Chuck Ragan (ex-Hot Water Music, though if you’re reading this blog, ‘duh’
So, the four regular readers of this site may have noticed a prolonged absence for the past few months. Sorry about that. There’s no real reason except that my full time job hit its busy season post-Thanksgiving (and we’re not even retail!), I’m back in school and bit off a bit more than I can chew with two intensive writing courses, my wife’s having a tough go with her job so SupportiveHusband man has his duties, and on top of that I just started doing stand-up comedy and some event planning. Something had to give, and that thing I had to leave behind for awhile was the site and the podcast. I don’t think anyone wanted to read a few dozen “Today I ate a burrito, and put together a few training modules for my staff. Also, whenever Ice is onscreen during the new ‘American Gladiators’, it moves just a tiny bit, and I’m not entirely comfortable with myself at this moment. That said, I think we’re back up to speed, and this site should be updated on a much more consistent basis. The standup has gone pretty well so far. People laugh at all the right moments, no one’s pelted me with rotten fruit, and my bit about spinning of a new show from “To Catch A Predator” featuring pedophiles luring kids off playgrounds and into the trunks of ’89 honda Accords is going GANGBUSTERS! Much appreciation goes to Matt and Rob of the Laugh Track for giving me three straight months of shows. By the way, there is no better way to spend $5 the first Tuesday of the month. Word of mouth is catching on, and every show is attracting a higher level of comedian and larger turnout. Hopefully we’ll be sitting down with these two guys soon for a podcast. So, hopefully PFCC is back for good. There was the thought of changing this to “Minimum Rock & Roll”, but Chump Change has been the brand name, so to speak, for over a decade. Why change what kinda sorta works? Look for some new podcasts, reviews of Dead Mechanical’s, Cloak/Dagger’s, Lemuria’s and Ben Weasel’s latest works in the coming weeks, along with a post-Chilifest wrapup and hopefuly some exciting(!) news on events I’ve got lined up.And hey, if you missed me, drop me a welcome back comment so I know you care.
Remember when you were growing up and your mom and dad got divorced because “sometimes mommies and daddies fall out of love with one another. But we promise this has nothing to do with you” but deep down you knew and they knew what an awful kid you were and how it really WAS all your fault? Then you never saw Dad even on court appointed weekends becuase he was out “whoring it up” with the younger fake breasted secretary(which Dad paid for even though all your school pants had holes in the butt) he traded mom in for and the child support checks were always either a few bucks short or a few weeks late if they even came at all so your mom had a lot of new “uncles” that slept over and left crumpled ten dollar bills on her night stand? I promise to be AT LEAST as funny as those times.
Nip and I locked in the dreaded “Velcro beard”
Ok, so I think I’m finally rested and recovered after a long weekend of red eye flights, no sleep, deafening music, alchol and the Red Sox clinching the World Series. Fest 6 was a blast, and I think this event is going to go down as a yearly event.
I missed the first day, even despite my best efforts to barrell down Rte 95S to catch Paint It Black play a two am house show. The consolation price was a steak and rice burrito from Taco Bell and a case of the squirtz.
On to the shows.
Boston’s Ringers (above) played their catchy as all hell singalong punk to a packed and frenzied room at the Common Ground. It was a bit ironic that I flew 5 hours and spent $500 between flight, room and ticket to see a band I can catch for $2 in an Allston basement but what can you do?
The Conniption Fits (above) played spastic, adrenilne fueled early eighties punk rawk, punctuated by the rare three members of a band being mustachioed.Tons of energy from the vocalist, and I generally feared the dude was going to split his head open ashe tumbled off monitors face first and got into handicapped wrestling matches with audience members. Vagina Sore Jr. won Best Band Name and I dug the two songs of shouty pop punk I managed to catch. The Monikers sound like a louder more abbrassive Ted Leo and they were having a blastas froends pelted them with cups and beer.
Bostons Witches With Dicks put on an amazing set. Kids were diving from the first note, jumping off the stage, the railings, even the ice cart, which ended up getting thrown around the crowd. Their set culminated with a smoke bomb going off on stage. Good times.
A bunnch of us old timers ended up catching the Fat Wreck showcase at the very back of a massise venue, named, appropriately, The Venue. It was weird seeing Smoke or Fire playing in front of so many pumped up people, especially after seeing them play for fifty pumped up kids at the Art Space so many Saturday nights all those years ago. The Lawrence Arms were great, and even tossed in two of my favorite Broadways tunes (15 Minutes and The Kitchen Floor). It was definitely odd seeing Avail and D4 a) in such an unintimate environment b) playing songs that are all five to fifteen years old c)from so far in the back. Great sets by both bands though. Patty from D4 filled a fifteen minute gap when a guitar amp went on the fritz with some of the funniest goddamn stage banter I’ve ever heard. Patty knows how to hold court over a crowd.
The other highlight of the first day was the sandwich I had at some little cafe. Containing cream cheese, plantains and pickles on a grilled bread, this was one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth, and as a fat kid, you know I’ve put way too many things in my piehole. Below is a picture of some punks and firefighters enjoying a tasty snack break together at this cafe:
Other highlights from the first day include stomping from the venue back to the Side bar with a dozen other Bostonites chanting “Let’s Go Red Sox!” on our way to watch Game 3 with a bunch of other out of towners. While the next group of bands set up we whooped, we slapped hi fives, we drank too much cheap PBR and Sparks and watched the Sox go up three-zip. In between pitches the New Bruises and Dear Landlord sandwiched kickass sets between a pretty meh outing from England’s Four Letter Word. After that we tried hitting up the Paint it Black/Savage Brewtality show at the Common Ground, but the line was around the block as the world’s ugliest group of crusted stunk up the joint for Municipal Waste. I should point out the one negative of the Fest: Most of the venues were zero problems, but the guys at Common Ground sucked. For whatever reason they were’t allowing bags in (though this rule was followed pretty haphazardly as both times I was inside, at least two dozen people were milling about with bags. I swear to God one person was roaming around with a shopping cart. I ended up cramming a camera, my keys, my ipod and my wallet into every available pocket. Also, why have one person card AND give out the bracelets, especially when everything was on a tight schedule, bands only played 20 minute sets and the lines were too long to get in to begin with. If you were trying to catch someone at the Common Ground there was a pretty good shot you went home disappointed.
That’s it for today. i’ll review Sunday tommorow. Check out the picks at the flicker site though.
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Due to the advanced technical nature of today’s modern recording equipment and the vagaries of technology, the expected Serious Geniuses interview will not be appearing this week. Apparently it’s really important to hit save before closing your notebook up. We’ll sit down with these boys again at a later date.
In it’s place we have a fairly awesome show dedicated to bringing you some of the best local bands in the area right now, as well as Baltimore’s fantastic Dead Mechanical. Remember that show I told you people you ought to check out, all the way back one entry ago. Yeah, it was pretty amazing. It was definitely one of those rare nights when any one of the four bands could have headlined. Besides Dead Mechanical we’re bringing you music from showmates The Perennials, along with tunes from Yoni Gordon and the Goods, The Steamy Bohemians, The Cold Beat, The Closet Fairies and the Young Leaves.
Barring calamity our next episode will be up in a week and will feature music and an interview with the reunited Scarce.
Saturday’s a cheap night out at the Abbey in Somerville; two bucks a band for four bands worth the price of admission on their own. Baltimore’s Sick Sick Birds play some anthemic punk with vocals that remind me a little bit of the Refused without the over the top political sloganeering and city mates Dead Mechanical bring an East Bay punk sound to the east coast. For some reason I have Swinging Utters/Stiff Little Fingers on my brain when I listen to their stuff. But wait there’s more! For one ultra low price you get the early nineties slacker core meets the Animas of Providence’s Reports (read the REVIEW HERE ) and all the hooks without the wimpish emasculation new wave of the Perennials (Though they do remind me a little of L7 (and I mean that I a good way…wait, is double parenthesis legal?) at times too).
Save your ducats, because the following night at O’Brien’s in Allston there’s another great to middling show. The Serious Geniuses are playing, and yeah, they’re a bunch of jerks with bad tattoos and glue on beards, but damn if they don’t sound like Small Brown Bike making sweet mouthsex with Archers of Loaf. The Cold Beat (members of Lock & Key, Movers and Shakers, the Call Up amongst others and no I’m not linking to all those bands) are playing one of their first shows and sound like early Radio 4. you know, before they started to sound asstastic. Anyways, I’m digging the few tunes I’ve heard so far. Rosetta brings what they call “metal for astronauts” to the table and the night’s rounded out by Jena Berlin and their blend post hardcore in the vein of Farside mixed with near mainstream rock and roll of Error: Type 11.
For fans of country, bluegrasss and folk the Abbey Lounge throws tier monthly “Dear John Letter Lounge hosted by Bread & Roses’ morgan coe. He’ll be spinning olde timey country and blegrass music, and if he gets tipsy he may accidentally spin a man of war record on 78rpm. They’ll also be live music with fiddle, banjo and mandolin playing a mix of americana roots music and gospel tunes. It starts at 7pm and there’s no cover charge.
And since we’re all going to be broke after those two nights how about we kick off the week with a FREE event. Monday the 15th is the premier of DANCE YOUR ASS at Plough and Stars in Cambridge. a bunch of non-DJ’s are going to play punk, pop punk, post punk, ska punk and punky brewster theme song mashups in hopes of getting folks to awkwardly shake it on the dance floor. It’s going to rule. And because you’re all so broke the first person who comes up to me (look for the chubby dude with a beard and 1975 style Red Sox cap) and says, “Care to get me a drink Butterfly? (Hey, I liked Death Proof. Eat it.) Will be a proud winner of a beer from me.
Oh and the next night the Lawrence Arms and American Steel are playing Harper’s Ferry. I plan on being both broke and tired, but you people should go and let me know how it was.
Fun record by The Closet Fairies. Sounds a lot like Scared of Chaka enjoying a tender moment with FYP. (You know what I’m talking about: It’s like SCC and FYP are playing “seven minutes in heaven” in Gordie Finkel’s closet and SCC is trying to make a move but FYP is acting all coy and nervous and standoffish until she gives up a little peck, then a kiss on the mouth, then some tounge, until finally limbs are all intwined, bras are yanked off in a fit of passion and it’s all smeared makeup and lipstick stained teeshirts and puffy nipples with major raging bonars whilst thrashing among winter coats and board games while outside the closet the New Bomb Turks and Action Patrol are giggling to themselves at how the two of them have been going at it for sixteen minutes) It’s super low lofi recording with a mid paced guitar attack and tight rythym section. Actually, the A-side, a semi-slow jam built on a killer guitar riff is in the vein of the Devil Dogs “On your Knees”. It’s a fantastic ode to the bad girls forever breaking good guys hearts than backing on up over them in their Camaros. The B side is VERY reminiscent of Scared of Chaka, right down to the fuzzed-up chanted vox and spirited “whoa oh oh’s” and Johnny Thunder guitar leads and overdubs. I was lucky enough to get a couple bonus songs sent out to me. Wooden nickels is full on raging thrash punk, screamy and whiny and fun as hell. Then there’s three no-fi outtakes about eating bagels. I think.
You can order the single at Interpunk.
Towards the end of their set, singer/guitarist Chick Graning deadpanned to the crowd “We got lost getting here to the show. We took a wrong turn about eleven years ago”.
Background. Scarce was the first band I fell in love with my freshman year of college. The open for Fugazi about two weeks into my freshman year, and I got to drink my first college beer with the program directors of our campus station beforehand. Scarce blew me away with their set of razor sharp power pop and overall absolute command of the stage. From that point on I was hooked. the release of a new single was cause for giddy celebration. I hosted a graveyard shift Saturday night radio show, and would play both sides back to back just so I could record it on the board and play it back on my cassette Walkman endlessly as I made my way around the campus during the week. Even as I transformed into a shaved head uberpunk that devoured every word of Maximum Rock and Roll as gospel, including their anti major label stance, I wanted Scarce to sell a million records. And they seemed to on the brink of becoming the hugest band in the world. Then it went south. Graning fell victim to a brain aneurysm, and as he recovered, Scarce’s label offered minimal support, for the band and the individuals (the whole story can be found in much in bassist Joyce Raskin’s new book Achin’ to Be, available here. End of story, right? Just another near miss in the dog-eat-dog music biz.
Nope. Buoyed by the book and not quite ready to close out the last chapter, Scarce has reunited. Unlike a lot of one off reunion gigs, this looks to be the real deal, with more shows soon and an album to be recorded in the near future, kicking things off with a show at TT’s in Cambridge.
All I can say is it sure as hell didn’t sound like eleven years had passed between shows. Playing to a packed room, Scarce served a reminder that some folks are just born to be rock stars. It took a couple songs for Graning’s raspy voice to break in, but the stage was his from the get-go. Some people are just born to front a band, and Graning is one of the rare few that can command a room’s attention with understated charisma. There’s no histrionics and carefully orchestrated emotional “outbursts” pr pandering to the audience. It’s in the simple nods of a head or casually flicking wave of an arm acknowledging the cheers of the crowd that serves notice that yep, this is exactly where the band belongs. It was obvious even to those crammed in the back of the club how much they enjoyed a return to the spotlight, and how much chemistry Raskin and Graning have on stage. The catalog dates back close to fifteen (!) years at this point, but Scarce’s brand of thumping early nineties guitar driven alternative rock. After blistering through the first few songs, including a spirited rendition of the high octane punish “Hope“, starring Raskin in the lead vocal role. The highlight of the evening came midway through the set with the midtempo-cum-howler Crimea River.Softly strummed and near whisper verses ruminating on long distance relationships give way to unabashed guitar mayhem over a pounded rhythm section. To say that Raskin “played bass guitar” would qualify as an understatement. Exorcising the frustration knowing this is what should have been all along, Raskin stomped wildly across the stage, her legs kicking in every direction as her feet stamped the stage, hair pinwheeling wildly about her face while never skipping a beat. After closing out their main set with two of their earliest A-sides, the opposite side of the coin jaunty sing along “Days Like This” followed by the abrasive noise fest of “All Sideways“, Scarce came back up for a pair of encores, closing the affair out with a sloppy and joyous rendition of AC/DC’s “Shook Me All Night Long”. I don’t think a single patron, witnessing some of their fondest show memories from yesteryear while gleefully awaiting what’s up the band’s sleeve next could argue for a minute weren’t shaken indeed.
It took a little while to edit it down and then figure out why it wouldn’t export, but at two am Monday morning, the fifth Pocket Full of Chump Change podcast is up and running. I even splurged and bought a USB microphone this time around, and the narration track sounds better than ever.
So what do we have in store for listeners? Glad you asked. You know those dreams you have where you go to class and completely forgot to wear clothes for “oral presentation day”? Imagine if instead of class you were performing standup comedy. Buck Naked. That’s what our guest, Andy Ofiesh does.He hosts and performs the Naked Comedy Showcase the first Wednesday of every month at the Improv Boston in Cambridge Mass (next show is this Wednesday, October 3rd). Andy is a funny guy with or without clothes. This interview was conducted in my living room, and all clothes were on in order to prevent sticking to the sofa.
We also have music from the Young Leaves, a fantastic indie band reminiscent of early Dinosaur Jr. and Husker Du. Combine that with an in-depth scene report and a ticket giveaway to the upcoming Reports/Perennials/Dead Mechanical/Sick Sick Birds.
If you want a quick and easy link to the Podcasr, just hit up the banner link to the right and download away.
The Young Leaves are three kids from the mean streets of Brockton that have honed the art of producing guitar driven indie down to such a sweet science that even luminaries such as fellow Brockton-ite Marvelous Marvin Hagler have to give these guys props. Largely, the product of singer/guitarist Christopher Chaisson, “Big Old Me is a dozen smartly crafted pop tunes that pay large homage to the times when “alternative rock” was just starting to catch a foothold on the radio an you got to hear something new and exciting for maybe the first time, as opposed to the same old dreck.
“Backhanded compliment!” You say? Then you my friend, simply never had a between semesters summer job as an overnight newspaper delivery boy. You don’t remember those heady times where “Nevermind” kicked open some new doors and craptacular hair metal bands shuffled off to the bargain bin aisle of your local CD shop. When you’re driving a 1986 Honda Accord Hatchback with a busted tape deck and two and a half working speakers, and you’re out at four in the morning, making twelve cents a paper with no tips because you keep forgetting what clients want their paper on the third step and what ones want it in between the screen and front door, and when one of your clients has a pet sheep that head butts your car every morning then shits in the exact spot you need to step in to get back inside the car then you best make friends with the local overnight DJ because sometimes hearing “Web In Front” on the radio is the only thing that keeps you sane. So if that was your summer before junior year you just might damn well appreciate how awesome it was to hear Buffalo Tom Archers of Loaf, Superchunk and Sugar on the radio nearly every hour.
So the fact that these kids would have been at the age where you were more prone to sing along to ‘The Itsie Bitsie Spider” or ‘Hi My Name Is Joe I work in a button factory” as opposed to when “Hyper Enough” would have been on the airwaves is all the more amazing to me. The Young Leaves manage to translate post high school ennui with amps and sticks and create something pretty damn impressive. At time super polished indie pop that veers close to pop punk territory, at other times feedback drenched guitar nirvana worthy of early Husker Du, these guys have got my attention. The cut “Look Sharp, Die Young” is worthy of anything musically Superchunk would have put out in the early nineties, and Chaisson manages to toss off the lines “What if I didn’t speak anymore?/ Settled the score/I’d just end ups till bored“ while sounding like the slightly nasally cousin of a young Elvis Costello. ‘Big Me” is pop-rock reminiscent of Buffalo Tom until a minute and a half remains in the cut. At that point the drums and bass lay down a killer near-dub bass line that sets a fantastic groove, letting the guitar come in for a sweet little solo before ripping the whole thing to shreds in a cacophony of noisy feedback driven squalls. Then, just when you think the whole thing is back on track at the drop of a dime for some pop hooks to close it out. Seriously, if you loved J Masics early guitar work from the SST days, then hop on board with this band. “Big Old Me” has that late period aid back Braid feel to it. It’s growing on me, like, a lot.
So here’s the bummer. It looks like these guys are no more. After another fruitless two hour drive for a show, where they were turned away for not being twenty one, they’ve decided to pack it in. It’s really too bad, because these guys put on an awesomely powerful live show, with a “these amps on eleven” noise fest. If they were a few years older living in squalor in Allston, they could be the O’Briens bar house band instead of languishing in obscurity. I’m about two minutes away from asking if they’ll stay together if we can get five hundred people to send them pictures of their peen or boobs.