Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Glass Of Friday

Everybody is living for the weekend.  To kickstart the weekend Way Off The Grid Radio is pouring a quick mix of cool music for you ears to get you started on that journey toward Monday.  Look for a new mix every Friday.  .

Cooooooool!  Ahhhhhhhhh!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Top Record Of 2013 - 'Case Closed' Paul Messis

Paul Messis 'Case Closed'  

Authentic Garage Rock from the UK that equals anything
produced in the States in the 60's.  
Paul Messis is the real deal, he always has been, it's in his DNA. Here is a guy who has not only majored in US 60's garage rock but brings the same disaffected, disillusioned, "I hate the world around me" teenage angst that was the rocket fuel that propelled every band, in every garage, in every neighborhood throughout the US, especially the midwest from 1965-1968, to every groove on every track he records.

Here is a young man who gets it and can bring it in a way that pays hommage to the genre but is not retro. Paul's music is current even if the sound is straight out of Michigan in 1966. His previous record in 2010 'The Problem With Me' made our top 5 that year and his trio of singles, released prior to that, all provided solid evidence that he was on to something and that he would, more likely than not, create something lasting and with his second album 'Case Closed' he has.

Paul is concerned about the legacy of his music but has no illusions. Perhaps it will ultimately be viewed, in retrospect through the prism of history, the same way many of the 60's garage bands and records are viewed today and be revered. He understands and accepts that the general record buying public of today are too busy looking and listening elsewhere and are therefore unaware of what he is doing and that those who are willing to listen to new music seem surprisingly uninterested in this genre and are embracing psychedelic bands and records instead. He could, as many others have done, try to gain more attention by modifying his approach and cut records that appeal to a wider audience and he surly has the talent to pull it off but selling out and chasing the hipsters and lobbying for more mainstream press and acceptance is nothing he covets. Hell, he probably could care less about being named our top record but that's the beauty and genius of an artist who views what they do as art and not commerce.

Paul Mesis' garage rock masterpiece
Will Paul continue to record? He is non committal and although initially he felt he might walk away after this release his work as a member of 'The Higher State', one of our favorite bands who also placed a record in our top 5 in 2013, suggest he has more to say and more work to do. Here's hoping we see more material from Paul in the coming years and you can bet the Farm that if it happens it will be good and a contender for our Record Of The Year.

Here are the runners up for 2013 - populated by more great music being made in Kent in the UK and the surrounding area. Must be something in the water.

2) 'One Vowel Away From The Truth' - Groovy Uncle featuring Suzi Chunk
3) 'Honey Locust Honky Tonk' - Robert Pollard
4) 'Victoria Moon' - The Luck Of Eden Hall
5) 'The Higher State' - Higher State

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Pengwins - Box Set Vol. 1

There is life after High School
What is this?
This is Volume 1 of a 16 Volume set. Each box will come with a 7 inch vinyl single, a CD and download card, plus other memorabilia. The A-side will be a current recording of the band and the B-side will be songs from the band's storied past. Volume 1 has Naïve, a recent recording that was partially recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, England, backed by the bands first single, Life After High School, originally released in 1977.

Is it any good?
When you examine the back cover one can easily see The 1977 Pengwins were a very cool looking group of 'Naive' young guys, yet to be chewed up and spat out by the corporate music machine, all full of piss and vinegar and ready to go to the "topermost of the popermost!". So with that type of a visual you just know the music within must be good and it is.

What about the music?
We must say the new track and A-side 'Naive' is a real gem and one that we have added to the WOTG Radio playlist. Great lyrics, great sound and one of those rare songs that generates an immediate "I really like this" response from the first spin. We love the Box Set concept of one new and one legacy song on each side of the 7" vinyl 45 and all of the logo'd extras and memorabilia that are included (buttons, 45 rpm spindle, baseball type trading card featuring the band's clean up hitter Lannie Flowers and more) make the package something special and collectible

With "Life After High School' the legacy track on the B-side it's easy to see why it and the band didn't generate more buzz back in the day as obviously the music was just too out of step with the mainstream hard rock audience that held sway then but listening to it today it just reminds us of why the Raspberries and Big Star records fared only marginally better. Just like The Pengwins they all were "in the right place at the wrong time" as Dr. John would say. Today we say The Pengwins are finally in the right place at the right time and we're really looking forward to the band releasing the next 15 volumes and would recommend you don't overlook any of them if Vol. 1 is any indication.

Pick it up at cdbaby here:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Groovy Uncle featuring Suzi Chunk - One Vowel Away From The Truth

The missing vowel is "A" for Amazing
The truth is this is one FINE record. A real charmer, ridiculously catchy and a lot of fun. You might classify 'One Vowel Away From The Truth' as Beatlesque and as with any Groovy Uncle record that description will always be fundamentally accurate but with Suzi Chunk adding her fantastic Dusty Springfield like vocals to Glenn Prangell's songs, on what is essentially a half Groovy Uncle, half Suzi Chunck record, you achieve something that is so much more. That so much more is variety.

While all of the songs have a retro throwback 60's pop feel, thanks to the mad geniuses at Sandgate Sound Studio with their crazy skills and authentic analog recording techniques employed on behalf of the band's own Trouserphonic Records for this release, all of them sound different. This is achieved by incorporating multiple unexpected instruments from French Horn, Trumpet, Harpsichord, Sax, Mandolin, even Vibes and a horn section and by mixing up the lead vocals with Glenn and Suzi taking turns. A bit of a tip of the cap here to Mole who lays down the drums on these tracks with his signature sound that has enhanced so many great Higher State records and other State Records projects and recordings.

From the opener 'I Know Where The Sun Shines' to the closer 'Human Scaffold' a brief glance at the song titles is enough to tell you all you need to know about the songwriting. These are well crafted pop songs with clever lyrics that are delivered with a bit of humor that blunt their razor sharp edge. The highlights are many and with the variety of the songs the record just flies by demanding you press play again and then again and then once more. Standout tracks include 'Neptune Girl', the organ driven 'Brand New Badge', 'November' and 'I'm Nearly Mad About You' that we're particularly mad about. All are exceptional however and I'm sure your favorites may very well be any of the other 10 tracks on the record.

Highly recommended and you can purchase your copy here:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Paul Messis - Case Closed

Don't doubt that this is a record and message you need to hear
 and is no less essential than The Beatles 'Meet The Beatles'
The release date is set for April 15th.
Paul Messis' new LP 'Case Closed' arrived today courtesy of State Records and with only 500 vinyl copies being pressed it is sure to be a prized addition to any record collection for those who are fortunate enough to grab it.  This may sound a bit over the top but this record strikes me as the garage rock equivalent of 'Meet The Beatles'.  Both 'Case Closed' and 'Meet The Beatles' contain 12 tracks that breeze by in a little over 30 minutes and contain within the grooves different but equally powerful statements about the world we live in.

In 1964 'Meet The Beatles' (the band's second album released in the US despite the claim on its cover that is was their first) was a revelation and represented a positive message and vibe that was infectious and the precursor to the coming changes the 60's would represent.

In 2013 'Case Closed' (Paul's second album) is also a revelation and represents, underneath its upbeat jangly Byrd's like sound, a negative, angry message that is oozing frustration and dissatisfaction with the status quo that may be the precursor to coming changes the 2010's may represent.

Don't doubt that this is a record and message you need to hear and is no less essential than The Beatles 'Meet The Beatles'.  It may prove to be his masterpiece (the jury may ultimately determine his first album 'The Problem With Me' gets that nod) and a record that will likely only be appreciated after the fact.  I believe Paul understands and accepts that today it will only find a small audience given the way the music business is structured but do make sure you're one of that small audience.

Every track is no less important than any of the others but a few that stand out are the very cleverly titled '(Don't Wanna Be) Scene or Herd' the ultimate outsiders mantra and mission statement, the opener 'I Hate The World Around Me' which perfectly sets the tone and 'It Doesn't Matter To Me'.  

Trust me it doesn't matter to Paul as he prefers being a garage punk unknown who doesn't want to be seen or heard but make sure you both see the video and hear the music and don't miss the message.  

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Turnback - Drawing With Chalk

"And if my life is drawn in chalk don't let it be erased"
This is something special
That line from 'Beyond Belief' the opening track on The Turnback's 'Drawing With Chalk' provides not only the title for the record but is also the inspiration behind leader Todd Giglio's independent film of the same  name.  While this is marketed as a soundtrack album for the film, the CD when viewed as a stand alone without its connection to the movie, represents one of the best power pop albums ever crafted.  From the opening chime of a Rickenbacker 12 string to the haunting final track 'Nowhere' the music takes you on a journey that flows from track to track and holds your attention from beginning to end.  That is quite an accomplishment and this may possibly be the only power pop album to ever achieve that as the genre is just not designed that way.  The music on 'Drawning With Chalk' has a 'Dark Side Of The Moon' type of flow and sequencing but with the understanding that this would be DSOTM with The Raspberries rather than Pink Floyd.

Today, in an iPod digital download world, music is purchased and heard as a single track as part of a playlist but here The Turnback have literally turned back the clock to a time when albums still mattered. Among the highlights are the pop psych "Cellophane Sky', the haunting 'Nowhere', personal favorite "One Day You'll Be Rich', along with 'Beyond Belief" but every track is something special.  In addition to Todd Giglio (vocals, guitar, keyboards) the Turnback are Kenny Sherman (vocals, guitar, bass) and Barry Nagel (drums, guitar, keyboard).  Could not recommend this any higher.  Simply one of the best records we have ever heard.

"Sometimes your life is drawn out for you."

We cannot overlook the film either as Todd Giglio's story, no doubt autobiographical, captures with amazing intensity and humanity how the real world can beat all of us down and that in pursuing our dreams there are no guarantees, many challenges, no small amount of pain and ultimately forced compromises.  His story is our story and with this low budget DIY independent film he has created a masterpiece.

Todd is a bit of a renaissance man and warrants most of the credit as the writer (along with Christopher Springer), star, director, producer, composer and the man behind every other significant role behind and in front of the camera.  He effectively uses friends and family to supplement the cast and leverages the natural beauty and underlying depression and isolation of the area surrounding his upstate New York home to great storytelling effect.  

This may be low budget but it is high quality film making and worth the effort to source a copy of the DVD.  As good as the CD is the movie is better and they are both better together.