Down the Happy Song Rabbit Hole

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To get a positive boost in my system this morning I cranked out some happy tunes. The world is going to shit, so here’s my five must-play, down the happy rabbit hole songs:

5. Skinhead Love Affair – Bad Manners: This is actually a sour song of love gone stale over the short course of a stint in the pen. Sometimes I guess absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. Eitherwho… The song does present a shit sandwich on a golden platter and it’s fun to skank to.

4. A Message to Rudy – The Specials: This song is top in my heart. It reminds me of my young ‘un  Rudy and all the hell raising he does on a daily basis. That kid moves on his own set of rules. Another great song to skank to, it always puts a smile on my face.

3. 54-46 Was My Number – Toots and the Maytals: Just the way this song starts out is powerful and positive. It clears the lungs if yer singing along. Toots Hibbert has some serious pipes so it’s no surprise this song is on the happy list. It was waiting there for me as I started further down the rabbit hole of the YouTubes.

2. Dirty Reggae – The Aggrolites: With a profound organ part, this song screams good times. “Got me feelin’ alright/Dirty reggae tonight.” Who wouldn’t get up and dance to this super sweet song? I dunno, this one is damn-near tops and sets up what’s next.

1. The Impression That I Get – The Mighty Mighty Bosstones: The song is put on by Third Wave Skacore pioneers The Mighty Mighty Bosstones with frontman Dicky Barrett’s stone grinding on stone vocals that turns my soul into cornmeal. Lyrically it is about the lead singer never having gone through a traumatic experience (knocking on wood) but that someone he knows has, and he is wondering how he would deal with the situation. Happy happy, joy joy.

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The Top Ten Albums I Rocked in 2014

I’m not normally one for “Best of” lists. I only very seldom travel down this road but a friend asked me the other day jokingly, “You have your Top Ten list for 2014 made yet?” I didn’t think much of it at first, laughing it off as a simple joke, an attempt at beginning a conversation with some cheeky small talk. In all actuality he wasn’t serious, but after a while I really put some thought into it; kinda like the “Favorite Concert” thing. I did have a smattering of music that defined my year, so I got a little determined and put my creativity to work.

I put together a list of albums that I listened to this year. This comes from the soul. These aren’t all new records from 2014, some of them span back decades but they were influential to me this year. This has been an introspective year and I feel the music on this list is interwoven into that tapestry. I have redefined myself I think as a person, father, lover and I feel now I need to share myself to the world. I start with this list:

10. The National – High Violet (2010). There were two albums from The National that helped me get through and write my poetic mini-opus “Tailstock” this year. Trouble Will Find Me is a great album and came out last year, but it was 2010’s High Violet that really helped center my focus and give me the oomph that I needed to pour myself out poetically. The first song I ever heard from The National, “Bloodbuzz Ohio” is from this album. I saw them perform it on a BBC program called: Later… with Jools Holland and from that moment on, I was hooked. I think it’s Matt Berninger’s brooding vocals and poignant message that makes this album hit home for me. It’ll never get old no matter what mood I’m in, or just lounging I’ll throw it on a take it for a spin.

9. Pearl Jam – Live On Two Legs (1998). This album was released in 1998 and is a culmination of Pearl Jam’s repertoire up to their Yield album – which by the by is my second favorite PJ record (number one goes to No Code). So, I’ve had this on vinyl for years and I never listened to it. On occasion I’ll bust out Yield or No Code and play them but of all the records I own, Live On Two Legs has never been played until this year’s mid-term elections. I got pretty bent out of shape over the fact that our polling presence was the worst its been since 1942 (when the country was at war and everyone was too busy fighting overseas to show up to the polls). So now there is a new regime of rich old white guys with hidden agendas and big corporations in their ear running the politics in this country instead of elected officials representing the whole of the American population. Given that more people show up to stores for Black Friday than to attempt to elect competent leaders for this country, I felt I needed to blow off some steam and find my inner Eddie Vedder. ‘Tis a great record. One of my faves on this record is “Given to Fly.” It’s a great song, pumps me up when I need it and helps me to reminisce fond memories of my Airborne days.

8. The Black Keys – The Moan EP (2004). Released in 2004 by bluesy, grime/garage rockers Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, The Moan is a hard-hitting four-song EP combining two great originals, “Heavy Soul” and “The Moan” with a cover of the Stooges “No Fun” and a retooling of Richard Berry and The Pharaohs “Have Love, Will Travel.” Richard Berry fathered one of the greatest doo-wop songs to bop out of the ’50s, “Louie Louie” and in my own opinion The Black Keys do a great job of covering his other masterpiece “Have Love Will Travel.” All things considered, I’m not liking the direction The Black Keys are going with this more “Top 40” sound they have these days but I’m a huge fan of Auerbach’s scraggly voice and paired down guitar that are showcased on this EP. It’s rock ‘n’ roll, baby and I dig it.

7. Obstacle – S/T (2014). I stumbled upon this hardcore punk band from Dublin, Ireland almost completely by accident. It is a lucky accident and these dudes come correct. The album is eight tracks and a whopping 11 minutes of scream-tastic tasty greatness. I don’t have a favorite off the record only because each track streams into the next in a continuous head pounding melee that is hardcore to the bone. The tracks are broken up by occasional spoken interludes but the record altogether is a non-stop kick in the balls. I should note that if you are over the age of 30 you should follow up listening to this record with some aspirin. Just sayin’.

6. The Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime (1984). I love the Minutemen. I love their approach to music, their sound, their ideas; everything. I’m sad that lead vox and guitar man, D. Boon is dead and that there is no more Minutemen, but I’m glad we have what we have. My wife introduced me to these guys years ago and they are probably most famous for (or unintentionally famous for) their song “Corona” being the opening credits for Jackass. It was only one of 45 tracks on their original LP released in 1984 and to say I have a favorite off this album is outright stupid. I can’t, it’s impossible. What I can say is I listened to this record almost non-stop during my 2012 Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike and it kept me trucking right along over 2,100 miles of gnarly mountain climbs, shitty weather and beautiful scenery. I’ve also watched their documentary “We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen” about a gadzillion times and it never gets old. Its on Netflix, or you can watch it in lo-fi on the YouTubes. The Minutemen is the complexity of humanity told through music in its simplest form. Me likey, me likey a lot.

5. Death – …For The Whole World To See (1975). Yep, originally recorded in 1975 in Detroit, Michigan this album and the three dudes who cut it were decades ahead of their time. Proto-punk, yes and influential without a shadow of a doubt. I can’t even begin to explain how incredibly freaking amazing this record is. When other punk “greats” (cue The Ramones) were studying elementary mathematics and pinching pig-tailed girls on the ass, these guys were pissing their neighbors off with thrashing guitar anthems and breaking barriers – sound barriers! The Hackney Brothers put together something that shook the rock community to its very foundation, so much so that it lay dormant for damn near 40 years before the whole world could truly appreciate their work. After my youngest son was born, and my work schedule allowed it, we would start the morning off with what I would call, “Our Daily Dose of Death.” It sounds morbid, but I really just wanted to spin the tunes off this record (a gift from Thom, thanks duder) for my kid and make a morning that would be packed with wholesome punk rock goodness. My oldest son loves this album, too citing “Freaking Out” as his favorite song. I’d have to say “Let the World Turn” is my favorite. I’m a sucker for drum solos.

4. Portugal. The Man – Church Mouth (2007). I can’t imagine what the world would be like with no Portugal. The Man in it. It would more than likely suck. These dudes bring a soulful rock ‘n’ roll combination that is just total art in music form. I dunno, I saw them live at Austin City Limits in 2010 and from then on out I was hooked. I listened to this album a lot when I was on the Appalachian Trail as well, but it wasn’t until I added it into my steady rotation this year that it really settled in with me. I’d like to think if these guys were born 30-40 years ago they’d be keeping court with Santana and the like. It’s a great ying to all the yang floating out there in the ether that I listen to. It’s got guitars, electronics and the aforementioned soul. Soul, man. I’m telling you it puts everything on autopilot, Church Mouth comes on and takes over; hands behind head, leaning back and letting the sun hit my face… big thank you to Andy Keil for the intro on these guys.

3. Band of Horses – Cease to Begin (2007). The first Band of Horses song I ever heard was “The Funeral” which was from their 2006 album, Everything All The Time. It is a great song, I listened to the rest of the album, liked it and then put it away for future endeavors. It wasn’t until I was an intern at Pitchfork (yeah, that Pitchfork) that I did a copy edit/fact check of a record review for Cease to Begin and I thought to myself, “Man, I haven’t listened to these guys in a long while.” So, I dipped my toe into the album and it didn’t really strike an significance with me and so I put that one away for future endeavors, too. That was 2009, and its been a good five years and I’m right back at it. There’s one song in particular that fills me with every emotion I can muster: happiness, sadness, frailty, suitability, a lackluster need to stare at myself in the mirror and ask, “What the hell are you doing here on this spinning rock?” It’s all there. The song is “Ode To LRC” and it is pretty dern alright. Its hard to articulate what this song really does to me. I’m happy and sad at the same time when I’m listening to it. I’m pissed I haven’t seen these guys live and I can’t tell you how many times this song – nay – this record pops up on my playlist whilst I’m tooling around Chicago on my bicycle. “Is There a Ghost” is great, “Detlef Schrempf” is great, every song on this album is great. If that makes me soft, remember this list culminates the emotion of an entire year. This album is a main ingredient to that.

2. Fela Kuti and Afrika 70 – Fear Not For Man (1977). What do you say first about Fela Kuti? Born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, from an upper-middle-class Nigerian activist/anti-colonial mother and a Protestant minister father, Fela transitioned from studying medicine to studying music and all things considered, the world is a better place for it. His signature afrobeat jazz music is culminated in electrifying, 15-minute instrumentals pockmarked with Nigerian pidgin English that are streaming an endless groove through my head daily. His discography is almost limitless and if you really want to learn the passion behind his purpose, check out this documentary about him called “Music is the Weapon.” Now, given his extensive collection it’s hard to pin down any one favorite but I did rock this album, more so for its B Side “Palm Wine Sound.” The only other song that stays playing in my head regularly is “Sorrow, Tears and Blood” from the Opposite People EP. I never thought in a million years I’d like – let alone love – jazz music, but I have a soft spot in my heart for that of the afrobeat flavor. I’m not trying to be pretentious. I don’t know everything about Fela or African jazz music, nor do I think I ever could but I do know that the revolutionary sleeping inside of me dreams of social activism and maverick ruthlessness the same way Fela stood up to the antagonists in his life. This music is in me, it plays on continuous loop through my heart, my mind, my soul. Ev-rybody scatter, scatter!

1. Beck – Morning Phase (2014). I’ve listened to Beck ever since Mellow Gold came out when I was in high school. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, it was eschew from grunge, alternative and all the canned “Fuck the Police” rap that was circulating at the time. I loved it. It bordered obscurity but was palatable and was just fucking rad! Beck ebbed and flowed for the next couple of decades and pretty much everything he’s ever released has been tempered in ground breaking awesomeness, but he outdid himself with Morning Phase. Maybe its my mood at the time, maybe its because I’m getting older but when I first heard a couple of the tracks on Saturday Night Live I felt I had found what my life was missing musically. The word “beauty” comes to mind when I want to describe the music on this album. The phrase “limitless soundscapes” also comes to mind when you think that the forefront of each track is his voice and a guitar, underlain with that non-organic flair that only Beck could bring to the table. I’m smitten with this record much like one who looks upon startling beauty for the first time or the way soft snow falls late at night behind the porch light when there is no wind. I am an old softy, but I can’t help myself and given the way this year has ended, I think a soft heart and a happy soul is the only way I’ll be able to weather 2015.

So there it is ladies and germs. And here are some honorable mentions for the year as well:

– Hanggai – He Who Travels Far (2010)
– Fela Kuti – Opposite People EP (1977)
– Pearl Jam – No Code (1996)
– … And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Festival Thyme (2008)
The entire LCD Soundsystem Catalog
– Stone Temple Pilots – Tiny Music… Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop (1996)
– Wild Beasts – Smother (2011)

What Was Your Favorite Concert?

Photo by Gavin Paul

Photo by Gavin Paul

An interesting question was posed to me back ch’onder ’round August 16th this year:

“What was your favorite concert?”

That’s a loaded question, right there. It has vexed me for some time. My immediate answer was, “Wow, there’s no way to answer that question from one point of view. I mean, my most spiritual concert experience is much different than my first metal or punk show and that in of itself is also so much more different than my first festival experience. So there’s no real angle of attack to such a question.”

It vexed me hard core for a while.

I was brought into the subject during a visit with my mom, her husband and my kid brother in upstate New York for a camping trip. My brother and I started talking about favorite songs, albums, etc. and my mom chimes in with that question. Since then, I’ve been thinking day in and day out to figure out what it is that could be the solid basis for a favorite concert. Do we go with era? genre? atmosphere of the social climate and the band playing conscious of that? guy band? girl band? venue? I mean, the criteria is limitless but there has to be something. How do you have a muddled cloud of “ties for first place, number one best concert ever” sitting atop a mountain of emotion or lack thereof.

I took that incoherent pinch of non-logic with no beginning and no end and I rolled it back in my mind some more and continued on this crocodile death roll in the reeds of my shell-shocked mind and I think… and think… and think… and think…

Then I asked my wife when I got home and clued her in to how vexed I truly was and thought that maybe she can offer up some clarity; un-muddy the waters if you will. She’s a level-headed woman, she’s fairly intelligent when it comes to music (she’s snobby about it, which in a lot of ways validates her opinion because of an inherent emotional attachment to something so personal) and above all: logic is her cornerstone. She’s a female Mr. Spock and I’m her James Kirk who karate kicks his way through space leaving a wake of brokenhearted green bitches and torn fabrics of time that are still toppling far reaching intergalactic societies. But my heart is in the right place.

Remember that time you called me on the phone when I was in New Orleans? Remember the Capt. Kirk cutout? Remember?

I digress. The wifey furrowed her brow thinking in the same camp as me on this favorite concert business and then further clouded the conundrum with this gem: “Well, what’s your favorite band?” Shit, woman! If it were that easy, I’d had it figured out on the spot! So, I think about that and discount the “favorite band theory” on the grounds that it was way too simple. Just because I’ve seen my favorite band in concert, it doesn’t mean that was my favorite concert. See above paragraph for where that whole chestnut starts.

Then I take this new blip on the radar and mash it together with all the other crap that goes along with answering the questions and I think… and think… and think… and think…

Holy crap! Favorite band?! What now? A completely different dimension to musical favorites. It too (the favorite band question) has an algorithm completely to itself that would take a lifetime to completely figure out. A favorite song would also come from the favorite band, right? Or would it? Back to the band, man. We’re getting the band back together. So, now I need to find out which band I find to be tops and then figure out that song probably from that band, maybe therein would define what a favorite show would encompass. But what if my favorite song isn’t from my favorite band? Shit! Questions…

Then I listen to some tunes. I know my favorite band, I’ll start there. But right from the beginning I know my favorite concert was not a Pearl Jam concert although both times I did see them were quite awesome. Both shows were in 2003 when I got home from Afghanistan and was about four months away from going to Iraq. What a rumbustious time. The first show was post Afghanistan in April 2003, I saw Pearl Jam for the first time at the Walnut Creek Amphitheater in North Carolina. I sang every song all the way through, got to second base with a random blond in the parking lot and went home from that show with a new-found vigor in life that followed me all the way through to the end of my military service. The second show was at the Cricket Amphitheater in Phoenix, Arizona about two months before shipping to Iraq. I sang every song all the way through, went all the way with a different blond at a hotel and knew that this was probably going to be my last great music experience ever because I wasn’t going to be making it home from a ground war in Iraq. But neither of those shows were top in my book. They both embody the live spirit of my favorite band but they don’t hold sway for a top concert experience. So there’s no match there.

I go back in my mind and continue to think… and listen to more tunes… and think… and listen to more tunes…

This goes on with a hidden religious fervor and I bounce all over the music stratosphere like a nuclear powered super ball on steroids ricocheting off every music genre, album, artist, geographic location, time of my life ever experienced and I’m coming up nil. But, those who try and fail are doing better than those who never try at all, so at least I can motivate myself that way to stay the course and make good with an answer. Hell, who knows. It may never come, or it’ll be my dying words whispered from my deathbed. Leaving my kids and grand kids confused, “Who cares what granpa’s favorite concert was? Where the heck did that come from?” Ha! My legacy! Like all those who try, persistence is bitter but the reward is sweet.

And just like that, the answer came to me.

I was dancing around the house blaring tunes with the Rude Dude one morning and it came on; the one song that – no matter what, no matter where – when it comes on my mood immediately gets better. When this song comes on, I never skip ahead. If it has been on and I catch it part-way through, I finish the song and then replay it so I can hear it through in its entirety. This song cheers me up when I’m down, gets me amped when I’m low and when I’m in a great mood, this song takes me to the next level.

 

“Monday Morning Ant Brigade” by the Bouncing Souls; a song that any working class person can wrap their head around. It’s a snarling-tough, covered in tattoos and stinks of beer and whiskey kind of song.

This song is a middle finger to any who try to make someone else’s day total shit, it puts a middle finger up to regular authority/conformity and outlines how truly shitty it can be to wake up from a raucous night out – hung over or still drunk – striking out with every woman from the night before and having to face a Monday at work.

Good, bad, awesome, shitty, rebellious all wrapped into one song. Tits! But that’s where it started. I figured out my favorite song. Not a tie for first or a mixture of music that fits my mood, nope this one is the multifaceted, all encompassing, all being, all knowing song that is the crown jewel in my music collection. That got the ball rolling and I thought about it deeper and realized the album that song is on is tits as well.

The album is Hopeless Romantic and it’s packed to the hilt with timeless punk anthems from the ’90s on. “Fight to Live” and “You’re So Rad” are two ends of a spectrum loaded with hard-hitting riffs that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up from opening note to the last drip of sweat poured out from album closer, “The Whole Thing”. It’s an album that I don’t necessarily worship so much as I appreciate. The musical talent culminating on one collection of songs, Greg Attonito’s voice, the message, it all makes sense – it’s my favorite album. It was a go-to for the jukebox when we would post-up at the standard watering hole back in the day. Once we got our quarters in the machine it was ours and the sing-song American hooligan anthems on Hopeless Romantic topped the list on most occasions. “Bullying the Jukebox” and “Ole!” were bar faves as was the bop-y anti-love ditty, “Wish You Well.” With pints hoisted high and our music playing soundtrack, we’d drink to the best days behind us, better days to come, friends long past and new acquaintances just the same.

I get lost in the lyrics and moved by the change-ups and bass lines; I transport to a different world, like the night I saw them at the Metro in Chicago with my wife – who was my fiance at the time.

I can honestly say I’ve seen some decent bands at the Metro: Streetlight Manifesto, The Aquabats! and the Tossers – to name a few. Each time was great, I never really had a complaint about the venue. Sometimes the audio can be a little distorted, but I’m not so much an audiophile or music snob, it just has to be loud and fast (most of the time). But by and large, when the wife and I saw the Bouncing Souls there something inside of me was changing. I was seeing a band I’ve been wanting to see for some time and it was going to be fairly intimate; right up to the barriers, loud, obnoxious and completely kick-ass! I was in a city that put these things – these live shows – at my finger tips. I hadn’t yet been much of a music critic and had yet to really experience a huge festival or blow-out big show. This was our time, our moment to listen to some punk tunage and just let it all hang loose. And we did. There was much drinking, my favorite songs were played and by shows end the wife was lined up to beat the crap out of some wank beotch from the suburbs.

The fight never happened, the rest of the night was a bit of a blur as most of my concert experiences have been.

But that show tops them all. It wasn’t the most moving. It wasn’t an evening of ground breaking new music. It was loud punk music in a place that I liked, with a person I was completely in love with (and still am to this day, XOXO A). It was hot, sweaty, loud – crazy loud – and we didn’t really have much of a care in the world. We didn’t have to go to that show, we wanted to. There was no social obligation involved other than we wanted each others company during a live show we were both completely in to.

And that, as a long answer, was my favorite concert. All things considered, I’m not done going to live shows and I still have a number of bands I still need to see live. But that is where I stand as of right now and I’m pretty alright with it.

TOOTS & THE MAYTALS: “54- 46 THATS MY NUMBER” c. 1975

My lord! Everything I’ve ever known as a lover of ska music is boiled down into this hometown ska rocksteady masterpiece! Listen all the way through, test your resolve as that who respects the beats that come from the home island of Jamaica and tighten your belt for a whirlwind ride steeped in this tasty, magical showpiece. See the following post to see where Toots Hibbert ranks on my list of totally kick ass people. Much love to all and enjoy!

Crazy Rocket Fuel, Volume 1

If cornering the market on being an all woman, hyper-awesome, old school, sawdust on the floor Rockabilly band were illegal, the Milwaukee quartet, Crazy Rocket Fuel would most definitely be Taycheedah bound.  All things considered, hearing their debut album Volume 1 and seeing these beautiful songstresses sing the tunes live are two totally different animals.  Lead singer and guitarist Kari Bloom is sultry in every single way.  From her platinum blond hair to her deep red lips, she can melt a crowd with surgeon-like precision.  Backed by songwriter, singer and lead guitarist Ginny Wiskowski, Laura Proeber on the stand-up bass, and Debbie Bricault tanning the skins, CRF is more than just combustible, they are molten hot magma!  But, I digress.  These ladies deserve more than a one-man wrecking crew drooling over them and should have something that closely resembles an album review.

Their album, Volume 1, was released in December of 2009.  And for a lack of better words, it is sheer perfection.  In the eyes of a die hard Rockabilly fan, these ladies belt out awesome honky-tonk inspired tunes like it’s second nature.  The album opener, and aptly titled, “Crazy Rocket Fuel” is a traveling bass line, get up out of your seat and dance kind of dream song.  Following it up is the toe-tapping “Chevy Nova”.  The song takes a page out of the Reverend Horton Heat’s retro repertoire.  These ladies follow a recipe of traditional Rockabilly that would leave anyone hard pressed not to tap their toes to bouncy bass lines or purse their lips during a twangy lead guitar riff.

The sound is traditional, but you can tell the lyrics are from an all lady band.  Songs like “Ball & Chain” and “Smitten” have that woman’s touch.  Don’t get me wrong, these ladies are all class and excellent performers.  Having this album in my possession is a gift from God.  “Oh Honey” has that lovers lament feel to it coupled with a swing dance touch.  The catchiest song on the album (and my favorite to see live) is “Funspell.”  Nothing says a good time like witchcraft and honky-tonk!  “Taycheedah Bound” is fun and tells the story of a woman fed up with her old man and “stabbing him with a knife.”  The album is rounded off with a singing cowgirl song “(Who My) Baby Daddy.”  Bloom and Wiskowski play off each other lyrically on “Daddy” with sheer poetic perfection.  The idea from the song could have easily been inspired by watching too much Jerry Springer, but it’s a great way to end a perfect collection of music.  Out of a possible ten stars, these ladies get every single one.  If I had four thumbs, they would all go up.  My only request:  MAKE MORE MUSIC!  Love, Peter Coffinail.

Anxiety High on New Years Eve 2009

What can be said about Anxiety High that hasn’t already been said?  Gnar, thrash, killer, or how about some damn fine Chicago Punk?  All the kooky wholesomeness aside, there are a few things that should be said about an up and coming punk band from the guts of Chicago.  First of all, these guys ripped hard core on New Year’s Eve at the Beat Kitchen on Belmont.  Throwing together quick, tasty riffs and a cavalcade of sharp vocals, these guys put a restless Chicago crowd on its heels.  Having taken the stage after another up and coming group, Enemy One, and setting the tone for Chicago’s own Shot Baker, Anxiety High proved worthy of frothing up the crowd and getting everyone in the festive spirit.  One thing they had that none of the other bands had that night was Baby New Year.  Picture a six-foot tall, bald and bearded punker in a diaper, brandishing an oversized baby bottle and light blue Chuck Taylors dancing around the stage.  This is no fairy tale, kiddies.  Baby New Year was played by a cheeky fellow named Bob Goblin and if you have a hard time believing that, just check the Anxiety High page on Myspace and see the wonder for yourself:  http://www.myspace.com/anxietyhigh.  He’s on their profile picture.  You can’t make this stuff up.  With Baby New Year dancing, Jimmy on vocals, Fish and Jonsey on guitar, Snatch on the base and Kendito on the drums, you’d think the line up would be complete.  Larry Damore, front man for Peg Boy graced the stage and wailed out a cover tune with the band and that sealed the evening.  I was blown away!  I felt like I was fourteen again and my balls just dropped!  Well played, sirs.  The evening ended out with Shot Baker and Peg Boy devouring an already ravaged crowd.  Raw punk music was on the menu and everyone went home full.  Though they are called Anxiety High, anticipation is higher and their next show is at the Empty Bottle on the 23rd of January.  They take the stage at midnight, the witching hour.  Be there, or stay home and hump yer Saint Bernard.

Pezzettino

pezzettinoWhere would you want to be on a Thursday evening despite these rough economic times? Try Reggie’s Rock Club on the near south side of Chicago, try July 2, try every first Thursday of the month, and try ladies arm wrestling on for size. Overall, the arm wrestling was amazing; it came down to the wire with a shocking win by the Cinderella favorite. Truth be told, the magic came when a young woman and an accordion caught the stage on fire.
I am taken back to July seconds showing of what may be considered some of Milwaukee’s best Indie music played live, right here in Chicago. The band is Pezzettino, a power trio consisting of a drum set, bass guitar and fronted by an amazing fishnet clad vixen rocking the accordion. Sans bass player Justin Kral due to unexpected delays, Margaret Stutt and drummer Nez exploded into the evening with a dark, Tim Burton-like, loud set of melodic and mesmerizing anthems that seemed built to set the mood for an already unruly womens roller derby filled crowd. Dissonant and profound with every push and pull on her instrument, Margaret made an awesome showing. Complemented by spot-on drumming, the band seemed unstoppable in an evening filled with hot anticipation and rivalry.
I had a chance to interview the diabolically minded accordion player from Pezzettino and was overwhelmed by here abilities. An accomplished classical pianist, she wandered around the internet for a handful of years looking for a gig as a drummer in any band that would be willing to accept. How hard could it be, right? Playing everything from the piano to the glockenspiel, she had the determination to make it in the music world. Glockenspiel, huh? More or less, it is a xylophone. In the punk realm of thinking, most refer to it as the XIFII. However, with Margaret behind it, it’s a xylophone on steroids thrust into a blender of angry badgers! She found her niche with the accordion and the rest has written itself. Its easy to see that Pezzettino is a great home for any non-conforming Indie rock goddess from the frozen North.
A self proclaimed square, she’s also a fond fan of young, raw goat cheese and made a quick suggestion to change my diet when I had no idea what it tasted like. I fell in love with the band the minute they took the stage, now I’m hooked. The quickest way to a guys heart is through his stomach. Margaret made the interview fun, easy and an experience I will not soon forget. I may not be an aspiring accordion or glockenspiel player, and I may not venture to Milwaukee too much, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for this group and this wonderful young lady.
Even though the interview was short and through slightly drunken eyes, I can honestly say, my experience with the band was nothing short of amazing. The number one spot on Margaret’s list of places to play is of course the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. Having taken my fill of PBR before, during and after my interview, I can honestly say that there would be no other place to see this band again. Of course, this time with all three band members present.
Their latest album, Lion, is available through their web site http://www.pezzettino.net. Their newest album, Lamb is due for release next year. If you do not have the opportunity to see this amazing spectacle live, you can peruse some of their work on youtube by typing in: pezzettino music. For those who are not already a fan, be prepared to be swept up into a Bjork-like accordion blasting musical whimsy full of loud, proud and often dark laments of love lost and feelings hurt. All complimented by anthems speaking of shoving back the cold mar sandwiches fed by an all too often cold, dark heart.