Monday, January 29, 2018

Dommengang - Love Jail

Dommengang were one of those "What the freaking hell?!?" moments for me. I mean... I like seriously groovy, boogie-down, riffy, guitar-laden jams, you know? I love it. Who doesn't? When it comes to that stuff, most of us are pretty on-the-level, on-the-spot, and on top of everything. I try to grab bytes of just about everything that comes out. Some bands sneak past me. Some bands get so much attention that they easily stand out in the crowd. Some bands I just find by digging around. Others find me. It's an undeviating rotation that seems to be pretty foolproof.

Well, bloody hell... here comes Dommengang, throwing a wrench in that system. I got totally blindsided by this particular album:

Seriously, don't even think twice. One listen and it's over for you. Grand retro rock. Every track is a gem. Dommengang, by way of Thrill Jockey, have released two albums of boogie rock that stand the test of time.
Honestly, I would love to have a million words to say about this band, but I would do them an injustice by comparing them to anybody else. Let's just say: if you like funk, soul, boogie, stoner rock, psych, etc., you'll figure this one out on your own.

Early contender for Album Of The Year for me. Really, it's quite good. Heavy on the boogie, smooth on the groove. Consistently crisp. Mandatory music. If you don't like music, and you're just a curmudgeon, this is not for you.

Dear Dommengang,
Here, have some money.


The Facebooks

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Troll Teeth - Boiled Alive

From Blackwood, New Jersey, comes a dollop of madness. Besides being in close proximity to the birthplace of one of the parricidal Menéndez Bros., it also pukes forth a few treasures. On one hand, the unincorporated town is not very boastful. They don't make huge announcements for tourists, and they certainly don't scream:"The Finest Dining On The Planet!" You can drop by the Chew-Powell House, for a little historical mini-adventure, and then stop in The Holy Tomato for a much-revered pizza. Plus, you're about an hour from the ocean.

On the other hand, they also have good reason to boast through a band known as Troll Teeth. They came out of nowhere with a stew pot full of riffs, temping us into their lair.

Amidst the biscuit weevils, they broom up the leftover stoner/doom flour on the floor, and make a HUGE pancake with it. "Here ya go. Eat up." And we do. Heavy stoner rock via a trio of young dudes... Creeping forth with an album, heavy on the psych sprinkles, called Boiled Alive.

I like boiled things. Poached things. Troll Teeth apparently enjoys throwing ingredients into a cauldron and rendering them into a fine chowder.

In 2014, we had a taste of Troll Teeth in the form of Unwanted And Worthless, an album so groovy, and heavy on the Sabbathy doom, we were all ready to see what fuzziness would grow in their fridge after time.

Boiled Alive, like an aged cheese, has even more stank on it than the previous release.

Opening with the psych instrumental: "Broken Glass", the oven begins preheating.
"Second Hand Stories" chugs along with water chestnut crunchiness, and opens up into a lilting passage, a melodious mélange.
"Ich Hab Die Nacht Geträumet" is a retelling of the classic German folk song, prophesying a coming death. 
"Christian Killer" tells the tale of a troll, doing typical troll things. In the Norwegian folk tale Soria Moria Castle, a troll is quoted as saying: "Ugh! Ugh! Here I smell the blood of a Christian man!". In the movie "Trollhunter", the trolls are known to be enraged by Christians. Historically, this is thought to be because trolls were once worshiped by Scandinavians. In the advent of Christianity, they were literally forced into the mountains as people continued to use loud church bells, crucifixes, and biblical "power plays"... so the once-feared and revered trolls are pissed off. And Christians are at the top of their list.
"Propaganda Pt.1" is an anti-war ballad for sludge-mongers.
"Propaganda Pt.2" is an inevitable end to the war. The mushroom sung about is NOT a Boletus. It's something much more villainous and cunning. (Incidentally, this is the Nerve Salad favorite track on the album... awesome riffs)
"Killing Fields" brings a minstrel-y cadence to the fray, in a slow oven.
"Boiled Alive" closes in with a slow-cooker doom jam. 

One of the finer things in life is when you get that first taste of Saganaki. Flaming cheese, extinguished with a squeezed lemon. The only thing about Troll Teeth is there is nothing cheesy about it. The flame is there, the crust is there, and the tartness is there. It's heavy, it's flavorful, and the "New Breed Of Sabbath-Heads" will most certainly appreciate this. I dare not compare them to any other band, but if you like stoner rock, doom, psych, prog, sludge, etc., you will like Troll Teeth. You might even be tempted to yell "Opa (Ώπα)!"

There is much ahead for Troll Teeth. Within the span of two albums, they've completely outdone themselves. I noticed that they take themselves seriously as a band, but have an underlying "tongue-in-cheek-ness" that sets them apart from a few bands in the scene. The ability to probably have a good laugh at one's self is key, and they seem to be able to roll with that. I recently had the opportunity to exchange a few messages with the band. I asked for a recipe. They obliged. 
The following is Troll Teeth's special recipe for a pretty badass stew:
Southwest Nuclear Zombie Stew 
(For the impending nuclear winter)

2 pounds of human flesh (if you're not the undead, 2lbs of beef should suffice or 2lbs of tofu, if you're into that sorta thing.) 
1 (14.5 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
4 potatoes, cubed
1 cup hot salsa
3 carolina reaper peppers chopped up
2 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt to taste (IE a lot because you can never have enough salt)
ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
A lot of shredded Cheddar cheese

"Cook ground beef, onion, potatoes and carolina reaper peppers until done in a large pan. After that, put the beef, onion, potatoes, carolina reaper peppers, tomatoes, beans, corn, hot salsa, water, cumin, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a slow cooker and let it cook for 5 hours on high. If you want to be quick about it, throw it in a large pan, cover it up and let it simmer for 45 min. Serve; top with cheese when done."

I would eat this regardless of the impending zombie apocalypse. Spicy, full of stuff, and easy as hell to make. 
Excellence on a budget, a varied blend of ingredients, could fuel you for a day, and works well with experimentation: Sounds like Troll Teeth's recipe echoes the attributes of the band very well.

Thanks, Troll Teeth, for the tunes and the food. When most trolls are trying to eat humans, these guys are trying to feed humans. 

To Their Facebook Lair

To Their Bandcamp Lair 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Feed Us In 2018

2018 looks to be a year of new things. New reviews, new bands, new formats. Nerve Salad would like to continue with band recipes.

Bands, send your recipes to:

New recipes every week. Each band/musician has their own take on music. It's safe to say that they have their own take on food, as well. If you have a unique recipe you would like to share (one that is a good representative of your band), send it over. We're hungry. Your recipe will be featured, along with reviews of your music, and links to your pages.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Cookin' With Til Willis & Erratic Cowboy

It's no secret that occasionally these reviews teeter off toward the topic of food. This is no accident. I find that food is kind of a sacred thing. Every musician has something they can call their own. An amp setting they like. A guitar they prefer. A drum sound that works. After years of tweaking the things they like, it becomes part of them. Such is the way with food.

You are what you eat. It's a part of being a musician. The stomachs of many musicians tend to gravitate to the finer foods. This is the complete opposite of what people typically think about musicians. We don't LOVE eating fast food. We don't survive on pizza, cigarettes, and beer.

It would be a safe assumption that most musicians are skilled cooks, as well. Think about it: A creative mind, with the ability to shift ideas around into a new one. That sounds like something you could easily say about a chef. This has brought an idea to light. Why not mix the two? Since we musicians pride ourselves in our jamming skills, it comes naturally to assume that we, as entertainers, can take pride in our ability to entertain through food. In the coming reviews/features, I'm hoping to get more musicians involved in sharing recipes.

Til Willis & Erratic Cowboy are a band from Lawrence, Kansas. Til, who's been writing songs for what seems like the better part of his life, has a lot going on. One look at his musical output will practically astound you:

I mean... this guy has music coming out of him constantly. If we were to joke about it, I'd say Til writes 8 songs a day. If we do the math, that's 2,904 songs (with two days off) a year. That sounds about right. Truthfully, Til obviously never stops writing. With a huge heaping of full-lengths, a few scoops of EPs, some live stuff, even a rather tasty Joy Division cover. Each full-length averages about 14+ songs per album.

 I first heard of Til on Bandcamp. The usual rabbit-hole goings-on. When I heard a few tunes, I knew it was going to be something good. He's got these built into his sound: Altabilly-Americana, Midwestern, Tom Waits blasting with the windows down, gravel road/Summer day, indie rock, down home, country-style, rootsy, stripped-down, rockin', free-wheelin', lush, and addictive. He's taken cues from singer-songwriters of the past, and all forms of music to create something he can call his own. The truth is, Til can jump into different skins over the course of one album, without batting an eye. The magnificent Hackles shows this ability quite well. We're looking at a guy who knows his way around music. On one of his latest albums, Interrupting Aim, we're treated to an incredibly diverse Alt-Americana/indie rock platter. Til's approach to songwriting appears to be a "let's try this" kind of thing. And it works. Perhaps Til's approach to cooking might be the same. I began to wonder...

With his own solo stuff, his work with Erratic Cowboy, plus SoloHawk material, this dude is busy. On top of touring, is it always Taco Night? Does Til Willis find time to cook anything, or is he living the "rock star life", eating dollar menu and White Castle?

I recently spoke with Til Willis about some of things he likes to cook. When asked about it, he replied with "I love cooking". That was all I needed to hear. The gears were turning.

What albums would pair well with what particular foods? If one were get the full Til Willis experience while listening to a Til Willis album, what food should one cook? Til has answers. His response was not surprising. He puts a spin on red beans & rice that's not too far off from the way he makes music: It's different, but MAN does that sound great!

Without further ado, here is Til Willis, of Til Willis & Erratic Cowboy (among others), sharing his recipe for:

Erratic Red Beans & Rice

"Red Beans and Rice is a personal favorite of mine. I started tweaking the recipe many years ago to make my version. Like good Jazz, this dish changes slightly every time depending on ingredients, time, mood etc.
Here’s the basics...
Red Beans one bag(or two cans)
Andouille sausage
Onion (about half a med one chopped)
Tomato (chopped)
Small Potato (chopped)
Green Olives (chopped with pimientos removed)
Cucumber (peeled/chopped)
Garlic (usually 3-4cloves minced)
Red wine(dealer’s choice)
Olive oil

Salt Black Pepper
Cheyenne Pepper
File Powder (if handy)
Chili Powder

I start by getting the onion, garlic, butter and olive oil browning. Add a bit of seasoning, I tend to season to taste constantly throughout the cooking adventure. However, hold off on the mint till closer to the end. Next get the potato and tomato in the pan. A bit of wine and this point is lovely. Next the olives go in along with a little dash of olive juice. Too much, and you’ve blown it. Once all that seems like it’s having fun together, and remember to taste and season as new ingredients are added, add the beans. When I use canned beans, I like to rinse the can with a little wine and milk. Otherwise, it’s at this point that I add a little milk and more wine to the party. Just gives it a bit of creaminess that sits well with the spice. A little taste, a little seasoning, and now it’s time to cover and simmer. While that’s doing its thing, I cut up and brown my sausage. I used to just throw it in with everything else, but my wife’s a vegetarian, so now I cook meat separately.
After the beans have had a little time to themselves, I give another taste, maybe a little more seasoning (add a pinch of that mint now), and in the cucumber goes. I put it in last so that it won’t cook all the way and will retain some bite. I find that it balances the spice. Now it’s time to stir in the flour. A little bit at a time constantly stirring until you have a nice loose gravy(usually a tablespoon or two depending on the liquid level of your pan). Reduce heat to low for about 3-5min, then off. Pour yourself some wine, you’re ready to eat.
There, I think I remembered everything. I’ve never tried to write this down."

I believe this will pair well with Interrupting Aim, Cars Etcetera, or Land Of Sawdust And Spangles. But honestly, anything from Til will work with this. For a man who has such a diverse musical range, it's no wonder he has such an interesting take on the tried-and-true.

As an added bonus, Til also threw this in:

Roasted Apple and Turnip

"Here’s another simpler one.
One large turnip
One green apple
Both peeled and chopped.
Wrap in tin foil.
Lightly drizzle with olive oil.
Season with salt, pepper, garam masala, and just a pinch of coriander.
Bake at 350/375 for twenty minutes or until tender."

Til followed up with:

"Thank you so much for taking the time to listen. Honestly, a fair listen is all any musician can hope for." 

100% agree with you, Til.

 Here at Nerve Salad Central, we like to eat. We like food that's not boring, and we don't believe that anything you listen to should be boring, either. We're super happy to have Til Willis share the first in what, hopefully, will be an awesome series of features at Nerve Salad. Thanks, Til Willis, for being a good sport and for sharing your recipes with us!

Visit Til on Bandcamp and Facebook, check out his music, and let him know how your meal turned out!

2018 looks to be a great year. Keep the recipes coming, friends. Nerve Salad is hungry.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Grant Earl LaValley - From LaValley Below

Grant Earl LaValley is a haunted man.
When you drop in for a visit at Grant's house, temporal ghosts exist alongside ethereal ones, sharing the same dinner table. As soon as you walk through the door, you're greeted by a table full of phantoms, all looking up from their card game. At you.
It's very frightening, and you're a little nervous about walking in any further.
Each ghost has its own quirks. On the earthly side, we've got the ghost that just won't stop reaching across the table over everybody else, putting his elbows on the table, and generally being disruptive. This is a constant battle with the astral ghosts, who exist only to open the gap between this reality and the next. What's the difference if you don't even have elbows?
Some of the ethereal phantoms go so far as to re-possess the souls of the long-since deceased. This makes for interesting conversations among themselves.
The earthly ghosts take up space with heavy memories, weighty sins, and noticeable scars.

In amongst the spectral haze and commotion, Grant Earl LaValley sings of souls, the memories, sins, and the scars. Each tempestuous ghost is lulled into stillness.

It is now safe to walk in and sit down.

"The In-Betweens" opens the album on a minor-keyed, somber note. One ghost gets up and begins humming along. The porch light glows dimly.
While "Hardwood Floors" plays on, one of the earthly ghosts conjures up memories while the moths furiously dive toward the porch light.
Proceeding forth, by way of  the "Backs Of Beasts", the crickets outside made quiet by the lamented braying of mist-hued horses, the moths soldier onward.
"Dark Love" names the ghosts, one by one.
"Call Of The Wild" singularly closes in on a group of ghosts, gleans from their spirit animals, and throws a handful of seeds into the wind. The light shines brighter.
The ghosts leave, now named, one by one, attracted by the light, and curious about the goings-on of the animals outside. "Where Are All My Friends" plays on.
The porch light glows brighter and brighter. So bright that it blocks out everything else, and nothing is left but pure white light. "Seasons" prays and pays tribute to this light. The moths lose their way. A few ethereal ghosts follow the light like a beacon. It leads them home.
"Don't Let It Bring You Down" invites many of the remaining ghosts to join down at the River of Sight. Where it exists, beyond the light, they're made to understand just exactly why the light blinded them in the first place. (Neil Young would be wise to check this version out)
The last few ghosts gather and huddle around a small fire emanating from a soup can on the floor, the only light left, and they return to their card game... The carcasses of moths strewn around the room... "Dungeon Waltz" closes the front door and a final stroke extinguishes the flame.

Grant Earl LaValley has a way with ghosts. A singer/songwriter that conjures up dark phantoms, long chained up, and gives them release from the world.

Dark. Solemn. Sparse. Enchanting... Sounds from a bleak landscape, formed from dust and dry bones & shaped into neat little packages of modest beauty.

Bandcamp Page

Exit Stencil Recordings Facebook page

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Best Of 2017 List

Without further ado, here is the Nerve Salad Best Of 2017 List. It is in NO particular order. I WILL say that Sugarfoot - The Santa Ana is at the top of my list, if numbered by importance. It's been a great year, and a huge thanks goes out to the bands on the list (especially the ones that patiently dealt with my questions while writing reviews.)

1. Psychic Temple - IV

2. Living Colour - Shade

3. Devil Electric - S/T

4. Onionface - Roll Over Dog... And Run!

5. Motorpsycho - The Tower (& California EP)

6. Sugarfoot - The Santa Ana

7. Hair Of The Dog - This World Turns

8. Devil's Witches - Velvet Magic

9. Hippo Campus - Landmark

10. Demons - Embrace Wolf

11. Clouds Taste Satanic - The Glitter Of Infinite Hell

12. Trading Licks - Out Of Time

13. Elara - Deli Bal

14. Spaceface - Sun Kids

15. Ex People - Bird

16. Mt. Mountain - Dust

17. Spidergawd - IV

18. Dead Cross - S/T

19. Here Lies Man - S/T

20. Relaxer - Unreal/Cities

(These last 5 are honorable mentions)

21. Taiga Woods - S/T

22. T.G. Olson - Foothills Before The Mountain

23. Adrift For Days - The Sleepless Grey

24. The Necromancers - Servants Of The Salem Girl

25. Botanist - The Shape Of HE To Come

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Laverge - Handle This

Let's get down to business:
Spain has good stuff happening.

I can't stand using the term "foodie". It's so silly-sounding. It just makes me feel like I'm a little kid that can't say my "big boy words" yet. I prefer the term: "Lover of fine cuisine". I really like to see what the other parts of the world are eating.
The Spanish are known for many fine things.The Paella, for instance. This caught my attention, as a young teen, back in the '90s when it was mentioned (numerous times) on the TV show Northern Exposure. A couple of characters literally lamented over it as being something they "needed" in episodes, or simply wishing they had their Paella dish. So, I've eaten Paella. Looking back at those times I had eaten it, I often wonder if I'd actually gotten the real deal, or I got the Americanized "we'll use what we've got on hand" version.
I learned that some believe the Paella may or may not have originated in Valencia, Spain, while others believe that it was first created in a village outside of Valencia. So I looked up recipe after recipe to find the right one. There are several varieties to choose from, with some being more authentic than others, or more regional than others. Let's go through the proper make-up of a Paella:

Firstly, it has to have class. It needs to scream out: "I'm awesome simply because I exist!" in front of several people, but have the humble decency to know where it came from.
It needs an air of mystery. Threads from a high quality imbuement favor what makes up the bulk of the dish, complimented by a simple blend of flavors, yet complex enough for the palate to start doing subtraction and addition.
It needs girth and heft. Something that carries the weight of the flavors, yet adds their own distinct touch. It's got to leave you feeling full, and with a feeling that you experienced something, rather than just filling the hungry void.
It needs an identity, a personality. Paella is made all over the world. If we are going to borrow the recipes, we need to put a spin on it that separates it from the original. The truth is, no matter how "traditionally" we try to create such a thing, nobody except the originators will make it the same way. Perhaps even the original Paella has no idea what it was, anyway.
It needs complexity. Most Paella dishes I've seen have more than one kind of main ingredient. Many different things make up the entirety of a normal Paella. These come from the sea, the air, and the land. This adds the wonderful quality of having a different texture with each bite. Such complexity allows the meal to be enjoyed even more, and confounds the mind enough make a person think about it long after experiencing it.

I took all of these principles into consideration, threw them into my special, patented SHRIMPP () Processor (SHRIMPP = Stoner, Heavy Rock, Indie, Metal, Psych/Prog). It calculated and assessed. It made a few "boopity-boop, beep-beep" noises, and then spat this out:

 Laverge. From Valencia, Spain. It appears that they have appealed to the Paella principles, as stated before. These guys have class. They come in strong with a new album called Handle This. Listening once will be the grand realization of their classiness. It's a little spicy, in a good way. Heats up the palate. They have a definite set of influences that you can pick out immediately.
They have mystery. The songs are well-done, but the surrounding additions to the whole of the dish are fresh and crisp. You wonder how they mixed the flavors so well.
They have heft. The weight of the songwriting carries the album, and the musicianship borders with a light touch of sweetness over the initial spiciness.
They've got personality. They borrow from a few different recipes, each touch combining into a surprisingly unique dish that stands on its own. An interpretation of several elements, thrown into a special blend and coming together in a tasty array, suitable for gourmands of all palates everywhere.
They have complexity. This combination of different textures and flavors makes it a satisfying engagement.
Overall, the band nods toward an accessible alternative rock sound.
In essence, they takes cues from recipes by Queens Of The Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, etc. You can scoop up the influences like creamy turrón. However, there is an underlying deviousness in there that shows the complexity of the grand feast. You get this whimsical aftertaste that sneaks in like a bright paprika. A "what was that I just had?" sort of feeling that comes over you after you have an unusual flavor. You truly feel like something sneaked into your cupboards and replaced your normal herb sachet with something a little more vivid.

Perhaps it would be best to ask the band what their favorite recipe for Paella is before I go completely off the deep end with gourmet comparisons. The obvious truth is that I know nothing of REAL Valencian cuisine. After having a taste of the music that comes from that (extremely old) city in recent years, it's no doubt that the fine traditions kept alive in their food are also kept alive in their music. Laverge have a recipe they have crafted into a fine thing, worthy of the finicky palates that all share the same revolving globe. It's tasty.

Bandcamp 'em

Facebook 'em