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PillowTallk Music: If Records had Balls…

…the Riverboat Gamblers’ new EP, Smash/Grab, would have Bon Scott’s.

The Riverboat Gamblers’ new EP Smash/Grab

The Riverboat Gamblers’ new EP Smash/Grab

Released on July 12th by Paper + Plastick the EP is a raw, muddy mix of the early, gasoline-infused Gamblers (particularly Something To Crow About – era Gamblers) and a bit of the cleaner, more polished style evident on 2009’s Underneath The Owl.  The two styles of Gamblers had different musicians; the current lineup welds the best of both together: with a dose of The Hellacopters and Skeemin’ NoGoods. (Maybe even some Dead Kennedys thrown in for good measure).

Songs by the Skeemin NoGoods, particularly “Punch The Clock”take no prisoners. The Gamblers EP’s opener “The Ol’ Smash and Grab” is no different.  Pushed along by a driving drum track, the song grabs you by the collar—never lets go—and sends the record off at top speed, giving you no chance to take one last look at the world behind you.  Then again, maybe you don’t want to look back.

The lyrics imply a criticism of the state of the world with its voracious appetite for the latest and greatest, without care for who or what gets in the way in pursuit of such things.   The second track, “Parasite Friends” has the brightest-sounding guitars out of the four songs on the EP and could have landed on the band’s last full-length release, Underneath The Owl.  Yet it has enough of the less polished sound to fit right in with the tracks on this EP.

Provided my dear old brain isn’t getting tricksy with me (a more frequent occurrence these days), the third song “Maggie Lea” has surfy Dead Kennedys-esque guitar lines…especially around the 0:47 and 1:18 marks.  I do enjoy the surf sound of this song.  The OCD part of me is still trying to figure out which Dead Kennedys song I’m hearing but there are so many.

(On a sorta-kinda-but-not-really-all-that-related note, have you seen McSweeney’s OCD Valentines? They’re classics!  Such as this one: “Roses are red, violets are blue. Sugar is sweet, and I think I left the iron on.”)

The fourth and last track on the EP “Anything But You” is a full minute of fury, the fuzziest on the EP.  Its frantic energy would easily find a home on an early Riverboat Gamblers album: either their 2001 self-titled or 2003’s Something To Crow About.

After repeated listens I still have no idea what the lyrics are except “whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh” and perhaps I got even those words wrong.  Forget your coffee in the morning?  Play this once and you’ll be set.

If you’re curious about the EP it’s still up and streaming here although the tracks are reversed from the actual order on the EP.  (No worries though they sound great forwards and backwards.)  If this EP is a preview of what’s to come out of the Riverboat Gamblers down the road, I’m going to be like an excited kid waiting for Santa Claus to deliver the goods as we all wait for a full-length album from these guys.

Dear Santa:  Let there be rock.


On Your Nose: You Have Died of Dysentery!

Periodically PillowTalk will feature music writings by Stacie. Fun, sassy and always up for ruckus…if this was a restaurant this is what your pop culture would look like if it was well done! There are comments below to agree or disagree or just…comment!

Toto: I Don’t Think We’re on the East Coast Anymore…

Over six months ago, I moved west. I didn’t die of dysentery and my oxen survived the trip. Some parts of my life have changed drastically; others haven’t.

Instead of DC Beltway hell, my commute is a mountain drive, thankfully with little traffic. Yet, I still roll the windows down and crank the stereo on the commute, singing along at the top of my lungs. Good day, moose and squirrels and other woodland creatures: it’s your very Un-Disney Princess trilling metal and punk songs to you!

I am happy to report I broke a seven-month rock show dry spell last month: catching The Menzingers’ set during an abbreviated visit to Salt Lake City’s Kilby Court.   Due to my scheduling conflicts, I missed their shows back east in the past few years and I finally managed to see their live show two-thirds of the way across the country.

Recently signed to Epitaph Records, Pennsylvania’s The Menzingers play a melodic type of punk, with stories told in many of their lyrics.  In their music, there’s an obvious undercurrent from The Clash, along with jangling guitars similar to The Gaslight Anthem, but with rougher, coarser vocals on many of the tracks.  Influences are evident, and while the music isn’t the most unique I’ve ever heard, it does enough to stand on its own.

And it gets me moving! Some of the songs give me that happy, flying, tingling feeling, which—in my humble opinion—is a much more important, personal measure of quality than traditional metrics, such as number of records sold.

Their songs pulled up memories for me and I found myself missing friends from back east, awesome friends who were willing to let me drag them to rock show after rock show, for the small price of a beer or a cover charge. Excuse me; I’m feeling a bit like Linda Richman and getting verklempt.  A topic: I’ll give you a topic: a Thighmaster is neither a thigh nor a master (nor should you obey it). Discuss!

At any rate, the music and lyrics are well written; these guys are obviously decent musicians, easily weaving the rhythm section with the lead guitars and harmonizing vocals.  I’ve yet to dig into their earlier work but I spent the past couple weeks with their recent release, Chamberlain Waits, which I picked up at the show last month.

The first few seconds of the record’s opening track, “Who’s Your Partner” are eerily similar to The Gaslight Anthem’s “I’da Called You Woody, Joe.”  The song quickly diverges into something of its own and features one of my favorite lyrics from the entire album: “So let these simple songs get caught in our heads.”

“Time Tables” is one of my favorite tracks off the album, largely due to the images in the lyrics, which depict finding and losing someone and then longing for the bond you thought you had, whether it was really there or not.  The song also speaks of the power of non-visual memories, of being reminded of something, or a certain someone, when a song comes on: “I drove home with fire in the sky, fiddled with the dials and stumbled across something that you were always humming.”

In “Tasker-Morris Station”, bits of The Clash undercurrent rise to the surface, and the vocals serve as just one example of The Menzingers ability to harmonize. To The Menzingers: I apologize for destroying your harmonies with my tone deafness when I involuntarily sing along, but that is your fault for writing this great song.  The record is a solid effort; I hope these guys stick together and are able to keep cranking out the good music.

During their set, The Menzingers praised Kilby Court and encouraged people to take advantage of the unique venue.   Reviews of the venue that I’d read prior to the show were overwhelmingly positive, and after experiencing the venue in person, I can see why.  Kilby Court is a small, old garage with a small stage, with a welcoming vibe for all.  There’s an outdoor courtyard area of sorts, with benches and seats where people can hang out between sets among the bands’ merch tables.

Kilby Court is an all ages venue, and most of the crowd seemed to be in their teens or early 20s, quite a change from the DC and Baltimore crowds I knew.  However, just because the Kilby crowd was young does not mean they were without good taste.  One of the guys who helped me push the thrashing, leaping, enthusiastic hardcore guys back into the pit during the set of one of the other bands mentioned Fugazi and other DC bands to me during a brief conversation between sets.

And the hardcore moshers were thrashing much harder than I would have expected for SLC.  Kilby Court and its crowd definitely seem to run contrary to the straight-laced, cultural wasteland stereotype that’s commonly slapped on SLC.  To have a venue like Kilby Court in your city is an amazing perk.  Do yourselves a favor, kids (teens, in your 20s, 30s, whatever), take The Menzingers’ advice and keep going to Kilby to keep it going.


On Your Nose Pau Gasol!

On Your Soft Nose Pau Gasol! I’ve never seen Phil Jackson go off like this…not good.

On Your Nose Donald Trump! (Again)

Jane Fraser from the Stuttering Foundation of America does a great On Your Nose job on Donald Trump! How does this guy still have any self-esteem left?

Donald Trump has been slammed by the Stuttering Foundation after the organization accused him of making derogatory remarks about those with the speech impediment.

The Celebrity Apprentice criticized Meyers’ speech delivery during the White House correspondents’ dinner, calling the SNL writer a “stutterer” during an appearance on Fox and Friends for failing to complete his talk without mistakes.

“Shame on you, Mr. Trump! We at the Stuttering Foundation find it discouraging that in 2011, Donald Trump has chosen to use the word ‘stutterer’ in a derogatory fashion, something to be made fun of, to describe Seth Meyers’ speech at the annual White House correspondents’ dinner,” said the foundation’s president Jane Fraser in a statement.

“In light of The King’s Speech and the new awareness it has brought to stuttering, we had hoped that this kind of unfortunate comment was a thing of the past. When in doubt about the eloquence of those who stutter, Trump should take a look at Winston Churchill, King George VI and James Earl Jones.”


On Your Nose Donald Trump!

Seth Meyers does a wonderful On Your Nose job on Donald Trump!