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Posts Tagged ‘Wax Fang’

After nearly a decade and a half, a My Morning Jacket concert is rapidly becoming that of legend in the world of music.  Yes, that’s right, legend. Virtually every time they claim the stage, they have something up their sleeve that will soon leave their fans’ heads spinning. Last night’s performance at Louisville’s Palace Theater, the official launching of their new album Circuital, did just that. Multiple times over, I might add, and all of it streamed on the internet live on YouTube and Vevo for anyone willing to logon.

They promised the night would be full of surprises, and the first surprise came with the raising of the stage’s curtain and MMJ, not Erykah Badu, appearing in front of an elaborate giant “Circuital” eye from the album’s cover art as the stage backdrop. The audience erupted into a chaotic frenzy as the first note chimed from Bo Koster’s keyboard, and they went right into the opening track from Circuital, “Victory Dance.” Just like on the album, they followed with a majestic version of the title track “Circuital” and all of a sudden it seemed as though a live run through the entire album was in store. But that quickly dissipated once they followed up with Z’s “Off The Record.”

Certainly more cuts from other albums would follow, and that they did with a heartfelt version of “Gideon” and “Mageetah,” a candid performance of “I’m Amazed,” an aw-inspiring version of “Smokin’ From Shootin,” and both versions of “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream.”

Even Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer couldn’t help but make an appearance, declaring MMJ as “the world’s greatest band” and announcing that through an online poll the song fans most wanted to hear was “Steam Engine.” The performance that followed of the song was mesmerizing to say the least.

A host of other guest musicians joined MMJ onstage throughout the night including Wax Fang’s Kevin Ratterman, who aided in percussion on several songs, Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore who joined in on “Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” and of course, Erykah Badu who added some soul to “Wordless Chorus” and “The Day Is Coming.” MMJ also performed two of Badu’s songs, “Twinkle,” and “Tyrone” which was highlighted by Jim James bowing down before Badu while she stroked his hair, and James simultaneously blistering out one wicked guitar solo. The onstage drama was intense and this proved to be the pinnacle of the night.

Over the years MMJ has given some amazing performances and played some of the world’s most storied venues. From Coachella to Bonaroo, Madison Square Garden to Boston Symphony Hall, and Saturday Night Live to David Letterman, MMJ has done it all. And although I’ve not attended one of those performances I can confidently say that last night’s 3+ hour performance at Louisville’s Palace Theater had to be their most legendary yet. In one night they transformed Louisville’s Palace Theater into their own makeshift commune, played virtually every song off their new album “Circuital” and basically every other hit from their previous discography.

They ignited the crowd to the point where nobody ever really sat in their seats and instead spent the entire night dancing wherever they could muster a move, raising the temperature inside the Palace to something that felt like a sauna. After the concert ended, fans were high-fiving, hugging and cheering all the way out the door and onto 4th Street. At that moment I realized what MMJ had done. They hadn’t just released a new album or just given another legendary performance. Nope. They unified our city of Louisville while the world was watching.

* Photos by Jason Ashcraft & Zach Everson
*Videos courtesy of American Express “Unstaged”


Pre-Show with MMJ.

** This review also posted at Louisville.com

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Ratterman in the studio

Wax Fang’s Kevin Ratterman is a busy man in the music business these days. So busy that he never really got around to pursuing his family’s business of operating funeral homes in the Louisville area. Instead, he picked up on another family trait; music.

From the time he was a child he would aspire to his older brother Blaine, an “excellent drummer” as described by Ratterman, and his father’s band, The Epics’ drummer as well. So, growing up he essentially had ready access to full drum kit in his basement. No surprises that he too would learn to play drums. Led Zeppelin and Mötley Crüe were two bands he cited that he learned to play to growing up.

Today, not only is he Wax Fang’s animated drummer, but he’s started to take on a new endeavor in the world of music; album production. Some of his first two projects: My Morning Jacket’s Circuital and The Broken Spurs’ Natural Disaster, both of whose albums he played an integral role in developing the sound for. Not to shabby for a production-newbie, right?

“I essentially put the studio together,” Ratterman explained when talking about the make-shift studio he built in a church gymnasium to record Circuital, the new My Morning Jacket album due out May 31 on ATO Records.

“We were recording everything live, which means you have to automatically – when you’re doing stuff like that – ‘accept’ a lot of things you wouldn’t normally accept,” he explained about the sound output from the live recording process as compared to a studio. I can’t help but to think, at this point, that he must be a perfectionist, because when you listen to Circuital’s title track (released last week by MMJ) you can barely tell it was recorded live, in my opinion. They’re a few subtle hints, but nothing that the average listener will really notice. Just us music junkies.

Currently Ratterman has no future production plans with MMJ, but he described the experience with recording with the band as “one of my crowning achievements in my life.”

As for his own band, Wax Fang, Ratterman announced that they have recorded a new album and EP, and that they would probably be out later in the fall of 2011 once they have wrapped up the label shopping process. Apparently they have options. For more updates on Wax Fang, check the band’s website at WaxFang.com

Here is the raw video from my interview:

** This interview also posted at Louisville.com

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If you’ve lived here in our beloved Derby-city for a long time, then there is a good chance that you’re probably already over Thunder Over Louisville. It’s just a bunch of fireworks, right? Or maybe because it essentially generates Louisville’s biggest annual city-wide traffic jam, and packs the Jefferson County Detention Center to near capacity. Something of the sort.

But, hey, it’s also the kick-off of the Derby Festival here in the bluegrass state; our little annual tradition and time to shine, right? And, on the flip side it creates one of the city’s best few weeks of the year for live music and concerts across almost every conceivable musical style.

Friday night’s 
Thunder-eve celebration will bring us Louisville’s own Wax Fang at Zanzabar in Germantown. This wildly powerful psychedelic rock band produces a lot of sound for being a just a trio, and will be in the midst of a short mini-Kentucky tour hitting Bowling Green, Louisville and Lexington in a three-night stretch.

Still being a fairly young band by Louisville standards, Wax Fang has come a long way, and made a pretty bold statement about themselves as musicians. Led by Scott Carney on guitars and vocals, Kevin Ratterman on drums, and Jacob Heustis on Bass, you’ll surely get an intense and aggressive dose of guitars, while Carney’s impressive tenor will at-times bring a euphoric sense to their music, much like Pink Floyd did, a band Wax Fang has been often compared to.

Wax Fang landed an opening slot with fellow Louisville-counterparts My Morning Jacket on their fall tour, and then were basically handpicked by Spoon for another opening performance, and then received the opportunity to perform at SXSW, which eventually landed them their first record deal with Absolutely Kosher Records. 

They don’t play out that often, so this Friday’s show may be the last in Louisville for another 6-7 month stint. That is unless you can catch Scott Carney out playing a random solo acoustic gig, something that happens with a little more frequency than the entire band.

Wax Fang / The Features
Friday, April 15
Zanzabar
2100 South Preston Street
9:00
$10
21 and up

Checkout this Wax Fang performance of “Majestic”:

** This preview also posted at Louisville.com

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“Natural Disaster”
by The Broken Spurs
SonaBLAST! records
Produced by Kevin Ratterman & The Broken Spurs

This album is raw. And when I say raw, I mean it sounds almost as if they plugged all their instruments directly into a tape deck, pressed record, and recorded it all in one take. But this is no discredit to album’s producer, Kevin Ratterman of Wax Fang, who seemingly captured the band’s true essence from the lack of overproduction.

You may just do a double-take on the opening track, Shackles Down, thinking you just came across a never-released Rolling Stones recording. That is as soon as you hear lead singer Adam Kramer’s Jaggerish vocal style. 

But as you venture through this album, you’ll soon understand that The Broken Spurs have created a truly original sound of their own, primarily defined by a barrage of guitar-fueled-cock-n-ball-straight-up rock-n-roll. No wonder they were asked to open for AC/DC in Freedom Hall with songs like these.

The peak of “Natural Disaster” comes right at the album’s midway point, with Jawbanger, a down-right raw and dirty rock-n-roll song that starts with a banging bass line and then whose vocals and guitars start rivaling one another for supremacy. At the song’s bridge, Kramer belts out an in-your-face riding of his Gretsch Firebird guitar’s “E” chord that may just make your own jaw drop, as you realize what Louisville rock-n-roll sounds like. 

Not one of the songs really seem to disappoint or stray away from the high-energy, guitar-laden spirit the album carries. Other impressive tracks is Shackles Down, Natural Disaster, Runnin, and Steal Your Thunder.

So, for those out there who try to proclaim that “rock-n-roll is dead,” well, here is recorded proof that maybe you should quit with that bullsh*t. 

And for all you real rock-n-roll junkies, here your soundtrack for the whole “rock-n-roll ISN’T dead” campaign.

** This review is also published at Louisville.com

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