Monday, December 31, 2007 Reviews: December 2007

Food & Drink
Kettle Brand - Buffalo Bleu... - jmdobies says "Flavor-Saturated Chip Packs a Wallop..."

Stone Brewing Arrogant Bastard Ale - jmdobies says "Potent, Lusty Brew Not for Sissies "

Local Places
Austin City Limits Music Festival - jmdobies says "Eclectic Music Fest Offers..."

Clem Mikeska's BBQ - Temple, TX - jmdobies says "Since 1965, Clem's Has Been..."

Dell Children's Medical Center... - jmdobies says "Understaffed and Inefficient..."

Lubi's Hot Subs - Jacksonville, FL - jmdobies says "Jax-Based Chain Offers Uniquely..."
Rudy's BBQ - Austin, TX - jmdobies says "No-Frills Chain Delivers Tasty BBQ..."

Short Stop - Austin, TX - jmdobies says "Short on Square Footage, Long on Flavor..."
Smokey Mo's - Round Rock, TX - jmdobies says "Austin-area BBQ Chain Does It Right..."

The Austin Film Festival - jmdobies says "Austin Film Fest Celebrates the..."
Wheatsville Food Co-op - Austin, TX - jmdobies says "The Homegrown Alternative to Whole Foods..."
Movies & TV
THE ASSASSINATION BUREAU - jmdobies says "Reed and Rigg in Top Form in..."
BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE - jmdobies says "Snowbound Schlock Delivers Some Shocks..."

EEGAH - jmdobies says "A Girl, a Caveman, and a Beady-Eyed Guitar-Playin' Grease Monkey..."
Friday Night Lights, Season One - jmdobies says "Better Than the Movie, Almost as Good as the Book..."
THE GLORY STOMPERS - jmdobies says "My Favorite Biker Movie...Dennis Hopper..."

HELP! - jmdobies says "The Beatles in Their Prime, in Color!..."
THE LAST MAN ON EARTH - jmdobies says "Vincent Price Battles Italian Zombies..."

TOMORROW NEVER COMES - jmdobies says "Oliver Reed in Canadian-Made Hostage Drama..."
Web SitesGarage Punk Podcast - jmdobies says "A Treasure Trove of Garage Rock..."

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Beatles: Help! DVD

The Beatles: HELP!
Deluxe Edition DVD

Originally planned for 2005 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of its release, this DVD reissue of Help! is well worth the wait.

Luckily, through the kindness of a family member, I got the deluxe edition for Christmas this year, and it is incredible. The restoration of the film is exemplary, with the colors even more eye-popping than they were in '65. John, Paul, George, and Ringo look great, impossibly young and full of life. The soundtrack has been lovingly remastered, with the songs sounding better than ever. My only complaint is that the dialogue is not nearly as loud as the songs or the incidental music, so that some of the witty asides are buried. This may be due to the fact that the boys were stoned out of their gourds while making the movie, and were mumbling, but in any case, the dialogue should have mastered a bit louder.

The DVD extras are very entertaining, with reminiscences from director Richard Lester, director of photography Peter Watkin, costume designer Julie Harris, and actors Victor Spinetti and Eleanor Bron. There are also original trailers and some vintage radio spots hidden in the menus.

All those things come with the standard edition, but there's even more cool stuff in the deluxe version. First off, you get a beautiful hardbound book with an appreciation from Martin Scorcese, a nice bit o' memoir from Dick Lester, and eight lobby card reproductions that are totally mind-blowing, although they have been shrunk down from the original 11 x 14. Also included is a reproduction of Lester's copy of the shooting script (working title: "Beatles Two"), with his handwritten notes. It's pretty cool.

If you love the Beatles, you owe it to yourself to own this DVD, in either edition. If you can afford it, go for the deluxe edition.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Cynics: Here We Are

Get Hip Recordings

The Cynics have been dealing in fuzz-laden garage rock for over two decades, in the process creating a body of work to rival many of their heroes.

My old band, the Malarians, opened for the Cynics back in 1988, at some club in Naugatuck, Connecticut (The London Fog? The Night Shift??). I remember how the Cynics totally captured the whole '60s garage aesthetic in ways my band could only aspire to. 20 years later, the Cynics have added a few colors to the palette, but still kick out the jams in the old school way.

Recorded in Spain at Circo Perrotti Studios, Here We Are is a great-sounding record, jumping out of the speakers with pounding immediacy. Part of the reason is that it is presented in mono, which, as any garage-o-phile worth his salt will tell you, just sounds better. Listen to Gregg Kostelich’s tremoled guitar on "Coming Round My Way" or the folk-rock 12-string on the title track, and you'll understand what I'm talking about. Stereo's OK, but mono rocks.

As do the Cynics. Sure, there are a couple of ballads, and even a pop-soul number with horns. But this is a rock n' roll record, and a durn good one. Singer Michael Kastelic is in fine voice throughout, especially on my favorite track, "The Ring."

Pittsburgh's finest have done it again, so go buy this album.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Chunk Records Story, Part Three

Part One and Part Two of "The Chunk Records Story" traced the evolution of the indie imprint from vanity label to trademark of quality (and quantity) with releases featuring New Radiant Storm King, Sebadoh, Silver Jews, and Lyres, among others. With the 1994 compilation Hotel Massachusetts, Chunk moved beyond vinyl into the realm of CDs.

Chapter Four: The Beginning of the End

Hotel Massachusetts had sold well for a comp, and proved that Chunk was more than just a boutique label dealing in the hipper-than-thou 7-inch vinyl format. I wanted to find a band to groom for development into a major label act, that was as yet undiscovered, but who would be ready when the majors came calling. Like Sub Pop had done with the money they made when Nirvana signed with the David Geffen Company, Chunk could then further develop its roster of bands, and be a legitimate, profitabl
e independent label.

One night, I was having a pint at the Northampton Brewery when it hit me that the little group playing the open mic was just the band I'd been looking for. The Scud Mountain Boys weren't your garden variety indie rock band. Far from it. They didn't even have a drummer. But they had a genius songwriter and a haunting, lonesome sound that was truly unique.

I decided to make them an offer they couldn't refuse. They didn't refuse, but they would later renege.

No less an authority than Robert Evans once said that "there are three sides to every story: yours, mine...and the truth."

Here's mine.


Steve Westfield wa
s a local singer-songwriter who had been around since the early '80s heyday of the Western Mass Hardcore scene. He was best known from his days with the Pajama Slave Dancers, a joke-punk act with several LPs to their credit, featuring titles like "Train Wreck on Prom Night" and "Full Metal Underpants." He later went solo, and made a series of records, of which "Sittting on the Bottom of the World," his side of this split 7-inch, is fairly representative. The thing that helped garner sales, reviews, and airplay of this otherwise unremarkable performance was the presence of Sebadoh's Lou Barlow on the track. It also attracted the attention of Lou's new label Sub Pop, but they weren't interested in Steve Westfield. They were interested in a Slow Band all right, but not Steve's. It was the Scud Mountain Boys they wanted.

The Scud Mountain Boys - Joe Pernice, Bruce Tull, and Steven DeSaulniers - were the band on which I had chosen to focus my efforts to take Chunk to the next level. They had great material, a cool stage gimmick wherein they performed seated around a table, and a unique sound: confessional country rock on heavy downers. They put the depression back into "No Depression." Their half of the record, "Television," captured their slow acoustic aesthetic perfectly, but was just a warm-up for the one-two punch that was to follow.

CH4512: TIZZY: "New Jersey"/"Betty vs. Veronica"

Tizzy was a band that was two-thirds female, full of quirky energy and poppy, punky songs. They were one of the bands featured on Hotel Massachusetts, and their 7-inch reflected the DIY
ethos of Chunk by its painstakingly hand-painted sleeve. The band members added the paint as fast as I could sell the records, which wasn't all that fast, but it sold respectably enough.

SCUD MOUNTAIN BOYS: Dance the Night Away CD

Track List: Freight of Fire/One Hand/Peter Graves' Anatomy/Letter to Bread/Television/(She Took His) Picture/Where's the Playground Susie?/Combine/Silo/Reservoir/ Sangré de Cristo/ Sweet Sally/Closing Time/Kneeling/Helen

Whereas the Scud Mountain Boys' split 7-inch with Steve Westfield was intended as an appetizer, Dance the Night Away was meant to be the main course, a tour-de-force displaying everything the band did well. As the bigtime beckoned, the Boys had added former Hoolapopper frontman Tom Shea on drums and mandolin, and he appears on several cuts.
A couple of the tracks dated back to their days as the Scuds, an earlier, electric incarnation I had witnessed playing at Sheehan's, and later booked on one of the first Bay State Cabaret shows. I remember my foremost first impression of the Scuds had to do with Joe's girlfriend, who was quite lovely (the phrase "cupid's bow mouth" comes to mind). Some of Joe's best songs ("Grudge Fuck" comes to mind) were directly inspired by her.
The Scuds were OK, but the Scud Mountain Boys were great, and had indie cred. They were a band's band, a critic's wet dream.

Anyhoo, when I made my offer to sign the band to Chunk, the Scud Mountain Boys were still a fairly well-kept secret, and completely unknown outside of the Valley. We had a sit-down at the Bay State, with their producer and designated consigliere, Thom Monahan, sitting in. I offered them a deal that would include the split7-inch, the CD release of Dance the Night Away, a vinyl pressing of their previously cassette-only Pine Box (and also on 8-track cartridge, if possible), plus the all-important option for a third full-length, that would necessitate a buyout should they sign with a bigger label, as per my master plan.

We shook hands like honorable men, and I arranged to have our agreement drawn up by a local attorney who shall remain nameless, although I will say that she was the sibling of one of the Mamas and Papas. Unfortunately, by the time she actually drew up the contract, the records were already released, and the feeding frenzy had begun.

CH1008: MISS REED: Corn CD

Anyway, this was another band-financed effort that hoped to exploit the indie cred of the mighty Chunk label, but failed to sell for various reasons. It was too pop for a lot of the indie rock types, and too metal for the shoegazers. Also, it's best track was already on Hotel Massachusetts.

Miss Reed was a band that was less than the sum of its parts. Leader Ray Neades was a talented songwriter and excellent guitarist who I'd played with in the Cheetahs and who would later be part of the plus-size AC/DC tribute band Beefy DC. Bassist Frank Padellaro, who I also played with in the Cheetahs, would go on to replace Stephen Desaulniers in the Scud Mountain Boys, and front his own band, the genius King Radio. Dave Trenholm, another once and future Cheetah, is a skilled arranger and guitarist who would also be part of King Radio. Drummer Paul
Pelis was a heavy hitter who would go on to play with several top combos.

Ray passed away in December of 2009.

CH4513 & CH4519: DMZ: Live at the Rat '76 Volumes 1 & 2

Vol. 1:
First Time is the Best Time/Boy from Nowhere/Go to School
Vol. 2:
Ball Me Out/Lift Up Your Hood

These records came about as the result of another advance paid to Jeff "Monoman" Conolly of the Lyres, and were originally intended to be teasers for a full-length release that would also include a 1993 DMZ reunion show. Though that CD eventually came out a couple of years later, it was on another label, not mine.
These tracks are the very best recordings ever made of DMZ at the peak of their punk power. While their Sire LP suffers from overproduction and a bad mix, courtesy of Flo & Eddie, the Live at the Rat songs sound absolutely killer, having been remixed from the original multi-tracks and lovingly mastered by Erik Lindgren.

"First Time is the Best Time" was DMZ's first 45, and features an incredible vocal performance by Conolly that is an unholy marriage of Joey Ramone and Bryan Ferry. Studio recordings of three of the tracks wound up on Bomp's Relics LP, but those versions pale in comparison with these. "Go to School" was previously unissued in any form, and helped Volume One sell out faster than almost any other Chunk release.

Slow Down, This Is Not Monte Carlo

The Push Kings were nice, Ivy League boys who were seduced by the lure of indie rock obscurity. They sent me a demo that my girlfriend fished out of the pile of unlistened-to cassettes in my office, and popped in the tape deck. "They sound just like your beloved Pavement," she said, and damn if the songs didn't sound just like outtakes from Slanted and Enchanted. I played the Push Kings demo for Pavement aficionado Zeke Fiddler, who gave it a bemused thumbs-up.

Through David Berman, we arranged for Pavement's Stephen Malkmus to write liner notes for the resultant 7-inch EP, SlowDown, This is Monte Carlo. They were suitably dry and ironic:

"The all-around sound of this group reminds me of many things. The heritage is all-apparent: tense-chordal future sound, indeed! The orthodontist straightens my teeth, the PUSH KINGS rearrange them in a way only a god could design. Their sound is incisor rock, and if we are lucky, all bands will sound like this one day."

Chapter Five: The Big Gundown

1995 was our best year yet, at least the first half of it. I was on a roll, as every new release increased the buzz about the label. I even got a raise at the Bay State. I now had interns to help me with the day-to-day business of running the label. I had guitarist/accountant Frank Padellaro, formerly of Miss Reed, to help with the bookkeeping. I had a publicist to handle press and radio for the Scud Mountain Boys CD and the label as a whole.

I had made the right choice as to which band to focus my resources and energies upon, as the Scud Mountain Boys scored one great review after another, their CD was selling briskly, and they were now being courted by the likes of Sub Pop and Warner Brothers. Joyce Linehan at Sub Pop, somebody I had worked with since her days booking Green Street Station in Jamaica Plain (or was it T.T. the Bear's in Cambridge?), wanted the Scud Boys wicked bad, to use the vernacular. She arranged for them to be flown out to Seattle, to meet the head of the label, Jonathan Poneman.

I got left on the tarmac, so to speak.


"This time of year the light comes through the pines in flat beams and spark points, glancing off the frost that decorates the grounds of the light-studded medical cities. For a six-sided second I feel like I'm back in the haunted Piedmonts, a decorated major in the Japanese Inner Space Program, renewing my vow to bear down on the truth even if there is none for the hundredth time.
After the exodus of the Calm Reflectors I had started seeing the Scud Mountain Boys around town with their Baltimore haircuts, the guitarist's guitarist carrying his 1873 'trapdoor' Springfield rifle, the progeny of the muzzle-loading French Charleville muskets that had whacked so many Redcoats around these hills. I had heard it was the band's tradition to lay dinner on the table uncooked and then set the table on fire.

I was out for a walk with Mr. Fiddler the other night, when he turned to me and said, 'this is the time of year when the region is at peace with itself.' I turned to laugh in his face when the impulse subsided. He had been right of course. I'd already seen it happen in the slide projector's cone of lit dust: the November sky hovering over lives of dark employment like a televised clay bank, breech-loaders replacing muzzle-loaders, crows wired to the sky like marred pixels, portraits cubed into accordioned life while every single object of perception waited for us in the air conditioning. Yes, tennis crested in the seventies, killing Eddie Money and the last of the Holmby Hills Rat Pack, but how many times did we have to witness the L.A. fireplaces reflected in L.A. wineglasses before it ended?

You meet these suburban kids with Biblical names, but there are walls behind their eyes, strange mathematical mountains at whose base we sit playing our native keyboards and rinsing our teeth with digital snow. I'm starting to believe that the inscription above the portal describes this side, not the next.

Few people know that George Washington's favorite song was 'The Darby Ram,' or stop to think that before he was a statue he scratched his weld, got the hiccups, and danced alone in his room. All the 'human things.' He must have been scared when he fought in the woods, hiding in the dormant Christmas trees, his hand gripping the black walnut musket stock.

In those times and these we turn to the pacifics of a Gamelan orchestra for transport and release. We stand by the hind legs of a K car, listening to the new city cassettes, searching for some sign of human residence here beneath the justifiably uncelebrated Massachusetts sky.

This treasured early work brought calm forecasts and sad peace to our house. I hope you take it with you when you go."

- D.C. Berman

Original Liner Notes to Pine Box LP

As promised, the LP reissue of the Pine Box cassette was delivered on time to coincide with a series of showcase gigs in New York and Boston. I even had an old-timey circus-type showprint poster made to commemorate the releases. As I mentioned earlier, the attorney I'd hired had taken several months to complete the contract that had been agreed to by the band when had our sitdown in late '94. By the time she'd had it drafted, the band were no longer willing to sign it.

As they began to receive offers from bigger labels, they hired an entertainment lawyer named Josh Green, who counted R.E.M. among his clients. He told them in no uncertain terms that they didn't need to pay me anything. So one night I was summoned to the Scud mansion to discuss our deal. It was an ambush. The knives were out, and they would find their mark.

The band informed me that not only would they refuse to sign the contract to which they'd already agreed, but also that I would not be receiving a buyout, as they figured I had already recouped the money I'd spent to produce their records. Besides, they reasoned that any buyout I received would come out of their end of whatever deal they signed. Stephen D was particularly vehement that the original agreement wasn't "fair." Turned out that he had been nursing a grudge since the Scuds were left off the Hotel Massachusetts CD. Hey, if he'd bothered to give me a copy of the Pine Box cassette, I'd have gladly bumped Squeek or the Dots in favor of the SMB.

Joe demonstrated great balls by paraphrasing Sally Tessio from The Godfather: "It's nothing personal, Mal, it's just business."

Anyway, I walked away from the meeting completely shattered, enraged at the band's betrayal, and especially at myself, for not having gotten it in writing. I had counted on the friendship I'd forged with the guys in the band to somehow overcome their ambition.

How naive can you get?

I guess they figured I would take it lying down, turn the other cheek, and go away. Instead, I got on the phone to New York.
So they had R.E.M.'s lawyer, and he was telling them to blow me off? So I hired the guy who'd represented Scat Records when Guided By Voices signed with Matador, and he assured me that I'd get paid. Maybe not the $50,000 I might have made had I done the paperwork beforehand, but probably about half of that. Cool, I figured, that's enough to keep us going in the right direction.

A couple of days later, Stephen D approached me, obviously very pissed off. "What are you trying to do to us?" he asked.

"All I want is what you agreed to."

"The Sub Pop deal might not happen now. I hope you're happy."

"No," I told him, "I'm not happy at all. This whole thing has left a bad taste in my mouth."

He walked away. A few days later, I sat down with Joe Pernice at Rooster's, a diner in Sunderland, Mass., to try to come to a resolution of the dilemma.

He started by offering ten grand. I turned it down.

He asked what I'd be willing to accept. I told him.

I should've asked higher, but I liked and respected the guy, especially his talent. The guy's a fucking genius. And an excellent negotiator.

He said we should meet in the middle. I stupidly accepted.

We shook hands, for the last time.

My lawyer ended up taking almost a third of the payout, leaving me with enough money to make a couple of full-lengths and a 7-inch or two. Unfortunately, back when I was expecting 50 grand, I committed to a some records that ended up selling less than zero, so that money was already lost, so to speak.

CH1006: SPORE/QUEER: Phuko & Flanista Split LP

This split LP took a while to actually come out, so despite the matrix number, it actually was released months after CH1007 and CH1008, by which time both Spore and Queer were in their decline phase, or already broken up, and past their peak as commercially viable indie rock bands.

Or so the dismal sales of this record would indicate.

Not that there wasn't some good stuff to be found on it, including Queer's cover of "Hot Child in the City" and the two bands covering each other's songs, but I was stuck with boxes and boxes of unsold Phuko & Flanista LPs that ended up in the local landfill after the label went under. But I'm getting way ahead of myself.

In Part Four of The Chunk Records Story, Mal gets married, gets fired, and goes broke. Featuring a bold last volley of releases by Guided by Voices, New Radiant Storm King, The Figgs, Drunk Stuntmen, Tag Sale, The Veronica Cartwrights, Ray Mason Band, The Coopers, Hamlet Idiot and Flycatcher.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Florida Rocks Again! Christmas

Airdates: Wednesday December 19th from 6 to 8 p.m and Sunday December 23rd, Noon to 2 p.m. ET.

Oldies 93.3 The Blizzard in Flagler Beach

Listen via Live365 at TheBlizzard.US


CHIPPER (THE TROPICS): Groovy Christmas/Toy Soldier
ROYAL GUARDSMEN: Kinda Looks Like Christmas/Snoopy's Christmas

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town/Winter Wonderland/Little Drummer Boy/Christmas in My Heart/Baby, It's Cold Outside/What Child is This

DORRINDA DUNCAN: It's Christmas Time
KING COLEMAN: Blue Grey Christmas

Skynyd Family Christmas/Christmas Time Again/Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/Run Run Rudolph/Santa's Messin' With the Kid/Santa Wants Some Lovin'/Mama's Song/Greensleeves

SAM MOORE: Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
BELLAMY BROTHERS: Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree/Silent Night/Old Hippie Christmas/Tropical Christmas
JIMMY BUFFETT: Christmas in the Caribbean
38 SPECIAL: Hallelujah, It's Christmas
What Are You Doing New Year's Eve

Series Hosted by Mal Thursday

Written and Produced by JM Dobies

Co-Produced by Jeff Lemlich

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Message from Lee Hazen

Lee Hazen is a pioneering musician/engineer who was instrumental in some of the greatest rock 'n roll records to emerge from Florida in the '60s. His work with the Nightcrawlers represents some of the finest garage music ever made, in any state. We play a lot of Lee's recordings on Florida Rocks Again! and he dropped us a line today with the following reminiscence:


Thanks for notifying me of the airdates for your show. Have you considered offering CD's on a subscription basis ? I would love to hear the whole series of shows. It's been a long time since I've been back to Fla - 1992 was my last visit, but I consider my experience in Florida to be the foundation of my careeras a recording engineer which started in l964, the year I recorded The Nightcrawlers for the first time, and The Escorts Combo.

[Note: The Escorts were the earlier incarnation of the Daytona Beach garage legends the Allman Joys, Gregg and Duane Allman's mid-'60s teenage garage band. - JMD]

Had it not been for the kindness of Bob Quimby offering me work at The National Songwriter's Guild as a musician, singer and technician, who knows what direction I would have taken. A trip to Nashville with local singer and friend, Ted Merthe, made up my mind that I wanted to be an engineer and I started working towards my goal of working in Nashville.

A year at Criteria in 1965 and another year at KING in 1966 gave me a"track record" which got the attention of Glenn Snoddy in Nashville who had just build a new studio in East Nashville - Woodland Sound Studios. I often wonder how things might have turned out had I not been offered that job in Nashville. I think one thing still would have happened - I would have pursued my other goal of owning my own recording studio - in Florida.

Well, I reached that goal in l976 with the opening of "Studio by the Pond" here at my home by Old Hickory Lake near Hendersonville, TN. The studio and I are both retired but continue to exist (and I continue to drink beer). My two best friends returned to Ormond Beach in the mid 90's and continue to live and work in the area - Mike Stone and Jack (Stack A Track) Grochmal. Mike has the 24 channel MCI console from the Starday King Studio in Nashville,and Jack has a formidable amount of recording gear in his private studio at his home in Ormond by the Sea. Both of them are talented sound mixers and have been very much involved in music production over the years. Another person who was responsible for Bob Quimby hearing my recordings and offering me that first job is Betty Jayne (Stickles) Shawd. BJ sang on demos at the Guild for several years.

After I moved to Nashville, I helped her get to know some of the Background Singers and their groups. I think she would still be here singing on sessions had her mother not persuaded her to return to Daytona Beach. That's a real shame. Her husband, Larry Shawd, is a talented sound mixer and drummer. She operated her own Demo studio for a long time. Daytona has always been a great source of great musicians and performers.

I think that "The Martinique" night club should be treasured as the greatest showplace of talent in the area. It also happens to be the most exciting room that I've ever recorded in - including every recording studio I've ever worked in. I would LOVE to own that building and open a studio/live performance venue in it.

Have a great Holiday !

Lee Hazen

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Message from the Hiss

hi mal

sorta feel like a dork emailing you, but just wanted to say hi. i'm a big fan of the show as you can guess, and just wanted to say thanks for turning me on to all these great old florida bands. i live up in atlanta and play in a band called the hiss. we are all florida boys who moved up here (me and the singer in 2000, the 2 new members in 2005) and i have to say we are proudly flying the florida rock banner!

we have a cool little tradition now. whenever we play down in florida, we get the ipod ready and listen to a fewhours on FRA! on the way down on 75. i saw on the garage punk site that you moved to austin. hows that going? well, hopefully texas is treating you well. enough dorking out for me.

keep up the great show!!

the hiss

Friday, December 7, 2007

Dog Duty

I have two dogs. I've had Jesse Garon, my terrier-black lab mix, for 12 years, and Stu (a/k/a "Stoodles"), a Maltese, came in a package deal with my wife three and a half years ago.

We live in an apartment complex, and since it's in Austin, we are allowed to have dogs (almost everybody has a dog in Austin). Part of the deal, beyond the damage deposit, is that we are required to pick up after the dogs. They have even provided designated "doggie comfort stations" with plastic bags for disposal of the droppings.

I'm cool with that, having lived in a condo for most of the past seven years. I've picked up thousands of piles of dogshit in that time, so I'm used to it.

Some of my neighbors, however, are clearly not down with the program. These dog owners obviously consider themselves above picking up after their animals. Forensic evidence suggests the worst offenders are the owners of a medium-sized dog and a miniature breed. Their distaste for stool retrieval and disposal has made the area surrounding the doggie comfort station into a virtual minefield. These morons have actually had their animals drop a load within five feet of the receptacle, and neglected to pick it up. If I ever foul my Vans because I have misstepped into their dogs' waste material, I will hunt them down and piss on their shoes.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Led Schleppelin IV: No Sleep 'Til Dillon

Although it is not currently reflected in my bank account, I have been making good money of late, both in my full-time gig, and on the side. It's the side gigs, however, that are kicking my ass.

Because my main job pays me only twice a month, I have taken a number of other jobs to keep the checks rolling in. I'm writing for, which has been great fun, even if it has kept the number of BLOG! posts down of late. I start my teaching job at the local broadcasting school next week, instructing my students how to edit digital audio and in basic DJ skills. I'm also doing a couple of nights on Friday Night Lights this week as a make-believe journalist covering a pretend football game. It's chump change, but having caught up with the show's first season on DVD, I'm now a huge fan, so I've got to do it.

Even if it means getting even less sleep than usual, which is more than my wife gets, but never enough to actually refresh me for the following day's labor.

And then there's my weekend job as a product demonstrator for Blue Buffalo holistic dog food, which entails setting up a table at local PetSmart stores and extolling the virtues of feeding your pet something that doesn't contain roadkill. It's only four hours per shift, but this Sunday, it will conflict directly with my desire to kick back with a cold one and watch the Jaguars-Colts game on TV. Of course, the local CBS affiliate is likely to air the meaningless Texans-Titans game, because they still can't get enough of Vince Young, who led the Longhorns to the national title a few seasons back, and is thus a god among men in these parts.

I've got to cut thus short, as I'm late for work and I need to get my coffee on.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 Reviews
by JM Dobies

November 2007

Top Ten Classic Horror Movies - jmdobies says "The Greatest Horror Flicks of the '30s, '40s, and '50s..."

Top Ten Horror Movies of the '70s - jmdobies says "A Bumper Crop of '70s Horror Flicks"

THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN - jmdobies says "Not All That Amazing"

THE ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES - jmdobies says "A steamy and depraved low-budget swamp sleaze classic..."
BELA LUGOSI MEETS A BROOKLYN GORILLA... - jmdobies says "The real Bela Lugosi, but not the real Martin & Lewis..."

BILLY THE KID VS. DRACULA - jmdobies says "Mind-boggling Horror-Western..."

THE BLACK CAT - jmdobies says "Supernatural? Perhaps. Baloney?..."

THE BODY SNATCHER - jmdobies says "Karloff multi-tasks as graverobber, blackmailer, and murderer..."

BRIDE OF THE MONSTER - jmdobies says "Ed Wood's Greatest Achievement..."

CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA - jmdobies says "Horror-Comedy Parodies Monster Movies and Cuban Revolution...

DRACULA 1931 - jmdobies says "The first great talking vampire movie..."

FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN - jmdobies says "Two of Moviedom's Most Monstrous Monsters..."

GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN - jmdobies says "One of my all-time favorite Frankensteins..."

HORROR HOTEL - jmdobies says "A quaint little inn conveniently located in the city of the dead..."

HORROR OF DRACULA - jmdobies says "Christopher Lee is the ultimate..."

THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH - jmdobies says "So Bad It's Brilliant - Let's

HOUSE OF DRACULA - jmdobies says "Monstrous Free-For-All at Drac's..."

HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN - jmdobies says "Entertaining Monster Mash-up....."

THE INVISIBLE MAN - jmdobies says "Horror! Suspense! Invisibility..."

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN - jmdobies says "The Original 'Young Frankenstein..."

THE SCREAMING SKULL - jmdobies says "It Will Make Your Skull Scream"

SPIDER BABY 1964 - jmdobies says "An Oddball Masterpiece of Anerican Independent Cinema..."

THE WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON - jmdobies says "Moonlight Becomes Dean Stockwell's Afro..."

WHITE ZOMBIE - jmdobies says "Bela Lugosi is the screen's ultimate zombie master..."

THE WOLF MAN - jmdobies says "The Gold Standard for Werewolf Movies..."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

ISO Berman & Malkmus Chunk Liners

Hey, kids, I am in need of two minor classics of American Literature to complete the next installment of "The Chunk Records Story," namely David Berman's liner notes for the Scud Mountain Boys' Pine Box LP and Stephen Malkmus's liners for the Push Kings' 7-inch Slow Down, This is Not Monte Carlo.

I realize these records were limited editions, and scarce as hen's teeth and all that, but if any of you loyal readers out there have copies, please email scans or transcriptions to

I promise I will give attribution when the Chunk Story gets published in MOJO!

The Importance of Older Sisters

Much of my musical taste was forged during my childhood growing up in the '60s and '70s in Massena, NY, a snowbound burg on the Canadian border. My biggest influences were the AM radio and my older sisters.

Here's a little homage to my sisters Nancy, Meg, and Beth, and the sounds that helped shape my aesthetic. The child is the father to the man and all that. Just like that album by Blood, Sweat, & Tears.

Mugs and Nancy's 45s, and later on, their LPs, were the soundtrack of our lives. So when one of my sisters got into "Hot Fun in the Summertime," we all dug it. Especially out at Lake Ozonia in the halcyon days circa Summer '69 - '73.

And WYBG 1050 "Wibbage" certainly was the voice of teenage rockin' -- much more than freakin' Gene LaPage and his big band era mentality and lame MOR leanings over at WMSA (although I've got him to thank for my love of Neil Diamond, God bless 'em both, and Cracklin' Rosie get on board). We also listened to a lot of CFRA 58 Ottawa and a little CJSS out of Cornwall.

I also remember Nancy saying Jim Morrison was a "creep," and losing her crush on Mark Lindsay when he showed heavy chest hair on "Where the Action Is!"

I asked my sisters to share their musical memories, and my sister Beth was able to dredge up a few:

"Much of my childhood is a blur. However, I did have the Ted Neely Jesus Christ Superstar poster in my bedroom, as well as a poster of OJ Simpson. Good grief! Mugs turned me on to the James Gang, and to this day I search for the CD with 'Tend my Garden' on it...
"How about 'Nantucket Sleighride'?...good stuff. And of course, the 45s from Mastercraft [the local record shop]: 'My Belle Amie,' [by the Tee Set], 'Baby Now that I've Found You' [The Foundations], 'Come on down to my Boat' [by Every Mother's Son, who we saw open for the Turtles at Expo '67]...and my personal favorite: anything by the Monkees."
Much has already been made of the influence of older sisters in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous (2000). This is my chapter (and verse) of my sisters' incredible influence on me as artist and human being.


10. Somebody leaving the LP Are You Experienced? (was it Billy Madden?) behind at one of their parties. And Alice Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies.

9. "Ho, ho, ho/It's Magic/You know...Never believe it's not so." Pilot would like to personally thank you for buying their album, Beth.

8. "Jim Morrison is a creep." Nancy may have also used the word "gross." If so, it was my first exposure to the term. Not to mention the Doors. As fate would have it, I was later involved in a Doors cover band with Bob Dylan's son Sam.

7. A couple of downers: "Down in the Boondocks" by Billy Joe Royal, the doomed love anthem of Larry Black and Nancy Limer, the girl who lived down the street from us. Larry hung himself in '71. And of course, the immortal "I'm Your Captain" from Grand Funk Railroad's Closer to Home LP the pick hit to click at Jimmy Brothers' Funeral...

6. SLY & THE FAMILY STONE'S GREATEST HITS. As a professional DJ, I modulate between the up and the down, in basically a 2-to-1 ratio. Basically, in Summer of '71 terms, the formula is two parts S&TFS's Greatest Hits, one part CSNY: 4-Way Street. "Won't you please come to Chicago..." Prophetic words from ol' Graham Nash. Honorable mention here for Graham's brilliant "Dear Eloise" from his Hollies heyday. I can still picture in my mind the bold yellow of the Epic label on the 45.

5. The orignal London cast recording of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. Thanks, older sisters. The double-album was a scandal in the Catholic schools and parishes. Was it good or evil that somebody was breaking down the Gospel according to John into easily digestible pop songs?

4. The above-ground pool AM radio experience, circa '63-69. Shaped my concept of enjoyment of the swimming pool lifestyle early on. That's why I always employ the boombox at Mom & Dad's around the pool, even though I know it disturbs Nan & Beth's sunburned slumber.

3. The Parties at our house were epic rave-ups, with drunken varsity hockey stars by the dozen. Eye-opening for an up-and-coming young sprout like me. Although I didn't become a hockey star, I got really good at baseball, until at 43, I could no longer compete against 18 year olds, and gave up the game. Now considering a comeback with the Austin over-40 Baseball League.

2. "Where the Action Is," with Paul Revere and the Raiders kicking out the jams on a daily basis after school, with all the groovy groups that forged my rock 'n roll aesthetic. And of course, the moment whe Nancy fell out of love with Mark Lindsay (because he had chest hair!), which as I recall was a little before the Raiders' cameo on "Batman," in the episode where the Penguin runs for mayor of Gotham City. By the way, "Action" host Steve Alaimo is now a staple of my Florida Rocks Again! shows.

1. Beth having TOMMY on the 8-track in the Volkswagen, as well as N&M bringing the original LP back home in '69. Meg was a particularly rabid fan of the Who. Saw 'em in Paris circa '75. How cool is that? I now take comfort in the track, "There's a Doctor I've Found." Plus, Oliver Reed sang it in the film.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chunk Story on Clicky Clicky Music Blog

"The Chunk Records Story" is featured this week on Jay Breitling's Clicky Clicky Music Blog.

Although he damns Hotel Massachusetts with faint praise, he also provides links to a couple of its tracks, by Zeke Fiddler and Mark Schwaber's old band Home, and to, where you can get the CD used for as little as $1.84.

And worth every penny I tells ya...

The Chunk 45s, however, are harder to come by, and not nearly as cheap.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Chunk Records Story, Part Two

In Part One of "The Chunk Records Story," our tale unfolded with the story of '80s neo-garage band the Malarians, and their house label, Chunk. After the band broke up for good, it seemed the world had heard the last of the mighty Chunk Records. However, circumstances conspired to bring about a revival of the label.

Chapter Two: The Savage Return of Chunk Records
By 1991, I had moved on from my days as the madcap frontman of the Malarians. I had gotten hired as the head baseball coach at Hampshire College, and held down a steady job as a radio personality on WRSI, and as a rock 'n roll know-it-all behind the counter at Dynamite Records. I was living in a duplex on South Street that dated back to the early 19th century (with very low ceilings -- I must have bumped my head dozens of times, which may explain a few things). Our twenty-something landlords, John and Carlo, went bankrupt and lost the house to the bank. Carlo told me to stop paying rent, and for the next six or seven months, I lived for free, except for the cable bill and the massive gas bill (the house was poorly insulated, to say the least).

Living rent-free allowed me to accrue enough capital to start a small business. While I could have started any number of potentially profitable and socially responsible business ventures, I chose to bring Chunk Records back from the grave. Inspired by the rise of Nirvana and the example of Sebadoh's "Gimme Indie Rock" 7-inch, I reinvented Chunk as a purveyor of limited edition 45s. At the time, labels like Sympathy for the Record Industry were doing great things with the format, which at one time had been the dominant medium, until it was surpassed by the LP, and later the CD. I wanted to emulate the Sub Pop Singles Club, but I knew I didn't have enough loot to put out a record every month. I decided to start small, and I had just the right song to relaunch the label.


A Message to Santa Claus/That's Your Problem

After the break-up of the Malarians, I
made a point of not starting another band, reasoning that the rock 'n roll lifestyle was just so much wanking into the wind. However, one of the dudes on my baseball team, Ezra Gale, played guitar, as did my roommate, Chris Soucy, and we threw together a band to play at a fundraiser for the team. We called it the Mal Thursday Experience. Having gotten another taste of the joy of kicking out the jams on stage, I was hooked, and decided to turn up the knobs to 11.

Ex-Malarian John Lebhar had
started a band called Farmhouse, which was sort of an uneven blend of R.E.M. and CSNY. Although I didn't care much for the music they made (I tended to dislike all of my ex-bandmates' new projects), I did admire their live version of the James Gang's "Stop" and especially their rhythm section, which I stole to transform the Mal Thursday Experience into the rock powerhouse tha
t would become the Cheetahs. Bassist Brent Nielsen was a jazz player, but was capable of John Entwistle-type lead runs, while drummer Nelson Bragg, who now plays with Brian Wilson's backing band the Wondermints, was not only a great drummer, but also sang like an angel.

We worked up a killer set, many of the tunes ("Try It My Way," "Spundalina," "It's All Going By Too Fast," etc.) comin
g from a rock opera I was writing with Chris, loosely based on my old friend and bandmate Kent Garver's losing battle with heroin addiction. We went into Slaughterhouse Recording in the Summer of '92 to lay down our best stuff. Among the resulting 11 tracks was a profane rewrite of the Malarians' "Get Outta Dallas" called "A Message to Santa Claus":
Fuck you, Santa Claus / You never done nothing for me / Said there weren't no toys / When I looked under my Christmas Tree / Fuck off, Fatso You whacked-out, sad, sick clown / Get outta Brooklyn / Turn them reindeer around!

In October, Chunk released "A Message to Santa Claus" with a
naked Bettie Page on the cover and a cover of the Outsiders' "That's Your Problem" on the B-side, in a limited edition of 300 copies on festive red vinyl. It quickly sold out, and Chunk Records was back on the map.


Hey Girl/Mirror Mirror/Everything I Own

One of the crucial elements in Chunk's rebirth was my role as the master of ceremonies and booking agent at the Bay State Hotel in Northampton, which had started with an arts grant I had received to create a live performance series called the Bay State Cabaret, originally intended to be a mix of bands from various genres, spoken word artists, comedians, etc.

The first show, in early '92, demonstrated that the format needed to be tweaked: the female comedian wasn't funny, the spoken word guy was a waste of time and space, and the crowd was anything but. A crowd, that is. By November, I had refined the formula to feature nothing but music, with a show headlined by the Lyres and the Cheetahs that was a rousing success. Another show, in January of '93, headlined by Sebadoh, was packed to the rafters, and the following Monday, I got hired to put on regular gigs at $400 a week, plus a cut of the door. I started getting a lot of demo tapes, and began to put together the next volley of Chunk releases. I had already decided to put out singles by New Radiant Storm King, whose first CD My Little Bastard Soul impressed me mightily (they were also students at my alma mater, Hampshire College), and Angry Johnny, a local artist and profilic songwriter of psycho-billy death ballads and gutbucket, shit-kicking country-punk.

One of the demos that impressed me came from a band called the Veronica Cartwrights, named after a '70s character actress who specialized in playing nervous types, and fronted by Californian Jeff Lloyd, featuring some tasty fuzzbox action (I was always a sucker for good fuzz). I took them into the studio (on their dime, of course), and recorded four songs, three of which comprised their debut EP. Lloyd's quavering voice was off-putting to some, and some critics were unkind to the band's version of Bread's "Everything I Own," but I dug it all. Established local bands like Free Press and the Big Bad Bollocks were probably affronted that I ignored them in favor of an unheard-of little band that had only played a handful of shows, but I was trying to forge my own aesthetic, and besides, Free Press sucked. And the Bollocks wouldn't let me take a cut of the door at the Bay State (which was partly how I could afford to make records in the first place), so the hell with them.


Subway Token (Save My Soul)/Rival Time (Viral Mind)/Lord Is Coming

As I mentioned earlier, New Radiant Storm King was the real deal. Their first full-length was full of good songs and good ideas, and they had two distinct voices in Peyton Pinkerton and Matt Hunter, and the third, their drummer Elizabeth Sharp, was pretty distinctive in her own right. Sharp created the cover art for their 3-song 7-inch, and the top side, written and sung by Pinkerton, "Subway Token (Save My Soul)," stands as the most accessible number in their 15 years as a band. Their friend Zeke Fiddler would later pay homage by stealing the riff for his Chunk single, "Half Inflated."

Storm King would go on to release several more tracks on the Chunk imprint, most notably the split 7-inches with Silver Jews and Guided By Voices.

For more on this fine band, go to



Ring of Fire (with THE CHEETAHS)

Angry Johnny is indeed a prolific artist, both as a painter of gruesome outsider art, and as a songwriter/performer, with literally hundreds of songs to his credit. His lone 45 for Chunk consists of a typically violent tale of love and revenge about an unfortunate young man named Henry, who meets his comeuppance at the hands of the local cops. The B-side was Angry fronting the Cheetahs' arrangement of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." His vocals are a little undermixed on the record, owing to producer Sean Slade thinking that it was just a bar-band cover-type throwaway, and not destined for release as a single. He also expressed his distaste for Johnny's pig squeals over the rave-up at the end.

Angry Johnny has carved out a solid career for himself, having released several full-lengths with the Killbilies, and several more of his brooding solo work (sadly, Bones, a collection of acoustic numbers about a certain old flame of ours, remains unreleased). He also created the cover art for Dinosaur Jr.'s Where You Been?

I just found out that he played in Austin last Saturday night. I'm sorry I missed him.

Apparently, it was my last chance, as a message on Johnny's MySpace page states that, "
On Saturday December 1st 2007 in Provincetown Massachusetts, Angry Johnny and the Killbillies played their final show. Thank you to everyone who has supported the band over the many years."

Oh well. So it goes.

For more on this unique American artist, visit


See Section/Racing for Nowhere/Tacks & Nails

Hoolapopper was a short-lived band from Ware, Massachusetts, whose demo caught my ear in late '92, as a nice blend of crunchy, metallic guitar and good ol' "pop smarts." Mind you, this was before bands like Blink 182 forever sullied the term "pop-punk" with their whining wankery. But I digress. I liked Hoolapopper, both as a band, and as good dudes. Tom, Matt, and Garrett were honest joes who could write good songs and rock a room with the best of them.

But like I said, they didn't last long, and soon moved on to other projects. Tom Shea ended up playing drums and mandolin with the Scud Mountain Boys (read all about their skulduggery in Chapter Five, "The Decline and Fall of Chunk Records"), Matt Hebert went on to front Ware River Club and his current band Haunt, while Garrett Fontes had a lengthy run drumming for New Radiant Storm King.

Chapter Three: Salad Days

1993 was what you could call a "watershed year" for Chunk, the Bay State, and the Western Mass music scene in general. The previous year, Billboard had written a story pegging Northampton as "The Next Seattle," prompted by a guy named Dave Blowhair who had a local label called JamaDisc that was the antithesis of what I wanted Chunk to be. Blowhair blew his wad on CDs by the Big Bad Bollocks, Dieselmeat, his own band (the name escapes me) and a spotty compilation of local bands entitled Big Fish in a Little Pond.

I hoped to stay around for the long haul, and build the label at a sane pace. The first step toward establishing the label had been taken. Most of our first wave of 45s had sold well enough to establish Chunk Records as a force to be reckoned with by the major independent distributors (most all of which have since been rendered extinct by the rise of digital downloads). For the time being, I wanted to stick to 7-inches, but ultimately, I hoped to develop artists that would release full-length albums for the label. Then, when they got snapped up by a major label, the buyout money would fund more records for more bands. And when those bands got signed, the buyouts would fund even more records for even more new bands.

Of course, you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men...


Baby It's Me/I'll Make it Up to You

One of my favorite bands of all-time is Boston's Lyres, who have churned out an amazingly consistent body of work since their inception in 1979. Formed in the wake of the break-up of Beantown punk legends DMZ, and led by the mad genius of Jeff "Monoman" Conolly, the band has gone through many line-up changes, but thanks to Jeff's obsessive vision (some would call it "tunnel-vision"), they have remained true to their time-worn aesthetic. Inspired by '60s garage bands like the Sonics and the Remains, the Lyres' sound combines Conolly's distinctive voice and Vox organ playing with tremoloed guitar, crash and boom drums, and the fluid bass work of Rick Coraccio.

I approached Conolly about releasing a Lyres 45 on Chunk, and he was receptive, providing I paid him an advance, and use his ace version of Richie and the Renegades' "Baby It's Me" as the A-side. The B-side was an alternate version of the Roadrunners' "I'll Make It Up to You" that I preferred to the version on the Happy Now album on Taang!

The resulting vinyl was one of Chunk's finest hours.

Both sides were reissued a couple of years later on Norton's Those Lyres compilation.

CH457: ZEKE FIDDLER: Half-Baked/Half-Inflated

Zeke Fiddler was a fixture in the Northampton scene. While at Hampshire College, he began to perform his original compositions at shows on campus, and was later adopted as sort of a mascot by J Mascis and the Dinosaur Jr. entourage. When I met him, he had just inked a deal with the indie label SpinArt to release his Waterproof album, which had to be negotiated away from Dave Blowhair, with whom Zeke had signed a criminally one-sided deal in '92. I booked him to play a show at the Bay State, and we became friends. He told me he had hated me for making fun of his name on the air when he had called in a request to The Mal Thursday Show on WMUA a few years earlier, but I assured him I probably just said "Zeke" a bunch of times because it was a cool name. Anyway, at the time, I was recording a lot of the shows with a TEAC four-track, and took a liking to one of his songs, "Half-Baked."

He went into Slaughterhouse with a band that included Matt Hunter of New Radiant Storm King, and laid down a conceptual double A-side, "Half-Baked" and "Half-Inflated," along with an instrumental, "Brave Doorman," named after Zeke's part-time role at the Bay State.

Zeke later disowned me because I had "disappointed" him, by dropping the ball on the scene, I guess, by my abominable post-divorce behavior, and by putting out the Flycatcher CD.

Can't really blame him for that one.

A Tribute to Arthur Lee and Love

My Little Red Book
LYRES: Signed D.C.
SUPREME DICKS: Can't Explain

In the song "Cure For Pain" by Morphine, Mark Sandman asked the timeless question, "Where's all that money that I spent?"

In my case, a lot of it went into the pocket of the late, great Arthur Lee, mercurial genius of L.A. psychedelic/folk rock legends Love.

By the Summer of '93, word had spread that there was finally a hip venue in Northampton for touring rock bands. One of the booking agents I worked with called to see if I had an opening on a Monday night for Arthur Lee & Love, who were doing an East Coast club tour.
Unfortunately, Monday was the one night of the week I couldn't book, as there was a pre-existing condition known as "Blue Monday," where Bid Ed Vadas & the Fabulous Heavyweights played the white man's blues every week. I tried to persuade Big Ed to let me have one night -- I even promised to pay his usual guarantee for not playing -- but he wouldn't budge. I then tried to negotiate with Jordi Herrold, the owner/manager of local folk/jazz club the Iron Horse, and a notorious dickhead. He said that the date was available, but that he was disinclined to give it to me. Same thing at Pearl Street, the mainstream venue next door to the Bay State.

Undeterred, I booked the show at the Northampton Center for the Arts. Long story short, lacking the publicity arm of the other venues, and the hipster cachet of the Bay State, the show drew only about 50 people, and I took a bath. To add insult to injury, the next day, when I took Arthur out to lunch at the Northampton Brewery, he hit me up for another grand for songwriting royalties and the use of his trademarked logo on the Unloved double 7-inch. When I showed him the artwork for the record, which was a sketch of him by New Radiant Storm King's Peyton Pinkerton, he was livid, saying, "Who's that Ubangi-looking motherfucker? Is that supposed to be me? Looks more like Hugh Masakela!"

At considerable expense, the artwork was redone, and the following year, Arthur played the Bay State to a full house. I almost broke even on that one.


Here's a record that I can remember very little about. I don't remember the song titles, or much about the band. I remember their singer was named Todd. They were UMass kids, I think, and they paid for the pressing. This was another record that Zeke counseled me against putting out. I figured, hey, the more the merrier, right? My distributors were suitably unimpressed, and I think we sold less than a hundred total. Unfortunately, there was another equally nondescript but slightly less obscure band by the same name from the Pacific Northwest, and also a fairly good one from Australia who are still around.

Still, I must have liked them, because I wouldn't have released it regardless of whether or not they were footing the bill.

The Lumber who made this EP have since vanished. Into the woodwork, you might say.


The best-selling title in the history of the label, this one came about because of the fact that David Berman of the Silver Jews was an MFA student at UMass, lived in the same apartment as Zeke Fiddler, and had a mutual admiration for New Radiant Storm King. The Jews were originally a lo-fi art project by Berman in collaboration with Steven Malkmus and Bob Nastonovich of Pavement that found a home on the ultra-hip Drag City label. The band evolved into a vehicle for David's brilliant imagery and proved itself capable of musical depth and beauty, with or without Malkmus. At the time, Pavement was totally hot shit, indie rock gods of the moment, and that certainly didn't hurt sales of the record.

The tracks: "Sabellion Rebellion" and "Old New York" by Silver Jews; "Rocket Scientist" By NRSK.

Compilation CD

From Wikipedia:

Hotel Massachusetts is a 1994 Chunk Records release compiling songs by some of the musical acts featured regularly at the Bay State Hotel, a now-defunct Northampton, Massachusetts venue, booked and MC'd by Chunk founder Mal Thursday. Its 23 tracks are notable for not only capturing a cross-section of the Northampton indie rock scene of the early 1990s, but for including rare tracks by then- or later-famous acts such as Sebadoh, Silver Jews, Lyres, and New Radiant Storm King.

Track Listing:

"Skull" – Sebadoh
"Half Baked" – Zeke Fiddler
"Phone Call" –
New Radiant Storm King
"Sunday" – Home
"Hooked" – Lumber
"I'll Make It Up To You" –
"You're No Boy Wonder/Nothing You Can Do" –
The Unband
"Traces Of Alignment" – Skinner Pilot
"Miss America" – Tizzy
"I Love You, Girl" – Queer
"Falling Down" – Ray Mason Band
"Frog" – The Veronica Cartwrights
"Nuclear Man" – Angry Johnny and the Killbillies
"Four Wheeled Friend" – Fuzzy
"Alone At Last" – Steve Westfield
"Stolen" – Hoolapopper
"Miami" – The Dots
"Ten Long Years" – The Maggies
"Believe You Me" – Miss Reed
"I Should've Sued" – Squeek
"I Like My Life" – Philth Shack
"Good Advices" – Silver Jews

Though I haven't listened to it in many years, I was proud of Hotel Massachusetts, which was intended as a musical snapshot of a time and place, and certainly succeeds on that level. I know I regretted some of the choices in terms of which bands made the cut, and looking at the track list now, I cannot recall some of them at all (who were the Dots?). The cassette version contained a few more artists, like Mother Holly and a couple of others, but we didn't make too many of 'em, as I recall. Also, the printer really fucked up Eric Talbot's great comic book cover art. The major accomplishment was that Chunk was now dealing in full-lengths, not just singles.

Ultimately, it would be our undoing.

In Part Three of "The Chunk Records Story," Mal releases some of the most popular titles in the Chunk catalogue, but begins to regret not having taken any business courses in college, as his attempts to grow the label are thwarted by naivete, stupidity, and alt-country effrontery.

For a copy of Mal Thursday & the Cheetahs' unreleased 1992 full-length garage rock epic It's All Going By Too Fast, featuring guest appearances by Angry Johnny and the Lyres' Jeff "Monoman" Conolly, send $9.99 via PayPal (includes shipping and handling) to