2005 ISSUE #76
For What Ails You
Music Of The Medicine Shows: 1926-1937
Old Hat Records
48 song 2 CD Set
Producer/music collector Marshall Wyatt and his
Old Hat label are at it again, releasing yet another brilliant
installment in his series of early 20th Century music. He has
pulled together two disks-worth of rare and obscure songs, hailing
from the era of traveling medicine shows circa 1926-1937. The
collection features a wide variety of country, blues, folk, early
jazz, and vaudevillian novelty songs, all presented here direct
from the original recordings. In addition, there is a 72 page
booklet which covers the history of medicine shows, along with
a number of photographs from the era.
Need a little history? Medicine shows were a popular
form of entertainment in the early part of the 20th Century. The
shows would come into town (usually in rural areas) and draw in
crowds with free entertainment. From this crowd, the pitchman
would find customers for whatever snake oil medicine or ointment
they had for sale.
The entertaiment had a variety of forms, usually
borrowing from 19th Century minstrel shows and vaudeville-styled
comedy routines. The historical importance of these traveling
shows is of the utmost, simply because it was one of the few ways
that popular music was mobile in the days before radio and the
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the collection
and the book is the amount of change the country has seen over
the past 100 years. What would seem highly politically incorrect
back then, such as black-faced minstrel entertainers, was very
common back then. Not only was it popular, there were, ironically
enough, even black entertainers who wore black-faced makeup, a
few of which are represented here in the collection. In this way,
it gives us a truthful and honest, if uncomfortable, look at the
way things were.
The music itself is amazing to listen to, and at
times hilarious, with crazy titles like The Man Who Wrote
Home Sweet Home Never Was A Married Man, Bow Wow Blues, C-H-I-C-K-E-N
Spells Chicken, and I Heard The Voice Of A Porkchop. This
was music for the common man, and specifically designed to please
the crowd. It's a wonderful example of popular music in middle
America at the time, giving us a rare and unedited glimpse into
the pre-history of modern jazz, country and rock-and-roll.
The traveling medicine shows all but died out once
radio took over, leaving behind a legacy that has been forgotten
until now. Thanks to Mr. Wyatt and his contributors, those old
songs are spinning once again.
MISH MASH Mandate: Take Your Medicine
Old Hat Records Website
HEY BANDS! OPEN YOUR OWN ONLINE T-SHIRT
SHOP FOR FREE!
BRIAN EWING ART SHOW September 24th 2005
"TURN ME ON DEAD MAN"
The show runs until the legs fall off which should be mid October.
THE OBLONG BOX.net
560 6th Ave. San Diego, CA 92101
New Music Reviews
The r-n-r keeps coming, this time from Denmark, with an 80s-era leaning
which is one part new wave and two parts big guitar post punk. Think
The Buzzcocks with a little more overdrive, and throw in the choppy
and stilted neo-80s rhythms of Franz Ferdinand.
Normality Killed The Cat
11 song CD
BB begins the album with the title track, which rips along with
droning guitars and an incessant synth hook. The vocals are delivered
in a dual, sung-yet-spoken fashion (which for some reason reminds
me of the early punk-tinged new wave of Adam and The Ants) which
adds another depth to an already deeply layered sound. The group
employs a cool David Bowie-esque vocal on Tunnelvision,
and a relentless synth explosion on Let's Go Out.
They get a little more 80s-styled moody and brooding on Heroes
And Villains, only to pull out the punky guitars again for
Gimme (Hey Hey).
The important thing going on here is the irony, which drives the
disc from beginning to end. It's all about utilizing that new wave
sound, while still keeping it at a safe distance.
MISH MASH Mandate: Irony Of The 80s
Brimstone Butterfly Website
To Sweeten Up
12 song CD
Sarah Glynn is a one-woman band--- writing, performing and producing
her way through a tight album of catchy pop songs. She embraces
an early 80s new wave style, which is often blended with an offbeat,
herky-jerky rhythm. It's an endearing combination, keeping the familiar
pop structures from becoming stale and boring.
Glynn's voice is low-key and unassuming, providing a melody which
simply rides along above the instrumentation nonchalantly. The carelessness
of it all gives it a light and airy feel which doesn't take itself
too seriously, while at the same time adding a touch of mystery.
MISH MASH Mandate: Catch A Wave
Sarah Glynn Website
Kill Rock Stars Records
11 song CD
Can you imagine a combination of The Rolling Stones, T. Rex,
The New York Dolls, The Stooges, and a heaping helping of Guns
N Roses? In other words, a perfect intersection of rock, punk
and glam? Enter The Makers. They've taken all the threads of the
past 30 years and tied them up into one central knot. The songs
are tight, the guitars are hot, and the vocals are delivered with
the perfect combination of sneer and snarl.
The album begins with the undeniable driving force of Matter
Of Degrees, burning with a classic big riff and plenty
of dueling guitars. From there, they drop right into the dark
and brooding power pop of Good As Gold, featuring
a fist-pumping chorus hook that would make Hanoi Rocks green with
As the disc progresses, the band spreads its figurative musical
wings and experiments with acoustic rock, roots rock, and straight
up high-heeled glam. They aren't afraid of taking a few chances,
yet they're all the while keeping the sound solidly in their rock-n-roll
MISH MASH Mandate: Death Defying
Kill Rock Stars Records
Sandia Crest Entertainment
10 song CD
The artistry of Brent Gunter is hard to define. He skillfully blends
classical flamenco guitar with smooth latin rhythms and acid-jazz
grooves, creating a musical landscape which seamlessly mixes traditional
music and contemporary beats.
On The Storm Is Near, Gunter rides his bluesy guitar
lines over a drum-n-bass background, only to switch gears and go
East with Secret Of The Tower, picking his guitar
in an almost sitar-like fashion, bringing an Indian flair into the
mix. Just to put a finer point on it, Gunter then rides into a laid-back
soul groove on With My Heart.
Gunter obviously has no qualms with doing things outside the box,
as he maneuvers his guitar around electronic drum patterns, world
rhythms and through ethereal new age atmospheres. He sounds comfortable
in all these settings, and it's sure to please fans of the guitar
in any genre.
MISH MASH Mandate: Boss Guitar
Sandia Crest Website
11 Song CD
Brianna Lane sings her songs with a lovely melancholy, almost as
if she were apologizing for her angst-filled songs of sadness and
lost love. Her acoustic guitar gently weeps through almost a dozen
indie-rock tunes, wandering through an introspective depression
while maintaining a brave face all the same.
For example, on Sad Songs she sings
MISH MASH Mandate: Sad Songs Say So Much
"you listen to sad songs too much, and it shows, your heart's
been broken one too many times," almost as if she needs to
explain why her songs are, indeed, sad. Depressing, or no, Lane's
songs are beautiful and cathartic, almost telling us that it's
OK to feel down, but not to let it get us down at the same time.
Brianna Lane Website
And The Robots
Drastic Plastic Records
12 song CD
Talk about apt titles. The word "Trauma" is well placed,
as this noisy little disc from Rock'N'Roll Monkey can attest. Think
lo-fi, loud and obnoxious, and you'll be in the right ballpark.
These guys do garage punk without apology, ripping through abstract
and oddball tunes with the prerequisite sneer intact. Loose guitars
and jerky beats are the name of the game, all topped off by vocals
which defy interpretation.
The finest moment comes in the overpunked-out song Toss It Back
Like Kerouac, where they rail away mercilessly with every punk cliche
that's ever been beaten to death. Mr. Vicious would be proud, and
would claim them as his love children.
MISH MASH Mandate: Punkalicious
Drastic Plastic Website
Sir Millard Mulch
How To Sell The Whole F#@!ing
Universe To Everybody... Once And For All!
3 CD set (or maybe just
I'm not sure where to begin on this one, but suffice it to say that
anything by Sir Millard Mulch is the musical equivalent to spam
e-mail. It comes in your mailbox (at least it did for me), and you
open it up, even though you know you probably shouldn't. Before
you know it, you're ordering strange potency pills from an unknown
website and scratching your head as to why a Millard Mulch three
CD set only has two CDs inside.
With that having been said, this latest effort by Mulch pretty
much mirrors his previous---manic and highly intricate electronic-based
music which revolves around completely ridiculous subject matter.
In this case, his musicial meandering is surrounded by an over-the-top
parody about self-help sales programs. Think of it as Frank Zappa
teaming up with Dale Carnegie in hell to produce the infomercial
to end all infomercials.
This album isn't going to help you one bit in anything, but it
will give you a good laugh, and it will tie your brain in knots
with the absolute crazed-out music, which is just amazing to listen
MISH MASH Mandate: Soupy Sales
Sir Millard Mulch Website
© 2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved