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a little bit of BK in VA

Posts made in June, 2007

THE EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS-Ameritown

We’ve talked before here, and more than once, about Eastern Conference Champions, including picking their EP as one of the top 5 of the first half of 2007. So I’m not sure how much more I have to say. They’re a fantastic band who claim to have rejected a major label record deal in favor of doing what they wanted to, which was make the kind of indie rock Axl Rose or Blind Melon might have made. Much of what’s on their new album, Ameritown (release date: July 19th) comes from previous EPs, but not all of it. And frankly, who actually buys EPs anyway? Most of us wait for proper records, with few exceptions, and this one is one that was worth the wait.

Most of it is anthem rock, screamers and stompers, as good as anything else I’ve heard this year. There are only a few missteps along the way. On “Some Sorta Light,” the band comes dangerously close to trying get down home on a slow backporch acoustic number, and Josh Ostrander’s otherwise wonderous voice has a little trouble expressing hushed gravitas. Thankfully, though, the song kicks in halfway through and redeems itself. This is a band that must be LOUD to really be appreciated. They get my highest recommendation.

Taste it:

Noah

Buy it.

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RYAN BINGHAM AND THE DEAD HORSES

On occasion, I may like me some Dwight Yoakam or Hank Williams, Jr., but for the most part roadhouse country ain’t my thang. I like alt-country, though, in doses. (Usually doses of Drive-By Truckers or Whiskeytown.) Maybe that’s why I’ve taken a shine to Ryan Bingham and The Dead Horses, who fall somewhere between twang and blues. Just barely breaking his midtwenties, ex-bull rider Bingham tells tales you’d expect to hear in a saloon from e a wizened, heavily wrinkled man with a missing thumb. Authentic-sounding and dusty, Bingham’s latest, “Dead Horses” (produced
by Marc Ford of the Black Crowes) is classic singer-songwriter Americana, a modern-day version of the young Waylon or Willie.

This album deserves a much wider audience. Let’s help it get one!

Long Way From Georgia-Ryan Bingham

Dollar a Day-Ryan Bingham

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PARTS & LABOR-”Mapmaker”

The other day I read the best description of mainstream rap I’ve heard in a while, from The
Washington Post
’s J. Freedom du Lac: “It’s become a genre of ringtones.” It’s not just hip hop that’s descended down this road, it’s most popular music. Unable to compete with a perceived lack of sales due to downloads, the Industry keeps packaging the same material in different forms. Personally, I don’t think it’s all illegal downloads: Movie sales and DVD rentals are down, tickets to live events are down, everything is down because it’s all spread much thinner. There’s so much more to do these days, and the economy certainly has been better. And if you’re going to foment paranoia in the populace by creating a war on terror, you shouldn’t be surprised when people don’t wanna leave their houses anymore.

But one thing that Parts & Labor will never be accused of is making ringtone music. I’ve mentioned Parts & Labor here before, when they released their EP. Now they’ve got a proper record of their unique blend of Brooklyn power-trio noisepunk. I say unique because it isn’t solely deconstructive clatter—it’s got hooks, too. And understandable vocals (sometimes sung via bullhorn). And plenty of bleeps, bursts, bashes and blips. And the guitar work. I have to mention that. The screaming solos are blazing fire among the wreckage of the fastest, hardest drumming this side of a tommy gun. Jagjaguwar/Brah should be commended for taking a risk and signing a band that’s pretty different from the stuff they usually put out (Black Mountain, Alex Delivery, Minus Story) — not that there’s anything wrong that those bands, it’s just that Parts & Labor is so radically different from what I usually get in my mailbox that I actually found it refreshing.

In a completely jarring kind of way.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

For fans of: Minutemen (they cover “King Of The Hill” on the album); Hüsker Dü, old Black Flag, Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Neutral Milk Hotel, etc.

From Mapmaker:

Fractured Skies

New Crimes

From earlier albums:

A Great Divide

Voltage

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