Category: Punk

Tuscaloosa says Goodbye to DIY venue Baby Haus

babyhausLast Saturday was the final show at Baby Haus, a house in Tuscaloosa that had been hosting shows in a few different locations for the past four years. As if Tuscaloosa wasn’t already renowned for being a “party town,” Baby Haus would often take it to the next level with antics such as nude moshpits, fireworks being set off in the house and the now infamous story of two girls getting busy during one band’s set.

I remember my first Baby Haus show in Fall 2010 and how I felt immediately welcomed & had so much fun.

Don’t get me wrong, Birmingham is rad, but Tuscaloosa got wild back in those days.

When it relocated to down the street in Fall 2011, the crunkness continued and the house’s walls eventually turned into a mural of random paintings & sketches. There were potlucks, bonfires, and eclectic bills ranging from hip hop to sludge metal (and of course, always the punk & garage rock).

Once Baby Haus moved to across the street, the house’s owner David Allen proclaimed that he didn’t want to have any shows at his new home. However, low-key backyard shows in Fall 2012 quickly escalated into house shows once again, but without the tagging and breaking things. Some proclaimed “Baby Haus was over” since it wasn’t as buck, but I personally appreciated how it had toned down into a setting for more artistic appreciation instead of constant inebriation. Shit was still getting ‘weird’ as recently as December though, when contact was made with Kurt Cobain through a Ouija board at the “Friday the 13th show,” and several people went down that rabbit hole.

I think we definitely took Baby Haus for granted while it was still here. It’s honestly a little hard to imagine our DIY scene without it, but Saturday was the perfect way to close it out.

The music started around 3:30pm and ended around 2am. All of the sets were solid, and shit got wild, reminiscent of Baby Hauses past, when Capsized’s pedal board got trampled and Billy Luttrell’s guitar got destroyed– missing 3 tuners, bridge and tail. I was in the middle of the crowd for nearly every set except for theirs because the moshing was too intense, even for me. Luttrell told me that it was the funnest show he’s ever played.

Carson Mitchell of The Dirty Lungs (who have an album soon to be released on Birmingham’s Communicating Vessels label) told this story of Baby Haus, having played the final show and at the former house: “Very funny story about the first time we played; we actually had a gig booked at the Mellow Mushroom, but there was some kind of mix up with the booking and they weren’t even going to open that night. We found this out as we were unloading all of our gear to the upstairs stage, and were very bummed out about it. To make matters worse, as we were reloading our gear into the van, our bass player at the time Jordan Sellers crushed his hand in the service elevator everyone uses to load their gear upstairs. It literally was broken for 4 months after the incident. Anyhow, after all of this nonsense had occured, we were still determined to make something happen even if it was just a party. Luckily, I texted our friend Madison (Langston) who was still living in T-Town at the time and already at a show at Baby Haus. She asked David right then if we could jump on the bill and he obliged. We ended up having one of the best and oddest shows of our life. Down a member, we had to play whatever we could think of that another one of our members could play on bass. It was also the first night I ever saw Gull, who is practically a celebrity in Birmingham now. I couldn’t think of a better way to experience the awesomeness of Baby Haus for the first time.”

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We are all really sad that the epic nature of Baby Haus is now over, but the memories will live on forever. I know someone will pick up the torch soon; Ttown is too rad not to have a DIY venue.

Saturday actually almost felt like just any other Baby Haus show filled with good music and good times until David Allen started handing out the goodie bags that included compilations, reminiscent of the Piss Shivers and Sorry Y’all era, and that’s when the nostalgia kicked in.  Birmingham is lucky to be getting David Allen, and Tuscaloosa will surely miss him.

However, though Baby Haus is over now, Tuscaloosa’s music scene is not. We had a huge benefit show for United Students Against Sweatshops in the basement of a dorm in January, a “Valentine’s Day weekend ‘Cupid is a Sonofabitch’ ” house show last month and have a “Spring Broke” house show planned for March 29th. We are aiming to have an all ages show once a month now. You can keep up with the current happenings in Tuscaloosa through the facebook group DIY Tuscaloosa.

In the words of OG-Baby Jake Hinson, “This is rock ‘n roll, baby. Get used to it.”

Anna Thomas is a writer studying Education and Spanish at the University of Alabama. Currently in the band Rumblepak, she also books shows for DIY Tuscaloosa. She’s the newest addition to BHAMFM. 

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Justin’s Espresso & Adderall Mix

Draggin’ ass? Need motivation? Wanna fight? Rage? Burn this mutha down? Then you need to tune into this playlist. It’s full of distortion, pedals, riffs, static, greasy hair, sweat, and blood (probably). It’s the perfect combination to kick Friday right in the mouth. Enjoy your weekend, losers! Happy Holidays!

Spotify Link:

http://open.spotify.com/user/1214727292/playlist/5a3eoLkx2E3QqcvsCkWCkl

Track Listing:

1. Titus Andronicus – Titus Andronicus Forever

2. Metz – Get Off

3. Japandroids – The House That Heaven Built

4. Hanni El Khatib – Family

5. Natural Child – B$G P$MP$N

6. Double Fuzz – Mountain

7. FIDLAR – Cheap Beer

8. Zeke – It’s Alright

9. Wavves – Lunge Forward

10. Nightmare Boyzzz – Devil III

11. Jay Reatard – My Shadow

12. Bass Drum of Death – Nerve Jamming

13. The Thermals – Born To Kill

14. BRMC – Conscience Killer

15. The Walkmen – The Rat

16. The Vaccines – Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)

17. Pujol – Mayday

18. Diarrhea Planet – Field of Dreams

19. The Cants – Jack The Ripper

20. The Orwells – Mallrats (La La La)

Album Review: Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana

Speedy-Ortiz-Major-Arcana

If you pay attention to the music underground, you may be aware that it’s pretty popular to wear 1990s musical influences on your sleeve these days. Speedy Ortiz are as guilty as anyone of being influenced by the guitar heavy indie rock of the Clinton years. Where they differ from many of their contemporaries is that they never descend into mimicry. They have guitars and riffs that would feel at home on Sub Pop or Matador in ‘97, but they never copy wholesale.

One of the first noticeable differences from many of their influences, is that Speedy Ortiz have a female vocalist. Sadie Dupuis commands the vocalist position with power and confidence; offering vocals that stretch and bend to match the winding and knotty guitars. Every word is delivered in a way that sounds like a powerful young woman, rather than the slacker mumble of 90s indie boys.

The band plays the quiet/loud dynamic very, very well over the course of Major Arcana, but they also drift from normal rock and roll conventions into jazzier territory. Flurries of notes in the tangled guitar lines show off the band’s technical ability and their songwriting skills. When the band decides to get together and dial up the catchiness, they create moments that will recur in your mind for weeks to come.

Overall, Major Arcana is a strong indie rock record that stands up with it’s influences, rather than bowing down to them. Speedy Ortiz are one of the best new bands of 2013, and they’ve proven that they are ahead of the grunge influenced pack by making one of the best debut full lengths in recent memory.

Album Review: Nightmare Boyzzz – Bad Patterns

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Nightmare Boyzzz have been local favorites around Alabama for a few years now, but they’ve just released their first full length LP on Slovenly Records. The record delivers on the promise of their earlier 7” Nuclear Summer (from Montevallo label, Happening Records) and a split 7” with Birmingham’s Younger Siblings (on Birmingham label, Fat Sandwich Records).

Bad Patterns provides the pop hooks and sugary sweet melodies that Nightmare Boyzzz have been known for, but also ups the garage-punk ante of their earlier releases. Where Nuclear Spring evoked a somewhat aggressive beachy vibe, Bad Patterns is rock ‘n roll swagger and grit tied together by catchy hooks and whoa-ohs.

As a first full length, Bad Patterns succeeds in building on the successes of earlier releases, while focusing in and refining the band’s songcraft. Almost every one of these songs clocks in at below three and a half minutes, and there isn’t a lot of wasted time or superfluous bullshit. Punk ragers “Baby, It’s Alright” and “Don’t Wanna Feel Alright” fly by almost before your brains gets a chance to process them.

But for all of their punk compactness, the band manages to stretch their legs a little on “You’re A Star”, delivering the albums highest highs and most melodic rock ‘n roll strut. Perhaps the biggest successes on the album are second track “Valium”, and back end sleeper “My Body Breaks Down”. They bridge the gaps between the bands influences and stand as Nightmare Boyzzz’s catchiest and most fun songs to date..

The only knock I have against Bad Patterns, is that it may hem a little too close to its influences from time to time. Some of the songs can start to blend together into a kind of garage rock soup after a while, but there’s more than enough talent on display here to forgive the band for wearing their influences on their sleeve. The band never lets the album slog along for too long before delivering another killer hook. Overall, I don’t think the LP suffers too much as a result and still presents itself as a strong debut.

The album was officially released on November 26th, but the band had copies at their tour kickoff show at Parkside, and I’ve been enjoying it for a few weeks now. I highly recommend that you track down a vinyl copy via mailorder from Slovenly, or your local record store, and keep your eyes peeled for the Boyzzz’s single, Up All Night (on Fat Sandwich Records).

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=282022044/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/notracklist=true/transparent=true/

Album Review: Swearin’ – Surfing Strange

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Last year, Swearin’ produced a dark horse Album of The Year candidate with their Self Titled debut. This year they’ve incorporated a new songwriter into the mix, and produced an album that multiplies both the catchy moments and weird left turns of their debut. Surfing Strange is a great second album in that it builds on the successes of the first record, while also branching out to try new things.

The vocal interplay between Allison Crutchfield and Kyle Gilbride is still a focal point, but the low in the mix vocals from bass player, and new songwriter, Keith Spencer also add a different texture to Swearin’s established sound. The guitars are still hummable, but with a little added fuzz around the edges. Songs like “Dust In The Gold Sack”, and “Young” sound like the missing link between Wavvves commercially acceptable DIY model, and honest to god DIY punks like The Measure [sa].

Surfing Strange also finds the band veering slightly away from the safer pop-punk of Swearin’ toward the more noisy and off-kilter sounds of lo-fi indie rock. This change can be seen throughout the album, but is particularly on “Glare of The Sun” and “Melanoma”. Mixing in their new influences among bursts of their reliable pop-punk, proves to be a winning strategy for Swearin’. Surfing Strange is a solid album that shows progression, and Swearin’s further understanding of their own abilities as a band.

No Genre, No Problem: A Conversation with Brian Sella of The Front Bottoms

(The Front Bottoms will be at WorkPlay with Manchester Orchestra and O’Brother on Sunday, November 24th.  The show is reportedly SOLD OUT.)

Banner photo credit: Mark Jaworski

 A quick scouring of The Front Bottoms’ Facebook page reveals the usual information: manager, iTunes links, current location (Jersey, by the way), record label, so on.  However, the band’s choice of “genre” is perhaps more accurate and compelling than even the two-piece band, currently on tour with Manchester Orchestra, even realizes.

Genre: “What’s a genre?”

This description, both wildly vague and dangerously specific, has arisen more and more frequently among artists of the millennial age.  The Front Bottoms are certainly a product of an increasingly ambiguous generation, though not at the expense of carving their own unique niche in the noise of pop culture.

Take, for example, the lyrics to one of their most beloved songs “Skeleton,” from their most recent album Talon of the Hawk (Bar/None Records).  Vocalist/guitarist Brian Sella playfully sings of getting “so stoned” that he “fell asleep in the front seat,” though he “never sleeps in the front seat.”  Much like millennial icon Tyler the Creator, Sella says that The Front Bottoms, collectively, do not engage in stoning activities.  “It’s just not something we do as a band,” says Sella.  Dealing with lyrics-inspired invitations to smoke with fans and fellow musicians is an “easy fix,” says Sella, laughing.  “I just say no thanks.”

The aforementioned album Talon of the Hawk is a satisfying blend of punk, folk, and – yes – even some distinctly pop sensibilities, mostly stemming from Sella’s lyrics and his almost Tom DeLonge-esque delivery.  Not surprisingly, Sella says he grew up on what he calls “Top 40 pop punk,” citing Sum 41 and DeLonge’s Blink-182 as important early influences.  “I distinctly remember my older sister having [the Blink-182 mega-smash] Enema of the State,” says Sella.  As for more recent influences, Sella – without pause – is quick to praise Pusha T’s most recent album, the Kanye West-produced My Name is My Name.

“Genre” is, as clearly perpetuated by the Front Bottoms themselves (rounded out by drummer Matt Uychich), an absolutely inconsequential element of music (and art, in general).  Identity, however, is more important than ever.  The Front Bottoms, as evidenced on Talon of the Hawk standout “Twin Size Mattress” (Sella’s personal favorite), are acutely aware of their evolving role in pop culture.

I wanna contribute to the chaos, I don’t wanna watch and then complain

‘Cause I am through finding blame. That is the decision that I have made.

Interview: The So So Glos

I’m not sure what you’ve heard about The So So Glos, but they’re a band. They’re a band that plays music, but they’re also a band in the sense that they’re a group of people coming together to form something larger than themselves individually. As singer Alex Levine explains, they’re “a family, a tribe, a gang & a clan”. This attitude shows up in their music, their stage presence, their press photos, their album art, and everything else that The So So Glos do.

Their new album, Blowout, is their second full length, and the follow up to 2010’s underrated EP, Low Back Chain Shift. Blowout was self released digitally by the band earlier this year, and will soon see a vinyl release (along with the rest of the band’s back catalog). Previously mentioned So So Glos singer, Alex Levine, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me this week. The Glos will be playing Friday, October 11th at Bottletree with Nashville’s ludicrously named, and seriously awesome Diarrhea Planet.

Check out the interview below, and stream Blowout over at Spin.

BHAMFM: I’ve seen a bunch of other bands try to wear their own merch on stage and in press photos, and they’re never able to make it work. But when The So So Glos do it, it makes total sense. Why are you the only band that can pull that shit off?

ALEX LEVINE: Hm… Maybe it’s because we’re one part self-promotion and one part self-deprecation. We’re self-aware so so glos, we know how stupid looking cool tends to look.

BHAMFM:  I’ve always been impressed with how The So So Glos come across as a single unit so much more than other current indie/punk bands. Is that a conscience decision to put yourselves forward as a group, rather than as a bunch of dudes that play music together?

ALEX: We’re a family , a tribe, a gang, & a clan. Similar to the WU. We speak easy in our slang ( straight out ‘ the good book http://thesosoglos.com/slang/ ) and have our periods at the same time. We’re not just a bunch of dudes that are playing around together….

BHAMFM: In press and reviews, you guys get compared to The Clash and The Kinks quite a bit, but on Blowout a conversation about NIrvana is used as the intro to the record. Do you think Nirvana and other 90s bands have influenced The So So Glos as much as the older bands you are compared to?

ALEX: Absolutely. We’re 90s’ kids. Those were our most impressionable years and we’re products of the attitudes of those times . That Nirvana sample is me at 7 years old in a real “kill your idols moment”. A nice “so so glo” way to call generational bullshit on our heroes who gave up too soon. I think some of our first collective memories include DR. Dre’s fridge full of 40z and Kurt picking a fight with Axel. The beastie boys will always feel like our cooler older cousins. Those were the days.

BHAMFM:  It’s easy for someone from Bumfuck, Alabama to read press about New York underground music and perceive a rivalry between boroughs. Being from Queens, but now living in Brooklyn do you think that’s true?

ALEX: WE’RE FROM BROOKLYN. Bay Ridge to be exact. While we have spent some time living in nearly all boroughs, (and the surrounding suburbs) Brooklyn is and will always be the home of the GLO. Hip Hop was born in BX, Brooklyn had Harry Nilsson & the Dodgers, Larry David & Woody Allen, The WU runs Shaolin, Manhattan had Jazz and the Lindy Hop, and Queen’s has got The Beets, 50 cent and the 86 Mets. It’s all love between the boroughs, from Staten Island to William S.

BHAMFM: Can you talk about some of the non So So Glos related things that you guys do? Do you find running a DIY venue to be as satisfying as being in a touring band?

ALEX: They’re such different animals. We hunt and we gather. We roam and we also nest… but if you could look me in the eye right now you would tell me that I’m so unsatisfied…

BHAMFM:  Has putting out Blowout on your own been as fulfilling as you imagined it would be? Do you think you’ll sign to another label in the future?

ALEX: We put out the record on Shea Stadium Records and it was picked up for distribution through the great folks at Votiv. As for the future, We’ll see. Was it Dick Van Patten who said , “If you label me, you negate me”? I think so.

BHAMFM: So many bands are doing the “pay what you want” model for self-released albums, what made you guys to decide to steer clear of that route? Do you think having a set price for the album actually helped sales and press?

ALEX: Sales? Press ? Models? Bands? Pay? You want? Decide ? Price ? Everything has got a little price.

BHAMFM: What parts of being in a band do you enjoy that aren’t playing music? Do you enjoy any of the business aspects of being a band?

ALEX: It’s show business, kid. I like the show part.

BHAMFM: Are there any plans for a vinyl release of Blowout?

ALEX: YES. The Vinyl is on the way. As are all of our older albums that have been pulled from the world. COMING BACK SOON. Checkthesosoglos.com in a few weeks boys and girls.

BHAMFM:  I just asked you a lot of business related questions in a row. Do you get that a lot? Do you understand how Ian Mackaye felt after the thousandth time someone asked him why Fugazi shows were only $7?

ALEX: Yes, I’m sure he felt tired of that kind of thing. Much respect to that guy.

BHAMFM: The lyrical content on Blowout seems to be pretty celebratory, but “Speakeasy” sets itself apart in that it sounds pretty confrontational. Is that song an indictment of New York hipsterism and internet culture?

ALEX: The celebratory tone that you feel throughout Blowout is a bitter sweet, smiling through sadness kind of subtext that really gets me off. I love how dark a pop song can get. I love how laughing and crying come from the same place. I see what your getting at with “Speakeasy” though. That one is a bit more of a finger pointer. In a sense yes, it is an attack on our culture of anonymity where someone can get away with spewing heartless, racist, ignorant and sexist bullshit through a screen because they don’t have to answer to anyone or be held accountable for the words that aren’t even coming out of their mouths. It’s an attack on the cynical attitudes that propel hipsterdom, and the general feeling that showing a little bit of emotion is uncool. It’s a song about taking back accountability and respect and responsibility. It’s an attempt to replace two dimensional screens with empathy and comment boards with real live neighborhood conversations. Let’s take it back to a dingy barely legal show space and work it out. It’s so easy to speak and people are making it so damn tuff nowadays.

BHAMFM: Blowout strikes me as a record that comes from a particular place, rather than a particular time. When you were writing the record was that something you were going for?

ALEX: It was written from a place to change a particular time.

BHAMFM: You guys have played Birmingham several times now, is it a place you look forward to playing when you’re touring?

ALEX: We love Birmingham. Greatest city in Alabam. From the old days at Cave 9, It’s nothing but love for the city when we go back. All roads lead to AL’s.

BHAMFM: Thanks for your time, any parting words?

ALEX: ROLL TIDE ANYWAYZ >>>