Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rockwired Radio Profiles #632 - The Refusers

Oh the delicate and desperate situation that America has found herself in! On one end you have a maniacal supposed billionaire with  woman, Arab and a Mexican problem making a mockery of the Grand Ol' Party and on the other side you have an elderly socialist crying revolution versus the embodiment of a career politician linked to this word "Benghazi" that gets bandied about by people who hate the woman. And while all of this is going on that fat guy in North Korea is positioning his nukes just so, Brussels has been attacked and we're all like "When can we get to Mars?" Everyone's got an opinion and they're willing to throw down for it and I find it strange that none of this kind of thinking ever finds it's way into our music. In comes THE REFUSERS fronted by former Wall Street wizard-turned-whistleblower on American greed  MICHAEL BELKIN with a punchy, guitar-driven punk rock sound that calls out the crooks and calls for the heads of the infidels and two-bit bandits who call themselves bankers. Does the song HANG THE BANKERS need any explanation? In an age where music moves products in order to move units we've gotta give it up for THE REFUSERS whose heart and balls are in the right place. BORN TO ROCK indeed.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Rockwired Radio Profiles #631 - Through Fire

Guitarist JUSTIN McCAIN knows all about seeing the rock n roll dream through. Throughout his ten year tenure with the EMPHATIC he had paid the price for a life in rock n roll with blood sweat and tears and the struggles had paid off with some chart action and one hell of a loyal following. While that bands self-titled album and two follow up EPs GOOD BYE GIRL and RIOT 10 didn't make too much of a dent it was their 2011 album DAMAGE that put EMPHATIC on the map with it's two singles BOUNCE and GET PAID. They followed this up with ANOTHER LIFE in 2013 which boasted the single REMEMBER ME. Despite these brushes with success it's important to remember that ten years is a long time and in a time when most marriages don't last ten years it's silly to think that a band could but EMPHATIC put on a brave front despite a revolving door of members. JUSTIN McCAIN proved to be the only constant. In 2015 McCAIN realized that something had to give without dismissing the fan base that had been accrued over the years so he locked himself in the studio, wrote some songs, got a band together and EMPHATIC was re-nicked THROUGH FIRE and the moniker sums up his sense of survival. At the moment it feels like more that a reboot and less than a debut for THROUGH FIRE. According to McCAIN the new album is in the can and will be released in the Summer of 2016 but it's been preceded by the single STRONGER which demonstrates that despite mostly new members that primal instinct for issuing a not-so-subtle rock n roll punch and this time it's served up with an electrifying vocal performance by new front man GRANT KENDRICK. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Rock Is Red #20 - Arigon Starr - Creator of Super Indian Comics

Super heroes are a bigger business than they have ever been thanks to DC COMICS and MARVEL having set their sights on the silver screen but they all got their start in comic books. I'll have to admit I'm a little out of my area of expertise when it come to the world of comic books but in doing research on Native American superheroes I see that the list is surprisingly long. The only one that I was familiar with was APACHE CHIEF from SUPER FRIENDS. However finding out all of this information doesn't take anything away from ARIGON STARR's (Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma) comic book creation SUPER INDIAN. In fact of all of the Indian super heroes out there SUPER INDIAN might be the only one created by a Native person. STARR began her career  producing cartoons, drawings and artwork for many organizations including NATIVE VOICES AT THE AUTRY, NATIVE VOICE ONE RADIO SERVICE, the legendary rock band QUEEN, WALT DISNEY and the NATIONAL PARK SERVICE. She also boasts a background in theater and playwriting. The initial idea for SUPER INDIAN came when STARR was on a train ride in Australia on her way to an Indigenous Theater workshop. “I’ve always thought our Native community didn’t have enough comic book heroes and most of the ones that were already out there weren’t created or drawn by Native artists or writers” says STARR. SUPER INDIAN first came to national attention when it was turned into a 10 part radio series on NPR. Fueled by the positive reception to the radio series SUPER INDIAN has continued as a weekly webcomic but now STARR has joined forces with WACKY PRODUCTION UNLIMITED's CEO JANET MINER and has formed REZIUM PRODUCTIONS in an effort to bring SUPER INDIAN back to radio and whatever media there is to take advantage of. 


Rock Is Red #19 - B. of Dakota South Records

When we first met B. OF DAKOTA SOUTH RECORDS two years ago he had just released his twenty song, self titled debut album and what blew our minds about the Yankton Sioux hip hop artist was his knack for thinking big. But then again in the hip hop world thinking big is the only way to be. B is not only an artist but  the CEO of his company DAKOTA SOUTH RECORDS which is home to such artists as TREY DEMI, juQ, BERT MALCOLM, RICO DA DRAMA CITY KID, AVENUE DA STREETZ and NAE NAE. While Rapid City, South Dakota may be the last place that anyone would think of as a hot spot for rap and hip hop, B has managed to make it a domicile to take seriously for future consideration on the strength of his artistry and entrepreneurial acumen. Now said artistry and entrepreneurial spirit have come together on B's eagerly awaited follow up album OHHH! B. Once again B issues a twenty-song compilation featuring state-of-the-art production, guest spots by folks on DAKOTA SOUTH RECORDS' roster and most importantly rhymes that speak to the highs and lows of life. B has his sights firmly set for going straight to the top and if there are any doubts about that they will squashed after hearing the album's first single COME AND GET YOUR LOVE. The homage to the RED BONE classic has "smash" written all over it it's a wonder that no other Native hip hop artist has sampled the tune. We are clearly at the beginning of B's ascent to the hip hop glory and it should be interesting to see where all of this goes a year form now.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Rockwired Radio Profiles #630 - Scott Smith

There is that old saying about debut albums that goes " have all of your life to get ready for your first album and six months to get ready for you second one." In the case of Bay Area- based singer-songwriter SCOTT SMITH the former is true. Having grown up with the sounds that emanated from San Francisco thanks to bands such as THE GRATEFUL DEAD and JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, SCOTT SMITH took to music with a great deal of enthusiasm but the furthest he was able to go was in a series of cover bands over the years. It was only a few years ago that SMITH - feeling like he needed to get something off his chest - decided to pick up the guitar and put pen to paper and begin the process of expressing himself through song in a way that performing cover songs couldn't. The fledgling songwriter has finally made a statement all on his own with his debut album THE SUM OF LIFE - a country folk-tinged collection of songs with some rock n roll and boogie woogie flourishes. The track THE WORLD IS STRANGE is a one hell of a rant about a world that is getting crazier and crazier by the second. PAYDAY is a punchy country rocker number that gives it up for the working man and all that crap he's got to put up with and BLUES GUITAR SLINGER is a strutting rocker about giving the music everything you've got. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rockwired Radio Profiles #629 - Beseech

Rarely does  the list of past members of a band bring about a sense of intimidation. The Swedish goth metal band BESEECH has been a revolving door for over twenty years but the whole thing started with guitarists  KLAS BOHLIN and ROBERT VINTERVIND and vocalist JORGEN SJOBERG. For a decade the band enjoyed a tremendous cult following on the strength of their releases ...FROM A BLEEDING HEART (1998), BLACK EMOTIONS (2000) and SOULS HIGHWAY (2002). The last of those releases marked the end of KLAS BOHLIN's tenure with the band which continued one with the albums DRAMA (2004) and SUNLESS DAYS (2005). Now more than ten years after the release of SUNLESS DAYS guitarist and founding member KLAS BOHLIN has stepped things up in more ways than one with the re-emergence of BESEECH as goth metal force in music. KLAS has now stepped into the lead singer role along with ANGELINA SAHLGREN SODER for the band's latest album MY DARKNESS, DARKNESS. On their first release in over ten years the band's knack for exploring all matters dark and light has not lost any of  it's bite and the contrast of KLAS and ANGELINA's voices give this latest step in BESEECH's musical journey an immediacy that is sometimes lacking in much of the drone that gets written off as 'goth'. And returning guitarist ROBERT VINTERVIND and a brand new set of players also keep the proceedings stimulating on tracks such as BEATING PULSE and their stirring cover of the JOHNNY CASH song HIGHWAYMAN.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Rock Is Red #18 - Janet Rogers of "NDN's On The Airwaves" Podcast Series

There is no denying that television is a medium where native people are alarmingly underrepresented. Sure you have FNX (FIRST NATIONS EXPERIENCE) Channel but who the hell can find it even with all that they've put down for advertising in glossies. However, one medium where First Nations and American Indian people have made their presence known is radio whether it be through public broadcasting, the private sector or podcasting. Radio has been a  forum for Indian people for more than three-quarters of a century so it's strange that there hasn't been some stuffy article or academic paper on the subject. But thanks to Mohawk writer and producer JANET ROGERS we've got something better. She has produced a seven-part podcast series NDNs ON THE AIRWAVES which examines the history of the relationship between Native people and radio and the role it plays in Native communities throughout the U.S. and Canada and the innovations that have come along in the past few years that could only help in making the voice of Native people even louder. ROGERS developed the programming along with  CFUVfm - the University of Victoria campus radio station - and CRFC RADIO METERS FUND. The episodes of NDNs ON THE AIRWAVES consist of:

#1. Native Radio: What Is It
#2. Indigenous News Makers
#3. Six Nations Artists
#4. The Podcast Show
#5. NWT: Radio North
#6. Indigenous Radio Panel
#7. CFNR fm: Northwest Radio

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rockwired Radio Profiles #628 - Dead Air Republic

With a tumultuous election year already upon us in the United States a great number of eyes are looking to Canada to see what our neighboring country is all about. Maybe it could be  a place of refuge should a TRUMP presidency become the case. Politics aside ROCKWIRED has enjoyed an appreciation for the rock n roll that comes from the True North Strong and Free from bands such as GHOST TOWN ORCHESTRA, LUKAS ROSSI, CRAWL, SATE, DISTRICT AVENUE and FINGER ELEVEN and now we're happy to be adding DEAD AIR REPUBLIC to that list. Rock n roll is certainly the name of their game and their brand new EP WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE is an in-your-face affair that is destined to attract attention from active rock radio programmers beneath that U.S-Canadian border. The music is simply stomping with some rather layered guitar riff-age brought to you but DAVID MALTAIS and RICH BENT and an imposing rhythm section consisting of bass player BEN BARNES and drummer MIKE DESTROFF. Despite all of the heavy metal thunder lead singer MARC BOURGON gives the chaotic material a touch of humanity in his nuanced vocal performance and crafty lyrical approach. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Rockwired Radio Profiles #627 - Todd Apfel

Sure we could call the EP REFLECTIONS a debut recording for singer songwriter TODD APFEL but the recording is more than that. It is in fact a return to music making for APFEL who first had a taste of the rock n roll life when he had formed a "hair metal band" at the age of eighteen. That band won second place in some battle of the bands contest but more importantly had the tremendous opportunity of opening for CHEAP TRICK on a leg of one of their tours. Normally one would expect a rock career either great or small to have emerged from such a billing but the hard scrabble rock n roll life was dropped in favor of the pursuit of a business degree and a corporate career which came to an end in the early 2000's when the internet cut into the profits of his print-based business. After opening a bowling alley and then getting a divorce in which his ex-wife took the bowling alley APFEL settled in a small Iowa town called Vining which boasts a population of 50. While in correspondence with his friend CHRIS CAFFERY (of TRANS SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA)  he was urged to turn his attentions toward making music again. Slowly but surely APFEL invested in a home studio and began laying down the blueprints for the next leg of his musical journey. REFLECTIONS is the first step on said journey with songs that showcase a world-weariness and sensitivity that only a troubadour who has been there and done that is able to convey but the track HOT SUMMER LOVE shows that APFEL hasn't entirely shaken off the rock n roll. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Rockwired Radio Profiles #626 - Jason Whitton

One would think that we were on some sort of alt-country kick at the moment with our recent editions of ROCKWIRED RADIO PROFILES and who could blame us with the music that has been coming our way from the likes of acts such as JACK THE RADIO, SMALL TOWN SOUND and THE MORNING SEA.  However this current edition features an artist from ROCKWIRED's past. Alt-country artist JASON WHITTON was first featured on ROCKWIRED ten years ago with the release of his haunting album THRIFTSTORE COWBOY which boasted some of the moodiest and subdued country rock this side of THE COWBOY JUNKIES. The young singer-songwriter left a strong impression on us that year so his disappearance from the scene was a loss that we felt deeply but it turns out the WHITTON had started a family and within the past decade has released a couple of CDs here and there but this year he is back in a big way with his new album HONEY BUTTER. In a decade where country music seems to have taken claim to the dominance that rock music once enjoyed WHITTON could have a shot at some mainstream recognition with that easygoing charm that made us take notice ten years earlier. Despite the gentility of the material there is enough of an edge here that's not likely to get the guy confused for that dufus who's currently dating GWEN STEFANI. If there's any doubt about WHITTON's musical edge how many country artists do you know that could paraphrase ROB BASE's IT TAKES TWO as he does on the track HEART BROKE? 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Rockwired Radio Profiles #625 - Jack The Radio

Being a Southwest-based publication we found it curious that a recording filled with numerous rustic, wild west motifs was recorded by a band based in North Carolina. JACK THE RADIO takes Americana music to a whole other level on their newest album BADLANDS - the band's first CD in three years. In speaking with vocalist and guitarist GEORGE HAGE and bassist CHRIS SAYLES it was clear to us that sci-fi Spaghetti Westerns inspired the songwriting here and one can hear such influence on tracks such as THE RUNAWAY, BAD MAN and THE HILLS. BAD MAN maybe the only track there released as a single but HILLS and THE RUNAWAY leave strong and haunting impressions. The band's GRAM PARSONS -meets- BLUE OYSTER CULT formula has earned them some rather glowing recognition from such publications as the INDEPENDENT WEEKLY, THE  VINYL DISTRICT and AIDING & ABETTING which refers to them as an "...acid-rock version of THE EAGLES." The packaging and release of the album has us particularly excited in that BADLANDS is available both electronically and through vinyl. BADLANDS is just the sort of album that you want to hear on a turntable while reading the lyric sheet and taking in the artwork vibrantly illustrated by DAVID PAUL SEYMOUR. Alt-country has never been more alternative.