ROTHENBECK: SECRET MONSTERS

Maybe I’m swayed by the cover art, but the 7 tracks on Rothenbeck‘s debut studio EP encompass the feeling captured in that woodsy shot on the cover (which could have very well be taken in Twin Peaks, Washington). Rothenbeck effectively makes me feel right at home and find solace in knowing that I’m a 30-40 minute drive to any of the NJ entering points for the Appalachian Trail and that the woods are literally a hop away.

For this EP, Brian summoned Jeff Banchansky, Michael Biskup, and Brian Leahy (The Megadeath Three) to add more life to his already flourishing folk tunes.  Brian hones in on an honest voice  with the perfect hint of rasp and does not hide behind any jarring effects or edits.    There’s no studio magic here, just solid tunes with production that appropriately showcases the nature of the music and lyrics.  The Megadeath Three offer tasteful playing that accents each song letting the roots of each  shine.

The EP ends on a song that reminds me of Cake’s “Sad Songs and Waltzes,” so naturally, I love it. If you’re looking for some honest music by great local musicians who do much more for the music community they are involved in than record a few songs and throw them on the internet and spam your social media, this is for you.  If you’re looking for over the top production that hides in metaphors and effects, seek elsewhere.  This EP is Brian Rothenbeck and friends doing what they love and do best.  Take it or leave.

WHORES: CLEAN

Dirty.  Listen

KEITH KENNY CHOSEN TO HEADLINE UXO BENEFIT IN LAOS

I don’t know anyone (personally) who does more and works harder to maintain relevancy and activity in music than Keith Kenny and it seems to grant him opportunities many musicians only dream of.  Over a year ago, he took a serious risk.  He left the stability of his full time engineering job and decided to pursue his passion of playing and creating music 100% and since then, he has been traveling the US relentlessly in his Ford Transit, playing over 30 cities with only an acoustic guitar, an arsenal of pedals, a bass drum and hi-hat as his companions. After over a year of touring full-time, Southeast Asia calls for him and you better believe he’s accepting and it’s for a good cause!  I can’t even fathom what that opportunity must feel like but I can’t wait to hear all about it when he returns.

The “We Are Kind” festival chose the singer/songwriter/one man band to headline a benefit concert in the Southeast Asian nation of Laos to raise $ for victims of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO- explosive weapons that did not explode when they were employed and still pose a risk of detonation) on November 11, 2013.  He will perform among well-known Laotian rock and dance performers.

Benefit organizer and UXO victim, Phongsavath Souliyalat,  who lost both hands and eyesight when a tennis ball sized bomb exploded in his hands 4 years ago, became a fan of Keith Kenny while working with different charity organizations in Laos.  He is now a spokesperson for the COPE Center which provides prosthetic devices, rehabilitation and support for other victims of UXO and raises awareness across the nation.

“I’m really honored to perform for the victims of UXO and hope that my music can help make a difference. I’m looking forward to meeting Phong  in person and excited to experience the culture in Laos. ”

Keith Kenny commenced his ongoing “Big Red Suitcase Tour” over a year ago and changed his schedule to accommodate the 8,000 mile journey.  Upon his return, Keith plans to resume his National U.S. Tour from NJ to CA.

For more information regarding the “We Are Kind” benefit concert and additional tour dates visit www.KeithKenny.com or www.Facebook.com/Wearekindconcert

For more information about UXO (provided by Aqua Survey Inc.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmbsowEsfNg

Listen to Keith Kenny’s latest EP “And the Light Came Blaring In…” below.

EARTH ANCHOR DEBUT VIDEO/BOOK 1ST SHOW

Kevin Carafa is an addict…and moving 2900 miles (45 hours by car) across the country, changing his scenery, delving into a new circle of friends and starting from scratch do not lend to his recovery.  Relapse is an understatement.  He just can’t stop releasing quality tunes and experimenting with different genres and instruments while nailing them all.  This time, he’s taking three others down with him and calling it Earth Anchor.  They recently released a four song EP, put out  a DIY video, put out another EP of covers and “b-sides” and most importantly booked their first show at the Hawthorne Lounge in Portland, Oregon, which is scheduled for tomorrow evening.  Check out the EP and video below. Andrew Carreon, the drummer, edited the video and Kevin Carafa handled the audio- showcasing the talent each member offers beyond the instrument they play in the band.  Lets hope they continue to utilize all the tools at their finger tips and we hear a lot more from these guys/gal in the future.

BLEAK: 3 SONGS

For most north easterners, fall brings darker times for a short while and then winter happens and things get back to “normal,” by spring.  We endure longer nights/shorter days, watch the leaves change and the flowers die as it gets colder and colder by the day.  Things become…well…Bleak.  For Bleak, the Syracuse based powerhouse, this time lasts 365 days out of the year…as their 3 debut songs suggest.  Rising quickly from the ashes of Nick and Matt’s former band  (Blood Money) the quartet offers somber riffs entwined with disgusting feedback and grimy bass that can only happen by turning up and turning up loud.   The only part (besides the whole) that hits harder than Nick (drums) on this caustic debut, are the lyrics which, needless to say, emerge from the murky depths of intense personal experience.  Michael declares his last words on the EP like his life depends on it while pushing the preamp to complete saturation with his nails-to-the throat scream:  “Just because I’m alive, doesn’t mean I’m not dead inside.  I miss my friend.”  If you dig real sounding recordings that capture a solid performance devoid of studio magic or polish, definitely click those songs below.  It sounds like four guys playing their hearts out in a a room…but I imagine they would describe it more as a cell… 😉 Oh and one more thing, despite all the hate, these dudes are some of the sweetest and most humble guys I have ever met.  Positive creative outlets save.

CLICK ME GENTLY!

THE RETURN OF IAN MATTHEW KELLER

For the few who see this, it’s no secret that I’ve neglected it in the past few months.  I have not felt compelled to post anything lately, and if I did, it was often covered by someone else like Not Rock Records.  Anyway, obviously I’m eager to tell you about something and have made the time to do so…

In winter of ’13 or so, an old friend/roommate of mine embarked on a 6th month self-finding journey to the South…or maybe he just wanted to get away.  Did he find himself?  Who knows? Who really ever does on those things?  Did he get away?  Well, yeah, but you can relocate your body, but often problems still stick.  Good things can stick too, and sometimes bad things manifest themselves as good things through the power of art.  You barfin’ yet?  Anyway,    Ian Matthew Keller found something in his absence from the north,  and he brought it back to NJ, ever so subtly revealing it via the purest form of blues day-by-day.

Ian always prides himself on being a minimalist and this time, dare I say, he managed to strip down his repertoire even more.  Armed with only an electric guitar (sometimes with an amp, mostly without), his low soothing/smooth voice and a microphone only to record, Ian released his first EP under his own name only 3 weeks ago and since then, he released two more EPs…each one an improvement on the last.  Each one containing at least 7 songs…one for each day of the week, perhaps.

Ian’s stream of conscience lyrics force him to be honest and truly wear his heart on his sleeve, right next to the chip on his shoulder.  He modestly titled his EP’s 1, 2, and 3…each one with a different depiction of himself on the cover, named after him, and containing music written, played by and recorded by him.  I’m not going to compare Ian to anybody else, because this truly is Ian Matthew Keller served on a plate of Ian Matthew Keller on a table built and crafted by Ian Matthew Keller, with utensils shaped by Ian Matthew Keller, inside a house…You get it.  Ian returned, yet still leaves us both pleased and wanting more.  I cannot wait for “4!”  Listen to 1, 2, and 3 below.

DEAD UNICORN: PANDEMIC

I want to start this off by thanking Dead Unicorn for all of their educational efforts.  First, they warned us about the Yellowstone Supervolcano and then they hit us with Global Thermonuclear War, and now we have Pandemic, which hits uncomfortably close to home compared to the other two.  If Dead Unicorn intended to instill a little paranoia with their latest release,  they succeeded and backed it with some super urgent music- one part bass and one part drums, just how we like ’em.  The bass- dirtier than ever, with feedback forcing itself through during any small chance it gets to breathe and spread.  The drums- resonating, hard hitting and laced with the occasional double bass fill.  On “Pandemic,”  Zac and Paul infect the listener by maintaining the strong sense of melody and catchy choruses that flooded their previous 2 releases.   They could not have made a better choice pressing this thing to wax and for a bass ‘n drumz duo, they certainly don’t lack in the high end, either.  Concept albums run the risk of getting stale and pretentious and just poorly done, but Dead Unicorn are 3 albums deep into a 7 album warning and show no signs of neglect while ever-evolving and keeping themselves relevant.  Next up: Alien Invasion.  Be on the lookout for “Pandemic” on tape via Bedside Manner Collective & Station 3 Records.  You can stream it below, but I recommend purchasing the limited edition 12″ from Music For End Times as it translates beautifully to vinyl.

EARTH ANCHOR’S FIRST EP OUT TOMORROW!

If you happen to be awake at 11:00 am Pacific Standard Time (2pm Eastern Standard Time) don’t sleep on Earth Anchor‘s 4 song debut “Outshined.”  This release marks Kevin Carafa‘s first collaborative effort since the disbanding of his old bands, Young American Artists and Control and features Heather Steele making her recorded vocal debut.  The alternative-indie rock duo seeks a powerful rhythm section (guitar, bass ‘n drumz)  to complete their live sound, so if you live in the Portland, Oregon area and this sounds like something for you, hit them up! Listen to the anchor track from the ep below!

YONAHBUG: MOJAVE “DEMO”

I hate when bands call a solid and great sounding EP a demo.  I mean, if they record the songs again, how much better will they sound?  Will the qualities that made the “demo” so special remain in tact?  YonahBug from Georgia, released their “demo,” earlier this year.  I refuse to consider it a demo, though.  This is a solid debut EP,  however, if they decide to record these tunes again, I propose a challenge:  make them sound better.  I dare you!  The first 3 minimalistic, earthy tunes sound perfect just as they are.  YonahBug successfully creates a vibe and atmosphere in each of these 3 songs to further illuminate the message each one puts forth- this is a feat hard to accomplish in our made-to-immediately-download times.  If you close your eyes and didn’t know that YonahBug consists of only two people, you’d swear they were a four or five piece band as they deliver a full, bluesy sound while exploring multiple instruments and paying particular attention to dynamics. The EP closes with an experimental, psychedelic piece with some weird voice overs and effects, reminding us that you can be awesome at playing and writing and not-so-serious at the same time.  I can’t wait to see what these two come up with next, and I sure hope it’s not a re-recording of these tunes that sound pristine as they are…  except that last tune, I could listen to that without the weird voice effects and I’m positive a beautiful song is hidden under that. 😉

ONE YEAR AGO, TODAY

We started setting up for this:

Free downloads of the entire thing here:  http://www.ccrlive.bandcamp.com