[Photo Post] The Lees of Memory at Secret Stages

Back in my last Bachelor Chronicles post I talked about all the times I got in trouble for drumming too much and how often I played faux concerts for equally faux audiences. I thought for sure I’d be in a band once I got old enough — and actually learned how to play an instrument.

I got old enough but didn’t learn an instrument properly until I was in college. But even then it didn’t really matter — I was too introverted and self-conscious to ever step on stage with a band. Hell, I was too introverted and self-conscious to approach a group of guys to start a band. Double hell, I was too introverted and self-conscious to play my instrument in front of anyone but my girlfriend and mom.

Being in a band was just never going to happen for me. But I’ve always had an appreciation for the scene and wanted to be involved in it in any way I could. I’d spend the next decade or so doing freebee design work for local artists, most of which were never used (The Beat Officers changed their name after I made several t-shirt designs for them; Woe to the Inhabiters broke up after I made a custom painting and album cover design for them; Pink Carnage took my favorite graphic I ever designed and tossed it aside for someone else’s logo design that was merely a downloaded font colored pink).

Finally, a year or two ago, I got a pretty rewarding gig doing design and layout work for my friend’s band The Lees of Memory. The Lees are made up of John Davis, Brandon Fisher — both formerly of Superdrag, a band I’ve admired for years — and Davis’ Epic Ditch bandmate Nick Slack. The guys released a couple of full lengths — Sisyphus Says (2014; released by SideOneDummy) and Unnecessary Evil (2016; released independently) — and a few 7″ singles including 2015’s Soft Places / Within a Dream II, 2015’s Ain’t No Changing Baby’s Mind / Let’s Turn Our Love Up Loud and 2016’s All powerful You.

It wasn’t until 2017 that I got to help the guys out. I did center label design for their 7″ single Run Away to Here / Tears of Joy, center label and sleeve layout design for the 7″ single When The Roses Bloom/The River and finally, center label and gatefold layout design for the band’s most recent masterpiece, the double LP The Blinding White of Nothing at All.

While their band has three proper members, the nature of their sound requires a much larger band (read: 7-9 guys) to replicate in concert. A combination of this and the fact that the members all live in different towns means concerts are extremely difficult to organize if not impossible altogether. So when the band was invited to play Secret Stages Music Discovery Festival in Birmingham, Alabama, on August 4, you’d be an idiot if you’d think I’d miss it.

And, of course, I took my camera. Small festival though it may have been, it was one of the coolest projects I’ve ever gotten to be a part of.

The band played at midnight to a sexy audience at the Hangar in Birmingham’s Avandale neighborhood. In addition to Brandon, John and Nick, the band was rounded out by Sam Powers (Superdrag alum) on bass, Dan Benningfield on keys, Jason Moore (of Nashville band The Katies) on guitar and musical powerhouse Ethan Luck (of too many noteworthy bands to list) on guitar.

Here are a few photos from the set. Everything was taken with my Canon EOS 77D with a 50mm lens. If you want to see more, as always, they’re on my Flickr page.

Secret Stages was a pretty rad weekend festival. While we were only in town for the afternoon/evening, we were still able to see a lot of great acts including Mobile, Alabama, hip hop act BassHead Jazz, electro-soundscape artist BÊNNÍ (New Orleans, Lousiana), midi sample composer Seth Graham (Dayton, Ohio) and wild-ass sexy rock and roll group Telefones (Nashville, Tennessee).

There are a ton of links above but I’ll go ahead and post them all again below and implore you to follow everything if you’re into music or art in general.

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[6-6-6] of 2017 Part 3: Top Tracks

With a few days left in the year, I figured it was my turn to add my two cents to the “best records of the year” like so many of the blogs I follow. Where I differ from these posts, though, is that I don’t always listen to brand new music all the time and often uncover stuff that came out decades before I was even born, choosing to spend my time with it instead. Therefore, I’m breaking this post down into three parts: my 6 favorite new releases for 2017, my 6 favorite NOT new releases I jammed the most in 2017, and the 6 songs I blasted the most — both new and old — in 2017.

All three sets are in no particular order.

This is Part 3/3

— TOP 6 TRACKS, NEW AND OLD, OF 2017 —

Mutoid ManKiss of Death
Album: War Moans — Released: 2017

This may not be my favorite song from this record but it’s definitely the song that gave this band my attention. So heavy, so dirty, so gritty. It’s everything I want in rock and roll. Is it punk? Is it metal? Is it sludge? Answer: YES. The only thing that tops how heavy this song is on the record is standing two feet away from drummer Ben Koller’s drum kit while they play it live!

ConvergeHomewrecker
Album: Jane Doe — Released: 2001

This song comes shredding right out of the gate with a rumble of drums provided by the above mentioned Ben Koller (who in addition to Converge and Mutoid Man lends his talents to Cave In and All Pigs Must Die). If you’re okay with shrieking vocals, you can’t help but thrash to this song as it quickly rises to peak energy level and stays there for nearly four minutes. I don’t know how the guys in the band stay in their skin while playing it because I have a hard enough time doing it while listening.

Every Time I DieWe’rewolf
Album: The Big Dirty — Released: 2007

Spotify fed me this song after a playlist ended earlier this year and I developed an instant crush on it. The record’s name is The Big Dirty and there’s no better way to describe the music of Every time I Die. While the animal being referenced in this song is of the party variety, the lyrics get my juiced to do all things in life at full volume. But I didn’t put my hair in a pony tail for nothing so if I’m going home alone — I’m not going at all!

Tyler, the CreatorI Ain’t Got Time!
Album: Scum Fuck Flower Boy — Released: 2017

This is my favorite Tyler song since Transylvania. Beats are varied but so rad, the sampling is brilliant, lyrics are top-notch and he’s included one of his best hooks to date. A little chaotic at times, maybe, but it works as a whole. It’s not as mean and evil as a lot of older Tyler but neither is this entire record. I ain’t mad about it. I went through the entire record four or five times when I picked it up, then I left this track on repeat for the rest of the week.

The AquabatsThe Shark Fighter!
Album: Hi-Five Soup! — Released: 2011

I’ve always been a fan of the Aquabats. I have an Aquabats tattoo for Christ’s sake. But admittedly, I’m mostly in love with “old” Aquabats and the nostalgia they bring every time I listen to Super Rad!, Pool Party!, Anti-Matter and whatnot. After I saw them in concert this past Summer, though, I got a better appreciation for later songs like Fashion Zombies!, The Legend is True!, Hey Homies! and Look At Me (I’m a Winner)! Standing above them all, though, is The Shark Fighter!. He fights sharks. He fights them in the water, ’cause that’s where they are. Is it ska? No, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an amazing song that’s still classic in the Aquabats sense.

The Velvet UndergroundAfter Hours
Album: The Velvet Underground — Released: 1969

Written by my boy Lou Reed in 1969, After Hours is probably my favorite Velvet Underground song. A little different from other Velvet tracks, this song brings drummer Maureen Tucker to the lead vocalist position and tells the story of someone dealing with a loved one struggling with alcoholism. Maybe a dark subject but the song itself is simple and innocent in its delivery. It’s also fun to bang out on an acoustic guitar.


This is just me, though. Got any tracks you really dug this year? Tell me about them!

[6-6-6] of 2017 Part 2: Old Releases

With a few days left in the year, I figured it was my turn to add my two cents to the “best records of the year” like so many of the blogs I follow. Where I differ from these posts, though, is that I don’t always listen to brand new music all the time and often uncover stuff that came out decades before I was even born, choosing to spend my time with it instead. Therefore, I’m breaking this post down into three parts: my 6 favorite new releases for 2017, my 6 favorite NOT new releases I jammed the most in 2017, and the 6 songs I blasted the most — both new and old — in 2017.

All three sets are in no particular order.

This is Part 2/3

— TOP 6 OLD RELEASES OF 2017 —

The MisfitsStatic Age
Release Date: (February 27, 1996 — originally recorded in 1978)
My Favorite Tracks: Hybrid Moments; Bullet; She

The Misfits are one of my favorite bands — maybe my #1 favorite band. So many great tracks across their career, and yes I’m even referring to post-Danzig era. I feel like if I were to include a “top not-new records” list every year, Static Age would be on my list every year. It’s basically a Misfits’ greatest hits record from start to finish including the super groovy Return of the Fly, the pure-evil scorcher Bullet and the macabre sing-along favorite Last Caress. If you didn’t listen to any other Misfits for the rest of your life, your days will be better just having experienced this music. I seriously listen to something from this album every. Single. Day.

David BowieDavid Bowie
Release Date: (June 1, 1967)
My Favorite Tracks: Uncle Arthur; Love You Till Tuesday; Please Mr. Gravedigger

A few months ago I went through a phase where if it wasn’t David Bowie, I didn’t want to hear it. Chances are, if you’re not a fan of Bowie or are only a casual fan, you’ve probably never heard anything from this, his self-titled and first proper release. It’s really not even the kind of Bowie I prefer — I’m more of a Hunky Dory or Rise and Fall… kind of guy. But as I revisited his discography, I found myself continually coming back to this record, fascinated by his folky singer-songwriter attempt.

Cannibal CorpseTomb of the Mutilated
Release Date: (September 22, 1992)
My Favorite Tracks: Hammer Smashed Face; I Cum Blood; Split Wide Open

Back in November when I caught Exhumed in concert, I had to admit to myself and everyone else that while I’m a fan of extreme metal in general, the Death Metal genre has never really done much for me (Exhumed changed my mind that night). With that said, extreme metalheads will probably scoff at my affection for what is likely the most cliche Death Metal selection I could’ve chosen, but this was and still is the Death Metal record I’ve gotten the most into. Sure the artwork, song titles and lyrics are horrific beyond measure, but I mean, that’s Death Metal for you. Hammer Smashed Face could easily be a Death Metal 101 lesson and for good reason. If you don’t like that track, you’re not going to like anything else.

The Velvet UndergroundThe Velvet Underground & Nico
Release Date: (March 12, 1967)
My Favorite Tracks: I’m Waiting for the Man; Femme Fatale; Sunday Morning

A couple of years ago I decided I had an enormous man crush on Lou Reed. Looking past his faults and crazy drug-laced history, there’s something about Lou that I always thought was just super cool. I only hate that I didn’t appreciate him until later in mine (and his) life. Either way, tracks from this first Velvet record stick with me, flowing in and out of my head throughout most days. In addition to the above listed tracks, Venus in Furs, Run Run Run, All Tomorrow’s Parties and I’ll Be Your Mirror haunt my existence and I’m not mad about it. Lou may not have been crazy about Nico joining the band, but she definitely brought something to this record that it would’ve been sorely missing without her or if someone else had taken her place.

Epic DitchEP
Release Date: (March 21, 2011)
My Favorite Tracks: Hope and Change; Rock ‘n’ Roll Ain’t Gonna Save You Now; I Want to Destroy

Punk fucking rock, y’all. John Davis and Nick Slack, already made famous here from yesterday’s blurb, join forces with famed producer Nick Raskulinecz to send out a scorching six tracks on this EP that comes in at around 14 minutes TRT. I found myself putting tracks from this record on several Spotify playlists in the last year from general punk playlists to collections of songs that make me want to lift heavy, fight hard or simply push through difficult bullshit in my personal life.

SuperdragHead Trip in Every Key
Release Date: (March 24, 1998)
My Favorite Tracks: Bankrupt Vibration; Annetichrist; Shuck & Jive

Much to the record label’s disappointment, Head Trip… wasn’t a commercial success like the guys’ 1996 predecessor Regretfully Yours, but the musicianship, songwriting, production quality and overall aesthetic of this record went leagues above it. If MTV wasn’t crazy about John Davis’ (yes, him again) decision to change the lyrics of Sucked Out to “Who Sucked Out the Feeling? Music Television!” the entire industry couldn’t be happy about his lyrics in Bankrupt VibrationAnd your alternative station is such a bankrupt vibration; it’s a fucking illusion of an alternative nation; modern rock is a snow job; a popularity blowjob; come on down to the big show to celebrate what you don’t know. Those lyrics were eventually changed before the track made the record, of course, but it doesn’t change the fact that John Davis and the guys were the epitome of rock and roll.


This is just me, though. Got any OLD releases you really dug this year? Tell me about them!