Feature: Meet Huffer

•June 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Photo: Dark Horse Images

Photo: Dark Horse Images

From the ashes of the wonderful yet barely known Velia Shrine, comes Fort Worth’s Huffer, a traditional 3 piece combo, guitar/vocals, bass and drums. Huffer has been playing quite a few shows in 2014 and gaining quite a bit of attention around Fort Worth, even being nominated for Best New Act in the upcoming FW Weekly Awards. They were a shoo-in for The Synaptic 4th Birthday Party at The Grotto, and are sure to turn some heads. I asked guitarist/vocalist Chea Cuevas a few questions to help everyone get acquainted with Huffer.


The Synaptic: What is Huffer?

Chea Cuevas: A three piece rock band from Fort Worth Texas.


TS: Who’s in the band and how does it differ from your last project together?

CC: We consist of Jeremy Nelson(drums) Rob Navarrete(bass) and myself Chea Cuevas(guitar/ vocals). We used to be in an instrumental metal band together. We decided to do Huffer as a totally different project. Something none of us had ever done before musically.


TS: Do you attribute at least some of your recent success and attention to your tremendous beards?

CC: Maybe, I hope that it’s more about the music than our beards. Being that our drummer recently shaved his off ha!


TS: Have you guys ever collectively mooned anyone? If so, you are aware that it’s against the law?

CC: We have not. Yet.. After the 21st we may have a different answer to this question. As far as legalities go. What happens at The Grotto stays at The Grotto right?


TS: What do you strive for people to hear in Huffer’s brand of rock and what can we look forward to on the 21st?

CC: 90’s rock with some metal influences. Expect nothing short of a party!


Huffer plays with Baboon, The Cush, The Skeeves and Panther Robe for The Synaptic’s 4th Birthday Party, Sat 6/21/2014 at The Grotto in Fort Worth. Be sure to get your tickets here and don’t miss out on any of the fun!

Feature: Meet Panther Robe

•June 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Panther RobeThe early wildcard on The Synaptic’s 4th Birthday Party is Panther Robe. Playing their first Fort Worth show, they were a no brainer for inclusion, as The Synaptic is all about different textures, styles and sounds. In advance of their opening set on 6/21/2014, bassist and old friend Chad DeAtley (Doosu, Dove Hunter) was kind enough to answer a few questions for us to get acquainted with Panther Robe.

The Synaptic: Chad, could you describe just what a Panther Robe is and what one might sound like?

Chad DeAtley: The Panther Robe is an article of clothing that you would drape on yourself. The head of the great cat would act as a visor of sorts. The fangs would hang down obscuring parts of your vision. The rest of the pelt serves to warm and protect it’s wearer. You become adorned with it’s power. You can see things others cannot. You hear what no one hears. You can challenge anyone and no one will challenge you because, you are wearing a god damn black panther and that’s pretty sweet.

TS: What is the lineup of this new project?

CD: The roster is: Quincy Holloway and Clay Stinnett on drums and percussion/ Chris Plavidal on trumpet, melodica and guitar/ Chad Walls and Sean French on synths and cool noise making stuff/ Colin Arnold with the guitar and vocal sounds/ me, I play the bass guitar. We’ve been fortunate enough to have John Barker run visuals on a couple shows and John Nuckels doing some mixing/effects/sound stuff.

TS: What brought you fellas together? Longtime friendship? Cosmic forces? Massive financial gains?

CD: The idea for the band requires like-minded individuals who can mind meld. Each person gravitated toward the project instinctively.

TS: We look forward to seeing you guys on the 21st, what might the audience expect?

CD: The audience can expect to hear some dudes playing some instruments. That’s all that I can guarantee. Each show has been different. We don’t have a setlist or even an established idea of what is going to happen. We hope to one day be slightly more organized but, right now we are having fun just feeling each other out.

TS: Lastly, in a streetfight against fellow billmates The Cush, who would win? Would you use your numbers against them? Dirty tactics?

CD: Panther Robe has Clay and Quincy. Those guys eat souls so, good luck with that. Nobody would ever want to fight The Cush anyway, they are way too warm and friendly. Now Baboon, that’s a different story……

Check out Panther Robe’s first set recorded for your pleasure on their Soundcloud page here and be sure to get to The Grotto early for their set on 6/21/2014 with Baboon, The Cush, The Skeeves, and Huffer. Get your tickets here!

Feature: A Year Without Jeff Hanneman

•May 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Hanneman HeinekenSo it’s been a year since Jeff Hanneman passed. Wow. And life for Slayer has gone on without him. I guess his bout with necrotizing fasciitis following a spider bite in 2011 prepared the band for life without the founding guitarist. But I think we all thought we’d see Jeff back on his side of a Slayer stage one day soon. I wasn’t terribly fond of ExodusGary Holt taking his place, if even temporarily. I felt they should wait for their bandmate to return to the fold before doing anything else. It was probably selfish on my part, but hey, I want them to be perfect.

So here we are in 2014, Slayer is only at half their original form, and plugging along, business as usual. Gary Holt stepped up his game ten-fold and Paul Bostaph is commanding the drumset once occupied by Dave Lombardo, who it appears is just a bad businessman and kind of whiny, from the accounts I’ve read. There’s a new song out, “Implode” and touring plans and recording plans have not slowed one bit. I guess in an ideal world, Tom Araya and Kerry King should have given up their jobs, destroyed the Slayer brand they’ve built over the past 30 years and left Slayer behind. But I can say with a fair amount of confidence now, they would have made a massive mistake. The Slayer that exists now is more vibrant and brutal than they have been in years. If it comes down to this version or no version at all, I’ll gladly take this version. Sadly, it exists without Jeff Hanneman.

We will all always miss Jeff Hanneman. He wrote some of the greatest metal riffs and songs in history and was a founding member of one of the great music entities of our time. Know we miss you and your talents here on Earth, and each passing year it will be just a little easier, and you will continue to be more appreciated over time.

Rest In Peace sir.

The Synaptic 4th Birthday Party!!!!!

•March 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The Synaptic 4th Birthday Party PosterSo, The Synaptic is turning 4 this June, and we’ve decided (and by we, I mean me) to finally have a party to celebrate. Sure, having one each year might’ve made more sense, but it’s not without trying. I tried to have a second birthday party, had the date and venue, but the proposed headliner was a total punk about getting back with me about whether his band could play or not – strung me along. Hence it was cancelled. I attempted a third birthday party last year, but the lineup wasn’t coming together as I had hoped and ended up getting scrapped as well. Total disappointment.

Leading us to this year. The fourth year. And it’s evidently the charm, as the stars have aligned and I’ve got a doozy of a bill for you. It’s hot. White hot. And will be announced in intervals over the next few weeks. What I can tell you is it will be five bands and a fairly diverse offering as you’ve come to expect from The Synaptic. I can also tell you it’s June 21st. And that we’re going to tear The Grotto in Fort Worth to the ground that night – sorry Grotto, it’s the only way to do things. And finally that I’m fairly confident it will be a sellout show, so keep on your toes.

Therefore, to summarize what we DO know. The Synaptic turns 4. The date is June 21st. The place is The Grotto in Fort Worth. Will most likely sell out. Keep on toes.

Watch this post for further details as well as on Facebook and @thesynaptic on Twitter. First band announcement will be Friday 3/21. Good times!

Band 1 – BABOON

Band 2 – THE CUSH


Band 4 – HUFFER



Little Scene: Remembering Harlyn Hill

•February 16, 2014 • 4 Comments

Photo by Jill Montes

Harlyn and me at the Slacker Kingdom

I don’t want to use the word surreal here. I think surreal is usually used by people who don’t know how to describe how they feel, or by people who just want to look smarter than they are. Or maybe not. Maybe they grasp the word better than I do and it’s what I’m really feeling. I don’t know. I’m still sorta stunned, a bit numb and I don’t think I want to accept that truth. Mainly, I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact my friend is gone. Gone. And I’m having a difficult time accommodating that concept.

I honestly cannot tell you when I met Harlyn Hannah Hill, the original Triple H. I know it was around 90-91 when I was at Weatherford College. But he was just there and we, like most people he met, became friends quickly. It’s been a bit of a surprise that so many people I’ve seen remember him from the D/FW music scene and his contributions, I guess I was fortunate enough to know him from before then, because I never correlated him in that light. But he was there, for sure. All the nights we spent at Mad Hatter’s, Engine Room, Trees, Rick’s Place in Denton, my old record store, the memories keep coming back.

Scene-wise he was the heart and soul of The Impala. I know. I tried to follow him as booker when he left to open Club Nowhere (in the space now occupied by The Chat Room) and I just didn’t have it. Harlyn did though. He nurtured young artists during his time at The Impala, made many friends, met everyone at the door with a gruff yet friendly greeting and was a friend to all.

So many stories keep recalling from the recesses of my mind. The time he barely made it to Dallas for the Toadies/Reverend Horton Heat New Year’s Eve show. From Denver. Driving. He pulled up literally 10 minutes before the Toadies went on. How he was so excited when I got my fax machine at my record store that he sent me my first fax, his face and hand on the screen like a mischievous little boy. How he then tended my store while I was down at Mad Hatter’s for the midnight Rubberneck sale. Saved me from certain injury at a Ministry show. More recently, an unapologetic Siouxsie and the Banshees fan, he gained a new nickname Siouxsie Backpiece, as we were joking he would get a giant backpiece tattoo of Siouxsie to forever solidify his admiration. And then there’s the countless mundane things we did over the years, the 90’s especially, that mean just as much.

I missed a call from Jenna, his wife on Friday, while I was working. I figured it being Valentine’s Day and the day after his 41st birthday maybe she was calling to see what Leah and I were doing that night. We had been hanging out quite a bit in the past nearly 2 years – Harlyn had reached out to me regarding a Weatherford trip to Hutch’s Sandwich Shop I had posted of Facebook reconnecting an unintentionally paused friendship – and had hoped to maybe see them that night. I thought nothing of it, I would call her back when I left my current stop and started scrolling through Facebook to find a couple of cryptic style posts regarding my friend. I immediately called and had my fear confirmed. Triple H had passed away that morning. I had difficulty telling Leah, because it still doesn’t seem true. We had just seen them 2 weeks earlier at the big Baboon show in Dallas. As we all left he gave me a hug, said “Love you buddy, be careful going home” and that’s the last time I would see him.

I’m trying my best to not make this about me, it’s about him, my old friend. Regardless, I will miss you greatly, and I thank you for standing in line for over an hour and our sandwich and pie lunch we all shared at Hutch’s. I enjoyed having you back, if even for just a couple of years, and I hate to say goodbye.

So I’ll just say so long.

So long Harlyn. I love you buddy, be careful up there.

For Your Disapproval ’13 Style

•January 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Yeah, I’m a few days late with this, but if people can start posting their year end lists Dec. 1st, I can get mine posted 10 days into the new year. Ha.


1. Pinkish Black – Razed To The Ground

Fort Worth’s favorite doom and gloom synth/drums duo followed up their stellar 2012 Self Titled release with another masterpiece. Redefining what heavy can be and how it can be represented, Razed To The Ground found Daron Beck and Jon Teague mining howling dark drone from the netherworlds.

2. Arcade Fire – Reflektor

The most polarizing band in North America, Arcade Fire brought forth arguably the year’s best post-punk record. People love to hate this band, and at times they don’t make it easy to defend them, but the music here speaks for itself. I had originally said this would be my 4th favorite Arcade Fire record, and meant it as a jab. The more I listened and louder I turned it up, the better and better it became. Free your mind of preconceived notions about them and just turn it up. You’ll be happier for it.

3. Windhand – Soma

Came across Windhand earlier in 2013 through their split with Cough (which is fantastic too) and eagerly awaited the release of their second full length. Soma is soul crushing doom metal at it’s finest, although accessible as well. You should all buy this on LP and let their organic delivery sweep you up.

4. Sigur Ros – Kveikur

Could I do a year end list without including a new Sigur Ros record? Nope. Kveikur is more captivating than their previous album, Valtari, bringing the listener in more, versus leaving them in the cold, Icelandic soundscapes.

5. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds– Push The Sky Away

A more subdued offering from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Push The Sky Away compiles 9 tracks of plodding, mid tempo selections that came alive in such a bombastic fashion live you understood why they were recorded in this way.

6. My Bloody Valentine – MBV

22 years in the making had My Bloody Valentine fans salivating at the announcement of a new record. But how does one live up to 22 years of speculation? It’s nearly impossible. 9 tracks seemingly broken into three 3 song arcs had some fans elated while others complained about feeling like Loveless throwaways. For my money, who cares? It’s a new My Bloody Valentine record and that’s all that mattered. Just enjoy it, weenies!

7. The Mavericks – In Time

Tremendous comeback from one of the more underrated and overlooked acts in country music history. Raul Malo’s vocals are hard to beat, and the band continued to wander down their country/Tejano/lounge/rock/pop path forging only a sound indicative of The Mavericks.

8. David Bowie – The Next Day

I cannot tell a lie. I was originally underwhelmed by this record. I was thrilled to have new Bowie, but wasn’t sure if I really liked it or not. I thought the second half was much stronger in the beginning, but alas I was wrong. The Next Day is a strong installment from one of our greatest musical treasures.  I apologize for doubting you, Mr. Bowie.

9. Esben and the Witch – Wash the Sins, Not Only the Face

The sophomore effort from British trio Esben and the Witch wasn’t as chaotic as I had hoped it to be. Seeing them in 2011 on Violet Cries, their delivery was almost frightening and violent, and I had expected that to rub off onto their next record. What we got was a maturing slab of indie-goth befitting a band in the midst of growth. I pray there’s another record soon.

10. Southern Train Gypsy – The Bastard

Fort Worth’s finest metal band – according to FWWeekly (2 years running) – released a quaint little 5 track ep this year. Part breakup concept record, part rip you to shreds southern swamp metal, Southern Train Gypsy continued to blow ears and audiences away with The Bastard and blistering live shows to boot. Are you on the STG tip? Well why not?

11. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

12. Savages – Silence Yourself

13. Kylesa – Ultraviolet

14. Melvins – Tres Cabrones

15. Power Trip – Manifest Decimation

16. Quiet Company – A Dead Man On My Back

17. Eddie Spaghetti – The Value of Nothing

18. True Widow – Circumambulation

19. Wire Nest – Wire Nest

20. Chelsea Light Moving – Chelsea Light Moving

21. Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium

22. Wooden Sjhips – Back To Land

23. In Solitude – Sister

24. Black Joe Lewis – Electric Slave

25. Guided By Voices – English Little League


Got out and saw a few shows this past year. Still, not as many as I’d liked, but hey, I’m getting old. Seeing Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in March at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium was incredible. The fastest 100 minutes of the year, easily. He could have played another 3 hours and not a soul would’ve complained. Coming in at a really close second would be Sigur Ros at Verizon the following month, although I didn’t understand a single word uttered that night.

Slayer roared into Dallas with their new, probably final lineup in the wake of Jeff Hanneman’s passing and the exit of Dave Lombardo. I’ve been pretty harsh about both new players, Paul Bostaph and especially Gary Holt in the past , but this version, and the setlist they pulled – nothing past 1990’s Seasons In The Abyss – brought about a band with more vigor and cohesion than they’ve portrayed in years, making 23 years plus old music sound as relevant and fresh as today. I went in skeptical, and came out sold. This is Slayer. Love it. Embrace it.

In what was possibly the final installment of 35 Denton festival provided several noteworthy sets this year, leading with Sleep, Pallbearer, Chelsea Light Moving, Pinkish Black, Power Trip, Roky Erickson and Brutal Juice. Caught Muse again, and while it was still a great show, it did not match their 2010 outing whatsoever. Caught Blondie and X at, of all places, the Texas State Fair, then witnessed Windhand and Solomon decimate The Grotto afterwards. Also went to the most undersold show of the year, My Bloody Valentine at Verizon Theater in August. I’m being generous at estimating 1,200 at this show (venue seats 7,000) but was great nonetheless, even with a couple of start/stop songs thrown in.

Baboon put their best foot forward with a rare appearance during Dia de los Toadies Seis this year, reminding everyone why they are one of D/FW’s greatest live acts, while the Toadies sets both nights at Dia offered some surprises and their end of December show at Billy Bob’s just brought the rock. It’s nice to see they don’t have to rely on Rubberneck so heavily anymore with so many solid releases to choose from.

And with a Melvins and a Supersuckers show to round out the year, I’d say 2013 was pretty eventful! 2014 has already kicked off with a stellar Murder City Devils show, let’s see where the rest of the year takes us!

Volume: 35 Denton – Denton, TX – 3/7-10/2013

•August 20, 2013 • Leave a Comment

35 denton 2013Ahhh Denton, TX. Quaint, odd little town to the north. Part Austin, part Portland, part Brooklyn, a hipster Mecca and independent music mainstay. I hate the drive from Fort Worth, but actually love your atmosphere for all its quirkiness. And music attraction.

For many in North Texas, this is the kickoff event of the festival season (although we now have a seemingly unending parade of music festivals in the region), coming at the onset of SXSW. And thank you. Thank you, organizers of 35 Denton for no longer making SXSW a necessity for those in the area looking for an escape. It’s 40 minutes to the north from both Dallas and the Fort, not 3 hours plus to Austin (on a lucky straight shot down).

I had to work during a good portion of this year’s festivities, but what I saw was all great and all a high caliber of act. It is that same work that has postponed this review for 3 weeks (sorry for that, next year should be different!) but hey, better late than never.

Being a bit gun-shy from last year, I picked my shows and stayed, didn’t bother wandering around too much as showcases filled and people stuck around. Plus, as I’m aging, the waiting for a 12:30 slot from a 9:00 main stage end time is getting more and more difficult. Maybe, as I said last year, a hotel room is in order.

But I digress, let’s get to the highlights.

Sleep 2


San Francisco’s Sleep was my main reason for going this year. Now a breathing living entity once again, the Bay Area stoner metal trio made their first NTX appearance in almost 20 years, and certainly played to a larger Friday night crowd than they did at Trees all those years ago (sometimes revisionist history can be a great thing) .Even outdoors their sound was gigantic and full, and surprisingly loud for what is essentially a street festival. Tearing through 105 minutes of material, they left the crowd mesmerized, fists in the air (some) and probably very stoned (most). They were without doubt the highlight of the weekend.

It was a louder sort of festival for me this year, catching fantastic sets by Denton’s own Brutal Juice – who are also a living breathing entity once again – new(ish) Little Rock, Arkansas’ metal faves Pallbearer, check out their 2012 album Sorrow and Extinction for proof, Dallas’ Power Trip, who brought all sorts of 80’s thrashy noise to the party, and the drone-prog-Gary Numan on depressants figure it out yourself of Fort Worth duo Pinkish Black. Newly signed to Century Media, 2013 is going to be interesting to see where they go and what they do. Highly anticipating the new record from those guys without fail.

The surprise addition of Mikal Cronin to the Sunday night mainstage was wonderful. Filling in for the last minute cancellation of Camera Obscura, Cronin blazed through 45 minutes of garage pop while solidifying the hype. Can’t forget Friday night’s tremendous offering from Austin’s Roky Erickson. The 13th Floor Elevators leader held his own while sandwiched between Brutal Juice and Sleep, providing a perfect buffer that concluded with the classic Elevator’s track “You’re Gonna Miss Me”.


Chelsea Light Moving

Chelsea Light Moving

My festival weekend ended with Thurston Moore and his latest project Chelsea Light Moving. As a pretty big Sonic Youth fan, I’m clinging to whatever I can get, and this set was the icing on the weekend. Drawing from their brand new self-titled debut, Moore regaled his audience with tales of Denton from the early SY days, and seemingly looked a little awkward on stage solely providing any sort of between song banter we might get. But it all felt so good, no matter where he is, solo, with this new project, it feels a lot like Sonic Youth. And again, I’ll take it.

And so went my third 35 Denton experience. Thank you Denton for being gracious hosts, thank you to the powers that be for allowing me to come out and review, I had a much better time this year than last (I skipped the miserable rain day due to work, heard it was the right choice, ha!) and look forward to 35 Denton 2014. Let’s see what they pull out for that one. My challenge? Neurosis. Do it.

Just do it.