Sunday, September 4, 2016


AUGUST 27, 2016

I know, I know. By this time, I would not be surprised if many of you were wondering if I have been hired on to be the publicist for the new crop of young Madison, WI bands, from Post Social, Modern Mod, Trophy Dad, Slow Pulp (formerly known as Barbara Hans) and now Dash Hounds, due to the frequency of my posting concerning their exploits in addition to the heaps of praise that I have exuded about all of them.

To that, I am simply and truthfully able to inform you that no, I have not been co-opted or hired by any means. All I can hope that you will understand and believe is that my enthusiasm is all 100% honest and meant with every single breath that I have to place into the words I write to you and what I have also been able to share personally with all of the musicians that make up these bands. These musicians and the sheer guileless purity with which they have all approached their art has felt to be so very meaningful to me as all of their accomplishments have touched my musical spirit so sumptuously and completely--and in a strange, odd way, my pride for all of them is enormous and still ever growing.

I may have expressed the following sentiment in the past but if I have not, I will do so now: If I possessed a magic wand and were able to wave it, I would create a specialized forum for all of these young people to create to their heart's content within an atmosphere where their only concerns would be the pursuit of their respective muses and the security that their complete autonomy and independence would be firmly protected. But for the here and now, these young people, so down to Earth and supported and cheered on by their families and friends all seem to be doing just fine. In fact, more than fine as they are creating music that, to my ears, rivals much of what I am hearing from long established musical veterans.

On this humid Saturday evening near the end of August and just one month after attending the celebratory release party for Post Social's third album "Casablanca" (released June 30, 2016), I returned to the High Noon Saloon to offer my support and congratulations for Madison's very own Dash Hounds upon the release of their debut 5 song EP entitled "Eft."

What a wonderful event it was on this night, especially as I have been able to witness the journey of Dash Hounds from the ground floor as I attended their debut live performance last October, and I also kept in consistent contact with band founders Alivia Kleinfeldt (formerly of Modern Mod) and Brendan Manley (formerly of Modern Mod plus original/current member of Post Social) who so very graciously kept me within the loop by occasionally sending me demo versions of songs they were laboriously crafting and taking the time to answer my many questions along the way. Even as I write, I have been speaking with Kleinfeldt about having herself and Manley as special in-studio guests on my Savage Radio program for WVMO. But before I get ahead of myself, let me please get back to this great night
While I will delve into "Eft" in full for a future posting, this night at the High Noon was one of beaming celebration. Upon entering the Saloon, I immediately made my way to the merchandise table as manned by Brendan Manley's parents, Anita Sattel and B-Side Records' owner/proprietor Steve Manley, to find new, fresh copies of the EP ready for sale plus an arsenal of T-shirts and buttons, all adorned with the official Dash Hounds logo as designed by Alivia Kleinfeldt with additional touches by her Mother, Dawn Kleinfeldt plus Sattel. There was even a lithograph station set up where one could create their own custom made Dash Hounds T-shirt if they so desired.
Before the music began this evening, I once again was more than happy to have few moments to speak with Brendan Manley, Alivia Kleinfeldt, Post Social/Dash Hounds bassist Sam Galligan as well as Emily Massey, former lead vocalist/guitarist for the now defunct Modern Mod and new official member of Slow Pulp plus a second band called Melkweed, who would be making their second live performance on this night.

And then, it really hit me. I was standing in the very room where Modern Mod delivered their triumphant farewell performance this past January and now, three fourths of that band were together again, all performing in new projects while simultaneously cheering each other onwards, proving that life after Modern Mod could potentially be even more rewarding.
Paul Arbaje: Bass Guitar
Emily Massey: Vocals, Keyboards
Teddy Matthews: Drums
James Strelow: Guitar

OK...this was the band's second performance ever. Let me say this again to you...their second performance ever!!

Having missed the debut performance of Melkweed, Emily Massey's new post-Modern Mod band (and it should be noted that she has also fully joined the band Slow Pulp as well), word had made its way to me about how terrifically solid their first time on stage actually was. Even some covertly shot video of the band (courtesy of Steve Manley) made its way to me of Melkweed performing, of all things Fleetwood Mac's iconic "Dreams," an audacious move and one executed strikingly well. Now that I had the opportunity to see Melkweed in action, I was more than excitedly curious (especially as Brendan Manley and Alivia Kleinfeldt raved to me about them beforehand).

Well, dear readers and listeners, to my ears, Melkweed sounded as if they were longtime music veterans as they were all firmly within the pocket, performing five songs that sounded ready made for the recording studio, to which I urged them to get themselves into as soon as possible, for these songs were indeed that strong and all I wished for as a fan was just to listen to them all over again in my car on the way home after the show that night.
Remember that song "More, More, More" by The Andrea True Connection? In some ways, the music of Melkweed reminded me of that very song as this band's music evoked a certain 1970's spirit, that hazy, seductive dancing under the mirrorball discotheque feeling yet somehow fully updated. While Massey was nursing a cold and drinking some tea to help her throat, she took to the stage and sang captivatingly, utilizing the husky rasp of her illness stricken voice to full effect, nailing the simultaneously woozy, nostalgic and subtly narcotic atmosphere of all of the bands' selections.

Bassist Paul Arbaje and drummer Teddy Matthews (who I am just now discovering is also the drummer of the celebrated Madison band Dolores), were superbly in the pocket yet the band's MVP to me was guitarist James Strelow who nimble finger work sparkled brilliantly from song-to-song and especially on one selection where his wah-wah chicken scratch rhythm playing would have made even Isaac Hayes smile broadly!!
With now only two live performances under their collective belts, Melkweed is rapidly proving themselves to be a Madison band to watch extremely closely and here's hoping that all of the praise already flowing their direction will fuel them with the energy to create more first rate songwriting, performances and hopefully future recordings.
Andrew Balazs: Bass
Michaela Boman: Vocals
Hernan Diaz: Guitar, Vocals
Braden Huffman: Drums

The final band I witnessed that night masterfully opened the doors to the Madison music community even wider, again making me an instant fan plus further displaying to me the rich sea of musicians and songwriters that populate my city but until now, had known nothing about.

The Madison Gloss Coats, which I am of the understanding is the musical brainchild of Guitarist/Vocalist/Songwriter Hernan Diaz (a figure whom Steve Manley informed me is originally from Chile and once worked at a coffeehouse a few doors down from B-Side Records), was in a celebratory mood this evening as they too were proudly using the night as a release party for their latest full length album entitled "Vibrant."

With a musical bedrock that suggested the shimmering guitars and ethereal vocals of Cocteau Twins, the dark, brooding romance of The Cure or The Doors plus the alt-rock roar of A Perfect Circle, Gloss Coat's set was thunderously cavernous, powerfully creating an enveloping wall of sound and space that nearly made me forget that I was standing inside of the High Noon Saloon.
Where the rhythm section of bassist Andrew Balazs and drummer Braden Huffman provided that Jones/Bonham Zeppelin styled propulsiveness, it felt that it was the guitar work of Diaz that provided the musical bedrock as he concocted a web of intricately designed six string textures that were as smoldering and seductive as they were shape shifting and even sinister.
Vocalist Michaela Boman, while all smiles and often within constant motion, definitely had the vocal presence of a siren, the glorious voice calling through the darkness beckoning to all who might hear, drawing them ever closer and closer, regardless of whatever fate may await.
I wish I could tell you more about individual songs that were performed but unfortunately I am not as all of them were wholly unfamiliar to me. What was so remarkable about the performance of Gloss Coats was that I had never even heard of them or even one song before this night and upon witnessing the band, every song connected instantly and inspired me to head straight to the merchandise table to pick up a copy of their album, as I not only desired to hear more but I also just knew that their music would fit perfectly upon my Savage Radio show on WVMO.  

So, at this time, I deeply invite you to head to the Gloss Coats' Bandcamp page where their album "Vibrant" is available on either on a cassette version or through a digital download (Michaela Boman most graciously gave me a download code for the low-low price of $2 after I refused her offer to hand it to me for free).
Alivia Kleindfeldt: Vocals, Guitar
Brendman Manley: Drums
Sam Galligan: Bass Guitar
James Strelow: Guitar

While positioned in the second performing slot of the night, as far as I was concerned Dash Hounds were the headliners! As I ventured out this evening to fully show my support of the release of their debut EP, the band delivered what I felt was their strongest performance which I have seen to date from the band, and truth be told, audience members who have seen more of their live performances than I have all agreed with me that there was truly something in the air on this night for Dash Hounds pulled out all of the stops!

Performing their entire catalog (so far), from their initial single "Idee Fixe" to an untitled brand new song with the entirety of the "Eft" EP sandwiched in the middle, Dash Hounds unleashed their material with sophistication, nuance and an even greater force than I had heard from the band before. The continuously amazing bassist Sam Galligan has proved himself to be the perfect addition to the band (and it has also been terrific to regard him and his Post Social bandmate Manley within this different musical context). And James Strelow, again (!), simply dazzled, showcasing his most impressive guitar agility and expansiveness in an entirely different musical context as he had just performed with the musically different Melkweed a bit before jumping back on stage for the second time with Dash Hounds.
But this night was a testament to what Alivia Kleinfeldt and Brendan Manley created nearly one year ago as we were all witness to the full culmination of their efforts. While I have now seen this band perform only four times, their live shows have been frequent and I must remind you that these songs have been the only ones they've executed so far. So, what we have all witnessed has been the band's growth and development, the honing and crafting of their own material. Watching these musicians shape and cultivate their music has been equally fascinating and entertaining and for me, it has been truly special to regard their seriousness and overall patience with getting these songs just right. And on this night, these songs were all JUST RIGHT!
And still, I am always surprised when I see and hear Alivia Kleinfeldt perform in the Dash Hounds context rather than Modern Mod. If you were to ever meet her, you would find a friendly yet perhaps a tad shy, petite, often bespectacled young woman with a quieter, modest demeanor but when thrust upon the stage, she not only has the confidence of a bonafide rock star, her deep, rich vocals contain a mighty power and reverberate through the complex musical tapestry she, Manley and their bandmates have created together.

Now that the release party has occurred and "Eft" has been released into the world, Dash Hounds is currently ready to take a short tour which will lead them out of Wisconsin to points in Chicago and Minneapolis, and I not only wish them safe travels and the very best of good fortunes along the way, I am hoping that whatever audiences that happen to see them become as interested and soon enraptured as I have been with what they have made.

If so, then we have all been handsomely rewarded.




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