It’s been a hard week in America. Most of them are but the national psyche took some concussive blows in the past seven days. It’s hard to keep pulling one’s self up from the mat after so much ugliness, violence and disappointment – not to mention all the travails and small travesties of our private lives this past week – but it’s important to keep believing in things larger than ourselves, stronger than a single stretch of days, more enduring than a news cycle or political campaign. We gotta find faith in one another or even something more skyward, and say, like Mott does on this mix, “God ain’t jive.” Dreams and love and other connections and joys – big, tiny and otherwise – remain alive and well despite the black wave that swept through recently. These are songs to keep us company as we claw our way to the light, together despite the fog and fear that makes us seem so distant at times.
Track listing below. If you experience playback problems pop over to the mix page and it should play fine.
This is the graduating class from 2012, the bands Dirty Impound fully expects great, surprising and delightful things from in the future. So promising are these first steps that our faith is high that they have much more to give. As we wait for what comes next, we have these damn fine platters to savor and study.
Straight to it: Seattle’s The True Spokes are as fundamentally together and on-point a new classic rock band as any going today. Dead solid songwriting, undisguised passion, top notch musicianship, and the list goes on. That they haven’t long ago kicked the likes of Taylor Swift, Nickelback and any of the TV show vocalist puppets off the airwaves is a sign of the system’s failure not a stripe on what these guys do. To wit, this sweet, succinct lil’ love song off their 2012 eponymous debut album (pick it up here), which uses a technological icon as a shared project of love, launching off with that most human of sounds – hands clapping out a come hither rhythm.
The True Spokes embark on their Fall 2012 Tour tomorrow, Tuesday, September 11, in Applegate, Oregon, with stops in San Francisco (9/13), Chico (9/15), Sacramento (9/18) and more along October dates in Washington and Idaho. For full itinerary pop over here.
RL Heyer plays with visible purpose and naked pleasure. The True Spokes guitarist-singer-songwriter draws from that deep well in men where the will to build big things or screw with virtuosic abandon lives, where there is need as much as want in the doing of things born from this place. Heyer throws his whole body into his playing, sweating and working notes from his muscles, his face a tableau of emotions, though most often you’ll find him smiling. Without question, the man enjoys what he does, a creature born to wield this particular instrument and delightful to watch fulfill his basic nature.
One picks up on the same intuitive calligraphy in RL found in greats like Marc Ford (The Black Crowes) and Rory Gallagher, where there’s no question of their skill but it’s the emotional thrust of what they do that lingers. While the blues surely flutter in his style, there are also the sharp instincts of Journey’s Neal Schon where compact solos frequently outweigh flights of fancy. It’s a hell of a pairing with his fellow Spokes guitarist-singer-songwriter Josh Clauson, whose innate bounce and improvisational zest brings a jazzy, clean zest to their guitar conversations, which are offered up in their most refined form yet on the band’s self-titled 2012 studio debut, itself a signpost of how Heyer and his cohorts continue to carve their own gorgeous slice of populist rock, a readily enjoyable serving of Every Person tales with a good beat you can dance to.
Here’s what Heyer had to say in DI’s ongoing guitar inquiry.
Creating our own mythology – folklore by and for the hoi polloi – is one of the gifts of being alive in the 21st century. Jung would crap himself to have access to all the stories, images, etc. anyone with an internet connection and a browser can access. And yet many don’t take advantage of such a gift, but that’s never been a problem for cool, intimate and downright awesome Pacific Northwest music fest Summer Meltdown, which takes place this week, August 10-12, in Darrington, WA at the Whitehorse Mountain Amphitheater. In the lead-up to this year’s festivities – which include host band/curators The True Spokes, Beats Antique, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Blitzen Trapper, Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real and many more (full lineup) – we’ve been introduced to a little adventure centered around a mystic power source. Like all things Summer Meltdown, this tale shows heart, a sense of play, and some quality Little Rascals style “let’s put on a show!” mojo. Here’s the full premise:
For the last 12 years, the main stage of Summer Meltdown has been powered by an uber heady crystal. This crystal has been stolen and rouge members of the Summer Meltdown staff will stop at nothing to get back this uber heady source of raw renewable energy. Their only hope is this man, Elvis Jackson Jr., the only son of Michael & Lisa Marie. For if they do not retrieve this uber heady Meltdown crystal, the main stage of Summer Meltdown will be powered instead by fossil fuels. And that my friends is an uber bummer…and did we mention that the man who stole the Crystal is Ozzie Osmond, the bastard child of the Osmond Family?
Dirty Impound is happy to present the fourth chapter in the ongoing The Search For The Heady Crystal saga. If live near Seattle and you’re free and dig great music and good humans to share it with, well, you should get your butt to the Meltdown this weekend. Ain’t nothing but good for yo’ soul.
One of the best West Coast music festivals going, Summer Meltdown, takes place August 10-12 in Darrington, WA at the Whitehorse Mountain Amphitheater (one of the coolest, best kept secrets in outdoor venues). The intimate gathering is hosted and curated by Seattle’s The True Spokes, the new incarnation of longtime Pacific Northwest cult jammers Flowmotion. For the next week DI will be sharing a number of questionnaires with the band in celebration of this year’s Meltdown and the Spokes’ kickin’ 2012 self-titled debut album.
Fundamentals – it’s what separates the pretenders from the real deal, and as the 21st century trucks along it’s an element in rock that’s becoming less and less prominent as professional songwriting teams, PR firms, and the other machinery of the music industry move further into a product-minded approach. But, it’s the bands that have the key fundamentals down cold – quality songwriting, unshakable musicianship, entertaining and emotion packed live prowess, pleasing voices and non-Pro-Tools assisted harmonies, a way with melody, lyrics with universal reach – that last. These are the bands we’ll still be talking about when the Hot 100 has long forgotten the likes of The Fray, James Blunt, et al. Fundamentals are why the Doobie Brothers, Journey, Styx and other classic rock acts endure. Put bluntly, they made better music than what’s coming out today and without perhaps being conscious of it, audiences are still drawn to quality and substance even as they’re force fed pretty slops by VH1, MTV and their mainstream peers.
Fundamentals are why Seattle’s The True Spokes should be regarded as torchbearers for quality melodic rock. For all its subtle touches, their music is so, so easy to like, so ready to jump into one’s lap and wiggle enthusiastically that it’s hard to imagine folks not diggin’ it if they only encounter it in the first place. Singles-waiting-to-happen dot their 2012 studio debut, cuts like “Back Porch” and “Saving Face” ready and able to hold their own next to the nigh-endless repetition of familiar hits from the Doobies, Petty, et al. on FM and satellite radio. In ways, it’s easy to miss just how good these guys are because what they do flows so well, so smoothly, so infectiously rightly. This music just feels natural as fuck, like one has wandered into a meadow where the trees play music and the grass sings backup to some of the catchiest numbers you’ve heard in ages. The album goes a fair distance in capturing the mojo inside this talented quintet, who are aided in their mission by one of the best allies a band can have, The Mother Hips’ Tim Bluhm, who co-produced the album, which was cut at Bluhm’s S.F. studio Mission Bells. It’s to be hoped – devoutly so – that talent, big hearts and compassionate, well built rock like The True Spokes proffer will find the wide, smiling audience they deserve eventually. In the meantime, one has no doubt that these boys will keep at it. Music is in their bones and it’s gotta come out anyway it can.
Here’s what Scott Goodwin (drums), R.L. Heyer (guitar, vocals) and Bob Rees (keys, percussion) had to say to our inquiries.
For the next few weeks, Poundings will focus on cool new music that’s come out in 2012, especially the stuff you aren’t hearing on the radio, seeing videos for on cable, or hearing about from the major tastemaker blogs/sites. Anyone who dumbly claims, “There’s no good music coming out,” is simply lazy. It’s out there and DI is ALWAYS sniffing out the truffles for you, kids.