The cliché goes that great things come in small packages, I guess that also counts for great voices. Hot damn! I’m not a big fan of female fronted rock ‘n’ roll bands, but this band got me hooked. Where lots of other bands seem to use the frontwoman thing as a gimmick or crowd pleaser, with Lara Hope and The Ark-Tones it all feels right.
This is not your twelve in a dozen girly, girl rockabilly album. This is the real deal!

Luck Maker, the first full album by this Hudson Valley, NY band was born fully with the help of crowdfunding. It must have been a great feeling for this band that people where believing in them to create such a great album that they where all willing to chip in before hearing any of the music. And let me say, they where right to do so.

The album swings like the tits of a fat girl doing jumping jacks. I’m not saying it’s all fast forward songs, not at all, party songs, dark ballads, rhythm ‘n’ blues to hold your lover close. The songs flow out and come together as a perfect piece of roots music. Lara is backed by amazing musicians and songwriters, one of them being Matt from world known psychobilly band The Arkhams on the doghouse. Chris Heitzman on guitar and Dave Tetreault on drums make up a great band that knows how to write a song.

Highlights for me are “Whiskey Pick”, an uptempo swinger that makes you want drink, dance and maybe hit a chair over someone’s head because he gave your girl a dirty look. This song could be used in a bar fight scene for some movie, I can see it! Hey Quentin, here’s some new music for ya!
“He is not the devil” is a country’esque uptempo ballad (is there such a thing?) carried by Matt’s perfect slapping bass line about an abusive relationship that more than a few of their listeners will relate to. Hang in there girls, prince charming is out there somewhere…

I guess by now you know I like this album, and I’m sure you will too. Lara’s voice is one of the best I’ve heard for a long time in this “scene” thing and I’ve said it before, this is not girly girl music, so boys you can play this one full blast while driving with the windows down, who knows you could be that prince charming for that one girl…

That’s it, I’m out!

Photo credit: C3 Photography

While on tour in Europe, James released a “new” album. To be honest, it’s 8 tracks from the pre-release for his new album and two songs he recorded while in London, England the ninth of October. Niko and Matt from The Freeborn Brothers, with whom James is touring, made this happen. James arrived in Europe with no merch at all, so a plan was made and a cd was born. I have to give it to my Polish friends Niko and Matt, they get the job done! In Belgium we joke about Polish people being thieves, lowlifes and lazy fucks… but these two prove me wrong every time! It has nothing to do with racism, it’s just stereotypes, so please get the sand out of your vagina…If you are on tour and need cd’s, get in contact with these guys, they’ll hook you up and make it happen!!!

We all love to sing along to James’ songs, he has a way to make you smile and cry at the same time. This new release is not a sing along album, not at all. It’s heavier, more metal, like a semi-acoustic doom metal monster. In almost each song there is an electric guitar in the background building a base but not taking over. His voice and sublime guitar picking is still the main course, but it has such a different feel compared to his previous releases. “I’ll take the rain” could be a Paradise Lost song if you add drums and more guitars, but this stripped-down version does the trick. “Never Alone” is the next one, and shoot me if I’m wrong, but I’m sure that James based this song on the Cock Sparrer song he loves to play. It has the punk vibe but never gets to the sing along, soccerhooligan anthem as the song I think it is based on. But it works just as well!

The title song, Who Will Raise The Flag, is a typical James Hunnicutt song, but oh so metal, slow built up, grabbing you by the throat lyrics that you try to give a place in your life but don’t really understand, his fantastic voice kicking you down, lifting you up and then just leaves you feeling like you need to do something for someone, but you forgot who it was and this person really needs you now… It’s weird how he does it, but he always makes you think…
The two songs recorded live in London at the end of the album bring back James as most of us know him, a guitar and a voice, and will take you home after a “hard to understand” first run of this album but make sure to play it over and over again, it grows on you!

This cd is limited to 100 copies so most of you will never have the opportunity to buy it, don’t be sad, the new album will be released soon and has the same songs on it.

There is a mistake on the sleeve or/and on the cd, song number nine and ten have switched places, that’s what you get with working with them polish folks. I’m just joking, not about the mistake, it’s for real. But if you can get shit done as fast as Niko and Matt can, you can take over the world without people noticing it. I just hope these two stay on the *Team Simple side and let us do what we like, have a beer, go to shows, have fun with the people we love and be good to the folks who deserve it…

*Team Simple: people who like to party, have fun, get drunk, don’t care, don’t drink, do drugs, take care of their friends, don’t do drugs, be straight edge, hate religion, believe in god, don’t preach, eat red meat, love their rabbit, walk their dogs, holdhairbackwhilepuking, love life, don’t give up, joke on you, kick you in the nuts and hug it out…

Look out for our interview with James Hunnicutt and The Freeborn Brothers. We will be posting it soon…

10 bands you may not know, but you sure as hell would want to know! (worldwide) I’m damn sure that when you’re reading this, you are a music freak, I see no other reason to checkout this blog… Oh wait, Inny is gonna kill me! CHECK OUT THE STUNNING PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE ART SECTION. Back to business it is…

I was thinking it would be a cool idea to introduce our readers to some bands I really like and they maybe don’t know about. I for one love it when someone tells me about a band I don’t know, but they are pretty sure of I will go apeshit for. I understand that not all these bands will appeal to you, we all like different stuff even in a same ‘genre’. In this list are just bands that came to mind on the spot. Some of them are in my favorite bands list, others are good friends that I like you, our reader, to take some time for to check out. And then others are just, well how to say this? KICK ASS?!?! I hope you will enjoy this list and feel free to send us some of the bands you really like or think we should check out. Yes I’m open to review band albums, demo’s or just talk about your band here if I like it. I’m also open to bribes…

1. Everymen (Lake Worth, FL, USA)
I think I first heard these guys on a compilation being it by Farmageddon Records or on a Muddy Roots sampler for the festival. I honestly have no clue. But I do know that every time I hear them, I smash my head against a wall because I did not went to see their show at this year’s Muddy Roots festival. They played 50 meters away from where we where sitting (Hangdog Hearts/Farmageddon merch tent). I was just too engaged in doing nothing, drinking beer and talking to people. I could hear them play, and was thinking “damn those guys are killing it, go and see them”. I guess Wal-Mart camping chairs are just to comfy… Anyway, enjoy this track of their brand new album.

 

2. Black Cat Bone Squad (Halen, Belgium)
I know it’s a bit biased to put this band in this list, but hey what are you going to do about it? Indeed, these boys are some of my best friends in the world. One of them is real family, but I consider them all as my brothers, I’m very serious about this. I would run into a burning house wearing a rubber chicken suit to rescue them from a certain death, or if they left some beer in that house…
I was there from the early beginning, when they where playing under the moniker Bandits ’49. Don’t look for it, looking back at it, it wasn’t that great… I mean they could play, but it was a cover band… Fact is that the first song in the video is a cover, but damn, they kill it! They released two full albums and a split cd. In 2015 they will release a split album with S.S. Web from the USA. More about S.S. Web later. I sure hope you like their blend of Roots Rock/Psychobilly. If you do, send me a message and I’ll hook you up with a cd or shirt.

 

3. Crazy Arm (United Kingdom)
I did not know about this band before a couple of months ago. I think it was in may 2014 that a friend told me to check them out. I was a little confused, if you check their YouTube video’s you would think that there are 3 or 4 bands playing under this name. But as I found out, they just do what they like and that’s okay in my book. This is how they describe it themselves: “Formed in 2006, Plymouth roots-punk ensemble, Crazy Arm’s sound is an accumulation of decades of influence and inspiration: rooted in hardcore/punk, ‘60s protest folk/country and Springsteen-esque classic rock’n’roll. They combine this with a grass-roots political overview that embraces anti-war, anti-fascist and pro-community activism”.
As you may expect from this description, they are indeed a very political band, and I’m okay with that. For me a punk band without something to say is not a punk band. It doesn’t have to be negative or violent, sing about hope, sing about making this world a better place in dark times, sing about how multicultural society is bringing us fear, but make sure you sing about how we can overcome this fear and kick down those who oppose our way of living.

 

4. Coma Commander (Diest, Belgium)
Oh my … (insert your deity of choice) Coma Commander… First things first, check this video and then read on………………………………………………….. Have you seen it? Did you love it? Did you laugh? Did it make you want to go out with your friends and have a crazy day? These boys are from my hometown and I love all of them even if one of them is a damn hippie!
If they are in need of a driver, they give me a call and I sure had some fun nights with the boys in this band. They are young, crazy and can be a pain in the ass but fucking hell there is some talent in this band, being it as musicians or in their private life. Bram, their singer is an out of this world graphic artist. Check his stuff here.

 

5. Blackbird Raum (Santa Cruz, California, USA)
As a folk punk band they reminded me of Petrograd, the band from Luxembourg, not the city in Russia. I think it was the female vocals, not that Petrograd has that many female vocals, but it just triggered the need to listen to my old Petrograd records. (I just mindfucked all of you and by know you are all listening to Petrograd on YouTube or Spotify. With a little luck you pulled out that old Petrograd record) Blackbird Raum is an anarcho folk band and they are alive with activism. Their extreme left-wing message will not work for all, but their music is of an unheard beauty to me. They toured europe some years ago and I’m really sad I missed them. I also missed them at Muddy Roots this year, Inny told me they where something she hadn’t ever seen before, in a good way. Don’t mind the helmets… That’s all I can say about this video.

 

6. El Guapo Stuntteam (Hasselt, Belgium)

Best rock ‘n’ roll band Belgium ever had! That’s all I will say about them. From their early days untill their last and final album…

 

7. The Shrine (Venice, LA, USA)
“Dude, come over, we’re at a skate contest/festival thing in Hasselt (Belgium) and it’s free.” That’s all I need to read in a text message to get me going. I rolled into the festival on my board and was blown away by the sonic assault that is The Shrine. A mix between hardcore punk, 70’s rock and metal? I have no idea how to describe them better. It’s loud, fast and kicks you in nuts! BLESS OFF!

 

8. Call me Bronco (Louisville, Kentucky, USA)
This wild bunch of hellraisers I got to know at the 2013 Muddy Roots festival in Cookeville. They played the open mic stage and they sure left a big impression. They sound like a metal band playing country music and there is nothing wrong with that! I don’t think they have a song that does not involve alcohol, a bad girlfriend or someone dying. But hey, those are perfect themes to sing about, if you ask me. No one ever does… This year they played the big wood stage at the festival and boy did I have fun, not as much as the band on stage, even with all those broken snares. They just didn’t care and went on!
http://youtu.be/0YmmlQG6tKo

 

9. S.S. Web (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)
First things first! S.S. Web will be playing Muddy Roots Europe 2015!!! Hooray! S.S. Web will release a split album with Black Cat Bone Squad in 2015! Hooray! S.S. Web will be touring the whole of Europe in 2015! Hooray!
Why am I so excited about this? Because they are an amazing band, that’s why!!! This year we had the honour to book shows for their singer Henry Berger when he was on tour with The Hangdog Hearts and Lou Shields. We spent a lot of time together drinking, talking and doing silly stuff, he crashed in our guest room a couple of times and we just had a good time. S.S. Web is not really known in Europe, but we want to change that. The upcoming tour is something I’m really looking forward to, and that split with my boys in Black Cat Bone Squad is something I’m very of proud as I’m the fire starter for this project.

 

10. Hangdog Hearts (Indianapolis, Indiana, USA)
This is by far one of my favorite bands. And they have some of my favorite people in this band. They will be back in Europe in 2015, look out for that. I have nothing more to say about them. I love their music, I love them as people. Fuck it, that’s all…

 

This post was written while listening to Venom, Dead Kennedys, Towns Van Zandt and Those Poor Bastards.
Drinking tip while reading and viewing the video’s: A strong dark Belgian beer!

How amazing is it that as a first article on a new blog about roots music, punk rock and all other music my wife and I love with all our hearts, I get to write about Scott H. Biram, James Hunnicutt and The Freeborn Brothers. The latter may not be known that well with our readers, but I recommend you all check them out. Hailing from Poland, Niko and Matt are two of the most wonderful guys that will ever cross your path. Riding thousands of miles all over Europe to perform their own blend of hobo gypsy trash grass… Yeah, that’s what they call it, I call it, “what the fuck did they just do, that was fucking insane!” But then in a good way…

More about them later.

Last weekend Scott H. Biram came to Belgium to promote his new album “Nothin’ but Blood”. First things first, this album is way better then his previous one “bad ingredients”, but that is my opinion. Scott never really disappoints. Each of his albums has songs that go straight to your heart. Long fingernail, for me will always be his best song.

MOD in Hasselt was the place to be, it’s a semi-independent music venue that does great work to promote local talent and also has the big shows. The great thing is that they have a small room with an intimate stage for shows as these apart from the big stage.

Due to work obligations I missed the opening act Fernant Zeste, so I’m not going to talk about him. I hope he had fun and played a great set.

A Biram show for me is always linked to booze and good friends. My first Biram show was with my brother-in-law Stef Sweetboy and my good friend Jumpin’Jim, both in Black Cat Bone Squad.

I remember it vaguely, a typical Belgian Blues rock festival, Scott shocked the old guys, we loved it and kids where crying because he yelled at them for being little fuckers trying to play on stage… But that’s what I remember. I don’t think mister Biram remembers the second show I saw him play, he was just drunk, the show was not that great… This one was!

The moment I walked into the venue I was handed a beer and greeted by some of my best friends in the world and I knew that this was gonna be a good one! And hell yeah, it was! Yes, mister Biram was a little drunk, but a good kind of drunk, the kind when he let’s his demons out and wants to party with the people in the room. He played us some of his new songs like the ass kicker “Jack of Diamonds”, “Church Point Girls” and “slow and Easy”  mixing them in with older song and off course some old blues songs. Switching from acoustic to electric guitar, from slow but dark driven blues songs to almost metal songs he had the crowd with their throath from note one. Folks where dancing, drinking, singing and screaming for more. “Truck Driver”, he played Truck Driver and for us, the people who know his stuff that’s always a kick ass song to sing along to. When he played “still drunk, still crazy, still blue” he had the whole room singing along. An amazing moment… I have to be honest, I was tired from,a long day at work, and I was fulfilled when his set ended, but you know people always want more. Scott knows this aswell. So he did a few more… Those few more were fueled by the whiskey he was drinking all night and as I was still sober, well, he shouldn’t have done it… But the drunk folks loved it!

It was a great night, with great music and friends. I got me a copy of the new record at the merch and drove home listening to some Darkthrone… It just felt right…

Two days later on sunday it was time to get our asses to Aarschot, a scenic little city in Belgium. Cafe De Flater (the mistake) was the place to be. Our dear friend and PMA guru James Hunnicutt was starting his European tour there with The Freeborn Brothers. James who arrived in Belgium two days later then planned, due to airline company fuck-ups, welcomed my wife and me with a big and heartfilling James hug. It just lifts you up. It was only a month ago that we said our goodbyes at the Muddy Roots Festival in Cookeville, Tennessee, but for one reason, it’s always to long to go without a James hug.

Redcloud opened the show. I don’t know much about this guy, but he had a good voice and he sure loved Canada… James was next, even if he was the headliner. Marijn, the promoter of the show thought it was a good idea to let James play second, and I think he was right to do so. The man was tired, but thankful as always to have a stage to share his songs with an audience. What is there to tell about a James Hunnicutt show? I have never seen a Hunnicutt show that I did not like. He had me in tears at many, not this one, he had me dancing on stage with “don’t let tear drops fill your eyes”, not this one, he had me singing along with a Danzig song, he had me singing along with a Judas Priest song, he had me singing along with a Cock Sparrer song… Yep, all of these this sunday evening!!! It was just GOOD! And his new songs promise all of us a new “have to get” album.

The Freeborn Brothers where up next to end the festivities, and if you have ever seen them you know they fuck shit up! Banjo, electric guitar, drums, washboard, harmonica and two voices, all done by two guys. In this weird, mystical, religious and dirty feeling atmosphere they create you just want to dance, drink and repent your sins to the One below. I don’t care how much they sing about jesus and god, it just feels like they sing for the devil and it feels goooooood! The thick accent in their english songs give it that extra weird feeling. It’s like Dad Horse,  but without being “funny”. Pick up their new album or order it via their Facebook, you will not be disappointed. If you are, you can yell at me and call me names next time you see me.

For a first post this was it. We hope you liked it and come back for more. Wanna see more Scott H. Biram pics? Check them out here!