“Big Eyes” is the name of one of my favorite Cheap Trick songs, and it’s probably no accident that the Brooklyn based rock quartet also known by that name harnesses the same power pop sensibility accompanied by a hard rock edge — which is a proven formula for nearly-flawless music. Active since 2009, through various line-up shifts, Big Eyes is the project of Kaitlyn (Kait) Eldridge, a singer/songwriter/guitarist who fronts her band with the same self-possession that Joan Jett fronts The Blackhearts. In other words, she’s badass
At a time when I can’t even bear to turn on the radio for fear of being exposed to whatever mortifying horrorshow that’s passing for popular music, LA-based rock quartet Black Belt Karate are like oxygen in a vacuum. Being schooled veterans of many and varied rock projects (guitarist Jason Mezilis also plays in Owl with Cult bassist Chris Wyse) BBK deftly blend power pop hooks with a classic rock edge to deliver addictive tunes that will appeal to fans of Sloan, Green Day, Foo Fighters and Cheap Trick.
The very fun clip for “Transformer” — a buoyant anthem with a positive message of self-realization — sees the band auditioning for a casting director in front of a backdrop that makes it look like they’re part of a police line up. Interesting! The video takes on a bit of a “Sharp Dressed Man” feel with its interspersing of sassy video babes and clips of the band rocking out. You can see that lead vocalist Ryan Hanifil is just dripping with Rock Star charisma. Rumor has it that they also occasionally perform as a Doors Tribute band. Excellent.
Keep up with Black Belt Karate’s music, news and live performances by following them on the FaceBook at This Link. Enjoy!
Black Belt Karate Are: Ryan Brown (Drums), Harry Ostrem (Bass), Jason Mezilis (Guitar) and Ryan Hanifil (Vocals).
Perhaps you are unfamiliar with musician Alex Chilton, but if you’ve heard The Replacements’ song by that same name, then you at least know that children by the millions sing for him and are in love with his songs. And that’s all you really need to know in order to enjoy the sublime documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, a profoundly detailed love letter to the wildly influential, Memphis-based 1970’s power pop band that Chilton co-founded along with guitarist/songwriter Chris Bell, drummer Jody Stephens and bassist Andy Hummel. Directed by Drew DeNicola, Nothing Can Hurt Me is by turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, as band members, journalists, photographers, label employees, family, fans and friends recount their own experiences with and memories of a band whose three albums (#1 Record, Radio City and Third) garnered volumes of critical praise, but whose record label lacked the distribution necessary for Big Star to break commercially. Despite its music being virtually unheard during the band’s existence, Big Star songs deeply influenced bands as diverse as Cheap Trick, The Bangles, REM and The Posies, making them possibly the first cult band, ever.
Like I said, you don’t need to know anything about Big Star or its music to be completely engrossed by the band’s story and be charmed as well as intrigued by its four very talented members, particularly the enigmatic Chilton and the insightful (and still devastatingly handsome) Jody Stephens. The band’s music, as well as Chris Bell’s post-Big Star efforts and Chilton’s many and varied solo projects, are featured prominently in the film, and I can guarantee that if you do not already own Big Star’s catalog you will be downloading it from iTunes directly after watching this film. Like another great music documentary film released in 2012, Jobriath AD, Nothing Can Hurt Me provides a bittersweet hindsight to what went wrong and what might have been done differently. Most importantly, it provides a showcase for music that is timeless, amazing and simply should not remain a well-kept secret.
Adding an additional note of melancholy to the film is the realization that any true Big Star reunion is now impossible, with Stephens being the sole surviving member of the group. Chris Bell joined the 27 Club – the victim of a single-vehicle car cash – in 1978, and both Chilton and Hummel passed away within months of each other in 2010. It’s very likely though that this film will reignite a following and lead to more musicians being influenced by a band that never got to enjoy the fame and fortune they deserved.
Nothing Can Hurt Me is due for release on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 26th, 2013 via Magnolia Home Entertainment. The DVD includes 70 minutes of awesome bonus features, such as Big Star in the Studio, scenes deleted from the theatrical release and bonus chapters on both Chris Bell and Alex Chilton, plus the film’s theatrical trailer. With a suggested retail price of $29.98, Nothing Can Hurt Me is available from Amazon Dot Com at This Link.
The Worley Gig Gives Nothing Can Hurt Me Five out of Five Stars!
Well known on the NYC rock scene as the guitarist and primary songwriter behind retro garage-pop quartet The Friggs, Palmyra Delran is a bit of a local music icon. While The Friggs never broke commercially, they opened for legendary bands such as The Ramones and Cheap Trick, earning a devote regional following as well as solid professional props for being an “all-girl” band that could rock as hard as any group of guys. In her second solo venture, Delran stays close to the layered pop sound she helped to hone in The Friggs, while continuing to demonstrate innovation with regard to arrangements and intriguing personal storytelling in songs that draw the listener into her very relatable world.
If Palmyra Delran isn’t the coolest chick on the block, I don’t know who is. Seamlessly blending the guitar rock grit of Joan Jett with the pop sensibilities and subtle humor of Blondie, You Are What You Absorb will feel instantly familiar to fans of the classic Girl Groups, Sixties Psychedelia, Surf Rock and the very best of the early eighties New Wave movement. There’s not a lot of timeless music being made today, but the twelve memorable tracks on You Are What You Absorb certainly qualify as such, being packed with lyrical hooks sharp enough to draw blood and retro musical flourishes, such as sitar and organ, that establish Palmyra’s reverential connection to the past while bringing her music into the present.
A favorite track among many is the single “Shy Boy” – an endearing love song to a reluctant wallflower that will melt the coldest heart. I also dig the way that the propulsive drumbeat and furious guitar outtro of “Lies For You” dig deep to fondly recall the Nick Lowe-penned Elvis Costello classic, “(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love & Understanding.” Bringing other unexpected influences the forefront, Delran’s expert guitar playing on “Never to Be Back Again,” especially, recalls Jeff Beck’s distinctive riffage on The Yardbird’s “Heart Full of Soul,” and I don’t think there is much higher praise to give than that. Palmyra also shows her stylistic versatility on “The Turtle,” which successfully flirts with sixties lounge jazz.
Although it’s still pretty chilly on the East coast, as New York fights hard to break into spring, you need to grab a copy of You Are What You Absorb right away, so you can get ready to take it to the beach with you, add it to Party Mixes and slap it on the car stereo for long drives with the car top down as these songs become the soundtrack to your Best Summer Ever.
Palmyra Delran’s You Are What You Absorb is out now and available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon.com and wherever quality rock is procured.
View the acclaimed video for “You’re My Brian Jones” Below:
Perhaps you are unfamiliar with musician Alex Chilton, but if you’ve heard The Replacements’ song by that same name, then you at least know that children by the millions sing for him and are in love with his songs. And that’s all you really need to know in order to enjoy the sublime new documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, a profoundly detailed love letter to the wildly influential, Memphis-based 1970’s power pop band that Chilton cofounded along with guitarist/songwriter Chris Bell, drummer Jody Stephens and bassist Andy Hummel.