How I Miss Thee, Beast and Goodbye Ohio…

•11/21/2009 • 1 Comment

As I mentioned in my previous post, there are three bands responsible for my obsession with Akron music.  I wrote about Trouble Books in that one…this one is dedicated to two bands that are no longer with us: Goodbye Ohio and Beast.

Sometime in early October, 2005, my friend Vita told me about a free show at the Pain Hate Pain tattoo shop in Highland Square.  The show featured Matt & Kim (yes, that Matt & Kim…years before you could hear their music in Bacardi commercials), Goodbye Ohio and a group of Firestone students going by the name of There Be Dragons.  I arrived just in time to hear the last thirty seconds of Goodbye Ohio’s final song of the set, “A Page Over the Line”…and that was all I needed.  Immediately after they tore down their gear, I approached frontman Scott Hartlaub and asked “Do you guys have a CD I can buy?”  To which he replied, “Hell yeah, buddy!”  and then proceeded to tell me about the house show they would be playing in a few days at the Diamond Shiners’ House.  This was when I realized that there was good music in Akron.  For the next two years, I made it a point to catch Goodbye Ohio every time they played (sure, I missed a few here and there, but it’s the thought that counts…).  Unfortunately, after two EPs, a few scattered non-album tracks and a cut on Audio Eagle’s A Compilation of Bands from Ohio, Goodbye Ohio called it quits.  Scott has given up guitar in favor of the banjo (I have still yet to see his new project, Bad Steel), his brother, drummer Mick Hartlaub, has relocated to Cleveland and bassman Ian Marshall now runs a recording studio.

But, I place my obsession solely on the shoulders of this band (not to mention the fact that I would meet one of my best friends [Kate] because of her finding me on their MySpace page…so, thanks for that as well, fellas).

A few weeks after my first Goodbye Ohio show, me and Kate went to a Halloween house show which featured the debut of Beast, a supergroup of sorts featuring Goodbye Ohio’s Mick on guitar, Matt Haas (Good Morning Valentine) on bass, Houseguest drummer Steve Clements on keys and Adam Goldman on drums (and, at the time, a singer who you could never hear…after a month or so, they decided to be purely instrumental).  I was blown away.  I’m not into metal (with the exceptions of Slayer, Maiden and maybe a few others)…but I sure as hell was into Beast.  I don’t even know if you can call Beast metal…but, they were heavy as all hell and rocked the shit out of everyone who has ever been to one of their shows.  I found it impossible to watch Beast from anywhere other than directly in front of one of their ginormous amps at the front of the stage (this, along with 12 years of playing drums are directly responsible for my shitty hearing).  But, like Goodbye Ohio, Beast was too good to last.  they played their last show at the beginning of 2008 at Thursdays.  But, I always take comfort in the fact that I was there for their first and last shows (as well as the majority of those in between).  As mentioned above, Scott has sworn off guitar; Matt is currently in Dunes featuring Hell’s Information’s Brad Thorla and my buddy Vita; Steve is still with Houseguest and more recently, Drummer (featuring the Black Keys’ Pat Carney and other Akron drummers [hence the name]); and, last I heard, Adam relocated to Europe.

And since these two bands are no longer with us (and most of their stuff is out of print)…here’s everything I have by Goodbye Ohio and Beast’s 2007 release, Power Animal.

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Trouble Books

•11/21/2009 • Leave a Comment

I have to say, I am a bit disappointed that I did not get the opportunity to write about Trouble Books for this blog.  They have always been one of my favorite Akron bands (and faves in general).  In fact, they (along with Beast and Goodbye Ohio) are the reason that I became obsessed with Akron music four years ago.  Equal parts twee, pop and noise, they are always a band that I turn to when I need cheering up (or if I’d like to remain un-cheerful).  And they are an amazing sleep aid.  But, they haven’t performed at all in the last few months, so I haven’t had a show to write about.

Fortunately, they have been hard at work on their next release, Zero Annihilation, which the band describes as a “sort of a sleepy, shitty Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark tribute recorded in the morning in a dilapidated Frank Lloyd Wright imitation prairie house. Kind of like that My Bloody Valentine cover of the Louis Armstrong song. Or ‘Caramel Prisoner’ by Air all goofed up.”

Millions of people have come and gone in Trouble Books (ok…a slight exaggeration.  But there has been a lot of members), but it appears the band is now down to two: Keith Freund (the only constant member) and Linda (I have never known her last name).  And in honor of their upcoming release, I took the liberty of uploading some of their stuff so you can get better acquainted with them…check it out.

Hey…whadya know?  I got to write about Trouble Books after all.

Unit 5

•11/21/2009 • Leave a Comment

Earlier this week, I finally found the time to convert my vinyl copy of Akron’s Unit 5’s lone album, Scared of the Dark.  Released in 1981 on Nick Nicholis’ Clone Records, the album is an overlooked pop masterpiece (they sound a bit like Blondie, only better [in my opinion]).  I wish I could tell you more about it, but I cannot find any information on it anywhere (I couldn’t even find a picture of the album cover to post with this blog!).  But, I can tell you, it’s definitely worth 40 minutes of your time…so, I have uploaded the full album for your listening pleasure.

01. “No Ones Girl”

02. “Big Kids”

03. “Mental State”

04. “Ready”

05. “Decisions”

06. “Like Lovers Feel”

07. “Go Ahead and Kiss Her”

08. “Fickle Hearts”

09. Gracefully and Ladylike”

10. “Lucky Charms”

11. “Believe It”

12. “Scared of the Dark”

NEW TIN HUEY!!!

•11/21/2009 • Leave a Comment

This Tuesday saw thew release of Tin Huey’s long-awaited collection of live tracks and rarities, Before Obscurity: The Bushflow Tapes. Recorded at various times between 1973 and 1979, the album does a splendid job of capturing the Hueys at their wild, pre-major label peak. The album features artwork by Richfield native Derf (My Friend Dahmer, The City) and liner notes written by legendary music critic (and notorious asshole/one of my idols) Robert Christgau.

In addition to unreleased gems like “Right Now/Betty White” and “Jazz Tune,” the album is loaded with live performances from Kent’s JB’s and Akron’s legendary venue The Bank.  Also included is an amazing live cut of “The Comb,” from the Waitresses first-ever live performance (at the time, The Waitresses was the Hueys + Patty Donahue), as well as a version of “Heat Night,” which would be re-recorded for The Waitresses’ 1982 album, Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful; “Ice Nine Hop,” a song about Akron’s infamous “Blizzard of ’78;” three tracks from Ralph Carney’s “Carney and Friends” (including a version of “Closet Bears,” a track from 1999’s Disinformation); a live cover of the Stooges’ classic, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” (I have waited years to hear the Huey’s version of this…it did not disappoint.  In fact, I think I may even prefer their version over this one); and 4 songs from (what I believe is) Tin Huey’s first performance in 1973.

Now, I would gladly upload the entire album if I didn’t feel you should go out and actually buy it.  After all, Tin Huey deserves your money!  So, give it to them!

(but…I couldn’t resist giving you a small taste)

Tin Huey – The Comb

Tin Huey – Ice Nine Hop

Tin Huey – I Wanna Be Your Dog

Drummer – Feel Good Together

•11/20/2009 • Leave a Comment

Great video from Akron’s Drummer…

StoneStock 2009: Firestone High School, 11/06/09

•11/18/2009 • Leave a Comment

Well…I have been putting off writing about this for long enough.  “Why?” You ask?  Simple: I thought the whole experience was terrible.  And I really did not want to come off sounding like an asshole (and I fear I still will).  But, I guess it’s okay to occasionally be an asshole whilst writing about music.

I won’t be too hard on the high school bands that played.  None of them were great…but, neither are 99% of bands with high school-aged kids in them (including my many, many terrible bands from 9-12 years ago).  But, they did all have talent and with a couple more years under their belts, they’ll be just fine.  And besides, the point of playing in bands in high school is to hone your craft and to simply have fun…not to impress mid-twenties music nerds like myself.

There was an accident on Route 8 South that evening which caused me to arrive a few minutes late.  So, as I walked into the front atrium of Firestone High, I was only able to hear the last 15 seconds of the first band’s set (I have no idea what they were called…but, they sounded like some generic metal that one might hear on 106.9…aka not exactly my cup o’ tea).  As I started searching for a seat, I began to feel a bit strange…almost creepy.  I felt I really had no business being in an auditorium filled with annoying high school kids.  And, yes,  quite a few of them annoyed the piss out of me  (jeez…I sound like a cranky old man).  Especially the ones that felt it necessary to leap from row to row, nearly kicking me in the face each time.

After ten minutes, the lights went back down and the next act was introduced.  Her name was Katie Jenner and it was pretty apparent that she loves Bob Dylan (which is good…everyone should love Bob Dylan).  She had some good songs, but she needs to find her own voice (she literally sounded like Dylan if he were a 15-year-old girl).  One day she will, though…so, I’ll stop being a jerk.

Next up was The Granite Union, a band that was composed entirely of what looked like freshmen.  They weren’t too bad.  They’re definitely all going through their long-haired, “I worship Zeppelin and Floyd” phase (something every teenage boy who plays an instrument must go through), so I was able to get into them a little bit.  They even threw in a cover of The Black Keys’ 2006 hit, “Your Touch.”  I think they’re recording right now and it should be good enough to warrant a listen.

Now, I enjoyed The Granite Union mostly because they reminded me of being 14 and the music I liked to play at the time.  But, the next band, Powerization (I think that’s what they were called…they were not given a proper intro by the emcee) reminded me of the music I like to play/listen to now.  The duo (guitar/vocals and drums) had everything I love: noodly, effects-laden guitars, clever lyrics, lots of energy and stage presence and tight, bass-drum heavy drums (plus, I’ve always been a sucker for 2-man bands…long before the White Stripes and Black Keys hit the scene).  Actually, they were kinda great…I thoroughly enjoyed them, in fact.

That was it for the high school bands.  But, the next two acts were just atrocious, so I’m not gonna spend much time on them at all.

The Kristoffer Carter Show sounded waaaay too much like the Goo Goo Dolls or some other mid-nineties alternapop band for me to even care.  Plus, they gave me a migraine…so, we’ll move on.

As if the Kristoffer Carter Show wasn’t bad enough, the next act, Akron’s Willy Cleary, turned out to be a Christian singer (which, don’t get me wrong, is fine if that’s your thing…I have nothing against Christianity [well, I do…but, we won’t get into that here].  But, Christian rock [in my opinion] is one of the most awful things ever invented).  I suspected this as soon as he and his band took the stage – and these suspicions were soon confirmed when Cleary told the crowd that they could hear him on 95.5 The Fish (which begs the question: does this constitute a violation of church and state on Firestone’s behalf?).  Their set did provide perhaps the most comical event of the night, however: three dozen hyper Firestone students throwing up the devil’s horns for Cleary’s “heaviest” song  (I don’t think they realized that he was a Christian artist).  This seemed to make Cleary a bit uncomfortable…and I got a kick out of that, at least.

But, honestly, none of this mattered.  I wasn’t there to watch high school bands or to have the Good Book shoved down my throat – I was there for two reasons: The Bizarros and Three Hueys and a Houseguest (Tin Huey’s Harvey Gold, Michael Aylward and Stuart Austin with Houseguest’s Dave Rich).  And, at long last, it was that time.

The Bizarros stuck mostly with material from 2003’s Can’t Fight Your Way Up Town From Here. However, they would close their 5-song set with “Laser Boys” from their 1979 Mercury release Bizarros LP.  And, yes, I’ll say it: they look a bit old now and some of the energy from back in the day is gone (frontman Nick Nicholis remained stationary for the majority of the set).  But, they still sound amazing and it was well worth the wait for me to finally see them (even if they didn’t play “Without Reason”).

Three Hueys and a Houseguest would take the stage next.   And it pains me to say it, but without Ralph Carney there, it just wasn’t the same.  I need crazy horns with my Tin Huey, dammit!  Plus, I didn’t recognize any of the songs (I think it was mostly material from 1999’s Disinformation, which I have never owned and, therefore, am not too familiar with).  But, they did bring out Nick Nicholis for their final song of the evening, a cover of the Velvet Underground classic “I’m Waiting for the Man (I’ve always thought Nick Nicholis sounds a lot like Lou Reed, so this was fitting).  Ahh, a song about scoring heroin in front of a bunch of high school kids…this is why I love Tin Huey.

By this point, I had been sitting in the auditorium for nearly four hours and I needed to get out of there.  There was still another band or two left (including Dave Rich’s Paper Tigers, who, in hindsight, I should have stuck around for)…but, I had to get out there.  It was nice to finally see the Bizarros – and I got to do that – so, I felt it was time to go home and drive out the awful sounds left in my head by The Kristoffer Carter Show and Willy Cleary with some Slayer…that made it all better.

The Numbers Band: Northside, 11/15/09

•11/17/2009 • Leave a Comment

Due to a lack of money and the fact that I had to study for Monday’s Comm Tech & Change test, I was unable to attend Sunday night’s Numbers Band show at the Northside.  Boo!