Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blast From The Past

They Passed This Way: Junior Brown

      Junior Brown finally got his due in 1993 with the release of  his alt/country "Guit With It" album. Which was followed in 1995 by the ep. "Junior High" and in 1996 by the highly successful "Semi Crazy" album.  This run of success propelled Junior Brown onto the national scene after years of playing with bands like Santa Fe's Last Mile Ramblers and Texas swing legends Asleep at The Wheel.  Junior's other claim to fame is his instrument of choice, a standard stringed guitar coupled with a lap steel guitar, that he calls the "Guit Steel" Junior Brown was a key member of the Santa Fe/Cerrillos based  Last Mile Ramblers for almost three years.  He was featured on their rare 1974 album "While They Last", leaving shortly before they recorded their second album "LMR" in 1977.

The Refrigerators

    Albuquerque bands had always been cover bands, the proverbial human jukebox, grinding out the hits at local dives.  Once in a while a band would put out  an original single or sneak in an original song into their set. But for a band to try and make it playing mostly original music was unheard of.   So when The Refrigerators put out an album of original material in 1981, it was almost revolutionary. Avoiding the bar band boogie that was the trademark of local cover bands, their self penned tunes gave the audience something new that they could dance to.  
    The Refrigerators were edgy enough to turn heads, but not so weird that people were turned off. Lead singer Burton Jespersen  was a follower of the early Elvis Costello/Joe Jackson school of spastic nerd cool. Billy Platt and Mox Montoya formed a solid rythym section, Montoya's drums and timing were the foundation for the group's "new wave" ambitions.  Guitar players Dennis Dillon and Rick Thompson also pitched in as vocalists and songwriters. It was Thompson who wrote the group's most recognized song "Dawn Patrol".
    Originally from Taos, the group would build a sizeable following not just in Albuquerque but around the southwest.  Unfortunately the momentum created by the album wasn't enough and by 1982 Jespersen was gone, while the remaining members regrouped as the Magnetixs and continued to play around Albuquerque.
Mox Montoya would go on to join the Strawberry Zots, but he left that group before they were signed by RCA.  In retrospect, The Refrigerators helped kick start the local rock music scene, ushering in a new era of  DIY spirit that forever changed the face of Albuquerque and Santa Fe's musical landscape.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blast From The Past


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Remember the 80's

Femme Fatale

     Femme Fatale blasted out of Albuquerque, quickly landing a record deal with MCA.  They would sell 200,000 copies of their debut album, the videos for "Waiting For The Big One" and "Falling In and Out of Love" received massive airplay on MTV. Then just as rapidly it all fell apart and the band dissolved.  Femme Fatale  was best known for the big voice, big hair and sex appeal of lead singer Lorraine Lewis (former lead singer for Babe Ruthless) who along with  her brother Rick Rael and guitarist Mazzi Rawd (that's a great 80's metal name) added Bill D'Angelo and Bobby Murray (both from Durtie Blonde) to form the band. (with D'Angelo replacing original member Michael Downey.)
     Is was all about sexual innuendo, as Lewis sang about, "The Big One" "My Baby's Gun" or begged for some of that "Touch and Go" (what the hell does that even mean?) Lewis played the heavy metal rocker chick, but her stage persona and vocals were more Tina Turner meets Pat Benatar. Even by 1988 standards, they were cheesier than a can of Cheese Whiz, and between them they used enough hairspray to totally damage the ozone. But Femme Fatale received more airplay and recognition than any Albuquerque band ever had, it wasn't until The Shins hit the scene that anyone would match or surpass their success

Friday, May 7, 2010

The James Mercer Chronicles

     To coincide with the recent release of the "Broken Bells" album. The collaborative effort from Shins front man James Mercer and musician/producer Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse.  Dirt City Radio episode three is dedicated to the music of James Mercer.  At first "Broken Bells" was a bit underwhelming, but after repeated plays, it really started to grow on me.  I expected this to be  a drastic departure from what I had come to expect from James Mercer, but it's not that different from what James was doing with The Shins. The compositions are subtle, there is more texture and the mix is uncomplicated. What seems to be missing is the swirl of vocals and instrumental strata that made The Shins so good (example: Sleeping Lessons). The production is very radio friendly, geared towards finding  "The Hit" something that will take Mercer to that next level of pop stardom. With this recording James Mercer breaks out from the indie pop mold and proves that he is the best American pop/rock vocalist around. While Burton, like King Midas continues to turn everything he touches into gold.