Author: Austin Rich

Beef Kitchen – Evil Wizard Finger (Review)

The problem with Beef Kitchen is that I’m totally onto their game.  Their debut release is a CD, a single, 22 minute release titled “guided meditation.”  But what follows on the disc are a number of performances, many of which are drenched in effected guitar, accompanied by voice and drums, and presented as mysteriously as you can in this digital age.  In fact, I received a message saying that the album was available at Guitar Castle, and it was only in the time since that a digital version grudgingly appeared on Bandcamp. (beefkitchen.bandcamp.com).  Billing themselves as “desert psychedelia,” they mine equal parts Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd, the noise rock sound of the early 2000’s, and Spaceman 3’s Taking Drugs to Make Music To Take Drugs To.   But the catch is, they are trying to mask their chops in all the mystery and weirdness, and for that, I need to call them out.  “Had a friend and he was a wolfman,” they sing out, and in that “song” you can not only hear the guitarwork at its best, but the effects are spare enough to reveal how good these guys are.  The lyrics, while tongue in cheek and delivered as such, are actually getting at something at times, as if to make it appear as if any brilliance were an accident.  Near the end of “guided meditation,” there...

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April Fool’s Showdown #1: Summer Eyes, Black Delaney, and Hot Sheets @ The Fifty

I am a sucker for old-fashioned rock and roll bars, and the Fifty Pub n’ Grub fits that perfectly here in Salem.  This place hosts consistently great rock shows fairly often, and it is safe to say that if there’s a show happening there, you’ll enjoy it, no questions asked.  The inexpensive drinks and the typical barroom hijinx is the perfect ambience for loud rock music, and this show is going to be the soiree of the Spring.   Summer Eyes have that perfectly poppy seasonal sound that straddles many genres and manages to neatly carve out some territory...

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Purgatopia Filming Party • Friday, 3/31 @ The Space

The Space is knocking it out the park with their shows as of late, and Friday night’s has become something quite special in those hallowed halls.  To close out March, they are offering an old-fashioned rock and roll show, the likes of which covers so much ground that it is hard to contain everything in one venue.  The line-up is, as usual, quite fantastic.  Seattle glam combo Trannysaurus Rox is going to be delivering the perfect blend of New York Dolls and Hedwig & The Angry Inch, putting their trans lifestyle front and center in name, song and performance....

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April Fool’s Showdown #2: The Fools, Face Transplant, and Night Lizard @ The Space

Now, supposing you are more interested in something a little heavier, The Space has an incredible evening of old-fashioned psyche-rock that is guaranteed to blow the doors off your van.  The Fools are, without a doubt, picking up the torch lit by Blue Cheer and Sabbath, and are picking it up by way of Witchcraft and other modern stoner rock ancestors.  But The Fools seem to keep their bluesy, late ‘60’s roots in sharp relief, and are well worth seeing in their full head-bangin’ glory.  I’ve never seen nor heard Falcon, so I cannot speak to their virtues, but...

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Rock Shows Into the Stratosphere

Eagle-eyed Salem residents may have noticed that we’ve had a couple of shows that stuck out in the usual listings you’ll find in the area, and with good reason.  “Salem isn’t getting cool; it’s always been that way,” said Kati Geisler when I asked her about the DOA show last May, and the Agent Orange gig in November.  To someone who is still getting their bearings, they seem out of place compared to the usual Rock ‘n’ Roll that’s happening locally.  Usually, groups like that will hit Portland or Eugene due to the guaranteed draw in those places, skipping...

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This Must Be Thursday: Child P.M., Derek Johnson Love & Vortex Remover @ The Fifty Pub & Grub 9 February 2017

The adage about how difficult it is to draw a crowd on a weeknight might be well-worn at this stage, but over at the Fifty Pub & Grub, a small gathering of locals poured out to support live music on a Thursday night, in spite of rain, indifference, miniaturized computers in our pockets to distract us, and all other other reasons often given why we stay at home and watch Rockford Files reruns instead.   Over the river and through the difficult-to-navigate roads is a tiny Rock ‘n’ Roll Bar that is so welcoming that I was being hugged and treated to liquor within minutes of walking in the door.  The vibe reminded me of a hundred other bars and clubs I’ve been to, but there was a genuine friendliness that immediately won me over, and that is no small thing in this world of bitterness and mistrust.  The Fifty certainly wins out in that the prices are cheap, the food is fried, there’s gambling the the back, and as often as possible, music.   Up first were local heroes Vortex Remover, hot on the buzz of their jam-packed album release party that was standing room only, according to all reports.  Having pulled out all the stops for that performance, Rob debuted some new home-made percussive instruments build around a shovel and a pool cue for this show (to...

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Vortex Remover CD Release. Saturday, February 4th at 6:00pm at The Space

We would be remiss not to recommend this blowout of a show that is happening at The Space February 4th at 6 PM.  Not only is the Vortex Remover’s Album Release Party for their forthcoming Rawkward Phase – a release that is two and half years in the making – but this is going to be a crazy lineup of great local rock bands, with a touring group on the bill for good measure.  MARC & the Horsejerks, Summer Eyes, Saucy Yoda, Bullets or Balloons, City of Pieces and Hank porch with all all be playing, and will be...

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Mexican Gunfight Saturday, February 4th at 9:00pm at Governor’s Cup

Also happening this Saturday, February 4th is a rare appearance by Mexican Gunfight.  This Portland combo mines rock conventions and three chord structures to stake out new territory with songs that speak to a the heartfelt songs they often belt out.  Combining soaring solos, a Latin/jazz backbone to the songwriting, a driving piano and introspective lyrics that strive to tackle more than Person-Falls-In-Love ideas, Mexican Gunfight is perfect for anyone who might feel like they want to hang with a slightly older crowd on a Saturday night. Certainly, Mexican Gunfight might be courting a different demographic than a lot of...

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Center Mass String Quartet. Friday, February 10th at 9:00pm at Taproot.

Instrumentation speaks volumes about your group, and for some, the sounds of acoustic instruments is as – or more so – compelling than anything a rock combo can offer.  With that in mind, Taproot is hosting The Center Mass String Quartet, where the group is playing with The Jack Maybe Project.  Perhaps I spoke too soon by prefacing their sound with the word “acoustic,” because in their own words, The Center Mass String Quartet is “Folk-punk, Punk-folk, Deathgrass Acoustic,” and when you hear them wind-up at a pretty good clip and deliver songs like, “Blackbird” – as political a...

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The City Within a City

There are still a number of neighborhoods that are completely new to me.  I catch sight of the place The Ventures played, or the childhood home of Herbert Hoover, and I’m fascinated.  That fountain sculpture in front of the Capitol Building?  A hundred times more interesting than that gold statue.  Even The Carousel – a landmark that is known to most people outside of Salem – even that holds quite a bit of charm to this outsider’s heart.  I didn’t grow up in Salem.  But in the two years that I’ve lived here, I find something new to love...

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Bicameral Ammunition

Playing as part of the insane Vortex Remover Album Release party at The Space with Hank Porche, M.A.R.C. & the Horsejerks, Saucy Yoda, Summer Eyes, and City of Pieces on February 4th are Olympia Washington’s Bullets or Balloons, an almost DIY punk take on the prog aesthetic. The noise made on Binary Minds will be celebrated at their own  release party on January 27th, and will kick start a small tour that will take them to Eugene and back.   Since 2012 Bullets or Balloons have mastered a three-piece sound all their own, where complicated parts and smirky, moebius strip style lyrics snake around politically minded thoughts and abstract wordscapes without having to say too very much about anything specific. They are almost the heir to the throne of Schlong, save for their tendency toward original material and a prog over punk mission statement.   Certainly, the musicianship and production take center stage on Binary Minds, evoking a Don Caballero sensibility with songs that are never more than 2 minutes long.  “A walking fountain of opinions / knee-jerk reactions and decisions / who really needs more time / or additional information.”  Even the delivery sort of circles the drain of what might count as a joke, while being entirely serious, too.  (Don’t we all need to re-think the complexities of being able to say anything, anywhere, at any time?)...

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Dream Machines: John & Exene

The Salem music scene is a rather overgrown family tree, and the connections run pretty wide and pretty deep.  This point is brought into focus as we all filed into Tim Knight’s reopened Guitar Castle, a music store fixture that is well known and well loved among musicians and up-and-coming strummers alike.  Tim’s connections to Salem run deep – he and Kit opened Ranch together back in the day.  So it’s no wonder that for a kick-off party, he’d book some pretty incredible guests.   The fact that it was John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X is not only impressive, but illustrative of just how connected Tim is. There is something to be said for “in-store” performances, and in stripped down situations where performers are grabbing an acoustic guitar to belt out some songs… let’s just say it can be disastrous in the wrong hands.  It’s one thing to be on a stage with a full band backing you, monitors blasting your face off, several hundred people in front of you screaming and getting you pumped up.  Of course you’re ready to destroy.  But it can fall short in intimate environments.  Sometimes, it just can’t translate. Unless you happen to be, you know, Exene Cervenka & John Doe, who have been playing shows like this as often as the big gigs every chance they get.  John has an...

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There’s a Secret devilsclub in Salem

Lurking around the edges of the Salem music scene lies “devilsclub”, a project by longtime local musician, “horridus oplopanax”, who has anonymously been producing experimental electronic soundscapes right here in the Mid-Valley. It hasn’t always been in this form, though. At age five Horridus began learning to play on a candy apple red 1957 Fender Duo-Sonic guitar, taking lessons from a jazz player, and accumulating other instruments as he got older.  “I ended up a bass guitar player for about 21 years. I played sessions and recorded records and toured in that capacity for a while,” horridus said, and...

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Solos & Psychodrama: Keep on rockin’ in the Dusk world.

There is something lurking beneath the pretty harmonies and soaring guitar work on ReAwakening, something you can glimpse when you stare into the album’s cover, a monochromatic presentation of what appears to be four or five different landscapes arranged around a misty hilltop, upon which hooded figures, trees and tombstones dance around each other as clouds and fog perform a sort of Shakespearean framing of this eerie moment.  It’s the perfect image for the prog rock within, where epic riffs and precise piano work meet in the Venn Diagram that is Dusks Embrace.    With nearly a year of band history per track on this year’s release, it is hard to tell the full story of this record by simply name-checking Queensrÿche or Opeth, regardless of how apt that might be.  You could go on about Josh Brewer’s guitar playing, which ranges from the blackest of death metal, through the indiest of rock, on to the most competent Eric Johnson soloing (and, at times, is even loungy, where the piano and guitar paint a cocktail bar atmosphere during “Psychastenia”).  But even that is only part of the story.  The rhythm section of this group is certainly a boon, as both Myke and Liam are a rock-solid unit, that can follow the band through any genre-bending, tempo-changing place the story happens to be taking us. Classical guitar references might intermingle...

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Lounging In The Box: All Ages Dance Party (17 November 2016)

If there’s fifty kids crammed into a small place who all look like they’re having a blast, then it’s probably worth poking your head in to see what might warrant the hubbub, even if the event is called “Jammin’ with Grandma.” The Ike Box has had its history with shows in the past, and might have once carried a waft of un-cool as an all-ages joint. Several people commented, “Wait, they still put on shows?” But none of the kids there Thursday were worried about any of that, or even that it was a Thursday night. The entire place was wrapped in a warm fuzzy blanket of ‘90’s fashion and accessories, though these kids have no first-hand experience of the era.  Still, they danced in a way that evoked a popular meme that escapes this author’s generation at the moment. DoggyDogWorld, as if part of the trope, pumped out a mélange of mellow and somewhat tame rap rock between cover songs and checking their phones. Their frontman – a younger and less stoned looking Zach Galifianakis – rhymed his way through the set charismatically, while their bass player seemed to be borrowing equally form Jane’s Addiction’s basslines and wardrobe. Even still, the crowd was energetic, both on and off the stage, and while this was certainly some awkward dancing at times, you could never say that they weren’t having fun....

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