30 November 2010

DOWNLOAD: Glendale - Matchbox Martyr 7"

From the ashes of Morgantown's Lincoln came a handful of post-hardcore/emo groups - one being Glendale. The band featured Lincoln frontman Jay Demko joined by J. Marinelli on guitar, Darren Zentek (later of Washington D.C.'s Kerosene 454) on drums and Steven Kuhn on bass. Their only release was a two-song 7" released in 1994 on Virginia's Art Monk Construction, which also put the Lincoln material as well as Hoover, Darkest Hour, Karate and others. Stylistically, Glendale fits alongside the aforementioned bands or the likes of Drive Like Jehu, Slint or even Jawbox - progressive post-hardcore with intricately distorted guitars and dramatically frenzied vocals. If it spawned from early/mid-90s Morgantown/D.C. and its related to Lincoln, it is a safe bet. This short piece only leaves you longing for more, but luckily I will be posting some Samuel and Junction in the future.

29 November 2010

WATCH: RIP Leslie Nielsen, honorary West Virginian

In 2002 West Virginia state officials named "Airplane" and "Naked Gun" actor Leslie Nielsen an honorary West Virginian. "I really feel that when I come back here," said Nielsen, who died Nov. 28, at the age of 84.

According to the Huntington Herald-Dispatch, Nielsen first came to West Virginia to golf and became involved with the education system through a friend, he said at the time. Nielsen grinned as the [honorary West Virginian] citation was read, and asked why he was being honored for enjoying the scenery of West Virginia. “To have the privilege to come here and spend time in this beautiful state... you’re going to give me a citation for that?” he said. “Well, I’m not going to give it back.”

In fact, I met Nielsen in 2004, when I was hired to take photos of his visit with the Charleston Alley Cats baseball team. He had a fart-noise toy that he used on everyone there, and it never got old watching the old man up to his tricks. He was a gentleman and it was a pleasure to chat with him. To celebrate Nielsen's life of making us laugh, here are some of his hits.

And my personal favorite, courtesy of George A. Romero and Stephen King:

26 November 2010

READ: Soft Rock Renegade turns one year old

One year ago today, I made the first post on this blog. Running a blog that archives music from West Virginia was something I always wanted to do, but I'm a little surprised I have kept it up for a year. It wouldn't have happened without the support and encouragement of those who read SRR, submit material and send me comments. It makes me realize I'm spending time on something people enjoy. Appropriately on the day after Thanksgiving, I say, Thanks.

To celebrate the one year anniversary the best I can from my bed at home, I am reposting the Top 5 most downloaded albums posted to the blog. (And apologies for the cheesy image at the top. Thank Google.) Please take some time and go back through the last year of posts and check out some of the material that is on here. There are so many good bands, albums available for download, videos and more. I hope to be doing this for another year.

Top 5 Most Downloaded Albums on Soft Rock Renegade:

23 November 2010

WATCH: Brian Wolfe with Sufjan Stevens on Jimmy Fallon

Sufjan Stevens just wrapped up a month-long North American tour with his band that featured a pair of drummers including Clarksburg native Brian Wolfe (who played in Rare Birds with Jay Demko). Sufjan Stevens, with Brian on drums, recently played Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Watch the video from the show below.

19 November 2010

READ: Jaimy Gordon - Lord of Misrule

Jaimy Gordon's novel Lord of Misrule won the prestigious 2010 National Book Award for fiction. The book, which I have not read yet, is set in the 1970s in the world of horse racing in West Virginia, and was praised by judges for being "vivid, memorable and linguistically rich." Baltimore native Gordon, 66, who has taught at Western Michigan University since 1981, worked as a groom and hot-walker at the Charles Town Race Track in West Virginia after graduating from college in the late 1960s.

"There are certain books whose richness makes it seem as though the writer had material to burn, and Lord of Misrule is one of them. Jaimy Gordon writes with a wonderfully profligate quality. As if a compelling story, an authentic sense of place, and a colorful cast of hustlers, losers, and memorable petty crooks weren't enough, Gordon adds a style at once deeply interior and vividly cinematic."--Stuart Dybek, author of The Coast of Chicago.

Congratulations to Jaimy Gordon. I can't wait to read it.

18 November 2010

WATCH: American Minor live in Huntington, 2010

The Huntington Music and Arts Festival took place on October 2 and brought together more than a dozen artists from the region and state to perform at Ritter Park. The highlight of the event was the reunion of Huntington souther rockers American Minor, who had not played together since 2005. Below is a video of the band's opening song "Walk On" as well as an interview with guitarist Bud Carroll on Marshall University's student-produced late night show "Up Late" (that also features a former student of mine as the show's host's sidekick).

11 November 2010

WATCH: Weekend - Monongah, WV

I was reading about this band's new record on Pitchfork this morning: "This San Francisco noise-pop trio make one of the most promising indie rock records of the year." The band is Weekend, and Pitchfork gave the record - entitled Sports - an 8.2. The site has an affection for lo-fi pop shoegaze, and I had a presumption of what Weekend would sound like. (Admittedly, I've totally bought into the lo-fi shoegaze revival of the last couple years, so I was looking forward to hearing it.) I went to do my research when I soon noticed a track on the Bay Area band's new album had the home-state-centric title of "Monongah, WV." I have no explanation of the significance behind the title or if the band has any ties to small town outside of Fairmont, but it certainly encouraged my interest in Weekend. Nor can I quite understand the lyrics, which are chanted by breathy vocals, so that provides no hint. UPDATE BELOW. But below is a video of "Monongah, WV," so check it out - especially fans of My Bloody Valentine and Joy Division, as well as contemporaries such as The Fresh & Onlys and (Slumberland counterpart) Girls. (Note: "Monongah, WV" doesn't actually start until about 4:16 on the video as it is preceded by the ambient instrumental track "Monday Morning.")
I contacted the band today asking what the inspiration for the song was, and singer Shaun Durkan was kind enough to respond:
It's loosely about the coalmine collapse in 1907 in monongah, and the only survivor Peter Urban. Survivors guilt. Thanks for the interest.


08 November 2010

LISTEN: Arcane Rifles - Wicked Girl

Arcane Rifles is the newest band from Lexington-based Morgantown legend J Marinelli, who is on drums with Ben Allen on guitar/vocals and Phil Farmer on bass. Described by Marinelli has having a Stooges/Wipers/Joy Division vibe. I dig it.

DOWNLOAD: Jerry Andrick - 1944

Even in the 21st century, my father still plugs in his 8-track player when he works in the garage. Among his collection of '60s and '70s country crooners is a tape of recordings by his brother Jerry Andrick.

My Uncle Jerry has lead a wild life. Born and raised in Philippi, West Virginia, he had two children at an early age, and still managed a 4.0 gpa all through his time at WVU before earning a Master's in engineering. After living somewhat of a vagabond lifestyle, he and his family landed in Atlanta in the '70s. Throughout this time, Jerry was writing country songs including some for major label recording artists like Sami Jo Cole. His career as a songwriter never took off, but his album of originals was always a favorite of my father's.

Nowadays, Jerry helps his brother-in-law build music studios in Atlanta. With access to studio space and time, around 2007, my uncle sat down with an acoustic guitar and laid down some new songs of his as well as re-recording some of those that bellowed out of my father's 8-track player.

Jerry's tunes have the lyrical quirk of storyteller John Prine but sung with a baritone voice not quite as deep as Johnny Cash. A brilliant man who hated George W. Bush but doesn't trust any politicians, Jerry's newer songs reflect his personal politics touching on contemporary issues. The albums opening track "Mary and Rosalee" is about his friendship with a lesbian couple. On the bluntly-named "We're So Fucked," Jerry introduces the song by speaking "This is what I think about our current situation" then croons on about the Patriot Act, airport security, and Super Sizing.

Other tracks like "Prayer" and "I'm Takin' My Pony," which he wrote for Reba McEntire (though she's never heard it), show a softer side. But it is the song "West Virginia" that stands above all as my and my father's favorite. The song is a gentle anthem of affect for the state, its mountains and its people. Coming from the nephew and grandson of miners in Barbour County, it praises the brave laborers of our family while pointing a finger at the coal companies that have taken advantage of the hard-working people. "West Virginia, I love you. You'll always be safe here in my memory."

I do want to note that the first time Jerry played this record for me, we were sitting in his car while he smoked weed that was given to him by Ludacris. Yeah, he's lived that kind of life, and this record is a slight representation of that time. For those into humble, earnest singer-songwriters playing acoustic country-folk like Prine or Kris Kristofferson, give this a listen.

Artist: Jerry Andrick
Album: 1944
Year: 2007
For fans of: Johnny Cash, John Prine, Kris Kristofferson

05 November 2010

IN MEMORIAM: Samuel "Meuwl" Harshbarger

One year ago today we lost a great artist and dear friend, Samuel "Meuwl" Harshbarger. In January this blog paid tribute to Meuwl's life and career as one of West Virginia's finest hip-hop emcees and personalities. With help from Meuwl's friends and other artists from the state, we posted Meuwl's music, videos, photos, graffiti and some beautifully sincere words from Meuwl collaborator and close friends Justin "L-No" Leonard.

To again celebrate the genius who was Meuwl, on this day I wanted to re-post everything to give people another chance to download his music or just take an opportunity to remember what he contributed to all our lives.

RIP Meuwl.