Monday, April 6, 2009

D.I.Y. Ethic Lives On - Vol III - Another Bevy of Basement Booty

Time once again, oh fearless waveriders, for another installment of one of our favorite columns, The D.I.Y. Ethic, our ode to all the multipulously talented folk out there that divide their time between the day job and the basement studio. (and in case you're wondering, yes, I did just make up that word, but it certainly seems to fit). And have we got an assortment for you today. That's one of the things that thrills us the most about the D.I.Y. musician-- there is no end to the limits of their muse. It seems that often the thought of the D.I.Y musician is some musical geek sitting alone in his bedroom tapping keys on an ibook, or some version of forever noncommercial indy rock. Let us be the first to tell you, that's not the case. Heavy metal, alt-rock, classic psychedelic stonerfied blues, it's all here. Coming straight from the basement, no record labels needed, we got us some D.I.Y. madness.

Poobah - No Control

Perhaps no other artist that we could ever feature typifies this unending D.I.Y. ethic, this compulsive need to create, to span the heights and depths of his musical energies and talents, than does that wild master of psychedelic scorched, blues-toasted, classic guitar rock, Poobah. Going on past his 30th year of pumping out one quality disc after another, most of them self-produced, independent releases, there seems to be no end to Jim Gustafson's passion for acid-seared rock and roll. His latest disc, recorded with co-ward in madness, Woody Hupp on bass and drums, finds the mighty Poobah tearing things up through a scorching blues feast in "Toolshed Blues," blasting off on an acid ride of screaming guitar effects and warbling distortions on "Once in a Blue Moon," and bringing on the fuzz for the metal-inspired "Prisoner of Love." And let me tell you, when Poobah is firing on all cylinders, few can keep up with this motor craft. After all, you don't get to be the artist with the most concert performances at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for nothing. The forementioned "Blue Moon," features some mind-boggling guitar slicing in and out of the mix. "6 Strings," brings on some damn fine, blues infection to bring your fever to a boil. "Stinkin," rocks with shades of old tour-mates ZZ Top. Some of the tracks may veer towards the familiar by album's end, but overall, it seems that Poobah just keeps getting stronger as the years pass, and from the touring and gigging schedule this guys keeps, its apparent that Jim has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon. It's a thing of beauty. Lovers of acid-fried guitar brimming with the D.I.Y. ethic should check this out.

Birch Hill Dam - S/T

What a feast we got going on. From the acid-dipped guitar strings of Poobah, right to the pulverizing blitzkrieg of metal that is Birch Hill Dam. Riding some mighty fierce riffing, Birch Hill Dam come blasting out of the pits of mountain Kyuss with the might and terror of a rampaging army. And when I say blasting, I mean it. Keeping your head too close to the speakers while "Bed of Nails," plays is akin to holding one ear next to a howitzer cannon. "Seedling," erupts out next, nary a missed beat, disintegrating any grey matter that happens to be left behind. Featuring a freaking gorgeous, fuzzed out guitar tone, the boys beat this one into submission like a Biker gang taking on a card cheat. Pool cues and metal pipes included. "Gasoline Fiend," fires up the 400 hp engine, riding an exhaust of nitro through a speed fest of Viking Skull-esque metal. "Thunderbuns Malone," carries their Kyuss influence to unfettered heights of brutality and aggression. And again, it's all D.I.Y., written, arranged and funded by the boys to feed their insatiable need to pummel the masses into submission. God Bless em.

Midnite Social - S/T

Miss the good ol' days of sleaze dripped, cock-rock, where little mattered besides the thrust of your groin, your bottle of JD, and where your next lay was coming from? Driving down the freeway of sterile corporate rock with their middle fingers high in the air in the one-fingered salute of defiance, Midnite Social take their cues from the trash-rock of the eighties. Forget that thing they called the last Guns and Roses album, " Name," bursts out of the speakers like the natural successor to "Paradise City," all pounding drums, raging riffs and anthemic gangland vocals. Stellar guitar work rips through the song, so drenched in whiskey you could get drunk just wringing the disc out over a shot glass. Do they bring anything new to the table? Hell no! This is balls-out, kick in the crotch, grab your groupie and ride into the night rock and roll. "Crazy," just brims with an unbridled, purely addictive energy. It's clear these guys aren't playing this for laughs, but living deep in the getting dirty, telling your day job to screw it, troublemaking, and scoring hot girls life-style. "Jessica," rides high on a Junkyard riff, dropping down into a slutty, just dripping with lust, bluesy verse, loaded with power and a handful of aphrodisiacs. "Once," explodes like a 12 gauge shotgun into a rumbling riff that is destined to make a thousand exotic dancers see the shiny side of a stripper pole. I will suggest to the boys to avoid rapping in the future ("After Midnite" ) but that misstep aside, tune in for a wailing good time blast of old time, bring-your own-condoms-to the-party, rock.

Rachael - I Bet You Like Drugs Instead of Sex.

Another beautiful thing about the D.I.Y. musician is that it's not limited to the U.S. Musicians all over the world, burning with the urge to create and put out their music are tapping into the new age of the D.I.Y. vibe. Case in point, this energetic, edgy, psychedelic garage burner from Warsaw, Poland. Rachael are a band, not a person, and if you're a fan of sounds like The Brian Jonestown Massacre or Mod Amish, do yourself a favor and pop on over to their myspace page and download this 5 song, free EP. "Asian Girl," brims with confident energy, the fuzzed out guitar tone honking across the opening verse like a fire alarm warning. Dig the scattered guitar run at the end of the verse, then the full on charge of the chorus. Male and female vocals blend effortlessly in a siren of agit-pop. "Juditha," mines a similar vibe, but brings on some beautiful guitar tones for the beginning. Here the contrast of the soaring female and the gruff male vocal works to dramatic effect, adding in layers of tension under the spacey beat. "Going up in Smoke," brings on the full psychedelic flavor of the band, all the way down to the inhaling of the joint at the beginning. Looping, swirling guitar sends this one soaring off into a low orbit around the atmosphere. Then "V-66," drops the whole shebang back down into the garage, courtesy of a vocal delivery reminiscent of the Violent Femmes. "All You Need is Lead," percolates out with a vague Church-vibe before detouring off to territory all it's own. A definite winner. Overall, an incredibly strong debut, and suggestive I believe, of a growing, extremely fertile punk/alt-rock scene in the land behind the former Iron Curtain. We'll be keeping our eyes on Poland in the future. Don't miss out on this free download.

The Ropes - Be My Gun EP

Perhaps one of the coolest things about the whole D.I.Y. ethic is when these artists who are pouring their hearts out into their music, make that special connection with their audience. Such is the case with The Ropes. A NYC duo composed of bassist/vocalist Sharon Shy and multi-instrumentalist Toppy, the band's latest EP, Be My Gun, was brought to my attention by Nat, a member of the band's street team. With dogged determination, she cyber-ly demanded that I not stop until I'd heard each and every song from this 3-song effort, and I'm grateful she did. Plowing an alt sensibility each of the three tracks here is a winner. Clearly, the standout is the title cut, "Be My Gun," an immediately engaging, Tegan and Sara-esque slice of downtempo indy rock that still manages to build tension without ever truly rocking. Rather, the song rides it's steady drum beat, injecting its subversive lyrics amidst the slices of distorted guitar to resounding effect. "Too Cool to Love," manages to find some previously hidden segue way between The White Stripes and Portishead. Downtempo garage rock with flashes of electronica. "Kitty Get Down," takes the synth vibe one step further, swirling in an aural kaleidoscope of sunshine pop, with a mean, thunderstorm of a chorus. Apparently, street teamers like Nat have been doing their jobs, as evidenced by the 312,000 plays of one of their songs, and that's a passion I'm sure The Ropes appreciate. The goal of every D.I.Y. musician, to connect with those wanting ears, creating a common bond that somehow remains beyond words. It's the same mission we have at the Ripple, to help those ears find the music.

Thanks Nat, from The Ripple and The Ropes both.


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