REVIEW: Tom Dyer’s New Pagan Gods’ “History Of Northwest Rock Vol. 1 (1959-1968)”

Tom Dyer photo TomDyer_cover_zpsccugrsdl.jpg For Tom Dyer’s new album, he has gathered a few musicians, called them the New Pagan Gods and paid tribute to the old Pagan Gods, specifically the Gods of Seattle rock’n’roll at the dawn of the music up here in the Pacific Northwest.

If you are a longtime resident of the Northwest, you have no doubt heard many of these songs Dyer and friend have chosen to cover on History Of Northwest Rock Vol. 1 (1959-1968), and there may even be a few that you didn’t know had a connection to the Pacific Northwest. He begins the album with a nice version of The Sonics’ “The Witch”, which was also covered nicely by The Mummies. You might see the title “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and think “wait, Ringo wasn’t from the city of Bremerton” but instead, this rare song was originally performed b Tiny Tony & The Statics on an obscure 45 many collectors continue to hunt for. “Dirty Robber” is attacked quite nicely and fans of The Mummies will also recognize this song too. Here, Dyer pays tribute to Tacoma and the group who made it first, The Wailers. They are given a double tribute with a rendition of the beastly “Out Of Our Tree”, also covered nicely by The Mummies.

The album ends with an awesome version of The Dimensions’ “She’s Boss” but by going through these songs, it’s a way to hear what the Pacific Norhtwest music scene was as it managed to keep itself within semi-obscurity for a few decades as it recorded some of the best songs by some of the best people around. Dyer gets a chance to honor those who came before in the hopes younger audiences will continue on with their new spirit for the future. The album is not only a celebration of incredible garage rock, but rock’n’roll in general, pre-B.S.


VIDEO: Tom Dyer/Northwest Ono Band’s “No Lou This Xmas”

Another Christmas video on my website, I don’t know what it’s going on but if the music is good, I’m more than willing to share wthem with you. This one comes from here in the Pacific Northwest, specifically up the highway to Seattle with Tom Dyer and the “Northwest Ono Band”. While this does not feature the Mountlake Terrace Community Choir, it does feature a crisp rock attitude you can enjoy so check out “No Lou This Xmas” and find out who/what Lou refers to. Then again, I’m not going to cut to the chase: a kid inside the video is rewarded with “the gift” of hearing Lou Reed’s Transformer album, and hopefully that will give you the reason why the song is called this. Now enjoy. The song can be found on Dyer’s album Xmas​-​30 Years In The Making (Green Monkey).

VIDEO: Tom Dyer’s “Smithsonian Institute Blues”

Originally recorded by Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band for their great album Lick My Decals Off Baby, it was recently covered by Tom Dyer for his album, I Ain’t Blue Anymore (my review of which can be read by clicking here). Dyer has now made a video for the song, which you may see by pressing the play button.

VIDEO: Tom Dyer’s “There Be Killin’ (In My Town)”

The amount of shootings in Seattle has increased in the last few years. The city has grown up quite a bit in the last 30 to 40 years, but when the dynamic of things change due to violence, you can’t help but question it and wonder if things are going to get worse and if so, how much? Tom Dyer talks about it in a song from his I Ain’t Blue Any More album (my review of which can be read here) called “There Be Killin’ In My Town”.

REVIEW: Tom Dyer’s “I Ain’t Blue Anymore”

Tom Dyer Tom Dyer has covered a lot of ground with the music he has released on Green Monkey Records. Now with an album under his own name, he strips everything down to the essentials and celebrates the goodness of life while trimming the fat that doesn’t need to be here. He is doing things for himself with the eclectic sounding I Ain’t Blue Anymore.

The entire album is self-contained in that all instruments and vocals were played by Dyer himself, and what you’ll hear is everything from rough rock’n’roll with pinches of folk and sometimes country. Then I’m hearing track #3 and going “why does this remind me of Captain Beefheart? It’s because it’s a Captain Beefheart song, in this case “The Smithsonian Institute Blues (Or The Big Dig)” (from the 1970 gem Lick My Decals Off Baby). While some artists want to create their self-contained projects with perfection, Dyer doesn’t mind playing a few off-keys or doing thigns in alternate tunings that simply is there just because he wants to. The instrumental “Pass The Jug” could be something you might expect to hear at a Seattle folk life festival, but something is selling you that it sounds a bit awkward. Then you realize oh, this is Seattle, it can be off and no one will question it.

Every now and then he’ll get a bit bluesy, then things will turn sleazy and sweaty but you’re wondering why you’re dancing. To me, it feels like what an indepedent album should sound like, and that is not caring if it’s indie or trying to catch the ear of a major. Dyer’s own liner notes has him talking about the process of recording and arranging these, along with stories on when (and sometimes where) they were recorded. Some of them have been in existence for decades and he gets into why it wasn’t recorded and released until 2012, or how doing multiple versions of it had him not releasing it until they were revisited. If you’ve been a fan of Dyer’s music over the years, it sounds like a return home and a success story in itself, as in “these songs are finally being heard, share with me the victory in this”.

REVIEW: The Icons’ “Appointment With Destiny!”

Photobucket The Icons are a project from Seattle featuring Tom Dyer, James Gascoigne, Rick Yust, and Steve Trettevik recording the kind of ruthless pop/punk that sounds good now as it originally did in the 1980’s. Appointment With Destiny! (Green Monkey) will be celebrated by Seattleites who remember when the Seattle music scene sounded like this. These guys may be older than the first time they were around, but it and they still sound really good. While some of Seattle bands from the era sounded different from one another, you can listen to Mudhoney, Green River, The U-Men, The Fastbacks, and then this album and realize that they were all striving for something. Maybe back then they weren’t about claiming “authenticity”, but it feels and sounds real, that kind of gutsy aggressive rock that is immediate but also something that’s worthy for tomorrow. A track like “Dancin’ In The Jailhouse” may remind people of other bands like X or The Fleshtones, bands who weren’t afraid of distortion or feedback and if it was there, they’d make more music around and within it.

REVIEW: Tom Dyer’s “Songs From Academia Vol. 2: Instrumental and Spoken Word, 1980-2008”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic At the end of 2009, Green Monkey Records founder Tom Dyer released a retrospective of his own work called Songs From Academia Vol. 1, and from the title along it meant that there was more in store. Here’s that more.

Songs From Academia Vol. 2: Instrumental and Spoken Word, 1980-2008 goes back 30 years at a time when Seattle and its music scene was proud to be isolated from the rest of the world. All of these songs sound like perfect background for unused films, and that’s because Dyer devoted a lot of time and energy to make sure they were good, even if at times they were just good for him. This is a true solo album, with most of the songs featuring Dyer accompanying Dyer. “Van Vliet Street” could easily be something from the Captain Beefheart files but this 1981 track could have easily been performed by Romeo Void as well, complete with psychotic saxophone solo. If you’re more into the kind of country you might hear at a bar after 2am, tune in to “Grub”. “Skank!”, sounds like what N*E*R*D would have sounded like if they were able to jam with Prince in 1983, while “More Colors Available” sounds like what our childhood dreams of Japan were like: nothing but a collage of video games. “Ornette” rocks hard as Dyer jams with The Adults and makes it sound raw and raunchy.

The newer recordings sound like they were done 20 to 30 years ago, and the fact that the older songs still sound fresh shows how well these songs have held up, particularly for those who remember what the Seattle music scene was like pre-… well, everything. If Dyer and Green Monkey Records blew up in the same way Queensryche, Heart, Kenny G., Robert Cray, and Rail did… well, listening to this makes me a bit happy that it didn’t become a worldwide success, because it’s an artist who sounded not so much thirsty, as he was itching to create anything to create sound. I’m thankful that this exists. I’m not sure having a world full of Tom Dyer copycats would be a good one, which is my way of saying he is one of a kind, representing what Seattle music is all about, period.


REVIEW: Tom Dyer’s “Songs From Academia Vol 1: Songs With Singing, 1981-2009”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic As someone who has mostly created music on my own, I admire anyone who takes that route of making almost all of their sounds into their songs. In the case of Tom Dyer, who runs Green Monkey Records, he had time not only to supervise some of the artists he would end up releasing, but he would take the time to make music along the way. Songs From Academia Vol 1: Songs With Singing, 1981-2009 (Green Monkey) is a personal diary of one man’s journey towards creating sounds which simply suited him, as most of these have not been heard by anyone but his closest friends. Some of them have not been heard anyone but by its creator, so consider it a lucky chance to listen to the talent of someone who’s goal is to simply create for the sake of being creative.

Dyer is the core of each of these songs, with him taking various roles, whether it’s a singer, guitarist, programmer of drum loops, or as credited on the CD itself, “whatever”. The time range of these songs is 28 years, and yet the Seattle sound most people associate with the city is not what you’ll hear here. For me, this is a slice of a very diverse Seattle sound, where one will hear hints of Frank Zappa, >The Waitresses, Cheap Trick, Pink Floyd, or Quarterflash. 1984’s “Little Sally Walker” had the potential to become a hit had it had a cool video in the days when MTV was becoming the lord of music, Move two years earlier and you have “(Half The World Is Made Of) Women”, which sounds like what David Byrne would sound like if The Residents were his backing band. It’s bizarre and trippy, just as a lot of music from 1982 sounded like, Improvements in synths, electroncis, and technology helped create 2007’s “The Question Asked”, where Dyer plays guitar over a programmed soundscape and while it sounds different in comparison to “(Half The World Is Made Of) Women”, you can also hear the similarities. Then move to 1983’s “Cars Keep Moving” and despite the 26 year span, one could easily hear a group like Gnarls Barkley or N*E*R*D reinterpret it and turn it into a hit. Dyer picks up the guitar and moves into the country with “The Ballad Of Jeffrey and Susanne”, which sounds as if there’s no low-end, as if someone at a Dairy Queen wanted you to hear a song before you were to take your order. It has a Flaming Lips feel to it, even though in 1988 the Lips weren’t doing anything like this.

Anyone who expects to hear the roots of the Seattle sound may feel they’re not getting it upon listening to Songs From Academia Vol. 1, but this is indeed a sound that was pushed to the side by volume, sarcasm, and a glimpse of the spotlight. While Dyer didn’t become a massive success, hearing this proves that it wasn’t about gold records, fashion lines, or making a statement. Yet in the end, they do make clear statements about the drive to not only create new music and sounds, but to create something that maybe, just maybe, could’ve been bigger and better, and a conquerer of lands and fields towards world dominance. If anything, it’s the Dyer sound, and the world (or at least the Pacific Northwest) is grateful for his output.