Tag Archives: Cretin

Interview: Alex Baugh of The Crazy Carls


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Alex Baugh Crazy Carls Big Orlando Festival
Alex Baugh of The Crazy Carls at The Big Orlando Festival

The Crazy Carls’ Alex Baugh Chats With Cretin

We caught up with energetic and talented front man Alex Baugh from Orlando’s Crazy Carls a few weeks ago at the inaugural Big Orlando Festival, where the band shared the spotlight with some of the biggest names in Alt-Rock: Fall Out Boy, Weezer, Young The Giant, New Politics, etc…

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Amidst that impressive line-up, Baugh truly stood out as one of the most dynamic performers of the festival. We caught up with him shortly after his entertaining set.

Cretin: Great set today. I’ll tell you, you have a lot of charisma on stage.
Alex Baugh: (Flashing an electric smile) Thank you. Awesome.

Cretin: So, how would you describe your band’s brand of rock music?
Alex Baugh: Fun. It’s just fun feel good music. Dancy, pop, rock, there’s some funk in there. There’s a lot of different influences we draw from but most of all it’s a fun energetic live show.

Cretin: It is. Speaking of fun and energetic, what did you think of the crowd who caught your set?
Alex Baugh: Sick. It was sick.

Cretin: They really seemed to like it.
Alex Baugh: They liked it and we liked playing for them. It was fun. Definitely got them stoked. They were into the numbers as the set moved on and they seemed to have a good time.

Cretin: When I saw you play at Flagler Tavern, you had a guitar slung over your shoulder.
Alex Baugh: Yeah I did, not today. (smiles)

Cretin: But you seemed like a good guitarist, as well.
Alex Baugh: Yeah, thanks, that’s what I am first off. Being a songwriter, I’ve played guitar for awhile. We were just trying different things, trying to keep it fresh and keep it exciting for the fans. We tried something different today and I think it went off well.

Cretin: I think it gives you a chance to free yourself a bit. (Baugh was flying around the stage)
Alex Baugh: Yeah, a little bit. (smiles again) I felt some freedom today.

Cretin: The music we heard today and the backing tracks, was that all your stuff?
Alex Baugh: It’s all our music. We did one cover, the new Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk.” All of the other songs we worked out in the studio and produced ourselves. Those tracks are hard work.

Cretin: So, speaking of this festival, are there any other bands on the line-up today who you are of particular interest to you?
Alex Baugh: I would say it’s a pretty awesome line-up. I’ve been on tour with Dirty Heads before, they’re cool, good guys (see our interview with Jared from Dirty Heads here). I’ve seen Fall Out Boy before, which is awesome. I’m excited to see Young The Giant; I heard they have good live shows.

Cretin: I saw a bunch of fans singing along in the crowd today, that’s great to see, especially knowing how hard it is to get airplay around here.
Alex Baugh: It’s hard to get radio play anywhere as a local regional artist. Radio is very corporate and it’s money. Radio now is pay to play. Fortunately we got some love from a local Orlando station. 101.1, they play our music sometimes, as well as college radio.

Cretin: So, you’re an Orlando-based band. I thought you might be from New Smyrna Beach?
Alex Baugh: We’re from here (Orlando), but we play all over Florida and just finished a run out to Texas. We also toured with Aaron Carter recently

Cretin: Any new music coming up?
Alex Baugh: We have an EP release coming in January or February next year.

Cretin: Your new video for “To The Stars” is great and the song is very catchy. How’s it doing?
Alex Baugh: It’s doing great. We got over 10,000 views on Youtube and it just came out a week or two. And people love the video, I think it came out pretty awesome. We’ve had a great response so far.

Check out the video shot at Cocoa Beach below:

Cretin: With radio play so tough to get, has video become more important in recent years?
Alex Baugh: Video has become a staple, yeah. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years, and we were one of the first local bands to put out a good video. Now, everyone’s got a good camera, everything’s so accessible and it’s so easy to edit . If you don’t have videos, you may be a little lazy. It’s something for me that is more of a staple. We have over a million views on our YouTube channel. If we’re going to give you new music, we’re going to give you video, too. It’s interactive, it’s fun.

Cretin: So, what’s next for you guys?
Alex Baugh: We’ll be headlining an event in Orlando next year and you’ll see some new music. We’re releasing a new EP and also have a single coming out in the next week or so from that EP, with a new video that we shot for that. We filmed it on the road with Aaron Carter. So, it will be a nice live video which we haven’t released in awhile. Then we’ll hit some states regionally and nationally and hopefully hit South By Southwest.

As we wrapped up the interview, Baugh was thankful and humble. Nice traits for a budding star, just bursting with charisma. We’ll keep you in the loop when they’re playing live and when the band’s new music hits the street. Until then, make sure you hit up Crazy Carls on Twitter and Facebook (then do the same with us).

Rock On!
Cretin

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Ours Brings Back American Rock


Ours Ballet the Boxer 1 Album Review

On Ballet the Boxer 1, Ours comfortably reaches back to their mid-90’s hard rock sound, and more intriguingly hearkens back a few decades to the raw powerful rock of the late 70’s.  The resultant release is a creative and refreshing mix of passionate rock with a comfortable, pure feeling, too often absent from today’s new rock releases. It’s refreshing rock music coupled with poignant lyrics.

OURS_-_Press_Shot_2013 (640x278)

Although Ours has been together for almost two decades, this is only their fourth full-length album.  The band has seen significant personnel changes over the years but maintain their cohesiveness and consistency mainly through the presence of frontman Jimmy Gnecco who remains the one constant.

It’s in the juxtaposition of the two key terms in the title, Ballet and Boxer, that you understand what Gnecco is trying to capture in his writing. “I feel like we are in a time where we are divided more than ever as people,” writes Gnecco. “We are all fighting for our lives out of survival, and this fight is necessary, but I am trying to not lose sight of this.”

Ours is pure American rock and roll, and that’s never more evident than in the lead-off track, “Pretty Pain.” The song is a muscly rocker featuring powerful drums and a clever guitar riff.  Gnecco offers “And I am at my best then; I’m lying at your feet. Am i just like the rest there? My pretty pain.”  It’s heady honest stuff and a fantastic accent to the addictive musical arrangement. Gnecco’s multi-octave range is featured throughout the album, but absolutely sparkles on “Pretty Pain.”

“Coming For You,” actually reminds me a bit of the New Jersey rock scene for a few decades back, no surprise as the L.A. based band actually started in the Garden State.  The guitar riff reminds me a bit of Springsteen’s “Adam Raised A Cain” and are perfectly complemented by Gnecco’s vocals. Other highlights include the tenderly introspective “Devil” and the bouncy rocker “Sing.”  The latter is the most likely hit on the album and is simply a blast to listen to; again powered by hard-driving drums, Gnecco’s versatile voice and slick guitar.

The production throughout the album takes more of a minimalist approach.  It works well, as it helps focus on the raw emotion of Gnecco’s vocals and the pure music that drives the songs. It’s an album that ebbs and flows, spotlighting the band’s versatility, but also finding a few mediocre offerings. In the end, it’s a RARA’s recommended buy. Check it out below on iTunes, and let us know what you think.

Rock on!
Cretin


The Drowning Men’s Nato Bardeen Interview

GTR Store

Nato Bardeen is the talented front man and distinctive voice of The Drowning Men, one of today’s best new bands.  I recently had a chance to catch up with him from his hometown of Oceanside, CA before the band embarks on the next leg of their tour supporting their new release All of the Unknown.

Cretin: Being from Oceanside, California, what’s the local music scene?

Bardeen: We beat the hell out of San Diego for the first three years. Played all the local bars and small clubs and did that for a bit before we started touring. We were just a local band, then we got to LA and played the Long Beach area, then the Northwest thing, Portland and Seattle and the West Coast. As for the scene, I don’t really know what the scene was; we just do what we do and go out and do our thing.

Cretin: Today’s rock is dominated by one man bands, where it’s a talented singer on keyboards and a drum machine, playing cute poppy rock – you guys have taken a different approach?

Bardeen: I’m a fan, but not a big fan, of the two piece band thing. I like a big band and that full sound. I’ve known (Rory) and (Todd) since we were kids and we’ve played together for years, and I’ve always liked bands with four or five guys.

Cretin: It makes a difference both live and on the album. You can tell that it’s a collaborative group effort, not just dominated by one person (Bardeen writes all of the music).

Bardeen: I’ll write the song and bring it to the boys and throw out hints. I’m more of a melody guy, I’m not really good with drums or bass. I kind of let them figure it out on their own.  We’ve played together so long, I already know what Rory’s going to do without even telling him. I just know the way he plays. The same thing with Todd and just us as a band. I pretty much know what everyone is capable of and their unique touch on the songs. James (guitar) and Gabe (keyboards) and I discuss the melodies and harmonies.

Cretin: When I saw the band live, it seemed like the pieces  fit together extremely well, and Rory on drums just seems to accompany you perfectly.

Bardeen: Honestly, in the last four months, I realized how Rory and I complement each other. His drum playing is straight in the pocket, really loud and it just fits our music perfectly. I really agree with you, he and I have something cool together.

Cretin: Going into the show, knowing that you wrote all of the music, I didn’t really expect to see the five of you so tight. But you guys seem so cohesive.  Kind of sucks that the Orlando crowd didn’t really show up, though.

Bardeen: We’re still young. We’re a young travelling band. We don’t expect much.  We’ve toured with some great bands and traveled nationally and opened up in front of thousands of people, but we know we’re young. We haven’t won that many people over yet, and hopefully we will. If not, we don’t and that’s just how it goes. But, it would be nice to go out and play our own shows outside of Southern California and get some really cool crowds.

Cretin: Tell me about the second leg of the tour that you’re about to embark on?

Bardeen: We’re main support for Cheap Girls for a short leg. After that we’ll be doing main support for Bad Books II which is the side project for a few of the guys from Manchester Orchestra. (As of this time, there are no dates in Florida)

Cretin: Last year you supported Flogging Molly. You ended up being one of the fist bands they signed to their new label Borstal Beat Records. What was that experience like?

Bardeen: When we did that tour, it was our first legit national tour as an opening act playing in front of thousands of people. They were rad. They fell in love with us; liked our live sound and our music, and had our Beheading of the Songbird album and they loved it. We knew they were putting out their own label and on tour we started talking about signing with them. We were like “Yeah,” and it worked out great.

Cretin: Let me ask a question back to Beheading of the Songbird, and the title track which I feel is just a great song.  On your recent co-headlining tour, you didn’t play it. Is there any reason?

Bardeen: We played it more than a handful of times earlier on tour. We love it and I’ve actually been thinking about bringing it back into the set, so it’s not dead. We really like playing it, but it is a real long song and in a 30 or 45 minute set it cuts into what we can do.

Cretin: Any backlash due to the nature of the lyrics?

Bardeen: No. We just had other newer songs that we’ve been working on and are excited to play. We’ve been playing those Songbird songs for a long time now.

Cretin: So, how has the reception been for the new songs?

Bardeen: Good, really good.  Some songs people like more than others, which is totally natural. Some people miss some of the old stuff which is something we need to deal with. We need to put together a good set, try to create a cool mood or weird mood or whatever mood we’re trying to put out. But the response for the new stuff has been surprisingly cool.

Cretin: Who were some of your influences?

Bardeen: I was a lifetime Smiths fan. Ever since I first heard Morrissey and The Smiths in Junior High School. (Their music) just hit me and I’ve always been a fan. I’m also a huge  fan of Tom Waits, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Leonard Cohen and The Pogues. I like the moody crooners.

Cretin: Some dark stuff there, and definitely some great songwriters.

Bardeen: That’s what makes me move and that’s the music I like to listen to. I think the lyrics are beautiful, the lyrics fit with the music, the music fits with the lyrics, the melody, the vocals. It’s the perfect fit for me. Those guys do it well, My goal is to always make it fit and whether I do that or not I’ll never really know, but that is my ultimate goal; to make the melody, the vocals and the strain of the vocals fit the strain of the guitar, so everything is one piece that works.

Cretin: That’s cool. So, let me ask a bit about your background.  The night I saw you, you played guitar, keyboards, mandolin, melodica and sang lead vocals on every song.  What’s your musical background?

Bardeen: I would say I’m unschooled. I picked up a guitar when I was eighteen and I picked it up pretty fast.  I loved it and it immediately became my passion.  I also have a huge love for traditional Irish Folk music, and that made me want to learn the mandolin, the fife and banjo and a bunch of other things. Right now, I can get by on 14 or 15 different instruments, anything like the piano, mandolin, suzuki, banjo – anything with strings pretty much. I love to learn new instruments, I love playing them, I love writing on them, I love just jamming out with people to different styles. I started at eighteen and lord willing I can do it the rest of my life, and hopefully when I die I’ll be able to play one hundred.

Cretin: On All of the Unknown, it seems as though you’ve taken your vocals to a new level from where they were on Beheading of the Songbird.  Have you seen yourself grow as a vocalist?

Bardeen: I have, and I’m loving it.  When we did the Beheading album, we weren’t playing out as much, but after touring more and more and singing every night, I was really hurting my voice, so I had to learn how to sing better. On the Beheading album, I was yelling.  I still yell now, but I’ve learned how to yell better. And, I’m enjoying it because I’ve always wanted to be a better singer. I always want to sing with passion, but I’m learning to control my breath a little bit more both live and on track.

Cretin: It’s nice getting to listen to that evolution.

Bardeen: I’ve definitely noticed the maturity in my vocals and I’m very excited about it.  I’ve never been confident about my vocals.  I know I can sing, I just had to work on it, do breathing exercises and learn how to control it. I’ve been happy with it. I hope I can always sing and I look forward to twenty years from now what I sound like.

The Drowning Men Tour Dates

Jackie Bristow Enchants Orlando

Just a woman and her guitar, but, oh my… what a nice sound…

Jackie Bristow live in Orlando
Jackie Bristow live in Orlando. Photo: Hallie Ballie

Jackie Bristow brought her beautiful voice back to Orlando, opening for John Waite at Plaza Live. The New Zealand born muse now hails from Austin, Texas, and she’s developed a distinctive, melodic voice that I would best describe as Kiwi Country.

The stories in the music were the clear highlight of the show. She offered soulful selections off of her 2007 release Crazy Love and several more from her 2010 offering Freedom. The highlight of her forty-five minute set was the title track off of “Crazy Love” an introspective look at a woman who can’t seem to shake the memory of a former love. “‘Cause there’s something about the way you look at me, I forgive your everything, Oh love, such a crazy love…” It’s a beautiful, tender song perfectly matched to Bristow and her pure style.

The sound in The Plaza Theater is pristine and was the perfect setting for Bristow who played her entire set solo, accompanied only by her trusty acoustic guitar. Her songs are stories from her life, and she did a great job bonding with the crowd all night.  In one humorous exchange she shared that she was a Southern Girl, born in Southern New Zealand, then moving to Austin (she also reminded the crowd that Southern New Zealand is a bit more frigid than the Southern U.S.)

On this night, she was the ideal opening act for John Waite and his band (see that review here). Surprisingly, she plays fairly often in Florida, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the next time she’s in town.  Good stuff!

Cretin
(see the full set list below)

Here’s Jackie performing Crazy Love from her show in Orlando last year: Crazy Love: Live

Setlist

Tempted
Running
Come Down
Freedom
Crazy Love
Rolling Stone
Innocence
Holy Mess
Crying

John Waite Tumbles through Orlando

Shaun Hague and John Waite
Shaun Hague and John Waite. Photo: Hallie Ballie

Almost a year to the day, John Waite returned to Orlando for another strong show at The Plaza Live in Orlando.  He’s supporting his Rough and Tumble Tour with a strong band and this night, he was at his interactive best. It was clear early on that this was going to be a special night. The cozy crowd of a few hundred folks seemed to instantly put Waite into a story-telling mode and he shared quick snippets, chatting and joking with the crowd all night, seemingly having a blast throughout the sixteen song set. The sound at the cozy Plaza Live venue is just great, and was spot on for this show.

The setlist featured songs from all stages of Waite’s career as well as a few nice surprises. He kicked off the set with two rocking cuts off of the new album, “Rough and Tumble,” the title track and “Better Off Gone,” which featured a fantastic guitar solo from the uber-talented Shaun Hague. From there, Waite deftly navigated through his catalog as well as a few classics from past bands Bad English and The Baby’s.

It’s been 30 plus years since the heyday of The Baby’s, yet Waite’s under-rated voice is as good as ever, and he’s always pushing himself in new directions. For fans of that era, we got to hear “Back On My Feet Again,” featuring some phenomenal bass work from Philadelphia native and Dee Dee Ramone lookalike Tim Hogan. “Head First,” “Every Time I Think of You” and a stripped down version of “Isn’t It Time” were also on the set list. They were all decent and certainly crowd favorites, but on this night, the new stuff really shined.

“If You Ever Get Lonely” is a great love song just screaming for radio play and one of a handful on the new album co-written with Kyle Cook of Matchbox Twenty.  “Sweet Rhode Island Red” is a groovy Tina turner cover that conjures up nice memories of The Baby’s. We also had a chance to listen to two other covers, a smoking version of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” where Hogan, Hague and drummer Rhondo dominated the stage and then a cool version of Vince Gill’s “Whenever You Come Around.”

When Waite introduced the fantastic “Bluebird Cafe” he shared a poignant moment with the crowd, noting that after composing that track, it was the first time he actually considered himself to be a story-teller.

He finished the night up with four huge crowd favorites. A nice Rhondo drum solo melded into Waite’s biggest hit “Missing You,” followed with his biggest Baby’s hit “Head First” which had the crowd on its feet and singing along.

The crowd pulled Waite back out for an encore and a solo version of Bad English’s “When I See You Smile.” It was a great singalong version that again had everyone on their feet and in fine voice.  His band mates then joined him for a powerful closing version of “Every Time I Think of You,” a great end to a great show.

I have to add that Waite did something almost unheard of these days after the show.  He and Hogan stayed around on stage mixing with the fans, until they had signed articles for everybody waiting; a wonderful touch of class!

Rock On – Cretin!

(Please check out the full setlist below)

Setlist

Rough and Tumble
Better Off Gone
Back on My Feet Again
If You Ever Get Lonely
All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan cover)
Whenever  You Come Around (Vince Gill cover)
Bluebird Cafe
Isn’t It Time
Mr. Wonderful
Downtown
Imaginary Girl
Sweet Rhode Island Red
Drum Solo
Missing You
Head First

Encore
When I see You Smile
Every Time I Think of You

River City Extension Rocks Orlando

River City Extension LiveRiver City Extension Live at The Social

Earlier this week, I had one of those moments that all rock music fans covet. I was out at a venue reviewing one band and stumbled across another act on the bill that really caught my attention. I was out at The Social in Orlando checking out The Drowning Men, who were great in their own right (see the review here) when I had the pleasure of catching the dynamic eight piece River City Extension.

The octet out of New Jersey crammed onto the small stage and delivered an energetic and diverse set that I would best classify as a creative merging of Mumford and Sons and Gogol Bordello! It might sound unusual, but they pull it off magnificently. Over the course of the night, the six men and two women traded off among fifteen different instruments, providing quite the aural feast. At different times, they featured two drummers, two banjo players, violin, trumpet, mandolin and more; a welcome diversion from much of the cookie cutter stuff dominating the airwaves these days.

Led by front man Joe Michelini, the band focused their set on music from their excellent new release Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Your Anger. I spoke to Michelini briefly after the set and asked him how he would classify their brand of rock.   There’s no easy classification, which is part of the beauty to their unique sound. We settled on Alt-Americana, but you can check out the link below and make your own judgment.

They kicked off the show with “Glastonbury,” the opening track off of the album and followed that up with nine other cuts from the new album as well as a few selections from their two prior releases.

“Welcome to Pittsburgh” was an early highlight. The track has a beautiful, optimistic feel to it, as Michelini shows off his broad vocal range.  The most impressive features of the song were Nicole Scorsone on violin and Dan Melius on trumpet! The violin absolutely powers the song and Melius also contributes some fantastic trumpet work.  Good stuff!

“Point of Surrender” and “Ballad of Oregon” were two other songs of the same vein that were crowd-pleasing favorites.

This band is quite diverse and they showed off their versatility all night. Other highlights included “Slander,” a poignant tune in the vein of classic rock, “Our New Intelligence” a nice boy/girl duet, and the stark “Standing Outside in a Southern Riot” which featured Michelini and vocalist Samantha Tacon alone on stage.

It was a great introduction to a talented band that we should be hearing much more from in the years ahead.

Rock On – Cretin

Setlist

Glastonbury
There & Back Again
Welcome To Pittsburgh
Our New Intelligence
Point of Surrender
Standing Outside a Southern Riot
If You Need Me Back In Brooklyn
Slander
Nautical Sabbatical
Ballad of Oregon
Everything West of Home
Something Salty, Something Sweet

Drowning Men Rock Orlando


In a sparsely filled room on a rainy night in Orlando, I saw the future of rock ‘n roll.

The Drowning Men brought their unique style of rock to The Social and absolutely blew away the energetic, yet small crowd. For those of you who don’t know the music of The Drowning Men, you’re missing something special. I’d characterize them as a cross between Arcade Fire and Pink Floyd, but I’m sure everyone else in attendance could come up with different comparisons. Bottom line: they’re unique, they’re creative. they’re interesting, they’re provocative, and they’re pretty damn good!

The band does things their own way, from their look, their arrangements and their sound, and it’s a method that works exceptionally well. The first impression you’ll get from the quintet covered in tattoos and facial hair is of a group of longshoremen or bikers, but then they start to play…  Pure majesty.

They exploded onto the stage with a rich versions of “More Than This” and “Caroline You’re A Mess,” both off of their critically acclaimed 2011 re-release of Beheading of the Songbird – a fantastic album that dominated the night’s set list.  It was apparent quite early that this group fits together exceptionally well.

Nato Bardeen and his distinctive voice are the focal point, but the band is comprised of five equally talented musicians. Drummer, Rory Dolan is the driving force that powers the band throughout all of the songs, and he’s joined by the very talented James Smith on guitar, Gabriel Messier on an old-school organ and Todd Eisenkerch on bass and keyboards.  Over the course of the night, we also get to see the talented Bardeen trading off instruments, from his magnificent Gretsch guitar, to a melodica, a mandolin and the keyboard.

After the show, Smith acknowledged that the band got a little flexible with their set list, and the next three songs featured cuts off of their upcoming release All of the Unknown. Messier provided a nice lead-in into “I am the Beggar Man” the first of the three and carried the song, along with the steady driving beat from Dolan. Bardeen’s fantastic vocals on this one are reminiscent of Coldplay’s Chris Martin.

Bardeen then took a seat at the keyboards for the interesting “Bored In a Belly,” which starts off with a bit of a carnival fun. It’s a new sound for The Drowning Men, but again an excellent tune.  They wrapped up thier sojourn into All of the Unknown with the mandolin driven “Lost in a Lullaby” which has the potential to become an anthem for the band.

The remainder of the set was a nice diverse mix of the old and new, with the highlight being a great version of “Courageous Son.” It’s a consummate rock song that came together perfectly on this night. Bardeen sitting at the keys and Messier on the organ got it off to a rollicking start, then the rest of the crew took over, featuring some of Smith’s best work with his Fender Telecaster.  The frenzied foot-stomping finish is damn near perfect in a song that I’d describe as beautifully chaotic.

For their closing song, it was their biggest hit “Rita,” which had the band still passionately pouring it out on stage. It’s an addictive tune that had the crowd dancing and singing along.  An excellent end to a great set (see the full setlist below)

I suspect the next time I have a chance to see these guys, it’s going to be in a much larger, more crowded venue, but that’s okay for me: losing a bit of that intimacy means good news for the future of rock ‘n roll.

Rock on!
Cretin

Leave a comment and let me know what you thought about the show, the band, the review, facial hair…

Setlist

More Than This
Caroline You’re A mess
I Am The Beggar Man
Bored in a Belly
Lost in a Lullaby
Courageous Son
The Waltz
Michelle is Getting Old
Smile
Rita