David Stükenberg recommends Fyfe Dangerfield of The Guillemots

David-Stükenberg and Fyfe Dangerfield

David-Stükenberg and Fyfe Dangerfield

David Stükenberg’s artist recommendation: “My recommendation is Fyfe Dangerfield and his band The Guillemots because they create beautifully crafted melodies that catches you off guard and skillfully switches direction. Lyrically, Dangerfield always rides a fine line between heartbreak, nostalgia, and a pure uninhibited vibrancy that I have only heard in a very select few artists. Last but not least, from a production/arrangement standpoint, the music is the perfect blend of dark experimental, classical, and pop-dance-ability. I will buy everything Guillemots releases. I actually travelled to Berlin, Germany just to finally catch a show!”

New to Fyfe Dangerfield and The Guillemots? David recommends you start here: I’d recommend checking Through the Window Pane to a new listener. It’s definitely their most complete thought as a full album. It’s all over the map musically but manages to have a perfect flow to it, almost like a 68-minute opera. It incorporates an impressive spectrum of emotion from beginning to end. This would definitely be my “desert island record.”

* Be sure to check Fyfe Dangerfield’s recommendation essay about Anywhen right here on Rocktorch.com

David Stükenberg About our guest author, David Stükenberg: Hailing from Austin, TX, David Stükenberg fronts, you guessed it, a band called Stükenberg, which is releasing its third album, Novella (pre-order here) on Nov. 12. Take a listen to the single Home below (the single is currently being played on over 140 radio stations, by the way) and you’ll be taken in by the earwormish banjo (Deliverance, anyone?) that gives way to the radio-friendly chorus. David classifieds his sound as Appalachian rock. Any way you label it, Stükenberg’s timing couldn’t be better as it synchs perfectly with the resurgence of soaring folk that was started by Frightened Rabbit and has been kidnapped by the Mumfords. David’s tunes and lyrics, however, skew a bit darker than what is saturating your radio dial and the new album is a well planned out, cohesive collection. It’s been three years since Stükenberg’s last record and the band culled through 35 songs or so to bring you this expertly refined album. “Each track represents a new character in the greater story of Novella,” said David. “As individuals, they express themselves differently. So, too, do their songs.” Be sure check out the official Stükenberg web site for Facebook links, videos and more. And, be sure to check David’s Kickstarter page and contribute to help him promote the new album. Come on, help an indie out!

The Silks Takeover: Tyler-James Kelly recommends Skip James

Tyler-James Kelly and Skip James

Tyler-James Kelly of The Silks and Skip James

Tyler-James Kelly’s artist recommendation: “When your father plays this odd collection of records throughout your foundation years and at the age of five plants a guitar in your lap, you might be affected. Since then music has always been a euphoric experience to me. Hearing my father crank Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner as loud as possible was overwhelming and eye-opening. Sometimes I would want to really listen to the music and ask him to turn it down. He would reply, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.” Around age seven, I connected most with two artists that could not be more polar opposites, Jim Croce and Kiss. I know, I know. It is true though. With Kiss, I understood the animal inside of me. With Jim, I understood the art and absolute beauty of song. I never left the house without these two cassette tapes. When I would tire one out, I’d pop in the other.

The brightest lightbulb that has ever gone off inside me though was the first hearing of the delta blues artists. The true, blue, low-down sounds of one man and a guitar. I mean, put a fork in me. Though there are many delta blues artists, Skip James is tops. His picking hand and his tuning is most bizarre. These two characteristics are what separates him. Tuning the guitar to open D-minor keeps his songs extremely dark and difficult to play. When I finally got a hold on the words he sings, I recognized his lyrics are as dark as the music. He gave voice to how people were feeling during The Depression. Imagine trying to perform and sell your music under those horrible times and conditions. His songs still resonate with similar emotions today. When I write I tend to strive for that same emotion or “vibe” of the dark sounds of delta blues. In my opinion, this kind of picking comes off tough as nails while still maintaining the ability to carry a feeling of heaviness. Listen to this great song called Special Rider Blues that has only 11,000 hits.”

Tyler-James Kelly About our guest author, Tyler-James Kelly: Before even listening to The Silks’ impossibly great album, Last American Band (below), you can learn a lot about the spirit of the band from a couple of quotes from its longhaired frontman, Tyler-James Kelly. When rain began to fall at their recent Riotfest gig in Chicago (which also featured The Replacements reunion, fronted by Paul Westerberg, who happened to produce The Silks’ album), Kelly said to the crowd, “Let’s make this rain romantic and get into a lot of trouble.” On talking about the energy of The Silks, Tyler-James explains, “We all totally lock in when we play. At the end of the day, we’re just a bunch of animals who want to rock. It’s not a careerist thing. We got together so we could f*ckin’ play music together.” Kelly means what he says and with one click on the audio player below to hear the first cut of the album, Livin’ In the World, you learn quickly that you are meeting a lead singer and band committed to carry on the rock/blues spirit and passion that has been laid down from the delta blues masters, up through Led Zep, Faces and The Stones. Kelly’s voice sounds familiar and older than his years and bassist Jonas Parmelee and drummer Matt Donnelly perfectly bond with Tyler James’ exquisite finger picking and growling riffs. Click forward below and listen one of the most infectious tunes we’ve heard in recent times, Mountain Man. Now imagine yourself at that Riotfest show mentioned above. Soft rain falling, beer in hand, The Silks kick in and you just start to MOVE. Everything is perfect. This song, this album, this band – they’re keepers. Now, as Tyler James said, go get into some trouble. Be sure to buy this fantastic record and experience of The Silks’ live show by checking their tour dates.

* Be sure to check out music recommendations from all of the members of The Silks in Rock Torch Silks Takeover special package!

The Silks Takeover: Matthew Donnelly recommends Blue Cheer

Matthew Donnelly and Blue Cheer

Matthew Donnelly and Blue Cheer

“The way I feel, it’s easy to see. Let me hear the way it ought to be.”
~ R.A. “Dickie” Peterson

Matthew Donnelly’s artist recommendation: “My obsession with music began at a very early age. Embarrassingly, I suppose it all started with my mother who would frequently watch the television show ‘Solid Gold.’ Every time she put it on I would methodically shake my infant ass out my diaper in an attempt to mimic the Solid Gold dancers. When I first saw Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, I practically lost my mind and the deal was officially sealed for me. My reaction to this music video impressed my family so much that they recorded it to a blank VHS tape and played it frequently to watch me freak out. These days when I get “loose” enough, I replay these dance moves in front of friends, a series of moves which I now describe as “The Baby Dance.” It is something that no one should ever see.

The music that has really stuck with me to this day came from my father when he passed down a large dusty box full of vinyl LP’s to me. I was about 11 and I had seen records before, but didn’t think twice about them. I began to dig through these moldy antiquated things and the first one I pulled out was a far out looking psychedelic looking record with no band name on it. I asked my father what it was and I remember his response clearly. He said “Ugh, that’s just some ‘Acid Rock’ garbage that belonged to my cousin. I’ve never listened to it.” Now I was fully intrigued! The idea of there being some strange recording that no one has ever bothered to listen to really got me excited to hear it. I inspected the record to find out more about band and the mystery just kept expanding. The photos inside depicted a gang of long haired rockers flying through space, a portrait of the band looking like their faces are being melted by electricity and a black and white gatefold photo of three long hairs rocking out in front on the largest amplifiers I had ever seen. Now, I’m getting stoked! I finally managed to get the vinyl out of the package and it read Outsideinside and it was by Blue Cheer. I begged my father to play me this record but it turned out that he had only a turntable and no receiver! I was SO supremely bummed out, but then he told me that I might be able to hear a little bit of sound coming off the needle sans amplification. When he left my room I unearthed the turntable and dropped Outsideinside on the spindle. I sat on the ground and listened to the entire record. It sounded like it was coming out of a tin can, but I could tell that this record was going to be a burner! It was and IS!”

New to Blue Cheer and don’t know where to start? Matt suggests you start here:Outsideinside is arguably one of the heaviest rock records from the late sixties and a testament to the true power of the three piece. This album has remained one of my all-time favorites and never grows old on me. The song Come and Get It is my go to rally theme for whenever I’m tired and need to wake myself up for a gig or a party. The song is an insane over-sexed monster rocker that still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Other high notes on the record are a great rendition of Booker T. Jones blues number The Hunter, which these three guys just smash on relentlessly. The instrumental track Magnolia Caboose Babyfinger is a screaming fast, amphetamine driven riff monster…and my number two rally song. This album is a double whammy for me: not only does it hold nostalgic value but it’s also an amazing lost treasure and a totally kick ass record, front to back! The kind of record that could change the course of ones’ life if heard at a young age!”

Matthew Donnelly About our guest author, Matthew Donnelly: Matt is a self-taught drummer and multi-instrumentalist who cut his teeth banging on the skins for a garage punk band called Dirty Hair before joining the power pop band White Devils. That band included a bassist named Jonas Parmelee, whom would later bond with Donnelly and vocalist/guitarist Tyler-James Kelly to form The Silks, the Rhode Island blues band that caught the attention of Replacements front man, Paul Westerberg. Westerberg, who has been open about his love for classic pop from Faces and The Stones, heard some rough demos from The Silks and summoned the band to Flowers Studio in Minneapolis to produce their most excellent album, Last American Band. The record is classic rock blues and you can hear Donnelly channeling all the Brit drummer legends throughout. Recently released, the album is already beginning to collect stellar reviews such as this 9 out of 10 dandy form Scene Point Blank. The Silks also are getting noticed for their passion filled live shows and Westerberg was smart to capture that energy by having the band record the record live. In addition to the album, the band also put out a 7″ that features Westerberg on lead vocals for the classic Stones tune, One More Try (note: this tune has been on constant repeat here at Rock Torch HQ and there’s no end in sight. Hear it below!). To witness the mentioned live greatness of The Silks, be sure to spy their tour page.

* Be sure to check out music recommendations from all of the members of The Silks in Rock Torch Silks Takeover special package!

The Silks Takeover: Jonas Parmelee recommends The Adverts

Jonas Parmelee of The Silks and The Adverts

Jonas Parmelee of The Silks (l) and The Adverts (r)

Jonas Parmelee’s artist recommendation: “Most of my earliest childhood memories revolve around music. Be it the classic rock radio station we listened to in the car, to the early Madonna records my older sisters would spin, or the Stand By Me Soundtrack that was my fist cassette tape, music was always there providing much needed escape for a kid growing up in a family falling apart. Songs always seemed to define and help me cope with the issues of the day. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors somehow came to represent my mother’s affair and my parents’ subsequent divorce. The Who’s Behind Blue Eyes let me make sense of my first cousin suddenly becoming my new “older brother” after witnessing his parents’ murder/suicide. He’d beat the shit out of me on an all too regular basis. I may or may not have deserved some of it. But, as much shelter it would give me throughout those years, music had remained a spectator sport.

Fast forward to my teenage years. The 60s, 70s and 80s rock of my childhood was replaced with hip hop and a desperate attempt to just fit in by junior high. But like The Kinks said, I’m not like everybody else and so I soon stopped trying to be. By this time, I had turned to the defiance of punk rock, especially of the late 70s variety. Cheap beer, pot and acid were the vices of choice among my friends and I. Black Flag kept all the trips bad. Looking back, I wonder why we kept trying.

Discovering the late 70s British punk band, The Adverts, was THEE a-ha, lightbulb moment for me. It may not have been my generation’s music, but it definitely chewed up and spit out the shit all the kids at school were listening to. At least it was real. The first time I heard One Chord Wonders was the moment it first occurred to me that it was time to literally take matters into my own hands and start playing the bass guitar. I didn’t even have one, but that was not going to get in my way. So, with a borrowed bass, I lied my way into my first band.

Listening to those Adverts recordings, I felt I knew exactly where New Wave came from and what it was trying to rip off. The melodic yet cold and chilling vocal delivery of TV Smith, painting pictures of dissent and disapproval, made almost too much sense to my teenage mind. The reverb on the guitar, creating a sense of massive space, and by extension isolation and stark loneliness, underscored the lyrics perfectly. It sounded as if it was being beamed in to planet Earth from outer space. Beamed directly to me. The shaky rhythm section plods along like it was about to fall apart at any moment, desperately chugging toward the finish line before the wheels fall off. It reinforced the notion that rock and roll is not rocket science. This here was life and death.

Fast forward again to my early 20s. My band at the time was hanging out at CBGBs before our gig there later that night. Who happens to walk in the door? None other than TV Smith himself. Amazing. Conversation was struck and the beginnings of a relationship was formed between he and us. It led to one US tour and several UK tours playing in his backing band. How cool and unlikely is that? Things don’t get much more surreal than chugging through the bass “solo” in No Time To Be 21, in London, with Gaye Advert herself looking right at you from the audience.”

New to The Adverts? Jonas suggests you start here:: “For a new listener, I would recommend the album Crossing the Red Sea, particularly the expanded “Ultimate Collection” because it includes the 45 rpm single versions of the songs as bonus tracks. (I prefer the singles to the album versions, but this reissue version gives you both.) This album includes all their “hits”, such as the aforementioned One Chord Wonders, No Time To Be 21, and Gary Gilmore’s Eyes. It’s the perfect soundtrack for the anxious and paranoid, like I was as a kid. Though not exactly household names like the Sex Pistols or The Clash, The Adverts created some of my favorite music to come out of the era.”

Favorite tracks:
* One Chord Wonders
* Gary Gilmore’s Eyes

TV Appearances:
* No Time To Be 21 live
* Sussex University, 1977

Jonas ParmeleeAbout our guest author, Jonas Parmelee: Prior to joining The Silks, Jonas was all punk, all the time. He was the bass player in Midnight Creeps, a group that, as mentioned above, toured as TV Smith’s backing band. But Parmelee’s run at collaborating with rock royalty didn’t end with TV Smith. Parmelee continued to mix it up with music’s masters when he joined The Silks, a trio based out of Rhode Island that is rounded out with Tyler-James Kelly on guitar/vocals and Matthew Donnelly on drums. From what Parmelee told Providence Monthly, some rough mixes that The Silks were working on got passed on to the legendary front man of The Replacements, Paul Westerberg. Westerberg loved what he heard and passed along one of his originals called Colleen for The Silks to record. The Silks did some reworking that Westerberg didn’t like and from there he summoned the group to Minneapolis to, according to Jonas, “…re-do the whole damn album with him.” The result is the band’s debut album, Last American Band (available on on their web site and on Bandcamp), a record that sounds like a treasure trove of unearthed bluesy gems from Clapton, The Stones and Faces. Westerberg says of the record, “We have a hit record here. It really stands up to all of the other mess in a big way.” It sure does. And for Parmelee, joining The Silks appears to be a perfect fit. “Every moment with The Silks is the best moment,” Parmelee recently said of being in the group. “It’s the type of band I’ve been dreaming of playing in as far as work ethic and approach to music.” Be sure to check the official Silks web site for tour dates and follow ‘em on Facebook for the latest info about this stellar band.

* Be sure to check out music recommendations from all of the members of The Silks in Rock Torch Silks Takeover special package!