Crawl Band Profiles
By Michael Henningsen
We gave up trying to profile every band playing the Crawl a long time ago. There are just too damn many to do the bands justice. So nowadays we just give our readers a taste of some of the highlights. Enjoy!
12 Step Rebels
Albuquerque's punkabilly kings recently released their debut, Go Go Graveyard Rockin' on Dead Body Wreckerds, and have proved themselves to be one of the best live acts in town. In a relatively short period of time, these guys have gone from virtual nobodies to one of the hottest live bands in town.
If you don't love this band, you're either dead or stupid. Or both. Gordon Andersen and Brian Banks round out this hard rockin', bongwater-soaked quintet. Like Queens of the Stone Age, only cheaper and sexier.
Breaker 1-9 is one of the all-time best trucker rock bands this side of the Mississippi. Their twangy harmonies, wailing guitar solos and strange covers will make ya feel all tingly inside. Just looking at the quartet in their John Deere caps and grungy T-shirts is enough to make ya wanna start dippin' 'n' spittin'.
One of few so-called jam bands I can stomach over the course of an entire record or live set. Actually, it's not a matter of stomaching Civitas as it is a case of actually enjoying a band that rests within a genre I mostly despise. It could be their "unhippiness," their well-written, tightly performed songs or both.
Got drums? Concepto Tambor do ... hundreds of them. OK, not hundreds in the literal sense, but damned if these guys don't sound like a hundred drummers perfectly synched with one another. They're a longtime Crawl favorite, and are known for taking the party to the street after they've lit up the stage. This is not your hippie-ass brother's drum circle.
Feels Like Sunday
With three full-length CDs and a tour or two under their belts, Feels Like Sunday are well on their way to becoming a cornerstone on the local music scene. Led by the passionate vocals, intricate lyrics and frenetic stage presence of Joni Rhodes-Orie, Feels Like Sunday have become adept at switching back and forth between genres without ever missing a beat or losing their audience. Now a five-piece, FLS have expanded their sound beyond what's available on their CDs, and fleshed it out to the point that they sound like an entirely confident unit.
Jenny Gamble's solo acoustic alt.folk/rock deserves recognition not only because of its musical strength, but also because of its precision and honesty. Her work is detailed and each note and lyric is thought out carefully before being included in her songs. But besides being a great musician, Gamble has also dedicated herself to helping other local acts get their first time footing on stage by booking, writing about and generally supporting local bands. She's is an inspiration to local women performers and an asset to the music community as a whole.
It was immortalized by Matt Dillon in Singles and has long been used by loser bands using a variety of different countries, as a means to impress or add credibility to themselves: "We're big in Holland." But when Stan Hirsch says he's big in Holland, he ain't kiddin'. You see, folks in Europe apparently appreciate American blues music more than, well, most Americans, which is why our very own Mr. Hirsch tours there as often as he can. Not that he isn't popular locally. Hirsch is known to many as the forefather of every guitarist in town, from his protégé Eric McFadden to the slightly smaller Kimo, as well as the best acoustic blues player in New Mexico. It's just that, in my opinion, he remains underappreciated in his hometown. You really have to hear him live to believe it. And even then, there's no guarantee.
Icky and the Yuks
Hard to go wrong with a lineup that includes Richard Trott, Jay Collins, Bob Beckley and Gil Sanchez. Icky and the Yuks rock out in the old schooly punk rawk way—a way that is inspired not only by their predecessors but also by plenty of whiskey, vodka and beer. Whether they're dressing in Catholic schoolgirl outfits (fucking hot!) or stripping down to thong underwear, there's always something interesting to watch and hear. Icky and the boys kick ass at every single show.
Few local singer-songwriters and bandleaders have been at the game as long or longer than Roger Jameson. In fact, Jameson co-led the brigade of singer-songwriters—which included Shawn Loudermilk, Jason Daniello, Ben Hathorne, Cole Raison, Kimo and a handful of others—that, back in the early '90s, blazed the trail for others to come with regular showcases at the long-lamented Dingo Bar. On his own and as leader of the Jaded Hearts Band, Jameson has released three CDs and continues to make fresh, relevant folkish pop that's unmistakably Roger Jameson.
Albuquerque's answer to Ani DiFranco and the Indigo Girls. Folk rock with an attitude and surprising longevity. Kimo's not quite as active a performer these days as she once was, but her songs stand the test of time and her voice just gets better and better. She's also my favorite Martian.
Alex Maryol Band
Alex Maryol can't really be called a "kid" anymore, but he's still too young to know as well as he does about kickin' the ass out of ass-kickin' Texas blues. Descriptive words and phrases like "virtuoso" and "old soul" are likely to always be part of just about anything said or written about his prowess with regard to the aforementioned genre and electric guitar playing therein. Whether anyone else recognizes it or not, Maryol is New Mexico's Stevie Ray Vaughan. He's got the chops, the innate knowledge and, most importantly of all, the passion to go where no other blues guitarist has gone before. Seriously, folks, if you haven't heard Maryol, now is the time.
Ryan McGarvey Band
While he hasn't quite mastered the art of the blues vocal, McGarvey—all 19 years of him—more than makes up for it with blistering guitar slinging. If there's a "next Ian Moore," it's Ryan McGarvey. He's got incredible chops, but, more importantly, he knows when and when not to employ them. Technically amazing and soulfully profound. Hard to believe, really.
The P-Tails are arguable (but just barely) Albuquerque's hardest-working band. And, as you might expect from a group of guys who make their living playing music, they're virtually unmatched when it comes to stage presence and seasoned sound. Their decidedly bluesy brand of rock contains equal parts Texas roadhouse and Southern rock comfort, all hinged on guitarist Darin Goldston's fleet-fingered Stratocaster work and the tightest (not even arguably) traditional rhythm section in the state. I feel particularly lucky and honored every time these guys make themselves available to play the Crawls. You should, too.
The Mindy Set
If Brit-pop is your bag, then The Mindy Set is your band. If Brit-pop and classic shoegaze a là Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine are your bags, then welcome to heaven, my friends. The Mindy Set tend to fly just below the radar, but they're one of the best five bands in Albuquerque. You'll see.
Emo, indie, experimental, ambient ... no single label accurately describes the musical alchemy created by Oktober People. Their live shows ebb and swell with miraculous unpredictability—one minute you're swooning in melodic bliss, the next you're blindsided by sheets of razor-sharp guitar and bombastic rhythmic acidity. Oktober People are just back from a triumphant showcase at South By Southwest and should be the next band signed out of Albuquerque if they play their cards right.
Rage Against Martin Sheen
Rage don't play covers, they play parodies. If you can handle having the words of some of your favorite songs turned into hippie-bashing anthems or odes to diarrhea, then Rage is your band. They recently released their debut full-length album, establishing them as one of the least pretentious and funniest bands in the city.
A veteran of such bands as Del Rios, Vibraluxe and The Rocket 88s, guitarist Scott Mitchell has been tearing it up in clubs since the age of 15, and has long been considered among the finest blues guitarists to ever call New Mexico home. And while different incarnations of Velvet Johnson, formerly known as The Sultans, have come and gone, Mitchell's fiery, clever guitar work and defining style have kept Velvet Johnson's sound true to its creator's vision: red hot Texas-style blues with touches of classic rockabilly and country rock. Velvet Johnson just get better as the years pass.
Unit 7 Drain
They continue to be one of my favorite bands in Albuquerque, with equal nods to classic new wave and modern alt.rock. Singer/guitarist Harry Redus-Brown still has the best voice of any rock singer in Burque, and their recently released CD, Devices (Socyermom) finds the band in peak form—mature songwriting and more simmering energy than on any of their previous releases.
Danny Winn and the Earthlings
The ska revival's third and fourth waves pretty much wiped out any trace of the original excitement and feel of the music, in the process turning bands like Goldfinger into household names for about 13 minutes, and thereby nearly destroying ska's integrity forever. But bands like Danny Winn and the Earthlings (along with local predecessors Beat Fetish and Giant Steps) have managed to keep the traditional spirit alive by expertly crafting songs that will not be co-opted by the Gap to shove this year's fall fashions down our throats. What you get instead is skankin', bass and drum-driven ska with all the flavors of old and none of the silly posturing.
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