Alt-Nation: A Rocking October

Fete was temporarily closed as part of the aftermath of a shooting September 27. Sadly, this isn’t a surprise given the propensity of gang activity at hip-hop shows and Fete’s location not being the safest. Fete is no $3 Bar situation. They do value their patrons’ safety. Here’s hoping for a quick recovery for the victim and for the club to get back on its feet.

U2 – Songs of Innocence

There has been a lot of outrage that U2 had the arrogance to assume 5 billion people would want their new record. I don’t get outrage, but that’s coming from someone who gets CDs all the time he may not desire. I’m more interested in Songs of Innocence for the background story. U2 spent four years (far longer than any of their other records) recording it with all kinds of big shot producers like Danger Mouse, so it must be good right? U2 is a tough band to debate because there is a large contingent of the population that swears by the band’s ’80s catalog. Outside a few great songs here and there, I never viewed them as that remarkable. If one views Edge’s guitar work as so amazing, check out Keith Levine era Public Image Limited.

Songs of Innocence easily tops its predecessor, No Line on the Horizon. Then again, that album blew. Songs of Innocence is full of yearning wistfulness for youth like “Cedarwood Road” where Bono talks about returning to where he grew up. On “Sleep Like a Baby Tonight” the reminiscing has a darker, anxiety-ridden overtone with the chorus of “in your dreams everything is all right, tomorrow dawns like a suicide.” Maybe it’s the constant commercials, but “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)” recounting the band discovering the Ramones and The Clash comes across as overstated. It’s not bad, but I’d rather listen to both of those bands over that song. Thumbs up to the “California (There Is No End to Love) with its Irish guys trying to be the Beach Boys in the opening harmonies. “Iris (Hold Me Close)” is another decent tune that sounds like a sonic update of a riff from a Joshua Tree outtake. The rest of it begs the question if U2 just took four years to write a lot of songs with parenthesis in the titles. Like it or not, Songs of Innocence is here and you probably have it. If you’ve ever been a casual U2 fan it’s worth the listen. If you hate U2, that’s not going to change.

Rough Francis – Maximum Soul Power

Hailing from Burlington, Vermont, Rough Francis released a killer album earlier in the year in Maximum Soul Power. Cuts off Maximum Soul Power like “Ruffians,” I-90 East,” and “Not A Nice Guy” harness the aggression of early ‘70s Motor City rock ‘n’ roll. They mix in some psychedelic soul by re-working the MC5’s “Black to Comm” to their version called “Comm to Space.” Motor City rock ‘n’ roll is more than hobby for Rough Francis, it’s the family business. Rough Francis are literally the sons of death. Three members of the band are sons of the legendary Hackney brothers who made up the ahead-of-their-time band Death that were a subject of the movie A Band Called Death. Besides living up to the family legacy on Maximum Soul Power, Rough Francis are the band that made me believe the upstairs of the Columbus Theatre could work as a venue for heavy, sweaty rock ’n’ roll.

Rough Francis and local openers will rock the Columbus Theatre on October 3.

Days of the New

Days of The New has enjoyed mainstream success based off of post-grunge radio hits like “Touch, Peel and Stand,” “Shelf in the Room,” “The Down Town” and “Enemy.” It’s been probably close to a good decade since Days of the New have rocked Rhode Island and I’m sure many people have been counting the days. The gossip mills are rife with rumors that Days of the New have been as combustible as ever on this tour, pumping out the jams and living up the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. Despite the roadblocks, the show will go on and Days of the New have even hired former Train bassist Charlie Colin to fill in. The band will even be doing a few Train songs for reasons only they know because that band sucks. Thankfully most of the set will feature the hits of Days of the New and who knows when or if they’ll be back again.

Days of the New, The Grey Curtain, Wild Surfaces, and Bad Dreams rock Manchester 65 in West Warwick on October 11.

Agent Orange

It’s been 25 years since Agent Orange’s original demo for “Bloodstains” hit the radio back in the day when disc jockeys actually had some influence. Agent Orange is still a skate/surf punk band, which probably is for the best. Those types of bands usually don’t evolve well. Agent Orange hasn’t been the most prolific of bands with only three studio albums over their quarter of a decade. But hey, on the plus side, you don’t have to worry about them not playing their hits! Get there early for those horror/surf garage ghouls in The Evil Streaks!

Agent Orange, The Architecs, Held Hostage, The Evil Streaks, & Honest John & Soundoff will drop the hammer at Firehouse 13 on October 11.

Scurvy Dog Rocktober Fest

Those punks at the Scurvy Dog are back at it with another mega show in their parking lot to ring in Columbus Day weekend. These show are always a lot of fun with a variety of music styles from the folk rock of The Quahogs to the black metal of Sire. This show is highlighted by a reunion of The Sleazies who are playing their first show in two and a half years. The Sleazies play tongue-in-cheek loud and snotty punk rock that harkens back to bands like the Buzzcocks and The Briefs. Other acts that I’m looking forward to seeing for the first time are Wolfbane Blues and J. The former is described as a Roky Erickson damaged blues/psychobilly/classic country/punk while the latter is the staff of the Scurvy Dog’s X tribute band that are making their debut. J, whose name comes from the first letter of each member’s name, were originally supposed to make their debut last Halloween, but it had to be postponed due to singer Jenny Hurricane’s battle with cancer. Thankfully Jenny is doing much better after kicking cancer’s ass and is ready to rock out with J on some X tunes. Don’t miss local stalwarts Hope Anchor, TEAZER, and The Fabulous Itchies! In addition to the great music, there will be food! Jenny will be making her seafood gumbo. In addition to Dog Eat Dog/Dog Eat Cow burgers and dogs, there will also be some bratwurst and slaw to make for Oktoberfest atmosphere without the demented German elements. Dogfish Head Brewery is sponsoring the event with special edition beers on tap for the kick-off of Providence Craft Beer Week.

Scurvy Dog Rocktober Fest will go down on October 12 in the Scurvy Dog parking lot located on 1718 Westminster Street in Providence. The event is free and open to those 21 and above or all ages if accompanied by a parent or guardian. The lineup and preliminary set times are as follows: 2 – 2:30pm The Defectives, 2:45 – 3:15pm The Quahogs, 3:30 – 4pm TEAZER, 4:15 – 4:45pm The Fabulous Itchies, 5 – 5:30pm Wolfbane Blues, 5:45 – 6:15pm J (all Scurvy X tribute), 6:30 – 7pm Sire, 7:15 – 7:45 Sins of Angels, 8 – 8:30pm Hope Anchor, 8:45 – 9:15pm The Sleazies, 9:30 – 10pm Extinction Machine, & at 10:15 – 10:45 The Viennagram.

Jamathon Live

Jamathon Live is an event put on by mymusictown.com that is billed as a creative and interactive experience for musicians to connect and collaborate in creating new original music for an album celebrating the region’s united sound. Now I’ll admit the “celebrating the region’s united sound” part sounds like bullshit to me, but one can’t judge everything by an unfortunate press release. I don’t know what the region’s “united sound” is, but I do know the folks behind MusicTown have been doing some cool things through their website to bring musicians together to jam, and bands are being formed out of it. It is almost like Match.com for musicians and it’s brewing some exciting possibilities. After an initial musician-only event last month at JamStage, the musicians now have three weeks to rehearse for this show that is to be recorded for a compilation. It’s a chance to catch an up-and-coming band and all the excitement that comes along in its primal infancy! If you prefer seeing a band that has been together longer than a month, there is also going to be a set by Alt-Nation faves, The Skinny Millionaires, who are always a great bet for rock ‘n’ roll!

Jamathon Live featuring performances by The Skinny Millionaires, Straw Man Standing, Chronovore, Jamathon RI Live (recorded for compilation), Cluster Flux, and more takes over Machines With Magnets in Pawtucket on October 18.

Email music news to mclarkin33@gmail.com

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