Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Review: Chuck Mosley - Joe Haze Session #2


    Hard to believe that it's been well over a year since the passing of Faith No More's former singer Chuck Mosley. The wounds are still fresh, due in no small part to that fact that he was in the midst of a really successful grassroots comeback.

    Chuck had always shown a love of acoustic performance, dating back to his days with FNM. In fact, his desire to include more acoustic work with the band reportedly was a subject of some consternation. And, of course, there are acoustic-y songs on 2009's solo album Will Rap Over Hard Rock for Food (and its rawer, better, brother, 2016's Demos For Sale). While those songs are much loved by many fans, I've always felt like they were somehow lacking. I'm usually more of a "plugged-in" full-band kinda guy, so no surprise or need for introspection there. It wasn't until I heard Chuck performing with Douglas Esper's Indoria, that I started to get what the fuss was about. Then I saw videos of them playing, followed by actually seeing them live in action. Then I really got it. Contrary to popular belief, Chuck Mosley had a terrific voice. He would just twist it. He once openly discussed with me his love of David Bowie and Darby Crash. Slap those disparate voices together with some self-deprecation and pinch of soul, and you get Mr. Mosley. In his final years, Chuck's voice had weathered into a gravelly richness that he could stretch (to breaking) for maximum effect. Chuck's voice had somehow become fragile yet more commanding....


    Douglas Esper did much (and continues to do much) to bring the talent of Chuck Mosley to the masses. In a move that must have seemed insane to outsiders, he picked up a conga drum and threw Chuck and a guitar into a car and hit the road. They would eventually tour both the United States and England extensively, expand the set, and build what became the Chuck Mosley Band. The idea was brilliant. Chuck's was a BIG personality packed with charm and humor. It is no exaggeration when I say that he would engage everyone in the room as if they were old friends. The tour(s) showed fans old and new the lesser-known side of Chuck Mosley's music, and just how wonderful it could be. It was during this flood of activity that they would record The Joe Haze Session #2.

    The Joe Haze Session #2 is an upcoming limited edition Record Store Day exclusive (released by blocGLOBAL and distributed by Traffic Entertainment Group) whose announcement has come as something of a surprise to many of us. While it was well publicized that Chuck and crew recorded with famed FNM producer Matt Wallace (the sessions of which remain unreleased at the moment) and Douglas had put the call out that they were looking to demo at other studios throughout their tour, few had any idea that this cool little record would happen. Side A is a very thoughtful and powerful cover of The Family's "Nothing Compares 2 U". Raw and authentic as hell. A real display of the subtle power of both the man's voice and his understated guitar work. Chuck Mosley makes the Prince-penned tune his own, much as Sinead O'Conner did in 1990 to great acclaim. Does Chuck reach those lofty heights? He wasn't hitting for them. This is just an authentic performance of a song he'd adopted and loved. The production is stripped-down. A clean, but certainly not antiseptic, capturing of a man who'd been on the road for some time. Laid-bare and fragile, but with light shining through it. While "Nothing Compares 2 U" is clearly the single of the two, fans will no doubt be interested in Side B's cover tune, "Take This Bottle", a Faith No More ditty recorded years after Chuck had left the band. Like "Nothing...", it was a regular part of the Chuck Mosley Band's set during the ReIntroduce Yourself Tour. A cheeky move to be sure, covering a song by the band that fired you and originally recorded by your replacement. It's a fun little idea that's taken on a life of it's own. A perfect match and foil to the record's other side. It's a "bigger" sounding song complete with Douglas Esper's drum slapping and back-up singers. Chuck took "TTB" and somehow managed to make it sound autobiographical. Douglas' vocal take on the second verse is Patton-esque for sure, but goes so well with Chuck's when they come together. Chuck Mosley was a fantastic collaborator who understood the give-and-take dynamics of a duet. Both songs are excellent versions of works we know and love delivered beautifully. Joe Haze Session #2 will likely have fans salivating for more, but it stands on its own as a short, cool, and cohesive statement. And it's pretty too. 
                                                                                                                                 -Harmless

If you're still hungry for the "lighter" side of Chuck Mosley (and Douglas Esper), I highly recommend Indoria's 2016 album, You'll Never Make The Six

If you want the "LOUDER" side of Chuck Mosley, I highly recommend Primitive Race's 2017 album Soul Pretender.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Review: American Secrets - Wasn't Our Season EP



    While pop punk isn’t exactly a genre one associates with Alabama, the state actually had a pretty good roaster of bands back during the pop-punk-with-breakdowns wave from around 2008-2012. The state boasted Carridale who had a bit of success nationwide and virtually every scene in the state had a talented pop punk act or two, with even Gadsden boasting solid ones like Apollo 11 and Off By A Long Shot. Unfortunately, since about 2014 though we’ve have been in a bit of a rut when it comes to the genre. While the state has enjoyed a bit of an uptick in more traditional punk bands American Secrets seems poised to break the states pop punk dry spell. The four piece's first release Wasn’t Our Season boasts six tracks of solid songs falling on the very poppy spectrum of pop punk that may remind devoted southern pop punk fans of TN’s On My Honor. The EP opens with the title track Wasn’t Our Season which gives listeners a good introduction of what they’re in for and if the band is for them. If you like your pop punk with a little hardcore edge the band may not be for you but for those that enjoy catchy mid-tempo style in the vein of say Real Friends, the band are likely up your alley. The band follow it up with "Be Mine" a slightly more high energy track more in the style of say New Found Glory with very cute sappy sing along lyrics like “I wanna be your late night drunk text, I wanna be your shot waiting at the bar, I wanna be that last little reason you come home with me so make up your mind”. Other highlights include "Bed Sheets" which I must say is easily the most sickeningly sweet pop punk tune I’ve heard in quite some time. Fans of the genre may well experience some feels from this one with its lyrics like “Don't hide under the bed sheets, The sun can't shine through, Don't let your heart keep fading, Because I'm right here waiting “. Tracks like "Smoke Me Out" and "Said Goodbye" meanwhile may not be quite for everyone as the higher pitched vocals occasionally veer into chipmunk territory but nevertheless are solid tunes. The closing track aptly titled "Last Song" kicks things up a notch with some pop punk breakdowns and some slightly harsher vocals before wrapping the EP up with a neat bow with the closing line “Summer just wasn’t our season”. All things considered, this was a surprisingly impressive debut and I’d encourage readers to throw the guys a few bucks rather than simply going the free route regarding their Bandcamp. Additionally, if you enjoy the EP, the band's YouTube page may be worth checking out as it features a variety of covers from both big name pop punk bands like Fall Out Boy and up-and-coming ones like Waterparks.
3.75/5 
          -Kevin Spann



Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Those Goddamn Liars At The GAD! Zine

    I promised a bazillion folks a while back that we'd be updating this site on a more consistent basis. Turns out I was mistaken. Until NOW! Well, this is the first post in almost a month, but after "NOW!", we'll be posting articles of various lengths, subject matters, and uh... quality far more often. My relatively meager dream is for us to post new content every day. Probably be closer to 5 days a week, but we'll see what happens.
 
    Like everyone who is reading this, we have lives outside of this creative little box. As I've said many times, life interrupts art. Sometimes things take longer than initially planned. Disappointment and rigidity of concept are two killers of the any process. The creator will become disappointed that things are not working out according to the original plan or not meeting the original deadline. Especially if the deadline is self-imposed, it would be better for that creator to adjust their expectations. You don't have to take life's lemons and make lemonade (or a battery!), but being adaptable can be an asset to the independent and budget-conscious artist.

    Preachin' the Gospel of Punk, here. You don't have to be a music student with thousands of dollars worth of equipment to be in a cool band expressing yourself. A lot a folks have big ideas that they can't imagine being smaller, so they don't try. A few years ago, I wanted to make a zine. A lot of my "peers" kept bogging down the project with ideas like full-color and glossy pages and a $10 price tag. All that sounds nice. It was hard to get started and unlikely to be even remotely sustainable. Like I said, we're poor and we have lives to kinda maintain. A lotta people were overwhelmed by their preconceived scope or just let down that the project would be anything less than their "vision". And they went away. I finally just said, "I'll make a little zine just like the ones I made in high school." I knew it was doable (if dumbass Teen-Adam can do it, anybody can), so I did it. It's a photocopied black & white rag on standard paper. Some people still don't get it (they never will), but with the help of many friends and family, GAD! has taken on a life of it's own.

    The threshold to a blog or a website is far less daunting than even a Sniffin' Glue knock-off. We intend to take better advantage of this. GAD! is now a zine, two websites (if ya count The Alabama Underground Music Directory), a podcast, an internet radio show, 3 music compilations, a yearly music event, and a really bad Christmas album. All of them done with the same utilitarian mindset. Just "fuckin' doing it" already puts you ahead of the curb. We have no competition. No confusion over what our success is. We do this because we love it. Every issue, every article, every episode, every whatever is the accomplishment. Sharing what we love is the success.

   
Oh, yeah. And GAD! Zine Issue 20 is running a little late.... 

-Harmless 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Review: Moth Face - Self-Titled


    This one's been out for a while. I hope it doesn't look like I'm reviewing it now because of all the damn moth memes on social media! Because this really is a fuckin' great album. The dudes know their doom and they know their hard rock, and they know how pump fuckin' energy into it. What I mean is there is more than just sluggish riffage and lazy haze. There are real actual SONGS happening. They understand that playing slow isn't enough. Opener "Tell Them That I'm Not Home" is about as perfect of a start as one could imagine. And a perfect illustration of my point. The song starts metally but gets catchy and kinda deep, then wraps in way that reminds me of the softer moments from Sabbath's Paranoid album. Kinda hate that I've mentioned Sabbath, because honestly what I love is how this is a real modern band that isn't some by-the-numbers throw-back. Investigate for yourself. -Harmless


Moth Face on Bandcamp

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

An Brief Interview With The Friendly Fingermen


    The Friendly Fingermen are one those bands that can crank out effortless hardcore one minute and a heavy groove the next. Intensity is a non-negotiable with these Huntsville area musicians. A treat to just about any lover of heavy music. I got in touch with Fingerman(?) Anson Helton to find out more.

GAD!: Who are you and how did this happen?

Anson: Band members are me, Frank Cole, Jason Generic, and Jarrod Carmack. I think we've been doing this close to a year or so. Jason and I have been wanting to do a project together for a long time so we said fuck it, let's do it. Obviously, Frank and I have worked together a lot in the past, plus he's fucking a talented, so he was an obvious choice. Jarrod and I have also worked together and have been talking about doing something heavy and groovy for years now. I wasn't sure if he'd have the time but he answered the call annnnnnnd so we had our kickass lineup. I love playing with these guys, they make it sooo easy....

GAD!: Was your music a conscious choice or just a natural direction for ya'll? I guess I ask that weird question because you guys really are that solid for a band that's been around for such a short time.


Anson: Jason says, "The music was ordained from on high. We are simply the messengers." It allows us the opportunity to vent our anger in unison while also delivering the message of the Friendly Fingermen .

GAD!: Any near-future and/or long-term goals?

Anson: Let's see, really short term is the show on the 26th with the Sideshow Carnival and then it's into the studio to lay down at least another EP So fast, we're planning on taking the rest of the year off from playing and focus on the recording and transcribing more messages from on high to deliver to the masses. Long term goals? To continue to be a voice for the freaks, the outcasts, the misguided and forgotten. To remind them they are not alone and all are welcome unto the Friendly Fingermen. All are welcome!

Interview by Harmless






Monday, December 10, 2018

Review: Owls And Other Animals - CARMINE


    Owls And Other Animals are a fairly stripped-down acoustic-y unit, but they have a firm understanding of how to make the most of their self-imposed boundaries. The songs are so whittled-down to their utter essence that even the tiniest variance hits like a blast. Opener "Crouchin' In The Corner" is business as usual until the cool keyboard kicks in. Tunes like the urgent single "Viola" and later album track "Big Lakes And Skies" are firmly grounded by the understated bass of Deondre (a member of the Trash Cats, with whom OAOA shared a Christmas album last year). Outside of a well-worn guitar, the bread and butter of any OAOA tune is the breathily soft and almost-singular voice of Colin and Dana. When they sing together, the room mellows into a candlelit basement. We're but the silent apparitions surrounding them, whirling in their bluesy choruses. The dreamy tunes of Owls And Other Animals are smart, well-written, and even-better-performed. Turn down the lights and turn up the volume. -Harmless


Owls And Other Animals on Bandcamp

Owls And Other Animals on Facebook

More OAOA by GAD!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Review: Abusements - IRRITAINMENT!


    I love the Abusements!! Fast and funny punk rock for those of us blessed (cursed?) with the keen observation skills to notice how everything around us is at least a bit off, if not outrightly fucked. “Troll Farm”, one the album’s many standouts, is very contemporary in its subject matter (Russians attacking us through social media), but it’s so fun and sing-a-long-able, that we’ll still be blasting it in ten years. Let’s hope it won’t still be topical… Another hit is the single “Space Nazis”. It’s a humorous look at the U.S. government’s past association with former Nazis to meet our Cold War space race needs. Really, just about every tune on IRRITAINMENT!, from “Sex Cult” to “Mall” to “Florida Man”, picks at the way-too-mundane ridiculousness of everyday American life. This is what punk rock is all about: Recognizing that the “normal” people are the crazy ones. Verdict: Snotty and exciting. Loud and fast. Catchy as hell. I want more, please.

 -Harmless