ARTISTS TO WATCH: Gayle Skidmore

Gayle Skidmore (credit: Dennis Andersen Photography)

It’s so rare to stumble upon a singer-songwriter with such a rich textured voice as Gayle Skidmore. Such voice is a warm layering of the folk of Anais Mitchell coupled with the stinging depth of Amanda Shires, one perfectly worthy of two songs as varied as those she just released: “Rag Doll” and “Barrel, Trigger, Gun.” As a direct follow-up to her latest, a full-length LP and coloring book combo called Sleeping Bear, Skidmore — a six-time San Diego Music Award nominee — chose to record two fan favorites from her popular live sets.

“Rag Doll” is the sparest of the two, a guitar-based melody structured to lend full support to Skidmore’s vocals as she sings of the casual abuses we all endure as we fight against our baser instincts, striving to live sin-free even as we are the product of our own maker. The lyrics are staggeringly evocative:

I wear a covering
Chosen for me by a higher being
But he made me all full of dreams
That I may never find and never be

I am a rag doll sewn by a blind man
To keep him company and make him happy
But he sewed me all full of flaws
And now I’m breaking you just because

“Barrel, Trigger, Gun,” meanwhile choses to showcase Skidmore’s hidden Tori Amos, a song built on a simple series of piano arpeggios upon which a steady backbeat of bass drum and hammering effects provides a stage for a positively cinematic piece of performance art. “I was so easily persuaded to do wrong; a little kick was all it took to come undone,” she sings powerfully. “I was just trying to have a little fun but I’m the trigger, you’re the gun.” As the song fades into a wavering final echoed bass note, a return to the song’s opening seconds is immediately mandated.

Based on these first two tantalizing tastes, I assure you I’ll be digging deeper into Gayle Skidmore’s catalog while hoping she chooses to make Indianapolis one of her next tour stops. When she does, buy a ticket. I am sure you won’t leave disappointed.

ALBUM FEATURE: Triple X Smut – “The Art of Staying Awake”

Get ready for 13 minutes of hardcore punk enough to make your ears bleed and your body convulse in paroxysms of rock Godliness sufficient to give you a contracoup injury! Hailing from Champaign, Illinois, Triple X Smut brings furious rock to the table and demands you take note or fuck off. They too will be playing a set at PUNK FEST 2015 at the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis this coming March, so get ready!

Track Listing

1. Another fist, another face
2. Fuck The World
3. Grandma death
4. Let’s go do some CRIMES
5. Saturday night
6. Wana See This City Burn

THE LIVE WIRE: Cabin Pressure

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Cabin Pressure, live at the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

I was pleasantly surprised to catch Cabin Pressure as the opening act for much heavier bands Catalytic and Fleshsuit at the 5th Quarter Lounge last Friday evening. Their blues-tinged blend of alternative rock is at full effect on songs like “Hard To Breathe,” which sounds like Soundgarden filtered through Aaron Hiatt’s Toadies-by-way-of-Matchbox 20 inspired vocals. Those are imperfect comparisons, but the videos below speak for themselves. The band, which has played the Indianapolis scene since 2012, has undergone major lineup shifts since losing a guitarist and gaining a new bass guitarist. From guitarist Joe Enger:

“We were working on pre-production when our other guitarist left and we added Kevin on bass. The dynamic has changed so we decided to start from scratch with the new lineup. Aaron used to play bass and sing. Kevin is a friggin beast thoughAaron wrote some really great bass lines and alot of what Kevin is doing is what Aaron wrote. But Kevin has taken them next level and freed up aaron to really push his vocals. When we’re done. there’s gonna be 3 and 4 part harmonies on most of the songs you heard tonight.

They’ve clearly handled the shifting roles in a way that will allow Cabin Pressure to grow into a top-notch draw in the area. I can’t wait to hear these guys play again, potentially as the headliners instead of as “opening act.” Until then, the two videos below will have to do.

Follow Cabin Pressure on Facebook!

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CABIN PRESSURE – “Hard To Breathe”

CABIN PRESSURE – “Offering”

HANG ON, ST. CHRISTOPHER: Jake Owen – “What We Ain’t Got”

Jake Owen’s latest is also his career zenith, and the genre’s best of 2014.

Anyone who thinks great songwriting is a lost art in country music needs to hear “What We Ain’t Got,” as written by Travis Meadows and Travis Jerome Goff and recorded by Jake Owen. Bare necessities abound, as Owen’s voice and a piano provide the backbone for the most moving song I’ve heard this year in any genre.

I wanted the world until my whole world stopped
You know a love like that ain’t easily forgot

Neither is a song that hits so close to the bone. Forget “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” or “Beachin'” … this is going to be the song people will remember Jake Owen for.

ARTISTS TO WATCH: The Ramettes

The Ramettes

 

There’s plenty of room to get in on the ground floor as a fan of the Ramettes, an incredibly good band from Broad Ripple in Indianapolis which not nearly enough locals have yet heard. If you’ve been to the Melody Inn regularly you may have caught the band before. If you haven’t, you’ll at least get a shot to hear them play a half-hour set March 28 as part of Punk Fest 2015 at Indianapolis’s 5th Quarter Lounge.

Barring that, you can check out “Train Track Suzy” below, which I think showcases their sound perfectly. The Ramettes offer up a fuzzed-out take on 60s psychedelia and distorted 80s lo-fi, anchored by organ work which echoes Jefferson Airplane even as the vocals hint at a more distorted Liz Phair or Kim Gordon. The deceptively simple hook swims beneath the surface ready to strike at any moment. Hear it once and you’ll have to hear it again just to revel in these 150 seconds of near-perfection. You can hear this and three additional songs (I highly recommend “The War”) at MFT.

THE LIVE WIRE: Catalytic

Catalytic's own Dustin Strole during the band's set at 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis

Catalytic’s own Dustin Strole during the band’s set at 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis

If you didn’t already read my profile of Indianapolis’ next big thing in melodic metal in this week’s NUVO, go check it out! Then crank the volume up on your computer speakers and let Catalytic take over your brain for these two tracks in one video: “Saving This Day” and “Evil Will Fail”. The band opened their blistering set at Indianapolis’ 5th Quarter Lounge with these two, and from there it was a quick free-fall into an intense show no one in attendance is going to soon forget. I heard several people commenting later that it was the band’s strongest set to date, which bodes well for a band I feel deserves major label attention and a fast-track to national recognition.

NEVER SAY NEVER: Ian McLagan (1945-2014)

I’ve been listening to an angel’s cry
I can dream if you hang around
I can do anything
With you by my side
Never loved anyone
I never loved anybody
But you baby
Never been lucky babe
I’ve never backed winners
But I’ll never say never again

Rock music lost a legend today, but the music won’t be going anywhere. I could listen to Ian McLagan play on a non-stop loop and never be disappointed. If I disappear for a few days it’ll be because I’m digging up any Faces clips I can find and watching them on repeat. Here’s a personal fave from his later years, off Letterman, who was clearly a huge fan. And Patty Griffin on harmonies … just wonderful.