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How much can one fan of OKOM (Our Kind Of Music) accomplish in just a couple of years? Plenty, if it's Rockzilla, aka photographer Michael Johnson. From 2003 to 2005, rockzilla.net was a chronicle of the alt.country scene from a uniquely Texan perspective. But all good things must end, and Rockzilla has retired from the online 'zine scene.

This mirror site was copied from the rockzilla.net site with the express permission of Rockzilla hisself. If you don't believe me, go to the KHYI-Fans email list and ask him! Buddy will back me up, too.


 

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 Shining a light upon music that matters

 Quick Notes! is compiled by the Rockzillaworld staff.

Previous Quick Notes!

Highest Number are the newest

QN4   QN3   QN2     QN1
 
   
   
 

Various, Brown Eyed Handsome Man: St Louis Salutes Chuck Berry.Undertow Records

The brainchild of Community Radio DJ and bastion of the St. Louis music scene Kip Loui, this genre-crossing tribute to St. Louis' musical favorite son demonstrates not just the depth of Berry's catalogue, but the depth of St. Louis' musical talent. Devised as a fund raising opportunity for Community Radio station KDXH, Brown Eyed Handsome Man has name Americana acts (Jay Farrar, The Bottlerockets, The Skeletons) as well as St. Louis musical mainstays that are not as well known (Loui's band, The Rockhouse Ramblers, Bob Reuter and Palookaville). Highlights include gospel-soul singer Fontella Bass' (of "Rescue Me" fame) singing "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" and up-and-coming rockers Waterloo with their take on "No Particular Place to Go."

More information and samples at http://www.kdhx.org/chuck or order your copy from Amazon.com. --AK


 
 
Haymaker, Music From Ed's House Honey Bucket Records (Long Beach, CA)

Ed, owner of the house where Haymaker's music was rehearsed and recorded, knows how to create ambience. The house was the ideal setting for the aptly titled Music From Ed's House, a cozy eleven-track affair.

Haymaker reminds me of what early Eagles demos might sound like. Pleasant harmonies, restrained lead lines over acoustic strumming, a solid rhythm section and a sonic mixture somewhere between straight-ahead rock and roll and countrified pop/rock, provide merit for the comparison. Yet, Haymaker doesn't take itself too seriously, and lead guitarist Mike Bay is more Chuck Berry than Bernie Leadon.

"Uneasy Street", "Morphine Pump" and "What's That Got to Do With Me" are fine examples of songs without pretension. Haymaker is a band that is not afraid to release a fun record.

This disc goes best with a beer or two after work, or a casual gathering of friends sitting around shooting the breeze. Cheers.

www.haymakerband.com --ZP


 
  Johnny Hiland, Johnny Hiland Favored Nations

Ricky Skaggs is quoted saying that Johnny Hiland is the most versatile guitar player he's ever heard. That could be true, the songs on Hiland's instrumental debut are all over the map with numbers that pay tribute to all his influences. Those influences are, among others, Skaggs, Danny Gatton and Steve Vai, the album's executive producer.

Hiland doesn't seem worried about paying overt tribute to his heroes. Every song on Johnny Hiland conjures thoughts of some earlier guitar stud and it's not until the album's last track, Hiland's take on "Orange Blossom Special" that one sees this instrumentalist's true originality.

Johnny Hiland is an album worth owning. Playing this clean and fast just doesn't come around that often. Just keep in mind that his next album, after he has shed the heavy specter of his influences, will be the real masterpiece that this effort nearly was.

www.johnnyhiland.com, www.favorednations.com --MPS
 
 

Various, Stay All Night ­ Buddy Holly's Country Roots Western Edge Records

The original Rockabillys initially identified themselves as country singers, but quickly rebelled against the Nashville norms of the day. If you've seen The Buddy Holly Story you'll remember Buddy taking issue with the dictates of his Nashville producer, eventually escaping to Norm Petty's studios in Clovis, NM to push the envelope of country music and make history. (If you haven't seen the movie you should buy or rent the DVD now.) The premise of this disc is to gather a sampling of Holly's "country roots" on one volume.

Heavy on West Texas artists and former Holly collaborators (Jack Neal, The Flatlanders, Bob Wills, and Carl Bunch) the choices make sense although they don't quite justify putting Holly's name on the disc. The solid tie-in comes from three duets by Holly's brothers (Larry and Travis) plus two tracks that feature Holly, "I Saw the Moon Last Night" and "I Hear the Lord Calling Me," both previously-unreleased duets with Jack Neal. Hardcore Holly fans need the disc for those tracks alone, but it has a good cross-section of classic '50s country for everyone. www.westtexasroots.com has purchase information, complete track listing, plus a succinct history lesson on West Texas country music.--AK


 
 

Bobby Lindstrom, A Lick And A Promise Blue Eyed Crow Music

There's a scene in the 2001 movie Ghost World where Steve Buscemi's character goes to a club to see legendary (if fictional) bluesman Fred Chatman. After Chatman tires of being ignored and leaves the stage, a group of white, twenty-something frat-boys called Blueshammer launches into a song called "Pickin' Cotton Blues." Visibly horrified by the sight of these pretty boys singing about the trials of back-breaking labor in cotton fields, Buscemi's character flees the club, his misanthropy bolstered.

That is exactly how I felt when I heard Lindstrom's opening track, "R.J. Blues." To wit:

Sometimes I feel like Bobby Johnson
That's when I sing the blues
Seems just like I know him
And how he's gettin' used

Life in a central Oregon coastal hamlet must be harder than it seems. The rest of the album is standard barroom bluesy fare, altogether unremarkable and indistinguishable from the thousands of other acts making the same music. Hey, but that's not all bad. After all, there are thousands of barrooms.

www.blueeyedcrow.com --MPS


 
 

Anthony Michael James, Old Friends Compendia Music Group

At least half the songs on this disc are indistinguishable from the ballads by no-name-Nashville-hat-acts that send me skittering across the radio dial in search of the Oldies or Classic Rock stations, definitely not my thing. But interspersed through Old Friends are a few gems. Opener "Sweet Sarah," should be lumped with the previously mentioned ballads, yet still grabs my attention. The Chris LeDoux-ish "Steel Stampede" will get your toes tapping and the infectious song-of-comeuppance, "First One to Leave," is well worth your attention.

www.anthonymichaeljames.com has samples of all the songs so you ballad lovers can decide that I missed the boat on this one before investing your money.--AK


 
 

Tinsley Ellis, The Hard Way Telarc International 2004

Tinsley Ellis is still in the game and, as he says, the rules ain't changed. A man who's played 200 nights a year for thirty-years ought to know. Now he's out with a new record that sounds like all his other records do: great.

The Hard Way showcases Ellis' sizzling, clean picking style laid over an easy
blues-rock groove and nailed down with sixty-penny riffs. The Tinsley Ellis experience is out in force in the songs, "Me Without You," "Her Other Man," and the unexpectedly funky "Love Bomb."

I caught his show one night early last year. I think I remember him trying out "Me Without You," but I can't be sure. Ellis writes songs I think I've heard before, with sticky lines like "You call me Mr. Wonderful, but you call me when you're stoned."

Nod your head knowingly and click www.tinsleyellis.com -- SLW


 
 

Kate James and Lost Country, Homewrecker, Heartbreaker Hayden's Ferry Records 2004

She's real pretty, she's real twangy and she can really sing. But, her songwriting is formulaic and her band plays in a meek and dispassionate manner that makes every track seem too long.

I mentioned that she's really good-looking, right? -- SLW

www.katejames.com


 
 

Craig Dillingham, Almost Yesterday Carnival Recording Company 2004

Craig Dillingham is real twangy, too. Almost Yesterday is a collection of polished, note-perfect honky-tonk stylings. He does his best work here covering George Jones' "Just One More," never bending a note or letting slip even a hint of emotion.

Craig Dillingham plays all over Texas. Mom and grandma will enjoy his music. -- SLW

www.craigdillingham.com


 
 

SETH, Nowhere Sometimes Epiglotic Records 2004

SETH (Thompson) is a self-described folk singer, composer, painter, photographer, poet and vaudevillian from the Midwest. Nowhere Sometimes is an unfocused, cacophonic mishmash of folk, rock, country (because of the dobro, you know) and beat poetry pretensions, stripped down until nothing remains but the pretensions.

In places few and far between, SETH is not too shabby on the guitar. -- SLW

www.epiglotic.com/seth.html


 
 

The Straight 8s, Casualties of Cool. Rock N Roll Purgatory Records, 2003

Casualties of Cool blends swing, surf, and mild rockabilly. The Straight 8s, a trio of roots-rock weirdos from North Carolina, are appearing at Halloween fraternity parties and dollar-beer nights at sports bars near you.

Try the hot wings with bland music. -- SLW

http://www.straight8s.com


 
 

The Last Call Brawlers, The Last Call Brawlers. Rock N Roll Purgatory Records, 2003

The Last Call Brawlers are a lightweight punkabilly band from Tucson, where apparently it's not so much the heat but the banality that gets to you. This is their second record and the last song on it, "Don't Come Back," is a good highlight if not an unwitting self-admonishment. -- SLW

http://www.thelastcallbrawlers.com


 
 

Reed Foehl , Spark Neverfoehl Records, 2004

Reed Foehl sounds a lot like David Gray and John Ondrasik (Five For Fighting.) And like most of the music from the Milquetoast Mafia, Spark is as passionate as cold pancake batter. It's also fraught with some especially dingy existential anxiousness:

You used to be my morning sun,
Your warm ways, my golden one,
Is it feet that make you run?
Why do clouds block the sun?

How am I gonna get down?
I will run I will fly
'Til I open my eyes

Do what? --SLW

http://www.reedfoehl.com


 
 

Allen Ramsey, Allen Ramsey Self-published, 2003

Sometimes it's easy to forget just how hard real musicians try, how much their work means to them and how much passion they put into it.

Allen Ramsey lives in Nashville. He doesn't play in bars or honkey-tonks and he isn't trying to get a record deal. His record is about thirty-nine minutes long and has eleven songs on it.

It's hard to sing like you have a southern accent. --SLW

http://www.allenramsey.com

 

 
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