California Rocker

Award-Winning Online Music Magazine

Sacramento Band, American High, Drops Upbeat Rock Album, ‘Bones in the Attic, Flowers in the Basement’

By JOHN DALY

American High has released Bones in the Attic, Flowers in the Basement, and it’s a fun, upbeat collection that would warm the coldest of hearts.

Influence of 1960s and 1970s

American High, from Sacramento has a cool indie-alternative sound with some upbeat songs and clearly they’ve been influenced by the 1960s-1970s sound.  Some of the songs are pretty irreverent, others are straightforward and these guys pull it off.

But who are they?

D.T. is on rhythm guitar, E.S. is on lead guitar, F.M. is on bass, T.M. keeps the beat on the drums. American High produced the record.  The only name that is available is that of Joe Johnson of Pus Cavern Studios in Sacramento, who mixed and mastered.  Check them out on Bandcamp.

American High has a knack for putting chilling topics into an upbeat mode. Bones in the Attic, Flowers in the Basement, was released marks the band’s debut album. We’re not sure if their name refers to getting buzzed or appreciating the high school years.

American High wanted to put out an anti-war record with this one. The guys said they wanted to put a human face on oppression: “We think everyone should concentrate on minding our own business rather than point guns at each other and demand obedience.”

Favorite cuts on the record are “Moon,” “Sensei,” “Bunny,” “September,” and “Warm Worlds Flow.”  The song “Sister Don’t Believe It,” may be a reference to the president everyone loves to hate, but the song is a bit redundant.  However the workmanship is on the record and the recording quality is excellent.

The band is unconventional and said they think songs are more interesting when they’re different than the standard chorus-verse-chorus.

 

Virtuoso Frontman and Producer Mike Patton Picks Up Dead Cross For Drummer Dave Lombardo

Dave Lombardo's project, Dead Cross picks up Patton - Photo © Donna Balancia

Dave Lombardo’s project, Dead Cross nails down Mike Patton – Photo © Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA

Accomplished musician Mike Patton, perhaps best known for his wild performances as frontman for Faith No More, will take on the vocal duties for Dave Lombardo’s punk project Dead Cross.

Lombardo (Suicidal Tendencies, Misfits, Slayer) made the announcement on his Facebook page. Lombardo and Patton are joined by bassist Justin Pearson (Retox, Head Wound City, The Locust) and guitarist Michael Crain (Retox, Festival of Dead Deer).

Mike Patton speaks several languages including punk - Photo by De Falso

Mike Patton speaks several languages including punk – Photo by De Falso

Dead Cross: 2017

Dead Cross already recorded its first album, but substituted Patton’s vocals for recorded tracks by Gabe Serbian who left the band. The record is expected in early 2017.

Lombardo is sitting in as guest drummer in the band on Late Night With Seth Myers.

Patton is co-founder with Greg Werckman of the Ipecac Recordings label. Ipecac Recordings is the label of The Melvins, Le Butcherettes, Queens of the Stone age, Faith No More and many others. Dead Cross will be released on Ipecac Recordings.

 

dead-cross-soundcloud

The Joy Formidable Bring Their New Album, ‘Hitch,’ and Alt Sound from Wales to US with Tour

Joy Formidable photo Donna Balancia

Joy Formidable – Photo Donna Balancia

Welsh Invasion?’

By DONNA BALANCIA – The Joy Formidable is set to take the U.S. by storm, with a new album, Hitch. This Welsh threesome is a group worthy of some serious listening.

Their new album, Hitch, is a slight departure from previous releases, but is beautifully balanced between big alternative sound and balladeering.

The Joy Formidable — comprised of lead singer and lead guitarist, Ritzy, bassist Rhydian and drummer Matt — will play dates in Nashville, Pennsylvania, New York, New Orleans, Florida, Dallas and Memphis before touring the U.K. They return for Bottle Rock in Napa Valley and Lollapalooza.

Joy Formidable © 2016 Donna Balancia

Joy Formidable © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Joy Formidable has an alt-indie following, but with their third album it’s clear this is a group that can handle a wide range of genres. They brought humor and power to their fans at a recent show at the Roxy in Los Angeles.

Think Sonic Youth meets Midnight Oil via The Raspberries with driving beats.

Ritzy’s cooing voice in between songs had a rather soothing effect, much like your sarcastic Welsh grandmother — if you had one — lulling you off to a faraway land.  That’s where all niceties stop as she pulls the rug out from under you with great ripping guitar.  It doesn’t hurt that Ritzy’s cute and fun to watch, either.

Joy Formidable photo Donna Balancia

Joy Formidable perform acoustic version of The Brook from their new album Hitch, at The Roxy – photo © Donna Balancia

Rhydian gave a nice chat with the VIP meet and greeters at The Roxy prior the show, and to say that this band likes to mix it up with the audience is an understatement.  At one point Ritzy and Rhydian came off the stage and brought their unplugged acoustic guitars to the audience and gave what appeared to be an impromptu rendition of The Brook to the fans.

But we can’t say enough good things about one of the most talented and entertaining drummers we’ve seen in Matt.

He drives the threesome with beats akin to the late Keith Moon, as one concert-goer commented, and his showmanship is AOK as hair flies all over the place as he plays and connects to the audience smiles and winks.

The trio don’t exactly comprise a single-handed ‘Welsh Invasion’ but if they keep going on their path, they will definitely bring over the converts.

Olivia Dvorak: Check Out This ‘Superstar To Be’ Who is Truly Making Music in Her Own Way

Olivia Dvorak - Alternative-Country star in the making - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Olivia Dvorak: Alt-Country star in the making – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA – Olivia Dvorak is making music her own way.

“I grew up in the country with horses,” said Olivia, who was raised in rural Illinois. “My horses always loved the country music I would play on the radio. So I gravitated towards writing and playing country music.”

The 23-year-old and her music could have gone in another — more traditional direction — her mother is a music teacher and her sister, Lillian, is an accomplished classical pianist.  And being raised in a Christian household has enabled Olivia to put a positive spin on even the toughest moments in her young music career.

“My faith plays a big role in how I handle my career,” Olivia said. “I feel there’s a way to get ahead and still keep your own values.”

Olivia has carefully selected like-minded people for her team, people who also work hard and try to do right by others.

“It’s just the way we all live,” Olivia said. “We try to help others and we make that a priority.”

CHECK OUT OLIVIA’S WEBSITE

Olivia’s love is anything country.  Among her top picks in music are artists Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Martina McBride.  Her biggest influence has been the music of K.T. Tunstall and her favorite song is “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.'”

Olivia Dvorak - Alternative-Country star in the making - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Olivia Dvorak tells the crowd how it is – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Her album, Don’t Come Knockin’ is extremely entertaining and Olivia is one to keep your eyes on.

To see Olivia perform is like watching a whirlwind in action.  She has control of the stage and knows how to make the audience feel good. Within moments she can quiet down a noisy room.

“You have to feel out the audience, see what mood they’re in,” she said. “The audience is different everywhere you play and that affects your performance.”

The songs Olivia has written are catchy and her voice is clear.  At her young age and in her infancy stage as a performer, Olivia is already amazingly accomplished.  A one-woman band, she achieves a remarkably robust sound with the help of a simple JamMan Looper Pedal.

“I have a great team and regarding my sound, I rely on my right-hand guy Jeremy Rollefson,” Olivia said. “He tells me what’s the ‘latest and greatest’ as far as the tech side.”

One of the biggest influences in her life is Olivia’s mother, Betsy, the music teacher.

Olivia Dvorak - Alternative-Country star in the making - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Olivia Dvorak – Passion and energy – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

“My mom, Betsy, taught me about music, and my dad, Scott, is a graphic designer,” Olivia said.

In her spare time, Olivia loves to draw or go for a run.  She’s a big believer in giving back and recently played a gig to benefit Operation Warrior Wishes.

“The veterans give so much to us and I want to do what I can,” she said. “I also want to mentor younger people. I know my music has healed me and I want others to see their own value as well.”

James Williamson Brings Re-Licked ‘Superband’ Show to LA

James Williamson with musician Mario Cuomo

James Williamson with musician Mario Cuomo – Photo credit Heather Harris

By DONNA BALANCIA

James Williamson’s response to challenge is change.

Williamson took select Stooges songs, recruited top talent to record the vocals, and created the latest “Superband” of Alternative A-listers.

SEE VIDEO OF THE FULL RE-LICKED SHOW HERE

The resulting album, Re-Licked, is different than any recording Stooges fans might have predicted.

And now, Williamson’s latest band is taking its act on the road — at least once.

On Jan. 16, the group which includes The Kills’ Alison Mosshart and Dead Kennedys former frontman Jello Biafra, will perform cuts from Re-Licked, appropriately enough, at Bootleg HiFi on Beverly in LA.

Alison Mosshart of The Kills California Rocker

Alison Mosshart – photo credit Heather Harris

“I’ll probably never be able to do it again, although a lot of people are already asking for it and we haven’t even done it yet,” Williamson said of the upcoming performance. “We had bounced it around a lot. Everybody on the album kept saying we should do this live, but the logistics of getting them all together is pretty daunting.”

Williamson and his bandmembers, drummer Michael Urbano, bassist Dan Rothchild, and keyboardist Gregg Foreman will back up Mosshart; Biafra; Lisa Kekaula of the BellRays; Joe Cardamone of The Icarus Line; and Jesse Malin, formerly of D Generation.

Re-Licked is comprised of lesser-heard songs written by Williamson and the Stooges’ famous frontman Iggy Pop. And as is typical of any rocker-turned-techie-turned-rocker again, Williamson has broken the songs down, assigning each a decidedly new role, and surprisingly welcome gender-neutral cachet.

“I feel really lucky to have these people performing and the guys are good, but the women are unbelievable,” Williamson told CaliforniaRocker.com.

James Williamson The Women of Re-Licked - California Rocker Soundcloud

Williamson: Stooges were like The Little Rascals in one regard

 

Next week’s superstar performance of the only (for now) Re-Licked show will be a defining moment that the audience can enthusiastically support, perhaps without comparisons to rarely heard, prior renditions of the underground-circulated songs.

Oddly, the standard mark of the new “superband” phenomenon — consider The New Basement Tapes comprised of Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, Taylor Goldsmith and Shannon Giddens — seems to be the absence of (and simultaneous tribute to) the most central figure.  In the case of The New Basement Tapes, the band created and recorded music for the writings of Bob Dylan. That was followed by a terrific one-off performance in Hollywood.  SEE #TNBT VIDEO

James Williamson, Iggy and the Stooges in 1973 - California Rocker

James Williamson, Iggy and the Stooges in 1973 – photo credit Heather Harris

So, of course, the obvious drawback with the Re-Licked show is that Iggy won’t be on hand to sing his own songs.

But on an evening when not only Williamson and Iggy’s mutual friends are all on stage together, across town in West Hollywood, Handsome Dick Manitoba’s Dictators will be out from New York to play. So one can always hope.

INSPIRING

They say, “Change is good,” and it may take a while to realize that, and at the very least, change is inspiring.  Much in the way that the entire Re-Licked effort is inspiring — on several levels.

For one thing, Williamson’s gargantuan task of assembling the talent and scheduling  them to record could require a degree in social engineering and advanced calendar management.  He already has the degree in technology, obtained when the Stooges were in flux and the band’s future uncertain.

For Re-Licked, Williamson traveled near and far tracking down leads on artists, such as Carolyn Wonderland whom he thought could be appropriate and agile enough to interpret and appealingly present some challenging material.

Stooges in 1973 - California Rocker

Stooges in 1973 – photo credit Heather Harris

It’s unfortunate that in their day, the Stooges songs that would be on Re-Licked didn’t get a lot of play, but like Kekaula singing Iggy’s “I Gotta Right,” that could actually work in the artist’s favor.

So one common trait Williamson shares with partners on this project is confidence.

With the reviews and the distribution of the March, 2014 recording well in hand, the show then becomes the central focus.

“Most promoters wouldn’t be able to afford this cavalcade of stars coming from all over the world to do a show,” Williamson said. “As it turns out we’re doing a few songs for the Carson Daly Show so we’re already in LA to do that.

“I just said to some of the people coming, ‘Hey we’re already here why don’t we just do a show?’ and everybody wanted to do that, and they decided to stick around for an extra day and do it and that’s how it happened.

For Re-Licked, James Williamson assembled an 'Alternative A-list' - California Rocker

For Re-Licked, James Williamson assembled an ‘Alternative A-list’ – photo courtesy James Williamson

“All these singers came because they wanted to do it,” he said. “I’m very flattered they’d spend their time, energy and talents on my record.”

RESPECT

While it may not have been there during its own time, over the last three decades, there has been a growing wave of respect for 70s-era music. Stooges music in particular has found its place among an enthusiastic and younger audience looking for a different sound.

James Williamson on Raw Power - Interview with CaliforniaRocker.com

“We’re kind of like the old blues guys,” Williamson said of the Stooges’ resurgence. “When I was growing up we had Eric Clapton, Cream, The Rolling Stones, we thought they were cool and everything, then we came to find out they weren’t the guys, the real guys were the blues guys. And we went to see them while they were still alive. That’s sort of how it is for us now. They recognize us as the guys that were authentic original sources of that music.”

Lisa Kekaula California Rocker

Lisa Kekaula – photo credit Heather Harris

Naturally, the respect of younger artists for the music and style of the Stooges emerges as enthusiastic collaborations.  It could be argued that Iggy, who more than held his own as a solo act, was an innovator in the area of era-spanning collaborations.  Among the bands and artists with whom he has collaborated are Sum 41, Green Day, Peaches, Cat Power, Kesha and many others. He will be working two shows in June with The Foo Fighters.

Williamson, on the other hand, seems to be oblivious to the age of the musicians with whom he’s working, saying that he is working with the most active musicians in the business.

“I honestly feel lucky not only to attract these people but to get these performances out them and these musicians,”  Williamson said. “You can really tell on this album the people were excited to do it.  It comes across, the enthusiasm is there and that’s a kind of magic you can’t predict and you can’t expect to get it.  You’re just lucky when you do.”

Go HERE more information on the Re-Licked show at Bootleg HiFi 

###JamesWilliamson ###

The Replacements Tour: You Can Go Home Again

The Replacements Tour, The Replacements California Rocker

Courtesy of NBC

ST. PAUL, Minnesota — The Replacements Tour took a turn home Saturday night as the legendary band knocked out the crowd in St. Paul.

The Replacements headlined their first show in there more than 20 years, knocking out the crowd.

Read about The Replacements’ upcoming gigs at East Coast Rocker.com

The Replacements Tour

The Replacements played their home state of Minnesota and gave a knockout appearance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon the other night.

After the New York concert at Forest Hills, The Replacements tour will play Summer Ends Music Festival on Sept. 27 in Tempe, Ariz. and two weekends of the Austin City Limits Festival on Oct. 5 and Oct. 12 in Austin.

The Replacements were first formed in 1978 as the band Dog’s Breath.  The original band was comprised of guitarists Paul and Tom Stinson, lead singer Paul Westerberg and drummer Chris Mars. The band’s first album was Sorry Ma I Forgot To Take Out the Trash, released in 1981 and the band embarked on its first U.S. Tour in 1983.  The Replacements broke up in 1991, but reunited for a Replacements tour in 2012.

For tickets and more information on The Replacements Tour check out their website. 

Weapon-X Sets Summer Dates in Santa Ana, San Diego

Weapon-X Black Rose Tavern

Weapon-X played Black Rose Tavern on Robertson and Pico May 24

By DONNA BALANCIA – LOS ANGELES — Coming off a successful performance at the Black Rose Tavern in LA, WEAPON-X has announced two new summer dates.

On July 26, the Victory Music Academy, founded by Dan Clor of Weapon-X, will play at Malone’s in Santa Ana.  The academy was started by Clor, a former Marine and music enthusiast to teach kids that success in life and in music can be achieved in through practice and structure.

Weapon-X will play The Jumping Turtle in San Diego on Aug. 23.   The band will be the featured act during The Jumping Turtle’s Craft Beer-Barbecue and Music festival for the Marines, the Navy and the Public.

Weapon-X has been working on recording a new EP and will be playing new songs at the upcoming shows. 

Also a part of the Weapon-X shows has been Victory Music Academy’s Cranked Amps N Loaded Mics program, which features young students who are hungry and ready to put on a great show. Victory Music Academy and Strength In Numbers started the program as a way to help musicians in the Los Angeles area who are missing band members and gets them out playing shows as soon as possible.

Weapon-X Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/weaponxband

 

%d bloggers like this: