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soundbites
September 08

GRAYSON CAPPSMARROW

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Grayson Capps & The Stumpknockers
Rott-N-Roll
Hyena Records
www.graysoncapps.com

There are times when being a music writer seems like a mistake: Does anybody really need someone to tell them what good music is, or even care? Luckily, picking up the local paper is all that is needed for a reminder. After reading about how our yearly crime rate did not drop by like 30%, but instead went up 10%, and how the city council’s response was to ban the mayor’s wife from city hall, all you can really do is sigh, or cry…

Or listen to some damn good music, throw back some yard-beers and hope the universe is getting a good laugh.

Having reviewed (with great delight) Grayson Capps’ last two albums, it was with ample joy that this writer opened his latest opus Rott-N-Roll. Capps has a long and interesting musical career. Growing up in Alabama, he got a good dose of Hank Williams, Tom T. Hall and the like, and his apple didn’t fall far from that tree. His music follows suit, a fantastic mix of country, southern blues and rock that never fails to entrance any music fan.

After forming a couple moderately successful bands in his early years, Capps met filmmaker Shainee Gabel, who eventually turned Capps father’s unpublished novel Off Magazine Street into the movie A Love Song for Bobby Long (in which Capps wrote four songs and has a cameo appearance all well).

With Rott-N-Roll Capps has added a few friends, including Tommy MacLuckie (guitar), Josh Kerin (bass) and John Milham as “Stumpknockers”, and the result is to take a great musician and add more great musicians. Sure, Capps’ songs are southern ballads about country porches, shady women and back-hills booze, but the sheer poetry of his lyrics are stunning in their simple, brutal honesty. Take these lines of spoken verse:

There’s a storm a ragin’ across the land
Kickin’ dirt and raisin’ sand
‘Cause we’ve yet to understand
Destruction in the hands of babies

The vultures and the ravens form an entire nation
Scared of confrontation
Afraid of annihilation
Caused by greed

Greed is a seed of a Fear-fruit bearing tree
That bears plump ripe spheres of fear

Indeed, storms are a reoccurring theme in Capps’ work. Still lamenting his lost home (Capps, like many musicians, was driven out of his beloved New Orleans by Katrina), he rolls his music through that low, taking the listener along, only to flip into joyous song, born again in that endless human cycle of sorrow and triumph, triumph and sorrow.

Now that’s a reason to write about: Thanks, Grayson, and god bless. As for the city council and the mayor and the police chief: go knock some stumps.— Brandon Whitehead (posted 09/26/08)


Marrow
Quietdesperation
Independent Distribution Collective

Back in his college days, this reviewer happened to love electronica. It was not uncommon to hear the soundtrack from Escape from New York blaring out of the ol’ dorm room, and that ancient video of the Aphex Twins on something once known as “VHS” was played until it just about wouldn’t play no more, creepy kids in masks non-withstanding. The simple ability to have, like, eight different beats over laid like a basket full of ferrets was as intoxicating as punk had been, but without all the assholes.

Of course its only natural that (given the haircuts in charge of the music industry) somebody try and pull of a revival of said style, and frankly they did so at this writer’s possible wrath. Enter San Francisco’s four-piece ensemble Marrow, a band based on the remnants of the “surrealist-cabaret-sitcom-musical production” called SCABARET, whatever the hell that is (really, who writes these bios?), and their 15-track debut album Quietdesperation.

Since these songs are based on a fake society called “The Society for the Advancement of Despair”, which is frankly not very clever and at best quickly forgotten, its not surprising that the results are both advanced…and despairing.

Led by the ethereal vocals of Erin Fortes, tracks like “To Late” and especially “Stop” evoke both funky jazz and those aforementioned neck-wrenching punk beats, which is just awesome (again, if you liked electronica to begin with), but then, oh god, then and again they become…

Emo.

Some tracks, like “Stop”, are more emo than emo ever was, which is pretty much only interesting if you’re a fifteen-year-old upper class white kid whose main hobby was feeling sorry for yourself while wearing eye-liner.

Really guys, what up with that? Maybe some suit told them “Hey, emo’s where it’s at, add some Emo!” Maybe they just grew up listening to that shit not knowing it was shit, sort of like hair metal was in the eighties. Anyway, just stop it, Emo is dead, it cried itself to sleep so often it’s pale, thin girly-boy body got dehydrated and blew away like an old piece of dog crap, ok?

Another little problem here: included in the press package was a DVD of a “live” performance of the single “Forgiveness”, which shows that three guys standing around the singer trying to rock out on laptops is, at best, kinda silly, which makes it seem like there’s little point in going to see them “live” to begin with.

Now, where is that @#$%ing Aphex Twins tape? — Brandon Whitehead (posted 09/12/08)


Brandon Whitehead can be contacted at kinginyellow@juno.com.

 
 
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