31 October 2011

WATCH: The Flaming Lips live in Parkersburg, October 2011

The Flaming Lips are not a band of which I've ever been much a fan. I do, though, recognize how entertaining their shows must be and why they have achieved their success and popularity. Which is why I was so shocked to find out on Saturday that the Oklahoma band was set to play a house show in Parkersburg on Sunday night. Yes, the Flaming Lips played a house show in Parkersburg, West Virginia! Supposedly it was the brainchild of a 17-year-old girl on Twitter from the third-largest city in the state, but I am unaware of any other details behind the event. Nevertheless, here is a video of the band's introduction and a couple minutes of their first song - Dream Syndicate's "It's Halloween." I've also included a couple photos via Parkersburg native and singer/songwritier Michael Iafrate, who was in attendance. Pretty awesome.
UPDATE: Here is a longer video with more music and explanation from Wayne Coyne on how they ended up playing a house show in Parkersburg. It just gets better.

27 October 2011

DOWNLOAD: Walt Flanagan's Dog - Discography 1998-2000

Walt Flanagan's Dog was a ska-punk band. So it is unnecessary to call them rambunctious, quirky or boisterous, but these teenagers from South Charleston were just that. Despite a decent horn section, Walt Flanagan's Dog fit more into the aggressive guitar-driven side of ska-influenced punk with bands like the Bosstones, Less Than Jake and Suicide Machines - with innocently sarcastic songs about girls, two-tones and steak. The band was fronted by the rowdy Justin Leonard, who was equal parts Dropkick Murphys and the Beastie Boys. In fact, Leonard later became known as hip-hop producer L-No for Meuwl and Rabble Rousers.
Though, I only got to see Walt Flanagan's Dog a handful of times upon a reunion of sorts in 2000, they were a band that always seemed to have fun. I will not lie - these recordings aren't the best productions. But while singing voices often crack, horns miss notes, or audio levels fade in an out, WFD were a group of ambitious, creative teenagers attempting to play a style of music not many others in the state did. And well over ten years later, Justin Leonard continues to be one of my favorite people I have ever met thanks to the music scene in West Virginia.
Artist: Walt Flanagan's Dog
Album: Discography 1998-2000
Year: 1998-2000
For fans of: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Less Than Jake, Suicide Machines

20 October 2011

DOWNLOAD: Samuel - Lives of Insects / Self-Titled 7"

Though Samuel was a short-lived project from ex-members of Junction and Glendale (including J Marinelli) they managed to record a pair of memorable releases for Art Monk Construction including the Lives of Insects EP and a self-titled 7" before doing 1995's split with Texas Is the Reason.
As one blog writes of Lives of Insects: "[Samuel was] streamlined and no-nonsense, guitars that roared, and a vocalist more than capable of issuing bitter denunciations and offhand lyrical putdowns in an instant. The group’s ability to encompass so much without being easily pigeonholed is why these songs still sting."

Artist: Samuel
Albums: Lives of Insects / Self-Titled 7"
Year: 1994 / 1995
For fans of: Shudder To Think, Split Lip, Samiam

19 October 2011

17 October 2011

DOWNLOAD: Samuel/Texas Is the Reason - Split

J Marinelli has been a name to appear frequently on this blog. From his solo efforts to his involvement in Glendale or current Lexington, Kentucky-based rock outfit Arcane Rifles, Marinelli has been playing quality music for a number of years. In the mid-'90s, he also played guitar for Samuel, a female-fronted post-hardcore-ish rock band from D.C./State College. One of the band's few releases was a 1995 split 7" with New York City's Texas Is the Reason, who gained a bit of popularity in the emo scene and courted major label interest before disbanding.
On the split, as is the case with Samuel, the standout feature is the aggressively beautiful vocals from Vanessa Downing, who also played in Junction with Jay Demko. The music is crunchy and emotive with pop sensibilities, which has invited comparisons to Doghouse recording artists Shudder to Think or Split Lip. The track from Texas Is the Reason later appeared in shortened form on their Revelation Records full-length Do You Know Who You Are?, which gained the band its success, but is not as good as their earlier, more Quicksand-influenced material.
Aritst: Samuel
Album: Split w/ Texas Is the Reason
Year: 1995
For fans of: Split Lip, Shudder to Think, Junction

14 October 2011

WATCH: Daniel Johnston - Devil Town

I have been living in Austin, Texas (with a short stint away) since 2005. Last year I began photographing high school football for the newspaper. As this football season started up, a good friend ranted about the television series Friday Night Lights, which was shot almost entirely in and around Austin. I have never been one for watching television series, but since it was on Netflix, I checked out the pilot. Next thing I knew, I had watched five episodes. Now I love the show. So when I finished the first season last night, I was particularly excited by the song at the end of the episode - "Devil Town" by Daniel Johnston, a West Virginia native who became a cult musician and artist while living in Austin. Though the song was less excitedly performed by Bright Eyes, I was still happy to hear it. So here is a video accompanied by Johnston's original version of the song from his album 1990. And if you haven't watched Friday Night Lights... do.

13 October 2011

Arm - Arm LP / Simple Victim 7"

I trust Brian Pauley. When he sends me music, the odds that I will enjoy it are high. Camel Beast and Pu' Rens were both impressive Charleston-area bands with which I was not familiar. So when Brian sent me an e-mail saying, "This... is a band called Arm. They came from Minneapolis, Minnesota. 3 piece band. Amazing. My favorite band that came to Common Grounds," I was very excited. Brian said he booked these guys in the mid-90s on a show with Dirt Bear, Flood and Seven. Local show-goers responded so positively, Arm returned not long after to play to a good crowd despite no local support. Upon their visit, they left Brian with these two records - a 7" and self-released LP.

"Great songs. Great band," Brian said, and he is right. This is right up my alley - mid-'90s post-hardcore in the vein of Drive Like Jehu, Fugazi, Unwound or Lungfish. Arm would have fit well somewhere between the AmRep and Dischord rosters - subtle, noisy, melodic and abrasive with a lot of energetic flair. (The "Simple Victim" 7" was produced by AmRep's Tim Mac and released on Lori Barbero's Spanish Fly Records.) It wasn't until years after the band's demise that they gained much popularity. That may have had something with Arm's drummer Bobby Drake going on to play in The Hold Steady, and bassist Nate Grumdahl was in Selby Tigers. Nevertheless, I am really into both of these records. So if you're into any of the bands I mentioned, AmRep or Dischord, or just post-hardcore in general, check this out. I really wish I could have seen them play at the Common Grounds.
Artist: Arm
Albums: Arm LP / Simple Victim 7"
Years: 1996 / 1995
For fans of: Drive Like Jehu, Fugazi, Unwound

12 October 2011

WATCH: Death & Co. live at the Blossom in Charleston, 1989

This isn't just a video of a fantastic performance by Keith Dunleavy and Jon Nathan's post-Unwanted Christmas Presents band Death & Co. playing at the Blossom in Charleston. It also shows some shaky but great footage of downtown Charleston in 1989 and some scene kids hanging out. The info says it is on Virginia Street, but the Blossom Deli was/is on Quarrier, and in the beginning of the video the kids are hanging out on Hale Street next door to where the excellent Stray Dog Antiques is now. I find it unfortunately ironic that in the video that Keith (in the black turtleneck) comments to the filmmaker who replies, "Just getting you beatniks while you're still alive." Less than a year later Keith died in a car accident. Also, based on the way they dress, I could be convinced that this was filmed recently on the east side of Austin. (Charleston's music scene didn't always have bad style.)
Of course, the highlight of this video is Death & Co.'s performance. I really wish I could track down recordings of this band - if recordings exist. I hope someone sees this and can give me some more information. Below is Death & Co. covering Echo and the Bunnymen's "Do It Clean" and Keith reading poetry at the same show.

11 October 2011

WATCH: Unwanted Christmas Presents live in Morgantown, 1988

I love Unwanted Christmas Presents, and I love this video of the duo playing in Morgantown. The performance is simple and raw but I find it to be powerful and beautiful - half punk, half poetry. Keith Dunleavy died less than two years after this, and it's a shame, as I think he could have become quite iconic in the music scene.

04 October 2011

LISTEN: Unwanted Christmas Presents - LP

As I mentioned Friday in a post about The Mad Daddys, Unwanted Christmas Presents were brought to my attention by my friend Eric who read about them on the Terminal-Boredom forum. UCP was an improvisational garage-noise punk band from Charleston in the mid- to late-80s. The duo was made up of Keith Dunleavy on vocals and Jon Nathan on guitar/percussion/electronics. Dunleavy, who along with Nathan also played in Death & Co., died in a car accident in 1990 at the age of 26. By that point he had already established himself as a sort of Jim Shephard of West Virginia. As an experimental rock cult figure in the region, Dunleavy was seemingly as controversial and confrontational as he was creative and brilliant. It is difficult to compare Unwanted Christmas Presents to any other bands. The music is abrasive and sleazy punk rock but with a poetic and bluesy backbone to it that brings to mind the MC5, Pere Ubu or Cheater Slicks. While UCP may not be easily approachable by those who don't listen to artists from the In the Red, Siltbreeze or Flying Nun rosters, there is a beauty to the songs. It is a tragedy that Keith Dunleavy died so young - the cause of which I do not know. Jon Nathan did an interview with Negative Guest List magazine (of Australia) in 2010 that my friend is trying to track down. Maybe that will shed some light on this somewhat mysterious Charleston band, who only hinted at their potential to exist among some truly great experimental noise acts from that era. So take a listen to these two tracks from the band's LP, which was recorded in the late '80s but not unearthed until 1993 by Electrocution Records. This is a truly fantastic piece of West Virginia punk rock history.