Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Atlanta Singles Week 26 - At the Price of the Union/Some Soviet Station Split

Here are the two songs from the split 7": At the Price of the Union/Some Soviet Station

I have a large stack of classic singles put out by Atlanta bands over the years, and I am trying to keep a regular post going each week to showcase these records. This is planned for every Monday, but I already missed the first one, so we'll just have to see how well I can keep to my schedule. Let me know if you have any requests for old 7"s that you haven't heard for a long time, or would like MP3s made, as I might have them.

The first single in my stack was the split 7" on Buddy System Records (our friends in Brooklyn who helped put out the hal al Shedad records), with Atlanta/Athens bands At the Price of the Union and Some Soviet Station. At the Price of the Union consisted of Craig Dempsey from Lowboy and The 42 on guitar as well as Josh Lott on drums and Luke Gilbert on bass. They were a power trio in the vein of Hoover (you can tell they were big fans) but with a slightly more Ebullition-style hardcore thrown in. Craig is one hell of a guitarist, and the band could ride that deep bass postpunk groove like there was no tomorrow. One interesting thing is that Josh as a drummer plays right-handed, but with his left hand on the hi-hat and right hand on the snare, like Doug Scharin in June of 44 and Codeine and also coincidentally Francis Jensen from The 42. Playing drums like that is strange, normally as a right-handed drummer you hit the snare drum with your left hand and kick drum with your right foot, producing a natural side to side "dancing" motion. With Josh's style of drumming, you have a much more up and down motion without the swaying, and my main concern with this method is that you may lose the natural rhythm of your body when keeping a beat. Fortunately Josh didn't have this problem, and as an advantage, his right hand was free when it wasn't hitting the snare, so he could do a lot more tom work in the songs. Luke is also a natural groove-oriented bassman, and fits Craig's style perfectly. They are so matched together, it's like one guitar unit that cannot be separated. Chocolate Kiss played with them a few times, and I have to say they would put on one hell of a show. They lived in Athens, but was not really considered an Athens band as all three members originally came from Stockbridge (south of Atlanta), and we had known them for so long. They also played Atlanta all the time, not like some other Athens bands that never play the big city. Other than this split 7", they came out with a 5-song CD on Buddy System, which also had a plane on the cover. There was something with them and airplane/military imagery, it was cool. "Shifting" is also a great song, as should be when doing a split 7" with another band. The band didn't last much longer after their CD came out, and Josh went on to play with the string-guys in Some Soviet Station under the name Paper Lions. Craig and Luke went on to form Thoroughbred and released a single a few years ago, and still jam together but I believe no current bands at this time. Josh later played in a band called Teenage Meth Lab with Justin from Some Soviet Station, and now is the drummer for Elf Power.

Some Soviet Station was of course a powerhouse in their own right. They were like taking Drive Like Jehu and making them a band on Dischord Records, and you got an idea of how the did their business. Jesse Smith (ex-Kossabone Red) is a great frontman, Lee Corum (ex-Chapterhall) is one of the great drummers of our town - a real drummer's drummer, Justin Snyder and Chris McNeal held their own in respective duties, especially in Chris' backup vocals. They also used a lot of airplane imagery in their band, which also seemed to work with their sound somehow. Their song "Pistol-Whipped" was a hit single of theirs, with some of the strangest lyrics for this type of music. Click on the insert below to check them out. These guys got pretty popular, but after their full-length came out on Moodswing Records they somehow fizzled. Jesse now fronts the band Gentlemen Jesse and His Men, and they just released an LP on Douchemaster Records. Lee has been playing in many bands over the years, including Copa Vance, Home of the Wildcats and most recently Lay Down Mains, which is about to release their full-length on Moodswing Records.

Definitely good "turn of the century" stuff here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Corndogs of Years Past

Next Friday will be my 5th and 6th appearances playing in Corndogorama - the big festival held every Summer in Atlanta by Dave Railey. I dug up my old flyers/lineups from the past festivals I have played in and decided to post them here. I wish Dave would post flyers of all previous corndog fests, but so far I haven't seen anything.

Above: 4th Annual Corndogorama July 3rd, 1999 at Dottie's (it actually might have been the 5th). Bob Medina from Chocolate Kiss designed this flyer, and we played sometime in the afternoon, I believe. We have never played Corndogorama later than 5:15 or so - definitely never at night. That will change this year when Noot d' Noot will play on Friday night late as hell, I'm sure. I believe this was Haricot Vert's first show, as they were going under the plural version of their name. Other notable bands on the flyer are The Stimulants and Plastic Plan, but I do not remember many of the other bands. This was also held at Dottie's, the original location before it moved to the EARL in 2000 and Lenny's in 2007.

Below: Corndogorama July 1, 2000 at the EARL. This was a great lineup - probably band for band the best lineup the festival has ever had. I guess this was a pretty good time in Atlanta for local music, as we have The Close, Chocolate Kiss, Spectralux, Plastic Plan, Copa Vance, Hell Mach 4, Ocelot, Black Mollies, Some Soviet Station and Dropsonic all on the same bill. All of these bands made some kind of name for themselves in Atlanta, and it was quite a show. I believe Dropsonic has probably played more Corndogoramas than any other non-Dave Railey band. Let's hear it for longevity.

I love this message on the back of the flyer - total Kip Thomas

Above: Corndogorama June 30, 2001 at the EARL. Compared to the great year before, this was a bit of a let down lineup-wise. Peaks and Valleys. The notable acts being Chocolate Kiss (of course), Remuxers, Haricot Vert, Rizzudo, The Rock Coaches and Copa Vance. Heinous Beinfang is actually playing this year's festival on the nostalgia trip.

Below: Last Year's Corndogorama July 12-15, 2007 at Lenny's. This is the big time. Now we have an amazing lineup of bands, but spread out over 4 days and way too much time spent at Lenny's. This would make an unbelievable one day event taking the best 10 bands (Mastodon, Zoroaster, Gentleman Jesse and His Men, Judi Chicago, The Selmanaires, Sweetloves, ANDPW, Lay Down Mains, Space Seed (!) and I'll even give you Snowden, Magnapop, Coathangers and a couple of others and you got yourself one hell of a show. Fortunately, Dave allows more breathing room so bands like Sonn Av Krusher, Mistaken for Them, Forever War, and others to get on the bill and contribute what they can.

So thanks, Dave, for everything you've done over the years getting this behemoth of a show going every year, and hope you have many more years to come. For your information out there, I will be playing on Friday June 27th with Sonn Av Krusher at 4:30 in the afternoon (Happy Hour) and at 10:50 that evening - my first Corndogorama night performance. Other notable acts include Tenth to the Moon on Thursday, Sonn Av Krusher/Noot d' Noot on Friday (of course), Five-Eight/Anna Kramer/ANDPW on Saturday, and Rizzudo/Battle Cat/Maserati/Let the Night Roar/Zoroaster/Tornado Town (Will Green's new band) on Sunday. Sonn Av Krusher was supposed to play then, but a family trip to the beach happened to be planned during what was to be our moment of triumph. Next time.

Here is the full lineup for the show: Corndogorama 2008 Lineup

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mr. Bob in SoCal - Cabron! and the Mexican Shoe Thief

Here is the album for download: Cabron! Mexican Shoe Thief

Chocolate Kiss played our last show on July 4, 2002, and Bob moved soon afterwards to San Diego in time to start teaching for the upcoming 2002-2003 school year. He is an elementary school art teacher, which is only one of the thousands of professions he has had over the years, and something I know he really enjoys. I got a message from him recently that due to budget cuts he will most likely be layed off from the educational workforce out there, so I hope the best for him and Ana. For the 4-5 years that Chocolate Kiss was together, I think he liked playing our indie rock stuff, but if he could join an old-school punk/hardcore band, he would have been in old-man heaven. Well, when he moved out west, he immediately started playing with various bands and settled into this group of guys here and started Cabron!, which is probably the band he always dreamed of playing guitar for. They seem to be doing very well for themselves out there, playing regularly in SoCal and Mexico, but no plans to come East anytime soon. Bob tells me that they play in Tijuana a lot, and it's like going to a show in the US 20 years ago. Kids in Black Flag shirts, stolen power for the amps and PA being run from one extension cord down the street, completely random bands playing together, good times. They are recording some new music right about now, but here is their original release as well as liner notes, etc. for your enjoyment.

They also have a myspace page (of course). Here it is - CabronSD. You can demand that they come to Atlanta and play - I placed my vote.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Krusher and F.U.C.T. - Together at Last

Sonn Av Krusher is playing this Thursday at Lenny's Bar in Atlanta, but this is not the typical Thursday night out - the classic metallic hardcore band F.U.C.T. from Nashville will be sharing the bill with us. They were around back in the late 80's/early 90's and played with bands like O.C.B. when they would come through Atlanta, and now they are playing with the Krusher. Hope they are ready.

Here is their Myspace page - check it out

We are also playing with locals Mourdella and Sex in Cars (myspace pages attached).

It should be quite a night of pleasure.

P.S. The flyer (designed by Gray Kiser himself) has a Car Vs. Driver reference - see if you can find it.

Here is a bonus flyer from Sex in Cars - righteous.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The hal al Shedad Self-Titled Album (1996)

Here is the album for download: The hal al Shedad Self-Titled Album

Where oh where to begin? We had done 3 singles with At A Loss Records (Sound of Swords Clashing), Lunchbox Records (split with Inkwell) and Auto Stop Records (Symbol of Sound Progress), respectively, and had enough music ready to do a full-length. On our winter 1995 tour, we played in Austin, TX with Action Patrol, and Mark Owens from Buddy System Records came out to the show and I guess liked what he saw (or was it Matt Owens?). Later on he talked with his brother (the other one) as well as Mike Simonetti from Troubleman Records in New Jersey and decided to put out a split-release LP/CD. Mike told us that except for Carbomb, it was the first band he ever released without seeing live first. We recorded the album in March of 1996 in New Jersey with Alap Momin (from Dalek) studio in his parent’s house. He had recently recorded all of the Rye singles and the split LP with Karp, and we were big fans of their sound, especially guitar and cymbal sound, so we went for it. The songs were literally tracked in his garage, with the guitar amp on one side, the drums on the other, and the bass amp in the next room. I’m pretty sure the songs were recorded on ADAT tapes, just to give you an idea of the era we are talking about here. Alap was very fond of telling us that something sounded “sick”, which we weren’t used to hearing coming from Georgia, but we liked it. People seemed to enjoy this record, I have gotten many good reviews from all over and the only complaint I ever had was the recording quality. But we are talking DIY postpunk here – sorry the production value is not what you are used to. I believe we recorded the entire album in 3 or 4 days, and then drove home overnight to play with Dahlia Seed at the Driverdome. For the most part there is only one guitar, bass, drums and vocals on the album – we played it live with no overdubs or extra instrumentation. The album didn’t come out until December of 1996 (9 months turnaround time), and by then we already had the next two singles and some of the Textures of Tomorrow album written and incorporated into our set. Ben and Phil Dwyer from Inkwell worked the night shift at Kinkos during this time, so we had inserts printed in file folders for the LP release, just as something special. I think we did two pressings of this album and the file folder insert was only included on the first. Phil Dwyer also did all the artwork, which we loved and were really proud of. He basically legitimized our band through his design. Around this same time the Promise Ring’s first album came out, and it kind of looked like ours, which was kind of a bummer, but what can you do. I also liked the idea of the Hal al Shedad identification cards, which expired on March 15, 1998 although I can't remember the signficance of that date. Perhaps it was 3 years after the first show. We actually had these laminated ID cards printed, but these are long gone now. The video stills on the front were taken by Phil Dwyer from a show at a former frat house at Emory University in Atlanta, I believe it was a Food Not Bombs benefit. I still have the original video, and about 100 still images that Phil went through to find these. One of these stills is included above. The photographs were taken by Valery Lovely, a local scene icon, photographer and sister of Lewis Lovely from Scout. We walked around downtown Atlanta and used Tim from Scout's car trying to get some good surveillance-type photos to include in this release. We almost called the album “Surveillance of Heaven”, but I never had a self-titled album for any release I played on, so I recommended that we just keep it nameless. That is about all I can think of regarding this album, send me a comment if you have any questions and I can try to answer them.

Here are some alternate pictures from that photo session:

Here is an overview of each song:

Walking Blind Dancing – Good early-style song of ours, like the early singles but starting to move in the more varied dynamics direction of our mid-period stuff. Since Ben starts with the big “IIIIIIIII”, we thought it would be good to start the album that way. I liked to play things with a shuffle rhythm, and then back to straight rhythms. This is also done well on After School.

Unification – I liked how Franklin’s first album had a long instrumental song after the first rocker, and we decided to go the same way. We were into non-conventional song sequencing as a band. Josh Lott from At the Price of the Union told me once that he saw us play this song in a house in Athens and that convinced him that this type of music was the way to go.

After School – A good start with the drum fill, shuffle/straight/shuffle structure. Ed does vocal duties, which was very rare. I think Ben wrote the lyrics but wanted Ed to sing them. I always liked Ed’s singing/yelling voice, but he barely used it in the band.

Postcard Communication – We were big fans of the song “The Everyday World of Bodies“ by Rodan, and I think this was our kind of homage to it. Ben used to always start his drives in the van by putting that song on. This is when we started getting into longer and more orchestrated songs, also with The Art of Mapmaking on the same album, but didn’t really hit our peak until Textures of Tomorrow, which has a few big ones. I think we did this in one take, just because it was so long to start over.

Spoken City – This was one we wrote and almost never played live. The only time I remember playing it was in Rapid City, SD when we played someone’s hallway and the conditions were so tight an loud that we had to play the end part just to blow the place out. That end part has 3 basses going at the same time, by the way.

Consolation Prize – Great middle part that had the token “Troubleman Rhythm”, i.e. da-da/da-da, da-da/da-da, da-da/da-da, da-da/da-da. We played this one quite a bit live, along with Local Seeing, Unification and That One (of course).

The Question is Moot – My only singing on a song post-Midget Farmer days. It was fun to play, and I liked the mix of having Ed sing some, Ben sing some and myself. However, Ben was really the singer, and I was just messing around. No more singing after this one.

Falling Out – Another one written pretty much for the album and almost never played live. Like a lost HAS song that I hardly recognize when I hear it again.

That One – If hal had a hit single, this would have been it. We played it at pretty much every show. It was fun to play, and was always powerful. I really miss playing it.

The Art of Mapmaking – We split it into 2 songs just because of the length and to be pretentious. I remember playing it in Philadelphia and getting a great response. We liked to play with dynamics at that point, and trying to make the quietest parts as quiet as possible, and the loudest parts as loud as possible, hopefully in the same song.

Here is the artwork and a promo poster from the album: