Friday, August 12, 2011


Emerging from Bloomington, IN, Hypoctite in a Hippy Crypt is a solo project with an interesting name and even more intersting music. Tweaker in the Park, the debut for the legendary Gulcher Records, is like an updated version of Chris Bell's I am the Cosmos: it's a strange mixture of Elliot Smith's intimacy and Syd Barrett's trancendental meditations, at once folky and psychedelic, a shamanistic attempt to meld the music and the lyrics into some sort of strange communication that intermingles with the stars and the drunken points of no return that all heaven's dissent may or may not be trying to overcome in a His Name is Alive sort of way. It's indiepsychefolkedelia for the masses but really just for one guy and whatever demons and mastodons he'd confronted - the same one's we all face but don't have the courage to face.

A sample lyric from "A Little Late":

"And now you're trying all your best,
To bite the tears an not confess,
The broken toys and broken dreams,
Behind your bedroom door,
Now's the time you realize,
All the time's you've compromised,
Who get's player one,
And who's guarding the door.."

It's rambling without structure and always tripping over itself - it's Bright Eyes without the artifice, and wrapped in a cushy dreamsicle that's both sickening and sweet, something you crave and hate yourself for craving - like heroin or, well, a Katy Perry song.

HIAHC continues:

"Never quite on top,
But never inbetween,
You're always there,
But you're never ever seen..."

You can't resist that. I was lucky enough to get HIAHC to answer a few questions.

ME: Ok so where does the name come from?

HIAHC: The name came from Kurt Cobain's diary, something about the imagery of it all just kinda stuck in my head after i read it. Its a funny thought really.

How did you get hooked up with Gulcher Records?

I was recording some songs to help out a friend with his music school application, then next thing I knew I had an album, and through the magical internet pixie fairies, Gulcher heard the album and was interested, and they were crazy enough to offer me a deal.


Hmm, the big ones would have to be Weezer and The Beach Boys. Rivers Cuomo is a melody mastermind, along with Brian Wilson. They have the kind of songs that make me replay a 20 second section of a song 30 times or so. Their melodies and how they are constructed just blow my mind some times.

Of course, the Beatles. John Lennons vocal techniques have always fascinated me. Syd Barrett's whimsical lyrics are have been huge as well. Elliott smith is also a pretty big influence, his guitar skills along with his vocal styles gives me chills, and lyrics that make a small puppy cry along with the person throwing it over a bridge. Throw The Unicorns, Beck, and Bob Dylan in there too. A lot of weird music has shaped the way I write.

Here's a question, and by all means, feel free to tell me to fuck off if you feel like it on this one, but, lyrically, are you singing to someone in particular on this album?

Ha ha. I won't comment on this. Next question.

Can you tell me about how the album was recorded?

The album was recorded in the basement of my friends dorm, so it kinda has a lo-fi intimate feel. He used some cheap studio mics. He has his own label, Tree Machine Records that he was starting up at the time. Is that the answer you were looking for?

Also, At first only an acoustic guitar was used, then we went back and added some electric guitar, and some shaker, and of course some drums durring mixing. any questions about the songs or anything?

What are "The Crazies"?

The crazies.... are just the crazies. There is a women who roams around the streets and library of my hometown yelling at people giving looks that could kill Satan. She screams about voices in her head, and will scream at anyone she deems interferes with her psychotic delusions. I have had encounters with the mystic creature, its half humorous, and half spine chilling.

What's the story behind "William J Harris"?

No Comment. Sorry.

I'm probably off base on this, but is "Tweaker in the Park" kind of, I don't know, a sort of concept album? I mean, are all of the songs interrelated in some way?

There are definitely topics that could shift from song to song, and themes or ideas that are present more than once and through out the album. It's weird because a good number of people have asked me that. Would love to hear peoples interpretations of it.

Any plans for a second record?

I hope to record another album or an EP over the next few months, I have alot of songs to choose from, and have several track lists and ideas written up in my sketchbook..... or i could never make another song again. It changes daily.

What about playing live? How do the songs sound live?

The songs take on a more electric vibe when live, but it's for the better. Improvisation always makes it fun. One can expect dual cannon Yogo launchers to launch yogurt into the crowd. As well as caged animals of various types.

Here's a preview of the album - you should go to the Gulcher Records site and buy it.

Review: Crystal Antlers: "Two-Way Mirror"

Crystal Antlers, Two-Way Mirror, Recreation Ltd., 2011

There's an air of desperation that emanates from Two-Sided Mirror, the sophomore full length effort from Long Beach, CA's Crystal Antlers. From the chaotic expulsion of sound that kicks off the opener "Jules' Story", Mirror careens and caterwauls through thirty four minutes of post psychedelic blank-core, shivering and shaking with the a sort of drug addled spirituality that's at once horrifying and infectious. It's like the whole album is chasing after something, reaching and grasping for an object dangling just out of reach that scrapes against the fingertips and bounces away frustratingly into the dark as the band is trying everything they can think of to reach it. As a result the album is disjointed and disconnected, full of false starts and incomplete ideas, a mix of genres and influences that sees Fugazi, Converge, Dead Meadow, and Arcade Fire all turning to say, "Wait. What?". It's a miasma, a complex trigonometry question trying to read basic poetry while pieces of all sorts of things fly all over the place in distraction. And every song has at least ten seconds of absolute brilliance rattling around inside of it, but it's wrapped around a smoky deception that's short of breath: these guys don't have it all figured out, though everyone was hoping they did.

And that's the great fury of the day - the new album was supposed to be so much more. But maybe we see the trees and not the forest. Maybe we've been looking for lipstick and tight leather and are disgusted to find cracked lips and pajama pants and a hand outstretched for spare change, and when the band sounds exactly like 764-Hero or any of our other indie faves from ten years ago ("Fortune Telling") we get upset and push them and parts of ourselves away. A lot of critics have been saying that this album is missing something, criticizing the instrumental interludes ("Way Out") as superfluous, some even hinting at a sophomore jinx. I hate to get personal, but I don't agree. I think that this is where Crystal Antlers needs to be - honest and true, showing both their genius and the pretension and "everything I do is fucking awesome" swagger that comes with genius and I do not think that there are any accidents in Mirror. In fact, I think that everything about this album is carefully planned out and I think that it is a great album, essential in many ways, but not for the reasons that the members of Crystal Antlers probably think it is. I've said that Mirror is an album of desperation, an experiment in reaching and trying to touch things that might or might not be real. And it could be that what Crystal Antlers are chasing their own tail. Or it could be that the band is grasping at the ultimate secrets that rock and roll still has hidden away. Either way, the next album should be amazing.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fuck .Yeah.

Just thought that ya'll might enjoy some great car art. Truly inspired.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


"You know that movie, SLC Punk? There were no punks in Salt Lake City and it smelled like farts."

So says Ivy Slime, one half of the Portland based chaosynth outfit B-R-A-N-E-S, of the opening leg of the band's cross country tour. The band is slowly making it's way to Topeka, where they will appear at The Boobie Trap on Friday, July 8 with Primary Colors, an upstart industrial project from Oakland, CA, and locals Stand by for Radio Silence.

"Now we're in Wyoming and there are a lot of hoodoo rocks and that's cool because we love geology."

Yes, B-R-A-N-E-S loves geology. And theoretical physics. In fact, the band is named after a strain of thought which posits that the universe is comprised of 11 different dimensions known as membranes (or something like that, I'm not sure, they offered to Google it for me, but I decided to do it myself, which was a mistake: now I have a headache). But more importantly, at least for our temporal purposes, B-R-A-N-E-S also loves to make the sort of post-provocative, freak out industrial music that's at once hard to listen to and impossible to resist. Comprised of Slime on vocals and Susan Subtract on synths, the band came together in a strange way.

"I was bedridden in-between hospital stays for a mutant kidney condition and heavily medicated when I finally decided to start writing songs for the dark dance anthems that Susan had been writing on his keyboards for years," says Slime.
Equally influenced by the spastic experimemtations of Devo, the deviant derivations of The Birthday Party, and classic hardcore gothic ruminations, the band has developed a unique sound which they describe as "Batcave Wave / Wicked Noodle Music", which, of course, requires further explanation.

"As dark as a batcave," says B-R-A-N-E-S. "And just as upside down. We have entered the era of 'Generation Spaghettification'; BRANES is music for wicked noodles."

As far as what one can expect from their live show B-R-A-N-E-S are a little vague.

"Twitching, lasers, STI's, 'surprises'," says B-R-A-N-E-S.

But I would expect more than that. In fact, I would expect to see one of the most interesting nights of experimental music Topeka has seen in quite some time on Friday. Primary Colors sounds like quite the sonic experience, plus I think they just played with Zorch, who are awesome.And Standby for Radio Silence rarely disappoint.

Listen to their stuff if I haven't convinced you: B-R-A-N-E-S
Primary Colors: Here

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Driftwood Singers

"Pearl Charles and I met two years ago through a mutual friend who knew that we both loved country music and how rare that was in Los Angeles," says Kris Hutson, one half of The Driftwood Singers, a Los Angeles based duo who will bring their unique brand of traditional Americana to The Boobie Trap on Tuesday night.

"The day we met we both went back to my place and tried to sing some songs together and realized that our voices blended together well so we got to work immediately," Hutson continues.
What they got to work on was crafting a sound so traditional that it might sound foreign to modern ears. Made up of nothing more than two voices, a clumsily strummed acoustic guitar and an autoharp, their music has been described as "old timey", reminiscent of the dustbowl era, and, by the band itself as, the "stripped down kind of folk that one might have heard on front porches in the south in the 1930s", all of which work as fine descriptions for their sound. But the funny thing is that though the band is well schooled in the music of the past (they do a stirring version of the classic "Knoxville Girl"), they play original music. And their music is both basic and complicated, ancient and hyper modern. It seems to say "OK, so we've gone this far with rock and roll and everything, but what if we went the wrong way. Let's look back and see if maybe we missed something."

But that's what I say about every band I like, right? My babbling aside, Hutson has a more coherant description:

"Though we might occasionally throw some cover songs in the mix, we primarily play original songs which often comes as a surprise to people because we like to write songs that draw from all genres of American music. You can come to see the Driftwood Singers play and hear songs that might draw from Stax era soul songs and others that might draw from 40's honky tonk music."

Their debut EP "LOOK!" was recorded at home on a hand held cassette recorder. An unconventional choice, of course, but one that seems perfect for the duo. As Hutson explains:

"Most 'legitimate' recording studios are dark rooms with no windows. When we tried to do our EP in one of these studios, it seemed like everything just fell flat. There was no urgency or life in our performances because we were in an enclosed space that seemed so far away from any of the places and circumstances that the songs dealt with. We ultimately ended up simplifying our recording process so much that we started using a handheld cassette recorder with just a built in microphone. The fact that we were in our own living room, where the songs were written, without a bunch of microphones in our faces, freed us up to focus more on the performance of each song."

I wanted to ask Mr Hutson several more questions, but The Driftwood Singers are currently on tour, heading south from the appearance at the North by Northeast Music and Film Festival in Toronto to Topeka on Tuesday, June 29th. Hopefully they're not travelling by horse and buggy because it should be a great show.

Get "LOOK!"
The Driftwood Singers dot com
The Trap

Monday, March 21, 2011


I'm planning on writing a more in depth story about this later, but I wanted to put something out now just to (hopefully) get a few people excited. Despite the fact that Backlash is "officially" broken up, the band is releasing a final album of original material (and by original, I mean manifestly different from anything you've heard from them before - if you're a Backlash fan you will be surprised by this album, to say the least, and if you're not a Backlash fan you probably will be if you buy this album) titled Circling the Drain which will be out in a few weeks. Singer/guitarist Shawn Ames says that the band is done after this and that they almost definitely will not play this album live, which is unfortunate because, well, of every local band I've seen/talked to or whatever in the last year, Backlash seems to be doing the most interesting stuff.

Backlash, of course, has always been known for being a straight ahead rock and roll band. While they have dabbled with piano based balladry in the past, the bread and butter of the band has been balls to the wall rockers like "Bad Monster" - songs about drinking beer and rockin' out - songs that they thought their fan base wanted to hear. But the new album sees the band branching out and finally resorting to exploring their own interests. In my conversations with Ames, both for this story and personally, there was a strange sparkle in his eye as he talked about the album coming together. He continually mentioned The Beatles as a major influence on the album and Ames later said that the vocal harmonies on the new album are "pretty reminiscent" of Abbey Road. Ultimately he likens Circling the Drain to Backlash's version Sgt Peppers. As a result, though Ames says that the band has maintained their standard influences like The Who and Alice Cooper, the band has begun to explore other areas of influence that are not usually associated with your common bar band.

"We've completely gone over the edge with this stuff," says Ames. "The new album starts out as straight up the middle Backlash. Then it gets into stuff that sounds like we went into Pakistan or we went down to New Orleans. It's insane!"

Also, this is the first Backlash album to be created with only current material.

"This is the first record that Brian and I didn't cull from old material," says Ames. "We didn't go to something that I wrote five or six years ago. All of this is from October 2010 to literally this last Saturday (note: this interview was done on March 3, 2011). There's a lot that I did just this last Saturday that creeped the hell out of me. I don't know where it came from but it's creepy."

About the recording of the album, Ames insists "it's just like a regular band". Songs were written and presented to the other band members and no one said "that sucks" so Ames went with them. The songs are a mix of straight ahead Backlash style rockers with titles like "My Old School (Wants to Kick Your New School in the Ass)", to "Shake It" an infectious acoustic rocker done "completely on the fly" with a riff that "came out of nowhere", according to Ames. "Circling the Drain" is a fucked up Willy Wonka boat ride sort of experiment that will make your skin crawl, and the five layers of vocal harmonies that backbone "The Quiet Life" will make you realize why rock and roll was once important.

But it is the twists and turns in this new album that will make it worthwhile listening. "Cheap Thirlls" is an epic song that breaks from a straight ahead rock and roll song into a miasma of psychedelic exploration reminiscent of Pink Floyd. And the masterpiece of the album, "A Deeper Understanding", which Ames describes as "his baby" will blow your mind. It's full of backwards guitars, sitars and shit like that, and the breakdown of the song is like the sun bursting over the trees at dawn.

"It's about as un-Backlash as you can get," says Ames. "There's just too much stuff on here that separates us from every other band in this town."

Check it out, when it comes out, April 29th, 2011. Here is their Myspace.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rumors, Facts, Opinions, Whatever

Haven't done one of these in a while and instead of talking about why I'll just talk about important stuff. Here are a list of rumors and facts about craft beer in Kansas that I've stumbled across in the last few weeks/months that I thought I might pass on...

1) If you're a fan of Boulder Beer Company, and particularly if you like Hazed and Infused, please check the dates on anything you buy, especially 22oz bombers. The date printed on the bottle is a "pull date" - meaning that the beer should not be sold after that date. That means that the brewery does not want the beer to be on any shelf after that date. I have a personal story related to this but don't feel that I should relate it here. However, if you see some outdated Boulder on the shelf of your favorite store please email the brewery and let them know:

2) In fact, you need to make a habit of checking all dates on all beer that you buy. Of course, you should be doing that anyway, but I know for a fact that there are some shady products lurking on shelves out there and you should remember that if a brewery takes the time to put a "Best Before" date on their beer they do so for a reason. And that reason is that they do not want you to buy it after that date. Distributors and retailers don't always understand (or lets be honest, don't care about that) and most of them think that you are too stupid or ignorant to check. If you find outdated beer tell the store you bought it from. If they don't care email the brewery. If you have any questions, here is a great reference point for figuring out the dates on your bottle.

3) Lagunitas, Green Flash, Magic Hat, and Firestone Walker should start appearing in Kansas coolers soon.

4) That Boulevard Chocolate Ale bank rush was fun, wasn't it? Did any one notice the $75 price on ebay in the aftermath? It's down to $50 now that it has hit other states.

5) Stone Brewing Company will be in Missouri sometime this spring. Minnesota too, from what I've read. This is interesting because a few years ago all the talk from Stone was that they were considering pulling their distributors and focusing more on their base area in California. Regardless, it's great news, though I'm sure a Kansas license isn't in the works. But, hey, Arrogant Bastard is now only a several minute drive away!

6) Regarding Widmer Brothers Brewing Company. The more Drifter Pale Ale you can send this way the better. It's a great beer. One of the best beers available in Kansas in my opinion.

7) Avery in cans. Soon. White Rascal, Ellie's Brown, IPA. By summer, or so I've heard.

8) PBR sucks from a bottle. How's that for the idea that good beer doesn't come from a can?

9) Code: Supposedly witty 19th century writers love light having a spectrum dominated by energy with a wavelength of roughly 440-490nm. They also supposedly love Kansas sometime in the coming months or year, as per a fairly unreliable source.

10) Best beer I've had lately: Annie's Amber from High Noon out of Leavenworth. Very tasty amber, robust and a bit hoppy. Nothing like a typical amber, which probably accounts for the negative reviews on Beer Advocate. Also, keep an eye out for the Halcyon Wheat from Tallgrass, an unfiltered wheat in a 12 oz can - their new summer seasonal. Can't find a link for this yet but it is good!