Rock Gods #383: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

First Street Metro Bikes rocked until they couldn’t talk. We’d never seen two people in the same band get hoarse at the same time, but under the right circumstances it really can happen. First Rex Anderson yowled until his voice gave out on “Señor Lady.” he even gave the universal throat-slashing sign of “I can’t sing” (or “Kill me now,” or whatever it means). He faded into the background, grabbing a percussion device. Than Andy Starkov, guitar/vox, who’d been screaming in harmony with RexAn, laughed so hard he lost control. Then he signalled that his voice was shot too. The kind of short where you can’t hit the notes if you try. Everything is shrill and off-key, and inside your face it feels like you’re singing out your ears or something.

FSMB is not an instrumental band. It’s a four-chord pop harmony deal. They don’t even solo much. But rather than cancel the show, Julie Fleischman Jr.—the band’s biggest fan—got up and was able to get through five songs. Just as impressively, the band was able to back her, even though she sang differently than Andy or Rex.

The crown, it seems, has been passed. Julie will be joining the band, which we presume will not be attempting a record THREE sets of blown-out pipes.

Tonight: Choc Cake Pudding at the Bullfinch… Niantic Day Trip at Hamilton’s (shantys)… A delightfully long evening with 13 at Last at D’Ollaire’s…

Riverdale Book Review

Archie Comics now look like they look when Archie Comics are shown in Archie Comics. They don’t have a lot of words on them, or come-ons for stories inside. They have big generic pictures of Archie smiling. So it’s when you see a comic rack at Pop Tate’s Chocklit Shoppe and there are Archie comics on it. Or when Archie’s parents are yelling at him to clean his room and there are Archie comics scattered all around the floor. With big Archie faces staring back at you.
Here’s an example: the 261st issue of Archie Comics Double Digest.

Scribblers Music Review

Prinzhorn Dance School, Home Economics. These six deceptively laid-back dark-pop experiments are positively mesmerizing. They take their time, but don’t meander, using repetition and rhythm to slowly gather steam and get to the point. The songs are like little dancefloor dramas. The style will appeal to fans of Brit post-pop bands like Gang of Four and Shriekback, but this is a calmer, less complicated variation. Most of the tracks have one-word titles (“Reign,” “Clean,” “Haggle”) but not one-track minds. Even the dance tracks have suspense and menace in them.

Alt Control

The state of American journalism is more complex than we think. Print is not dead. Once-proud TV news institutions think we don’t notice that they produce entertainment rather than report hard news. And the alternative press is now the mainstream.
Last month I did interviews for two separate arts stories where I was told straight out by the subjects that they cared far more about print coverage than online. Traditional reporting rituals matter to them.
I listen to all the Sunday morning news shows. Last month, all of them mentioned the in-jokey Washington Correspondents Dinner which had happened the night before their broadcasts, but only Face the Nation mentioned that major journalism awards are given out at the dinner, and it’s not just a comedy nite. The CBS program even had one of the winners as a panelist. This is why Bob Schieffer will be missed.
Speaking of major journalism awards, Dan Perkins, a fellow native of Iowa City (whom I first met and befriended over 20 years ago in New Haven), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Cartooning, it was announced last month. Judging by tradition, this is as big a deal as actually winning the thing. Nearly all these prizes come through mainstream channels—major journalistic institutions, the biggest news syndicates and chains, or writers with agents or important supporters. Dan, who is better known as “Tom Tomorrow,” self-syndicates his weekly multi-panel strip This Modern World, and while he appears in a number of prestigious national publications, can’t expect to be championed by them the way a staff columnist or major syndicated writer would. This is a breakthrough of sorts, Dan being taken seriously in the sniffy, monocled big leagues. In the last decade, a lot of the alternative press publications which were credible contenders for Pulitzers have either ceased to be (like the Boston Phoenix, whose classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz actually won a Pulitzer in 1994) or no longer strive to be newsbreaking or highly analytical operations (like the three-time Pulitzer-winning Village Voice). In Connecticut, the main alt voice was always the Advocate papers, whose alums include Dick Polman, Gail Collins, Jonathan Harr, Beverly Gage and Paul Bass. Those writers and many others have moved into less “alternative” media realms without a dilution of their attitudes and outlooks. Dan’s much-deserved citation by the Pulitzer committee is an acknowledgement of principles which have guided a certain breed of journalist for decades, if not centuries. These voices are popular, acclaimed and necessary, but they seldom get the prizes. Dan came wicked close, and more power to him. Join Sparky’s List at

Rock Gods #382: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

Gnarled Roots wrote the book on jams that start on one song and then become another. Some would call them medleys, but there’s so much space between the separate songs that they’re related only the fact that the music doesn’t happen to stop between them.
“It’s true,” admits bassist Bay Grimm. “we spend more time on the transitions than on the songs. I love it. It’s a real job for a rhythm section. Grimm and drummer “Sven” Pence have to reroute the tempos, sweeten the couterpoint back into melodies and even change keys. The more jarring two songs would be right next to each other, the more the band works to smooth through them. “Yep. We’ve been known to add a third song we don’t care so much about so we can make it from one we like to another more, what would you say, eloquently?”
It’s all about how you get there.

Tonight: KIDSC562 at the Bullfinch, with spinoff band 31uyx1nhygL… Scan 9 at Hamilton’s, with movie theme covers… An Evening With PBF at D’Ollaire’s… And whatever happened to that restaurant that was gonna be booking cool bands late on Fridays? Oh, the fire…

Riverdale Book Review

The 20 variant covers for the upcoming Archie #1 are on view (and available for preorder, at $3.99 each) here.
My personal favorite is this one, by T. Rex and Andre Szymanowicz.


As for the reimagining itself, I shrug and hope for the best. But 10-year-old Sally was apoplectic when she saw the non-variant cover drawn by Fiona Staples, who with writer Mark Waid is in charge of the reinvention. “Archie has a fauxhawk! He has a fauxhawk!”
Archie #667 will be released July 8. But first we have Archie #666 to look forward to. My subscription copy has not yet arrived, but it was released this week. Oh, and there’s a collector’s variant bundle of that, too, that I’ve just ordered online—six issues that connect to form a single large image of dozens of Archie characters enjoying fireworks. There’s a different title on each one, acknowledging the earliest Archie titles from the 1940s: Pep, Top Notch, etc. (Pep actually lasted into the late ‘80s as an Archie comic. I miss Pep.)

Scribblers Music Review

One of my favorite bands of the last five years, the L.A. skatepunks-turned-alt-rockers FIDLAR, are readying a second album for release in early September and have issued a new pop-culture-happy video. “40 oz. on Repeat” repeats a familiar FIDLAR refrain about drowning one’s relationship-related sorrows in booze and/or drugs. The visual reference range from Suicidal Tendencies to Eminem and Weezer to Missy Elliott and George Michael. The song, however, stands on its own. All FIDLAR songs are anthems for addled youth. You can shout them on street corners.
I still have FIDLAR’s “No Waves”—a non-surf classic I proclaimed (in the old New Haven Advocate) to be the summer song of 2013—as a ringtone on my phone. I set it to wake me up in the mornings. FIDLAR last played New Haven when they opened up for The Pixies at the Shubert the winter before last. A second album is overdue. This helps.