Monday, March 23, 2015

A Brief History of Local Music

Starting with the founding of Norman Petty's studio in Clovis and on through the trials and travails of Albuquerque's exiled “big hair & spandex” headbangers on Sunset Blvd. It all makes a little more sense laid out in chronological order.
This is by no means a definitive listing of Albuquerque/Santa Fe/New Mexico bands and musicians. I've touched on the highlights by using a simple criteria (local bands or artists that achieved some regional or national fame while leaving behind at least a modest catalog of recordings)

This timeline ends at 1990, the bellwether year for local music. It was the start of something totally new and exciting and it all began with the break-up of Femme Fatale that same year. Not since The Fireballs staked out a claim on the national music charts had a band from New Mexico raised such a ruckus outside of the state. Their initial success led to a score of New Mexico musicians hitting I-40 in ragged caravans, heading west to El Lay, the hair farmer equivalents of John Steinbeck's Okies of yore.

The demise of Femme Fatale indirectly led to a redirection of efforts by local musicians. If a band that had everything going for it.... sex appeal, major label, MTV, big riffs, big hair. (all skillfully presented with a glossy veneer not usually associated with local acts) Couldn't make a go of it in Los Angeles, then who could? Reality check, lowered expectations... call it what you want, but it did usher in a new movement in local music..

Meanwhile back on the ranch, Joe Bufalino and Associates, a booking agency, still had a firm choke hold on local live music venues. Nobody could play anywhere in the Duke City without signing a one year contract with Bufalino and paying him up to a 15% fee for his “services” Cookie cutter cover bands (known locally as “Buff bands”) were losing their appeal. The emphasis now was on original compositions, stripped down instrumentation, no more glam rock bells & whistles.... come as you are. Local bands started finding alternative venues, sidestepping Bufalino while playing to a more experimental group of listeners than your average inebriated barfly.

You could say that in fact there were numerous variables at play in Albuquerque in 1990. The DYI, Indie, LoFi movement was sweeping across the country. Arena rock was waning in popularity and some Seattle based bands were starting to make some noise. It was rock and roll's last big wave, the one before the world wide web became a matter of fact and a way of life. Between 1990 and 1999 there was an explosion of bands on the local music scene, more than ever before. The size and scope of that timeline is mind boggling, so it'll have to wait for another day.

Just as Internet Explorer is the browser that you use to download a better browser, Albuquerque is the city where musicians hone their skills before moving on to bigger and better things. Eventually the same trail that led local musicians to the Golden State, forked to the northwest as San Francisco, Portland and Seattle became more desirable launchpads (along with Austin, Tx. and to a lesser extent, New York City) Despite this continuous exodus of talented musicians, the music scenes in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe keep right chuggin' along. Enduring, self sustaining and never boring. Coming from the most humble of starting points, Albuquerque now garners a well earned reputation as a “hip music locale” I must say, that both 'Burque and Santa Fe wear it well.... oh yes they do!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 18

Here come old flattop, he come grooving up slowly. This joo-joo eyeball, is firmly focused forward. You got to keep up with the times, rummaging through crates online beats the hell out of pounding the pavement between terrestrial music stores.
My Space was a godsend. Give me what I like and what I like is having a catalog of local music at my fingertips.

Recording software that allows users to capture online streams as they ooze from the speakers, combined with broadband servers, totally turned the world around. Music downloads, once queued up round the clock on Audio Galaxy or KaZaa became a thing of the past. I could argue over the semantics, but I won't. Just don't give me that look.... we all did it.

The main drawback to Napster 1.0, Audio Galaxy and such, besides the shady legality of “Free downloads” was the absence of local musicians and bands (unless you happen to call NYC, Los Angeles, Minneapolis or Seattle home) My Space not only fixed that, it also allowed you to tag and search for music by locale.

If MySpace music was the 800 pound gorilla in the room, then YouTube quickly became the 12,000 pound elephant. Once YouTube to mp3 software was added to the arsenal of sound capturing apps, all hell broke loose. Quasi-legal downloads using quasi-legal software.... who saw that coming? Not the record labels, for sure.

YouTube, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Reverberation, Last FM, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify... it's never been easier. Ala Verga! Icky & The Yuks are on Spotify... think about that. Archive the fuck out of this era, because the internet as we knew it back in 2000 is long gone and the web as we know it now, will soon be gone. To be replaced by some over regulated, homogeneous version of the networks that made television no fuckin' fun what so ever. Here we are now, entertain us.

You don't truly realize the musical depth and scope of Albuquerque until you go on YouTube and start searching. There's lots of it and it's almost all THERE. 60S garage punk from Lance Records, THERE. Every band that Randy Castillo ever joined, THERE. A truly obscure, cassette only album from 'Burque metal band Triax/Tryax (sadly, minus Troy Romero) THERE. The Crawling Walls full “Inner Limits” album from 1985.... also THERE. Linclon St. Exit's 1968 lp “Drive it”, released on Mainstream Records (Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes' label) THERE. Every band ever started by Scott Allen Parson, THERE. And you may ask yourself, where is this beautiful music? Not HERE, not today.                                          

Action Figure- The Dirty Hearts
Gettin' a Raise- Scenester
Libertines in my Scene- The Dirty Novels
Call to Rise- Stoic Frame
Idiot's Guide 2 Saying Goodbye- The Hollis Wake
Audience Reaction- The Dirty Novels
Anne Taylor Must Die- Hit By A Bus
Let's Start Over- Oh! Ranger
briansong- The Bellmont
Spinning the Roulette God- Stoic Frame
Cali Girl- Left Unsaid
Chewbacca- Oh! Ranger
Gasoline Barbie- Scenester
Situations- The Gracchi
The Suicide Kings- Left Unsaid
Pale World- Stoic Frame
Yum- Scenester
Contradiction- The Hollis Wake
Voice of Reason- The Eyeliners
Less Clouded- Hit By A Bus



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 17

Albuquerque, N.M. “Mile High and Loud as Hell” Dirt City Chronicles is a gritty, low budget repository of local music, produced by the plethora of New Mexico based musicians and beyond. So, sit back, pick the grit out your teeth and tap along to an eclectic cacophony of original music, thirty plus years in the making.

I was aware of a growing buzz around a local band, Angry Babies. Nonetheless, finding a review of the band's 1992 album “Mr. Toyhead” in Creem magazine (briefly reincarnated as a glossy after its initial demise in 1988) was an unexpected surprise. The gist of the short review being: Strange things happen out in the desert and there's a an “odd” music scene taking shape in Albuquerque. Someone at Creem had their ear to the ground, listening for hoofbeats.
I'm tying up some loose ends after a three episode flashback to the 1990s. Man I loved the 90s, best five years of my life followed by the worst five years of my life.... Hoo-ah!
Truth be told, while I'm well versed 90s music, I have no clue as to the drug culture of that era. See, I was clean and sober for nearly the entire decade. No shit, from July of 1989 until Nov. of 1998, I walked a straight edge.
My steadfast perseverance was finally broken by an unexpected find. While rummaging through the cabin of an airliner parked on the Sunport tarmac (I worked for a Lufthansa subsidiary, Sky Chef) I came upon a small baggie stuffed full of purple bud, apparently abandoned by a panicked passenger.
It didn't take long for me to drain a can of Canada Dry Pale Ginger Ale and fashion it into a rudimentary Steve-O (UNM 96-97) certified smoking apparatus. Damn near ten years of clean time, up in smoke. That's how I kicked the 90s to the curve.

“If I was Young, I'd flee this town” Hold on as I double clutch this beast and slip it into cruisin' gear. Let's set the controls for El Quinto Sol..... the heart of that forsaken outpost on the very edge of Mesoamerica known as New Mexico. Mayan Prophecy be damned, we still bask under the fading light of Nahui-Olin. Give me some heat, man, give me some heat over here.... Namaste Ya'll. ~ Dirt City Chronicles ~

Don't Burn Babies- Foma
Gone- Lousy Robot
Bogus Journey- Feels Like Sunday
Kurt's Theme- Foma
Hide Your Tracks- The Bellmont
Beat on my Bones- YaYa Boom
Circumspect- The Giranimals
Blue Collar Butterfly- The Oktober People
Across the Deep- Unit 7 Drain
The Jupiter Influence- The Oktober People
Elephant Gun- Beirut
Blood Blister- YaYa Boom
Hija- Animals in the Dark
eMef- Of God and Science
For Shelly- The Giranimals
O to the City- Animals in the Dark
Audrey on the Island- Unit 7 Drain

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 16

Veteran KOB anchorman, Tom Joles got into a verbal/physical altercation shortly before a broadcast. According to an eyewitness, “Joles interrupted while a young reporter was being counseled by News Director Michelle Donaldson. Reporter Stuart Dyson intervened, Joles traded F-bombs and punches with Dyson and photographer Joseph Lynch”
After order was restored, Joles packed up his belongings and left the station. Donaldson gathered the news staff and told them how her heart breaks for Joles and that he’s having a tough time adjusting to the modern era of TV news. KOB then issued a statement explaining Joles absence from the newscast as a “cool down period”
This is just damn fantastic. Look out – Howard Beale, Tom Joles is gonna getcha'. The online comments (not surprisingly) leaned towards Stuart Dyson more than deserving a punch in the face. Not a fair assumption by any means. Tom Joles (for reasons we'll never really know) had a cleansing moment of clarity and a wicked roundhouse right.... since Stuart did not take a knee, I will score that round 10-9 Joles.
Dyson as many of you may not know, was once a member of the Gutterleaves, an early 1990s cow punk outfit. This was long before he honed his skills as an investigative reporter at K-Circle-B in Albuquerque. Stuart is a much better reporter than musician as his KOB bio states “He plays guitar and sings with a wandering herd of local musicians who are much better than he is, although he makes up for his ineptitude by writing murder ballads and songs about cowgirls and moonshiners”
There's a handful of tracks on this episode from the Ubik compilation album “Carport Thunder Vol. 1” (to my knowledge there was never a Vol. 2) This rare cassette only release showcased what at the time (1991) had to be considered as the Murderer's Row of Albuquerque local bands (A Murder of Crows, Ant Farmers, Gutterleaves & Saddle Sores)

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 16 is a high fueled melodic roar, audio octane for speed heads and gear jammers who keep hearing police sirens above the music. Perfect for hanging out in parking lots, smoking schwag, sippin' Schnapps and cranking Ant Farmers out the speakers in the old Ford ...... till some fuckin' old-timers put the kibosh on the party by calling APD. Hands up, don't shoot! ~ Dirt City Chronicles ~

You're on my Mind- The Withdrawals
Dr. Smithus- Ant Farmers
Everything's Fine- Strawberry Zots
Liberty- Cracks in the Sidewalk
Slackin' Off- Beat Fetish
Baby Needs- Angry Babies
Need- The Affections
Mary- Steve
Gravity- Saddlesores
The Ford- Ant Farmers
At My Home- Gutterleaves
99 Demons- A Murder of Crows
The 155 (True Faith)- The Rails
Blast Valve- Flake Music
Paper Doll- Steve
Mama Had a Peterbilt- Saddlesores
Elvis Bird- Ant Farmers
Melancholy- Saddlesores