Author: Nick Kuzmack (Nix Beat)

ToyGuitar 
In This Mess 
Fat Wreck Chords
Street: 01.27
ToyGuitar = The Strokes + The Killers 

ToyGuitar features One Man Army veterans Jack Dalrymple and Brandon Pollack and Miles Peck of Swingin’ Utters fame. So pay attention and let’s kick-start this review by licking your finger wet in the most provocative of ways, then slide it into an electrical socket for some full-on, charged garage–punk rock n’ roll action. Providing you are still with us, dig that the following tracks are why this album is worth your time. Start your dose of explosive brilliance with “Human Hyenas,” then jump up, down and around with “In This Mess.” Are you still here? Good. Knock the rest out with “Static Attraction” and close this ride with “Let’s Talk in the Shower.” If you’re not done, then add “Silver of Sun” to your expanding palate. Now wet that other finger and repeat the cycle of an electrifying pleasure—this is rock n’ roll, darling. –Nick Kuzmack

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Wake Up Lucid
Gone With The Night 
Wul Records
Street: 03.31
Wake Up Lucid = The No Tomorrow Boys + Nikki Sudden 
 
This heavy garage rock album is what makes waking up and downing the first light’s morning pint from the night before bearable. The threatening/provocative aspect that inspires great rock n’ roll is what grips the soul in a leather-bound fist, and it is clear with the opening track, “White Collar Love,” that Wake Up Lucid doesn’t fuck around, as it is a solid start for this six track EP. After this initial dose, Gone with the Night follows up with some brilliant blues ringers like “Let It Roll” and “Don’t Fear.” This is very much something to spin, so look out for this one. –Nick Kuzmack
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Bob Dylan
Shadows in the Night
Columbia Records
Street: 02.03
Bob Dylan = Bob Dylan 
 
Bob Dylan’s 36th studio album is covers of Frank Sinatra pop standards—all chosen by Dylan. After spinning this, I have to wonder whether or not there are still signs of vitality in the genius of this artist or if it has packed up and left the building. Certainly, this latest album demonstrates a certain bare-bones simplicity—a horn, the guitar and Dylan’s longing, signature somehow-this-is-singing vocals. In a way, this album comes across as remarkably humble in tracks “What’ll I do” and with a somewhat nostalgic and defiant attitude in “Why Try To Change Me Now.” There is also “That Lucky Old Sun” and “I’m A Fool To Want You” that carry the air of painful regret. Unfortunately, I do not find Shadows in the Night capable of holding my keen interest, but it does make for a great 10 songs to get jaded while sipping a bourbon on the rocks. Now let the dissent to this review begin.  –Nick Kuzmack (Nix Beat) 
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The Skints 
FM 
Easy Star Records
Street: 03.10
The Skints = Jimmy Cliff + Barrington Levy + Mikey Dread + The King Blues 
 
FM is styled like listening to a London-based pirate radio station—complete with DJ Mr. Versatile (the alter ego of Tippa Irie) and simulated station call-ins—on the city’s hottest day. The Skints knock out brilliant, socially conscious British reggae combined with a hip-hop sensibility à la tunes like “This Town (Featuring Tippa Irie & Horseman).” Other notable tracks that inspire a sense of curiosity include the punk, soulful number “Friends & Business” and the socially aware “Tazer Beam (Featuring Tippa Irie),” “My War” and “The Forest for the Trees.” While, I especially dig these particular numbers, one should understand that that’s just a taste. The listener of FM should hear it in its entirety to fully appreciate the solid and clever delivery of this creative setup. –Nick Kuzmack (Nix Beat) 
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The Grannies 
Ballsier 
Saustex
Street: 01.20
The Grannies = Turbonegro + The No Tomorrow Boys 

This 13-track album starts out with “Wade in Bloody Water,” and by its conclusion, I knew I was in for an adrenaline-filled ride. It’s power-driven, raw punk n’ roll with shredding riffs that kept me hooked—needless to say that such an intense dose of rock n’ roll from numbers like “Glittershitter” and “Corner of Fuck and You” suggests that this is not something for the fainthearted. However, apparently for shits and giggles, this LP includes the remixes “Corner of Fuck and You (Ben Addison Remix)” and “Glittershitter (Matt Flores Remix).” The remixes are kind of fun, but definitely a bit off from what seems to define Ballsier. That said, if you’re in dire need to get your blood pumping again, check this out. –Nick Kuzmack 

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The King Khan & BBQ Show
Bad News Boys 
In The Red Records
Street: 02.24
The King Khan & BBQ Show = The Black Lips + Love + Black Flag + The Mummies 

The first album in over five years from the legendary King Khan & BBQ Show pulls you head-first through the twists and turns of rock n’ roll history. One moment, your speakers will blast out the smoothness of 1960s-inspired garage pop sounds of “Never Felt Like This” and “Illuminations.” Then, keep your ears peeled for the longing grittiness of “BuyByeBhai” and “Ocean of Love.” Follow this dose with the raw desperation of punk numbers “Zen Machines” and “D.F.O.” This 12-track album provides quite the ride and is not to be overlooked. Do yourself a favor: Get it and drop the needle the first chance you get. If you manage to come up for air, follow the path provided by Bad News Boys and go dig through the roots of over 50 years of music history. If you haven’t already, this is not a bad place to start. –Nick Kuzmack 

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New Kingston 
Kingston City 
Easy Star Records 
Street: 01.27 
New Kingston = Tribal Seeds + Barrington Levy 

Switching this on, my initial reaction to this album is one of hope and excitement. Reggae has always had an edge that comments on social issues, and at first, I am not disappointed. What strings through my consciousness, however, is the bitter realization of a certain bland, vanilla, poppy aftertaste. Certainly, Kingston City has its smoothness, but the evident and defining neo-R&B crap that makes up this record leaves me longing for something that actually has roots to it—not something safe and predicable. Rather, give me the grittiness that makes this genre so rich. Notable exceptions to this negative rant are the numbers “Honorable”; “Conquer Dem” featuring Sister Carol; “Mystery Babylon,” which features Madd T-Ray and E.N Young (Tribal Seeds); and the socially aware “Today.” Other than these four tracks, which are good, the record is strongly wanting in something else. –Nick Kuzmack

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Photo courtesy of Amy Greer

This Saturday, Dec. 17, Aggro 1969 will set up a pop-up shop at Velo City Bags (341 W. Pierpont). Amy Greer runs Aggro 1969, which is known for selling Warrior Clothing England, Alpha Industries and their own Aggro 1969, brands inspired by mod and reggae subculture. Velo City BagsNate Larsen invited Greer to set up shop—just in time for the holidays. Admittingly, Greer doesn’t do pop-ups very often, since Aggro 1969 usually attracts a particular, subculture-minded clientele. However, Greer says, “It’s a good time of year to do business.”

(L–R) Amy and Scott Greer. Photo courtesy of Amy Greer
(L–R) Amy and Scott Greer. Photo courtesy of Amy Greer

For Greer, selling clothing and putting on events is a way of keeping the mod/reggae subculture alive. “The business was just wanting to contribute in some way positively,” she says, “to have a way of giving back.” Greer has been into the subculture since before the internet and has an appreciation for punk, but reggae is where her heart is. “I got into all of that stuff as a young person, like most people do,” says Greer. “As a young person, I got into punk and stuff first, then I started listening to ska and reggae when I was about 15.” After being introduced to ska via friends, brother’s band in Los Angeles, she was hooked and to this day still maintains an affinity for Prince Buster, Ken Parker, Alton Ellis, Phyllis Dillon and Toots and Maytals.

Greer has been selling her Aggro 1969 brand T-shirts since 2002. In 2003, she opened a shop called London Calling in California. “I had a store from 2003 to 2006 where we sold the T-shirts,” she says. “We sold band T-shirts, we sold music, shoes, used clothing … a little bit of everything,” Greer says. “In the beginning, we started off with a design that we still make, designed by my friend Nick, who lives down in Springville. It’s a lion with cross hammers behind it—kind of like a working-class, soccer-hooligan kind of shirt.” The design could also be found on soccer jerseys. London Calling didn’t quite boast an online presence, as this was before retailers really began moving their operations toward the internet. Also, some of the brands, like Fred Perry, had very specific guidelines on how to sell their product—which included not selling them online. Unfortunately, London Calling closed in 2006. In, 2007 Greer married and moved to Utah. Greer says, “Later in that winter, I decided I was going to start making more T-shirts and concentrate on my own brand, as well as sell the Warrior [Clothing England] stuff.”

In Utah, Greer got a website for Aggro 1969 up and running. She continues to sell Warrior’s clothing, but removed Fred Perry from her retail stock. Greer has maintained a strong relationship with Warriors Clothing. “When I first opened my shop is when I first started selling their stuff, which was in 2003,” says Greer. “So, we just contacted them and did wholesale business with them. Then I became friends with the owner over time. I was one of the first customers in the U.S. to do wholesale.” Greer’s friendship with Warrior Clothing would be strengthened through meeting the owner at scooter rallies in Las Vegas.

Photo courtesy of Amy Greer
Photo courtesy of Amy Greer

Through scooter rallies, Greer also met Larsen. In Utah, both have been instrumental in setting up the scooter rallies here Salt Lake City—which attracts mods and traditional skinheads (aka those into reggae, not the racist boneheads that populate the news). Larsen set up the Last Days of Summer rallies, and over the last several years, Greer has been putting on the Mountain Meadow Mayhem rallies. Scooter rallies have been a great way to bring the community together over years. Greer’s Mountain Meadow Mayhem rallies include camping and rallying at a venue to hear bands play and DJs spin reggae, soul and mod records. The scene here is smaller and tighter knit, compared to that of California’s—it’s quite easy to know someone from almost a one degree of separation. Greer says, “Hopefully people who are trying to do things and make things happen will help to grow it.”

At the Velo City pop-up shop, customers will be able to find a cool variety of clothing from Aggro 1969. “I’m going to be bringing all the Warriors stuff that I have, “says Greer. “I’ve got quite a few Harringtons, several colors and sizes … I’ve got a lot of button-down shirts. They’re really nice, and they’ve got that vintage, ’60s plaid look.” Aggro 1969 will also be selling some accessories, like their name-brand shirts, as well as socks, suspenders, patches, enamel badges and even scooter underwear. There will also be vegan jam for sale. The prices range a bit: Harrington jackets are about $60, while button-down shirts are around $50, and T-shirts range from $14 to $18. Other neighboring businesses along Pierpont will be selling items at their own pop-up shops. The Aggro 1969 Pop-up Shop starts at 12 p.m. and goes until 6 p.m., so be sure to stop by Velo City. For more information, visit the Facebook event, and find Aggro 1969 online at aggro1969.com.

A Shadow in the Relationship
A Shadow in the Relationship
The Relationship hangs out in the prep room at the Urban Lounge. Photo: mikeybaratta.com

It dawns on me that there is actually a period of time before and shortly after 7 a.m. when the sun is not present over the skies of the Land of Zion. This divine awakening comes as I walk toward Coffee Garden while blasting Kim Fowley’s “The Trip” through my earbuds. Though I have to ask myself what on earth, heaven or hell can raise me from my crypt this early on a January morning, I am keenly reminded by the adventure I am about to embark on that blends Almost Famous and A Hard Day’s Night into a 12-hour-plus extravaganza. Today, I am going to be shadowing the lads from The Relationship as they take on Sundance and Park City.

At the café, I take a seat and sip my highly caffeinated coffee. Within moments, I observe a sharply dressed Brian Bell stroll in and grab his morning expresso. Not wanting to disturb him before his first cup of caffeinated joy, I sit back and chill until Nate Shaw shows up with members of The Relationship’s management. It is quickly decided that I will ride with Shaw and the management in the tour van. On the way up to Park City, topics of conversation cover Shaw’s love for skiing, the clear evidence of Climate Chaos and prepping for the interview at the Wasatch Brew pub. The latter topic has a focus of (if necessary) steering the X96 interviewers away from topics that edge too close to Bell’s association with Weezer by emphasizing the subject at hand: The Relationship.

Filing into the Wasatch Brew pub, I notice that the Jon LaRue and Anthony Burulcich are not present for this initial interview. “They’re still in L.A. time” says Shaw. The interviewers are none other than Bill Allred, Gina Barberi and Kelly Jackson from Radio from Hell. It’s interesting to put faces to names that I’ve only heard over the airwaves—though, I confess that I’ve never had a real interest in the critically acclaimed talk show. Still, it makes great PR sense to tackle the “Holy shit, this is early” audience with the folks from Radio from Hell. Shaw and Bell seem in great spirits and even manage to take their hosts’ friendly jabs with good humor.

The dynamic duo explain the history of their band and their first album, eagerly promoting the Oh Allen 7” that is going to be released through Burger Records in March. The interview also covers some promotion for the ASCAP show, which is a part of an exclusive event later in the day. In regard to this, Bell says, “I don’t like this exclusive stuff.” He then proceeds to talk up the Urban Lounge gig on Jan 25. After all is said and done, the duo poses with some fans in front of the X96 poster.

During this interview, the lads learned that, later in the day, they will be performing an acoustic set at the Wasatch Brew Pub. This comes as a bit of a surprise, but does not detour their creative determination. As we make our way to ASCAP building, Park City seems to be coming to life with the activity surrounding the Sundance Film Festival. After all four bandmates reunite, they quickly go through the motions of a sound check for the gig later in the evening. Following this sound check, the lads have another brief practice / experiment to knock out a few numbers acoustically—mostly. They decide to perform the songs off the Oh Allen 7”. Their set comes across as solid, and when it is time to go back to the pub an hour or so later, The Relationship delivers and then some. It’s pretty good for being totally on the spot, but then again, these guys are far from being amateurs, and their (mostly) acoustic performance of “Oh Allen” and “Young Temptations” earns them new fans.

The end of the impromptu session sees the lads continuing on to yet another interview at the Billboard. In almost comedic fashion, we go through a labyrinth—in one door and out the next only to find ourselves back where we started. Finally after this the band gets a break from the hustle and bustle. I take off with Shaw and LaRue. As we make our way back to the ASCAP green room—which, for today, operates as home base—we find ourselves some comfortable seats next to a fire pit. There the two start dissecting the modern foundations of rock n’ roll. “In a lot of ways, rock n’ roll has become a bad stoner joke,” says Shaw. “I feel like rock’s lost all those great educational years of punk—washed away by people just wanting to be liked, be PC and appear kosher in interviews like corporate spokespeople.”

LaRue says, “Speaking your mind’s a good thing… Rock n’ roll’s always about non-conformity. That’s the reason so many young suburban kids end up turning to rap and hip-hop. It’s because their parents don’t understand that. Their parents grew up with punk rock, so it’s like playing a Sex Pistols record doesn’t piss off mom and dad—like some music they don’t understand, that excitement has sort of disappeared from rock n’ roll.” On the note of providing meaning through music, Shaw reveals that he is looking into showing visible support for school teachers—citing their obvious importance to developmental education.

Back in the green room at the ASCAP building, I take down a bottle of Stella Artois. I had been told earlier in the day that I had free reign in the green room, and all I could think through my shit-eating grin was “famous last words.” I am told that that band had not really expected a sound check, so every performance was being treated as a pop-up session. When The Relationship takes the stage, it is clear that there is keen interest from the gathered assortment of people. They start out with “Young Temptations” and continue knocking out numbers like “Rather Be,” “Ain’t It a Shame” and “Oh Allen,” much to the appreciation of the audience. It is clear, though, that some of the interest in The Relationship does stem from Bell’s association with Weezer. It also helps that The Relationship provides a ’90s pop but heavy rock n’ roll feel—so I’d imagine it’s a little difficult to escape that particular legacy. That being said, these guys definitely have the ability to stand on their own—as they give a performance that keeps the assembled audience captivated. I even spot some jerking about from members of the crowd.

During the latter half of the gig, Shaw announces that during any show he performs school teachers will get in free of charge. This announcement meets with clear enthusiasm from their audience and it appears that teachers are among tonight’s crowd. It seems socially conscious rock n’ roll isn’t quite dead yet as one former educator Kim Zermianin says, “That made my year.”

Back in the green room that lads discuss the possibility of an after party. I’m up for continuing this adventure with the assistance of several pints to take off the edge. However, after a long day of hoofing it about, I am a bit self-aware of my less-than-pleasant body odor, and I fear knocking some unfortunate soul dead due to my fresh aroma. So, in earnest before the fun begins, I go out in search of deodorant and quickly find that there is almost no place on Main Street that sells it. It must be because Park City folk do not perspire—maybe something to do with the elevation. After many wrong turns and being turned away from the Sky Lodge by some rather large chaps in fitted suits, I find myself at the Marriot—the only place to buy a little stick of deodorant.

When I get back to the green room, things are winding down, and everybody is going their own way. Fear not, kids: Yours truly doesn’t end things on this particular note. Rather, I leave this adventure with the words “anything on the menu” hanging in the air—famously uttered by an ASCAP representative who treated the photographer and me to a sushi dinner and drinks. Now, imagine that shit-eating grin.

 

Check out Mikey Baratta’s gallery of The Relationship’s Urban Lounge show!

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Sleater-Kinney
Sleater-Kinney
Sleater-Kinney plays a sold-out show at the Depot on their first tour in nearly a decade. Photo: www.mikeybaratta.com
For weeks, all forms of communication in the SLC music grapevine have chattered away about the most anticipated show of the year: Sleater-Kinney playing The Depot. My introduction to the legendary Riot grrrl group came from the short lived SLC band Modern Girl—as they had derived their name and philosophy from this obvious influence. I dug deeper into the roots of Modern Girl’s initial inspiration and quickly gained a keen interest. Fast-forward two years, and tonight this interest has turned into a fevered excitement that threatens to overwhelm my attempt to calmly catch the bus to the gig. It is all I can do to not bolt down my street exhibiting sheer excitement. However, I do have one concern regarding the expectations surrounding the show—whether it can live up to the hype of an army of devoted fans, or if it will fall dramatically short and bust.
After a long journey across town and a 30 minute wait in line—during which I revisited my love for Shocking Blue—I finally get into the venue. I sell what’s left of my soul for a refreshing pint of Trader Session IPA and race to grab a table so that I may observe the ever increasing number of people filing in. Tonight has brought out a diverse array of fans. Some are younger, but many look as if their heyday may have actually been in the 1990s. There is a notable difference in the atmosphere however. Unlike other gigs where the male presence is notable, most of the people here are women or others whose gender identity is non-male. In a way, I find that there is a certain aura of confidence and belonging that envelops the room and that is something that I have not seen at many other shows. Speaking of the audience, concert-goer Lindsey says, “They are intense fans.”
Lizzo starts off the night with the Hype Grrrl DJ Sophia Eris providing a digital education of Riot grrrl hits that includes La Tigre and The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb.” Eris doesn’t play whole tracks—just enough to get you interested. After a few minutes of warming up, she switches to the “Imperial March” to introduce Lizzo as she takes the stage much to the excitement of the audience. She delivers a solid array of alternative hip-hop numbers, including “Faded” and “Paris.” Though it doesn’t quite grip me, my feeling on the matter is in the minority as the crowd clearly digs it.
Lizzo takes time to address her audience on the importance of social causes like Feminism and Police Brutality. During these brief addresses, the audience applauds and cheers, displaying that they are clearly on board with the hot button topics. It’s cool to see social awareness promoted through music, as it seems to be a thing that is unfortunately not done often enough. Lizzo’s last number gets the crowd to go wild and jive about. Her performance is met with the clear appreciation of the crowd and I would not be surprised if she gained some new fans.
Luckily, the wait between sets is short, and when the lights dim, the audience erupts into cheers to welcome Sleater-Kinney onto the stage. Before them is a captivated crowd that has eagerly waited months to witness the anticipated return of the Riot grrrl icons and believe me, they got what they paid for. Sleater-Kinney appear with a cool charismatic energy and, with a flawless intensity, knocks out numbers like “Price Tag” and “Fangless” to the ecstatic mass of jiving bodies. The difference between the back area of the venue, where I am, and that of the dance floor is notable as electrifying energy put off by the crowd gyrating about exhibits a raw feel that those in the back can only taste rather than experience in full. Though, the feeling itself is almost intoxicating.
The introduction of their new material is widely accepted and eagerly absorbed—though this not a surprising. Things get noticeably heavier upon the introduction of the signature tunes “No Cities to Love” and “No Anthems” from their new album. After temporally bowing off the stage after “Jumpers,” Sleater-Kinney return with a high energy encore an encore, starting off with “Gimme Love,” which shows off Corin Tucker’s impressive ability as a formidable front person. Much to mine and I’m sure the audiences appreciation the last number for the encore is “Modern Girl.” During this song, I hear much of the crowd singing along and one eager fan exclaims “I love this song so much!”

The conclusion brings on an eruption of applause that echoes throughout the room. I’m sure that if Sleater Kinney so desired, they could have continued on with their dazzling performance and nobody would have minded in the least. This was a solid gig that exceeded all expectations, and that’s a first.

Check out M.A.BARATTA’s gallery for this excellent show!

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