Louden Swain – No Time Like the Present (CD)

Yes, as a rule actors and musicians should stay in their own lanes. But like every rule there are exceptions and Rob Benedict, singer/guitarist for the LA-based indie rock band Louden Swain may just be one of those exceptions (I refuse to concede that Jared Leto is). Continue reading “Louden Swain – No Time Like the Present (CD)”

Haddon Hall – When David Invented Bowie by Nejib

In 1969, after his single “Space Oddity,” managed to garner a decent amount of attention, David Bowie with his wife Angie moved into a massive house in London along with a slew of other hippies, that went under the name Haddon Hall. The house is the setting for the quirky yet inventively creative book by graphic designer/comic artist Nejib. The hardcover comic tells the story of Bowie putting together his band and struggling for a creative identity and the inspiration to become a rock star. Continue reading “Haddon Hall – When David Invented Bowie by Nejib”

Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk Review

Yes, punk rock in Rockford, Ill. is a very specific genre, but that’s the beauty of the Scene History Series from Microcosm Publishing. The focus is on very targeted music movement that generally doesn’t get much attention outside of local bars. And while Cheap Trick, Rockford’s favorite sons, have certainly garnered international attention over the past three or four decades, unless you were a punk kid hanging around the Rust Belt in the 1980s, you likely have no idea who Bludgeoned Nun or We Hate Cake were. Continue reading “Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk Review”

Ha Ha Tonka – Heart-Shaped Mountain (CD)

Since 2007, Missouri’s favorite sons have been churning out one great alt country/indie rock album after another and 10 years later they show no signs of giving up the ghost. “Heart-Shaped Mountain,” their fifth record is just as strong as anything they have put out before.

Apparently, the band was already a week into recording this album when a hardware crash deleted everything they had recorded. The crisis forced the band to try different approaches to the song structures and brought about a new focus. You can’t help but cheer for modern day tech disasters listening to the album, as I can’t imagine a more powerful way to approach a song like “All With You” or “Going That Way.” The record is probably one of the band’s most optimistic releases, with relationships at the core of many of these songs.   Continue reading “Ha Ha Tonka – Heart-Shaped Mountain (CD)”

R. Stevie Moore & Jason Falkner – Make It Be

“Make It Be” is a Lo-Fi/Power Pop dream team mash up. The album pairs lo-fi legend R. Stevie Moore, who has played on hundreds of albums going back to 1969, with Jason Falkner, who aside from his solo work is best known for the brilliant and short-lived early ‘90s Power Pop band Jellyfish. Continue reading “R. Stevie Moore & Jason Falkner – Make It Be”

Ron Gallo – Heavy Meta (CD)

There is something heartening about a kid raised in the ‘90s who doesn’t immediately track to the obvious pop punk or neo-emo clichés in making music. Ron Gallo’s New West Records debut (and second solo album), draws in from a deep well of garage rockers, psychedelic pop and classic punk and just about everything in between. The fuzz-laden guitar riffs on the first few songs sound like them came out of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s golden era of college radio rock. Continue reading “Ron Gallo – Heavy Meta (CD)”

Roy Orbison – Black & White Night (CD and DVD)

The Roy Orbison special “Black & White Night” was a must-see by rock fans of all ilk when it first aired on Cinemax in 1988. The star-crammed supergroup special has long since been hijacked by PBS stations across the country looking for an attention-grabber during pledge season, but the appeal is just as strong as when it first aired 30-years ago, (the special was recorded live in LA in 1987, but didn’t air until a few months later in 1988). Continue reading “Roy Orbison – Black & White Night (CD and DVD)”

Scott H. Biram – The Bad Testament

Lone Star state native Scott H. Biram started blending punk rock, Blues and country years before anyone decided to christen the cobbled-together genre, folk punk. Across nearly a dozen releases, Biram has been one-man banding it since 2000, churning out one great record after another. And “The Bad Testament,” his first full length in about three years, is no exception. Continue reading “Scott H. Biram – The Bad Testament”

Skinny Girl Diet – Heavy Flow

The British feminist punk trio Skinny Girl Diet are a reminder that the Riotgrrl movement, though a little more under the radar, is still alive in bands across the globe. Their first full length, the scorching, distortion-layered “Heavy Flow” is one hell of a statement from the band. Continue reading “Skinny Girl Diet – Heavy Flow”