BOOK’S FOODIE: Portland Pepper Sauce Company “Fresanero Pepper Sauce” Review

As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, I try to keep up with an awareness of some of the new food items that are being made available, but it’s close to impossible. As someone who wants to move to the Portland, Oregon area, I’ve been trying to keep tabs with some of the items that are of interest to me, be it food carts, doughnuts, or pies. I also love hot sauce, and one that I have yet to try has been given a review by Bill Moore, who reviews hot sauces from across the country as they come in, everything from “Bhut Kisser” to “Rectum Ripper XXX”, so his tolerance level for the super hot stuff is super high. For this video, he reviews the Fresanero Pepper Sauce variety made by the Portland Pepper Sauce Company, who currently have three different levels of hot sauce to choose from. One of the benefits of the internet is being able to buy hot sauces from any town/city/region that you want, although it is great to go into a local market and just pick and choose what may be available near you. Is the Fresanero Pepper Sauce worthy of attention? Have a look.

SOME STUFFS: announce sale and end of network

A year, a month, and a day after I made the announcement of‘s debut to Portland, Oregon and the rest of the world, it seems the internet broadcast network will be closing up shop in its current motif. founder Robert Wagner made the announcement through Twitter that the network has been sold to a company in Southern California. By doing this, will now be a new company with completely new shows, and broadcasting from California. None of the programming that is currently on the channel will be there, including Knit Happens, Cort & Fatboy, Unibash Radio, and the show that gave the network its life, Portland Sucks. will become a new company under new ownership.

This has caused a bit of a panic amongst listeners and supporters in Portland, the Pacific Northwest, and judging from the comments on the announcement page, in various spots around the world, with many asking about what will become of their favorite shows. Here is what is known:

  • as we know it will end its live stream and broadcasts effective immediately on Friday, November 18th, at 5pm.
  • The status of all shows currently presented by are now “free to roam”. If you follow some of these shows, you will find out the status of each one from their creators.

    Wagner made a comment on his own blog that Portland Sucks will definitely continue in podcast form, and only as a podcast. A few other shows have announced that they plan on continuing in some form. Bottom line is, everything that is been under the umbrella will no longer be. Take care, time of your life, good riddance, right? In a way yes.

    Portland Sucks began under its own entity, a podcast that was a way to simply get some thoughts out. That show would become a part of the Small Plate Radio Network, and then came It would spawn, but then the .am part shut down. evolved into and now we’re… here. While Wagner plans to keep Portland Sucks going, his future endeavors are unknown. Or at least he plans on saying more when he’s ready to reveal something of interest. He did say that Portland Sucks co-host Sabrina Miller may not be coming back “after the transition is made due to her increasingly busy schedule.” Miller has become one of the network’s primary faces and voices, with the lady known as SabMil to some (and for a select view, Luscious Duvet) becoming a personality on a network that apparently ended up with no personalities. Maybe it didn’t, or that’s a way of saying that Miller, Wagner, and everyone involved in the network were simply being themselves, and not playing the role or being fake for anyone.

    I think that’s what attracted me to their shows. I’m someone who would still like to move to the Portland area, and because of my curiosity as to what kind of podcasts were being down in the city, as a way to find persons, places, and things that were similar to my own, I found Portland Sucks. It sounds like the conversation I might have at a record store, book store, doughtnut mansion, a park, simply people shooting the shit and not being afraid to say what they want to say. I’ve listened to shows throughout the last few years, and I keep on asking myself “why am I not hanging out with these fuckers?” It may not have been their intention, but created shows that made the listener feel welcome, like old friends and family members. Or maybe that family member that you didn’t think you’d ever see, but you dealt with their crap. I am a fan, and whatever the future has in store for Portland Sucks, Wagner, Miller, and everyone else, I would like to remain a fan, whether it’s in audio form or otherwise.

    There have been a number of changes in the years I have been listening, and none of them could be predicted. I had posted a comment on their website, saying that my interests are merely selfish because I want to hear more. in its current form will be coming to an end, but there will be more. What that “more” will be is unknown, at least for now. will be doing one last week of streaming before the plug is pulled on November 18th at 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern. As an early Thanksgiving present, I would like to say thank you for the shows and podcasts you have offered as a collective. I know there was a lot of hard work, time, and dedication involved, but please know that all of your work was never without support and gratitude. With liberty and blumpkins for all… thank you.

  • PODCAST: Suck It #164, where my “assassination” of Def Leppard becomes a topic

    I’m a fan of a podcast created in Portland, Oregon called Suck It™, which is broadcast everyday on an internet station called As I was listening to this morning’s show, it was a surprise to hear that a topic I had discussed on Twitter was becoming a topic of discussion. Then to add to this, I was mentioned in the show.

    My tweet simply said this. I will record Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in the morning after it airs, so it catches the last minute or so of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. On this particular night, Def Leppard were performing “Pour Some Sugar On Me”. I used to like the song 24 years ago, I bought Hysteria and all seven of the singles released in the U.S. (ooh), but on Leno, the band looked ragged and didn’t sound too good either. Granted, these guys are not the same men from 30 years who did “High’N’Dry”, “Hello America”, or “Let It Go”, but it lead me to say this:

    Def Leppard performed at the end of Leno last night. I’m watching it now and wow, it’s as if watching clay ash trays being placed in a kiln.

    My tweet was replied to by Suck It™ host Robert Wagner, and that was that. Or so I should. A few minutes before Suck It™ was to air this morning, Wagner likes to tweet a preview of some of the discussions. One of them would apparently be: Def Leppard. Oh no.

    The show begins, and that’s when Wagner, co-host Sabrina Miller and new show producer Jeff Peart went in. I am now the official assassin of Def Leppard. To hear what happened and everything else that goes on with this great podcast, download Suck It™ show #164 by clicking to this page.

    If there’s ever a chance I could sit in during an episode of Suck It™ when I am back in Portland, I’d love an opportunity to do so. As for the mention in the show and on the website, I offer these kind words from Joe Elliott himself:

    TV SHOW REVIEW: “Portlandia” (IFC)

    The buzzword up here in the Pacific Northwest has been the new show in IFC starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein called Portlandia, based on the people and things found in and within Portland, Oregon. With an interest in wanting to move to Portland, I was interested to see what it was about.

    From reading a number of articles and blogs, and hearing podcasts in Portland, it seemed people were either afraid of how Portlandia would show Portland, leery of how embarrassing it might make the city and its residents, while others could care less. The hate was strong, especially with excerpts of the show that could be found, but I think it was nothing more than a proud city who did not want to be looked at as or treated like animals in a zoo. Is Portlandia an example of the unique quirks that Portland does have? Yes, but not all of Portland is like that. “The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland” is what the introduction to the show says, so immediately one is meant to look at the characters and see them as what exactly? 30- and 40- somethings who want to fix the errors of what they went through in the last 20 years? People who felt the past was better? Citizens who wish to live life pre-grunge, pre-hip-hop as a corporate entity, pre-gaming revolution, pre-internet, pre-apps, pre-digital, pre-…cum? It may seem like that from the outside, and I say that as an outsider myself, but watching the show and believing these things will only make you ask one question: what the hell is Portland all about?

    For one, Portland is a large metropolitan city with its share of hippies. However, you will also find preppies, hipsters, gangsters, senior citizens, swingers, conservatives, dope fiends, teabaggers, foodies, raw food enthusiasts, and a little bit of everything. You can also find these things in Seattle, San Francisco, Detroit, and every other city Huey Lewis mentioned in the last verse in “The Heart Of Rock’N’Roll”. So why is Portland the hot city of discussion of the moment? I think it’s because it’s a large city whose talent and resources have remained untapped, and the fear is that if the country taps PDX’s ass, it’ll turn into the woman Common rapped about in “I Used To Love H.E.R.”, where she will end up being worn out and torn, but still able to return to the place she calls home. This isn’t to suggest that Portland wants to remain in the past, although shades of the past can be found throughout the city and its various sections. As a record collector, I remember a few years ago when Portland was called “the last untapped vinyl destination”, which comes from young college kids who want to discover a format they didn’t grow up with, and an older generation who found no need to replace a format that they were happy with. Perhaps that’s the perception some people have of the city, the idea that it’s not Miami, it’s not Dallas, it’s not Chicago, it’s not San Francisco. The city of Portland, Oregon is known by name, but very little is known by people outside of the Pacific Northwest, other than how quirky or “weird” it makes itself out to be. Yet within that quirkiness and weird vibes is a sense of wanting to be a Portland resident because the people and the communities feel that the standard of living is very good, even when times are rough, and while I’m only one episode into the show, I think Portlandia is going to show some of the many things that makes Portland worth celebrating, even if some feel it’s unnecessary mockery. Then again, the show was created by Fred Armisen, which obviously means comedy, even if some are not willing to laugh at themselves.

    The show is based around different scenarios and storylines, so that Armisen and Brownstein will portray different characters from scene to scene. One scene may show them being overly conscious about the food they consume, while another scene may have them as employees at a women’s book shop. The one thing that I did like was when they showed Armisen’s character overdosing on living in a digital world, and some may thing Portland and being digital is an oxymoron. Truth of the matter is that Portland has a healthy and diverse blogging community, and has been internet savvy for years. There is also a tech community that looks at some of the innovations being done in Portland and the rest of Oregon, some of which is discussed at Rick Turcozy‘s Silicon Florist website. In a recent issue of Portland Monthly there was an article covering the best doctors in the city, while talking about how Portland could take part in becoming a microcosm of what the country’s health care system should be. The city is known for being a mecca of bicyclists, but it’s also encouraging people to think better and smarter about how they travel in and out of the city, with discussions of a forthcoming transportation safety summit producing a number of pros and cons.

    Of course, you can also celebrate Portland by taking advantage of a pedestrian-friendly city by discovering the many stairs of the city in The Portland Stairs Book. If you’re unshaven and proud, take part or become a spectator in the West Coast Beard & Mustache Championships. If you want someone to fondle your nether regions, there’s a map for that. Portlandia represents all of this and none of this, so why does it matter?

    Let’s be real. The city of Portland, Oregon might seem weird to some, but those people are probably happy with who they are and what they’ve become. Portland is not for them. Those who seek something different and unique may or may not find it in Portland. Truth be told, it can be found anywhere and everywhere. You just have to look, and it just so happens Portland occupies a lot of searchers, even those who are content. Maybe the things they search for seemed varied and different from what you’re looking for, but respect the search. It’s a nerdy city, but that’s a dorky way of saying that this city is well read. I’m a Book, I’m well read, so… Portland seems like a perfect place to be, right? I haven’t lived there yet, but I’d like for it to be a place I will want to call home, and hopefully I will very soon. In the first episode, I see a sense of the people that are there, and it’s not just the characters Armisen and Brownstein portray. Look at the older lady in the library, that’s Portland. Look at the bearded man who has been hiding in the library since 1979 while taking part in a hide & seek contest, that’s Portland.

    Maybe want to discover Portland because it’s seen as an intelligent city that isn’t afraid to play the fool, even though they don’t want anyone to call them fools or being foolish. Maybe Portland simply wants people to not poke fun or criticize, but if you’re going to stare, put on a souvenir T-shirt and participate. I also think that Portland has been overshadowed by Seattle for decades, even when Seattle wasn’t the coffee-drinking, tech-savvy city it is today. Upon moving to Washington State in 1984, I remember when it was possible to drive through downtown Seattle and see small corner stores, hear the breeze, and be able to walk on the street for blocks without being hit. With Seattle being home to a number of fisheries, another distinct I remember about some parts of downtown Seattle was how it smelled like a fishing boat. Growing up in Honolulu, I know the sights, sounds, and smells all too well. The Seattle music scene in 1984 was active but bands showed support for other bands, and some bands probably featured members from other bands, so a group of 12 people might have 5 bands ready to go on tour together in a stinky van. The Kingdome was an ugly beast, but people loved the beauty of the ugliness. In 1987 while on The Joshua Tree tour, U2 didn’t play in Seattle, leaving the defunct magazine The Rocket to ask why a big band like them can play San Francisco one night, drive up the West Coast and completely miss Portland and Seattle by heading to Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada? From that point on, it seemed the music community did everything to strengthen itself within themselves, and in time people discovered the unique qualities of their music.

    Meanwhile, Portland remained the city on the I-5, not really quiet or dormant but ignored by people who were entralled by the big and bright lights of Seattle, the city of dreams in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Which brings to mind what Portlandia suggests: what exactly was the dream of the 90’s? Or is it about going back to a time before the world seemed to collapse in front of our eyes? Is Portland a utopia? Is it a town of music makers, and in the words of Willy Wonka, are Portlanders the dreamers of the dream? By being exposed to the possibility of being overexposed, will the unicorn magic of Portland slowly fade away? If anything, that may be the biggest fear of all, that Portland in the early 10’s will turn into what Seattle became in the 1990’s: overcrowded with Californians looking to change the ways of the city or adapting the city’s qualities and making themselves look like a fool.

    It’s possible that this review has less to do with Portlandia the show and more about the city of Portland and what it represents to an outsider who wants to play in their reindeer games. Nonetheless, love or hate, Portland is there to sample and experience. If the show moves you to pay a visit, they’ll be more than happy to welcome you.

    (Portlandia airs Friday nights at 10:30 Eastern/7:30 Pacific on IFC. While the show is produced by Saturday Night Live‘s Lorne Michaels,the show is based on the video projects Armisen and Brownstein used to do together when Brownstein wasn’t recording/touring with Sleater-Kinney. Consider it a high-budget independent video project, and one that works quite well in the context of what the city represents to its residents.)

    SOME STUFFS: Internet radio takes its first sip of beer with the introduction of

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    If you have a favorite internet radio station or radio show, or happen to love the wide range of different programming that is available out there, I would like to introduce you to a new network that I feel will be a force to reckon with this decade, one that I feel will become your daily listening habit. Friends, get familiar with is the new version of what was, a “channel” based in Portland, Oregon that is dedicated to the views, opinions, hobbies, and interests of people in Portland, done by people in Portland. It is a home grown effort that looked to find an audience with their brand of humor, wit, and passion, and in time would find it not only in Portland, but throughout the Pacific Northwest, the West Coast, the United States, and in small pockets around the world. It was able to do this with a series of shows that are diverse as the people behind them. As attention towards Portland grows on a national and international scale, felt it was time to take on the challenges of a growing audience by letting people know why their city can be an influence for the rest of the nation, and perhaps the world. In other words, now that they have a loyal audience, it’s time to get to the people who aren’t listening but need to.

    The demise of is only in name, but now transformed into, they are now expanding their scope to Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. It will be the premiere internet radio network for the Pacific Northwest, all of “Cascadia” if you will, and programs pertaining to these areas will be added very soon (as I’m looking at the new site, i can see the potential of dedicated channels with programming dedicated to each region). Take a look at their daily schedule and you’ll find a show that will suit your interests. also hosts a number of events from movie showings to trivia contests, and even an annual Baconfest that I had the pleasure of visiting for the first time this past August. What will also be of interest in the coming weeks is an emphasis on applications for the iPhone and other forms of gadgetry, along with apps for other internet broadcasters that they plan on revealing soon. In other words, they are becoming more than just a network that broadcasts shows and archives podcasts, they are dabbling in multimedia by talking about it and creating it. is becoming an internet station that is expanding on the multitasking it has become known for, and by doing so, it is shining the light on the tech-savvy community of Portland that are helping to keep its city vibrant alive, while keeping true to its unique spirit. It’s talk radio, it’s good radio, it’s quality radio, but you can hear it on your mobile device, in the car, on your laptop or desktop. It looks to the future, and they’re welcoming you to listen. showed what a group of creative people can do when they put their minds together. is simply a new pair of shoes, and its ready to take its first step into the great wide open. From a “small plate” to a gourmet buffet, they are expanding their pallets and hope that others will join them. I call myself a fan because I enjoy the shows and the sense of community I think exists amongst everyone on the network. I want to spread the love by letting you know about them and if it moves you, spread the word. they will thank and if you’re lucky, spank you later.

    RECORD CRACK / VIDEO: “Don’t Move Here” episode #7 looks at record and tape labels/stores in PDX
    Just discovered a video called Don’t Move Here: Inside Portland’s Music Scene, a semi-sarcastically titled video series that looks at the greatness of Portland, Oregon while telling people to not ruin what’s already there. The seventh show takes a look at a unique section of Portland that is the home of a number of record and cassette labels, continuing the indie spirit its music scene has had for years. As for that music scene, some of its contributors/participants speak on what makes Portland unique and perhaps not so unique.

    The video was created by Wieden+Kennedy, who feature a lot of interesting audio and video content on their site. Sample a few. To see the previous six installments of the Don’t Move Here series, go here.

    The Run-Off Groove #236

    Welcome to The Run-Off Groove #236. I am John Book, welcome.

    This column is about music reviews, along with music-related books, DVD’s, etc. Each review will usually be followed by a graphic, when upon clicking you can make a purchase:
    (for compact disc)
    (for MP3’s)

    The point of this is to make readers aware of some of the good music out there, music I hope to be able to pass along to you. With that said, all MP3’s here are “legal”, which means they are being passed on to you with permission from the artist and/or publicity firm. All of you that are tech savvy should know where to get all the free music anyway, but please make a purchase whenever possible, whether it’s from your favorite store or in many instances from the artist themselves. If your tax return is coming in, get to those bills first and foremost, but with a bit of extra change buy a few albums.

    Also please consider clicking some of the links under the “Music and more” category to the right, which will help keep this website afloat.

    Now, the column.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Anamanaguchi are part of a collective called 8-Bit Peoples, whose goal is to share their love of old school video games and more importantly video game music. This is new music made with 8-bit technology, some of which I’ve reviewed in the past (i.e. Pixelh8, and it makes sense that this style is becoming a force since much of today’s hip-hop is based on the basic qualities of those sounds, Nintendo Hop if you will. But Anamanaguchi (ana-mana-guchi) take things to the next level (as any gamer should) with music that you wish had a visual equivalent with their album Dawn Metropolis.(Normative)

    Simply put, they create cool sounds with nothing but video technology, tapping into the microchips and creating something that very much sounds like the world we live in today, whatever that may mean. It’s intense and the sounds may make your heart rate go up significantly, either that or it will make you go back to the days when small game rooms seem like stinky ass porn parlors, but with more Dr. Pepper than beer and more gum than come. I think you know what I’m getting at.

    The cool thing about Dawn Metropolis is that it’s on vinyl, so for you turntablists who want to scratch the fuck out of this or create some screwed mixes, you can.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Audiopharmacy have been around for a long time, but this hip-hop collective are coming out with music and more on a regular basis to make sure people know who they are. They’ve just released a compilation called Weaspons Of Mass Production (Audiopharmacy Prescriptions), featuring 20 different tracks from the production side of things to show people that when it comes to mixing up hip-hop, reggae, jazz, and funk, these guys know how to make it and how to make it sound good.

    Some of the artists here sound like Outkast, other tracks lean on the Arrested Development side but it shows a more home grown, earthy-feel to the music that hasn’t been felt in the current mainstream in years. They include Pasha Brown, Kenji, Ameba, and CI Cutz & Ras K’dee, all of which hold true to the old school hip-hop ethics while being open to new interpretations of the same manifestation, and it sounds fresh, in a literal sense.

    These are also the kind of guys who could save hip-hop vinyl, and I hope they’ll release more music in the format as it would be a perfect union.

    Image Hosted by Two Fingers are a duo consisting of Amon Tobin and Joe “Doubleclick” Chapman, and their self-titled debut album on Paper Bag/Big Dada is one of the more eclectic electronic albums to be pushed to a hungry public.

    The album shows the link between hip-hop and electronica, and with Tobin’s and Doubleclick’s knowledge of music and technology they create the kind of music that shows how well the cold can sound with the warm. Throughout the album you’ll hear Ms. Jade, Sway, and Ce’Cile commit themselves to the project, and whatever two fingers entail, there’s a bit of leftover juice and flavor for anyone who wishes to take a lick, and this album is indeed finger licking kid. Those whose sole audio habit is American hip-hop may be turned off by the “intrusion” of sounds, but this is about taking hybrids and slicing it create more hybrids to where any influence is almost unintelligble. “Better Get That”, one of the tracks with Ms. Jade, has a heavy Brazilian influence courtesy of Tobin, while “That Girl” is one of a number of tracks with Sway and it shows the power of the music of Outkast, which may reflect some of Andre 3000‘s own worldly intake. This will be blowing away dance floors, or it may make people’s feet burn because this is that hot. Anyone who feels electronic music has not been challenging in the last few years has obviously not heard the Two Fingers debut.

    Not yet, anyway.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Is MF Woolly a descendant of MF DOOM, or someone who simply wants to cash in on DOOM’s empire? While there is a hint of DOOM-ness in the first minute of Operation: Chrome & Ivory (self-released), that’s the only think that is similar.

    Operation: Chrome & Ivory is an album that could’ve easily been released anytime between 1989-1992, as it’s full of lyrical puzzles and schemes, out-of-reach samples and soundbytes that were once part of the hip-hop norm. Woolly’s passion for creating a healthy dialogue within his own songs, and constantly stopping, starting, and stopping again as if it was something out of a comic book may be a bit exhausting for those who have been dumbed down by nothing but facsimile boom bap. What you hear within MF Woolly is character not only in his style of rapping and lyrical composition, but in the production. It’s wonderful to hear an album that doesn’t sound like it’s still in the incubator, figuratively and literally. Because of how it sounds, a few may claim that this is nothing bue retro or old school, but many of these topics lean more towards Kool Keith, who people have yet to catch up to, and Large Professor, whose lyrics were often overshadowed by his production.

    The concept may take awhile to grasp, and it feels more like a running theme than a solid concept, but there’s something brewing within the mind of MF Woolly and I’m about to hear the perculator bust.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Bibio is described as an artist who creates soundtrack music, which means it sounds like the perfect music you would hear in a film. I definitely agree, but how does Bibio do it? One has to figure out who Bibio is, and that’s not a problem. His name is Stephen Wilkinson, and has been known for combining electronic production with natural and found sounds. The end result is something that sounds like something you’d find in an art film, or if you are a fan of music found in surf films/videos, his music would be perfect for them. Ovals And Emeralds (Mush) are structured songs if not pieces of sound, as is the case with “The Death Of A Trapeze Artist” which sounds like meditation or mourning or both, recorded without the aid of rhythm. Other songs sound distant and foreign, whether that’s due to the type of samples he uses or his style of production (fans of tape hiss, this one is for you) I’m not sure, or maybe a combination of both. Electronic music for much of the 90’s had become simply “electronica”, and this goes back to its roots where it was about experimentation. In the process of those experiments, one discovers the pulse of the sounds. This is the sound of discovery, an earthy-type of electronic music, which may make you forget that it is electronic based.

    (A 10″ EP of Ovals And Emeralds will be released later in the year, and after hearing this a lot in recent weeks, I think it’s the perfect format for this music.)

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Gratitillium are a Portland creation that originally started as a one-man band, and that one-man being Nick Caceres. The project was meant to be one-man and one-man only, but Caceres felt a need to open up the project to one or two more people before he realized he liked the openness of bringing in new musicians to his own world. Volume 1 (Tender Loving Empire) is a collection of songs that were originally written in the one-man version of Gartitillium, but features contributions from outside musicians. The music here are spare and sparse, sometimes containing just Cacares and vocals, others featuring percussion, drums, bass, and other accompaniment.

    On this album, each of the song titles have animal references in them: “Big Bear Mountain”, “Dragonfly Thai”, “Frog King”, “Free Elephants”, and “Horse Around” among many others. These psychedelic folk morsels are masterpieces waiting to happen. They are sounds that will definitely please fans of The Flaming Lips, Ween, and Black Moth Super Rainbow, as Gratitillium are on some mindblowing mushroom shit, and they were all done with nothing but a few microphones and a laptop. No samples of any kind were used, so you get to hear people actually making most of the sounds here (there are a few natural sounds within the mix too).

    Volume 1 sounds like yet again one of those weird and eclectic albums you found in the closet of your relative while you were really looking for Black Sabbath. You open up the cover and then see it has your dad’s signature on the inner sleeve. You have no idea what your dad was on when he bought it, but when you listen to it, you think it’s one of the best things you ever heard. It will be interesting to see what kind of plants Gratitillum will end up cultivating.

    (Volume 1 will be released in June, and will be available through Tender Loving Empire.)

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic A name like Loop 2.4.3 could lead to some thinking they were an electronic-based artist, at least that’s what I felt. As I played Zodiac Dust (Music Starts From Silence/Analog Arts) and listened to the different sounds of percussion, I thought it was really organized the way the samples sounded quite human. I began to read the liner notes and realized that Loop 2.4.3 are indeed human, and what I was hearing was not samples but instruments played in real time. I had to unwind a bit to consume reality of it.

    Zodiac Dust consists of nine instrumentals. The different percussive sounds are played by a duo, Thomas Kozumplik and Lorne Watson, who bounce around between instruments to create a sonic orchestra of sounds. I enjoy percussion albums when I go thrifting or to yard sales, but this isn’t symphonic in the grand sense, but more of a human symphony because the sounds they create are full and vivid. Some of the instruments credited on the album include tuned sleigh bells, log drums, marimba, tam-tam, cowbell, suspended cymbals, and even Thai nipple gongs. They do incorporate a bit of modern technology, such as the eLog, electronic effects, and a tube amp, but what you hear is essentially played live, no editing whatsoever. Some of the songs do feature accompaniment from a cello and a violin, but the songs without them are also quite musical, it’s not just a bunch of things crashing and thumping (although those moments are nice too).

    Despite the randomness of what could be nothing but than a recording of drum sounds, there is some organization and composition involved, with a bit of depth thrown in. You’re not going to get any dance floor bangers on this, but what you do get is an album that does take you on a journey far from your current experience. It sounds distant, perhaps tribal, perhaps of a time long gone, or for those who know where to go, it will take them to that exact place. It’s about creating sounds from the imagination stage into something archived, there are improvisational moments but there’s still a beginning, middle, and end to this. It’s quite enjoyable.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Saxophonist Larry Slezak and his band play some nice jazz that gets to the bebop side of things without going overboard, not that it does but some people prefer for their jazz to be on the straight and narrow. This is just that type of album, and with a title like No Worries (Tierra Studios) you get more of what you want and a bit more.

    What you have here is some fine jazz courtesy of Slezak and brother Joe on drums, plus CLayton Dyess (guitar), Thomas Helton (bass), Jose-Muguel Yamal (piano and Hammond B-3 organ), Tristan Smith (English horn), Thomas Bacon (French horn), Dennis Dotson (trumpet), Fernando Ledesma (percussion), and occasional vocals from Sheri Lavo but not being too fond of vocal jazz, I ignored those songs and stayed to the instrumental pieces. The sound on this one, courtesy of engineer Glenn L. Wheeler, sounds like what a warm coat represnets: warmth and comfort. It sounds like those classic albums that you can rely on for comfort and a good listen, and when you hear “Girl Talk”, “Secret Love”, “Cry Me A River”, “and even a cover of “Chico And The Man”, you know you’re hearing the sound of musicians who know what they’re doing. Slezak’s solo in “Chico And The Man” is superb, and the fact that they even covered this song impressed me.

    A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this album will be donated to the fund which gives financial assistance for medical emergencies to union musicians in the Houston area, which Slezak calls home.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Mike Arroyo has returned with Transition (self-released), an album that has him branching out into new musical styles and adding to his alreayd impressive techniques of playing.

    This one caters to his Latin side, so the mood overall is soothing, tropical, and sensual when it has to be, as you can hear in “Street Jam” (which sounds as open and as communal as the title suggests) and “His Eye Is On The Sparrow”. As with previous releases, Arroyo also has a spiritual side that he likes to share with his fans and you get to hear that in “The Whisper Of God”, “and God Bless The Child”, the latter of which deserves some airplay on smooth jazz stations. I like this a lot more than the previous album, not sure if it’s because the music and his playing is more spirited or if the music caught me in a good mood, but anyone who needs to find great party music and maybe something to wind an evening down can easily mix this up with any of their personal favorites. Overall, Arroyo’s playing seems a bit more stronger, more comfortable, more like “home”. If he makes more albums like this one and throws in a bit of variety within from time to time, he’ll have a very secure future.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Alt Tal‘s Open The Gates (Aural Imaging) is the sound of a fierce jazz trio (Andrew Ryan on drums, Kenny Annis on bass, and David Alt on saxophone) who are in control of their sonic destiny. These guys play a mixture of bebop, funk, soul, and whatever complex jazz terms you may have that describes the fluidity of imagination that happened between the 1950’s and 1970’s. They flow from styles to eras without a problem, smoothly as if everyone else has been doing this normally, but it’s not abstract or out of the ordinary despite my description of it. Alt’s solos tell the story, each described in lyrical form in the booklet even though none of the songs feature any singing, so you hear songs of closure (“Mark Time”), political struggle “Mossed”, making tea (“Jasmine”), along with lovers and friends that have come and gone. Within that you hear some incredible playing, and the rhythm section of Annis and Ryan will definitely make you look out for these two either as individuals or as a duo, because I could hear them backing a lot of musicians up, or perhaps they become the leaders of other more perfect unions.

    The musicianship is very elaborate, as they play direct and to the point, occasionally drifting into a bit of freedom before falling back into the theme of the song, and I could easily see then moving crowds into a frenzy with their playing.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Between Stops (Resa) is an album bringing together the talents of Alex Clements (piano), John Abraham (drums), and Zara Tellander (vocals), and just as the title and cover photo indicate, they and other friends are on a train ride to get from here to there, and the trip they take is one that becomes the musical path towards excellence. The opening track, “We Are One Through The Music”, explains what this album is about, how three people from completely different places can come together to make something so harmonious, and it works beautifully. What makes Tellander different from other jazz vocalists is that she works her voice like an instrument rather than just a vocalist or mere interpreter of song. I also like the different textures throughout the album, as if each stop of the musical train helps them learn of different territories, different styles, different shades and colors that help provide the pallet that they take their music from. When their journey ends, one hopes they’ll go for another journey again very soon.

    I was also highly impressed by the cello work of one Dena Perrico in “Waiting For You…”, and would not mind hearing more of her work.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Karli Fairbanks of Spokane, Washington is back with a brand new album, and this one is more elaborate than her debut (which I reviewed last year in my column.) This is what I said in my review of her first album:

    If Norah Jones decided to dig deeper into her country roots and did something along the lines of Grey DeLisle, Harriet Wheeler or Kacey Chambers, it would sound like Bitter Blue, the debut album from Spokane, Washington’s Karli Fairbanks.

    What struck me immediately was the voice, which was very emotional, ethereal, and while there is a slight delicate, angelic side to her voice, the lyrics offer a different perspective of things.

    That still holds true, and the reason I made the Norah Jones comparison is due to her common love of folk, pop, and country, which she mixes up in a nice stew and makes it sound tasty, with or without rice. In other words, she’s comfortable in making her songs sound intimate when it’s just her and a guitar, while other songs are more suited in a full band setting. A perfect example of this is the countrified “Last Night’s Songs (Things We Leave Behind)”, which has a pedal slide guitar (courtesy of Scott Ellis) that is reminscent of the sound Jerry Garcia had on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young‘s “Teach Your Children” from 39 years ago. With a song title like that you want to know more, and she takes it to the limit:

    When love seems so hard to give and people seem so cruel
    The simplest of the things you said is finally ringing true
    Finding restitution only in your eyes
    So hold me close and dry my tears, sing with me tonight

    As before, Fairbanks’ lyrics come off like private diary chapters you’re not meant to read (or hear), but perhaps taking her emotions onto paper and into song is an important part of therary, and we as the audio voyeur get a chance to not only hear her sorrow, pain, and happiness (sometimes all in the same song), but to be able to appreciate her means of compositions. She is definitely a songwriter who knows the craft of not only songtelling, but to create a pop song if she needs to, but I feel (and hope) she will perfect her style of music for years to come, to where people will have to come to her to hear her stories, and not go down the Jewel route. The Breaking Of Our Days is the perfect album to cool down the summing of the hot summer days, and will no doubt add a little warmth to the mental winter chills that seem to come at any time of the year.

    Want an album that is also well-produced? It was produced, engineered, and mixed by Kory Krukenberg, who runs VU Recording in Seattle, and while it may be easy for anyone and everyone to record at home and slap out an LP, CD, or digital file, you still need an outside ear to help fine tune the rough edges of your music, and Krukenberg does an excellent job in making sure Fairbanks’ ideas transfer well from the studio to the final mix. Being a musician himself (Krukenberg plays bass for Pablo Trucker), he knows what is demanded by other musicians, and if he keeps at it, his work will be noted among the likes of Jack Endino and Conrad Uno.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic The Conduit Trio start off their Beyond Liquid Glass album (self-released) with a great hard rock song that demonstrate Robert Branch‘s fluidity on the electric guitar, a cross between Al DiMeola, Carlos Santana, and Captain Kirk (of The Roots) as he’s backed by a group (Joshua English on drums and David Furnas on bass) who know how to get funky by combining jazz and rock to make a nice sounding blend. It’s the heaviest song on the album, as the rest of the album has some nice mellow jazz/fusion that would sound perfect in any surf or skateboarding film, or something you’d play while riding your boat on a Sunday morning or just hanging out on the beach.

    With that said, it’s not a tropical album, but these are the associations I have when listening to this style of jazz that is smooth but it’s far from being smooth jazz. Listen to the tone Branch gets with his guitar in “Disparate Measures” and you can tell this isn’t someone who just started playing. I know saying “he’s a guitarist’s guitarist” is a cliche but it suits him, as he has that Joe Satriani-like confidence and freeflows as if this is a seconnd or third language from him, it’s that natural sounding.

    As I’m looking at their bio, Branch says he’s influenced by Allan Holdsworth and that makes perfect sense too. Branch holds back on this album, and I can only imagine how much more intense his playing is on stage. Whether it’s surfing through a tube or getting high off of The Conduit Trio’s supply, this is music that you’ll want to keep listening too long after the first buzz has faded.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Ryan Meagher is a guitarist who makes jazz his home but hearing his playing on Atroefy (Fresh Sound New Talent) makes me believe that this guy can run circles around most anyone if they dare challenge him. The style of jazz he and his band play on this album is very much rooted in the 70’s, crossing styles that you may have heard on CTI, Mainstream, and Tappan Zee with occasional bursts of Weather Report and Return To Forever thrown in, or at least that’s what I get out of hearing Vinnie Sperrazza on drums. He has that Tony Williams vibe to him but could easily play things that Billy Cobham or Elvin Jones could play with ease.

    As for Meagher, the guy can play a mean guitar but sometimes he allows the other musicians on the album (Sperrazza plus Geoff Kraly on bass, Loren Stillman on alto saxophone, and Matt Renzi on tenor saxophone and clarinet) take over and help form the musical pictures he creates in his songs. “A Familiar Farewell” is track #2 but could have easily been the perfect way to end the album, on a funky note. Meagher’s way of getting into and under the groove is quite nice, very much in the Phelphs Collins and Al McKay tradition. “Downers” may be an appropriate title for a song that begins sounding like something you’d expect from Soundgarden or Nirvana but the saxophone solo saves it from being a downer of a song and helps take it to a new place. I wouldn’t mind hearing a version of this song performed by someone else, and the sax replaced by another guitar just to see where they’d be able to take this. Perhaps not surprisingly, Meagher does get a chance to meet up with his love of Nirvana with “Can’t Complane”. “Modern jazz for the indie rocker”? It definitely works with “Can’t Complane” and yet the union between indie rock and jazz is perfect between the musicians here, not a clash by any means.

    With jazz guitarists, either it will be strictly jazz or it will drift off to the left and morph into other things suited to the guitarist’s tastes, and Atroefy is definitely the latter. Fortunately the music keeps itself in jazz so you’ll never mistake this for Tony MacAlpine, but who knows, perhaps the path of these two guitarists will cross and end up creating something incredible.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Illogic rhymes with a vibe not unlike Joe Budden, Jay-Z, or Inspectah Deck, but I wonder how anyone can be as gangsta as Bob Marley? Anyway, Diabolical Fun (Weightless) has songs that are more on the street side of things than something you’d hear in the clubs. Okay, maybe there’s really no “street side”, but there’s a grittiness that you’re not going to hear on mainstream radio stations during prime time, and you know what? Good. Illogic is well spoken and knows how to write, he speaks a lot but his words also matter, it’s not a bunch of abstract Cappadonna hoo-haa. He’s talking about doing sessions, getting a lot of action, and dominating the masses and he does it with style and confidence, over beats that come off like the best of DJ Muggs, rural Andre 3000, or sweaty DJ Babu funk. This is an MC from Columbus, Ohio, the home of the Printmatic himself, Blueprint, and both of them are currently collaborating for a project together, which should be extra sick.

    In the end, Illogic is someone who speaks about wanting to bring hip-hop back, saying he doesn’t know where it’s going to go but he knows what he’s able to do with it. He does it well, and what he does with it is more than nice. Take that, Logan.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic It may be arrogant to call your mix CD Your Favorite Rapper’s Favorite Producer (self-released), but J. Cardim has something to prove with this and he’s going to let people know he is the man to provide hits.

    What you hear on this are tracks J. has recorded, call it his resume tape. You’ll hear “Holla At A Playa” by Jae Millz & Lil’ Wayne, “What Y ou Call That” by Royce Da 5’9″ and Termanology, and Tuge‘s “Star Struck”, along with 18 other tracks (and an intro from DJ Envy. You’ll want to hear this for Lil’ Wayne rhyming and singing, and the productions (which are keyboard-heavy) are nice.

    Want to get a hit? Work with J. Cardim.

    (free MP3 download)

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Coalmine Records offer up a great mix CD called The Foundation (Coalmine), produced by Shuko, mixed by DJ Dutchmaster, and hosted by none other than Heltah Skeltah. What you hear in under 57 minutes is that real hip-hop that people love, when New York City meant business and nothing could ever be second rate. Songs on here include XL featuring Heltah Skeltah‘s “Credibility”, a remix of Talib Kweli & Rakim‘s “Getting Up Anthem”, Hell Razah‘s “Thankful”, Doujah Raze‘s “Give It Up”, and more sounds that sound grimy and shady when it meant something along fans and nay-sayers. No wimpy shit here,The Foundation is a CD that’s not for people who want to weaken an artform.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic GRIII: Old School 2 Nu Skool (Sobe) is an album by Urban Mystic that will appeal to fans of soul and R&B, but unfortunately their music is 3rd rate K-CI & JoJo, which means its worse than 7th rate Jodeci. Sadly, there’s going to be an audience for this shit, with lyrics as weak as:

    I thank God for your mother and your father
    For procreating the daughter
    Some like no other

    I realize in the morning when you wake up
    You’re still beautiful without a drop of make-up
    Rose pedals, brown sugar’s what you’re made of
    You belong to me

    What is that? Is that meant to be romantic, or a sly way to say “I want to fuck your daughter, so thanks for donating your genes so I can tap that ass”? The lyrics really don’t get any better than that, with talk about sweaty sheets, back scratching… I’ll be honest, I love good fuck music as much as the next man and woman, but this is just lackluster in every way. Yung Joc‘s appearance on “Main Squeeze” is a waste and, damn, if this is what R&B has become, I’m not a religious man but someone please bring it back to church so we can hear music with substance.

    If there’s one song that’s half decent, it’s “So Fly” which features Ce’Cile and Beenie Man but with an album like this you know who else you can expect, right? Yeah, Shaggy shows up in “I’m Waiting” but I really wouldn’t want to wait around for these guys again.

    What would help? Remove all of the vocals on this album and replace it with Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, and Sizzla vocal tracks. Give this album to them so they can make something out of this.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Quite Nyce & Raydar Ellis were involved in two completely different projects when a meeting lead them to talk, eventually leading to discussion about a possible collaboration. It would take awhile before it happened, but when it did, they weren’t about to stop until it suited their needs. Champs vs. The League (Brick) is an album that combines finely written lyrics and flows with real instrumentation and subtle samples.

    While these two will be new to most ears, this union sounds like an anticipated comeback album, as if these two were meant to be together. Songs like “Clap”, “Lalalalala”, “Holla Bout A Dolla”, “Ms. September”, and “Love Is” (the latter featuring Project Move) are the kind of bangers people are going to want to talk about and bootleg on a regular basis. Quite and Rayday don’t do the old passing of the mic, but verse after verse you can’t help but be impressed by their schultz. Akil of Jurassic 5 appears in “If I Never” and that deserves a lot of airplay too, which will help people discover what these guys are about.

    Unfortunately I received a pre-release copy with promo bots throughout so as verses were getting better, I was constantly warned that I was listening to a promo. With luck, the missing lines will sound better (and make sense) if you buy the full CD or download it officially. Speaking of which, digital downloaders will get the full album as an instrumental.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Looking around online, I had seen a few banners and graphics featuring Eprhyme‘s face and logo, to promote his Waywordwonderwill (Modular Moods). Eventually his CD found its way in my mailbox and I went to take a listen.

    Eprhyme could be considered a Jewish Braille, in that they both add spiritual elements into their hip-hop without overdoing it. In Eprhyme’s case it’s his Jewish faith and culture, which he delivered with pride in tracks like “Shomer Salaam”, “It’s All God”, and “Heavy Shtetl”. He does it in the form of scholarly lessons, music you want to listen to not only for entertainment value but also as a means to learn and relearn. What I hear in his music are bits of Ludacris, Eminem, Kanye West, and Common, and it’s for different reasons. Those who like their hip-hop to be of the faith will enjoy this, and those who are not of the faith will still find this to be a powerful statement to the movement of this music.

    Fans of beats and samples are going to eat this up as if this was the second coming of someone important. As one of the songs on this album indicates, Eprhyme calls his style of music “Punklezmerap” (punk, klezmer, rap), which reveals his roots, ambitions, and musical goals. The punk side comes from him living in Olympia, WA, and in fact he released a 45 on the celebrated K label, with a new one to come in June (for “Shomer Salaam”). The music isn’t punk by any means, but the means of getting his message across in a medium that some may say is “not his own” is, and he does it more effectively than others “of his kind”. He fights the stereotypes by letting people know he’s on the same page as many MC’s throughout hip-hop’s history.

    (Waywordwonderwill will be available digitally on August 4th, while the CD version will hit merchants on September 8th. No word on if the full album will be released on vinyl.)

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic As a longtime fan of hard rock and heavy metal, I’ve heard my share of complaints over the years. One big argument is that heavy metal has always been a boys club, with women ending up as spectators (or publicists) rather than participants. When a lady does become a singer or a member of the band, a few will say that ladies still struggle in trying to be like the boys. They may tell you otherwise, but sometimes you’ll hear a song and go “oh, that just sounds like a female Udo Dirkschneider.

    But there’s something vocally and musically different about 69 Chambers. If you were to combine the best elements of Pat Benatar, Carrie Akre, and Jennifer Nettles, you would end up with someone like vocalist/guitarist Nina Treml. Then you have a band who can crunch with the likes of System Of A Down, Pantera, and Linkin Park, courtesy of bassist Maddy Madarasz and drummer Diego Rapacchietti. So you have a power trio who play metal and are capable of thrashing it up with low-end riffs but aren’t afraid to play melodically to get from one point of the song to the other, as they demonstrate on their album War On The Inside (Silverwolf Productions). When it comes to truly powerful metal vocalists with a melodic and pop edge, one can easily resort to the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Joey Belladonna, Rob Halford, and Geoff Tate. Treml definitely has a pop edge to her style of singing and, as a male I hear a sensual side, but I like female voices. In truth, she carries a pop sensibility with a bit of ballsiness that comes from not wanting to limit herself, and while it may be a contradiction on paper to combine pop with heavy metal, it works perfectly with 69 Chambers as they handle songs about love lost, fear, and a touch of doom. It isn’t until the halfway point of the album when Treml rips it vocally and sounds like an anorexic Cookie Monster. In other words, the monster hasn’t had cookies in days and sounds disgusted, and you hear elongated screams and grunts followed by a beautiful vocal passage. You would never hear that from Sugarland and yet Treml at times does sound a lot like Nettles, especially in the mellower moments of their repertoire.

    I didn’t realize they did it like this in Switzerland, but it’s the perfect recipe that should have been in existence 20 to 30 years ago. These three can tear through chords and riffs that bands with six members or more aren’t capable of doing, and yet through the rage and ugliness they had a bit of pop sensibility that doesn’t weaken their formula. Instead they balance each other out and in the end you’re wanting to enter their 69 Chambers and never leave.

    (audio excerpts from each track can also be heard on this page)

    69 Chambers – The Day of the Locust,t=1,mt=video

  • That’s it for this week’s Run-Off Groove. If you have any new music, DVD’s, books, or hot sauce, please contact me through my MySpace page and I’ll pass along my contact address. In the past I have generally frowned over receiving digital files, but I will accept them on a case by case basis. I still prefer hard copy as I want to hear the quality of the recording (which is important to me), but digital files are fine.
  • Thank you, and come back soon for #237.
  • SOME STUFFS: What’s up? Say wassup to What’s Up!

    Is it a pool party, or just three guys who want to mess up your head with good sounds? This is What’s Up, a group featuring Robby Moncrieff, Brian Marshall and Teddy Briggs who are described as having long-term goal spans beyond boundaries typically associated with a rock and roll music group. An interest in remixing and rewriting, as well as recording (and rerecording), has forced What’s Up to become multi-faceted, serving not only as the title of the ‘rock group,’ but as a production entity.

    They started in Sacramento, California but now call PDX (that’s Portland, Oregon for you non-Pacific Northwesterners) home, and want to be able to present a sound that is as unpredictable as anything anyone has ever heard. Their debut record, Content Imagination, is scheduled for release on May 19th through Obey Your Brain (the LP can be pre-ordered through CD Universe), and you can take a preview of the album by downloading for free a song they call “Harper” (7.6mb).

    If you are in the Portland area at the end of June, What’s Up will be performing at this year’s Superfest.