Friday, April 09, 2021

Global Village Trucking Company - Smiling Revolution

Often called Britain’s answer to the Grateful Dead, Global Village Trucking Company lived the epitome of the true hippie lifestyle with the band, roadies and families all living in a commune in Norfolk in the early 70's (the BBC actually filmed an interesting documentary about this that can be found online).  During their three plus years together the band managed to record one album, but unfortunately by the time the album was released the band had called it a day. 
Smiling Revolution is a two disc anthology and includes a remastered copy of that album along with bonus tracks that include their contributions to the double live album Greasy Truckers Live at Dingwall’s Dance Hall and a few recorded for John Peel’s show.  First and foremost there is a quirky, free spirited element of fun here, something that is apparent from the get go with the upbeat and extremely infectious opening cut “Judgement Day” and while they do have a bit of that Dead-like jam band vibe they mix it up with piano driven pub rock, some soulful blues, honky tonk country, psychedelia and even some prog elements (“Short Change Tall Story”) resulting in a sound that is familiar but still refreshingly their own. Rounding out this anthology is an excellent 28 page booklet full of pictures and an outstanding essay on the band.   

Interview with Elephant

The recently released debut EP from Rotterdam's Elephant is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  I recently did an email interview with the band where we covered their time in a Fleetwood Mac theatre show which actually led to their formation, the impact of covid, working with a member of DeWolff as producer and more.

Can you tell me who the band members are and what they play and also give me a little band history?

Elephant’s band members are: Frank Schalkwijk (vocals, guitar), Michael Broekhuizen (vocals, guitar, bass), Bas Vosselman (vocals, bass, guitar) and Kaj van Driel (drums & percussion).
We’ve been playing in different bands for a long time. At one point we all played together in a Fleetwood Mac tribute show. That’s where we grew close and decided we wanted to start a band. Because of the pandemic and the lockdown, the band became almost a religious exercise.

How does your songwriting process tend to work?

We have a very organic way of working in which all four of us contribute. Most of the time one of us has a riff or a hook and we start jamming on it. Then someone takes it home and writes a second part. We then develop it further in the rehearsal room. We don’t limit ourselves to our instruments. For instance, Kaj often plays guitar during songwriting. It’s always about the song, never about who plays what.

Your EP was produced by Pablo van de Poel from the band DeWolff. How did you hook up with him and how was the experience with him producing?

Pablo is an absolute legend. We already knew him and figured he would be the best match for our music. We recorded on tape which gives our songs the sound that we want.  Pablo also has great ideas to lift the songs to another level and always goes for that extra mile.

There are three of you that sing lead vocals along with some outstanding harmonies. How do you decide who sings lead on what song?

The song actually decides whose vocals should be lead. We all have different styles of singing, and most of the time it quickly becomes clear whose voice fits the song best.

Was it odd putting out an EP without really being able to test the songs much live due to covid?

Very odd! The pandemic made us grow closer as friends because the band is all we got. It has become a therapeutic activity for us. So in that sense the pandemic helped. However playing live shows is what we all love to do the most. We really miss that. For shaping and testing the songs we wouldn’t know, because we didn’t have much opportunities yet…

You have some various live performances on Youtube with alot of great tunes not on the EP (I absolutely love “Hometown”). I know the EP is just out, but do you have any plans for recording any of those songs and was there any reason you didn’t go ahead a record more for a full album instead of an EP?

Most of those songs are newish. The EP was recorded a year ago so we simply didn’t have them yet. However there is a rumour that we have just recorded our full length debut album ;)

You have a couple of really cool animated videos for “Bird’s Eye View” and “Never Know It’s Real”. Can you tell me a little about those?

Thanks! They were made by friends of ours. Cox Janssen did “Bird’s Eye View” and Emile Maigyte did “Never Know It’s Real”. We gave them total freedom to do what they want. I think that worked out really good. Maybe in the future we’ll work with them again.

How is the Dutch music scene?

Up till the pandemic it was very much alive. Great festivals, great venues and all that.
We’re hoping that things will be as they were soon… In the meanwhile, be sure to check out a live show of DeWolff or The Dawn Brothers on youtube, they really are amazing.

I read that a couple of you were involved in something called Fleetwood Mac: The Incredible Story from The Cosmic Carnival. Can you tell me a little about that?

We all were! It was a theatre show about Fleetwood Mac. We played all the songs starting with the legendary Peter Green and Jeremy Spence songs, and ending with the success of Fleetwood Mac up until this day. The show was a big success in Holland. We had such a good time zooming in on Fleetwood Mac, they’re such a diverse band! Truly one of the greatest of all time.

Are any of you involved in any other projects at this time?

Nope. Elephant is all we got. This way we can give the full 100%!

I know people can listen to the EP on Spotify but I didn’t see anywhere online where people can buy physical copies. Is there somewhere for them to go to order one if they are interested?

They can message us on Facebook or Instagram. Or email us at :

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?

Did you know the Elephant Song by Kamahl?



Thursday, April 08, 2021

 Classix Nouveaux - The Liberty Recordings 1981-83

Following the demise of X-Ray Spex in 1979, two members of the band (Jak Airport and B.P. Hurding) joined forces with Mik Sweeney and vocalist Sal Solo from the band The News to form Classix Nouveaux.  Taking inspiration from Bowie and Roxy Music, over the next six years and through several lineup changes Classic Nouveaux released three albums (four if you include the alternate version of their debut album) and alongside bands like Spandau Ballet, Ultravox, Japan and Duran Duran, Classix Nouveaux was at the forefront of the New Romantic movement.  Their debut Night People (and the slightly different eponymous US version) is a really strong release full of infectious synth driven tunes and Solo’s distinctive vocals, and even though it contained  a couple of UK hits with “Tokyo” and “Guilty” you can tell the band is still getting their footing and finding their direction at this point.  Their sophomore release La Verite found the band heading in the same direction as their debut, but they really found their sound at this point by smoothing things out a bit and resulting in the biggest hits of their career with “Is It A Dream” reaching number 11 on the UK charts.  Unfortunately on their final release Secrets the band seemed to be pushing too hard for radio hits and the album sounded way too polished and completely lost any edge they had before.  Having said that Classic Nouveaux is definitely a band that deserved more attention than they got and The Liberty Sessions is an outstanding box set that not only includes all of their releases, but also contains 24 bonus tracks consisting of b sides, extended mixes and single versions along with an essay on the history of the band from Sal Solo.  

Interview with Megan Lacy

I recently had the chance to do an email interview with Megan Lacy about her outstanding new EP Salvation.  In addition to that we also discussed her move to Austin from California a few years, her lyrics, the plans for her next release and more.

Can you give me a little background on yourself? 

First of all, Geoff, I just want to say thank you so much for reaching out and connecting with me - it’s very cool to be able to share with you! 

I’ve always been a singer, and I started writing songs when I was a little kid - all melody, hardly any structure, and no instrumentation. I got my first guitar when I was 18, a blonde D-16 that I named Lucy, and I really started writing songs around then. My brother taught me what he knew on guitar, and he and I started playing around our hometown, a little rural gem called Volcano in the California gold country. 

I moved to Truckee when I was 20 to be a ski bum, and over the course of the next decade I met some pretty influential people on my music path. I played solo for a while before meeting my friend, Gil Gaus. Gil is a killer songwriter, and a great guitarist, and he set me on a path of really learning about songwriting. We both had a lot of opinions, and I didn’t always listen very well. When I would actually take the advice he was giving me, most of the time the songs would take some kind of turn that was really unexpected.  A couple times that turn ended up forging a totally new relationship to the song, and I started to crave that new feeling - almost like I was free from what the song had meant to me, and was able to help the song become more about the feeling it was trying to create.  Gil and I played together for about 4 years. We co-wrote the song “Salvation” together! Over a decade ago. 

You moved to Austin from California a few years ago. How do you think that move has impacted your music? 

I just can’t even iterate how impactful a move it was. My partner and I moved in search of something much bigger than what seemed to be available to us in that small town where we were, and we both got such a kick in the britches out of moving here and starting fresh.  I mean, it was hard. Neither of us knew anyone, or had any connections, and starting at the bottom can feel like a pretty big punch in the gut. But we did it. Made friends, slowly, and at one point I thought like, how come I’m not getting invited to people’s backyard song circles?  And then I realized I had to create that. So I started hosting them, and soon I was meeting all kinds of songwriters, getting invited to other people’s song circles, and just feeling involved in the experiences I was craving.  I love feeling connected to people, it’s what inspires me most.  I do tend to get a lot of material out of feeling disconnected, ironically, but I prefer the joy that comes from relating deeply with people. 

Your lyrics sound like they could come from a very personal place. Does that tend to be the case or are they more fictional? 

The emotion is always real, but the details don’t necessarily need to line up exactly with what my experience has been. When I started writing, all the songs were relatively autobiographical, but as I’ve had more and more experiences, I think I am able to draw on imagery in ways that are more in service to the emotion behind the song than anecdotal.  Sometimes the lyrics are able to say something that I’m experiencing emotionally, but have not experienced in my life. 

I think a lot of us need help getting in touch with our emotions. Maybe we even feel numb to our emotions - we’re kind of taught to suppress them, or to disown them, especially the more difficult emotions. So the feeling a song can bring is kind of a tool to help us discover those areas in ourselves that might need a little attention. The story is just a story, but the feeling it can give you ends up feeling pretty real. 

The whole EP has a really stark atmospheric sound. Is that something you already had in your head when you went into the studio or was it more the influence of your producer? 

I think Justin was very much in service to the song, and to the feeling of the song. We had used Emmylou Harris’s Wrecking Ball as a diving off point - his idea.  Semi-stark, impactful, much more than my little record, but the intent was there.  I think his own stoicism is very much a part of this record.  I certainly didn’t want a lot of bells and whistles, and what ended up being on the record I needed to feel solid. 

I had played the songs for so long as a solo performer, that when it came to developing them with other instruments, I didn’t really know what to imagine. All I knew was that I didn’t want the instruments to cave in on the song. I wanted there to be a lot of space in between everything - like I wanted it to feel like you were in a room with the song being played, and you could walk around in between the instrumentation.  Justin was well aware of this, and naturally has such a sonic understanding that everything he did seemed to create more and more space, and for me it helped to deepen the solidity of the sound.  It feels like a stepping stone to me - like I can stand on it for a second before I jump off again. 

Instrumentally “Watch This” is one song that really stands out to me, especially the really cool percussion. Can you tell me a little more about that song? 

Right on, Geoff! Well, it was the last one we developed in the studio - we had brought the others along, and sort of didn’t have too much of an idea of how to move that one forward and make it stand apart from the others.  It’s a really slow mover, and I suggested banjo, thinking that it could have some weird effect that we weren’t expecting, but that idea quickly got nixed. 

The four of us sat around, and Justin picked up the dobro, and I was like, Oh yeah, that’s gonna be it.  Aaron picked up this wooden conga that his dad, who is a luthier at Collings had designed and built for him. Chris sat down at the Wurlitzer, and we started playing the song. It was pretty magical! And when we kind of figured out how it would go, we ducked in and did a couple takes, and the last one was it. That dobro solo is one of my favorite moments on the record. 

You have quite a few videos on youtube of live performances of some really good older songs.  I know some musicians don’t like to look back at older songs and just tend to record their newer ones.  Do you think we will be hearing some of those on future releases? 

I’d love to bring those songs to tape! I am really excited to move forward - I just learned so much in the process of making this first record, that I’m kinda rearing to get back in there and develop more songs.  I’m always writing, but it takes time for songs to come up, and for them to become what they want to be, so I think it’ll be cool to try to give light to the songs who have been with me the longest. (I have one little record of newer tunes that I want to put out before anything else, though…) 

I see that you have a couple of live shows listed on your website, but with the pandemic alot of live music is still shut down. Do you have any alternative plans for getting the word out there about the EP? 

Well, I think it really matters that you are helping people get the word out about their music during all this - it’s really awesome to have people listening and sharing and engaging. Thank you so much, Geoff! 

I’m hoping now that things are opening back up, I’m gonna get to do what I always planned to do, which is to play live music as much as I can.  The live music experience is such a beautiful aspect to the songwriting journey, and I think a lot of people are ready for it to come back. 

I’m in this for the long haul, and I know about slow returns, so I’ll be alright with however this path wants to roll out. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers? 

I’m working on getting that second record together - it’s got an Alt Country/Cosmic Americana vibe, and it’s really upbeat and positive, if you can imagine that, haha.  I’m looking forward to getting those songs out there in the world to you soon, so stay tuned!  Your readers are welcome to follow @MeganLacyMusic wherever they do their media, and I’ll keep y’all posted.  Thank you beyond words for your great questions and for this opportunity to share about the record, Geoff!

(Megan Lacy)

The Living Pins - Freaky Little Monster Children

Twenty-five years after their first release (a cover of T Rex’s “Spaceball Ricochet" on the Wheatsville band compilation The Wheat Album) Austin, Texas’ The Living Pins are back with the Freaky Little Monster Children EP.  This time around the band is comprised of original members Carrie Clark (also a member of the band Sixteen Deluxe) and Pam Peltz with some help from producer Jeff Copas and Medicine’s Matt Devine along with Brian, the drum machine.  Opening things are the slow, psychedelic garage rock groove of “Raven”, a song that virtually lulls you into a trance with it’s droning, yet infectious hooks, and “Downtown” which musically throws in a bit of a Lou Reed / Velvet Underground vibe.  The glam sound of “Jaguar” finds them picking the pace up a little with it’s definite T Rex influence coming through and closing things is “Fish and Beads” an outstanding straight ahead psychedelic rocker.  Hopefully this EP is just the beginning and we won’t have to wait another twenty-five years to hear more.  

(The Living Pins)

The Blips - The Blips

With Will Stewart leading the way, this five-piece rounded out by Wes McDonald, Eric Wallace, Taylor Hollingsworth, and Chris McCauley is a bit of a who’s who when it comes to Birmingham, Alabama musicians with bands like Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Timber, Dead Fingers, Vulture Whale and Holy Youth amongst their pedigree.  Written and recorded in late 2019 and the beginning of 2020, the album was then mixed and mastered throughout the rest of the year through texts and emails due to the pandemic.  The resulting eponymous disc is 10 cuts of raw, ragged, rootsy garage rock with some punk and pop sensibilities kinda like the bastard child of The Replacements, Big Star and The Long Ryders.