Rebellious Jukebox XVIII: Fister/Norska vs Vacant Grave

IMG_20150605_154434Originally published April 2014

I should probably admit upfront that I don’t go way back with the St. Louis metal scene. I was just a hair too young for the shows at Turner’s & a hair too punk (or whatever) for the Landing. There was always metal that I liked, but I somehow never dove into that scene as hard as I dove into the punk & indie rock of the late 80’s/early 90’s that made me the man I am today (or whatever). I’ve easily seen more local metal in the past five years than the previous twenty, so, although I saw their name on flyers all the time, I never saw Vacant Grave, or even heard them until I picked up their 45 at a record show a couple years ago. It’s definitely a product of the late 80’s, & is perfect for it. The singer goes for that falsetto screech at the end of every line, & there are dive-bombing guitar solos galore. The credits list which guitarist is playing which solo, of course. The recording quality is pretty iffy, & I feel like the website I found claiming they sold 10,000 copies of this record might be exaggerating things a bit, but I’m super happy to own this, & would love to hear more of the St. Louis 80’s metal I foolishly missed out on.

Ominous doom-thudders Fister are a shining example of why I’m happy that I finally started going to local metal shows, & their newest release, a split 45 with Oregon band Norska, is a bite-sized intro into their world. They’re prone to pummeling a riff into submission for as long as it takes, but the time constraints of the 45 force them to tighten it up just slightly. They lock into the groove right away, screaming at the listener & punching him in the guts, but still manage to squeeze a little noodly bass solo in the middle there, a surprising dynamic lull before the howling roars back in. Norska’s side reminds me of a heavier Helmet, with that sort of tight-wound groove that makes you nervous, even while you’re nodding your head. I give this record 6 skulls (or whatever)!

Fister “Equinoctial”

Not from the 45, but some choice Vacant Grave action, nonetheless

Rebellious Jukebox XVII: The Hobosexuals vs Cesspool Baker

IMG_20150605_154510Originally published March 2014

I don’t think the Hobosexuals have written a song called Town Full Of Dirtbags yet, but give ’em time. Ryne Watts & company have beer buckets full of love for this city’s lovable losers, for the folks who work too hard & stay up too late & get up too early & make music because there’s so much music inside of them they’re gonna explode otherwise. And drink too much, because hey, what else are you gonna do? Their Big Muddy 45 from last year is a laidback mid-fi affair, sounding for all the world like it was written, learned, & recorded in an afternoon by people who know how to do that kind of thing. By their titles, She’s A Whiskey Maker (But I Love Her Still) & She’s Got A New Life (I’ve Got A High Life) sound like the sorts of novelty country songs you’d find on a truckstop jukebox in 1974, but musically they’re more backporch folksy, casual but assured. If the Hobosexuals aren’t quite John Prine or Shel Silverstein yet, they’re at least on the right track.

Of course the Hobosexuals are but the latest in a long line of dirtbags. Take country rockers Cesspool Baker, for example. I couldn’t find a release date for the 45 I’ve got, but I‘d guess mid-late 70‘s. The A-side is Mean & Evil, an ode to a woman who is, um, mean. And also evil. The track is marred by a too-busy bass line & a hotel-band style backing vocalist, but side two’s Would You Like To Get High And Ball has got it all figured out. I can only assume that that one was their set closer, sending their dirtbag fans home happy, even though they had to get up too early the next day & work too hard. And drink too much, because hey, what else are you gonna do?

Hobosexuals-She’s A Whiskey Maker (But I Love Her Still)

Sadly, no Cesspool Baker music seems to have been internetted yet…