Friday, December 30, 2011

Restavrant "Yeah, I Carve Cheetahs" Release Date: Jan. 10, 2012 Hillgrass Bluebilly Records

A couple of weeks ago my friend Greg asked me to do an album review of a band called Restavrant for our blog here.  Being busy with school, and family and the holidays it took me a little while to get around to actually listening to it.  What I heard upon my first listen was a spiritual, almost biblical experience.  Restavrant (pronounced restaurant) are a duo hailing from Victoria, Texas featuring Troy Murrah on vocals/guitar/slide/banjo and J. State on drums/vocals/drum machines/ and keys.  In the world of stripped down, guttural guitar driven garage rock these guys are the real deal.  Equal parts country, blues, and rock with a little metal and electronica thrown in for good measure, the sounds that come out of these two guys are quite literally genre defying.  Restavrant sound like Hank III and Jack White’s  hard partying, even harder drinkin’ bastard love child.  Murrah plays fast and with a lotta fuzz, belching out vocals like he’s at an old timey tent revival, except instead of fire and brimstone he’s preachin’ the gospel of Jack Daniels.  Throw in State on his ever evolving drum kit of license plates, suitcases, a gas can, and a tire rim and you have “Yeah, I Carve Cheetahs”, one of the freshest sounding albums I’ve heard all year.  Immediately I was struck by the sheer energy of these guys.  From Murrah’s snarling guitar and vocals on the opening track, all the way through to the last note the whole album just howls and demands that you listen more.  This is music that reaches out and grabs you by the balls, puts a cigarette in one hand, a bottle of whiskey in the other, punches you in the face and says “Drink mutherfucker!”  Jonathan Kim, writing on the Huffington Post put’s it best I think: “Restavrant sounds like a tornado ripping through a Texas town whose main industries are chainsaws, electronics repair, scrap metal, beer and sidewinder missiles.”  Restavrant are a band that demands to be heard. 
9 out of 10
Near perfect

Monday, December 26, 2011

Dead Abby, XXX-Mas Edition

Disclaimer: This is an advice column, not an instruction to life, not direct orders. There is probably going to be offensive material presented. I'm not sorry, I support freedom of speech. This may not even be real...

Dead Abby,
I want to propose to my significant other for the holidays, but am really nervous and don't know how to go about it.  How do I  go about this?
Scared and Wanting Forever Vagina

Dear Scared and Wanting Forever Vagina,
You're either going to do it or not. There should be indications as to whether or not she's going to say 'yes'.  Of course, it's going to be nerve wracking, of course there's a risk. Make a big public spectacle out of it and it will be much harder for her to say 'no'. Be really, really drunk and it will also, more than likely, sway her in the 'yes' direction.  One of the most romantic proposals I've ever heard is when one of my friends proposed to his lady by demanding a blow job.  He was very, very persistent and when she finally gave in and took his dick out, he had an engagement ring tied to it.  Of course, if you're going to choose this method, you may want to do it in bathrooms and truck stops are nice. Depending on how badly you want to marry this girl, and how doubtful you are that she's going to say yes, you could also try the 'Otis' method.  Keep her captive, set up a nice room with some nice wardrobe options, feed her a few times a day.  Eventually, she will be yours.    Some people are traditionalists and want the approval of family, if you're going to ask, you probably already know what's appropriate and what's not for your situation. Engagements are beautiful...make it magical.  Splurge, buy the expensive whiskey!

Dead Abby,
I am lonely.  Really, really lonely during the holidays and really, really need to get laid. Help!
Horny for the Holidays

Dear Horny for the Holidays,
There's a place lonely people go during the holidays, it's called the bar.  I've spent many, many a Christmas/holiday in a bar.  People are drunk and vulnerable.  It's the perfect place to pick up some stray.  Maybe offer to make a nice Banquet meal as means to lure said prospective piece of ass to your place.  Definitely start out by buying some drinks.  One crucial part of going out and getting lucky during the holidays is to have plenty of cash and condoms.  Also, make sure you're equipped with drinking legs.  No girl is going to want to go home with a sloppy drunk, drooling and pissing all over himself.  People get much more generous during the a round for the bar, that gets notice and opens doors.  Buy your prospective a drink or two...challenge them to a randy round of arm wrestling.  Act extra sweet, chances are if they're at the bar on Christmas night, alone, they're lonely too. I would give caution to girls traveling in groups.  Girlfriends are a lot less likely to let one of theirs go off with a stranger.  Of course, this is assuming that you're not some psycho serial killer.  If you are, go to the police station and offer one of the friendly, 'lonely' officers a drinky...they'll make sure to put you up in a nice, warm place with plenty of friends. Another cheerful place you could try are your local porn stores or strip clubs.  You're guaranteed to as least view some genitalia.  You may not get to touch it, but...If you're going to try the porn store route, make sure you have plenty of time.  Women don't frequent them as much as men and  you may need to stake it out for awhile before anything promising comes around.  Leave the clerk alone, they get it enough.

Dead Abby,
What is the origin of the Christmas tree?

Dear Festive!,
The first documented uses of a Christmas tree in Estonia, in 1441 with the Brotherhood of the Blackheads.  It was used for ceremonial purposes.  In the German Middle Ages, plays at Christmas time within churches often featured an evergreen "Paradise tree" from which an apple was plucked. The first evidence of Christmas trees outside of a church is of the 16th century, with trees in guild halls decorated with sweets to be enjoyed by the apprentices and children.  Now, these are documented historical 'facts'...but, I wasn't there.  I'm sure you weren't there...history can be quite uncertain.  I have my own theories...
I think the tree is a phallic holiday symbol.  Think about it, there's an erect tree with a star on the it to sex; an erect penis with a glorious star, the g-spot, at the end of it...hopefully...with a starry, starry orgasm.  I think in times of sexual repression, people used the tree as an open door to sex.  It wasn't socially acceptable to speak of sex, especially in front of family, and family quarters were traditionally very close.  My belief is the tree was erected...which began foreplay.  The wife would then decorate the tree and top it with a star when the sexual advance was to be accepted.  As if to say ''Here...I offer you my star...stab it and make it explode.''  They would, then, creep off into an alley and get in on Christmas style.
Another theory is that the tree is a symbol of fertility.  The tree would go in place of something, like, say...a bed pan.  The tree would be erected and this would be an indication that the woman was ready to breed.  This differs from my first theory, as that was one of sexual escapades and this is one for breeding purposes.  The woman would send neighborhood children out to gather a tree when her husband was away at work, have it ready, along with dinner when her husband arrives home from work, disrobes upon his arrival and they proceed on to making babies.  Or, at the very least, perfecting the skill of doing so.  I don't believe that this theory directly corresponds with Christmas, as breeding could happen at any time of the year.  With poor heating in homes though, sex would be a very practical way of warming things up.  It would also add to pleasant smells as hygiene was not always desirable.
A third theory is that, in the tradition of St. Nick, the tree was an indication of a swinger friendly household.  In the theory of Christmas, a grown man sneaks into the house leaving 'goodies'.  It was always thought that this was a tradition for children, when in fact, it's actually a pretty perverted holiday.  The tree would be set up in a window, doors left unlocked, the couple would be sparingly clothed as they slept.  This would invite random, wandering and sexually aroused strangers.  Holiday is generally a time of giving and some couples find moments of stale sex in their marriages.  Instead of creating new passions between them, they leave the door open to strange.
Now, I can only assume, based of facts I've gathered, stories I've heard that these theories have contributed to the tradition of the Christmas tree.  Perversions have been allowed to flourish in modern culture and have probably gone far beyond what I have concocted here.  Christmas trees probably mean many awful things that my perverse mind can't even conceive of.

For questions, concerns and hatemail, please send correspondence to:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lennon and Dimebag, Thanks for Changing Our World!

December 8th always marks a sad but celebratory time in our home. Sad, because of the death of two great musicians, and celebratory, because we still carry the memory of those two people. Though we didn’t personally know them, they influenced our lives and changed the face of music and the world that surrounds it forever.

John Lennon was shot in 1980 by a fan named Mark David Chapman. Lennon was a revolutionary figure when it came to his contribution with The Beatles and his political views. His life was an amazing journey to hear about even today. It’s horrible to know that such a peace advocate’s life was cut so short by a “fan”. We all could have learned much more from the musical roller coaster that he started our parents on so many years ago.

Dimebag Darrell was also shot on Dec. 8th, but in 2004 while performing with Damageplan at an Ohio venue. Dimebag will always be remembered for his contribution in Pantera. Darrell Lance Abbott (Dimebag) was born in 1966 and is considered one of the pioneers of modern metal. His heavy riffs and searing solos let you know that he was a samurai of the six string. Any Pantera album that you listen to will let you know of his greatness. I remember listening to Vulgar Display of Power when I was in 8th grade. It made me feel like I was on top of the world. Anyone that would have decided to fuck with me when I was listening to that would have gotten a fistful of Sony Walkman to the head.

My memories will always be of my troubled youth trying to find sanctuary in the music that still comforts me today. It saddens me greatly to know that something that held me so close in my teenage years is gone today. Cheers to those who feel like we do on this monumental day, especially to Dimebag and Lennon.

Every year we toast the memory of these two great musicians that have passed on to the other side. Last year it was Jagermeister, this year it’s Jim Beam. Please hold your drink high for both of these musicians who meant so much to all of us.

-Greg Dec. 8th, 2009

I wrote this blog on December 8th of 2009. I have tried to write something every year on this date. This year I will do the same. I wanted to post this particular blog because so much has changed musically for me since then and this was from the days of Myspace. I feel the audience is a little bigger now that Dangerous Music has moved forward and The Backstage Betty Pages was formed. I also felt that I left a few things out. I always wrote on December 8th which made this somewhat more emotionally exhausting to write. It always seemed to be accompanied by some sort of documentary or “Behind The Music” involving either Lennon or Dimebag. This year I’m going to write a day early to avoid the stress!!!

I saw Vinnie Paul perform with Hellyeah a few years back. I remember Vinnie standing up from his drum kit and ask that an entire audience of 7000+ toast the memory of his brother. I turned to my wife with a tear in my eye thinking about how cool it was to share that moment with her and even though we never met, that moment was also shared with one of my heroes from way back, Vinnie Paul. You can expect moments like this today all over the United States and even the world. Candlelight vigils are held for John Lennon in New York and I’m positive that a few shot glasses full of Jagermeister are held high for Dimebag Darrell.

My wife is a huge Beatles fan. She has even been so bold as to have Lennon’s self portrait tattooed on her skin. Our apartment from a few years ago used to look like a college student's dorm room. Littered with posters, trinkets, Todd McFarlane Beatles toys, buttons, records and about anything else related to The Beatles that you could imagine. I asked her a couple questions about her feeling on John Lennon’s death and here is what I got.

What did John Lennon mean to you?
He was part of such an important band that created such great music.  Plus the music that him and Paul McCartney wrote together will stand the test of time.  I don’t think we would have most of the music or artists today if it wasn’t for The Beatles and John Lennon.  And not only did he write fantastic music, but he had such a positive message about love and peace.  There really hasn’t been many people like him in our history.

Do you feel that music or the music industry would be different if he were still alive?
I do, but I couldn’t really tell you how.  Just because you never know how one person will affect things.  I think maybe John and Yoko would have kept pushing the envelope.  I think they would have either come off as crazy or just pissed people off.  Either way, John would have been a driving force throughout every facet of the music industry.

Today I hope everyone takes a moment to think about two great musicians who were taken from us entirely too soon. I think I will start the day out by reliving a little of my youth and blare some Vulgar Display Of Power.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mountain Sprout, Legendary Shack Shakers and Split Lip Rayfield in Ames, Iowa

My first introduction to a live bluegrass show last summer left me in a wake I thought I would never be in and also left me doing tons of research on bands I had never encountered before. Metal was always my first choice in music and if you ask anyone who personally knows me they will tell you that I trashed the music they listened to on more than one occasion. With Metal being the most superior form of music, why would you listen to anything else? Maybe I’m getting older or maybe my taste in music is changing. Whatever the case, my eyes have been opened to many other different forms of music not just Metal.

I saw Split Lip Rayfield last summer in Kansas City. After listening to countless CDs of theirs it was great to finally see them live. The bill hosted a gamut of other acts that were great, but I was there to see Split Lip. When I was informed they were coming to Ames, Iowa I jumped at the chance to see them again. A half hour drive to Ames was definitely more appealing than a two hour drive to Kansas City to see a show! Three acts were on the Ames bill: Mountain Sprout, Legendary Shack Shakers and Split Lip Rayfield. I really liked the closeness and feel of DG’s Tap House in Ames, however, I was not impressed with the bar staff. I understand it’s a college town and beer needs restocking, but with three people behind the bar I felt they could have been a little faster refilling the drinks. Oh, and their shot glasses are very deceiving, they have a lip on the inside of them that actually makes the glass appear regular size. In actuality the shots are smaller. (end alcoholic rant)

If you like your bluegrass dirty, I mean really dirty, look no further than Mountain Sprout. To the unfamiliar ear you may only hear the twang of a banjo and the harmonized clicks of the upright bass, but to the seasoned fan there is something more. The quartet from Arkansas has figured out a way to combine humor, fast paced bluegrass and beer. Your Mom may not approve of their lyrical content, but if she does you may be listening to her music. Cocaine, weed, liquor, speed, strippers, dry counties, and lustful acts with neighbors are a few song topics and this may cover the lyrics in a song or two. Content aside, Mountain Sprout is a fun band to watch live. The fiddle may not be considered a bad-ass instrument, but then again most people have never seen Blayne Thiebaud play it. If you are looking for a physically energetic band, then Mountain Sprout may not be for you. Blayne and upright bass player Daniel Redmond will be the only two that you will find standing during a performance. I thought the crowd was a little lacking at the Ames performance, this is probably due to being an opener as well as people in Iowa not knowing who they are.
Grayson Van Sickle of Mountain Sprout in Ames, IA
When I learned that Col. JD Wilkes of The Dirt Daubers was also the vocalist of  Legendary Shack Shakers I couldn’t wait to see what he had to bring to the stage with this band. I would have guessed that he wouldn’t disappoint and he didn’t! If anyone needs a free lesson on how to be a performer I would suggest watching any Youtube video of Legendary Shack Shakers. JD is an absolute madman with his taped up distortion filled microphone and all around stage presence. Their set seemed to go on forever even though it was about average length probably because of his commanding interaction with the crowd. A surprising twist to the Shack Shakers, if you like trivia, is guitarist Duane Denison used to play for The Jesus Lizard. If you are going to spend your hard earned cash on a real show and you want your moneys worth, GO SEE LEGENDARY SHACK SHAKERS!!! Photos of the Shack Shakers set can be viewed HERE

There isn’t much to say about Split Lip Rayfield that myself or other reviewers haven‘t said before. These three are amazing technical performers as well as a great cohesive on stage. I am sorry that I never got to see SLR with Kirk Rundstrom (former guitarist). This show was the end of a tour for the trio for a few days and they were to get a much needed break. The face and stage actions of Wayne Gottstine (mandolin) said it all. I did hear some people in the crowd say that they noticed him watching the game on one of the tv’s in the back while he was playing. Whether it’s true or not, Wayne plays the mandolin so effortlessly it may have been hard to tell what he was looking at. I was very happy to hear two new songs again that made it onto the set list for the evening one of which is titled “I Used To Know Your Wife”. I am told by reputable sources that this track has plans of making it on the new album stated for release in 2012. Split Lip Rayfield photos