:

As I Lay Dying:

The Starting Line:

Chris Wallace in Fall 2009 with his daughter Madeline (his best creation):

DOWNLOAD: Chum - 1994 EPs

Huntington, West Virginia, is a heavy metal, hard rock town. James Maynard Keenan could be in a Robert C. Byrd-like state in a wheelchair on stage and Tool would still sell out the local Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

Maybe that explains why Huntington has produced a couple really good heavy bands - the best of them being Chum. Chum hailed from Huntington and were at their peak around 1996 when the band released Dead to the World on Century Media Records. A self-described "heavy, yet melodic" band, Chum played music in the vein of King's X, Faith No More, or, yes, Tool.

Before their major label debut, the group led by singer-guitarist John Lancaster released two EP cassettes in 1994 - Postblisstheory and God Given. The two EPs sent the band on tour and landed them at CBGBs - a performance that got them signed. Both EPs represent a natural progression into the eventual Dead to the World full-length. Chum was eventually dropped by Century Media and disbanded. Despite their initial short-lived career, they helped establish Huntington as the heavy music haven that it is - unfortunately no band of the genre has managed to hold a flame to the songs Chum recorded between between 1994 - 96.

Artist: Chum.
Albums: Postblisstheory, God Given.
Year: 1994.
For Fans Of: King's X, Faith No More, Helmet.

DOWNLOAD: Chum - God Given.

08 December 2009

WATCH: Matewan

Growing up in West Virginia, I was made to see this film a dozen times in school. Loosely based on the Battle of Matewan shootout of 1920, Matewan is a fictional story of a labor union organizer who comes to an embattled mining community in Southern West Virginia, that has been brutally and violently dominated and harassed by the mining company. Written and directed by John Sayles (Lone Star, Eight Men Out), Matewan stars Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones and Will "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy" Oldham. It was also shot by Oscar-winning master cinematographer Haskell Wexler (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Bound For Glory).

Not only is Matewan a historical tale of social struggle, labor rights, racial unity, and political action, it is the representation of the fight that has made West Virginians strong individuals. Appalachia has an complex history of conflict, and coal has played a significant role in much of that conflict. Despite being a fictional film, Matewan is essential viewing for anyone - in particular anyone from West Virginia and Appalachia. I cannot do enough to encourage people to watch this movie.

Here is one of the crucial scenes from the movie - the Union meeting. Let it inspire you to rent this film, buy it, find it on television, whatever. Watch it.

"We've got to work together 'til they can't get their coal out of the ground without us because we're a union!"

DOWNLOAD: J Marinelli - Dirty Poncho EP

Yesterday I posted a couple videos of Morgantown's J Marinelli, so I figured it was only reasonable to provide at least one record. Dirty Poncho is Marinelli's out-of-print vinyl EP from 2007. Fitting nicely into the middle of Marinelli's discography from the last four years, all the descriptive vocabulary for Dirty Poncho is the same as any other - lo-fi, noisy, upbeat, catchy, energetic, ragged, etc. I've already mentioned the comparisons to The Fall and Young Pioneers, but others have mentioned Lester Bangs and Hunter S. Thompson. (Note: I read reviews, I don't write them.) This is a man whose talent and music are so respected in the region that Morgantown bands made a tribute album of his songs.

Dirty Poncho at four songs is a short but lively and fun listen, and just a taste of the catalog J Marinelli has assembled over the years - and I recommend all of it.

Artist: J Marinelli.
Album: Dirty Poncho.
Year: 2007.
For Fans Of: The Fall, Young Pioneers, Hasil Adkins.

07 December 2009

WATCH: J Marinelli, 2009, Morgantown

Legendary Morgantown musician J Marinelli has gotten a lot of press over the years. On his MySpace page, quotes from reviews compare him to The Fall, Young Pioneers, Billy Bragg, and West Virginia's own Daniel Johnston and Hasil Adkins. So maybe you get an idea. Now based in Lexington, Kentucky, Marinelli is a one-man band of lo-fi punk-rockabilly-folk rock. As pictured above, the former Braille Drivers front man plays the guitar and harmonica, drums and sings at his shows, which include a lot of booze and singing along. See for yourself.

Here are a couple videos from two of J Marinelli's shows earlier this year at 213 Green Street in Morgantown.

From Marinelli's tribute to Daniel Johnston:

04 December 2009

DOWNLOAD: A Radio With Guts - Beat Heart Sweet Stereo

A Radio With Guts is best known as Brandon Tussey's band after the break-up of Connie Dungs. ARWG is a continuation of the direction Connie Dungs was taking with their final record Eternal Bad Luck Charm. Like a Charles Bukowski poem - from which the band's name is taken - 2003's Beat Heart Sweat Stereo is the product of booze and heartbreak. The music is poppy yet melancholic - not unlike Leatherface, Dillinger 4 or Samiam. Brandon's vocals are from the throat of someone who may often have a cigarette in one hand and a bottle in the other - not unlike Frankie Stubbs or Bukowski. And the lyrics are about such aforementioned products - whiskey, women, tragedy, Bukowski. (The band is from the Ashland, Kentucky-Ohio River-Tri-state area, of course they're miserable.)

In a genre hijacked by contrived desperation and hopelessness, A Radio With Guts offer a harsh reality of emotions while playing enjoyable, catchy pop punk songs without even hinting at over-production. This record comes highly recommended.

Artist: A Radio With Guts.
Album: Beat Heart Sweet Stereo.
Year: 2003.
For Fans Of: Leatherface, Dillinger 4, Samiam.

* This record is still available via mp3 for purchase, so if you like it, buy it.

03 December 2009

WATCH: Flood, 1994, Nitro

In the mid-1990s, a lot of bands started forming and shows happening in and around Nitro, West Virginia (half-way between Charleston and Huntington). Brian Jarrett, who played in the band Flood, created an excellent archive and history of that scene during those years. The archive includes an extensive written history of Flood and Nitro, mp3s, photos, flyers, news articles and videos.

The Nitro scene came and went just a few years before I started getting involved in music in that part of the state, but bands such as Flood, Seven and Dirt Bear are legendary. This is a great source for learning about an integral part of the music scene in West Virginia, and hearing some new bands of all styles (mid-'90s, mind you). I recommend that anyone check out Brian's Nitro scene page. I have also included a couple videos of his band Flood from one of their shows at the LKM Auditorium from Nitro in April 1995.

With some help from friends, I plan to post some albums by aforementioned bands and more in the near future, so keep an eye out for that.

"The Contortionist."


"Martha's Menu to Exit."

02 December 2009

LISTEN: Irene Perry - The '72 Flood

Courtesy of Eric Courtney, this song is worth a listen:

"Here's a heart-wrenching tune about a devastating flood that swept through 17 small West Virginia towns on February 26, 1972.

"The flood was caused by the catastrophic failure of a coal slurry impoundment dam built along Buffalo Creek in Logan County, WV (about 30 miles south of Madison). What the hell is a coal slurry impoundment dam? Basically, a colossal (mostly) liquid garbage dump built to contain the impurities that are left over as a result of the coal mining process. The poorly built dam in question was less than 3 years old when it gave way, the deadly consequence of a myriad of engineering deficiencies. The resulting flood killed 125 people and left approximately 4,000 people homeless. For more appalling details on this horrific disaster, check out the video clip below from the History Channel."