In The Shark Tank with Pilaseca

The Shark Tank is a recurring feature on los grillos that covers music your friends might attack you for playing–like sharks to fresh meat. But fuck it–if it feels good, play it. Feel it.

Swimming with the sharks this week is the energetic funk/rock of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico’s Pilaseca.

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Music is about more than just the listening–it’s about the experience. Who doesn’t associate songs with their first kiss, the summer of 69, or that time John drove his motorcycle into the keg at that one party? Part of the music experience for me–what makes a particular band or song great–is the discovery. Some of the greatest music I’ve discovered has been the result of some the greatest adventures of my life. Pilaseca is the perfect example.

While celebrating the New Year with some new found friends in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, me and my new buddy Jay decided to wander out into the cool mountain night to explore. We had someone else with us, but for the life of me I can’t remember who it was. Maybe that’s because we were three sheets when we started out. Anyway, with a hall pass from the wives we meandered through the historical streets of San Miguel, dutifully making stops in the local drinking establishments to spend all of our money and prove our drinking prowess. We met some cool people, drank some good beer and listened to some decent music. It would have been, had the night ended after only the first couple of hours out, one hell of a good time. But the best was yet to come.

After about two hours or so of drinking and carousing, we heard the sounds of funk wafting up the street from a local bar. As we moved closer, we could tell we had stumbled upon something special. People were spilled out into the street, jumping up and down and keeping time to the music with the thumping of their heads and the swaying of their bodies. We’d found a party. We moved through the crowed street and somehow made our way into the bar. It was magic. People were sweating, dancing and singing to this sweet fusion of funk, jazz and rock. It was a virtuoso display of musical and vocal excitement–horns playing on the right, drums in the back, bass and lead guitar sharing the stage with songs inter-spliced in English and Spanish. Jay and I stayed in this bar and soaked in this incredible sound, communicating with people we didn’t know through the common language of music and beer. I left that night with a great experience, the memory of a great live show and, as I discovered the next day, two t-shirts and two CD’s I had apparently drunkenly declared I had to have. Pilaseca. Feel it.

Kind Turkey Records–Two Tears “Eat People” and Trent Fox & The Tenants “Mess Around”

Kind Turkey Records was formed by Wisconsin garage rocker Bobby Hussy (The Hussy) and his good friend Robert with an eye for releasing quality indie, garage and punk on limited edition cassette and vinyl formats. The label hit the ground running in 2010 with the Black Mamba Beat vs. Wake Up Dead split cassette–a release that set the tone for the label with 30 minutes of diy, lo-fi and melodic garage goodness. The label quickly followed that release with a 7″ of garage pop cool from Athens, Ohio’s 60s revivalists Wheels on Fire. This week the label showed that it ain’t slowin’ down and that the folks behind it have consistently good taste with the release of two 7″ nuggets–one from a punk rock legend and another from a garage rocker on the rise.

Coming out of the Milwaukee music scene that has seen bands like Goodnight Loving and recent Sub Pop signees Jaill break on a national level, Trent Fox & The Tenants are sure to do the same with their own gritty brand of rock and roll. The Mess Around ep features five relentlessly propulsive, hook-filled tracks written by a guy with a no doubt impressive collection of 50s/60s rock, country and soul and the knack for creating his own sound from a wealth of influences–in much the same way Oblivian Greg Cartwright has throughout his career and, in particular, with his current project, Reigning Sound. Down and dirty, melodic and messy, this shit is rockin’ and on the rise.

The Mess Around 7″ is out now on Kind Turkey Records (digital format also available). Check it out here.

Trent Fox and The Tenants – Mess Around

Two Tears is the latest project from punk legend/survivor Kerry Davis whose band the Red Aunts came up in the LA punk scene in the 90s. Two Tears’ recent 7″, Eat People, delivers the goods with an A-side sound that falls somewhere between the girl-in-the-garage sass of Holly Golightly and the blues-punk sneer of Boss Hog. The B-side stretches its legs and shows some diversity with the slow-blues lament “Senso Unico” that adds elements of psych–from the guitar delay to the reverb-drenched vocals to the repetitive rhythm–to create an early-morning come-down from the late-night rock and roll binge.

The Eat People 7″ is out now on Kind Turkey Records (digital format also available). Check it out here.

Two Tears – Eat People

Feelin’ Good in the Shark Tank

Today marks the arrival of a new voice to los grillos. I’m happy to say that the person who introduced me to the world of heavy metal, took me to my first rock and roll concert, and taught me the importance of learning to steer a car with my knees in order to free up my hands for other activities–my brother–has joined the collective. He’ll be dropping in now and again with a recurring feature called the shark tank.

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Welcome to the Shark Tank.

I am a person who is not below begging his own brother to let him write music reviews for his music blog.  Clearly.  The reason for the begging is simple.  I have read multiple reviews of my brothers and others on the Grillos’ and have come to one conclusion: All these here peoples know just about nothin’ about tunage. And that, my friends, is why I begged my bro to give me some space for knocking out some words.   God knows why he let me.

All I know about music is what I like, and here is what I like:  AC/DC, 80’s era George Strait, Earl Klugh, Charlie Parker, Holst, 3rd Bass, 50 Cent, Slayer, that song by Sawyer Brown about a race, Depeche Mode, Lady GaGa (yes, bitch, Lady GaGa), Kings of Leon, Bob Marley and the Wailers and Matilde Bernabei.  It should go without saying that this is not an all encompassing and completely exhaustive list.  I like the obscure, the popular, the jazz, the rock, the metal, the classical, the reggae, the blues (oh man, do I like the blues), the rap, the alternative, and anything else you can put a music label on.  But here’s the thing–it has to make me feel. It’s not about who makes it or how it’s labeled.  Does it make me feel?  The issue with that type of criteria, the feel criteria, is that it often involves some tunage that not many people will admit they like to their friends.  How many of you can really admit to your friends that you like a song by Lady GaGa because it makes you feel like dancing?  Yeah…me neither.  That’s why it’s called the Shark Tank.  I’m here to write about music that your friends might attack you for playing–like sharks to fresh meat.  But fuck them.  If it makes you feel then listen to it.  Feel it.

Vernon Wray. Wasted.

I’m pretty sure there ain’t a thing I can say about Vernon Wray’s 1972 album, Wasted, that the title, the cover photo, and the fact that Vernon is the older brother of legendary guitar rumbler Link Wray, doesn’t already say. If those things don’t make you want to add this bad boy to your collection, I don’t know what will.

This is some seriously kick-ass, countrified folk that, despite being much more mellow than the standard fare of Vernon’s more famous brother–for whom Vernon played as a bassist and guitarist–is no less raw and affecting, and falls somewhere between the searching blues of Fred Neil, the somber folk of Bill Fay, and Neil in the 70s. Dig it!

Wasted is available as a reissue from Sebastian Speaks. Check it out here.

The Skull Defekts. Peer Amid.


For their latest album, Peer Amid, Swedish experimental rockers The Skull Defekts hooked up with legendary Lungfish singer Daniel Higgs, and together they grind out some seriously ominous grooves that will bore inside your head and take over, leaving you at the mercy of their dark pounding. The band describes their music as the “circle of sound,” and they couldn’t have picked a better vocalist to close that circle than the shaman-like Higgs. His low, foreboding, meditative vocals seem channeled from deep within nature’s chasms and combine with the band’s rhythmic and repetitive yet relentlessly propulsive chug to create something dense, menacing and heavy. Dark clouds gathering slowly on the horizon and blacking out the sun heavy. The slow roil of the gray, endless ocean heavy. Dig it.

Peer Amid is out today via Thrill Jockey Records. Check it out here.

The Skull Defekts begin a US tour in late March. Catch ’em live if you can–it’s sure to somethin’…

03.27.  Minneapolis, MN. Turf Club
03.28.  Madison, WI. TBA
03.29.  Iowa City, IA. Mission Creek Festival
03.30.  St. Louis, MO. Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center
03.31.  Chicago, IL. The Hideout
04.01.  Pittsburgh, PA. Howler’s Coyote Cafe
04.02.  Buffalo, NY. Soundlab
04.03.  Brooklyn, NY. Littlefield
04.04.  Boston, MA. Great Scott
04.05.  Providence, RI. Machine with Magnets
04.06.  Scranton, PA. Embassy Vinyl
04.07.  Philadelphia, PA. Danger Danger Gallery
04.08.  Baltimore, MD. Floristree
04.09.  Chapel Hill, NC. Nightlight
04.10.  Knoxville, TN. The Pilot Light
04.11.  Atlanta, GA. The Earl
04.12.  Asheville, NC. Harvest Records