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 turrĂ³n. 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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lark's Tongue - Peoria Psychedelia

Sometimes a band comes around and causes issues in your life. Existential quandaries begin to surface.
"Just how truly in touch with reality am I?"
"Why does music like this slip past me?"

Lark's Tongue come from Peoria, Illinois. Made up of members of Minsk & Men Of Fortune (among others), they appear to be stealthily putting out music for a number of years. They can be classified in the "stoner rock" section, but really have little in common with the genre. It's a spacey affair. Slow, beautifully menacing, and swirling with neon psychedelia. Within the dark aeon they inhabit, concessions are made to hang up a sludge-y backdrop and allow the musicians to systematically beat the dust from it with their respective instruments.

 Their first EP came in the form of a 7" called "The Rope/Tucson, Arizona"

This was followed by a split with Men Of Fortune. Within the first ten seconds from the first Lark's Tongue track, you start asking those questions from before. It becomes obvious that this is a band you have not heard the likes of.

If you were not struck blind by the time you get to listen to their next split LP with Across Tundras (who are another story altogether), you will be. Songs like "Aluminum" ease you in to the Lark's Tongue sound, with its beauty-in-darkness feel. Reverb-drenched guitars cascade like stark white snow into a world of monochromatic blue. Sharing the journey are two heavy tunes from T.G. Olson & crew in Across Tundras. This really couldn't be a better fit considering both bands are equally incorporeal.

"Narrow" comes in, a gorgeous, crystalline glacier magnifying idyllic ages past. A slow-creeping monolith, reading bygone days like an ancient, immortal scribe. Progressive and layered, jagged and dense, this album is a culmination of what had gone before, but now wears of cloak of wisdom. Synths lope along doggedly while heavy funereal guitars fill the path with a soft morass. Laminations of voices loom over the album like monastic stewards. The album can be quite a bucolic trip when used in the right ways and allowed to utter its incantations within the proper surroundings.

All fancy stuff aside, there is talk of Lark's Tongue releasing new material in 2018. During this time, it might be wise to familiarize yourself with the rest of their albums. I'm finding that this prog/psych/drone band from Peoria, Illinois are a band that I should have discovered some time ago. Don't get yourself into the same bind when they put out a new album. Let Lark's Tongue cause some issues in your life.

Find Their Faces In A Book

Camping With The Band

Monday, December 4, 2017

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Polygondwanaland

I'm not necessarily reviewing this album. It does not need review. There are quite a few out there for you to read and enjoy. And the album is available to listen to as we speak. You can listen to this, knowing full-well that you're safe with KG&TLW.

This post is to push the release of Polygondwanaland in this LP format. This is nothing new. This has been released on various variants from various labels. You can most likely get yourself a crazy glow-in-the-dark swamp dill pickle swirl, with a fruity pebbles splatter, and a hand-dipped hot dog-scented cover. Maybe not, but there are a ton of "limited" releases out there.
I like this one:
Diggers Factory and the band are offering this LP, numbered + limited for only 1 measly little Euro. In the words of the band:
"This album is FREE. Free as in, free. Free to download and if you wish, free to make copies. Make tapes, make CD’s, make records."

It would be wise to jump on this limited release right now.

Get It Here! Don't wait on this one!