Tag Archives: Rock

Nikki Lane, High-Class Hillbilly

Nikki Lane

Nikki Lane by Jessica Lehrman

Nikki Lane’s East Nashville-based vintage store High Class Hillbilly lives up to its name. The fringed, suede skirt with a faded logo of big-screen cowgirl Dale Evans; the pink, satin pedal pushers, the cropped leather jacket—it’s hard to imagine any of them having been casual Goodwill finds. In fact, there’s very little on the carefully color-coordinated racks that appears less than 40-years-old. Lane has a good eye, and her constant touring gives her an opportunity to scour antique malls and estate sales across the United States.

With Highway Queen, which she produced with Jonathan Tyler, the South Carolina-born mini-mogul is now three albums into crafting her identity as a purveyor of tough-sounding, ‘60s-informed twang-pop that straddles Americana, alt-country, and garage rock. She’s sharpened her songwriting, with its vinegary sweet hooks and often pugnacious posture, and made the most of a husky, drawled delivery whose greatest appeal is its delicious contradiction. It simultaneously feels hard-bitten and girlish.

Reclining on a blue couch in the basement of her store, Lane reassures an assistant, “People can come down here. I’m definitely not boxing out shopping!” The browsing customers don’t distract her in the least from discussing the clear-eyed vision that guides her multi-pronged career.

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Tommy Stinson’s Life of Hustle

Tommy Stinson

“It’s mayhem over here,” Tommy Stinson exclaims breathlessly from his home in Hudson, NY. “I’ve got hand-stuffed boxes of my new Bash & Pop record with cool extra bits for contest winners ready to go out. I’ve got gear going out to the van, and I need to load my guitar. If you could see what the fuck is going on in my house right now…”

In his 50th year, the Replacements bassist—and frontman for cult power pop outfit Bash & Pop—still has the manic energy of a young puppy. He swears like a kid delighted at hearing the words fly from his mouth, and the new Bash & Pop album Anything Could Happen, the insanely belated follow-up to 1993’s Friday Night is Killing Me, pulses with the optimism of youth. Since joining the Replacements at the age of 12 in 1979 at the urging of his brother Bob, who tragically succumbed to the tolls of hard living in 1995, Stinson has been all about the hustle. In between solo records, as if hell-bent on masochism, Stinson shouldered the bass for the notoriously volatile Guns ’N Roses from 1998-2014. Not only did he win over hardcore G’N’R fans, he survived the Wrath of Latter-Day Axl.

On January 12, the new and improved Bash & Pop touring band, featuring lead guitarist Steve “The Sleeve” Selvidge (The Hold Steady), Joe “The Kid” Sirois (Mighty Mighty Bosstones) on drums and Justin “Carl” Perkins on bass guitar, hit the road. With an opening date in his native Minnesota at the legendary 7th St. Entry, things have come full circle for the freshly engaged Stinson.

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The Molochs Make a Virtue of Being Outsiders

The Molochs

Photos by Angela Ratzlaff.

Lucas Fitzsimons and Ryan Foster are used to feeling like outsiders. Growing up in an Argentinian household, Fitzsimons felt different from the other kids at school. Both of them are soft spoken, and neither of them are fond of the social climbing and extraneous noise that characterizes the LA entertainment industry.

That outsider mentality serves as inspiration for the music they create as The Molochs. The duo don’t kowtow to local trends; instead, they keep doing what they’ve been doing for years: making blues-based guitar music rife with lyrical honesty. While the songs have an upbeat musicality, there’s a palpable sense of somberness lurking beneath the grooves.

The band recently signed with Innovative Leisure, a label that hosts a roster of acts including Tijuana Panthers, Nick Waterhouse, De Lux, Classixx and Bad Bad Not Good, and have gone from playing shows at small dive bars to festival slots at Primavera Sound in Barcelona and Noise Pop in San Francisco. They’re also gearing up for tours in the U.S. and Europe.

We spoke with Fitzsimmons about returning to the country of his birth, operating outside the industry, and how a trip to India inspired him.

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His Name is Alive on Dark Matter, Black Metal & Creating an Album for the CERN Lab

his-name-is-alive-600

His Name Is Alive. Photo by Davin Brainard.

When the largest particle physics laboratory in the world decided to host bands who were in keeping with their experimental spirit, curator-scientist James Beacham specifically sought acts who had explored the musical unknown. For the lab’s EX/NOISE/CERN series, Beacham invited Deerhoof, Pere Ubu, Thurston Moore, plus one other artist who has made a career of exploring the musical unknown. Warren DeFever, the founder and only consistent member of His Name is Alive, has spent the past 26 years making music that showcases his incredibly diverse sensibilities. (Richard Fontenoy wrote that the band’s third album, Mouth by Mouth, was “a 70s heavy-rock album produced by a hyperactive and easily distracted child with an interest in trying every possible effect, level and mixing technique”—and that’s just one style DeFever’s music. His Name is Alive has taken on many, many forms over the decades.

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Album of the Day: Various Artists, “In Case You Missed It: 15 Years Of Dualtone”

Even if the name Dualtone Records doesn’t ring a bell, chances are you’ve at least heard one of the label’s signees. Artists like The Lumineers, Shakey Graves, Langhorne Slim, and Delta Spirit have all made mainstream inroads, but they represent only a small portion of the impressive roster the label has been quietly but steadily amassing over the course of the last 15 years.

To commemorate all that hard work, Dualtone has released a celebratory compilation to showcase the music that’s made it such a bright beacon in the world of indie labels. Rather than merely cobble together their hits, the label took a different tack, pairing classic tracks like Guy Clark’s “My Favorite Picture of You” with rare and unreleased cuts.

Shakey Graves’ “Tomorrow” is a bootleg from one of the label’s newer signees, an artist who rose to prominence on Bandcamp before joining Dualtone to release his 2014 debut album And the War Came. The song quietly exemplifies what Shakey (aka Alejandro Rose-Garcia) does best. Playing an electric guitar and accompanying himself on a suitcase-turned-kick drum, his lyrics explore the condition of millennial love. In the song, the object of Shakey’s affection feels the questioning pang of FOMO, promising him something substantial, but keeping their options open. “You used to tell me we’d turn into something,” he sings. “Oh, you said life was much better than this/ Yeah, but the closest I come to perfection/ Is when you turn around to steal a kiss.” For anyone who has experienced the pain of a wavering lover, the verse has sharp teeth. The label went back to 2008 for The Deep Vibration’s “Tennessee Rose,” a thorny love song on which lead singer Matt Campbell’s bruised chorus gets an assist from Gillian Welch’s wistful harmony.

Rosco Gordon’s “Cheese & Crackers” is an upbeat blues/jazz number with barrelhouse piano, woozy brass, and Gordon’s soulful voice—a fun number to punctuate the more contemplative songs that comprise the majority of the album. The compilation ends with a version of “Keep on the Sunny Side” by June Carter Cash, with Johnny Cash contributing backing vocals on the chorus. It’s a nod not only to the label’s storied history, but to the ethos that continues informing their roster and mission.

In many ways, In Case You Missed feels like a mural composed of many individual pictures. When the viewer steps back far enough, a single, unified image becomes clear; up close each picture tells its own story.  

Amanda Wicks