25 February 2010

DOWNLOAD: The Emergency - Doo-Lang Doo-Lang

It took three years for The Emergency to release their sophomore album Doo-Lang Doo-Lang. Though, many of the songs on the record were familiar to anyone who had seen the band live during that time, its brilliance was never lost. Doo-Lang Doo-Lang is sixteen more tracks of catchy rock and roll. As The Emergency tend to do, they cover the gamut of pop rock from. It starts with the Kinks-esque album opener "Do the Uptight;" to '90s Britpop-esque "Hey Whoopy Cat," which is full of an upbeat energy that is hard to ignore; to the Brian Wilson harmony-inspired, piano-driven closing track "Eggs and Bacon." Improved production and a broadened scope of songwriting makes Doo-Lang Doo-Lang the perfect sophomore record by a band that was just gathering momentum into becoming a fantastic rock band.

Artist: The Emergency.
Album: Doo-Lang Doo-Lang.
Year: 2006.
For Fans Of: The Kinks, Blur, Beach Boys.

WATCH: The Emergency live at 123 Pleasant Street, 2007

The Emergency has played a lot of wonderful shows at 123 Pleasant St., in Morgantown. Here is a video of one of those performances - this time in 2007. The video features the song "Lie Detector" from the band's album Doo-Lang Doo-Lang, which will be posted later today. This video also features Josh Israel (who was in the excellent Morgantown band The Caterpillar Scheme), who joined the trio for a short time.

23 February 2010

DOWNLOAD: The Emergency - How Can You Move?

Apologies for the lack of posts over the last couple weeks, but Soft Rock Renegade is going to return with a treat this week - the discography of West Virginia's finest indie rock The Emergency.

On the Morgantown trio's Myspace page under the band's influences is a note that reads "This is for real... Catch us if you can... Combine and compare..." followed by images of five dozen record covers ranging from The Beatles to AC/DC to Husker Du to Ice Cube to Neil Young to Soundgarden. To review The Emergency's body of music from 2003's How Can You Move? to 2008's EMC is to do just just what they said - "Combine and compare."

The songs of all these albums - simply put - are indie rock and roll power pop ballads. (Okay. Maybe that wasn't simply put.) The Emergency were skilled at taking elements of so many of their influences from all decades including classic rock, soft rock, hard rock, cock rock, indie rock and some hip-hop and soul, as well. There are hooks-a-plenty, tracks that make you dance, sing along, brood, and of course, drink.

While the Guided By Voices/Robert Pollard influence (think Isolation Drills) is obvious and well executed in the The Emergency's music, it is their live performance where it is even more appreciated - a true rock and roll party where plenty of booze flows both on stage and in the crowd. Combine quirky but well-written rock songs, clever lyrics and a lot of hooks with intoxicated show-goers, what you get is drinks in the air and everyone in the room singing along, dancing and having a great night. And that is what a great rock band does, and The Emergency was a great rock band. Period.

Over the next three days I will post their three records - all of which come highly recommended.

Artist: The Emergency.
Album: How Can You Move?
Year: 2003.
For Fans Of: Guided By Voices, The Who, Pavement.

10 February 2010

WATCH: Steel Nation live at Yesterdays in Wheeling, 2009

Steel Nation is a Pittsburgh-based hardcore-metal-thrash band in the vein of Ringworm and Integrity. It is also the band of drummer Ethan Raese, who played in The Warriors, A Toast to the Winners and other Morgantown hardcore bands. An incredibly skilled drummer who has also toured with Strength For a Reason and Cold World, Ethan is a legend in his own right - in both the East Coast hardcore scene and to women across the country (and to robots in Canada). He is also a talented hockey player and dedicated weight lifter, whose physique shames Michaelangelo's David. A graduate in four year from Temple University in Philadelphia, Ethan is also covered in tattoos from some of the best artists in the country including Jeff Zuck and Josh Mason. Ladies...

Anyway, I digress. Here is a video of Steel Nation playing at Yesterday's in Wheeling in 2009. The audio quality is terrible (completely absent in some parts). But it gives you an idea. Check these guys out at: http://www.myspace.com/thesteelnation.

05 February 2010

DOWNLOAD: Westbygod - Contradictions/Westbygod

Of all the bands that have formed in West "By God" Virginia, this band fittingly took on the name Westbygod. Fittingly for maybe no reason other than singer Tommy Hess was through-and-through a West Virginian - a good ol' boy from the Elk River area who carried a heavy accent and a hearty laugh. He liked to drink beer and his appearance could have fit as easily into a country group as it did a progressive heavy metal band.

That is Westbygod - good ol' boys from rural West Virginia who grew up listening to the likes of Iron Maiden and Slayer and learned to play their instruments very well. Formed by former Flood bandmates Shaun Fox and Jeremy Spears, Westbygod knew how to play heavy - recklessly chugging along in the vein of Crowbar and breaking into jazz-infused guitar parts that channel Opeth. While all the band's players are more-than-capable musicians, it is drummer Jeremy Spears who is the driving force in West By God. Technically unparalleled by any drummer I've seen in West Virginia, his style is subtle yet powerful and never overwhelming. To balance it all, Hess's guttural bellowing (think Domination-era Morbid Angel) and occasional melodic vocals give the Westbygod a modest thickness that prevents the band from being "too progressive."

With the help of Charleston Cave Records producer Scott Robinson, Westbygod recorded a self-titled seven-song demo in 1997 and then a six-song demo in 1999. Neither of record was hardly released, but both are included on this download. I also recommend checking out Jeremy Spears' current band DEADSEA, based in Columbus.

Artist: Westbygod.
Album: Contradictions/Westbygod
Year: 1999/1997
For Fans Of: Morbid Angel, Crowbar, Motorhead.

04 February 2010

WATCH: Fugazi live in Huntington, 2002

Yes! Yes! Yes! I've been looking for videos of Fugazi in Huntington for years, and finally someone posted some in January.
That performance, which took place on April 5, 2002 at The Stoned Monkey in Huntington, still stands as one of the best shows I've ever seen - nevertheless in West Virginia, and it comes with a great story.
The show was originally scheduled to take place in a 800-capacity closed club next door to The Stoned Money. On the day of the show with the tickets sold and Fugazi in town, the Huntington Fire Marshal said the venue was in violation of codes, and the show couldn't happen. (This may or may not have had to do with the fact that when Sheriff Don Maynard, also a local concert promoter, wanted to get his name involved with the the show, and that idea was shot that idea down immediately and for good reason.) So with no venue and only a couple hours to go until the showtime, Nathan Boggess (one of the promoters) asked the owners of The Stoned Monke if they would be willing to host the show, and despite being an 18+ bar, they agreed to it as all ages prior to their actual bar operating hours. Unfortunately, the Monkey's capacity was only about 300 and the stage was about one foot tall.
More than 500 people from all over the region were crowded into The Stoned Monkey that night, and Fugazi played for more than two hours (including three encores if I remember correctly). Here is some footage.

03 February 2010

DOWNLOAD: Rare Birds - Beginning

This record was provided to me by my friend Jeremy Casto, who called it the best ever record by a Morgantown band. So I asked him to give me a write-up about it. This is what he said:
What little I know:

- Jay Demko and Jeremy Kline (Who Killed Teacher) were in this band. I know others (like Brian Wolfe) were involved, but I do not know to what extent.

- This record was recorded in the late '90s.

- It's great.
Thanks, Jeremy. To give you some more information, Jay Demko played guitar/vocals in the Morgantown-based hardcore/emo pioneers Lincoln, as well as Kukim, Glendale and others. Unlike any of those prior projects, Rare Birds is a ambient and experimental swirl of free jazz with punk ideals that is very loosely in the vein of Lungfish, Wilderness or Deerhunter. The music is dissonant and meandering but the exceptional instrumentation (which is always the case in a Demko project) is intense and engaging.

Artist: Rare Birds.
Album: Beginning.
Year: "In the late '90s."
For Fans Of: Lungish, Wilderness, Deerhunter.

02 February 2010

WATCH: Down To None, 69 Fingers, Shindig, American Legion

From approximately 1999 to 2001, the American Legion in Charleston was a lively all-ages venue. That was until it got too lively and people were coming to the venue not for the music but to hang out, drink, and a"cause trouble" like leave a lot of trash around, attempt to steal door money, spit on show-goers and break windows.

Until that happened, the venue was host to a number of touring bands, but in particular a lot of local-heavy shows. (At that time, a touring band had to be supported and headlined by local bands to have a turnout.) Here is three videos from a show (presumably the same one) in 1999 featuring Down To None (which was Dana White's band prior to Holden Caulfield), 69 Fingers and Shindig.

01 February 2010

DOWNLOAD: Killed At Camp - Eating Cake and Playing

"I put the homo in emo."
(See previous post for more information.)

Artist: Killed At Camp.
Album: Eating Cake and Playing.
Year: 2000.
For Fans Of: Harriet the Spy, Party of Helicopters, Fugazi.

DOWNLOAD: Killed At Camp - Bingo Chips for Execution

It's not unfortunate that the members of Killed At Camp went on to plays in the bands The Minus Tide, The Loved Ones, Drown Culture, COBRA, and Trial By Fire. It is unfortunate that in the wake of the the aforementioned projects, Killed At Camp is often overlooked or unfamiliar.

Formed in 1998 by college friends who had played in various West Virginia bands, Killed At Camp soon became a staple of a thriving scene in Wheeling. Taking influence from post-hardcore acts such as Fugazi, Harriet the Spy and At The Drive-In, Killed At Camp combined with layers of multiple scream-sung vocals with distorted guitars for a see-saw of melody and chaos. It could make sense to put Killed At Camp into the sub-genre known as "screamo." Musically, though, KAC reached beyond such simple classification, and hinted at bands like Gang of Four and Wipers as much as they did mid-'90s emo.

Whether it was Killed at Camp or its post-Killed at Camp projects, members Michael Iafrate, Sean Decker and Dallas Campbell (and Mike Sneeringer) were always willing to experiment with new styles to write songs that were unique and interesting. This willingness to always push the envelope directly contributes to the success of these musicians. In their short career as Killed At Camp, the band produced two lo-fi albums, both recorded in a dorm room at Wheeling Jesuit University - 1999's Bingo Chips for Execution and 2000's Eating Cake and Playing. Both albums are inventive but not contrived; angst-ridden yet sensitive; chaotic yet artful; all without being pretentious about it.

Artist: Killed At Camp.
Album: Bingo Chips for Execution.
Year: 1999.
For Fans Of: Harriet the Spy, Party of Helicopters, Fugazi.