Tonight, Charleston welcomes a six-band lineup to Top of the Roc, 410 6th Street, to celebrate Cavetone Records’ seventh anniversary. Here’s a little 411 on each of the bands. As always, it’s called Free Music Friday for a reason. You do have to be 21 or older to enter.
What started as a way for three friends to irritate their manager has evolved over 4 years into one of Coles County’s mainstay bands. The Tim Blys (named after that manager) originally got together in a garage after writing silly songs while they passed the hours at their retail jobs.
When they began, the trio connected over cartoons they enjoyed and musical influences – Alkaline Trio being a key influence. On a lark, they practiced performing cartoon theme songs, Adventure Time being the first. Their whimsical, speeded-up versions have become something of a signature for the Blys since then.
Through a couple of lineup changes, they’ve finally settled into a trio format with Matt Davis on guitar and vocals, Joey Wheeler on bass and vocals, and Greg Coffey on drums.
While focusing most of their performing time in Coles County, the band was busy writing original songs to go along with the cartoon covers. Davis says most of the songs are autobiographical in some way, but he hopes to expand beyond that.
“I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go, and write down phrases and thoughts, and then they start to build into songs,” he said.
They just finished recording their first 7-inch record, featuring three songs: “Dead Horse Town,” “Ruination” and “Get Away.” The record is at the plant being pressed, and should be ready by summer. As for the future, Davis isn’t sure what’s ahead, beyond planning for some kind of celebration when the record arrives, so you’ll have that to look forward to.
While you’re waiting for the 7-inch to drop, mollify your ears with this live video of “Dead Horse Town” from last August’s Free Music Friday.
Cedar Plank Salmon is an echo-y noise pop duo from Chicago. Their sound result from the mostly platonic musical marriage between grade school friends Tim Gurnig (talk-singer/guitars) and Sam Svita (singer-singer/drums without hi-hats). Over the past decade, the pair’s musical growing pains have matched those of adolescence. Fortunately the awkward moments resulted in increasingly interesting record collections.
Tim and Sam left the city together to adventure in Charleston. This maturation process pushed the pair to mesh the 1970s NYC art rock sound with a wandering, reverberating punk aesthetic.
The pair make a surprising amount of noise. They pervert the essence of pop music as demonstrated by their debut 7-inch record. The A-side features a surfish romp in “Oh Baby (Rock In His Sock).” The hook infects with strains of Public image Ltd. or The Modern Lovers. The B-side demonstrates their indie jazz punk leanings with the instrumental “Bedroom Grease Fire” and the eerily anthemic “Bikini Thirst,” reminiscent of Television, Sonic Youth, and The Talking Heads.
You can check out “Oh Baby (Rock in His Sock)” in the video below. You might recognize some cameos from Coles County music regulars:
The Down-fi mashes out a sonorous, explosive, and intriguing form of garage rock and roll. The power trio from Indianapolis, Ind. harnesses the ethos of the 1970s proto-punk movement, where Craig Willis Bell provided bottom end and song composition for Rocket From the Tombs. The Down-fi is punk before standardization and rock and roll after adolescence. This is the story so far.
To truly understand The Down-fi’s place in the American music landscape is to trace Bell’s history. He showcases a lifetime of songwriting in each Down-fi performance and recording.
In addition to his tenure in Rocket From the Tombs, throughout the 1970s and 80s Bell provided a driving force in future-revered groups Saucers (Connecticut) and Mirrors (Cleveland). His bands garnered the attention of punk oracles such as Lester Bangs and Legs McNeil, while spawning the Dead Boys, Pere Ubu, Dumptruck, and Miracle Legion among others. This is the story so far.
The story picks up in 2008 in the punk rock rust belt of Indianapolis, Ind. where Bell put together The Down-fi. Joined by Samuel “Dr. Doomtone” Murphy (The Dockers) on guitar/shouting and Blane Slaven (Three Cent Queen) on drums, the trio has multiple releases on the Gustav label and has racked up mileage touring around the Midwest. In 2014, Bell, Murphy, and Slaven recorded a 7-inch record so powerful that it was the first double A-side released in Cavetone Records history.
As usual, the record best explains the band. The first A-side “Roadmaster” is the psychedelic punk that provides the soundtrack to an exploitation motorcycle movie. The songs veers wildly as the fuzzed-out guitar winds, the engine of the drums and bass pound, and vocals scrape across every inch of asphalt in the vein of Steppenwolf meeting most of the New York Dolls. The second A-side features “Why Me,” a two-minute power pop song with snarling desperation reminiscent of a ramped-up Kinks live track mating with a meaner Cheap Trick. But that’s the story so far.
Here’s a live recording of The Down-Fi performing the new single from this February:
The Wild Cat Daddies (2008-2013) were fantastic. They made this tremendous necking-in-your-parents’-sedan style of rock and roll and did so for the right reasons. They were motivated by drinking a bit of whiskey (or rye if the mood strikes) and getting people dancing.
They started as the trio of Steve Andsager (guitars / vocals / yelping), Tim Overshiner (upright bass / backing vocals), and Joe Aguirre (drums / backing vocals). They recorded their only record with this line up in 2009.
All three songs on “Wham Bam!” (CVT-104) were absolute movers and shakers. It summed up the spirit of 50s/60s rock and roll. It was mature technically and gear-wise but juvenile enough to be an absolute blast in the vein of Eddie Cochran and The Troggs.
Over the next four years, Wild Cat Daddies would play in a myriad of places with a myriad of line ups. The trio still provided the core, but they would add a singer (Little Lorene), additional guitarists (John Galbraith, Anthony Zager), and even a Go-Go troupe (Hella Go-Go). But all good things come to an end eventually.
There are still ghosts of the Wild Cat Daddies on YouTube, as you’ll see below, but you’ll be able to see them in the flesh for one show only tonight.
Before the Ex-Bombers, there was Pat Boone’s Farm. Scott Walus, Keri Cousins and Sean Wagers formed the band in Normal, Ill. They originally formed as a one-show project to do Monkees covers. The first show was rough, but they decided to stick with it and expand their repertoire.
The music was “12-string jangly pop,” Walus said. With Walus on guitar and vocals, Cousins on bass and Wagers on drums, the trio performed for two years while polishing off Cavetone Records’ first release, “Garage * Dance * Loud.” in 2008, Walus and Cousins left Normal for Columbus, Mo. and grad school. There, they hooked up with drummer Nate Furstenau and Pat Boone’s Farm continued touring and performing for two more years, releasing a split 7-inch “1966” and contributed their theme song to the quad split “Monofesto Vol. 1.” in 2010, Furstenau left the states for Thailand and Walus and Cousins were at a crossroads. Rather than recruit another drummer, they decided to shift gears. Or, grind them, as the case turned out.
Here’s a taste of tonight’s reunion from the YouTardis:
With the departure of their drummer, Pat Boone’s Farm was at a creative end for a variety of reasons.
“We were just done trying to be liked,” Walus said.
“A lot of PBF was like, we felt like we were trying super hard to be like, ‘C’mon, dance! Be our friend!’ and people were just not having it,” Cousins said. “So, obviously The Ex-Bombers were like a huge reaction to that. Let’s just make noise, let’s just be obnoxious, let’s just do whatever the fuck we want, and not worrying about people dancing, and if they do, great, and if they don’t, I don’t care. This is about what we want to play.”
Walus said the shift in musical style was also “conceptual.” The couple were at a different point in their lives, and needed a different avenue to express that.
“You write about what’s going on in your life at the time,” Walus said. “and it felt like a pretty dark place in 09, 10, and it felt pretty disingenous playing 12-string jangle pop.”
The result is the spy-jazz sound that has placed its stamp on the Charleston music scene. Walus picked up the 8-string bass and Cousins learned another new instrument – the drums.
For Walus, the change meant adjusting to playing with a pick and building up new callouses. “My fingers swelled weird.”
Cousins’ shift was more intricate. She’d never played instruments growing up, instead dreaming of being an opera singer, until her vocal cords were damaged. Then she saw an opportunity to play an instrument, something she’d never really thought of before. Now she hopes other women can see that it’s possible to be in a band by her example.
As their style has developed, they’ve come to describe the difference in sound between PBF and The Ex-Bombers thusly:
“Unlike Pat Boone’s Farm, where we’d literally come out in the stage and get you, the Ex-Bombers was always about we’re going to stand in this corner and we’re going to be so provocative that we want you to come over and be like ‘what is this, we’re going to see what’s going on here.'”
The Ex-Bombers are celebrating their 5th year in existence, and it’s been a pretty productive 5 years: an album, two 7-inch records, numerous tours and dates across the Midwest, and a new record on the way. “Five Star Night” is at the plant and should arrive in Charleston in June.
You can catch The Ex-Bombers standing in the corner, being provocative, tonight.