Saturday, September 24, 2016

Gruesomania & Shows # 621 & 622


It’s 2016, I’m standing in a local record store and looking through the used bins and CD sections to see if maybe there are any Gruesomes releases. Their music is scarce in record stores these days, but you never know. On the vinyl side of things, there are Gruesomes records missing from my collection. I recall reading that Gruesomania was reissued on vinyl recently. I quickly place an order. Emerging from Montreal and rising to popularity in parts of Europe and the North American underground music scenes, Gruesomania followed 1986’s Tyrants of Teen Trash. Originally released in 1987 OG Music and recorded in Montreal, Gruesomania is often seen as one of the band’s efforts released during their initial run as a band from 1985-1990.

The Gruesomes took influence from obscure garage compilations, 60’s garage and R&B acts and merged it with the visceral energy and attitude of 70s punk rock. Placing the record onto my record player, as the record catches “Way Down Below” opens Gruesomania with its spooky, fuzzy garage riff. This song draws on images of a bad relationship, hell and the bands horror/b-movie styled humour. A performance based music video for this song received high rotation on Much Music in Canada in the mid-80s. Gruesomania is filled with the same snotty energy as Tyrants Of Teen Trash, but also adds more of a soulful/R&B rhythm to their sound. This was in part due to John Knoll joining as the band’s drummer, replacing original Gruesome member Eric Davis. The album combines raved up Gruesome originals and several R&B/garage covers. The third track “Leave My Kitten Alone” is sung by guitarist Gerry Alvarez and complete with raunchy, twangy guitars and catchy vocal harmonies. This song was covered by The Beatles, but was originally released in 1959 by Little Wille John.

The rough and raunchy, “Ain’t Got Nothin’” about a snooty rich girl comes in as track four with stop and start guitar stabs and a sleazy R&B groove before the album’s first instrumental track “Whirlpool”. This short surf instrumental track is a smooth interlude awash in drums that are heavy on the ride cymbal, guitar solos, bouncy basslines and reverb soaked guitar sounds. On the back of the Gruesomania record, there is a short description of the record by Fuad Ramses and then a brief description of each song on the album, ala old blues and garage records. “I Can Tell” is a song originally by the band’s “Spiritual mentor and close friend: Mr. Bo Diddley” as it is stated on the back of the record. “Buzz Off” ends side one of Gruesomania with heavy bass, snarling vocals by Bobby Beaton and harmonica, a song that is described as a “pretty hot classic” on the back of the record.

If side one of Gruesomania started with the horror stylings of “Way Down Below” and songs that seem to question relationships that could be going wrong, side two starts off with “Je Cherche”, a song that starts off with an explosion, literally. Originally by Les Lutins in 1967, roughly translates into “I’m Searching” in English. This song starts off with lyrical subject matter that seems to question several of the topics brought up on the first side of this LP. “Why Me?” is a song about boredom, TV dinners, lack of cash and loneliness, “Time’s Gonna Come” shows The Gruesomes getting thrashier, fuelled on adrenaline, along with the instrumental “Jacknife”. “Outta My Mind” is a raved up garage song complete with harmonica, thick R&B influenced bass grooves from John Davis and intense vocals sung by guitarist Gerry Alvarez. Described as a song about “A tale of mistaken identity”, this song as do many on the second side of this LP, picks up on the band’s undeniable energy and chemistry. “You Said Yeah” is a fuzzy heavy guitar driven song that comes in as track thirteen before the album’s last track. “Heart Full Of Pain” is a slower song, complete with tremolo guitar and a paced soulful executed groove.

As Gruesomania ends, there is a short, hidden track, which features members of the band messing around on a piano and with each other. This, along with their sense of humour in their songs and in the actual liner notes, showcases The Gruesomes ethos and aesthetic. As the album ends, the record crackles and hisses as the record needle rises, I recall a review of this album from 2009, which describes the album’s production levels as “below that of farting into a ghetto blaster's built-in microphone”. This humorous comparison while partially joking brings forth the fact that The Gruesomes were all about their chemistry. The album does lend itself to the lo-fi realm of recording, despite not being recorded on 8 track. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with the sound of this album. It was never going to have over the top 80s over production techniques of the day. That isn’t the point and never was.

Rising from basements in a variety of reissues in different forms intermittently since 1987, Gruesomania was released on CD via Ricochet Sound in 2008 with bonus tracks and released on vinyl via Artofact records in 2015. Raised on bad TV shows, obscure garage nuggets, boredom and snotty, adrenalized enthusiasm, Gruesomania is infectious in its execution. Catch Gruesomania. It’s just as contagious today as it was in 1987.


Playlist for Show # 621:

1. The Barracudas - Summer Fun
2. The Submissives - Do You Really Love Me?
3. The Beatles - Cry For A Shadow
4. Wilco - I'm A Wheel
5. Tom Waits - I Don't Wanna Grow Up
6. The Good Family Album - Taller Than The Pines
7. Danny Kroha - The Road is Rough And Rocky
8. The Pogues - Bottle Of Smoke
9. Uncle Tupelo - Screen Door
10. The Gories - On The Run
11. The Pack AD - Is It So
12. Mexican Knives - Nightmare
13. Cellos - Standard And Poor
14. By Divine Right - Stretch Parachute
15. The Pixies - Holiday (live In Detroit 11.22.04)
16. Ty Segall Band - The Tongue
17. Sonic Youth - Tom Violence
18. PJ Harvey - Stella
19. Protomartyr - What The Wall Said
20. Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Down At The Rock n' Roll Club (Alternate Version)
21. Blondie - Eat To The Beat
22. Weird Lines - There Are Never Too Many Matches
23. Archaics - No In No Out
24. Square Waves - All That's Left
25. The Famines - Got Lies If You Want Them
26. Dion Lunadon - 1976
27. The Gruesomes - Jacknife
28. The Gruesomes - Outta My Mind

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for September 17.

Episode # 622 was a repeat of a previous episode that originally aired in September 2015. You download that episode here and view the playlist here.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Thee Oh Sees A Weird Exits & Shows # 618, 619, 620


Thee Oh Sees latest effort, A Weird Exits arrives as a double LP with longer songs that showcase a new range in dynamics for the band. Being the first album to capture Thee Oh Sees new line-up which features two drummers, Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon, along with bassist Tim Hellman, who joined Thee Oh Sees in 2014, A Weird Exits produces a new type of groove. Still led by the ever prolific and frontman John Dwyer, Thee Oh Sees vicious and manic live sound is captured here in top form. If 2015’s Mutilator Defeated At Last explored more medieval and folk-like imagery in the songs, A Weird Exits blasts off into outer space, lyrically and musically taking on a cosmic context.

“Dead Man’s Gun” starts off the album in a jittery tempo that sounds as if it was plucked right out a recording from the band’s live set. The double drum rhythm section weaves in-between Hellman’s bass groove and Dwyer’s growling guitar sounds. The lyrics are sung by Dwyer in his traditional vocal style, drenched in reverb and floating above the instrumentation. “Ticklish Warrior” is a heavier track in the style of “Withered Hand” from 2015’s Mutilator Defeated At Last, “Jammed Entrance”, is where the album switches up the pace and ventures into a different direction. If the first two tracks emphasized the band’s live components, “Jammed Entrance” travels into new territory, a five minute instrumental track complete with razor sharp psychedelic guitar leads and synthesizers sounding as if they are communicating some sort of Morse code message into outer space. “Plastic Plant” showcases the band’s heavier and mid-tempo grooves, building on the sounds from “Jammed Entrance” as lyrically with words such as “Face aghast in electric glow”, “Lifeless eyes locked in a spell” and “You’re Half gone/You Can’t Deny It/But I think that you don’t know”, the song brings up emotions of feeling lost in a void, but also sound as if they could be describing a character from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

“Gelatinous Cube” picks up the pace with frantic, cleaner sounding guitars and snarling vocals from John Dwyer. The band is vicious here and rapid as the lyrics portray a hungry space-like creature on the hunt. “Unwrap The Fiend Pt.2” is another long instrumental track that explores different sounds, but one that sounds as if it could be background music in a science fiction film, perhaps Blade Runner at certain moments. “Crawl Out From The Fall Out” is an atmospheric, slow building track, vocals come in at the halfway point from both John Dwyer and Brigid Dawson. Lyrically, it seems to question a world with nothing at all in it. “The Axis” ends A Weird Exits. Covered with organ and drawing comparisons to the 1967 single “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” by English rock band Procol Harum, “The Axis” tells the tale of a character that is appalled by the other and can’t wait for them to leave. The last lines of this song “And by the time you hear these words/Your wicked face will be gone from my mind” perfectly exemplify the sentiment displayed here. The lyrics contrast with the 60s influenced melodies and like many of the lyrics on the album, they can be looked at in more than one way. They could be referencing the space imagery and the tale that is woven throughout A Weird Exits musical fabric or it be about a soured relationship.

As A Weird Exits ends, the controlled chaos found within both disconnects itself from past Oh Sees glories and stays connected with a previous make up. While many may say that the sound hasn’t changed that much, Thee Oh Sees music is both undeniably Thee Oh Sees and fresh sounding. With A Weird Exits, Thee Oh Sees focus on a new entry and exit point musically in a way that only they can.

Show 620 (Originally Aired September 10th, 2016):

1. Jay Jays - I Keep Tryin'
2. Brazilian Money - Big Money
3. Wild Racoon - Oh Well, Okay
4. No Aloha - Role Reversal
5. Car Seat Headrest - 1937 State Park
6. Tuns - Mind Over Matter
7. Tuns - To your Satisfaction
8. Angel Olsen - Shut Up Kiss Me
9. Cass Mccombs - Bum, Bum, Bum
10. Wilco - Someone To Lose
11. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Rings Of Saturn
12. Adam Ant - Friend Or Foe
13. Snake River - Who'll Tell Our Story?
14. The Sonics - Psycho
15. Caps - Red Headed Flea
16. Junior Raymen - Rumble 66
17. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - They Don't Call Them Chihuahuas Anymore
18. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - (Relax) You Will Think You Are A Chicken
19. MC5 - Future/Now
20. Van Morrison - The Way Young Lovers Do
21. Kim Gray - Frank Sinatra
22. Kim Gray - Yesterday's Smoke
23. Beat Happening - Polly Pereguinn
24. Thee Oh Sees - Tunnel Time
25. Violent Fememes - Killing Time
26. Buzzcocks - Time’s Up

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for September 10.

Show 619 (Originally Aired September 3rd, 2016):

1. Thee Oh Sees - Deadman's Gun
2. Thee Oh Sees - Plastic Plant
3. Condition - Wet Shoes
4. Perky Pat - The Bells
5. Art Bergmann - My Empty House
6. Kate Fagan - I Don’t Wanna Be Too Cool
7. Brain James - Where Did I Find A Girl Like You
8. Rock & Roll Monkey & The Robots - Liquefy
9. Gringo Star - Rotten
10. Jeremy & The Harlequins - Oh Yeah (I Did It Again)
11. Shotgun & Jaybird -
12. Roy Culbertson II - Whole Eden
13. White Fence - Beat
14. The Zellots - Soldiers
15. Sheep Look Up - Civil Disobedience
16. Teenage Head - You’re Tearing Me Apart (Live 1978)
17. Neil Young - Albuquerque
18. Joe Strummer & The Latino Rockabilly War - Baby The Trans
19. X - The Once Over Twice
20. The Famines - Faux Famous (Live July 14, 2008)
21. Trout - This Mystic Decade
22. Ty Segall - People These Days
23. Them - I’m Gonna Dress In Black (Version 2)
24. The Scientists - Shake
24. The Scientists - Swampland

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for September 3.

Show 618 (Originally Aired August 27th, 2016):

1. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings -Tell Me
2. Barrett Strong - You Knows What To Do
3. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - Do Ya Feel It Too?
4. Cold Warps - Take Your Time
5. Cool Ghouls - Never You Mind
6. Hot Panda - Golden Arch
7. Snake River - I Was Very Drunk Jeanie
8. The Pack AD - Yes, I Know
9. Courtney Barnett - Aqua Profundal
10. Ranch Ghost - Ragged Mile
11. The Good Family - Restless River
12. James O-L - Yellow Gold
13. Ohtis - Runnin’
14. Danny Kroha - Angels Watching Over Me
15. Elvis Costello - Waiting For The End Of The World
16. The Finks - Magic Eyes
17. Gentlemen Of Horror - Overhead Projector
18. Pow Wows - You Haven’t Got Me Yet
19. Light Bulb Alley - I Only Got Two Feet
20. Pretty Things - Come See Me
21. Skinny Kids - All Gold
21. Thee Rum Coves - GCSB
22. The Halo Benders - Lonesome Sundown
23. Mystery Lights - Flowers In My Hair Demons In My Head
24. Thee Oh Sees - I Come From The Mountain (Live In San Francisco)
25. Thee Oh Sees - Tidal Wave (Live In San Francisco)
26. Thee Oh Sees - Gelatinous Cube

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 27.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Interview with John Doe of X & Show # 617


This week’s episode of Revolution Rock featured an interview with John Doe of the band X. This Los Angeles band formed in 1977 and were part of the first wave of American punk. X released seven full-length albums in their initial run as a band from 1980 to 1993. X reunited in the 2000’s and tours intermittently with the original band line-up. The band is currently on a tour and stopped by Detroit’s El Club on August 20th and 21st to perform Los Angeles and Wild Gift in their entirety. John has also been involved in numerous films and is an author. He recently wrote a book about the Los Angeles punk scene with Tom DeSavia called Under The Big Black Sun: A Personal History of LA Punk. In addition to other music related projects that he has been a part of, John released his latest solo album The Westerner in April 2016.

Check out my interview with John Doe below:



The Playlist:

1. Art Bergmann - Company Store
2. U.I.C. - 2 + 2 = ?
3. John Doe & The Sadies - Night Life
4. The Sadies - Cowhand
5. X - Los Angeles (Demo)
6. X - Johnny Hit and Run Pauline

John Doe Interview

7. X - I'm Coming Over (Demo)
8. X - Adult Books
9. John Doe - Get On Board
10. Japandroids - Sex & Dying in High Society
11. The Nerves - Hanging On The Telephone
12. The Go Gos - Skidmarks On My Heart
13. Young Rival - Black Is Good
14. Joel Plaskett Emergency - Come On Teacher
15. PJ Harvey - Hitting the Ground
16. Gordon Gano - Make It Happen
17. Violent Femmes - Issues
18. Alan Vega - Kid Congo
19. Alan Vega - Goodbye Darling
20. Jerry Nolan - Take A Chance With Me
21. Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Smitten (Demo)
22. X - Soul Kitchen
23. X - Beyond and Back

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 21.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Revolution Rock: Radio Brain Drain - Vancouver Special & Show # 616


To kick off CJAM FM’s Radio Brain Drain, a weeklong celebration of punk rock and all its forms, Revolution Rock hosted a special program. The show focused on the early Vancouver punk music scene along with new and old music from Vancouver that shares the spirit of the Ramones and punk rock. Also featured on the program was an interview that I did with Nick Jones of the now legendary punk/power pop band The Pointed Sticks in 2015.

You can listen to the interview here and download the radio program in a link below the playlist:



Radio Brain Drain 2016 Playlist:

1. DOA - Take A Chance (Something Better Change - 1980)
2. Active Dog - Rat Race (Rat Race/Good Filthy Fun - 1979)
3. Tim Ray - Dying In Brooklyn (Vancouver Complication - 1979)
4. Adrian Teacher & The Subs - Charmless Babes (Terminal City - 2016)
5. Thee Goblins - The Good Jacket Theme (The Good Jacket Presents ... Vancouver Special - 2000)
6. Riff Randells - Sombody's Mom (The Good Jacket Presents ... Vancouver Special - 2000)
7. The Secret V’s - Waiting For The Drugs To Take Hold (No Life Like It - 1980)
8. Tough Age - Snakes & Ladders (I Get The Feeling Central - 2015)
9. Energy Slime - Bustin’ Up (New Dimensional - 2014)
10. Nervous Talk - Nothing To Say (Nervous Talk - 2015)
11. Pointed Sticks - It’s O.K. (Waiting For The Real Thing - 2006)

Nick Jones Pointed Sticks Interview

12. Pointed Sticks - La La La (Pointed Sticks - 2015)
13. White Lung - Viva La Rat (It's The Evil - 2010)
14. Japandroids - Wet Hair (Post-Nothing - 2009)
15. Maow - Ms. Lefevre (The Unforgiving Sounds Of Maow - 1996)
16. Cub - Motel 6 (Betti-Cola - 1993)
17. The New Pornographers - Mass Romantic (Mass Romantic - 2000)
18. The Evaporators - I Gotta Disease (I’m Addicted To Cheese)(Ripple Rock - 2004)
19. The Evaporators - Nard Nest (Ripple Rock - 2004)
20. Mystery Machine - Japanese Dads (Western Magnetics - 2012)
21. Buddy Selfish - It’s Only Make Believe (Bud Luxford Presents: On Sale Inside - 1981)
22. Indian Wars - Denny (Songs From The North - 2012)
23. Dead Ghosts - On Your Own (Can't Get No - 2013)
24. The Modernettes - Rebel Kind (View From The Bottom - 1982)
25. The Dishrags - Carry On (Love/Hate - 1997)
26. Antheads - Think Fast (Some Plastic Flowers & Fruit - 2010)
27. Young Canadians - I Hate Music (No Escape - 1995/Vancouver Complication - 1979)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 13.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

The Frights Interview, Shotgun Jimmie & Show # 615

The Frights Interview



This week’s episode featured an interview with Mikey Carnevale the singer/guitarist in The Frights. With influences such as surf rock, punk and what the band calls dirty doo wop, The Frights formed in San Diego, California in 2012. They have just released their second full-length album You Are Going To Hate This. Produced by Fidlar’s Zac Carper, You Are Going To Hate This is a more focused effort than the band’s debut album, The Frights.

Check out the interview I did with Mikey:



Shotgun Jimmie CJAM Session

Additionally, at the end of May Shotgun Jimmie stopped by Phog Lounge with José Contreras (of By Divine Right). They stopped by CJAM FM’s studios to record the second CJAM Session (one of these songs was featured on this week’s episode of Revolution Rock). Shotgun Jimmie performed three songs acoustically with José, one of which was a new song entitled “I’m Already There, Sunshine” that is from a forthcoming album by The Heat Death. This is a new band/album featuring both Shotgun Jimmie and José Contreras.

Check out this CJAM Session:




Saturday Night Playlist:

1. The Mystery Lights - Follow Me Home
2. Chad Vangaalen - All Will Combine
3. Car Seat Headrest - Joe Gets Kicked Out of School For Using Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn't A Problem)
4. Transistors - On Cashel St.
5. Weird Lines - Twin Summers
6. Foxhart Fishman - The Deed
7. Flipper - Life Is Cheap
8. The Frights - Kids

Firghts Interview

9. The Frights - Afraid Of The Dark
10. Shotgun Jimmie - Join The Band (CJAM Session)
11. The Beatles - I'm Only Sleeping
12. The Beatles - And Your Bird Can Sing (Take 1 - Outtake)
13. The Beatles - Paperback Writer (Takes 1 & 2)
14. The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows
15. The Brandy Alexanders - Conventional Lie
16. Dinosaur Jr. - Tiny
17. The Hot Nasties - Vlad The Poet
18. The Dream Dates - Search & Destroy
19. White Lung - Kiss Me When I Bleed
20. Blondie - (I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear
21. The Rezillos - It Gets Me
22. Protomartyr - Ain't So Simple

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 6.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Young Rival Strange Light & Show # 614


Recorded during the same sessions as 2015’s Interior Light with Graham Walsh, Strange Light is a five-song EP that was released by Young Rival in May of 2016. The songs that make up Strange Light still feature some of the elements that made Interior Light so unique, but they also reflect a more straightforward sound. The EP is a balance of the garage sounds that Young Rival have been known for in the past, the sounds created on 2012’s Stay Young and on 2015’s Interior Light.

“Let Me Go On” starts off the EP with its stop and start guitar/bass riffs and kick drum. The lyrics are very character driven ala Ray Davies, as we hear about bottles, cans, licorice whips and the miracle cave. D’Alesio’s lyrical style uses vivid imagery and characterization in such a way that it never wavers throughout not only this release, but also in Young Rival’s music. The lyrics are layered amongst the strong melodies and powerful drums, bass and guitar combinations in a way that can operate on more than one level. John Smith drives the song “Lucky” with his fuzz bass guitar riffs. Along with sharp reverb drenched guitar stabs and a fuzzy driven chorus, “Lucky” features the lyrics “I don’t owe you nothing” that call out amongst the heavier chorus elements and instrumentation on this track. “Oh Nancy” is a more pop driven song, drawing on a mixture of 60s garage pop influences, descending guitar lines and the powerful drums provided by Noah Fralick. D’Alesio sings of Nancy, who slips through the cracks of convention towards contradiction. As the chorus hits with “Oh Nancy/I got your number”, these catchy words are loaded with double meaning.

“Heard It All Before” and the final track “Strange Light”, feature a more laid back vibe and slower tempos. “Heard It All Before” is thick with strong melodies drawing on influences such as The Everly Brothers and lyrics foretelling missed chances, empty promises and turning everything around. “Strange Light” is a jangly ballad, complete with harmonies, drowsy guitars and a lingering 50’s rock influence. Lyrically, this song is a haunting tale that borders between a love song and science fiction. One of the characters in the song disappears into a “strange light” at night in the park in an eerie glow.

When writing about 2015’s Interior Light, it was previously mentioned that like the album’s cover, Interior Light added more colour to Young Rival’s already established garage rock palette. With Interior Light, Young Rival got more psychedelic allowing the guitars and melodies created to drift like the paint on a canvas. With Strange Light, the songs are grittier and embedded with a melody that can serve as a companion piece of Interior Light. These five songs are more like dried up paint on a canvas hidden amongst the artwork for this EP, which resembles static waves on an analog TV set. Music like this is hidden within the static of modern technology and trends, while at the same time, it still sounds fresh. To find music of this kind you don’t have to look much further than Young Rival’s Strange Light.



Saturday Night Playlist:

1. The Haunted - I Can Only Give You Everything
2. Film Jacket 35 - Waiting For A Way Out
3. The Busters - Bust Out
4. Teenanger - Alone On Acid
5. The Stems - Rosebud
6. The Barracudas - Somebody
7. The Wayouts - I Want To
8. Silent Movie Type - Cobwebs
9. Fugazi - Provisional
10. The Wipers - Up Front
11. Vision - What I Need
12. Phern - Crosswalk Talk
13. Mo-Dettes - Fandango
14. Joy Division - No Love Lost
15. Wire - New York City
16. Wire - After Midnight
17. Hi-Fis - I Don’t Know Why (You Love Me)
18. The Poles - Prime Time
19. Stiv Bator - Yesterdays
20. Chris Crossroads - You Can Get It
21. The Blueflowers - You Won't Like This Part
22. Sean Connery Supergroup - Dang Girl (2016 Dance Mix)
23. Actual Water - Brighton
24. Cub - Go Fish
25. The Scientists - Frantic Romantic
26. Huevos Rancheros - American Sunset
27. Young Rival - Let Me Go On
28. Young Rival - Heard It All Before
29. Beat Happening - Indian Summer

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for July 30.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Kid Congo Powers And The Pink Monkey Birds La Arana Es La Vida & Show # 613


Kid Congo Powers first began his career as a musician being a guitarist in bands such as The Gun Club (who he helped form), The Cramps and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. That resume is enough to make people turn heads, but after playing with numerous bands as a guitarist, he ventured out on his own, forming his own band in 2005 with his first release being the album Solo Cholo. In 2009, Kid Congo Powers And The Pink Monkey Birds released Dracula Boots, a critically acclaimed album that stomped with the sounds of garage rock, 50’s rock n’ roll, soul and Chicano rock. Released on In The Red Records, La Arana Es La Vida is the fourth album by Kid Congo Powers And The Pink Monkey Birds.

Congo and crew create a deep groove, blending the primal sounds of rock n’ roll along with other related sub-genres and Chicano rock once again. This effort is equally as strong and features the addition of guitarist Mark Cisneros, who brings a fresh perspective to the Pink Monkey Birds sound. The sounds on this album definitely lend themselves to the garage and surf genres, but the album at times sounds soulful as if Andre Williams and Billy Childish are playing on the same track. The album has much more depth than that especially when you look closer into the title, which is a reference to Mexican folklore. La Arana is the Great Spider Goddess of Teotihuacan. Kid Congo Powers had this to say about the connection to this folk tale in an interview done with New Noise Magazine:

“She sprouts hallucinogenic morning glories and protects the underworld. I thought that is very much like our duty as a band, to have the most open mind to vivid psychedelic dreams to create and protect the world of underground music, the music of the soul. Protect it from unimaginative, unfeeling commercial music. No magic there. Plus, I like the associations The Kiss Of The Spiderwoman, Spider Baby, ‘the tangled webs we weave.”

It’s no surprise that this primitive folk tale lends itself to the sounds brought forth on La Arana Es La Vida. “Psychic Future” opens the album with its fuzzy garage blues grooves and slides. “Coyote Conundrum” drips with psychedelic and surf influences in both the music and lyrics, while “Nine Blubber Mile”, one of a few instrumental tracks found on this album, treads along with its rumbly bassline and staticy guitar lines. “Karate Monkey” jumps and kicks with its Elvis Presley and ? And The Mysterians-like licks, while “La Arana” blends Chicano rock with elements of garage and soul. As Powers sings in an Andre Williams drawl, he tells a story about a spider that crawls all over the characters in the song at a party. This is portrayed in the lyrics and musically throughout the guitar and basslines. On “Anything To Say”, Powers sings a love song comparing fallen, broken dishes to spilling guts, as the guitars weave the words together with their sharp-shard-like riffs.

“Chicano Studies” is a surf instrumental track. The track features mischievous speaking , on top of the music, but the ending track sets itself apart from the rest of the songs found on La Arana Es La Vida. “Five Points/Howards End/Nasty Hat” begins with two segments conjuring up 50s rock n roll influences and ambient country/blues slides before “Nasty Hat” takes the listener into one more intense groove. Recorded at the Harveyville High School Gym in Kansas, La Arana Es La Vida contains a rambunctious youthful atmosphere. La Arana Es La Vida oozes with a primal rock n’ roll aesthetic, as lyrically it creeps and crawls with reverb laden lyrics drawing on tales of Mexican folklore.

Saturday Night Playlist:

1. Mission Of Burma - Tremelo
2. Sonic Youth - Wolf
3. Vallens - Karen
4. Hot Hot Heat - Sad Sad Situation
5. Heaven For Real - Kill Your Memory
6. Suicide - Ghost Rider
7. Suicide - Mr. Ray
8. Allen Vega - Kung Foo Cowboy
10. Suicide -Jukebox Baby 96
11. Allen Vega - Ghost Rider
12. Nickel Eye - Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
13. Beck - Suzanne
14. Nick Cave - I’m Your Man
15. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Avalanche
16. Leonard Cohen - Jazz Police
17. Leonard Cohen - Bird On A Wire
18. Weird Lines - There Are Never Too Many Matches
19. The Replacements - 20th Century Boy
20. Luau Or Die - Mojave Chaser
21. Atomic 7 - That Leftover Savior Faire
22. The Black Lips - Leroy Faster
23. The Cramps - Don't Eat Stuff Off The Sidewalk
24. The Gun Club - Eternity Is Here
25. Kid Congo Powers & The Pink Monkey Birds - Chicano Studies
26. Kid Congo Powers & The Pink Monkey Birds - La Arana

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for July 23.