The Capital Land Crate Digger: Radiator Hospital’s “Torch Song” (2014)

June 8th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg

Review and photograph by Ross Marvin

The Capital Land Crate Digger brings you reviews of vinyl obscurities found for $10 or under at Capital District record stores, thrift shops, garage sales and junk emporiums. The vinyl archeologist behind this column is Ross Marvin, an English teacher and music enthusiast who lives in Saratoga County. Ross has over 1,000 pieces of vinyl, is running out of shelf room, and can be found getting his fingers dirty in a box of records near you.

Radiator Hospital: Torch SongALBUM: Torch Song
ARTIST: Radiator Hospital
LABEL: Salinas Records
YEAR: 2014
PURCHASED: Rocket Number 9 Records, Kingston
PAID: $10
DATE: April, 2015

Try to remember a perfect, exuberant night.

Stumbling over a pile of beer cans that clutter your porch, you tumble out the back door of a nearly dead house — the type of dilapidated place you know you will never live five years from now. Behind you are your best friends. Guys and girls — none coupled, but all in love. You amble down the street to the bar with the best trivia and the cheap pitchers. A good jukebox means more Clash and less country. Someone at the table has an idea for a magazine. The person next to you is starting a punk band. The art student wants to paint the bass drum. Films, books and music all get discussed — the things that High Fidelity’s Rob Gordon taught all of you to appreciate.

And then you enter back into the night, taking the shortcut home across the college campus in town. Careless, you stop to roll in the giant leaf piles left behind by someone with more responsibilities than you. You wrestle with the girl you love, laughing joyously. Victorious in stealing a kiss, you take in the smell of her fresh, powdered cheeks while warming your cold nose with her human heat.

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LIVE: The Feelies @ BSP Lounge, 4/24/15

April 29th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg
Glenn Mercer and Stan Demeski

Glenn Mercer and Stan Demeski

Review by Ross Marvin
Photographs by Kirsten Ferguson

There’s this stereotype of music nerds that we horde away our favorite music, arrogantly holding the knowledge of secret unknown bands over the unenlightened, the ignorant, the square. I’ll confess to the fact that I probably am a rock snob, but I’m not a selfish snob. One of my great joys is sharing the music I love with as many people as possible. And while the art of the mix tape may be beyond its half-life here in 2015, introducing my friends to a fantastic live band like the Feelies is always an exercise in altruistic pleasure.

This time, my old college roommates met me at the BSP Lounge in Kingston, driving up from Brooklyn for the sold-out show. Neither of them had heard of the Feelies, and when they asked me what to expect, I simply told them to trust me — it would be the best $20 show they would see all year.

They looked at me cross-eyed when the band took the stage. There was lead guitarist Glenn Mercer with his long skinny face and Dylan shades; rhythm guitarist Bill Million in his pleated khakis; bassist Brenda Sauter with her muted “thank you” at the microphone; and percussionists Stanley Demeski and Dave Weckerman, looking more like they were heading to the university chemistry lab than the stage. It was hard for my buddies to figure out what they were in for. They started downing the $3 PBR cans at an alarming rate. I’d dragged these guys to some pretty strange scenes before, nights where I take in strange avant-garde sounds while they awkwardly count minutes until the after-party and self-medicate until they get there.

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LIVE: The Fleshtones @ the River Street Pub, 3/8/15

March 12th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg
Peter Zarema of the Fleshtones

Peter Zarema of the Fleshtones

Review by Ross Marvin
Photographs by Ed Conway

The unfettered, unfiltered cool of the Fleshtones

Here’s an America that’s nearly impossible to imagine: Andy Warhol has a TV show on MTV. On the show is a garage revival band called the Fleshtones. They play a sinewy, melodic dirge and their young, statuesque singer Peter Zaremba flips his long bangs across his forehead as he taps a tambourine. Then, in the foreground of your not-so-flat TV set, appears a pre-Gandalf, pre-Magneto, but no less magnetic Sir Ian McKellan. He starts reciting a Shakespearian sonnet. No, I’m not having a bad trip. Here’s the proof, just one click away in YouTube land.

Hard to believe, right? MTV, and not a pregnant teenager in sight.

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The Capital Land Crate Digger: “Bluegrass” (1964)

November 10th, 2014, 2:00 pm by Greg

Red Allen, Frank Wakefield and the Kentuckians: Bluegrass
Review and photograph by Ross Marvin

The Capital Land Crate Digger brings you reviews of vinyl obscurities found for $10 or under at Capital District record stores, thrift shops, garage sales, and junk emporiums. The vinyl archeologist behind this column is Ross Marvin, an English teacher and music enthusiast who lives in Saratoga County. Ross has over 1,000 pieces of vinyl, is running out of shelf room, and can be found getting his fingers dirty in a box of records near you.

ALBUM: Bluegrass
ARTIST: Red Allen, Frank Wakefield and the Kentuckians
LABEL: Folkways
YEAR: 1964
PURCHASED: Rock n Roll Expo, Albany Marriott
PAID: $10
DATE: October 19, 2014

Well, it’s that flannel shirt time of year. The smell of burning leaves, the drop in temperature, and the death of garage sales makes me question my vinyl sickness: Do I stay in my warm bed, or try to make one last score before the good hunting season comes to a close? Though the thought of a thick newspaper and a home-scrambled breakfast was tempting, I dragged my ass out of bed a couple of Sunday’s ago and made the trek to the sterile conference room of the Albany Marriott for another fine rendition Felix Iavarone’s biannual Rock N Roll Expo.

Record fairs are the ugly step-children of record commerce. Less hip than an independent record store (because they aren’t located in an urbane downtown), and a lot better than a garage sale gamble, the Marriott conference room setting of the Rock Expo looked a lot like the floor of some throwback casino where almost everyone has a wild look in their eye, a shared addiction, and the uneasy feeling that a heavy wallet will quickly be made light if you find a lucky table. Gotta love what I overheard, while digging around my fellow crazies. Said one octogenarian with a horrendous come-over to a dealer: “But, what have ya got as far as polka 45s? Here, I got a list. I mean I gotta find this record, man. Even if you find it someday and want to keep it, you could at least make me a CD.” I don’t even think the dealer had ANY polka, but the guy kept yelling at him about some world-forgotten 19th Century dance music. At least I don’t collect polka 45s, I thought. That makes me less of a nerd. Affirmation! Right…

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LIVE: Tweedy @ the Calvin Theatre, 9/27/14

October 2nd, 2014, 2:00 pm by Greg

Review by Ross Marvin

Sure, there’s a certain gimmick to forming a band with your kid. This was true of Shirley Patridge and Keith. It was true of Frank Zappa and Moon Unit. It is true of Jeff and Spencer Tweedy. No coincidence, maybe, that critics of Tweedy and Wilco have consistently labeled the Chicago band as the poster boys of Dad Rock — a mysteriously less cool, grayer shade of hipster rock that comes with a side of perplexing lyrical poetry, experimental bleeps, microbrews and vegan food trucks.

While anyone who has attended the quasi-annual Solid Sound Festival that Wilco hosted from 2010 to 2013 at MASS MoCA (and coming again in June, 2015) sees the truth in my depiction above, fans who scratch a little deeper know how shallow it is to think such a description adequately sums up Jeff Tweedy’s now immense and incontrovertibly impressive songwriting catalog.

Last Saturday night at Northampton’s Calvin Theatre, the band was “Tweedy” in name only. This was a Jeff Tweedy show, one that captured the broad swath of his career from alt-country founder in Uncle Tupelo, to the many stages of Wilco (which go something like Americana, lush-pop, experimental pop, indie supergroup), to his strong new material, in which his 18-year-old son plays the role of musical foil and unquestioning acolyte.

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The Capital Land Crate Digger: “Out After Dark” (1979)

September 23rd, 2014, 12:00 pm by Greg

Roy Loney: Out After Dark

Review and photograph by Ross Marvin

The Capital Land Crate Digger brings you reviews of vinyl obscurities found for $10 or under at Capital District record stores, thrift shops, garage sales and junk emporiums. The vinyl archeologist behind this column is Ross Marvin, an English teacher and music enthusiast who lives in Saratoga County. Ross has over 1,000 pieces of vinyl, is running out of shelf room, and can be found getting his fingers dirty in a box of records near you.

ALBUM: Out After Dark
ARTIST: Roy Loney & the Phantom Movers
LABEL: Solid Smoke
YEAR: 1979
PURCHASED: Last Vestige Music Shop, Albany, NY
PRICE: $6.99
DATE: August 30, 2014

Here’s a little story that sums up the Capital Land record store scene. At the end of July I had my annual record garage sale in Clifton Park and despite ridding myself of several tons of tunes (making my wife immeasurably happy), I was still left with some quality merchandise. Like most serious record collectors, I deal to pay for the habit. So, I took a stack of wax to Troy’s Citizen-of-the-Year Jimmy Barrett down at the River Street Beat Shop in Troy. The always fair Barrett gave me some credit at the store, and before you know it I was pulling out more records than I expected. I felt a heady rush when I came across an extremely clean promo 12” single of legendary Flamin’ Groovies frontman Roy Loney doing the Elvis hit “Return to Sender”.

Norton Records co-founder Miriam Linna probably said it best about the Groovies that they were the American Rolling Stones, raised on Sun Records rather than Chess. It’s a fitting description of the Groovies early records like “Teenage Head” and “Flamingo” that sound more ’50s rock and rockabilly informed than blues derived. When Loney left the band in the early ’70s, he became a record clerk in San Francisco, but never exactly stopped recording, making several records on the Solid Smoke and War Bride labels as Roy Loney & the Phantom Movers. The Phantom Movers may well have been called the Phantom Groovies as they included original Groovy drummer Danny Mihm, and sometimes-Groovy lead guitar player James Ferrell. The group was rounded out by Maurice Tani on bass, and Nick Buck on keyboards, with Loney belting out snarling lead vocals and acoustic rhythm guitar.

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LIVE: Wussy @ the Low Beat, 7/24/14

July 29th, 2014, 4:00 pm by Greg
Wussy (photo by Ross Marvin)

Wussy (photo by Ross Marvin)

Review by Ross Marvin
Photographs by Ross Marvin, Al Goldberg and Kirsten Ferguson

As great as it was, the music was almost beside the point at the Wussy show on Thursday night at the Low Beat. Four members of the critically-beloved Cincinnati band were given tickets for marijuana possession before they could even get out of Ohio, and Johnny Law absconded with their entire stash. Not a great way to start a tour, though it sounds like it could make a pretty good Wussy song. Something about how driving a shitty tour van draws the attention of the cops, but Willie Nelson’s deluxe ride cruses right past the sirens, even though that bust would be a sure thing.

It was 11:30pm by the time Wussy got to Albany, and the crowd at the Low Beat ran out to their van to grab amps, guitar pedals and merch boxes to help expedite the set-up. One fan even lent her handwriting talents to the band, helping to copy the setlist. By 11:49pm, the band hit the stage, forgot about such petty things as a sound-check, took a shot of tequila in honor of National Tequila Day, and dug-in to one of the most incendiary performances that will grace Captial Region stages this year.

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LIVE: The Baseball Project @ Club Helsinki, 7/23/14

July 28th, 2014, 4:00 pm by Greg

The Baseball Project @ Club Helsinki, 7/23/14

Review and photograph by Ross Marvin

By the time the Baseball Project roared into Hudson on Wednesday, they had played more than a double-header, appearing on “The Dan Patrick Show” and later on WAMC-FM (lunch was apparently quinoa burgers at Howard Glassman’s the Low Beat) before cruising south to Club Helsinki.

Despite the long day, the veteran rockers played with the spirit of newly signed bonus babies. Keyboardist Josh Kantor (who is also the official organist of the Boston Red Sox) threw the first pitch with some tasty ballpark sounds on his B3, and the band – Scott McCaughey (guitar/vocals), Steve Wynn (guitar/vocals), Mike Mills (bass/vocals) and Linda Pitmon (drums) – took the stage like the home team in the top of the first (OK, OK, enough of the baseball puns, but I could go all night).

For anyone who doesn’t know, this indie supergroup has released three albums of story songs about America’s pastime. From the obscure (Doc Ellis’ ejection for hitting three Cincinnati Reds in a row) to the infamous (A-Rod and Pete Rose), the band is a dream come true for those true blue-blooded Americans who love their baseball with a side dish of power pop.

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