by: Kidman J. Williams
Band: Blue Fruit Snacks
Album: No Artificial Flavors
Take me to the beach with a nice bonfire, surfboard, and Blue Fruit Snacks, not the food, the band. This Island Rock band hails from landlocked St. Louis, MO, but don’t let the location fool you, they bring a beach paradise right into the heartland.
The band brings a unique stripped down sound with the very talented Ahna Schoenhoff on lead vocals that will take you back with a Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon) and Janis Joplin kind of an approach while Bongo Jak lays down the rhythm with the bongo drums. Get it? “Bongo” Jak? He also lends sounds from the tambourine, kazoos, and even pulls backing vocal duties, while Jesse Cruzen rounds out the rhythm section with his tasty bass licks.
BFS has been touring nationally now for 5+ years and has played well over 500 shows all over the US.
BFS’s album “No Artificial Flavors” is a high energy spirited race, with a sun to the horizon on a wind surfboard.
From the first few measures of the first track, “Good Pain” you are instantly hooked into the feeling of popping open a cool beer on a hot summer beach evening.
The tone of the album really doesn’t change from song to song on this album, but what it gives you is that “glad all over” feeling that you just need out of music sometimes. The song “Skinny Corn” is no different.
Despite the somewhat dismal lyrics it still contains a powerful message and infectious rhythm that your feet just can’t help but tap and stomp to.
The sixth track “I-YO” will leave you loving life. This song as Schoenhoff states in the beginning of the song “is a sing along.” If the catchy, simplistic sing-a-long lyrics don’t float your boat maybe the kazoo will catch your funny bone enough to hook you.
Some songs have a bit of a long intro, but that is something you should expect with a jam band. For example, “Walking with a Gun” has a two minute intro, but you almost don’t even notice it through the Spanish like chug that keeps you waiting for what’s next.
“No Artificial Flavors” is an album for all ages and all types of consumers. Much like Sublime, it doesn’t matter what genre you typically listen to, Blue Fruit Snacks brings a little something for every listener. They are just looking to show you a good time and they want you to get to the end of the album with nothing but a smile on your face.
by: Kidman J. Williams
Band: Bad Mimosas
Album: Demo Album
Bad Mimosas are…well…they are a…have you ever dealt with a person who was A.D.D.? If A.D.D is something you are born with, much like being homosexual. You are just born with it. But if a person could be virally infected with A.D.D., Bad Mimosas are the band to give it to you.
The only adjective in the Queen’s English that comes to mind while describing this band would be reprehensible.
They are an assault on the senses. Let me rephrase that. They are Germany starting war…nope. They are like Ethiopia starting a war against the rest of the world. At least Germany had a chance in WWII until the Russians thinned them out.
This New Orleans based band Bad Mimosas is comprised of guitarist Michael Colomb, Joe Dominick (drums), George Deane (bass guitar), and David Desroche (lead vocals). I understand that typically a writer would start with the vocalist in a list like this, well there is a good reason I ended it with him.
Desroche is the part of this band that allows people to immediately connect with them, but when you have a short curcuit in the wiring it causes a very negative shock to happen.
In the email I was sent a link to a live video from February 26 of this year that shows the band and Desroche as he plays with his hair, and gives his generic rockstar poses while still needing to read his own lyrics off of a music stand in his notebook, and filling his set with screeches and off key notes.
Desroche needs to spend more time on practice and professional vocal training and less time worrying about telling women he is in a band while smoking and drinking his brain cells into submission.
The tracks I was sent via a link to Bad Mimosas’ Soundcloud had six songs on it that sound like they were recorded with a cell phone in the middle of the room with a cheap recording app installed on it, but even in spite of the opprobrious recordings the idea came through just fine.
The music itself is not a bad showing of skills by a very green band. The band is proficient on their instruments, but lack the experience in recording and arrangements.
The music song to song leaves you feeling like you have heard three different songs in one track sometimes.
For example, “Down and Dirty” does this musical change at about a minute and a half that sounds like a completely different track entirely while Desroche mumbles his verse ruining the bit of vibe that the band tries to convey.
This is not a one time writing mistake. Almost all the tracks are arranged in this way leaving you like you have a bad case of A.D.D.
The fact is that Bad Mimosas have a lot of musical growing pains to go through before they think that they could ever get a record deal offered to them. They have yet to really find their own voice and sound that is unique to them. They just have to make sure that their own egos and stubborn nature that a lot of bands tend to have doesn’t get in their own way of honest growth and love for what they do.
by: Doc Jeffurious Higgason
Band: Matt Jaffe and the Distractions
Album: California’s Burning
Label: Elm City (ECI)
Occasionally I will poke my head above the surface to see what is happening out among the littered wasteland of today’s rock music scene. Mostly, I retire back unimpressed. Everything is so derivative these days it’s hard to find an original sort of blend. Good bands use their influences in the essence of ordering one from Column ‘A’, maybe two from Column ‘B’. It feels like that progressively new musicians try to be all of one column or the other.
This trip to the surface I ran into ‘California’s Burning’, the latest from celebrated independent recording artists Matt Jaffe and the Distractions. Jaffe, a young singer/songwriter/band leader/sugary lil’ cutie pie, (MATT WHY WON’T YOU RETURN MY CALLS? DON’T RUN FROM YOUR FEELINGS!) is just barely 22-years-old and has already tucked quite a career under his belt. He was originally discovered by former Talking Head keyboardist Jerry Harrison while performing at an open-mic show. Harrison became a solid catalyst in moving the young Jaffe forward. It was at Harrison’s studio in Sausalito, California where Matt Jaffe, who was still in high school recorded his first set of demo recordings. Soon after Jaffe formed ‘The Distractions’ with Alex Newell, Sammie Fischer and Alex Coltharp. They recorded a 5 song EP, ‘Blast Off’ in 2015. A majority of the release was produced by Matt King Kaufman who co-produced the classic ‘The Modern Lovers’ with Jonathon Richman in 1976. So far the band has opened for some very notable bands and singers. With ‘California’s Burning’ Jaffe and the band is stretching it’s legs with it’s first full length outing.
The album starts with ‘Love Is A Drug’ which is straight up a phone call to a time where rock was full of good old fashioned flamboyance. The song runs through fevers of The Yardbirds and the Dead Kennedys’ guitar work after they got slow. Jaffe draws most influence from bands including The Replacements and Talking Heads. Throughout the album many eras of music are called to mind. The song ‘Fire On The Freeway’ for instance, calls to mind car racing scenes from all those cheesy movies on HBO after midnight back in the 1980s. ‘Hellhounds of Alcatraz’ is another track that conjures forth cinematic themes from that same decade. Think of supernatural dogs attacking tourists who are visiting “The Rock”. FUN!
I hear many bemoan the notion that most music today is cobbled together through digital means and the result is modern songs sounding like electronic farts, bleeps and whistles. Matt Jaffe and The Distraction is 100% organic, handmade music. A principle Jaffe insists upon carrying onto the stage which has made his band one of the most exciting live YOUNG bands to check out.
On the other side of the coin, the downside to ‘California’s Burning’ seems to be the endeavor feels a bit top heavy, with just a few of the songs carrying possible wide spreading potential and attention. The good songs all appear towards the beginning and proceed in a sort of descending manner. Not to say there are bad songs, I hear underdeveloped songs. Overall, a triumph of a release full of all the familar themes from rock music over the last 30 years, back when alternative music was still called “college rock” and that’s all there was. We look forward to hearing more out of Matt Jaffe and The Distractions and will be looking to catch them out on the road somewhere out there in that vast, littered wasteland.
by: Joe Siess
Band: Jimmy Dudding
Album: The Masquerade
Label: No Label
Jimmy Dudding strikes me as a man trapped in the wrong decade. The sequins and smoke might have faded away years ago, but Dudding keeps the spirit of the 80’s lit like a blazing kerosene lamp smothered in a thick fog.
He’s got this Electric Light Orchestra meets Prince meets a cheeky south Florida soft core smut peddler thing going on. The strange, occult, mildly suggestive undertones in Dudding’s featured music video, entitled Masquerade, make for an intriguing watch. It will either curl your toenails, or make you flutter with delight depending on how you take it.
Dudding’s music is high energy. That’s for sure. His style is unmistakably reminiscent of the 1980’s, however tracks on Dudding’s new EP entitled Masquerade, such as Lady Throgmorton and Dark Circus, are strikingly modern without abandoning the signature groove that characterizes his style and sound.
The Masquerade music video, available on Youtube, according to Dudding himself, is chock full of religious and political undertones, and is essentially a covert depiction of the perversions associated with what many refer to as the American Dream, but disguised as a kind of spiritual and cultural “machine” of sorts.
In my opinion, the video is the story of a paradise lost. The protagonist of the story, a young innocent girl, is cast into a warped, twisted, perverted society in which people distort their intentions and conceal their humanity behind masks. Sounds familiar.
Dudding writes that the story portrayed in the video is of the girl’s initiation into elite society, however the religious and cultural nuances create a multifaceted experience in which the meaning of the images and symbolism in the video can be interpreted in many ways.
When it’s all said and done, the masquerade is essentially a metaphor for all of our lives whether we know it or not. Specifically life in a society and culture that is inherently corrupt and depraved. While I was reviewing Dudding’s EP, I came across some of his other stuff on Youtube and was surprised.
A track called Over My Head struck a chord as it mixed the 80’s thing with a kind of rap, or slam poetry kind of vibe which I found to be rather nice. The fusion of sounds is lovely, and it for sure rears its head on the EP as well, especially on Dark Circus, which happens to be my favorite track on the album.
Jimmy Dudding is unique in his ability to effortlessly craft music from a variety of sources and at the same time avoid diluting his distinct style. He is weird and sometimes manic, but it all makes for a lovely effect. So if you are looking for a fresh sound with an old school vibe, then I would recommend giving Jimmy Dudding a solid listen.
by: Doc Jeffurious Higgason
This March, the world lost another in a continuing series of musical legends when Chuck Berry passed away at age 90 near his hometown of St Louis, Missouri.
He was a man who contributed much to the music style that was once known simply as ‘rock and roll’. A genre which since it’s conception in the early 1950’s has grown into a multi-headed beast of sorts and still continues to perpetuate (kind of) to this day.
Berry was known for his flashy showmanship on stage with his quirky behavior and his trademark “duck walk.” Berry also had a very distinct guitar style. His style has been copied and used in many other arenas of music throughout the years. He locked it in at ‘4/4’ and taught the world about ‘backbeat’ syncopation adding elements of rhythm and blues, boogie-woogie and country-western.
You can hear echoes of Chuck Berry in music ranging from ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd’ to the ‘Sex Pistols’. It is fair to say that the rock music we know today owes a great deal to those earlier rock pioneers like Chuck Berry.
His rise to stardom was a magnificent long and bumpy one. Continue reading