Another Saturday, Another Round

EDITORIAL NOTE: Sorry for the absence, things have been… weird.

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In a tiny little bar off of Highway 18, an ode to classic sounds came roaring from the stage on Saturday, August 19th. Delta Shade, McComas & the Trust and The Time Bombs presented a night of blues rock, folk and classics not heard too often in modern classic rock radio. The night even came equipped with a drunken patron shouting “Free Bird” during the Time Bomb’s set. I suppose not even small bar shows are immune to all live show annoyances. Despite that, it was solid night of rock and roll.

Starting off the evening was Delta Shade. When we last spoke, Delta Shade had a video waiting in the wings for their song “Blue Sky Black”. Now, the trio is looking forward to putting out another album and video if possible. Their set list featured plenty of tracks from their self-titled album Delta Shade, but also new tracks that the group has been cooking up since the album’s release. When I asked how much the group writes, singer and bassist Chad Buchanan said, “It’s a constant. We’ll go back though the other stuff, mostly just live, but in practice and stuff, it’s all about just writing… …We have a bunch in our arsenal right now that we haven’t played. It’s gonna be our next album.”

After reviewing their debut album and hearing the new material, Delta Shade is gaining a lot of traction among the local community. Following them was McComas & the Trust, another local group that has a folk/country vibe to their sound. Singer Jim McComas sat down to talk about the influences that go into this group, “There was a time when I was playing a lot of blues and one day I turned on a Dave Alvin record, it’s called King of California… … I went down [a different avenue]  musically and from there I just kinda found a lot of music that was similar folk-wise and started hanging out with people who turned me onto stuff like Uncle Topelo, of course Son Volt I love, but you know, I’ve always been sort of a Neil Young and rock and roll fan.”

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The group has an album, titled Death Valley Stereo, available on Spotify and other digital outlets. McComas gave me a brief summary of the origin of the group, “I met Dave and Robby, the bass player and the guitar player; they came to my studio to record with their band. They’re called Tango Kilo, a local band up here. I liked what they were doing, they liked what I was doing and they said, ‘When are you going to get your own band?’ I said, ‘oh you know, whenever, you know. I’m just writing songs right now’. They said, ‘well, we’ll play with you’, so I got my own drummer and that’s how it started.”

Ending out the evening were The Time Bombs, a group that functions as a cover group with a love for classic rock songs that don’t often make the cut of classic rock stations. At least that’s how singer Tim Elliot feels as he explained the direction of the band, “The main goal is to try and play songs that you don’t hear very much anymore that are classic rock and roll songs, but not the same old classic rock songs that have been ground into the ground… … There’s so many good songs that are out there that don’t ever get played. Songs by Traffic and the Kinks and things like this. So, we’re trying to pull up some of that stuff that we’ve always thought was really good.”

The group has original material, but they’re not stage ready according to Elliot. However, the group has a solid set of covers that are a great reminder of stuff you don’t often hear. Being 65 years of age, Elliot still feels a youthful joy when preforming these songs, “We have so much fun doing what we’re doing that all we really wanna do is more songs that make have so much fun.”

– b.d. ponce

Like Delta Shade and McComas & The Trust on Facebook.

Contact The Time Bombs at timebombsrock@gmail.com

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Scream ’til You Feel Better: An Evening of Hardcore

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Stay Wild returned to Frogee’s Cocktail Bar this last Friday for an evening loaded with some of the best local Hardcore this scene has to offer. Hosted by Shrug City Sounds, Stay Wild along with Little Debbie and the Moonpies, Cel Damage and Post Nothing tore apart the stage with their brands of high quality hardcore. Each band played a devote passion for their craft and was invigorated by the crowd of equally passionate hardcore fans. Even small setbacks, such as Cel Damage having to play as a two piece with their guitarist dealing with an injury, did not deter the evening from being wildly fun.

Kicking off the evening was Little Debbie and the Moonpies, and it was a great start. The group brought their own entourage of air dancers and throw out MoonPies to the crowd during the set. It was a lighthearted juxtaposition to the group’s heavier brand of hardcore. The sound follows in the footstep of metalcore groups like Misery Signals, a comparison that singer and guitarist Arsenio Otero was very open about, “We take our influence strongly from Misery Signals… …they’re the band that took us from being a thrash metal band, you know, we were like hardcore stupid thrash metal, just annoying… …we heard them at the peak of our thrash metal and we we’re like, ‘that’s… that’s right’.”

Looking back on his roots, Otero has changed a lot in his direction of music. Coming from a background that includes influences like Metallica and Green Day, the birth of Little Debbie and Moonpies came actually as a resurrection of an old project Otero and friends had years ago, “We had our time in our first band, you know, it went its route. We got old, we got tired. On the drunken stupor of a friend who was supposed to be a part of Little Debbie, but ultimately didn’t, it was actually his drunken stupor that was like, ‘oh, we can do better than that. We can do- *hic*- we can do this’ and I was like, ‘I’m gonna hold you to that’. So like a week later, the four of us got together.” Though that friend did not tag along for the ride, Otero and company have kept the band rolling for three years and are looking to keep going strong.

Following Little Debbie and the Moonpies were Cel Damage, who actually joined Stay Wild at Thrasho De Mayo, another event hosted by Blaze (of Shrug City Sounds) that I also covered on this blog. At that event, Cel Damage were rolling as a four piece, but due to unforeseen circumstances, only Brothers Danny and Josh Mathews were able to perform. Guitarist Riley Tews’ presence was missed by his band mates, however.

“It’s a bummer that Riley couldn’t be here,” said Josh, “he just ripped open his finger today.”

“By pineapple” Danny added.

I did not ask any further questions.

The injury did not stop the brothers from putting on a show, having singer Danny Mathews trying his hand at guitar. The duo still managed to pull off their own brand of intense hardcore mixed with vocal modulations. When I asked about what the songwriting process was like for them, drummer Josh Mathews unveiled the hidden idiosyncrasies of their sound, “Usually our songs just go from like an idea. We don’t really sit down and be like ‘okay, this needs to be a verse, chorus, verse’. It’s like, ‘okay, this sounds cool. Woo, dude, you just did that? Do that again, like two times’ and that’s all of our songs.”

“Literally,” Danny said, “Every. Single. One.”

The set ended uniquely with Danny dismantling the drum set while Josh continued to play. He got all the way to just the snare, bass drum and hi-hat before Arsenio Otero of Little Debbie and Moonpies lifted Mathews out of the chair and carried him off the stage. Mathews continued to drum, regardless.

Following that act was Post Nothing, a group that has been active for six years now, but has only been preforming under their current name for the last three years. The original name of the group was Trap Her, Keep Her, but singer Jed Bookout gave me some insight on the name change and origin of the band, “We were all in a bunch of other bands… …and we wanted to start a hardcore band so we could play… so we could get into the hardcore shows we wanted to go to for free. True story. So actually we would tell people we wanted to open those shows just so that we could play those and we ended up getting to play with everybody.”

“It actually ended being, in some ways, more successful than any of our other bands,” he continued, “so we stopped kinda fucking around and we started writing more serious music… we got to a point where we started hearing what people were saying about our old band name… … it was coming off as… rapey, I guess, you could say. We heard it loud and clear and we decided the best thing to do to be a serious band is to change our name, so we became Post Nothing.”

The name change has not stopped the band’s output, which has a whole host of new material available under the new name such as 2016’s Misinformation and this year’s split with In Decline, all of which are available on bandcamp as well as the band’s older material under their old name. As for the direction moving forward, Jed feels the addition of drummer Matt Fullove has pushed the group further with their material, “we’re trying to be as experimental as possible while still kinda sticking to our roots. We listen now more to, I mean we always have, but throwing out more influences from bands like Every Time I Die, Poison the Well, like more metalcore type bands that we were into when we were younger then say the BraceWar and Terror-type stuff that we were writing before.”

Capping off the evening was Stay Wild, who have been keeping themselves busy with a two week tour across the west coast, a new video for The Killjoy Luck Club and an upcoming three week tour across the southern and eastern parts of the United States, but despite working hard to promote their material outside of the high desert, Stay Wild always remember their roots as bassist Jehiah Tonneson said, “every time we play here, it’s getting like- like I grew up here and just having that many friends almost made me cry, like singing along to my music. It almost made me cry.”

With an east coast tour coming up, things are looking bright for the hardcore trio. After their dates, they plan to write and record their first full length album for the remainder of the year and record next year, “so we leave on the 23rd,” said Tonneson, “and we’ll be gone til like the 18th or so and then we’re going to record pretty much all through the holiday season and then we’re hopefully gonna start recording January/February… … and hopefully have it out by April-ish.” I’m certainly looking forward to it.

I wish there was an edgier version of ‘delightful’, but that is really the only way I could describe the evening. Blaze and Shrug City Sounds put on a great show for all the hardcore fans of the high desert. Joy and her bar are turning into the bright spot of the high desert for bands looking to put on a good show and this show was no exception. I look forward to all the new material coming from these bands in the near future.

-b.d. ponce

All photos by Eduardo Degante (except where noted)

Shrug City Sounds on Facebook

Stay Wild on Facebook and Bandcamp

Cel Damage on Facebook and Bandcamp

Little Debbie and the MoonPies on Facebook

Post Nothing on Facebook and Bandcamp

Live from The Living Room by The Modern Three: A Review

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Artist: The Modern Three

Album: Live from the Living Room

Genre: Punk rock

Punk rock has changed a lot over the years. I feel like that is a redundant thing to say, but looking at the evolution of the genre and the other genres born out of punk rock and genre offshoots (there is a lot), it’s easy to get lost in the mix of hardcore, post-hardcore, ska punk, emo and folk punk. That not even the tip of the iceberg, but at the heart of all those genres is a desire for something intense and real. Punk rock has the negative reputation among some music circles as being simplistic, childish and a heavy de-emphasis on musicianship, but that is more to it than that. Born to the be the antithesis of progressive rock, punk rock spits in the face of indulgent guitar solos and time consuming rock operas that take hours to convey meaning. Punk rock seeks to distill that meaning into something raw, revealing a greater sincerity. It’s something that can be revealed in a music studio or a living room. The Modern Three went with the latter.

Live from the Living Room is eights songs of vicious, pure punk rock. The family trio of Austin, Kylie and Eric Sloncik show a great appreciation for the genre of punk and Live from the Living Room replicates to the joy of 70’s and 80’s punk. Lyrically, The Modern Three do a good job saying a lot with very little, particularly with songs like “Second Date”, “Trick Slut Bitch” and “Alcoholic”, showcasing the minimalist tendencies of the genre with ease.

Structurally, the record is fast and intense, but doesn’t feel repetitious. “Monsters Don’t Sleep” contributes a slight goth edge, similar to bands like T.S.O.L. or The Damned, but the album maintains its own identity. Tracks like “The Mall” add humor, which is always an important factor for good punk rock. There is always a level of cynicism and awareness that creates a fun juxtaposition towards bands and genres that tend to take themselves too seriously. Adding to the levity is a cover of “Blister in the Sun”, originally by the Violent Femmes, as the closer of the album.

Live from the Living Room is a local treat for anyone interested in more traditional straight forward punk rock. It’s loaded with energy, aggression and the rebellious attitude of punk music of the past.

-b.d. ponce

Buy the album here

Like The Modern Three on Facebook.