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.

The Record Lounge – 04/12/2013 – Depeche Mode, The Strokes, David Bowie, The Mavericks, The Black Angels

•April 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment

DMDMDepeche Mode – Delta Machine

I’ve been a Depeche Mode fan since around 1985. 28 years at this point, roughly 9/14 of my life. I have to tell ya. Not a huge fan of this new record. Sounds of the Universe was okay, I thought Playing the Angel was actually pretty good for the listens I gave it, but had been lost since the early 90’s on the band. I really have no opinion of either Ultra or Exciter, to be honest. But all the early reports coming from the Depeche Mode camp was this was a throwback to Violator/Songs of Faith and Devotion era. And while I consider anything past Music for the Masses NEW Depeche Mode, I felt pretty relieved to hear this early assessment.

Boy, are they wrong.

I had envisioned hopes and dreams of sweeping songs and big choruses, the sort of thing that got people into them in the first place. What I got out of it in the 2 spins I’ve given it so far (and probably period) was beeps and bloops and not much in the way of a song. After the first single “Heaven” was released, I still had hope. Maybe this is just a tease and the rest of it will be upbeat. How incorrect I was. I do not feel that Delta Machine gets off the starting blocks let alone quenches any Depeche Mode fan’s thirst for a new record. Call Alan Wilder. Please. Drop the guitar (yeah, I know it’s been in play with them for 20 years or so) and let’s hear some romantic big, bright yet gloomy and danceable synth-pop again. Forget Violator and SOFAD, pull out Some Great Reward or the crown jewel that is Black Celebration. Those are great records, and in my humble opinion, the last great work Depeche Mode has done. Begging. Please.

Oh, I’ll see you on tour though, don’t worry about that. We can chat further then.

Update: I have listened to the record a couple more times since this original body of a review was compiled. I do not hate this new record. I do not Love it either. I finally started to see the songs in Delta Machine. But this is exactly what I do not want from Depeche Mode. I do not want to hunt for the song. I want it to be what I had stated earlier, romantic, big, bright, gloomy and danceable at once as only they can pull off and to ditch the guitars. Synth-pop. I am in no way against musicians growing or evolving. That’s the name of the game. But I would at least like elements of what got me into them in the first place to remain. To me, Violator is “new” Depeche Mode. I am not the person that loved that record. Or Songs of Faith and Devotion. I liked those records. LIKED. And I feel the same about Delta Machine. But just barely.

The Mavericks in timeThe Mavericks – In Time

All hail the return of The Mavericks! If only Nashville would take a cue from this Floridian act, mainstream country music would be bearable. With their first record since 2003’s uneven self-titled outing, In Time belongs in the pantheon of their heyday, the pre-Trampoline glory of Music for All Occasions, What A Crying Shame and so forth. This is The Mavericks we all loved through most of the 90’s with a little more bite this go-round. Want proof? Check out track 2, “Lies” and you’ll be sold. Viva Los Mavericks!

Stokes ComedownThe Strokes – Comedown Machine

After reading some early reviews, it looks as if once again, I’m in the minority. After touting my enjoyment of 2011’s Angles, it seemed a lot didn’t like that record either. I love this new record. I believe The Strokes are evolving quite well into themselves 12 years into their catalog, incorporating an 80’s feel to their music while keeping the general form of their earlier work, which is brilliantly demonstrated in the song “One Way Trigger”. Comedown Machine has its differences mind you, but I implore you to listen to it for yourself.

Black Angels indigo meadowThe Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

The fourth record from Austin psych sextet The Black Angels picks up right where 2010’s Phosphene Dream left off, and that’s a compliment. Their style of modern rocking retrograde psychedelia fits right in with Austin’s tapestry and musical legacy while possessing a very listenable quality to their music – the accessibility of Indigo Meadow is its major strength. Standout tracks “Don’t Play With Guns”, the title track and “Holland”.

Bowie next dayDavid Bowie – The Next Day

By now we’re all familiar with the story of this record, recorded in a very hush-hush manner in NYC over the past couple of years, then sprung on an unwitting public almost overnight after a 10 year recording hiatus. If this is to be David Bowie’s final hurrah, the shroud of mystery suits it perfectly. As a huge Bowie fan, I’ve eagerly awaited the follow up to his excellent Reality. That was the whole idea behind his Columbia Records deal, he could record whenever and release whenever, meaning he could make a record per year if he wanted, but that just wasn’t the case.

As happy as I am for a new record, for me, it takes The Next Day a little bit to gain steam. The first half appears to be safe, starting with a nod to “Fashion” with the title track but quickly retreats into a safe area, only barely showing a pulse with “Stars (Are Out Tonight)” on through to the lead single “Where Are We Now” and “Valentine’s Day”.

If You Can See Me” is the wakeup call signifying the close of the first half of the record, and a much needed kick in the pants. “I’d Rather Be High” and “Dancing In Outer Space” help keep the pace going on through the all-out rocker “You Will Set The World On Fire” through to the denouement of “Heat”, the final track of the record and possibly the final Bowie song we might ever get, taking it home for us.

Overall, if this is our final offering from David Bowie, from an album standpoint, it’s a solid effort to go out with. The Next Day will certainly be a positive footnote to the later catalog of this iconic figure, musician and artist.

Feature: My Opinion – Slayer Needs To Fix It or Just End It

•February 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

If you haven’t already seen the following statement from Slayer’s Dave Lombardo, there is some ridiculous crap going on with their camp and their business model. He lays it all out in his official statement below:

Statement From Dave Lombardo Regarding Slayer Australian Tour 2013

I want to personally apologize to all of our fans in Australia who have bought tickets for the tour expecting to see me in my usual place on the drums.

So that you all know the truth, as of the end of the business day on February 14th, I was notified that I would not be drumming for the tour in Australia. I’m saddened, and to be honest I am shocked by the situation.

Last year, I discovered 90% of Slayer’s tour income was being deducted as expenses including the professional fees paid to management, costing the band millions of dollars and leaving 10% or less to split amongst the four of us. In my opinion, this is not the way a band’s business should operate. I tried rectifying it by letting my band mates know, and Tom and I hired auditors to figure out what happened, but I was denied access to detailed information and the necessary back up documents.

I spent the Christmas and New Year holidays realizing I had toured all over the world in 2012, but yet, had not been paid (except a small advance) or provided a proper accounting for a full year’s sweat and blood. On top of this, I was told that I would not be paid until I signed a long form contract which gave me no written assurance of how much or on what basis management would deduct commissions, nor did it provide me access to the financial budgets or records for review. It also forbade me to do interviews or make statements having to do with the band, in effect a gagging order.

Last Monday, I sat down with Kerry and Tom to rehearse for Australia and to propose a new business model that I felt was the best way forward for Slayer to confidently protect itself so we could do what we do best . . . play for the fans. Kerry made it clear he wasn’t interested in making changes and said if I wanted to argue the point, he would find another drummer. On Thursday, I arrived at rehearsals at 1 pm as scheduled, but Kerry did not show. Rather, at 6:24 pm I received an email from the lawyers saying I was being replaced for the Australian dates.

I remain hopeful that we can resolve our issues. But once again, I sincerely apologize to all of our fans in Australia who spent their money expecting to see the 3 of us original Slayer members. I look forward to seeing you in the future.

Sincerely, Dave Lombardo

If this is all true, I should hope to hear something from the opposing side with reasoning, etc, without turning it into a media circus like Black Sabbath/Bill Ward did.

Readers and followers of The Synaptic know I am an unapologetic supporter and fan of what I believe to be the greatest entity in metal ever. Sure Slayer fans have dealt with some hills and valleys, most of the 90’s recording and touring sans Lombardo, then back up in the 00’s with his return and the original band back as a whole. And then dealing with Gary Holt screwing things up left and right on the past couple of Slayer tours while Jeff Hanneman heals from his horrific spider bite incident. (Please get better soon, Jeff, PLEASE!) All of this in good faith that the real Slayer returns. And we were dealing with it. But now we’re going to be forced to accept only 50% of Slayer with a couple of fill-ins for the foreseeable future? No thanks. I would rather the band dissolve now; leave me with my memories of better times than continue on as a shell of itself. Many believe it’s been a shell for many years, but I don’t.

As of now I will not go see a half mast Slayer. Kerry King and Tom Araya, I beg you to squash whatever garbage there is and not subject your faithful, loyal fans to a subpar product. And you know you have one of the most die-hard fan bases on Earth. Be as good to us as we’ve been to you. Get all four back, on the same page and healthy and return to glory. I plead with you to do so.

Stop jerking us around.

UPDATE: Rebuttal from Slayer on 2/21/13:

Slayer confirms that Jon Dette will drum for the band on its Australian tour that starts this Saturday, February 23 in Brisbane. As regards Dave Lombardo’s Facebook post, Slayer does not agree with Mr. Lombardo’s substance or the timeline of the events, except to acknowledge that Mr. Lombardo came to the band less than a week before their scheduled departure for Australia to present an entirely new set of terms for his engagement that were contrary to those that had been previously agreed upon.

“The band was unable to reach an agreement on these new demands in the short amount of time available prior to leaving for Australia. There is more to the account than what Mr. Lombardo has offered, but out of respect to him, Slayer will not be commenting further. Slayer is grateful to its Australian fans for their understanding of this unfortunate last-minute change, and very much looks forward to seeing them at these shows.

Again, let’s just all play nice and get through this. And get Jeff healthy again. I do not want only 50% of Slayer, 75% has been bad enough. I will not accept it and will not see it. From one lowly blogger (on occasion) to the greatest metal band ever, I put the ball in your court.

Preview: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Trees – Dallas, TX – 1/23/13

•January 22, 2013 • Leave a Comment

jonspencerbluesexplosion_130123_feature-300x199Just try to dismiss them. Try discounting them too. I did. 2004’s Damage certainly wasn’t my favorite offering from my beloved The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. I had written them off completely – an afterthought, a fun glimpse into my 90’s listening regimen. So when they came to town in May 2010 (while everyone else was up in Denton seeing Wilco) and I saw them demolish HOB’s Cambridge Room, I rejoined my beloved Blues Explosion whole-heartedly. Please sirs, forgive the momentary doubt.

2 years later and even toting a fantastic new record Meat and Bone, Jon Spencer, Mr. Judah Bauer and Russell Simins are returning to Dallas to level Deep Ellum again like it’s the 90’s. If you ever, EVER liked anything this band did, just go. Every memory and reason you loved them in the first place will flood your senses and make you fall in love all over again. And resent The Black Keys. So pull out those old JSBX records, reintroduce yourself, and strap in for a great night of punkbluesrock. And don’t skip out on openers, Fort Worth’s Fungi Girls are sure to deliver as well.

I’m going to pull out Damage right now.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion plays Trees this Wednesday, 1/23 Tickets available here.

Hey Look At That… A Podcast

•January 20, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Well, I’ve been threatening it for about a year, but here is the first installment of The Synaptic Radio podcast. This won’t be much of a surprise to any of the long time followers of The Synaptic, but it’s a rundown of what I like, comprised of my favorite 12 bands (an expanded Big Eight!) and what I believe in general represents myself and The Synaptic as accurately as can be expected. I already have the first 3 shows done, and all will be out within the next several days so I can get caught up and current.

So, therefore, without further adieu, I present to you, fair friends of The Synaptic, the inaugural podcast. I hope you enjoy it!

Episode 001

Volume: 35 Denton – Denton, TX, 3/8-11/2012

•March 17, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The Jesus and Mary Chain took the stage just after 8:30 Wednesday as the final act of 2012’s 35 Denton festival. Delayed from their original Sunday night festival closing slot, the Reid brothers and company performed their first show in America since their 2007 Coachella appearance.

And thus this year’s installment of 35 Denton was coming to a close.

I cannot tell a lie, I wasn’t overly bowled over by the lineup this year for 35 Denton. And then scheduling conflicts made things even more difficult. Much like ACL’s 2011 lineup, I recognize that it was a better offering than last year, just not a lot I was interested in seeing this time. For me the main things to see were Scotland’s The Jesus and Mary Chain and San Francisco’s OM.

Last year there was enough room to bounce to and from venues with relative ease, unless you wanted to see a show at Rubber Gloves. It seemed this year the festival had grown enough that several performances were at the “one-in-one-out” capacity early in the night, leaving festival goers to homestead in the clubs where their biggest priority was on from an early point of the night, not daring to venture out into the night for the fear of no entry at another spot. Thursday night was a homesteading night for me from the get-go, staying at Rubber Gloves all night through Denton’s incredible Vaults of Zin to True Widow and fest priority OM. I split from OM a little early in an attempt to catch a little of Mikal Cronin’s set at The Labb, but alas it was not in the cards.

I was unable to make it on Friday due to a little 5 year anniversary for Leah and me. I can tell you with certain accuracy Doug Burr and The Burning Hotels were incredible. Bringing us to the misery that was Saturday. I would like to ask 35 Denton not to order cold rain for next year’s festival. Please. But through the rain I persevered as much as I could, catching some Atlas Sound, Best Coast and walking up to Bun B just as they broke into “Big Pimpin’”. The Do For It Records showcase at Abbey Underground was the only thing on my mind for the remainder of the evening. Only The House Harkonnen was going to fully salvage the day. And after a blistering set by Fort Worth’s The Phuss, it was going to take a bit of work. The Phuss were absolutely great and I implore you to get out and see them. Now. This was followed by a respectable set from The Spectacle (yep, I did that), the only thing in my way was Shaolin Death Squad. Who took forever. And ever. To an almost unfair level. I had talked 6 or so people into seeing The House Harkonnen, who ended up going on 42 minutes late, to no fault of their own. Due to the delay, all of those people left without seeing HK. The 30-ish minutes they got to play were well worth the wait, as they pummeled ears and scorched the earth with their ridiculous brand of metal/punk.

With the announcement of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s postponement, I had a decision to make. I wanted to see a couple of bands on Sunday, but that was in conjunction with the closing set from JAMC. I wish I was able to tell you right now how great The Oh-Sees, The Raincoats, and  The Angelus were on Sunday, but with rising gas prices and another trip to Denton looming on Wednesday, I decided to forego Denton Sunday in order to make it out to the Denton Fairgrounds on Wednesday.

Added to Wednesday’s bill was psychedelic garage rocker Ty Segall in what was an instance of inspired booking. This somewhat made up a little for missing Mikal Cronin on Thursday, as Segall’s band tore through 30 minutes of a set I had no idea I’d get to see. A rather large crowd had gathered for this free show, and it was the right move on 35 Denton’s part for sure. Almost 20 years since I saw them last, The Jesus and Mary Chain emerged, taking the stage. Hitting career high points with “Blues From a Gun”, “Head On”, “Sidewalking”, “Some Candy Talk” and “Just Like Honey”, I was transported back to that Deep Ellum Live show in December of ’92, remembering… there’s just not that much to see. Absent were the ungodly fog machines shrouding the band in backlit wonder, leaving the Scottish post-punk legends naked and without a net. I love this band, and as I told a friend later, it was “brilliance though boredom”. It was one of those types of show where had I missed it I wouldn’t believe people telling me they left out of boredom. The strains of “Reverence” were ringing through the air as we made it to the car, officially ending my 35 Denton 2012 weekend.

This festival is doing many things right each year, and getting better each year. A couple of thoughts though. 1) 2:00 am for 4 straight nights is tough on those commuting each day. 2) I apologize if this is petty and sound like an ingrate, but if you send someone an e-mail, telling them what press credentials they have been allowed, make sure they get that level. I was informed I was to have full Level 2 access via e-mail, only to get Level 1 when I showed up. What reason was I given by the head of press? A very flippant “That was a typo”. No apology, nothing. Last year I was afforded 2 full press passes and busted my hump with 5 articles about the festival, believing that would be some good faith towards this year and years to come, but I guess not. Do not get me wrong. I fully appreciate the chance to attend and review the weekend. Maybe next year.

But I digress. I am looking forward to what 35 Denton pulls out of its hat for 2013. Can’t wait to see you all there!

Volume: 35 Denton Day 1 – 03/08/12

•March 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment

35 Denton, N. Texas’ first major multi-day music festival, has gone through almost more name changes than years in operation. The kickoff event for the Texas festival season has certainly worked to stake its claim on the festival circuit, trying different things each year to see what sticks and what doesn’t. This year there isn’t as much of a main stage presence as in past years, completely foregoing any main stage acts for opening day, making the opening night of the festival a more club oriented affair.

There are really 2 objectives this year: OM and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Therefore with Thursday being geared towards the clubs, I staked my claim at Rubber Gloves from the get go. There wasn’t to be a chance of missing either OM or True Widow, I made certain of that.

The night began with a nice surprise from Denton’s heavily prog influenced act Vaults of Zin. Reminders of Fort Worth’s much lamented Yeti were abound for sure. I had heard great things about these guys, and they did not disappoint.

I completely missed the next act, Terminator 2 while dealing with a what I now know was a dying phone. Oh the joys of having to unexpectedly buy a new phone, which is what I had to do. Up next was True Widow, who released their stunning sophomore full-length As High As The Highest Heavens… last year. I had been looking forward to seeing them for a while, and whereas they were very good, my anticipation for OM eclipsed their set a bit.

By this point the room is filled and the door had to implement a one-in-one-out policy for entry. I had seen OM a few years back at the Wall of Sound festival in Fort Worth, and was truly blown away by them. Since then, they released the excellent God is Good, replaced drummers, and added keyboards to their live performances. Al Cisneros (Sleep) hypnotic head bob, basslines and chanted vocal style are the stuff of legend, transfixing the capacity crowd to a more peaceful plane.

I mistakenly thought I could slip out of the last few minutes of their set to catch Mikal Cronin’s set across the festival at The Labb, but evidently he tore through his set and left nothing in his wake, as he was finished 15 minutes before his set time was over. This was a great disappointment to me. But alas, it had already been a great night.

I was unable to attend Friday’s shows, but my correspondent Jasun Lee will have a rundown of all the action.

See you all out there Saturday!