Join the Impound, tonight, June 15, at San Francisco’s fab Boom Boom Room for our 3rd Anniversary Party [pick up tickets here and RSVP on Facebook here] featuring headliners Seattle’s The Staxx Brothers and a pummeling heavy rock set from special trio The Evil Sides (comprised of Jeremy Korpas (The Loyal Scam, former Big Light) and Sean Leahy and drummer extraordinaire Daria Johnson of SF’s blazing pop-rockers the Sean Leahy Trio).
If you met Daria Johnson in the audience at a show you’d encounter a thousand watt smile, a bold, delightful laugh, and a warm demeanor that don’t in any way suggest the ferocious badass that emerges when this powerful, attention grabbing drummer jumps behind a kit. She often sports a wonderful expression when she’s working the sticks that’s equal measures steely determination and joy at bashing on things – a primal look and feel that grabs ya and doesn’t let go.
Johnson hits hard in the spirit of Keith Moon and The Black Crowes’ Steve Gorman, mingling strong groove sensibilities with gutbucket force. The Impound thinks she’s positively beautiful when she’s locked onto just the right beat and then drives it home. We’ve seen her swing power pop style with the Sean Leahy Trio, just murder Prince tunes (including taking the mic) with Guitarmageddon, and a variety of other settings that suggest there’s all kinds of powerful depths to this charming musician. One thing we know for sure, when DI sees Daria settle in behind the drums we know our rhythm needs will be well attended to.
Here’s what Daria had to say for the Impound’s bawdiest questionnaire.
Keyboardist don’t come more versatile or off-handedly fearless than Asher Fulero, an astute student of keyboard history in the recorded musical era that never allows his learned POV to get in the way of playing with feeling and immediacy. A fixture of the West Coast jazz, jam and rock scenes for many years, Fulero, still a young player, has already established himself as one of Matt Butler’s go-to guys for Everyone Orchestra – always a sign of a high quality, open-minded musician – as well as an explorer of electronic music’s new frontiers with Halo Refuser and Surrounded By Ninjas. But these projects only hint at his depths, which folks may sometimes miss because of his general good nature and unassuming approach to his craft. Rather than wave his arms to draw attention to his contributions, Fulero just wades into myriad situations with a smile and gets down to business, a superb collaborator and gracious co-conspirator with oodles of solo stomping magic tucked up his sleeve.
However, Fulero’s ability to blend in and accentuate the positives in his band mates sometimes means that his work doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Thankfully his newest offering, Liminal Rites pick it up (released June 4 and available here), is a solo piano outing that finds Fulero soaring into breathy, gorgeous spaces that showcase all the creativity, natural talent and gig-honed skill living in his hands. While many high-end players have distinctive ticks, Fulero really doesn’t except for an abiding emotional well that he pours into his compositions and performances, and the emotional undertow on this solo album is powerful, a gravity that pulls at the heart and makes eyes well up at times.
On Liminal Rites there is love and dreaming, spirit and struggle, peace and discord, and all together it plays out like an affair without words – wordless because none are needed. Who is the affair with? Could be someone mortal – what else drives songwriters to such passion? – but Liminal Rites also comes across as a conversation with the universe and perhaps God, a descendent of McCoy Tyner’s 60s musings with Coltrane filtered through the genre-cracking atmospherics of George Winston and the limber, lean-in-close ivory dancing of John Hicks and Don Pullen.
It’s the kind of record one puts on when they need to muse and stretch their mind beyond the friction and bustle of the day, an album for sunrises and moon watching, perhaps best enjoyed alone or holding hands with someone dear who’s comfortable listening and absorbing without needing to intrude with language and digressions. It is incredibly beautiful and as naked a presentation of Fulero’s many gifts as a musician and composer as anything in his ever-expanding catalog. For the Impound’s tastes, we think it’s the best album he’s ever made – a revelation of just how bloody good this guy is at what he does.
Here’s what Asher had to the Impound’s keyboardist inquiry.
At Dirty Impound we strive to sniff out the best, most real, honest rock ‘n’ roll we can find, but most of the time we’re spotlighting this material after it’s already available for purchase, download, live consumption, etc. Given the challenges facing independent artists in the modern era, DI will now periodically share what we consider worthy causes during their gestation period. When our faith is high that the music coming down the pipeline is high quality, we’re gonna encourage our readers to chip in towards quality projects. We feel like the Impound is a bit of a cause itself (read our mission statement), and we’re glad to throw our support behind musicians with real heart, talent and drive, and hope y’all feel the same.
That said, our first pair of worthy causes comes from San Francisco with two of the finest modern rock outfits we’ve laid ears on in the past 10 years. The New Up is a sleek beast, grit and groove in one, where things snarl even as they sashay seductively. Sharing some sonic kinship with folks like Tricky, Gang of Four, Patti Smith Group and contemporaries The Features and CSS, this quintet harnesses modern travails to enduring, underlying truths to forge music that’s relevant, sexy and charged with electricity. Animal Party stems from the line that brought us Cheap Trick and the great power pop tradition for music with killer hooks, strong melodies, tight musicianship and a lead singer with hella enticing pipes. We’ve heard Animal Party’s debut – produced by the reliably excellent Jeremy Black (Tea Leaf Green, Apollo Sunshine, Sean Leahy Trio) and can assure you it’s a hopping collection filled with rave ups and quality love songs you want to hear but don’t know it yet. All of the new material The New Up has previewed live suggests these folks are ready to move onto the proverbial next level in both thickening and streamlining their already considerable charms. Take a gander at their fund raising pitches and consider getting involved. The only way rock gets better these days is if listeners get involved in helping the good stuff find its way into world.
Support The New Up’s project here! And keep up with the band’s musical revolution on their official blog.
We absolutely adore Suzi Quatro here at the Impound. A true daughter of Detroit – too often not mentioned alongside all the critic-enshrined boys from that town – Quatro emerged to most in the early 1970s, already an experienced roadhouse dog, tough and talented, neither virgin nor whore at a time when both were still the norms for women in popular music. A precursor to The Runaways and the wonderful work of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts afterwards, Quatro was unmistakably girlish with a haymaker voice, great bass chops, and a commanding presence in front of dead solid bands throughout her many decades slogging it away in clubs, often more appreciated abroad than here in the States. One picks up on some of her attitude and stage presence in early Patti Smith, and everyone from Hole to L7 to countless other Riot Grrls owe Suzi a debt of gratitude. In Quatro one finds a through-line from Chuck Berry to 60s jukebox pop to punk rock, all given shuffling connective tissue in her muscular, good time music. She’s also a fabulous interpreter of well-chosen covers, an interpreter in the best sense (see the Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen corkers below for proof). Suzi is still at it all over the world (check out the boss performance from 2011 below), and yesterday, June 2, was her 62nd birthday. DI would like to thank Quatro for being born and running business like she has on behalf of ourselves and rock ‘n’ roll. Thanks to The College of Rock and Roll Knowledge for hipping us to the occasion.
Few folks have done more to keep rock weird and dirty and connected to its earthy, establishment rattling roots than Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. The best part is Wayne doesn’t seem to need to try at any of this – he’s a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool freak – so what flows from him just feels naturally psychedelic, in the most positive sense of the word. Been hoping to add Coyne to our rogues gallery of musicians raising a middle finger for a while, and Joe Russo caught him in a receptive mindset backstage at the inaugural Bottle Rock Festival in Napa, CA. Diggin’ the painted nails, man, and that expression hints at things we don’t even want to conjecture about. Thanks for caring enough to flip off the Impound, man!
Wayne Coyne by Joe Russo
Are you interested in giving Dirty Impound the finger? Are you in a band? Well, we wanna see whatcha you got, cowboys (and cowgirls)! Send us your birdie pics and we’ll add them to our archive and make sure folks know you cared enough to raise a middle finger for rock! Send pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
On June 15th, Dirty Impound will celebrate three years slingin’ prose, mixes, and perhaps a kernel of wisdom or two about rock ‘n’ roll with a shindig at San Francisco’s premiere speakeasy the Boom Boom Room [pick up tickets here and RSVP on Facebook here]. With DI’s resident house band, Seattle’s The Staxx Brothers, topping the bill, the party also features a special solo performance from John Murry and a pummeling rock set from one-off trio The Evil Sides, which is comprised of Jeremy Korpas (The Loyal Scam, former Big Light lead guitarist) and Sean Leahy and drummer extraordinaire Daria Johnson of SF’s blazing pop-rockers the Sean Leahy Trio. Throw in a DJ set from Righteous Trash and you’ve got a lineup that reflects the street level POV of the Impound and the high quality variety this site spotlights on a regular basis.
While Leahy will be trading his usual electric guitar for a bass for this performance, the evening brings together three of the most talented and promising young lead guitarists currently knocking rock around for its own good – it gets sluggish if not tested and prodded on the regular. Staxx’s Chris O’Connor is a descendent of the classic hard-edged Funkadelic shredders, where the heavy slap and groove whomp are obvious but closer inspection reveals a really thoughtful, song serving player who measures out his licks with a humility and intelligence rare amongst lead guitarists. Leahy is in the line of compact killers like Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen and Journey’s Neal Schon, a man able to make an impact with smartly carved succinctness. Korpas is a curious, always compelling mixture of classic rock shreddiness and post-Radiohead modernity, a guitarist one can rarely make predictions about and yet who always serves up sounds that draw one in and enliven the music. Each of these guys has knocked the Impound on their butt more than a few times, reminding us why rock remains such a guitar-centric genre and inspiring some of the most shameful public air guitar we’ve ever been a party to. Perhaps more than anything, DI loves how NOT by the numbers these three are. They clearly understand the mechanics of their craft but constantly seek to find inroads to fresh territory, trying just a bit harder than the next guys to infuse rock with vitality you can feel.
The Impound has invited the musicians of the 3rd Anniversary Party to get dirty in the lead up to this ultra-fun good time evening, and here’s what O’Connor [Nickname: The Butcher], Korpas and Leahy [Nickname: SLeahy] slung our way.
Hey timid program directors of radio and music television, here’s a perfect fit between the endless plays of Kings of Leon and The Strokes tunes. Bryan Elijah Smith has the same knack for hook-laden, energizing, populist wooing pop-rock as these established brands, and frankly this one is catchier than a lot of their songs. DI’s love of Smith is well established – check out our recent questionnaire where Smith gets philosophical and we gush about his latest album, Turn It Up, from whence “Run Around” comes – but we’re increasingly impressed with the kid’s video wrangling skills. This is fun to watch and builds on the music in a nice way. The scenes of a scruffy Bryan lustily mangling his guitar remind us of those filthy Calvin Klein ads in the 90s that got pulled – not a bad thing, just an observation to point out that Smith is cute in a way that could go Twitter mad, which seems to be something PR stooges and label folks notice more than music now. So, with this artist you get both Teen Beat potential and a tune you can dig. What’s not to like?
By the way, Smith can handle a Kings of Leon tune pretty darn well, too.
”This is for all of you that feel the way I do. The game’s not over, the people are gone. I don’t mind getting older, it’s just the timing’s all wrong. Dreams don’t change, they adjust with the times.”
Will Courtney by Dal Wolf
Folks don’t slow down a lot these days, pausing to listen to what’s whispering in the wind or murmuring within. It’s valuable to take a breath and open up to what’s being said instead of drowning these subtle messages out with our pre-scripted responses and chatter – there’s tiny truths and tenderness waiting in the slipstream. Will Courtney puts his perceptive ears to work in this realm on his shimmering, ever-so-pleasing solo debut, A Century Behind (released April 22). Feelings about love, God and all sorts of things are held up to a soft light, coaxed gently to a low light glow, the stuff most don’t discuss given a comfortable space to move around.
A Century Behind both builds on and moves away from Courtney’s quality work with Brothers and Sisters – the uninitiated are pointed to 2007’s boffo Fortunately album to get schooled – by consciously courting intimacy. This is still rock ‘n’ roll but in the vein of the more hushed corners of Neil Young, The Jayhawks, Ryan Adams, and Chris Bell, whose I Am The Cosmos comes to mind several times during A Century Behind. Courtney’s voice is a pleasing open wound, scars starting to form but the healing still in process, his quivering tone making each brave step into honesty that much more effective. The arrangements are spare but nicely decorated by choice elements, just enough of everything to feel fleshed out but never bulky. This album is a lovely, compact opening salvo from one of the strongest contemporary Americana artists out there, a slow burn that lingers
Will applied his inquisitive mind to DI’s philosophical roundtable, and here’s what he had to say.