Tag Archives: Cotton Mather

Let’s Kickstart Kontiki!

The Holy Grail just came into view again.

Back in 1997, Robert Harrison, Whit Williams, George Reiff and Dana Myzer crafted Kontiki, possibly this generation’s Big Star album. You know…the one that didn’t sell well upon release but is revered by everyone who was lucky enough to grab it; a generation later everyone will claim to have owned a copy, only to lose it to an ex-wife or a klepto roomie.

Liars!

But now they don’t have to be. Harrison, on behalf of his band Cotton Mather, has just popped for a moderate goal on Kickstarter. He’s looking to raise $12,500 to create and market a deluxe two-disc edition, featuring a remastered original and a full disc of outtakes sure to thrill fans of the band. A diverse and rich blend of powerpop, rock and psych, Kontiki has often been compared to Beatle albums, usually Revolver, thanks to the uncanny vocal resemblance to John Lennon. But this is a deep, rich, original work that has only grown stronger in time. (You know…like Revolver?)

Video: “Password

Here’s Robert, from the project’s banner page:

 In 1997 my  band Cotton Mather recorded our second record, Kontiki,  on 4 track cassette and ADAT in an old house about 30 minutes outside of Austin. It was released in the US without much fanfare on a little label called Copper.  But when the record made its way to the UK a year later on the Rainbow Quartz label Kontiki was quite the hit with the press and music fans. 

Now Kontiki, the “lost classic” has been out of print for years.  I (Robert Harrison) have been busy readying a re-release of Kontiki which will include an entire second disc of bonus tracks. Not just a few out-takes but an entire discs worth of extras because when I dug back into the archives I found some real treasure… I do think there is something undeniably magical about Kontiki. It was a special moment in time we landed on back there. All of us from Cotton Mather would love more people to hear it. So let’s get Kontiki in the hands of the people and help Cotton Mather at long last shed the mantle of rock cult obscurity. 

The money we raise will pay for mixing an 11 track bonus CD (the first one will remain as it was), mastering, new artwork with extensive liner notes about the making of Kontiki and the history of Cotton Mather, manufacturing, publicity and if we go past the target a good ways- a vinyl pressing. Then of course if somebody goes for the grand prize….. look out!

Video: “She’s Only Cool

I know that anyone who has heard “My Before And After“, “She’s Only Cool“, “Vegetable Row“, “Password” and “Spin My Wheels” likely had their mind blown much like I did. Hell, even Oasis knew enough to pluck these guys out of Austin, Texas and get them onto stages in England. Musically, vocally, sonically…Kontiki is a first-rate classic.

I was resigned to the fact that I had their small but vital output to savor, but the thought of more Cotton Mather to enjoy has me jumping for joy. (Not literally…the needle will jump. But damned close!) So while you continue to enjoy the work of this group in their next bands (Future Clouds and Radar, Stockton, Farrah) let’s do the right thing for Cotton Mather, shall we?

Sign up for this project on Kickstarter. (The video is hilarious!)

Listen to clips on Amazon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Reviews

T.G.I.F. – Ten Bands/Artists I Miss

Well, reunited without all that cheesy drama, anyway

Seems like everyone is getting back together these days, whether for money or a shot at career closure; some are actually reinvigorated and creating viable new music. So if you are pining the loss or lethargy of a favorite band or artist, there’s hope.

(Of course, nothing would be better than the three guys in the forefront of this picture sharing a stage again. Maybe if I leave that tooth under my pillow…)

Doesn’t have to be someone on a Van Halen level. For example, Fastball thought they had taken a long enough hiatus and decided to regroup – the result was a great new record. So why not our favorites?

So here’s ten acts right off the top of my head that are dormant; I wish they were making records right now. At least I have the fruits of their labor to date to savor over and over again. If any of these are new to you, please check them out. Maybe it will make you revive a few of your own favorites.

Because that’s the beauty of legacy. It’s right there.

Redd Kross:  Congrats on the new baby and all, but come on – make an album!

Cotton Mather:  Living on in other bands, but Kon Tiki is godhead.

The Pursuit of Happiness:  Too good to be satisfied with reunions.

The Tories:  So promising. So good. What happened?

Liquor Giants:  How about Something Special for the Adults?

World Party:  This generation’s Klaatu, the homage must go on.

Jen Trynin:  Disillusioned the first time, suck it up and get back out there.

Love NutAndy Bopp, put Myracle Brah aside and rock me again.

Tonio K:  I know you’re sitting on pure gold. Share it, brother.

The Montgomery CliffsJoey Salvia is solo but a reunion would be magic.

4 Comments

Filed under Music, Reviews

T.G.I.F. – Let It Beatle!

I’ve tipped my sizeable cap to Angelo at Power Pop Criminals before; he is an amazingly creative guy with an encyclopedic knowledge of the genre. He’s gone to great lengths to assemble some intriguing virtual tribute albums over the years. Recently he launched the last of his Tribute To The Fab Four series that he started in 2007 – reassembling the original albums with cover versions of each track. As he says, without the Beatles, there would be no powerpop music.

Of course, there are quite a few Beatle tributes on the market, everything from reggae to bluegrass to avant-garde interpretations to straight-ahead homage (like the recent efforts from The Smithereens). But these truly are a labor of love, and although you might not be a fan of every track, I promise you will be rewarded if you check them out.  I think album-to-album they’re as good or better than the commercially assembled releases.

Sure, some of the bands are extremely obscure, even to powerpop fans who dig deep. But you’ll also find a ton of great Beatle covers from famous artists like The Hollies, The Flamin’ Groovies, Aerosmith and Roger McGuinn, and even a couple from one (or two) hit wonders like Moon Martin and The Cyrkle.

Best of all, you’ll hear from many great bands that aren’t household names but are revered by powerpop fans, and rightfully so:  Cotton Mather, Ross Rice, The Blow Pops, The Quick, Walter Clevenger and The Shazam to name but a few.  (And if and when you do get turned onto some new bands in the process, maybe that album or two you purchase from them – you will, won’t you? – makes their day too.)

You’ll need Windows RAR software to unpack the files, you can download that here. And you’ll need the password, which is listed on each tribute page.

So pay it forward…and Thank God It’s Friday. Here’s a ten-spot, thanks to Angelo:

ppc beatles

Please Please Me

With The Beatles

A Hard Day’s Night

1965 / Beatles For Sale

Revolver

Rubber Soul

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Abbey Road

The White Album

Let It Be

animbeatles

3 Comments

Filed under Features and Interviews, Music

2008 Countdown: 15, 14, 13, 12, 11

 The countdown of the Best Albums of 2008 continues…

Yellow Man Group

Yellow Man Group

 

 15. The Tripwires:  Makes You Look Around

I was a big fan of the Model Rockets so I took a flyer on this one, since John Ramberg usually delivers. Glad to tell you his track record remains intact. Hooking up with a few Seattle luminaries including Ramberg’s Minus 5 buddies Scott McCaughey and Kurt Bloch, this is a huge-sounding yet warm record, whether it’s rocking and/or rolling. Or pickin’and grinnin’, for that matter – “Sold Yer Guitar Blues” shows me that these guys are cool enough to think that it’s never too late to pay props to The Lovin’ Spoonful.

There’s a variety of styles (all with tremendous guitar playing), but to my ears there are two main musical statements in the Tripwire sound. “Big Electric Light” and “I Don’t Care Who You Are” absolutely bleed that Big Star cum Posies vibe, and songs like “Monument” expose an obvious debt to pub rock, Rockpile specifically (the guitar on the intro is textbook Dave Edmunds…who probably copped it from Scotty Moore…ahh, never mind). Hope they make another one, and hope they hit the East Coast; if their cover of “Tulane” is any indication, they sound like they could really rip it up live.

 

14. The Respectables:  Sibley Gardens

Who would have thought that a band could blend the pop appeal of The Small Faces and the bombast of 90s hair metal into something completely irresistible? I really liked their first record, but Sibley Gardens sounds arena-size! The first four songs are a primer on how to get someone’s attention from the first note and hold it like a vice grip; had they ended there as an EP I would have crawled to their house like a jonesing junkie begging for more. Thankfully they included seven more songs for me to enjoy.

Guitarist Joey Gaydos is stellar…he’s got the power chords down to a science, of course, but his leads are tasteful and he never overplays. Drummer Donn Deniston isn’t flashy either, but he snaps that snare like a Swiss watch, and when you’re playing air guitar you need to depend on a guy like that. Nick Piunti has one of those great powerpop voices; a classic range but just the right touch of raspy to give it an edge. It’s why Ian Lloyd used to knock me out, and beyond the killer hooks all over this album, it’s the biggest reason I’m having a hard time getting this disc out of the player.

 

13. Three Hour Tour:  B Side Oblivion

Ten years ago Three Hour Tour issued 1969, a collection of singles recorded for Parasol, and then they were gone. Now out of nowhere, this gem popped up to serve ten new tracks from this collection of (now) powerpop legends? Darren Cooper, where the hell have you been? The roots of the band go way back to the Champaign Illinois days, where they evolved into powerpop icons…Adam Schmitt as producer and solo artist, Paul Chastain and Ric Menck with Velvet Crush, Brad Steakley (a/k/a Brad Elvis). Cooper formed Copper Records (was it really just a typo, Darren?) and had he done nothing else but release Cotton Mather’s Kon Tiki, he’d still be a pop hero.

And speaking of Kon Tiki, that’s the first thing I thought of when hearing “Easter Basket Grass”, one of those instantly hummable songs you find yourself singing long before you even care what the words are about. This is really Cooper’s show, and his love of Badfinger and The Byrds is pretty evident when you add up the chiming guitar chords, soaring vocals and irresistible hooks. “Lonely Place” is reminiscent of Myracle Brah (if they had George Harrison playing slide guitar) and “What Made You Change” is a marriage of John Lennon and Cheap Trick. Cooper’s vocals might sound eerily like Matthew Sweet, but this is a far, far better record than Sunshine Lies. Please don’t make me wait another ten years, guys.

 

12. Taylor Hollingsworth: Bad Little Kitty

This is raw as steak tartare, and really puts the lo in lo-fi…but damned if there are many records from 2008 that rock harder than this one. Taylor Hollinsgworth has picked up the baton from Something/Anything era Todd Rundgren, figuring the best thing to do when radio is dead is burn it down and start over. (Or maybe it’s Keef and Exile On Main Street. Whatever…) For Hollingsworth, that means sounding like Tommy Womack stealing guitar licks in “Damn Boy, What’s Wrong With You” (“Bang A Gong”, anyone?), Dylan fronting The Stooges (“Assassinate The President”), Ryan Adams and Paul Westerberg shaking off a hangover (“In The Dark”), The Dandy Warhols with a hit record (“Imaginary People”) or even The Cramps covering “Something Else” (“TNT & Dynamite”). It’s like stumbling into a roadhouse and finding the strangest jukebox you’ve ever seen (and most of my quarters would go for “!0 Good Reasons”).

Unfortunately he included two obnoxious snippets that had to be intended for stoners on headphones; the 30 second intro and 44 seconds of “I’m Dead” that unfortunately leads into the manic reprise of “Assassinate” segueing into “TNT and Dynamite”. Hell, even that is four minutes of Crazy Horse on acid, with Neil Young playing the shit out of the one guitar string he has left through an amp he kicked the shit out of just moments before. And two minutes later, after a Blue Cheer infected ramble he’s taking the piss out of Hank Williams with “You Don’t Know What You Do To Me”. Whether you think he’s a slyly paying tribute to some of the building blocks of American music or just a snotty but versatile show-off (my bet is the former), Bad Little Kitty is fascinating.

 

11. The Meadows:  First Nervous Breakdown

Cross pollinate the grandeur of Oasis arrangements and the beautiful delicacy of The Jayhawks, and your Petrie dish will likely have the DNA that generated the brilliance of First Nervous Breakdown. The Meadows are principally a two man band; Todd Herfindal and Kevin Houlihan handle the songwriting, production, vocals and most of the guitar/bass duties. The result is a collection of infectious songs that will appeal to fans of The Byrds, Gin Blossoms, Big Star as well as the aforementioned cornerstone bands…hell, even early Eagles fans will lap this up.

As impressed as I am with the vocals and the great musicianship on this album (there are several guests adding flavor), it’s the songwriting that slays me; there are ten songs on this album and every one could be a single. How does a band – or in this case, two guys – hit the mother lode like this without the whole world catching on? I don’t know either…but if you’re reading this, that’s one less person to notify.

 

======

Check back daily this week for more of the countdown. We’re down to the Top Ten…

(The full list will be updated each day on the MUSIC tab.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Features and Interviews, Music, Reviews