… On October 1st.
I’ve been thinking about gastropubs ever since I got fired from one just a little over a week ago.
I’ve always had this fascination with that scene. Stuffed with tatted-beardos who wouldn’t be as fascinating otherwise, put a beardless untatted comedian next to a tatted, unfunny-beardo and see which one gets more laughs.
It’s edgy grown up stuff, recreating the last half of the nineteenth century. Craft beers and whiskey, right?
The Liquorsmiths are also craftsmen with the release of their very like-able EP, This Book Belongs To, like tree lights on a ceiling of a non-smoking alehouse with a hue that’s always inviting when you turn them on.
That’s what this is like through and through, starting with The Wallflowers/Counting Crows-like warmth of their opening track, Coy With Me, I care less for what IPAs due to the lining of my esophagus, I want one now goddammit!
That’s starting off easy, cause there’s a bend in the note that has a saloon piano-like quality to it, which is a good way to start.
Drew Thams doesn’t need to do much, the music is already a backdrop for his voice and it fits in perfectly.
Get Well Soon picks up with more excitement, a folk-rock song where he accents his delivery, weaving in and out of the arrangements before slamming the breaks before I’m done with my IPA, I’m already ordering whiskey.
I don’t think these dudes have a problem with the Wallflowers comparison, I’m sure they’re into it. Hey, I’m thinking about getting into them for once after all these years but, I’ll also add that they remind me of… ready for this, a low energy Grant Lee Buffalo who have more of a flare for the dramatic, no doubt because of Phillips.
At least a few of these guys were bartenders so this whole thing makes sense with playing it pretty easy.
My favorite is Iris’s Song because it works on so many levels while it’s still a pop song, a good example of what they can do as a band but then when we get to Thief, after the interesting opening, they seem to leave Thams looking for a place to land his harmony, while everyone else scrambles for the melody. Well, not really scrambling since these guys go at their own pace.
Devil I Do is quirky and cute, a little organ and the whimsical strum of the guitar doesn’t build much anticipation for the listener, that’s left up to Thams again.
Look, how much kneading of dough does one need to do to make artisan bread? I don’t know anything about crafting anything! All I know is that the well whiskey is good enough for me, which is probably why I don’t last at those bars.
Actually, it’s probably more because I don’t have tats or can’t grow a beard.
Alright, enough about me, I’ve never had that brand of Rye whiskey which I intend to sip on as Day By Day plays me out on this EP.
Again, the Liquorsmiths have a carefree attitude with that one because after a few in me, I’m singing along with everyone else at the end of it, toasting the band as they drift to the end and I figure out the repercussions of walking my tab.
What, me jealous of tatted-beardos? No way man! Not since Louis C.K. made it clear that we spend the majority of eternity not being here, or maybe that’s just another way to say, “yes I am!” I mean, maybe that’s how a person gets an elite job and become an accepted member of society?
By the way, walking that tab doesn’t mean that’s all there is to hear from these guys. Actually, if you get their Google play/BandCamp version of this album, you’ll find that it has five additional tracks on it of unreleased acoustic songs like Blank Page which makes me wonder if these songs would sound better without the rest of the band.
Well, they’re two different dynamics which make the entire EP experience a hell of a whole lot better for me. I don’t feel too bad cutting that corner and out of sight of a bartender who might be looking for me.
These guys aren’t out there to blow minds. They’re out there swooning the service industry crowd. You know, those people who are sick of underaged, sick of the timid, they’re sick of amateur hour.
This is music for the overwhelmed, the one’s who toil over beer kegs and beer mats. It’s an easy order, something that doesn’t put people in the weeds. Alright, so while I’m scouting for other bars I can look like I’m not a part of, check them out on:
I’m going to do the thing people don’t like which is to judge another. My judgment is aimed at Samuel Claiborne who reminds me of a guy I hate. a bartender at a local bar.
Why do I hate that dude? Because he keeps winning, that’s why! He wins the way most people widely accept success, by holding onto power. Power I believe he doesn’t deserve. Continue reading
My Political Hotdog
I’m often conflicted with trying to figure out when things are my fault and when others are at fault as in, how bad are things for everyone out there right now? I want a hotdog right now and so I’m going to go get that, with some other stuff to go with it because at the very least, it’s what I want. It’s at that point when I judge the world by how far I have to go to get it.
Does no one else around here want hotdogs enough to cause a store in the area to carry them? What kind of a fucked up world do we live in that doesn’t want hotdogs in their store? Maybe the neighborhood over there who gets hotdogs in their stores whenever they want, is a better neighborhood (world) to live in.
Then I see on the news that there are people in other parts of the world who can’t even get regular food no matter how much they demand it. They were demanding it and become hollow and ghost like because their biology doesn’t allow them to function without nutrition. Yeah, brains can’t function to process information our personalities and characteristics that make us social being to fade.
Now I feel bad about my hotdog craving ways and think they could use hotdogs too and before I can imagine more realistic humanitarian ways to help, their government starts shooting them down in the streets. There’s a breakdown in society and the news comes at me everyday and I can’t keep my hotdogs down.
As a writer, I want to do what I can to make people aware of what I think would be a solution to that problem as well as addressing the problem themselves, and as a band Vile Display Of Humanity wants to do their part too.
It doesn’t matter whether these guys are Chicago or Seattle scene because they’re of the DIY scene, which spans out past borders and communities making it multi-social and their message clear, that shit is fucked up and someone needs to do something about it.
This band isn’t just another seed from Monsanto, they’re a hard working bunch of DIY warriors with a message to the establishment, wake up and help people get what they deserve! my hotdogs here is the catalyst to help me make my point.
By the way, hotdogs are also a great way to make use of meat resources.
Maybe meat isn’t a good analogy to hang this review on because often in the DIY scene there are rules against beer, cigarettes, drugs and maybe even meat.
Anyway, just how frustrated are they with the weight of the world? Pretty damn fucking frustrated. But before we dive right into the first track on the album, listen to tracks 6-9, each of them are a little over a minute long and each one gives you a variety of their guttural incendiary core sound.
The track Minimum wage cold cocks you right in the marrow. It’s sharp and on point with the choral sections that will raise the McDonald’s pay grade within 24 hours if they were outside of one ripping this song.
There are no comparisons to anything else out there I’m going to make for the simple reason that it’s going to piss these guys off. Would hate to get caught up in that energy. But I will say that I don’t get enough of Doug Mitchell’s raspy throatal howl in the track You Can’t Escape.
They will be glad to know that I can’t escape the unrelenting assault of razor fury coming from that track. There’s something quite captivating in that energy which prevents me from pulling away from it. Abrasive is what we’re into and yes, with the wrong ear it’s definitely that. But the dense melody of the bass let’s songs like Shades Of Gray coast.
All of these songs make for coherent listening except for when Time To Die sound like they started throwing things together, which brings me to another point; when can they tell whether one part of a song goes to another song because some of these parts sound the same. It’s that kind of attention to detail they’re probably pretty good at where they hear something he rest of us don’t.
What am I, Harry Dean Stanton asking Ridley Scott if he has enough money to make Alien?
But I’m into the wall of nonstop sound they create in their songs, like in bleeding out where their audio assault doesn’t let up at all, which likely wouldn’t be possible if they weren’t young enough to do it. I’m already pretty exhausted just getting a quarter of the way into the album to know that this shit is hard work!
Either that or it’s a symptom of my hotdog diet?
Pleasant Aural Assault
And I like it when they go through that period of one minute tracks where they convince me of absolute truth to never throw out an idea. Trust yourself when you feel you’re done. Why keep going past the two minute mark? It’s kind of like when I got fired recently, someone had to make a decision as to when they were done and trust it. Kind of like when Emilio Esteves decides to let go, right?
When You See The Light is a sad little diddly about death maybe? I don’t know. But it’s the most haunting track on the entire album.
This album is like the kind of art you have to be conditioned to make or get into because, anyone who isn’t used to accepting this kind of anger would be too frightened to understand where that person is coming from or not from the same anger.
Anyway, See What God Did is one of my favorite tracks on this whole thing. While there’s a place for the short ones, its these almost ballads that reach close to the 3 minute mark where they shine for me. There’s no way for me to tell who’s on the guitar here, either Youngberg or Foster.
It’s not hard to get the message. These guys aren’t necessarily singing about having dinner with the family. There are some issues in the world which need to be addressed and address them they do.
These songs are bullets in that they can hit you from far away, even if you really don’t know what they’re singing about. Except for them they open up with an acoustic track Sunday Morning.
Now, I’m a bit of a news junkie but I’m also partisan. Wouldn’t it be strange to find they’re on the wrong side of things? But that’s what makes the DIY scene so interesting is that the youth see things differently, not really pulled in by the rhetoric or whatever the climate might be in Washington or any where else.
Is it always about politics? Not really. Sometimes their anger is about certain truths we can’t control like that hotdog thing I was talking about and the song titles are a pretty clear on what they’re singing about.
By the way, could you imagine if these guys were pundits on something? Maybe that’s something they should look into. Maybe they could come on my radio show to talk about that stuff, right?
Check out this and their first album on
And quite honestly, it’s a bit of a relief! More to come!
When I overheard someone say long ago that Dallas sucked, I took that as truth and ran with it. Already a angst-ridden teenager at the time, I looked for the ugliness in everything. It wasn’t until someone set me straight, only over the last fifteen years to say they were proud of this city. Again, I took that and ran with it too.
Gideon King’s City Blog album is a tribute to the city of New York, which is far more deserving than my city is. We’re small fry compared to the Big Apple and at my age, but this album also makes me a little anxious when people express that kind of loyalty.
Because people are picking up and moving to other cities all of the time. Rather than refer to the more extreme case of the refugee crisis in Europe, I’ll stick closer to home to report that a large population Californians are relocating to Texas. But I doubt it’s as overwhelming the fact that everyone goes to New York.
It’s like Marc Maron when he asks the opening questions in his podcast as to where their guest grew up, as if the region truly defines the person, which is at the root of what contributes to my anxiety.
I mean, do I sound like I’m from Texas? I can’t pin down an accent unless it’s over-exaggerated for comedic effect for my entertainment, but then again we do have Boston.
The track New York Is is written in that traditional 70’s style that I’ve always associated with New York from ads I saw on television when I was a kid and I’m not alone on that because John Legend & The Roots did it too.
It’s not as punctual as those examples and not the most punched up track on the album but it certainly stands out as an example of that New York loyalty I was talking about.
And by the way, for those of us who haven’t been to New York, our curiosity is usually rubbed the wrong way with stories of that city’s temperament, so I after giving this a background listen, letting it naturally sway me, I put it to the test by playing it while I was at different emotional states.
See In Double is too lofty and cocky for its own good.
The title track City Blog is a great opener for a night on the town. It’s Metheny smooth and when it gets to the chorus, the melodic climb makes it pop. And when it feels right, you don’t have to go through the cycle of a few verse chorus verse before getting into a solo part. That happens right after the first time around and it becomes immersible.
Down is one another urban howler are top notch favorites that effectively yank people out of any dreadful state with Marc Broussard‘s warm tenor. I mean, fuck Sam Smith, right!?
And by the way, the assortment of talent on here is overwhelming if you know these names like Broussard, Elliott Skinner and other heavy hitters then it certain has every reason to be as deserving of the urban landscape it wants to present.
That still doesn’t mean that I have the patience to wait at the restaurant for Friendship Cliche even though it’s charming company with what I think was Donny Mccaslin’s flute, putting some character in the track but it’s still a little too lazy for me.
But What Say You was completely disarming for those moments where I felt as if I were listening to a Mazzy Star track. When Grace Weber owns a song, this is easily the one. It’s a track on it’s own as it allows me to drift easily. And either I wrote about this before or I’ve thought it out loud but drifting has it’s consequences and we go back to that anxious feeling I was talking about where an easy going thing can go terribly wrong at any moment, but that doesn’t happen here.
My temperament is stubborn and hard to tame because at the worst, I hated the track Glide because it didn’t excel far enough to keep up with the rest of the album’s best moments.
And I don’t imagine that Gideon’s wants to display the bad parts of his city, which like any city can be overlooked. What he’s putting on display is easy, it’s all about New York’s personality as interpreted by these artists.
Musicianship notwithstanding, the delivery is at the very least what you expect from anyone who knows their scales but the arrangements are creative and they’re what impress me the most.
At first listen, I thought the mix was too subtle in some places like it was with K.D. Lang’s Drag but I was wrong about that. It’s rich and glittery but it’s also modest.
At the same time I feel these sets of tracks make the entire album appropriately distant from how it views New York. It’s reluctant to embrace it completely, being entirely open and it remains objective.
This isn’t one of those albums where they spotlight every instrument solo as they go into one, though there’s no doubt they do that during their live shows. Which reminds this old man about the time I saw Remy Shand and made the mistake of doubting his improvisation skills when the kick drum pedal went out during their show. Boy oh boy!, he sure taught your pappy a lesson when he free-styled for bout thirty minutes while other capable dudes went into the streets to look for another kick-pedal.
I think the best example of this is with the track Just Play. Check out at 2:33 when the track grows out of it’s small beginning with Kevin Hays on the piano and Gideon King on the guitar, which has that Remy Shand feel to it.
I feel like Gideon is very really into New York for the moment he’s having this one night stand. He’s legitimately into it and sometimes there are some dull moments, and even though they’re both lying there and glowing, he’s up and gone before New York wakes up, and he’s out there telling everyone about it. The feelings that follow is anyone’s guess.
Keep up to date with Gideon King & City Blog via
I had this revelation recently about social media’s online role in the global class system where, if you think about it, social media is the dregs of every conversation. Here we are, feeling empowered by our voices and yet have to fight the struggle against the gatekeepers of the upper class region of the network to be seen and heard before we’re taken seriously.
Fringe groups now have a noticeably stronger voice too which irritates the common sense of the majority of the rest of the population to the point where people who’ve paid no attention at all are forced to fight too. Take a look at Ben Lorentzen’s album America and you don’t have to get past the song titles and cover to get the message, that Ben Lorentzen is an angry optimist. But he’s thats for all the right reasons.
The digitization of the American flag on the cover sends a message. Whether it’s a good of bad one depends on the viewer, but I think it’s designed to irritate the fringe extremists who get itchy trigger fingers when “their” symbol is fucked with. If that’s the plan, then not only am I revealing here which side I’m on by saying this, but I’ll say that this album is the accurately presented message we need now, sort of.
Lorentzen makes no secret of what he means to do when he starts off the album with the song My American Revolution when he says:
This is my American Revolution,
I have always been a wanderer,
Never quite been so alone,
Sailed across the sea on Mayflower,
Sailed across the sky to the Sun,
And I will never return,
All my bridges are burnt.
According to his site, during a good pivotal moment in his life, the ministry he and his wife used to work for fired them when he wrote that song. It was this song that was suggested he open the album with in a cinematic way. And as I have a habit of referencing movies, that triggered this:
As an Atheist, the only Ministry that’s ever done anything for me has been the one led by Al Jourgensen but as a human, I hate to see terrible things happen to such good people, but that’s a rant for another time.
My initial reaction to other songs like The Ugliest Girl In The World was that it was a little harsh before he clarifies that this is a song about social stigma, which in the history of civilization has always been tricky. For instance, Kim Davis might be the ugliest girl in the world right now, but she doesn’t have to be. Would Lorentzen embrace her?
Ugh… *shaking off the shivers. (aside) Go to your happy place Zoe, go to your happy place.
Heaps Of Ashes is a well-written pop song with a story about ending up somewhere whether you can help it or not, with banjo and harmonica it displays a morally faith-based message, which is effective for those who have never been existentialists about anything.
I also like how Lorentzen’s Masters Of War let’s the song hinge from the bass. The song has a bolder message, which if correct, challenges the military by not condoning the act of killing others behind a pile of money. It’s good enough to be used as bumper music between Amy Goodman’s reporting on Democracy Now!, but I doubt that people so drunk on bloodletting and war money would tremble under the idea of what a fictional character from a book thousands of years old would think of them.
A friend of mine and I once went to a local city church with a coffee bar and art gallery. Growing up in a religious family, I didn’t recognize any of the hymns they were singing (still don’t) but assumed they were written by someone there or, as usual, are circulated in the non-denominational mega church networks. But I do remember they weren’t very catchy like many of the tracks here. Hell, I might go to church if I could sing one of these things with everyone else!
Especially if it’s the last track Jesus, John & I, which is as glorious as any modern day “chamber music” played on those Christian hit-song album collections they sell on television. You know, where they hold their hands up in the air with their eyes closed?
Ben Lorentzen is a superb and passionate singer-songwriter with a distinct message who reveals a lot about himself but says very little under the illusion of the church. He seems to get that, but he’s still defiant whether he understands it or not. To be direct, his album America is for the timid-class, like Springsteen’s albums are for the working-class.
But there’s no lack of craft on this album. He’s a songwriter for sure and he’s got a signature sound that’s all his own, slightly underdeveloped but not without direction and he’s doing fine as a director.
If I were one of those New Atheists (only on Sundays) who didn’t tolerate any of this, I would be weary of recommending this to anyone in order to not contribute to the criminal activity of pushing Jesus onto vulnerable and ignorant people. But Lorentzen doesn’t come across as diabolical here as he makes no secret that he’s just casually seeing things his way.
If I were to take the example of The Ugliest Girl In The World, I would say that I have sympathy for the most extreme case of this vulnerability turned to ignorance called Kim Davis, where I can make some effort to reach out to her kind but I’m pretty sure the Sunday morning Atheist in me will rise like the “end times Barack Obama” and cast her into the fire, lickety splits!
But let’s say that Lorentzen were to step out of that cycle of indoctrination, there’s no doubt in my mind or any other part of me that he’s got more to say and it’s taken his America to prove that indefinitely.
Stream his album from the
list above. Also check out his
his other videos on
Get him on Twitter
*Corrections made 6:24 PM – CST – 09/05/2015