Displaying items by tag: review

Love in Minor Key – Hum

MADISONVILLE, KY (10/5/13) - Greetings and salutations my dear readers, all four of you—hello! Today’s column is going to be about a '90s band that you probably vaguely remember. It’s Hum! If I say “Do you like Hum?” and your only response is “Stars!” you don’t really know Hum. But that’s Ok. I’m about to enlighten you. This isn’t just another simple review; this one is going to be a soapbox from which I’m going to release unto you a deluge of wonderful music. Music from a band that I’ve always loved and I believe you will too. Didn’t I say before it wouldn’t always be a simple music review, that sometimes it would be my musings on a band I like, hate or love, full of offhand rambling tangents? Didn’t I?

Well, first, we need to set the mood...The 1990s: Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and so many other great bands roamed the Top 40 radio airwaves. It was a worryingly short period of time when you could be an off-the-wall group of malcontents playing strange and abrasive music and still get a major record deal. Bands took the popular music and culture of the ‘80s and gave both a good smack in the mouth. It was a proverbial flush of the collective toilet of popular music. Bands who had dominated the airwaves in the ‘80s, wearing eyeliner and spandex while a metric ton of cocaine roared thru their system, had been replaced by teenagers in unwashed flannel, Chuck Taylors, and heroin. A glorious time to come of age! Don’t let that last bit of crassness get you all in fits. If you, my dear reader, decide to stick around, you’ll realize I have what many would call a dark sense of humor. If you can’t find a joke in the horrible bits of life, what’s the point of it really? Well, I’d better get back to the topic at hand before I get all sentimental and dye my hair green with kool-aid, again.

Hum! Yes, Hum. To have such an unassuming name, Hum brought something special to the loud-soft dynamic that was a staple of so many rock bands of the decade. Hum was formed in 1989 when Matt Talbot and Andy Switzky met in a coffee shop in Urbana, Illinois. Matt and Andy would go on to form the core of what would become the early version of Hum. A demo (“Kissing Me Is Like Kissing An Angel”) and a record (Fillet Show) soon followed. The songs on Fillet Show were dominated by Andy, their primary songwriter at the time, and feature slightly humorous and often political lyrics with a very indie rock vibe and punk sensibility. There were glimpses of what was to come, but overall the record feels a bit insincere. It sounds like your average high school band’s first EP/demo—a bit immature and simple. It lacks the complexity of songwriting that really defined Hum’s later albums. It’s not a bad album; it’s not really great either. It’s simply a solid effort. Fans of Poster Children, Minor Threat, and Fugazi will gravitate towards this album.

Shortly after the release of Fillet Show, creative differences led Andy to leave the band. This left Matt as the primary songwriter and, in this humble man’s opinion, this is when Hum went from being an above-average indie-rock band into something that will last the test of time. No, I’m not trying to say Hum surpassed the Fifth Symphony. I'm simply saying that, when viewed in the context of the ‘90s alternative-rock music scene, they should be judged to be the peers of the big ‘90s acts like The Smashing Pumpkins or Soundgarden, only to name a few. And I would wager that if they would've received a bit more mainstream airplay, I think they would've been as big as many of those bands. Even in a decade when pop music had been transformed into the antithesis of the shallow glitz and glam of the ‘80s, it still had certain fickle expectations that barred many a band from getting heavy rotation on the mainstream radio shows.

With the bands lineup finally coalescing into Matt Talbot on guitar and vocals, Tim Lash on guitar, Jeff Dimpsey on bass, and Bryan St. Pere on drums, a second release in the form of Electra 2000 soon followed. A more experimental and expansive style began to develop during this album. A sound that, while hinted at on Fillet Show, never got its full deserved attention. Electra 2000 is ephemeral and atmospheric. Intricate instrumental passages open up into soaring choruses dense with feedback and distortion so thick it envelopes you. It’s rough around the edges; low cost production and an unusual mix created a record that is garage rock at its finest. It’s an album filled with heartache, teenage frustration, and alienation. All the cliché Flotsam and Jetsam from the ‘90s music scene is here in full effect. It was a great start to a short but influential career. Standouts on this album are “Iron Clad Lou,” “Pinch and Roll,” “Shovel,” “Pewter”… the whole album is solid. Go listen to it now! Right here!

A heavy dose of science, space, and heartache created a record that will go down as a proverbial diamond in the rough for fans of ‘90s rock: You’d Prefer an Astronaut. If Electra 2000 didn’t really grow on you, there is a good chance this is the album that will grab you and make you a fan. For those of you out there that are already familiar with “Stars” and claim be a fan of Hum, it’s time to put up or shut up. Listen to this album, and if you can’t claim that you like at least half of this album, you aren’t a fan of Hum. That’s okay though, I’ve still got one more record to hook you with! There really is something special about this album. The songs have the same pulsating walls of thick distorted guitars, elaborate riffs, and space-infused lyrical imagery that were found on Electra 2000, but on this outing they are delivered with laser focus and a more polished mix.

The angsty emotional energy of previous albums gave way to a more astute understanding of what it takes to write a great song. Lyrically, the tales of heartache, alienation, and philosophical musings are still present, but they are more mature and subdued in their delivery. Themes are handled tactfully in abstract ways instead of screamed in teenage fury. This album is Hum at its finest. Stand out tracks on the album include the obligatory “Stars,” “I Hate It Too,” “The Pod,” “Why I Like the Robins,” and “I’d Like Your Hair Long.” You can listen to the album for free here.

Hum’s next major release came in the form of Downward is Heavenward, a worthy bookend to a great catalog. Not many things changed with this release; the bulwark of dizzyingly thick suspended chords, half-spoken and screamed lyrical passages glued together by a tight rhythm section, and precision focus on the production, are still present in spades (all the hallmarks of what makes Hum, well… Hum). I’m not going to claim this record changed the equation and did something revolutionary. This record is more of the same, but, in the case of Hum, that’s something to be cherished. Many bands go through many evolutionary fits and starts—that challenge to keep things interesting. I think Hum figured out their voice as a band early in their career. They found their niche in the melodical and oblique. They mined diamond out of that fusion of lyrical imagery and sound. This would turn out to be the last major release for Hum. The band was never dropped and they never broke up. They just felt they were done. I’ve never thought that was really the case. I think they were a band that hung it up in their prime. My favorites on this album include: “Afternoon with the Axolotls,” "The Inuit Promise,” "Isle of the Cheetah,” “Comin’ Home,” and "Green to Me.” Listen to the album here!

I hope your auditory journey through these four albums was enjoyable, and I hope at least a few of you will find a new band to love.

With that, I will sleep contentedly knowing that I spread a little bit of happiness to my fellow man.

Thank you Matt Talbot, Tim Lash, Jeff Dimpsey, and Bryan St. Pere for giving us all these wonderful sounds. If any of you out there end up loving Hum and would like to make the trip to St. Louis or Chicago to catch a reunion show, as they tend to have one every few years, give me a shout. Hum’s major fansite, Mission Control, is the best place to catch up on news with the band and even to chat with other fans. They have answers to any random question about the band you can imagine. 

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To view past “Love in Minor Key” reviews and/or articles, click here.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Matt and Lindsey Stewart

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  • Published in Music

Fair-Weather Kings – Weathering Bowling Green’s Rolling Musical Seas

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (8/22/13)—Hearing it from the proverbial “horse’s mouth” makes it official: “energetic” ranks highest among the descriptors fans use to define the sound and feel of Bowling Green, KY’s beloved five-piece band, the Fair-Weather Kings. And it’s a fact that is duly justifiable. Comparison-wise, many say the quintet’s unique style is akin to the vibrant, nationally-acclaimed indie sounds of The Strokes and The Arctic Monkeys.

Yet, once you start trying to dial in their insightful works any further—to do their sound justice through words, so to speak—the process of classification becomes much deeper and, perhaps, more metaphysical. That being said, here’s my personal take: the Fair-Weather Kings strike hard on the head of modernity’s pop-rock stake, while remaining punctual, compositionally edgy, fun, and experimental in a not-too-abstract way. Their lyrical originality, atmospheric grooves, and consistently frantic, multi-layered live performances—which come courtesy of vocalist/guitarist Wesley Stone, guitarist Zach Barton, bassist Jason Williams, keyboard/synth player Craig Brown, and drummer Marcus Long— mix together well, producing a seemingly perfect storm amidst an electric and inspirational musical climate.

While the Fair-Weather Kings have yet to gain a large-scale, national following, they have received a wealth of veneration from all corners of our region and beyond. In fact, the respect the Fair-Weather Kings have deservedly garnered from their peers since forming just under two years ago is evidenced by the fact that they have remained afloat, relevant, and well-loved in the virtual sea of talent found in Bowling Green.

So how do the Fair-Weather Kings maintain their prowess in such a saturated musical market? What’s their origin story and creative process? And what is their ultimate goal with music? To find out the answers to these questions and much more, I recently got the chance to speak with FWK frontman and guitarist, Wesley Stone, who informed me that weathering west Kentucky’s blooming and inspirational entertainment scene isn’t always an easy task to master.

Who are the members of the Fair-Weather Kings, where is each member from, what are your ages, and what instrument(s) do each of you play?

I’m Wesley Stone and I’m on lead vocals and guitar. Zach Barton plays guitar, Jason Williams is our bassist, Craig Brown plays keys/synth, and Marcus Long is our drummer. Zach, Marcus and I grew up in Hopkins County, KY. Craig and Jason grew up in Bowling Green. We all currently live in Bowling Green. We are all in our late 20’s, with the exception of Marcus, who is in his early 30’s.

How and when did the band first form?

We first formed in October of 2011 with Zach and I just sort of jamming around on occasion and presenting songs to each other. After a bit, we tracked down a drummer and bass player to sort of feel out the whole band thing. After a couple months, we had worked out a few songs, but our drummer and bass player at the time weren’t really a good fit with the type of music we were writing, so that’s when Marcus joined, along with another friend of ours, Will Kronenberger, who played bass. Shortly after they joined, we picked up Rory Willis to play keys, who was Will’s roommate at the time and the owner and operator of Greyskull Recordings. We all wrote and worked on the songs that would end up on our debut, self-titled EP and played our first show in January of 2012.

Where did the name of the band originate and how does it fit with the music or “feel” of the band?

The name sort of became a formality at a certain point. We knew we had to call ourselves something, so we just started throwing out a bunch of ideas over the course of a week or so. Ultimately, “The Fair-Weather Kings” came about when we combined two of our favorite names that we had come up with. I can’t really remember what those were, though. Fair-Weather….something and something…Kings. There isn’t really any intended significance as far as the name representing our music or style. I’m sure I could dig up some philosophical meaning to it, but, really, it was just the first name that we all agreed upon that remotely sounded cool.

What influences do you all draw inspiration from both musically and in life?

We have a wide variety of musical influences—too many to even begin listing them—but we all draw from some variety of rock or pop music, and we all have our own favorite singer-songwriters. We also get inspiration from the many great bands we hang out with and play with around Bowling Green. Mainly, our songs are inspired by love, life, and the universe, and revolve around observations within each.

How has the band changed over time?

The biggest change that has occurred for us has been losing and gaining members. Will and Rory got busy with their jobs and other projects, and that is when Jason and Craig stepped in. They both came in with completely different styles than Will and Rory, which ultimately changed our sound. But it was for the better. Each previously written song has since evolved into something that is, in many ways, completely different from what you hear in our recordings, which were all done with Will and Rory. Again, this evolution has been for the better. The songs have gotten tighter and even experimental at times, which make them fun and different every time we play them live. You will very rarely hear the exact same version of a song from show to show.

How do you all define the sound of the Fair-Weather Kings?

That’s always a hard question to answer, and I usually just refer to what others have compared it to or said. The most common word used to describe our music is “energetic,” and we have been compared to The Strokes and The Artic Monkeys.

Like you just said, a good deal of the Fair-Weather Kings’ music is highly energetic and, at times, feverishly frantic, which comes across well during your live shows. By the same token, you all seem to be very tightly-knit as a multi-piece band. That being said, how do you approach the creative process? Do songs come together spontaneously or is it more of an intensive, day-by-day process?

The majority of our songs were songs that I had already written or were nearly complete ideas that I then presented to the entire band. From there, everyone just sort of filled in the gaps with each of us giving the others input and experimenting with various ways to approach them. However, we have also written several songs that blossomed out of a jam session during practice.

While the band’s sound is ultimately rooted in rock, you all also incorporate a variety of electronic, synthesized sounds in your music through guitar effects and keys/synthesized sounds. Do you think it’s important to remain open to different sonic avenues in the modern age for the sake of creativity?

We keep ourselves open to various sounds and even various styles for the sake of creativity. I think if we confined ourselves to a specific sound, or tried to write songs that adhere to a specific style or sound, it would hinder us creatively. We are constantly picking up things from other bands and each other, which steers each new song or idea in a slightly different direction.

You guys hail from one of the region’s most vibrant music scenes—Bowling Green, KY. How much of an effect has that environment had on the band’s approach and creative evolution?

It has its positives and negatives. On one hand, all the bands are learning, supporting, and challenging each other to become better. On the other hand, it’s a constant struggle to keep from getting lost in the mix of all these great bands and musicians in the area. Either way, we are proud to call Bowling Green home and love being associated with its rising music scene.

You all played at the inaugural Mad Flavor Arts & Music Festival in Madisonville this past June. Why did you all decide to play the festival and what was your overall take on the event?

It sounded like a fun time. Again, Zach, Marcus, and I grew up in the area and still have friends and family there, so it seemed like a great opportunity to not only play our music to some different faces, but to also visit with some familiar ones. We had a great time and got some great feedback on our set.

If I’m not mistaken, your self-titled EP and single, “Satellite Galaxies”, were both recorded at Greyskull Recordings in Bowling Green. Tell me a little bit about what it’s like recording there.

During those recording sessions, Rory Willis was still our keyboard player. We recorded all the tracks on the EP in a “live” fashion where everyone was being recorded at the same time, minus the vocals, so, really, it was just like a more structured and professional practice—except we played every song a dozen times. We did “tracking” for Satellite Galaxies, meaning we each recorded our parts individually. That process is slightly boring, but produces a much higher quality end product. It also allows for changes, and gave Rory the ability to piece together the best parts of each take.

Are you guys working on any new music at the moment?

Yes. We have two new songs that we have been playing live for a while that haven’t been recorded, and we are currently working through some ideas for at least three more. We are taking our time with the new material—screening it so to speak. The first album was composed of literally every song that was presented. This time around, we are being a bit pickier and are presenting lots of ideas that will be narrowed down to a few songs at a time.

From your perspective, why is it important for area citizens to get out and support local musicians and artists?

Because most of those local musicians and artists want to be national musicians and artists, and the road to that outcome is paved by every single person’s support.

Over the years, what’s been one of the band’s favorite shows and/or biggest accomplishments?

One of our best shows was a house-show at a place dubbed The Manor. It is right next to Greyskull—which is where we rehearsed at the time—in the basement of this old Civil War hospital that is now a private residence. There were a ton of people all giving us as much energy as we were giving them. Those are the best types of crowds. I’ll take a crowd of 20 people that are all getting into the music over 2,000 motionless bodies any day, and that’s when we put on the best show, too. It’s a give and take relationship when it comes to our performances, and we were getting and giving quite a bit at The Manor that night.

What is the end goal for the Fair-Weather Kings?

Ultimately, we want to reach as many people as possible with our music. So, short answer: major label support.

Where and how can people check you out and purchase your music?

We have a ReverbNation profile, as well as a Bandcamp profile. We don’t really charge for digital downloads, and both places have all of our recorded material for free. We have physical copies of our debut EP, which we have re-released with “Satellite Galaxies” for sale on our Bandcamp page. We have stickers and t-shirts for sale there as well. Of course, you can pick up any of those things at our shows, too.

In closing, feel free to give any shout-outs you want.

All of our fellow BG Sceners…
Canago, Buffalo Rodeo, Morning Teleportation, Schools, Chris Rutledge, Sleeper/Agent, Cage the Elephant, Opossum Holler, The Reneaus, The Beech Benders, Plastic Visions, The Black Shades, Lost River Cavemen, Fat Box, The Hungry Ears, Technology vs Horse, and others…

Also…
D93 WDNS, Revolution 91.7 WWHR, Spencer’s Coffee House, and Greyskull Recordings.


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Want to hear the Fair-Weather Kings right now? Check out the ReverbNation player attached below this article. Want to support the band by downloading some Fair-Weather Kings tracks or purchasing some merchandise? Visit the official FWK BandCamp page by clicking here.

For more information on the Fair-Weather Kings, such as upcoming shows and updated news, visit their official Facebook page by clicking here.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos by Jessi Smith

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The Spirit Shaman - Dandelion Wine

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (4/17/13) - When I was a boy, and old enough to read, boy did I read! Everything that was age-appropriate, and even a few levels higher, I consumed. At family gatherings at my maternal grandparents’ house, I would lie in the middle of the floor on the oval braided rug and read. The whole family there—laughing, talking, kids running, playing—all stepping over me and I never noticed because I was far away. I was paddling a river, exploring a cave, seeking treasure, and taking turns being villain and hero.
 
I had great influences in my family. My youngest uncle, Joe, was a writer, a columnist who started his career with the “Stars and Stripes” while in the Army, and went on to write for, and be an editor of, major newspapers in the western states. He gave me books, boxes upon boxes, every time he moved to a new job. But he would always go through them first, telling me a little about each one. And always, he would say every time, “Ah jeez, I don’t know if I can let you have that one. That’s a fine piece of work.” But in the end, he let me have all the contents of the box.

In one box he left me when I was about 12 or 13, there was Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. I read it. I re-read it, again and again. This wasn’t just a novel. Oh, it tells a very captivating story about a period in a young man’s life, but it is poetry of the highest caliber. The imagery is still, to me, unmatched. When he writes about cutting the grass, you can smell it. You can feel the itch of it sticking to sweaty, summertime skin. He takes you, with his skills, to exactly where he wants you, and you want to be there, too.

I was so absorbed by the story that I wanted to make some actual dandelion wine. I too, wanted to catch summertime in a bottle. But how? How could a kid that had never even grown a tomato or boiled water make something as complicated, and adult, as dandelion wine? So, I turned to my mother, expecting a quick “no,” as she was a Baptist, irregular church goer. And besides, we were Smiths, we drank beer.

Much to my amazement, she said, “Yes! Let’s make some wine!” I didn’t think I could love her more than when she made that statement. There was no internet back then. No movement and click of a mouse to take us to the “how-to” process. I think we either went to the library or consulted our Encyclopedia Britannica. A lot of you readers won’t know what Encyclopedia Britannica is, but your parents do. I can just tell you this: it was a giant volume of books that contained all the knowledge in the world that my parents told me that they had spent good money on, and why in the hell didn’t I read them, and did I know what they cost, and they weren’t there just to collect dust and…

So, we read together at the kitchen table. The first of the process was to gather dandelion blossoms, and, in that regard, we were certainly wealthy at our yard. So, I grabbed a bucket and ran out into the yard to get to work. I barely got started when my mom was there beside me.

My mother was, at that time, about 34. She was a lithe, slim, short, brunette full of life. People would say she was full of “vim and vinegar.” She was dressed in the weekend, “work at home” fashion of that time—a sleeveless white cotton blouse with some sort of scattered blue flowers and solid blue pedal pushers. And she dropped to the ground to gather the required amount of dandelions to make our wine.

We talked, crawled, and gathered blossoms for hours it seems. We sat back, speechless finally, as we realized we had wiped our entire yard clean of the golden-headed flowers. This was one of the best afternoons of my life.
     
We followed the instructions and, in a few weeks, had two bottles of wine, fermented and ready to drink. Well, I followed some of the instructions. I think I added too much yeast or too much sugar. And, as a middle-schooler, I became distracted with fun things other than the repeated straining of the batch. So, in our finished product there was a small pile of sediment at the bottom of each bottle that would cloud the whole thing if moved too roughly. And I was allowed to taste the product. Now I am really standing tall. So, I start to uncork the bottle and the cork exploded out of my hand, followed by what I thought was smoke! And when all settled down, me and my mom, we shared a taste of our labor.

Too much sugar or yeast—I don’t know—but the alcohol content was about that of vodka. Way too strong for my 12-year-old palate. I coughed, snorted, and told my mom, “Wow, this is great!” She was laughing, with tears running down her face. Then she took her taste. From her expression, I surmised that maybe the wine was stronger than vodka. Maybe a lot stronger. But being a mom, she said, “This sure is good wine we made, but I think it’s a little strong for us. I think I will give it to Uncle Marvin. He likes the strong stuff.” I acted like I reluctantly agreed.

My column is supposed to be about distilled spirits and such. And this time, this is as close as I will get to the subject. I’m not going to bore you with the exact and complete process of making dandelion wine. That you can easily find online now. But, I will tell you moms and dads, especially of young men, boys—make them put down the damn cell phone, all the remote controls, and get outside on a fine, warm spring day with the breeze blowing dandelion seeds across the lawn. Hand them a copy of Dandelion Wine and a glass of sweet tea. Tell them to read it for one hour. And, if he reads it through, help him gather the blossoms to keep not only summertime in a bottle, but the youth and love of his parents there, too.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Tony Smith

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The Spirit Shaman - Apple Pie

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (3/4/13) - I put the kickstand down and dismounted my Harley after a six-hour ride down four-lane highways at 85 MPH. Not my favorite kind of ride; I prefer empty back roads and a slower pace, but I had a party to get to.

I stood there a second, letting my legs get used to having something solid underneath them, and was just turning my head when an big hairy biker named Reaper hit me full-on with a bear hug, “COCHISE! So glad you could make it brother.” I’m glad he hugged me, because if he hadn’t, the impact would have surly sent me flying.

Quickly, I was surrounded with what us Motorcycle Clubbers call “righteous brothers.” Hugs and kisses and hugs from guys with names like, “Little Bear,” “BigDaddy,” “Pitbull,” “Hammer,” “Psycho,” and “Grubb,” were quickly followed by hugs from their ladies. A young man in his very late teens, with a giant knife strapped to his belt, stuck out his hand and said in a fine southern drawl, “Glad to meet you, Mr. Cochise.” I hugged him, too. My wife Bonnie was also swarmed by the crowd and walked off with the other ladies to catch up with her friends, because to all of us, it had been too long since we saw one another last.

I surveyed the grounds; motorcycles everywhere, and more pulling in; music blaring; a big fire pit with a homemade grill top covered in steaks; kegs (required, I think, at biker parties); tents set up; benches made from 5-gallon drywall mud buckets with a rough slab of wood bolted to them; and a worn looking country house with a porch all the way across the front. The guys I was paying a visit to called this their home, their clubhouse.

Looking back at my childhood, I guess us little boys that grew up to be men always have desired clubhouses. We’ve always needed a place where we could gather, plot some mischief, and get away from the authorities. You know, mom and dad. Today, as adults, they are called golf courses and deer camps for most. Now we are ducking mowing the grass and another authority we call "wife."

Anyway, I have arrived, and I'm in powerful need of a adult social beverage. I need something to wet the road dust in my throat, and well, to try and catch up with those that got there earlier than I did!

I maneuvered my way inside where the brothers had already prepared a chilled bottle of Chivas, which was sitting on the bar. This was not a fancy restaurant bar. This was a simple setup built by three or four guys in an afternoon. It boasted no brass railings, etched mirrors, ferns, or elevator music. It was loud, crowded, smoke-filled, dark, and kind of stinky, with ladies brassieres hanging from the ceiling - and I loved it.

I continued on outside, moving about the grounds, consulting, commiserating, celebrating, and confiding with the other men there. Conversations that make men grow together and build those relationships that survive distance and time.

Someone brought me a paper plate with a delicious looking steak, some beans, and slaw. I dug in! I don’t know how old the horse was that was sacrificed to make us that meal, but I am sure he pulled a plow at some point. I was unable to chew the meat, but it tasted good, so I just sucked the juice out of it and discreetly disposed of it.
 
Dusk arrived and a fellow emerged from the clubhouse toting two, three-gallon Gott coolers. The kind you see in the back of every work truck in the summertime. He stood up on a picnic table and shouted, “APPLE PIE!” The results of that simple exclamation were swift and surprising. From every direction came women in their worn jeans, too-tight tops, bandanas, and tattoos clamoring for some "apple pie." I asked Dutchy, the man seated next to me, what apple pie was. He smiled, and replied, “The ladies call it that. We call it 'bra-popper.'” “Huh?” I returned with surprise. “You will see,” he laughed.

After about two hours, with most of the apple pie consumed, it was full dark. The fire was roaring as the requisite Lynyrd Skynyrd played from the speakers. The ladies began to dance as inhibitions melted away, laughing, celebrating their lives, the event, each other, and all of us gathered. And soon, I learned why apple pie was called “bra popper,” and why there were brassieres hanging from the ceiling in the clubhouse.

All of the men I have mentioned in this story have left that National Club scene. Some have moved on to more notorious organizations. Some have given up that life altogether. Some started their own clubs. I was fortunate enough to be accepted back into the local Dixie Flyers MC. This is where my roots are, where I began this life path. I am home with righteous brothers now, hopefully until I pass from this earth. But all of the men mentioned, as well as some unmentioned, are still, and always very much will be, my brothers.
 
Now, years later, "apple pie" is a staple at all kinds of parties. You can find it at frat parties, fishing parties, Halloween parties, and more. Apple pie is for people from all walks of life. I don’t know if it has the same effect at those parties as it does at biker parties, but I am always asked how it is made. So, I am going to share the most simple biker apple pie recipe that I know of.

Ingredients: one gallon apple juice, one gallon apple cider, one box of cinnamon sticks, one cup of honey, one fifth (or liter) of Grain Alcohol (190 proof), rock and roll dance music, some nails, and a hammer.

In a pot that will hold two or more gallons, pour in the juice and cider. Once that is done, add the cinnamon sticks and ¼ cup of honey. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to boil for about 2.5-3 hours, or until the cinnamon sticks soften and start to unroll. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the liquid to cool some. While still warm, stir in ¾ cup of honey and 1 fifth (or liter) of Golden Grain Alcohol purchased from your locally-owned liquor store. Once that is complete, chill the apple pie. This recipe makes about 1 and ¾ gallons.

Next, start the dance music and serve apple pie over ice to your guests. They will enjoy it immensely and will soon be celebrating what a great drink maker you are and what a fine party it is. Some will say that you are the finest human ever.

The next day, get your nails and hammer. Now look around and find discarded clothing items to decorate your clubhouse.

All of my columns won’t be this adult or racy. Hang with me. But you are still free to enjoy this one and laugh quietly when no one is looking. Cheers! - cochise. 

Sugg Street Post
Written by Tony Smith

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The Spirit Shaman - An Introduction

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (2/19/13) - There is something comforting about opening the door to a bar, hearing the chatter of the patrons, the noise of the television or notes from the jukebox. Maybe your friends are already inside, and have a seat and warm company waiting for you. Maybe, in a crowded bar, your friend is an empty barstool.

There is something romantic about splitting a bottle of wine with your significant other. The act of worming the cork, removed with a "pop," pouring and spinning the wine. It’s intimate, even in a public restaurant, as a couple lifts that first glass together.

After a day’s work there is something relaxing about opening your home liquor cabinet and picking the one who always treats you right – a little scotch or bourbon over ice. You kick off your shoes, feel the cold sweat of the glass in your hand, and the stress of the day fades away.

There is something exciting about going to a friend’s home after being invited to a party to celebrate some holiday or sporting event - simply interacting with those that you care about, although the business of life keeps you separated at times. The table, covered with all the invitees’ favorite brew. The warmth of friendship paired with the warmth from the bottle is a good combination to bring on hugs, laughter, and the repeating of stories worth telling, and some, not.

My name is Tony Smith. A lot of people know me by my nickname, cochise. After 22 years in the retail liquor business, some just know me as "liquor dude." I own Father & Sons Liquors. I started as a young man and I’m now a cantankerous old bastard. I am starting with this page, a series of columns about grilled cheese “sammiches.” No, of course not. This column will be about liquor, wine, and beer. My staff and I will use this space to inform you about how these beautiful concoctions are made, their origins, their differences, and we will offer up some suggestions about some different things you might want to try. Whatever you drink, or don’t drink, is cool with us. We are just passing along some background about the magic elixirs that are on liquor store shelves and the backbar at your favorite watering hole.

I guess, at some point or another, almost all of us has had a moment alone and wondered, "How did I get here?” Usually, we do this after some turn in life that has caused us regret. Well, with no regrets or sad stories in mind, I asked myself the same question. How did I get here? How did I fall in love with Chivas Regal 12-year-old Blended Scotch?

For me, it was by accident. In my 20's, I was working as a minimum wage construction laborer on a commercial building in the demolition phase. I found a bottle after cutting the lock off of a container that was being discarded. Key word: found. I knew only one thing about Chivas then. It was expensive. Well, two things. The other, that I wouldn’t like it. Scotch. Yuck. Although I wasn’t sure why, I took it home and I put it away.

A short time later, a much-loved family matriarch passed away, and the younger part of the family gathered away from the old codgers to mourn, listen to music, drink, and remember our grandmother, mom, and aunt. I had remembered to bring the Chivas, to act like I was a sophisticate amongst my more accomplished kindred. We cracked it open, and I had to quietly ask one of my younger uncles, "Whaddya’ mix this with? Coke?" After a quiet moment that he took, probably wondering if I was really related to this worldly New Yorker-reading crew, he said, "Good whisky is neat, over ice, or ice and water. That’s it.” I nodded my head like I knew that all along and was just testing him. I proceeded to pour myself my first Chivas Regal 12-year-old Blended Scotch Whisky.
 
In 15 seconds, I went from a young man, who confidently and regularly declared to the world at large that Strohs beer was the ONLY beer in the world, to a person of introspection and doubt. How had this happened? I didn’t know all there was to know. Somehow, I had come to a bad conclusion, because surely, Chivas was the best beverage in the world! Afterwards, I rushed home, subscribed to GQ and Playboy magazines, and bought belts that matched my boots. I even threw away my “Ass, gas, or grass. Nobody rides for free.” t-shirt. I was a changed man.

From that point to today, I have enjoyed a 30-year romance with Chivas. Oh, I haven’t always been faithful. I have strayed, smitten by others, but I always come back. So, I am asking you to think back on your favorite brew, wine, or liquor. How did you get here today? A bartender’s suggestion? A night out with the girls? Deer camp?

I hope you will enjoy the column my staff and I will write for you. As we take turns, you will see more than one style, more than one passion, and hopefully it will entertain you. Cheers from the liquor dude.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Tony Smith
Photo by Jeff Harp

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Movie Mouth - Twilight Series

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (12/1/12) - Edward’s grandly romantic predicament in the first film, Twilight (2008), is based on the whole idea of desire and the consequence of acting on it. Edward wants to touch Bella, wants to kiss her, and more. But being a vampire, if his romantic passion is not controlled, instinct might overwhelm reason. Even a kiss is dangerous, for Edward, acutely aware of Bella’s thoughts and physical changes, sensing her rapidly beating heart as she becomes increasingly aroused, might not be able to control himself. He might lose his mind and bite her, drink her blood, and, instinctually satisfying his vampire’s hunger, kill the girl he loves.

This is great stuff. Twilight’s director, Catherine Hardwicke, embraces writer Stephenie Meyer’s newly drawn vampire mythology with a disarming seriousness. Hardwicke takes Bella’s first person descriptions in Meyer’s book to heart, treating the hormonal transformations and the newly acquired feeling that go along with them as movie themes worthy of Shakespeare, who, along with Jane Austin, Meyer claims to draw inspiration from.

Meyer’s ideas translated as they are in the film Twilight reminded me - because of Hardwicke’s straight forward direction - of a Bette Davis movie, Warner Brothers, late nineteen thirties. The sex angle, discrete for sure, is conceived and illustrated to ignite the viewers’ imaginations in both grand and intimate ways. Think of it: Bette as strong willed individualist, Bella, falling for the romantic but mysterious (cue noir lighting) Claude Rains as Edward. Bette/Bella’s friends, busy eyeing Errol Flynn or as in Dark Victory, “little Ronnie Reagan,” find the exceedingly private, shadowy Edward weird; which is, of course, the very reason Bette/Bella can’t take her bright, photogenic eyes off him. As unlikely as it may seem, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson (inspired Hardwicke casting) bring an unmistakable nineteen thirties sincerity to their respective roles; so brilliant are they at embodying Meyer’s old-time movie notions of romance and sex in the new millennium that we feel a genuine erotic charge every time Bella and Edward are close enough to touch. The whole idea that Edward stands in the corner of Bella’s bedroom at night, holding himself in check as he watches longingly over the sleeping girl of his century-old dreams is irresistible and sexy; just as irresistible, when Edward flies across the high school parking lot to intervene before an out of control auto crushes and kills his Bella. These moments dramatize in action a powerful eroticism, which, more than mere subtext, makes what’s at stake for these characters clear, while, at the same time, preparing us for what’s to follow in the rest of the series.

The first film is a wonderfully romantic piece, full and complete, within itself. After Twilight, from the Twilight Saga: New Moon to the recent Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2, the whole series breaks off into bits and pieces, some good and some bad, that simply don’t go together. From 2008 to 2012, this year’s finale, Summit Entertainment didn’t want to waste any time getting the movies out. Summit’s timeline, at odds with the director’s needs, created an unmovable obstacle. Hardwicke, therefore, passed on New Moon, and as she walked out the door, so did her cohesive sensitivity to Meyer’s material. The genuine glow of high style romance that gave the first film its palpable eroticism was replaced by subsequent directors with a slavish fidelity to the books and a kind of generic professionalism, equal to the films’ sadly generic CGI, that almost immediately dismantled all the delicately layered meaning that the first film so craftily built up. A wild and wooly marketing tactic now defined the series, emphasizing backstage relationships and character fidelities: camp Edward or camp Jacob: what side are you on? Summit Entertainment struck while the iron was hot. They didn’t trust the Twilight fans to remain faithful over an extended period of time, and, it seems to me, the whole notion that fans would continue to embrace Meyer’s vampire mythology if the movies that followed were as good as the first one never entered into it. Meyer’s hold over the whole show mirrored J.K. Rowling’s control over her Harry Potter movies, but like the quality of each writers’ prose, Rowling led with a superior command while Meyer, it seemed, followed the charge that others dictated.

By the time we get to Breaking Dawn, Part 2, the entire issue of desire and its consequence has been answered. In Breaking Dawn, Part 1, we’ve learned: if you wait for “I do,” before doing it, sex will be great. Not just great - what am I saying? - it will be explosive. Bella and Edward’s honeymoon suite is in shambles, completely destroyed after a night of the greatest, most energetic sex (not) depicted in a movie since Russ Meyer’s Super Vixens (Russ, no relation to Stephenie). Though we initially take the broken bed as a good sign that Edward and Bella are finally satisfied and all is right with the world, it actually foreshadows dark complications on the horizon. In Meyer’s universe, sex that good can’t go unpunished. After satisfying desire, the natural consequence would be: a baby on the way. But here’s the thing: not just any baby. One that’s half human, half vampire, and nothing but trouble for Bella and all those directly and indirectly involved. Let’s put it this way: love as a spiritual state becomes dangerous in the flesh, for sex, to Meyer (Stephenie, not Russ), though an undeniable component of love, must never be taken lightly or for granted; enjoy the orgasm and then suffer consequences; the greater the orgasm, the more life threatening the consequences.

Even before Breaking Dawn, Part 1, the logic of romance, instilled by Hardwicke, as opposed to any other kind of logic, colored my viewing. The series’ mixture of the mundane with the fantastic, made real by Hardwicke’s light but sincere touch, focused eroticism over sex, dramatizing what’s at stake for these characters, while at the same time, keeping our attention focused on the development of their - Edward and Bella’s - relationship. We stay as far away as possible from any questions of logic that Meyer’s vampire myth in general and the Cullen clan specifically, might otherwise solicit. Would the series have remained consistent if one director had handled the entire show, we’ll never know - though I believe, in the back of my mind, a single vision, complimentary to Meyer’s, would have given a more substantial form to the epic’s overall progression. Be that as it may, once eroticism energetically gives way to PG-13 sex, and the destruction of property, the entire issue of Bella, pregnant with her half vampire baby, leads to the question: how is it possible for a vampire boy to father a child? When I ask friends this question, they look at me like I’m nuts. Who knows and who cares, right? Perhaps. But as Meyer’s logic seems to break down with each film in this series, her use of vampire mythology to explore teenaged emotions and sexual urges makes less and less sense; that is, the vampire world becomes more of a gimmick than a seriously considered fantasy world, like Harry Potter's, or Anne Rice’s; Meyer’s vampires are creatures not of myth, but of fable, and her story, it would seem, does not explore the sexual emotions of young people as much as it gussies up the entire sex angle to warn young people that sex may be fun, but it’s risky, dangerous, for keeps; and, beware, after a moment of fun comes a lifetime of pain and misery.

Once Bella has sex, the embryo inside her, half human, half vampire, does not bring happiness or joy. That little amphibious looking spark of life is in fact a scary creature literally sucking its mother’s blood and life away. After an arduous period of pregnancy, more harrowing in its horror movie way than anything else we’ve seen in any of the movies, Bella’s life must be sacrificed during birth.

Rosemary’s baby turned Mrs. Woodhouse into a shrunken, frail skeleton (though not augmented by CGI) like Bella. But Rosemary’s child was not conceived in love and harmony, with her husband on their wedding night - after both had endured the longing torment of abstinence. Rosemary was drugged by her husband, who had made a secret deal with a coven of elderly witches behind his wife’s back, and was raped by a scaly creature - the Devil himself. Strip away the romance of Meyer’s vampire series - as indeed Summit Entertainment did when they rushed the movies, slam-bang, one year after another into the cinemas - and what have you got? Well, let me put it to you this way: as Rosemary is deceived by her husband, it feels to me that we’ve been deceived by Meyer’s crypto-sexist sentiments. Twilight is not a vampire romance, it’s an abstinence lesson told as a vampire fable, elevating, rather clumsily, a complete horror and distaste for sex acts and sexuality in general, to the level of pop art.

Meyer’s vampires are rooted partly in the same vampire lore as Bram Stoker and more recently, Anne Rice. But unlike Stoker and Rice, Meyer’s vampires are not creatures of the night, monsters who look upon the living as food, cattle to be butchered. Meyer’s vampire’s not only walk around in the sunlight, glittering like sparkling candy in the open air, they have integrated themselves into their human community. Edward, along with his vampire brothers and sisters, attend high school. Why? To fit into the community, or, to give Meyer an outsider for Bella to become interested in?

The TV show,True Blood, combines a form of mysticism with their brand of vampire, which, in a general way, justifies the fact that they can mess around with humans or, I assume, each other. But in the Twilight Saga the superhuman powers that go along with being a vampire are neat, but not mystical.

What Dracula and the Anne Rice stories have in common with the Twilight Saga is the promise of immortality. If you become a vampire you can live if not forever (they never do, really) but for a long, long, long time - longer than humans. What you give up to live that long is an element of humanity. Part of the myth’s power, therefore, has to do with a vampire’s ability to walk among humans, but not actually be human. For blood, you see, is like a drug; drink it and give up all that connects a human being to the earth, to each other, and to a particular time and place. Sensuality in any form is connected to the drinking of blood and the taking of live. The physical functions a human being enjoys or endures are no longer experienced or endured by the vampire. That’s part of the bargain: the life, or if you will, lifestyle, is all about blood.

Now, Edward is dead, or rather, undead, which means he died and was reborn as a vampire. Being dead means he has no heartbeat (or does he?). Blood, even if only the blood of animals, nourishes Edward, keeps him physically vital. But what about his body? Without a heartbeat, how does he have become aroused? This being a PG-13 movie, the details of his wedding night with Bella are to be imagined, yes, but it sure looks like they’re going about it the way you and I would go about it. And, of course, afterward, the baby is proof that something exploded from Edward into Bella.

This kind of logic, I contend, never went into Stephenie Meyer’s thinking, for her vampires are not really vampires when you get right down to it. They are the fanciful figures she uses to sell her regressive sexual primer. To be logical about the Cullen clan, or anything else in the film, would stray from what eventually is revealed to be her didactic intention. Breaking Dawn, Part 2 is riddled with blatant lapses, top to bottom. Since it’s the last movie in the series, these things are more evident than before, in the other films, because the final summing up brings everything she’s got into the glittering sunlight.

Why, for instances, does it take the European vampire crew the entire movie to get their gothic butts to Washington State? The Cullen clan has time to crisscross the entire globe more than once to gather “witnesses” before Michael Sheen and all the rest arrive to make all their evil, kooky faces. (Sheen gives one of the most maddeningly entertaining performances in the entire movie. Every time he’s in close up you wonder, what’s this guy thinking?) I’ll tell you why: it’s because 1.) Summit Entertainment, following in Harry Potter’s footsteps, decided to divide Meyer’s last book into two money making parts. And 2.) no one seriously considered the time lapse to be a problem. Why? Because this is a fable, a fairytale; who cares about everyday logic? It’s not important. Trouble is, dividing Breaking Dawn into two parts, the film makers severely limited the momentum their narrative would have had if Bella’s pregnancy and Nessie’s birth had immediately been followed by the confrontation with the old-world vampires. So to pad out the running time, a good hour of Part 2 is spent with characters endlessly sitting around, whispering about how bad things are getting. Since nothing else is really going on, all we can do is sit there and ask the questions that I’m asking now.

A friend of mine told me the Cullen clan whispers because, as vampires, their sense of hearing is acute, like Roderick Usher’s in Edgar Allen Poe’s story. Well, it looked to me like a group of actors out on a limb, with little to go on, unable to make clear and solid acting choices. Frankly, the actors looked lost most of the time; and self conscious because they didn’t have anything to do but stand around and look concerned. Director Bill Condon was more at home with wedding scenes and the honeymoon build up in Part 1 than anything else. Once he got Edward and Bella in bed together, what happened after sex never seemed to settle convincingly into dramatic place. Bella’s pregnancy, the complications during birth - everything followed, point by point, because that’s what happens in the books. These movies were rushed into production, with little time to think about translating the books’ action into a cinematic narrative. There is a difference. The big moment during the birth, when Edward gets in there, his mouth all bloody, was so out of character with anything we’d seen Pattinson do in any of the movies. The effect was shocking, and not in a way that served the story.

A lot of the reviewers complained, along with the fans, about the CGI baby in Part 2, but I thought it was rather appropriate. Ridiculous, yes, for sure. But given how Breaking Dawn, Part 1 and Part 2 brings Meyer’s hatred of all things sexual to the forefront of this series, a computer animated baby with a weird, knowing smile and those icky little fingers clutching at the air seems an appropriate thing to emerge from Bella’s battered womb. That CGI baby is the culmination of all that comes before Nessie’s mystifying, clunky entrance into this group of half conceived, none-vampire-vampires.

Breaking Dawn, Part 2 is a truly terrible movie. As entertainment, it’s a slack paced, toothless spectacle; a movie about vampires and love without any blood or sex; its got terrible CGI effects, actors who can do nothing but whisper as they play parts that may have been characters in 2009, but are now merely props for the marketing department to sell; and, after all is said and done, the series finale tells us: the consequence of desire is misery, pain, social upheaval, and (a form of) death. Years from now, when all the teens who flocked to each of these movies return to them, looking for the thrill they once felt, what will they discover?

I’m thinking that those who grew into adulthood, maladjusted and terrified of everything real in the world, will think the movies hold up. But those who ended up learning more than their parents know from the internet, will probably laugh and think, how silly.

Afterthought:

Between New Moon and Breaking Dawn, Part 1, all the stuff about shape shifting Native American boys, who transform themselves from shirtless, chiseled underwear models to CGI wolves, made me think somewhere along the line they’d become important to the story. An entire history attending this subplot makes the wolf boys natural enemies of the Cullen vampire clan. Jacob, played, as we all know, by Taylor Lautner (a grotesque combination of baby face above, muscleman’s body below), the third wheel in the Bella-Edward romance, shows up now and then with his shirt off. We’re supposed to feel the tug of suspense over the possibility that Bella might pick Jacob as her boyfriend over Edward. But since this never seems a genuine possibility, the complication, like the entire wolf deal, never really comes to anything. Jacob threatens Edward and the vampires, but never follows through. By the end of the second film, we know he’s all bluff and muscle and of no consequence to the main story whatsoever. Occasionally, the CGI wolves are neat, but, given nothing substantial to do, they end up being eye candy for teenage girls (and boys, I would guess), and that’s about it.

Reccomendations:

1. The Horror of Dracula (1958), was considered terrifically violent when it came out, mainly because it was the first major vampire movie to be filmed in Technicolor. The blood is vibrant, more red than red; smeared across Christopher Lee’s mouth, his Dracula becomes an image of intense savagery. This Penny Dreadful melodrama, written by Jimmy Sangster, set the tone for many of the Hammer Films that followed. It made Lee and Peter Cushing international stars, and director Terence Fisher emerged as a major horror film specialist. The film is fast and furious, though you never feel rushed. And it looks spectacular. A testament to the Hammer Films production staff, for the movie was made on a very low budget, shot in less than a month.

2. Back in the day, casting Tom Cruise as Lestat had everyone in the world in an uproar. When I originally saw Interview with the Vampire (1994), I thought he was okay. Over the last Halloween, I watched it again, for the first time in ages, and I was pleasantly surprised, not just by Cruise, but by the whole film. Even back then, Tom Cruise had that unearthly drive that stamps every character he plays. As Lestat, Tom’s focus and aggressive nature reads as a vampire’s animal nature. He performs his scenes as if each line and gesture is a fatal assault; the effect is breathtaking. Brad Pitt as Louis doesn’t get to show off the way Cruise, and, really, all the other actors do, but being the one understated vampire in an eccentric world of wild, unearthly creatures, his presence is finely felt. Kirsten Dunst as the forever porcelain skinned child, Claudia, one of the most startling predators ever gracing a movie screen, is the film’s most wonderful creations and performances. Neil Jordan’s vision for Anne Rice’s opening vampire act is dense and otherworldly; you can almost smell the fetid air that traces each moves these vampires make. I’m thinking that one of these days, Interview with the Vampire will be rediscovered by fans, Anne’s, and horror fans in general. When that happens, this dark, bloody, transgressively funny movie will be celebrated as a classic.

3. One of the most astounding reconstructions of the vampire myth is Katherine Bigelow's classic Near Dark, released in 1987 before Anne Rice's vampire obsession paved the way for today’s vampire trend. There's nothing nice about Bigelow’s grungy clan, vampires depicted as old time outlaws. These undead cowboys have traded horse and covered wagons for an SUV with covered windows; their blood-drenched playtime, a feeding frenzy of joyfully orchestrated cruelty and destruction, culminating in an unforgettable scene where the equally ratty patrons of an end-of-the-road bar are one by one slaughtered, for nourishment and fun. Even Stephanie Meyer's wolf boys wouldn't have a chance in full moon hell against these creatures of the night.

4. Innocent Blood (1992) is the one time that director John Landis gets it right. This modern day vampire-gangster pic works primarily because Landis and company play it straight. The outrageous stuff doesn’t get pushed; we laugh because it’s all so damn strange. Anne Parillaud, just out of her star making role in Luc Besson’s La Femme Nakita, plays Marie, a vampire who gets mixed up with Robert Loggio and his gangster crew. Anthony LaPaglia is the good human who joins forces with Marie to take down the mob. The cast is amazing, and each of the bad guys get their prime moment to turn, as they say, into the undead. Don Rickles, as the mob’s lawyer, is worth the entire film.

5. Thirst (2009), a film by Chan-wook-Park, the South Korean auteur responsible for the Oldboy trilogy, redefines vampirism with a Catholic priest as his subject. The priest volunteers to be a test subject for a new vaccine and dies in the process. But he really doesn’t die, not in the traditional sense of the word. What follows is shocking, sad, and often quite moving.

6. Tomas Alfredson’s vampire masterpiece, Let the Right One In (2008), ended up on ten best lists as diverse as Fangoria Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. If I tell you that this little Norwegian film focuses on many of the same themes you find mangled in the Twilight series, you must understand that Alfredson goes off in completely different directions to explore them. To begin with, the movie starts out as a kind of child like romance between 12-year-old Oskar and the girl who lives in the apartment next door. Her name is Eli and she’s also 12, but she’s been that age for 200 years. What’s astounding about the movie, apart from a story that simply holds you by the throat for its entire running time, is the marvelous way old vampire myths are respected. Unlike the Twilight movies, where you have to stop and think about how the vampires live, and all, Alfredson either implies circumstance, or in some dramatic way lets you know what’s different. The film is brutal, yes, but also very touching. Oskar and Eli’s romance is as darkly thrilling and moving as any you can think of before or since. Let the Right One In streams on Netflix and is also available through Amazon Prime. Don’t be afraid of the subtitles. See it. Right now. 

Nick Faust is a local actor and director who has done it all. He has worked on theatre and film projects all over the world. The Sugg Street Post is happy to have Nick contributing in-depth movie reviews and will continue to share them with our readers.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Nick Faust

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RabCab Rock & Roll Review - Avett Brothers, 'The Carpenter'

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (12/1/12) - What's a four letter word that starts with "F" and ends with "K"? If you guessed folk, I'm sure you're not the only one. The North Carolina based Avett Brothers are back again with twelve tracks of pure rock n' folkin' roll.

The Avett Brothers' seventh album,The Carpenter, picks up where 2009's, I, and Love, And You, left off. Once again, they have called upon the mighty Rick Rubin to produce. Benmont Tench, keyboardist for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, and Chad Smith, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, lend their talents on a couple songs, too.

This band has a knack for creating catchy hooks and beautifully simple melodies. That being said, their strongest attributes are vocal harmonies and potent lyrical content. Seth and Scott Avett sing about the complexities of love, loss of love, life and death, and the inevitable change these things bring without coming across as pretentious or preachy. "If I live the life I'm given, I won't be scared to die" is a line that keeps ringing through my head. When these guys sing I believe 'em.

The Carpenter transitions seamlessly through acoustic guitar/banjo ballads, to piano heavy pop, and straight ahead rock with overdriven guitars. Cellist Joe Kwon adds depth and sophistication with ornate string arrangements throughout. I recommend giving a listen to songs "The Once and Future Carpenter", "Through My Prayers," and "Down with the Shine".

In conclusion, if you have grown tired of reality TV and pop country exploiting the stereotypes of southern culture, go folk yourself. Listen to The Carpenter, an album written by a band of true southern gentlemen.
    
Rating: 8

Landon MillerLandon Miller, the “Original Groove Mechanic," has been a staple of the local music scene for well over a decade and currently rocks the Western KY region on the bass with his band, GypsyLifter.



Sugg Street Post
Written by Landon Miller

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RabCab Rock & Roll Review - Soundgarden, 'King Animal'

Soundgarden - King AnimalHOPKINS COUNTY, KY (11/24/12) – Grunge rock icons Soundgarden have definitely “Been Away Too Long.” Being a child of the nineties, I can honestly say it’s good to have them back. King Animal, the bands first full length album in sixteen years, is at the top of the heap in comparison to all the other billboard chart garbage that is passed off as rock nowadays. So put on your favorite flannel, push play, and drift away to a time of peace, a booming economy, and great rock and roll. Grunge is back.

King Animal is chock full of all the Soundgarden staples that have always made them unique: odd time signatures, walls of heavy droning guitar, and catchy melodies.

Understandably so, Cornell’s vocal delivery isn’t as acrobatic as in his youth. The album starts off strong with it’s first single, “Been Away Too Long.” It’s not the best song on the album, but perfect for radio. The highlights of the album are “Non-State Actor,” “Crooked Steps,” and “Blood on the Valley Floor.”

Bassist Ben Shephard finally gets to shine on the most unique track, “Rowing.” This song is heavily driven by Shephard’s distortion soaked bass and an oddly appropriate electronic drum track, courtesy of Matt Cameron, a first for the band.

The sleepers on this album are “Black Saturday” and “Halfway there”.

Overall, King Animal is a solid album. So many times we see our favorite bands come out of hiatus when they should have left well enough alone. Thankfully, that is not the case this time around. King Animal is proof that this band of veterans has yet to meet their expiration date.

Long Live Rock and Roll!

Rating: 6.5

Landon MillerLandon Miller, the “Original Groove Mechanic," has been a staple of the local music scene for well over a decade and currently rocks the Western KY region on the bass with his band, GypsyLifter.


Sugg Street Post
Written by Landon Miller

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