Friday, December 09, 2016

Things we like: Tin Huey, John Cale, Heater, BULLS, Bad Times

The Buckeye State may be on the verge of enacting an abortion law even more restrictive than ours down here in Texas (sans the burial/cremation requirement), but Ohio remains the secret music capital of America. For proof positive, here's Tin Huey, Akron's prog-band-in-New-Wave-band's-clothing, reunited in 2004 with all original members, including Tom Waits' longtime reedman Ralph Carney and late, lamented bassist Mark Price, captured in stellar video and OK audio by students from a local community college. Imagine an agreeable collision of Soft Machine with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band with hot chops, slick songwriting, and a wiseass sensahumour, and you've got the idea. (Principals Harvey Gold and Chris Butler continue in the tradition as Half Cleveland, who've been featured here more than once before.)

Today's mail brought a candygram from the gods in the form of the Domino Records reish of John Cale's Fragments of a Rainy Season, a fave of mine since its original appearance on Rykodisc back in '92. It's the purest manifestation of Cale the songster, accompanying himself on piano or guitar, playing songs from his whole catalog, and my preferred way to hear 'em. The limited edition CD or 3LP comes with a bonus disc that includes eight previously unreleased performances, among them a version of "I'm Waiting for the Man," the song I obnoxiously yelled all night for the first time I saw Cale live. In the liner notes, there's a blurb from Malcolm Gladwell, of all people, 'splaining that it was Cale who whittled down Leonard Cohen's original version of "Hallelujah" (which ran to 18 pages of manuscript) to the one Jeff Buckley covered and we all know and love (perhaps too much) today. Well, as I live and breathe.

These days I don't get out much, so the only time I get to hear bands play is on those rare occasions when the li'l Stooge band gigs and I can book shows with ones I'm innarested in. Back in July, we played at Lola's Stockyards with Heater, a band of superannuated (they say) punkeroos who've discovered that being Dad is totally compatible with playing a fierce '80s style that takes its cues from all the usual D.C. and Mpls suspects. They're the kind of tatted up Dads who wear Descendents T-shirts to "Meet the Teacher" night, but onstage, they explode with a fury that's impossible to fake. They have an EP ready that's currently streamable or downloadable digitally. Physical copies of the record will have to wait for that perpetual pacing item, artwork. Use it to heat up the house this weekend.

Next weekend the Stooge band will play inside the saloon at Lola's, doing two sets just like we used to at the old Black Dog Tavern (RIP). Joining us on the bill will be BULLS, one of Heater's "brother bands" (Tame Tame & Quiet is the other). Fronted by singing drummer Ricky Del Toro, BULLS plays a stripped-down but highly emotive post-punk style marked by jarring dissonance and desperately declaimed vocals. Their 2015 cassette EP on estimable FTW indie Dreamy Life is sold out but still Bandcamp-available. They're about halfway through a newie with Britt Robisheaux at Cloudland as I type this.

Speaking of punk and things Britt recorded at Cloudland, Rip in Peace is the fourth (!) album by Bad Times, a trio fronted by Denton-based Renaissance man Alex Atchley, who writes fiction and draws comics as well as making music that ranges from the one-man-band Naxat to the D&D-referential Hack and Slashers and the Devo-esque Blank-Men. Rip in Peace is Bad Times' most fully realized effort, and proof positive that angst needn't end with your teen years. Atchley says it's the finest record he's worked on, and I'm inclined to agree -- until the next one.


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