Friday, February 22, 2008

FDF Vol 1 Issue 86: moe. - Dither

Album - Dither
Artist - moe.
Key Players - Rob Derhak - bass, vocals. Chuck Garvey - acoustic and electric guitars,vocals. Al Schnier acoustic and electric guitars, harmonica, piano, vocals and moog synthesizer. Jim Loughlin - percussion and flute. Vinnie Amico - drums

Produced By - John Siket and moe.

Release Date - February 6, 2001

What caused me to blow off the dust? - With the band just releasing a new cd, and me missing yet another one of their recent shows I went back to see what it was I had grown to like in the first place. New cd is in hand and a band that is forever on tour are always a good mix.

Overview - This was the fifth studio album from the band moe. (always with the ".". The band formed their own label to release this record after little success on prior records on a major label. The band recorded this around the country at various times during their tours. The band would later perfect methods to record studio quality albums while on the road. The band continues to evolve pushing musical boundaries and each other. The band is active in the festival circuit and have even curate their own "Sno Downs" and "moe downs". The band got a little exposure outside the jam band circles when a few songs from this record were played on adult album rock stations in the USA (Tambourine, New York City, and, Captain America)

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - Special guest DJ Logic lays down the scratch mixes as Derhak belts the opening line of "Captain America" before the band comes in. A funky fusion of guitars and keyboards it has a happy bounce. The record scratching kept towards the back allowing for the band to show case their playing as well as vocal harmonies. Schnier has a good keyboard breakdown while Loughlin keeps the ship steady with his percussion work. The songs hardly fade out (much like most of their live show) as "Faker" begins to fade up with laid back vocals and slide guitar. By the chorus Derhak, Schnier and Garvey all showcase strong vocal harmonies, a usual stand out on both the faster and slower songs. The guitar solo, albeit short, is awash with a country music vibe and violin can be heard wavering over the top as well. A pretty song. "Understand" follows and Derhak takes a back seat on the vocals, its Al's turn to shine. Another fun song, that showcases how tight the band is. The tempo changes that alternate with hard hitting drums and guitar fuzzy ness then suddenly awash with a vocal phase segment. Amico shines on this track as well. He exhibits why is part is equal to the whole. "T60RM" its a fast past fun track. Garvey uses his talk box on the guitar line while the band blossoms around. The verse sections are somewhat simple, but as the chorus arrives there are strong harmonies from the guys once more, a trend that really continues. The band will rock for two, three verses, then slow it down with a verse that is acoustic lead before Amico et.all chop it back in to the rocking chorus. At the outset we slow it down a little with the next track "So Long". Derhaks bass swoops underneath acoustic guitars before Schnier returns to the lead vocal duty. It is sort of a mellow, not overly crazy music wise until after the three minute mark where it picks up some, and is a washed with strings. Not a bad song, but as I listen once more I see what they might have been trying to do. One of the "singles" released is up next, "New York City". This is a very fun track and is a good idea of the overall sound of moe. The guitars are sharp and Loughlin and Amico shine. You get it all here, great guitars, catchy hooks a pounding rhythm section. Easy to see why it was a single. (check in the down load). Schnier continues his presence as the musical go to guy as "Can't Seem to Find" opens with acoustic guitars and harmonica (Al takes lead vocals on this as well). A fan favorite in a live setting the song has a strong "American music" feel to it. Very alt country if you will. Fans of Wilco for example would feel right at home. Another strong moe. track is "Water". It might not be a "rocking" track but the band, is tight, it is that simple. The guitar fills are crisp and full and the phase on the vocals add a cool touch. The shimmer of keys, the hard cymbal crashes before we "twang it up" again time and time again. The band is sort of all over the map on this track, but it s great listen. The track is over seven minute long and the "solo sections" are the most fun. Another one of the singles released to radio "Tambourine" is up next. The song is very short by moe. standards (2:17) and I personally find it moderate. It is just not interesting to me, based off what they have done up to this point on the record. A very curious cover song follows, "In A Big Country". Originally done by Scottish (and soon to be FDF band)Big Country. A track that could not be very easy to cover both musically and vocally the band does a strong version. Check out the down load of it. With tom tom rolls and guitars fading up "Rise" slowly builds before a moog myth gives the song a funk groove. Per the norm, the guitars shine and there is great play between Garvey and Schnier. The album closes with the epic "Opium" clocking in at over 23 minutes in length..but don't let that fool you. Opium is a great track with strong rock moments we have come to expect and Derhak shines vocally. When the track ends hit the fast forward button to 19:57 where a demo sounding version of "Captain America" is buried.

Where are they now? - moe. is still very active. The band released "Sticks and Stones" in early 2008 and are constantly on the road. The band members hardly ever sit still, each having solo, or side projects to keep themselves busy. The band is very active in the festival scene as noted. Besides curating their own Summer and Winter festivals the band has played every major festival in the USA including Woodstock 1999, Bonnaroo, New Orleans Jazz Festival, Vegoose and Langerado to name but a few. The band always works to be as close to the fans and participated in the moe. cruise in 2004 and 2007. The band also donates their time and money to various causes. Between 2005 and 2006 the bands contributions were over $200,000.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I have seem moe. live on five separate occasions. (a far cry from the 100+ the moe.ron's see). The first was a fun day March 3, 2001. The day started off with an in studio session at the radio station I worked at 92.5 the River/WXRV. The band set up and played three tunes and chatted with one of DJs. I hopped in my car and followed them to Boston for their show that night at the Orpheum. It was a trip as the band let me emcee the gig (as in I was the one that brought them out on stage) and I watched the whole thing from the side of the stage. The guys were excellent and name it, made this newbie a fan for sure! The second time was later that year on September 14, 2001. It was a somber, yet electric night as it was just days after the Sept 11th attacks. The venue filled up and everyone was semi tense about being in a big crowd. Al thanked the crowd for coming out and getting away from the tv even if it was for just a little while. The band opened with a rousing version of "Captain America". Third time was November 18, 2003 at the Orpheum. Fun show as they played one of my personal faves "Kyles Song" as well as a moderate version of Metallicas "Enter Sandman". The final time was on February 11, 2005 at the Palladium in Worcester, MA. My buddy Kris, a huge fan, got backstage passes and once more I stood on the side of the stage for the duration watching the band whip the sell out crowd in to a frenzy. There has been a few additional times I have had a chance to see them but haven't gotten my butt in gear, it will happen again though, I can feel it.

FDF Overall Take - if you read this far you are either a fan of the band or genre probably. Its surprising how little "talent" can get you noticed. What I mean is the guys are all very proficient in their instruments but how often do you hear any of them mentioned on "best of" lists. The band has not really sold a lot of studio albums but have carved a nice niche in the live market. Fans in the know are thrilled the band has sort of been a little secret for this long, and as time goes on they slowly are gaining a little more notice outside the "jam band" circle. Check them out live some time, you will probably really have a great time.

Links -
Official site - here
myspace page - here

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

**mp3's have been removed**
Captain America
New York City
In A Big Country

All tracks taken from "Dither". You can get your own copy here

For live shows you can check out the live music archive. Using this link should get you started if you so desire.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, February 08, 2008

FDF Vol 1 Issue 85: Screaming Trees - Uncle Anesthesia

Album - Uncle Anesthesia
Artist - Screaming Trees
Key Players - Mark Pickerel - drums, Gary Lee Conner - guitar and backing vocals, Van Conner - bass and backing vocals, Mark Lanegan - vocals.
Produced By - Terry Date, Chris Cornell and Screaming Trees

Release Date - January 1991

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- A few nights ago I couldn't sleep so I got up and sort of shuffled thru a pile of cds, going track to track..but on this one, I stopped and listened to most. Glad I did.

Overview - Seattle band Screaming Trees had churned out four albums, before releasing their major label debut on Epic. The band would gain some success commercially as Seattle became the "it" city for a while. The band would never reach the superstar level of some of the bands but fans and critics knew they were the real deal. Sibling rivalry, drugs and actually being let go by their label were just a few of the factors for the bands demise. They left some stunning rock songs in their wake. The band would play their final gig during an opening ceremony for the Seattle Experience Music Project in June of 2000.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)

A single fuzzed out guitar layers riffs down before the marching drums and bass line come in to open "Beyond This Horizon". The intro seems to have a certain speed before the band almost slows down for Lanegans whisky/smoke stained vocals. The music keeps the same formula but the listener will immediately be pulled into the strong vocal work from Lanegan. The song quickly fades out and right back up with "Bed of Roses". Here is a little example of the gentle side of the Screaming Trees but none the less powerful. Mark still shines vocally and the band is tight, maintaining equal balance of heavy yet poppy. Chris Cornell (Soundgarden/Audioslave) offers some of the high harmonies on the chorus but as the track plays its the drum work and vocal tracks that shine before Gary Lee and Van feed off each other coming out of the guitar solo. The title track "Uncle Anesthesia", follows and again is a sort of a mellow (for this band) track. The guitars and bass have a good punch, and the drums, albeit seemingly simple, hit with authority. The pace gets picked up as "Story of Her Fate" is off to the races almost immediately. The vocals have sort of pitch bending effect on them and the band buzzes along strong not breaking stride until a heavily distorted solo from Gary Lee (and the backing line sounds a smidgen like Barracuda from Heart). With one hard cough the track ends. Two guitar notes shimmer over the top of "Caught Between" before Gary Lee locks down for a crisp guitar intro. Cymbal splashing bring in the bass and the song has a very smooth tempo to it. That changes as the song progresses as the guitars bass and drums get heavier, before it all tightens down once more. The intro on "Lay Your Head Down" has the same feel as "Bed of Roses" but the bass stands out more. Its more a smooth/sweeping line and the guitar has more a chime to it than a crunch of previous songs. There are some higher harmonies splashed about as well. Overall its a strong track. Cornell appears again on the dark "Before We Arise". It howl of Lanegan is the stand out as the single guitar leads the way on the track. The band rushes back to form on "Something About Today". The rhythm section all feeds off each other and Lanegan pushes himself on the chorus (which will happen on other tracks to only heighten the greatness). The rat-a-tat drum fires off stand out track "Alice Said". There is little I can say about this track as it has always been a favorite of mine. The bass punches under everything while at the same time the drum work, basic as it is, is very tight. The bass and drums are the best parts of this track, that is until you really listen and hear the barrage of riffs Gary Lee lays down in the solo. Great song. The acoustic guitar intro under some radio static of some sort on "Time for Light" adds a good touch, before the band all comes in. As the chorus approaches the band alters the tempo and the drums seem to go off as the guitars and bass remain tight. Lanegan shows some of his strong pipes on this track as well. A chaotic outburst from everyone wraps up the track. We mellow it out once more with the trumpet! opening on "Disappearing". Drum sticks may way for brushes and the guitars a quieter. Sort of an odd song, but it doesn't feel out of place either. The pinnacle of this record lies in "Ocean of Confusion". This track absolutely rips. The bass rips, the guitar wails and Lanegan lets you know once and for all he is a behemoth rock vocalist. Seriously, check the freaking down load and listen to the harmonies and the tail end when Mark bellows the word "time". This song beckons your down load and repeated listen. (As an aside I was in a band in college and we covered this song, I sang and played bass..hardest song ever to do). The album wraps up with "Closer", a mellower but still solid track.

Where are they now? Oh boy, where does one even start? Van Conner formed the band "Valis" and have released four records to date. Mark Pickerel has been busy as well. His official site (see links) list him as musician, magician, mortician?!? He also is working in a band called "Mark Pickerel and his Praying Hands". Upon doing some searching it appears Gary Lee Conner lives in Texas and is/was working on a band called Amanita Caterpillar. The bands myspace page is down. Mark Lanegan has been a very busy guy. Even during the Screaming Trees run Mark was releasing solo albums, his last full on on solo album was released in 2004. Mark was a touring member in Queens of the Stone Age for a few years. He also released an album with Isobel Campbell (former member of Belle & Sebastian) to critical acclaim. Currently Mark is working with former Afghan Whigs singer Greg Dulli on a project called "The Gutter Twins". Their album is due in March of 2008.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - Screaming Trees were a great live band. Van and Gary Lee are both, ummmm rather large guys, but they'd freak out on stage. I mean full bore, rolling around stuff..and not just once..but a bunch of times. Lanegan always held on to the microphone for dear life. I used to joke he was going to fall over with out it (and not because of booze or what have you) he'd just hold on. The first time seeing them live was a the Paradise on October 17, 1992. The place was packed and the band was on tour for the follow up to "Uncle Anesthesia" and were about to be about as "big" as they'd ever getting when "Nearly Lost You" would be added to the "Singles" sound track. The show was electric and stage diving was abounding. My buddy Scott kept getting up on stage and trying to engage Mark in dance. To this day I have no idea how he lived that night. The second time was on the bands tour for the final studio album "Dust" at Avalon on June 11, 1996. Before the show a smaller bar near the club was having a listening party for the new cd and the guys (well new drummer Barrett Martin) as well as Gary Lee and Van showed up and signed stuff. The show was good, but I had no idea it would be the "last time" (does anyone?)

FDF Overall Take - When people talk about "Seattle" and "grunge music" the Trees are often mentioned more in passing that with the others. It is sort of a shame they didn't get as big as the "others" but at the same time the band probably would have imploded all the sooner. Fans that know of the Screaming Trees seem to like the fact they were not "huge".

Band - myspace
A fan site for Mark here

Mark Pickerel - Praying Hands on myspace.

Marks stuff
Gutter Twins on myspace
Mark's myspace page

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

All mp3's have been removed...

Bed of Roses
Alice Said
Ocean of Confusion

These tunes are from "Uncle Anesthesia" which you can buy here

The Screaming Trees
-The Viper Room, LA,CA
February 4, 2000

This is an audience sourced show and features Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age on guitar(s).

These mp3's have been removed....
Halo of Ashes
Dying Days
Sworn and Broken
Caught Between
Anita Grey
Cold Rain
Shadow of the Season
No One Knows
Dime Western
Gospel Plow
Julie Paradise
Where the Twain Shall Meet
Dollar Bill

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, February 01, 2008

FDF Vol 1 Issue 84 - Sugar - Beaster

Album - Beaster
Artist - Sugar
Key Players - Bob Mould: Guitars, vocals, keyboards, percussion. David Barbe: bass. Malcolm Travis: drums and percussion
Produced By - Bob Mould and Lou Giordano

Release Date - April 1993.

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I heard a Sugar tune on the radio and said "its been a while"

Overview - Sugar was a return to a "band" for Bob Mould. The former Husker Du vocalist/guitar player had released a few solo albums and, at times very dark, were also more acoustic based. Sugar was a return to the "rock" formula. The power trio would release a few records (really only 2 full length studio albums), and sustain themselves as building blocks for the alternative rock that was bubbling up at this time.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - Acoustic guitars waft over the top of the intro to "Come Around". The guitars are heavy, yet somehow restrained at the same time. Bob sort of howls over the top. "Tilted" opens a lot heavier with the guitars in overdrive and the drums hitting and driving the track forward. Bob is in fine form vocally, and Husker Du fans feel right at home. "Judas Cradle" is another heavy track with soaring guitars and vocals. The drums hit hard, and the buzz of one guitar layerd over the whole track can sometimes take from the track, but it does add to the kick. Floor toms and bass drum bring up "JC Auto" (short for Jesus Christ Autobiography). The band wastes little time in gearing down and hitting the guitars. By the chorus it get a little lighter, but still very poppy in hard rock sense (does that make any sense?). The guitars form a wall as the track fades down but its a short fade before the catchy "Feeling Better" comes up. This song almost feels out of place. The chrirpy keyboard line is sort of quirky to say the least. There a few instrumental break downs that allow for a bass fill, but the crunch of the guitar is the most fun. The band seem to have a lot of fun on this (the longest as well) track of the album. The album, also told to have "religious imagery" through out closes on a track that is lead with a pipe organ sound and sort of echoy vocals. The 3 minute track "Waking Away" is sort of a cast off, it doesn't do anything to help, or hinder the ep.

Where are they now? - Sugar disbanded in 1995 after David Barbe expressed his desire to spend more time with his family. Malcolm Travis continues to perform music, currently he is the drummer in the band "Lucky 57". Bob has continued to write and perform. His new disc is out in the USA on February 5, 2008.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience)
- I never saw Sugar live.

FDF Overall Take - For an ep its pretty good slice of the offerings from Sugar. These songs were recorded at the same time as the first album "Copper Blue" but many seen it as a darker and heavier record. For just over 30 minutes you sort of get it all laid right out. Bob was quoted as saying (regarding this record) that "Sometimes the experience of making music, or listening to music, shouldn't be overanalyzed and dissected". Enjoy it for what it is.


Lucky 57 on myspace
Bob's myspace page - here
Bob's Blog - here
Bob's Offical Page - here

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

**Mp3's have been removed**

JC Auto
Feeling Better

All tracks taken from "Beaster" which you can buy here

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.