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Harlem in the 30′s, London in the 60′s, New York in the 70′s, Los Angeles in the 80′s or Seattle in the 90′s… cadres of adventerous bands have a way of amplifying each other, compounding everyone’s creative endeavors, until a full-fledged scene is formed.

Michael Crawford, a professional “shooter” – video and stills – felt such magic occurring in his hometown of Austin, Texas, and began taping bands – both local acts and national road vets who seemed to fit the local vibe – beginning in 2009. THE ROCK GARAGE: TEXAS LIVE CONCERT SERIES VOL. 1 is his proof the vibrancy of the current Austin scene. The capital of Texas remains culturally distinguishable from the rest of the state, a status it takes seriously, as the denizens often vow to “Keep Austin Weird”. Aware of its Western heritage but restless enough to break out of the typical twang, Austin’s scene, as presented on the CD, darts off in some unexpected directions, making this a fun listen.

I’m a fan of any band that manages to mix some gritty edge and sneering attituded with a heaping dollop of traditional country, and on that account, this comp delivers, featuring known entities such as NASHVILLE PUSSY and HICKOIDS, as well as the twisted blues regionalism of CHURCHWOOD, hardcore influenced HIWATT CRUCIFIXERS and the metal-tinged HONKY.

Other bands, such as TEXAS SAPPHIRES and DASHRIPROCK hew closer to traditional sounds but try to stay hip through lyrics and songchoice. TEXAS SAPPHIRES, for example, give an “old-time” treatment to X’s The New World to nice effect, while DASHRIPROCK stretches a lame pun about dykes about two minutes too long.

Other bands stretch far beyond the borders of the Texas plains , taking musical cues from electronica (PONG), anthemic indie rock (LIONS) and power pop (UGLY BEATS). While I appreciate the diverity, some of these outliers are skippable to me.

Evidently, this unique scene document was culled exculsively from videotaped live performances over a broad timeframe. Because of this, you don’t get that sense that you could close your eyes and feel like you’re there, as you can with some live albums (even ones that survey different acts at one specific festival). Also, because of the nature of the recording, you don’t get the benefit of pristine sound. Some of the sound is muddy and some of it leaves you wishing for a fuller dynamic range.

I also question the inclusion of the “talk-up” on most of the tracks. Sometimes these talkups are funny (if profanity-laced) bits of business or add context to the song, but just as often, they are sort of scattered comments that leave the listener feeling like they only heard half a conversation or half of a joke. In other words, there’s a lot of chatter, but it doesn’t live up to the standards of THE STOOGESMetallic K.O. or THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION soundtrack for creating a strong impression of what happened in the performance space.

Rather than dwell on what this disc doesn’t give you, though, it’s better to take it as it comes and appreciate what it does provide: a fully rounded snapshot of the Austin scene; a glimpse of the kind of bands you’d be seeing if you lived there. It also helps you make a list of bands to keep an eye out for when they tour near you.

I appreciate anything that documents a scene. The funny thing about “scenes” is that they tend to dissipate and, eventually, disapear as quickly as they arose. Projects like this serve as a welcome testament to a time, a place, an attitude and a sound. Some scenes produce a handful of superstarts, who usually quickly abandon whatever regional quirks made them worth noticing in the first place. Usually, there’s just remnants of talented, but relatively obscure people and their uncommon passion left to hint at what went down and why.

To this point, my strongest quibble is that the CD packaging (also overseen by project producer Michael Crawford) is lacking. I’m sure liner note and printing booklets are expensive, but part of the fun of a comp built around a unified idea like this is to immerse yourself in the identities of the bands… maybe get invested enough to follow up this purchase with a few albums by the participating bands. It would be a welcome change if any future editions had band bios or information about the origins of the tracks. If these performance started as video productions, it’d be fun to see some of that performance video at some point, too! Maybe a DVD follow-up if this disc succeeds?

 

 

 

 

Rank and Revue Magazine

 

The Rock Garage
Texas Live Concert Series Volume One
By: Mark Marker
Band Web Page

The Smiths a.k.a. HONKY released “Just A Man”, before their next record comes out, on this fine compilation of live tracks performed in clubs around Austin. As usual, Bobby Rock tears through this song with sweltering leads and supa choppy riffs, and Pinkus keeps you laughing while makes you bang your head. Great track! Nashville Pussy shows you whaddup with Ruyter, one again, raping her guitar. They are touring with The Dwarves NOW, go support and buy the band a round!!! Ruyter’s favorite new drink is Four Loko’s Lemonade! Have SIX, and put it in a Bubba Keg!!! Pure Luck delivers pure outlaw country with “Your Face or Mine (That’s How I met your Mom)”. The Hickoids are one of the best Cow Punk bands of all time, and only get better with age. Do not EVER miss another Hickoids show, and this record is worth buying just for their song, “Stop It Your Killing Me”. Pure Texas in all its glory! The Texas Sapphires boast new country with an old school sound on, “The New World”. Cool boot stompin’, beer drinkin’ song! Ok. For all you people that think Texas is nuthin’ but steers and queers, Pay attention. Pong will show you that Austin, Texas is full of rich music and a broad scope. The song “Click-Ok” is mean, danceable, and allows room for you to stage dive right on your thick skull! Been throwin’ beer back @ the pit for many years and do it with integrity. The Ugly Beats bring their poppy punk meets late 70′s punk sound to the stage. Makes you wanna jump in place, and sing along! Brutal Juice?! Really?! Glad they are back, gracing stages. Should be enough to make Amphetamine Reptile Records put out another disc. How Nawlins cowpunkers, Dash Rip Rock, found their way on this Texas complilation, is unsure, but glad they are here! New Orleans needs stronger dykes! Listen up!!! CHURCHWOOD!!!! These guys bring it!! Love this fuckin song! Fuck John Lomax fer sayin’, in the Houston Press, that Austin doesn’t have a scene anymore. Proof positive! Hey Lomax, come see CHURCHWOOD! HiWatt Crucifixers will give you somethin’ to sing your teeth into. Lions are cool as shit on stage and off. Go see ‘em live. The Dirty Charlie Band has one of the best breakup songs I have ever heard. “Shoulda Killed My Baby” is straight country bliss with some of the most brutal lyrics you could stomach, AND relate too. Great stuff!!! Pocket Fisherman are legendary in the Austin scene, and “We Kill Evil”! Awesome song, awesome live show and kickin’ fish fry’s. Amplified Heat are a trio of third generation musicians, and three brothers. Can you say CHEMISTRY? They do bluesy soundscape punk rock and do it so well, that Rolling Stone Magazine called them the third best band of SXSW this year! Rolling Stone wasn’t kidding! The seamless time changes and nice mix of sound definitely proves Austin’s scene has the force of a Jedi Knight. Badass track, “Shut Yer Face” gives a snippet of what they have to offer. Catch a whole set!!!! Michael Crawford did everyone just justice by putting this together for the bands and all of us fans! Thank you Texas Rock Garage!!!!!!!!!!


 

 

 

Punk Globe

Texas Live Concert Series
By: Rebecca G. Wilson
I am a middle aged. jaded person in California and I was not expecting much when I popped on this CD since I don’t know who the hell any of these acts are (except one) but the very first song caught my attention, Hey! A song by HONKY called Just a Man. These guys rock like Junkyard, well all right! I was listening to the noodly, distorted bluesy guitar on this most excellent opening track as I wrapped up a phone interview with Felix Griffin from D.R.I./Blunt Force Trauma. “The bass player from the Butthole Surfers is in that band,” he said and as I read the names down the list of this compilation and he was impressed with the selection. I listened to whole thang and was impressed with the variety. I’m just reviewing this CD one song at a time in order of appearance . . .
Pure Luck has a strong power ballad, Your Face Or Mine, this is a drinking song to cry to.
Stop It You’re Killing Me by the Hickoids, long jam with Davy Jones’ mind blowing guitars. It’s a funny song about a guy who uses pick up lines on gals like someone pulling up his sleeve to offer a plethora of used watches for sale. Davy Jones is kind of a straight man to Jeff Smith’s jokes, ‘cept he’s talking with his blazing guitar.
Texas Sapphires do a sweet and peppy banjo ‘n’ fiddle version of New World by X. I like it!
Pong is an interesting, gloomy song, kind of Folk Implosion/Primal Screamish but I don’t like it on the heels of the peppy Texas Sapphires number.
The Ugly Beats I’ll Make You Happy! Yeah! My kind of insect guitared 60s garage influenced indie music, luv this one, got that great Fleshtones feel. The singer’s soulful wail is outtasite. I wanna hear more of these guys, yes, yes, yes.
Waxing Gibbous by Brutal Juice is a nice ballady number with numbing rhythm guitar broken up with screechin’, heavy metalish, Brian May from Queen-like solos climaxing with guttural demon voice singing. Brutal Juice lives up to their name!
Dash Rip Rock has that Squirrel Nut Zippers fun feel with its New Orleans Needs Stronger Dykes song. A fun song with political overtones that remind and enlighten without depressing.
The Lions song Screaming Out is another heavy number with a Dio meets Junkyard sorta feel, rockin’!
I was curious about this Churchwood track since I am a BIG fan of singer Joe Doerr’s old band the LeRoi Brothers (still gotta review that Churchwood full length CD I have yet to listen to :)) Their tune Vendide Fumar turned out to be one of my fave tracks with its funky Tom Waits bluesy feel and trippy arrangement. Cacophonous blues, well alright.
The Dirty Charley – Shoulda Killed My Baby – Now this should be the opening track! You gotta go to Texas to find tunes like this. I love politically incorrect art and music and this cathartic song hopefully had a therapeutic effect on its author. I hate to admit it but I like this catchy song with its real country sounding vocals and tasteful guitar solos but I would never go on a date with Dirty Charley.
Concubine – has a hidden track on here, Hidden Watt Crucifixers which is a nice heavy track.
Pocket Fishrmen – We Kill Evil is an interesting heavy metalish song with a philosophically inclined singer whose ironically whiny vocals soar above the sea of distorted guitars giving the song a comical feel. Interesting.
Amplified Heat – Strong Arm Shut Yer Face opens with a bass and drum solo that should have been mixed louder, but these are live recordings so whatever, drums sure jam before the Black Sabbathy geetar comes in and squeals into a rhythmicy punk rock number with a garage feel. The guitars have that East Bay Ray Dead Kennedys feel but are mixed up with that Texas blues solo touch! Nice.
Some tracks on this CD are stronger than others but all in all this is a really good CD with some GREAT tracks. Makes me wanna visit Texas!

http://www.punkglobe.com/therockgaragereview0911.html

 

Blurt Online

08/29/2011

Various Artists

The Rock Garage Texas Live Concert Series Volume 1

http://blurt-online.com/reviews/view/3288/

(The Rock Garage)

 

www.therockgarage.com

 

By 2011, only a music fan doing an ostrich imitation would still think of Austin, Texas as a music town devoted only to roots music – blues, outlaw country, etc. The punk and alternative rock scenes have long poked holes in the Armadillo World Headquarters fantasy, with everyone from Spoon to Fastball to the Butthole Surfers earning as much (or more) notoriety as Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

 

So there’s no real thematic punch to the first volume in Austin website The Rock Garage’s series of recordings from local clubs. But there doesn’t need to be, either, other than to showcase the down-and-dirty doin’s that hit the River City’s club scene on any given night. Producer/writer Michael Crawford took his mid-fi equipment into a variety of joints (listed in the liners, but not specific to the performances) to capture a diverse group of artists on their home turf.

 

Hard rock seems to get the most play here, with standout cuts from the irreverent Honky (“Just a Man”,) the thrashy High Watt Crucifixers (“Concubine”) and the unabashedly heavy Lions (“Screaming Out”) and Brutal Juice (“Waxing Gibbons”). But there are plenty of other wares on display here. The Ugly Beats blast out a perfect piece of garage pop with “I’ll Make You Happy.” Churchwood does its Captain Beefheartian blues thang on the ferocious “Vendide Fumar,” while Amplified Heat takes the form into distorted grunge territory on “Strong Arm ‘Shut Yer Face’.” Pong takes postpunk out in the alley and beats it up with “Click OK.” The Dirty Charley Band and Pureluck kick country & western’s ass all around the barroom floor on “Should Killed My Baby” and “Your Face or Mine,” respectively, while the Texas Sapphires showcase a (slightly) more traditional spirit on “The New World.” The Pocket FishRMen and the Hickoids (whose cheerfully smutty spirit seems to saturate the whole project) give punk rock their own good-natured thrashings on “We Kill Evil” and “Stop It You’re Killing Me.”

 

The collection also finds space for a couple of out-of-town guests, specifically Nashville Pussy (whose drummer got his start in the Austin scene) and its staple “Good Night For a Heart Attack” and longtime Austin favorite Dash Rip Rock and its snarky satire “New Orleans Needs Stronger Dikes.” They may not be from Texas’ capitol, but they both fit right in to the profane, rocked-out scene celebrated by The Rock Garage. Here’s hoping for volume 2.

 

DOWNLOAD: “I’ll Make You Happy,” “Waxing Gibbons,” “Vendide Fumar” MICHAEL TOLAND

 

 

Stash Dauber

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2011

A coupla new gooduns from Saustex Media

Jeff Smith’s San Antonio-based label Saustex Media has released some of my fave platters of the last coupla years, including slabs by ace pop rockers The Service Industry, beloved Mission City institutionSnowbyrd, and Jeff’s own band the Hickoids. So a package with his postmark gets my attention.

First out of the bag was The Rock Garage Texas Live Concert Series, a compilation put together by The Rock Garage, a mainly-but-not-exclusively Austin-centric recording project helmed by photojournalist Michael Crawford. It’s a rough ‘n’ rowdy set, encompassing 15 stompin’ selections by the likes of Honky, whose singer-bassist/ex-Butthole Surfer Jeff Pinkus sounds like David Lee Roth fronting the Melvins on “Just a Man;” Nashville Pussy, Atlanta hotsoes who put redneck rawk together with Detroit-via-Scandinavia ramalama and then shake, rather than stirring on “Good Night for a Heart Attack;” PONG, who perform an amusing burlesque of dance music on “Click Off;” Churchwood, who reprise “Vendide Fumar,” a bit of brawny Beefheartismo from their worthy full-length; and “Screaming Out” by Lions, who demoed every move from the GIG magazine compendium of stagecraft when I saw ‘em open for Mike Watt in Dallas a couple of years ago. Play it loud and piss off your local equivalent of the yuppies that live around Sixth Street and Red River.

 

 

 

AustinChroniclelogo

Texas Platters

Squawk Box

BY RAOUL HERNANDEZFRI., AUG. 5, 2011

The Rock Garage Texas Live Concert Series Volume 1

“Hi y’all, we’re the Smiths,” opens Honky hesher J.D. Pinkus. “We’re gonna play a bunch of new songs about not eating meat.” Yuks lace themselves through 15 mostly local field recordings, including Nashville Pussy channeling Sam Kinison and the Ugly Beats’ touch of Jello Biafra. A smidge of Dicks in Churchwood, Pure Luck’s metalbilly (“Your Face or Mine”), and Satantonio splatter from the Hickoids into the Texas Sapphires’ fiddling hayride (“The New World”). Raw. ***.5

http://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2011-08-05/the-rock-garage-texas-live-concert-series-volume-1/

 

Pocket Fishrmen

Live at the Fish Fry

Taxidermy from the Scoot Inn last May, this second installment of the lead-balloon-named Rock Garage Texas Live Concert Series rages a grease fire of raucous, mosh-tossed, old-school Austin punk, irreverent as Bill Hicks and twice as consumptive. Gunning “Flaccid Is the Night,” complete with dueling guitar and bass breakdowns, and the Gary Floydisms of “One Blowjob” peak in a spastic go-go (“Go Saddam Hussein”), Howitzer recoil (“Amy Carter”), and crack (“Go Out Smoking”). ***

http://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2011-08-05/pocket-fishrmen-live-at-the-fish-fry/

 

MUSIC

Rock Garage Texas Live Concert Series

Recommended Thur., July 21, 8pm

The Scoot Inn, 1308 E. Fourth, 512/478-6200

Photographer/cameraman Michael Crawford did his main tour of local punk rock duty in the 1990s, which is why his three-day Scoot Inn lockdown features Sincola shrieker Rebecca Cannon in country darlings the Texas Sapphires, Fuckemos’ throat Russell Porter aboard his Babydick, and NOLA ringers Dash Rip Rock. Crawford’s debut releases, a Pocket FishRmen live set and a contemporary comp featuring all those mentioned minus Babydick but including Pong, the Hickoids, Amplified Heat, and many more, proves Matador and Super Secret Records aren’t the only A&R documenting Red River. $5.

THURSDAY: The Reaction (8:30), the Hickoids (9:30), Churchwood (10:30), the Dirty Charlie Band with DixieWitch (11:30pm), Pure Luck (12:30am) – Raoul Hernandez

 

One comment

  • Michael Crawford (3 years)

    Hickoids, Churchwood, Los #3 Dinners

    Fronted by local promoter and music enthusiast Jeff Smith, the Hickoids are one of SA’s most exciting live bands. But this isn’t just another Hickoids show. It will be a celebration for former local promoter Belle Solloa’s birthday, and local rock ’n’ roll legends Los # 3 Dinners will also be there (if you haven’t seen the Dinners yet, where have you been?). On top of everything, the show will mark the official release of The Rock Garage: Texas Live Concert Series Vol. 1, the first in a series of live performances from… Austin? Crap. Anyway, Hickoids and labelmates Churchwood (with close ties to San Antonio) are also part of the album, so come celebrate and keep in mind the live music Saturday night couldn’t be more San Antonio. $5-$10, 8pm, Nightrocker Live, 605 San Pedro, all ages, (210) 265-3573, nightrockerlive.net.

    http://calendar.sacurrent.com/Events/e18815

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