OMG this is really happening

The Bye Bye Blackbirds

Comments Off
The Bye Bye Blackbirds

The Bye Bye Blackbirds

If the Impound were the Sultan of the Airwaves, Oakland-based The Bye Bye Blackbirds would be a yardstick we’d measure radio worthiness by. Their tunes flow with such snap and seemingly effortless ease (which is actually a hard, skillful trick to pull off) that they seem like something snatched from the Great Jukebox In The Sky, songs waiting to brighten and tickle our days, the shining result of old school craftsmanship, a great nose for melodically charged, harmony rich gold, and a healthy respect for the steps of the giants they stride in. Throw on the group’s latest effort, We Need The Rain (one of DI’s Favorite Albums of 2013) and one is quickly reminded of young, sharp, snappy Elvis Costello & The Attractions, prime Badfinger, and great 80s jangle The dB’s and Let’s Active. It’s the kind of record that sends one trawling through a band’s back catalogue, muttering, “Hey, good lookin’, where have you been all my life?”

Another gauge of a band’s merits is the company they keep and this coming Saturday, June 14th, The Bye Bye Blackbirds will open for rightly beloved indie rock cult faves The Rubinoos at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall (pick up tickets here). It’s about as perfect a bill as a power-pop enthusiast could want. We snagged BBB’s chief singer-songwriter Bradley Skaught to find out more about this emerging Impound fave.

Bradley Skraught

Bradley Skaught

One of the first things that hits one with The Bye Bye Blackbirds’ music is how bloody catchy it is. The modern era has really sullied the idea of pop elements mingled with rock ‘n’ roll but it seems like your band is dedicated to the more classic benchmarks of the 60s, 70s & 80s. What are your thoughts on pop and its role in what you do?

I guess it’s just where I come from in terms of influences. My first exposure to music was all about the immediacy of melody and songwriting, and I find that I just have never lost the taste for hearing a new great piece of songwriting. I also feel like there’s always a new twist to put on something. I realize I’m probably in the minority that way right now, but I’m still knocked out by how a guitar rock band can reflect all the individual and idiosyncratic elements of an artist – how it can be so familiar, but so different at the same time. I don’t lean on classic rock benchmarks because I think they’re the best or because I think it’s how everything should be done, it’s just the musical vocabulary I fell in love with and acquired, and I don’t think it’s played out as an artistic medium at all – maybe socially, maybe commercially, but not artistically.

Latest Album

Latest Album

Your band is part of what I regard as a long tradition of fantastic pop-rock artists in the Bay Area that goes back to Moby Grape and the SF Summer of Love scene. However, it seems in the past few decades it’s been harder for kindred spirits like Bart Davenport, Chris Von Sneidern, and yourselves to reach audiences. What are the challenges of getting your music heard in a climate where it would sound great on radio – seriously, “Butterfly Drinks” on the new album would Top 10 in a just world – but radio isn’t looking for new, non-industry groups?

I wouldn’t even know where to start. By comparison, Bart and CVS are superstars. It’s not that I don’t care or spend time trying to find ears (or wish that I could achieve some success in that way), but at this point I’m just befuddled by it. I just try to be good, you know? I just try to make something special and interesting and meaningful. There isn’t a scene. There isn’t an outlet or anything that has ever felt available to us as a means for finding an audience. I also have a particular gift for not meeting the right people, not making the right impressions. I might even have a gift for actively dissuading those people from being interested!

Tell us a bit about the other guys in The Bye Bye Blackbirds and how the band has evolved since your 2005 debut album.

The Bye Bye Blackbirds

The Bye Bye Blackbirds

I’m so blessed to have these guys to play with. Every version of the band so far has been full of skill and imagination. There’s a degree to which I steer things and I’ve been the only songwriter since 2010, but every member has really stamped their identity on the songs and I’m proud and honored by that. The current version is, by far, the most rocking version. Lenny Gill switched to guitar and brought his whole 70s classic rock-meets-90s-indie rock thing, and Aaron Rubin and Ian Lee are like Entwistle and Moon! They’re just explosive and nuanced and loud in a way that really takes everything new places. More than anything, there’s just a freedom and a level of improvisation that hasn’t been there before. I write detailed, structurally busy songs, so it’s a refreshing degree of craziness to have injected into things. And it’s really loud. It certainly wasn’t planned this way, but when the previous line-up started playing “Broad Daylight” by Free, I feel like maybe we planted the seeds for this version to come along and pick up some of that spirit. We also have KC Bowman on board most of the time as an auxiliary dude, and that just sort of blows the doors open to any kind of musical thing you need – harmony, arrangement stuff, recording. He’s a wizard.

1977 Debut LP

1977 Debut LP

On June 14th you open for The Rubinoos, a band legendary amongst record store staffs and those that love and support them but almost unknown to the greater world. What do you dig about this wonderful band? How does it feel to know you’ll share the stage with them?

Well, ultimately, I do love power pop. And these guys have been so amazing at it for so long! It’s also another part of the Bay Area rock ’n’ roll tradition – another group that made a mark here and added to the local dialogue. The pop thing here gets overlooked sometimes, but The Nerves were founded here, you know? There’s a deep melodic rock ’n’ roll vein that runs through the Bay Area. It’s exciting to feel like we get to share in that a little bit. I’m also just a huge Al Chan fan. This is a way for me to get to watch him play and sing without having to pay for a ticket.

The music business is an incredibly competitive one but my experience in the Bay Area has shown a bit more camaraderie than some other places. Musicians frequently show their support for music they dig by sharing bills, playing on sessions, and the like. Has this been your experience being part of this weird little microcosm?

It may just be that we desperately cling to each other because it marginally improves our chances of getting booked! There has been a certain amount of working together and sharing that has helped a lot, no doubt. I think we all recognize talent that is being ignored generally by local press and radio and whatever and there’s a bond there that’s valuable.

So, the band is four albums into their catalogue. What sort of record haven’t you made yet that you want to? What’s a few beloved albums that serve as north stars for you creatively?

2006 Debut Album

2006 Debut Album

I don’t really think that way, to tell you the truth. I find I just write the songs, bring them in to the band, put them together, and then the albums start to take shape. The times in the past where I’ve really pursued a particular idea about what I want to happen have resulted in awkward compromises – things that are neither themselves nor the things I envisioned. In those cases, I feel I let the songs down. Songs have a way of letting you know what they want to sound like – you try them out and you can feel when they’re working. There are usually points where I step back and see where things are going. “Oh, this is what the record is like! This is what this song is about!” – those sorts of experiences. I don’t really pursue any solid ideas of albums – there aren’t any albums that are something I’m after. I let the songs and the band dictate where they want to go and how they fit together. I have a lot of faith in the songs to do that.

Your music is so well sculpted and harmony rich in the studio. What’s fun and/or challenging about bringing it all together live?

Getting the detail and nuance of the songwriting while still being loud and energetic and rocking is a chore sometimes. You don’t want to be too studious or careful, but you don’t want to just pummel all the subtleties out of it either! Each version of the band has had a different sort of strength to it. This one is very much an ensemble and there’s a kind of heightened energy and electricity to it that’s fun and exciting – it’s big and it can get crazy. It’s not the vocal-focused version that maybe the past few have been – if there’s a challenge, it’s probably in really trying to find a place for the singing live sometimes.

Comparison is the most common way to describe a group’s sound in print journalism, but often the artists themselves have no connection with the comparisons cited. So, what are a few bands/singer-songwriters that do resonate strongly for you? Who’s company don’t you mind keeping, so to speak?

The Kinks

The Kinks

I’m mostly really honored by comparisons we get, even if it’s something I don’t really have any personal connection to. We get Big Star a lot and there really couldn’t be a greater compliment. As a band that cares about the combination of the classic and immediate with adventurousness, individuality and a truly artistic perspective, there aren’t many better. The Kinks, too, who, as I get older, just become more and more the band of that era that speaks to me. REM was a starting point for me as a writer and musician, so that’s another one I’m happy to hear. Anyone who wants to drop a smart, interesting songwriter with a kick-ass band full of cool guitar playing on me as a comparison is going to make me happy generally.

Mix Tape

Classic Rock Orgy – Double Shots Edition V

Comments Off

The final installment in our week of handpicked, high-quality double shots starts and ends with two Impound favorites – Dan Fogelberg and Frank Zappa. While it may seem incongruous to some to put these artists on the same mix it’s this kind of juxtaposition that rock ‘n’ roll is all about. Rock is the BIG tent that welcomes all, the stragglers and the estranged as well as the orthodox and eager to please. It’s where country can bed down with blues and there are no laws on the books against it. This one has 6-7 of DI’s All-Time Favorite Songs on it, too. We’ll let you guess which ones. Thanks for taking this ride with us. We’ll have to do it again sometime. Oh, one more thing…

“Opie must die!!!”

Track listing below.

To listen to this mix pop over HERE.

ClassicRockOrgy_Double_5

You can listen to 8tracks mixes on your iPhone (pick up the app here) and Android (pick up the app here).

track listing

Mix Tape

Classic Rock Orgy – Double Shots Edition IV

Comments Off

Continuing to give ya what market-testin’, status quo program directors just won’t, the Impound digs into dusty grooves to bring you some late 60s keepers from Traffic, Steppenwolf and the ever-under-appreciated Spirit before cranking up the electric guitars with Robin Trower, Montrose and Nazareth, and then heading South – literally and figuratively – with Skynyrd celebrating the thing the ladies “love the most” and talkin’ some sensible political skepticism before Patrick Simmons shows he and The Doobie Brothers had the blueprint for half of Kenny Chesney’s stupid country-island reverie hits way back in 1972 – and Tom Johnston, no slouch himself, delivers one of DI’s favorite deep tracks, a blues that gets string section basted and lovely in the tail section. But, we kick this chapter off with long forgotten U.K. powerhouse Stray working up some Blue Cheer-like mojo.

Track listing below.

To listen to this mix pop over HERE.

And below, that’s a young Helen Mirren in garter belt and stockings taking a carousel twirl. This is DI’s definition of an E-Ticket attraction. If this can’t spark an orgy then we’ve been very poorly informed about orgies.

ClassicRockOrgy_Double_4

You can listen to 8tracks mixes on your iPhone (pick up the app here) and Android (pick up the app here).

track listing

Mix Tape

Mix Tape: Classic Rock Orgy – Double Shots Edition III

Comments Off

Still rockin’ as a Camaro with bad springs but sliding into smoother, more sophisticated fare as we move from Heart, Ted Nugent (the way we like Ted – with his mouth shut and someone else doing the singing while he abuses his guitar skillfully) and Black Oak Arkansas into the creamier sounds of 10cc, Steely Dan and Gerry Rafferty. We’d recommend a freshly rolled number and a crisp California white to accompany this segment. Our caravan departs from Boston but there’s still time to hitch a ride…

Track listing below.

To listen to this mix pop over HERE.

ClassicRockOrgy_Double_3

You can listen to 8tracks mixes on your iPhone (pick up the app here) and Android (pick up the app here).

track listing

Mix Tape

Classic Rock Orgy – Double Shots Edition II

Comments Off

Our fantastic voyage of twin tuneage continues with a stable of artists especially poorly served by commercial classic rock programmers including fab songs from The Rolling Stones, KISS and Fleetwood Mac you will likely never hear on the radio. Seriously, if “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is all you’re familiar with in the Procol Harum catalog then you’ve got treasures galore awaiting you on under-served masterpieces like A Salty Dog, Shine On Brightly and many more albums from one of the smartest, darkest bands to emerge from the 60s British Rock explosion. Trust ol’ DI on this one. We wouldn’t steer you wrong unless you asked us to…

Track listing below.

To listen to this mix pop over HERE.

ClassicRockOrgy_Double_2

You can listen to 8tracks mixes on your iPhone (pick up the app here) and Android (pick up the app here).

track listing

Mix Tape

Classic Rock Orgy – Double Shots Edition I

Comments Off

Balls thwack firmly against the proverbial wall in the first installment of a weeklong celebration of the vintage FM radio staple of the double shot, back-to-back scorchers from a single artist. This double-shot-o-thon runs a staggering 100 songs deep (okay there’s a few triple shots to prove the axiom that there’s never too much of a good thing…alright, alright, alright), and we’ll be dishing it out in digestible chunks for the next five days. We hope you’ll take the full journey into deep cuts this week, beginning with an era-situating corker from the Frank Zappa produced Good Singin’, Good Playin’. Yeah, the Grand Wazoo worked with Grank Funk.

Track listing below.

To listen to this mix pop over HERE.

ClassicRockOrgy_Double_1

You can listen to 8tracks mixes on your iPhone (pick up the app here) and Android (pick up the app here).

track listing

Dirty Impound Questionnaire

Ghost Owl

Comments Off

”When you wake in the night do you feel alone? Like the time that you had is already gone? Can you feel the light? Can you feel at all? I can see it in you. Can you see it in me?”

Ghost Owl

Ghost Owl

Rock can be split into two major eras – Ground Zero-based Rock derived from Chuck Berry, Elvis, The Beatles and other pioneers of the 60s/70s and Post-Radiohead Rock. It’s a gross oversimplification but the underlying principles of each camp define the major musical characteristics of adherents, particularly the shift from song-centered proto-rock to the more amorphous, textural vibe prevalent after Thom Yorke and Co. (and many others like Blur, Pavement, and other boundary pushers of the 90s/2000s not to mention the rise of electro wizards like Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada and Squarepusher). However, one occasionally finds a band comfortable straddling this divide, dragging their fingers through varied traditions to scoop out their own sand for the hourglass.

Athens, GA’s Ghost Owl is both resolutely modern – a hum of technology rides a bright current that just feels bloody contemporary – and steeped in stage-won, long practiced instrumental aptitude and well-sculpted song craft. Adam Perry (bass, lead vocals, songwriting), Albert Suttle (drums) and Matthew McDonald (keyboards, guitar, vocals) are seasoned musicians after more than a decade with Perpetual Groove, which announced an indefinite hiatus in 2013. But, Ghost Owl is no derivative of PGroove. There is something more expressly engaging and effusively alive about the trio in this new, swiftly evolving incarnation. Where before the “jam band” tag may have applied – to a degree – what’s emerging in Ghost Owl is EDM wise and much closer to the gleaming slipstream of modern rock innovators Simple Minds and Ultravox as well as contemporaries like Foals, Rubblebucket, and The Flaming Lips. The cerebral, emotionally prickly undertow of a lot of Perpetual Groove’s catalog is replaced by a direct inducement to breathe in, breathe out, and dance in the sunshine.

Debut Album

Debut Album

After less than a year of experimentation and exploratory gigs, Ghost Owl has released its first official salvo, Say Goodbye To Finland [listen to it above, at bottom of this article or on the band’s Bandcamp Page where you can do the right thing and buy a copy!]. From the first gentle murmurings on through many bright bursts, the album is invigorating, a rush of tentative positivity.

Ghost Owl never offers puffery, readily acknowledging that “American dreams are dying” but displaying a spirit that says they’re not letting them fade without a fight. Amidst crooked hues and widescreen performances, Ghost Owl, by example as much as anything stated outright, offer something viscerally enzymatic, a sonic push to get up and get into it while there’s still something to get into, an invitation to run into the night and tear down the walls that keep us apart.

Guitars flutter in, adding mood and spice, but it’s the interlocking rhythms and pulsing electronics that dominate and provide a perfect chrome sparkle for Perry’s husky, liquid voice to flow over. Unlike a lot of electronica aware rock, Say Goodbye To Finland keeps every track lean, never overworking a groove or belaboring a point. They get in, get the job done, and jet while one still wants more – something that bodes well for the live progression of these tunes in days ahead. The sequencing is spot-on, too, culminating in a pair of tunes, “Clouds Will Lift” and “Sun Will Shine,” that are genuinely healing, digitized jubilation that clears away the grit from eyes to reveal new horizons where we’ll be okay despite all the evidence to the contrary.

We snagged Ghost Owl for DI’s signature questionnaire and here’s what the boys had to say.

beef jerky and the joy of children!

Impounded Inquiries

Patrolled By Radar

Comments Off

”Do you know a love song that rights all wrongs? There’s got to be one to sing when we can’t get along.”

New Album

New Album

Put on Cool Your Jets (released May 1), the new album from under-sung Los Angeles club veterans Patrolled By Radar, and the longer it spins the more it casts a spell, the ideal band for an imaginary saloon where Highway 61 Revisited-era Dylan hobnobs with a fresh faced Doug Sahm and a gaggle of curious night dwellers shuffling contentedly as they try to make sense of this wicked world.

Patrolled By Radar moves with barroom honed muscle, a group that’s earned their stripes fighting for attention over clinking glasses, cell phone tapping, and post-work chatter. And PBR’s songs really do snag one’s focus, though often in sly ways, the fun and skip of them in the foreground with all sorts of cool, thoughtful bits bouncing around in the background. This band swings hard but backs up their punches with brains and a well-seasoned perspective on the ways of men.

Patrolled By Radar

Patrolled By Radar

That their latest release ends with a pitch perfect rendition of Randy Newman’s “Ghosts” just signals songwriter-singer-guitarist Jay Souza’s kinship with that insightfully jaundiced, perversely romantic American treasure. Souza uses language with the same humor dipped scalpel sharpness as Newman with occasional flashes of genuine good humor – “Rally” on the new album is a shit-day mood-enhancer of the highest order. And the whole band – Bosco Sheff (guitar), Preston Mann (organ, piano), Ben Johnsen (drums, vocals) and Peter Curry (bass) – serves the songs in an integrated way that’s short on solos and long on a warmly enveloping group dynamic.

Cool Your Jets reminds one of Americana’s first great flowering, an album that sits comfortably next to Wilco’s A.M., The Jayhawks’ Hollywood Town Hall and Son Volt’s Trace – all worthy descendents of the roots-influenced, energized, off-handedly skillful rock tributary stemming from The Band. Like the best children of Levon, Robbie, et al. Patrolled By Radar possesses a unique, hard to pin down individual spark, extenders of a tradition rather than mimics, where something heartfelt and quietly moving wanders the curved roads and smoky haunts of their tunes. Heck, even ol’ Lawrence Welk makes a champagne cameo so you know it’s good!

DI asked PBR’s Jay Souza to ponder DI’s quasi-philosophical questions, and here’s what he had to say.

Cake, ice cream and enlightenment!