Monday, October 24, 2016

Blinded by a Million Shades

FEAR/LOATHING (Fear and Loathing in Long Beach) has started a new site for current reviews here
The new site is 'Blinded by a Million Shades'. Recently relocated to central Pennsylvania. This site will continue to be active but without new entries. Thank you for reading and please check out the new format. Thank you.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Sympathy for the Record Industry (revisit)

November 22, 2013

(F/L) My first exposure to Sympathy for the Record Industry was in 1989 when I began reading zines like Flipside and Maximum Rock n Roll. Right away, I would notice the SFTRI ads and thought “that’s a strange name for a record label”, how did underground music speak to you and inspire the record label and corresponding name?

(Long Gone John) The name for the label came to me as I was driving down the 710 heading for L.A. to master the first record. I’m a Rolling Stones fan and it just sorta came to me as if ordained by God or perhaps it was Mr. D. I thought it was a fitting name and apropos as the record industry was an easy shoe-in for the Devil. My distributor and many others thought it should be, no sympathy, but to me it was tongue in cheek as if I could really give a shit either way. The name has served me well.

I soon got turned on to the Dwarves “I Wanna Kill Your Boyfriend” 7 inch followed by Hole’s “Retard Girl”, in my perspective, these singles began to define a new era of music in the1990s, a renaissance of sorts. How did this resurgence affect you and what aspects did you like and dislike in the decade?

Hole almost more than anyone was a big deal for me. I’d been seeing them a lot and to me it was pretty evident that with a force like Courtney at the helm, the potential was certainly there to be a solid contender for stardom. Although I fully understand, it is near sacrilege and I risk being stoned to death in the town square, I still like her. I think she’s talented, she writes some great songs and is a real rock chick and there are nearly no rock chicks around.

The Dwarves were already a well-known entity and had records out…people really liked them they were sorta the poster children for the punk movement: short fast songs, set over in 15 minutes spiced with equal amounts of abandon and legendary nudity. Blag is an incredible songwriter and he has always surrounded himself with incredible musicians. I think Blag is a little more intelligent than most and he knows how the game works and takes care of business. He is serious about his career.

What I love about SFTRI to this day is the folklore and mystique that surrounds it. Who is Long Gone John?

Well, that is a name I came up with one night when i was going to the liquor store between bands, by the Cathay de Grande. I was with my best friend. We had been in a boys home together when we were 16-17 in Echo Park. We were in the liquor store and all of a sudden he was laughing really loud I went over and he showed me some porn magazine with an article about John Holmes titled Long Dong John. The name kinda stuck in my mind and sometime that night I came up with Long Gone John. I was unaware at the time there were a couple songs that used that name, one by Tom Waits, an old field holler and a pretty great one by Louis Armstrong called Long John From Bowling Green. Anyway I was actually studying to become al tattooist at the time and thought it would be a great name for me, so the name precedes the label by 5 years or so. Nowadays I actually prefer to go by two-bit Johnny cuz after the “Treasures of Long Gone John” film came out I kinda felt that chapter of my life was over. I always attempted to make Sympathy appear as a much bigger entity than it was and because I kept a high profile with advertising and such, people were surprised to discover it was a label run entirely by one guy out of his house. I’d get calls with someone saying, “Can I speak to someone in college promotions?” or “Can I speak to someone who handles foreign press?”, I always thought it was funny.

There were stories (some of which I created) that I was a trust fund brat, that I owned slaughterhouses and that I was heavily involved in the pornography industry. Stuff like that kept people guessing and probably made me appear more interesting. The truth was I got up, worked on Sympathy all day, and if I wasn’t off to see a band at night I just watched TV. I really had a pretty insular existence. There was a rumor going around Long Beach that I had Tourette’s Syndrome cuz I cussed so much. The reality is I was just a hard worker obsessed with records, trying to make things look good and releasing records at an astounding rate. At 10 years in business, I had a catalog that equaled a release per week for every week of existence. I did eventually slow down a bit. I just didn’t know what else to do, I didn’t know how to stop. I had so many friends in bands and bands would break up and splint off into new bands and I’d get so many recommendations from people whose opinions I respected. I never went out looking for bands and rarely choose things from submissions except for foreign bands.

What was your opinion then and now about artists venturing from independent label notoriety to a major label, in search of a larger audience and paying the bills with art (if possible at all)?

It’s an inevitable and necessary step for an artist. I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to better themselves. It’s the reason I’ve never signed contracts and I never once asked a band for any portion of their publishing. Most artists were aware they would not get rich with Sympathy and I believe most thought of it as a springboard to something else. I was fine with that, but the lack of finesse and consideration with which it was done by certain parties was a very different thing. I think someone like me who put a great deal of faith and time and money into a band deserved something if they went to greener pastures, just seems like courtesy and honor to me. It’s a tough game for the label and artist, it’ll be tough wherever they go. The sad reality is that the chances of a band making it in a big way are pretty infinitesimal at best and if they make a bit of a splash it is usually pretty short lived. I released records with over 550 bands and I think most of them do it for fun and have realistic expectations. I think they are fortunate to get a label to foot the bill to put out a record, make it look good and get it out with proper distribution. The retail market has to know about the band, find the record in a shop and then plop down their dough. It’s practically magic if those 3 things happen in succession. There is so much product out there. A glut of horrible stuff by horrible bands. It’s difficult to wade through the shit to find the good stuff.

If you had to trade places with an artist/musician from any era, who would it be and why?

I’m gonna say Hank Williams. Of course his life wasn’t glamorous and it was very short, but he was so prolific. He must’ve written every day and found inspiration in the simplest things. His music is pure and uncluttered, he was an early American treasure, and it seems his music was very much aimed at the downtrodden and working man sensibilities. He wrote songs of sadness and heartbreak and of love and tearing things up. I have a great admiration for him for that reason.

As “part of the problem since 1988”, you helped introduce the world to Billy Childish whose work ethic seemed eerily similar to SFTRI. What similarities do you see between yourself and Mr. Childish, if any?

Well, actually there are similarities, I think our work ethic was the same and the result is: he put out a shit load of records and I put out a shit load of records. Billy is a real renaissance man. He is a prolific performer, he is an accomplished poet and he is an artist garnering greater accolades and success as the years roll by. Billy was always gracious and thankful.

The label reissued some legendary works by the Scientists, Gun Club, and Roky Erickson to name a few. Why do you think music listeners do not catch the greatness of these artists the first time around or is that the classic conundrum most artists face?

I think with time the important/visionary musicians will be recognized and receive the status they deserve. Truth is there are very few that really rate any longevity in the history books. The Scientists, Roky and Gun Club rate pretty damn high. I’m also very proud of the Wanda Jackson, Wreckless Eric, New York Dolls and the Suicide releases I was able to do.

Throughout the decade of the 2000s, what changes were you starting to notice in modern music at the time (good and bad)?

I’m kinda oblivious to time frame. It’s hard to make a definitive distinction between the 1990’s and 2000’s. It’s all a blur. I do feel the quality of the bands I was able to work with did continue to get better as the years rolled by and the last records I released before I moved from Long Beach are some of my favorites, like Matson Jones, the Ettes and projects with Jack Oblivion and Greg Cartwright. There isn’t much going on right now that I care about, I’d rather listen to old music than follow new bands that are merely aping the cool old stuff at best.

You have a sincere passion for Long Beach, as the city was heavily associated with the label and amazing bands such as The Red Aunts and the Humpers. Why is your affection for Long Beach so strong and what do you consider the“heart of the city” to be?

I do love Long Beach. I lived there for 25 years or so. It’s a great city. I love that it’s by the ocean and it still feels like a little town. For a while it had a couple of the best venues and that was Fenders and Bogarts so it was nice to not always have to drive to L.A. to see bands. Now, there is Alex’s and they seem to get very cool acts. I only left cuz I was tired with Southern California in general. I was born there and lived there my entire life. I needed a change and wanted to be somewhere that it rained a lot. I wanted to live in a forest on the water and I was fortunate to be able to find that. Olympia is a quiet little town and I am 7 miles from there. I’m really happy here and appreciate the beauty and solitude every day.

After years of varying accounts of your artistic dealings, what are your favorite misconceptions and rumors about Sympathy?

Well, it’s interesting that I worked with over 550 bands and only had one legal entanglement. There are those who were unhappy, but very few in light of the total. I made mistakes. I did not however promise things I would not deliver. It’s always the ones who sold the most poorly who are certain they’ve been cheated. I had an ongoing mantra; “anyone who can handle the humiliation is welcome to go through my files at any time”. The only reason I was able to sustain Sympathy for so many years is that I had so many releases and each month I’d sell a few of these and a few of those and it would add up to something. The ones that actually generated anything beyond the expense of the original budgets were few and far between. I spent most of the money on new projects. The recent ones subsidized the upcoming ones, it’s just the way I did it. I wasn’t Capital Records, I was an uneducated record collector that accidentally started a record label. I never had an office or an employee. In retrospect I think I did a pretty good job. I did not leave any bodies in my wake and I put out a lot of very cool music that likely wouldn’t exist if Sympathy operated on any other level. I think the important thing is that the bands have left behind a legacy and there are documents that they existed. So many performers never get that and are relegated to remain in the ether.

As founder and sole owner of Sympathy for the Record Industry, indisputably one of the most influential independent labels over the past 20 years, what made you decide to stop doing the label?

Well, Sympathy still exists although I’ve only done a few things since I’ve been in Olympia. I released the Waldos album as an LP, as I’d only done a CD originally. I released the Ettes last album on LP as well as putting out 3 singles with them with 3 different covers and 3 different B sides. Anyone who has run a label knows that’s a suicide mission, no way to break even on a project like that. I did it because I love the band and wanted to do something special for them. If the right project crosses my path I’d consider it, but I’m not interested anymore in spending money on losing propositions. I put my time into trying to document the music I thought was cool. It was never about making money to me. It was keeping me busy, out of trouble and cultivating friends I would cherish the remainder of my life. I have been fortunate to work with some amazingly talented people. I am grateful to every one of them for sharing their creative force with me.

What consumes your creative appetite nowadays?

I share my home with four cats, I stare out my windows, I walk on the beach and in the forest. I go to swap meets, yard sales, antique shows when they happen. I continue to fill my life with peripheral things; toys, books, art and records. I don’t think too much about tomorrow. I sleep when I’m able and watch lots of films and TV. I’ve just published a beautiful new book, called, “The Timid Cabbage” written by Charles Kraftt and illustrated by Femke Hiemstra and I still produce projects with my other venture, Necessaries Toy Foundation. The days disappear, I never run out of things to do.




Sunday, May 15, 2016


The latest full-length release by Bloody Knives twists the genre of post-shoegaze into an indescribable form filled with disturbed dignity and dilated turbulence. Like a sadistic wallflower placing salt on a slug out of boredom and sheer curiosity, the result is an explosive expression of melodic noise and tortured guitars. An orchestral cocktail of Christian Death goth-punk and early 90s industrial-fuzz oblivion contaminates the frequencies of Bloody Knives’ disheveled musical world. Above all else, the band establishes themselves as an independent and original entity in the vast arena of non-mainstream rock.

With S&M now becoming a more popular pastime in our current culture and individual expression revealing its inherent darkness and unpredictable soul, this is the sonic equivalent of seeking pleasure through extreme behavior. Guitars that are literally scratching and tearing through overblown amplification provide a delicate oxygen that lets the echoey vocals breathe with vicious contemplation. A relentless energy shoves the blurred passages. Restless drumming and icy bass lines ricocheting back and forth. Eerie keyboards and feverish reptilian guitar lines feed the electrified neurotic crash with a soothing suicidal acid rain.

This Austin, Texas based rock mutation kicks off the record with the dread-filled hyperactive goth-punk of “Cystic”. An infectious symphony of confusion and dark harmony instantly ignites. “Blood Turns Cold” continues the macabre melodies with its syncopated heavy drumming and super fuzz distortion. Disembodied vocals and disjointed radioactive solos create a hypnotic trance laced with deadly feedback, fragments of Pailhead frenzy hidden in the mix. The Knives boldly display their stellar songwriting and insidious hook ability on “Poison Halo”, “Reflection Lies”, and “Black Hole”. Heavy in its chic dissonance and angst-ridden wired-punk leanings, “Buried Alive” ends this collection in a suicidal fast-tempo firebomb wall of unsettled sound, repeated listening mandatory. Every track holds its own, without filler and without apology. With the enticing nervous vibration of summer well on its way, this may be the impulsive cure you’ve been searching for to ease your pain.



--Kevin McGovern--

Thursday, March 31, 2016


I originally wrote this piece almost two years ago. A few months later, I returned to California for an abbreviated stay. I deleted this entry at the time and then headed out again, and again. I currently call Las Vegas home. I would like to say that happiness comes from within, but it usually comes from whatever is in a 10-mile radius of me.

If I were a building, it would be a luxury high rise that rents outs the penthouse for porno. This is the death of a teenage dream: a dream that ran its long mile with brutal delusions, stuttered impulsiveness, and not-so-glamorous dares of death always in the air. The insidious narcissism and superficiality that burn bright in the Los Angeles County sky operate like an amoral compass. Something was missing in my quest for unending seediness and uncensored relationships. I was chasing an illusion, the famous one that used to lead struggling creative types to hang themselves from the Hollywood sign.

I wasn’t comfortable with the suicide thing because I have so many places and people to meet, but not in Long Beach or Los Angeles. Empty relationships are considered business or networking possibilities. All the while, you’re slowly losing your mind while trying to follow the lead of overachievers, workaholics, irritating alpha males, and poor little rich girls. I couldn’t take the loneliness of it all. What fucking happened to me? Why does purgatory seem like such a good idea? I realized I didn’t have much in common with these people or many other people in the various cities I had lived in.

I had been in and out of a bitter and twisted marriage for five years or so. I was trying to align my visions of a bloodthirsty gypsy existence with a world of heavy money, fast cars, false egos, and deadly doses of OCD. At the end of the day, my only accomplishments were primarily auspicious beginnings. But that’s just the thing, you know? Aspiring this and aspiring that, potential and possibility, pieces of an unreality that embraces you with betrayal and psychic vampires.

My psyche was maxed out, my libido was in limbo, and my passion was rotting away. I packed my clothes, records, laptop, and two guitars into my small two-door cruiser. It was time to travel into the unknown, the direction of wherever, that would be the starting point. Goodbye California and goodbye yellow brick road. Goodbye to the good times I wouldn’t let go of and the bad times I used for repetitive stagnation. Goodbye to the dreams of living in a Bret Easton Ellis novel and goodbye to the imaginary city that should’ve been overcrowded with classy decay and punk rockers worshipping at the altar of the Masque.

It all made sense as I finally crossed the California state line to depart into the future. Those ambitions and goals were based upon someone else’s scene, someone else’s memory, and someone else’s retelling of history. I have my own history, my own memories, and my own scene. My own scene is whatever I want it to be, and it exists when it’s supposed to. I’m a slacker, a writer, a musician, sometimes-scumbag, and I have some of the coolest friends in the world. You can react to reality or create your own. I like unknown destinations and my favorite place to live is between somewhere here and somewhere there.
-Kevin McGovern--

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Eureka California’s Versus is the underground breakthrough album this decade has been waiting for. Clever and cunning in its deconstruction of personal ambition and self-destruction, a ringing distorted blast of cerebral rock smashes and scorches its way through dead-end jobs, insidious self-doubt, the dumbing down of our population, and bureaucratic hypocrisy we all endure every day as we watch our future slip away. Harmonious anarchy and chic songwriting stubbornly co-exist in a collection that plays like a “greatest hits” album of a legendary cult classic. Fortunately, every song is brand new on the third full length by this Athens, Georgia duo. The introverted punk-pop of Superchunk’s On the Mouth does a futuristic dance of death with early Violent Femmes. Over caffeinated self-awareness and Big Star style chord phrasing are amplified to the point of no return among the devious tempos of these short but bittersweet snap shots of the human condition. A huge wall of distorted guitar reigns supreme with tasty splashes of reverbed vocals and sleek single noted rhyme. “Sign My Name With An X”, “Sober Sister”, and “Cobwebs On the Wind” rock fearlessly with the jagged grace of Kryptonite-era Gaunt. The acoustic numbers, “Everybody Had A Hard Year” and “Fear and Loathing In The Classic City”, are unforgettable twisted reflections of disillusionment and solitude. The new Five Easy Pieces: Five out of five stars. The future is here and the time is right for getting blackout drunk in the street. (release date March 25, 2016) Keep scrolling to see their premiere video and read the interview we just did last week...


INTERVIEW WITH EUREKA CA's Jake Ward and Marie A. Uhler:

What made you decide to go with the band name “Eureka California”?

J: It sounded like a good name and I had to call the band something. However, a lot of people get confused or assume that we’re from California... so, ya know, I’d probably rethink it if we were starting the band now.

Why do you think people feel so hopeless and isolated in 2016?

J: Trump is ahead in the polls. King of the Hill isn’t on Netflix. You can work a full time job (40 hours a week which is already ridiculous), have a degree and still just skate by above the poverty line. You’re only as good as your Instagram account. But it’s really easy to get hung up on the negative. Glass half full, glass half empty, glass is broken and water is everywhere.

M: You can work full time, not get benefits, have multiple degrees, and live below the poverty line. I love how social media can connect us, and I really love seeing photos of everyday life stuff from my friends and family I otherwise wouldn’t get to see, but it does make you compare yourself to people a lot of the time, unintentionally. I think people feel pressure to always put their best face forward, and when you never see people having a bad day, it can make you feel even more isolated if you’re having one. But everyone has bad days, everyone struggles with something. Those should be as acceptable to talk about as successes.

I’ve been listening to your latest record “Versus” non-stop, it feels more aggressive in its musical attack and lyrical content. How did the recording and writing of these songs come together?

J: The recording was like a dream. We recorded it at Suburban Home with MJ and it was such a pleasure to work with him. Honestly. I really can’t say enough great things about the experience. We recorded it in about 4 days after coming off a two week tour of the UK. It took a lot longer, obviously, to write the record. I think we started writing around the summer of 2014? I remember there were periods where it seemed like nothing was coming together and then we’d have days where something great would pop up out of nowhere. “Realizing Your Actuality” spontaneously came together during practice and the whole thing was written in about 30 minutes. But then things like “Sober Sister” took about 6 months to really get to where it is now. “Another Song About TV” is another one where it was written but it really changed after we started playing it live. I consider that an extension of writing. The songs don’t really reach their potential until we’ve played them in front of people.

M: This one was a bit weird because we had a deadline on when it had to be finished, and we only had a maximum of five days in the studio. We recorded it in Leeds and we going to the UK to play a festival, so the dates were set in stone for a long time. It was a big change from recording in whatever house one of us lived in where we could be loud. MJ was amazing and the nicest person to work with and spend time with and knew exactly what to do to make things sound the best way possible. He is so talented. While we were in Leeds and afterwards we couldn’t stop talking about how wonderfully dreamy the recording process was.

Is the slacker lifestyle an influence on your music and personal lives?

M: I don't really identify with being a slacker, except maybe sometimes it's hard to devote 100% of my attention and focus to what I'm working on in the moment, even if it's music, or leisure time or something for fun. We both work multiple jobs and struggle to make ends meet. Usually at any given moment one or both of us is over-caffeinated and trying to do a million things at once.

J: I don’t consider myself a slacker but lately I’ve enjoyed being labeled ‘Slack Rock’ so go figure. We’re constantly working, whether be that on the band or at either of our multiple jobs. I personally don’t see anything slacker-ish about the band or our music.

What are the pros and cons of self-destruction in your opinion?

M: I guess the biggest pro of self-destruction could be an opportunity of re-birth.

What types of personalities bore you?

J: Opportunists, cynics, and Carolina Panthers fans.

The band writes some extremely catchy hooks that are super addictive, what influences your songwriting and is it usually a fast or slow process?

J: Really it’s influenced by everything - books, movies, television, other music, conversations, mishearing lyrics, etc. You kinda just take everything in and never know what it’s going to be that influences you. You just have to keep your eyes peeled. It really depends on the song with how fast it takes to write. “Cobwebs”, “Hard Year” and “Potomac” were all written in the same afternoon. However, “Fear and Loathing” took a while to write and rewrite. I spend a lot of time on the lyrics and pride myself on those. Still, the songs don’t really take life until we play them together. With the music, we take an economic, no-frills approach. We won’t repeat a part just for the sake of repeating it or making a song longer. I think self-editing is very important.

Do you get pissed off when people say things like “music is dead’ and “new music sucks”?

M: In Athens I don't really hear that a lot, but I think people that say those things aren't really listening to what's around them. Now you can internet search any combination of genres or words and find multiple bands and artists that you've never heard of, that are making music now, or maybe made one album a few months ago and stopped, or maybe just put a song on Bandcamp every once in awhile...there are so many people doing so many things. You can walk down the street here or in any city with a music scene and see any kind of band any night of the week. Maybe it's not all to your liking but every imaginable and unimaginable genre has never been more accessible for listeners or artists.

J: Not really. I think when people say things like that it’s just incredibly narrow-minded and it’s actually easier to just write those people off. It’s a huge, wide-sweeping, misinformed generalization and, ya know, who has the time to put up with that? Every generation has had people who are like “what is this shit? I’m telling you, music hasn’t been good since…(insert: George Gershwin, Elvis, The Beatles, The Supremes, The Smiths, Public Enemy, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Spice Girls, Nicki Minaj, etc).” I don’t really pay it any attention. I work at a local music venue and at one show, a very drunk gentleman came up to me and was like,“This sucks!” All I could say was, “Why’d you pay to get in?”

“Fear and Loathing in the The Classic City” has some of the greatest lyrics I’ve heard in a long time. What’s the story behind this awesome song?

J: First off, thank you! That’s really nice of you to say. It started off with the “I’ve got no time for Eureka California” line which was all it was for a long time and that was just me trying to mimic Brand New. After a few weeks, a John Cale reference, a lot of coffee and some chord changes, I had the final version you hear on the record. I would work on it almost every night until I had all the words/chords exactly as I wanted them.

You have a ton of live gigs coming up in many different cities. What do you like about touring and what are the biggest problems you face when touring?

M: I love touring. I love playing a show every night, which you can't really do in one place, so you have to tour to do that. Seeing new places and meeting new people is wonderful, and returning to the places that are good to you is wonderful too. I love seeing new bands every night and not knowing what to expect. It's interesting to see which places start to feel like a second home after awhile.

J: I have a lot of fun touring. Getting to meet new people, travelling to different places every day, trying new food, going to museums, seeing the world. I can’t imagine being in a band and not touring.

M: Booking is hard and as a two-piece, being around one other person 24/7 can be challenging, no matter how well you get along. If it wasn’t worth it we wouldn’t keep doing it.

Any plans to hit Vegas (where I live) or the West Coast in the future.

M: We have only been out to the west coast twice and are trying to plan our next time. If you know anyone that puts shows on in Vegas we would love to play there.

What do you think about the retro 90s movement and did the music of that decade have an influence on you?

J: I grew up in Raleigh and got really into bands like Superchunk and Guided By Voices in my teens. Still that was in the early 2000s, but you get the idea. I was 12 in 1999 and wasn’t really into music at that point -- or was just starting to get into it and then it was mostly Black Sabbath and Metallica. I’m definitely enjoying it though and I’m being exposed to artists that I definitely missed out on the first time around.

M: I'm really into it. I grew up in the 90s but I was a little too young to participate in a lot of aspects of the culture at the time -- plus I lived in a very rural area with kind of strict parents. I wasn't allowed to watch PG-13 movies or listen to the same music everyone at school did and I wore a lot of hand-me-downs. But I was really into The X-Files. It is fun to have an opportunity to participate in certain things that I wasn’t able to the first time. We had a Superchunk cover band for a hot minute and played in a 90s cover band with a couple of our friends called the Clinton Years. Post-90s I’ve really enjoyed listening to The Breeders, Superchunk, The Amps, Throwing Muses, Guided By Voices, and everything I had only heard of or missed or didn’t get enough into before.

Last question: What are your top three favorite albums of all time and why?

J: 1. The Who - Quadrophenia
It was 2001. I was 13 years old at a Turtle’s music. My dad held up this record and a Frank Zappa album. He said I could pick one. The record I chose was Quadrophenia and it started my absolute obsession with The Who. I remember, being bored in class, writing out the words to “Sea And Sand” all over my notebooks. I would blast “The Real Me” from the passenger seat. I remember riding the buses in college, with nowhere to go, and just listening to “I’ve Had Enough” on repeat. This was probably the first record I ever owned that had me completely captivated. In fact, Pete Townshend is one of the biggest reasons that I even play guitar. I’m 28 now and still fucking love this album.

2. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
I slept on this record for a long time. It’s funny thinking about it now because when this finally clicked, I fell for this album hard. Initially I was put off by the name of the band. Then I remember finally listening to “A More Perfect Union” thinking it was good and then for whatever reason, I didn’t listen to the rest of the record. I would just listen to that song on repeat and then move on to something else. Finally I sat down, listened to it in it’s entirety and was blown away. The writing is top notch and I identified with this record on so many levels. Then Mike (at HHBTM records) got me The Monitor on vinyl and I fell in love all over again. I know for a fact that I drove Marie insane constantly playing this record on the road. In fact, “The Battle of Hampton Roads” was my go to anthem for the drive home after tour. I consider this one of the most uniquely ‘American’ records ever made along with Camper Van Beethoven’s Key Lime Pie.

3. The Damned - Machine Gun Etiquette
In my humble opinion this is the best ‘punk’ record of all time. What’s not to love?

M: I never have a running list of my favorite anythings at any given time so here are three that come to mind:

Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out
This was the first Sleater-Kinney record I ever heard and I felt kind of uncomfortable hearing it. But I couldn’t ever stop listening to it, and now it’s one of the most comforting things for me to hear, and that circle of how I feel about this record is reflective of how I felt and feel about a lot of other was ideal timing for it to come into my life. There isn’t a time I don’t want to listen to this record. I’ve blasted it in the car, I’ve yelled the words, I’ve learned the drum parts, I’ve cried to it, I’ve shared it with anyone I could get to listen, I think it’s perfect.

Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits
I feel like this is a weird thing to have here but for a long time when I bought my van I only had two cassette tapes for it -- this and Purple Rain (which I also love), which I found together at a thrift store that only had one tiny box of cassettes. So I’ve listened to it over and over and over again. It’s currently been on repeat in the van for over a month. It contains every feeling. I keep coming back to it. It’s a great album to listen to while driving around America.

Cowtown - Dudes Versus Bad Dudes
The first time I heard this record I was absolutely blown away. I couldn’t stop talking about how amazing it was while listening to it. I took it home and listened to it on repeat, and listened to it at work on repeat, and in the car, and while walking around town, for months and months. When I put it on it’s hard to take it off. I think all the songs on it are outstanding. And really good artwork. It’s so catchy and the drums are ridiculous. We kind of tried to cover one of the songs once and it was, um, a fun challenge for me.


--Kevin McGovern--

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


It was all just a dream. It was only a movie. No one was watching you that closely. The psychedelic burn that comes with the fever of living never seems to reveal the unexpected twists that land us in the future we never saw coming. 2008 was a bizarre year for me, filled with animalistic inebriation and pharmaceutical elation, feeling completely secure while losing myself in the sparkling purgatory of Southern California. That time eventually passed and the reliable decadence of Las Vegas became my new artificial high a year ago. In 2008, the birth of a new cosmic psychotropic symphony was taking place in Cleveland, Ohio. Almost a decade later, it is finally complete and its DNA mysteriously altered by the strange times that have passed.

Dark Rides and Grim Visions is a fantastic voyage through hedonistic hallucinations, euphoric black holes, and the unpredictable shades of gray that live within the human condition. New Planet Trampoline wants to expand your mind, disintegrate your perception, and infect you with capricious lysergic rock heavily drenched in psychedelic double vision. The unhinged soul of Syd Barret seethes through this vinyl maze of calming acid rock madness. Vibrating Manzarek organ lines and reverb-singed vocals spin like diabolical clockwork feeding off the ruins of Pink Floyd’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Second Hand’s Reality. Guitars spin in and out of orbit while the hyper-focused rhythm section adds a spark to the themed compositions with creative tempo changes and gritty garage rock dexterity. The band exists in many dimensions on this double album, floating through psychedelic pop, avant-garde garage, and primal progressive rock. The artwork of the gatefold packaging on this double LP is just as intriguing as its contents… tune in and drop out.

Stow House Records

New Planet Trampoline

--Kevin McGovern--

Thursday, February 25, 2016


The lingering stale smoke of haunted hotel rooms and doomed romance share a beautifully tragic quality, the same backwards on/off switch that resides in serrated sunrises and elusive sunsets. Heavy emotions and hollow memories swaying in an obscene motion while creating more questions than answers. Who else has stayed here? Why do I feel chained to something that I despise? Why do I keep returning to this place? Disheveled reflections and an aggressive unease saturate the latest releases by Witching Waves and Great Lakes. Mental music, expanding and contracting, painting complex electric portraits that disintegrate when touched.
Witching WavesCrystal Cafe (HHBTM Records)

Witching Waves bash the bleak mid-decade slump with raging pristine minimalism and slithery post-punk tunefulness on their latest creation Crystal Cafe. This album grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. The pounding tribal punk beats, chunky bass lines, and scratched fuzz guitar lay the foundation for the insanely catchy noise pop vocals of drummer Emma Wigham and guitarist Mark Jasper. Aggressive art punk and experimental garage noise collide, creating a new animal born of anger, despair, and frustration. The grungy symphonic grind of Pink Flag era Wire blends into the white-hot intensity of early no-wave and Vaselines grandeur on this 11 track full length of manic rock meditation.

Heavy with hooks and rawboned single noted phrasing, tracks such as “Twisted”, “Seeing Double”, and “Make It Up” deliver pleasantly eardrum-piercing candy. The intense and deliberate detachment in “Pitiless” and “Flowers” offers a somber detour into the band’s more introspective moods. The red-hot single off this collection is the irresistible and unnerving “The Threat” with its new-wave inspired melody and sophisticated dirty pop production. This is one of my favorite albums of the year so far and definitely a worthy addition to your vinyl or digital library. If the end of the world sounds this good, I hope that it comes tomorrow.


Witching Waves Facebook

Great LakesWild Vision (Loose Trucks)

Ben Crum, with his latest incarnation of the long running Great Lakes, mischievously remodels Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky with the subtle abandon of Whiskeytown. The singer-songwriter sheds the psych-folk of earlier releases in favor of a darker roots rock approach sprinkled generously with whispered indie intensity. An uplifting melancholia guides the exposed mid-tempos and edgy alt-country ballads. “Swim to the River” and “Kin to the Mountain” demonstrate a firm grasp of mid-70s Neil Young and Rolling Stones country tinged laments. “Bird Flying” and “Blood on My Tooth” are notable standout tracks, extended harmonies fueled by decadent chord changes and brooding percussion.

“Wild Again” perfectly captures the essence of this record with its hallucinogenic slow burn and sweet but bitter psychedelic country choruses. Vibrant but low-key female harmonies accentuate Crum’s unique understated vocal delivery throughout this collection of song, adding to the strength of the refrains and nuanced transitions. Wild Vision is a warm reinvention of Crum’s subliminal artistic vision, every song a crucial component in its soothing shadowy stroll.

Great Lakes Facebook

--Kevin McGovern--